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Times Leader | 10/08/2006 | Jump on Jack’s stash

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Back to Home > Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 Posted on Sun, Oct. 08, 2006 email this print this reprint or license this

Actor’s antiques

Jump on Jack’s stash

Pews to porcelain, saddles to silver offered down on the farm

By JENNIFER LEARN-ANDES [email protected]
TIMES LEADER/PETE G. WILCOX Jack Palance’s Butler Township home will see much of its contents go on auction this week.

BUTLER TWP. -- Actor Jack Palance is downsizing, and area residents will get the chance this week to bid on everything packed in his farmhouse and barn.

More than 3,000 items spanning three centuries will be sold during three days – Thursday, Friday and Saturday – ranging from items that will probably sell for a few bucks to those expected to go for tens of thousands of dollars. National and perhaps international collectors may place bids.

Auction planners purposefully included some smaller keepsakes for people who want something belonging to the 87-year-old actor, who is most recently remembered for doing one-handed push-ups onstage during the Academy Awards in 1992, when he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “City Slickers.”

“People can spend $5 or $50,000 at this auction,” said Phil Eagle, an antique appraiser who traveled from California to painstakingly verify the items’ authenticity and sort them into manageable “lots” to be sold.

There are no minimum reserves that must be met, and everything must go.

Each item will bear a special sticker featuring a picture of the actor and the words “Jack Palance Collection” to add to the value and future collectability, Eagle said.

For example, Eagle picked up a straw hat that belonged to Palance. Any old straw hat would normally go for a few bucks at auction, but one that belonged to the actor known for tough-guy roles could be quite the conversation piece during family gatherings.

“What is it going to fetch?” Eagle wondered out loud.

Online collectors are already buzzing over some of the antiques, including an 1878 Steinway & Sons grand piano bearing hand-painted genre scenes and an ornate, 11-pound Italian silver centerpiece.

The quantity of stuff packed into Palance’s old farmhouse and neighboring barn is staggering, and there’s no unifying theme or period to the art, furniture and decorative pieces.

Palance, a native of Hazle Township’s Lattimer Mines section, amassed much of it on trips all over the globe filming movies. Auction workers preparing the items on Friday said they were told he had amassed the collection with the intention of one day opening a museum in Hazleton, which never happened.

Palance once paid homage to his Ukrainian descent by purchasing the entire contents of a Ukrainian church.

Those religious relics, paintings, pews, stained-glass windows and fixtures will all be auctioned off, including stained-glass windows that are being stripped from the farmhouse itself.

The historic 150-acre Holly-Brooke Farm, which bears the names of Palance’s daughters, was once a favorite getaway for the actor and his family. He painted in a special art room and sang in the music room, Eagle said. Some social gatherings took place in the basement bar. The bar itself is now being sold.

Those involved with the auction don’t know what will happen to the 150-acre farm, though there’s already talk among local folks that it will be sold for residential development.

The sheer variety of items shows Palance’s passion for art, history, literature, music and religion, Eagle said.

Take music, for example. Up for auction are an organ, several pianos, a 19th century carved walnut harp, an accordion with pearlized keys, boxes of sheet music, several jukeboxes and record players and a dance hall phonograph made of wood.

“I understand he loves to sing,” Eagle said.

Dozens of paintings depicting classical scenes are being sold alongside several done in eye-popping hues, including some of clowns. Palance likes clowns, Eagle said. There are pastel-shaded Lladro porcelains he collected in Spain and contemporary sculptures.

“You have very crazy modern things plus classical,” Eagle said.

The farm’s dining room had a Gothic decor, featuring an Edwardian oak table with ornate carving that will be auctioned.

Passing through a collection of Oriental items, Eagle paused to admire a thick leather-bound 1850 Shakespeare collection. More than 1,400 books will be sold, including some stemming from Palance’s interest in the Civil War and poetry.

“He loves poetry. Here’s this burly character who loves poetry,” Eagle said.

Palance is also selling some posters from his movies, his high school championship football banners and memorabilia, his saddle, boots and vest and some movie props.

Eagle walked past a 19th century toilet to point out one of his favorite auction items: a classic barber shop street pole that revolves when it is cranked.

Several classic cars will be sold, along with a horse-drawn carriage that is being stored in the barn alongside furniture, antique store display cases, salvaged railings and architectural pieces and planks of heavy wood that may be snatched up by a carpenter.

Keystone State Auctioneers Inc., the South Williamsport company overseeing the auction, is preparing for a crowd of up to 1,000 at the farm, which is located down an unpaved road off St. John’s Road.

Old Palance movies will be shown on a television screen to add to the atmosphere, Eagle said.

“What a climax it will be to witness this sale in such a beautiful setting, under the old trees, with the pond in front of his 1850s farm house,” says the auction company’s online promotion.

About Jack
On the Web
Palance Auction

The son of a coal miner, Jack Palance gave up a blossoming professional boxing career to join the military during the outbreak of World War II. After graduating from Stanford University with a drama degree, he worked on Broadway.

He made his screen debut in 1950 with “Panic in the Streets.” He received an Academy Award nomination for his third film role as Lester Blaine in “Sudden Fear,” followed by another Oscar nomination for his role as the gunfighter Wilson in “Shane.” Among his many roles were Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Dracula and Attila the Hun.

Palance, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, won an Emmy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Mountain McClintock in the Playhouse 90 production of Rod Serling’s “Requiem for a Heavyweight.” He was also an early host of TV’s “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

For a complete list and many pictures of everything being sold and a description of how to bid online, go to, or call Keystone State Auctioneers at 329-1005.

When: 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.

Where: Palance’s farm off St. John’s Road in Butler Township. St. John’s Road can be accessed from state Route 93 or state Route 309. The unpaved road leading to the farm is called Jack’s Lane, but there’s no sign. Directional signs will be posted as Thursday nears. The lane is located across the street from the Thomas Farm market.

You should know: The lane is somewhat steep, so vehicles longer than 25 feet will not be allowed on it. Double-axle-sized vehicles should be OK. People are advised to wear comfortable shoes because they may have to walk a distance through an open field to reach the auction tents.

Jennifer Learn-Andes, a Times Leader staff reporter, may be reached at 831-7333. News | Business | Sports | Entertainment | Living | Shop Local | Classifieds | Jobs | Cars | Homes
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