Kathryn Usher’s handmade crowns are inspired by vintage Mardi Gras crowns, like this one from the early 1900s. Made of rhinestones and gilt metal, it sold at Neal Auction Co. for $1,000 in 2007. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

Self-taught artist’s ‘House of Usher’ filled with recycled surprises

Kathryn Usher’s handmade crowns are inspired by vintage Mardi Gras crowns, like this one from the early 1900s. Made of rhinestones and gilt metal, it sold at Neal Auction Co. for $1,000 in 2007. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

Kathryn Usher’s handmade crowns are inspired by vintage Mardi Gras crowns, like this one from the early 1900s. Made of rhinestones and gilt metal, it sold at Neal Auction Co. for $1,000 in 2007. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co. and LiveAuctioneers archive.

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) – The first thing you notice at Kathryn Usher’s house is the oversized voodoo doll on the porch. But that’s just a portent of what’s behind the front door.

Walk through the door and you see an overwhelming number of handmade crowns – some adorned with Mardi Gras beads – masks, art cards, King Cake baby lapel pins, fans and many voodoo dolls in different shapes and sizes.

Most noticeable, perhaps, is “Huddie’s Red Guitar” mounted on Usher’s living room wall, a tribute of sorts to musician Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter.

It’s all part of Usher’s latest endeavor – “2010 in 2010.” She came up with the idea to create 2,010 pieces of art this year after hearing about garbage islands in the ocean.

“I had been recycling with the blue bin for a year and just noticed that not a lot of people on my block were using the blue bins on a regular basis,” she said. “I had heard somebody say somewhere that if plastic was deemed as valuable as diamonds maybe we wouldn’t be littering so much and just wasting.”

So Usher takes trash from her recycling bin for her artwork. She also uses bits and pieces of old artificial flowers and other items she comes across while walking her dogs.

She doesn’t think the idea of creating more than 2,000 pieces of art in a year is too ambitious.

“I think I will be over the 2,010,” Usher said. “Right now, I’m at about 1,200 so that’s pretty good.”

Usher said how many pieces of art she completes in one day depends on what she’s making.

“On a good day I can do three pieces, but if I’m learning something new, like the crowns, the hand embellishments take a lot longer so I might not even get one finished a day,” she said. “What’s going to save me are the little tiny art cards because I can make them from plabric” – fabric and plastic fused together.

“You get the iron and fold your layers and put it between two sheets of wax paper because you don’t want your iron to touch it because then it would stick,” she said.

She says she’s “upcycling” – turning something that’s not very valuable into something that is.

“You probably did upcycling as a kid when you were in first grade and they gave you a can and you wrapped it with yarn and made a pencil holder,” she said.

Some of the materials Usher uses for her project include water bottles, plastic foam, egg crates, pine cones, Mardi Gras beads, toilet paper rolls, tea bags and fabric from old pieces of clothing.

Usher’s favorites among the pieces of art are the crowns and voodoo dolls.

“This is Louisiana and when you think of voodoo you think of New Orleans,” she said. “It’s part of Louisiana.”

She became intrigued with the dolls after seeing a voodoo exhibit a few years ago at Centenary College’s Meadows Museum.

“I became even more intrigued when I did the video of the King Cake baby and entered it in a contest with the Shreveport Bossier Convention and Tourism bureau last year,” she said. “Because it had voodoo imagery, my video was banned from their Web site.”

As Usher’s collection continues to grow, storage becomes an issue.

“I don’t have a garage and we have a shared driveway so finding somewhere to put everything can be a challenge,” she said. She plans to sell some of the pieces online and give some of them away.

Usher, describes herself as a self-taught artist. “There are other terms, like outsider and folk artist,” she said. “But I prefer self-taught.”

“I’ve always loved art and it’s amazing how much goes into my blue bin each week,” she said. “I’m having a blast. If I could, I would ask people, ‘What’s in your blue bin?’”

___

Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may no be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

AP-CS-08-29-10 1205EDT

Photo portrait of photographer Ansel Adams that first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. Photo by J. Malcolm Greany.

Documentary on purported Ansel Adams negatives is canceled

Photo portrait of photographer Ansel Adams that first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. Photo by J. Malcolm Greany.

