Archive for May, 2010

Dressing For Success With This Sheraton Period Inspired Find!

May 31st, 2010 by
According to legendary designer Coco Chanel, “Fashion is architecture:  it is a matter of proportions.” So is it possible that fashion could also be perfectly scaled furniture as well?  Take a look at this remarkable antique dressing table that I recently spotted at New England Antique Show’s Spring Fever Antiques and Design Show and Sale and decide for yourself!
It wouldn’t be hard to “dress for success” with this handsome piece of furniture in your boudoir. Here we have an unmarked, two-tiered Sheraton Period inspired dressing table from around 1830.  It originally belonged to a family from southern Maine who had connections to New York City.  It is constructed from solid cherry with bird’s eye maple veneers on the front face of each of its four drawers.  Each drawer has simple cherry knobs; the top right drawer has a lock (perhaps to keep secret treasures, well, secret). The back of the piece is detailed with two mirror-image curved swirls, which compliment the table’s otherwise rather linear appearance.  The table’s straight legs are slightly tapered and are finished with arrow-style feet, meaning that they are cylinder-shaped, tapered, and separated from the leg by a turned ring.
The wood used on this dressing table is simply gorgeous, even after nearly 180 years! The piece is primarily constructed from cherry.  The wood from cherry trees has been recognized for centuries for its superior woodworking properties.  As a matter of fact, there is evidence that the Greeks and Romans used cherry for furniture making as early as 400 BC!  Cherry wood starts out a rich red-brown color and darkens with age; it takes finishes well and retains its satiny, glowing appearance due to its generally uniform texture.
The other “eye catching” wood on this piece is the bird’s eye maple detailing on the drawers. No one really knows what causes this pattern of tiny swirling eyes in the wood grain; scientists believe it is a combination of genetics, location, climate, microbes, and other factors.  In addition to the maple as seen on this table, the “bird’s eye” pattern can also be found in maple, ash, mahogany, beech, walnut, and birch lumber.  Because wood with bird’s eye qualities is relatively rare, it can cost several times that of other woods.  This helps to explain why it is used in limited quantities and as a veneer on this Sheraton Period dressing table.
So what exactly is the “Sheraton Period?” The Sheraton period dates from approximately 1790 through 1820.  It is named after Thomas Sheraton, an Englishman who lived from 1751 through 1806.  Sheraton started out his career as a cabinet builder, but in his late 30’s he moved to London where he became a consultant and teacher in the furniture industry.   Sheraton is best known for his writings, which were quite influential at the time. These publications included “The Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book” in 1791, “The Cabinet Directory” in 1803, and “Cabinet Maker, Upholsterer and General Artist’s Encyclopaedia” in 1805.  Interestingly, it is believed that Sheraton never actually built any of the items featured in his books, so the “Sheraton Period” refers to a type of design rather than a specific manufacturer or artist.
Furniture from the Sheraton Period has several typical features, many which are evident on the dressing table under discussion. Overall, pieces are rectilinear and symmetrical in style. They have a study but elegant look to them.  Sheraton designs have legs that tend to be straight and tapered; sometimes they are reeded or have detailing to resemble classical columns.  They also usually have simple rectangular or cylindrical feet; heavier pieces may have bracket or bun feet.  Another very common feature is the use of more than one type of wood for decorative purposes.
Knock on wood, I would like to thank Martin Ferrik of Martin J. Ferrick Antiques of Lincolnville, ME sharing this nearly two century old piece fine piece of furniture with me. Martin specializes in American and fine arts and is a regular dealer at New England Antique Shows throughout the year.  Wooden it be nice to make this piece yours?  Email Martin at for more information!
What is your very favorite antiquing, vintage, or design find? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.
Learn more about New England Antique Shows and their upcoming events by clicking here!

May 29th, 2010 by
Hands in the air! The wonderful long weekend that heralds summer has finally arrived here in the USA!  To celebrate this most welcomed seasonal occurrence – usually accompanied by “hands on” gardening and BBQing –  let’s take a look at some of Steiff’s finest handiwork, puppets from the 20th century! This article originally appeared awhile back in Teddy Bear and Friends, Steiffgal’s favorite collector’s publication. If you are not a subscriber, sign up today!
Primarily known for their classic and endearing Teddies, animals, and dolls, Steiff also has a vibrant legacy of creating charming and beautifully made hand puppets. Some designs are based on popular Steiff patterns, some reflect heroes and heroines from folk tales and traditions, while others are original products of sheer creativity. As a lifelong collector and student of the Steiff brand, Steiffgal has always been fascinated by classic vintage Steiff hand puppets – those produced from the turn of the 20th century through the end of the 1960’s. So, let’s put a spotlight on some of these great players from Steiff’s “golden era” of producing hand puppets!

