Welcome to the NOVA-Antiques Blog

NOVA-Antiques is the Mid Atlantic website for all things antique and collectible. Our website features antique & collectibles dealers, shops & malls; Flea Market Directory & Reviews; Monthly Antiques Show Calendar; Estate & Tag Sales Page; and our NOVA-Antiques Newsletter, which contains news, articles and information about the antiques & collectibles market. NOVA-Antiques Blog is an extension of our Newsletters.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jackson Pollock Most Expensive Painting in the World

It’s not a Goya, a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or even Monet or Van Gogh. The correct answer is No. 5, 1948 and if you were playing the game show Jeopardy on television, which is one of my favorite shows, the question would be, “What is the world’s most expensive painting?” The painting, which looks like a bunch of drips on a canvas, was reportedly sold for $140 in a private deal brokered by Sotheby’s. According to published reports previous owner and entertainment mogul David Geffen sold the painting to Mexican financier David Martinez in November of 2006. So who exactly is Jackson Pollock?

Jackson Pollock who was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912 was an abstract impressionist painter that some experts consider one of the most influential painters of the 20th Century. Pollock was married to Lee Krasner, herself a painter, and they moved New York in 1945. Their house in Long Island had a large barn on the premises that they turned into a studio. Soon after, Pollock started laying his canvases on the barn floor and began perfecting his “drip” technique. He experimented and tried many ways of dripping paint onto the canvas including using syringes, wooden sticks and just plain old pouring out of the can.

He numbered his paintings as opposed to naming them because he wanted people to use their imaginations as to what they saw and not be influenced by the artist interpretations. Some people have read too much into his art and have come to a decision that on some plain, Pollock used “mathematical” skills to build his paintings with “fractals,” whatever that means. It has been reported that Pollock was an alcoholic and looking at his paintings, I believe that the artist was just a little drunk, inspired and had fun. It is said the Pollock was influenced by sand paintings done by Native American people as well as David Alfaro Siqueiros, a Mexican muralist. Sadly, Pollock was killed in a single car crash in New York in 1956.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Collectible Glass Insulators Reference Site

In the late 1960's and early 1970's glass insulators were being removed from telephone poles as advances in technology made them obsolete. As linemen were taking down the old lines, they started to notice the multitude of bright colors, company names, variety of shapes, and important historical position held by insulators in the expansion of communication technology.

Presently the insulator collecting hobby has thousands of people around the world. Many collectors live in the U.S. and Canada. A number of websites exist which hold these items as the primary focus, and eBay even has a separate category for insulators. Quite probably, the largest and most informative public website in the hobby is the National Insulator Association.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archive – July 27, 2006 . . . .

Chinese Snuff Bottles – A Brief History & Value

Towards the mid-27th Century, when snuff was first introduced in China, it was believed that it had medicinal qualities and was used to treat the common cold, relieve sore throats, alleviate tooth aches and used as a cure for migraine headaches. Snuff however was not intended nor was it used for all the people of China, but was limited in use and availability to the upper echelons of society. It was mainly used by the elite peoples associated with the Qing Dynasty and the royal court of Beijing. As such, vessels to carry the snuff otherwise known as snuff bottles and or snuff boxes had to be attractive, ornately designed and beautiful to go with one’s social standing.

Snuff bottles are made of a many different materials, shapes, sizes and design. Some of the early snuff bottles are made of ivory, jadeite and even gold. Some were made of coral and other unusual material. However, a lot of snuff bottles were made of glass and because of the medicinal properties of the snuff probably had their beginnings in the apothecary bottles of the time. Many of the snuff bottles were made to fit in the palm one’s hand and had a stopper with a small spoon attached for easy access to the snuff. Many were marked with either maker’s name or a date.

The pictured example of a marked Chinese Imperial snuff bottle was recently sold at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church, Virginia for $146,250. However, caution has to be taken when purchasing these types of antiquities because of the many reproductions and unscrupulous dealers around the world. A recent search of eBay for Chinese snuff bottles found close to 800 listings, many of them selling for ninety nine cents. The 19th Century white carved jade snuff bottle in the form of two figures sold on eBay for over $1,900.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Elegant Heisey Glass Popular Among Collectors

Although the Heisey Glass Company was founded by Augustus H. Heisey, in 1896 in Newark, Ohio, Mr. Heisey had already had much experience in the business. Aside from marrying one Susan Duncan, daughter of George Duncan of Duncan Glass fame, he had worked at King Glass Company of Pittsburgh and the Ripley Glass Company. In 1893 after spending some time out west, Heisey decided to open his own glass company. The first Heisey Glass Company products were pressed glass pieces, but they were made in such a manner that they appeared more expensive than they actually were. Flawless glass combined with a high finish and firepolishing, the glass appears as brilliant as crystal and is known as elegant glass to collectors. However, most Heisey glass is easily identifiable by its marking.

