Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Reading the Streets: Tina Trachtenburg’s flash flock

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – Tina Trachtenburg gives me a new outlook on pigeons. Walking through Washington Square Park on a superlative spring day, I noticed a group of them gathering in front of a bench, relaxing in the sunlight, much like their mortal enemies, cats. Usually this would be enough to make me run screaming in the other direction (despite a lifetime in New York City, I side with the cats) but there was something different about these pigeons.

Their eyes were a little bigger and somehow more welcoming, their feathers more vividly colored and plush than the average New York City rock dove. They were nibbling on pizza, one of my favorite foods. More importantly, they weren’t moving. Why? Because these birds, as well as the pizza, were made out of felt, a creation of artist Tina Trachtenburg.

Tina Trachtenburg, slide show superstar of the delightful Trachtenburg Family Sideshow Players, a family band and multimedia act that includes her husband and daughter, has long been in love with pigeons. She’s also known for creating the Sideshow Players’ merchandise, and saw a recent break in touring and playing shows as an opportunity to combine her artistic skills, with her love of pigeons. As she told The Examiner in a recent interview, she wanted to do something nice for pigeons, to get more New Yorkers to appreciate them.

If you’d like to become one of these New Yorkers, visit the bird’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/tinatrachtenburgartist. I saw the birds in Washington Square Park, but she’s brought them to Williamsburg and Central Park, among others. You can also follow the hashtag #flashflock on Instagram.


ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE


Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Lippe via TheExaminer.com

Flash Flock, Tina Trachtenburg, New York City. Photo by Lippe via TheExaminer.com

An advertising pinback button for White Lead Linseed Oil produced by John T. Lewis Bros. Co. The 1-inch-diameter button is marked on the back: 'Lucke Badge & Button Co.'

Furniture Specific: Fables don’t die easily

An advertising pinback button for White Lead Linseed Oil produced by John T. Lewis Bros. Co. The 1-inch-diameter button is marked on the back: 'Lucke Badge & Button Co.'

An advertising pinback button for White Lead Linseed Oil produced by John T. Lewis Bros. Co. The 1-inch-diameter button is marked on the back: ‘Lucke Badge & Button Co.’

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Some days I begin to feel like a third grade teacher who has been teaching way too long. Sometimes it gets discouraging to have written as much about furniture as I have and still have not been able to penetrate the consciousness of what appears to be an incredible number of furniture collectors who regularly read publications in which my work appears. Of course, I am “on the front line” everyday taking on the furniture inquiries of almost anyone who has a computer and an interest as well as anyone who still remembers how to write an actual hard copy letter and mail it. Out here in the field it is amazing how many “furniture fables” still persist in this information age of the Internet and the Antiques Roadshow. Here are few examples I have recently encountered.

LINSEED OIL AS A FINISH DRESSING

Recently I was engaged in a long multipart discussion in an online forum with a couple of folks who seemed to be well informed and interested. The subject was paste wax. All of a sudden someone who had not been in the conversation previously jumped in and interjected the opinion that talk of paste wax was just a waste of time. “Everyone knows that the best possible furniture care solution is a homemade mixture of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and white vinegar,” she said. To my surprise I responded with an absolute lack of profanity, calmly explaining the hazards of the use of boiled linseed oil over the long haul and referring the reader to the site of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works for a quick look at their take on boiled linseed oil. However, I doubt that I made on impression on the folk fable of linseed oil. I provided a closer, more detailed look at furniture finish care which I will be happy to share by email request with any interested reader that further explores old and new concepts in furniture finish thinking.

DON’T TOUCH THAT FINISH

This mantra has spread through the American furniture psyche like an imported virus reaching down to the smallest shop in the mall dealing in 1960s modern furniture. It is so broadly misapplied that I receive a number of inquiries each month asking for an estimate of the potential lost value of a family heirloom since Uncle Joe refinished it 30 years ago. It doesn’t matter that the heirloom turns out to be a factory-made, mass-produced piece of mail-order junk with little or no value to start with. The fear of lost value is almost palpable.

So is it a justifiable fear? It certainly can be if you are dealing with an 18th century American piece of work. It also can be true if the piece of furniture is later but has a provenance that requires special attention. It could even be true for certain 20th century items made and finished by an accomplished craftsman like George Nakashima or Wallace Nutting. Of course it is always advisable to proceed with caution on this subject but if it turns out that the piece in question is a factory-made Depression-era piece or set that displays the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune all over its surface, then what is the harm of replacing one modern sprayed finish with a better one?

Having been in the restoration business for many years I understand the importance of trying to salvage an original finish if possible and still meet the expectations of the owner but if that isn’t possible other steps must be taken.

You can pretty well bet that Duncan Phyfe, Charles Honoré Lannuier, J. & J.W. Meeks and plenty of other renowned furniture designers and makers did not out their new wares with crusty, dark, bubbly finishes. So what’s the big deal about the original finish? It serves as a sort of certificate of authenticity for the modern day dealer or buyer. It isn’t especially pretty. You sometimes hear top end dealers or collectors say “Look at that lovely old finish” but they don’t mean the bubbled up dark shellac is a pretty finish all by itself. It means the finish helps to bolster the claim of age and therefore the price of a piece in their inventory or collection. Granted there are some very nice mellow old original finishes that are quite attractive but that’s not what I am talking about. You would never want to disturb a finish like that but an opaque crackled and bubbly surface from 1840 certainly deserves another look. There might actually be something beautiful under there that could be made to look just as Mr. Meeks intended it to look.

