Carrie Mae Weems, 'May Flowers,' chromogenic print, printed 2013, image: 78.74 × 78.74 cm (31 × 31 in.), framed: 85.09 × 85.09 cm (33 1/2 × 33 1/2 in.). Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

Weems’ ‘May Flowers’ tops list of National Gallery acquisitions

Carrie Mae Weems, 'May Flowers,' chromogenic print, printed 2013, image: 78.74 × 78.74 cm (31 × 31 in.), framed: 85.09 × 85.09 cm (33 1/2 × 33 1/2 in.). Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

Carrie Mae Weems, ‘May Flowers,’ chromogenic print, printed 2013, image: 78.74 × 78.74 cm (31 × 31 in.), framed: 85.09 × 85.09 cm (33 1/2 × 33 1/2 in.). Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

WASHINGTON – The National Gallery of Art has acquired its first work by the revered photographer and video installation artist Carrie Mae Weems.

Also entering the gallery’s collection is a complete set of screenprints from Romare Bearden’s groundbreaking series The Odysseus Suite, along with an exceedingly rare chiaroscuro woodcut from the Renaissance. Moreover, the acquisition of a dual-sided figure drawing by Giovanni Battista Piranesi bolsters the gallery’s position as the top repository of etchings and illustrated books by the renowned artist, archaeologist, and architect.

“The opportunity to acquire these significant works speaks volumes about the depth and breadth of the gallery’s collection,” said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. “Yet again our trustees have demonstrated tremendous wisdom and foresight in both strengthening and diversifying our permanent collection.”

In the photograph May Flowers (2002), Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) – recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” – trains her lens on three African American girls posed languidly in the grass. The result is a photograph that not only recalls 19th-century portraits of childhood and the rituals of spring, but also is a compelling statement about race and class in American society.

It was purchased with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

Nearly four centuries passed between the lifetimes of Italian Renaissance engraver Niccolò Boldrini (c. 1510–c. 1566) and African American artist and writer Romare Bearden (1911–1988), yet both artists are linked by a common pursuit: rendering and reinterpreting mythological narratives.

Boldrini’s Hercules and the Nemean Lion (c. 1566) is a highly prized chiaroscuro woodcut that portrays the first labor of Hercules. Although a commonplace motif in ancient Roman decorative arts that found renewed popularity during the Renaissance, this print is unique due to its size, quality, and condition.

Bearden’s screenprints from The Odysseus Suite recast Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey with black protagonists who must overcome the obstacles Odysseus faced in his quest for home. It is a symbolic tribute to the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North and also references the colonial history of the transatlantic slave trade.

Hercules and the Nemean Lion was purchased through the Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund. The Odysseus Suite was purchased as the gift of Richard A. Simms.

Over the last four decades the gallery has built the world’s finest collection of etchings and illustrated books by the Italian master Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778). The addition of Two Workmen at Tables (early 1770s)—with Fragment of a Lion Bas Relief (1750s) in verso—further buttresses the Gallery’s rank.

Two Workmen at Tables is a superb example of Piranesi’s late style. Characterized by bold, dark strokes and broad lines, Piranesi focuses on bodily form and gesture rather than psychology. On the other side of the drawing is a cat that Piranesi drew at least a decade earlier, a feline that resurfaced in his famous Carceri (Prisons) series.

It was purchased through the Ahmanson Foundation Fund.

Through the Max and Heidi Berry Fund, the gallery acquired Splinter Beach (1916), a lithograph by George Bellows (1882–1925) that depicts a group of streetwise kids on a beach overlooking the East River. The purchase of the photograph Juliet with Peacock Feather and Red Leaf (1937–38) by Hungarian artist and theorist György Kepes (1906–2001) was made possible though the Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund. The Laughlin Fund made possible the purchases of Corso Sant’ Anastasia with the Palazzo Maffei in Verona (1855) by William Callow (1812–1908) and A Moroccan Woman in Traditional Dress (1866) by Mariano Fortuny (1838–1874).

The gallery received a generous bequest from Mercedes Eichholz of five paintings, 18 drawings, and six prints by 25 artists, including George Rouault, Pierre Soulages, Juan Gris, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Yves Tanguy. The Ratjen Foundation offered a drawing by Ludwig Emil Grimm (1790–1863), the younger brother of the Brothers Grimm, and conservator Ingrid Rose’s gift of Hortus Berolinensis is a splendid addition to the gallery’s small collection of illustrated German 19th-century botanical books.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Carrie Mae Weems, 'May Flowers,' chromogenic print, printed 2013, image: 78.74 × 78.74 cm (31 × 31 in.), framed: 85.09 × 85.09 cm (33 1/2 × 33 1/2 in.). Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

Carrie Mae Weems, ‘May Flowers,’ chromogenic print, printed 2013, image: 78.74 × 78.74 cm (31 × 31 in.), framed: 85.09 × 85.09 cm (33 1/2 × 33 1/2 in.). Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.

This Chinese Yuan Dynasty dish, priced at $22 million, was one of the high points of the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, selling to a Chinese collector on the stand of Hong Kong dealers Littleton and Hennessy Asian Art. Image courtesy Littleton and Hennessy and TEFAF.

