The Olson House is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Maine house featured in Wyeth work now a U.S. landmark

The Olson House is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Olson House is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

CUSHING, Maine (AP) – A weather-beaten farmhouse in Maine, featured in the backdrop of one of the most famous paintings from the 20th century, is now a national landmark.

The Olson House in Cushing where Andrew Wyeth painted Christina’s World was one of 14 landmarks to receive the designation from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Thursday.

“It’s now affirmation that it’s an American icon,” said Christropher Brownawell, executive director of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, which has owned the farmhouse for the past 20 years.

Wyeth, who lived in Pennsylvania, spent 30 summers in Maine and he used the farm as a backdrop for the 1948 painting of Christina Olson, who suffered from polio and was unable to walk, crawling through a field toward the farm.

The Olson House, which overlooks the St. George River and Muscongus Bay, is where Wyeth, who died in 2009 at age 91, developed a relationship with Christina and Alvaro Olson that spanned 30 years. Wyeth’s gravestone is near the property.

The Farnsworth Art Museum is currently displaying a collection of 50 watercolors and drawings depicting the Olsons and the farmhouse. Christina’s World is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-02-11 1528GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


The Olson House is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The Olson House is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Cy (Twombly) + Relics - Rome #5, a 1952 gelatin silver print by Robert Rauschenberg. Auctioned by Phillips de Pury & Co. on Nov. 14, 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips de Pury.

BULLETIN: Artist Cy Twombly dies in Rome

Cy (Twombly) + Relics - Rome #5, a 1952 gelatin silver print by Robert Rauschenberg. Auctioned by Phillips de Pury & Co. on Nov. 14, 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips de Pury.

Cy (Twombly) + Relics – Rome #5, a 1952 gelatin silver print by Robert Rauschenberg. Auctioned by Phillips de Pury & Co. on Nov. 14, 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips de Pury.

ROME (AFP) – American artist Cy Twombly has died in a hospital in Rome, at age 83, the director of the Lambert collection in Marseille, France told the news service AFP.

The artist, who was living in Italy and had suffered with cancer for several years, was hospitalized a few days ago, according to Eric Mezil.

An exposition of his photographs opened last month at the Lambert collection in Avignon.

Born Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly Jr. on April 25, 1928), the artist was well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors. Twombly paintings blur the line between drawing and painting. Many of his best-known paintings of the late 1960s are reminiscent of a school blackboard on which someone has practiced cursive ‘e’ s. His paintings of the late 1950s and early 1960s might be reminiscent of long-term accumulation of bathroom graffiti. Twombly had at this point discarded painting figurative, representational subject-matter, citing the line or smudge — each mark with its own history — as its proper subject.

Later, many of his paintings and works on paper moved into “romantic symbolism”, and their titles can be interpreted visually through shapes and forms and words. Twombly often quoted the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as many classical myths and allegories in his works. Examples of this are his Apollo and The Artist and a series of eight drawings consisting solely of inscriptions of the word “VIRGIL”.

A friend of fellow U.S. artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia. In the 1950s, he moved to Italy. According to Eric Mezil, it was Twombly’s wish to be buried in Rome, “the city he has cherished for 50 years.”

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Cy (Twombly) + Relics - Rome #5, a 1952 gelatin silver print by Robert Rauschenberg. Auctioned by Phillips de Pury & Co. on Nov. 14, 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips de Pury.

Cy (Twombly) + Relics – Rome #5, a 1952 gelatin silver print by Robert Rauschenberg. Auctioned by Phillips de Pury & Co. on Nov. 14, 2009. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Phillips de Pury.

A single-owner collection of Clarice Cliff pottery, sold at Skinner’s on June 25, included many of the most desirable forms and patterns. This Bizarre Ware Lucerne single-handled jug in the Lotus shape sold for $7,110, far above the modest $500-600 estimate. A recent reference included this design in a list of Cliff’s “Top Twenty Patterns.” Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Ceramics Collector: Clarice Cliff blooms in summer sale at Skinner

A single-owner collection of Clarice Cliff pottery, sold at Skinner’s on June 25, included many of the most desirable forms and patterns. This Bizarre Ware Lucerne single-handled jug in the Lotus shape sold for $7,110, far above the modest $500-600 estimate. A recent reference included this design in a list of Cliff’s “Top Twenty Patterns.” Courtesy Skinner Inc.

A single-owner collection of Clarice Cliff pottery, sold at Skinner’s on June 25, included many of the most desirable forms and patterns. This Bizarre Ware Lucerne single-handled jug in the Lotus shape sold for $7,110, far above the modest $500-600 estimate. A recent reference included this design in a list of Cliff’s “Top Twenty Patterns.” Courtesy Skinner Inc.

BOSTON – Perfect for summer, colorful art pottery designed by Clarice Cliff (1899-1972) is covered with blooming flowers and ripening fruit. Although the English artist of the Art Deco period also created spare geometric motifs, the majority of her patterns feature glimpses of the natural world.

Produced in the late 1920s and 1930s, Cliff’s patterns sound like marvelous bouquet:; Tulip, Anemone, Crocus, Hydrangea, and Nasturtium are only a few of the many available in the antiques market. Likewise, the fanciful fruit basket is filled with designs like Melon, Oranges, Passionfruit, and Berries.

At other times, Cliff created charming landscapes filled with stylized trees and houses. Orange Roof Cottage recalls a scene from the English countryside, while patterns like Honolulu or Applique Lucerne draw inspiration from more exotic locales.

Gibraltar, introduced in 1931, is a seascape with sailboat, painted in soft colors. Clarice Cliff created so many varied designs in such a short time that there is always a rare pattern or form to delight the serious collector.