Photo portrait of photographer Ansel Adams that first appeared in the 1950 Yosemite Field School yearbook. Photo by J. Malcolm Greany.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – Plans to show a documentary film at California State University, Fresno about the discovery of glass negatives purported to be the work of famed nature photographer Ansel Adams have been canceled.

University officials say the attorney representing the owner of the plates, Rick Norsigian of Fresno, canceled the screening.

The negatives have been the subject of intense debate in the art world since Norsigian said he bought them for $45 at a garage sale, then hired a team of experts to authenticate them.

A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco by The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust is seeking to keep Norsigian and consulting firm PRS Media Partners from using Adams’ name, likeness and trademark to sell prints and posters not authorized by the trust.

Norsigian’s lawyer, Arnold Peter, says the lawsuit has no merit.

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

AP-WS-08-27-10 0012EDT

 

Jane Stickle Quilt, courtesy of the Bennington Museum.

World-renowned Civil War-era quilt to be displayed in Vermont

Jane Stickle Quilt, courtesy of the Bennington Museum.

Jane Stickle Quilt, courtesy of the Bennington Museum.

BENNINGTON, Vt. – From Sept. 4 through Oct. 14, 2010, the quilt that inspires quilters all over the world will be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum. Brought to the museum 60 years ago, the Jane Stickle quilt is only shown for a short time each year due to the fragility of the fabric. Quilters from around the country and world plan trips to the region during that time to see the 1863 quilt. The Jane Stickle Quilt is comprised of 169 five-inch blocks, each in different patterns, containing a remarkable total of 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border. The craftsmanship of the quilt has been mentioned in numerous quilting books, and is the topic of Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt, by Brenda Papadakis.

“The significance of quilts, with their vibrant colors and precise geometric patterns, goes beyond the comforting, everyday use they received by their original owners. Today, within the context of museums, these early textiles can be re-envisioned as works of art on par with any abstract painting of the twentieth century. The Stickle quilt, with its dizzying array of printed cloth patterns and individual block designs, surely embodies this idea of quilt as art,” said Jamie Franklin, curator of the Bennington Museum.

Jane Stickle was born Jane Blakely on April 8, 1817 in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Married to Walter Stickle sometime before 1850, they did not have a family of their own. They did, however, take responsibility for at least three other children. In an 1860s census, Jane Stickle was listed as a 43-year-old farmer living alone. She eventually reunited with her husband, but during that time alone she lovingly created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt. As a reminder of the turbulent times the country was going through, she carefully embroidered “In War Time 1863” into the quilt.

The Jane Stickle Quilt can be viewed with regular museum admission. The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington in The Shires of Vermont and is just a short ride from Manchester, Williamstown, and eastern New York. The museum is open every day in September and October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the museum online at www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

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Click here to purchase the book Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt through amazon.com.

 

Albert Wein bronze sculpture, Seraphim as Sentinels, on marble base, signed and numbered '1/6,' 19 1/4 inches high, 11 inches wide, 11 1/2 inches deep. Estimate: $1,000-$1,5000. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

Uniques & Antiques continues tradition in modern design Aug. 31

Albert Wein bronze sculpture, Seraphim as Sentinels, on marble base, signed and numbered '1/6,' 19 1/4 inches high, 11 inches wide, 11 1/2 inches deep. Estimate: $1,000-$1,5000. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

Albert Wein bronze sculpture, Seraphim as Sentinels, on marble base, signed and numbered ‘1/6,’ 19 1/4 inches high, 11 inches wide, 11 1/2 inches deep. Estimate: $1,000-$1,5000. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

ASTON, Pa. – Uniques & Antiques Inc. has been conducting modern design sales for 20 years – “Back before the craze,” said co-owner Timothy Aikens. The auction company’s sale Tuesday, Aug. 31, will have a good cross section in 451 lots. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live bidding beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Highlights include an op art Eileen Grey-style folding screen made of metallic painted wood, nine sections of cutout circles and squares, (estimate: $1,000-$1,500); an Ernst Schwadron sofa, rust and gold upholstery, (estimate: $1,200-$1,500); and a Florence Knoll rosewood dining/conference table, 78 inches long by 48 inches wide, (estimate: $1,000-$1,500).