Heisey is also known for having been one of the first companies to adopt a nationally and internationally recognized trademark symbol. Introduced in the early 1900’s the Heisey trademark has always been an H within a diamond. Although some early creations had a paper label, most Heisey glass are impressed with the logo. The logo is usually about .25 inches long and is normally at the base or stem of the piece. However, the logo is not the only thing that makes Heisey Glass so attractive to collectors. Heisey Glass also produced some of the finest etched glass of the early to mid 20th Century. Their Orchid Pattern is probably one of the most recognizable and popular patterns among collectors.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Important Antiques & Collectibles Shows August 28 - August 31, 2008

Two important antiques and collectibles shows this weekend right in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic States this weekend make it the place to be. First, The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, Maryland’s largest antiques event will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center. This show is in it’s 28th year and is attended by over one hundred dealers featuring antiques and collectibles of every kind imaginable as well as decorators, designer and tens of thousands of buyers. The show begins today, August 28, 2008 at 12 pm and goes through Sunday at 6 PM. Admission is $12 but is good for all days and there is plenty of parking and hotel rooms close by the convention center for out of town folks.

The 151st semi-annual York Antiques Show and Sale will take place at the York Fairgrounds and Convention Center in York, Pennsylvania. This show features ninety six dealers from around the country selling antiques and collectibles including 18th and 19th Century furniture, Silver, antique toys and 18th Century English Porcelain. The York Antiques Show and Sale will begin tomorrow at 10 am and will run until 5 pm on Sunday. General admission to the show is $10 but there is plenty of free parking, great food and it is held in an air conditioned building. This show also attracts hundreds of designers and decorators as well as thousands of visitors from the Mid-Atlantic States.

See the NOVA-Antiques Calendar for other shows coming up this weekend . . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cast Iron Doorstops Price on the Rise

Hubley Manufacturing Company was incorporated by John Hubley in 1894 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The company is known for producing a large array of toys but their claim to fame were the wonderful cast iron toys that they made before World War II. After the war, the company changed to a cast iron alloy. Hubley made objects of many shapes and designs including beautiful horse drawn carriages, vehicles, toys, dogs and doorstops. The doorstops have recently been selling for record prices. A doorstop is an object that is used to hold a door open or closed. Sought after by folk art collectors, cast iron collectors, door stop collectors as well as other collectors and designers have made prices go through the roof.

Although they became predominant in Victorian European home in the early 19th Century, it is widely believed that doorstops were first made in the 18th Century. In the beginning, doorstops were nothing more than any object you could find to keep a door open or closed including rocks, wood or any other thing that was heavy enough. It wasn’t until the Victorian Era brought a wave of decorated doorstops made to look more attractive than a rock. European foundries of the time made doorstops look like dogs and flowers. Doorstops did not become popular in the U.S. until the early 1920’s. Women of that era bought the doorstops to coordinate with other thing in their homes including bookends and shade pulls.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Traube Cut to Clear Wine Goblets at Outasite!! Collectibles

This week Outasite!! Collectibles is featuring vintage Traube pattern cut to clear wine goblets from Joska Krisal in Bavaria, Germany. These cut to clear wine goblets come in four different colors including ruby to clear, amethyst to clear, cobalt blue to clear and topaz to clear glass crystal. They are 24% lead crystal. In addition, Outasite!! Collectibles is featuring a vintage Murano Glass Parrot figurine that is one beautiful piece of art glass.

Outasite!! Collectibles features antique and vintage collectible art glass from such companies as Westmoreland, Tiara, Pilgrim, Blenko, Waterford & Sowerby. Vintage Art Glass – Outasite!! Collectibles highlights art glass in cranberry, amberina, opalescent, black amethyst, and Royal Ruby colors as well as Diamond Point Patterns, Crackle Glass, Cut Glass Crystal and fine elegant glass.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Colonial Furniture Maker Eliphalet Chapin

Eliphalet Chapin was born in 1741 in Massachusetts but studied the craft of furniture making in Philadelphia. Chapin later moved to East Hartford, Connecticut to set up shop, and become the most renowned furniture maker in that state.

Although he was inspired by the Rococo designed furniture of Philadelphia, Chapin’s creations were lighter and cleaner in detail. While other Connecticut furniture makers of the time were making slim and tall furniture, Chapin was creating more compact and stocky furniture. His style is regarded as one of the most elegant of the period with ball and claw feet as well as scrolled pediments and spiral rosettes.

On a past episode of Antiques Roadshow a woman from Oak Hill, Virginia brought in a cherry tea table that she had purchased at an Estate Sale for a mere $200. Appraiser John Hays removed the top and found although the top and base were originals, made by Chapin the surface had been replaced. Even still the tea table was valued at $15,000 - $20,000. Had the surface been original, the tea table would have brought in closer to $50,000.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletters Archive – July 13, 2006 . . . .

