Saturday, December 31, 2011

The object of the day: French picture frame barometer

This fine French picture frame barometer featuring a lovely village scene, is expertly painted on glass and set within a fine gilt frame. 
The French often elevated the value of everyday objects by incorporating them into an art form, as is evident in this decorative barometer.

Circa 1880

35" wide x 36 1/2" high

Friday, December 30, 2011

Designer: Jacob Petit

Jacob Petit (1796-1868), owned one of the most important and well-known porcelain factories in France, becoming one of the major producers of Rococo ornamental ware during the 1830s. Between 1830 and 1850, new manufacturing techniques evolved that modernized the production process without sacrificing the craftsmanship of this time-honored trade.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

American Indian Art on auction in January 2012

American Indian Art
Auction Date: January 4, 2012, 7:00 PM MST
Auction House: R. G. Munn Auction LLC

1000 Zuni Drive
Alamogordo, NM, US, 88310
Phone: 575-434-8861

Pottery jar

Prehistoric polychrome as found condition has cracks 4.5" x 7" Shipping charge are for the United States. The shipping on this lot is $10.00.

Estimated Price: $250 - $500

A short history of jasperware

Josiah Wedgwood's jasperware was the triumphant outcome of more than 5,000 experiments. Jasperware was his most important contribution to ceramic art, and ranks among the most significant innovations in ceramic history since the Chinese invention of porcelain nearly a thousand years earlier. The physical qualities which made jasper especially suited to applied Neoclassical ornament helped Wedgwood achieve an unwavering mass popularity in the late 18th century, which continues today. No other ornamental style has attracted such a popular market over so long a period of time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Series of 1863 - Original Series Bank Notes

The first National Currency issued was the series of 1863, also known as Original Series notes. 
These notes were very ornate and in my opinion represent a high water mark in national bank note design.
On the back left of each note is the state seal representing the banks location.
Valuing these national bank notes you have to take the bank into consideration. 
A very nice example of one of the notes can cost less than $2000 if it's on common bank in Massachussetts. 
The same note but from a bank in Washington state and all of sudden it's a note worth more than your car.

"The Baptism of Pocahontas"

The back features "The Baptism of Pocahontas" by John G. Chapman (1808 - 1889)

This notes back design is pretty dramatic... it's the highlight although a case can be made for the action scene on the front left. $20.00 was fair amount of cash in 1863 so it's not surprising that these notes didn't survive in same numbers as the $5.00's & $10's.
A nice mid-grade $20 bank note will run from $800 to $1200. A full range of values would be from $300 to $3500 for an uncirculated example.
The note shown from Denver is a lovely example with pretty hand signed signatures and bright paper.

The object of the day: Bronze Monkey Match Safe

A bronze monkey guards the matches in the enchanting match safe. Set on a solid marble base, this charming character was used to hold and strike matches.

Width: 3 Inches

Height: 5 1/2 Inches

Date: 19th Century / Circa 1870

Price: $1,250

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The object of the day: Russian Blackamoor cane

An exquisite Blackamoor cane by Faberge's primary competitor, the noted F. Kochli of St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Made entirely of carved obsidian, the head is adorned with striking diamond eyes and impressive carvings. The ebonized cane features a distinctive gold band enamel in the form of a shirt and tie.

Blackamoors, often referred to as Moretto or Moor's head, represent the historic emblem of Venice, dating from the medieval European period, when Saracen pirates plagued the coast of Dalmatia. For centuries the Moors played a significant role in the disorder and upheaval of Venetian power. First believed to have talismanic purposes, golden earrings featuring Moor heads were made en vogue during the Hellenistic period. In later years, during the Turkish invasions, the people of the coastal regions continued to wear Blackamoor jewelry as they were believed to bring good luck and protection. With constant attacks being made upon the seaport and the invasion of Moorish rulers, Venetian soldiers donned jewelry in the shape of Blackamoor heads as a symbol of courage and strength against the onslaught of Moorish troops. As dominion in Venice united, the meaning behind Blackamoor jewelry was lost, giving its place to an array of objects, with different representations, most admired by families of considerable stature and nobility.

Are antique experts born or made?

There is a saying that all of us are born equal. This is true to the degree that in every person there are usually inherent qualities necessary for advancement - undeveloped ability along one field or another. In certain cases that ability may exist only in a sleeping state, awaiting development, ready to be woken up.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The object of the day: "Count Brühl's Tailor on a Goat"

One of Meissen's more curious pieces, this delightful porcelain statue is entitled "Count Brühl's Tailor on a Goat," and is considered by most experts to be one of Meissen's greatest works. 