On June 25, 2011, Skinner Inc. in Boston offered an extraordinary one-owner collection of Clarice Cliff pottery in their sale of 20th Century Furniture and Decorative Arts.

The event attracted bids from around the world, and the total realized for the group tripled the modest estimates.

Jugs in the rounded “Lotus” shape proved especially popular; one in the Gardenia pattern sold for $1,422, another in the Autumn pattern filled with balloon-like trees for $3851, and a third in the rare Lucerne design for $7,110.

After the sale, Skinner department head Jane Prentiss explained why Cliff’s output remains in such strong demand among collectors: “It’s very cheerful. It’s the pure sense of decorative. People who contacted me were interested because this collection was fresh to the market, so it wasn’t the same pieces of Clarice Cliff going through various auctions.”

She continued, “I think it’s interesting that the countries that were most interested in it were Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and England. Some collectors get jaded, but these people were truly enthusiastic about the material. They were explaining to me that some of the forms hadn’t come out in a while.”

Prentiss admits to having personal favorites. “I live in the woods, and I liked the Pine Groves tea service,” Prentiss said. “The lady who bought it was so excited. The bidders’ enthusiasm was just contagious.”

The 12 pieces in this lot were sold for $1,659 (est. $500-600). The offering included one of the sought-after conical sugar shakers found in many Cliff patterns, as well as teapot, sugar, creamer, and cups and saucers.

Prentiss also pointed out the soft browns and greens and rich reds of the Cabbage Flower pattern, adding “I tend to go for the more organic colors.” Five demitasse cups and saucers in the pattern brought $948; a bowl and octagonal plate were sold for $356.

A similar color scheme appears in Cliff’s Newlyn pattern, which depicts a dreamlike landscape with a red-roofed cottage at center. A group of thirteen pieces with this design sold for $7,110.

Serious collectors know that Clarice Cliff pottery is a complex subject. There were major design collections such as her Bizarre and Fantasque lines, a wealth of different patterns, and a variety of shapes with their own factory names to which the designs were applied.

For example, the Autumn pattern mentioned above belongs to the Fantasque collection and was applied to a two-handled jug or pitcher in the Lotus shape. While the rounded Lotus is a more traditional shape, Cliff also invented table services in angular new forms – circles, triangles, and cones. Buyers compete for the unusual rectangular plates and triangular tea cups.

Fortunately, collectors can consult a number of illustrated references to learn more about Cliff’s career and her wares. Serious academic interest grew when the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in England organized an exhibition of her work in 1972.

Recent works include Comprehensively Clarice Cliff by Greg Slater and Jonathan Brough (Thames and Hudson 2005) and Clarice Cliff by Andrew Casey (Antique Collectors’ Club 2010). Collector will also enjoy the large-format softcover Clarice Cliff: The Bizarre Affair by Leonard Griffin, Louis Meisel, and Susan Pear Meisel (Abrams 1988), which is considered a staple in any Clarice Cliff reference library.

Some details of the designer’s biography are worth noting. In spite of the sophistication of her designs, Cliff was not a well-educated artistic dilettante, but rather a talent who emerged from working-class origins. She was born in the Staffordshire pottery district at Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1899. The potteries commonly employed women decorators, whom they paid very low wages, to turn out hand-painted or transfer-printed sets of dishes.

Clarice knew the business at an early age because her sister Sarah was in charge of the decorating shop at Johnson Brothers. Clarice’s formal education ended at 13, when she secured a post at Lingard & Webster, which paid only two shillings a week. As she continued to work at various potteries, she received additional artistic training and eventually her skills as a painter and designer were recognized by management.

In 1927 when the Art Deco style began to receive public attention, Cliff came up with a new decorating range she called “Bizarre.” In his recent book, Andrew Casey writes, “At a time when most people were buying period and traditionally styled pottery decorated with rubber stamped motifs, Bizarre burst on to an unsuspecting market in a riot of colour that made a significant impact on the British pottery industry.” The complete history of the designer’s extraordinary career is well worth studying.

In his introduction to Casey’s reference Eric Knowles offers this explanation for the appeal of Clarice Cliff’s pottery: “Her creations are for the most part cheerful, with the ability to raise a smile, and any art form that can play on our emotions in such a positive manner has to be worthy of the international acclaim she continues to enjoy.”

View the fully illustrated catalog for Skinner’s June 25, 2011 auction, including prices realized at https://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/25390.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


From left to right, a Fantasque Swirls jug sold for $3,081; a Bizarre Ware Blue Firs vase $1,778; a Fantasque Autumn or Balloon Trees two-handled jug $3,851; a vase with stemmed flower $356; and a Fantasque Gardenia Jug $1,422. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

From left to right, a Fantasque Swirls jug sold for $3,081; a Bizarre Ware Blue Firs vase $1,778; a Fantasque Autumn or Balloon Trees two-handled jug $3,851; a vase with stemmed flower $356; and a Fantasque Gardenia Jug $1,422. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Summer fruits and flowers brighten Cliff designs. The Oranges sugar and bowl brought $296, a Bizarre Ware Alton charger and plate $1,185, and a lot of five varied Fantasque pieces $1,778. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Summer fruits and flowers brighten Cliff designs. The Oranges sugar and bowl brought $296, a Bizarre Ware Alton charger and plate $1,185, and a lot of five varied Fantasque pieces $1,778. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

This group of tea wares in the Bizarre Ware Pine Groves pattern, sold for $1,659, would be perfect for a mountain retreat. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

This group of tea wares in the Bizarre Ware Pine Groves pattern, sold for $1,659, would be perfect for a mountain retreat. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Dreamlike landscapes cover this group of Clarice Cliff shapes in the Newlyn pattern, which brought $7,110. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Dreamlike landscapes cover this group of Clarice Cliff shapes in the Newlyn pattern, which brought $7,110. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Sold as a group for $3,851, the five pieces with bold geometric patterns included a round Honolulu vase at left. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

Sold as a group for $3,851, the five pieces with bold geometric patterns included a round Honolulu vase at left. Courtesy Skinner Inc.

