Guest Blogs

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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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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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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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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