Modeled after a design by Johann-Joachim Kaendler (Kändler), the most famous sculptor at the Meissen factory, this figure is a marvel of exceptional artistry. Fascinating details, from the tailor's jauntily-cocked tricorn hat, colorful jacket and slightly askew spectacles, to the shears hanging from the goat's horn and his own gilt-rimmed pince nez, are clear testimony to Kaendler's skill as an artist, and beautifully represent the Meissen reputation for excellence.

A brief journey through Japanese Edo period

Mitate gosho-ningyo depicting a Korean musician. 10" High. Edo period, 19th Century. Courtesy of Alan Scott Pate Antique Japanese Dolls.

In the harshly controlled feudal society governed for over 250 years by the descendants of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616), creativity came not from its leaders, a conservative military class, but from the two lower classes in the Confucian social hierarchy, the artisans and merchants. Although officially denigrated, they were free to reap the economic and social benefits of this prosperous age. The tea ceremony, which had been adopted by every class during the Momoyama period, provided the medium in which literary and artistic traditions of the past were assimilated and transformed by highly cultivated men of both the bourgeoisie and the court. By the late 1630s, contact with the outside world was cut off through official prohibition of foreigners. In Japan's self-imposed isolation, traditions of the past were revived and refined, and ultimately parodied and transformed in the flourishing urban societies of Kyoto and Edo. Restricted trade with Chinese and Dutch merchants was permitted in Nagasaki, and it spurred development of Japanese porcelain and provided an opening for Ming literati culture to filter into artistic circles of Kyoto and, later, Edo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

American, late 19th century, marked at feet "Santa-Claus", Shepherd Hardware Company, 6-1/4 in., original paint with extensive chips and losses.

Although Santa’s looks have change over the years, he’s always been a popular Christmas collectible. Because he’s been so well documented, it’s often easy to determine the age of a Santa figure. From the tall and thin St. Nicholas, to the Jolly old Elf we love today, Santa has been rendered in every possible form and material. His likeness can be found on every type of Christmas collectible, like thecast iron bank pictured.

Price:   Estimate $600 - $1,000

The object of the day: Replica of 19th century Christmas decoration

Striking Cherub with Dresden Wings on Large Cream Paper Bell (replica)

Pretty vintage honeycomb tissue paper bell has been revitalized with beautiful antique butter-cream chenille fringe edged with early vintage spun glass garland. The belle of the "ball" is this beautiful antique scrap child's head embellished with reproduction Dresden paper wings. This bell ornament would have great presence on your tree due to its size and shape, beautiful coloring and dramatic scrap. Handmade and signed by Gail Giaimo.

This one-of-a-kind ornament is made almost exclusively with antique and early vintage materials, including old glass ornament(s) with beautiful patina; detailed embossed scrap(s) (most of them predate the 1900s and are meticulously backed with early papers and/or old tinsel); a variety of old fabric to include chenille, lace, ribbon and metallic trims; old decorative tinsel (most of which is from old tree garlands); and old papers of all kinds, including lovely old-stock Dresden paper trims, crepe paper, old foil, gift wrap, and other embellishments.


Approximate Size:
7'' tall, including fringe

Saturday, December 24, 2011

19th century Western African figure

Figure of Chibinda Ilunga, Angola, Chokwe, 19th Century; 
Ethnologisches Museum, SMB. Photo: Claudia Obrocki

The Chowke today live in north-western Angola and in the south-west of the Democratic Republic of Congo.The end of the slave trade in the first half of the 19th century, which had connected Africa, Europe, and America in a tight net of trade for several centuries, entailed a deep economic cut for the peoples living on the shores of Western Africa. Many communities of huntersand of refugees from the slave hunts came to wealth and political power through trade with products like Ivory and bees wax. Only in this process their identity as Chokwe emerged. Their political and economic expansion soon threatened long-established political organisations like the neighbouring kingdom of the Lunda. The numerous competing and trading leaders also bolstered their claim to power by promoting artistic expression. Chokwe artists integrated stylistic elements of the neighbouring African peoples and the Europeans into their own art and thus developed one of the most impressive styles of art of the African continent.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The object of the day: 19th-century Tlingit "mosquito mask"

19th century Tlingit "mosquito mask" from the Pacific Northwest, around the border of present-day northern B.C. and southern Alaska. It sold at a Christie's auction December 13, 2011.

