Saturday, December 21, 2013

Antique writing furniture

Until the middle of the 17th century items of furniture used for writing were often extremely primitive. The first writing furniture specifically designed as such was derived from French and Italian furniture of the 16th century, and took the form of a cabinet (with a fall front) on a chest or stand, with drawers, known today as escritoire. The front of the cabinet could be let down to serve as a writing surface, hence the term "fall-front escritoire".
Lady´s escritoire, England, George III
The escritoire was popular on the Continent of Europe, although not in America, throughout the 18th and well into the 19th century. In England its popularity was fairly short-lived.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Object of the day: French enamel scent bottle

Antique French Enamel Scent / Perfume Bottle Flask

19th century

An antique 19th century French enamel on copper scent / perfume bottle. Charming scene of a lady dressed in a blue and pink gown with a small bird on her shoulder. Set on a dark background accented by foliage. Exquisite enamel work! Hinged gilded silver mounts. 

Retains a stopper. 

Measures 2 1/2" in length. 

In good antique condition, there is a tiny flea-bite nip located on the back of the scent bottle near the edge of the base. 

White saltglazed stoneware

From c. 1740, English stoneware underwent a vigorous phase of development in response to competition from Chinese porcelain, the Staffordshire potters leading the way in evolving a whiter body for inexpensive utility wares such as bottles, jars and preserve pots.

the basic improvement was to add white Devonshire clay and powdered flint to the ingredients. These additions, combined with a new method of slip cast moulding, allowed the production of a lightweight, durable, white body capable of being cast in delicate, detailed shapes, and of withstanding the impact of boiling water. As with brown saltglaze, a pitted "orange peel" surface is characteristic.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Antique Seljuk ceramics

Ceramic tiles made in 12th and 13th century in empire of Seljuq Turks, who overrun persia, Iraq, Syria and Asia Minor. Tiles are known from the Seljuq period, which use the Minai technique. The technique involved the usage of seven colors, with blue, green and turquoise applied on an underglaze and fired. Other colors such as yellow, red, white, black and sometimes gilt were then applied on top of this, and re-fired at a lower temperature.

Although tiles are very common in Seljuk architecture, ceramic ware was much less common in that period. Finds in recent years have shed light on this subject which include the extensive discoveries of ceramic fragments found during excavations carried out at Kubadabad, Kalehisar near Alacahöyük, Ahlat, Eskikahta, Adiyaman (Samsat), Korucutepe near Elaziğ and in the Keban and Atatürk dam areas in southeast Anatolia. In these excavations, a large number of vases, ewers, bowls, plates, decanters and similar artifacts in unglazed, reddish, greyish and yellowish soft clay were discovered. Some were painted with grey or reddish stripes and had grooves and embossed crenated strips. Large, unglazed, earthenware jars, decorated with figures are on display at museums in Diyarbakir, Mardin, Adiyaman and in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul. These objects are decorated using the barbotine technique with rosette, animal and foliate motifs.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Vintage annuals

The idea of an annual was a canny one if you were a publisher at the turn of the 19th century. Made up from a run of weekly or monthly magazines bound in a plain hard covers, and with a few added extras in the form of the pictorial title pages and advertisements, annuals offered printer-publishers a second chance to engage with their audience. The result was standalone book that seemed fresh and perfectly timed for Christmas.

One of the earliest examples was The Youth’s Magazine; or, Evangelical Miscellany (first published by W Kent in 1804), a predictably pious tome, although ‘youths’ were treated to some tales of travel and adventure. Peter Parley’s Annual followed on, and thrilled readers for over half a century (1840 – 92), setting new quality standards with its steel engravings by noted artists and, from 1846, its printed colour illustrations.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The horned helmet of Henry VIII

The horned helmet dates from 1511–14 (Austria, Innsbruck). This helmet originally formed part of the court armour of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and was made by Konrad Seusenhofer. Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I presented Henry VIII with the armour that included this extraordinary ‘Horned helmet’ in 1514. This helmet was chosen as the symbol of the Royal Armouries in Leeds because of its extraordinary appearance and association with Henry VIII.