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium (The Aud) Memorabilia Auction

The City of Buffalo yesterday and it’s mayor, Byron Brown, announced that they are searching for an auction company to sell memorabilia from the old Buffalo War Memorial Auditorium. The Aud, as it is affectionately known in Western New York is an indoor arena that served the community well from 1940 until 1996. In its heyday, the Aud provided a fantastic venue for everything from NBA basketball (Buffalo Braves) to NHL Hockey (Buffalo Sabres) as well as circuses, wrestling events, ice shows lacrosse and indoor soccer. The Aud was also a favorite destination for concert goers with acts such as the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Paula Adbul, Garth Brooks and many many others.

In 1970, when the Sabres finally arrived in Buffalo, my brother and I became fans of the team as well as the Buffalo Braves of the NBA. However, the Aud has a deeper meaning for me because I remember going there as a kid. My father was a huge professional wrestling fan and as a kid we watched on TV on Saturday evenings. When the behemoths of the ring came to the Aud in most cases my father, my brothers and I would go to see the action. It was events like these where my father, who has since passed away, bonded. The very last event at the Aud was indeed a wrestling show with proceeds benefitting the Ilio D’Palo Foundation in 1996, my father, my youngest son and I were there. It will be sad to see the Aud finally go.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Inaugural Blenko Glass Festival – August 22 & 23, 2008

Get ready to go to West Virginia for the first ever Blenko Glass Festival. The festival runs this Friday and Saturday, August 22 and 23, 2008 in Milton, West Virginia. Blenko Glass is one of the few surviving glass companies in West Virginia and is still a family run and family owned business. The festival is being held in conjunction with the Blenko Collectors Society convention and will feature glass blowing demos, workshops and sales of limited edition, one of a kind and vintage pieces of Blenko Glass. This is celebration you surely won’t want to miss.

Blenko Glass has been around since 1893, when William J. Blenko first started producing in Kokomo, Indiana. Ten years later, in 1893, Blenko was forced to close down due to economic conditions of the time. After several attempts at a comeback, William J. Blenko was finally successful in opening up a new plant in Milton, West Virginia. William J. Blenko produced and sold his own glass. Blenko Art Glass is still a very popular collectible today and comes in many different patterns and styles but Blenko is most famous for their Amberina and Crackle Glass.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Redoute Rose Lithographs at Outasite!! Collectibles

Pierre-Joseph Redouté was a Belgian painter and botanist born in 1759. He is world renowned for his painting of flowers, but most especially his paintings of roses. Redouté painted the gardens at Petite Trianon of Marie Antoinette because he was her official court artist and was part of a large cultural and scientific movement in Paris in the late 18th century through the early 19th century. During this time, many folio books were published with colored plates using offset lithography. These lithographs are well sought after by collectors and designers and can make a great addition to any shabby chic room.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michael Phelps Trading Card Value Soars II

Yesterday morning I wrote about the value of Michael Phelps Trading Cards. Yesterday evening prices realized on eBay for a Michael Phelps trading card surpassed every speculators estimate with one card selling for over $2550. The card was an Upper Deck signed and numbered trading card from 2004. In addition, other Michael Phelps memorabilia have also been commodities on the online auction site including an autographed Olympic ticket that sold for $1575 and autographed swimming caps as well as another set of signed cards that sold for $1500.

What a difference eBay has made in our lives. We no longer have to wait to see what an item will be worth, instant gratification. Can you imagine if computers, the Internet and eBay had been around when Wilt Chamberlain hit his 100th point in one game for the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962? How about when Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run in 1927 or when Rocky Marciano retired from the boxing ring as the heavyweight champion in 1955 without a defeat? Although value would have been relative in those days, what would their trading cards have been worth on eBay?

History of the Sewing Machine – Antique Sewing Machines

Isaac Merritt Singer designed and perfected the first practical sewing machines in a small Boston, Massachusetts machine shop. It took only 11 days and $40 in borrowed capital for him to create the sturdy lock stitch sewing machine that would revolutionize sewing across the globe. The following are some highlights in the history of the Singer Sewing Company and Singer sewing machines and indications for why antique sewing machines are in such great demand.

From 1850 to 1851, Orson C. Phelps of Boston was manufacturing sewing machines under license from John A. Lerow. The Lerow and Blodgett machine was not very practical. The circular movement of the shuttle took a twist out of the thread at every revolution. Isaac Merritt Singer, after examining the sewing machine, noted "instead of the shuttle going around in a circle, I would have it move to and fro in a straight line. In place of the needle bar pushing a curved needle horizontally, I would have a straight needle and make it work up and down."

After 11 days of work and forty dollars in cost, Singer completed his invention: the world's first practical sewing machine. This sewing machine had a straight eye-pointed needle and transverse shuttle, an overhanging arm, a table to support the cloth, a presser foot to hold the material against the upward stroke of the needle, and a roughened feed wheel extending through a slot in the table. Motion was communicated to the needle arm and shuttle by means of gears. In 1851 Singer patented his lock-stitch sewing machines and began production in Boston. He joined forces with New York lawyer Edward C. Clark to form I. M. Singer & Company.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archive - June 29, 2006 . . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

Michael Phelps Trading Card Value Soars

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few weeks you have all heard the name Michael Phelps a few times either on the news, or you have read it in the papers or your friends and neighbors have been abuzz with his name. If you have been under a rock, then let us fill you in, Michael Phelps is being billed as “the greatest Olympian” by many people because he just accomplished winning eight gold medals in swimming at the Beijing Olympics this week. We agree that it was no small feat, especially when you have to depend on others, during relay competitions, in order to achieve your goal. Congratulations to Michael Phelps on his achievement and thank you for representing us well at the Olympics.