Preauction bidding has been active for an Arredoluce Arteluce Triennale floor lamp with three white cone shades on a tripod chrome base. Marked “Made in Italy Arredoluce Monz,” the 71-inch-tall lamp has a $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

Early bidding through LiveAuctioneers has also been active for several lots of Eames rope edge Fiberglas shell chairs with Zenith labels.

For details call Uniques & Antiques at 800-449-0707 or 610-485-7400.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Franco Albini desk for Knoll, X Form legs, glass top with two drawers, tag in drawer, 28 inches high, 48 inches wide, 26 inches deep. Estimate: $1,600-$2,000. Image courtesy of Uniques and Antiques Inc.

Franco Albini desk for Knoll, X Form legs, glass top with two drawers, tag in drawer, 28 inches high, 48 inches wide, 26 inches deep. Estimate: $1,600-$2,000. Image courtesy of Uniques and Antiques Inc.


Eames rosewood lounge chair and ottoman, black leather upholstery, Style #670, purchased in 1970s. Condition: cigarette burn on chair seat and a scratch to one side of ottoman. Estimate: $1,500-$2,500. Image courtesy of Uniques and Antiques Inc.

Eames rosewood lounge chair and ottoman, black leather upholstery, Style #670, purchased in 1970s. Condition: cigarette burn on chair seat and a scratch to one side of ottoman. Estimate: $1,500-$2,500. Image courtesy of Uniques and Antiques Inc.


C.I.A. Manna Torino Lenci Nel Palmeto ceramic sculpture. Worked for Lenci Ceramic Studios in Torino, Italy. Includes original custom-made lamp base and shade made by Marbro, 24 inches high, excellent condition. Estimate: $600-$1,000. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

C.I.A. Manna Torino Lenci Nel Palmeto ceramic sculpture. Worked for Lenci Ceramic Studios in Torino, Italy. Includes original custom-made lamp base and shade made by Marbro, 24 inches high, excellent condition. Estimate: $600-$1,000. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.


Clowes Woodworking Studio cheval mirror, adjustable on flared wood base, shaped mirror frame, 71 inches high, 23 inches wide, 22 1/2 inches deep. Estimate: $600-$800. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

Clowes Woodworking Studio cheval mirror, adjustable on flared wood base, shaped mirror frame, 71 inches high, 23 inches wide, 22 1/2 inches deep. Estimate: $600-$800. Image courtesy of Uniques & Antiques Inc.

An interior hallway at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House. Photo from Office of Historic Resources, City of Los Angeles.

Architectural gems languish on California home market

An interior hallway at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House. Photo from Office of Historic Resources, City of Los Angeles.

An interior hallway at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House. Photo from Office of Historic Resources, City of Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The home sale slump has left some dwellings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and other architectural luminaries languishing on the Southern California market.

Marquee homes by Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and others that once sold briskly to design aficionados for stratospheric prices are now selling at a loss if at all, with the well-heeled increasingly reluctant to buy.

“Those days of easy money and money-is-no-object artwork kinds of prices are gone,” said architect and real estate agent Brian Linder, who has a listing for a 1937 condo unit by Austrian emigre designer Richard Neutra that’s had its price cut to $675,000 after hitting the market in May for $815,000.

It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when the housing-finance bubble that inflated property values throughout the country earlier in the decade showed itself even more prominently among architecturally significant homes. Those homes often sold for many times what their less notable neighbors fetched.

Pierre Koenig’s late 1960s Case Study House No. 21, for example, sold in December 2006 after barely a week on the market for $3.2 million, or around $2,400 a square foot. That compares to an average of $500 to $600 per square foot for neighboring homes at the time, Linder said.

But the prices of many of these pedigreed homes hasn’t yet come down to the level where buyers would be willing to buy a piece of art history.

A 1949 home built in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains outside Los Angeles by John Lautner, best known for the octagonal Chemosphere that looms over the Hollywood Hills, has been on the market for about two years.

The airy redwood-and-glass Schaffer Residence started at around $2 million, but has been cut to about $1.5 million.

