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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bertoia’s Toy Auction in Vineland, New Jersey

When I was a kid, after living in New York City, my parents moved to Vineland, New Jersey for a few years so that my father could be closer to his family and because my uncle had secured him a job with the public school system there. We lived on Elmer Street, a quiet little street, with a branch of the local library at the corner and Newberry’s five and dime down the street. I attended, Maurice Fels Elementary School, a small four classroom school that housed kindergarten thru third grade.

I still get to Vineland once in awhile to visit my aunts who still live there and I am always amazed at the change of the little town into a bigger city with bustling stores, shops and neighborhoods. When I visit, one of my aunts insists that I take her to our old haunts, the Berlin Flea Market and the Cowtown Flea Market. Even back then as youngster, I couldn’t get enough of the old things.

Vineland will swell with even more people next weekend. Bertoia Auctions, which is based in Vineland, is having a three day Toys for All Seasons auction on Friday thru Sunday, November 7 – 9, 2008. This auction promises to have everything from cast iron toys to board games and Halloween figures. The star of this auction will be a 27” tall Santa mechanical toy store display, which is expected to bring in more than $10,000. Bertoia, which specializes in antique and collectible toys holds auctions in New Jersey a few times a year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brief History of the Tea Caddy

Ahhh . . . a refreshing cup of tea. The same tea that the patriots dumped into the Boston Harbor was introduced to the English from China in the mid 1600’s. Believed to be a healing drink by its early connoisseurs, tea was originally for the well to do because of its extremely high price. Tea was packaged and imported in large quantities and the tax man then levied heavy taxes on the shipments. Tea remained very expensive for about 100 years, until many people started buying the tea illegally from the black market. Because tea was associated with the mighty and powerful, it had to be stored in only the best boxes or what was known as the tea caddy.

The word caddy is from Malaysia and was a unit of measure equal to about 3/5 of a kilo. In the early 1700’s a lot of tea caddies were made of wood in very intricate design, many featuring tortoiseshell and ivory. These boxes were shaped like small chests and some were even carved in the Chippendale style. These antique early boxes are very rare and collectible today. In the 1800’s the tea caddies began to take different shapes, with influences coming from both China and Egypt. Many of the tea caddies from this era featured pagoda tops and tapered sides as well a concave and other linear combinations.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archives - August 3, 2007 . . . .

Ruffino Tamayo Mural at Sotheby’s

Ruffino Tamayo was born in 1899 in Oaxaca, Mexico and was a Zapotecan Indian. After the death of his parents in 1911, he moved to Mexico City. He studied at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas. He went on to work at the National Archeological Museum where he was first exposed to folk art. After a one man show in Mexico City in 1926, he moved to New York where he thought his art would be better received. Tamayo became a widely recognized painter and artist during his time in New York and exhibited his works at many galleries and museums. In 1955 he returned to Mexico City where he painted a huge mural titled America.

America, which measures a whopping 13 feet by 14 feet, will be sold at the Fall Latin American Artists Sale Sotheby’s Auctions. The painted mural is expected to bring in between $7 and $9 million. Originally painted by Tamayo for the Bank of Southwest Houston, this work of art has been on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art for the past fifteen years. The Sotheby’s Latin American Artist sale will take place on November 18 and 19, 2008. Besides America, other Tamayo works will be offered for sale as well as works by Carlos Cruz-Diez, Antonio Asis, Sandra Cinto and Marta Boto.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tiffin Collectors Club Sponsors Antique Show & Sale

One of the longest operating elegant glass companies in America, Tiffin Glass Company, went through major changes in management throughout their history. Originally, A.J. Beatty & Sons Glass Factory in Steubenville, Ohio, the company changed its name to Tiffin when it moved to Tiffin, Ohio in 1888. Most glass producing plants were susceptible to fire because of the furnaces needed to produce the glass and Tiffin was no exception. In 1893, the plant burned down to the ground and had to be rebuilt. The plant did survive the great depression but trouble arose later in the late 50’s and early 60’s and in just the span of a few years the Tiffin changed hands several times.