What does Michael Phelps have to do with antiques and collectibles you ask? Let us not forget about trading cards. Although swimmers cards are not as popular or collectible as baseball cards, you can rest assured that the value of the Michael Phelps swimming card has gone up. Other sources on the Internet are reporting that the card that was worth a mere $25 a few months ago was trading at over $500 right before the Olympics began last week. Many speculators say that the market value could go up to the thousands of dollars within the next couple of weeks. If you have one, hang on to it because I think that card is going to appreciate even more in years to come.

Moser Lavish and Extravagant Bohemian Art Glass

Moser Glass was founded by Ludwig Moser in Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czech Republic in 1857. This area is well known for its Bohemian Glass and I had the opportunity to tour there twice in the 1990’s after the crumbling of the “wall,” the cold war and when the dollar was extremely high. The Moser Glass Company was going through a transformation at that time, but I did manage to pick up a few pieces of the luxurious and opulent art glass which I later sold at auction for a nice profit.

Moser Glass was originally an engraving studio where artists etched stags and wooded landscapes on glass blanks obtained from other manufacturers. However, in 1893 after opening their own glass manufacturing plant, their designs became more lavish and extravagant. Moser Glass can easily be identified by most collectors because of their design techniques which included applied glass acorns and “grapes” as well as applied enameled birds, oak leaves and bugs. Antique Moser Glass pieces can go at auction for hundreds of dollars with the rarer pieces going in the thousands of dollars.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dumb Mikey and the Snow Plow Joke

Last winter it was snowing heavily and blowing to the point that visibility was almost zero when Mikey left his office and was going home. He made his way to his car and wondered how he was going to make it home. He sat in his car while it warmed up and thought about his situation. Then finally remembered his mommy’s advice that if he got caught in a blizzard he should wait for a snow plow to come by and follow it. That way he would not get stuck in a snow drift. This made him feel much better and sure enough in a little while, a snowplow went by and he started to follow it.

As he followed the snowplow, he was feeling very smug as they continued and he was not having any problem with the blizzard conditions. After quite some time had passed, he was somewhat surprised when the snowplow stopped and the driver got out and came back to his car and signaled for him to roll down his window. The snowplow driver wanted to know if Mikey was all right as he had been following him for a long time. Mikey said that he was fine and told him of his mommy’s advice to follow a snowplow when caught in a blizzard. The driver replied that it was OK with him and he could continue if Mikey wanted but he was done with the Wal-Mart parking lot and was going over to K-Mart next.

Dumb Mikey is a semi-fictional character and these jokes have appeared on our NOVA-Antiques Newsletter since June 2004. NOVA-Antiques Newsletter has about 2500 subscribers and so many of them have told us how much they loved the Dumb Mikey jokes that we decided to make a page solely for them. The people that love the Dumb Mikey jokes are mostly the people who think they know who Dumb Mikey really is. Not to our surprise, nobody really knew who Dumb Mikey really was until this year . . .

Martin Johnson Heade – Luminism Style American Painter

A couple of weeks ago a Cape Cod, Massachusetts family found that a painting they had owned for generations was worth more than $1 million. The painting, titled “Haying on the Marsh” by Martin Johnson Heade was painted in the 1860’s. The family had no idea how much it was worth because the frame covered the artists name until they turned it over to Eldred’s Auction Gallery for appraisal. A pre-sale estimate by the gallery was determined to be about $500,000 and the family was pleasantly surprised when the painting brought in more than $1 million. Other Heade paintings have also sold for more than $1 million in previous auctions.

Martin Johnson Heade, a Luminism Style, American painter, was born in August of 1819 and is best known for seascape, still life and salt marsh landscape paintings. Although some art historians disagree, Heade is believed to have been part of the Hudson River School and many of his paintings were displayed at a major art exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1987. Heade didn’t begin exhibiting his works until 1841 after studying under Edward Hicks in Pennsylvania and traveling to Europe to practice his craft. It wasn’t until 1857 that he became interested in landscape painting and in 1859 moved to New York. Heade passed away in September of 1904.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Marche Aux Puces at Porte de Clignancourt

Some people will agree that this is, literally, the mother of all flea markets. Billed by some as the original flea market, it certainly is the Europe’s largest flea market. Located just outside of Paris, France, the one hundred acre Marche Aux Puces, has well over twenty five hundred dealers and vendors and attracts thousands of visitors every week. This Grande Dame of flea markets has been known to attract many celebrities as well; in fact it has been said that French President Jacques Chirac has been seen at this market.

