Guest Blogs

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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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  Right now, these and other historical documents can be found on display in the Madison Avenue gallery of Douglas Elliman, a premier New York City real estate agency.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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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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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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