London Eye: March 2014

This Chinese Yuan Dynasty dish, priced at $22 million, was one of the high points of the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, selling to a Chinese collector on the stand of Hong Kong dealers Littleton and Hennessy Asian Art. Image courtesy Littleton and Hennessy and TEFAF.

This Chinese Yuan Dynasty dish, priced at $22 million, was one of the high points of the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, selling to a Chinese collector on the stand of Hong Kong dealers Littleton and Hennessy Asian Art. Image courtesy Littleton and Hennessy and TEFAF.

LONDON – A casual visitor wandering the broad, flower-adorned boulevards of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht last week might reasonably have wondered how so many expensive, museum-quality works of art could possibly find buyers during the deepest recession Europe has seen in a generation. But many of those objects did sell. One partial explanation comes from a recent Forbes report on the world’s billionaires. The report found 1,645 billionaires in the world with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago, offering another reminder, if any were needed, that money makes money. Furthermore, the report revealed a record 268 new 10-figure fortunes, including 42 new women billionaires.

Such research is interesting enough, but while it would be wrong to assume that art buying at high-end art fairs is restricted to so-called Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs), there is no doubt that newly minted billionaires in the fast-developing economies of China, South America and the Middle East are having an impact on the art market. Indeed it was reportedly a Chinese buyer who paid one of the highest prices at the fair: $22 million for a Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) blue and white porcelain dish decorated with a dragon chasing the flaming pearl. It was on the stand of Hong Kong dealers Littleton and Hennessy. (Fig. 1)

The TEFAF still feels like the classiest art fair in the world. Visitors this year were greeted by Alexander Calder’s 1969 monumental stabile, Janey Waney

Alexander Calder’s ‘Janey Waney’ on display at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht in March. Image Auction Central News.

Alexander Calder’s ‘Janey Waney’ on display at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht in March. Image Auction Central News.

which, priced at $20 million by New York dealers Van de Weghe Fine Art, was surely aimed at the billionaire club revealed in the Forbes report.

Big-ticket prices are all very well, but what makes TEFAF so different from other fairs and so appealing to the casual visitor is its sense of inclusion. Unlike the proliferating contemporary art fairs that garner so much breathless media attention, the emphasis at the Maastricht fair is still on collecting and connoisseurship rather than pure financial speculation. It is by no means unusual to encounter an impromptu seminar into materials or techniques, such as the small group of people gathered on the stand of London dealer Sam Fogg where they were discussing the finer points of gilding and polychromy in early European devotional sculpture.

Visitors at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht investigating the gilding on an early European sculpture on the stand of London dealer Sam Fogg. Image Auction Central News.

Visitors at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht investigating the gilding on an early European sculpture on the stand of London dealer Sam Fogg. Image Auction Central News.

Even works by Damien Hirst looked entirely at home among the ancient works of art. We were struck by the atmospheric display of Hirst’s butterfly works and animal sculptures on the stand of Leeds and London dealers Tomasso Brothers.

Damien Hirst’s ‘Black Sheep with Golden Horns’ (2009), priced at £2,250,000 ($3,750,000) on the stand of London dealers Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

Damien Hirst’s ‘Black Sheep with Golden Horns’ (2009), priced at £2,250,000 ($3,750,000) on the stand of London dealers Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

In the dramatic half-light of the stand, Hirst’s Styx, (2013), combining entomological specimens with Hammerite paint, might almost have been mistaken for a faience work by Bernard Palissy.
Damien Hirst, ‘Styx,’ entomological specimens and Hammerite paint on canvas, priced at £200,000 ($332,750) with Tomasso Brothers at the TEFAF Fair. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

Damien Hirst, ‘Styx,’ entomological specimens and Hammerite paint on canvas, priced at £200,000 ($332,750) with Tomasso Brothers at the TEFAF Fair. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

It was priced at £200,000 ($332,750) while The Dance, a pair of dangling animal skeletons cast in patinated silver and mounted on a four-legged stool, looked like Vesalius crossed with Marcel Duchamp.
‘The Dance’ by Damien Hirst, a work in patinated silver priced at £1,750,000 ($2.9 million) with Tomasso Brothers at the TEFAF Fair. Image Auction Central News.

‘The Dance’ by Damien Hirst, a work in patinated silver priced at £1,750,000 ($2.9 million) with Tomasso Brothers at the TEFAF Fair. Image Auction Central News.

Priced at £1,750,000 ($2.9 million), it offered a striking visual counterpoint to a display of four 18th-century Spanish polychrome horses by Juan Chaéz, priced at €350,000 ($482,350).
Four Spanish horses in polychromed wood by Juan Chaéz, priced in the region of €350,000 ($482,350) for the set, on the stand of Tomasso Brothers at TEFAF. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

Four Spanish horses in polychromed wood by Juan Chaéz, priced in the region of €350,000 ($482,350) for the set, on the stand of Tomasso Brothers at TEFAF. Image courtesy Tomasso Brothers.

Last year the London-based Fine Art Society enjoyed a constant buzz around its stand thanks to an innovative work by British couple Rob and Nick Carter that combined fine art with computer animation. This year they exhibited a new work by the duo titled Transforming Nude Painting, showing a nude sleeping in a Renaissance landscape based on the famous Sleeping Venus, a 1510 work by Venetian artist Giorgione.