According to Frommer’s, “First-timers always want to know two things: "Will I get any real bargains?" and "Will I get fleeced?" It's all relative. Obviously, dealers (who often have a pre-arrangement to have items held for them) have already skimmed the best buys. And it's true that the same merchandise displayed here will sell for less in the provinces. But for the visitor who has only a few days to spend in Paris -- and only half a day for shopping -- the flea market is worth the experience.”

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crackle Glass at Outasite!! Collectibles

Crackle Glass was first made by the Venetians in the 1500’s and the process was a little different. They took the molten hot glass and immersed it in water causing it to crack. The molten glass was then reheated to seal the cracks and either molded into shapes or hand blown. Many American companies have used this technique in the past including, Blenko, Pilgrim, Fenton and the Kanawha glass companies. Crackle glass has become very collectible in the recent past, especially the miniature amberina colored crackle glass pitchers made by Blenko.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

C & M Antiques Barred From Selling American Flags by eBay

News organizations were reporting yesterday that a Waterbury, Connecticut antiques and collectibles dealer was barred from selling vintage American flags on the online auction giant eBay. Mark Albino who owns C & M Antiques and Collectibles in Waterbury had sold between 75 and 100 vintage flags on eBay over the past five years and the flags, depending on vintage, condition and desirability, can bring in anywhere from $50 to $500. What got him into trouble was that he decided to sell the flags internationally but yet exclude certain countries and or states. His listings included the following caveat, “Please note that this flag is not for sale to anyone residing in any country in the Middle East, France or the State of California . . . or to any person in any country not allied to the USA.” Although eBay and maybe others may not see it that way, I agree with and God Bless Mark Albino.

According to articles eBay basically said that a seller cannot choose to sell internationally and then randomly choose countries to be excluded. The representative was quoted as saying, “you either sell your items to international bidders or you don’t.” However, Mark has been selling merchandise and vintage flags on eBay for the past 5 years. Why all of a sudden is eBay now enforcing this rule? And why can’t he choose which countries he will sell his flags to . . . because eBay says so? What a bunch of baloney. eBay, a powerful, AMERICAN, company should make it easier for sellers to be able to choose which countries our flags go to. Mark is right, we as a country should not be selling flags to individuals in countries where they may use them for anything other than to honor America and our people. I would rather see eBay tackle the exorbitant shipping and handling fees that some dealers try to charge than to bother with such an honorable cause as this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Collecting NASA and Space Memorabilia Collectibles

"Ten, nine, ignition sequence start, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. All engines running. Lift off; we have a lift off, 32 minutes past the hour. Lift off on Apollo 11."

That’s how it all started on July 16, 1969 as Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center headed for the moon. Four days later, it was an uneasy atmosphere in Mission Control as the spacecraft neared its destination. NASA scientists were confident they could get Apollo 11 to the moon, but landing it was a whole different story. If the spacecraft tipped over during landing, the crew would be stranded, unable to return home.

Their fears were silenced on July 20 as the spacecraft safely touched down. Commander Neil Armstrong climbed out and down the ladder. He was standing on the moon. “I thought that when I step off it's just going to be a little step, you'll step from there, down to there,” Armstrong said. “But then I thought about all those 400,000 people that had given me the opportunity to make that step and thought it's gonna be a big something for all those folks, and indeed for a lot of others that weren't even involved in the project.”

All over the world, a sense of triumph filled people. If landing on the moon was possible, anyone could reach the stars. Everything was possible. Collecting space memorabilia is as close as most people will ever get to the moon. It’s also their chance to own a piece of American space history. Baby-boomers who grew up with the moon landing are big collectors. The field includes everything from astronaut autographs to stamps, photos and pieces of real space hardware. Tens of thousands of NASA-licensed objects sell at space center and museum gift shops, like limited edition coins or photographs, many for under a hundred dollars.

On March 18, Swann Galleries, New York, held their fourth Space Exploration auction. They featured artifacts, emblems, medallions, books, charts and maps, postal covers, photographs, equipment, posters and more. Among the most desirable lots in the auction were flown items that were the property of astronauts. This included Apollo 11 artifacts from the Buzz Aldrin collection. An official 8 inch by 10 inch color photograph of the crew in space suits signed and inscribed by Armstrong sold for $5,750.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archive – April 20, 2006 . . . .

The Rose Bowl Flea Market

Last November my son and his fiancé were visiting from Los Angeles and we were discussing their wedding plans for this month. We discussed how I had never been in Los Angeles or California for that matter and kiddingly I said to them that if they were planning a wedding in Los Angeles the only thing I would ask would be that they planned it on a weekend where the Rose Bowl Flea Market would be taking place. A few months later, while talking to them on the phone, they mentioned that the Sunday after the wedding, we could visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market. I had completely forgotten about my comment on their previous visit, but was ecstatic that I would be able to go to the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

The largest flea market on the west coast, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is usually open on the second Sunday of every month. It features more than 2,500 dealers and thousands of visitors including the famed Kovels, Ralph & Terry as well as major Hollywood Stars and entertainers. The Rose Bowl Flea Market also features a little bit of everything and is one of those mega markets where if you cannot find what you are looking for here, you are never going to find it. In addition to antiques, collectibles of every kind, vintage clothing and garage sale items, the Rose Bowl has now added an indoor section dedicated to art and artisans.

