Reyne Gauge

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Reyne Gauge: One Man’s Dream…Profile of Dale Chihuly

November 4th, 2010 by

Becoming one of America’s most recognized artists is the dream of many, but most often remains merely a dream – rarely does it become a reality.

Dale Chihuly made it to the top, but the journey getting there was not always an easy one.

Chihuly was a student of interior design and architecture in the early 1960s.  By 1965, he had become captivated by the art of blowing glass.  He enrolled in the hot glass program offered by the University of Wisconsin.  The program was founded by Harvey Littleton; the father of the Contemporary Studio Movement in America.

In 1968, Chihuly was awarded a Fulbright grant to study glassblowing in Murano, Venice.  It is often said his inspiration for his glass designs came from his experiences there.  After Venice, he traveled to see the Libenskys in Czechoslovakia. Their workshop was known for their heavy cast glass sculptures. From there he went to Germany to visit one of his favorite glass artists, Erwin Eisch.

Chihuly received a degree in sculpture, and then entered the ceramics program at the Rhode Island School of Design.  It was there Chihuly founded the schools glass program which has produced numerous recognized artists.

Chihuly didn’t stop there.  He co-founded the Pilchuck School in Washington in 1971.  The Pilchuck School has brought together artists worldwide into the program.  It has also helped place the area on the map as a mecca for contemporary artists.

In the fall of 1975, Chihuly was scheduled to lecture at a University in Ireland when tragedy struck.  He was in an automobile accident that took one of his eyes.  This could have been the end of a career for most artists; but not Chihuly.  With the struggles of losing his depth perception, came new collaborations.  He now was less tied to the actual blowing of the glass, and could spend more of his efforts drawing and photographing his latest creations.

In 1978, Chihuly was offered a solo show at Renwick Gallery (part of The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.)  This was a huge career move for Chihuly.

Since that time, Chihuly’s works have traveled to museums all over the world.  Documentaries about his life and his works air regularly on PBS.  His dream of blowing glass had made the move from the Rhode Island School of Design, to Chihuly Inc, a multi-million dollar a year company creating glass for corporation, museums, and collectors worldwide.

If you’ve not had a “Chihuly” experience yet, you can find his works currently on display at:

City Center – Las Vegas NV now through December 2010

Frist Center of Visual Arts – Nashville, TN –  Now through January 2, 2011

For a list of permanent exhibits visit their website:

Photos Couresty of: The collection of Howard Shatsky!/pages/Gallery-Of-Glass/115447121842870

Photo 1:  Rufous Piccolo Venetian with Yellow Prunts, circa 1994

Photo 2: Chihuly Cylinder with Glass Shard Drawing, circa 1978

Reyne Gauge: When a penny is worth more than 1 cent

October 14th, 2010 by

Do you remember when 1 cent would actually buy you a piece of gum in the gumball machine at the grocery store?  A little before my time there was also penny candy.

It’s been years since those copper colored coins meant much to anyone. I remember in high school seeing them on the ground and walking past them.  My friends and I thought “Find a penny pick it up..” but instead of the “and all day you’ll have good luck” part of the line – we said eh….keep walking….

The penny (or at least this one) has found a way to show everyone that a vintage penny can certainly shine again.  This particular coin was actually a mistake.  It was struck in a copper alloy in 1943 and is the only known “mistake of this kind” out there.

It was sold by a New Jersey coin dealer, Legend Numismatic ( for $1.7 million dollars.  And to show a penny can still be lucky, the proceeds went to charity.

In 1943, zinc coated steel was being used for pennies instead of copper. Copper was being used for war efforts.

The collector who purchased the penny noted he has searched for this coin for a very long time. He began collecting coins as a teenager and at one point, thought he had found the elusive penny but learned it was a fake.  Now, he has an example of every mint 1943 bronze cent produced.

What do I mean by every mint?  Apparently there were copper pennies produced in Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.  It is estimated that less than 20 were struck in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and this coin being the only one known from Denver.  (I would be willing to bet another will surface after this publicized sale)

I would strongly suggest you check your pockets daily to see what coins might have been given to you throughout the day.  There are numerous websites that will offer pricing on coins for free. It could certainly be worth your while to investigate that spare pocket change which might be worth YOUR weight in gold.