HANDMADE IS OLD AND VALUABLE

Since all furniture before the middle of the 19th century is basically handmade that covers a lot of territory. It also covers all the old farm furniture that was truthfully marginal in its day. Most farmers were better farmers than they were craftsmen and, yes, while the old farm piece may in fact be old that doesn’t necessarily make it valuable. There is a lot of old handmade junk still out there. It is sometimes discouraging to admit that even some professional furniture makers of the 18th and 19th centuries were known to make less than extraordinary examples of their work but they had to pay the rent just like everybody else.

There is still a lot of furniture being handmade today, some of it in small studio type settings, some in isolated garages and some in high school shop classes. Some of this handmade furniture is quite good but it certainly isn’t old and value is often in the eye of the maker or the recipient of the piece. That also includes the table Grandpa made when he was a teenager on the family farm. To the family it is a priceless heirloom but in the real world it is just a quaint piece of folk art that may or may not have any value at all.

THE FAMILY FABLE

Perhaps the most common of all the furniture fables I run across involves the incredibly intricate story of a given piece, at least according to family history. As I have previously expressed in this space and in many others, family history is the least reliable of all sources for the history of furniture. The most recent example to cross my desk concerned a hand painted bedroom set from 1922 (the date was on the back of the mirror glass). The writer relayed to me that the set had belonged to his grandmother. According to family history only 48 sets of this furniture were made, one for each state in the Union in 1922. Grandma’s father had bought the set designated for Oklahoma for her in Oklahoma City.

A close examination of photos of the set revealed a startling fact – it was not a set at all. The set consisted of a chest of drawers, a dresser with a mirror, a tall bed, a writing desk and a chair. Each piece was elaborately painted – in a different theme. There was no consistency in the painting from piece to piece. While the two pieces of case goods had the same basic design the headboard had a shape totally unrelated to any other piece in the set and the writing desk and chair were even more different from all the to the pieces.

I relayed all of this to the owner but he remained unconvinced because that is not what Grandma told him years ago. I just let it go. Didn’t want to confuse the poor fellow with the facts.

 

Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at info@furnituredetective.com.

Visit Fred’s newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable “Common Sense Antiques” columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor’s DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or info@furnituredetective.com. All items are also available directly from his website.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


An advertising pinback button for White Lead Linseed Oil produced by John T. Lewis Bros. Co. The 1-inch-diameter button is marked on the back: 'Lucke Badge & Button Co.'

An advertising pinback button for White Lead Linseed Oil produced by John T. Lewis Bros. Co. The 1-inch-diameter button is marked on the back: ‘Lucke Badge & Button Co.’

An interior view of ‘Beyond the Object’, an exhibition of the work of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly at Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street until June 21. Image: Auction Central News.

London Eye: May 2014

An interior view of ‘Beyond the Object’, an exhibition of the work of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly at Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street until June 21. Image: Auction Central News.

An interior view of ‘Beyond the Object’, an exhibition of the work of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly at Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street until June 21. Image: Auction Central News.

LONDON – It is warmer than usual here in London and it is raining, so it must be summer. As June makes its entrance, the city is gearing up for a month of fairs and other glamorous art market events. This is when London asserts its status as a truly global hub where the planet’s richest individuals congregate to meet, eat and shop till they drop, constant cloud cover being no deterrent.

If you were in any doubt as to just how wealthy the world’s wealthiest really are, then consider this: Last Tuesday, Prince Charles opened a conference here on “Inclusive Capitalism” which was attended by 250 people who between them control $30 trillion dollars worth of investable assets, which is roughly one third of the total wealth in the world. Ask yourself: do you feel included?

Doubtless the organizers of London’s summer art and antiques fairs will be hoping a few of the “inclusive capitalists” at this week’s event will hang around a little longer, envelop them in a warm embrace and spend some of their unearned cash on alternative assets of the art and antique variety. They could, for example, take a stroll over to fashionable Kensington Gardens, once home to the late Princess Diana, where, from June 11 to 18 art fair organizers Anna and Brian Haughton will stage another edition of their popular Art Antiques London event.

The Art Antiques London pavilion in Kensington Gardens, close to the famous Albert Memorial. Image courtesy Art Antiques London.

The Art Antiques London pavilion in Kensington Gardens, close to the famous Albert Memorial. Image courtesy Art Antiques London.

This has established itself as a popular summer fair here in London and, weather permitting, can make for a glamorous and atmospheric destination, even in the evening.

The Art Antiques London pavilion in Kensington Gardens can be an inviting prospect on summer evenings. Image courtesy Art Antiques London.

The Art Antiques London pavilion in Kensington Gardens can be an inviting prospect on summer evenings. Image courtesy Art Antiques London.

We have been sent a few images of the sort of material that will be on view this month, which include an extremely rare Rouen faience sponge box, circa 1730, which will be on the stand of Paris-based ceramics dealer Christophe Perles.
A rare Rouen faience sponge box, circa 1730, which will be on the stand of Paris-based ceramics dealer Christophe Perles at Art Antiques London in Kensington Gardens from June 11 to 18. Image courtesy Art Antiques London and Christophe Perles.

A rare Rouen faience sponge box, circa 1730, which will be on the stand of Paris-based ceramics dealer Christophe Perles at Art Antiques London in Kensington Gardens from June 11 to 18. Image courtesy Art Antiques London and Christophe Perles.

