image001 image002Sold by Heritage Auctions, Jan. 7, 2016, at Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention in Tampa; famous coin makes only its fourth appearance at auction in history

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

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gemr_worthpointcontest_504x504_360-2As 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! : 

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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.

10A Gift to the Town

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.

Who Was Florence Hollingsworth?

florenceFlorence 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.


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by Martin Willis

Christies-PICASSO-FEMMES-DALGERComing 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.

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4by Martin Willis

60 Years of Waiting Proves Worthwhile

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.

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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

ANTIQUES2-master315Now 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.


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A Collector’s Perspective

by Martin Willis

d4e88957b0f3f8dccea0ded421879b73I 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.

triloids1I 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.

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17 Nov 2014, by

What People Collect

imagesIf it exists, it is collected by someone. In my long career in the antiques and auction business, I have seen the vast variety of items that people collect.

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: PhotographyCivil War & militaria, fine art paintings & sculpture, furniture, duck decoyshistorical 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.

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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.

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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.

26112-apple-1_articleThe 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.

bear5Click Here to read more and to find our why this bear has anything to do with old computers.

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17 Oct 2014, by

The Value of Condition


Dick Withington

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.


Dunlap Chest on Chest, Original Surface

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.

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bic - pic8Q.  You call this the Saddle Ridge Hoard; is that where you found these coins?

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?


bic - pic10John: 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!

90sobverseRUSTQ:   Did one of you stay there while the other went for tools?  

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?

bic - pic11John:  Of course, it was a very surreal moment.  It was very hard to believe at first.  I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.

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: How?


Dimminick-may-have-buried-the-Saddle-Ridge-Horde-gold-coins-in-1901-650x487Mary: John just knew what to do – it was a little bit karmic…  Perhaps in some way we were the ones that could honor the coins.

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. 

ap_backyard_gold_kb_140225_16x9_992Mary: It took us awhile to get the guts to Google what coins we had.

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?

Don Headshot 2011 cropped emailable

Donald Kagin, Numismatic Authority

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.

djm BW flipped

David McCarthy Senior Numismatic


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?

Saddle-Ridge-1886-S-Gold-Eagle-PCGS-MS66Mary: Maybe when we turn 80 years old – 40 yrs away! [laughs]

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!!!!



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imagesSeldom 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.

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by Martin Willis  (read on

A look at how antiques connect us to forgotten lives of the past


The Historic 1790 House, Woburn, MA

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.

baldwin_estateAs 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.

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20 Apr 2013, by

The Next Generation

by Lee Kalfon

chandelierOne 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.

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Dear Mr.Willis,

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


Dear 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


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A historic auction, media frenzy and a night owl’s delight

by Martin Willis

Check out our interview with Dan Meader prior to this auction here.

JFK Bomber Jacket sells for, $665,550!

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.

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by Ken Torrino

Here are a few things you’d think you would never see in a New York City real estate office:

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.

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10 Nov 2012, by

Tossed But Not Lost

‘One Man’s Trash’ you have heard the expression enough; here is another example how that it rings true.

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.

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Listen to the podcast here.

Martin: Hi everyone, welcome to the Antique Auction Forum. This is Martin Willis. Today is Podcast 122 with Gregg Elliott. His website is 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

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

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…

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Listen to the podcast here.

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 You can contact me at 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

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!

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19 Oct 2012, by

Collecting Magic

by Michael Lauck

            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.


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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 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 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…

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by Eve Sparrow

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

Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die” from 1754. Image courtesy of wikimediacommons

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.

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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

Antiques like these mini balls, buckles and bullets are common finds for customers of who hunt for relics and antiques.

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.

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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.

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by Eve Sparrow

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.

A brief history of timepieces

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.

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 by Eve Sparrow

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

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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.


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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.

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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.


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by Kate Manko

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. 

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Martin Willis: Hi, everyone. I’m with Richard Wright on Skype in Chicago. How you doing, Richard?


Richard Wright: I’m doing fine. Good morning to you.


Martin: Good morning and thanks for joining us. This is the second time you’ve been on.


Richard: Yes.


Martin: You were all the way back in the beginnings of this podcast and I appreciate your willingness to come back, and today we’re going to stay on a, or mostly on a topic, of mid–century modern, just for our listeners, out there, who have an interest in that, and so I’m going to, just, fire some questions at you. Your company’s been around for a while and you’ve handled – I saw on your website you’ve handled over 20,000 objects, so far.


Richard: That is true.


Martin: And, encompassing, mostly, the 20th and 21st century, basically. Right?


Richard: Correct.


Martin: Yeah. So, as far as mid–century modern – that’s a term you hear all the time, today, and, what does it actually mean and what are the years it encompasses when it comes to furniture and decorative arts?


Richard: So, mid–century modern is generally – there’s not a strict definition of it, but, generally, it falls into the category of post–war design. So it begins in 1945 and it, sort of, runs stylistically to, about, 1960. After 1960 you start to have other influences in design that, sort of, move design in a more radical place. So, real, kind of, heroic mid–century modern is 1945 to 1960.


Martin: So, again, you said that it’s not really strictly defined, because I’ve seen people sell 1970s items and call it mid-century modern. It’s, kind of, stretching it, a little bit, in the 70s.


Richard: Totally. I mean, I think that the concerns of design, the design world, coming out of the war were completely different than the, much more consumer-driven, culture of the 1970s design. There is a absolute stylistic shift that starts to occur, probably strictly, we’d start to see that shift show up in the late 50s – 1958, 1959. I’m using 1960 as a nice, round number, but mid-century modern really is – it is a cohesive style, visually. That style starts to fragment later on in the century.


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by Martin Willis

Auction disasters and major challenges are rather rare, but when they happen they certainly leave an impression and they can be very interesting (as an afterthought). I have been a little apprehensive about posting this blog and in no way am I trying to scare people away from the auction method.  I believe in auctions as the best possible means of selling almost anything on the secondary market. Some of these stories have a good outcome, but not all of them. Keep in mind, this is a small sampling and I am sure if every auctioneer was polled, there would be some great additional stories.

I figured I would start out with the biggest disaster I ever heard of, but I have to be sketchy on the details to protect my source. Let’s just say that a friend of mine possibly worked at a major auction house in New York City. Her story goes that there was a major piece of Russian Czar porcelain, a monumental piece in size and it was on the cover of the upcoming auction catalog. Just a few days before the auction preview, it was to be moved in place. The handler had it on a cart and was pushing it from where it was stored in the warehouse to the auction house floor, his cell phone rang and he answered it, meanwhile this piece worth several million dollars tumbled to the floor and smashed into 1000 pieces. There were already many multiple bids in the millions for this piece and dozens of phone bids set in place. The only other information I could get from my friend was, that the piece was paid out in the upper range of estimate to the consignor. She does not recall the person that was pushing the cart was working there afterward or not. Okay, so my first story doesn’t have much of a good outcome, but you have to admit you just cringed a little didn’t you? I always do when rare pieces are gone forever.

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Purchased for $6 and later sold for $32,500

by Martin Willis

Back in the 1990s I went on a house call to see a past clerk of my father’s auctions. Louis Sochia was a pleasant man with a great sense of humor. He, his partners Charlie & Tom were selling their B & B (The Inn at Christian Shore) in Portsmouth, NH, and had some nice things to put in my next auction.

After viewing everything, we were at the top of the stairs, and I pointed and said, “How about that painting?” Louis and his partners laughed and Louis said, “You can buy that right now for $300.”  I thanked him and told him I would not do that, but instead would take it and do some research. It was a painting of a clown putting make-up on in a mirror. It stuck me as being masterful, but it was unsigned. There was something about it that made me think it was very good. Tom had bought a book on American artist, Walt Kuhn 1877-1949 and there were a lot of similarities. The next day, I brought it up to Bruce Collins in Kennebunk, Maine who I thought had a good eye and asked for his opinion.  He instantly agreed that it was by the artist and got out some books and showed me why he thought so.