In the trendy Silver Lake neighborhood, the Austrian-born Schindler’s sparse, concrete How House hit the market in September 2008 at around $5 million. Its last listing was at $1.9 million.

Meanwhile, in the hills overlooking the neighborhood of Los Feliz, Wright’s 1924 Ennis house, which has been featured in such movies as Blade Runner, and House on Haunted Hill, has had its price reduced from $15 million last summer to about $7.5, and it still hasn’t found a buyer.

The nonprofit Ennis House Foundation fixed about $6.5 million in water and earthquake damage to the imposing home, one of only four in Wright’s “textile block” style.

Another of Wright’s Mayan-influenced homes, the Millard House in Pasadena, has had its price cut from nearly $8 million to around $5 million during the two years it’s been on the market.

The current owners bought the home, also known as La Miniatura, about 12 years ago and have even entertained a proposal by an art dealer whose Japanese client considered buying the home, dismantling it block-by-textile-block and shipping it to Japan.

We have a priceless treasure at a bargain price and it’s not as well understood at home probably as it is around the world,” said the home’s listing agent, Crosby Doe.

High-priced homes by brand-name architects don’t seem to be selling any better in other parts of the country.

In the Highland Park suburb of Chicago, the modernist glass-and-steel box-shaped home best known as the launching point of a character’s father’s Ferrari in 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has languished on the market for more than a year.

The house, built in 1953 by Mies van der Rohe-protege A. James Speyer, was first listed for $2.3 million in May 2009. Last month, its price was cut to about $1.7 million.

James Ebert, a property appraiser who specializes in architecturally significant homes, said prices would have to come down even more in order to attract buyers for these homes, many of which are in disrepair and require expensive maintenance.

When the economy was in better shape, people were willing to spend a little extra for a work of art,” he said. “In the recession we’re in now, that architectural, creative edge tends to dissipate and buyers become more concerned for basic shelter.”

Doe, meanwhile, said new rules for property appraisals mean agents can choose an appraiser with an architectural background. A house with excellent design pedigree might lack floor space, kitchen amenities and bathroom spas, and bring in a lower appraisal, discouraging banks from offering loans large enough to cover asking prices.

It’s the same thing as taking a Picasso and a paint-by-numbers and saying they’re the same,” he said.

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

AP-ES-08-28-10 0438EDT

 


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


 Front view of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House at 2655 Glendower Ave. in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. 2005 photo by Mike Dillon, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Front view of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis House at 2655 Glendower Ave. in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. 2005 photo by Mike Dillon, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuthankamen's famous burial mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Dec. 7, 2003 photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen. Wikimedia Commons photo appears courtesy of the photographer through Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Tut-tut: Security problems seen in Egypt’s museums

Tuthankamen's famous burial mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Dec. 7, 2003 photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen. Wikimedia Commons photo appears courtesy of the photographer through Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Tuthankamen’s famous burial mask, on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Dec. 7, 2003 photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen. Wikimedia Commons photo appears courtesy of the photographer through Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported License.

CAIRO (AP) – The Egyptian Museum houses some of the world’s prized antiquities, including the gold mask of King Tut that draws millions of tourists a year. But it also has an outdated video surveillance system that doesn’t work around the clock and guards who snooze, read the Quran or are seemingly too bored to pay attention.

Security for Egypt’s treasures is under scrutiny after the Aug. 21 theft of a van Gogh painting from another museum in Cairo revealed some alarming gaps, and the minister of culture told a newspaper he lies awake at night, fearing for the safety of the country’s relics.

Shortly after van Gogh’s 1887 Poppy Flowers was stolen from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, officials discovered that no alarms were working, and only seven of 43 cameras were operating.

That made it very easy for whoever took the painting, said Ton Cremers, director of the Netherlands-based Museum Security Network, which keeps tabs on the protection of art around the world.

The value of the van Gogh is $40 (million) to $50 million,” Cremers told The Associated Press. “A complete security system of that museum would be $50,000, and to keep it running would cost $3,000 a year. … Need I say more?”

With the alarms out and few cameras working, the thieves took advantage of the afternoon period when security guards were busy praying during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The thieves used a box cutter to slice the 12-inch-by-12-inch (30-centimer-by-30-centimeter) canvas from its frame and left the museum undetected.

