Angel frieze returns to Davenport Museum

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) – Davenport’s old Carnegie library fell to the wrecking ball long ago, but a cherished piece of that building has returned home.

A 105-year-old frieze, cast from an original sculpture of cherubs by the Italian artist Donatello, has been cleaned up and reinstalled at the downtown Davenport Public Library’s special collections area.

The reproduction of Donatello’s “singing angels” was presented to the old library in 1905 by W.C. Putnam, a wealthy entrepreneur who was the godfather of the Putnam Museum. It was an expensive, imported piece for a wall of the children<s department in the library. But when the museum was razed in 1966, the plaster reproduction found a new home at the Blackhawk Hotel in downtown Davenport.

As restoration work began on the hotel this fall, developers Restoration St. Louis decided to donate the valuable piece of art back to the library.

“It takes us back to our roots as a Carnegie library,” said a grateful Amy Groskopf, the chief archivist for the library. “Since we don’t have our original building, it’s nice to have a significant piece of history we can put back in our facility to remind us of where we came from.”

Although it is a reproduction, it still is a legitimate and important work of art, said Nicole Grabow, a specialist with the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis who traveled twice to Davenport to assist in the moving and reinstallation project.

The plaster reproduction was made in 1904 by a company called P.P. Caproni and Brother of Boston. In the early part of the 20th century, such companies were granted access to world-class pieces of art and allowed to make direct castings, a practice that is impossible today, Grabow said.

The Donatello piece was created in 1439. Today, it is preserved at the Museo del’Opera del Duomo in Florence, Italy.

“The fact you can’t take those castings any more and the kind of workmanship that was required to do it in plaster makes it worthwhile,” Grabow said. “Part of the value is also in its history. It was given to the library by W.C. Putnam, who was a significant local historic figure. It’s become a part of the history of the library that’s pretty hard to put a price on.”

It also is one of the largest reproductions of its kind Grabow has ever seen. Companies like P.P. Caproni often made smaller sculpture reproductions for private collectors, but large pieces – in this case 24 feet long and 3 feet high – are rare.

“I’ve never come across one this large,” she said.

The cleanup and move was a delicate process, Grabow and Groskopf said.

It had to be moved in six sections, each about 4 feet wide and weighing about 100 pounds. After it was cleaned, it was reinstalled using the same mounting method used previously, consisting of 4-by-4 pieces of wood mounted to the wall and a metal shelf for support.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-01-24-10 1201EST

 

Furniture maker seeks bankruptcy reorganization

MONSON, Maine (AP) – An eleventh-hour Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing allowed Maine’s Moosehead Furniture Co. to avoid an auction aimed at liquidating its assets.

The bankruptcy reorganization was announced minutes before Thursday’s auction, leaving about 200 bidders from across the country frustrated. Chuck Lapinski from Tennessee told the Bangor Daily News that he had planned to buy the sawmill equipment. Instead, he had nothing to show for his $5,000 in expenses.

The former Moosehead Manufacturing Co. went out of business because of competition from low-priced imported furniture.

It stayed alive as Moosehead Furniture under new owners, but it closed again while the owners went looking for investors to stave off liquidation.

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Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-01-22-10 0925EST

 

EBay cuts auction listing fees for some sellers

SAN JOSE, Calif. – EBay hopes to lure more sellers by essentially doing away with “listing” fees for people who occasionally auction items on its site. Instead it will take a cut of the final selling price.

EBay has tinkered with its fee structure in recent years in hopes of improving the experience people have on its site and reinvigorating its growth. Changes like the one being announced Tuesday are meant to encourage more people to list items for sale.

EBay Inc. told sellers today that starting March 30 they will be able to post up to 100 items for auction every 30 days without paying fees to list them. The items must have a starting bid of less than $1, and when they sell eBay will take 9 percent of the final price or $50, whichever is less.

Currently, eBay lets occasional sellers — who make up the majority of the 28 million people who sell on its main site — auction up to five items for free every 30 days. It charges them 8.75 percent of the final price or $20, whichever is less.