A new animated video work by British artists Rob and Nick Carter entitled ‘Transforming Nude Painting,’ based on a High Renaissance work by Giorgione, which was attracting curious onlookers at the stand of the Fine Art Society at the European Fine Art Fair. Image Auction Central News.

A new animated video work by British artists Rob and Nick Carter entitled ‘Transforming Nude Painting,’ based on a High Renaissance work by Giorgione, which was attracting curious onlookers at the stand of the Fine Art Society at the European Fine Art Fair. Image Auction Central News.

The Fine Art Society stand was constantly thronged with visitors clustered around the screen watching closely for the moment when the model, the memorably named Ivory Flame, made almost imperceptible movements. Her belly rose and fell with her breathing; her toe twitched; the background trees flickered in the breeze. We were on hand to witness Ivory open her eyes for a moment before falling back to sleep. The bewitching work, in an edition of 10, priced at £100,000 apiece, had sold out, perhaps demonstrating the enduring appeal of realism and verisimilitude in all its manifestations.

The trading performance of London furniture dealers Mallett has been under scrutiny by speculative market analysts for some time, but since their move to the stately premises of Ely House in Dover Street their fortunes seem to have markedly improved. Their stand at Maastricht looked particularly inviting.

The stand of London fine furniture and works of art dealers Mallett at the European Fine Art Fair. Image Auction Central News.

The stand of London fine furniture and works of art dealers Mallett at the European Fine Art Fair. Image Auction Central News.

We strolled in to meet May Geolot who helpfully introduced us to two of their star objects – a superb pair of George II armchairs, formerly in the collection of the Spencer family of Althorp, and a Savonnerie woven wool six-panel screen after designs by Jean Baptiste Oudry.
London dealers Mallett were offering this important pair of George II period armchairs in carved sabicu, known as the Spencer House Chairs. Originating from Althorp, the family home of the late Princess Diana, and attributed to John Gordon after designs by the famous architect and designer James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, they were priced at £1 million ($1,660,000). Image courtesy of Mallett.

London dealers Mallett were offering this important pair of George II period armchairs in carved sabicu, known as the Spencer House Chairs. Originating from Althorp, the family home of the late Princess Diana, and attributed to John Gordon after designs by the famous architect and designer James ‘Athenian’ Stuart, they were priced at £1 million ($1,660,000). Image courtesy of Mallett.

At the European Fine Art Fair London dealers Mallett were looking for a buyer for this important and rare set of six Louis XV Savonnerie panels, circa 1735, decorated with scenes from Aesop’s fables by the great French still life painter Jean Baptiste Oudry. Image courtesy of Mallett.

At the European Fine Art Fair London dealers Mallett were looking for a buyer for this important and rare set of six Louis XV Savonnerie panels, circa 1735, decorated with scenes from Aesop’s fables by the great French still life painter Jean Baptiste Oudry. Image courtesy of Mallett.

As the above references to the Renaissance-inspired animated painting and the Damien Hirst works make clear, the European Fine Art Fair is not aimed only at the super-rich; it is also entertaining and hugely educational. Visiting the fair later in the week has its benefits – one finds many dealers only too happy to chat and share their knowledge.

The British Antique Dealers (BADA) Fair in London the week after the Maastricht event might take a leaf out of the TEFAF book. By comparison with its Dutch counterpart it looks and feels decidedly old-fashioned and sedate. It was so quite when I visited I almost fell asleep. Quite how one could bring such an event kicking and screaming into the 21st century would be an interesting challenge for a creative young entrepreneur. That said, the dealers we spoke to when we visited had done some business and at the end of the day that’s all that counts. Furthermore, the 18,500 visitors represented a 5.7 percent increase on the 2013 fair so BADA must be doing something right. The fair also attracts its fair share of celebrities with this year’s luminaries including minor royals, premiership footballers, British film star Julie Christie, rock entrepreneur Bob Geldof, and super-collector Charles Saatchi with his new squeeze, the TV personality Trinny Woodall.

We also spotted Sotheby’s specialist furniture consultant Christopher Payne admiring a fine, elegant table by English Arts and Crafts designer Edward Barnsley on the stand of Holly Johnson Antiques of Macclesfield. Commissioned by the previous owner in the 1960s and made from a lovely, golden-hued black bean wood, it was priced at £16,750 ($28,000).

The stand of Holly Johnson Antiques at the British Antique Dealers’ Fair in London, featuring a fine dining table dating from the early 1960s by the English Arts and Crafts-influenced designer Edward Barnsley (foreground), priced at £16,750 ($28,000). Image Auction Central News.

The stand of Holly Johnson Antiques at the British Antique Dealers’ Fair in London, featuring a fine dining table dating from the early 1960s by the English Arts and Crafts-influenced designer Edward Barnsley (foreground), priced at £16,750 ($28,000). Image Auction Central News.

It is not widely known that the Edward Barnsley Workshops survive in Froxfield, near Petersfield in Hampshire where they continue to create fine craftsman-built furniture. The exacting standards set by the late great Edward Barnsley (1900-1987) are still appreciated by a discerning clientele seeking unique pieces for specific locations. Give them a call and make a visit.
The Edward Barnsley Workshop near Petersfield, Hampshire, where exquisite, craftsman-designed furniture is still made to the same exacting standards established by their illustrious founder. Image courtesy of Edward Barnsley Studios.

