Antiques

Cleaning Your Fine Cut Glass & Crystal

February 9th, 2011 by

Image: McKinley Hill Antiques

Contributed by www.Marks4Antiques.com – a membership-based service specializing in providing identification & appraisal advice on antiques & collectibles.

There is as much difference in the color of glass, meaning only transparent colorless glass or crystal, as there is in the color of diamonds. The beauty and value of antique Glass or Crystal, just like in the case of Precious Stones, are measured very largely by its perfection.

Fine antique glass should be of a purity that practically renders it invisible without any trace of yellow or green cast or opacity. Sometimes it will have a slightly bluish white color. Antique Glassware that otherwise seems clear with respect to its color when seen by itself will often appear at a decided disadvantage when placed beside a really fine piece.

Modern detergents and the use of a good bottle brush will generally suffice for removing the usual discoloration caused by the contents of decanters, cruets, perfume bottles, etc. Where cloudiness or stain persists, many remedies have been suggested and tried with varying degrees of success. Among them:

  • The use of Polident (used for cleaning false teeth)
  • Liquid Plumber (used for clearing clogged drains – highly caustic and requires careful handling)
  • Adding uncooked rice to vinegar and shaking vigorously
  • Using a tea bag with vinegar and letting it soak for 24 hours
  • Allowing chopped potato peel with a small amount of water to stand in a bottle overnight

Oiliness may be removed with alcohol left in for about 15 minutes. In each instance, the item should be thoroughly rinsed and dried afterwards. Strips of cloth may be inserted into bottles to dry them and then removed with a heavy wire or hook.

To obtain the best results, polishing was done in three stages. First, it was done with wooden wheels fed with pumice, stone and water; then brush or wool wheels with the same preparation, and lastly cork or felt wheels with finely compounded putty powder. About the turn of the century, the acid bath, quicker and less expensive came into use for polishing. It was hand-burnishing, however, that gave the superb brilliance down to the smallest detail.

Working the lather into the cuttings with a soft brush, or toothbrush will enhance the brilliance of the deeper and more intricate incisions. The glass should then be dried without draining on a soft towel. When perfectly dry, the cut surfaces should be gone over again with a clean dry brush. A soft, lint free cloth should then be used to give it a high polish.

Antique Glass which continues to cloud up after cleaning and rinsing is known as “sick glass.” It is caused by the formation and separation of crystals due to imperfect fusion of the metal or too high an alkaline content in the making. It can be professionally polished off and then “glass wax” applied if the area can be reached. Frequent applications of the wax will be helpful in delaying further deterioration. Unfortunately, this remedy is usually not practical where it is needed most – in the cleansing of bottle type containers.

The use of ammonia or strongly alkaline soaps on antique Glass or Crystal should be avoided. Extreme and sudden changes of temperature may also be harmful. Before using ice-cream platters, punch bowls, sherbet glasses or other pieces designed for frozen foods or chilled beverages, the glass should be allowed to stand for a few minutes in a cold place or held under a jet of cold water.

Cut glass with sterling silver mountings was once very popular. To this very day, many people consider the use of sterling articles with cut glass as the basis for the most elegant table settings. However, each section must be carefully cleaned using a different ‘set of rules’.  In general, in cases of antiques that are made of a mix of different materials, please be careful so as not to have certain chemicals or cleaning agents suitable for one material come in contact with other parts.

For information and useful advice on cleaning Metal items, including Antique Sterling Silver or Antique Silverplate, please see another article on www.Info4Antiques.org under the “SILVER & JEWELRY” section.

You can also read the article, CARE, CLEANING and CONSERVATION METHODS for ANTIQUE METAL WARE: Useful tips in restoring Antique Lamps, Clocks, Ormolu, Spelter, Bronze etc, right here on the Antiques.com blog!  We’ll be posting this article next so be sure to come back for these useful tips!

What Our Dealers Are Saying About Antiques.com

February 7th, 2011 by

Hi Mark

This is Barbara from DietrichsVault.com. I was wondering if I could update my listings on your site with the attached feed in googlebase format. If so, will we lose the ‘order of display’ on our listing page? I have added around 400 or so more items with pictures.

Thank you for your referrals, we have had many sales due to your site.

Hope you are having a great year.

Barbara Dietrich
www.DietrichsVault.com

Happy Birthday To Us!