It became the focus of an intense bidding war this week at a major auction of aboriginal art in France: a 150-year-old wooden "mosquito mask" from the Tlingit people of the Pacific Northwest, a Canadian historical treasure that was expected to fetch about $40,000 but drew a top bid of nearly $400,000 before the hammer finally came down at a Christie's saleroom in Paris.

The care of antique porcelain and pottery

Cleaning the porcelain pottery until it is shiny and spotless is a must prior to auction time. For most people in the auction, the visual image of the pottery is what will prove to be its best selling point. By effectively and thoroughly cleaning the pottery, the visual allure of the items will be boosted significantly. That means the potential to land a higher sale price will be increased.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to choose antique Christmas decoration?

Holiday Season is coming soon! Many people enjoy decorating their homes. And some of them find a special appeal in vintage and antique Christmas decorations. Antique Christmas ornaments can add an Old World or vintage touch to your holiday décor. Begin a collection of antique ornaments and look for pieces throughout the year. This way, you can bring Christmas into your home during any season!

German immigrants brought their Christmas tree decorating habits to America, where the tradition spread. In the 1860s and 70s, the first commercial Christmas tree ornaments began to emerge. Some of these commercial Christmas ornaments were crafted out of embossed and painted cardboard.

These were Dresden ornaments, named for the German city where they were produced. In Germany in the 1600's, Christmas Trees were decorated with colored paper, small toys, food, and sometimes candles.

The object of the day: French needlework cushion

An 18th Century Needlework Cushion (France c. 1740)

18.90inch wide (48.01 cm)
18.90inch high (48.01 cm)

Description / Expertise
A large petit point cushion with a vignette of figures in a bucolic tavern within a decorative cartouche.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The object of the day: Georgian gaming ball

Ivory Gambling Ball / Teetotum (England 1700 to 1900)

Ivory, polychrome
Description / Expertise
Georgian Ivory Gambling Ball / Teetotum
With polychromed inset discs, engraved with two Crowns and the letter 'P' for fail
NOTE: this gambling ball is now sold, we are always looking for similar examples

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

English "Delftware" pottery

An English delft dated portrait charger of Charles II

Dated 1662.

Estimate: $120,000-180,000.

Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010

The tradition of tin glazed earthenware has strong links with the industry of 'delftware' in Holland and as such is often referred to as 'English delft'. The earliest known producers in England of the highly sought after tin glazed pottery were immigrants from Antwerp, first settling in Norwich in 1567 then later moving to Alder Gate London where there is record of a pottery with six more Flemish potters under employment.

The object of the day: Victorian silver Druid badge

Victorian silver Druid badge (England 1869)

2.80inch wide (7.11 cm)
3.70inch high (9.40 cm)

Description / Expertise
Striking and attractive Victorian silver Druid presentation badge. Not hallmarked but of good weight. Applied onto the centre of the front of the badge(with rivets on the back) is the form of a sage or Druid holding a crook-end staff in the left hand and the Druid shield with three trees in the right, surrounded by a wreath of leaves joined with a bow at the bast and with an angel flying above, blowing a trumpet. The outside edge of the badge is decorated with a double border, the applied inner border simulating a rope. Between the borders and the central decoration is engraved "Bro,r P. A. R. A. Bn,, Osmand. by Lodges 247. & 401. A.O.D." On the reverse of the badge there is a suspension hook at the top and a brooch attachment in the centre. The silver rivets and nail ends are visible. The reverse is engraved "Presented as a token of/ their esteem, & appreciation/of services rendered to/ DRUIDISM, / in/ TUNBRIDGE WELLS/ July 8th 1869"

Druidism is an extremely ancient order with strong Celtic links. In the early nineteenth century, it found its way to America and from there to Germany. In the UK after 1833, Druidism polarised into a charitable Fraternal Society, similar in some ways to the Masons and the Odd Fellows.

Extremely fine. Excellent definition and clear engraving

Price GBP 320.00 (Pound Sterling)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The object of the day: 17th century anatomical ivory model of a pregnant woman

Anatomical Teaching Model of a Pregnant Woman
Stephan Zick, 1639-1715
Wood and ivory

Kunstkammer Georg Laue is a Munich antique/art gallery informed by the sensibility of the “wonder cabinets” (kunst- or wunder-kammer) of 17th century Germany. One of the interesting objects described on the site is this ivory model of a pregnant woman with removable parts, including internal organs and a fetus.