I asked Bruce who would be the right person to look at it to make certain, and he told me to try Rob Ellowitch at Baridoff Galleries in Portland, Maine since he had represented the estate of the artist in the 1980s. I was also given the name of Terry Phillips of Cape Neddick, Maine as someone to contact. I called Rob and was on my way to Portland, Maine and found myself stopped for a disastrous pileup on I-95. I was stuck for hours in traffic and never made it to Barridoff’s. I stopped and called Terry Phillips who had inherited the estate of the artist’s daughter, Brenda Kuhn and drove to Cape Neddick to show him. He looked at it, pondered for awhile and finally said that he did not want to say one way or the other if the painting was by Kuhn or not. He was very willing to help and gave me a name and information of Bennard Perlman who could authenticate it for sure. After speaking to Bennard on the phone, I snapped some images and FedEx-ed them off to him the next day.

A few days later, I received a call from Bennard who spoke with an excited tone, “Not only is it by Walt Kuhn, but it is a self portrait of the artist!”  During the rest of the conversation, Bennard mentioned to me that it was important to know where the painting originated from.

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The following is a podcast  transcription.

Hi, everyone, this is Martin Wills and welcome to the Antique Auction Forum for episode number 111 with John Rinaldi on whaling scrimshaw.

Couple of announcements:  you can follow us on Twitter at  You can like us on Facebook and that icon is right on our website which is

If you’re listening to us on iTunes or some other podcast site, please do leave us a review.  Your comments are welcome on any podcast.  There is a comment form underneath each of them.

And if you’d like to give us feedback on our show or any show ideas or guest ideas, please feel free to email me at

Today we have a great informational show and I hope you enjoy it.

Martin:  This podcast is sponsored by WorthPoint.  Find out what your antiques are worth at  This is Martin Willis and I’m in Kennebunkport, ME with John Rinaldi.  How are you doing, John?

John:  Good, how are you doing?

Martin:  Good.  Thanks for meeting with me.  We met I think it was in the ‘90s sometime and I saw right away you had a lot of knowledge in scrimshaw and things like that.  You’ve been at it for how long?

John:  I started in 1972, so quite a while.

Martin:  Wow, so you were pretty young then.  So how’d you get started in that?

John:  When I started living in Kennebunkport I got quite interested in the history of – it’s such a shipbuilding history here in town that I kind of got interested in that.  And with that came interest in all the different artifacts that were related to ships and shipping and what not.  And it just became something I got very involved with and then I started to buy and sell things and started putting out little catalogs, and I’m still at it.

Martin:  Wow.  Where did you come from originally?

John:  I grew up in Connecticut in a very industrial city in Connecticut called Waterbury.

Martin:  How long would you say…you started collecting and selling scrimshaw teeth I think you said?

John:  Yeah, I got involved with it right away.  It was right about the time Norm Flayderman wrote his book.  It was, Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders.  And so there was a lot…it really kindled up an interest in scrimshaw and I got interested as a result.  And the book was kind of the Bible, and it still kind of is the Bible of the business, although a new one was just produced by the New Bedford Whaling Museum which is wonderful.

And so I just really liked it and loved the history of whaling and what an important industry it was in 19th century America and I got involved and interested not just in the scrimshaw aspect of it, but the implements and tools and items that they used:  harpoons and whale guns and just all the different aspects of whaling I found very fascinating.

Martin:  I was at an auction I would say 10 or 15 years ago and I believe one of those books went at the auction for quite a bit of money.

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Martin Willis:  Hello everyone, this is Martin Willis with the Antique Auction Forum and welcome to episode number 110 with Leslie Hindman.  I hope you enjoy today’s show.  This podcast is sponsored by WorthPoint.  Find out what your antiques are worth at

Hi, everyone, I’m on Skype with Leslie Hindman.  How are you doing, Leslie?

Leslie:  I’m doing really well, great!

Martin:  And we’re calling you at your Chicago office.  Can you tell us, right off the bat; I want to know how you started because I saw that you opened your first auction gallery there in 1982.  What’s your background prior to that?

Leslie:  You know I started working for Sotheby’s in 1978 and they opened a Chicago office and I was the assistant to the woman who was running it.  It was their first branch office that they started in America.  So I started there working, and I didn’t know much about the industry and I loved it immediately.

Martin:  Did you have an art background or something?

Leslie:  I had somewhat of an art background, but you know, just a general art history background.  I was 21, I think and the woman who was opening their office needed someone just to work with her just as her assistant.  I actually went to shorthand school and learned how to type, back in the day when people typed letters, and  just started doing all this general office work and then really fell in love with the auction business. And our office was very successful and grew.

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8 Jun 2012, by

The iPhone Period

Appeal of Simplicity

I was recently inspired to write this because of podcast number 107. with guest Leigh Keno. Leigh made a remark that the younger crowd is influenced by the simple

functionality of the iPhone and similar Apple products. This got me thinking and I pondered if Apple decided to come out with a furniture line, then we (in the antique world), would have to eventually adapt to handling iChairs, iSofas, iLoungers and iDining sets… Ay yi, yi.

Shaker Revolving Chair

I too like simplicity and functionality, but when I think on those lines, my mind drifts immediately to Shaker furniture. It is most likely because I am self-brainwashed into loving just antiques. When I really open my eyes and mind, I can see the attraction and a parallel of appeal. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING


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photos by Kate Manko

The year is 2012, the Large Hadron Collider is trying to separate the tiniest of particles, the Kepler Mission is finding all kinds of planets in other solar systems, and the antique market is colliding with social media.

In my attempt to be an antique geek, I am now sitting in the VIP tent at the Brimfield Tweet up. It  is nicely decorated and I dare say the fanciest tent on the grounds. I am looking around and realize I am the only male in the tent of around a dozen or so 20-30-something year old females. Most of which look like they are in the throws of writing something. It actually warms my heart to see young people typing away here at Brimfield. I mean who would have thunk? Even if they are not really interested in antiques, they are writing to what I would assume would be a young audience who may find out about this fun event.

My feet are tired and my brain hurts as I just walked what I would guess would be half the show. It is an upbeat event and I saw camera crews everywhere as they are filming PBS Market Wars. My search has been unsuccessful so far to find something that I can’t live without, but I will remain optimistic.

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by Bram Hepburn

Many advanced collectors of early American glass bottles will tell you the category they first started collecting was ink bottles. Their diminutive size and alluring colors and shapes catch the eye of anyone with an appreciation for detail and a fascination with the early glass-blowing trade as it developed on this continent.

For a beginning collector, or an interior decorator in search of vintage accents for old cupboards and desks, a 120-year-old ink bottle will often fit the bill and is very affordable. For a few dollars, you have an authentic glass container that was used every day by someone with a quill pen, sitting at a desk, filling out bills or invoices, or carefully writing a letter by hand in cursive (which is becoming a lost art).

I have been a bottle “digger” in New England for 30-plus years, digging in the forest, in foundations, in old outhouse pits and even under water with the help of SCUBA equipment. If I didn’t have other responsibilities, this is probably all I would do; it is simply that much fun. Compulsive bottle hunting doesn’t lend well to raising a family and paying bills, however, as the following story attests:

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An appraiser’s perspective of an icon’s written words

by Martin Willis

I was recently involved in a very large appraisal and worked with a team of appraisers having varied specialties. It was my job to appraise the entertainment collection which included a vast amount of Marilyn Monroe artifacts, images and correspondence. To protect the client who owns the collection, I cannot get into too much detail in this blog, but I would like to express the experience of it all. I do not consider myself an expert on Marilyn Monroe, but I certainly know a lot more than I did before I took on this project.