Meanwhile, London works of art dealer Ted Few can always be relied upon to bring a much-needed slice of daily life to the swankier art fairs and among his offerings this year will be an oil on canvas by David Craig, titled And Her Mother Came Too (1949).
London dealer Ted Few will be showing this amusing oil on canvas of 1949 by David Craig, titled And Her Mother Came Too, at the Art Antiques London Fair on the West Lawn of Kensington Gardens from June 11-18. Image courtesy Art Antiques London and Ted Few.

London dealer Ted Few will be showing this amusing oil on canvas of 1949 by David Craig, titled And Her Mother Came Too, at the Art Antiques London Fair on the West Lawn of Kensington Gardens from June 11-18. Image courtesy Art Antiques London and Ted Few.

The image shown here suggests this is not, perhaps, how the mothers of the world’s wealthiest people sit down to eat, but variety is the spice of life.

This year’s fair coincides with Asian Art in London, the city-wide festival organized by London’s most prestigious dealers in Asian art which, of course, is all the rage right now as Asian collectors channel their freshly earned millions into art and antiques. This augurs well for Maastricht dealer Gus Röell, who is bringing to the fair, among other things, an intriguing Cantonese ivory basket, circa 1810, thought to be a wedding present from an official of the Dutch East India Company to his son in 1814.

Gus Röell Fine Art of Maastricht will offer this ivory basket, China/Canton, circa 1810, at the Art Antiques London fair. The inside bears the initials of Wouter Karel Willem Senn van Basel (1781-1856). Image courtesy of Art Antiques London and Gus Röell.

Gus Röell Fine Art of Maastricht will offer this ivory basket, China/Canton, circa 1810, at the Art Antiques London fair. The inside bears the initials of Wouter Karel Willem Senn van Basel (1781-1856). Image courtesy of Art Antiques London and Gus Röell.

Elsewhere at the fair a slightly more contemporary aesthetic is represented by Lesley Kehoe, one of Australia’s leading dealers in Asian art, whose display will be devoted to an installation of works by Japanese artist Maio Motoko (born 1948), who has revived the traditional art of decorative folding screens.
Lesley Kehoe, the Australian dealer in Asian art, will be showing this screen titled ‘Koku Fleeting Moments’ by Japanese screen artist Maio Motoko (born 1948) at Art Antiques London. Image courtesy of Art Antiques London and Lesley Kehoe.

Lesley Kehoe, the Australian dealer in Asian art, will be showing this screen titled ‘Koku Fleeting Moments’ by Japanese screen artist Maio Motoko (born 1948) at Art Antiques London. Image courtesy of Art Antiques London and Lesley Kehoe.

Prestigious fairs like Art Antiques London pride themselves on their vetting procedures. The process ensures that everything exhibited at the fair is authentic and offered with good title. That “due diligence” culture is becoming increasingly important in an art market characterized by rocketing prices, an alarming increase in art theft, the proliferation of fakes and forgeries, and the illicit traffic in cultural heritage.

Until recently there was only one organization responsible for providing due diligence services to the international art and antiques trade and that was the Art Loss Register. However, recent critical press coverage of the ALR in the New York Times and elsewhere has highlighted the urgent need for an alternative service. Now American-born, London-based lawyer Christopher Marinello has founded Art Recovery International to do just that. He spoke to Auction Central News at his smart new offices in West London, a stone’s throw from the Olympia Exhibition Center where the Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair will be held from June 5 to 15.

Christopher Marinello, founder director of newly established Art Recovery International in his offices in West London from where he will offer a range of ethical Due Diligence services for the art trade. Image: Auction Central News.

Christopher Marinello, founder director of newly established Art Recovery International in his offices in West London from where he will offer a range of ethical Due Diligence services for the art trade. Image: Auction Central News.

“By the fall we aim to be in a position to provide an ethical and comprehensive due diligence and art recovery service to the international art and antiques industry,” said Marinello. His new company has been busy in recent months winning hearts and minds among the world’s crime prevention agencies, cultural heritage protection bodies, and the art trade. “We are confident that by the end of the year we will be in a position to take due diligence to a new and cost-effective level,” said Marinello. “To that end we have recruited a highly experienced team, all of whom are committed to improving best practice procedures in the art market.”

Cultural heritage can turn up almost anywhere and in many guises, and as specialist London coin dealers Morton and Eden recently discovered, Eastern Europe is an increasingly fertile focus of attention. One of their specialist valuers, Jeremy Cheek, was recently sifting through a collection of old envelopes sent for appraisal by descendants of an Eastern European family. One of the hundreds of small dusty envelopes was found to contain a cache of rare silver Tsarist coins dating from the early 19th century. The small kopecks are thought to have been struck by Tsar Alexander I, Emperor of Russia from 1801 until his death in 1825, and it seems many of them have never been in circulation.

This early 19th-century Tsarist ten-kopeck piece of 1803 is expected to fetch £15,000-£20,000 ($25,000-$33,450), when it is offered at Sotheby’s London rooms on June 10 in association with Morton & Eden. Image courtesy of Morton and Eden Ltd.

This early 19th-century Tsarist ten-kopeck piece of 1803 is expected to fetch £15,000-£20,000 ($25,000-$33,450), when it is offered at Sotheby’s London rooms on June 10 in association with Morton & Eden. Image courtesy of Morton and Eden Ltd.

