RARE CONEY ISLAND SHOOTING GALLERY SOARS AT GROGAN AUCTION

. May 9, 2013

Dedham, MA: Grogan and Company Fine Art Auctioneers recently conducted a four day auction of the Elli Buk Collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Scientific Instruments and Technological Achievements ever assembled. For eight days, collectors and historians flocked to Dedham for a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the famed collection of SoHo antique connoisseur, Elli Buk. It took Buk forty years to amass his impressive collection of over 2000 objects spanning two centuries and over 30 collecting categories. “This was the first time anyone, including Elli’s closest friends and family, had ever seen the collection in its entirety,” stated auctioneer, Michael Grogan. “The collector response to the exhibition and auction was a combination of awe and enthusiasm.”

Rare Mangel's Shooting Gallery

Rare Mangel’s Shooting Gallery

The highlight of the sale, a rare Mangels Cast Iron Shooting Gallery, comprised of over 150 targets, including rabbits, birds, lions, elephants, bears, ships, and submarines, sold to a phone bidder for $60,000 after competitive bidding. William F. Mangels, a German immigrant, ran a small machine shop in Coney Island in the late 19th century, where he specialized in making cast iron targets for shooting galleries and earned the title “Wizard of Eight Street”. Intact shooting galleries such as this are rare due to so many being sold for scrap metal over the years.

The discovery of the auction was an Edison Electric Light Two Wire Meter System, sold with a Thompson Watt Hour Meter, which together brought for $30,000 against a $200-300 pre-sale estimate. The elated collector who won the lot was bidding in the room and told the auctioneer that he had been searching for this Edison item for thirty years. A Pages Horizontal Double Beam Axial Engine, soared well beyond its $500-700 estimate to sell to a European phone bidder for $25,200. One of Buk’s prized possessions, an observatory size Henry Fitz Telescope, c. 1850, sold to a Telescope expert for $19,200; in addition, a Howard & Co. Gold Bullion Scale sold to a gentleman in the room for $19,200.

An important assemblage of Architectural drawings, blueprints, and plans for the R.M.S. Queen Mary, sold for $20,910; while the Brass and Wood Toilet, with Blue and White Porcelain Basin, salvaged from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Yacht, ‘The Victoria and Albert II’, went for $20, 910.

The collection included a large number of items relating to the history of photography and cinema, including magic lantern projectors, box cameras, and movie cameras. The highlight was a rare set of Eadweard Muybridge zoetrope strips, titled “Attitudes of Animals in Motion”. Copy written in 1882, the set brought $14,760 against a $5,000-15,000 estimate.

An impressive selection of 19th century microscopes featured a Large Hugh Powell Microscope, circa 1841, which brought $10,500, while a Violin Vibrophone, a rare medical quack device used to cure Tinnitus, sold for $3,300. Many laboratory teaching devices, medical instruments, x-ray tubes, and light bulbs were sprinkled throughout the collection.

Elli’s art collection was diverse and included many SoHo artists, including David Hare, Ernest Rosenberg, and Mike Leaf; however, it was a series of four sign language paintings by Martin Wong, “the Human Instamatic”, that brought the second highest price of the four-day auction. Silence, Voices, Money, and Danger, sparked competitive bidding from several phone bidders before it finally hammered down for $51,0000 against a $12,000-15,000 estimate. ‘Dean’, an eight foot, scrap metal, folk art tin man created in the 1950’s by George Dean, a tinsmith from Terre Haute, Indiana brought $4,500.

The auction grossed over 1.9 million dollars and attracted bidders from over fifteen countries. A fully illustrated catalogue with results can be found at www.groganco.com. All prices include buyer’s premium. For more information about this auction or upcoming sales, please contact the gallery at 781-461-9500.

Category: Auction News

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