Such dissection models may seem incongruous to modern eyes – the perfectly clean, white ivory cadaver not only has impeccably coiffed hair, a hinged arm allows her hand to rest delicately against her forehead as she reclines on a small lace-trimmed pillow! She’s clearly dead, with a little inlaid coffin for a case, but she’s more like a puzzle box than a body.

Homemade stamp album pages

Many stamp collectors design their own stamp collection pages. These pages can be hand-drawn/written, or designed with a computer software program (Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, etc.). You will want to use acid-free paper so that the pages do not eventually discolor- the chemical change that causes this can affect stamps as well.

The object of the day: "Sailor's Farewell" pitcher

Pink Luster Pottery Pitcher 'Sailors Farewell'. ( Sunerland c. 1840 )

pink splash lustre luster pottery

9.50inch high (24.13 cm)

Description / Expertise
Antique pottery pitcher from the North East of England.
Classic pink lustre decoration with undergalze transfer prints decorated with enamel colors.

Price GBP 1150.00 (Pound Sterling)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Upcoming auctions: Old Master drawings at Sotheby's

Old Masters drawings
Sotheby's, New York
25th January 2012

Portrait of a young man, head and shoulders, wearing a cap
Attributed to Piero del Pollaiolo
Pen and brown ink over black chalk
360 by 228 mm
Estimate: 300,000 - 400,000 USD

In what is one of the richest and most varied Old Master Drawings sales for years, perhaps the most remarkable single sheet is the exceptional, large-scale portrait head of a young man, executed in the late 1460s or early 1470s, and attributed to Piero del Pollaiolo.  An exceptionally well preserved masterpiece of Florentine Early Renaissance draughtsmanship, nothing like this drawing has appeared on the market in recent years.

Plastic antiques

Antiques get younger every day, so it is wrong to be surprised that plastic objects could feature in every prestigious fair. After all, they are no less stylish than the bronze and ivory figures by Ferdinand Preiss or the engraved glass of Keith Murray, just a whole lot cheaper, although you might be surprised at the prices being asked by some of the stuff.

 When it was invented, plastic revolutionised our lives. It happened almost by chance. The inventor Alexander Parkes is generally credited as the person responsible when in 1862, he went to his medicine cabinet to find some collodion to staunch the bleeding of a cut finger. He discovered that the liquid had turned into a gummy, rubber-like substance which he realised had potential if it could be moulded into shape.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The object of the day: Funerary figure from New Ireland

Funerary Figure (Kulap)
Southern New Ireland, 19th century.

In southeastern New Ireland, mortuary rituals involved limestone chalk figures known as kulap. Kulap figures were traditionally kept in ritual houses, and functioned during funerary ceremonies as temporary vessels for the souls of the deceased. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, the figures were broken, releasing the souls into the realm of the ancestors. These ritual are no longer practiced in New Ireland today.

Material: Limestone, fiber;
Height: 29 1/2 in. (75 cm)
Provenance: Collected in New Ireland, ca. 1890; Augustus H. L. F. Pitt-rivers, Pitt Rivers Museum, Farnham, Dorset, 1898; [W. D. Webster, London, before 1900]; Stella Pitt-Rivers; John Hewett, London; [Mathias Komor, New York, 1977], Barbier-Mueller collection, since 1977

Monday, December 12, 2011

The object of the day: 19th century Jack-O'-Lantern

The Irish traditional Jack-O'-Lantern made from a turnip in the early 19th century (photographed at the Museum of Country Life, Ireland.)

While turnips have always been used in Ireland, lanterns in Scotland were originally fashioned from the thick stem of a cabbage plant, and were called "kail-runt torches". It was not until 1837 that jack-o'-lantern appeared as a term for a carved vegetable lantern... The term "Jack-O'-Lantern" originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the 1660s in East Anglia; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The object of the day: The WWI identity tag

All World War I service personnel were issued with a set of fibre identity discs, a green octagonal shaped disc, and a red round disc. Both were worn around the neck on a 38" length of cotton cord, although this was often replaced by the wearer with a leather bootlace.

This identity tag or 'dog tag' was owned by Stanley George Plummer.