“I was really surprised to find them in an otherwise fairly ordinary group of coins,” said Cheek, “and I was astonished by their condition.” The origin of the coins, each of which is a different variety with no duplication and all of a high “Mint State” grade, remains a mystery. “There are no apparent records of such a set having been issued,” said Jeremy Cheek. Their rarity has led the auctioneers to estimate the 10-kopeck piece of 1803 (pictured here) at £15,000-£20,000 ($25,000-$33,450), while a five-kopeck piece of 1825 is expected to bring £6,000-£8,000 (£10,040-$13,400) when they are offered at Sotheby’s London rooms on June 10. Might they be of interest to one of the many newly minted Russian billionaires now domicile in London?

The twinkling lights of the Art and Antiques pavilion will not be the only visual attraction visitors will enjoy during the coming weeks. Recently one of glass sculpture maestro Dale Chihuly’s writhing creations set Berkeley Square ablaze with dazzling color.

‘The Sun’ a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly on show in London’s Berkeley Square. Image: Auction Central News.

‘The Sun’ a glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly on show in London’s Berkeley Square. Image: Auction Central News.

The installation in the square coincides with Chihuly’s exhibition “Beyond the Object” at Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street until June 21.

Sculpture comes into its own during the summer months, largely thanks to the numerous outdoor displays in the countryside scheduled for July through September. More on that next month, but for now a brief mention of one or two other interesting exhibitions taking place outside the capital in the coming weeks.

The Fosse Gallery in Stowe on the Wold, Gloucestershire will be showing an exhibition of crayon, pen and ink drawings of native breeds of farm animals by Seren Bell from June 8 to 28. Bell’s Chartley Park Bull and Red Gate reveal her knack of capturing the personality of her animal subjects.

‘Chartley Park Bull’, a crayon, pen and ink drawing by Seren Bell on view at the Fosse Gallery in Stowe on the Wold, Gloucestershire from June 8 to 28. Image courtesy of The Fosse Gallery.

‘Chartley Park Bull’, a crayon, pen and ink drawing by Seren Bell on view at the Fosse Gallery in Stowe on the Wold, Gloucestershire from June 8 to 28. Image courtesy of The Fosse Gallery.

Seren Bell’s ‘Red Gate’ - on view at The Fosse Gallery in Stowe on the Wold, Gloucestershire. Image courtesy of The Fosse Gallery.

Seren Bell’s ‘Red Gate’ – on view at The Fosse Gallery in Stowe on the Wold, Gloucestershire. Image courtesy of The Fosse Gallery.

No doubt the exhibition will meet with an enthusiastic response from members of the rural Gloucestershire community who live and work among these native breeds.

Finally, something of the serenity of the English countryside can also be sensed in an exhibition currently on view at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset until June 11. Fifteen artists have contributed works to “Still Life and Interiors,” a biannual exhibition that seeks to offer “a comprehensive overview of still life painting today.”

Many of the artists will be familiar to Jerram habitués, but two new faces, Charles Anderson and Karl Taylor, join them this year. Prices range from £750 to around £3,500, with John Maddison’s oil on canvas The Butler’s Pantry and Brian Hanlon’s Pots from an Old Garden Shed (the latter priced at £3,850 [$6,450]) being broadly representative of the kind of appealing, traditional work on show.

John Maddison’s ‘The Butler's Pantry’, oil on canvas, part of the ‘Still Life and Interiors’ exhibition at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset until June 11. Image courtesy of the Jerram Gallery.

John Maddison’s ‘The Butler’s Pantry’, oil on canvas, part of the ‘Still Life and Interiors’ exhibition at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset until June 11. Image courtesy of the Jerram Gallery.

Brian Hanlon’s ‘Pots from an Old Garden Shed’, acrylic on board, priced at £3,850 ($6,450) at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset until June 11. Image courtesy of the Jerram Gallery.

Brian Hanlon’s ‘Pots from an Old Garden Shed’, acrylic on board, priced at £3,850 ($6,450) at the Jerram Gallery, Sherborne, Dorset until June 11. Image courtesy of the Jerram Gallery.

This signed Japanese bronze elephant sculpture with ivory tusks was made in about 1900 and sold in March 2014 at a Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, N.Y., for $920. If the suggested new antique ivory regulations become law, this antique bronze will be worthless because it will be illegal to sell it or even give it to a museum.

Kovels Antiques & Collecting: Week of June 2, 2014

This signed Japanese bronze elephant sculpture with ivory tusks was made in about 1900 and sold in March 2014 at a Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, N.Y., for $920. If the suggested new antique ivory regulations become law, this antique bronze will be worthless because it will be illegal to sell it or even give it to a museum.

This signed Japanese bronze elephant sculpture with ivory tusks was made in about 1900 and sold in March 2014 at a Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, N.Y., for $920. If the suggested new antique ivory regulations become law, this antique bronze will be worthless because it will be illegal to sell it or even give it to a museum.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio – An heirloom bronze elephant with ivory tusks, great-grandmother’s piano with ivory keys, a vintage ivory chess set or an antique silver teapot with a small ivory inset in the handle to keep it cool may be “endangered” by proposed laws that could be in place sometime in June. Buying, selling or importing ivory from recently killed African elephants already is illegal and has been for about 25 years. But an executive order issued by President Barack Obama would extend the ban to include all antique ivory harvested from elephants that died before 1914. There would be a law forbidding sales, even gifts to museums, of any ivory, including antique pieces. This affects antiques dealers and collectors, knife makers and collectors, Inuit craftsmen, owners of mahjong and chess sets, and manufacturers of musical instruments, including guitars and violins – the list could go on.

