Everyone is familiar with Barbie, but are you aware of the doll that inspired her? It was Bild Lilli, created in Germany in 1955 and produced until 1964. American businesswoman and Mattel president Ruth Handler spotted the doll during a trip to Europe in 1956 with her children (named Barbie and Ken, by the way). Inspired, she bought a few, brought them home, and redesigned the doll with the help of engineer Jack Ryan. Ruth officially introduced Barbie to the world in 1959 and the rest is history. Mattel bought the rights to Bild Lilli in 1964 and ceased production of the doll that year.

Fans of Barbie and Bild Lilli are buzzing about Philip Weiss Auctions’ upcoming sale dedicated to toys, trains (some of them European), toy soldiers, pressed steel and more, on Saturday, January 14th, online and at the firm’s showroom in Lynbrook, N.Y. Offered will be the Bild Lilli doll pictured here, which comes with a Steiff toy poodle, a feature that will make her all the more desirable to collectors; a boxed Barbie #3 with blue eyeliner; a Barbie bubble-cut Brownette in the original box with insert; a Barbie American Girl doll with long hair; and more. Visit www.weissauctions.com.



Marsden Hartley landscape will be a standout lot at Sage Collections sale

A standout lot in Sage Collections’ January 21st auction promises to be this work by Marsden Hartley (Am., 1877-1943), the American Modernist painter, poet and essayist, titled Village, 1940. A master colorist, Marsden is best known for his landscapes and intimate portraits. This intriguing landscape piece has been on a long-term loan at the San Antonio Museum for years and has a pre-sale estimate of $200,000-$295,000 and a start of $145,000. Marsden lived, worked and studied in America, Paris and Berlin, and over the years has become a hot commodity among collectors.

The auction, online and at the Sage Collections gallery in Longview, Washington, begins at 2 pm Eastern time. It’s small in count but spans a bit of the 20th century with property from the Kenneth W. Grams Trust, which began with a passion 30-plus years ago and grew to over 1,000 works that have benefitted several museums and even a symphony orchestra. Another expected top lot, and the oldest piece in the auction, is La Gardeuse D'Oies, an 1890 painting by Camille Pissarro, with provenance, from the collection of Mrs. Anna Thompson Dodge. Visit www.sagecollections.com.




Asian offerings from General Chen Qi’s Heirloom Collections, Jan. 13-15 in Ga.

Eden Fine Antiques Galleries will ring in the Year of the Rooster with Asian offerings from General Chen Qi’s Heirloom Collections in a three-day auction scheduled for January 13-14-15, online and at the firm’s gallery showroom in Marietta, Ga., just north and west of Atlanta. General Chen Qi (aka “Cangquan”, 1912-2000) amassed a trove of artworks over the course of his lifetime that included unpublished paintings by Qi Baishi, plus works by Fu Baoshi, Zhang Daqian, Lang Shining, Huang Binhong, ZhuDa and others. Most are museum-quality artworks.

The piece shown here is a framed landscape painting by the acclaimed Chinese artist Fu Baoshi (1904-1965). It is from the General Chen Qi collection, which also includes his own calligraphy, paintings, porcelains and zitan furniture. The rest of the auction will feature works by noted artists such as A. Muller, Anton Otto Fischer, Dean Chapman, George Elbert Burr, J. Gould, Charles Frederick Naegele, Hannah Von Rothky, Charles Billich, John Cropsey, Harold Edward Little, Albert Friedrich Schroder and John Fabian Carlson. Visit www.eden-galleries.com.




17th century painting from the estate of a Holocaust survivor will be sold       

A 17th century oil on canvas figural rendering, attributed to the Italian painter Francesco Albani (1578-1660), with provenance, from the estate of Holocaust survivor Edith Alexander (1922-2016), is estimated to sell for $4,000-$12,000 at an auction planned for Sunday, Jan. 22, by Auction Life, online and at the Ramada Suites Boca hotel, at 701 NW 53rd Street in Boca Raton, Fla. The 34 inch by 26 inch painting shows Lucretia, a legendary figure from ancient Rome. It’s just the third auction for Auction Life, which has nicknamed the sale “Third Time’s a Charm.”

Mrs. Alexander was born Edith Reich in Czechoslovakia, the daughter of a Jewish crystal and glass merchant. She was living the carefree life of a young, 21-year-old dental assistant when German-led forces invaded during World War II. She was separated from her mother, who she never saw again, and spent the rest of the war in forced labor at three Nazi concentration camps. She survived, and went on to marry an attorney. She passed away this past fall, in Boca Raton. Many of the 300 lots in the sale are from her sizable estate. Visit www.AuctionLifeFlorida.com.


Dale Chihuly, who’s very much alive, is a renowned glass blower-sculptor

It’s a general rule of thumb that the vast majority of artists – no matter how talented – don’t get the personal or financial recognition they deserve until after they’re dead and gone. Even the great Van Gogh, it is said, sold exactly one painting of the 2,100 or so he produced over the course of his 37-year lifetime, and that was to his dentist – possibly for services rendered and not even payment. But such is not the case with Dale Chihuly, the American glass sculptor and entrepreneur who was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941 and is still very much alive and active today.

Chihuly’s works are somewhat unique to the field of glass blowing, since they’re mostly large-scale sculptures that are technically very difficult to execute, but he uses it as a medium for installations and environmental artwork. The piece shown here, titled Massive Ikebana, is a featured lot in Rago Arts & Auction Center’s Jan. 21-22 auctions dedicated to early 20th century and Modern design, online and at the firm’s gallery in Lambertville, N.J. The piece has a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$25,000. No bartering with the dentist for Mr. Chihuly! Visit www.ragoarts.com.