My Antiques

Hand-Signed Lincoln Note, Rare 10-volume Edition of Poe’s works, Civil War, US & Bermuda Maps Lead Waverly Rare Books’ Nov. 21 Auction

November 11th, 2013 by

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Waverly’s of suburban Washington, D.C., will offer connoisseurs 450 lots of rare books, maps, atlases and ephemera in a well-rounded November 21st catalog auction. Many themes and categories are featured, and key selections include an 1865 note signed by Abraham Lincoln, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe(1902, 10 vol.), and a “censored” Civil War-era map showing the locations of 20 forts around the nation’s capital.

1862 Topographical Map

Section of 1862 topographical map of ‘Original District of Columbia and Environs’ showing street grids and important landmarks, including ‘Presidents House.’ Est. $4,000-$6,000.

The 1862 topographical map of the “Original District of Columbia and Environs” was created by G. Arnold C.E. and published by G. Woolworth Colton of New York City. The highly detailed map shows not only the region’s natural features, both Washington City and Alexandria’s street grids and railroads, but also the location of more than 20 Union forts, marked in red.

“It was considered a threat to security for these forts to be identified,” said Monika Schiavo, director of sales and marketing at Waverly Rare Books. “The map came to the attention of the War Department after it was offered for sale in stores around Washington, and agents confiscated every copy they could find. They also attempted to obtain the names and addresses of those who had purchased copies of the map, and even went to New York to destroy Colton’s lithographic stone. As a result, these maps are very rare today.” The example in Waverly’s Nov. 21 auction, which was consigned by The Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia, is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

The maps and atlases category, overall, is very strong. A circa-1794 edition from London with 87 plates is voluminously titled “A New Universal Atlas…A Modern History and Description of the Whole World Containing New, Full, Accurate, Authentic, and Interesting Accounts and Descriptions of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.” Nineteenth-century atlases include “Kingdoms, States and Republics of the World (1854),” and “The Illustrated Atlas, And Modern History of the World – Geographical, Political, Commercial, and Statistical (1851).” Also, several high-quality lots were consigned by a major collector of early Bermuda maps, a specialty category that has a dedicated following.

An item of great historical importance is an 1868 textbook on seamanship that was owned and signed by James Henry Conyers, the first African American cadet enrolled at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Conyers was appointed to the academy by US Representative Robert Elliot of South Carolina. Unfortunately, Conyers’ tenure at Annapolis was brief. He suffered indignities and repeated beatings at the hands of racist midshipmen, and after a relatively short time, left the academy. The textbook is entered in the auction with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

A small but remarkable archive of World War II memorabilia comes with provenance from Bruce Norton, the former director of the Marine Corps Command Museum in San Diego. One of the lots is a panel from a 1995 calendar commemorating the 50th anniversary of the US Marines’ landing at Iwo Jima. It is signed by approximately 66 Iwo Jima vets attending a 50-year reunion, as well as photographer Joe Rosenthal, who took the iconic 1945 photo of Marines raising the American Flag on Mount Suribachi. This item is estimated at $400-$600.

A second item consigned by Norton is a 1953 book titled “Pearl Harbor to Golgotha,” written by Mitsuo Fuchida, the air captain who led the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Fuchida, who later became a Christian minister, signed the book after being recognized by a Marine at a diner in Idaho. The book later came into Norton’s possession and now will be auctioned with a pre-sale estimate of $400-$600.

Abraham Lincoln

Engraved portrait of Abraham Lincoln framed together with 1865 handwritten note in authorizing passage through Union lines toward Richmond. Est. $3,500-$4,500.

Topping the Presidential selection, an engraved portrait of Abraham Lincoln is framed together with a handwritten note that reads: “Allow A. Van Camp to go through our lines to Richmond and to return upon his own private business. A. Lincoln. Feb. 25, 1865.” The estimate on this lot is $3,500-$4,500. The auction also includes documents signed by Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams.