The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Historic Marathon Motor Works village rises from rubble in Tenn.

The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Barry Walker was just 28 years old in 1986 when he first laid eyes on the Marathon motor car factory in what had become a rough part of town. The neglected, decaying Clinton Street structure was surrounded by weeds and inhabited by addicts.

“It was rough,” Walker says. “Dead dogs, needles, drug addicts. It was disgusting when I came over here.”

But Walker couldn’t stop thinking about the space, its proximity to downtown and what the history behind it could be. “I was taken by this building and just kept coming back and coming back,” he says.

Walker had been in the market for a building for his burgeoning business, Ingenuity Shop, which builds audio/video consoles and computer workstations. He also began building elevator cabs for an elevator company and supplying skilled labor to Vanderbilt.

“I got really big, really fast,” he says, adding he had more than 30 employees. “I would interview people at restaurants because didn’t want them to know how little I was.”

His office at the time was about 700 square feet, much too small for his needs. But space wasn’t a problem once he bought the 32,000-square-foot building.

“People are too apt to see old buildings and say, ‘Ah, it looks like hell, tear it down.’ We are tearing down pieces of beautiful art when we tear them down,” he says. “You can’t get this kind of stuff back.”

After he moved his business in, he still had an abundance of space he didn’t want to go to waste.

“I was creative, had done sculpture and all kinds of stuff, and so I said, ‘Gee, I’ll fix this space up for some real creative people and make it a real fun place,’” he says. So he did just that, fixing the upstairs of the building and renting out the units to an eclectic group of clients.

Since that initial purchase in 1986, Walker has been adding piecemeal to it, buying up the other buildings that were built at different times – the oldest in1881 and the newest in 1912. He didn’t know what the buildings were when he bought it but now he is an expert on all things Marathon.

“In 1989, I finally found out it was part of the Marathon car company,” he says. “I started researching and there really wasn’t that much out there.” No stranger to treasure hunting, thanks to a history of scuba diving for shipwrecks, he kept digging. Then, he found out his hometown of Jackson, Tenn., is where the company originated.

In 1884, the Southern Engine and Boiler Works opened in Jackson, manufacturing gasoline engines and boilers for industrial use. By 1904, it had grown into the largest plant of its kind in the nation. Cars were becoming more popular and by 1909, the name was changed to Marathon. The company offered two models.

Marathon moved its operations to Nashville in 1910, but it was in the old building in Jackson that Walker hit jackpot.

“It was vacant and they told me I could have anything I wanted,” he says. “I found a sealed off darkroom, so I knocked out the plaster and found that it had 68 glass negatives and blueprints of the Jackson plant and all the Nashville stuff. I felt like Indiana Jones.”

He now owns and is fixing that building, too.

By 1914, Marathon had ceased operations and stopped manufacturing the cars. “At the time they made between 8,000 and 10,000 cars and had a dealership in every state of the country.” Walker says there are now only eight known left in existence. He owns four of them.

Of course, not everyone initially saw the beauty and potential of what is now Marathon Village. People thought he was crazy, Walker says, adding he acted the part – complete with a gun he would shoot into the ground – so people in that rough neighborhood wouldn’t bother him.

“I had to come in like a nut and have no fear,” he says. “People really thought I was crazy for buying this place. But that is how things get started. Someone has to make a move. And I knew it was only a matter of time. I would sit up here on top of this building and see all this land around here and be looking right downtown. Nobody could really see it, but I could.”

As the years have passed, the buildings have become a growing museum for all of Walker’s Marathon findings, while more and more tenants continue to move in. About six years ago, Lightning 100 moved their offices in, after a decade located on top of the L&C tower.

“It is unique and eclectic like we are,” says Fred Buc, general manager for the station. And while they gave up a killer view, what they got in return was easier access and like-minded neighbors. Yazoo Brewery anchored the other side of the building, which was a good way to help people understand where they were now located. Now, that space is occupied by the Corsair Artisan Distillery.

“It cost this company a lot of money for parking downtown every month, so it saved us a bunch of money moving here,” Buc says. “But what we lost in the process was being able to walk out our front door and have 20 places to eat and a post office and a bank and drycleaners and Walgreens and the Arcade. In return we got easier access in and out for our sales people who come in and out all day.

“And even though we are a little bit harder to find now, at least the people who are coming to us don’t have to fight for a parking space and pay $10. It is just easier.”

Among the nearly 50 tenants of Marathon Village are photographers, distillers, personal trainers, interior designers, sculptors, printmakers, music video producers, recording studios and advertising agencies.

The tenants seem to love being there, but might love Walker even more. After working through serious motorcycle accident three years ago, they rallied around him.

“Barry is one of a kind,” Buc says. “He has had some misfortune but he really is surrounded by a lot of people who care about him and love him. He has really bounced back, and I think that is due to the closeness of the people he associates.

“The building is his baby and, while a lot of tenants could go to other places that may be more developed or fancier or ritzier, I think a lot of people have chosen to come here because of him and because of the uniqueness of the building and the area.”

Walker feels the same about the building and neighborhood he has helped bring back.

“We never have a boring time,” he says. “I have had tons of people who want to buy but I am not interested in selling. I have my own little village. It is my own little hangout.”