For sellers that only auction the occasional vintage PEZ dispenser or designer handbag, Tuesday’s change could mean they pay eBay more. But Lorrie Norrington, the president of eBay Marketplaces, thinks the change will be easier overall for people who want to auction off items that are sitting around the house.

“Our customers have consistently told us, ‘We love free and we love simple,’ and that’s what we think these changes are about,” she said.

EBay made a similar change in fees in some European markets in 2008.

Once sellers exhaust the number of items they can list for free, they are subject to listing fees and commissions that vary, depending on the starting price of the item and the price at which it sells. Those listing fees are also changing for most auctions — to a range of 15 cents to $2, depending on the item’s starting price. Right now, they generally range from 15 cents to $4.

EBay also is trying to draw more attention to a buyer protection service on the site. That gives buyers and sellers access to customer service representatives to resolve disputes. This service, which excludes some categories like vehicles and real estate, will also be able to refund a buyer’s money, if necessary.

Previously, the only option for resolving problems between buyers and sellers was through eBay’s payment service, PayPal, and was available only on transactions that used PayPal.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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These rare American Modern Gothic carved and burl walnut pedestals, circa 1880, are attributed to Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia. The 27-inch-high pedestals are estimated at $6,000-$8,000. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

Neal’s Winter Estates Auction features festive paintings, Jan. 30-31

These rare American Modern Gothic carved and burl walnut pedestals, circa 1880, are attributed to Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia. The 27-inch-high pedestals are estimated at $6,000-$8,000. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

These rare American Modern Gothic carved and burl walnut pedestals, circa 1880, are attributed to Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia. The 27-inch-high pedestals are estimated at $6,000-$8,000. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

NEW ORLEANS – One of the best American Impressionist paintings that Neal Auction Co. has handled in some time will be sold on the first day of the company’s Winter Estates Auction, which will be conducted Jan. 30-31 at the Magazine Street Gallery.

“Lot 324, the Robert Grafton painting, is one of the most beautiful American Impressionist paintings from our region to have been offered here in many, many years,” said Neal Alford, president and co-founder of Neal Auction Co.

Saturday’s session, which will begin at 10 a.m. Central, has 560 lots. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live bidding.

The Grafton painting, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, is titled Reflections of Luggar’s Landing, New Basin Canal, depicts boats tied up at a pier. It is an oil on canvas board, 16 inches by 20 inches and dated 1918.

Robert Grafton and his friend and fellow Indiana artist, Louis Oscar Griffith, often visited New Orleans in the early 20th century and were captivated by the historic buildings and waterways that made up the city and by the lively art community, which was largely centered in the French Quarter.

Just as Grafton found inspiration in New Orleans, French artist Felix Ziem (1821-1911) was continually drawn to the splendor and Venice. He visited the city many times and once stayed for more than three years. His painting titled A Richly Embellished Ship at the Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice, an oil on canvas measuring 25 1/4 inches by 36 1/4 inches is in an elaborate carved, gessoed and giltwood frame. From a Nashville, Tenn., estate, it has a $40,000-$60,000 estimate.

The artists and personalities of his day held Ziem in high regard. He exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon, winning numerous awards and medals. In 1857 he was made a chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, was named an officer in 1878, and made a commander in 1908.

Furniture will include a étagère attributed to John Henry Belter, a fine Renaissance Revival cabinet and an American Rococo table, but a most unusual lot is a pair of Modern Gothic carved and burl walnut pedestals, circa 1880, attributed to Daniel Pabst of Philadelphia. Each of the 27-inch-tall pedestals has a 21 1/2-inch-diameter circular top with a rotating mechanism. The pair has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.

It’s worth noting that the geometric floral decoration on these pedestals, using lighter burled veneers cut through to a darker contrasting ground, is typical of Pabst’s later body of work, and shows the influence of English designer Christopher Dresser, who lectured in Philadelphia in conjunction with the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, an event clearly influential to this Philadelphia cabinetmaker.

