Going, going, gone

The Toomey Gallery's latest auction is a top-of-the-line tour of 20th century art and design

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Tiffany ... Stickley ... Eames ... Roycroft ... Frank Lloyd Wright ... Teco. There's more. Rookwood ... Limbert ...
Newcomb College ... Van Briggle. Even more!

All the best in Arts and Crafts and 20th century design will be on auction Sunday, Dec. 5 at the John Toomey Gallery, 818 North Blvd., right here in Oak Park. You can actually preview this museum collection from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m through Dec. 4.

The 229 page catalog, in full color, lists 1,057 items ranging from a Tiffany lamp estimated to go for $35,000 to $45,000, to a hammered copper Roycroft tray slated for $150. The catalog, a collector's item itself, is available at the shop at 818 North Blvd, for $35; by phone 383-5234. The entire auction can be seen on the web: www.TreadwayGallery.com.

"For those who are not familiar with our little shop on North Boulevard facing the tracks, you will find it a revelation," says John Toomey. "Our last sale, held in the fall, was slightly over a million dollars. There are some bigger auction houses but we have carved out a niche in 20th century modern.

"This is one of the greatest sales we've ever had," Toomey adds. "We're now in our 17th year and we've never had an exhibition with such quality and quantity. For example, a collector who has lived in Manhattan has been assembling rare Roycroft since the 1970s. We have about 35 of these pieces in the auction. I am pleased that he chose Toomey to auction his collection."

On the day of the auction, different lots will be sold at different times. Session One, featuring Arts and Crafts, starts at 10 a.m., and will be followed by American and European Paintings at about 3 p.m., and 1950s/Modern at about 5:30 p.m.

What's for sale

Toomey started out by specializing in Stickley and the Prairie School. He's still a good source of this genre and has a selection of Gustav Stickley furniture including a rare surpriseâ€"a bedroom suite from the William Martin house in Oak Park; it includes a 3/4-size bed and a chest of drawers.

There are all kinds of Stickleyâ€"chairs, library tables and Morris chairs. There's an unusual Stickley library table with a hexagonal top, perfect for a family of six. There's also a rare Gustav Stickley umbrella stand, 13-by-27 inches and valued at about $4,000.

This auction is a course in Pottery 101. For the pottery and art glass lover, there will be hundreds of different examples. There are several GallĂ© vasesâ€"magnificent examples of cameo landscapes in multiple shades, actually made like cameo jewelry. Also, see scores of Teco vases in the characteristic green shade; there's one at 3.25 inches expected to sell for $350 to $550. Most of the Teco vases will cost in the thousands, however.

Newcomb vases are more adorned, deeply carved and painted, and are also more affordable. Collectors of Rookwood and Marblehead will be pleased with the selection.

Want something different? How about a 66-inch fake cactus looking for a desert? This signed Italian sculpture, one of 2,000 made, is constructed of expanded polyurethane, It's soft to the touch and listed as a coat rack.

Furniture pieces by George Nakashima are rare finds. Distinctive because he selected and used carefully chosen slabs of wood, his work has a primitive look. Collectors of his art are almost cult-like. A handsome coffee table is truly a one-of-a-kind waiting for a nature-loving buyer. The Nakashima collection consists of several other unusual pieces including a floor lamp and a huge framed mirror.

For those who adore Tiffany lamps, you'll feel that you died and went to MOMA when you view the table of a dozen of these shimmering, multicolored masterpieces. The prize example is a Tiffany lamp with a bronze base and a meticulously-worked shade of radiating gold glass, bordered with a Greek key design. Another exceptional Tiffany Studio lamp has a poppy motif and is embellished with pierced overlay. Although these little gems may be beyond the reach of most of us (they have auction estimates of $35,000-$45,000), there are a few others to view: a unique kerosene lamp ($5,000) and two desk lamps with three light, lily shades ($5,500-$7,500).

All the old classics in 20th century modern are here: the Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe chair of leather and polished steel he designed for his glass boxes on Michigan Avenue; the George Nelson slat benches; original Eames chairs in vinyl upholstery; Charley and Ray Eames classic lounge chair and ottoman.

First in the catalogue is a jewelry box by Karl Kipp, a designer for Roycroft. This little jewel of a container is hammered copper with German silver appliqued squares and a central jade stone. Suede lined, only 5 1/2-inches in diameter, this item at $7,000 to $9,000 will be snapped up by someone looking for a proper setting for a Lalique pin.

The auction also includes a large, superb collection of paintings and sculpture. The paintings include both American and European artists; there is a large assortment of Indiana and dunes paintings; and nudes, both graphics and sculpture. There are landscapes, portraits and some moderns, including a Peter Max and a Bernard Buffet.

Auctions are fun and educational. But be carefulâ€"they can be habit forming, and may find something that you can't live without.

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