Tag Archives: antiques

Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals

Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854
Captain D.G. Farragut, Sixth Plate Daguerreotype, Earliest Known Photograph, Ca 1854

On June 13th Cowan’s is offering a remarkable selection of early photographs, letters, documents, flags, political ephemera and more dating from the Revolutionary War-period through the Civil War and beyond, as well as the American West. We are proud to present selections from the Paul DeHaan Collection of items related to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and his flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford. Additionally, photography from the Tom MacDonald Maine Civil War CDV Collection will also be featured in the auction.

auction notes

Preview Times

Thursday, June 12: 12:00 – 5:00 pm EST

Friday, June 13: 8:00 – 10:00 am EST

Buyer’s Premium for this auction is 17.5[%]

via Cowan’s Auctions: The Midwest’s Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals.

Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content 6/13/2014 - American History: Live Salesroom Auction 3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit "creative" and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.
Mexican War, Battle of Buena Vista, Letter Containing Graphic Content
6/13/2014 – American History: Live Salesroom Auction
3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Buena Vista Camp near Saltillo Mexico, April 23, 1847. To Mr. George Smith of Frederick, MD from George Toms. In ink, spelling a bit “creative” and for the most part the entire letter is one sentence, but handwriting clear. Toms describes the march from Matamoros to Buena Vista, a distance of about 500 miles.

Museum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities – BWWVisual ArtsWorld

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) William Goldberg Date: May 7, 1937; Gelatin silver print: image width: 13 11/16" image height: 16 5/8"
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991)
William Goldberg
Date: May 7, 1937; Gelatin silver print:
image width: 13 11/16″
image height: 16 5/8″

Great news from the Big Apple for Ephemera lovers.
Another example of why we need to support the National Endowment for the Humanities!

New York, NY

The Museum of the City of New York is pleased to announce the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. The application, submitted to the NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant opportunity in July 2013, outlines a plan to increase public access to over 6,500 objects of material culture over the course of two years. The materials will eventually be available on the Museum’s online Collections Portal. The Museum was notified of the successful funding of this application in the amount of $125,000 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office in March 2014, by instruction of the NEH.

Read the full article hereMuseum of the City of New York Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities – BWWVisual ArtsWorld.

Almost Time For The May Run of the Brimfield Antique Show By Lori Stabile | Special to The Republican

Brimfield 1800 from a sketch by Colonel John W. Foster
Brimfield 1800 from a sketch by Colonel John W. Foster

Great article on the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Show next week. Go for the Brimfield Paper & Postcard Marathon beginning May 9th and stay for the Antiques blitz!

By Lori Stabile | Special to The Republican
It’s almost time for the May installment of the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Shows, a thrice annual event that draws antique lovers from near and far to the tiny town of Brimfield, Mass. for six days at a time.

The May show – known as the largest antique show of the three – opens Tuesday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 18.

What is usually farmland transforms into a giant outdoor antique sale, featuring thousands of dealers on 23 fields selling almost everything imaginable – giant Ronald McDonald heads, garden items, 1950s dishes, postcards from various eras, music equipment, furniture, vintage jewelry and clothing and more.

It was 1959 when Gordon Reid got the idea to hold an outdoor antique show.

His daughters, Judith R. Mathieu and Jill R. Lukesh, continue the tradition their father started, on the J&J Promotions field, which is open only on Friday and Saturday and hosts 400 dealers.

Opening times vary according to field, with most opening Tuesday. Check www.brimfieldshow.com for specific field opening times.

The first “show” featured 67 dealers selling items on tarps in front of their station wagons, Mathieu said, describing the event as “rustic.”

Asked what Reid would think about Brimfield has become, Mathieu replied, “Oh my gosh, he would be thrilled. He would be quite honored, I’m sure.”

She said that she and her sister have maintained the quality that her father wanted on his field, ensuring dealers are selling antiques and not new items.

Because the family has been involved in the shows so long, Mathieu has plenty of advice for first-timers to the shows (the next show is in July, followed by the last one in September).

Dress comfortably, she suggests, and bring cash, as many dealers do not accept credit cards.

And bargain. Dealers expect it, Mathieu said, “but be fair in your offer.”

Even though Brimfield has been around now for many years, Mathieu said they still hear people tell them that this is their first time.

“People are just thrilled to be here,” Mathieu said.

Celebrity sightings are not unusual at Brimfield – home decor maven Martha Stewart, hockey great Terry O’Reilly, singer-actress Barbra Streisand and director-actress Penny Marshall all have been spotted in recent years.