And those in favor of strong endangered species laws want to also insist that all confiscated antique carved ivory art be destroyed – not even given to a museum. Already thousands of pounds of ivory art objects have been destroyed. This will cause huge losses to companies, collectors and museums. Express your opinion in this controversy. There’s still time to contact your U.S. senator, representative or the Fish & Wildlife Service to make your thoughts known. For links to more detailed information, go to www.kovels.com/latest-news/new-ivory-ban.html.

Q: My bedroom suite has a chest of drawers and dresser made of light wood. They are marked “Birchcraft by Baumritter.” Does the suite have any value other than as used furniture?

A: Baumritter Corp. was founded by Theodore Baumritter and his brother-in-law, Nathan Ancell, in New York City in 1932. The company sold housewares. Baumritter and Ancell bought a furniture company in Beecher Falls, Vt., in 1936. The company introduced a 28-piece line of “Ethan Allen” furniture, named after the Revolutionary War hero, in 1939. The name of the company became Ethan Allen Industries in 1972. Furniture with a modern look and light color is bought by those wanting a ’50s look and sells for a little more than other used furniture.

Q: I bought a heavy glass vase at auction several years ago. It’s 14 1/2 inches tall and 7 inches wide. The signature on the back is “Legras.” The vase is decorated with trees around a lake. The orange-colored sky and reflection in the lake look like it is sunset or sunrise. When light shines through the glass, it looks like the sun is shining through the trees. Can you tell me anything about the maker and the vase’s value?

A: Auguste Legras founded his glassworks at St. Denis, France, in 1864. Legras is known for its cameo glass and enamel-decorated glass in Art Nouveau designs. The company merged with Pantin in 1920. Legras vases sell for a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. A vase with a similar scene sold at auction for $355 earlier this year.

Q: My mother left me her complete set of Salem China. It was a wedding gift, and she may have used the china once or twice through the years. I have used the dishes a couple of times since she gave them to me. All the pieces are perfect. They’re decorated with a central bouquet of colorful pastel flowers. The mark on the bottom is a small circle with the word “Salem” inside it and a coffee cup in front of it. Under that are the words “Princess Margaret, 23 K Gold, 51 Y.” Please estimate a value for the set.

A: Salem China Co. manufactured dinnerware in Salem, Ohio, from 1898 to 1967. The mark on your dishes dates the set to 1951, the year before Princess Margaret’s older sister, Elizabeth, became Queen of England. Salem China named the pattern to take advantage of Americans’ fascination with Great Britain’s royal family. The Princess Margaret pattern is not a common one. A 12-piece set of dishes in the pattern recently sold online for $225.

Q: My World’s Fair souvenir is unusual. It’s a little booklet titled “New York World’s Fair 1939 Needle Book” and holds all 90 of its original needles inside. The color design on the front is of the fair’s Trylon and Perisphere. The booklet, marked “Copyright Pilgrim Needle Co.,” is about 6 3/4 by 4 1/2 in. Is it worth anything?

A: New York’s 1939 World’s Fair is one of the most popular among collectors of World’s Fair memorabilia. But your needle book, while unusual, is not rare. Several versions were handed out at the fair. Most of them sell today for $5 to $10.

Q: I have some beer cans my father got at his 25th college reunion at Harvard in 1964. Are cans for special events like this collected? I know a very small number were made.

A: Beer can collectors like to specialize by brand, city, size, shape or other differences in cans. There are collectors of college and high school reunion beer cans and bottles, but prices are determined by condition and rarity. Unless you are a very serious collector of these cans, it is difficult to judge rarity. Buy or trade for those that interest you for fun – but not for profit.

Tip: To keep scrapbooks from deteriorating, store them away from strong light, heat and moisture.

Need prices for your antiques and collectibles? Find them at Kovels.com, our website for collectors. You can find more than 900,000 prices and more than 11,000 color photographs that help you determine the value of your collectibles. Study the prices. Go to the free Price Guide at Kovels.com. The website also lists publications, clubs, appraisers, auction houses, people who sell parts or repair antiques, show lists and more. Kovels.com adds to the information in this column.

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.

  • Hummel figurine, Chimney Sweep, No. 12/1, 6 1/2 inches, $60.
  • Porcelain figurine, woman volleyball player, white uniform, Schaubach Kunst mark, Germany, circa 1940, 9 inches, $110.
  • Railroad flagman’s lantern, red globe, 1800s, 13 inches, $120.
  • Rookwood bookends, owl, standing on book, taupe glaze, impressed, 1930s, 6 x 3 3/4 inches, $185.
  • Humidor, Bock Havana 50, figural black & tan dog pulling sled, multicolor, circa 1900, 10 inches, $210.
  • Barber bottle, coral reef, opalescent, square, tapered, circa 1900, 8 x 2 1/2 inches, $260.
  • Fishing tackle box, mahogany, brass, lift lid, two fitted drawers, Abercrombie & Fitch, circa 1950, 8 1/2 x 20 inches, $440.
  • Sword, carved swordfish bill, wood hilts, relief-carved narwhal whale, fisherman, 1800s, 39 & 37 inches, pair, $460.
  • Scandinavian Modern chair, swivel, aluminum, upholstery, Carl Eric Klote, 1960s, 27 x 30 inches, pair, $485.
  • Sterling silver service plates, Marie Antoinette, engraved, International Silver, 1900s, 10 1/2 inches, 6 pieces, $2,640.

