DALLAS – An 1894-S Barber Dime, Branch Mint PR66 PCGS CAC, the finest known, realized $1,997,500 at auction on Jan. 7, 2016 as the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night event at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention in Tampa, FL.
It was sold to an experienced collector, who placed their bid online and wishes to remain anonymous. The winning bidder was one of 16 different collectors vying for the piece.
“This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own one of the most famous, mysterious and elusive coins in American numismatics,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “It’s a classic of American coinage often grouped with the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty nickel as ‘The Big Three’ of U.S. coin rarities. It has been the stuff of collectors’ dreams since attention was first brought to it in 1900.”
Only 24 Barber dimes were struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1894, apparently in order to balance a bullion account. No more than nine – and possibly only eight – examples of the 1894-S are known to collectors today, with this coin being the finest survivor certified.
“We know that there are likely at least a couple more of these 1894-S dimes still in circulation,” said Rohan. “Heritage Auctions is offering a reward to anyone who might have a previously unreported example of this coin. We’ll pay $10,000 simply to be the first to examine and verify it is an authentic, previously unknown 1894-S dime.”
Heritage Auctions is the largest auction house founded in the United States and the world’s third largest, with annual sales of approximately $900 million, and 950,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and receive access to a complete record of prices realized, with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.
An interesting interview with Lisa Kroese, who was looking to keep herself busy in a new location. A great story of how an estate sale business was born and growing. Lisa helps out with her ideas through books and more. Check out her website expertestates.com and her helpful blog/website: estatefusion.com
Curator Karen E. Haas discusses how Peter J. Cohen has amassed a collection of some 50,000 vernacular photographs. He recently gave more than 1,000 of them to the Museum of Fine Arts. On display are roughly 300 for “Unfinished Stories: Snapshots From the Peter J. Cohen Collection.” The photographs, most of which are in black and white, span the first three-quarters of the last century. The show runs through Feb. 21, 2016.
Former podcast host, Phyllis Kao joins us with Dr Arne Sildatke from Auctionata’s Berlin headquarters and discuss the recent sale of a late 18th century Chinese automaton clock that sold for a record $3.7 million, and further talk about Auctionata’s unique way of running auctions.
Interview with Editor-in-Chief of Antiques & Fine Art Magazine: www.afamag.com, Johanna McBrien talks about her amazing academic and professional background as well as InCollect.com, Johanna is a boots on the ground researcher and lover of fine Period American furniture, she further discusses the importance of the arts and connection through history.
Aloha, it is a fun interview with the ‘psychic appraiser’ and king of Pop Culture, Gary Sohmers. He knows the value of 100,000 useless objects and is nationally recognized expert in the world of collectibles. Listen in as he talks about his beginnings, and how the business has changed and much more. Check out his radio show Tuesdays 10-11:00 AM EST and North East Comic Con.
As a longtime auctioneer/appraiser, I use Worthpoint for the “hard to find” items as they have over 264 million sales results in their database. If you would like to enter to win a free one year subscription, ($199 value) you would need to create a free account on Gemr (a new collector’s online showcase) and this link will automatically enter you in the contest, which ends Sunday May 17th, best of luck! : http://gemr.it/1R7iNUB
Oh to be 18 years old, and an antiques dealer! Gabe tells what it’s like to be one of the few out there, he has been buying and selling for four years, and has a nice space in an active antique shop. You can email Gabe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Martin Willis
If you happen to be one of the 5,000 people to live in a beautiful country town to the west of Boston, Lincoln, Massachusetts then you had the chance recently of owning a local treasure of modernism. During a recent call from my friend Doug Stinson, I learned about a benefit auction he was donating his services at in his home town. He said there was some incredible modernistic silver he was auctioning off the next day, the work of which rivals designs by known silversmith, Georg Jensen.
On April 12th, 60 pieces fine silver and jewelry that Florence Hollingsworth designed and hand-wrought as well as 40 pieces she owned, but not made by her were sold to Lincoln residents and past students only, with 100% of proceeds benefitting the First Parish Church of Lincoln.
Florence Scott Hollingsworth was born in 1896 in Oregon. She attended Oregon State University, where she met her future husband Lowell. They both graduated in the midst of the Great Depression and they eventually attended Stanford to better their chances for employment. The couple moved east when Lowell was offered a job at MIT Lincoln Labs.
by Martin Willis
Coming up next month, Christies takes a daring leap and has the distinction of assigning the highest art at auction estimate ever. Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger, created in 1955 is going on the block May 11th at the Rockefella Center in New York City. The $140 Million dollar estimate is the lower end of expectations.
This painting in particular is iconic to say the least, but not considered the most valuable artwork in the world. If you could imagine the most viewed painting in the world, the Mona Lisa (6 million people per year) ever for some reason hit the auction block, not only could it somehow cause a war of some kind, but nations would probably bid for it and guessing the price would be very unlikely.
Guest James Tumblin talks about his Gone with the Wind collection coming up at Heritage Auction on April 18 & 19, how he got started collecting his now 300,000 Gone with the Wind objects of memorabilia as well his experience and friendship with Marilyn Monroe.
Follow up with auction results here. Dress sells for $137,000!
A painting purchased in the 1950s by Finland’s Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation was never proven to be by the artist as it appeared to be unsigned. Thanks to modern technology, Claude Monet’s (1840-1926) signature was recently found under a layer of paint. The piece was painted near his home in Giverny and called “A Haystack in the Evening Sun” (1892).
I had the opportunity to view a Monet exhibition several years ago in Boston, and there is nothing like seeing the work in person. The pieces that struck me the most were, his lily pad paintings and his haystack paintings, both of which can sell for in excess of $10 million.
Round-robin at Gemr Headquarters in Portsmouth, NH. Gemr is a new social platform specifically for the collector. Listen in and get the details behind the scenes of a website/app that will revolutionize the field of collecting. Sign up on Gemr for free, and get one online appraisal at no cost, details here.
by Martin Willis
Not often can so many magnificent pieces travel through time unattributed, but such was the case of many Nathaniel Gould’s masterpieces. It all started several years ago when furniture scholar, Kemble Widmer and Joyce King were contacted by fine antique dealers, C.L. Prickett who recently purchased an outstanding mahogany Chippendale bombe secretary/bookcase. Prickett contracted Widmer & King to try to track down the maker of his acquisition, knowing it was most likely a Boston, Massachusetts furniture maker.