The Rose Bowl Stadium where the flea market is held is a National Historic Landmark that was built in 1922. Many people are familiar with the stadium even if they haven’t been to sunny southern California because it is where UCLA plays and it hosts the Tournament of Roses college football game. Additionally, five Super Bowl football games have been played at the stadium by National Football League teams and the Men’s Soccer World Cup games were played there in 1994. Situated in the Aroyo Seco section of Pasadena, the stadium backdrop includes majestic mountain scenery and natural beauty that takes your breath away.

After having a grand but exhausting time at the wedding this past Saturday, I finally realized one of my dreams, and we all went to the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It was a beautiful day in Pasadena, California, sunny skies with the temperature in the mid-80’s. As we stepped through the gate, I couldn’t help but think that this is also one of those flea markets that we’d never be able to take in all in one day but I found that the Rose Bowl Flea Market was all that I expected it to be. The vendors that we talked to were customer friendly and willing to make a deal and the merchandise was amazing. We saw more beautiful Murano Glass than we have seen at any other flea market we have visited but what we ended up buying a Blenko Art Glass Amberina pitcher and a Fenton Art Glass Amberina bowl and we got a great deal on both. More importantly, the best deal we found was on a cedar chest that the newlyweds had been looking for and not found at other flea markets, which confirmed our thought that if you can’t find it here, you’re not going to find it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Elvis Presley Jumpsuit Sells for Record at Memorabilia Auction

A few weeks ago I wrote about the record auction for James Brown memorabilia including one of his infamous capes that went for more than $32,000. This time it’s Elvis and it is one of his flamboyant jumpsuits. The hand embroidered Peacock jumpsuit was designed by Bill Belew in 1974 for the King of Rock and Roll. It was reported that Elvis originally paid $10,000 for the jumpsuit that sold for a record $300,000. Pre-auction estimates for the jumpsuit by online auctioneers, Gotta Have It! Collectibles, ranged from $275 to $325,000. The previous record for an Elvis collectible was $295,000 for the King’s Lincoln.

Elvis Presley was born in January 1935 was originally a controversial figure in American music because he blended black and white sounds. It did not help that he gyrated and swayed his hips to the music he played while on stage, in a country that was still pre-cultural revolution of the 60’s. However, as time passed, Elvis became an icon of that same culture and one of the most popular and recognizable names in the music business ever, earning him the title of The King of Rock and Roll. In addition to his music, Elvis made 32 movies. Sadly, Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Santos de Palo – Four Centuries of Folk Art in Puerto Rico

Santos de palo, or saints carved from wood, originated in Spain in the 1500’s. This folk art tradition was then brought to the Spanish colonies by explorers and people who immigrated into these lands, including Puerto Rico, which later became a U.S. territory. Associated with Christianity and Catholicism, the Santos were normally placed on an altar inside the home, where the family usually gathered for prayer. It was believed that the saints resided in the wooden carvings and thus would hear the people’s prayer. The Santos would then act as the intermediaries and communicate with God on behalf of the people saying the prayers. I can attest to this as my dear mother would always pray to San Judas Tadeo, Saint Jude Thaddeaus, in times of distress or when she wanted to keep our family away from trouble.

Santos in Puerto Rico are a four century folk art tradition. They were carved by artists known as a Santero and usually varied in style and design as well as dimensions. The style and design of the Santos were different depending on when they were made and where they were made. Primitive Santos are not as polished and clean as the colonial types of Santos. Some Santeros preferred to leave their Santos in a natural state to show the wood, others preferred to paint their pieces. My grandfather, Marcelino, was a Santero and he is said to have specialized in Los Tres Reyes Mago a Caballo, The Three Wise Men on Horseback (Three Kings). It is said by many that the Santero was inspired by a higher power and that it was not just a hobby or profession, I can confirm this as well as my grandfather was a spiritual man who truly had a higher calling.

Santos de palo are very collectible in every form and recently there has been a surge in their popularity as more and more Puerto Ricans are getting touch with their roots and their culture. In addition, art collectors are realizing the importance of this folk art form and it significance to the overall American culture that Puerto Ricans are now a large part of. A lot of people are also researching their roots as I have been doing and have found Santeros as ancestors as I have done. Unfortunately, most of the original antique and collectible Santos were unsigned by the Santero and can be difficult to authenticate them as genuine. However, in the past couple of years, El Museo de Los Santos in San Juan has been doing research and cataloging many of the specimens that they have found.