February 3rd, 2011 by

Antiques.com turned a year on Feb 1st 2011!  Thanks to all of our vendors for helping us to build our site into one of the best antiques sites on the web!  We’ve had more than 15oo dealers join in the fun so far, and we’re always looking for more.  We’re excited to offer over 80,000 items for sale on Antiques.com, but that number increases every day as more and more vendors sign up to be a part of our growing family.

To all of the people that visit Antiques.com looking for the perfect gift, trying to spruce up their home with a beautiful antique, or simply out of curiosity, thank you for coming!

And for everyone, vendors and antique aficionados alike, we’ve recently added a few features to our home page that we think you’ll enjoy!

- First, check out the Deal Of The Day – Each day we’ll offer a new deal from a vendor that is eager to give you a beautiful antique for a steal!

- Next, feast your eyes on the Cool Antique Of The Week – Each week we’ll show you something interesting from the site that is available to be purchased and fawned over by it’s new owner!

- And finally, have some fun with What Is This Antique? – Each week we’ll choose a new and interesting, if not a bit obscure, antique to feature for this game.  Take a guess, or several guesses, at what you think it is, and then each Monday we’ll publish the list of guesses submitted by everyone, along with the actual name and description of the antique.

Antiques.com strives to offer a wide variety of beautiful and interesting antiques, collectibles, and fine art pieces.  We’re looking forward to another stellar year where we add to our already impressive list of vendors and push our inventory to over 100,000 items!  So Happy Birthday To Us!  We’re looking forward to another fantastic year!

Leslie Sacks Fine Art

October 9th, 2010 by

Fine Art Show on Oct 9th 2010

Transporting Your Antiques & Valuables

October 5th, 2010 by

When it comes to moving your irreplaceable antiques and valuables, you should be very careful in choosing a company to transport the items for you.  Careful consideration and a little investigation before making your decision will save you the emotional trauma of seeing your formerly pristine antiques arrive damaged, not to mention the grave financial loss you will inevitably suffer as a result of the moving company’s poor handling of your precious items.

To begin, search only for companies that specialize in the shipping of antiques and fine art.  These companies train their employees in the proper handling, crating and transport of priceless pieces.  Furthermore, many of these companies provide temperature controlled shipping facilities as well as temperature controlled storage units if necessary.  For added piece of mind, many offer tracking services for your shipment.

A great way to find a local moving company that fits your needs is to contact museums or historical preservation societies to see which companies they use to move their collections.  You can also find a listing for several such companies right here on Antiques.com; just look under Services – Shipping and Storage.  Once you’ve come up with a few alternatives, you should verify their reputations by contacting the Better Business Bureau to see if any of the companies you’re considering have had customer complaints.  Those that have should be taken out of consideration.

Another way to verify a moving company’s reputation is by asking for references.  You can generally see client testimonials on a moving company’s website, and although reading these is comforting, it is best to speak with auction houses, vendors or other businesses that have used the mover’s services.  By speaking with professionals in the antiques and valuables industry and getting their feedback on a prospective moving company, you can be assured your priceless pieces will arrive safely.

One last, but very important, thing to check is the insurance coverage the company provides.  It is imperative that you carefully examine their policy.  Pay special attention to the section that discusses the coverage for any damage that diminishes the value of the antique or valuable.  It is important to note that homeowner’s insurance coverage may include moving insurance or additional insurance coverage.

Once you’ve chosen a moving company, prepare an inventory list that includes descriptions, photos, appraisal values and copies of receipts for each item you’re shipping.  When the movers arrive be sure to get a Bill of Lading that includes a complete inventory list (this should match your personal list exactly), as well as the mover’s name and address.  Carefully examine the Bill of Lading to be sure that each item has been accounted for.  Never sign a Bill of Lading that you believe to be incorrect.

Finally, after your precious cargo has arrived at its new location, be sure to have each item unpacked and reassembled.  It is at this time that you must inspect your valuables for any damage.  If you find damage has occurred during transport, note the damage on the Bill of Lading, point it out to the movers and take photos.  You should then contact the moving company to verify your claims have been reported.

If you take the time necessary to find an exceptional moving company, your irreplaceable antiques and valuables will arrive safely to their destination.  Save yourself the staggering financial loss and inevitable heartache of damaged goods by doing a little extra leg work up front.

-Michelle Grimmett

Phoenix & Consolidated Collectors launch Facebook page

September 28th, 2010 by

Announcing a Facebook page for Phoenix and Consolidated art glass. It is a place to share information about the glass designed by Reuben Haley and introduced in 1926. it includes information on the Ruba Rombic Art Deco/Art Moderne line introduced in 1928. This Facebook page should be of interest to collectors, dealers and museums with an interest in the glass from these companies. Click the link below to go to the Facebook page.

Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass Facebook page

Facebook page content

It will include discussion of glass from the Consolidated Lamp & Glass Company of Coraopolis, PA that introduced a line of art glass in January 1926 that many have called American Lalique. Their glass lines were designed by Reuben Haley and including the crowning achievement in American Art Deco or Art Moderne glass Ruba Rombic. That line was introduced in January 1928 but had a very short production life as the Great Depression happened the following year — 1929.

It will also include discussion of the Art Glass introduced by Phoenix Glass Company of Monaca, PA. in the 1930′s. You can also expect to see pictures from members collections as well as announcement of auctions where Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass is offered. Please join us — click the link below to go to the Facebook page.

Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass Facebook page

This Facebook page is was created and is being maintained by Jack D. Wilson, author of Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass 1926-1980 and founder of the Phoenix & Consolidated Glass Collectors Club.

Antique Lamps and Lighting

August 24th, 2010 by

A treatise on American antique lighting and lamp fixtures should begin with a history of lighting methods. Here’s a backward look at lighting in the U.S. divided into roughly four chapters:

  • Electrical wiring has been a standard part of building design since about 1920.
  • Between 1880 and 1920, modern homes and buildings were typically wired for a combination of electricity and gas—Gas lines in the walls of a house fed the lamp fixtures, and electrical wiring wound along the pipes. Both options were usually made available, since in the early years of electricity, power sources would often fail for months at a time.
  • Because Edison perfected the incandescent bulb in 1880, lamps wired for electricity don’t date before that time. Prior to the gas/electric combination, modern buildings created between 1820 and 1880 were lit by piped gas.
  • Before 1820, kerosene and oil antique lamps were the norm, complimented by candles, the earliest and simplest form of American lighting.

Knowing the lighting options available during a historical period, we can better understand how these options influenced the style and design of that period’s antique floor lamps, hanging lamps and antique chandeliers. The most beautiful and collectable American antique lamps can usually be associated with the following five periods/styles:

Arts and Crafts, 1905-1935: Frank Lloyd Wright is a name often associated with this period, though Arts and Crafts or “mission” style fixtures pre-date him by several years. This style is characterized by square glass shades, square oak lamp bases, and square oak frames. The parallel dowling seen on mission-style furniture is often reflected in lamps through the use of brass or copper tubes. Arts and crafts lamp designs are simple, geometric, humble, and functional.

Georgian Revival, 1905-1930: The word “Georgian” refers to an earlier form of English architecture, but it’s used here because Georgian furniture styles—including lamps and lighting– were making a comeback at this time.

This is an important epoch for antique lamp collectors, since the period gave rise to the Art Deco styles, crystal chandeliers, and “art glass” perfected by famous companies like Tiffany, Handel, and Stuben. Beginning around 1915, wires could be enclosed in safe cloth covering, which allowed them to be strung through a chain. This allowed electric antique lamps to be hung from above for the first time. Gas-electric combination fixtures gave way to chain-hung electric fixtures in large numbers during this era.

Victorian, 1880-1915: The Victorian period, possibly the most beautiful period in the history of antique lighting fixtures, documents the elegant transformation from kerosene and oil, to gas-electric combinations, to fully electric pieces. Victorian pieces are distinguished by curving brass shapes with intricate embellishments and detailing.

When searching for authentic Victorian pieces, make note:  These antique light fixtures were not hung from chains, and they were often designed to connect to the fuel/lighting source by tubing, not wires.

Eastlake Victorian, 1870-1900: Table and wall lamps from this period were fueled by kerosene, oil and gas. Also sometimes called “Italianate”, these pieces are characterized by their classical motifs—women in togas, urns, coats of arms, and animals. The functional parts of these lamps are usually made of iron or brass, and the detailing often includes slate, cut glass, or marble. Lamps of this era were not wired for electricity, and were usually designed to accompany Eastlake-style farmhouse furniture. (Envision heavy, veneered wood carved in parallel grooves).

Federal, 1700-1810: The most elegant and collectible pewter, brass, and silver pieces from this period were designed to hold candles (earlier) and whale oil (later, around 1800.) Colonial/founding-father-style candle lanterns, candelabras and candle chandeliers are very popular today. If you’re looking for authentic pieces, check for wax residue and evidence of hand crafting. And be aware that genuine fixtures from this era, though beautiful, are quite rare.