Now, officials in Egypt’s Culture Ministry are under fire.

On Monday, the head of the ministry’s fine arts department, Mohsen Shalaan, was arrested for negligence. Shalaan, who was in charge of the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, and a number of other museum heads had asked Culture Minister Farouk Hosni for nearly $7 million to upgrade their security systems, but only $88,000 was approved.

Two days later, Hosni ordered three museums closed because security cameras weren’t functioning.

The independent newspaper Al-Shorouk reported the Tourism and Antiquities Police had warned Hosni of lax security at the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, and that 16 of the country’s nearly 50 museums have no alarms, cameras or appropriate fire safety systems.

Each year, nearly 9 million people visit Cairo’s museums and the haunting tombs of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and these tourists are a vital source of revenue.

Still, on a hot Tuesday afternoon at the height of the tourist season, inattentive security was easy to spot at the Egyptian Museum.

A tourism police officer guarding the entrance leaned back in his chair intently reading the Quran, the Muslim holy book, as his subordinates tried to handle the hundreds of visitors filing in.

Inside, a guard talked on his cell phone as he leaned against a stone statue of an ancient Egyptian. He ignored a Russian couple touching the carvings on a huge black sarcophagus in the middle of the room.

Another guard dozed while sitting on the edge of a railing, his head jerking to the side. He snapped to attention only when a tourist asked directions.

Elsewhere in the humid building, museum security director Abdel-Raouf Adly hurried past granite tombs, ancient tablets and hundreds of tourists, giving orders into his walkie-talkie and shaking hands with workers.

I checked all my cameras and equipment as soon as I heard about the theft at Mahmoud Khalil,” Adly said, adding that his museum has laser sensors and at least 200 cameras, many of them hidden.

In an air-conditioned control room, three men at computer keyboards watched about 15 screens that displayed views of the hallways. The equipment was dated and the screens were of different models. Under a table, the cover had been removed from a computer to keep it from overheating. The keyboards were gritty from years of use.

Control room workers said that if a security guard “senses” that an incident is about to happen, he presses the record button on a VCR.

An Egyptian Museum guard who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his job said much of the security relied not on computers but on humans, who had to constantly pay attention.

A controller may be very alert for two or three hours of the shift, but then he’ll slip,” he said.

Asked what would happen if a worker missed something or believed that a room wasn’t worth monitoring, the security guard shrugged and said: “It doesn’t get recorded.”

He also said the equipment wasn’t able to record 24 hours a day.

In Egypt, we say, ‘It’s OK; God will take care of it.’ Then we do nothing,” he added.

Since the van Gogh theft, the Culture Ministry announced the creation of a central control room in Cairo to collect information from all museum security rooms.

Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass sought to calm fears about more thefts from sites under his control, telling the AP: “I am assuring everyone that all of my 23 museums are well-protected and have good security systems.”

But on Thursday, he shut down the Nubian Museum in Aswan, 425 miles (685 kilometers) south of Cairo, because its security system wasn’t working, the Shorouk newspaper reported.

Hosni even complained that he was overwhelmed by “incompetent employees.”

I’m tired, I can’t sleep,” the culture minister told the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily. “I wake up in the middle of the night fearing for the artifacts and the museums.”

Derek Fincham, academic director of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, said the best protection is “an active, engaged security guard who isn’t dozing off.”

It’s not an exciting job, but you need to take it seriously,” Fincham said.

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

AP-CS-08-28-10 0306EDT

 

American Indian skulls returned to SD tribe

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) _ Two old American Indian skulls discovered in a Potter County home in 2007 were returned to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe this summer.

Sheriff Alan McClain says he personally delivered the skulls to the tribe’s cultural affairs and antiquities offices.

McClain says the skulls were found by a woman looking to rent a home outside of Gettysburg. He speculates they were found by a previous tenant.

Forensics tests determined that the skulls were from Indian men between the age of 35 and 45. The time period they were from could not be pinpointed but McClain says they were old.

The skulls were in the sheriff’s office evidence room until July, when McClain started cleaning out old evidence.