An estimate of $4,000-$6,000 has been placed on the 10-volume set “The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe.” It is one of 26 editions that were published in 1902 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. A century older and no less fascinating, the 1805 R. Shannon work “A Practical Treatise on Brewing, Distilling, and Rectification…” deals with the “genuine process” of making brandy, rum and Hollands gin, and the “London practice” of brewing porter, ale, and table beer and country ales. One of the volumes delves into the cultivation of wine grapes, wine importation and even wine tasting. Estimate: $600-$900.

Waverly Rare Books’ Nov. 21 auction will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern time. The preview begins on Nov. 16 and continues through and including auction day (see website for hours). The gallery is closed on Sundays.

 

**All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee or live via the Internet through www.LiveAuctioneers.com. For information on any lot in the sale, call 703-532-5632 or e-mail monika.schiavo@quinnsauction.com. Visit Waverly Rare Books online at www.quinnsauction.com.

View the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Former Gettysburg Chief Curator Michael L. Vice Appointed Firearms and Militaria Expert at Morphy Auctions

September 23rd, 2013 by

DENVER, Pa. – Dan Morphy, CEO of Morphy Auctions, has announced the appointment of Michael L. Vice as expert consultant in firearms and militaria. In his new position, Vice, who is based in Gettysburg, Pa., will appraise and catalog guns, rifles and military-related artifacts for all Morphy Firearms sales, starting with a January 11 auction that features a major Colt collection.

Michael L. Vice, newly appointed Firearms & Militaria expert at Morphy Auctions

Michael Vice is a Texas native who obtained his B.A. in history from Mississippi State University, and a Master of Arts degree in museum science from Texas Tech University. He undertook further postgraduate studies in military history at Kansas State University and was an honorary research associate at the University of Birmingham’s World I History Centre in Birmingham, England.

Additionally, Vice is a graduate of the Seminar for Historical Administration, a nationally recognized museum management and leadership training course sponsored by AAM, AASLH, The Smithsonian, and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In 2009, Vice co-authored a major work about surviving Crimean War British artifacts that are held in UK museums and private collections. Titled “Crimean Memories: Artefacts of the Crimean War,” it won the Independent Publishers Association’s Silver Medal for Best Reference Book for 2010.

Vice is a Vietnam veteran and retired major in the US Army Reserve, and has spent the past 30+ years in the museum field. Most recently, he served as museum curator at the US Army Medical Museum at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. During the decade between 1993 and 2003, he was chief museum curator at Gettysburg National Military Park, overseeing a world-famous collection of 42,000 historical artifacts, a vast park archive, and a collection of 700,000 archaeological specimens. His distinguished work history also includes curatorial positions with the US Army Corps of Engineers Office of History, the US Army Center of Military History, the National Park Service, and the United States Cavalry Museum.

An active member of many state and national organizations devoted to antique firearms and military history, Vice enjoys collecting, researching, restoring and shooting American military longarms made between 1835 and 1890. He is considered a leading expert on the American Civil War and American Indian Wars (1866-1890).

“We feel extremely honored that Michael agreed to join Morphy’s as head of our Firearms and Militaria department,” said Dan Morphy. “His qualifications are superb, and his expertise and reputation will play a major role in the further development of what has become one of our strongest and most active departments at Morphy’s.”

 

**To contact Michael Vice regarding consignments to future Firearms sales at Morphy’s, call 717-335-3435 or email info@morphyauctions.com.

Antique Toy Soldiers & Miniatures

February 22nd, 2011 by

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

There is a long-standing interest that seems to be growing of collecting Antique Toy Soldiers or troops and battalions of these metallic Lilliputians. The most widely known organization for Antique Soldier collectors is the Miniature Figure Collectors of America that regularly convenes at various locations where avid collectors and dealers meet in admiration of the miniature martial arts. In these collectors meetings, many awards are usually handed out with a categorical diversification rivaling the Oscars.