When I think of Marilyn, I see those bedroom eyes, her signature mole above her lip and her platinum colored hair. She had a refreshing beauty that was timeless. This coming June 1, she would’ve been 86 years old and on August 5th, it will be the 50th Memorial Anniversary of her demise. Because of this Memorial and growing intrigue, her letters, signed photos and artifacts such as her belongings & apparel are becoming increasingly in demand. A good example of this phenomenon was the famous Subway Dress at the Debbie Reynolds Auction last year which sold for $4.6 million.

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Martin: I have Bob on the line now how you doing?


Bob: I am doing well; it’s great to be here Martin thank you.


Martin: I was pretty excited when Eric Bradley of Antique Trader gave me her name and I thought it would make the perfect podcast. There is a lot of intrigue when it comes to art theft, and you are on the Colbert Report what was that like?

Bob: He is a great guy, very smart man, he works hard at that show, and it’s a great show.


Martin: Yes and he took it easy on you.


Bob: I think he was actually interested in the subject, is after the taping they told me usually gets up and leaves, but he stayed and asked me some questions. I think he was actually interested in the subject itself. When you first go on you go in the green room, any comes in to visit with you. He said listen I just want you to know that this is all in fun, and please don’t take offense at anything. Then the producers tell you don’t try to tell any jokes, let him do the jokes, no one upping. You don’t want to try to match brains Steve Colbert.


Martin: right off the bat I want to say, most people’s opinions is that art thieves early like Pierce Brosman, Cary Grant in their sort of in a romantic intrigue when it comes to art thief’s. What are art thieves really like?


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Martin: I’m on Skype with Rebekah competent, Steiffgal Cambridge, Massachusetts are you doing Rebekah?

Rebekah: it is a pleasure to be speaking with you this evening.

Martin: thank you, and you are the Steiffgal please tell us why you are the Steiffgal?

Rebekah: I am the Steiffgal, because my absolute love and passion is Steiff which is the vintage German brand, button in ear teddy bear, animals and dolls. I’ve been collecting Steiff the vast majority of my life, over 40 years, I blog about Steiff I work for Steiff as a consultant archivist, meaning I travel the country on behalf of the organization and identify and value Steiff products for the company. I also write extensively about Steiff for many media outlets. My Steiff Life is my blog, and truly describes a good part of my life.

Martin: I love talking to people who are enthusiastic about what they do, and I did meet you, first of all have to say 40 years? You mean at birth, I’m surprised that you are even that old.

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23 Feb 2012, by

Sweet Chariot (blog)

I recently had the pleasure of vetting The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, and saw an amazing bronze by Emile Louis Picault (France, b. 1833-1913). There was a constant buzz at the show about this masterpiece in bronze. It sold for over $300,000 when the show first began and there was a man waiting in line to pay $75,000 more than asking. I was asked by Worthpoint to write and article about this amazing piece, so please click here to read my story and get the inside scoop from my interview with Robin Greenwald at  Greenwald’s Antiques. (photo by Greg Watkins)









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I always seem to talk about fakes and reproductions in every podcast that I do. And lately I have been apologizing for doing so. Fakes have always been around and it probably always will be around. As a collector, auctioneer, and dealer I realize that there is nothing that I can do about this. The only thing I attempt to do about this is talk about it my podcast and try to get the information from each specialists in their field, specifically on how the novice and stay away from purchasing a fake by accident.

I’ve heard since a very young age, that the Chinese have been faking ceramics for thousands of years. This phrase does sound rather humorous but I’m sure it’s true. I am not picking on the Chinese specifically, it’s just that this is a good example to explain that takes a been around forever. That being said,  I’d love to find 1000-year-old Chinese fake porcelain of an earlier time.

From what I can figure out in the 40 years or so that it in doing this is that if something has value, then you’ll see fakes. Sometimes the things that you see are faked are only worth a few dollars, and it is puzzling to me on why it would be worth all the effort.

A number of times someone has asked me what is the difference between a fake and a reproduction. My answer is, he reproduction is a copy of something, and a fake is a deliberate copy to deceive someone. My own opinion is I really don’t like reproductions, but I can live with them. I despise fakes because I think it hurts the markets in many ways.

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With at the Original Miami antique show, Martin introduces Audra Blevins, Maggie Turnipseed, Jason Robbins, and Will Seippel.


Martin: Will would you consider this show a success?

Will: Absolutely, and a lot of fun, we met a lot of cool people and have seen a lot of wonderful stuff and things did very well with the appraisals.

Martin: There were over 200 people at the appraisal clinic. Tell us some examples of items that were brought to the appraisal clinic.

 Maggie: a German Art Nouveau silver liquor set that was figural. There was some fabulous jewelry including a bug shaped costume jewelry pin.

Will: I saw a couple of neat things including, one was a sextant from a German submarine really hard to find, there was also some brandy glasses that was taken out of Hitler’s place in the mountains, Berchtesgaden eagle nest, and there were still in the box wrapped in cardboard, with a letter from a soldier that liberated them from the liar.

Audra I had beautiful Baccarat compote, a lovely Roseville pottery piece, and a naval dress sword, World War I. A Royal Dux figure and my most interesting thing was from the 1980s not that old, it was a Daum chalices, a boxed set designed by Salvador Dali with a nose and lips designed after Mae West’s nose and lips.

Martin: Jason please talk about’s new facelift.

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Hope you enjoyed Podcast #94. Martin visits longtime friend and very knowledgeable militaria collector/dealer Ron Burkey of Flying Tiger Antiques in Portsmouth, NH. They talk about what is hot, and cautions to take if you are new to this. They bring up various niches of the vast array of collecting in this field. They cautiously speak about Nazi pieces, and how it is a dreadful part of history, but collectible for more then one reason. Get the entire transcript below.

Click here for complete transcription

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I hope you enjoyed podcast #93. Martin visits the Penningtons at Maine Antique Digest in Waldoboro, Maine. He speaks with Sally, Kate & Clayton Pennington about the beginnings of the paper, the direction that the business is going in and much more.

Click here for the complete show transcription.

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Seaboard Auction Gallery's First sale: Jake Brown, Martin Willis & JR Larue, 1979











I guess you could say that our family got in the antiques auction business because of drunkenness. Most people would be embarrassed to admit something like that, but not I.

Long before my father ever stood behind the podium with gavel in hand, he was relentlessly dragging me …….

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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I hope you enjoyed podcast #92. Martin talks to Mike Overby of Coeur d’Alene Art Auction about their recent $16.8 million auction, and some of their strategies for success. They further discuss the state of the Western art market, what collectors may consider when buying (& selling) and much more. This is a very interesting view on this aspect of collecting and what changes when wealthy people decide to collect a genre of artworks. The competition is brutal, and things are not going to change anytime soon. Mike also cautions people who want to “invest in art” and makes some valid points about that.

Click here for complete show transcription.

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It has been way too long since I posted my last blog. I love to write and hope to do more soon.

On my way to the Randolph Street Market in Chicago, I had left California with a day or two to spare. In taking my time, I thought I would stop at antique stores in little towns along the way. In a number of stops, people were not to crazy about the state of antique sales. However, in one store in Iowa, a man said it was his best year in the last ten. He was selling refinished oak furniture, go figure? I had to look at a calendar at a local store to make sure I had not passed through a time warp, back to 1985. …

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2 May 2011, by

Emotions & Estimates

by Martin Willis

For a more recent blog after reading Marilyn’s unknown personal letters, click here.