Pictured on the right is a picture of San Judas Tadeo, carved by Rubén Acevedo Méndez of Aguada, Puerto Rico. Rubén is one of the few young artists that remain true to their culture and is continuing to preserve the tradition of the Santero. This particular piece was made for Pope John Paul II and now resides in the Vatican, Rome.

Lee Maxwell's Antique Washing Machine Museum

Today as I was walking into my garage, I passed the laundry room where my wife was complaining about all the wash she had to do. This gave me pause and I thought, well what would happen if she lived in my mom’s time? My mom talked all the time about having to walk to the river in the old country not only carrying the baskets of clothes to wash, but my older brother and sisters as well. My mother continued by saying that the way they got the clothes clean was by pounding them against the rocks.

Washing machines weren’t invented until the mid 1800’s and no one knows more about antique washing machines than Lee Maxwell from Colorado. Mr. Maxwell has a collection of more than a thousand antique and vintage machines that he has accumulated from trips he has made scouring the countryside. The Guinness Book of World Records has authenticated his collection as the largest in the world.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archives – April 6, 2006 . . . .

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jim Beam Collectible Decanters & Bottles

Jim Beam, the prominent liquor company from Clermont, Kentucky, first introduced their liquor decanters in 1955. Beam was the first to introduce the decanters but many companies followed their lead in the mid-1970’s as the decanters became more and more popular with collectors. Eventually, there were more than 20 companies, including Dewer, Canadian Mist and Beef Eaters, producing decanters, but Beam was one of the few companies that owned their own china factory and were deep into making their own decanters. However, decanters are not the only things people are collecting.

Early Jim Beam bottles are also collectible; just ask one of the more than 5000 members of the International Jim Beam Bottle & Specialty Club (IJBBSC), of which there are over 150. Whether its bottle or decanter collecting, one thing they both have in common is the variety of the collectibles. Jim Beam bottles were made in different styles and shapes depending on the year that they were produced. Accordingly, Jim Beam decanters also are very different with over 1000 different decanters being made in all shapes, sizes and decorated in many styles, including classic cars, political, a rare Norman Rockwell collector’s series and sports and wildlife decanters.

Although the price of Jim Beam liquor decanters has been slipping over the past few years, prices can vary greatly depending on the bottle and the year that the bottle was made. The decanters can range in price from a few dollars for the most common to hundreds of dollars for the rarer decanters. A Corvette Jim Beam Decanter like the one pictured on the right usually sells from $150 - $200. Although the decanters are not being produced in mass quantities anymore, each year limited edition decanters are issued and serious collectors look forward to picking those up quickly.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Elegant Glass – Brief History of Fostoria Glass Company

In 1887, the Fostoria Glass Company was born in none other than Fostoria, Ohio. However after a brief stint, they moved their operations to Moundsville, West Virginia. From 1887 until 1983, Fostoria produced various products in different forms including blown glass, pressed glass, etched glass and crystal. Their most famous pattern is the American Fostoria pattern, which we have all seen at one time or another. Fostoria Glass was sold in 1983 to Lancaster Colony, which closed the company in 1986. Fostoria Glass is part of the elegant glass family; glass that was made prior to the Depression. Other elegant glass companies that are part of this family are Cambridge, Libbey and Heisey.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rene Lalique - The Best Designer of the 20th Century

Yesterday, in the UK Mirror, there was a story of older woman who was in need of an operation and was trying to find money to finance the procedure. According to the story, the woman went into her attic and started rummaging around for things to sell when she came upon a brooch. At first, she dismissed her find because she thought it had no value, but after more searching, gave up hope and decided to have it's worth determined.

To her surprise, the brooch, which was in the Art Nouveau style, turned out to have been made by Rene Lalique and was worth close to $14,000 in pre-auction estimates. At auction, Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury, Wilts, it sold for more than $100,000. What is interesting is that I have always associated the name Lalique with glass design and never thought about him as a jewelry designer.

As it turns out, the celebrated designer, Rene Lalique, did indeed produce and design some of the most spectacular glass creations of his time but he also designed jewelry, chandeliers, clocks and even hood ornaments. Born in France in 1860, Lalique was an apprentice to Louis Aucoc by the age of 16 and later worked for the prestigious jewelry house, Cartier. In 1886, he opened his own shop and is renowned as one the top Art Nouveau jewelry designers and later for the Art Deco style.

I have never seen a piece of Lalique jewelry and if I did I would probably not know it from any other jeweler or designer in the world. However, I am most familiar with his amazing glass creations and can say that Lalique designed some of the most creative and inspired pieces that I have ever seen. If Lalique put as much enthusiasm and imagination into his jewelry design as he did in his glass creations, I can understand why people are fanatic about the result. Rene Lalique, who was the best designer of the 20th Century, died in 1945.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Honus Wagner Near Record Baseball Card Auction

A Honus Wagner baseball card from 1909 sold at auction in Chicago yesterday for a near record of $1.62 million. The card was one of the earliest collectible baseball cards known to exist and came with cigarettes made by the American Tobacco Company. Another Honus Wagner card holds the record for price; it was sold in 2007 for $2.8 million. The card, known as a T206, was purchased at a sports memorabilia auction by John Rogers of North Little Rock, Arkansas and was probably first issued between 1909 and 1913.