The inscription reads: 14250222 BAP PLUMMER, S

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The object of the day: This JFK / Johnson election campaigne

This JFK / Johnson election campaigne badge represents the beginnings of a huge change in world affairs. The sixties began with a feeling of hope for a better post war future. The devastation of JFK, the end of "Camelot", the "curse of the Kennedy's". All this reshaped the subsequent administrations. This badge was bought in summer 2010 in a flea market in Arizona for $25. It has a detachable Democratic Donkey pin to be worn later on a lapel. It was made by Green Duck Co. Chicago.

Height: 5.5 cm
Width: 7.5 cm
Material: metal

Friday, December 9, 2011

The object of the day: The world's oldest football

Experts analysing documents from the court of King James IV have discovered that "organized" football was being played in Stirling Castle (Scotland) courtyards more than 500 years ago. The set of accounts from the reign of King James IV revealed that he paid two shillings for a bag of "fut ballis" in April 1497/

The World's Oldest Football was made in Stirling and discovered behind the paneling of the Queen's Chamber in Stirling Castle, which was decorated in the 1540's. Mary Queen of Scots was there at this time and later in life was known to have an interest in all sports but especially golf and football. She recorded a game of football in her diaries while at Carlisle Castle. The ball could have been used in the courtyards within the castle or taken to the royal gardens below the walls. Everyone from the castle, including kings and queens would have been involved. Football was a game for all just as it is today. Was this personal item, belonging to Mary, deliberately placed behind the paneling to act as a protection from witchcraft, a practice common at the time or was it somehow lost. We will never answer that question but we do know that this little ball is the beginning of a sport that now involves a sixth of the population of the world.

The football is now on a permanent display at the  Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling, UK.

Adolphe Jacobs, "Vaches au Paturage"

Artist: Adolphe Jacobs
Title: Vaches au Paturage
Medium: Oil on Canvas 40" x 50"

Adolphe Louis Eugene Jacobs was born in Schaerbeek (Brussels), Belgium in 1859. He was a painter of landscapes with cattle and livestock, animals, genre scenes and interior scenes. He was the brother of the marine artist, Louis Jacobs.
Jacobs exhibited extensively starting in 1887 through 1914 in Brussels, Belgium and Munich, Germany.
He participated in the "l'Exposition Triennale d'Anvers" (Antwerp, 1898) and "l'Exposition des Beaux-Arts de Spa" (Spa, 1914). Jacobs was also part of the "Salon du Cercle Artistique of Tournai" and in 1910, exhibited three major paintings as well as exhibiting in the Tournai Salon in 1908. Adolphe Louis Eugene Jacobs died in Ixelles (Brussels) in 1940.
Today, his works can be found in private and public collections including in the Museum of Arts of Namur, Belgium.

A beautiful Worcester Inkwell

A Flight & Barr Worcester Sea Shell Decorated Inkwell,
Shell painting by Samuel Smith,
Circa 1800-05

The circular inkwell is decorated with a Barr's orange ground and gilding. To the front is a rectangular panel painted with sea shells, coral and seaweed, the seaweed with dendritic sprigs in purple, a style now associated with Samuel Smith based on signed pieces given to the Dyson Perrins Museum in Worcester in 1976 by descendants.
The gilding on the reverse has three panels. The two outer panels depict a palm leaf and the centre one a face surrounded by plumage, possibly depicting a Native American something I have never seen before.
Mark: scratch B on base.
Dimensions: 2 3/4 inches (6.5cm); diameter: 2 7/8 inches (7.5cm)

Early painted inkwells are considered rare.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The object of the day: Silhouette picture from 19th century

Regency School Portrait group of three children, the three of seven children of Sir Ralph and Lady Elizabeth Darling, the children beside a table of flowers, heightened in gilt within a border of drapes and verre eglomise silhouette

Size: 16cm x 21cm (6.25" x 8.25") Note: Lt General Sir Ralph Darling G CH was Governor of New South Wales (1825-1831)
Estimate: £800.00 - £1,200.00
Auction House: Chorley's Auctioneers & Valuers

Prospero Collection on sale in January

The most important collection of ancient Greek coins to come up for sale for the past half century will be sold at auction in New York in January 2012.