A 19th-century Russian patinated bronze sculpture group of a bear attacking two men, after Nicolai Ivanovich Lieberich (Russian, 1828-1883), has a Cyrillic cast signature and a foundry mark “Fabr. C.F. Woerfrel/ St. Petersbourg.” The bronze stands 15 1/4 inches high on a 2 3/4-inch period ebonized walnut base. It has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.

Two large 19th-century Meissen polychrome and gild-decorated porcelain “Elements” ewers will be sold separately. Both are after a model by J.J. Kändler. Air is modeled with birds in flight, winged putto and the figures of Juno and Zephyr. Water features a figure of Neptune, mermaid, stylized dolphins and ancient warships. Each ewer is about 26 inches high and has a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.

Sunday’s auction, which will begin at 11 a.m. Central, will have more than 400 lots.

For details phone 800-467-5329.

To view the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the sale at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Click here to view Perfume Bottles Auction’s complete catalog.

“>Click here to view Neal Auction Company’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Robert Wadsworth Grafton (American/Indiana, 1876-1936) used lush, thick brushwork to beautifully render the reflections of boats in the water in this Impressionistic painting of the New Orleans’ New Basin Canal. Signed and dated 1918, the 16- by 20-inch painting has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

Robert Wadsworth Grafton (American/Indiana, 1876-1936) used lush, thick brushwork to beautifully render the reflections of boats in the water in this Impressionistic painting of the New Orleans’ New Basin Canal. Signed and dated 1918, the 16- by 20-inch painting has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.


French artist Felix Ziem’s vivacious and energetic views of Venice are among his most coveted works. This signed oil on canvas, 24 1/4 inches by 36 1/4 inches, is in an elaborate frame, and has a $40,000-$60,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

French artist Felix Ziem’s vivacious and energetic views of Venice are among his most coveted works. This signed oil on canvas, 24 1/4 inches by 36 1/4 inches, is in an elaborate frame, and has a $40,000-$60,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.


Water is the theme of this 19th-century Meissen polychrome and gilt-decorated porcelain ‘Elements’ ewer, which stands 26-inches high. With some restoration noted it is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

Water is the theme of this 19th-century Meissen polychrome and gilt-decorated porcelain ‘Elements’ ewer, which stands 26-inches high. With some restoration noted it is estimated at $3,000-$5,000. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.


Maj. Gen. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle of Philadelphia traveled abroad with this early 1900s Louis Vuitton steamer trunk. The trunk, which measures 30 inches high by 44 inches wide and 21 1/2 inches wide, has a $2,500-$3,500 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

Maj. Gen. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle of Philadelphia traveled abroad with this early 1900s Louis Vuitton steamer trunk. The trunk, which measures 30 inches high by 44 inches wide and 21 1/2 inches wide, has a $2,500-$3,500 estimate. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

Picasso painting accidentally torn by visitor to Met Museum

NEW YORK (AP) — An important Picasso painting accidentally damaged by a visitor last week will be repaired in time for a large exhibition of the artist’s works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in April, the museum said Monday.

The Actor, a painting from Picasso’s rose period, will be restored at the museum’s conservation laboratory, the Met said.

The accident has also led museum director Thomas P. Campbell to request a review of relevant policies and procedures, spokeswoman Elyse Topalian said.

The museum described the damage as an irregular 6-inch tear to the lower right-hand corner of the painting. Conservation and curatorial experts “fully expect” that the restoration “will be unobtrusive,” the museum said in a statement Sunday.

The artwork is nearly 6 feet by 4 feet and depicts a standing acrobat in a pink costume and blue knee-high boots striking a pose against an abstracted backdrop.

The restoration will be done in the coming weeks, and the piece will be displayed as planned in an exhibition of 250 Picasso works drawn from the museum’s collection, from April 27 to Aug. 1, the museum said.