The Edward Barnsley Workshop near Petersfield, Hampshire, where exquisite, craftsman-designed furniture is still made to the same exacting standards established by their illustrious founder. Image courtesy of Edward Barnsley Studios.

The interior of the Edward Barnsley Studios in Froxfield, Hampshire, where the Arts and Crafts tradition of handmade furniture still thrives. Image courtesy Edward Barnsley Studios.

The interior of the Edward Barnsley Studios in Froxfield, Hampshire, where the Arts and Crafts tradition of handmade furniture still thrives. Image courtesy Edward Barnsley Studios.

From a commercial perspective, one of many satisfactory outcomes at the BADA Fair was the successful sale by Sutcliffe Galleries of a recently rediscovered Orientalist oil on canvas by the 19th-century painter Jerry Barrett, titled Lady Mary Wortley Montague in Turkey. Lady Mary Montague seems to have done through her Turkish adventures what Emily Eden achieved on her Indian expeditions and the image captured her luxuriating in her Turkish finery.

This oil on canvas titled ‘Lady Mary Wortley Montague in Turkey’ by Jerry Barrett (1824-1906) was among the highlights of the British Antique Dealers’ (BADA) Fair in Chelsea from March 19 to 25, where it sold at the asking price of £180,000 ($300,130) to a private UK buyer. Image courtesy of Sutcliffe Galleries.

This oil on canvas titled ‘Lady Mary Wortley Montague in Turkey’ by Jerry Barrett (1824-1906) was among the highlights of the British Antique Dealers’ (BADA) Fair in Chelsea from March 19 to 25, where it sold at the asking price of £180,000 ($300,130) to a private UK buyer. Image courtesy of Sutcliffe Galleries.

It sold to a UK private collector for £180,000 ($300,130), vindicating the comment by BADA Fair director Gillian Craig, who said: “The dealers have an increased confidence in the market, which could be seen in the exceptional quality of the stock that they brought to the fair and was reflected in the very strong sales this year.”

It seems that the familiar truism of the art and antiques market still holds firm: quality sells. A few billionaires on hand also helps.

Gallery Report: April 2014

WICHITA, Kan. –

Tiffany art glass vase, $60,000, Woody Auction

A museum-quality Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass vase, pastel white and green with finely engraved calla lily décor and numerous beetle and spider highlights, sold for $60,000 at Part 1 of the lifetime porcelain and fine art glass collection of the late Dr. Ernest Rieger and his wife Karin, held March 20 by Woody Auction, Douglass, Kan., in Part 2 will be held May 29 in Wichita. Also, a set of four Meissen pedestal handled ewers, representing earth, wind, fire and water, hit $57,500. Both figures quoted are hammer prices.

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Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Reading the Streets: Ben Frost and Cope 2

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – The Bronx meets Australia at “Durability,” Cope2 and Ben Frost’s new exhibit now on view through April 20 at the Krause Gallery at 149 Orchard St., with eye-popping bubble tags, abstract pieces and colorful commercial parodies.

Cope2 provides the tags, with his name written in a classic bubble style, my favorite of which are red outlined in black, their imposing curviness now found more frequently on gallery walls than on the trains of yesterday where Cope2 aka Fernando Carlo began tagging in 1978. Sometimes his lettering is simple and direct, and sometimes more intricate, blending into its environment, whether a subway train, ad or gallery wall. More recently Cope2 has been experimenting with a more collage-like, abstract style, with a Lichtenstein-esque layer of tiny black dots overlaying spray paint, ink, enamel and paint.

Ben Frost is originally from Australia, but his slyly funny commercial parodies, poke fun at universal themes of advertising and culture. This includes a strung-out Goofy drawn on boxes of Valium (hey, it must be tiring being a Disney character), and reminded me of the commercial parody T-shirts my high school raver friends were fond of, the logos of companies like Fed-Ex and Tide transformed into references to music and drugs and the themes and Peace Love Unity and Respect (aka PLUR). The Ritalin box features two seemingly innocent children, with a small smear of red spray paint suggesting some kind of menace in their future.

The show is overall a good introduction to both, a bite-size sampler pack of their work that will hopefully encourage visitors to metaphorically buy the full-size bottle. Fortunately for art lovers however, a simple free Google search will do the trick.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

This early 19th-century beaded pouch bag pictures ladies at tea on one side and around a piano on the other. The beading, fringe and silk lining are in excellent condition. It sold recently for $1,026 at a Theriault's auction in California.

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of March 31, 2014

This early 19th-century beaded pouch bag pictures ladies at tea on one side and around a piano on the other. The beading, fringe and silk lining are in excellent condition. It sold recently for $1,026 at a Theriault's auction in California.

This early 19th-century beaded pouch bag pictures ladies at tea on one side and around a piano on the other. The beading, fringe and silk lining are in excellent condition. It sold recently for $1,026 at a Theriault’s auction in California.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – Beaded purses of various shapes were in fashion for all of the 19th and 20th centuries. Shapes went in and out of fashion. Colorful and sparkling glass beads imported from Europe added to the knit and embroidered purses that were in style.