___

Information from: The Nashville Ledger, http://www.nashvilleledger.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-02-11 1639GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Marathon Motor Works factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Oil on canvas of wild turkeys, signed ‘O.J. Gromme. 43,’ 24 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Manor Auctions.

Retrospective captures Owen Gromme’s call of the wild

Oil on canvas of wild turkeys, signed ‘O.J. Gromme. 43,’ 24 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Manor Auctions.

Oil on canvas of wild turkeys, signed ‘O.J. Gromme. 43,’ 24 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Manor Auctions.

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Famed nature artist Owen Gromme was upset when his son wanted to buy his Cedar Creek-Mallards painting in 1955.

Owen Gromme was paying for half of his son’s college education and thought if the young man spent $400 for the painting, he could pay more for his own education.

Roy Gromme reminded his dad they agreed he could use his leftover money to buy anything he wanted, except a car. So Owen Gromme sold it to him, rather than the Janesville area mink farmer who asked him for it. Roy Gromme said it’s a special painting to him because it reminds him of a hiking trip with his dad.

“It held fond memories for me, plus I liked the picture,” Roy Gromme, now 78, said in a telephone interview from his home in Oconomowoc, Wis.

That painting will be featured in “Owen Gromme: The 115th Birthday Exhibition,” which is at the Waukesha County Museum in Waukesha.

It features more than 30 family-owned works and numerous personal items that have never been publicly shown. The collection will not be exhibited again after the show ends in October.

Roy Gromme said his father ended up doing a different mallard painting for the farmer, who was conservationist Arthur MacArthur. He had many of his father’s works. His family also donated 14 Gromme paintings to the state in 1988 after he died. They are now in various state buildings in Madison, including the governor’s office.

The hike Gromme and his family went on that inspired Owen Gromme to paint Cedar Creek-Mallards was in Washington County, where a woman in the group fell, startling some mallards. The piece was recently appraised at $40,000, Roy Gromme said.

Gromme, born and raised in Fond du Lac, was a prolific painter of Midwestern birds and designed the 1945 Federal Duck Stamp. He was also a taxidermist and worked for the Milwaukee Public Museum for 40 years, including 10 months in 1928 when he and a team traveled to Africa to collect materials for large museum displays.

In 1963, Owen Gromme published the book, Birds of Wisconsin, which featured 25 years’ worth of his paintings.

Roy Gromme said many of the paintings in the exhibit had been passed on to the grandchildren, which was his father’s request before he died in 1991. Many were in the condos of Roy Gromme and his sister in the Twin Cities, since their children don’t have the space for them yet.

The museum’s executive director, Kirsten Lee Villegas, said they try to pick a different Wisconsin artist every summer to show off at the museum and Gromme is one of the most famous from Wisconsin.

“His paintings of cranes are just phenomenal,” she said. “They are luminescent.”

Another painting in the show features the family dachshund, Rusty, which Owen originally painted for his wife. It was a second attempt since the first one Gromme sold to someone else, much to his wife’s dismay. Roy Gromme said his mother and sister hated it – it was different than the first and had the dog on a green shag carpet with a ripped-up ball. Roy Gromme said it’s ended up in his basement.

His father would mostly only do commissions and he would paint from memory, often changing details of a setting, depending on how he was feeling, he said.

His dad always liked wildlife and art, but never graduated from high school and never took art lessons.

“It was probably something that was born in him,” Roy Gromme said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-04-11 1518GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Oil on canvas of wild turkeys, signed ‘O.J. Gromme. 43,’ 24 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Manor Auctions.

Oil on canvas of wild turkeys, signed ‘O.J. Gromme. 43,’ 24 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Manor Auctions.

Ron Knappen regularly works on pay telephones like this early wooden wall-mount model. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Victorian Casino Antiques.

Telephone repairman heavily invested in ‘Ma Bell’ antiques

Ron Knappen regularly works on pay telephones like this early wooden wall-mount model. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Victorian Casino Antiques.

Ron Knappen regularly works on pay telephones like this early wooden wall-mount model. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Victorian Casino Antiques.

GALESVILLE, Wis. (AP) – Phones are constantly ringing out on the Knappen farm on Hess Road. Don’t expect a fancy ring tone, song or hip-hop beat. These are honest-to-goodness old-fashioned rings, just like it used to be when everyone had a land line and a handset and your neighbors could listen in on the party line.

They don’t even own a cell phone out here in the sticks where Ron Knappen has set up a phone repair empire that includes 29 semitrailers crammed with phone parts and out buildings packed with wood phone carcasses, steel phone bodies, handsets, dials and name plates for pay phones that have seen better days.

Phones are stacked to the rafters on Ron’s farm, which he shares with his wife, Mary. Together, they run Phoneco Inc., a vintage phone business started about 40 years ago at the kitchen table. Today, they have more phones than they can count.

Ron, 75, has dreams beyond the phone business. “I would like to be a street preacher. I would like to learn to play ragtime piano,” he said recently as he wandered the farm. But even he knows these phones have him connected to a switchboard that will never stop ringing in his lifetime.

Instead, he’s plowing determinedly through his inventory with the help of a few part-time workers. That means Ron is out in the old granary from sunup to sundown most days – except Sunday. That’s reserved for polkas. He and Mary check out the action on dance floors from Galesville to Osseo to La Crosse.

“And sometimes Saturdays,” Mary said, as she surveyed the piles of phone parts jammed to the rafters of the granary. The attic above is also packed with phone parts and nary a dancing shoe in sight.

Today, Ron is focused on refurbishing a group of 1912 pay phones. Some have been changed and updated through the years, getting new innards, pay slots and paint treatments as phone companies kept recycling those steel carcasses.