The accident occurred in a second-floor gallery of early Picasso works when a patron participating in one of the museum’s art classes lost her balance and fell on the canvas, the museum said. She was one of 14 people in the guided group.

It happened during regular visiting hours when other visitors were in the gallery. People who attend the art classes typically roam through the museum in a group stopping in front of works of interest.

The Actor was donated to the Met in 1952 by art patron Thelma Chrysler Foy, the elder daughter of auto magnate Walter Chrysler. The museum said it had been included in many major exhibitions of Picasso’s works both in the United States and in Europe.

Picasso painted the work in the winter of 1904-05. It marked a transition from his blue period of tattered beggars and blind musicians to his more optimistic and brighter-colored rose period of itinerant acrobats in costume.

In 2001, another Picasso was accidentally damaged during a private showing of the artist’s “Le Reve.” The artwork’s owner, casino mogul Steve Wynn, was showing the work — a portrait of Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, to a group of friends in Las Vegas when he inadvertently poked a thumb-size hole in the canvas with his elbow.

The accident occurred just after Wynn had negotiated a deal to sell the painting for $139 million.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Collapsing tents damage vintage cars at Arizona auction

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Organizers of a collector-car auction in north Scottsdale worked to assess damages Friday after an 800-foot-long tent blew onto a nearby freeway, snarling traffic and leaving hundreds of valuable vehicles uncovered in a pounding rainstorm.

Heavy tent poles hit some cars and rain pelted uncovered convertibles at the Russo-Steele Auto Auction. A collector-car insurance executive estimated that damages could be more than $1.5 million.

Russo and Steele said owners would not be allowed to inspect their cars until at least Saturday morning because the Scottsdale fire marshal has not declared the auction site safe.

Drew and Josephine Alcazar, Russo and Steele owners, hoped to resume the auction Saturday, but there was still a lot of cleanup to do.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

 

 

Image courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions.

Morphy’s announces new series of Discovery and specialty sales

Image courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions.

Image courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions.

DENVER, Pa. – Dan Morphy Auctions’ annual events calendar is about to become a lot busier with the introduction of several new auction series to augment the company’s traditional lineup of five to six cataloged sales per year.

Beginning on March 16, 2010, Morphy’s will conduct a regular monthly Discovery sale featuring general antiques, art and vintage collectibles. The live sales will be held at Morphy’s gallery in Denver, Pa., on the Adamstown antiques strip, and will include Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. The initial Discovery sale will feature approximately 400-500 lots.

The quality of goods accepted for Morphy’s Discovery sales will be no different than what customers have come to expect from the company’s past major auctions, and the sales will be promoted, advertised and marketed in exactly the same fashion as Morphy’s major auctions, with an extended preview period in the run-up to each event.

“We’ve been formulating a plan for quite some time that would create a new outlet for dealers and estate executors who handle large quantities of general merchandise, as well as any other consignors who may prefer a quick turnaround time,” said Morphy’s owner and CEO, Dan Morphy.

Morphy said he believes the new sales will develop a regular following because of the potential they hold for treasure-hunters. “That’s why we’re calling them Discovery auctions,” he said, noting that the south-central Pennsylvania region is “rich with houses and estates that harbor antiques and other goods dating back to the earliest European settlement of the Commonwealth. There are exciting finds every day of the week in this part of Pennsylvania. We foresee tremendous potential for these sales, which, in time, could be stepped up to become twice-a-month or even weekly events.”

Also this year, Morphy’s will be launching three new series of specialty auctions operating very similarly to the company’s major auctions. Each of the specialty sales, which will accommodate live and Internet bidding, will specifically focus on one of three categories: antique and vintage firearms; antique and collectible dolls; and antique and vintage toy trains. The monthly sales will follow a consecutive agenda so that each of the three categories is represented with one sale per quarter.

