Late owner's antique collection offered at estate sale

By Paul Giblin, Tribune

October 11, 2005

The first thing that draws attention inside Zina Kuhn's Scottsdale house is a large antique world globe in the living room.

The floor globe has a secret. With a knowing touch, the top of the world rolls back to reveal a hidden bar service. The novelty is one piece of Kuhn's collection of antiques, artwork and clothing that will be sold at an estate sale this weekend.

The items were acquired during a colorful life that took her from St. Petersburg, Russia, to dozens of locales around the world and eventually to Scottsdale.

Kuhn, 91, died Aug. 15. She was a World War II labor-camp survivor, entertainer, translator and community activist. Her husband, former Air Force officer and civil engineer Cole Kuhn, died in 1992.

Zina Kuhn was most widely known in Scottsdale for directing efforts to restore and display a historic boxcar at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale in the late 1980s.

The boxcar was part of the 1947 Merci Train, a gift from France to the United States after World War II.

"It's sad to see all these things up for sale," said friend Sandy Bruner as liquidators arranged items on Monday for the sale. "This house was full of life. When she was in her heyday, she would dance and sing."

Kuhn's wardrobe features racks of dresses and shoes acquired in New York, Paris and other fashion centers in the 1950s and '60s. Among the items: A hand-beaded dress with black lace roses, a tan stitched jacket and dress with mink details, and a sparkly pink and silver cocktail dress.

She and her husband also collected art from around the world. Among the pieces: Ceramics from the Middle East, artistic bird cages from Tunisia, onyx jewelry from Mexico, and saltglazed stoneware from Germany.
One of the top items is a St. Louis crystal service set for 14. The Chantilly-pattern stemware set likely will be priced at $1,500.

"It costs a lot more than that new, but we're in the liquidation service," said Scott Gram, an art and antiques appraiser for Gini's Liquidation Sales, which is handling the sale.

The sale is set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Kuhn's house in  McCormick Ranch.

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