First, let’s get on the same page of the program about what Steiffgal means by pre-1970’s “hand puppets”. Most interestingly, the basic design of these puppets hasn’t changed since their debut almost a century ago. They all are basically 17 cm, plus or minus a bit. Most have a relatively simple “glove-like” body with two floppy unjointed arms. Almost all have a hollow but hard, fully detailed, excelsior stuffed head. To use the puppet, a person would insert their hand into the glove, put their pinky into one arm, their thumb into the other, and their middle finger into the hollow head, which is supported by a cardboard tube up the center.
Now onto the puppets themselves. Although the first Steiff catalog was produced in 1892, Steiffgal’s research shows that hand puppets did not appear in these publications until 1911. However, the designs for a puppet bear, cat, and dog had all been registered in a German patent office since 1909. Steiff used the adjective “Punch” to describe their earliest puppets; perhaps in reference to the traditional “Punch and Judy” puppet shows which regularly appeared across Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. The earliest Steiff puppets produced included punch bear, punch Charles (a King Charles Spaniel), punch cat, punch fox, punch chimp, and punch fox terrier. Each was made from mohair and based on the most popular animals in the line at the time. Pictured on the left is a series of early punch chimps from 1911 onward.
Many of Steiff’s most beloved classic characters were “born” in the 1920’s, so it is not surprising that most of them were produced as hand puppets around the end of that “roaring” decade. This allowed the company to meet the public’s growing demand for these wonderful “branded” characters as well as to expand their audience for these items. Models that made the transition from toy to hand puppet include Molly the puppy, Bully the bulldog, Petsy the blue eyed baby bear, Teddy baby, Siamy the Siamese cat, and Treff the bloodhound. As these items were all made for active play, very few have survived to this day; all are considered treasures and exceptionally rare – especially in good condition!
Steiff had the license to manufacture several internationally known characters in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Two of these included Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse. Of course, Steiff seized the opportunity to produce each as a hand puppet as well! Felix the Cat was produced from 1925 through 1926; he was 20 cm and made from felt and mohair. A 24 cm velvet Mickey Mouse was produced from 1931 through 1933. Both are extremely rare today and coveted among vintage Steiff collectors, puppet fans, as well as Felix and Mickey aficionados.
The early post war years were a time of great creativity at Steiff, and this energy and “out of the box” thinking is evident in their hand puppet designs, too. The word “Hand” was substituted for “Punch” when describing these puppets manufactured after 1949, perhaps to “rebrand” the line as a modern plaything. As expected, production resumed on several pre-war hand puppet classics, including Jocko the monkey, Teddy baby, Molly the puppy, and a tabby cat. However, many new named designs were introduced as well, including Sarras the boxer, an updated Foxy fox terrier and Bully the bulldog, Dally the Dalmatian, Wittie the owl, Loopy the wolf, Snobby the poodle, Gaty the crocodile, Mungo the baboon, and Leo the lion. These “new designs” were made as toys as well as puppets; all were made of mohair. Steiff also introduced the first PVC/rubber headed puppets in the early 1950’s; these debut items included a dwarf, Santa Claus, and Mecki hedgehog. Most of these items were produced in large quantities and were distributed broadly; as a result they are relatively accessible to collectors today.
In addition to these post war hand puppets, Steiff also briefly produced a new style of mohair puppet from 1958 through 1959. Called “Mimic”; these items were five finger hand puppets with four posable limbs and a movable mouth. Three models were produced: a 28 cm Mimic dally Dalmatian, a 28 cm Mimic Biggie beagle, and a 17 cm Mimic Tessie Schnauzer (pictured to the left with a 1960’s-era Peky Pekingese puppet). Their short appearance may have been the product of a complicated and expensive manufacturing process and less than expected sales. As a result, the short supply of these puppets translates into a high demand among collectors.
The 1960’s were a very playful era at Steiff in terms of hand puppets. Several more “unconventional” designs were introduced, including Hucky, a black raven; Hopsi the squirrel; Peky, the Pekingese; a penguin; a rooster; and a hen (pictured here on the left). Surprisingly, several hand puppets from this decade – despite their relative “newness” – top the “wish list” of many Steiff collectors. These include Snaky Snake, a gloriously airbrushed puppet with an unusual snap mouth and felt tongue; Sneba, or Snowman, a white dralon snowman with a carrot nose, a black top hat, and “coal” buttons; and Blacky the Chimney Sweep, a rubber headed character with a black mohair body, black top hat, and ladder. Each was produced for less than two years. As a result, they always generate a lot of interest when they come up for sale.
You’ve got to hand it to Steiff, whatever they do, they do it just right. Steiffgal hopes you give thumbs up to this salute to vintage Steiff hand puppets… and a high five to the creative teams at Steiff who brought these precious playthings to life over the years.
Have a question about one of your Steiff treasures, a puppet or otherwise? Let’s talk! Click here to learn more.