The categories for the new specialty sales were selected because of the high level of buyer interest and the abundance of merchandise consistently available to Morphy’s. “These sales will feature high-quality items for a targeted audience,” Dan Morphy said. “Our major cataloged sales have become so large that we had to find another way to serve the many consignors who want to sell through Morphy’s.” Dan Morphy Auctions’ new Specialty Auction Series is expected to begin with a mid-year toy train sale.

For additional information on any Morphy Auctions event, call 717-335-3435 or log on to www.morphyauctions.com.

Click here to view Morphy’s Feb. 26-27 auction catalogs or to sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com.

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Click here to view Dan Morphy Auctions LLC’s complete catalog.

This shelf clock, made by Terry & Andrews, is an example of single feature, the lancet arch. It sold for $330 in Cowan’s April 2007 Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

Cowan’s Corner: Gothic style – revival or survival

This shelf clock, made by Terry & Andrews, is an example of single feature, the lancet arch.  It sold for $330 in Cowan’s April 2007 Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

This shelf clock, made by Terry & Andrews, is an example of single feature, the lancet arch. It sold for $330 in Cowan’s April 2007 Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

Gothic style conjures images of extreme costume – black draping coats or gowns, spiky ornament, blackened eyes, a la Adams Family, but Gothic and the style enjoy a much richer, deeper, longer and more sophisticated history than its connotation among young adults going for dark shock valuue.

Gothic, or the French style, as it was known initially in the 12th century, was ecclesiastical architecture and pertained to the form and structure of medieval churches. Its predecessor, Roman architecture, was noted for the Roman arch – a half circle supported by columns at either end. Gothic arches were pointed, and in churches, buttressed to keep them stable. The whole idea – remember this is church architecture – was creating a tribute to the Creator, so the successor to Roman architecture went with height and heavenly light – vaulted arches, stained glass windows, ennobling height, all designed to inspire adulation.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, characteristics of the Gothic architecture manifest in the decorative arts – furniture, metalwork, textiles and ceramics – and there was an enormous vocabulary of ornament from which to choose. The lancet arch, which appears to be praying hands, is most prolific. Tracery, or the support structure for Gothic glass windows, is often used as a design background, rather a structure imperative. Trefoils, or quatrefoils, carved piercings or openings for light, are another. Crockets, or the stylized emulation of flowers or leaves, used to decorate spires, is yet another.

Gothic elements were not limited to churches in succeeding centuries, but found their way into domestic architecture and the smallest objects of domestic life, such as frames, boxes and tableware, which can be collected today. The 18th-century English writer Horace Walpole romanticized the look of all things Gothic with his celebrated home Strawberry Hill, near London, long before his Victorian counterparts revived it, yet again, in the 19th century. The Victorians crossed the Atlantic with carpenter gothic, a residential architecture enjoyed in New England, the South and throughout the Midwest.

In the Gothic style, ornament can be complex and heavy, or it can be one overriding feature of the object. Most often found are Gothic style side chairs, which are great examples of the verticality of the style and lighting through carved openings. Smaller, more esoteric objects of the style, such as wall sconces, shelf clocks and silver tablewares, can be found at reasonable prices.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the Gothic style survives both in ecclesiastical and domestic architecture and in the decorative arts – its vocabulary subdued, its charms unabated. For interested collectors, the pursuit is in finding the ornamental vocabulary in both new and antique objects. The Gothic is a survival style, and doesn’t require horror movie staging or blackened eyes and dark clothing to appreciate its charms. It is a style that lends itself to being combined with the Rococo, or Chinoiserie – it doesn’t have to be historically correct, and in fact, most pieces today have little historical reference. In furniture, the Gothic style sometimes requires a certain ceiling height, but in small objects, all that is necessary is an appreciation and understanding of the vocabulary.

Research by Diane Wachs.

 


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


A 19th-century Italian icon in a gilt carved and gessoed frame is estimated to bring $2,000-3,000 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

A 19th-century Italian icon in a gilt carved and gessoed frame is estimated to bring $2,000-3,000 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.