Donald G. Moriarty, co-owner of Heart O’ the Mart with his wife Pamela, predicts that the May show will be “great.” They have been involved in the antiques show for the past 32 years, and he said he’s been seeing more international buyers at the shows.

“Each year seems to get a little bit bigger,” Moriarty said.

His field opens Wednesday at 9 a.m. with approximately 450 dealers. Like Mathieu, he advises people to dress “for comfort, not style” and in layers.

“Bring your wallet . . . Allocate as much time as you possibly can because it’s a huge, huge show,” Moriarty said.

Some fields charge admission. The next shows are July 8 to 13, and September 2 to 7.

Here is where to find maps and brochures for the Brimfield Show

Re-posted from Mass Live

The Auction that Launched the Antiques Trade

As a lover of antiques and of the wonderful LOVEJOY series on the BBC, I was happy to find this article to share. Great information by Wayne Jordan on what is said to be the auction that started it all.
Enjoy!

1 Marlborough Estate

As Captain-Generalcy of the English forces, John Churchill was the commander of the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate (above) named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.

The antiques business began in July, 1886.

At least, that’s the claim made by author Jonathan Gash in his book “Paid and Loving Eyes” (Penguin, 1993). Gash is the creator of the Lovejoy character, a roguish antiques dealer whose escapades are recounted in more than two dozen novels and 71 BBC television shows.

I enjoyed watching the BBC series (what’s not to like about Ian McShane?), but there was little to be learned about antiques by doing so. That’s not the case with the books, however. Although the Lovejoy novels are works of fiction, Gash (real name John Grant) doesn’t stray far from the facts when he discusses antiques. He devotes a lot of detail—sometimes pages—to describing the antiques that are the catalysts for his stories. He also goes into great detail about how forgeries and fakes are made, and how common they are in the antiques trade. Want to know about 18th-century German snuff boxes? Lovejoy will tell you. Want to fake a Sheraton table or age a freshly painted watercolor? Lovejoy gives up those secrets. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Gash/Grant was an accomplished forger; he seems to know a little too much about how to fake antiques. (He was actually a physician and university professor).

2 John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough

So, when I read Gash’s claim that the antiques trade began in July of 1886, I paid attention. I’d never known anyone to try to pin a “start date” on the antiques business. I consulted my old friend Google to check the claim myself. Here’s Gash’s claim, from the above book:

“Once upon a time, antiques were a rarified pursuit for scholars… they spent fortunes, and founded private museums. Until July 1886. In that month, the great antiques hunt began when an auctioneer intoned “Lot One” and the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace’s magnificent treasures—art, furniture, statuary—went under the hammer… the Great Antiques Rush was on.”

As it turns out, Gash wasn’t too far off regarding the date and spot-on regarding the contents of the auction. The Duke’s possessions were, in fact, auctioned off over a period of several weeks in late June/early July in 1886. In just a few generations, the Marlborough “dynasty” went from fame and fortune to dissolution under the auctioneer’s hammer.

The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, was initially a page in the Court of Stuart. Through his political savvy and a marriage to Queen Anne’s close friend Sarah Jennings, Churchill rose to the Captain-Generalcy of the English forces. When the War of Spanish Succession broke out, Churchill found himself commanding the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.

John Churchill died in 1722, and his title and property passed through various successors over the next 150 years. The Churchills (and later Spencers), though not among England’s most prosperous families, were well-to-do and spent a considerable sum furnishing Blenheim Palace. The Fifth Duke of Marlborough was a real spendthrift and bought the family right into an awkward financial position. What was awkward for the family, though, turned out to be good for launching the antiques trade in 1886.

3 1st Marlb auction catalogue

The first Marlborough auction catalog from June 1886.

4 2nd catalogue 1886
The second Marlborough auction catalog from July 1886.

5 3rd catalogue 1886
The third Marlborough auction catalog from July 1886.

6 terms of auctions
The terms and conditions of Marlborough auctions.

As the grip of the Industrial Revolution tightened around England’s economy, the “Old World” economy of wealthy landowners and tenant farmers began to collapse. By the turn of the 20th Century, many Peerage estates found themselves in financial difficulty. The fastest way for an estate to raise cash was by selling off their vast collections of art, jewelry and furniture.

By 1870, the family’s financial situation was so bad that the Seventh Duke began to sell off family assets. Real estate (other than Blenheim) was sold, as well as personal property, including the famous Marlborough gems. When the amount raised proved to be insufficient to pay his debts, the Duke petitioned Parliament to break the estate’s entail and allow liquidation of the estate. Under English law, estates were required to follow a strict method of inheritance, called an entail. To accommodate the Duke’s request, an act of Parliament was required. When the Blenheim Settled Estates Act of 1880 was passed, the Duke was free to call an auctioneer and arrange for the liquidation of the estate. The Duke’s descendants, including Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer (“Princess Di”) could claim descendancy from Marlborough but didn’t benefit from the Blenheim money.