I recently had a talk with Joe Maddalena on podcast number 80 and he made a very logical statement. Prices are set by the …

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Due to a high daily activity of spammers with no way to regulate or filter them out in the sign up process, we had to close the message board.

We will try to figure out how to make this page an active place to post on, but do not know if that is possible at this time.

You may post comments to this post, or any other posting, blog or podcast on our entire forum website.

We want to thank the active members on the former message board and apologize for any inconvenience.


Martin Willis

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by Ron Lawson

It seems almost everywhere you turn these days you do not have to go very far to notice a molded, pressed particle or stapled
flat pack piece of furniture, perhaps even in your own home. Certainly, It’s low cost appeal is foremost these days and it could be argued that it lasts several years.

Indeed, by design that was it’s very role, Ikea was founded in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in Sweden In response to the explosion of human population and material expectations in the 20th and 21st century, the company implementing economies of scale, capturing material streams and creating manufacturing processes that hold costs and resource use down, such as the extensive use of particle board. The intended result is flexible, adaptable home furnishings, scalable both to smaller homes and dwellings as well as many larger houses. The products, widely once thought of as merely college age or dorm furniture designed to last through those years, has now become the staple for many of us.

Odd ideology when placed in comparison with the growing green movement and pertaining to the global saving of the environment.

These days, as with our widely disposable use of many items, quality is secondary to use and items are simply made to be discarded as and used only when needed. This begging the question, is it quality down the drain or is it baby and bath water out the window? What I fancy calling “The Ikea mentality”.

One of the side affects to this mentality certainly is the growing lost appreciation for actual quality and craftsmanship. People seem far less interested these days with whether a piece of furniture is antique, hand made, carved or of what wood than whether it will biodegrade or simply hold a playstation or just simply accent the new 3D plasma television.

This is by no means limited to furniture, but probably is an example the most readily noticed. I would question if there are very many 20-40 something’s out there with an eye towards ever collecting furnishings by Belter, Herter or Stickley & and of those how many are ever likely to be exploring classic period–Baroque, Nouveau or other pieces…even in the style.

I unfortunately see a day when other fine antiques such as that of Tiffany, Meissen, Daum, Lalique etc., are looked on as merely odd old trinkets in lieu of the local Target chrome plated centerpiece or faux resin bronze.

While not being an elitist by any stretch of the imagination, I have witnessed a constant and steady decline in the appreciation  of antiques in general. Not just as a response to the present economy but also the fact that true style in general has declined over the last 40 years to such a degree that everything produced currently (with some exceptions) is now marginal. Here today and gone tomorrow so to speak, not intended to last generation to generation. Heirloom quality now, represents merely a descriptive marketing term most often associated with such firms as the Franklin and Danbury Mint.

Part of the love of antiques, is the appreciation of craftsmanship, it’s style and for myself…a preservation of history. The history that an item has survived and in some ways lives to speak to that time, an era or even a singular person. It evokes something deep within, as all antiques can and should. That the item will someday hopefully out last us and in some odd and perhaps romanticized fashion, we might impart a small bit of ourselves back into it. By understanding and caring for antiques, we in fact care for something, a memory far longer then the original owner could…but if able, would.

IF there is a continued loss of this appreciation, who will or could continue to preserve it?

How many of us take the time to simply spend a moment with our own friends or family and explain why an antique has meaning? For example, why grandmothers Chippendale desk is special (or at least special too you), why that Baroque inlaid bureau has such a design to it. Or, for that matter, why you still wear your late fathers vintage watch.

There is an enormous amount of passion to be found in antiques, whether you collect or sell them and there is also a responsibility to preserve and help perpetuate that same passion.

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8 Apr 2011, by

Auction Diaries

by Martin Willis

One of the genesis of starting the podcast is I thought there were so many stories to tell in the business. There are so many things that happen behind the scenes that no one could imagine.

Some of the stories are not so much on the entertaining level as they are on the scandalous level. So I thought I would tell a little of both.

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31 Mar 2011, by

A word about Vintage

by Martin Willis

After my delightful podcast recording this week with the blog authors of Vintage with Vengeance, I decided to look into the world & the word of VINTAGE.

Looking vintage up in Webster’s was not too much …

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By Martin Willis

I enjoy the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and after Reyne Haines and I did Podcast #72. about his  glass, I decided to write a little about him. There is so much to write when it comes …

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By Martin Willis

There has always been controversy on when someone should refinish on old piece of furniture and when they should leave it be.

I did antique restoration and the refinishing of mostly oak back in the “golden oak“ …

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by Martin Willis

This editorial is about American furniture, I may write at a later time explaining how to tell the difference between Period American and English Georgian furniture of the same era. When I speak of period furniture, I …

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by Median1

There has always been a illicit market for looted and stolen antiques and history.

New York-based Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. recently released a joint press …

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by Martin Willis

Back around 1983, I was working with my father at his auction gallery in Eliot, Maine. It was a small, regional auction house called Seaboard Auction Gallery. We had auctions every few weeks on Thursday evenings. There was always a huge crowd of buyers and it was a nice social event. We were one of the few auction galleries operating in the area at that time, and our consignments came from local estates and homes. The phone always rang and we had our hands full. Now, the seacoast area is inundated with auctioneers and the pie is sliced rather thin these days.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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by Ron Lawson

Recently, I was given Mark Twain’s autobiography which was followed that same week by the news that a newly-released version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” will substitute the word “slave” for the original N-WORD. All of which …

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Click Image for Information on John S. Blunt

A story about a Portsmouth, New Hampshire artist,  John S. Blunt (1798-1835)

by Martin Willis

I came from a town right outside of a small New Hampshire historical harbor city, Portsmouth. It was first settled in 1630 and has wonderful early brick architecture and early wooden homes and structures. It is a treasure trove of regional antiques of all sorts. There are many renowned pieces originating from Portsmouth, including exceptional furniture in the Colonial & Federal era. My father was lucky enough to buy a historical waterfront home that was built in 1672. When he bought the property, it was loaded full of period antiques, which he sold at auction for the owners for a whopping $40,000 in the early 1970s. That was a very big auction then. To compare the scale of it, my father bought the real estate for $30,000……….

Click HERE for the full article.

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As Stated in a Speech given by Jeff Wichmann of American Bottle Auctions, August 7, 2010.

Click here for our podcast with Jeff.

At the FOHBC conference in Wilmington, Ohio.

Did you know that in the 1970’s bottle collecting …

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by Martin Willis

I will be the first to admit that I am not well versed in this era of furniture but have been trying to educate myself a little on it. Some pieces I do not find appealing, but …

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by Martin Willis

This week’s podcast is an interview with Harold Holzer, one of the leading scholars on Abraham Lincoln. I am very thrilled to write this article about Abraham Lincoln’s writings and some of my thoughts on the great …

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14 Jan 2011, by

Incredible Finds!

by Martin Willis

All of us in the business like to hear about best finds that someone scoops at an estate sale, flea market, auction or by other means.

I decided not to go into my own personal best finds …

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By Martin Willis

For a related podcast, click here.

For several years I assisted Chuck DeLuca from Maine with his maritime auctions. He would have such interesting pieces pass through his sales. From what I could see, there were a …

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by Dr. J. Darragh M. Elliott, M.Sc., Ph.D.


There are all types of auctions. The most famous being those of Sothebys and Christies. Other auctions include, auctions held in arenas, hotel ball rooms, homes, …

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This is Part II of a blog by Reyne Haines

So, last week I left you hanging when I asked Martin the question:

What strategies to buy at auction would you give to the novice?

Here is Part II of …

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The following is from a blog: Picking With Reyne.