By Erin Sweeney

For Antiques.com

Asian Antiques: Japanese Combs of the Edo Period

July 27th, 2010 by

The Japanese Edo period (named for the city that would later become Tokyo) began in 1600 and ended after 1868. This historical epoch was more or less defined by the rise of Tokyo as an urban center, and by a corresponding shift from a feudal agrarian culture to that of a city-oriented, expanding and cosmopolitan middle class.

This rapid cultural shift left behind many categories of now-collectable Asian antiques– tools, artwork and household items that remain to document the lifestyle of the times. Among Asian antiques aficionados, the Edo period is most often associated with woodcuts, calligraphy, inlay, and other evidence of this flourishing age for the arts, some of which may be covered in later postings. But for the moment, we’ll narrow our focus to one specific relic of the Edo period prized by collectors of Asian antiques—hair accessories.

Just prior to the peace and economic prosperity of the 17th century, the arts in general languished in Japan. Clothing styles and ornamentation were simple and indistinct, and women typically wore their hair loose or tied back with a length of string. But with the Edo expansion of wealth came a shift in lifestyle for both men and women, and hair arrangement among women became an increasingly elaborate expression of status and artistry.

The complicated coiffures of the Edo period were designed by elevating waxed tresses into one of several forms of chignon, or bun. The hair would then be fixed in place with variations of three items: The hairpin (kanzashi), the hair stick (kogai), and the comb (kushi). These three items structured the hairstyles that we often see depicted in Edo woodcuts today, such as the maru mage, a large bun worn by actresses or courtesans, or the shimada mage, an updo often adopted by stylish housewives. Some of these coiffures took so many hours to create that women would sleep with their heads propped up on a padded wooden stand at night in order to protect the style and keep it intact.

Pins, sticks and combs need not be kept in sets in order to be valuable, though of course a set is a welcome find, especially if the kogai and kushi are kept in an original box. But some collectors of Asian antiques have a preference for one of these things more so than the others, and indeed, there is so much to know and so much beauty and artistry in combs alone that an article dedicated to Edo period combs could be volumes long and still not cover the topic adequately.

A few things for a collector of kushi to keep an eye on: First, the shape of the comb. My favorite Edo period combs are wooden and half-moon shaped, sometimes lacquered, with the tines very close together. Second, the condition. Are the teeth intact? Does the handle show signs of wear? And third, the design. The handle, or curved side of the half-moon, often has a flat surface that bears detailing, such as intricate mother-of-pearl inlay in a landscape or floral pattern. The details of the design should ideally continue onto the spine of the comb. And in some beautiful examples, the design extends across the teeth of the comb as well. This is especially appealing in combs of horn or tortoiseshell, the other materials from which kushi are often carved.

By Erin Sweeney

Antiques as an Investment: Rewards, Risks, and What to Consider Before You Begin

July 23rd, 2010 by

So you’re considering the purchase of a beautiful and potentially valuable set of antique furniture, a piece of antique jewelry, or an antique toy, tool, or work of art. How do you proceed? We’ve all heard stories of items like these purchased for a few dollars and then sold later for five, ten, or a hundred times their initial cost. How realistic are these scenarios and what steps can you take to optimize your investment? How can you move forward while maintaining an acceptable level of risk?

There are two very important truths to bear in mind before you make your purchase. First, every antique is valued within its own market, and this market fluctuates in accordance with demand. The current value of an antique toy—say, a 1907 stuffed mohair teddy bear has little correlation with the value of an Asian antique vase from the 16th century. Collectors control the worth of each of these items, and collectors can be fickle. Rarity is not always a guarantee that an item will have value, and neither is a momentary spike in speculative interest (a surge of buyers who are drawn by the possible resale value of the item, not the item itself.)

Second, since this is the case, it is wisest to purchase an antique when you have a real and personal interest in owning that specific item. If you expect to enjoy the antique furniture or antique jewelry for its own sake, and would be happy to keep it for an indefinite period of time, this mitigates your level of risk.

A Few Tips for the Potential Investor:

Don’t spread a wide net. In-depth knowledge is important when investing in antiques, and the more specific your collection, the deeper your knowledge is likely to grow.

Know the difference between investing and speculating. Investing is long-term, researched, lower risk, and requires patience. Speculating often means buying an item that one has no long-term desire to own, intending instead to resell the item as quickly as possible for a profit. Speculation requires a keen eye set not just on the item itself, but on other buyers and collectors in order to gauge shifting levels of interest. Speculation requires strong nerves and a high tolerance for risk. Both investors and speculators benefit from in-depth and specific knowledge– For example, a skill in identifying provenance, an eye for antique furniture construction, or the ability to spot counterfeit components in the mechanism of an antique clock.

