Antiques

CARE, CLEANING and CONSERVATION METHODS for ANTIQUE METAL WARE: Useful tips in restoring Antique Lamps, Clocks, Ormolu, Spelter, Bronze etc

February 11th, 2011 by

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

NOTE 1: Any form of cleaning or restoration of antique metal objects may necessitate the use of various chemicals, many of which are poisonous. Even if by themselves they are not, sometimes combinations of them can produce fumes that are harmful and occasionally lethal. Therefore, it cannot be emphasized too strongly that no cleaning should take place in a confined area or in close proximity to food. All of the methods described below should be performed very carefully and with every safeguard that can be made available.

NOTE 2: Not all antique Metalware items should be cleaned and no general diagnosis can be applied. Each individual object must be subjected to individual attention. Obviously what is suitable for a pair of antique brass candlesticks of the 19th century, for example, is not applicable to a considerably earlier object such as a Sheffield silverplated tray. Also, the use to which an item will be put is an important consideration; for example, is your Georgian antique Coffee or Tea Set or your pair of collectible candlesticks going to be used or are they purely for display or to be kept as cabinet pieces? If used for food or drink still more difficulties will arise. All items should be handled with extreme care until you have discovered your own abilities and the techniques that you can manage. In early stages of experimentation in cleaning and polishing you should practice on articles of no great value and, broadly speaking, the more antique an item is the less you should clean it or even handle it.

The information in this article is of a general nature: if you have a piece of antique metalwork that you value a great deal or that is of such merit that it needs extra careful handling, the advice of a museum or of a specialist expert should be sought. There are so many different blends of base metals used on antique metal ware that the cleaning methods applicable to some will do more harm than good to others. There are also certain individual pieces of metalwork, which, because of their very nature, require specialist treatment. At all times it should be aware that in cleaning an antique metal ware item, your aim should be to clean and restore an object as near as possible to its original condition.

There are, however some exceptions to this rule: one is the case of an object of some age which has acquired a permanent and pleasing patina, an antique or collectible Lamp, for example, or a medieval candlestick or bowl, which has become dark green, brown or black with age. If there is no deterioration of the metal, then this patination should under no circumstances be disturbed. A sparing application of a good quality transparent wax polish carefully removed with a silk cloth should not do any damage to a patinated object and will improve the surface.

Another example of an antique which does not benefit from the attempt to restore it to its original state is a piece of old Sheffield plate which shows signs of wear. The color of the metal showing through the silver – this is known technically as ‘bleeding’ – is to some collectors a point in its character. In any case, replating by modern electroplating will never give back the original color. The charm of antique Sheffield plate lies in the mellow color of the old silver, nowhere near as white as modern electroplating. In its own lifetime, if there were a fault or if, through heavy usage, Sheffield plate had to be repaired, this was done by French Plating. This method of restoring antique Sheffield plate uses a very fine silver foil that was laid over the worn part and made to adhere by a little gentle heat or by burnishing. French Plating is rarely used by craftsmen nowadays. Only when a piece of antique Sheffield plate has completely lost all its original plating and is reduced to an entirely copper appearance is it perhaps permissible to electroplate and then merely in order to restore it to something like its original state, especially if it were used for food.

In general, the first step in the care and conservation of an antique piece of metalwork is the removal as far as possible of whatever is causing deterioration, such as rust in the case of iron and steel, then thorough cleaning and polishing followed finally by the application of waxes or lacquers to help to delay decay.

It is impossible to arrest decay on antiques completely: all one can do is to delay it for as long as possible. As in any other form of antique a moderate even temperature is required, and it is necessary to avoid extreme cold or damp. These are in effect the main essentials of what is known in an antiques museum as ‘conservation’. What techniques and practices you use and how you tackle the work depends largely on whether the metal is brass, steel or pewter and of course the composition of the actual item.

Antique Iron and Steel

With antique iron or steel objects, which are frequently found in a rusty state, the first step must be to remove this rust. Any that is loose may be removed with a wire brush and then, if the object is fairly small, boiling in caustic soda will remove a great deal of what remains. CAUTION: Do not let this mixture come in contact with your hands or your eyes. If an accident should occur, wash any skin surface that has been exposed lots and lots of clean fresh water.

For a larger object it is necessary to soften the remaining rust by soaking the item for several hours in paraffin oil or in one of the commercial derusting oils. However, most chemical derusters tend to leave a dull matt-grey surface, which the original antique piece rarely had. They are excellent, however, for treating antiques which are going to be painted a dull black such as wrought iron lamps or railings.