Detectives at Work
Now let’s shift gears and talk about three vellum covered account books sitting unregarded on the shelves at the Massachusetts Historical Society for 174 years. These books were assumed to be nothing more than account ledgers. During their investigation Kemble had a strong hunch that the piece they were researching was by Nathaniel Gould. One evening, it occurred to Joyce King that when all else fails in their research, Google it. Surprisingly in her Google search, Nathaniel Gould account books popped up under the Massachusetts Historical Society. Ironically, this information had only been on the internet for one or two weeks. Joyce immediately called Kem, (as he likes to be called) and told him what she found, and suggested that they might be important. The next day they made their initial trip to the historical society in Boston and after the pieces were brought out for them to inspect, to their surprise, they could tell right away that these written accounts were geared toward Gould’s furniture making. They discovered that the ledgers were a treasure trove of information including Gould’s prolific unknown work. It also became obvious that the fine wood he used was only possible because he controlled the mahogany coming to the shores of Salem.
Guest Levi Bettweiser talks about The Rescued Film Project, found film from locations all over the world, in the form of undeveloped rolls of film, which are developed and scanned to a digital archive, check out this video of 31 discovered WWII rolls seen for the first time.
Our most exciting historic podcast, on location at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for the Reveal Ceremony of the famed Paul Revere, Samuel Adams Time Capsule! Plus, a phone interview with the woman who opened the box, Pam Hatchfield who is Head of Objects Conservation at the MFA. Pam is also president of the American Institute for Conservation.
Host Martin Willis is joined by Dan Sullivan of gemr.com
A Collector’s Perspective
by Martin Willis
I have to look back in my memory to try and understand why I loved antiques at such an early age. I attribute this to walking around the border of our property in Eliot, Maine at the age of 7 or so and discovering shards of antique bottles from a 19th century dump. I loved the way the glass had turned purple with time, and the embossing on them told stories. I eventually got a garden hoe and started to dig, and found treasure after treasure of these intact examples of history.
I caught the bug and was hooked right there and then. I eventually got some friends together to search other properties, burrowing deep into the woods, poison ivy and all. I would bring the finds home, clean them as good as I could in a washtub, and display them on shelves in our barn. I had bottles, insulators and inkwells of all kinds, colors and sizes. The shelves became overloaded and eventually went into boxes. I still bear the scar of a bad cut I got at a site and remember it exactly. I was so enthralled in the dig, I tore some cloth of my T-shirt wrapped my finger and kept up the hunt. My prize possession that day was a cobalt blue poison bottle. In the 19th century, there was low lighting, so bottles containing poison had rough ribbed or faceted surfaces. When you grasped one in the dark, you knew not to ingest the contents. In general, the bottles I found were mostly common, and had little value, but for some reason the stories they told were more important than money to me.
Gary Sullivan talks about transitioning from oak furniture in the 1970s to fine American period furniture and clocks. His path has led him to the Antiques Roadshow and more recently to the White House to document an American musical tall case clock made by Effingham Embree. For information on clocks and more, check out: garysullivanantiques.com
Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions talks to us from London to share the details of Marilyn Monroe’s lost archive. Found are 200 lots of Marilyn’s personal effects that were found at her home upon her death and have only resurfaced recently. The auction takes place on December 6, 2014. Auction information and highlights. Read the blog by Martin Willis, written in 2012.
Sales Results: Marilyn Monroe Overcoat sold for $176,400
MM Love Letter from Joe DiMaggio sold for $78,125
MM Star Hair combs sold for $22,500
MM Beaded necklace sold for $37,500
MM signed model release sold for $12,500
MM Nude painting by Earl Moran sold for $37,500
MM letter to Arthur Miller sold for $43,750
MM Compact $46875
James D. Julia’s Toys, Dolls & Advertising department head, Andrew Truman talks about collecting, past auctions and a record breaking auction that took place on November 7th, 2014. Check out auction results here.
The reason people usually start collecting is, a connection. Not with the objects per say, but with memories. Sometimes people just plain collect because they realize something appeals to them, this has happened to me with fine art.
People don’t always collect just items, sometimes they collect themes. Here are just a few theme examples: Photography, Civil War & militaria, fine art paintings & sculpture, furniture, duck decoys, historical ephemera, antique toys, coins, beer cans, books. Animal themes collected include: cats, dogs, elephants, tigers, lions, hippopotamuses, squirrels, turtles, loons, ducks and owls. I have been in houses where there are 1,000s of these themed collectibles. The person, couple or family cherished the aspect of collecting, and buying examples, at auction, on vacation, or other various means. Their stories of their collecting experience was often very interesting and meant something to them.
Read the rest of the story here.
by Martin Willis
Listen to the associated podcast here.
When visiting Prout’s Neck, right away you know you are somewhere special, a peninsula surrounded by water, a harbor on one side and the rocky ocean coast on the other. It is a place where you can become secluded if you choose and take in Maine’s nature at it’s best. It is a place you can paint.
I had the opportunity to visit the studio of a preeminent figure in American art, Winslow Homer, who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1836 and later settled to this beautiful surrounding. You can almost picture the artist with easel perched on the shore, creating one of his astounding images. I was disappointed to find out that this never happened. Winslow Homer was a studio painter. To be a studio painter of his magnitude, you could only be a gifted observer, a lover of the visual.
An interview with Portland Museum of Art Director, Mark Bessire at Winslow Homer’s Studio, Prout’s Neck, Maine. Mark discusses the life that shaped Homer into the artist he became, his work and his time as America’s top studio painter on the Maine Coast. winslow homer images
by Martin Willis
The More You Pay the More You Like It
Values of rarities are only perceived ones and are subjective to the beholder. Only two people have to have this perception, the winning bidder and the under-bidder. Proven history shows that auction is a great method to sell rare items, people fight with their money to claim their prize.
This was no exception at Bonham’s groundbreaking History of Science Auction held in New York on October 22nd. Offered were 288 lots including items ranging from 18th century pocket globes to the ilk of 20th century tech.
The star of the show was a motherboard retaining a label reading, “Apple Computer 1 / Palo Alto, Ca. Copyright 1976”. Let’s face it, not a pretty object, but historically very significant in the digital world. The bottom line is, when the bidding ended and the dust settled, Apple 1 sold for an astonishing $905,000.
Click Here to read more and to find our why this bear has anything to do with old computers.
Rebekah Kaufman comes on the show again to talk about recent finds, and collecting Steiff other than the popular Teddy Bear and much more. Check out the accompanying VIDEO, a moving tale on what started three generations of collecting. Rebekah’s Steiff Blog.
by Martin Willis
Around two dozen years ago, I attended an auction that was being conducted by a legendary auctioneer, Dick Withington, of New Hampshire. Dick was a real character, and he had an amazing memory. If you bought an item at his auction, he would ask your name, and he never forgot it. You could walk into an auction of his five years later, bid on another piece, and he would say “Sold to John Doe”, he always got it right. He refused to use bidder numbers like everyone else until he was late in his 70s.