Swann Galleries – Maps & Atlases, Literature, Art & Illustrated Books

May 28th, 2010 by

Catalog now online

Auction June 17th, 2010

Maps & Atlases, Books with Plates, Ephemera, Literature, Art and Illustrated Books, Decorative Graphics

Picking with Reyne – Vol 5 – By Reyne Haines

May 28th, 2010 by

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for reading my column and commenting on things. Your input is not only appreciated by me, but by other collectors who are reading.  Your suggestions have been great, timely and informative!

In last week’s column, Marko asked me a question that inspired this column.  He asked: “What was my favorite find and why?”

I briefly elaborated but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail here for those who catch my reply last week.

I used to run ads in the Antique Trader. For those of you who have been in the antiques world for a long time, most dealers and collectors used to consider The Antique Trader the bible. It came out on Monday every week and we all anxiously waited for the mailman to deliver it in our mailbox.

You’d rush home, and flip to the classified section in the back to see who was selling what.  This was pre eBay, pre online antique malls, digital photos, etc.  (And keep the comments to yourself, I’m not that old!)

You read listings in black and white text and had to envision what people were describing, or even if what they were describing was real.  Anything that sounded good, you picked up the phone and called on.  Time and again I’d call on things and they were already spoken for.  DRATS!

I met many pickers through this publication which was great. They went out picking all week long and would call me when they found something on my “want list”.  Some could describe things to a “T” and knew exactly what I was looking for. I’d buy it just from their descriptions and rarely if ever was disappointed.

I decided I’d place a display ad in the WANTED TO BUY section of the paper.  “Buying Tiffany lamps, glass, bronze and other art glass items.”

One day I was heading out to lunch and I received a phone call. I almost didn’t answer it because I was running late.  I grabbed the phone and it was an elderly man on the other line saying he saw my ad in the Trader.  This always got me excited. You never knew what those kinds of calls might bring.

He began describing an all too familiar piece of Steuben glass; a console bowl in amber with threading and controlled bubble decoration. It was worth about $250 and was not very exciting to me.  I told him I’d call him later in the week as he was about 40 miles out of town and he wanted me to come by and see it.

I almost forgot to call him, but when I finally did I arranged to go take a look.  There were a few small antique shops I hadn’t visited in some time along the way and I thought I’d make a day trip out of it.

I got to the gentleman’s house and low and behold, it was exactly the bowl I envisioned it to be.  YAWN.

I decided I’d buy it as I had already driven all the way out there. Boy was I glad I did. Once I made the purchase he asked me if I bought other art glass and he pulled out a decorated tendril Loetz vase which is on the cover of one of the Loetz books.  I was shocked.  I asked if he was a collector, to which he said no.  Of course my next question was “Did you inherit these items?” to which again he replied no. He then pointed and said “I found them in the barn in the back.”

You just never know what you might find in the barns of a country home!

I’d love to hear more about your favorite finds.  Comment here with your stories!

Happy Hunting!


Bonhams & Butterfields -San Francisco

May 28th, 2010 by

Fine European and American Furniture and Decorative Arts

Featuring property from the Brimsmade Estate, Houston

Plus, a special evening session offering the Ed Hardy Collection

June 14th 2010

Sotheby’s – Important 20th Century Design – June 16th, 2010

May 26th, 2010 by

Our June 16th auction of Important 20th Century Design represents a tightly curated chronological survey of American and European design from the turn of the century through the present date.

Leila Dunbar to speak on June 3 as part of Cooperstown Symposium

May 26th, 2010 by

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – On June 3, former Sotheby’s senior vice president Leila Dunbar will give a presentation titled “Stories In Hand – Baseball History Told Through its Memorabilia” at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York as part of its annual symposium on baseball and American culture. The 2010 Symposium runs June 2-4, featuring lectures and panels of more than 60 baseball academics and presenters discussing baseball’s effect on American culture.