7 james christie founder of Christies
A portrait of James Christie, founder of what would become the fames Christie’s auction house.

The Marlborough auction began on Saturday, June 26, 1886, and was conducted by the firm of Christie, Manson and Wood (which would become today’s “Christie’s”) at their London sale rooms. Auctioneer James Christie had started his auction business some 120 years earlier and his company was considered to be London’s finest auction house. In the 18th century, peerage auctions were uncommon, and much of Christie’s trade came from bankrupt merchants and private sales. In the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries, Christie’s became the auctioneer of choice for destitute aristocrats.

The Marlborough sale ran, off and on, for several weeks. Lots offered were furnishings, porcelain, rugs, silver and household goods; plus art and sculptures by Rubens, Van Dyck, Raphael, Rembrandt and others. A catalog of the first day’s sale, preserved by the University of California Los Angeles Library, can be seen here.

The Marlborough auction was certainly the most important auction of its time, but is it a fair assessment to use it as the start date for the antiques trade? I believe that it is, although I’m sure that there are those who think I’m crazy for believing so. In my opinion, it makes as much sense to ascribe June 1886 as the start date for the antiques business as it does to ascribe July 4, 1776, as the date of American Independence. Certainly there had been skirmishes with the British before July of 1776—most notably the battles at Concord and Lexington, and the Boston Tea Party—but in spite of those early skirmishes, we lay claim to the date of July 4, 1776, as the start of our independence. Similarly, there was antique buying and selling going on before June 1886. But the Duke of Marlborough’s auction was the watershed event that brought the antiques trade into general awareness. After that date, antiques were no longer the exclusive province of the gentry.

The turn of the 20th century, would see antique shops cropping up all over Europe, and in America they were found in the seaport towns of New York, Boston and New Orleans. In the 21st century, antiques are in vogue; there are thousands of shops in America alone and countless magazines, books, websites, blogs and television shows that cater to antiques collectors and enthusiasts. As Gash’s Lovejoy says:

“Now we’re all at it. Clever people draw graphs of antiques’ values, starting back in that summer of 1886. Don’t be fooled. It’s not a mathematical proposition. It’s not a philosophy. It’s a scramble.”

Wayne Jordan spent more than 40 years in the music business as a performer, teacher, repairman and music store owner. In 25 years of musical instrument retailing he has bought, sold, rented or repaired thousands of pianos, band & orchestra, combo, and folk instruments. Wayne is currently a Virginia-licensed auctioneer and certified personal property appraiser. For more info, visit Wayne Jordan Auctions.

Reposted from http://www.worthpoint.com

Ephemera/34 Conference & Paper Show March 14-16, 2014

2014 Ephemera Conference

The Ephemera Society of America

(ESA) will be holding its annual three-day conference and fair at Old Greenwich, CT. in mid-March 2014, devoted to sharing and exploring various aspects of ephemera, and to buying ephemera to add to or to start collections. The first day, Friday, is devoted to presentations of papers with a specific theme and to exhibits and book signings by some of our published members and speakers. Saturday and Sunday feature a two-day ephemera fair with dealers from around the world and member forums on Sunday before the fair.

The theme for the conference is “Field to Table: The Ephemera of Food and Drink.”Our essential connection to what the earth produces, and how these sustain us is at the core of our lives. Each step of the process from the field to the table represents a different aspect of our society and its values. The ephemera of food and drink illustrates the different points of view of that story, reflecting how our society has evolved. This narrative includes survival, culinary achievement, hard work, the aesthetics of food and table presentation, balance, culture, health, satisfaction and commerce. What drives us? Our needs and initiatives, the creativity of our inventions and discoveries, our passions and resources are all involved in getting things from the field to the table. Ephemera helps us follow and understand the evolution of these comestibles and potables.

More info to be found at: Ephemera Society Of America website

Cartographic quote

map tumblr_ml09pv0Sla1qa7ntmo1_500

“The history of cartography is littered with such pseudo-continents, chimerical islands, dream-rivers and other Wilkean visions, flickering between the literal and the mythical. This is partly because cartographers have often tended also to be dreamers, seduced into their science by the beauty of maps and the flights of imagination that they prompt. Maps seek to mark the world and fix its flux, but in doing so they also loosen it from its moorings: as documents, they are at once fiercely empirical and faintly mystical.”

Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky and Infinite City by Rebecca Solnit – review

Robert Macfarlane is enchanted by two cartographical conceits

http://m.guardiannews.com/books/2010/dec/18/atlas-islands-san-francisco-review

Preserving Ephemera

Ran across this article which has some great advice about preservation and storage of your ephemera collection. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the post for a free eBook on ephemera preservation. Happy treasure hunting.

Most ephemera can be effectively handled by putting them in inexpensive polypropylene sheet protectors, and keeping these in a binder. The two clear sides of the protectors allow viewing of the items without destructive handling. Typically newspapers would have the relevant item cut out (either including the newspaper name, date, and page from the same sheet, or with that information noted on the retained item). Most items will fit into letter-sized protectors, but some may need some larger format.

Digital preservation is important, since the information can be better preserved and shared by having multiple backup and distributed copies. Flatbed scanners are usually the tool of choice to generate the images. 300 dpi (dots per inch) scan resolution is a good rule of thumb, although it may be more than needed for newspaper-like items. I like to name each scan file with the year, person and short subject indication. For cataloging, I usually rely on the descriptive filenames, which can be viewed and searched via the computer’s normal mechanisms. For a few kinds of items for which it seems important, I make text files with greater detail about the contents.

DON’T use the cheap plastic envelopes to keep your original paper records in. The chemicals in them destroy the contents over time. Use proper archive quality plastic envelopes if you wish to keep them in good order for future generations. – Colin Mar 20 at 7:26

I would start by investing in some (archival-quality) plastic binder pockets. For digital storage, a small flatbed scanner will get a better image, but a digital camera is also fine for recording a digital copy. Try to organize as you go (slip an article into the plastic, scan/photograph it, and then record any additional notes about it), although I would prioritize physical organization if you’re finding it overwhelming or you’re facing a time constraint.

The great thing about using binder pockets (assuming things will fit in them) is that it’s simple to:

1. take the binder to a family reunion and let everybody page through it

2. drastically reduce the possibility of damaging something while reading

3. take the collection to a library or other archive to look up vital records

4. reorganize the order

5. group by event (wedding, death, birth, etc.)

6. group pieces by family

7. group pieces by generation

8. or change your mind halfway through and switch your organization around!

Try to include your grandmother or other older relatives in the preservation process as much as possible — hopefully they will be thrilled that you’re excited about your family history and want to share all sorts of stories about the newspaper articles, photographs, etc. (Ironically, this makes the job of “family historian” harder, since you not only need to preserve the physical object, but also organize associated stories — but it is so, so worthwhile. The number of details and even new family relationships that I learned about when reading through newspaper articles with my grandmother was astounding.)

Ephemera comes in all shapes and sizes. Check out The Heirloom Registry to preserve the stories attached to ephemera found around the house. The online registry allows users to preserve and share the stories behind family heirlooms and precious belongings. You can see the Heirloom Registry sticker on the bottom of my teacup in this picture.

As another person mentioned, digital records, as simple as taking an image with your cell phone, are a good way to capture the information. I have done this with great success in photographing an old scrapbook full of newspaper clippings my grandfather made. I can zoom in and read all the text in the article clippings. The challenge with this is HOW DO YOU ADD CONTEXT AND METADATA TO A DIGITAL FILE? And therein lays the crux of your question. I would suggest that you do as the archivists would do. Assign each piece of ephemera it’s own unique identifier (number) and then in a separate document (notebook, text file or database) record the number and then all the contextual information you know about it. Like “Grandma clipped this out of the Washington Post when Aunt Mabel died” or “Cousin Grace gave Grandma this muffin recipe in 1960 – Grandma made it once, but thought it had too much baking soda, so she adjusted the recipe. She said it was Grandpa’s favorite :)”

I’ve been scanning the family photo albums and doing some acid-free repair as I go. I have a high quality flatbed scanner and have done the photos separately (both sides if there’s anything on the reverse) and transcribed any writing on the photo, photo back or page captions into the jpeg files information.

Then I set up a camera and photograph the entire album page with all photos on it. Context can be important.

After I have a set done, I put the photos up on a photoshare site (SmugMug in my case) in a private gallery so I can share them out and have an online backup of the information.

My next project is all the stories my grandmother handwrote to my siblings and I when we were children relating her growing up in Texas and New Mexico during the great depression. They are priceless to all our family.

There is now a free eBook in PDF format available from here all about preservation of records that is well worth downloading and reading imho.

Free Ebook about ephemera preservation:
http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/documents/ebookpdf_march18.pdf