At this particular auction there was an offering of a matching pair of NH Chippendale maple chest-on-chests, which translates to a chest of drawers in two parts with the base chest supported by feet or a bracket.The incredible pieces offered were made by the master cabinet maker, Major John Dunlap in the late 18th century. When I say ‘pair’, there was indeed a single difference in the two. One had a mustard yellow original painted surface, the other had been stripped and refinished a number of years ago. It was time for the yellow surfaced one to be on the block, followed by the refinished mate. The room burst with excitement when the first piece crested the $100,000 mark, the competition was heavy between phone and floor bidders battling it out monetarily. Finally when the dust settled, it sold to a floor bidder for an astonishing $245,000! After the crowd quieted down, the second piece came up, the floor bidders who were active on the last one, just stood and watched as the piece was hammered down at $15,500.
In essence, someone had the bright idea of removing $229,500 worth of mustard yellow paint. To be fair, it was probably worked on in the day where no one really cared too much at all about the ‘old stuff’. People would refinish a piece like this for various reasons, changing tastes, a candle burn, water damage or any other number of superficial reasons.
Martin visits York, Maine and speaks with longtime painting conservator, Anthony Moore on the importance of professional conservation. Anthony further discusses some techniques, as well as tells some interesting stories. anthonymooreconservation.com
A chat with app developer, Ryan Servant, who offers the Brimfield Flea Finder free to the antique show attendees, listen in to all the brilliant benefits of use, including finding pieces, the facilities/food and more.
Emily Susanin of Susanin’s Auctioneers & Appraisers joins us for insight on the Chicago auction world, her involvement in the company. She further discusses the fun one can have while dealing with interesting people and pieces as well as educating one’s self in the trade.
Martin and Walt Kolenda discuss how antiques are green, and give advice for the collector just starting out, plus throw out a few stories and tips. Check out Walt’s website.
An annual round-robin, at the festive Randolph Street Market, with promoter Sally Schwartz, Nena Ivon, Harry Rinker, Susan Klein Bagdade, Al Bagdade, and Danielle Arnet, Addressing several topics in the world of collecting in 2014.
We are honored to host one of the three surviving Shakers, Brother Arnold which was recorded live at the Sabbathday Lake Village. Brother Arnold discusses the history of the Shakers, the way of life and the objects they crafted which are treasured by collectors from coast to coast. Check the Calendar of Events.
Michael Jefferson of Wright Auctions dives into a new auction paradigm, 20th century carpets. Listen in as he explains how important what you are walking on can be, and how it can tie a collection together. Check out the auction and images here.
An exciting interview with Kagins Inc., Donald Kagin, PhD & David McCarthy who are handling a once in a century find, The Saddle Ridge Hoard, $10 million worth of rare gold coins, buried sometime in the late 1800s and recently discovered when a couple was out walking their dog on their own property in Marin County! Listen in for behind the scenes of this unprecedented event and how it will unfold. Click here for an interview transcription with the anonymous couple, plus images.
Mary: Yes – we found the coins buried on a little area of our property that we call the Saddle Ridge
Q: Have you lived on this property a long time and possibly passed by the treasure without spying it before?
John: I saw an old can sticking out of the ground on a trail that we had walked almost every day for many, many years.
Mary: I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it!
Q. Had you ever noticed anything peculiar in the area before?
John: Years ago, on our first hike, we noticed an old tree growing into the hill. It had an empty rusty can hanging from it that the tree had grown around – that was right at the site where we found the coins… At the time we thought the can might be a place for someone to put flowers in for a gravesite – something which would have been typical at the time.
There was also an unusual angular rock up the hill from where the coins were buried – we’d wondered what in the heck it was.
Mary: It wasn’t until we made the find that we realized it might have been a marker: starting at the rock, if you walk 10 paces towards the North Star, you wind up smack in the middle of the coins!
Mary: John used a stick to dig up the first can. We took it back to the house, it was very heavy.
John: Heavy enough that we needed to take a little breather before getting back to the house. It was getting towards evening and the light was fading. I said to Mary, “Wow, this thing is heavy. It must be full of lead paint.” I couldn’t figure out what in the world would weigh that much.
Q. How long did it take you to realize you had something special?
John: Right after making the comment about it possibly being paint, the lid cracked off and exposed a rib of a single gold coin. I knew what I was looking at immediately. I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me – I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It’s impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment… I clamped the lid back on – I found a can of gold coins and I thought there was a zero percent chance of Mary believing me! When I told her, the look of bewilderment – her mouth was so wide open flies could have flown in and out several times.
Q: Were the cans side by side?
Mary: Yes. We went back to the site and a foot to the left of the first can we broke into another can. In the process we used a small hand shovel and a few coins scattered; it was so decomposed only half of that can was left. It was like looking at a pocket of coins.
Q. What was your first reaction when you saw these cans were full of gold? Did you feel like you had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Mary: It was like finding a wonderful hot potato.
Q. After the initial discovery how did you locate and excavate the entire hoard?
John: There were five more small cans – which brought the total up considerably, and we found the last one with a metal detector. It was a big day when we found that can. We’ve poked around more and now have a sense that we found everything that’s in the area.
Q. Why do you think you were the lucky ones to find this treasure? Do you believe it was divine intervention or karma?
Mary: I never would have thought we would have found something like this; however, in a weird way I feel like I have been preparing my whole life for it.
Q. You have an interest in astrology; have you checked how the planets were aligned or what your chart said at the time of discovery?
Mary: Actually, I did look back at it. It’s very funny, my chart did talk about treasure, but it was more about the treasure of spirit….
Q. Would you say that your “dreams” have come true?
John: Like a lot of people lately, we’ve had some financial trials. I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property.
Q. Estimates put the value of this find at over $10 million; better than some lotteries. What will you do with all this money?
Mary: We love our lives as they are – I hope we can help our family members and our community and give back some.
Q. Were you ever coin collectors; did you know such coins even existed?
John: Yes I still have my coin collection from when I was a kid.
John: In terms of the condition and value of the coins, we as amateurs thought that the 1866-S No Motto $20 might be worth $5,000 or more – we didn’t realize it was considerably better than the coin sitting in the Smithsonian!
Q. Where did you put them and what did you do with them?
John: I dug a hole under the wood pile and got a slab of green board to cover it, put the coins in plastic bags, then put them in a box inside an old ice chest and buried them.
Q: You dug them up and reburied them?
John: Yeah – the old-timers had it right – it’s safer than in a bank!
Mary: We knew almost immediately that we would sell them, but we couldn’t just go to anyone – we had to walk that path really carefully…
John: We knew better than to go to any local pawn broker with the coins to put them on the market, we knew better than that.