Born Johannes Peter Wagner in 1874, Honus was one of nine children. He played shortstop from 1897 to 1917 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. Many in the baseball world consider Honus Wagner one of the best all around baseball players that ever lived and certainly the best shortstop ever. When he retired in 1917, Wagner did so with more hits, runs, RBI’s, doubles, triples and steals than any other player. According to officials at Mastro Auctions, there are fewer than 100 Honus Wagner Cards known to exist and only 10 in mint condition.

Brewerania & Beer Can Collecting

It seems like just a few years ago people were collecting cans of Billy Beer, the beer that was named after President Carter’s brother. However, beer can collecting began long before that. It is believed by some that collecting beer cans began with the advent of the can itself, produced first by the American Can Company. The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company was the first to introduce us to beer in a can in 1933 when they distributed 2000 cans of 3.2% beer.

Beer can collectors have their own organization, called the Beer Can Collectors of America (BCCA). According to Mark Benbow, owner of rustycans.com, the association has been around since 1970 and by 1976; the association had more than 8000 members. In the late 1970’s and 80’s, with a glut of beer cans aimed specifically at collectors, interest actually waned and many people gave up their collections. The hobby of collecting beer cans is now making a comeback and the BCCA currently has about 3700 members.

Another thing we learned from Mr. Benbow is that Billy Beer cans are pretty much worthless since the market was flooded with about 2 billion cans from four different breweries in the late 1970’s. A can of Billy Beer, whether open, closed, with beer or without is probably not worth more than twenty five cents.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archives – March 2, 2006 . . . .

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The History of Moorcroft Pottery

William Moorcroft (1872 to 1945) was born in Burslem, Staffordshire and studied art in both London and Paris. He designed his first pieces of pottery while working at the James Macintyre Company in 1897 but was highly successful after opening his own studio in 1913 in Cobridge, England. Moorcroft created pottery with an Asian feel and developed high luster glazes to create dramatic, eye catching designs. Most of his products sold through Liberty of London and Tiffany in New York. After his passing in 1945, the company passed on to his son Walter.

Walter’s vision and designs helped the company continue its long standing tradition of using brilliant colors and translucent glazes to produce some of the best quality mid-century art pottery. However, later in the 60’s the company was purchased by the Roper Brothers and they unsuccessfully tried to mass produce merchandise and failed. In 1987, Walter resigned from Moorcroft and the design duties turned to Sally Dennis and now to Rachel Bishop. Under these new designers, Moorcroft saw a resurgence in both the quality of their product and interest by collectors.

Duncan Phyfe Antique Furniture and the Lyre Design

Duncan Phyfe was born in 1768 in Scotland but immigrated to Albany, New York in 1784 to serve as an apprentice in a cabinetmakers shop at the tender age of 16. In 1792 he moved to New York City and opened his own business designing and producing furniture. He is now known as one of the most prolific furniture makers of his time. Borrowing ideas from Thomas Sheraton in England and using simple styles, Phyfe is well known for being one of the leading designers to use the lyre to enhance the beauty of a piece of an otherwise boring piece of furniture, such as a chair or table.

The lyre, sometimes known as a harp, design is nothing more than a representation of the ancient musical instruments that were played as early as the 13th century. Many furniture designers including Phyfe, Sheraton and Hepplewhite used the lyre design on chairs and tables and other furniture. The Lyre Back chair pictured is part of a collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The chair dates from about 1815-1820 and is thought to be only one of 24 produced by Duncan Phyfe. He is considered as good a designer as his predecessors in the field.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Western Artist Charles Russell - Art Auction Brings in Millions

Charles Russell (1864-1926) was born in Missouri but found his way to Great Falls, Montana, which he adopted as his home and lived in for over 46 years. One of the greatest artists and sculptures of the American west, had humble beginnings working on a sheep ranch at the age of 16. His interest in the west, history and the outdoors along with his awareness of his environment gave him the ability to capture western landscapes, cowboys, and Indians in perfectly flowing colors, lines and exquisite detail.

Russell produced over 2000 works in his lifetime featuring his favorite subjects including paintings and sculptures. In 1926, Trails Plowed Under, a collection of his short stories were also published. Recently two of his artworks brought in more than $9 million at auction. The holdup, a painting by Charles Russell, showing a stagecoach being held up, sold for $5.2 million at the Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in Reno, Nevada. A bronze, Meat for Wild Men, depicting Native Americans on a buffalo hunt brought in more than $4.1 million.

The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, 1,100,000 acres in north central Montana were named after this artist and includes native prairies, river bottoms and badlands. In addition, a lot of his artwork is on display at the C.M. Russell Museum, “A place where the old west is still alive.” The museum is located in Great Falls, Montana.