In the late 1950’s, Tiffin began having financial difficulties and was sold to an investment firm in New York and then later in 1962 to Brihart Plastics of Mineola, New York. In 1963, Tiffin again was sold and purchased by a group of former employees. They re-named the company Tiffin Art Glass Company and the company took off with millions in sales. In 1966 the company was sold yet again to the Continental Glass Company and was re-named Tiffin Glass Company and in 1968 it was sold to Interpace the parent company of many pottery and china companies including Shenango and Mayer China. The company was sold for the last time in 1979 to Towle Silversmiths and the name changed to Tiffin Crystal. One thing is for certain about this company, no matter the changes in management or the subtle changes in name, they always managed to produce quality elegant glass.

The Tiffin Glass Collectors Club will be sponsoring the 14th Annual Fall Glass and Antiques Show & Sale in where else but Tiffin, Ohio. The show which will be held this coming Saturday Sunday, November 1 & 2, 2008, will not only feature the most beautiful of Tiffin glass products, but will also have antique furniture, china and vintage collectibles. The Tiffin Glass Club Collectors Club will also be offering a new ornament with the Tiffin logo made by Mosser Glass in Cambridge, Ohio for $25 each. Held at the Seneca School of Opportunity, this indoor show has plenty of free parking and food is available.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Edition Updates on Upcoming Events

The October 24, 2008 edition of the NOVA-Antiques Newsletter has been published and contains information about How to tell a First Edition Book; the Fabulous Finds Annual Barn Sale; a Bob Hope Memorabilia Auction and information about upcoming antiques and collectibles auctions, estate sales, flea markets and antique shows.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter is published twice per month by NOVA-Antiques and currently has a subscriber base of about 2500 subscribers. NOVA-Antiques is the Mid-Atlantic website for all things antique and collectible.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Antique & Vintage Bicycles Bring Flood of Memories

Like many people, I remember my very first bike. We were living in Vineland, New Jersey and I was in first grade at the time. My brother in law, who was a wiz at all things mechanical, purchased a used Schwinn bike for me. He made it look very nice by spray painting it black and white and the wheels were those thick knobby type with the white walls. Thinking about it brought back some awesome memories of my younger days flying down the street in front of little house on Elmer Street, with my brother in law and sister looking on. But what actually spurned these memories was an article that I read online the other day about a vintage bike shop.

Landmark Vintage Bicycles in New York City has a wide array of restored vintage bicycles made by the legendary Schwinn and Raleigh companies. According to a company profile, Landmark is owned by Chung Pai who is a bicycle enthusiast himself. Most of his clientele are not professional cyclists, but people like me, with nostalgia on their mind; People drawn to all things old and antique and to bicycles that remind us of our youth, with curvy lines, big whitewall tires and the little bell on the handlebars. I don’t remember whatever happened to the old bike, but I sure wish I would have kept it.

Prices for an antique or vintage bike can range from a few dollars for one that is not restored, to thousands of dollars for bikes that have been fully restored to their original condition. At Landmark Vintage Bicycles, old bikes are going for anywhere from $175 to over $1000 for an antique, 1930, Bridgestone bicycle. Each of the bikes in the shop is restored to their original condition and they also sell a wide array of accessories consistent with the time periods. The Schwinn Stingray bike pictured on the right recently sold on eBay for more than $700.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vintage Sex Goes Up in Smoke

This past Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida a church congregation gathered to set fire to a cache of vintage sex films from the 1970’s -1980’s. It turns out, that the collection of more than 100 reels of the vintage sex were found in an old drive in movie theater building that the church had recently purchased. The church paid close to $1.4 million for the drive in and found the cache of X-rated movies when they were cleaning up . . . imagine their surprise. The most amusing part to me however is not that they found a cache of porn, but that they thought it best to bless the water in the fire trucks that were used to keep the fire under control.

Isn’t there something in our constitution about separation of church and state? We can’t have our children pray in schools, but we can let our fire trucks spew out holy water? There is something wrong with this picture. Got to give the padre of the church credit though, some Catholic priests or other ministers would have hid the cache for themselves. Others would have found a way to sell it; in case you all in Jacksonville hadn’t heard, sex sells and aren’t the churches always looking for donations? I guess they don’t really need to ask for any more donations though if they can afford to buy a drive in for $1.4 million and set fire to vintage collectibles that would have brought in thousands of dollars for the church.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lucien Freud Not Recession Proof Either

Yesterday it was Andy Warhol’s painting that did not reach its pre-sale estimate at an auction at Sotheby’s. Today, a rare Lucien Freud painting of Francis Bacon failed to reach its pre-sale estimate of about $14 million. The painting, which has been described as an unfinished portrait of his friend and painted around 1956, sold for about $9 million at a Christie’s Auction. Based on previous sales, the price was a bargain for a Freud painting.