The full armour from which the ‘Horned helmet’ originates was one of three of similar design. Only the armour given by Maximilian I to his grandson, the future Emperor Charles V, survives intact and it is now in Vienna.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The object of the day: Silver & ivory Victorian launching axe

Rare silver & ivory Victorian launching axe (1873 London)
Barnard Brothers, London (1830-c.1910)

Silver and ivory

Signed/Inscribed/Dated 1873 and 1879

Dimensions 6.00cm wide 20.20cm high 1.90cm deep
Condition Excellent, original condition.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Antique Chinese sleevebands

The splendid Chinese exhibition, The Three Emperors 1662-1795 currently at the Royal Academy, London, will no doubt renew and stimulate interest in all things Chinese. Chinese textiles and costumes are still an underrated area compared to paintings, ceramics and the other decorative arts, but perhaps the balance will be addressed in the UK after this exhibition.
In 1644 the Manchus, a nomadic horseriding people from NW China overthrew the Ming dynasty and gradually gained control over the rest of China , doubling the size of their empire, their rule being called Qing (pronounced Ching).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The object of the day: A Red and Gray Parrot, and other Exotic Birds, 18th century

A Red and Gray Parrot, and other Exotic Birds (18th century Netherlands)

Anton Henstenburgh (1695-1781)

Gouache and watercolor, over black chalk, with traces of gum arabic, on vellum, within black wash framing lines

Signed/Inscribed/Dated Signed in gray ink, lower right: AHenstenburgh. fec= (AH in monogram)

Dimensions 29.10cm wide 36.70cm high

Description / Expertise
Anton was the son of Herman Henstenburgh (1667-1726), one of the most skillful and scientifically precise still-life watercolourists of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century tradition. Like Johannes Bronkhorst, who was his teacher, Herman worked as a pastry cook in Hoorn and practised his art as an amateur. Like his better known father Herman, Anton Henstenburgh worked in Hoorn as a painter of bird and flower gouaches.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Antique wristwatches

The very first wristwatches were developed during the First World war as a more convenient method for soldiers to tell the time than by trying to consult a pocket watch on a chain while out in the field. Just after the war, small fob watches were converted to wristwatches by having strap fittings attached to them. It was during the 1920s, after the pocket watch became redundant, that the manufacture of wristwatches really got underway.

Elgin antique wristwatch
It was also during that period that the British watch-making industry, reluctant to modernize its outdated working practices, went into a steep decline, leaving the Swiss companies to lead the way in Europe. They were able to produce wristwatches of every quality in numbers large enough to satisfy the public clamouring for this latest method of timekeeping.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Authentic Oriental vases - buying tips

There are several methods you can utilize when purchasing an Oriental vase to be sure you are getting an authentic collectible piece for your interior design. With so much counterfeiting of these products today, it can be quite difficult to determine whether the Oriental vase you want to buy is really genuine or not. Sometimes people spend great amounts of money buying what they thought were collectible items, only to discover their selections were fake. A beautiful authentic Chinese porcelain vase would make a wonderful addition to any home decor. Therefore, it is worth your while to shop smart and obtain the ‘real’ deal.

One of the best ways to avoid getting ripped off when attempting to buy an authentic Oriental vase is to purchase only from a reliable source. You will have to research the options of reputable porcelain vase retailers in your area and choose accordingly. If you can get a referral from someone you trust on where you can purchase these items, you will have greater peace when you shop.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Later antique dolls

At the beginning of the 20th century dolls began to be made in a variety of new materials, especially celluloid, composition and plastic, but also in fabrics such as stockinet and felt. French and German manufacturers continued to produce dolls and adapted to the new media, especially celluloid. Some manufacturers even brought out new versions of dolls in celluloide made in moulds previously used for bisque dolls.

