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Penney's collection heading for estate sale; Selection includes wide range of items

You name it; Charles Rand Penney collected it.

Many of the massive collections of the local attorney who died last year, ranging from fine art to coat hangers, are to be dispersed in a giant three-day estate sale in September at the Kenan Center Arena.

"It's a fixed-price sale, and it's an exposition. We're using it as an opportunity for people to see what he had," said Lockport lawyer F. Gerard Hogan, the executor of Penney's estate.

Hogan said he's been working for months with appraisers to set prices for thousands of items to be sold Sept. 16-18.

"We've had a lot of appraisals done. We've used appraisers from a lot of different sources, including 'Antiques Roadshow,' " Hogan said.

He expects heavy interest from buyers from all over Western New York and as far away as Cleveland.

"We're trying to put selected items from all of his collections in the sale," Hogan said.

In all, Penney, who never married and died at age 87, had 123 separate collections. The books were organized into 13 collections, and the art into 11 types.

The ethnographic collections of objects pertaining to foreign countries, mostly in the developing world, were listed under 21 geographic headings.

And then there are the collections of other objects: spoons, hood ornaments, coat hangers, pillows, postcards and dozens more.

Douglas J. Levy, development officer for the Kenan Center, said the Kenan will receive a percentage of the sale proceeds in exchange for allowing the use of the arena annex for the sale.

Levy said Penney did not leave anything to the Kenan Center.

"He was, for the record, one of the original founders and incorporators of the Kenan Center. His signature is on the documents of incorporation from 1967," Levy said.

Penney, who lived in Lockport from 1977 until his death last Aug. 1, donated 1,260 pieces of local art to the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Other Niagara Falls-related art was given to the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University, and 250 art objects were sold at the Buffalo Marriott in October 2009.

He also made a deal with the Niagara County Historical Society to give it nearly 5,000 items of Niagara County memorabilia. The society, also known as the History Center of Niagara, has constructed a special Penney Gallery in the Erie Canal Discovery Center.

Its director, Douglas Farley, said the gallery will open to the public in early July, with the official ribbon-cutting set for an Aug. 20 gala.

Penney's 17-page will listed some specific items to be bequeathed to friends and relatives. For example, an Amherst woman received his collection of items bearing the likeness of "Mr. Peanut," the longtime advertising symbol of Planters Peanuts.

The Buffalo Museum of Science is to receive his ethnographic collections of items from Africa and New Guinea, along with slides of his travels to more than 70 countries.

The E.H. Butler Library at Buffalo State College, which has a Charles Rand Penney Room, is to receive all his papers, awards and travel journals.

But there are still untold thousands of things that Penney's will directed should be sold to provide cash for his chosen heirs: seven nieces and nephews, a few friends, the History Center, the Museum of Science and the Butler Library.

Some of the Penney collections are to be sold on the Internet, with bidding beginning late this month on much of his World's Fair memorabilia. He had stocks of items from 26 fairs dating from 1853 to 1986.

Hogan said information on those auctions is online at www.worldsfairauction.com.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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