A group of American Gothic-revival side chairs, circa 1840-1860, is estimated to bring $400-600 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

A group of American Gothic-revival side chairs, circa 1840-1860, is estimated to bring $400-600 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.


This pair of 19th-century Gothic sconces, a harkening back to Medieval gargoyles with light emanating from lancet arches, is estimated to bring $800-1,000 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

This pair of 19th-century Gothic sconces, a harkening back to Medieval gargoyles with light emanating from lancet arches, is estimated to bring $800-1,000 in Cowan’s Feb. 20 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.


This table caster in silver plate shows Gothic lancet arches combined with elements of the Rococo. It sold for $1,150 in Cowan’s June 2008 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

This table caster in silver plate shows Gothic lancet arches combined with elements of the Rococo. It sold for $1,150 in Cowan’s June 2008 Fine and Decorative Art Auction. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc.

The Fontenot brothers of St. Landry Parish served in the Opelousas Guards, 8th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War. This quarter-plate tintype sold for $2,700 at Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati in 2004. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. and Live Auctioneers archive.

LSU Libraries helping to preserve Baton Rouge history

The Fontenot brothers of St. Landry Parish served in the Opelousas Guards, 8th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War. This quarter-plate tintype sold for $2,700 at Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati in 2004. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

The Fontenot brothers of St. Landry Parish served in the Opelousas Guards, 8th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War. This quarter-plate tintype sold for $2,700 at Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati in 2004. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions Inc. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Mary Anne Hynes Frenzel faced a dilemma – what to do with family photos, news clippings and memorabilia collected over generations.

Two of her three children live away. Her one son who lives in Baton Rouge had some interest in collecting family items but not enough to go through boxes and boxes of photos, clips and scrapbooks.

Frenzel couldn’t bear to throw the items away, but she knew that in a generation or two, there would probably be no family member who would want the materials. Even a large family scrapbook would deteriorate over time.

“I had pages and pages of newsprint, things that had been in newspapers and magazines about my family,” she said. “People had begun sending me things, and I didn’t know what to do with them.”

Frenzel’s sister, Juliette Hynes, heard from Ann Smith, a library associate with the Louisiana State University Libraries, that Faye Phillips, then head of special collections at the LSU Libraries, was working on a pictorial history of Baton Rouge.

Hynes and Frenzel met with Phillips, now associate dean of libraries, and Elaine Smyth, now head of special collections, and decided to give their family papers to the library.

“It’s a hard decision for a family to let go of these things. We understand that they mean so much to families,” said Tara Laver, curator of manuscripts for special collections. “But by putting them here, they are in one place, protected from humidity and deterioration. Everyone can know that they are here and use them and see them. The family has peace of mind knowing that they are taken care of.”

The result is the Gebelin-Walsh-Hynes-Frenzel Family Papers – 2.5 cubic feet of approximately 490 physical items and 500 digital files carefully secured in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections at the LSU Libraries.

Frenzel’s family collection begins around 1860 and continues through the 1980s with portraits and informal photographs documenting the lives of family members and friends in the connected families.

“Juliette calls this collection ‘off the wall’ because all of the Hyneses took their pictures off their walls,” Frenzel said.

Laver says family papers tell the story of the area’s social life and customs – what it was like to live in Baton Rouge in the context of the lives of the people and cultural organizations.

“It is important to document the experiences of families in historical events and movements that occurred in their lifetime – civil rights, the Great Depression, Huey Long. As Baton Rouge changed, how people changed,” Laver said.

The collection tracks the ancestors and descendants of Joseph Gebelin and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Walsh, who were married Oct. 31, 1900, at St. Joseph Church (now St. Joseph Cathedral).

Joseph Gebelin served as assistant secretary of state, police jury president, city councilman, banker, St. Joseph Church trustee and a founding member of the Baton Rouge Country Club.

Photos record family debutante presentations, weddings, graduations, birthdays and events that were all a part of the social fiber of Baton Rouge.

Laver says that people come from all over the world to find information in LSU’s Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections.