Mary: What we really appreciated was that from the outset, David [McCarthy of Kagin’s Inc.] very much wanted us to know everything we could about our coins. He didn’t ever try to say, “These really aren’t anything.” He let us know right away that they were special and told us various stories about the different dates. One thing that he said that stuck with us was the idea of honoring the whole group, instead of selling a little bit at a time over time, even though it is more risky for us personally. The history of the coins as a hoard is important.
Q: Is there one coin that stood out in the group that you are particularly fond of?
John: The Dahlonega Half Eagle.
Mary: Yes – they all have a certain energy about them. Each is so unique – each has its own character and essence.
Q. Do you intend on keeping any of the coins as mementos from the find?
Q. Are you going to quit your jobs?
John: No – we’re self-employed – the beautiful thing about self-employment is that you can go to your grave self employed.
Q. You have chosen to remain anonymous out of concern for your family’s safety and potentially from being overwhelmed by the media. But how do you think this find will change your lives?
Mary: We’re the same people we were before, just with more freedom of choice. Our finances won’t have to dictate so many of our day to day decisions.
Q. Some lottery winners have later said that such sudden wealth ended up being more of a curse than a blessing. Have the two of you discussed how you will navigate the path ahead and the potential pitfalls that might come with instant great wealth?
Mary: We try not to dwell on the negative.
John: It will be a broader path than the one we have been on.
Mary: Money can change other people’s perception of us more than our own perception of ourselves. Have you heard the song by Cindy Lauper, Money Changes Everything? We don’t want that; we don’t plan to tell our extended family or friends until more time goes by.
John: Since the find, we have become a little more aware of them.
Q. Had you ever looked for treasure before?
John: Not seriously. We made several camping trips and bought some gold panning equipment. We ended up with a vial of gold, so the idea of panning really caught my interest. The idea of panning for gold has a lot of appeal.
Q. Are there any causes you feel passionately about that you have considered donating to?
Mary: We’d like to help other people with some of this money. There are people in our community who are hungry and don’t have enough to eat. We’ll also donate to the arts and other overlooked causes. In a way it has been good to have time between finding the coins and being able to sell them in order to prepare and adjust. It’s given us an opportunity to think about how to give back.
Q. Do you see a day in the future when you might be willing to deal with the media and the publicity surrounding this historic discovery?
Q. This hoard will be in the annals of numismatic stories for quite some time; perhaps forever. How do you feel about that?
Mary: It would have been quite a pity not to share the magnitude of our find. –We want to keep the story of these coins intact for posterity.
Q. Do you have anything else to share about finding what may be the greatest buried treasure ever found in North America?
Mary: Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home! The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can!!!!
Author, Jim Craig joins us for a fascinating interview on the finest American eagle carver of all time, John Haley Bellamy. The upcoming Portsmouth, NH Exhibition titled, Bold & Brash: The Art of John Haley Bellamy is from April 4- October 3rd. As podcast host, this is one of my favorite interviews, and I suggest not to miss this once in a lifetime exhibition! Facebook Page.
Speaking with Richard Wright of Wright20 about his new NYC location hosting the Harry Bertoia Exhibition, he further discuses the life and works of Bertoia from his famous diamond chairs to installations and highly regarded sounding sculptures.
An interview with historian and author Mary Miley Theobald, on a ‘what to do’ book on when you are faced with in inherited household, ‘ How to identify, value and dispose of inherited stuff.’ Check out her book.
Her website is: marymileytheobald.com
Jeffrey Herman passionately discusses how to care for silver, plus freely gives many other tips for the collector or buyer. His comprehensive website has all the advice you may ever need: www.hermansilver.com/silver care
Michael Lauck discusses the history of magicians, including women in the field, Houdini, collecting ephemera, posters props and more. A fascinating interview by a specialist that really knows his topic. Check out a blog Michael wrote for the forum and also: iTricks.com
27 year-old Dylan Shub in Jerusalem of The Gryphon’s Nest explains the antique business there as well as what it was like starting as a toddler in the business. He later discusses the social media aspect of the antiques dealing and where that is headed with the “Virtual Generation”.
Martin talks to Dan Meader at John McInnis Auctions about the past record breaking David Powers Auction of JFK’s affects and the monumental upcoming Legends Auction, JFK, Peter Lawford, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe and more. Listen to Dan’s enthusiasm as he explains behind the scenes and the contents of the auction that will shake the world of collectors! View auction supplement here.
Join curator Daniel Finamore, PhD, Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History as he discusses the “Impressionists on the Water” exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts that runs from November 9th through February 17th, 2014
A lecture by Martin Willis in Amesbury, MA discussing behind the scenes of the auction of the signer of the Declaration, Josiah Bartlett which was a career highlight held in 1989. Check out the news story video.
The Martins meet at Connor McCrory’s (America’s Youngest Picker) first estate sale in Southern California to talk about the recent release of Mr. Codina’s book: Liquidating an Estate, How to Sell a Lifetime of Stuff, Make Some Cash and Live to Tell About It
A great interview with Maureen Stanton, author of: Killer Stuff and Tons of Money, listen in for the behind the scenes look, the way it really is in the world of the antiques marketplace. This podcast host recommends this book for anyone that wants to know what it is really like out there.
A fascinating interview with noted glass and ceramic conservator, Elaine Miller. Listen in as she discusses the art of restoration/repair and her passion for putting the puzzles back together as well as maintaining the integrity of fine objects.
Visit: Fairmont Studios
Pamela Wiggins grew up in the antiques business and later became a journalist and joined her two worlds together writing about the subject as well as encouraging the family hobby of antiques interest. Click here for info.
Martin Kemp discusses where science meets art to uncover the La Bella Principessa, a Leonardo Da Vinci that was nearly unattributed and lost through time. Listen in to hear how a $21,000 German 19th century portrait can turn into a work by the Old Master himself and be worth over a purported $100 million! Check out: martinjkemp.com
Martin has a delightful conversation with 8-year-old Connor McCrory, who is a prodigy picker. Having a passion for collecting and gaining knowledge at such an early age, the antique world is his oyster. We will keep an eye on him and talk again next year. Check out his Facebook page and website.
Stopping along busy US1 in Wells, Maine, Martin has a conversation with gallery owner ,Corey Daniels and gallery director/artist, Miles Spadone. Cory discusses his transitions from 18th century period furniture, to today’s contemporary art which he displays in a beautiful setting. Check out: coreydanielsgallery.com check out their busy Facebook page as well.
An interview at the Colby College Museum of Art with: Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Curator of American Art; Hannah Blunt, Langlais Curator for Special Projects and Lauren Lessing, Mirken Curator of Education as they all discuss the Lunder Collection and exhibition. At over $100 million, the largest and most significant gift of art to any institution of higher learning ever. Visit the Website and ‘Like’ on Facebook
On location! After a tour of Monticello, Martin talks with Susan Stein, Richard Gilder Senior Curator & Vice President for Museum Programs about Thomas Jefferson, the man and his amazing mountain top home that he called Monticello. Be sure to ‘Like’ on Facebook!