Reyne Guage – History of Halloween by Reyne Haines

October 4th, 2010 by

Photo courtesy of Skidstuff

You might find it hard to believe that Halloween is not another “Hallmark” holiday made to create millions of dollars in commercial candy, card and costume sales.

Also, Halloween wasn’t founded in America.  The Irish and the Scottish immigrants carried their versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.  Soon to follow would be Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

Halloween was originally called  “Samhain” which was the name of an ancient Celtic festival that celebrated the end of the harvest season and the preparation of winter.

It was believed that on October 31st, the worlds of the living and the dead would cross and the dead would come back to life and spread sickness to the living and damage their crops.  During the festival, people wore masks to keep the evil spirits at bay.

Photo courtesy of Skidstuff

Fast forward to the 20th century where the art of “trick or treating” came to play during Halloween.  Children in costumes knocked on doors asking the homeowner that simple question; “Trick or Treat?”  The trick part happened to those who did not answer the door, or did with no treats. Tricks played by kids in America often involved egging someone’s home, or wrapping their yard in toilet paper. In the United Kingdom, the police often been called out because of the severity of the “tricks” the children play. The term “Trick or Treat” first appeared in print in 1934.

In states such as Iowa, Ohio and Massachusetts, Halloween is also known as Beggars Night because children go door to door begging for treats.

The act of dressing up and begging door to door actually extends as far back as the Middle Ages when the poor would go knocking on doors on Hallowmas (November 1st).  They would receive food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2nd).

Halloween was also known as “All Hallows Eve.” It was one of four, and the most powerful, holy days throughout the year when spirits could walk the earth and communicate with the living.

Before the commercial world joined in, children would beg door to door for treats, but the treats were not wrapped sweets like we know today. They would receive nuts and homemade candies.

Phot courtesy of Longbrook Antiques

Today, the Halloween capital of the world is Anoka, Minnesota.  In 1920, they were the first city to hold a Halloween celebration in effort to prevent kids from pulling pranks around town.  The town put together a parade to keep the kids busy and the kids that participated in the parade were rewarded with candy and popcorn.  Since that time, the city has continued the annual parade and festivities, with the exception of 1942 and 1943 due to the war.

On a final note, Halloween is the 2nd largest commercial holiday in the US.  Surprisingly it beats out Valentine’s Day with $6.9 billion dollars in commercials sales (and growing) each year.

Reyne Gauge: Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids!

September 21st, 2010 by

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday.  As a kid, my brother and I created haunted houses with our neighbors, weird “goo” for kids to have to stick their hands in that we called brains.  Scary costumes and creepy music and the day/night were complete.

As an adult, I guess I never grew out of wanting to create creepy scenes, and come up with a “to die for” costume.  Some of my favorite outfits were Bride of Frankenstein, complete with a early 1900’s wedding dress and veil.  Mommy Dearest with a great 50’s outfit, bob black wig, and martini glass and wire hangers to carry.  I went to an event as Christina Applegate one year when she was on Married with Children. (My friend went as her mother on the show, we were quite the hit!)

One thing I never collected, though always wanted to, was vintage Halloween items.  Papier-mache pumpkins, black cat noisemakers, old costumes… I will admit I have bought numerous vintage Halloween postcards over the years, mounted them on to black stock cards and sent them to good friends.

Apparently I am not the only kid trapped in an adult’s body with a passion for Halloween.  The folks at Dan Morphy’s Auctions (  shook the trees and managed to find hundreds of enthusiasts who were willing to plunk down serious money for a Halloween “treat”.

The sale consisted of 887 lots, (Halloween AND Christmas items), and brought $370,000.  There were 100 people in attendance, 150+ on the phone and over 400 on the Internet vying for the holiday goodies.

One of the top lots was a German veggie man, complete with radish arms, and a watermelon head.  As a bonus it also had eyes that moved from side to side.  It was thought to be a store display.  It had a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-20,000 and brought $19,550.

And what sale would be complete without one of those papier-mache lanterns I have always wanted.   They had a 7.5 inches tall one with a comical grin that was estimated at $2,500 – $3,500.  It sold for $10,350.