Part II will be up next week.

Who says you can only pick door to door? There are plenty of picking opportunities that arise at auction. I know I’ve bought …

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We decided that our weekly blogs are going to be informational. You will be seeing a lot of “How To” in regards to antiques, art and auctions. Your input for ideas is always welcome, just send us a message on

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8 Dec 2010, by

Antique Trader

Since we started our podcast, we have been looking for ways to spread the word about what we are doing. Our first priority has always been to make our podcasts fun and informational. We hope to spark more interest in …

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26 Nov 2010, by

On Thomas Jefferson

In Episode 53. Professor Burstein talks about the timeless way of writing that Jefferson had as one of his many gifts. After all, he did write the Declaration of Independence.

While Jefferson was serving as the US Minister to France, …

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25 Nov 2010, by

This Week

We decided to post Auction Kings Paul Brown interview podcast. We will still air astronaut Alan Bean’s podcast the Friday, the 26th.

We hope you enjoy two extra podcasts this week.

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A visit to the Houston Antique Dealers Association offers an insight into investing in the Chinese, Russian, Furniture markets for the Fall 2010.[youtube][/youtube]

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Reyne interviews Suzy Smith, a professional Stylist, about “re-purposing” antiques and discusses how to determine the value of those items.[youtube][/youtube]

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Reyne explores beautiful antique floor tiles and learns about “the one” that got away.[youtube][/youtube]

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2 Sep 2010, by

Art of Picking #6

Reyne interviews Janine Godwin, a professional Organizer, on the best ways to store and shop Antiques.[youtube][/youtube]

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One dealer shows Reyne two rare plates from the 1930’s he picked for one tenth their true value and another dealer tells the story of how she picked (right out of a bird cage) a rare sewing accessory in the form of a bird, which was made in 1839.[youtube][/youtube]

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An Informative Narrative by Phelps Fullerton

Our Podcast with Phelps on the subject: Click Here

I think to get a better understanding of the antique advertising market you need to get some background on how product branding came about, and …

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Reyne finds Maynard and usable antiques guys love to collect. [youtube][/youtube]

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Reyne goes to Round Top for the summer Antique Market exploring provenance on a rare piece of furniture and meets the “unluckiest guy” to have survived the Civil War.[youtube][/youtube]

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Second in the series of videos presented by to provide collectors with tips on picking antiques. In this episode Reyne visits the Urban Market outside Houston, TX and discusses more detailed picking tips with various vendors.[youtube][/youtube]

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First in the series of videos presented by to provide collectors with tips on picking antiques. In this episode Reyne visits the Urban Market outside Houston, TX and discusses basic picking tips that will make your next picking adventure more productive.[youtube][/youtube]

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15 Feb 2010, by

Auction Glossary

Basic glossary of auction terminology

Absentee Bid: A procedure, which allows a bidder to participate in the bidding process without being physically present. Generally, a bidder submits an offer on an item prior to the auction. The auctioneer or his representative usually handles absentee bids under an established set of guidelines. The particular rules and procedures of absentee bids are unique to each auction company.
Absentee Bidder: A person (or entity) who does not attend the sale but submits, in advance, a written or oral bid that is the top price he or she will pay for a given property.
Absolute Auction: An auction where the property is sold to the highest qualified bidder with no limiting conditions or amount. The seller may not bid personally or through an agent. Also known as an auction without reserve.
Accounting of Sale: A report issued to the seller by the auctioneer detailing the financial aspects of the auction.
Agent: A person who acts for or in the place of another individual or entity by authority from them.
Antique Auction: An auction that has all or mostly all antiques.

Apprentice Auctioneer: An auctioneer who is in training, operating under the supervision of a licensed or experienced auctioneer.
Appraisal: The act or process of estimating value. A valuation of property (ie. real estate, a business, an antique) by the estimate of an authorized person. In order to be a valid appraisal, the authorized person should have a designation from a regulatory body governing the jurisdiction the appraiser operates within.
As Is: Selling the property without warranties as to the condition and/or the fitness of the property for a particular use. Buyers are solely responsible for examining and judging the property for their own protection. Otherwise known as “As Is, Where Is” and “In its Present Condition.”
Auction: A method of selling property in a public forum through open and competitive bidding. Also referred to as: public auction, auction sale or sale.
Auctioneer: The people whom the seller engages/contracts to direct, conduct, or are responsible for a sale by auction. This person may or may not actually call or cry the auction.
Auction Block: The podium or raised platform where the auctioneer stands while conducting the auction. “Placing (an item) on the auction block,” means to sell something at auction.
Auction Listing Agreement: A contract executed by the auctioneer and the seller which authorizes the auctioneer to conduct the auction and sets out the terms of the agreement and the rights and responsibilities of each party.
Auction Plan: The plan for pre-auction, auction day and post auction activities.
Auction Value: The price that a particular property brings in open competitive bidding at public auction.
Auction With Reserve: An auction in which the seller or his agent reserves the right to accept or decline any and all bids. A minimum acceptable price may or may not be disclosed and the seller reserves the right to accept or decline any bid within a specified time.
Authentication: A process, in which it is determined if an item is genuine and is as described.
Automatic Extension: An option for sellers where if there are bids made near the closing time at the end of an auction, it is extended for a period of time.
Bank Letter of Credit: A letter from a bank certifying that a named person is worthy of a given level of credit. Often requested from prospective bidders or buyers who are not paying with currency at auctions.
Bid: A prospective buyer’s indication or offer of a price he or she will pay to purchase property at auction. Bids are usually in standardized increments established by the auctioneer.
Bid Acknowledgment: A form executed by the high bidder confirming and acknowledging the bidders identify, the bid price and the description of the property. Also known as Memorandum.
Bid Assistants: Individuals who are positioned throughout the attendees at the auction to assist the auctioneer, spot bidders and assist prospective bidders with information to help them in their buying decision. Also known as ring men, bid consultants, bid spotters, or grounds men.
Bid Caller: The person who actually “calls,” “cries or “auctions” the property at an auction, recognizing bidders and acknowledging the highest bidder. Commonly known as the auctioneer.
Bid Cancellation: The cancellation of a bid by either buyer or seller.
Bid Retraction: A cancellation of the bid by the seller or auctioneer.
Bid Rigging: The practice whereby two or more people agree not to bid against one another so as to deflate value.
Bid Siphoning: Emailing another sellers bidders and offering a lower price or better terms (not ethical)
Bidder Number: The number issued to each person who registers at an auction.
Bidder Package: The package of information and instructions pertaining to the property to be sold at an auction event obtained by prospective bidders at an auction. Sometimes called a bidder packet or due diligence package.
Bidder’s Choice: A method of sale whereby the successful high bidder wins the right to choose a property or properties from a grouping of similar or like-kind properties. After the high bidder’s selection, the property is deleted from the group, and the second round of bidding commences, with the high bidder in round two choosing a property, which is then deleted from the group and so on, until all properties are sold.
Blacklist: A list that blocks certain bidder from participating in your auction. On eBay it’s known as a “blocked bidder” list.
Broker Participation: An arrangement for third-party brokers to register potential bidders for properties being sold at auction for a commission paid by the owner of the property or the auction firm.
Buy Price or Buy it Now Price: A price that the seller agrees to sell an item. Auctions will automatically close when a buy it now option is chosen. On Ebay the “Buy it Now” option is only available at the sellers discretion and no longer exists after a first bid is made.
Buyer’s Broker: A broker who represents the buyer and, as the agent of the buyer, is normally paid for his/her services by the buyer.
Buyer’s Premium: An advertised percentage of the high bid or flat fee added to the high bid to determine the total contract price to be paid by the buyer.
Caravan Auctions: A series of on site auctions advertised through a common promotional campaign.
Carrying Charges: The costs involved in holding a property which is intended to produce income (either by sale or rent) but has not yet done so, i.e., insurance, taxes, maintenance, management.
Catalog or Brochure: A publication advertising and describing the property/ies available for sale at public auction, often including photographs, property descriptions, and the terms and conditions of the sale.
Category Listing: A list of auctions by specific category.
Caveat Emptor: A Latin term meaning “let the buyer beware.” A legal maxim stating that the buyer takes the risk regarding quality or condition of the property purchased, unless protected by warranty.
Clerk: The person employed by the principal auctioneer or auction firm to record what is sold and to whom and for what price.
Closing: The time that the last bid will be accepted – the end of the auction.
COA: Certificate of Authenticity – presents written documentation that an item is genuine.
Collusion: The unlawful practice whereby two or more people agree not to bid against one another so as to deflate value or when the auctioneer accepts a fictitious bid on behalf of the seller so as to manipulate or inflate the price of the property.
Commission: The fee charged to the seller by the auctioneer for providing services, usually a percentage of the gross selling price of the property established by contract (the listing agreement) prior to the auction.
Conditions of Sale: The legal terms that govern the conduct of an auction, including acceptable methods of payment, terms, buyer’s premiums, possession, reserves and any other limiting factors of an auction. Usually included in published advertisements or announced by the auctioneer prior to the start of the auction.
Contract: An agreement between two or more persons or entities that creates or modifies a legal relationship.
Cooperating Broker: A broker who registers a prospective buyer with the auction company, in accordance with the terms and conditions for that auction. The broker is paid a commission only if his prospect is the high bidder and successfully closes on the property. Also known as a participating broker.
Deadbeat Bidder: A bidder who does not pay for their auction winnings.
Dual Agency: The representation of opposing principals (buyers and seller) at the same time.
Due Diligence: The process of gathering information about the condition and legal status of assets to be sold.
Dutch Auction: An auction, in which multiple lots of the same item are up. Bidders can bid on both quantity and price, a.k.a. x’s the money
Escrow: A situation in which the buyer places money in a third party escrow account until both buyer and seller agree to release the funds. Usually used for higher priced items.
Estate Auction: An auction containing property of a person who has passed away.