It’s Ron’s job to take away the paint and the years and return the phones to their earliest possible incarnation. To do that, he has harvested boxes of tiny screws from other phones and rescued coin slots, name plates and coin returns.

To the casual onlooker, this looks like a Herculean task that will never be completed. Sometimes, that’s how Ron sees it, too, with thousands of phones waiting to be reassembled and restored.

“We’ve been in the antique telephone business since 1973 full time. We’ve had thousands of phones go through our hands here.”

Though he is a lover of all things antique, it was phones that snared his long-term interest.

“And it was by accident, really,” Ron said.

He started collecting as a boy, bringing home old kerosene lamps and clocks from the dump near their house. He got interested in old cars and other old things, too. “I’ve still got one set of china I gave to my wife in 1950,” he said.

Throughout college and beyond, Knappen kept coming back to antiques, even though he was making his living as a teacher. “I was a picker,” he said. “I’ve always been an adventuresome person into the past.”

But things got serious when he stumbled across a bushel basket of ceramic dials at a rummage sale. He paid a dollar for them and turned and sold them to an antique dealer for $7. Then in 1971, he met telephone collector Bud Johnson from Galesburg, Ill. Knappen would buy his wood crank phones and flipped them for a small profit. So when it came time to sell his collection, he called Ron.

“I spent $200 and put them in my ’56 Buick, and they were ringing all the way home,” Ron said. “Every time we would hit a bump they would ring. I came home with those and I was nervous.” Ron figured he’d blown his wad foolishly.

But he started fixing and selling them and went back for more of Johnson’s collection. That’s when he gave up teaching to make his living off the phones.

“It was good,” Ron said. “We were selling one wood wall phone a day.”

He rang up his biggest investment in 1980 when he paid $230,000 for another dealer’s collection of phones, paying out the balance over 16 years.

Yes, Ron Knappen really does like phones.

“There were 6,000 pay phones in that building,” and lots of other phones, he said. “I bought my own semi and got 20 semi loads. I had the idea … Well, I had a lot of ideas, and my imagination gets too out of hand.”

He wanted to fix them up and put them back in service, but the time for pay phones on street corners had passed.

Still, he was selling pay phones like crazy, he said, until about 1987. Then the business slowed. Now, he caters to collectors.

At the height of the empire, 50 employees cleaned and repaired the old phones. Now he has just a few, including Maria Mau, who was painstakingly washing a grimy phone and checking all the connections while Ron talked about the phones surrounding her workbench.

“I like the Trimlines,” she said. “They remind me of my mom and dad.”

She likes working in the old granary, learning as she works.”You work with Ron, not for Ron,” she said. “And every day you learn something.”

Ron hopes the latest effort on those 1912 pay phones is a boost toward retirement. He has the parts he needs and the right kind of screws. Now he just needs to put them all together to restore the phones to their prewar splendor.

“I still enjoy it,” Ron said, “but I’d kind of like to do something else and pretend like I’m retired.”

___

Information from: La Crosse Tribune, http://www.lacrossetribune.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-01-11 1755GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Ron Knappen regularly works on pay telephones like this early wooden wall-mount model. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Victorian Casino Antiques.

Ron Knappen regularly works on pay telephones like this early wooden wall-mount model. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Victorian Casino Antiques.

Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Its whereabouts remains unknown. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Book Review: Why stealing a Rembrandt seldom pays off

Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Its whereabouts remains unknown. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Its whereabouts remains unknown. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heist (Palgrave Macmillan), by Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg: In 1997, a gang of criminals escorted Boston Herald Sunday Editor Tom Mashberg to an undisclosed warehouse and showed him an Old Master oil painting.

Inspecting the painting by flashlight, Mashberg believed it to be Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, famously stolen, along with several other priceless pictures, from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Since Mashberg’s possible sighting, the missing Gardner artworks have gone back underground, and the crime remains unsolved.

Mashberg has now teamed up with the Gardner Museum’s head of security, Anthony M. Amore, to write Stealing Rembrandts, a detailed look at numerous robberies targeting works by the great Dutch master over the past century. Combining impressive shoe-leather reporting skills with solid art-world knowledge, this fascinating book debunks many myths about museum heists while providing vivid profiles of the criminals and their motives.

The wealthy-but-evil collector who commissions museum robberies to enrich his private holdings is pure Hollywood fantasy, the authors convincingly demonstrate. Most museum heists are carried out by professional criminals who wrongly imagine a Rembrandt can be fenced as easily as other stolen property.

Unlike diamonds or gold, a celebrated old master painting actually has little street value. Instantly recognizable, it cannot be reintroduced into the legitimate marketplace without attracting attention and is therefore difficult for criminals to monetize.

In-depth interviews with several art thieves show that taking a Rembrandt usually nets the robber not a financial windfall but a hostage made of paint and canvas. Ransoms can be demanded and produced, but as the authors note, most hostage situations ultimately go badly for the criminals.

Popular culture too often glamorizes museum heists. As Amore and Mashberg show, stealing a Rembrandt seldom pays off for the thieves but makes the world at large infinitely poorer. With hard facts and a clear-eyed perspective, this book sets the record straight.

___

Jonathan Lopez is editor-at-large of Art & Antiques.