In the early 1800s, the reticule or drawstring bag was “in.” It was knitted with a bead in each stitch. And each bag had a drawstring closure and a long tassel at the bottom. By the 1840s, glass beads were used as trim on dresses and hats. The reticule was out, and rectangular beaded purses were made with geometric or pictorial designs and fancy metal frames.

Early 1900s fashions went back to the earlier beaded purses, and sometimes old frames were reused. Metal beads came into use in the 1840s and were especially popular in purses. The beaded purses of flapper days often had deco designs, metal beads, fringe and a maker’s label inside. In the 1970s and ’80s, beaded purses were back for cocktail parties but again lost favor by 2000.

Now is the time to look for antique glass beaded purses. Prices have gone up during the past 10 years, but the bags are still bargains if you want a special purse. A collector today must examine a purse carefully to determine its age and quality.

Q: I have a Featherweight Singer sewing machine that has a seal on the right side of the top that reads “Golden Gate Exposition 1939.” I also have the original attachments, black case and instruction booklet. I would like to sell it all. Do you know what the set is worth and where I can sell it?

A: Singer was founded in New York City by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1851. The company still is in business. The Featherweight, Model No. 221, was introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 and was made until 1964. It’s smaller and lighter in weight than earlier models because parts were made out of aluminum instead of cast iron. Machines with the “Golden Gate Exposition 1939” badge were made in October 1938. Not many were sold and machines in working condition with attachments, case and manual do sell today, often to be used. The Exposition badge adds a little to the machine’s value. Most vintage sewing machines sell for a few hundred dollars.

Q: My old earthenware pot with two handles stands 6 inches high and holds about 3 1/2 quarts. The base is unglazed and the lid has reddish-brown glaze. The front of the pot is impressed “Red Wing, Provincial Ware, 29.” My oldest sister used to make baked beans in it for our family of seven. Is it worth anything?

A: The number “29” on your pot is the style number Red Wing gave to its four-quart stock pot. It’s sometimes advertised as a bean pot. The Provincial Ware bean pot came in quart and 1 1/2 quart sizes. Red Wing Pottery was in business in Red Wing, Minn., from 1878 to 1967. The company started out making stoneware jugs and canning jars and other utilitarian pottery, and later made dinnerware, vases and art pottery. Its Provincial Cooking Ware was introduced in 1941. Pieces from the line were reintroduced in 1963 and are marked on the bottom, not the side. The value of your stock pot is about $30 if it’s in good condition.

Q: I’m trying to find a value for my Dunhill lighter. It’s 14K gold with brushstrokes. Can you tell me what the lighter is worth?

A: The value of your lighter depends on the gold content and the price of gold when you sell it. The value of 24K gold is the highest because it is almost pure gold. Gold marked 14K is made of 58.33 percent gold and 41.7 percent other metals. Gold is mixed with copper, silver and zinc to make it stronger and less likely to show scratches. Prices for gold fluctuate, but you can find the current price online. An ounce of 14K gold was worth about $725 in January 2014. Gold lighters sell at auction for prices ranging from $150 to $500.

Q: I have a matchbook from the Stork Club that pictures a stork wearing a top hat and smoking a cigarette while standing on one leg. The words “Smoke Fatima” are written in the cigarette smoke. Only one match has been removed. Would this be of interest to a collector? If so, how do I contact one?

A: The Stork Club was in business in New York City from 1929 to 1965. Fatima was a popular brand of cigarettes made from a Turkish blend of tobacco. Most collectors want unused matchbooks. They usually take the matches out before storing or displaying them since they are only interested in the cover – unless the matches themselves have printing on them. Matchbook covers are sold online and at collectors’ swap meets and conventions. Most sell for just a few dollars. There is a club for matchbook cover collectors, the Rathcamp Matchcover Society, Matchcover.org.

Tip: Use a magnet to test the beads on vintage beaded bags. The best beads are steel, and steel sticks to a magnet. Do not soak a beaded bag in water to clean it. The knit threads will weaken and may break. Use a damp cloth and little pressure.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to 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 photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount 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.

  • Mesh purse, gold-tone, chain handle, 6 1/2 x 6 1/4 inches, $65.
  • Tea leaf pitcher, morning glory, Portland shape, Elsmore & Forster, 9 inches, $70.
  • Kitchen grater, yellow pine, drawer, c. 1890, 5 x 13 inches, $80.
  • Dollhouse, Victorian, two stories, porch, railing, steps, balcony, carved accents, painted, c. 1900, 20 x 19 inches, $230,
  • Silver-plated candlestick, tapered standard, Sheffield, c. 1800, 10 1/2 inches, $240.
  • Mechanical bank, “I Always Did ‘spise a Mule,” cast iron, J. & E. Stevens, c. 1880, 10 inches, $280.
  • Daum Nancy vase, blue, green flowers, vines over frosted ground, squared cylinder, 6 1/2 inches, $360.
  • Terra-cotta garden seat, elephant, trunk down, brown, multicolor blanket seat, 17 inches, pair, $365.
  • Sampler, verse, flowers, butterflies, eight-point stars, potted trees, stepped riser, silk on linen, 1815, 16 x 12 inches, $600.
  • Library steps, Regency, mahogany, leather, four treads, adjustable, 28 x 27 inches, $3,320.

