It's Artsy-Fartsy time!

April 23-24 in Chicago

It's Artsy Fartsy Time! Billed as “America's Largest (and Liveliest!) Urban Antiques Market,” Artsy Fartsy is a production of the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. Image: Randolph Street Market

Who on earth would nickname a show Artsy Fartsy? The Randolph Street Market in Chicago, that's who. Billed by show promoters as “America's Largest (and Liveliest!) Urban Antiques Market,” Artsy Fartsy promises to bring art aficionados one-of-a-kind-pieces and even personalized sketches (drawn on-site by Doodlebooth, Katya's Nude Sketch Salon, Project Onward and Kristine Steiner). People can pose or bring in a photo (these make great gifts). Artsy Fartsy is slated for April 23 and 24 at the Beaux Arts Plumber's Hall in Chicago. Parking is free. General admission is $10 per person.

In addition to one-of-a-kind art, the event's 100 vendors will also feature fashion accessories, furniture, jewelry, housewares and more. On April 24, baseball card expert and sports memorabilia appraiser Mike Osacky will be on hand from 10-4 to offer free appraisals of any vintage sports items. The Randolph Street Market is an internationally recognized, European-style indoor-outdoor shopping extravaganza in Chicago's West Loop, open most of the year. It's a mecca for treasure hunters, designers, fashionistas and Hollywood set decorators. For more, visit here.
Pin-up illustration artwork

Pin-up illustration artwork This illustration by the king of pin-up art, Alberto Vargas, titled Don't Peek Until I Finish Dressing, appeared in Playboy Magazine in Sept. 1962 Image: Heritage Auctions

Pin-up illustration art has been around since the 1890s, but the term was first coined  in 1941 and referred to a pin-up model or pin-up girl (and to a much lesser degree a young man) whose image was intended for informal display, or “pinned-up” on a wall. Betty Grable was the quintessential pin-up model of choice for homesick GIs overseas during World War II, and it's no coincidence that the same period saw a flood of pin-up illustration artwork done by very accomplished artists. Today, these very illustrations are highly sought after by collectors at auction.

On April 26 in Dallas, Heritage Auctions will sell a bevy of fresh-to-market pin-up discoveries, all from the Golden Age of American illustration art (1940s-'60s). Highlights will include Gil Elvgren's Charming Trick (est. $50 000-$70 000); Female in Profile by Patrick Nagel (est. $70 000-$90 000); Don't Peek Until I Finish Dressing by Alberto Vargas of Playboy Magazine fame (shown, est. $30 000-$40 000); and Figured to Win, a 1941 Brown & Bigelow calendar illustration by Rolf Armstrong (est. $30 000-$50 000). In all, nearly 450 lots will come up for bid.
No wonder they call it a giraffe piano – it's tall!

At Stevens Auction Company's April 9th sale in Aberdeen, Miss., this Victorian-era giraffe piano, one of seven made by Frank Teupe, sold for $26 450. Image: Stevens Auction At Stevens Auction Company's April 9th sale in Aberdeen, Miss., this Victorian-era giraffe piano, one of seven made by Frank Teupe, sold for $26 450.
Image: Stevens Auction

The so-called giraffe piano – nicknamed for its height and appearance – was invented in Vienna and first appeared around 1800. Early makers included Schlimbach, Seuffert, Ehrlich and Wachtl, all of whom were exponents of the style. By design and definition, a giraffe piano is a grand piano that has a vertical box containing the strings, hammers and soundboard, as opposed to a horizontal one. In original pristine or fully restored and playable condition, they can often sell for between $50 000 and $60 000. Plus, they look way cool.