 

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Click here to purchase the book online through amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-Rembrandts-Untold-Stories-Notorious/dp/0230108539


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Its whereabouts remains unknown. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990. Its whereabouts remains unknown. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, Iowa, sold a salesman’s sample of a Masler Safe Co. Cannonball safe in May for $35,000. It came with a velvet-lined oak carrying case. Image courtesy of Live Auctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Curator waits patiently for someone to open antique safe

Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, Iowa, sold a salesman’s sample of a Masler Safe Co. Cannonball safe in May for $35,000. It came with a velvet-lined oak carrying case. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, Iowa, sold a salesman’s sample of a Masler Safe Co. Cannonball safe in May for $35,000. It came with a velvet-lined oak carrying case. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

FRISCO, Texas (AP) – In a Frisco museum, there sits a mystery made of steel.

This 3,700-pound Mosler cannonball safe once held the riches of a railroad town. Today, the bronze-colored behemoth sits frozen shut because of a design guaranteed to thwart bank robbers at the turn of the 20th century.

Its possible contents likely have captured imaginations among the hundreds of schoolchildren who each year tour the Frisco Heritage Museum. Frisco Public Library director Shelley Holley, who oversees the museum, is curious too.

She said the city has talked to a handful of experts. But their safecracking solutions call for breaching the hull of manganese steel. The antique safe – with its ornate lettering and original finish – is too valuable for that, she said.

“Our job is finding someone who has enough experience and won’t damage it in the process,” Holley said. “Locksmiths who are willing to try are a dime a dozen, but they all want to drill out the back.”

The census listed Frisco’s population as 332 in 1910, the year the Mosler cannonball likely arrived by rail in a community of cotton farmers. It’s anyone’s guess how it was hauled several blocks uphill along a dirt road to Frisco Guaranty State Bank.

But it was surely an event for the bank, which opened with one employee that September, along Main Street between the railroad tracks and the cattle trail to the east.

“If you spent the money to have a cannonball safe, you wanted to display it,” Holley said. “You wanted everyone to know that you had one, so that people weren’t constantly kidnapping your bank president.”

That was the way bank robbers worked back then: Kidnap the president, force him to open the safe at gunpoint late at night when no one was around, and then ride out of town before anyone was the wiser.

The Mosler safe put a stop to that, with a triple time-lock mechanism behind its combination lock. It could be opened only after a set amount of time passed on its internal clocks, among the finest timepieces of the day.

When the Frisco bank closed its doors in 1928, the town went without a bank for nearly two decades. Tenants came and went at the building at Fourth and Main. Then in 1947, First State Bank opened there, with Jack Scott Jr.’s father as the cashier. The Mosler safe, which sat inside the vault, became part of the daily operations.

Scott, who started working at the bank in 1964 at age 21 and later became its president, said the safe was used to store cash, savings bonds and loan collateral. A separate compartment inside was secured with another combination lock. Scott said that’s where the bank kept the $500 and $1,000 bills.

When the bank moved to a new location, Scott said, he never considered moving the Mosler. It had simply outlived its usefulness.

Ownership of the safe went to the city of Frisco in 1977, when it bought the old bank building for its City Hall. Jan Alexander, who was Frisco’s tax assessor and collector at the time, said the city stored records and its postage meter in the vault but left the cannonball safe untouched.

“I don’t think we ever opened it,” she said. “It probably just died of old age.”

But the Mosler gained new fans after it was moved in 2008 to the Frisco Heritage Museum.

“We thought the only thing that was stopping us from getting it open was finding someone with the combination,” Holley said.

Scott still remembered the code – a single number. “I must have opened that safe a couple thousand times,” the retired Frisco banker said.

While he was able to get through the first door, the second, with that time-lock mechanism, didn’t budge.

Holley said the city has considered putting out a call to experts and holding a safecracking party. Maybe make it a fundraiser.

“We would love to find someone who feels like they really do have the skill set and would be willing to perform under pressure with cameras and people watching, so we could all discover together what’s in there,” Holley said.

But what if there’s nothing in there?

Images come to mind of Geraldo Rivera’s much-hyped opening of Al Capone’s vault on live television in 1986, Holley said. The TV newsman had a medical examiner and IRS agents on hand to catalog any contents the famed gangster may have hidden away. Millions watched as crews blasted through walls to find only a few empty bottles.

Holley wonders about the Mosler:

“Is the romance of not knowing what’s in it more powerful?”

___

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-03-11 1955GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, Iowa, sold a salesman’s sample of a Masler Safe Co. Cannonball safe in May for $35,000. It came with a velvet-lined oak carrying case. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Rich Penn Auctions of Waterloo, Iowa, sold a salesman’s sample of a Masler Safe Co. Cannonball safe in May for $35,000. It came with a velvet-lined oak carrying case. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Rich Penn Auctions.

Enjoy Fourth of July with this patriotic Brownie dressed for the holiday. The turn-of-the-century majolica figure sold for $165 at a Strawser auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

Kovels – Antiques & Collecting: Week of July 4, 2011

Enjoy Fourth of July with this patriotic Brownie dressed for the holiday. The turn-of-the-century majolica figure sold for $165 at a Strawser auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

Enjoy Fourth of July with this patriotic Brownie dressed for the holiday. The turn-of-the-century majolica figure sold for $165 at a Strawser auction in Wolcottville, Ind.

In the days before Disney, many imaginary sprites that excited children’s imaginations could be found in books. In 1881, Palmer Cox wrote an illustrated story about a group of characters called “Brownies” for Wide Awake magazine. Brownies were imaginary characters based on Celtic mythology. The tiny men had long skinny legs, round bellies and large heads. They were never seen by mortals, but they lived in the homes of humans, helped with chores and sometimes played jokes and caused mischief. In the world of the Brownies, there were dozens of characters, each dressed appropriately. It was easy to tell the policeman from the farmer from the businessman by their clothes. It was a time of massive immigration in the United States, so the Brownies included Chinese, German, Irish and other ethnic figures familiar to children. But there were no female Brownies to be seen. The cartoonlike figures were soon an important part of 19th-century pop culture, and the original magazine article inspired a series of books, comic strips and commercial goods like toys, games, dishes, candleholders, figurines, sheet music, fabrics and even the very popular National Biscuit Co.’s Log Cabin Brownies Biscuits. A series of majolica Brownies were made in the late 1800s. Each stand-alone figure was about 9 inches high. The Brownies faded from view after Cox died in 1924, but collectors are showing new interest today. A Brownie doll was introduced in 2007. Prices are beginning to go up. A majolica figure sold this year for $165.