___

Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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

AP-WS-08-27-10 1408EDT

 

Conn. funeral director guilty of stealing, auctioning property of deceased

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A Connecticut funeral home director and a co-conspirator are facing two-year prison sentences after pleading guilty to stealing money and other valuables from dead people’s homes.

Kevin Riley, owner of Hartford Trade Services, and Yolanda Faulkner pleaded guilty to several larceny charges Thursday in Hartford Superior Court. Sentencing was set for Nov. 10.

Authorities say Riley and Faulkner stole money, jewelry and paintings from the homes of dead people who had no relatives, after Riley had himself appointed administrator of their estates. Prosecutors say the two sold some of the goods at an auction house where Faulkner was the bookkeeper.

Riley is also facing an order to pay restitution of nearly $63,000, while Faulkner is being ordered to repay about $13,000.

___

Information from: The Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

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

AP-ES-08-27-10 0630EDT

A duck with a fish in its mouth is the handle on the lid of this majolica sardine box by George Jones, a famous English potter. Although repaired, it sold for $950 at a Michael Strawser majolica auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of Aug. 30, 2010

A duck with a fish in its mouth is the handle on the lid of this majolica sardine box by George Jones, a famous English potter. Although repaired, it sold for $950 at a Michael Strawser majolica auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

A duck with a fish in its mouth is the handle on the lid of this majolica sardine box by George Jones, a famous English potter. Although repaired, it sold for $950 at a Michael Strawser majolica auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

The foods we favor have changed as technology has improved. A method of preserving food in glass containers was developed in the late 17th century. Canned food became available by 1813. Fresh salads were not a winter food until the early 1900s, when refrigerated train cars could carry lettuce from California to the East Coast. Peas, beans, corn and more were brought to snowy states during winter months after Clarence Birdseye developed frozen food in 1923.

Sardines kept in brine or oil were popular rarities by the 15th century. Canned sardines were exotic, expensive delicacies served as a soup course at dinner parties as late as the 1860s. Maine sardines were canned by the 1870s. Collectors can find special rectangular covered dishes that were made to hold sardines in the can at a Victorian dinner party. Majolica, glass, silver and porcelain sardine dishes were made. There were also special sardine forks and tongs. By the 1900s, sardines were commonplace and were served as snacks or portable lunches at saloons. Today it is hard to imagine that sardines were once eaten only by the wealthy.

Q: I have a countertop painted tin pantry that includes a clock, several towers with lids, several drawers and a few bins. It is marked “Portable Pantry Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.” Do you know how it was used?

A: You have a kitchen storage unit that was popular in the 1890s but lost favor when kitchens became larger and storage was offered in wall cabinets or large worktables with storage above. The towers held and dispensed flour and perhaps rice. The small drawers held spices, and the bins held bread products. By the early 1900s, the “Hoosier cabinet” was the popular choice for kitchen storage and workspace. An early version was a wooden table with an enameled top used as a work surface. It also had an arrangement of bins, towers and drawers to keep cooking materials organized. Painted tin pantries like yours were made by several companies. They sell for $200 to $500, depending on condition and decoration.

Q: An old friend gave me a porcelain bowl that belonged to her parents. She always called it a “berry bowl.” The bottom is marked with a stylized bird and “MZ Austria” and also with “H & C” inside a crown between the words “Imperial” and “Carlsbad.” Please tell me what a berry bowl is, who made my bowl and when it was made.

A: Berry bowls are small bowls, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, that came in a set with a “master” berry bowl. Most antique sets were made with four or six small bowls. Berries or mixed fruits were served from the big bowl into the smaller bowls. Your bowl was made at a factory owned by Moritz Zdekauer in Altrohlau, Bohemia (now Stara Role, Czech Republic), in about 1909-10. The second mark was used by Hamburger & Co., a New York City importing company in business during the first decade of the 20th century. Many American importers bought porcelain from Europe and then added their own mark to each piece.

Q: We have a small nickel-plated cast-iron stove that’s just 17 1/2 inches high, 23 inches wide and 9 inches deep. The oven door is embossed with the word “Globe,” the shelf on the lower left side is labeled “Globe Range,” and the back is embossed “Kenton Brand.” Except for the six-burner cooking surface and the back, the stove is covered with a vine-like interwoven pattern. We have four cooking utensils and the lid handle that can be used for shaking the grate. The stove was owned by my aunt, born in 1915, who said that her father bought it for her when she was a little girl. Was it manufactured about that time? Is it considered a salesman’s sample or a child’s toy? And what do you think it would sell for?