Ralph and Terry Kovel, syndicated newspaper columnists, best-selling authors, avid collectors and national authorities on antiques, hosted the HGTV series “Flea Market Finds with the Kovels.” Watch the Kovels’ HGTV shows to become an expert on almost anything you see at a flea market. DVD sets of Seasons One and Two (12 episodes each), plus a DVD of the final episodes of Seasons 1-4) are available online at Kovelsonlinestore.com for $59.90 plus $4.95 postage; by phone at 800-303-1996; or mail your check to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


This early 19th-century beaded pouch bag pictures ladies at tea on one side and around a piano on the other. The beading, fringe and silk lining are in excellent condition. It sold recently for $1,026 at a Theriault's auction in California.

This early 19th-century beaded pouch bag pictures ladies at tea on one side and around a piano on the other. The beading, fringe and silk lining are in excellent condition. It sold recently for $1,026 at a Theriault’s auction in California.

 

 

 

A view of Detroit from Belle Isle Park. Image by Mike Russell. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Creditor seeks art museum documents, other Detroit records

A view of Detroit from Belle Isle Park. Image by Mike Russell. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A view of Detroit from Belle Isle Park. Image by Mike Russell. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

DETROIT (AP) – A New York-based bond insurer wants the Detroit Institute of Arts and the city’s emergency manager to hand over years of financial records and other documents related to city-owned pieces in the art museum.

Syncora Capital Assurance and Syncora Guarantee also said Friday in a filing in bankruptcy court in Detroit that it will serve subpoenas on the art museum, an auction house that performed a valuation of some of the artwork and the state.

It’s the latest action by Syncora, which has also contested Detroit’s bankruptcy and the city’s attempts to pay some creditors far less than they’re owed. One fight is against the city’s plan to pay off a bad pension debt deal with two banks, which would cost Syncora millions of dollars.

Among the materials Syncora is seeking from the DIA are records identifying “any object or work of art in the collection that has been appraised or valued for more than $1 million” and communications between the city and “individuals, investors, art collectors, or corporations relating to the sale or purchase of the collection.”

Syncora also wants all inventory records over the past five years and even contracts and deeds tied to the 1919 handover of art museum assets to the city.

“Syncora and the other insurers are in the business of securing risky debt,” Bill Nowling, spokesman for emergency manager Kevyn Orr, told The Associated Press Saturday in an email. “Sometimes that debt – as is the case with Detroit – must be restructured and insurers must pay a claim. Syncora and the insurers want to force the city to sell art, cut pensions even further and slash essential services to avoid paying those claims to investors.”

The Associated Press left an emailed message seeking comment Saturday from a museum spokeswoman.

Orr alerted DIA officials last spring that city-owned artwork could be considered assets if Detroit ever went into bankruptcy. In July, he made Detroit the largest U.S. city to ever seek bankruptcy. The bankruptcy petition was approved in December.

Christie’s auction house has valued about 2,800 city-owned pieces of art at between $454 million and $867 million.

Foundations and others have pledged $365 million to keep the art from being sold. Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will seek $350 million from the state to aid that cause, while the museum vowed to raise $100 million. That money would go to city retirees to soften the impact of cuts to their pension benefits.

But Syncora’s interest in what the city is worth appears to go beyond art. Its court filing also wants documents related to any potential sale of assets topping $1 million. It names Detroit’s Belle Isle park, the city’s portion of an underwater commuter tunnel to Windsor, Ontario, in Canada, parking facilities and a small municipal airport as assets.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-29-14 2219GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


A view of Detroit from Belle Isle Park. Image by Mike Russell. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A view of Detroit from Belle Isle Park. Image by Mike Russell. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Illustration representing the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

London skeletons reveal secrets of the Black Death

Illustration representing the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration representing the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

LONDON (AP) – You can learn a lot from a tooth.

Molars taken from skeletons unearthed by work on a new London railway line are revealing secrets of the medieval Black Death – and of its victims.

This week, Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London, outlined the biography of one man whose ancient bones were found by construction workers under London’s Charterhouse Square: He was breast-fed as a baby, moved to London from another part of England, had bad tooth decay in childhood, grew up to work as a laborer, and died in early adulthood from the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.

The poor man’s life was nasty, brutish and short, but his afterlife is long and illuminating.

“It’s fantastic we can look in such detail at an individual who died 600 years ago,” Walker said. “It’s incredible, really.”

The 25 skeletons were uncovered last year during work on Crossrail, a new rail line that’s boring 13 miles of tunnels under the heart of the city. Archaeologists immediately suspected the bones came from a cemetery for plague victims. The location, outside the walls of the medieval city, chimes with historical accounts. The square, once home to a monastery, is one of the few spots in the city to stay undisturbed for centuries.

To test their theory, scientists took one tooth from each of 12 skeletons, then extracted DNA from the teeth. They announced Sunday that tests had found the presence of the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, in several of the teeth, meaning the individuals had been exposed to – and likely died from – the Black Death.

The findings didn’t stop there. Archaeologists, historians, microbiologists and physicists worked together to apply techniques from several scientific disciplines to the discovery.