The same price was achieved for a set of nodders; which included a witch, a cat, devil, and three pumpkin heads.  I don’t think my bobble head doll has ever sold for that kind of money!

It’s safe to say this week when I attend Round Top, I’ll be on the hunt for some unique Halloween items to help decorate my home this year.  Knowing there are reproductions of these items, I hope to not be “tricked”.

Happy Hunting!


Reyne Gauge: Collecting, or Hoarding?

September 15th, 2010 by

There is a long standing joke among collectors that says we all have a touch of OCD or hoarding tendencies.   But is it really a joke?  Are we really hoarders masquerading as collectors?  Just because we are collecting “things” instead of food, paper, or odds and ends etc doesn’t necessarily mean we are good to go.

Let’s take a look at some of the similarities:

Hoarder:   Keeps random items in large numbers, sometimes to include trash, food, or random items that seem to have little to no value.

Collector:  Is sometimes known to acquire collectibles in large numbers (sometimes broken, soiled and of little value)

Hoarder:  Places sentimental attachment to items that would appear worthless to others

Collector: Often collects due to nostalgic reasons

Hoarder: Often feels a rush when shopping and acquiring items.

Collector:  Loves the thrill of the hunt and will often buy something they would not normally buy if they cannot find something to acquire in their collecting genre to fill that “need to buy something” void.

So this leads to my next thought:  Why does adding to our collections made us feel so good inside?

The Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT states that often, compulsive hoarders feel distressed when they see something they want, and feel they cannot relieve the stress until acquiring that item.

I think this is a similar feeling collectors refer to as being “haunted” by an item we have walked away from, in that we think about how we should have bought it over and over.  And when we do buy something, we feel a sense of release.

The media has started exposing celebrities that “hoard” items such as shoes, cars, and even pets.  If you’ve watched Animal Planet you’ve probably seen their new show “Confessions:  Animal Hoarding” Who would have thought?  Paris Hilton is said to have 18 pets.  Will we see her on that show next?

I spoke with my friend Janine Godwin, who is a Certified Professional Organizer with Nooks & Crannies this morning on the very subject.  We wondered if the volume of shows on collecting would create a sense of justification for those who do hoard.

I also started to think about the similarities in shows on collecting vs. hoarding.  Take American Pickers on the History Channel.  One of my favorite collecting shows on air.  It follows the two hosts, Mike and Frank on their picking adventures around the country.  They visit with people who have inherited collections or have built them over the years.  They browse through attics, basements and barns packed to the gills with hidden treasures, in hopes of buying a few to resale later.  E very show offers a new stop, and shows the interaction with the owner of the items. You can see many of them struggle with parting with anything, although they have not looked it the items or used them in years.

Hoarding shows follow professional organizers and therapists to meet with families needing assistance with someone they love who is a hoarder.  The therapist works with the individual to understand what their attachment to the items is, and how they can change their way of thinking so to not compulsively hoard in the future. The professional organizer works to determine what has value, and what should be parted with.

Do you see the similarities in the formats?

It is said three or more of any item makes a collection.  So I guess that means not every collector could be considered a hoarder.  I’ve certainly met collectors with 20 items, and I’ve met collectors with 2,000.

When does one cross over?  When is too many too much?  Would a collector be considered “organized hoarding?”  Things that make you go hmm…

Call it whatever you like, at the end of the day, I’ll still collect things; some in large amounts, some just a few.  Some I’ll buy for nostalgic reasons, some because I just like their look.

Nooks & Crannies –

Reyne Gauge: Corvette Craze

September 7th, 2010 by

Anyone that knows me knows my love of Chevy Corvettes.  I’ve had one as my daily driver for years and one day plan to add a ’63 Split Window (black on black of course) to my garage of toys.

My passion for ‘vettes began as a kid. My mother drove a 1975 Corvette, bright blue with blue leather interior.  My mom didn’t just drive a ‘vette, she knew plenty about them as well.  Anytime we were out driving around, she’d test me on what year the Corvette was we’d pass in a parking lot or pulled up beside us.  I knew the answer every time as she had taught me all the tell tale signs for what changes had been made each year.  I also loved the camaraderie we had with other ‘vette owners.  You always gave the “peace” sign to each other as you passed on the road. It was like some secret club that only we knew about.