Hammer Price: Price established by the last bidder and acknowledged by the auctioneer before dropping the hammer or gavel.
Increment: The minimum amount a bid can be increased by.
Initial Bid: The lowest amount that can be entered by the buyer. Amount is set by seller and is also known as minimum bid.
Listing Agreement: A contract between the seller and the auction house allowing an item to be listed.
Listing Broker: A real estate broker who has a listing on a property and cooperates with the auction company by allowing the auction agreement to supersede his/her listing agreement.
Live Auction: This is an auction that takes place in “Real Time” including online.
Market Value: The open market value of an item.
Maximum Bid: The upper bid limit set by the buyer when using proxy or “automatic” bidding.
MIB: Mint in box.
Minimum Bid: The smallest amount that can be bid by a buyer.
Minimum Bid Auction: An auction in which the auctioneer will accept bids at or above a disclosed price. The minimum price is always stated in the brochure and advertisements and is announced at the auctions.
Multi-Property Auction: A group of properties offered through a common promotional campaign. The properties to be auctioned may be owned by one seller or multiple sellers.
Multi-Seller Auction: Properties owned by many sellers, offered through a common promotional campaign are auctioned in a single event.
NOS: New old stock
No-Sale Fee: A charge paid by the owner of property offered at a reserve auction if the property does not sell.
NPB or Non-Paying Bidder: A bidder that does not pay for items they have won.
NM: Near Mint.
NR: No Reserve.
On-site Auction: An auction conducted on the premises of the property being sold.
OP: Out of print.
Opening Bid: The first bid offered by a bidder at an auction.
Preview: Specified date and time property is available for prospective buyer viewing and audits. Also known as Open House or Inspection.
Private Auction: An auction in which the buyer and sellers identities are not disclosed.
Proxy Bid: A method of bidding in which the computer automatically places bids for you at the lowest increment up to a maximum bid you have set.
Referring Broker: A real estate broker who does not have a listing on a property, but refers the auction company to a potential seller for an auction. Usually earns a flat fee commission for referring product to an auction company.
Regroup: A process used in real estate auctions where a bidder has the opportunity to combine several parcels of land previously selected by other bidders, thereby creating one larger parcel out of several smaller parcels. This process is often used in conjunction with bidder’s choice.
Re-listing: The process of listing an item again if it did not initially sell.
Reserve: A price set by the seller that buyers must meet before the seller is obligated to sell.
Reserve Auction: An auction in which the seller reserves the right to establish a reserve price, to accept or decline any and all bids or to withdraw the property at any time prior to the announcement of the completion of the sale by the auctioneer. See also Auction With Reserve.
Reverse Auction: An auction in which buyers post items they want and the sellers then respond.
Sale Manager: The person designated by the auction company who is responsible for organizing the details of an auction. Also known as project manager.
Sealed Bid: A method of sale utilized where confidential bids are submitted and to be opened at a predetermined place and time. Not a true auction in that it does not allow for reaction from the competitive market place.
Seller: Entity that has legal possession, (ownership) of any interests, benefits or rights inherent to the real or personal property.
Shill bidding: A process where a seller or their agent bids up their own merchandise through the use of an alternate registration. A forbidden practice!
Sniping: A bidder that places their bid in the last minutes or seconds of an auction.
Tax Sale: Public sale of property at auction by governmental authority, due to nonpayment of property taxes.
Terms: The period of time that an agreement is in effect.
Terms and Conditions: The printed rules of the auction and certain aspects of the Purchase & Sale Agreement that are read and/or distributed to potential bidders prior to an auction sale.
Time Stamp: The time you placed your first bid – used in the event of a tie.
Threshold: The highest price you are willing to pay for an item.
Tie Bids: When two or more bidders bid exactly the same amount at the same time and must be resolved by the auctioneer.
TOS: Terms of Service.
Trustee’s Sale: A sale at auction by a trustee.
Upset Price: Commonly known as the reserve price.
Vendor: The person or company actually selling an item.
Verification: The process to verify the identity and condition of an item.
Yankee Auction: An auction with multiple bids up for sale in which the winner pays the actual price bid.

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14 Feb 2010, by

Antiques Glossary

Antique: usually any object over 100 years old

Armoire: a very large and highly decorated cupboard or wardrobe

Arts and Crafts Movement: a movement which began in England, influenced by William Morris

Art Deco: the modernist style that began in Paris in the 1920s.

Art Nouveau: introduced in the latter part of the 19th century and remaining popular until the start of the First World War, it was characterised by elaborate design and curving lines. One artist Alphonse Mucha can be said to have led the movement which all began from a poster he created.

Aubusson: French tapestries produced in the town of the same name

Baroque: a hugely flamboyant style of decorating furniture and other objects popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Typical decorations used were cherubs, flowers, fruit, etc.

Biedermeier: a classical style developed in Germany in the 1820s, particularly seen in furniture which is often made of blond coloured wood

Cabriole leg: popular in the 18th century, the design of a furniture leg based on a curved animal’s leg.

Chasing: a hammered decorative technique used on metal

Chatelaine: Chains, worn at the waist, made to carry keys, a watch.

Chesterfield: a large button-backed sofa

Chiffonier: a cupboard below one large or two smaller drawers with low shelves above or a chest of drawers.

Chinoiserie: European decoration based on Chinese motifs and style, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries

Chippendale (Thomas): An 18th century English furniture maker whose name became synonymous with fine furniture of the period.