Dunbar’s talk will focus on the stories behind selected rare pieces from her $36 million of Sotheby’s sports memorabilia sales, Antiques Roadshow televised sports memorabilia segments and her current appraisal business. Items include heretofore unseen Babe Ruth signed WWI Jewish Relief campaign game tickets, the only known baseball signed by Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris; Woodrow Wilson’s own 1915 Federal League baseball pass, a 1956 signed photo of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella on Robinson’s last trip as a Dodger before retiring, a group of 1937 telegrams from teams to Tommy Henrich after he was declared a free agent by Commissioner Kenesaw Landis, and a collection of 1936 Olympics baseball memorabilia from the estate of Paul Amen, who later went on to a baseball and football coaching career at West Point and Wake Forest.

From 1999 to 2008, Dunbar served as director of Sotheby’s Collectibles department – sales highlights include the bat that Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium on Grand Opening Day, 1923, for $1.25 million; the 1919 agreement selling Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees for $996,000; the Boston Garden parquet floor center court Leprechaun logo for $332,000; and the Heisman Trophy original mold for $248,000. Since its inception in 1996, Dunbar has been a participating appraiser on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, with more than 45 filmed segments and more than 2,000 verbal appraisals.

In 2008, Dunbar founded her own business, Leila Dunbar LLC, preparing insurance, estate tax and donation appraisals. Clients include the United States Golf Association (USGA), the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, Floyd Mayweather Jr., the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Tammy Wynette Estate, Sotheby’s, Bank of America and Lloyd’s of London, as well as numerous private clients. Dunbar recently was a featured speaker at the 2010 International Society of Appraisers Conference held in Toronto, giving a presentation the “Wild and Wacky World of Appraising Sports and Entertainment Memorabilia.” The talk will also be featured as a Webinar later this year. She also recently contributed articles on historic Olympic memorabilia and “Odd Celebrity Memorabilia” to the Antiques Roadshow Insider.

Registration is $165 for participants in the Hall of Fame’s Membership Program and $175 for all others. For more information and a schedule of registration fees, contact Hall of Fame Librarian Jim Gates at 607-547-0311.

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.

Charlton Hall presents their 80th Anniversary Auction on Artfact Live!

May 24th, 2010 by

(Boston MA) Artfact wishes to express “Congratulations” to Charlton Hall on their 80th Anniversary!
We are pleased to announce that the 80th Anniversary Auction on June 5 and 6 is available for online bidding exclusively through Artfact Live! The 2 day auction offers over 1,000 lots including: fine art, jewelry, furniture, carpets, silver, timepieces, ceramics and much more. If you can’t join the live auction action in West Columbia, South Carolina, visit , or its sister site in the UK,, to login or register free to bid live online at this exceptional auction. If you’re not ready to bid, simply watch the activity live from the auction floor using the Artfact Live! console.

Highlights of the sale include:

The top lot of the sale is Lot 58, a beachscape by the French painter Eugene Louis Boudin (1824-1898). The oil on panel depicts a ship beached near the community of St Pierre, it is framed, signed & dated: lower right, ”E. Boudin, 93.” Bidding will begin at $24,000 for this work.
Lot 97 is a Tiffany & Co diamond engagement ring. The center is occupied by a 2.35ct emerald-cut diamond (color F-G, clarity VS1), flanked by fourteen round-cut side diamonds (0.39ctw, color H-I, clarity VS1) all mounted in platinum. The ring is signed Tiffany & Co and fits ring size 6. Bidding will open at $8,500.

The top lot of day 2 is a painting by native South Carolinian Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, Lot 663. The piece shows the city of Charleston across a marshy “Bay View.” It is executed in pastel on silk and measures 23 by 29 inches. Minimum bid for this work is $10,000.
Also of note in the Sunday session is Lot 600, a rare southern stoneware slave-made face jug. Created in Bath, South Carolina circa 1860, it features a tooled spout above a pulled and applied handle continuing down to applied and sculpted facial features. The face has a ghoulish appearance with prominent ears, eyebrow ridges and kaolin highlighted eyes and teeth. Bidding will commence at $7,500.