Vintage Barbie dolls

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Antique 20th century Rodenstein Mettlach Beer Stein

Rodenstein Mettlach Beer Stein
15 3/4" high 

Price: $7,350

A wonderful Mettlach beer stein by Villeroy & Boch of Germany, adorned with a wonderful landscape of the village of Beerfurth, and topped by a figural finial of Rodenstein Castle, both located in the Odenwald Mountains of Germany. The rare and quite large 3.8 liter stein retains its original pewter thumb hinge and is in excellent condition.

The stein bears the incised Mettlach abbey mark above the form number "2038" and the date mark of "07" for the year 1907.

Located on the Saar River in western Germany, close to borders with Luxembourg and France, the Mettlach factory is housed on the grounds of a former Benedictine Abbey dating to the 10th century. The factory was founded on this site in 1809 by Johann Franz Boch-Buschmann, and the company of Villeroy & Boch resulted from a merger with Nicolas Villeroy in 1836.

The object of the day: 18th century Italian Blackamoor Busts

Italian Marble Blackamoor Busts, Late 18th century

This exceptional pair of 18th-century blackamoors is crafted of hand-carved marble
21 1/4" high 

A very rare and desirable pair of 18th-century Italian marble blackamoor busts of exceptional quality and condition. These male and female figures are exceptionally hand-carved and rest upon a circular, turned pedestal. Blackamoors, often referred to as Moretto or Moor's head, have been used in heraldry, jewelry, and the decorative arts for centuries. The forms represent the historic emblem of Venice, dating from the medieval period, when Saracen pirates plagued the coast of Dalmatia.

Their use in decorating interiors spread quickly to the royal courts of Europe, where they were considered exotic symbols of wealth, luxury and good fortune. The popularity of blackamoors soon spread to the European aristocracy, who commissioned beautiful figures such as the current examples as a way to bring courtly fashion into their homes. Seldom do original pairs of marble blackamoors come on the market, as most were carved from wood or crafted of ceramics.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The object of the day: Heroes Tapestry, 15th century

Heroes Tapestry, ca. 1400–1410
South Netherlandish

Wool warp, wool wefts 

168 x 250 in. (426.7 x 635 cm)
Munsey Fund, 1932 (32.130.3b)
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1947 (47.101.1)
Gift of George A. Douglass, 1947 (47.152)

These tapestries, among the earliest Gothic examples to survive, bear the arms of Charles VI, king of France, his uncle Jean de France, duke of Berry, as well as those of the duchy of Burgundy. The set originally consisted of three tapestries, each measuring more than twenty-one feet by sixteen feet. Both Charles and his other uncle, Philip the Bold of Burgundy, are known to have owned similar sets, and it has been suggested that Jean de Berry commissioned this series.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to recognize true Sheraton furniture?

Sheraton-influenced furniture dates from about 1790-1820. It’s named for the London furniture designer and teacher Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806), who trained as a cabinetmaker, but is known for his written guides, especially his first, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Drawing-Book. His designs and ideas influenced entire generations of furniture-makers, especially in the young U.S., as seen in the works of early American masters such as Duncan Phyfe, Samuel McIntire, and John and Thomas Seymour.

Sheraton Style Legs:In contrast to the popular cabriole legs of earlier styles, such as Queen Anne and Chippendale, Sheraton pieces usually have straight, sometimes tapered, legs; occasionally the back legs would be splayed. They are often rounded (another distinction from Hepplewhite, who preferred a square shape), and frequently have reeded edges, in imitation of Classical columns. They are joined sometimes with stretchers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kovsch: Antique Russian ladle

Kovsch is Russian drinking ladle with boat-shaped body and short flat handle, it may be shaped like a water bird or a Viking ship. Made from Middle Ages to the end of the 17th century in silver. base metal or wood. Originally the Kovsh made from wood and used to serve and drink mead, with specimens excavated from as early as the tenth century. Generally made in sets: smaller one engrave with Imperial eagle and name of the owner; larger used only on ceremonial occasions and passed among guests.

A Russian silver gilt and enamel kovsch maker's mark Fedor Ruckert, Moscow, 1908 - 1917 of typical form, decorated in colours with stylised geometric, foliate and floriate designs, impressed marks to base. Length 16 cm.
After c. 1650, awarded for services rendered to state. Revived in 19th century, usually for decorative purposes; richly ornamented with enamels.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Antique chairs: What to look for?