Radiocarbon dating and analysis of pottery shards helped determine when the burials took place. Forensic geophysics – more commonly used in murder and war-crimes investigations – helped locate more graves under the square. Studying oxygen and strontium isotopes in the bones revealed details of diet and health.

These were, by and large, poor people. Many of the skeletons showed signs of malnutrition consistent with the “Great Famine” that struck Europe 30 years before the Black Death. Many had back injuries suggesting lives of hard labor. One man became a vegetarian late in life, indicating he may have entered an order of monks.

Archaeologists were surprised to discover that the skeletons lay in layers and appeared to come from three different periods: the original Black Death epidemic in 1348-1350, and later outbreaks in 1361 and the early 15th century.

“It suggests that the burial ground was used again and again for the burial of plague victims,” said Jay Carver, Crossrail’s lead archaeologist.

The Black Death is thought to have killed at least 75 million people, including more than half of Britain’s population, yet the burials suggest a surprisingly high degree of social order – at first. As the plague ravaged continental Europe – borne westward by fleas on rats – city fathers leased land for an emergency burial ground. The burials were simple but orderly, the bodies wrapped in shrouds and laid out in neat rows, sealed with a layer of clay.

The later skeletons, however, show more signs of upper-body injuries, consistent with a period of lawlessness and social breakdown.

Archaeologists are planning a new dig this summer to learn how many bodies lie under the square. Carver says the number appears to be in the “low thousands.”

And the teeth may not have yielded all their secrets. Experts in ancient DNA at McMaster University in Canada are working to sequence the plague genome found in the teeth, in order to learn more about a disease that still infects several thousand people a year around the world. Most patients recover if treated early with antibiotics.

Scientists want to know if the 14th-century disease is the same as the modern version, or whether the disease has evolved. Study of DNA from the teeth of skeletons discovered in the 1980s at another London plague cemetery suggested the bug was largely unchanged, but the scientific jury is still out.

Brendan Wren, a professor of molecular biology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the new information could help scientists “understand how the plague bacillus – and other nasty bugs – become so virulent to humans.”

“It is useful information that could warn and avert potential epidemics and pandemics,” he said.

Jill Lawless can be reached at http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-30-14 0447GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Illustration representing the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration representing the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411). Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Don Larson, the only player to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, started his career with the Aberdeen Pheasants. The New York Yankees pitcher is pictured on a 1954 Bowman baseball card. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Bobby Langston Antiques Inc.

Baseball fan donates collection to SD Historical Society

Don Larson, the only player to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, started his career with the Aberdeen Pheasants. The New York Yankees pitcher is pictured on a 1954 Bowman baseball card. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Bobby Langston Antiques Inc.

Don Larson, the only player to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, started his career with the Aberdeen Pheasants. The New York Yankees pitcher is pictured on a 1954 Bowman baseball card. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Bobby Langston Antiques Inc.

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – A South Dakota native has donated his extensive collection of Northern League baseball memorabilia to the State Historical Society, which plans to feature it prominently in an exhibit opening in the fall.

Paul Gertsen, who was raised in Aberdeen and graduated from high school in Huron, has worked for both the St. Paul Saints and the Minnesota Moose and currently works for the city of St. Paul, Minn.

“I started collecting baseball cards in 1971, the same year I saw my first Aberdeen Pheasants games,” he said. “I have collected baseball memorabilia since that time, and started to build my Northern League collection – slowly but surely – in 1983. I wanted to donate to an institution that would preserve the intact nature of the collection, and make it available for display and research.”

The Northern League is an independent professional baseball league that dates to 1902. Memorabilia donated by Gertsen includes the plaque from the cornerstone of Aberdeen Athletic Field; game-worn uniforms from the Aberdeen Pheasants, St. Cloud Rox and Winnipeg Maroons; team autographed baseballs and game-used bats; and more than 560 autographs of major league players, coaches and umpires who at one time were associated with the Northern League.

“The importance of this collection is incredible,” said Dan Brosz, curator of collections at the Historical Society’s museum.

Some items already are on display in the museum. Items from the collection also will be featured prominently in an exhibit opening Oct. 24 in the Historical Society’s museum tentatively called “Play Ball! The National Pastime in South Dakota.” The exhibit will run through March 2016.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-28-14 1644GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Don Larson, the only player to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, started his career with the Aberdeen Pheasants. The New York Yankees pitcher is pictured on a 1954 Bowman baseball card. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Bobby Langston Antiques Inc.

Don Larson, the only player to pitch a perfect game in the World Series, started his career with the Aberdeen Pheasants. The New York Yankees pitcher is pictured on a 1954 Bowman baseball card. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Bobby Langston Antiques Inc.

Head of a bull that once guarded the entrance to the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis in present-day Iran. The artifact is in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Image by Nathaniel.Ioman at en.wikipedia.

Court: Museum pieces can’t be seized to pay judgment against Iran

Head of a bull that once guarded the entrance to the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis in present-day Iran. The artifact is in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Image by Nathaniel.Ioman at en.wikipedia.

Head of a bull that once guarded the entrance to the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis in present-day Iran. The artifact is in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Image by Nathaniel.Ioman at en.wikipedia.