Another general method is to use a fine grade of emery cloth and oil. The emery cloth may be wrapped round a shaped stick for getting into the various contours of a pattern. The oil will help to prevent too many scratches. If you use emery paper dry you will get a very scratched surface indeed. Use the mildest emery that will do the job, and when you think you are near to finishing, cut it to a yet finer one. Coarse emery should not be used except in very bad circumstances. Never clean too heavily upon a raised surface as you will tend to blunt the pattern.

Having cleaned the item to the degree you want, wash with methylated spirits, dry with clean cloth and place it, wrapped in a piece of newspaper, in some form of heated cupboard (an airing cupboard is ideal) and leave it there for two to three days to drive out any damp that may be in the metal. If you are not going to put it to practical use, at this stage seal with lacquer or wipe over with an oily rag. Some antiques collectors wax polish their ironwork: if your house is very dry this is quite a good finish. The great enemy of iron and steel is of course damp, and this will cause rust very rapidly. As in almost every other form of antique metalwork, a dry atmosphere is the most beneficial. If the atmosphere is damp and there are chemical impurities or salt in the air, you should periodically wipe the piece over with a slightly oily rag. From time to time, inspect antique iron or steel specimens for signs of rust.

Antique Wrought Ironwork

Some specimens of antique wrought ironwork may be rather large, as for example gates or window grills. Remove as much loose rust as possible with a wire brush, clean off with emery paper, seal with a derusting fluid and finally paint with a dull black paint. For a really fine piece of antique wrought iron, the treatment should be left to an expert.

Antique Cast Iron

In the case of antique cast iron objects, usually of the 19th century and which are now very collectible, there are two treatments. They can be either cleaned of all loose rust, dried and painted black, a very good treatment for any form of antique iron item, or they can be sand-blasted by a professional. This gives a sort of silvery effect. The object should then be lacquered.

Georgian or Victorian Cut-Steel

The cleaning of an antique piece in cut-steel must be approached with great care, and if possible each little facet should be cleaned separately. Please use extra care and be patient because it is important that the edges of cut-steel do not get dull. This applies to all examples of cut-steel from large objects such as Georgian andirons to small pieces such as a buckle, an antique buttonhook or a collectible corkscrew. The great glory of cut-steel is its many facetted surfaces, and these should be kept as crisp as possible.

Antique Brass and Copper

The age-old method of half a lemon and salt is excellent especially for a flat surface such as an antique tray. Apply, rinse off, dry carefully and clean with an impregnated wadding, polishing finally with a soft cloth. A piece of old silk is ideal; manmade fibers such as nylon tend to scratch the surface. Sometimes with deeply engraved or repousse decorated antiques, extensive cleaning in the past may have clogged the pattern with the remains of old dry polishes. This should be removed with a little methylated spirit and a stiff brush and then cleaned with impregnated wadding as described above. This wadding is less likely to leave traces of cleaning material behind.

Another method for an antique brass article is to wash it in a mild ammonia solution and then to clean with either oxalic acid and salt or vinegar and salt. Following this treatment, it should be washed with water, polished and lastly lacquered.

To save cleaning, and consequently to preserve antique metal ware, a modern technique much used by museums is to lacquer with a cellulose lacquer specially made for brass or copper. This should most certainly be carried out with any early or rare pieces and for pieces with fine crisp edges. The item should first be thoroughly cleaned, either as above and finished off with a succession of cloths until none is soiled, then cleaned with acetone. This should not be done in a confined space or near a flame because this liquid is very volatile. Cotton gloves should be worn to avoid fingerprints which would show under lacquer. Note: rubber gloves should not be worn as some types are destroyed by acetone. When cleaned, the piece should be lacquered with a good cellulose lacquer painted on slowly and liberally with slow easy strokes and avoiding bubbles. Do not worry too much about brushmarks since these usually disappear in the drying. If the piece has been previously varnished or lacquered, this can be removed with paint stripper, following the manufacturer’s directions, then treated as above. If the object is not handled too much, this type of lacquer will last for some years.

Antique Bronze

Antique bronze pieces, either in the form of a figurine or a really antique goblet or lamp, have normally over the years acquired an all-over patination, ranging through many shades of brown to green. If this patination is breaking up and there are spots of a brighter color, as for example bright green, action should immediately be taken to stop this because this efflorescence is the change in the surface of the metal which is known as ‘bronze disease’. It is extremely difficult for the amateur to treat and a museum or a specialist antiques restorer should be consulted at once.