The construction, style and decoration of a chair will reveal where and when it was made. Analyse the clues to work out your antique chair's rarity and possible value.

The underside of a chair holds many pointers to its construction and age. The earliest chairs were held together by wooden pegs; if the components of your chair are joined by screws, pins or glue then it dates from the 19th century or later.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The object of the day: Victorian silver butter dish

A Victorian circular cut glass butter dish on a silver stand with a fitted silver lid embossed with a bead edge and scroll work decoration on a mat background. The base with a vacant oval cartouche, the domed lid with a quatrefoil multi-scroll handle.
Base 7 inch diameter, height 3.5 inches.
Made in Birmingham 1892 by B. J. Keyzor.

Estimated price:

Silver containers for butter uncommon in 18th century, but small silver scallop-shaped dishes with glass liners, and sometimes ball feet, made from c 1725 in Britain, may have been butter dishes. Most 18th century examples Irish; shallow pierced bowl with glass liner and cover, sometimes feet. Also, glass bowl with silver saucer and cover. Sometimes found with cow finial.Type in vogue i early 19th century usually has stand, dish of silver or glass, and cover; other examples are straight-sided, oval, with cob and knob finial, four feet, and with handle at each end. Tub shape also was popular. The butter dishes were also made in Sheffield plate and electro-plate.

Friday, September 6, 2013

What makes textiles valuable?

People first created textiles during the late Stone Age, 40,000 years ago. many of the pieces made since have decayed or faded. As a consequence, textiles made before the 1800s in good condition can be worth thousands of pounds. Attractive and well-made pieces that can be easily displayed command the highest prices.

Before the 20th century, needlework such as samplers were one of the primary means of displaying a girl's skills. Although large quantities were produced, many textiles from the 18th century and earlier have not survived in good condition. Those pieces can be valuable.

In general, 19th century textiles are less desirable than earlier pieces. This is not simply because they lack age but because, as a rule, quality declined during the 19th century. Many Victorian samplers are worth less than £100. 
Late 19th century or early 20th century woven or embroidered textiles by design reformers such as William Morris are often more valuable than early 19th century pieces, although exceptional early 19th century examples can fetch higher price. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The object of the day: The Fazzoletto vase by Fulvio Bianconi

Venini Fazzoletto vase, designed by Fulvio Bianconi, Est: $2500 - $3500
The Fazzoletto, or handkerchief, vase was designed by Paolo Venini and Fulvio Bianconi in c. 1948. It has since become an icon of Muranese design and has been widely copied, notably by Chance in UK.

The distinctive shape of the Fazzoletto, which resembles an inverted draped handkerchief, has been produced in innumerable patterns, shapes, and sizes. Many of the variations continue the handkerchief theme with patterns of spots or stripes. From around 1950 it became a feature on sideboards and coffee tables throughout Italy and farther afield.

Large, well-decorated and signed Venini examples can fetch many times the value of plain examples. However, copies by other factories are worth very little. Examples with applied bases will generally be worth much less than those made in one piece, like this one.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Beswick figurines

Beswick Pottery began as a manufacturer of  tablewares in Staffordshire, England, in 1894. It produced its first animal figurines around 1900 and by 1930 they had bacome a major part in the factory’s output. In 1969, Beswick was sold to Royal Doulton but various pottery items, including figurines, continued to be sold under the name ‘Beswick’. In 1989, production of Beswick and Doulton animals merged under the Royal Doulton mark. The name ‘Beswick’ was used again from 1999 until the factory closed in 2002. 

