The upcoming Fine and Decorative Arts Auction featuring The Gentleman Collector Signature Auction Sept. 22-25 will feature some of the most interesting aeronautical, automotive and nautical vintage model collectibles from legendary dealer and collector Charles “Charlie” Schalebaum. After a lifetime devoted to finding rare, fascinating and important pieces of automotive and travel history, Schalebaum passed away this year at age 86.
Schalebaum was a “larger than life” character who populated the world of antiques. He began dealing and collecting after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, living life with a sense of adventure and thrill of speed. His preferred mode of transport on land was one of many dozens of vintage luxury vehicles. On water, it was a vintage speedboat, Chris-Craft of course, one of which he kept for decades at his family summer home in New Hampshire. An accomplished pilot, Schalebaum owned several planes was always ready to jump into one and fly, for business or pleasure. His pride and joy was a WWII vintage P-51 Mustang capable of speeds approaching Mach 1, in which he routinely would take his children for rides.
Models always have captured the attention of children and adults. They represent afternoons spent daydreaming or remind us of vehicles we owed or wished we could own. This Five for Friday touches on some items from the Schalebaum collection but also some other interesting items any gentleman collector could proudly display.
1. From the Schalebaum collection comes a scratch-built leather coupe valet with two metal car models, (est. $400-600), circa 1940 and later. Leather has been used for shoes, bags and just about every clothing product, but to see a coupe made from leather is unique. The craftsmanship used to create this coupe is impressive in its detail as well as creativity.
2. Also from the Schalebaum collection is a beautiful scale model of a 1954 Ferrari Nando dell’Orto Hydroplane Speedboat (est. $200-300) from late 20th century. Ferrari built the first speedboat in 1953 as the brainchild of Achille Castoldi, a friend of Ferrari grand prix drivers Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi. The actual speedboat had 4.5-liter V12 engine and created more than 600 horsepower. Nando dell’Orto raced it successfully for more than 10 years and many of its records still stand today.
3. Models can come from kits with precise instructions but they also can be the fruits of a craftsman’s imagination like the single-piece wood carving featured in this lot of three silvered metal and carved wood car models (est. $300-500). Starting from a block of wood and whittling down to a sporty two-seater English roadster, note the steering wheel on the right, racing uphill makes this piece an instant conversation starter.
4. One of Schalebaum’s major passions was flying, and this lot of three models of airplanes with ceramic airplane flask (est. 200-300), 20th century, features a FIAT G 49-1 chromed single propeller airplane on stand, a brushed aluminum four-engine desk model on stand and a Marx tension mechanism toy plane. The eye-catching piece is the ceramic P-51 Mustang flask. The P-51 was one of Schalebaum’s favorite planes and while there is no way to know what beverage was housed in the flask, this was a unique way to fuel your passion.
5. Finally, a German painted tin motorcycle and sidecar model toy (est. $500-800) from the 20th century rounds out the Five for Friday. This model was painted to simulate age, with some flaking to pain and some dirt accretions. This piece shows some wear commensurate with age and use.
Written by: Elon Werner
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