Chryselephantine: a substance made from a combination of bronze and ivory used, predominantly, by Art Deco designers

Cloisonné: a decorative technique using metal strips to enclose coloured enamels

Coffer: now used for any chest with a lid on top, once used for a travelling trunk

Commode: the French term for a chest of drawers, also used in American Victorian for a small utility chest.

Console table: a side table usually attached to a wall

Creamware: Cream coloured earthenware pottery; Wedgwood perfected the form.

Cross-banding: thin strips of veneer, cut across the grain, used to decorate furniture

Daguerreotype: A type of photograph invented by Louis Daguerre in 1839 the first photographic image in the camera obscura using asphaltum on a copper plate sensitised with lavender oil that required very long exposures.

Distressing: the process of inflicting minor damage (dents, scratches, stains) to simulate age on a new piece

Dore: A gold gilt bronze object

Duncan Phyfe: A leading American late 18th century furniture maker and designer.

Ebonised: Stained black to imitate ebony wood

Ephemera: Generally collectible items not designed to last, especially paper collectibles like postcards, photographs, posters, etc, derived from the word ephemeral, meaning of the day.

Escritoire: A French writing desk

Etui: a small case for carrying sewing items, sometimes carried on a chatelaine (see above)

Faïence: French tin-glazed pottery

Flatware: flat tableware or silverware

Flow blue: a type of blue and white pottery on which the blue pattern deliberately flows into the white background from heating of the transfer

Gadrooning: A decorative border consisting of a series of curves

Gesso: plaster and size used as a base for gilt decoration usually on pictures frames and furniture

Gilding: gold foil applied to furniture, ceramics, picture frames, etc.

Girandole: a mirror often with candle sconces attached

Grandfather clock: see longcase clock. Named such after a 19th century song, My Grandfather’s Clock

Hard paste: a hard shiny porcelain made from feldspar and kaolin (china clay), this is the true porcelain that originated in China

Hepplewhite: A style created by George Hepplewhite, who authored the book: The CabinetMaker and Upholsterer’s Guide

Hollowware: Silver that is in hollow form such as teapots and tankards, etc.

Inlay: a decorative technique where small pieces of ivory, enamel or other material is put into specially hollowed out areas on furniture and treen

Inro: Small flat Japanese boxes, usually beautifully decorated, made to hand from the obi or sash

Ironstone: A kind of strong pottery perfected and patented in the early 19th century by Miles Mason.

Japanning: because genuine Japanese lacquer was not available in Europe in the late 17th century so substitutes like shellac were used to imitate the effect

Jasperware: A fine unglazed coloured stoneware perfected by Josiah Wedgwood with raised relief cameo

Linenfold: a style of carving, used on panelling and furniture, designed to look like folded linen

Longcase clock: a floor standing tall clock

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie: Innovative and influential architect, designer of interiors, furniture and other objects and artist.

Maiolica: Italian tin-glazed pottery, usually colorfully decorated

Majolica: usually applied to English made tin-glazed pottery decorated in the style of Italian maiolica

Marquetry: decorative veneers used on furniture (see also parquetry)

Marriage: a single piece made up from more than one piece of furniture, e.g. a dresser may be made up from a low cupboard and a separate and unrelated set of shelves

Millefiori: often seen in paperweights, this technique uses colored rods fused together and then cut up and enclosed in clear glass to produce patterns

Netsuke: (pronounced netski) small carved Japanese objects which act as toggles (or buttons) to hang things from the obi (sash)

Objets de vertu: sometimes known as objects of virtue, they are small precious pretty trinkets like highly decorated gold snuff boxes, fob seals, scent bottles (note: it is a mistake to mix up the French and English terms, e.g. objects of vertu)

Ormolu: gilt-bronze used to decorative effect on furniture, clocks, etc

Over-restored: some restoration to antiques is often necessary but it has to be done with care so that all the patina and signs of age are not destroyed otherwise the piece will lose value

Papier mâché: pulped paper molded into decorative objects like trays and boxes

Parcel gilt: partly gilded (see gilding)

Parian ware: fine grain porcelain resembling marble, first produced in the mid 19th century at the Copeland factory

Parquetry: similar to marquetry but the veneers are used to form geometric patterns

Patina: the surface built up over time on a piece of furniture, or other object, from continuous polishing and use

Pediment: a triangular gable on top of a piece of furniture in the style found on top of a classical temple

Pembroke table: Possibly named after the Countess of Pembroke, these small tables with drop-leaves

Pewter: an alloy of tin and lead often used for mugs, plates, etc.

Pier glass: a tall mirror designed to hang between windows, popular in the 18th century

Pole screen: a small screen on a pole to protect a woman’s face from the heat of a fire, this was particularly important when make-up would melt if exposed to heat. The screens are often embroidered.

Porcelain: originating in China, true porcelain is made from kaolin (china clay) although in Europe it was imitated usually using white clay and ground glass to produce soft-paste porcelain

Provenance: the documented history of a piece that proves its authenticity

Putti: decorative figures of small male cherubs, much used during the Renaissance

Regency: a style popular from about 1790 to the 1840s based on neo-classical designs, however the true meaning is when George IV ruled as Regent

Renaissance: the period after the Middle Ages, from about the 14th to 16th century during which there was a rebirth in interest in classical Roman design

Restoration: the skilled repair of antiques

Sampler: a piece of embroidery, once usually done by young girls, to demonstrate their skill at stitching

Sconce: a wall mounted candlestick with polished reflecting backplate

Sheraton: Thomas Sheraton was a major designer of furniture in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Skeleton clock: a clock mounted under a glass dome which displays its mechanism

Slipware: items of pottery decorated with slip – a mixture of clay and water

Soft paste: an imitation porcelain

Stereograph: A Victorian invention, this was two almost identical pictured printed side by side and, viewed through a  stereoscope, produced a 3D image.

Tambour desk: a roll-top desk where the roll-top is made of thin strips of wood

Tester bed: a bed with a wooden canopy over it (a half tester bed is one where the canopy only covers half of it)

Transfer Printing: a technique for using a paper transfer to impose a pattern on ceramics

Treen: items made from wood

Trembleuse: a saucer with a raised ring to hold a cup steady

Underglaze: a pattern or colours applied before the glaze

Veneer: a thin sheet of often expensive wood cut up to make decorations on furniture, boxes, etc

Vetting: the process, at antiques fairs, where all goods are examined to ensure they are genuine and correctly labeled.

Vitrine: a French display cabinet

Wemyss: Scottish made pottery known for its distinctive underglaze painting

Windsor Chair: a traditional wooden chair with shaped seat and dowel spindle back and saddle seat.