A: You have a great toy, made by a toy company and meant to be used by a child. Kenton Hardware Co. of Kenton, Ohio, was founded in 1890 and started manufacturing cast-iron toys in 1894. Its toy stoves were introduced in about 1900 and continued to be produced into the 1920s. Your aunt may have received it new as a 5-year-old. Kenton made toy stoves in both a child size, like yours, and in a smaller doll size. They could burn coal, too, so a child could bake a biscuit while her mother made a batch alongside her. That wouldn’t be considered safe today. A stove identical to yours, but without the set of pots and pans, auctioned for just under $2,000 in 2003.

Q: In 1940 my father bought an electric table lamp at a secondhand store. The base is metal and heavy. The shade is made of heavy paper decorated with a ship scene. The lamp has three candle bulbs with separate pull chains. The underside of the base is marked “Pat. App. For, Rembrandt, R8136” I am going to get the lamp rewired and wonder how old it is and what it’s worth.

A: Rembrandt Lamp Corp. was in business in Chicago from at least the 1920s into the 1970s. It later became a division of the Harris Marcus Group. Your lamp probably dates from the 1940s or ’50s. If the shade is in perfect condition, the lamp could sell for more than $100.

Tip: Don’t leave the door of an empty cabinet or bookcase open. The weight may be enough to tip it over.

Terry Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Auction Central News, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

Need more information about collectibles? Find it at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. Check prices there, too. More than 750,000 are listed, and viewing them is free. You can also sign up to read our weekly Kovels Komments. It includes the latest news, tips and questions and is delivered by e-mail, free, if you register. Kovels.com offers extra collector’s information and lists of publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques and much more. You can subscribe to Kovels on Antiques and Collectibles, our monthly newsletter filled with prices, facts and color photos. Kovels.com adds to the information in our newspaper column and helps you find useful sources needed by collectors.

CURRENT PRICES

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Mocha-Java Coffee tin, trademark image of chef carrying tray, yellow ground with brown trim, Weideman Co., Cleveland, 3 pounds., 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, $180.

Legras art glass vase, tapered, purple leaves and fruit on textured lavender-amber ground, signed, France, 7 3/4 inches, $230.

Victorian three-tier wire plant stand, semicircular, painted black, scrolling edges, arched skirt, casters, circa 1870, 40 x 42 x 26 inches, $235.

Madame Alexander Kelly doll, hard plastic, Lissy face, rosy cheeks, blue sleep eyes, earrings, blond wig, pink taffeta dress with pinafore, straw hat, 1959, 11 1/2 inches, $345.

Royal Berlin portrait plate, bust of woman with blue headband, surrounded by scrolls and urns, gilt Greek key border, paper label, 9 3/4 inches, $750.

Coin silver goblet, repousse and engraved grape and vine design, twig and bead rim, William Garret Forbes mark, New York, 1773-1830, 6 1/2 inches, $775.

Gee’s Bend quilt, Alabama, cotton, four concentric circles, multiple folded triangles of pink, blue, red and white, black center, early 1900s, 82 x 69 inches, $1,290.

Kentucky sideboard, mahogany, open gallery, three aligned drawers above four paneled cupboard doors, twisted turned columns, ball-turned legs, pear feet, circa 1820, 56 x 77 inches, $1,115.

Masonic high-back chair, globe finials, applied emblem on angular crest, black leather upholstery, U.S.A., circa 1900, 76 inches, $3,055.

Toy Chevrolet sedan, tin, friction, red with yellow top, two doors, New York license plates, Marusan, Linemar, 1954, 11 1/2 inches, $4,600.