We also belonged to the San Jacinto Corvette Club in Houston, Texas.    They met monthly, and had car shows and race events periodically.  I loved walking a parking lot filled with vettes.  With a variety of models and paint jobs, I was in heaven.  And who can resist the roar of a big block engine on the track?  My mother used to drag race her ‘vette while I sat in the bleachers cheering wildly!

Perhaps that’s all a little TMI, but it’s how I became so crazed about anything Corvette related; including literature.  Recently I caught wind of a new publication titled “Legendary Corvettes”: ‘Vettes Made Famous on Track and Screen. Just what I need, another book to tempt me into acquiring another car. (Ok so it’s not that hard to tempt me)

For starters, the book offers a cover that doubles as eye candy to peak the readers interest, and then opens into a poster, perfect for framing and hanging in the garage for motivation!  Inside, the book covers 18 of the most prized Corvettes of all time; from the early models (and yes, there is a chapter on the ’63!) to the 2009 Blue Devil.  I have yet to drive one of those – have you?

The book starts at the beginning and details how the Corvette came to life, other sports cars being produced at the time, and the people involved in bringing the Corvette to the production line. You get an understanding of what Chevy was up against in the racing world, and what they were willing to do to create a “Super Sports Car”.

Did you know they made a right side steering wheel Corvette?  Ok, well not a production car.  Did you ever catch the Mark Hamill movie “Corvette Summer”?  Do you remember the Indy Pace car?

I could go on and on about what you’ll see if you buy this book, but I don’t want to give away all the highlights (and there are plenty!)

The book is written by Randy Leffingwell and photographed by the very talented Dave Wendt.   It offers 175 pages of full color drool factor.  This would make a great gift for that Corvette enthusiast in your life, or would impress your guests while sitting on your coffee table.

“Peace, Love & Corvettes”

Reyne Gauge: Superman Saves the Day! By Reyne Haines

August 9th, 2010 by

Who doesn’t like a happy ending?  I know I do, and I especially love it when antiques play a role in that ending.

Everyone is going through hard times and is looking to save a few dollars here and there.  Many of us have lost our jobs and there seems to be nothing on the horizon.  Some of us have dealt with collectors,  credit card fee increases, and issues obtaining loans from banks. Let’s face it; it’s not easy out there.

One struggling family recently was staring foreclosure in the face, but was fortunate to stumble across the answer to their problems; a comic book that was found in their basement.

We’ve read numerous articles lately about the record prices being achieved at auction for comic books.  Six figures have been paid time and again for some of our favorite childhood memories.

The family had lived in their home since the 1950s, and were about to lose it to the bank.  They were devastated.  As they packed up 60 years of memories, they found a box of old comic books.   Many of them were worth $10 to $30, however, there was one diamond in the lot.  It was a copy of Action Comics #1, dated June 1938.  The cover depicts the man of steel lifting a car above his head.  The original price tag; 10 cents – value today, up to $250,000.

After unearthing the box of comics, the family decided to search online for their values. They read how had brokered two Action No 1 books – one for $1 million in February and then another for $1.5 million in March.

Comics are valued by issue, but also like many other items, by their condition.  This copy was recently rated as a 5.0 VG which is a Very Good rating on a scale of 1-10 hence the lower value.

The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, is still a bit overwhelmed with their find.  They realize their luck in having found the comics, just in the nick of time.  It is as if Superman was called in to save the day.

Reyne Gauge: Celebrity Vintage Round-Up

July 20th, 2010 by

I love reading all the style magazines and checking out all the tabloids.  I’m not reading the articles, but more scanning the images to see who is wearing what vintage couture.  These days it seems celebrities and their stylists love to mix and match vintage with new.  I love that!  To me, nothing spices up a great pair of jeans and a t-shirt than a stack of Chanel bracelets on your wrist or even a pair of retro Vans.

I know I know, some of this stuff you can buy new today, but does it really have that “worn in” feel?  I mean, to me it screams “I’ve got tons of money but I’m going old skool cause I can!”  – and you can too!