In an article I wrote in my June 23, 2007 Newsletter, I described a portrait painting sold at Christie’s auction of another of Freud's friends, Bruce Bernard. It set a record auction price for a living artist. And yet another painting titled Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold in May of this year for $33.6 million, which was at the higher end of the pre-sale estimate. Both Warhol and Freud failing to reach pre-sale estimates has many questioning whether the slump will continue as stocks take a roller coaster ride and credit is at a low even for the wealthy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Andy Warhol Paintings Not Recession Proof

Many years ago, when I was a lot younger, I owned an Andy Warhol Coca Cola T-Shirt and boy do I wish I would have kept it around. Although probably not worth as much as one of his paintings, it is always nice to have pieces of memorabilia from your past. It wasn’t too long ago that all Warhol collectibles were going for a premium price, however in these days of economic recession prices seem to be down. This is even more evident in the art world. At a Sotheby’s Auction yesterday, many pieces of art went either unsold or brought it less money than they were expected to bring including the paintings by Andy Warhol.

A compilation of 10 silkscreen paintings of skulls, which was expected to bring in more than 12 million at auction, brought in a mere $7.5 million. This compilation of paintings was first put together by a Zurich art dealer, Thomas Ammann, in 1976 and is said to represent the “the literal multiplication of death.” Each of the 10 canvases in this compilation was painted in different and contrasting colors and were signed by Warhol, who was one of the central figures in the Pop Art movement. Last year, Christie’s, sold Green Burning Car I, by Andy Warhol for a record breaking price of $71 million.

Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928. Better known for his paintings and artwork, he was also a filmmaker, author and illustrator. In addition, he is also well known for the phrase that he coined regarding everyone’s “fifteen minutes of fame.” As with most artists, his work evolved as time went by. His works, which are as highly sought after today as they originally were, were the subjects of many scandals in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, he toned down his celebrity and started getting more portrait commissions from the rich and famous including the Beatles’ John Lennon and Diana Ross of the Supremes.

Warhol was to evolve again in the 1980’s after some criticized his works of the 1970’s as too commercial and without substance. He started hanging around with other artists that were up and coming at the time including Jean-Michael Basquiat and David Salle. He had very successful exhibitions of his art and a
resurgence in the interest of Warhol paintings again gripped art collectors. Unfortunately, his life was cut short and in 1987 after routine gall bladder surgery, Warhol had a heart attack and died. However, many would agree that Andy Warhol has overly exceeded his fifteen minutes of fame.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Save Some Green by Going Green… Buy Vintage!

The combination of a weak economy and more people “going green” by recycling has proven to be a catalyst for many interior designers and homeowners to seek less expensive and “greener” alternatives for decorating and enhancing homes. Additionally, average stock market investors are seeking alternative venues for investing.

Some may argue that investing hard-earned money in something other than the highly volatile stock market is a safer way to invest these days.

With the increased emphasis on going green, the resale market for antiques and vintage goods, such as art, books, jewelry and even photography, is becoming as liquid as investing in stocks. The difference is that most antiques are a “sure thing”. The older they get, the more valuable they become (barring damage). Thus, one stands a good chance of “buying low” at a Flea Market or Antiques Shop today, and “selling high” for two reasons: one, simply because one would sell in the future, aging all the more in the process, and 2) the investor has garnered use from the item during its ownership, unlike a virtual stock certificate which offers little use, if any.

Certainly, there is no sure-fire way to ensure that one’s choices in antiques investments will appreciate and pay off in the future, but right now, it’s easy to make the argument it probably can’t be worse than investing in the stock market. The choice to purchase items that have been salvaged or repurposed as something else offers the additional benefit of helping the environment by recycling and keeping things out of landfills.

There are many area flea markets and mom-and-pop antiques shops in the Northern Virginia area, as well as periodic antiques festivals where one can shop and not spend a lot of money. The upcoming Aldie Antiques Market, in Aldie, Virginia is one such place. This once-monthly flea market, which is sponsored in part by Bella Villa features many dealers and reasonable prices, but the best part is that it is a place where one can find some quality merchandise, often American or European in origin.