Budgerigars are popular pets and models are keenly collected. Rare pieces may fetch the price £800 - 1,200

Friday, August 9, 2013

Antique paperweights

The small glass paperweight holding down your papers could be worth a large sum of money. Complex designs produced in France during the mid-19th century are generally worth the most, but more recent designs by british – and particularly Scottish – makers can sell for hundreds of pounds.
The first paperweight were made in 1843 on the Venetian island of Murano. Many featured patterns made of tiny sections of glass canes known as millefiori (Italian for ‘thousand flowers’), a decorative technique that epitomises paperweight design. Italian paperweight can be worth great sums. One of the most notable makers, Pietro Bigaglia, signed many of his weights with a ‘signature cane’ containing a ‘PB’ monogram, making them easier to identify. Large and complex examples of his work can be worth over £5,000.
The ‘golden age’ of the paperweight, from late 1845 until the mid-1850s, was inspired by French designers.They created elaborate millefiori designs and introdced weights containing lampworked flowers or fruit. Paperweights from this period are often the most valuable, especially those by one of the three major French factories: Baccarat (est.1764), Clichy (1837-1885) and St Louis (est. 1767). Some weights include ‘signature cane’ – Baccarat used the letter ‘B’ and Clichy used a ‘C’ or a trademark cane called the ‘Clichy rose’. if a weight is not marked, and many are not, the maker can still be identified from the shape, colours or patterns used.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What are pottery and porcelain?

What is pottery?

Pottery includes anything made from baked clay and may be made from a number of different materials. Earthenwares and stonewares can be covered in many different glazes.

  •     An earthenware body may e red-brown, buff, white or grey 
  •   The tin glaze chips easily.
  •    Stoneware can be thinly potted. 
  •    Stoneware is fired at higher temperature and does not need a glaze to make it watertight.
  •   The fired body can be dark grey, red, white or sand-coloured.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

American antique jade

American jade is made up of a group of semiprecious hard stones. Chief among them is a dense rock composed almost entirely of the mineral jadeite, a sodium aluminum silicate of the pyroxene family noted for its beautiful color when worked. The rock is extremely durable and very rare, and it was used in two ancient American regions: in Mesoamerica, where it is believed to have been made initially into simple items such as beads around 1500 B.C., and in the part of Central America now known as Costa Rica, where the first sculptural forms were probably carved about a thousand years later.

As in China, where semiprecious hard stones—also known collectively today as jade—were worked from very early times, the initial use of such stones is thought to be an outgrowth of the production of tools, weapons, and ornaments of more common stone. Its compact structure, hardness, and admirable surface gleam when polished recommended jade for works of special status.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Antique maiolica

Maiolica is simply an old Italian word for pottery – specifically earthenware (as opposed to red terracotta), with painted decoration on a white background under a tin-based glaze. It is believed the term was first used to describe the medieval lustre pottery from Spain that was imported into Italy via the island of Mallorca. As the spirit or Renaissance spread through Italy during the 15th century, maiolica potters in Tuscany, particularly those near Florence, took the manufacture of pottery into a totally new dimension.

It is these early pieces and, to a lesser extent, 17th and 18th-century examples that interest collectors today. More affordable are 19th-century copies of early master works predominantly pictured on the photos here – which have just as much decorative potential without the high price tag.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Buy and sell antiques with the help of online portals

Having and collecting old and used antiques is a passion for many. An antique is considered as one of the most important and sought after items.

Having and collecting old and used antiques is a passion for many. An antique is considered as one of the most important and sought after items. They are found in every house or office. Old antiques are crafted with precision and care. It is impossible to find any fault with these items and accessories. They offer grandeur because of their classic magnificence. They are designed with patterns that bring life to the old era and age. In today's modern world, it is just impossible to find true and authentic antiques. They are not easily available in normal furniture stores. Are you on the lookout to buy or sell antiques for your house? In case, your answer is yes, it is strongly recommended to try visiting various online portals.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The object of the day: Maurice Utrillo's painting

Maurice Utrillo - Eglise de la Boissière, Rue Principale 
(1935 France)

Oil on canvas
Signed/Inscribed/Dated Signed, inscribed verso, and dated 1935
Dimensions 25.50inch wide 19.50inch high (64.77 cm wide 49.53 cm high)
Framed Dimensions 33 inch framed width 27 inch framed height (83.82 cm framed width 68.58 cm framed height)
Literature Paul Petrides, Maurice Utrillo Catalogue Raisonné, 1964, listed, titled as Eglise et rue principale a la Boissière, Ecole, ref #1633