As a temporary measure, if it is quite definitely active and the collector is unable to get professional help quickly, the light powder should be brushed off and the piece kept as dry as possible. To clean a normal bronze, wash it with a very mild soapy solution, dry thoroughly and then apply a little fine wax polish.

Antique Ormolu

Ormolu was frequently used for antique candelabra, antique candlesticks, on handles of andirons, antique desks and other antique furniture and small ornamental pieces in general. The gilt was applied in various ways, but with some forms of inferior ormolu, it was only a thin layer of gold lacquer painted over finely finished and polished brass. This method was frequently used by English craftsmen copying the French. Cleaning should be tackled with great care; gold at best is a very soft metal and harsh cleaning will remove it. As a first step in the cleaning of an ormolu antique piece, choose an inconspicuous area and observe the effect of cleaning on this. Use warm water to which has been added a mild solution of household ammonia and a good quality soap-based washing liquid. If no ill effects can be seen, continue with this cleaning for the complete piece. If a stronger cleaning mixture is needed, add more ammonia. Work in a current of air and wear protective gloves.

To clean ormolu mounts on antique furniture, carefully remove each from the piece of furniture, making a note of its original position. Save the pins, nails or screws that were used to fix it. It is a good idea to make sketches of mounts; the fixing pins can then be stuck through the equivalent holes. This is not just good advice: it can be very necessary as antique mounts were individually made and will not always fit into another position. Once removed, they may be dealt with as described above. If ormolu needs regilding, consult a professional Metal Plating Specialist. Modern gilding by electroplating is rather bright and produces a shade different from that of the old antique ormolu. On the other hand, the old technique of mercury-gilding (fire-gilding) is very expensive and gives off poisonous fumes. Very few craftsmen use this method, but for a superb piece it is worth trying to find a firm specializing in it. Never use a gold paint or lacquer because under no circumstances does this give the right appearance.

Antique Pewter

If you collect this interesting metal, your first and immediate problem is whether to clean your pewter bright or to leave it patinated to a dull natural sheen. Some pewter collectors prefer it in a bright state, whereas others like the quiet soft gray color. In most cases, antique pewter, if in reasonable condition, should be left as far as possible undisturbed.

If the metal has deteriorated through neglect or by being exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and obviously needs attention, it should be conserved with extreme care. Any dent or damage of that nature should be dealt with by an expert.

On the subject of cleaning antique pewter there has been an amazing variety of methods advocated over the centuries. A few of the standard cleaning techniques are based on methods used as early as the 17th century. During the period that pewter was in common use for food and drink, it was kept bright by a very mild abrasive, such as crushed eggshell, fine sand etc., was washed in soapy water, rinsed in clean water and dried. Then, if not being used at once, wiped over with an oily rag. If pewter purchased today is bright and clean and the intention is to keep it that way, clean the piece with impregnated wadding, polish with a clean cloth and olive oil or a similar oil.

If pewter is not kept polished, it gradually dulls down over the years, by a process of oxidation, to a soft gray sheen, much admired by many collectors of antiques. This patination is certainly attractive and to preserve it, the piece should be kept very slightly oiled all over with olive oil. Oil of any description seems to revive antique pewter by penetrating into the metal.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of pewter, its susceptibility to extremes of heat and cold and the consequent corrosion that can develop, this attractive metal is often purchased with bad oxidation or patches of what is known as pewter disease. This must be treated or the piece will be ruined. Great care must be exercised in this treatment both for the metal and also the person handling it, as the materials used are often poisonous or harmful to the skin.

If there is heavy corrosion (or pewter disease) one of the following methods may be of some use.

1. Add one pound of caustic soda slowly to four gallons of cold water, using an iron container. Heat the mixture slowly. Place some hessian or canvas in the bottom of the container and lay the pewter piece on it. Keep the mixture boiling for some hours, examining at intervals. If this shifts the corrosion, remove from the mixture, rinse thoroughly in warm water and clean with a fine abrasive such as crocus powder, rotten-stone or very fine emery powder and paraffin, finishing with powdered chalk or plate-powder. Lastly, oil the piece.

2. Another method, for perhaps a less corroded piece, is to wash in a strong mixture of soap and soda, then cover the whole surface with a watered-down solution of hydrochloric acid applied with a rag on a stick. The strength should be 60% water and 40% hydrochloric acid. (Warning: always add the acid to the water, never the water to the acid.) Leave on for a short while, then rinse off. Reclean with fine emery powder and oil. Wash, first in soapy then in clear water, and polish.