To the regular person, this may seem a passion appropriate only to little boys, but amassing toy soldiers is becoming ever more recognized as a serious collecting concern. It is certainly becoming a great deal more expensive, a fact that may contribute to its apparent new image. Commerce is definitely taking accelerated note of the hobby. Toy soldier shops have sprouted up in such cities as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Pittsburgh and Denver. On upper Madison Avenue in New York stands the oldest of such stores, the Soldier Shop. Nearby, the Burlington Bookshop has been converted a balcony into a glassed-in barracks for small troops; and a midtown Manhattan store, The Complete Strategist, not only sells the toys but also entertains aficionados at Saturday afternoon “war games.”

Not coincidentally, the fine art auction house, Phillips, has frequently held many auctions in the United States devoted entirely to toy soldiers, sales that often include more than 5,000 pieces from various private Toy Soldier collections. The sums fetched are always noteworthy, rivaling amounts produced at London Auction houses.

These auctions provide good examples of what models sell for – and how, in general, prices are exceeding expectations. The appreciation in value of miniatures is dramatic. Models now sought-after used to be purchased by children in Woolworth’s – when five-and-dime meant five-and-dime. Orson Munn, who should know on two counts, since he is both an avid collector and a money manager, recalls: “Toys that cost ten cents not too long ago are today worth six dollars. I remember walking home from school to save subway money so I could buy a box of soldiers for sixty-nine cents. Those soldiers are now bringing up to eighty dollars a box.” Mainly mass-produced and inexpensive, many of these early toys are indeed treasures today. An increase in value of 50,000 percent is not uncommon. It must be acknowledged that individual soldiers once cost as little as a penny and also that fifty years of rising prices cloud the true value.

Most of the models are identified by the brand names of their manufacturers: Britains, Mignot, Heyde, Courtenay, Stadden, Warren, Johilico, Timpo, Metayer, Authenticast.

Nobody really knows how many collectors there are in the United States. We don’t even know how many important collectors there are, because, for so many years, there was closet collecting. You were considered a bit odd if you were still ‘playing with kids’ toys’ when you were in your twenties.” However, Peter J. Blum has apparently opened some closet doors. He owns The Soldier Shop, the flourishing New York City enterprise that has a mailing list of some 25,000 in the East, between Boston and Washington. He estimated that there are between 80,000 and 130,000 collectors in the nation.

The ultimate proof of the growth of this hobby has been the steady development of specialists within the field. Some collect certain brands, such as Britains, Heyde, Mignot. Others concentrate on specific units, such as colonial troops of the British Army. Still others are involved as converters, who artfully change – by welding, painting, substituting weapons – the era of a model. For instance, one patient and finicky hobbyist turned a World War II German storm trooper into a Napoleonic grenadier. Other specialists include the aesthetes, who narrow their choice to figures they consider particularly beautiful: without being pressed they will suggest that someday these may be regarded as works of art, albeit tiny ones.

Among the ranks of collectors are such aficionados as Malcolm Forbes, the publisher; Andrew Wyeth, the artist and others. Winston Churchill also collected toy soldiers; so did Charlotte and Emily Bronte. One factor common to them seems to be a basic pride combined with a wry admission of addiction. Many collectors of toy soldiers confess that they have trouble stopping once started. One is quoted as saying “I am the nuttiest of the toy soldier nuts. I started collecting troops at platoon level, and now I’m up to battalions and regiments.”

There are a huge number of different types of Toy Soldiers and many collectors seem to prefer one type over another. For example, in our research, we have encountered mounted Algerians with flying capes, Mexicans with sombreros, kilted Greek evzones, Prussians with backpacks, Chinese of the Boxer Rebellion.