This painting is accompanied by a Petrides Photo Certificate, certification #1.072

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The object of the day: Carved Fragment (1550 to 1580 Flemish)

190.00cm wide 36.00cm high (74.80 inches wide 14.17 inches high)
Description / Expertise Central section of a large Flemish Oak top frieze from either a cupboard or a screen. It is Flemish Oak, circa 1550 - 1580. The central panel is applied and has immense energy in its depiction of Cupid with his quiver of arrows and a downward flaming torch held towards a brazier. He is flanked by a cloven hooved Satyr on his left and a large and menacing bearded man, possibly Mars, to his right. It is probable from this Classical array that it is a scene representing the punishment of Cupid for the mischeif that his arrows have caused.

The outer sections both have wonderfully carved Renaissance representations, with Mythical Beasts and a fantastical head embedded within foliate motifs together with Classical figures either side of them set within oval framing.
Price gbp 3750.00 (Pound Sterling)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Heckler live auction of antique glass

Heckler Live Auction - Friday, June 21st at Noon  

Fruit Jars, Historical Flasks, Inks, Barber Bottles, Medicines, Utilities, Demijohns, Whiskeys, Hat Whimsies, Sodas and Mineral Waters, Bitters, Black Glass, Chestnuts, Lamps, Decanters, Figurals, Stoneware & More.

June Live Auction

Items to be sold individually, in small groupings & table lots.
No Reserves

A number of the items in this auction are from the collections of
Dr. Paul Andreson, Gary Hatstat, Kris Kernozicky, Al McVay, and
Anna & Bill Villa.
Wed. June 19th (9 AM-5 PM)
Thurs. June 20th (9 AM-5 PM)
Fri. June 21st (11:15 AM)

 Auction Location   
The Heckler Offices
79 Bradford Corner Road
Woodstock Valley, CT 06282

Absentee Bids Will Be Accepted For This Auction  
Call us to discuss the Absentee Bid service for this auction.  

Please feel free to call or email our office for additional information on  individual items presented in this sale.
Norman C. Heckler & Company
79 Bradford Corner Road, Woodstock Valley, CT 06282
T: 860.974.1634  F:860.974.2003
website:   email:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Antique clock mechanisms

The motive-power  of a clock is a either a weight, or fusee and spring which drives a train of wheels.
The fusee is conical-shaped brass drum, with the gut line from the spring wound round it like a spindle filled with thread, which controls, by different ratios, the power output of the spring  to enable the clock to keep a regular time. Fusees were used on clock and watches until the late 19th century, not given up until slimmer Swiss watches became fashionable in early 20th century. 

The escapement is the part of the clock, watch or timepiece which allows the power driving the mechanism to escape, and controls the speed at which a clock runs down. The various forms of escapement release the escape wheel at regular short intervals (giving a tick-tock sound), allowing the driving force to operate, lock and release again, in a regulated sequence.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Antique glass epergne

The epergne is a table centrepiece, which may have a large central bowl or dish, and a series of smaller bowls suspended from a central stem or branches, with the smaller bowls used to display sweetmeats. Some of the grander examples were made in silver, but epergnes were also made in ceramic and glass. The name came probably from the French "épargne" meaning "saving", the idea being that dinner guests were saved the trouble of passing dishes. In traditional use, an epergne is a fancy way to display side dishes, fruit, or sweetmeats, or can be used for chips, dips, or other finger foods etc.
An epergne generally has a large central "bowl" or basket sitting on three to five feet. From this center "bowl" radiate branches supporting small baskets, dishes, or candleholders. There may be between two and seven branches. Epergnes were traditionally made from silver, however from around the start of the 20th century glass was also employed.

The object of the day: Piguet and Meylan Pocket Watch

We don’t often talk about pocket watches on Longitude because wristwatches are “of our time”. However, we do plan to bring to your attention pieces that are noteworthy, especially because they offer good value in the present market. For example, a watch with  with elaborate decorative elements or those with complications such as a minute repeater, tourbillon and perpetual calendar will cost a fraction of the same combination in a watch.