3. Another recipe for cleaning is: 2oz caustic soda, 2 oz lime, 6 oz common salt. Dissolve this in three quarts of warm water. When dissolved, add the mixture to two gallons of cold water. Leave the piece of pewter in this solution to soak and finally clean with fine emery powder and oil.

Also useful as a cleaning agent is oxalic acid, either used neat or watered down. Rub in with fine emery powder, rinse off and polish, then oil.

After using any of these methods of cleaning, a prolonged soaking in paraffin oil for several days will do no harm and should revive the metal.

For general cleaning, if this is necessary, the safest method is to use very fine abrasive powders such as rotten-stone or crocus powder or a very fine emery powder. Put on with an oily rag and work in a circular motion to avoid obvious signs of scratching. Grades of ‘fine’ emery paper, liberally drenched in oil, may be used for cleaning but must be used with care. Always use the finest grades and again rub in a circular motion to try and avoid scratches that show. The piece can be finally cleaned with a little white spirit or methylated spirit, dried and then oiled.

All antique pewter will remain in good condition if kept behind glass. When properly cleaned it can remain in a good display cabinet for at least a year, and this of course is the best way of preserving it. A good display of cleaned antique pewter may be seen in the American Museum in Great Britain. Pewter should never be stored in an oak display case or on oak display racks as this wood contains acid fluid, which reacts against any metal of the pewter-spelter-lead group. An open oak dresser, against which it is often seen, is less dangerous to the metal as the collector would polish both dresser and metal fairly frequently and so prevent corrosion.

Antique Lead and Zinc (Spelter)

The above remarks also apply in the main to lead. Objects in this metal that you may come across are antique tobacco-jars or small lead figurines. Zinc is also known as Spelter. Antique Zinc objects of the 19th century are frequently found and are often in a very dirty and distressed condition. It is possible that a stiff wire brush and a little oil will get these articles up to quite a high degree of polish. Wash the pieces in hot soapy water using a stiff brush; on no account use caustic or any soda. Clean with a wire brush and oil, and polish with an impregnated wadding. Finally clean with acetone or methylated spirits and, if you wish, lacquer. If you prefer not to lacquer them, some 19th-century antique pieces can be cleaned once a week with impregnated wadding without doing much harm.

Antique Tole, Pontypool, Barge Ware and Japanned Tin

Extreme care must be taken to preserve and not destroy the existing paintwork. You might find it useful to try a mixture of one-third white spirits, one-third methylated spirits and one-third linseed oil. This is a good and fairly harmless cleaning agent for antique paintwork. Apply with a cottonwool pad to a small corner of the object and see what results you get. If you are satisfied that you are not attacking the paintwork, clean the whole surface and apply a little good quality wax polish. If the piece is in definite need of paint restoration, try to find a competent professional antiques restorer who will take the job on. The restoration must never alter the feeling of the original piece and the object should not be entirely repainted. As much as possible, the original antique paintwork should be preserved. Do not attempt to paint it yourself unless you are experienced and competent, and then be careful not to overdo the restoration or the spirit of the original will be lost.

A final note: Please use extreme care when cleaning your antique metalwork, both for your own sake and also for that of the metal collection. Please always bear in mind of the varying compositions of the individual metals and the state of decay in which an individual antique item may be found. Never rush into cleaning a piece. Never hesitate to consult a museum or a specialist on any problem that may arise.


Seeking Passionate Pickers for The Untitled Antiques-Collectibles Competition!

February 9th, 2011 by

The Untitled Antiques- Collectibles Competition!

The producers of a major cable network show are seeking “pickers” with the most honed hunting skills, the sharpest eye to determine trash from treasure, and the most effective negotiating chops to seal the deal. The Untitled Antiques-Collectibles Competition is a new show that transforms the cutthroat world of antiques and collectibles picking into a competitive game.  In every episode, antiques lovers compete in teams of two in a race to track down and acquire valuable items hidden along the back roads, barns, and forgotten corners of America – we even provide the shopping money. The team with the most valuable loot at the end of the day wins the competition.  They get to keep their lot of items and the lots of the other teams – its winner take all! If you think you have what it takes to pick the most valuable treasures and get the best price, both you and your partner can fill out our online application at:

https://ccasting.wufoo.com/forms/untitled-antique-collectible-competition-show/

Or please email us at : untitledcompetitionshow@gmail.com

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