The Kovels have navigated flea markets for decades. Learn from the best. “Kovels Flea Market Strategies: How to Shop, Buy and Bargain the 21st Century Way,” by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, tells you about the latest smartphone apps and websites to help you shop, share and ship as well as what to wear, what to bring and, most important, how to negotiate your way to a bargain. Also find tips on spotting fakes, advice about paying for your purchases and shipping suggestions. Full color booklet, 17 pages, 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 in. Available only from Kovels for $7.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at Kovels.com; or mail to Kovels, Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

© 2014 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


This signed Japanese bronze elephant sculpture with ivory tusks was made in about 1900 and sold in March 2014 at a Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, N.Y., for $920. If the suggested new antique ivory regulations become law, this antique bronze will be worthless because it will be illegal to sell it or even give it to a museum.

This signed Japanese bronze elephant sculpture with ivory tusks was made in about 1900 and sold in March 2014 at a Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, N.Y., for $920. If the suggested new antique ivory regulations become law, this antique bronze will be worthless because it will be illegal to sell it or even give it to a museum.

The painting titled 'Head of a Man,' once thought to be a Van Gogh. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Australian gallery to return painting lost under Nazis

The painting titled 'Head of a Man,' once thought to be a Van Gogh. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The painting titled ‘Head of a Man,’ once thought to be a Van Gogh. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

SYDNEY (AFP) – An Australian gallery will return a portrait once thought the work of Vincent Van Gogh to its rightful owners in what is believed to be the country’s first restitution of art lost under the Nazis.

The National Gallery of Victoria said it accepted that Head of a Man was part of a forced sale by German Jew Richard Semmel in 1933 and should be returned to his heirs.

“As far as we are aware, this is the first case of its kind in Australia,” the gallery said in a statement posted on its website this week.

“The NGV takes its responsibilities seriously in regard to determining the history of ownership of works of art, including the period from 1933 to 1945 when systematic looting, the confiscation of artworks, and persecutory anti-Semitic policies occurred under Nazi rule,” it added.

In deciding the claim, the gallery said it looked to decisions by the Dutch Restitutions Committee which adjudicates claims about Nazi-confiscated art.

It had already looked at five claims relating to Semmel’s collection which he sold in the Netherlands to finance his flight from the Nazis.

“In all five cases, the committee accepted that Richard Semmel’s auction sales in 1933 were the result of financial pressures caused by the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialist government,” the gallery said.

When the Melbourne gallery purchased the painting in 1940, it had already changed hands several times since the auction and was considered to be by Van Gogh.

In 2006, its attribution came under scrutiny by international scholars and a later investigation by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam concluded that the work was not by the famous artist but likely painted by one working at the same time as Van Gogh.

“The NGV did not consider the work’s attribution to be relevant in coming to a decision regarding the restitution of the work,” the gallery said.

“We also see this as a moral issue, on which it is important to take a strong position,” it said.

“The NGV has been the custodian of Head of a Man for over 70 years. It is now appropriate to play an active role in this next phase of the work’s history by restituting the work to its rightful owners.”

The gallery is awaiting a response from the heirs, who are understood to be living in South Africa.


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The painting titled 'Head of a Man,' once thought to be a Van Gogh. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The painting titled ‘Head of a Man,’ once thought to be a Van Gogh. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

Suspected Islamic radical arrested in Jewish museum shooting

2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

PARIS (AFP) – A Frenchman with suspected ties to Islamic radicals in Syria has been arrested over last week’s fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, investigation sources told AFP on Sunday.

The suspected gunman, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested Friday in the southern French city of Marseille in possession of a Kalashnikov rifle and a handgun similar to the ones used in the attack on May 24, the sources said.

Nemmouche has been detained on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a judicial source said.

The office of the Belgian federal prosecutor confirmed a suspect was being held.

“I can confirm the arrest of the suspect,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

The shooting by a lone gunman killed three people outright — an Israeli couple and a Frenchwoman, while the fourth victim, a 24-year-old Belgian man, was left clinically dead.

Authorities had released chilling security camera footage of the gunman, wearing a cap and sunglasses, walking into the museum, removing an automatic rifle from a bag and shooting through a door before making an exit.

Belgian media reported that the assailant used a camera to film his attack in the same way as Mohammed Merah, the Frenchman who shot dead several Jews in Toulouse two years ago.

Customs officials detained Nemmouche at Marseille’s coach station on board a bus arriving from Amsterdam via Brussels.

According to sources close to the investigation, he was carrying a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and a gun with ammunition in his luggage, as well as a miniature video camera.

“These weapons were of the type used in Brussels,” said one source. Another source close to the investigation said that “many elements are consistent with the shooting in Brussels.”

The European Jewish Congress immediately drew a parallel between the events in Brussels and the shootings by Merah and called for greater security at Jewish institutions and tougher legislation for dealing with anti-Semitic crime.

Originally from Roubaix in northern France, Nemmouche is believed to have traveled to join Islamist fighters in Syria in 2013, and was known to the French domestic intelligence agency DGSI, the source said.

He is being questioned by the DGSI who can hold him for up to 96 hours, until Tuesday, or 144 hours, to Thursday, if investigators invoke an imminent terrorist threat.

Sources close to the investigation told AFP that during the first 24 hours of interrogation, Nemmouche remained silent.

Nemmouche was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for a robbery in a small supermarket in the northern town of Tourcoing in August 2006, his lawyer Soulifa Badaoui said.

She said he had at the time denied any involvement and added that a subsequent raid in his house yielded no incriminating evidence.

