It’s a bit of a departure for Fontaine’s, best known for antique clocks, lamps, and fine estates.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Fontaine’s Auction Gallery will break the mold on its customary sales featuring antique clocks, rare vintage lamps and fine estate items when it conducts a 400-plus-lot auction dedicated to antique medical devices, quack and electroshock instruments, vintage World Wars I/II posters, Native American artifacts, coins, trains and comic books on Saturday, Dec. 12.

Group of six boxes of collector trains and sets that will be sold as one lot, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

Group of six boxes of collector trains and sets that will be sold as one lot, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

The six-session Collectors Auction, set to begin promptly at 11 a.m. Eastern time, will be held in Fontaine’s galley, at 1485 Housatonic Street in Pittsfield – plus online, at, and Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted. Previews will be held on Friday, Dec. 11, from 10-5; and on Saturday, auction day, Dec. 12 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“This promises to be a fun sale, not just because the merchandise is so interesting and unusual – which it is – but because virtually everything being sold is within the reach of every level of collector, from the novice beginner to the seasoned veteran,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery, “plus we’re still adding new items.”

Indeed, there is only one item in the catalog expected to hammer for $10,000 or more: a large American Indian turquoise concho belt with 694 turquoise cabochons, six inches wide by 43 ¾ inches long. It’s estimated to bring $8,000-$12,000. Right on its heels is a vintage World War I U.S. Army recruiting poster, the famous one by James Montgomery Flagg (est. $7,000-$9,000).

The poster, published in 1917 by the Leslie Judge Co. (N.Y.), depicts the well-known Uncle Sam portrait and the words, “I Want You, For US Army – Nearest Recruiting Station” (in this case, the San Fernando Building in Los Angeles, office-stamped to the poster). In the frame, the poster measures 47 inches by 36 ½ inches and is in overall very nice condition, with part of it restored.

Antique medical devices, quack and electroshock instruments are niche collectibles with a loyal following. Offered will be a quack medical shock machine with standing dial and paddles that’s expected to hit $1,500-$2,000; and an X-Ray illusion from European Novelty Company in New York (“Drop a Nickel in the Slot and Look in the Round Hole”); it’s estimated at $1,200-$1,500.

A 1930s Dinshah’s Spectro-Chrome Machine with over ten booklets, plus boxed papers, colored filters and a cast metal wheeled tripod, should coast to $1,000-$5,000; a Griggs conical Electro-Magnetic Machine, patented Jan. 8, 1875, should realize $1,200-$1,500; and a rare and fancy skeleton magnetic hand-crank machine with a dolphin on the handle should make $1,200-$1,500.

An expected star of the toy trains category is a group of six boxes of collector trains and sets that will be sold as one lot, with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000. Included are a five-piece boxed train set of Real King by M.T.H. Electric Trains; three lots of Lionel Century Club trains, all with shop displays and original boxes; a boxed shop display for Century Club No. 2333 (NY Central) in original boxes; and NYC-ESE-5329 Century Club II (locomotive) with tender and other cars.

Concho belts were worn by Native American Indians and were originally created by the Navajo. The ornaments, called conchos, were often hammered out of silver dollars and doubled as hair and clothing decoration. Or, they were designed from shell-shaped silver disks linked together to form a belt with leather strips. The designs ranged from simple to inlaid, with turquoise or coral.

In addition to the one already mentioned, other concho belts in the auction will include a pair of sterling and turquoise examples, both to be sold as single lots and both expected to command $3,000-$5,000. One features ten plates with a bezel set center turquoise, and is stamped with the initials “R.S.” The other is similar, only with nine plates, and has been signed “Thomas Singer.”

Other Native American artifacts in the sale include a Plains Indian peace pipe, 19 inches long, having a turned and carved wood shaft with brass tack highlights and a red clay bowl, and in a Plexiglas display box, expected to earn $2,000-$3,000; and a large hand-painted Sioux buffalo skull, 38 inches tall, mounted on a wall plaque wrapped in hide, expected to hit $1,000-$1,500.

Native American Indian Anasazi pottery will also come up for bid, including a beautiful pottery vessel with black lined designs, 5 ½ inches tall. The piece has a few chips around the rim, but no hairline cracks. It should fetch $1,000-$1,500. In the fine art category, an untitled artist’s proof lithograph, signed by Victor Vasarely (Hung./Fr., 1906-1997), should command $2,000-$3,000.

In addition to the James Montgomery Flagg poster, other examples from World Wars I and II will be plentiful, and not all are American. A case in point is the circa-1916 poster from Great Britain that reads, “Daddy, What Did You Do in the Great War?” while the man’s two children play at his feet. Designed and printed by Johnson, Riddle & Co., Ltd. (London), and measuring 30 inches by 20 inches (sight), in a frame, the partially restored poster should hit $1,000-$1,500.

Meanwhile, back in the States, a circa-1917 recruiting poster that reads “US Navy – Over There” and depicting a soldier being pointed towards battle by an armored figure representing Liberty, is expected to achieve $1,500-$2,500, as is one showing a woman that says “Gee – I Wish I Was a Man, I’d Join the Navy. Be a Man and Do It,” and giving a New York City recruitment address.

Coins – especially gold coins – will be offered towards the end of the day. Lots will include a U.S. type set that includes gold coins; 31 rolls of U.S. quarters and five rolls of U.S. dimes, all dating from 1964 and before; 21 gold dollars, in an album and all dating from1849-1889; a book of 150 Liberty-seated coins from 1837-1891; and a book of 97 half-dimes dated from 1798-1893.
?Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is the oldest operating auction gallery in Western Massachusetts. It has earned the trust of collectors, investors and gallery owners worldwide. All cataloged lots receive nationwide exposure to the firm’s database of more than 19,000 select buyers. Seven times Fontaine’s Auction Gallery has been voted “Best Antique Auction Gallery” by the public.??Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality items, to include furniture, lighting, clocks and watches, paintings, porcelains, bronze and marble statuary, Asian items, art glass and cameo glass, Russian objects, silver, musical, coin-op, advertising, toys, banks, gaming and carousel items for future sales. Consignments are currently being accepted for all the upcoming auctions.??The firm will buy outright or accept on consignment fine antiques, collections or entire estates. Call (413) 448-8922 and ask to speak with John Fontaine, or you can send Mr. Fontaine an e-mail to [email protected] For more information about the company and the upcoming Saturday, Dec. 12th auction, please visit Updates are posted often.