On November 12, 2012 at Christie’s Important Watches auction is a wondrous collection of  pocket watches made in Switzerland for the Chinese market. A couple spent several decades putting together this collection of enamel pocket watches from the 19th century made for the Chinese market. Specially curated for their unique beauty, they not only display intricate scenes and designs but also important movements.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Italian Renaissance Frames

The study of picture frames in general, and of Renaissance frames in particular, is a discipline in its infancy. Historic frames have always been the poor cousins of important collections of paintings and drawings. Throughout most of the modern (that is, post-medieval) era, original frames were discarded whenever a painting changed ownership, and a new frame more suitable to the work of art's new surroundings was provided. Only in the late nineteenth century did museums and private collectors develop an interest in historical authenticity that extended to frames as well as to the objects they contained, by which time frames more than one or two hundred years old had grown exceedingly rare.

Structure and Design

The development of frame design is inextricably tied to that of architecture. Whether intended for use on paintings, reliefs, or mirrors, frames were invariably designed as parts of an architectural interior and were frequently meant to harmonize with door and window surrounds. Their color, shape, and ornament were generally determined as much by their settings as by what they contained. Not only did frame design evolve with architectural taste, but frames were also often changed as interior decor was updated in order to conform to the demands of an altered context. No matter whether an eighteenth-century "Salvator Rosa" frame is appropriate to a cinquecento Crucifixion, or whether a Velázquez portrait is flattered by an English Rococo frame: pictures have always been required to live unobtrusively among furnishings of a period not their own, and frames have always been the vehicle enabling them to do so.

Collecting tips for antique cutlery collectors

As well as checking for worn tines on forks, check the bowls of spoons for sign of wear. A worn bowl will have an angled, almost cut-off appearance. The rounded-bowl soup spoon didn’t come into being until c 1900, so what we call a tablespoon actually started life as a soup spoon. 

Set of 5 pieces of odd silver plated cutlery including 2 Christofle spoons

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Antique silver candlesticks

We take the convenience of electric light so much for granted that it is easy to forget how dependent our ancestors were on candlelight. The earliest surviving silver candlesticks werer made solely for ecclesiastical use, as it was only the church who could afford such luxuries. Early candles were both smoky and smelly, made from beewax or tallow, with those made in France considered far superior to the English variety. 

Victorian Silver Candlesticks
A pretty pair of antique sterling silver candle holders with stepped square bases and Corinthian tops. The columns are decorated with trailing harebells. Height 16 cms. Base 8 x 8 cms. London 1892. Maker Martin, Hall & Co.
Price £765

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Royal Doulton Bunnykins figures by Christopher Proudlove

Ever eager to keep these columns current, I felt compelled to find something to do with Easter. Inspiration came following a local auction sale in which this trio of pottery Bunnykins figures were offered. In the event, they were knocked down for a staggering total of £2,810. If nothing else, the sale proved there is no upper limit to the prices some hard-bitten collectors are prepared to pay for Royal Doulton rarities.

The bunny rabbit, whose propensity for breeding is legendary, has long served as a fertility symbol for the Spring. Bunnykins figures came from the fertile imagination of a young woman whose father, Cuthbert Bailey, happened to be the managing director of Royal Doulton. As a child, Barbara Vernon Bailey had filled sketchbooks with drawings of the countryside, and of the animals kept by her four brothers and two sisters including pigs, cows, horses and ferrets, as well as the more cuddly dogs, cats and guinea-pigs. But it was the wild rabbits, brought to life by her father’s exciting and sometimes frightening bedtime stories, that really delighted her. When, in 1934, Cuthbert Bailey hit on a new line of children’s nurseryware, he turned to Barbara for illustrations rather than a professional artist.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The object of the day: Prattware figure of a Griffin, c. 1790