Normally held on the second Saturday of each month from 9 am to 5 pm, the Aldie Antiques Market this month is being held on Saturday October 18, 2008 in conjunction with the Aldie Harvest Festival. Aldie Day is a fifty-year-old celebration that attracts more than 3000 people annually and consists of many attractions for the entire family, including children’s games, live music and food.

Admission is free and $5 donation for parking will go to charity. In addition to antiques and collectibles, the festival will also feature 100 artisans selling pottery, jewelry, handcrafted items and art, so it is a great place to do some shopping for investment purposes, while saving money and “going green” by recycling.

This article was a collaborative effort by Rosanna Smith and Marc Cortes. Rosanna Smith is the co-owner of the very popular and highly successful Bella Villa, located in Aldie, Virginia. She also sponsors the Aldie Antiques Market, a monthly antiques and vintage collectibles Market. Marc Cortes is the publisher and webmaster of the NOVA-Antiques Newsletter and NOVA-Antiques Blog. Both of which are dedicated to help bring news articles, stories and information regarding antiques and collectibles to the Mid-Atlantic U.S.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hurricane Lamps Both Stylish and Practical

With all the flood, wind and weather disasters of recent years, one cannot overlook the importance of having a few hurricane lamps around the house. When power fails, traditional candles can be dangerous. We have read or heard of many disasters when a candle has tipped over catching curtains and furniture on fire. The hurricane lamp, with its glass chimney is a little bit safer. Many people have taken old hurricane lamps and converted them to electricity, but that defeats the purpose during power outages.

Hurricane lamps are not only desirable for their practical use, but the right lamp can add certain stylishness to a room. You can buy new hurricane lamps in any large department or specialty store, however the most beautiful lamps are the vintage lamps found in antique shops or flea markets. One of the most popular and stylish type of lamp is called the Gone With The Wind (GWTW) Lamp, named after the Academy Award winning movie of the same name. These beautiful lamps feature hand painted designs on both the lamp and a chimney enclosure. Prices for beautiful hurricane lamps can range from a mere $35 to thousands of dollars.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archive – March 20, 2007 . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Brief History of George Nakashima

George Nakashima was born in 1905 in Spokane, Washington and is widely considered one of the top furniture designers and maker of the 20th Century. After attending the University of Washington and later receiving a Masters degree from M.I.T., Nakashima traveled to France and later to Japan. It was there that he met Antonin Raymond, who is well known for his collaborations with Frank Lloyd Wright and under his tutelage became engaged in the study of Japanese design. After returning to the U.S. in 1940 however, Nakashima’s life took a detour when during World War II, he was put in a Japanese internment camp.

Some would argue that the detour in the camp was not all bad, as this is where Nakashima was first introduced to making furniture and where his passion grew full fledged. While in the camp he studied the art of making furniture with traditional Japanese tools and the techniques used by the grand masters. In 1943, Antonin Raymond came into his life again, he was released from the camp and moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania where he opened his first studio. Nakashima was one of the finest craftsmen of his time and today his works go at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although he passed away, his work continues through his daughter, Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, who now runs the studio, still situated in New Hope.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

David Beckham’s Booty Found on eBay

Published reports say that two people working as housekeepers in the David and Victoria Beckham household, as well as the housekeeper’s son were arrested earlier today after memorabilia and other booty was found on eBay. Other staff members at the Beckham’s residence were suspicious of the help’s son because he hung around the residence and was not actually employed there. They told Victoria’s parents, who in turn found the memorabilia on the online auction site. Apparently, the help spent a lot of time not only at the Beckham’s official residence, but they also spent time in the couple’s holiday home in France. Missing from the home and found on the eBay online auction site according to reports were dresses belonging to Victoria and a lot of soccer memorabilia from soccer icon, David Beckham.

The investigation is continuing to determine if any other items were stolen from either the main residence or the holiday residence and eBay has pledged to help with the investigation and to help prosecute the offenders. What gets me is that these alleged thieves were pretty dumb to have thought that no one would look on eBay for the booty. One of the first places investigators now look for stolen antiques and memorabilia is on online auction sites. Investigators know that in most of these cases, the crooks are in it for a quick buck and will want to turn the items over quickly. Before the rise of the Internet and auction sites like eBay, the first place investigators would look was in local pawn shops and antiques stores. Now, a thief can steal something and sell it half way across the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ringo Starr Busy or Arrogant?