Let’s take a look at who was seen wearing what…

For starters, numerous female celebrities are sporting Tiffany & Co.’s Victorian era diamond encrusted pendant necklace.  I love that even Tiffany’s is looking at making old new again!

Penelope Cruz hit the red carpet wearing a vintage Gianni Versace white gown.  She really rocked the gown by not overdoing the accessories.  A simple clutch, and chandelier diamond earrings.

Another trend hitting the red carpet are stacking bangles.  You can get the same look by passing the new high priced designer bracelets for stacks of 1950-1970s rhinestone encrusted celluloid or Bakelite ones.  The more bling, the better!

In May – InStyle magazine was inspired by Faye Dunaway and the white eyelet dress she wore on the set of Extraordinary Seaman (circa 1969). Vintage “Eyelet” dresses are a dime a dozen at your local vintage couture hot spot, and on eBay.  Add a splash of color with a great tortoise bangle and a great pair of sandals!

This floored me…remember when you were in high school or college and “top siders” were all the rage?  Thereee back! Nordstroms is still them in silver – yes, you read right…SILVER.

Aviators are still as hot as they were when we saw Tom Cruise wearing them in Top Gun.

Debra Messing come to find out is a huge fan of vintage jewelry.  I caught a glimpse of some of her prize possessions and what I noticed is she has very eclectic tastes.  Many jewelry collectors follow a specific artist, or period – she is all over the board, and I love it!  I believe she is a follower of “If I like it, I want it”

Another celebrity expressing their passion for vintage?  Scarlett Johansson!  What does she crave?  Like most women, shoes. Alas she collects vintage silhouettes from the 1940s and 50s.  That’s her idea of glam!  I know I can’t pass up a great pair of heels!

Last but not least, host Cat Deeley from “So You Think You Can Dance”   She’s loves a good flea market find or she’ll do a complete turn and sport something by Alexander McQueen.  I love versatility!

Have you seen a celebrity wearing vintage? Tell us about it – here!

American Pickers Returns to History Channel – by Reyne Haines

June 21st, 2010 by

America’s favorite new TV show launched its first episode of Season 2 on June 7th.  A staggering 4.3 million viewers tuned in to follow Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz on their next great picking adventure.

Mike & Frank are once again on the hunt for more – Rusty Gold – digging through barns, salvage yards, and a burned down storage facility in search of forgotten treasures.

The first episode we watch Mike get taken advantage of by Buddy the Booby Trap man.  Had he only listened to Frank!  I couldn’t help but whistle the theme to “Sanford and Son” while watching them climb around some the broken down bus filled to the brim with junque.  It would seem like they have to pick many a pile before striking gold.

Finally, they get a lead on a property with a few cars.  Over the years I have managed a few car collections, and have found a few great cars in barns myself.  It never ceases to amaze me how one day you pull a car in a garage, and then it is left to sit for 10-20 years.  At the end of the day, the 1950 Studebaker they managed to score was a well earned reward.

So it’s no mystery I like this show.  I love what it represents; two guys who have a passion for adventure, and who get excited every day with the thrill of the hunt.  That aside, I wanted to know more about these guys.  I wanted to really know how deep their passion runs for this stuff.

I emailed Frank a few weeks ago, alas his taping schedule has kept him tied up, and I don’t think he spends as much time on email I do – so I hit up Mike for an interview.  I have to say it’s really weird interviewing someone. It is usually me in the hot seat.  I thought about a lot of questions that have been asked to me over the years and then trashed the list and decided to “free style”.

Poor guy sounds exhausted when I first get on the phone with him.  He’s been on the road up to his ears in rotted hams and dust bunnies.  I really felt bad about taking some of his downtime away for my interview, but don’t you know as soon as we started talking about picking, he completely came back to life.

I learned we had a good bit in common.  He started Kindergarten at the age of 4, and so did I.  He was raised in a single family home, so was I.   He had a thing for bikes at the age of 4.  At 4 I was racing my bad-ass red tricycle around the house with my mother’s sunglasses on narrowly missing the wall as I took the corners at amazing speeds.