Q: I have a Numsen silver pitcher, 8 inches high, inscribed with my mother’s initials (AES) and with the words “From the Wardroom Officers, USS Marblehead.” My dad served on the cruiser Marblehead in the early 1930s. Any notion as to value?

A: A 1929 Stieff Co. ad in the Baltimore Sun pictured a Numsen pitcher. The president of Stieff at that time was Gideon Numsen Stieff, son of the founder, Charles C. Stieff. The company was founded as the Baltimore Sterling Silver Co. in 1892. The name became the Stieff Co. in 1904. The company ceased production in 1999. The USS Marblehead was attacked by Japanese bombers in 1942. One of the bombs exploded in the wardroom. The ship was repaired and put back into service later that year. It was decommissioned after World War II ended and was scrapped in 1946. If your pitcher is solid silver, you should weigh it and figure out the meltdown value. Your pitcher would be worth 10 percent to 20 percent more than its meltdown value.

Q: I have an 1889 metal hatchet commemorating the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington. There is a cutout of his profile on the blade. Is it valuable?

A: The 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration in 1889 was marked with three days of festivities, including a parade, naval review and ceremonies. Many souvenir items were made, including hatchets like yours. The hatchets were made in several sizes in bronze, cast iron and other metals and were meant to be hung on a wall. The value varies depending on the size, material and condition. Some souvenir hatchets sell for less than $50, but bronze hatchets sell for more than $2,000.

Q: I have a brown top hat from the 1892 U.S. presidential campaign. Grover Cleveland and A.E. Stevenson’s pictures are inside. Also printed inside are the words “Tariff” and “Reform.” The hat is size 7 3/8 and it has a leather band. I’d like to know the value.

A: Grover Cleveland is the only U.S. president to serve nonconsecutive terms. He was president from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. Although he won the popular vote in 1888, he lost the electoral vote to Benjamin Harrison. The vice-presidential candidate in the 1892 campaign was Adlai E. Stevenson, grandfather of the Democratic party’s presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956. Cleveland and Stevenson campaigned on political reform and on lowering tariffs. Both Harrison and Cleveland used a top hat as a campaign symbol. Harrison’s slogan was “Grandfather’s Hat Fits Ben,” referring to his grandfather, former President William Henry Harrison. Cleveland called Harrison’s ideas the “same old hat.” The value of your top hat today could be more than $300.

Q: I recently visited a museum and saw dishes from a set made in China that pictured the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Were these dishes made in the late 1700s?

A: The history of the dishes you saw is a recently solved mystery. It was thought the dishes were made soon after 1776. Then, scholars decided the dishes had been made for the American Centennial in 1876. The latest research suggests that this pattern, and other Chinese export pieces decorated with U.S. historical scenes, were made in the 1920s or 1930s – or even the 1940s. The design is based on a painting by John Trumbull that wasn’t finished until 1818. The dishes were first noticed in 1947, when they were offered for sale by a missionary in China. Forty-seven pieces were bought by Henry du Pont and are in the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Del. Another group of these dishes was offered for sale in 1950. The dishes could be old plain china with 20th-century decorations or new pieces made in the old way. There is no mention of these dishes in American books until the 1950s. Tests prove the dishes’ glaze includes chemicals not used by the Chinese before the 1900s. It’s a good lesson for all collectors. Fakes are identified by comparing them to the real thing. When the piece is a fantasy – something that appears to be old but is not a copy of anything – dating it is much more difficult.

Take advantage of a free listing to announce your group’s events or to find antique shows and other events. Go to Kovels.com/calendar to find and plan your antiquing trips.

Tip: If your American flag is tattered and can no longer be used, be sure to dispose of it in the proper way. Give it to a Boy Scout, an American Legion post or the U.S. military. They can perform the official ceremony that includes burning the old flag.

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 email 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.

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.

  • Camel Tire Patch cardboard container, tin top and bottom, contains 50 Diamond Vulcanizing patches for tubeless tires, image of camel in Egyptian desert, circa 1946, 6 x 4 inches, $60.
  • 1964 New York World’s Fair license plate, blue, yellow numbers and letters, R-7629, $70.
  • Talking Charmin’ Chatty doll, blond hair, sailor outfit, red knee socks, blue and white saddle shoes, five records, pull string, original box, Mattel, 1963, 24 inches, $115.
  • Wicker plant stand, original zinc insert, white paint, 1920s, 27 x 10 1/2 x 30 inches, $125.
  • Stoneware storage jug, cobalt blue grapes with leaves, applied loop handle, inscribed “Cowen & Wilcox, Harrisburg, Pa.,” 16 inches, $145.
  • Vogue picture record, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies, Hour of Charm All Girl Orchestra, picture of young woman shading her eyes from sun, 1930s, $195.
  • Split willow fishing creel, leather straps and measuring strip, 1930s, 16 x 6 x 8 1/2 inches, $195.
  • Phillips 66 Buddy Lee doll, hard plastic, light-brown herringbone twill attendant uniform and cap, orange badge, moveable arms, 1950s, 12 inches, $650.
  • Mt. Washington sugar shaker, fig shape, yellow and rose ground, blue, red and yellow pansies, 4 1/2 inches, $1,000.
  • Navajo rug, lightning-bolt pattern, black, white and red, grayish brown ground, central white diamond pattern, half diamonds along edges, 1930s, 37 x 65 inches, $1,175.

