• DEDHAM, Massachusetts
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  • April 02, 2013

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Martin Wong Sign Language Paintings

Dedham, MA:  Grogan and Company Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers is pleased to announce The Elli Buk Collection, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Scientific Instruments and Technological Achievements ever assembled is going on the block.   The auction, which features over 2,000 objects from every possible collecting genre, also includes a nice selection of Contemporary works of art by New York artists.   Works of art by SoHo artists, Martin Wong and David Hare, can be found amongst the microscopes and telescopes; medical devices and quackery; patent models and salesman's samples; early projectors, still and movie cameras; motors, electrical devices and machinery; globes and surveying instruments; telegraphy and telephones; televisions and radios; as well as objects from our industrial past and household items such as typewriters and sewing machines.

Elli Buk (1949-2012) was legendary in the world of collectors who knew him as a self-made, prolific collector, curator and expert on scientific instruments and the history of technology.  Over a period of forty years, Elli exercised his passion for acquiring objects.  E. Buk Antiques, a SoHo fixture for many years, was in the epicenter of the 1960's and 1970's art scene.  Elli's love of the arts lead him to support and encourage many talented artists, including Martin Wong, who held his first solo exhibition at Buk's Spring Street location and Surrealist David Hare, who's studio was right above Elli's shop. 


Elli grew up in Brooklyn, where he was exposed to opera, music and art, however, it was his love of biology, chemistry and physics that inspired him to begin collecting.  In 1978, Elli opened E. Buk Art and Antiques at 151 Spring Street in SoHo where his store window become a highlight for passersby.   Science fiction writer, William Gibson included a reference to Elli's window in a blog he wrote in 2001 for the National Post.   Titled "Mr. Buk's Window", Gibson describes Elli as "a marvelously idiosyncratic antiques dealer in SoHo....Gazing into E. Buk's window, for me, has been like gazing into the back reaches of some cave where Manhattan stores it's dreams."  Elli rented objects from his collection to television shows, Hollywood movies, advertising agencies, fashion shoots, and store windows.  He loaned his prized objects to various exhibitions that wanted to celebrate the artifacts that built their industry and the collection has been written up in numerous publications including The New Yorker and Architectural Digest. 

David Hare Sculpture

In addition to a View of the Mohawk from Fungeson's Bridge, an oil on canvas by 19th century New York painter, Manneville Elihu Dearing Brown,  Elli's art collection included many contemporary SoHo artists.   Four 18 x 24 inch sign language paintings by realist Martin Wong, titled Silence, Voices, Money, and Danger, bear a presale estimate of $12,000-15,000; while Underdog, an oil on plastic by street artist Ernest Rosenberg is estimated at $500-700.   A collection of sculptures, paintings and drawings that Elli acquired directly from the studio of well known Surrealist artist, David Hare include Naked Sing Clarity, a 36 x 48 oil on canvas, estimated at $3,000-5,000 and Seated Female, a 82 ½ inches tall metal and plaster sculpture, estimated at $5,000-7,000.  Mike Leaf's papier mache sculpture Spring Has Sprung,  bears and $800-1,200 estimate, while one of the more unusual items, 'Dean', an eight foot, scrap metal, folk art tin man created in the 1950's by George Dean, a tinsmith from Terre Haute, Indiana bears a presale estimate of $5,000-10,000. "Dean" is included in Archie Green's  book 'Tin Men' published by the University of Illinois Press in 2002.  

The earliest developments in the motion picture industry are represented in the sale by a  Victorian zoetrope with a collection of animated strips and five mounted photographs of Muybridge's print, Animal locomotion.   The zoetrope and the photographs are purported to have come from the collection of Thomas Eakins.  Another highlight is a very rare set of Eadweard Muybridge zoetrope strips, titled "Attitudes of Animals in Motion", copyright 1882, in their original cylinder. The set, which was illustrated in Eadward Muybridge, The Father of the Motion Picture, by Gordon Hendriks, is estimated at $5,000-15,000.   Eadweard Muybridge's photographic study of animals in motion is what led to the motion picture industry.  Thomas Eakins was teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art while Muybridge was at the University of Pennsylvania.  Eakins was so taken with Muybridge's work, that he is said to have created his own Zoetrope and used it in his lectures at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.  In addition to painting, Eakins was known to have been a photographer as well. 

Works on paper offerings include an important assemblage of the original Morris & O’Connor Architectural drawings, blueprints and plans for the R.M.S. Queen Mary, estimated at $5,000-20,000; while Beatles fans will find a lot of Magazines and Ephemera related to John Lennon and Yoko Ono.   Elli's vast collection of cameras and photography related items includes glass plate negatives, early photographs, daguerrotypes and tintypes.  Adolf Fassbender's bromoil gelatin silver print, Total Eclipse, taken in 1925, bears an estimate of $1,000-1,500. 

Elli Buk in his SoHo shop
Photo Courtesy Alen MacWeeney

Another feature of the collection is an impressive assortment of Victorian and early 20th century industrial items that lend itself to the growing "Steampunk" or "Repurposing" design movement.  Designers refurbish items from the Victorian and Industrial past, such as brass, iron, wood and leather, to create new designs that balance form and function.   Early machinery with gears and levers abound throughout the collection and will surely inspire collectors of this cutting edge movement.

Highlights from the Scientific offerings include Guglielmo Marconi’s own experimental model of his Magnetic Detector, known as “The Rutherford-Marconi” Detector, circa 1900.  This unique wireless apparatus was fashioned by Marconi from the winding spring mechanism of  a telegraph inker.  He used the apparatus in his early tests for what became his patented model in 1902.  The Wireless Detector, with impressive provenance, bears a presale estimate of $20,000-30,000.  "There are many individual items in this auction which are show stoppers, such as Marconi’s own experimental model magnetic detector, an early Riker Motor or an 8 foot Henry Fitz Telescope, but the real essence of the collection is the sheer diversity and quantity of items Mr. Buk amassed over his forty year career," commented Grogan and Company President, Michael Grogan, "This exhibit is truly a sight to behold."

The Elli Buk Collection exhibition will begin on Saturday, April 20th and run through Wednesday, April 24th from 9 a.m. - 4p.m.  The collection will be auctioned in four sessions beginning Thursday, April 25th. "Anyone interested in the history of science and technology, the Industrial Revolution and manufacturing history should not miss this opportunity," states Grogan, "It is unlikely that we will see another comprehensive collection like this in our lifetime."  A fully illustrated catalogue is available on-line at  For more information contact the gallery at 781.461.9500. 

Michael B. Grogan
Grogan and Company

Grogan & Company
22 Harris Street
Dedham, Massachusetts
About Grogan & Company

Grogan and Company has been serving the Antique and Auction needs of New England for over twenty years. Located in historic Dedham, the company conducts 4-5 estates auctions each year and offers free appraisal days every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. With an international clientele, on-line bidding and a friendly and attentive staff, Grogan & Company is the perfect place to buy or sell your fine art and antiques.

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