Seriously, Mike’s passion for collecting did start at the age of 4.  One day on his way to school he saw a few bikes in the trash at someone’s home. He ended up cutting school and took them all back to the garage at his home. This is where the similarities stop, because I didn’t start cutting school until like 10th grade.

His interest in vintage items didn’t end as a kid.   In later years, he wanted to decorate his home with vintage things, and to this day, he still has a passion for bicycles.   I must sadly admit I never kept that red trike, or the bubblegum pink Huffy I had.

I know earlier I said I decided against the standard reporter questionnaire, but I did want to know one thing.  Did he have a Fine Arts degree, or any formal schooling for the world of antiques?  I get asked that question a lot.  In case you are wondering, the answer is no – and I was betting that was going to be his answer as well.   Sure enough, he had learned from the school of hard knocks; trial and error; experience.  I personally think you learn more that way in this business.

The conversation came to a serious note at one point when we talked about picking.  He noted the level of thrill he gets from being first to pick things.  He expressed how he did not want to be the middle man, or have an item sold to him that had been sold a few times around.  There is a simple old school joke that explains it all; “There were two antique dealers on a deserted island…business was good!”

In the world of collecting, items are often picked, then sold to a dealer, then another dealer and maybe even a third dealer before finally going to a collector.  Wolfe has no interest in being on the receiving end of a phone call from a dealer offering their newly polished prize up for sale.

Mike & Frank have been in this business for quite some time.  With all they have seen, I had to know what would be the ultimate pick.  Mike, the ever passionate bike guy gave me not one, but two answers; First, was anything Harley Davidson, pre 1910.  Second would be a Blackhawk motorcycle.  Apparently this bike was made not far from his home and a complete model has never been found.

So any of you reading that happen to have one of these in your backyard and you want to be on TV, you know who to call.

In the meantime I’ll be watching to see if the antique Gods smile upon you and grant that wish.  However, may I note that I’m pretty sure the oil lamp you were looking at in the first episode of Season 2 is called an Aladdin lamp.  Perhaps you could have rubbed it and made a wish!

Happy Hunting guys!


One Man’s Love of Toys Goes Beyond His Day Job – by Reyne Haines

May 20th, 2010 by

Wouldn’t it be great if you were surrounded by toys every day when you arrived at work?  Toys bring out the kid in everyone.   We can walk through an antique shop and see a toy from our childhood and immediately we respond to it.

Donald Kaufman was certainly a kid at heart.  His passion for toys could be seen in his business, K-B Toys.  Not only did Kaufman love new toys, but he had a soft spot for vintage toys as well.  Unfortunately, Kaufman passed away in October 2009.  His personal collection of vintage toys has been consigned to Bertoia Auctions.  There were so many, they have been broken down into 4 sessions.

The first three sales exceeded their pre-sale estimates and achieved a cumulative total of $9.3 million dollars.

How serious are toy collectors?  Well, let’s just say that ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland couldn’t keep collectors from bidding.  It certainly posed a problem for those hoping to attend the sale, but it didn’t snub their excitement about the items up for bid.  Bertoia’s accepts Internet bidding and also accommodated phone bidders.  With that said the 3,700 lot sale brought strong prices and closed with $2.38 million in total sales.

Many of the toys in the sale were produced by Distler, Gunthermann, Eberl and Tippco.  These names might not hit home with you, but their toys certainly should.

Tippco produced the circa 1932 Mickey & Minnie Mouse motorcycle that was the highlight of the sale.  This single toy managed to bring $65,550 (including buyer’s premium).  That’s more than the cost of a new Harley!

Another great Mickey & Minnie Mouse piece in the sale was an organ grinder from 1932 made by Distler.  It was estimated to sell for $10-12,000 but the hammer fell at $19,550.

I’m sure you remember pedal cars right?!  This sale offered a 1924 American National Packard version that sold over the phone $38,000.

If you missed this sale, don’t fret!  There is one more sale from this great collection coming this fall.  Get on the mailing list at Bertoia’s to be notified when the next catalog is available.

Bertoia’s –

On a final note, not only do toys bring out the kid in you, they apparently attract young collectors too.  The youngest collector on the floor was a 14 year old boy, who dug deep in his pockets to purchase one lot from the sale which contained two Hubley toys.   You’re never too young to start collecting!