Kovels’ American Collectibles, 1900 to 2000 is the best guide to your 20th-century treasures, everything from art pottery to kitchenware. It’s filled with hundreds of color photographs, marks, lists of designers and manufacturers and lots of information about collectibles. The collectibles of the 20th century are explained in an entertaining, informative style. Read tips on care and dating items and discover how to spot a good buy or avoid a bad one. And learn about hot new collectibles and what they’re worth so you can make wise, profitable decisions. The book covers pottery and porcelain, furniture, jewelry, silver, glass, toys, kitchen items, bottles, dolls, prints and more. It’s about the household furnishings of the past century – what they are, what they’re worth and how they were used. Out-of-print but available online at Kovels.com; by phone at 800-303-1996; or send $27.95 plus $4.95 postage to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2011 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

From a selection of Princess Diana 50th birthday commemorative stamps issued by Grenada.

Time to speculate: Princess Diana would be 50

From a selection of Princess Diana 50th birthday commemorative stamps issued by Grenada.

From a selection of Princess Diana 50th birthday commemorative stamps issued by Grenada.

LONDON (AP) – Princess Diana would have been 50 years old on Friday, perhaps the only certainty about what might have been in a life abruptly cut short by a 1997 car crash in Paris, with a new boyfriend, two months past her 36th birthday.

Officially, there are no plans for marking the birth anniversary; Prince William, Diana’s elder son, will be in Canada on Friday with his wife Catherine on their first big international tour as husband and wife.

But the “what if?” questions abound as the world looks back on Diana’s life and legacy.

Andrew Morton, the British journalist who was Diana’s confidant and collaborator on an explosive book about the marriage turmoil that led to a royal divorce, believes she might now be living in the United States.

“A lot more billionaires live in America than in Britain,” Morton said in an interview with The Associated Press in Los Angeles.

“And she probably would have snagged a guy with all the toys; you know, the guy with the private jet, the boat and the house in the Hamptons. Maybe started a second family. She always wanted a baby girl, and that was an ambition that she held very dear.”

A new life in America is exactly the future imagined by British writer Monica Ali in her new novel Untold Story. It depicts a princess closely modeled on Diana who fakes her own death, changes her name and rebuilds her life in a small American town – until the paparazzi who dogged her past threaten catch up with her.

The enduring fascination Diana commands in the United States was in evidence on the latest cover of Newsweek, which showed a computer-generated image of Diana at 50, strolling next to William’s bride.

The image, which came under widespread criticism for being ‘creepy,” was for an article by Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown titled If She Were Here Now.

However irresistible that question is to some, Diana’s former secretary Patrick Jephson says the speculation is “entertaining perhaps, but hardly useful.”

“The first Mrs. Wales might by now be solving conflicts, banishing poverty, feeding the world’s hungry or even breeding spaniels in happy rural obscurity. Alas, we will never know,” Jephson said in a commentary for The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“Instead we have an even greater enigma. Why is it that 14 years after her death she continues to figure so large in popular imagination?”

It’s a power that can be measured in dollars – $800,000 in the case of a black dress in which Diana danced with John Travolta in 1985, sold at auction in Toronto earlier this month, or $34,000 for a letter to her nanny, auctioned in 2008.

Popular fascination with the tragic princess remains a tempting market for some merchants, whose birthday wares include:

_ The Diana 50th birthday bear by Steiff from the Danbury Mint. “Her blond mohair is gloriously soft to the touch, and those big eyes recall the young ‘Shy Di’ we remember so well.”

_ The 50th birthday portrait coin from the Westminster Collection.

_ The Royal Doulton 50th birthday Diana porcelain figurine.

_ The commemorative stamps from Grenada.

_ The Diana Queen of Hearts earrings from Compton & Woodhouse.

Inevitably, there’s a Facebook page, where one post says “neither time nor reason, will change the way we feel.”

A website, http://www.high50.com, offers some speculation about what a 50-year-old Diana would be doing.

Contributors speculated that she might be living in New York, getting Botoxed, happily married or happily divorced (again), undergoing therapy, working hard for charities.

“She was a very down-to-earth kind of woman and I think she’d have embraced 50 with a certain amount of resolution. I think she’d have found it quite amusing that she’d gotten that far,” said Bruce Oldfield, one of the British designers who worked for Diana. One of his dresses for her sold for $163,000 in the auction.

“I think she’d live in New York,” Oldfield said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“New York is very classic, very conservative. She’d live in some fab apartment on the Upper East Side… She’d probably be very involved with the Metropolitan museum and charities. And she’d wear a lot of beige I think. I think she would wear sensible shoes and I think she would be chic. Chic isn’t dull and boring, nor is it old.”

Diana died at a time of turmoil in her life. A discreet and lengthy romance with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan had recently ended because he had concluded that her fame made it impossible to have a normal life together. The romance with Dodi Fayed, who died with her, was less than two months old.

Morton feels confident that Diana would still be a problem for her ex-husband, Prince Charles, and the Royal Family.

“She always towered over Prince Charles, so anything she did reflected on Charles,” said Morton.

___

Associated Press reporters Tom Rayner and Jill Lawless in London and Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


From a selection of Princess Diana 50th birthday commemorative stamps issued by Grenada.

From a selection of Princess Diana 50th birthday commemorative stamps issued by Grenada.