A fascinating discussion with Dean Lahikainen, Peabody Essex Museum‘s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art about an upcoming exhibition, Fabergé Revealed from the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that will be on view at PEM from June 22 until September 29, 2013. Also discussed is, The House of Fabergé and the people who sought the treasured works. Visit: http://pem.org
Keri Seery speaks about social media, and the symbiotic relationship it can have in the marketing of antiques. Check out Keri’s Facebook Page.
Margaret Zoladkowski is a recent UNH graduate with a history degree, who is pursuing a career in the antiques and auction industry. She currently interns at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and has knowledge as well as a passion for early textiles. She discusses the quirks of Victorian mourning clothing etiquette and fashion arts of the past.
Seldom do I blog about any of the podcasts, but as I am sitting at O’Hare Airport, I decided to write about my experience at the Randolph Street Market in Chicago. I had more than an excellent time podcasting at the 10th anniversary celebration, Memorial Day Weekend.
In a conversation a nearly 4 years ago with Eric Bradley, (formerly the editor of Antique Trader), he mentioned that I needed to do a podcast with Sally Schwartz. He told me that she was fun and a real Chicago icon in the antiques world.
I found out Sally was all of that and more. Rarely do you meet someone that is entrepreneurial, follows her dreams and make things happen the way Sally does. This market is just one of her great events, she is a very busy woman and somehow keeps it all together. The connection I have made with Sally has certainly enriched this podcast, and my life. By the way, she really does have a great sense of humor.
Recorded live in Chicago, a special Round-Robin format podcast celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Randolph Street Market, with co-founder Sally Schwartz, Kathy Finley, Nena Ivon, Harry Rinker, Susan Klein Bagdade, Al Bagdade, Greg Willett, Danielle Arnet, and former podcast co-host Phyllis Kao. A celebration of the anniversary as well as a discussion on the antiques market place makes this a fascinating podcast for all who are interested in antiques and vintage.
Martin joins Cari Cucksey of HGTV’s Cash & Cari for a fun sit-down at the Brimfield Antique show.
Check out: http://www.repurposeshop.com
by Martin Willis (read on Worthpoint.com)
A look at how antiques connect us to forgotten lives of the past
I was walking my dog this morning on the property of the 1790 House, which is a fine colonial structure in Woburn, Massachusetts that houses the auction company’s office. The property is right next to Rt. 128, which is always very noisy with a constant stream of traffic flowing north and south.
The historic house borders the Middlesex Canal, which was a concept that became a reality in the late 18th century. The canal connected Boston Harbor to the Merrimack River and had 20 locks with the average depth of 3 feet. Barges pulled by oxen transported many goods all the way to Concord, NH and back. The main function of the canal was to transport timber for shipbuilding from the virgin forest of New Hampshire to Medford, Mass. When the canal was built, it was a very substantial feat of engineering for that time.
As my dog and I walked near the canal, we came to some brush that my dog decided to walk into. I forced my way through the thicket to find my dog, and came upon a magnificent chiseled granite post protruding out of the ground. It had a hand hammered and rusted iron eyelet near the top for rope lashing. I wondered when the last time was that someone saw this post lost in time. I realized that objects like these, along with antiques are connections to the forgotten lives of the past.
Martin speaks with luthier, Kevin McElroy of Frost Gully Violins in Freeport, Maine about what makes antique violins special, and what to look for in a fine instrument. Visit: frostgullyviolins.com
One of the most pressing issues in our industry today, and one near to my heart, is how to engage the next generation of auction goers and antique collectors. I have read a good many articles on how the younger generations; the millennials in particular don’t care about antiques. All too many times I’ve heard “kids these days would rather have a cell phone than a bedroom suite”. Frankly I am starting to take offense. I am a millennial. I am 25, and yes, I own an IPhone, but I also work for an auction house. I care about antiques, vintage, and preserving our material culture for the next generation. Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I don’t think so.
Martin chats with Lee Kalfon about what is going on in the antique world and the opinions of Generation Y. They talk about why younger people may have lost some interest in antiques. They discuss vintage and repurposing as well as steampunk movements.
I have attached a photo of a painting signed Walt Kuhn in upper right, which belonged to my father. We have reason to believe it was passed down from his paternal side of the family. He never displayed this painting nor had it appraised – he died in 2008. We found the painting among his effects and we think he forgot that he had it.
The painting is on canvas, and it has no signature. There is an old New York gallery label on the reverse of the painting that says “Walt Kuhn, Head of a Young Girl” the painting is 14″x 10″
Can you tell me what it is worth? NK
Thank you for sending this information. Your painting certainly appears to be by the artist Walt Kuhn (1877-1949). There is a lot to say about Walt Kuhn; besides being an American Modernest Master, he was also instrumental in putting together the landmark 1913 Armory Show. Through this show, he was the first to bring Pablo Picasso among others to the US. Kuhn was offered $20,000 during his life for his masterpiece, The White Clown. At the time, it was the most money ever offered for any painting of a living artist. The White Clown currently lives at the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC and would without a doubt set a new record (the current record at auction is: $1.1 million) if it ever went to auction. Kuhn was known for painting circus performers which as a collector is the most desirable subject. It is possible your piece is of a performer However, not being identified, it would not be a good idea to sell it as one.
I would be delighted to handle such a piece at auction. Without seeing it in person, if authentic, the pre-auction estimate of $8, 000-12,000.
Martin Willis, Appraiser
James D Julia Auctioneers
827 Main St
Woburn, MA 01801
An informational conversation with Adrien von Ferscht, of Glasgow, Scotland on the subject of antique Chinese Export Silver. Adrien is a pure academic researcher and provides an astounding amount of resources on his blog: chinese-export-silver.com His catalog of marks, 1785-1940 is available here, with a new edition soon to be published.
by Martin Willis
Check out our interview with Dan Meader prior to this auction here.
When you have so many objects of a great fallen president in one auction, anything can happen. The collection was from the estate of David F. Powers, special assistant to Kennedy and the first curator of the JFK Library. I made an appearance at the auction, braving four hours of dangerous travel in a typical New England snowstorm. I went as I said in the podcast, just to see the people and watch the event.
I want to start by saying, no one in the business could have done a better job, and that is not easy to say, considering that I am a competitor of my good friend John McInnis as well as a friend of Dan Meader who held the auction in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The one thing I certainly bet John wishes he had done differently is, make it a two-day auction. As fate would have it, the auction ended up being a two-day event after all (18 hours long), but not by choice.