I grew up on the Beatles, as a matter of fact one of the first things I ever remember watching on an old black and white TV when we lived in the Big Apple was the Ed Sullivan Show where the Beatles made their U.S. debut. I was devastated when John Lennon lost his life in New York and there was a glimmer of hope that someday the band that I remember as a kid would return for at least one more performance. Today, Lennon is probably rolling in his grave at the arrogance of the one time drummer for the Beatles, Ringo Starr.

On his official website, Starr claims that he is too busy to read fan mail and sign memorabilia. A forty second outburst on video posted on his site, Starr says, “Nothing will be signed after the 20th of October. If that is the date on the envelope, it’s gonna be tossed.” He continues to say, “No more fan mail and no more objects to be signed. Nothing.” He claims he is too busy, we say he is pretty arrogant. A sculptured bush of Starr’s likeness was recently beheaded in Liverpool after disparaging remarks about the city. Turning away the people that made you who you are and what you are cannot be good for the image.

In June 2008 he also cancelled a show at the last minute in Bethel, New York and disappointed a lot of fans. Quite honestly, I think he is just getting too old and cantankerous. Maybe, he should just retire.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vintage & Antique Game Tables Back in Style

In the good old 1950’s, no home was complete without a table with four matching chairs in the family room or den, where we could all sit around and play games. Whether it was board games like Monopoly or card games, family and friends gathered around and had a good time. Of course, this was all before the advent and meteoric sales of radios and televisions. Although the 1950’s was a good time for the game table, their beginnings go a lot further than that.

In the 18th century, most homes had a game table made for the family room or living room. The most basic of models featured a top that opened and spun to form a square table, however many more game tables were elaborately made using the best and most exotic woods and many were ornately designed. Later models even featured many trimmings including wells for gaming chips and or holders for drinks. However, in the 1900’s game tables lost their popularity.

Fast forward to 2007 and there is now resurgence in the popularity of the game table. Probably because Americans are spending more on finishing their basements and creating elaborate game rooms in their homes. Game tables are now available not only at the local antique shop or flea market, but reproductions are popping up everywhere. Checking the Internet we saw small game tables for just over $300 to more elaborate game tables going for thousands of dollars.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archives – February 16, 2007 . . .

Pilgrim Glass Specialized in Crackle Glass and Cranberry Glass

If you are looking for an article about the Pilgrims that came to America and introduced us to the Thanksgiving holiday, you are at the wrong place. This article is about Pilgrim Glassworks of West Virginia. Although this company was situated in the state that brought us the likes of West Virginia Glass, Fenton, and Blenko art glass manufacturers, Pilgrim is not as old. Yet although it does not have the long history of its cousins, Pilgrim made some glass that is renowned around the country and around the world. Pilgrim made their mark by specializing in crackle glass and cranberry glass.

Alfred Knobler founded Pilgrim Glassworks in 1956 in Ceredo, West Virginia. Its first production pieces were mainly crackle glass pitchers, vases, decanters and bowls. Like their older glass producing cousin, Blenko, these art glass pieces came in an assortment of colors, including ruby and amberina glass. As a matter of fact, Pilgrim glass is so similar to Blenko glass, that many people confuse the two. Even the shapes of their products were remarkably similar to Blenko and some even to Fenton. However, one thing that they excelled at and that other companies could not compete with was with Pilgrim's cranberry glass.

First made around 1968, Pilgrim cranberry glass is probably some of the most beautiful colored glass in the world. In my home we have a small collection of the glass and it adorns our fireplace and dining room areas. We have some pieces of cranberry glass that were not made by Pilgrim, but none can compare with the subtle shades of cranberry associated with Pilgrim. Cranberry glass is made by introducing gold chloride to molten glass; very few companies attempted this process and even still, very few succeeded in achieving the success that Pilgrim did with this color.