“Whenever I’m talking to students, I tell them that events occur naturally as people live their lives. It’s not all about the person. It’s not all about a single thing that’s happening like World War II. Different researchers can come to a collection and find different things that we are not even focusing on,” she said.

When people approach the library about donating family papers, members of the staff go through the materials to see what is there and to get a sense of how to organize it.

“In terms of family papers, we look for correspondence, identified photographs, tapes or video, family history, ephemera, diaries, memoirs or reminiscences, family business records and scrapbooks,” Laver said. “In keeping with our collection’s focus on Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley, we look for materials that document social life, culture, customs, family life and family businesses in our region.”

Families frequently bring their donated materials in “piles of stuff.” Librarians at Hill Memorial go through the materials and put them in archival boxes. “If something needs preservation work, we’ll do that,” Laver said.

As the librarians work through materials, they take notes. They make an inventory, which they put on the Internet. “Then people can see what kind of information is there,” Laver said.

When people type in a name on a search engine, they often find links to collections at Hill. “People come from all over the world and just down the street to do research,” Laver said.

She urges people to contact the library if they have items of local interest. One of the favorite parts of her job is seeing what people have.

“It’s not just the important people whose histories we want to study,” she said. “Whether or not family members are ‘prominent’ or ‘famous,’ through their lives we can document a certain place and time.”

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Information from: The Advocate, http://www.2theadvocate.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP-WS-01-23-10 0000EST

Van Gogh's 'The Night Cafe' is said to be worth as much as $150 million. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Disputed Van Gogh could be worth up to $150 million

Van Gogh's 'The Night Cafe' is said to be worth as much as $150 million. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s ‘The Night Cafe’ is said to be worth as much as $150 million. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – A Van Gogh painting at the center of a dispute between Yale University and a man who believes the artwork was stolen from his family during the Russian Revolution is worth $120 million to $150 million, the man’s attorney told The Associated Press on Friday.

The evaluation is the first public estimate of the painting’s value, and the lawyer, Allan Gerson, said it comes from a top auction firm.

Gerson represents Pierre Konowaloff, the purported great-grandson of industrialist and aristocrat Ivan Morozov, who bought The Night Cafe in 1908. Russia nationalized Morozov’s property during the Communist revolution, and the Soviet government later sold the painting.

The artwork, which shows the inside of a nearly empty cafe with a few customers seated at tables along the walls, has been hanging in the Yale University Art Gallery for almost 50 years.

A Yale spokesman said the university could not offer a value of the 1888 painting, saying the goal is to have it on public display for perpetuity.

Yale filed a lawsuit in federal court in March to assert its ownership rights over The Night Cafe and to block Konowaloff from claiming it.

Yale claims the ownership of tens of billions of dollars of art and other goods could be thrown into doubt if Konowaloff is allowed to take the painting. Any federal court invalidation of Russian nationalization decrees from the early 20th century also would create tensions between the United States and Russia, Yale argues.

The university says former owners have challenged titles to other property seized from them in Russia, but their claims were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and state, federal and foreign courts.

“Yale is confident that the court will see through Konowaloff’s latest rhetoric and recognize that he is asking a U.S. court to turn back the clock 90 years and undo the Russian Revolution,” Yale said Friday.

Gerson said in court papers Thursday that Yale was engaging in “scare tactics.” He said neither Russia nor the United States expressed any concerns about the case and that any ruling would not affect Russian paintings.

Gerson says the trend by U.S. courts has been to invalidate confiscations of art. He said in court papers that Yale’s argument amounted to compelling U.S. courts to “rubber-stamp good title on any dictator’s plunder.”

Yale received the painting through a bequest from Yale alumnus Stephen Carlton Clark. The school says Clark bought the painting from a gallery in New York City in 1933 or 1934.

Konowaloff has filed court papers calling Yale’s acquisition “art laundering.” He argues that Russian authorities unlawfully confiscated the painting and that the United States deemed the theft a violation of international law.

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