You may remember him as “Wally” on the iconic show, Leave it to Beaver, child actor and more recently film director, Tony Dow talks about his second career as a sculptor, his journey and how he creates his art. Check out: tonydowsculpture.com
Martin visits John McInnis’ Auction Gallery in Amesbury, Massachusetts and talks Dan Meader about the important John F. Kennedy memorabilia that belonged to David F. Powers, JFK’s White House special assistant and longtime confidant. Auction follow-up here!
Colleene Fesko, frequently seen on the hit PBS television series Antiques Roadshow talks about the John Gale Art Collection of Cape Ann School paintings. She also discusses the internet’s changing affects on the art market, fakes and more. Check out the John Gale video of him describing his collection. The auction will be held at James Julia Auctioneers.
Check out: roschmitt.com
by Ken Torrino
Yet, we’d be wrong. Right now, these and other historical documents can be found on display in the Madison Avenue gallery of Douglas Elliman, a premier New York City real estate agency. It’s a week-long promotion that will lead to an auction consisting of 300 lots filled with personal documents that belonged to historical figures from King George III to Joe DiMaggio.
Repeat guest Richard Wright from auction house Wright20 talks about Italian design including Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass and more.
Martin along with Rebekah Kaufman co-hosting speak with collectable tile expert, Wendy Harvey about all aspects of tiles, what makes them collectable and more.
Check out http://www.antiquearticles.com
Back in 1982, my father, (Morgan Willis) and I were at a storage place meeting a woman from a prominent family in York, Maine. She was there for an hour before with family members getting things ready for us, as her main goal was to clear everything out of the storage unit. She ultimately wanted to stop paying rent on it as the family had been doing for at least ten years.
In the storage were items that were inherited from someone in their family, and there were nice period American pieces, boxes of early Canton porcelain and many fine collectibles. My dad and I were both very exited with the items we were listing, but of course, we kept our cool. It is never a good idea to get too excited as it tends to make consignors get excited enough not to sell sometimes.
Show Notes: Martin talks to blogger and expert Gregg Elliott on high grade shotguns, collecting, and how to make careful decisions when obtaining them. Check out his blog website at: dogsanddoubles.com
Martin: Hi everyone, welcome to the Antique Auction Forum. This is Martin Willis. Today is Podcast 122 with Gregg Elliott. His website is dogsanddoubles.com. We’re going to be speaking today about collecting high-grade, mostly antique, shotguns. You can like us on our Facebook page, or you can follow us on twitter. Those icons are on our website. If you would like to contact me, that’s email@example.com.
Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy today’s show.
This podcast is sponsored by WorthPoint. Find out what your antiques are worth at WorthPoint.com
I’m with Gregg Elliott. How are you doing, Gregg?
Gregg: I’m doing well, thanks. How are you doing?
Martin: Great, and we’re going to talk about shotguns, which I never thought I was going to talk about on this blog, but it’s pretty interesting. Right off the bat I’m going to ask you what makes a good shotgun a good shotgun?
Gregg: I think, from my perspective, one is original condition; I like to find one that hasn’t been refinished or restored in any way. I really value old finishes because those were put there by the original craftsmen, and they are part of the history of the item and if something has had that wiped away I feel like part of the history of the item is gone.
Martin: Now, are we talking about the stock and barrel?
Gregg: Yes, so the metal work and the wood; both of those can be refinished,
Martin: re-glued and…
Show Notes: Martin talks with historian/author, Mary Miley Theobald about debunking some fun American history myths of Colonial through Victorian times, some involving antiques. Check out: marymileytheobald.com
Martin: Hi everyone, this is Martin Willis with the Antique Auction Forum. Welcome to Episode 121 with Mary Miley Theobald. Today’s topic is going to be on historical myths. Some of them do apply to antiques; it’s a pretty fun show, I hope you enjoy it. You can follow us on twitter or you can like us on Facebook; those icons are right on our website http://antiqueauctionforum.com. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy today’s show.
This podcast is sponsored by WorthPoint. Find out what your antiques are worth at WorthPoint.com
Martin: I have Mary Miley Theobald in Virginia on Skype. How are you doing Mary?
Mary: I’m fine, thank you.
Martin: And you are a historian, and you live in Virginia.
Mary: Yes I do.
Martin: I listened to one of your podcasts, the Colonial Williamsburg Podcast; I thought it was great and a really interesting topic because we do from time to time some historical podcasts here and a lot of what we are involved in in the business certainly relates to history, so they’re always very popular on these shows. Can you talk a little bit about what some of your books have been lately about myths and debunking them? This is a real fun subject if you ask me.
Mary: It is fun. And of all the writing I’ve done in the past 30 years this has really been the most fun book I’ve written. I guess it got started back in 2006 when I visited the DAR Museum in Washington, and they had an exhibit on history myths. They were debunking certain myths that are widely repeated at museums, or historic sites, national parks, city bus tours, carriage rides, those kinds of things. Myths like “People didn’t bathe back then”, or “Colonial Americans thought tomatoes were poisonous” or “women secluded themselves indoors during pregnancy”; things that were patently not true. I wrote an article debunking a few myths; I thought maybe I’d find a dozen. And it got a lot of attention. People wrote back saying “what about this myth” and “what about this myth”, so I wrote a second article, started collecting them, had enough for a book, and I’m still collecting; I might have enough for a second book!
Over the last few years it seems like there has been an increased interest in collecting the bizarre and odd, particularly the oddities of yesterday. As collecting the artifacts of the carnival midways, sideshows and traveling medicine shows gain popularity, so does the popularity of these entertainments’ (only slightly) more refined cousin, magic. Although magic and illusion have been popular entertainments for centuries, the hey day of stage magic was arguably around the turn of the last century. This period has left us a legacy of beautiful advertising material, souvenirs and actual stage props. The problem is that magic, by its very nature, is secretive which compounds the normal problems that come with antique verification. Many items sold as magic props, such as puzzle boxes and two headed coins, are actually novelties or gambling items. If you are not a magician (and sometimes even if you are), it can be very difficult to spot a legitimate prop and even harder to tell something relatively old. However, props are only one of the types of magic related antiques you may find.
Listen to the podcast here.
Martin: Hi everyone, this is Martin Willis of Antiques Auction Forum episode 120. I’m excited about today’s guest; it’s the award-winning legendary actress, and singer as well as author, Polly Bergen http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Bergen/150067449164. Because of that I have her music as an intro and outro. Hope you enjoy that. A couple of announcements: You can follow us on twitter and you can like us on facebook; those icons are right on our website. This pod cast is sponsored by Worthpoint: Find Out What Your Antiques are Worth at Worthpoint.com http://www.worthpoint.com. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy today’s show.