So much so that if the Pilgrims of North America had had this glass available to them at the time, they would have decorated their Thanksgiving tables with it, as opposed to the blah orange and brown that became traditional for this holiday. Unfortunately Pilgrim Glass wasn’t founded until much later and to our sadness and displeasure didn’t last as long as their glass producing cousins either. The company seized to exist in March of 2002.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

People Do Anything for James Bond Memorabilia

James Bond has been in the news lately and not because of some new movie coming out. Seem James Bond memorabilia is attracting people from all walks of life and people will do just about anything to acquire something James Bond. For those who have been living under a rock for many years, James Bond is the fictional spy in the popular Ian Fleming novels. Also known as Agent 007, James Bond movies have been the longest running film franchise in history with twenty two movies. The character itself has been played by many stars, the most notable being Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. It was a gun used by Roger Moore in a movie that first made the news this week.

According to the authorities in Hertfordshire, England, the gun used by Moore in the movie The Man With The Golden Gun, has been stolen from the Elstree Studios. The gun, which is valued at more than $160,000 was made specifically for the movie and was in the care of the studio’s prop division. However, not all Bond memorabilia collectors are thieves, some buy the collectibles outright, even if they are not perfect.

The second piece of news this week involving Agent 007 was that a fan paid more than $400,000 for the Aston Martin DBS automobile that was being used to film the newest Bond movie, Quantum Solace. Normally that wouldn’t have been newsworthy, except that the car, which was being driven to the set of the new movie was involved in an accident and totaled before the collector paid the steep price for a piece of memorabilia. The price of this piece of James Bond memorabilia surpassed the price of what the car is worth new, $270,000 and it topped the price of a recent auction for a rare set of novels I wrote about recently.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Basquiat Painting to be Sold by Christie’s International in NY

On November 12, 2008, Christie's International in New York is going to auction off an eight foot wide painting by Jean-Michael Basquiat “Untitled (Boxer)” portrait. The painting, which the artist painted in 1982 belongs to the drummer for the heavy metal band Metallica, Lars Ulrich. Basquiat first came to the attention of art connoisseurs in the 1980’s after as successful showing at a local show in New York City.

Jean-Michael Basquiat, whose mother was Puerto Rican and father was Haitian, dropped out of high school in the mid-1970’s and later became renowned in Manhattan for his graffiti art, which he sprayed on buildings. In the mid-1980’s, after the triumphant show in Manhattan, an article in Artforum by Rene Picard brought international recognition and he was able to exhibit his art at many solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally. As a member of the Neo-Expressionist movement, Basquiat collaborated with many artist of that genre including the great Andy Warhol.

Basquiat reportedly died of a drug overdose in 1988 at the young age of 28, full of talent and promise. His paintings have been known to bring in millions at auction. At a Sotheby’s auction last year, a full length self portrait brought in more than $14.6 million. Experts estimate that this boxer painting will bring in $15 to $20 million.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

German Beer Steins and the Memories of Octoberfest

Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemutlichkeit . . . Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemutlichkeit . . . Eins, zwei, drei g'suffa! For those of us who have been to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, those words echo in our hearts and soul towards the end of every September. Its an experience that you never forget; the smells, the sights and camaraderie of people from all over the world coming together for the purpose of partying and drinking beer is just a sight to behold. The 175th Oktoberfest has already ended in Munich and their website is already counting down the time to the next one in September 2009. Their website also states that about 6 million people attended, drank 6.6 million steins of beer and “souvenir hunters tried to steal about 200,000 beer steins. Ahhh . . . the memories.

While stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, I was able to attend the Oktoberfest celebration every year for about 9 years. In addition to the official celebration, each city and town holds its own Oktoberfest celebration and I attended quite a bit of those too. As a result, I ended up with a pretty extensive collection of German beer steins and mugs of all shapes, sizes, designs and decoration. At one point I even had an antique cobalt blue lead crystal decanter with a pewter lid. It was probably the most beautiful of the steins that I owned. On a few occasions, I was able to purchase the beer steins that I had drank from, from the people running the beer tent. So not only did I have the most beautiful beer stein imaginable, but I also had the most plain, clear glass, run of the mill beer mug. One from Munich still sits on my desk to this day.

The word stein comes from the German steinzeukrug, which literally means a stoneware jug or tankard. The difference between a beer mug and a beer stein is that the stein has hinged lid. The lid was originally a sanitary measure taken after the times of the Bubonic Plague. The avid beer stein collector can tell you where a beer stein is made, where it came from, who made it and many other details just by glancing at the shape, design and decorations of the stein itself. Even something as innocuous as the design of the lid can give many clues about the origin of the stein. Beer steins can commemorate different cities and towns in Germany, wars, breweries, and history and they also can range in price from the a few dollars to thousands of dollars.