CHICAGO (AP) – Survivors of a 1997 terrorist bombing blamed partly on Iran can’t seize thousands of relics from U.S. museums to pay a $412 million judgment against the Iranian government, a federal judge in Chicago ruled Friday.

The case targeting the Persian antiquities at the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute was closely watched nationwide by other museum officials, who feared a ruling against the Chicago museums could set an alarming precedent that might put their own collections at risk.

“I am very pleased,” said Matt Stolper, who oversees Persian collections at the Oriental Institute. “I’m happy these (artifacts) don’t need to be surrendered to be turned into money.”

The decade-old case stems from a suicide bomb attack at a Jerusalem mall, where explosives packed with rusty nails, screws and glass killed five people and injured nearly 200 others, some seriously.

In his 23-page decision, Judge Robert Gettleman said he “recognizes the tragic circumstances” of the case but that the plaintiffs hadn’t proven that the Iranian government owned the Field Museum items. And he said the Oriental Institute artifacts were loaned for scholarship, not commercial purposes, and so couldn’t be seized.

Among the artifacts in question are thousands of Persian tablets, many of which are inscribed in an ancient alphabet, which are more than 2,000 years old. They have been kept in the Oriental Institute since the 1930s on the long-term loan agreement with Iranian authorities at the time. The Field Museum collection was far smaller.

Stolper also expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs, who included people badly burned in the bombing.

“They are victims of atrocious crimes and they are desperate for a remedy and for some control,” he said. “I don’t think this was a way to do it.”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, David Strachman, didn’t immediately respond to a message left Friday. Museum attorneys said they expect the plaintiffs to appeal the ruling to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Both the Field Museum and the University of Chicago fought the bid to seize the artifacts, as did Iran.

In the 1990s, Congress passed a law allowing American victims of terrorism to seek restitution in U.S. courts if a foreign government was seen to be complicit. But actually securing assets after a judgment, as plaintiffs in the Chicago case have discovered, is often difficult.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas took responsibility for the terrorist attack, and a judge in Washington, D.C., later agreed the Iranian government was complicit by providing financial support and training for Hamas, entering the $412 million default judgment.

With limited Iranian assets in the U.S., plaintiffs’ lawyers took the novel step of going after the antiquities. The subsequent battle in the courts involved knotty issues of sovereign immunity and terrorism laws, as well as cultural and scholarly exchanges.

The U.S. and Iran haven’t had diplomatic relations since 1979 when militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held its occupants hostage. More recently, the nations have been embroiled in a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

As Gettleman noted, U.S. officials also weighed in, opposing the effort to use museum items to pay such judgments.

The Field Museum argued that it legally purchased its pieces in the ’40s, including ceramics made by the world’s earliest farming communities 5,000 years ago. The plaintiffs argued those sales weren’t legal, making Iran the proper owner.

The plaintiffs argued that the around 20,000 items at the University of Chicago could also be viewed as Iranian commercial assets – an argument Judge Gettleman rejected. Over the decades, the university has already returned more than 30,000 to Iran.

“When we finish making records of them, the rest will also go back to Iran,” Stolper said.

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Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarm

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-28-14 2230GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Head of a bull that once guarded the entrance to the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis in present-day Iran. The artifact is in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Image by Nathaniel.Ioman at en.wikipedia.

Head of a bull that once guarded the entrance to the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis in present-day Iran. The artifact is in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Image by Nathaniel.Ioman at en.wikipedia.

Davenport architect Frederick G. Clausen designed the Romanesque Revival front of Hibernian Hall at 421 Brady St.

Historic Iowa building to be converted to loft housing

Davenport architect Frederick G. Clausen designed the Romanesque Revival front of Hibernian Hall at 421 Brady St.

Davenport architect Frederick G. Clausen designed the Romanesque Revival front of Hibernian Hall at 421 Brady St.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) – A historic building in downtown Davenport will be converted into loft housing thanks to the interest of a couple with other renovation projects in the area.

Developers Manoj and Manisha Baheti bought Hibernian Hall on Tuesday, the Quad-City Times reported. The purchase includes several adjacent buildings and a house.

Hibernian Hall, built in 1889, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the former meeting place for the Davenport chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal society.

The building was owned by Ron Bellomy, whose longtime business, Riverbend Antiques, currently occupies the space but will soon close. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The redevelopment will include 17 lofts and two storefronts. The storefronts exist but will be renovated. Construct Services, a construction company, has been hired to help renovate the 25,000 square feet of space, not including the house, into lofts.

This is going to be the first block in downtown to be completely renovated, said Joe Erenberger, who is acting as a consultant for the Bahetis on the project. There is other nearby spaces owned by other developers.

The purchase marks the Bahetis’ third major historic redevelopment in the downtown area. They have turned another property into loft housing, and they’re in the process of creating 45 units in another space.

Manoj Baheti said the project will likely be completed within a year. Manisha Baheti added that such projects “are more interesting when you’re talking about historic buildings.”

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

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-03-27-14 1838GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Davenport architect Frederick G. Clausen designed the Romanesque Revival front of Hibernian Hall at 421 Brady St.

Davenport architect Frederick G. Clausen designed the Romanesque Revival front of Hibernian Hall at 421 Brady St.