Martin: I am in Connecticut with Polly Bergen. How are you doing Polly?
Polly: I’m very well. Thank you, Martin.
Martin: It’s such a pleasure to work with you first of all, you are really gracious with me to record about antiques.
Polly: Oh it’s my pleasure. I’m old enough to be able to talk about old things!
Martin: (laughing) Now, you were collecting all the way back into the 1950’s but before we get into that, first of all, for the younger people – we have a lot of younger people around world who listen – can you kind of go into…
Show Notes; Martin speaks with legendary award winning actress, singer and best selling author, Polly Bergen about her career as well as her adventures in collecting antiques. They also discuss the restoration of her 18th century home and much more.
A decidedly interesting part of antiques and collectables is art. In years past there have been stories of paintings or other ephemera relating to artists that have sold for record sums. Some people may argue that it’s silly money, but others take a real interest in it. One aspect of artwork that very often gets neglected, but is just as valid and worthy as expensive paintings, is that of vintage cartoons and an upcoming auction on 18th October is going to be showcasing and hopefully selling, some of the most interesting ones from recent years.
Political satire and historical cartoons through the ages
The US is very lucky in that it is one of the few countries, alongside the UK, that can more or less trace it’s political history through the emergence of cartoons and satire. The very first political cartoon of its kind was one that was created by Ben Franklin in 1754. It was entitled simply “Join or Die” and showed a caricatured image of a snake which became a symbol of the revolutionaries. Since then, images such as these have been used to lampoon and send up authority figures.
During the nineteenth century, critiques would be made on the presidential elections via the medium of art and cartooning. Thomas Nast was considered to be the real founding father of political satire via cartoons. His work certainly pulled no punches and he made his feelings about anyone in the political sphere he did not like, patently clear.
By Michael Bernzweig
Growing up, my mother had a houseful of antiques—which I not-so-affectionately referred to as junk. I felt embarrassed when my friends referred to our house as a museum. Moreover, I had no idea that these items held value. My concern was that I had to help dust around all of these “trinkets” and field questions about their origin. My mom collected old medicine tins and bottles, tobacco tins, inkwells, kitchen spice tins and timepieces. She tried to explain what the colorful lithographs meant and why they were important: nostalgia, historical interest and face value. It was not until a friend asked me years later to join him relic hunting with a metal detector that my attitude toward antiques changed. Below is advice on selecting a relic metal detectors for locating antiques for readers of Antique Auction Forum from industry professional Michael Bernzweig of MetalDetector.com.
My friend was poking around on the shoreline searching for antiques (or relics)—in particular, antique rings and jewelry and antique toys. In the process, he came upon an old inkwell that looked exactly like one of my mother’s! His fascination with the history of the inkwell (everyone used them until there were fountain pens) and the fact that he sold it at auction gave me a newfound appreciation for my mom’s “stuff.” Now I regularly embark upon treasure hunts with friends with metal detectors and we’re creating lots of fun memories. On a recent hunt we’ve even recovered some valuable coins and an antique pendant.
Show Notes: In Texas, Martin talks to Arkansas longtime artwork picker Dale Blackwelder who gives good tips for the novice collector. He further discusses some great finds and how he survives without the use of computers.
Listen to the podcast here.
Martin: Hi everyone, this is Martin Willis with the Antique Auction Forum. Today’s episode is number 119 with Dale Blackwelder. He is a picker who specializes in artwork; very interesting. It’s a short podcast but I hope you enjoy today’s show.
Martin: I’m with Dale Blackwelder. How are you doing Dale?
Dale: Real good.
Martin: Now you’ve been dealing in art for…?
Dale: I had my first store, I think, in 1969 or 70. I used to do clocks and music boxes, (but) I always had an affinity for art. I liked looking at it and I started collecting paper works; now it’s mostly oils.
Martin: So you’ve evolved mostly into art over the years?
Dale: Well, yeah. I like mechanical things, and what I could see really well. It was easy to do, and it was quick… you know, I could clean a clock and make a few dollars. And at that time the Europeans were sending everything over to the United States, so you could go into warehouses and buy 50 great clocks – and oil paintings and things. There was just so much of it; it was really inexpensive, so I started then.
Martin: Now, in our conversation we had prior to this, you don’t use a computer. You never used a computer, you never will, probably (laughing).
Dale: Most likely not; I just find it keeps you from learning what looks good and what isn’t good.
Pocket watches are something that have had a long and very varied history. As the saying goes “Tempus Fugit”, time flees. These items can be simply designed and functional, meant for every day use, or they can be intricate and ornate objects which are meant to be shown as a display of wealth, as well as serving a useful purpose. Timepieces are now amongst the most collectable items of jewelry for sale at auction these days and over the coming months there are two important and notable events doing just that.
Intricately designed pocket watch from the 18th century. Image courtesy of wikimediacommons
Thousands of years ago, man had literally no concept of time. Life was governed by the transition of the seasons and day moving into night. The notion of AM or PM just did not figure at all. Over the centuries, the need to be more concise and recognize how the day evolved became more necessary. The first recorded instance of pocket watches came during the later stages of the middle ages when people from the upper classes of society requested craftsmen to make them timepieces that they could hand around their necks, primarily as a show of wealth but also as a stylish means of being able to tell the time accurately wherever they were.
It was alleged that Queen Elizabeth I of England was one of the first people to own a wrist watch and other notable names in history who are said to have owned pocket watches are the Duke of Modena and the Ottoman watchmaker Meshur Sheyh Dede.
Until the Industrial Revolution they really were the reserve of the upper echelons of society only. The ordinary person would simply have to carry on relying on whether the sun was over the yardarm or not! Once the Industrial Revolution took hold, the trend for these pieces spread worldwide as trade broadened and important developments like the railways cropped up everywhere. In the United States and The United Kingdom it was made compulsory for men who worked on the railways to have about their person at all times an accurate method of telling the time, thus they were supplied with pocket watches to be able to do this. They only fell out of favour when technology moved on with the development of the Quartz movement which rendered the daily winding of watches obsolete.
People will always be fascinated with auctions of any kind. The passion for collecting and restoring antiques and other valuable goods is gaining in popularity as people’s interest in vintage items over new continues to increase. However, in terms of collectables, one man’s meat might be another man’s poison and a recent news story about an upcoming auction might just be about to further put this theory to the test.
Crime Scene Collectables
The public have always had a perhaps slightly grim fascination with anything crime or gore related and the interest in picking up items from crime scenes is not a new one by any stretch of the imagination.
A story published here in the New York Times tells of how a New Hampshire based auction room are preparing for a live sale at the end of September, selling some of the most interesting and perhaps macabre collectables that have been purloined from the scenes of some famous crimes US History.