My collection of German beer steins has dwindled considerably in past years; I
have given some away as gifts to family and friends, sold a few on eBay and antique shows, and have even broken a few on my many moves, but there are a few that are near and dear that I will never give up and will pass on to my sons. One in particular is stoneware beer stein with a hinged pewter lid with the name of the town of Grafenwöhr emblazoned on the front. This beer stein was given to me by my fellow soldiers and friends when I left Germany for the second time in 1991. Another is a short un-lidded stoneware beer mug that I purchased at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Germany in 1981. Ahhhh the memories . . . Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemutlichkeit . . . Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemutlichkeit . . . Eins, zwei, drei g'suffa!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Goebel to Stop Hummel Production in October

News from Germany is that Goebel will stop producing the once popular M.I. Hummel figurines as of October 31, 2008. Goebel, who brought the figurines to life starting in 1935, is looking for other alternatives to keep the production of the figurine alive. The figurines, which are based on the drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia (1909-1946), have lost their appeal with the public in the recent past and prices have been slumping. Sister Innocentia, born Berta Hummel in Bavaria, was a brilliant artist whose depictions of children first brought her to the attention of Goebel.

In addition to stopping production of Hummels, Goebel has also announced that the Goebel Information Center and the M.I. Hummel Club Center, both in Rodental, Germany will close within the next couple of months. The International Club Convention in Germany which supposed to have been held on October 17-18, 2008 has also been cancelled. However, as of this writing, the 2009 International Club Convention that is scheduled to take place in September 2009 in Western New York (Buffalo and Niagrara Falls, New York) area is still a go.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Misidentified Islamic Decanter Sells at Auction a Second Time

In our September 26, 2008 NOVA-Antiques Newsletter we talked about a 1000 year crystal decanter that was misidentified by an auction house this past January. The original sale, which brought in almost $400,000, was cancelled when the owner realized that the decanter had probably been undervalued. The rare decanter, originally from Egypt and now thought to have been from between the 10th and 11th Centuries, was sold tonight by Christie’s of London for more that $6 million. One of only six similar decanters are known to exist in the world today, it has been reported that this vase was made for the Fatimid Dynasty which ruled between 908 and 1187 AD in the Middle East and North Africa. Imagine the owner’s surprise at the difference in money that the decanter brought in.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Brief History of Polish Pottery

Our friend Agnus does a very brisk business selling Polish Pottery at the local area antique and collectibles markets. We can’t help but marvel at her salesmanship as she explains to the throngs of collectors and potential customers who hang around her booth, what Polish Pottery is, where it comes from and best of all the different vibrant patterns it comes in.

Polish Pottery is high-fired in over 1250 degrees C, and is extremely durable and lasts for many many years. The first known pieces of this pottery date back to the 1500’s and were hand made and hand decorated. In the early days, the pottery was decorated using potatoes to create the designs, today the designs are created with sponges. The main colors used even to this day are cobalt blue, peacock blue as well as earth tones. Each piece was an individual piece of artwork. Most of the pottery comes from the City of Boleslawiec, called by some the “Home of Polish Pottery.”

While molds are used for some pieces, most of the pieces are still made on a pottery wheel. The decoration is applied after the pieces are fired in coal and gas ovens, then a glaze is applied to the piece. Today the pottery comes in hundreds of patterns. Because of the high temperatures, the Polish Pottery pieces are extremely resilient and can withstand use of the microwave oven, the fridge and or regular ovens. Polish Pottery is also very collectible; especially those pieces marked “Unikat” which stands for unique. These unique pieces are created by accomplished artisans who create their own work from start to finish.

NOVA-Antiques Newsletter Archives – June 9, 2005 . . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2008

T206 Honus Wagner Card to be Auctioned Off in November

This past August I wrote an article about a 1909 Honus Wagner card that sold at auction for more than $1.62 million. The card, which is known at T206 and at the time was sold by Mastro Auctions in Chicago, apparently has a twin. Philip Weiss Auctions of Oceanside, New York will sell another T206 Honus Wagner Baseball card as part of a huge auction slated for November 22 & 23, 2008. This card, which the auction house says is being sold by its original owner however is graded a 3 by SGC standards and therefore may not bring in the millions that its twin did in August. Philip Weiss is has been quoted in news reports as saying that the card is expected to bring in between $500,000 and $800,000.