The surest way to tell the collector from the dabbler is that the collector differentiates between true “toy soldiers” and miniatures. The vast majority of collectors have concentrated on the toys, which were mass-produced and originally intended as playthings. They were usually about two and a quarter inches high. The so-called “Big Three” of this field are Britains, Heyde and Mignot. Heyde, which was located in Dresden, Germany, was wiped out during the bombings of World War II, a fact that gives its products extra collecting value. Mignot is a French firm that goes back to 1825; it was from Mignot that Napoleon III ordered a small lead army for his son. Britains, which made mechanical toys in the mid-nineteenth century, decided to take a fling at toy soldiers to help celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It introduced hollowed soldiers, rather than the traditional solid type, a technique which led the manufacturer to a preeminent position in this small world. In contrast, Germany has long been the source of a special flat metallic soldier about half the size of the standard toy and, as the name suggests, two-dimensional.

Miniatures, as distinct from toys, are made as individuals. They tend to be larger, up to ten inches tall, and they are extremely exact in terms of military detail. Miniatures are intended for adult collectors; not unexpectedly, they tend to cost more than toy soldiers. Addicts of miniatures, though they may have grown up on the garden-variety soldier, search most avidly for the more exact and historically accurate “non-toys.” These are sometimes called Collector Figures, with such brand names as Stadden, Metayer, Desfon- taines, Berdou, Courtenay and, more recently, Imrie/Risley or Historex.

The collecting dichotomy is not rigid; some collectors have both toys and miniatures, and even the price differential can be uncertain. Toy soldiers were often destroyed, mangled and abandoned by their young owners. Given this fearful casualty toll, toys from as recently as the early twentieth century have gained “antique” status simply by having survived the child wars. Reflecting this situation, for example, pre-1914 soldiers by Britains are called “Ancient Britains.” Also, rarity increased the price of many toys to above the level of the miniatures. These overlaps have led to the use of the term “model soldiers,” encompassing both types.

As with any aging objects, there is the problem of maintaining models in good condition. Lead is a soft metal; the little figures can lose arms, legs, banners, guns and spears. Their paint can be chipped. Any repairs or repainting lowers the value, but honest dealers and collectors make no effort to palm off repaired merchandise under false pretenses; on any piece that has been fixed or repainted, they paste a bit of paper with the letter R.

An overall change in the entire manufacturing field occurred in 1962 when England ruled that toy soldiers made of lead were dangerous to children and should not be produced. This spurred the already growing production of plastic soldiers, and, naturally, increased the value of pre-1962 English models. Coincidentally, the ruling gave birth to a number of companies that sidestepped the legislation by specifying that their product was not intended for children.
There have been little soldiers, plastic or pewter, as long as there have been their life-size counterparts. In a book-lined office at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr. Helmut Nickel, curator of arms and armor, has evidence that the history of the breed goes back to antiquity. He has a photograph of a clay Greek Hoplites, the original of which was found in an ancient Greek tomb of a child dating ca 800 BC, around Homer’s time. “Much later, we can see knight-like toys from between 1360 and 1370, now in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They are about two-and-three-eighths inches high and is made of pewter.” Around 1500, there were small brass jousting figures, about five inches high.

In the eighteenth century, little armies of figurines were turned out, generally in larger quantities and all in the same mold, like tiny robots. Though mainly for museums, some were made for rather special little boys: a toy army is said to have been made for young Louis XIV.
In the nineteenth century, the largest producer of metal soldiers was Heinrichsen, in Nuremberg, Germany. These were of pewter and, as was typical of Germany, flat. In a museum in Kulmbach, Germany, specializing in metal figurines, there are 350 dioramas of such little soldiers; one battle scene uses nearly 10,000 figurines. Similar representations of battles – the American Revolution’s Battle of Harlem Heights and the 1476 Battle of Grandson in Switzerland – are in the Metropolitan’s Hall of Arms and Armor.