The attack was the first such incident in more than 30 years in Belgium and has revived fears of a return of violent anti-Semitism to Europe.

Some 40,000 Jews live in Belgium, roughly half in Brussels and the remainder in the port city of Antwerp.

The profile of Nemmouche also stands to revive a row in France over the monitoring of those who leave to country to fight in Syria.

France unveiled plans in April to try to stop the increasing numbers of young French Muslims heading to fight in Syria’s civil war and becoming radicalised before returning home.

President Francois Hollande said Sunday that the suspect was “arrested as soon as he set foot in France”.

“The government is mobilised to track down jihadists and prevent them from causing more harm,” he said, adding that the action plan to fight them will “be strengthened in the coming months.”

According to the latest figures, some 780 people have left France to fight with jihadists in Syria.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

The iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Grand View Antiques and Auction.

Americans and their cars: a love affair on fumes?

The iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Grand View Antiques and Auction.

The iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Grand View Antiques and Auction.

DETROIT – The ’57 Chevy was still a year away when the launch of the interstate highway system kicked U.S. car culture into high gear. But six decades later, changing habits and attitudes suggest America’s romance with the road may be fading.

After rising almost continuously since World War II, driving by U.S. households has declined nearly 10 percent since 2004, with a start before the Great Recession suggesting economics is not the only cause. “There’s something more fundamental going on,” says Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The average American household now owns fewer than two cars, returning to the levels of the early 1990s.

More teens and 20-somethings are waiting to get a license. Less than 70 percent of 19-year-olds now have one, down from 87 percent two decades ago.

“I wonder if they’ve decided that there’s another, better way to be free and to be mobile,” says Cotten Seiler, author of Republic of Drivers: A Cultural History of Automobility in America.

Those changes – whether its car trips replaced by shopping online or traffic jams that have turned drives into a chore – pose complicated questions and choices.

TRYING ALTERNATIVES: Each day, about 3,500 people bike the Midtown Greenway, a freight rail bed converted to cycle highway in Minneapolis, where two-wheel commuting has doubled since 2000. It’s still a small percentage, but more residents are testing the idea of leaving cars behind.

A second light rail line opens in June. Street corners sprout racks of blue-and-green shared bikes. About 45 percent of those who work downtown commute by means other than a car, mostly by express bus. That syncs with figures showing Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on mass transit last year, up 37 percent since 1995.

“There’s a lot of people who want the less-driving lifestyle, definitely,” says Sam Newberg, an urban planning consultant and transportation blogger.

They include Kimani Beard, 40, who used to drive for a package express company. Now he’s a graphic and apparel designer who walks or bikes to a coffee shop a few days a week, with its Wi-Fi providing an instant office.

“I don’t want to drive anywhere,” he says. “I’ve spent my time behind the wheel, but I think I’ve done enough.”

Meanwhile, some are rethinking the paradigm of vehicle ownership.

In the suburbs just north of Chicago, Eugene Dunn and Justin Sakofs live four miles apart, but met only because Dunn’s 2005 Pontiac broke down.

Dunn, 43 and a math tutor, takes a train to work. But getting to his second job, refereeing youth basketball on weekends, required a car he didn’t have.

Luckily, Sakofs, the director of a Jewish day school, had a Nissan he didn’t need from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, when his Sabbath observance precludes driving. They found each other through RelayRides, whose app pairs individual car owners with neighbors looking to rent.

“Right now, I just need (a car) to get back and forth and make money,” Dunn said.

TESTING THE BONDS: Car culture is about an emotional attachment that can be hard to measure.

A good place to start is Carlson’s Drive-In in Michigan City, Ind, where a car hop arrives at the window before you turn off the ignition.

“It definitely takes you back to an older time,” says Barry Oliver, recalling teen nights driving the strip and stopping here.

Places like Carlson’s were destinations for Americans embracing driving as recreation. As recently as the 1990s, Indiana had nearly 60 vintage drive-ins. Today just five or six are left. Drive-in movie theaters, which numbered 4,300 nationally in 1957, have dwindled to just 350.

Where does that leave car culture?

“Gear heads live here,” says Todd Davis, a Lansing, Mich. native visiting the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum from Orlando. Away from Michigan, “it’s not like that.”

But Davis’ cousin, Sol Jaffee, isn’t convinced.

“Kids will always be interested in cars! I mean, cars are America, don’t you think?”

But at Wisconsin’s Oshkosh North High School, enrollment in driver’s education, no longer required for graduation or subsidized by the state, has declined 40 percent.

Like other states, Wisconsin eliminated funding for driver’s ed, raising the price of in-school programs. Today’s young people often rely on parents for rides, says driver’s ed teacher Scott Morrison. And then there’s Facebook and other social media. While most students still look forward to the freedom conferred by a license, a small but self-aware contingent says it can wait.

“I’ve never really needed” to drive, says senior Ashwinraj Karthikeyan. “It’s almost like a rite of passage for people to drive, but I know offhand probably about 15 or 20 people who don’t have their license.”

THE FUTURE: In 1939, General Motors captivated World’s Fair crowds with a futuristic vision of technology linking highways and cars. But in 2014, Debby Bezzina will tell you that future is fast approaching.

Bezzina, of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, has just begun to explain the technology inside her 12-seat van when a bend in Baxter Road interrupts, setting off a staccato beep that warns the vehicle to slow down. For nearly two years, 2,800 vehicle owners here have been participating in this federally financed bid to connect vehicles with their surroundings so they can join drivers in decision-making.