At Stevens Auction Company's April 9th sale in Aberdeen, Mississippi, the late Victorian-era giraffe piano pictured here, one of only seven produced by Frank Teupe of Louisville (1837-1901), sold for a respectable $26 450. The colossal piano, standing a majestic 8 feet 9 inches tall, was in art case harp form and made from mahogany, with gold leafing and pierced gadrooned. Frank Teupe, by the way, was born in Prussia and had a wife and eight daughters. In 1896 he patented a piano-string frame that improved the inner workings of grand and upright pianos.
Drawing with a $2 000-$4 000 estimate hammers for $149 500

Drawing with a $2,000 Bidders – not experts – identified this pen and ink drawing as the work of Baccio Bandinelli (It., 1493-1560). It sold for a cool $149 500. Image: Rachel Davis Fine Arts

The March 16th sale held by Rachel Davis Fine Arts in Cleveland, Ohio contained some objects from Europe that were deaccessioned by a museum in Canton wanting to focus exclusively on artworks from America. One of the lots up for bid was the pen and ink drawing on paper you see here. All anyone knew of the work was that it had been acquired by the museum in the 1920s or '30s. No one could even identify the artist. It was cataloged as a 17th or 18th century Italian School work titled Labor of Hercules and assigned a pre-sale estimate of $2 000-$4 000.

Turns out, bidders knew more than the experts who'd examined the drawing, because it was quickly identified as a work by Baccio Bandinelli, the Italian artist and sculptor (1493-1560). Several online bidders from Italy, and one from London, helped push the price well beyond the estimates and up over the $100 000 mark. In the end, the London bidder won the prize, with a bid of $130,000. When factoring in the buyer's premium, the final sale price was $149 500. All parties involved were ecstatic: the buyer, the auction house and (especially) the museum.
Jackie Robinson's 1947 signed contract on view through April 22

For one week only – April 15-22 – the contract that Jackie Robinson signed in 1947 to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers will be put on display. Image: New-York Historical Society) For one week only – April 15-22 – the contract that Jackie Robinson signed in 1947 to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers will be put on display.
Image: New-York Historical Society

On April 11, 1947, Jackie Robinson signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, thereby integrating Major League Baseball. For one week only – April 15-22 – that very contract, plus the contract he signed in 1945 to play for the Montreal Royals (a minor league team), will be displayed at the New-York Historical Society in New York City. The first day of the exhibit, April 15, coincides with Jackie Robinson Day, observed throughout the Major Leagues with all of the players wearing Robinson's jersey #42, which has been retired from baseball.

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) became the first African American to play Major League Baseball after Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey chose him to integrate baseball. Facing antagonism on and off the field from fans, opposing teams and even some of his own teammates, Robinson showed astounding fortitude and dazzled crowds in the field and at the bat – so much so that he was named the National League's Rookie of the Year in 1947. Years later, he was traded to the New York Giants, but chose instead to retire rather than play for the cross-town rivals.
Passover compendium worth $3 million may be auctioned

This rare, silver Passover compendium was likely created between 1840 and 1860 in either Poland or Ukraine. It's worth about $3 million. Image: J. Greenstein & Company) This rare, silver Passover compendium was likely created between 1840 and 1860 in either Poland or Ukraine. It's worth about $3 million.
Image: J. Greenstein & Company

As Passover approaches (April 22-30), J. Greenstein & Company, a New York-based auction house that specializes in antique and rare Judaica, is currently displaying some of its most expensive and unique Passover antiques, highlighting their significant historic value. Among these is a silver Passover compendium (shown), likely created between 1840 and 1860 in either Poland or Ukraine and worth an estimated $3 million. Several suitors have expressed interest in the piece, but if none of them buys the compendium it will be offered in a future auction.

The rare structure of the compendium indicates it was associated with the Ruzhin-Sadigura Chassidic dynasty, a large Jewish community in Austria in the 1800s. It is cauldron-shaped, with three removable circular dishes, each to hold the circular matzot. The main body is decorated with Empire-style, swan-like handles, crafted with wings. “This is one of the most magnificent pieces of Judaica to be in private hands,” said Jonathan Greenstein, president and CEO of J. Greenstein & Company, whose 1,500-square-foot gallery is in Cedarhurst, Long Island.

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