The 642 coins - known as the Prospero Collection and estimated to be worth at least 5 million pounds - were collected by an anonymous classical coin enthusiast from the 1960s to the 1990s. They include dozens of rare and unique examples of ancient Greek gold and silver currency in circulations from the sixth to third centuries BC.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The object of the day: Stalin's ink blotter

Stalin's signature wet ink blotter

In his private life Stalin, rarely used his political power to get himself nice and expensive things. His lifestyle was more of a soldier, of a man possessed... Except for a very few "special" things, which he cherished almost to the point of a fetish.

Only recently some of the objects that Stalin privately owned and used became accessible for viewing, in the original locations (such as Stalin's summer house - "dacha"), unclassified by Russian officials, and displayed as a travelling exhibition. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The filigree - delicate play with metal threads

Filigree  is a elegant piece of jewellery metalwork made with twisted threads (gold and silver usually) or combining of the same curving motifs. It looks like the lace made of metal, and in recent centuries remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork, and French from 17th to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajoure jewellery work; filigree is made of threads being soldered together to form an object and ajoure involves holes being punched, drilled, or cut through an existing piece of metal.

The old clock maintenance

Most maintenance should be left to a specialist, although wooden cases can be carefully dusted and waxed occasionally. Brass and silvered dials are protected by lacquer and should never be polished or placed in contact with water or detergent.

Cleaning and oiling the clock's movement should be carried out with great care by specialist. After using your clock for three years take it for oiling and inspection. Clocks with spring-drive and short pendulums can be carried from one room to another, but should be held uptight. For long distance journeys the pendulum must be secured or removed. Longcase clocks should be dismantled before being moved.

As dust gets in the movement the oil becomes an abrasive paste which causes wear.The longer the clocks run in this condition the more repair it will need.Most antique clocks have heavy weights or springs which will run the clock for several years after the oil as gone bad, causing severe wear to the pivots and pivot holes.If your clock stop and you spray it oil to make it go again it will continue to wear badly because it is still dirty. Shortcuts like cleaning the movement whole, even when using an ultrasonic cleaner cannot properly clean pivots and pivot holes.These techniques merely postpone the need for a proper overhaul.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The object of the day: The Dutch wood sculpture

Jan III van Doorne, Heilige Familie (Holy Family), c. 1650, boxwood, h. 16.3cm.
The masterfully carved, small sculpture Heilige Familie has a playful character. The glass inlaid eyes of the three figures are truly exceptional. Given its intimate, informal character, the sculpture strikes a balance between its roles as a pure work of religious art for personal Catholic devotion and as an example of a genre of informal sculpture. The sculpture is signed ‘IVD’ by the sculptor-carver Jan van Doorne of Mechelen. Few other works by Van Doorne are known.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The object of the day: The head of the young boy

Head of the Young Boy, Ancient Rome
Date:225 c - 250 c

This marble head was collected in Rome c. 1776 by the Hon. J Smith Barry and taken to Marbury Hall in Cheshire. It was placed on top of a male body representing a Bacchic figure or a personification of the vintage, which is now also in Birmingham's collections. The head is certainly Roman but there is disagreement about it's exact date, from c.150 AD to c.250 AD. It is likely to be a portrait of a specific individual, but whether it represents an imperial prince or a member of a wealthy family is unknown.

Height:21.5 cm

Purchased at Sotheby's, 1961 by Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Militaria basics

The wide range of collectible military antiques provides would-be collectors with huge scope. You may decide to concentrate on a particular regiment, a type of object, or on a period of military history. Complete early uniforms may be hard to find, but the head-dresses, badges, fastenings, medals, powder flasks, postcards ad prints are readily available and can form fascinating and highly decorative collections.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

16th century Italian childbirth bowl

Childbirth Bowl (Scodella) with a Confinement-Chamber Scene (interior) and Landscape (exterior); Childbirth Tray (Tagliere) with a Confinement-Chamber Scene (top) and a Cupid (bottom), Urbino (?), Francesco Durantino, mid-1540s, tin-glazed earthenware (maiolica)

Bowl height is 3 3/4 in., Diam. 6 7/8 in.; Tray is 3/8 in.high, Diam. 8 3/4 in.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Although this childbirth bowl and tray are not signed and dated, they are most likely the work of the well-documented maiolica painter Francesco Durantino. The tray fits onto the footed bowl, held in place by its inner lip. Both the interior of the bowl and the top of the tray depict a bedchamber following the birth of a child but with some interesting variations. On one, the mother is in bed with her infant, and a well-dressed man is close at hand. His presence is curious since after a birth the chamber was usually the exclusive domain of women—midwives, attendants, and female relatives.