To research any category of items available at auction, view over 50 million auction price results and over 500,000 artist pages, visit http:/ and search the industry’s leading auction database. For instance Eugene Boudin’s artist page features over 1300 past auction prices, a biography, works currently at auction, descriptions of the genres in which he worked and links to similar artists.

Since the departure of eBay Live Auctions, Artfact Live! has taken the lead in the live auction arena by partnering exclusively with the world’s most prestigious auction houses to host their online auctions. As it continues to build the world’s most affluent and knowledgeable bidding community, Artfact offers free registration, offering unlimited access to Artfact Live! partner auctions and free searching of the past 12 months of price results in its auction records database. Artfact’s Advanced Search allows users to narrow searches by entering keywords, price range, auction date range, or auction house name.

About Artfact
Founded in 1989, Artfact is the largest global marketplace of fine and decorative arts, antiques, collectibles, and estate auctions. On January 1, 2009, Artfact launched Artfact Live! and Invaluable Live!, its proprietary live auction bidding platforms, enabling users to bid in real-time on auctions being held around the world by its prestigious auction house partners. Currently, over 1,000 fine auctioneers actively list their catalogues with and its U.K. sister site, reaching the Artfact community of more than 10 million knowledgeable collectors and dealers worldwide. Artfact’s industry leading database includes more than 57 million complete auction results totaling more than $204 billion in value, including information on more than 500,000 international artists. In 2006, Artfact acquired RFC Systems, the leading provider of enterprise software developed specifically for the fine art and antique auction house industry. RFC helps prestigious auction houses around the world manage their businesses by automating their day-to-day operations.

Editor’s Notes
– Additional background information available.
– Interviews with Doug Ellinger, VP Marketing,, (617) 746-9882
– Complimentary media subscriptions to the Artfact database available.

Picking with Reyne – Shopping Abroad – By: Reyne Haines

May 24th, 2010 by

I think one of the exciting things about the hunt for treasures is going to new places.  The anticipation of what we will find, or not find, from one area to the next.

A lot of it depends on the area and the people that populate it.  Were there any major department stores in the area; was the area a place where immigrants came to live;  was the town peppered with well to do residents?

These factors don’t always equate to great picking region, but they certainly help.

It’s safe to say, I’ve been around the antiquing block in the US, but I’ve only checked out a few places abroad.  I had a great experience many years ago in Berlin; London is completely yummy and Paris, well – they have great things but with the exchange rate I bought very little.

One of our frequent bloggers on is Marko – an antique enthusiast from Finland.  He seems to like my picking blog so I thought I’d ask him to tell us a little more about picking in his country.

RH: Where are some of your favorites haunts to buy antiques?  Is it shops, private homes, flea markets or??

I can say that I have always open “radar”. I’m looking and looking, and I can find and enjoy.
As you know Reyne, I love flea markets and antique shops. I am an old goods “junkie” 🙂
A few years ago I did the best finds at flea markets. Today, the best hunting arena is private people. They have a genuine and good stuff, no junk stuff. People know prices are so cheap it is difficult to get. My favorite flea market is a “Bazaar” flea market. There have nice staff and these people are smiling. Smile is an important trading tool for me.

RH: I agree that a smile goes a long way, especially if you are about to ask for a better price!  Where are the best bargains found?

Places where I can find cheapest…..TOP 10

1- A private person who needs money quickly
2- People’s private yard sales
3- Traditional flea market halls
4- Summer market
5- Internet
6- Newspaper sales announcements
7- Auctions
8- Buying and selling stores
9- Antique shops
10- My home 🙂

RH: Do people go knocking on doors of people’s homes they don’t know in Finland searching for antiques?

Not anymore.  Sometimes years ago were traveling dealers. They went
to the house and asked whether they had antiques or old stuff.
Sometimes they gave the booze so that they would be easier to buy.

RH:  I had to giggle at the booze reply, but then I started to think about how often opening night at an antique show offers wine or a full bar.  Maybe they are on to something!

What was your best find ever?

Marko:  I’ve found several good bargains. This one story comes to my mind.
I bought stamps from an old man. There were 30 folders. I paid 100e ($120).

I sell them off on the same day 1500€ ($1850). Good profit, but this comes rarely.

Not the best but the funny purchase was horse carts. I paid them 20€ ($25)
Now they have my yard ornament. Peoples are smiling when they go over my yard.

Marko, thanks for being a good sport and answering all of my questions. I loved the images too!

Bookmark this site – the next installment of Picking with Reyne will be uploaded next week!

Happy Hunting!