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14 Feb 2010, by

Art Glossary

Fine Art Registry Provided us with this Glossary. Click image to visit.
Abstract Art
An abstract work of art; artistic content depends on internal form rather than pictorial representation. In its pure form, it can be interpreted as any art in which the depiction of real objects has been entirely discarded and its aesthetic content expressed in a formal pattern or structure of shapes, lines and colors. When the representation of real objects is completely absent, such art may be called non-objective. Abstract Art
Abstract Expressionism
A school of painting that flourished after World War II until the early 1960s, characterized by the view that art is nonrepresentational and chiefly improvisational. Abstract Expressionism
Acrylic Paint
A pigment in a plastic binder medium that is water based and adheres to most surfaces. Acrylic paint is used to mimic the look of oil paint; less toxic than oil, and is quick to dry. Acrylic Paint
American Genre Painting
Usually paintings of the rural Midwest and west during the 1920s and 30s.
An intaglio method in which areas of color are made by dusting powdered resin on a metal plate and then allowing acid to etch or scratch the plate surface away from around it.
Art Deco
A decorative and architectural style of the period 1925-1940, characterized by geometric designs, bold colors, and the use of plastic and glass. Art Deco
Art Nouveau
A style of decoration and architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized particularly by the depiction of leaves and flowers in flowing, sinuous lines.
Ashcan School
A group of U.S. painters of the early 20th century who painted realistic scenes of everyday urban life. The work depicted such subjects as the streets and inhabitants of big cities with a vigorous sense of realism.
Avant Garde
A group active in the invention and application of new techniques in a given field, especially in the arts. Avant Garde
Barbizon School
French landscape artists who worked near Barbizon, France between 1835 and 1870.
Sculptural relief in which the projection from the surrounding surface is slight and no part of the modeled form is undercut. Bas Relief
Of, relating to, or characteristic of a 20th-century school of design, the aesthetic of which was influenced by and derived from techniques and materials employed especially in industrial fabrication and manufacture. Artists include Klee, Kandinsky, and Feininger.
Fine Art; a school of fine arts located in Paris which stressed the necessity of academic painting.
Any of various alloys of copper and tin in various proportions, sometimes with traces of other metals; Any of various alloys of copper, with or without tin, and antimony, phosphorus, or other components. Bronze
To make or form by or as if by cutting; to decorate by cutting and shaping carefully. Carving
Reproducing in plaster, bronze, or plastic, an original piece of sculpture made of clay, wax, or similar material. Casting
An object made of clay and then fired. Ceramic
The technique of using light and shade in pictorial representation; the arrangement of light and dark elements in a pictorial work of art; a woodcut technique in which several blocks are used to print different shades of a color; a woodcut print made by this technique. Chiaroscuro
An artistic composition of materials and objects pasted over a surface, often with unifying lines and color. Collage
Contemporary Art
The art of the late 20th century and early 21st century, both an outgrowth and a rejection of modern art. As the force and vigor of abstract expressionism diminished, new artistic movements and styles arose during the 1960s and 70s to challenge and displace modernism in painting, sculpture, and other media. Contemporary Art
The position of a figure in painting or sculpture in which the hips and legs are turned in a different direction from that of the shoulders and head; the twisting of a figure on its own vertical axis.
A nonobjective school of painting and sculpture developed in Paris in the early 20th century, characterized by the reduction and fragmentation of natural forms into abstract, often geometric structures usually rendered as a set of discrete planes. Practiced by many, including the Russian culture. Leading figures were Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso.
Dry point
An intaglio technique like engraving in which the image is drawn on a metal plate with a needle, raising a ridge which prints a soft line.
Embossed Print
Un-inked relief print in which dampened paper is pressed into recessed areas of a plate to produce a three-dimensional impression.
A paint consisting of pigment mixed with beeswax and fixed with heat after its application; the art of painting with this substance; a painting produced with the use of this substance.
An intaglio process in which lines are cut into a metal plate and then filled with ink to transfer the image onto paper.
An intaglio process in which an image is scratched through an acid-resistant coating on a metal plate. The plate is then dipped in acid that etches into the exposed surface.
A movement in the arts during the early part of the 20th century that emphasized subjective expression of the artist’s inner experiences.
Figurative Art
Art in which recognizable figures or objects are portrayed.
A method of making a design by placing a piece of paper on top of an object and then rubbing over it, as with a pencil, charcoal, or crayon, a design so made.
Folk Art (aka Naïve or Primitive)
Traditional representations, usually bound by conventions in both form and content, of a folkloric character and usually made by persons without institutionalized training.
A category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. A form of realistic painting of people that depicts ordinary events. These paintings are not religious, historical, abstract or mythological.
A preparation of plaster of Paris and glue used as a base for low relief or as a surface for painting.
Giclée (zhee-klay)
The French word “giclée” is a feminine noun that means a spray or a spurt of liquid. The word may have been derived from the French verb “gicler” meaning “to squirt”. The term “giclee print” is printmaking technology. Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction. These prints are produced by using professional ink-jet printers. Among the manufacturers of these printers are vanguards such as Epson, MacDermid Colorspan, & Hewlett-Packard. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. Giclee prints are not the same as Iris prints, which are a 4-Color ink-jet process from a printer pioneered in the late 1970s by Iris Graphics. The two should never be confused.
An opaque pigment used when painting in this way. A painting executed in this manner.
Any work printed directly on paper from a plate or block.
The application of thick layers of pigment to a canvas or other surface in painting.
A theory or style of painting originating and developed in France during the 1870s, characterized by concentration on the immediate visual impression produced by a scene and by the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.
Intaglio (Ital. “Incision”; pron. in TAHL-yo)
Any technique in which an image is incised below the surface of the plate, including dry point, etching, aquatint, en graving, and mezzotini.
A process in which an image is cut in relief on a linoleum block.
A planographic process in which images are drawn with crayon or a greasy ink on stone or metal and then transferred to paper.
Lost Wax
A process used in metal casting that consists of making a wax model, coating it with a refractory to form a mold, heating until the wax melts and runs out of the mold, and then pouring metal into the vacant mold.
An intaglio process in which the plate surface is roughened and then an image is created by smoothing the areas to be printed.
A unique print made from an inked, painted glass or metal plate.
A very large image, such as a painting or enlarged photograph, applied directly to a wall or ceiling.
Non-Objective Art
Artworks having no recognizable subject matter (not recognizable as such things as houses, trees, people, etc.) Also known as non-representational art.
Oil Paint
A powdered pigment that is held together with oil, usually linseed oil.
Outsider Art
The term Outsider Art was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for Art Brut (which literally translates as “Raw Art” or “Rough Art”), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture; Dubuffet focused particularly on art by insane asylum inmates. 

Outside Art has also been described as works by those outside of mainstream society. In the United States, outsider art broadly includes folk art and ethnic art as well as works by incarcerated individuals, the mentally ill and others neither trained in art. In Europe, outsider art is more narrowly interpreted as art by the mentally disturbed. The term naive was once applied to this work, but is no longer considered current.

An underlying image in a painting, as an earlier painting, part of a painting, or original draft, that shows through, usually when the top layer of paint has become transparent with age.
Any process of printing from a surface level with the plate, as lithography.
Pop Art
A form of art that depicts objects or scenes from everyday life and employs techniques of commercial art and popular illustration. A style derived and characterized by larger than life replicas of items from mass culture. This style evolved in the late 1950s and was characterized in the 1960s by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, and Robert Indiana.
Print/Reproduction Terminology
There has often been confusion surrounding prints—usually telling the difference between and “original” print or a mechanical reproduction or copy of an original print. If you are unable to tell whether you have an original print or a reproduction or copy of a print, you should have a professional look at it, or simply magnify an area on the piece and look for a dotted or pixel-like pattern. If you find a dotted and/or a pixel pattern, you can safely assume it is a mechanical reproduction. An “original” print is always made from the original block, stone, plate, or screen that the artist himself has created. There are several kinds of printing types that artists will use, such as lithography or lithograph, etching, engraving, pochoir, intaglio, photogravure, and so on. Some of these processes are identified below.
In the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or of contemporary life. Realism rejects imaginative idealization in favor of a close observation of outward appearances.
A technique in which the portions of a plate intended to print is raised above the Surface, as woodcut, linocut, etc.
Serigraphy (screen printing, silkscreen)
A stenciling method in which the image is transferred to paper by forcing ink through a fine mesh in which the background has been blocked.
A 20th-century literary and artistic movement that attempts to express the workings of the subconscious by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter.
A painting medium in which pigment is mixed with water-soluble glutinous materials such as size or egg yolk. Also called poster color, poster paint.
A paint composed of a water-soluble pigment.
A process in which an image is cut in relief on a wood block.

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