Antique English pottery Prattware figure of a Griffin, c 1790, England
F & R Pratt, also known as Prattware and Pratt Ware (c.1780-1840)Medium
Dimensions 10.50 inch high (26.67 cm high)
Description / Expertise English pottery figure of a griffin (half lion half eagle).The figure is well colored in the typical Prattware palette. The head of the griffin sports a candle holder which adds a rather bizarre and comical twist to the piece. Antique English pottery period c1790.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Collectable Victorian pot lids

Who among readers of this weekly missive collects Staffordshire pot lids? Clearly no one who was at a sale I watched the other day because not one of 16 lots of the things, mostly with two lids in each lot, found a buyer prepared to pay the – generally – £80-120 per lot that the auctioneer was expecting.

Let’s assume the reserves were on the low estimate. Is £40 too much to pay for a colourful, ready-made (and often ready-framed) little work of art that once had collectors falling over themselves to own? Answer: a resounding yes. Fashions change and just like the Clarice Cliff vase that I know cost its owner £450 and she let go in the same sale for £260, it’s very easy to get caught out and left to count the cost.
Which I suppose means that now is the time to buy Staffordshire pot lids. They will probably never be cheaper. Read on and perhaps by the end, you’ll know what you’re looking for.

Like so many antiques that have fascinated us, we were introduced to pot lids by Arthur Negus. In 1981, he interviewed actor Leslie Crowther, arguably the best known collector of them, and “The Price is Right” star explained how Victorian manufacturers of fish and meat pastes were quick to realise that the attractively decorated lids enhanced the sales of their products.

The object of the day: A Royal Doulton Piscatorial plate

A rare, finely painted Royal Doulton cabinet plate depicting a pair of Salmon among water weed within a fine gilt rim band, with a further gilt band to the base rim.

Artwork Signed C.Holloway and bearing Robert Allen studio marks for c1927.
Auction Estimate Sept. 2009: 150 to 200 (GBP)

In 1901, the popularity of Doulton products came to the attention of the Royal family and the Burslem factory was granted the Royal Warrant by King Edward VII. The business adopted bold new markings and the new name of Royal Doulton.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Russian pottery and porcelain marks

Many Russian pottery and porcelain manufactures are not shown here. Porcelain was first made at St. Petersburg about 1743. Little is known of the early marking.


St. Petersburg (1-21)
1-3 Early marks. After 1743. Porcelain; 4-6 Catherine II. 1762-96; 7 Emperor Paul. 1796-1801 
8 Alexander I. 1801-1825. 9 Nicholas I. 1825-1855. 10-11 Alexander II. 1855-1871.12-15 Alexander II. 1871-1881. Starting with 1871, one dot was added to the mark yearly.16, 17 Korniloff Brothers. From 1825.18-21 Gardner. From 1758. At Moscow from about 1780. 18, 19 in blue.
Miscellaneous (22-32)
22 Mezer at Baranovka. From 1804. Porcelain. Mark stamped. 23-26 A. Popoff in Moscow. 1806-1872. Porcelain. Marks 25 and 26 are questionable 27 Kiev. M. Gulina. Porcelain. 28 Kiev. 29 Nicholas II. St. Petersburg. From 1894 30 Mezer at Baranovka. From 1804. Porcelain. 31 S. T. Kuznetsoff. St. Petersburg. 32 Stawsk. 1843-47. Pottery.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Japanese inro, ojime and netsuke

The inro was attached to the waist via a cord. On this cord was a bead (an ojime) and a carved figure (a netsuke) that were used as fasteners. This box is decorated with a lobster design.

On the picture below is a superb example and was bought in a charity shop a year ago for 50p. The value is about £3,000-£5,000.

In the 19th Century, Japanese people used to carry small objects, such as seals and medicines, in a small lacquered box known as an inro.

Inro ('seal-basket’) are small decorative containers that hang from the waist. They originated at the end of the sixteenth century and were worn by men to hold seals and herbal and other medicines. They were considered a particularly good way of keeping the contents sealed and fresh. By the eighteenth century they had become decorative accessories and were commissioned by the merchant class, provincial rulers and their samurai, and those that could afford them.
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