A special report from Kovels: Numbers You Need to Know. We have put together a handy report on lists of numbers, dates, facts and clues to the age of your antiques and collectibles. Included are the English Registry Marks on dishes; a U.S. patent design and trademark date identifier; U.S., English and Canadian patent numbers; inflation value chart, furniture periods; government labeling regulations that indicate age; silver price chart; dinnerware shapes and sizes; famous firsts; and lots of other dating clues. The 36-page report is available only from Kovels. Order by phone at 800-571-1555; online at Kovels.com; or send $25 plus $4.95 postage and handling to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2010 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

Frederick Accum's ‘Treatise on the Art of Brewing … ’ has a hand-colored copper engraved frontispiece and illustrated title page. The first edition was published in London in 1820. It has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

PBA Galleries has Beer, Food & Wine book auction on tap Sept. 2

Frederick Accum's ‘Treatise on the Art of Brewing … ’ has a hand-colored copper engraved frontispiece and illustrated title page. The first edition was published in London in 1820. It has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

Frederick Accum’s ‘Treatise on the Art of Brewing … ’ has a hand-colored copper engraved frontispiece and illustrated title page. The first edition was published in London in 1820. It has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

SAN FRANCISCO – PBA Galleries will sell a fine collection of nearly 230 lots of rare books on beer, wine and food at auction on Thursday, Sept. 2, beginning at 1 p.m. Pacific. LiveAuctioneers will provide Internet live bidding.

The auction, titled Beer, Wine & Food: The Marlene & Doug Calhoun Gastronomical Library, is highlighted by a fine selection of books on beer and brewing from the 17th through 20th centuries. It formed the core of books for a bibliography on beer that Doug Calhoun has written. Also included are significant works on viticulture, food, cookery and domestic economy.

The Calhouns have dealt in old and rare books for over 50 years. While selling at book fairs in England and Scotland, they enjoyed old taverns, pubs and the local beers. It was there Doug Calhoun decided to collect early books on brewing. Marlene Calhoun chose to collect cookbooks.

“It is entirely possible that many of the books in this auction may not appear for sale again,” writes Doug Calhoun in the sale catalog.

Leading lots include Cerevisiarii Comes by William Y-Worth, 1692, a rare early English treatise on the art of brewing (Estimate: $5,000/8,000); Abby Fisher’s Old Southern Cooking, 1881, first edition of the second cook book authored by an African American (Estimate: $7,000/10,000); an archive of account ledgers and other items pertaining to James Alexander’s breweries in Oswego and Geneva, N.Y., in the mid-19th century (Estimate: $5,000/8,000); The Practical Distiller by Samuel M’Harry, published in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1809, one of the earliest American distilling manuals (Estimate: $3,000/5,000); and Edward Barry’s Observations…on the Wines of the Ancients, 1775, a classic text on the history of wine-making through all ages (Estimate: $1,500/2,500).

For details contact PBA Galleries at 415-989-2665.

View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Henderson Lithographing Co., Cincinnati, printed this striking bird's-eye-view of the Centlivre Brewing Co. in Fort Wayne, Ind. The framed lithograph, 24 inches by 37 inches, carries a $500-$800 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

Henderson Lithographing Co., Cincinnati, printed this striking bird’s-eye-view of the Centlivre Brewing Co. in Fort Wayne, Ind. The framed lithograph, 24 inches by 37 inches, carries a $500-$800 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.


This original French advertising poster for Diege Gentiane is mounted on linen and measures 47 inches by 31 inches. The circa 1930 poster is estimated at $800-$1,200. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

This original French advertising poster for Diege Gentiane is mounted on linen and measures 47 inches by 31 inches. The circa 1930 poster is estimated at $800-$1,200. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.


Sir Edward Barry’s ‘Observations … on the Wines of the Ancients and the Analogy Between Them and Modern Wines’ contains an engraved frontispiece. This first edition published in London in 1775 has a $1,500-$2,500 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

Sir Edward Barry’s ‘Observations … on the Wines of the Ancients and the Analogy Between Them and Modern Wines’ contains an engraved frontispiece. This first edition published in London in 1775 has a $1,500-$2,500 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.


The ‘New and True Art of Brewing’ by Y-Worth was published in London in 1692. This rare early work on brewing carries a $5,000-$8,000 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.

The ‘New and True Art of Brewing’ by Y-Worth was published in London in 1692. This rare early work on brewing carries a $5,000-$8,000 estimate. Image courtesy of PBA Galleries.