This auction, which will feature more than 1000 lots in the two day period, will also include other sports memorabilia including other T205 and T206 baseball trading cards. Between 1909 and 1911, the American Tobacco Company inserted baseball cards into cigarette packs as a promotion. However, only about 200 of the Honus Wagner cards made it into general circulation because the athlete was a non-smoker and refused to be associated with the cigarette promotion. 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.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nostalgic Petroliana Collectors

With gas prices jumping through the roof and drivers in some areas driving around for hours trying to find a gas station that even has gas, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would be nostalgic about the good ole gas station. Petroliana are those collectible items associated with gas stations including advertisements, maps, old gas pumps and globes as well as oil cans and bottles. In recent years, Petroliana has been one of the fastest growing segments of collecting in the United States, as baby boomers nostalgically remember those times that were far less complicated and a gallon of gas cost less than a dollar. Now, there are tens of thousands of collectors and they are not just the boomers but their X and echo boomer generation offspring as well.

The nice thing about Petroliana, like a lot of other segments of collectibles, is that it goes across other segments of collecting. For example, a person collecting ephemera may collect Petroliana in the form of old street and city maps or a person who collects advertising memorabilia might collect Petroliana in the forms of old Esso or Texaco signs. And because there were so many different gas stations around the country, there is an abundance of collectibles to be had for the avid collector. You can find many collectibles at auctions, flea markets and antique shows as well as at yard and garage sales. If you are decorating in Petroliana and you can’t find an original of something you want, there are many reproduction pieces out there as well.

There are many websites dedicated to Petroliana and can help you to determine pricing and identify collectibles. One that I particularly like because it helps with picture identification is Gas Pump Index.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Antique Redware Pottery – A Brief History

Redware pottery, which is just what the name implies, a reddish brown colored pottery, was first made by English settlers in the 1600’s. Redware pottery was made in many different states including, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee. The reason it is that color is because of the iron content of the clay that was used to produce the pottery. The shades of red or brown can vary greatly depending on where the clay came from and how much iron is in the clay. Antique redware pottery from colonial times can be found to be in most cases rough and usually of poor quality. The reason for this is because of the restriction imposed on the English Settlers by the British crown in the 17th Century.

Until the revolutionary war, the settlers were required to send all raw materials to England where the clay would be turned into well designed and fancy pottery. The pottery would then be sent all over the world, including the colonies here in America. It was unlawful for potters to produce their own products lest the crown not make a huge and handsome profit on the shipment, production and re-shipment of product. Although it was unlawful, some colonists continued to make their own pottery and it was tolerated because the merchandise was of inferior quality to the pottery made in England. After the War of Independence, many potters came to the United States from England and later other countries such as Germany and produce better quality products that were able to compete with the English pottery.

Recently, an Associated Press article said that a piece of Redware Pottery made by John Alexander Lowe was auctioned for about $63,000 in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to the article this was the only known surviving piece of pottery associated with Lowe because all other findings in the past consisted mainly of shards. Case Antique Auction Gallery auctioned off redware jar which is believed to be from the mid-19th Century.

Cranberry Glass Bowl Featured at Outasite!! Collectibles

This week, Outasite!! Collectibles is featuring this stunning Victorian era cranberry glass bowl. It is a Victorian flashed cranberry glass bowl with an applied collar of hand pulled circles that look like flowers. This bowl is probably from the late 19th Century or early 20th century and the cranberry glass has many bubbles consistent with it’s age. This cranberry may have had a lid at one time. It measures about 5.25 inches in diameter and almost 2 inches tall.

Cranberry Glass is a reddish glass that is made by adding gold chloride to molten glass. Most accounts attribute the first pieces of cranberry glass to the Florentine glass maker Antonio Neri in the 1600’s; Others feel that it has been around even longer than that. Whatever the case, cranberry art glass is very collectible and sought after by many people. Cranberry glass may also be referred to as gold ruby by people in Europe. Visit Outasite!! Collectibles for more antique and vintage cranberry glass merchandise.