Remember the ten-to-fifteen percent rule: Most financial experts recommend keeping art and antiques within ten to fifteen percent of your investment portfolio.

Be aware that some antiques are easier targets for forgery than others. Forgeries tend to rise when an item becomes highly sought after by speculators. When an item seems to attract the interest of serious collectors only, counterfeits decrease.

And finally: Know yourself. Just as we’ve all experienced “buyer’s remorse”, there is a similar feeling that cuts in the other direction. “Non-buyer’s remorse” is more common in the antiques world than elsewhere, since antiques are one of a kind, and an opportunity to buy an item, once missed, may never come again. How high is your tolerance for either of these feelings? What items are you willing to pay a steep price for, and why? The heart of an antiques collector is a funny thing. In the antiques world, purchase decisions are frequently based on money, and just as frequently are based on factors that have nothing to do with money at all.

By Erin Sweeney

The Famous Antique Clocks of David Rittenhouse, Philadelphia Clockmaker

July 21st, 2010 by

If you mention the name David Rittenhouse in Philadelphia, your listeners will likely think first of the tree-lined streets of Rittenhouse Square, the neighborhood named in his honor. Born in 1732 and raised in Norritown, Rittenhouse developed an interest in astronomy and mathematics early in life and later became a major contributor to science and innovation in revolutionary America. He is most widely recognized as a Philadelphia inventor, surveyor, astronomer, friend to Benjamin Franklin, president of the American Philosophical Society, and the first director of the United States Mint.

But in the minds of collectors and enthusiasts of antique clocks, David Rittenhouse was first and foremost a clockmaker. Specifically, he was the designer and creator of two antique clocks which, in terms of innovation and complexity, are considered the most important clocks in the United States and among the most important in the world. Both clocks still exist and are still in Philadelphia– One of the two is owned by Penn Hospital, and the other belongs to Drexel University and is kept on display in a University picture gallery.

What makes these Rittenhouse clocks so valuable? A brief history of antique clocks and clock-making can provide a bit of context. Before the industrial revolution, when most Europeans and Americans lived an agrarian lifestyle, clocks were not a common personal possession. When it came to dividing and marking the hours of the day, a single clock in a town square could provide all that most people required. Between about 1663 and the mid 1800’s—prior to the rise of regular working hours and train schedules– household clocks in America were owned by the wealthy few. And before David Rittenhouse, most household clocks required weekly winding, had only an hour hand, and ran on relatively simple mechanisms driven by long counterweights that hung down below the clock face. Long pendulums required a distance between the clock face and the floor, and cases were often built around the mechanisms in order to hide them. These early antique clocks were called case clocks, long case clocks, or wags-on-the-wall. (The term “grandfather clock” didn’t come along until the 1800’s.) This was the general state of the household clock around 1742 when David Rittenhouse began turning his fascination with astronomy and mathematics to the purpose of clock-making.

A close look at the famous Drexel clock reveals some of the fascinating features unprecedented among the antique clocks of its time. For example, the main face contains not only an hour hand, but also minute and second hands, as well as a hand pointing to the month of the year. In addition, Rittenhouse designed the central face with a lunarium, a device that tracks the phases of the moon. To the left of the primary dial, a smaller face shows the location of the sun and moon at any given point the zodiac. The little moon in this dial actually rotates on its axis from a darker to a lighter side, in keeping with the phases of the real moon. Within the lunarium, a dial reveals the day of the month. The clock can play ten different chimes as well, according to its setting.

Most significantly, a miniature model of the solar system is set above the clock face—six planets orbiting a tiny sun in a circle about eight inches wide. This is called an orrery, and before the construction of the Drexel clock, Rittenhouse had already created two large and astonishingly accurate orreries, one of which had been donated to Rutgers University.

By the time he built the Drexel clock around 1773, his orreries had launched Rittenhouse’s reputation as a scientist. With his ingenious contributions to clock making, Rittenhouse established himself as a representative of the strong intellectual and innovative capacity of the colonies.

Both famous orreries and several antique clocks designed by Rittenhouse survive to this day, and some of them—like the Drexel clock—still work. With careful conservation, they may continue keeping accurate time well into the future.

Erin Sweeney

8/20/2010