Bonnie and Clyde. Image courtesy of wikimediacommons
Listen to the Podcast Here.
Martin Willis: I’m on the phone with Terry Kovel How are you Terry?
Terry Kovel: I’m fine, thanks. Good to hear from you.
Martin: Yes thank you, now, I am talking about Terry Kovel of Ralph and Terry Kovel’s price guides. I have seen these books around and, growing up in the business, God I want to say back in the 70s, I first picked up a Kovel’s. How many books have you published? When did you start?
Terry: Now I’m giving my age away. Our first book came out in 1953. It was Dictionary of Marks: Pottery and Porcelain, and it’s kind of funny, the first copy arrived the day our daughter was born so we kept saying we were to call her Mark if she was a boy but, I got a girl; she lucked out.
At any rate, then they said we were experts, you know, “You wrote a book. You’re an expert”. Price book came along a couple books later, but the one this year, the 2013 Kovel’s , is the 45th price book, and they’re all new every year so I can count it and, hold your breath, this is our hundred and first book.
Show Notes: Martin talks to antiques & collectibles price list mogul, Terry Kovel. Listen in to hear a perspective spanning back to Kovel’s first edition in 1953 with a view on current trends & much more. Visit: kovels.com
Martin: OK I have jack Wilson on Skype, how’re you doing Jack?
Jack: I’m doing well Marty, yourself?
Martin: Good, thank you, and where are you? You’re in Arizona?
Jack: Prescott Arizona; one of the top retirement locations in the United States.
Martin: Ah, well, that right away makes me think of a lot of goodies that may come in that area.
Jack: That’s Correct.
Martin: Yeah, I think of it this way, in retirement places like Florida, places like that, a lot of people may sell their furniture but a lot of times they’ll bring nice decorative arts with them or art work; in Florida a lot of things end up settling there and I’m sure it must be the same where you’re located.
Jack: more so actually in phoenix than in Prescott. There’s a lot of the antiques shops here but not a lot of what I would classify as genuine antiques; more tourist type stuff.
Martin: Ah. So today we are going to talk mostly about the subject of Ruba Rombic glass which has always fascinated me from the very first time I saw it, now how did you get interested in this subject and start researching and collecting this type of glass? And before you get into that can you explain basically what the glass is, you know I think of it as like the Cubist type form in the Art Deco era but I want you to give a description if you would please.
Jack: Sure, in the mid twenty’s, actually 1926, the Consolidated Glass Company located in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, 15 miles outside of Pittsburgh, got into the art glass business at the urging of Reuben Haley who had worked at the U.S. Glass Company and had left when the ownership changed and he didn’t like the new owners. So in ’26 he came out with a line of glass called Martele which is basically American Lalique and in ’28 he came out with a line of glass called Catalonian, all Spanish, and ‘28 was Ruba Rombic. Ruba Rombic was very very Deco. There’s a lot of different ideas of where the name came from, but I think it came from number one, Reuben, and number two, rhomboid which is a geometric figure with no parallel planes, and Ruben Haley was actually a sculptor; had worked at some of the silver companies earlier and the way I heard the story he picked a piece of plaster off the factory floor and sculpted the first piece of Ruba Rombic design in the plaster. And I heard that from a guy who worked for him. I also interviewed his son, Ken Haley in Pennsylvania before he died. So it’s very cubistic glass that came out in ’28 and the problem was it was ultramodern, number one, so some people liked it and some people didn’t, and in 1929, in October actually, we had Black Friday which was the great depression so bam the production lifecycle of Ruba Rombic wasn’t very long, and we’ve had varying estimates of how many pieces there are. Bob Aibel of Moderne Gallery of Philadelphia thought it was about 1,500; based on what I know, I think it’s between 2,000 and 3,000. But those are very, very, very small figures when you compare them to something like Lalique where if you go to a major glass show in Miami you’ll probably see 20 or 30 pieces of Lalique you can purchase, and if you see one or two of Ruba Rombic you’d be lucky.
Martin Willis: I’m in New Haven, Connecticut with Fred Giampietro. How you doing, Fred?
Fred Giampietro: Fine, fine. How are you?
Martin: And I apologize it took me a little while to pronounce your name properly. I’ve known your name, and of the pieces you’ve sold, I’ve seen your ads for many, many, many years of handling very fine things, and I’d like to know how you got started. What was your beginnings, and how did you evolve into handling such fine pieces?
Fred: I grew up Cheshire, Connecticut. My parents did not have money. They were very, very middle America, ran a landscaping nursery, and when I went up to school in Florida to study classical music I met Kathy, who – we later got married, so in 1973 I found myself at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida studying classical music, and one of my first dates with Kathy was to an antique shop. Her family always collected. Her father was an artist – is a contemporary artist and they loved antiques and they used to rummage around finding stuff, so first date we go to a place called Carousel Antiques in DeLand, Florida next to the University, and I bought a Shaker Number 7 Rocker. I don’t know what came over me. I just loved the stuff. I loved the idea that shop had everything from Victorian furniture to vintage clothing to old tools to junk, and there was this Shaker Number 7 Rocker and I got –
Martin: So, you know how to – you knew how to spot something fairly decent right off the bat, obviously.
Fred: I didn’t know it was a Shaker. I knew nothing about Shaker or what Shaker was, but I took it home. Took it to some antiques dealer that – who I respected or thought I respected and they told me what I had and –
Martin: Did it have the number 7 in them – one of them?
Fred: It had number 7 on it and it had – I’ll never forget it had a broken rocker and I, promptly, had the rocker replaced, and I took it to the dealer and they said: you did great, except you replaced the rocker, so I learned not to touch anything.
Show Notes: Martin speaks with expert, Jack Wilson on cubist art deco Ruba Rombic art glass produced by the Consolidated Glass Company in 1928.
Visit Jack’s website here.
Show Notes: Hear his journey of starting out with a $70 broken Shaker rocker in the 1970s, to the top end of folk art as well as his Connecticut contemporary art gallery. Listen in for the insight of Fred Giampietro, a key player in the antique and fine art world. Visit: fredgiampietro.com
I am an east coast gal. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and raised in Wells, Maine. I visit York, Maine often, it has always been one of my favorite places because it is part of the route ‘home.’ When I think of why I love the coast of Maine, York is always one of the reasons.
Recently the George Marshall Store Gallery contacted our business to be apart of the exhibit Accord VIII: A Pairing of Antiquities and Contemporary Art. Up until this point I had never visited the gallery, only heard great things about it. Before working with the museum I went to the site and was amazed. I had no idea the amount of history that existed on this very piece of property. The museum is truly a gem. The seaside setting is the icing on the cake. To smell fresh salty air while looking at art and antiques is what the tourists dream of and the ‘Maine-rs’ sometimes take for granted.