Small Antique tables

Most of the myriad types of small table date from the 18th century or later. Before this, side-tables were mainly general purpose and often rectangular in shape. As fashionable society became increasingly sophisticated, furniture became more varied and elegant and a wide range of small tables designed for specific purposes, such as tea-drinking, card playing r sewing, were made.

Antique Welsh pine side-table, c1840

A few tip for antique collectors

  • Antique furniture should never be "polished" or cleaned with commercial cleaning products or polishes. Instead, use a soft cloth sprayed with some glass cleaner.
  • To remove stains from stoneware dishes, soak them for 24 hours or more in one gallon of hot water in which two denture cleaner tablets have been dissolved.
  • Never use furniture oil such as lemon oil on antique furniture. Just wipe it with a damp cloth or use only clear paste wax (Minwax or beeswax) to keep the wood in good condition.

The object of the day: Peruvian ancient doll

Chancay people doll, Peru
Date: AD 1000 - AD 1400
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

This doll is made of sticks and spindles with pink wool wound around them. Her tunic is made of wool and cotton. Her face was woven separately on a miniature loom and her hair is alpaca wool with natural hair twisted into it. Most dolls like this have been found in graves so they were probably intended to serve the dead rather than being toys.

Height:34 cm
Width:22 cm
Depth:6 cm

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Samplers: The voyage through the stitches

Lounging in the window seat of her country house circa 1780, 12-year-old Elizabeth is working on her half finished sampler. Made using costly, brightly-coloured silk thread on linen, it is a fashionable scene of a shepherdess and her flock, beneath a verse from the Bible, an alphabet and rows of symmetrical patterns. Elizabeth is pleased with it, as is her governess, who has been employed to teach her the skills deemed suitable for wealthy young woman of the time.

Beautiful antique inkstands

Unlike the disposable ballpoints we are used to today, in the first half of the 20th century a fountain pen was a truly precious possession - and often one that had been passed down through the generations. "You can add a personal flourish to your letters y using inks in vibrant purples, reds or turquoises," suggests Amaya Cerdeirina, fountain pen expert and owner of Penfriend in London' s Mayfair. But the main role in this article plays inkstand, the most beautiful and desirable item on any writing desk.

Cider mugs collection

When ceramicist and academic Kate Wilson moved to Somerset seven years ago, she knew cider would play a part in her life. “You can’t be here long without becoming aware of the ‘cultural activities’ relating to cider,” she laughs. But what she didn’t realise was just how big a part it would play.
“I’d just finished my masters in ceramics when I heard that Gaymers (now the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill) had a cider mug collection,” she says. “I got in touch with them, hoping it might inspire my making – but as soon as I saw what they had, I realised it would make the most fantastic research project.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tinplate, trains and celluloide toys

Horse-drawn carriages, boats, submarines, cars and even airships are just some of the plethora of tinplate toys made during the late 19th century which reflect contemporary developments in transport. German toy companies led the field in the manufacture of tinplate toys and those made by well-known firms such a Bing, Marklin and Lehmann are famed for their accuracy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The object of the day: A Charles II stump work mirror

A Charles II stump work mirror 
(England c. 1680)

62.00cm wide (24.41 inches)
75.00cm high (29.53 inches)
6.00cm deep (2.36 inches)

Description / Expertise
A fine quality late 17th century stump work mirror, having an 18th century replaced mirror plate with silver thread braid trimming within a brightly coloured stump work border with arched top worked in silk, wool and coloured glass beads on a cream coloured background depicting a seated lady, most probably Queen Catherine of Braganza, at the top, flanked by birds and flower motif with female figures Faith and Hope either side, and a garden at the bottom, again with the queen in the centre, having a seated lion and leopard in each corner, all within a conformingly shaped rope twist silvered frame with later extension in depth and later protective glass insert.

Note: Some of the stump work unfinished.

Private Collection, USA.

Price: £50,000 +

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The object of the day: 13 British aquatints

Record of British Valour (England 1815)
75.00cm diameter ( 29.53 inches)
Description / Expertise
A set of thirteen aquatints, published by Edward Orme in 1815, recording the events of key battles of the Penninsular War under the command of Arthur Duke of Wellington.
To one side of the disk is an aquatint and to the reverse is a narrative of events. All contained within a stamped bronze "Picture Medal."

GBP1600.00 (Pound Sterling)
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