Meanwhile, on the institute’s second floor, a Nissan Versa wired to let drivers navigate a simulated cityscape will soon be reprogrammed to make it almost entirely self-driving.

There are bound to be complications as people turn over some control to their cars, says the institute’s director, Peter Sweatman. But imagine, he says, summoning a driverless car you might not even own, being picked up and dropped off at curbside, and watching it pull away.

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

AP-WF-05-31-14 1648GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Grand View Antiques and Auction.

The iconic 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com archive and Grand View Antiques and Auction.

Bone cockerel, Vivacity Culture and Leisure – Peterborough Museum

British folk art the focus of Tate Britain exhibition

Bone cockerel, Vivacity Culture and Leisure – Peterborough Museum

Bone cockerel, Vivacity Culture and Leisure – Peterborough Museum

LONDON – The first significant exhibition of British folk art at a major institution will open at Tate Britain on June 10, 2014. Nearly 200 paintings, sculptures, textiles and objects have been drawn together from collections across the country in an exhibition that will celebrate the many forms of folk art in the UK.

The exhibition will be held in the Level 2 Galleries of Tate Britain. The spring/summer event will run through August 31, 2014.

Visitors are asked to arrive via the Manton Entrance on Atterbury Street.

For additional information, visit Tate Britain online at www.tate.org.

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The Simpson family. Showing what the characters of the television show look like should qualify as fair use under United States copyright law. © 2009 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Simpsons mural coming to the real Springfield

The Simpson family. Showing what the characters of the television show look like should qualify as fair use under United States copyright law. © 2009 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

The Simpson family. Showing what the characters of the television show look like should qualify as fair use under United States copyright law. © 2009 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon (AP) – A new mural featuring The Simpsons is coming to Springfield. The real Springfield.

Series creator Matt Groening, who grew up in Portland, Oregon, told Smithsonian magazine two years ago he named Springfield after the real one in his home state.

The mural, expected to be completed in mid-September, follows several years of talks between the city and The Simpsons producers on commemorating the link between the real and fictitious Springfields, city spokesman Niel Laudati told The Register-Guard newspaper.

The city will soon search for a muralist to paint the artwork on the side of the Emerald Art Center. In a statement to the newspaper, Groening said he plans to put his stamp of approval on the mural when it’s finished.

“I plan to sneak up in the middle of the night and sign the mural,” he said. “I hope I don’t get arrested.”

A print artist who works for 20th Century Fox Television is completing the original artwork that will serve as the basis for the mural. Laudati said the artwork will depict Homer lounging in a hammock, Bart climbing a tree, Marge painting, and Lisa and Maggie riding a bike.

“You can’t miss the fact that it’s a specific piece for this Springfield,” Laudati said.

The east side of the art center is covered with an Oregon Trail mural painted in 1993. The Simpsons mural will cover a portion of its west wall, in a space measuring 15 feet by 30 feet.

“We’ve been looking for ways to celebrate Matt (Groening)’s Oregon connection with our Springfield for several years,” Mayor Christine Lundberg said. “We thought public art would be the perfect venue, and Matt agreed.”

The mural is expected to cost $10,000. The city will use tax revenue from hotel rooms to pay for it.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, www.ragoarts.com

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

AP-WF-05-31-14 2141GMT

 

 

 

A newspaper cartoon from 1943 about the life of Col. Charles Young, by Charles Alston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Restoration of Col. Charles Young’s birthplace under way

A newspaper cartoon from 1943 about the life of Col. Charles Young, by Charles Alston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A newspaper cartoon from 1943 about the life of Col. Charles Young, by Charles Alston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

MAY’S LICK, Ky. (AP) – Work is underway to restore the log cabin birthplace of U.S. Army Col. Charles Young, who was among the first blacks to graduate from West Point and go on to a distinguished military career.

The Ledger Independent reports the cabin at May’s Lick in northern Kentucky was built around 1800. University of Kentucky officials have been working with Mason County Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein on the project.

The Mason County Fiscial Court agreed in 2013 to purchase the 38-acre site for $220,000.

Plans are to establish a museum with artifacts and memorabilia from the time period when Young was born in 1864, through his military career and death in 1922.

Work began last year to clear vines covering the cabin walls and to inventory the logs, for reconstruction purposes.

The plan is to dismantle the cabin down to the ground level, level the log floor, replace logs that have deteriorated or are missing, and to rebuild the cabin on site. The property around the cabin will be cleared.

At the entrance to the farm is a historic marker, recognizing Young’s achievements.

He was the third African American to graduate from West Point in 1889. Young served as military attaché to Haiti from 1904 through 1907; fought in the Spanish-American War; served with Gen. Pershing on his expedition to Mexico; and served with the Ninth U. S. Cavalry, the famous Buffalo Soldiers. Young served as a foreign diplomat in the Liberian Republic, where he died on Jan. 8, 1922. His remains were interred in Arlington Cemetery in 1923.

Young’s military legacy continues to grow and has become the focus of a national movement to have him promoted posthumously to brigadier general.

Young was born in May’s Lick and later moved with his parents to Ripley, Ohio, where he attended Ripley High School.

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Information from: The Ledger Independent, http://www.maysville-online.com

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

AP-WF-05-31-14 1628GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


A newspaper cartoon from 1943 about the life of Col. Charles Young, by Charles Alston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A newspaper cartoon from 1943 about the life of Col. Charles Young, by Charles Alston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.