Nov 6, 2013
01:22 PM
Style & Design

'Mad Men' Era Illustrator's Works, Babe Ruth Autograph, Rolls Royce & More in Bridgeport Auction

'Mad Men' Era Illustrator's Works, Babe Ruth Autograph, Rolls Royce & More in Bridgeport Auction

A Bernard "Bernie" Burroughs painting of boats.

If you want to gaze into the styles of eras past through the prism of art and (often lavish) objects whose forms were dictated by the fashions of the day—and take home some of these prizes, ranging from silver to jewelry, furniture and much more—the event of the fall season is taking place this Sunday in Bridgeport.

Black Rock Galleries (BRG) is holding its Fall Estates Auction Nov. 10, and it will take two sessions to handle the more than 1,300 lots that gallery owners Grant Panarese and Christie Spooner have spent the last few months acquiring  from area estates.

Panarese and Spooner were literally so busy dealing with preparations for this weekend’s auction, and with inquiries, that as much as they wanted to talk about their finds, it was difficult for them to come to the phone.

You don’t have to wait until Sunday to see what’s causing the buzz. The items to be auctioned can be previewed online right now, and “live” previews begin this Thursday, Nov. 7, and run through Saturday (see the schedule below).

What you’ll see is artwork that includes a piece by Claude Pissarro, authenticated Babe Ruth and Andrew Mellon autographs, an expansive single-owner collection of wine accessories, and lots of sterling silver. There is a substantial amount of Chinese art, furniture and décor and even a “meticulously maintained classic 1962 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II.”

The most intriguing subplot among the auction items centers on the artwork of longtime Westport resident, Bernard "Bernie" Burroughs (1912 - 1983), who was a men's fashion illustrator for brands such as Fruit of the Loom, Van Heusen and McGregor during the "Mad Men" era. His art appeared in all the national magazines published at that time, the gallery said.

BRG is offering the "new to the market," personal collection of the artist’s family. “For the first time in sixty years, these pieces will now be offered to the highest bidder. The lucky winning bidders of these timeless paintings and illustrations will continue Burroughs' legacy as they grace the walls of new homes in the area,” a release from the gallery said.

The 1918 Babe Ruth autograph in the auction is one that Burroughs received as a gift from his mother. “She met Ruth at her high school and kept his autograph tucked away in an envelope for the last 83 years,” BRG said in the release, which explained that Burroughs lived in Westport most of his adult life with his wife, Etsa, working on portraiture of friends and family, and abstract and still life paintings, as well as illustrating for publishers and advertising agencies.

A Veteran of WW II and a former employee of Walt Disney Studios, Burroughs' resume was extensive, and he became part of the burgeoning artists' community in Westport in the 50s and 60s. He was elected president of the Westport Artists Club, which was known for its legendary parties and meetings, BRG said.

Burroughs’ artwork and the Babe Ruth autograph will be sold in the second session of the auction, which begins at noon this Sunday. The first session begins at 9 a.m., and will feature items under $200 with no reserves.

“You don't need past experience to participate in BRG auctions. We do our best to make them fun and easy for everyone, whether they are a newbie or a veteran,” Spooner said in the release. “In addition to live bidding, which is of course the most fun, we offer absentee, online and telephone bidding. This allows everyone to get in on the action.”

And Panarese underscored points that auction veterans know well; that auctions offer unique items that you don’t find elsewhere, and that savvy bidders can get great deals.

The auction previews are set for Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 7 pm. See the Black Rock Galleries website for the full auction catalog and additional information on the sale.

Panarese and Spooner set out on their own after almost 20 years in the antiques, auction and consignment arena to create a one-stop enterprise based upon knowledge, honesty and fun, the release on the auction explains.

“What began in 2010 as Bridgeport Salvage Company in the Mill Hill section of Bridgeport quickly bloomed into a unique business offering a consignment shop, full auction house, estate sale services and expert appraisals. By 2012 business growth pushed them to a new facility with over 25,000 square feet of showroom space and a new moniker, Black RockGalleries,” it says.

Black Rock Galleries is located at 1720 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport, with easy access from I-95 (Exit 25), and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. 


'Mad Men' Era Illustrator's Works, Babe Ruth Autograph, Rolls Royce & More in Bridgeport Auction

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