In fact, it is this kind of “view down the corridors of the past” that motivates many present-day collectors. Most Toy Soldier collectors are inquirers; they usually are interested in history. Although, amassing a collection is fun and exciting, especially if one can find pieces before others do. Everyone is always looking for the great treasure. Even collectors with less zeal have their moments. This is evident at gatherings of collectors, say at flea markets; it is easy to spot excited bargain hunters haggle away towards their next addition to their collection of toy soldiers.
Interestingly, many collectible toy soldiers tend to be on parade. For example, most are in the formation best calculated to show off their dress uniforms. Because of this, some of the most coveted items are noncombatants, such as military bands. Moreover, many models are only peripherally warlike, for example Hannibal’s elephant or Lord Nelson with Lady Hamilton. Others are frankly pacifistic: a brewer’s wagon with shire horses and barrels; a deep-sea diver, an archbishop.
In fact, many collectors believe that Toy Soldier design and manufacturing is an Art form. Although “Aesthetics” may be a heavy word, these figures were not made as altar pieces for a cathedral. Personally, I think the correct word is charm. They have charm, and they isolate little pieces of the past.

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!

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!

Steiff’s very own cover girl!

June 15th, 2010 by

There are many great reasons to start a community site. Steiffgal created MySteiffLife so collectors from all over the world would have an online destination to learn and share information about vintage playthings from this remarkable toy company from Germany.

That being the case, Steiffgal wanted to share this brief note from a collector in Germany who sheds some light on a Steiff mystery (at least to those of us here in the USA) that’s at least a few dog years old. Awhile back, Steiffgal wrote a post about a darling and beloved Steiff Cocker Spaniel dog named Revue Susi. Susi is sitting, made from blond mohair, and head jointed. Her head is quite detailed and completely adorable; she has large plastic pupil eyes, airbrushed “eyebrows” and lips, pronounced doggy jowls, and floppy ears made of long, lush mohair. Revue Susi was produced in 4 sizes – 12, 17, 28, and 35 cm – from 1959 through 1977.
One of the things that is really unusual about Revue Susi is her name. For some reason, Revue Susi is the only Cocker Spaniel with a name other than Cockie.  Why is that?  Check out Claudia’s note to find out!  She writes…
“Hello Steiffgal,

Just found your wonderful blog on the internet. And I am happy that I can clarify the mystery over the name of Revue Susi for you.

Revue was a German people-magazine from 1946 to 1966. Its mascot dog was Susi. But I believe that Susi was a dachshund (as there was a prize winning game, where you could win a sibling of Susi and the dog to be won was a dachshund!).

In the attachment you can see a picture of Susi on the front cover of the magazine.”

Best collector wishes from Germany, Claudia”

Claudia, on behalf of all the Steifflife readers, many thanks for this wonderful information on Revue Susi and the delightful magazine cover showing her probable namesake!  What an interesting story!  Steiffgal is certain that everyone would agree that this photogenic pup certainly lives up to her the covergirl (Steiffgal means cover dog!) legacy.

Do you know any Steiff insights you would like to share? Send them to Steiffgal at Steifflife@gmail.com so she can share them here with our wonderful growing community of Steiff collectors.

Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.

My Antique Lamp

May 25th, 2010 by

I own an antique lamp that has brought me some annoyance over the course of my life and is not especially beautiful to look at. I have to take special care with it when I move, and I must make décor decisions with it always in mind. It may have value, but I never intend to sell it. This is a classic case of an antique lamp owning me, rather than me owning it. Is the stress we endure for an object ever worth more than the object’s value? In my case, yes. The lamp was given to my grandmother by a woman whose life she saved during the Second World War. It’s one of the best and strangest stories of my grandmothers life, and by extension, of mine. And so it’s a reminder to me– a reminder that even in this age of disposability, we still have certain things we can’t get rid of, not without losing a part of ourselves.

Share Your Antiques with the World!

December 7th, 2009 by

Use this category to talk about your antiques and upload photos.  We all have special pieces that have unique meaning and sometimes wonderful historical stories to tell.  If your antiques could talk, what would they say?  Or, perhaps you would like to share an anecdote about how you came into possession of a particular item.  Did you find it at a flea market hidden beneath a pile of books?  Was it left to you by a relative?  Did you outbid someone at auction?