Alex Winter working in his office at Hake’s, surrounded by some of his collections, including records.

Collector Profile: Alex Winter, president of Hake’s Auctions

Alex Winter working in his office at Hake’s, surrounded by some of his collections, including records.

Alex Winter working in his office at Hake’s Auctions, surrounded by some of his collections.

YORK, Pa. – Some people wear their heart on their sleeve. Alex Winter has his passions all around him in his office. As president of Hake’s Auctions, he works at a desk surrounded by original comic book art, vintage toys, Star Wars action figures, superhero collectibles, and dozens of record albums. As a boy, he was interested in comic books but gained an appreciation for other types of collectibles while working an entry-level job at Hake’s. Some 36 years later, he’s still there — and he’s the company’s president. We visited with Alex to learn more about his collecting interests and some of the most memorable items Hake’s has sold during his tenure.

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War comics capture true cost of combat

‘Our Army at War ‘#83 is credited as the first true Sgt. Rock appearance by Joe Kubert, following several prototypical appearances by the character.

‘Our Army at War ‘#83 with the cover date June 1959 is credited as the first true Sgt. Rock appearance by Joe Kubert, following several prototypical appearances by the character.

NEW YORK — The term “war comics” makes sense from a shorthand perspective; it’s a succinct way to describe this genre, but can be a tad misleading to outsiders. Far from glorifying war, war comics mostly tell unflinching and gritty stories of the cost of war, particularly the human cost. Some may have been borne out of patriotism and some out of anti-war sentiment but their common denominators are a keen attention to detail and realism, amazing art, and inventive storytelling.

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This Qing dynasty huanghuali double armchair brought $223,777 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2021 at Majestic Auction.

Chinese rosewood furniture earns worldwide audience

This Qing dynasty huanghuali double armchair brought $223,777 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2021 at Majestic Auction.

This exquisitely carved Qing dynasty huanghuali double armchair brought $223,777 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2021 at Majestic Auction in Toronto, Canada.

NEW YORK — While elmwood may be the most common wood used in Chinese furniture, hardwoods such as rosewood are sought after. The two most coveted forms of Chinese rosewood furniture are zitan and huanghuali, and their beauty is widely admired.

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Joe Colombo’s Midcentury designs shaped the future

Colombo’s colorful 1967 armchair for Sormani sold for $7,467 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2020 at Viscontea Casa d’Aste srl.

Colombo’s colorful 1967 armchair for Sormani sold for $7,467 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2020 at Viscontea Casa d’Aste srl.

NEW YORK — Though his career was tragically cut short when he suffered a fatal heart attack on the day he turned 41, Joe Colombo’s passion for design lives on. Born Cesare Colombo and later embracing the nickname “Joe,” the Italian industrial designer created many items, but is best known for his futuristic, modular pieces of furniture.

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The origin and rise of self-taught or outsider art

Ruby “Miss Ruby” Williams, ‘Untitled,’ an undated work of paint on plywood.

Ruby “Miss Ruby” Williams, ‘Untitled,’ an undated work of paint on plywood.

NEW YORK – There are many who live their entire lives without even thinking about lifting a pencil or wetting a brush outside of a school art class. But there are others  who feel an innate compulsion to create art.

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Ashcan School: a radical departure from the perfect world

A John Sloan oil painting of a New York City street scene made $77,500 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2015 at Eros Auctions, Inc.

A John Sloan New York City street scene made $77,500 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2015 at Eros Auctions, Inc.

NEW YORK — When it first appeared around 1900, the Ashcan School was a radical departure from the prevailing style of American Impressionist scenes of pretty girls and idealized landscapes. The Ashcan School wasn’t a school per se, but a loose art movement that embraced a journalistic, documentary approach and social realism, forsaking art for art’s sake.

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Wicker furniture: casual elegance of yesteryear

An associated pair of Heywood Wakefield (attributed) rattan rocker armchairs, circa 1915, brought $2,600 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2019 at Rago Arts and Auction Center.

An associated pair of Heywood Wakefield (attributed) rattan rocker armchairs, circa 1915, brought $2,600 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2019 at Rago Arts and Auction Center.

NEW YORK — When seeking stately yet informal furnishings for porches, sunrooms, and other outdoor spaces, it’s hard to beat wicker furniture. Though it is still being made in much the same way as it has been for centuries, many people seek out vintage examples. Such pieces add texture to a room as well as character.

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Fontaine spends one to two days per week on the road, making house calls. His last big auction in January saw a total of 1,800 bidders participating.

Auctioneer John Fontaine: he still loves a house call

Fontaine spends one to two days per week on the road, making house calls. His last big auction in January saw a total of 1,800 bidders participating.

Fontaine spends one to two days per week on the road, making house calls. His last big auction, in January, attracted 1,800 bidders.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – John Fontaine knew early on that he wanted to make a living running auctions. He began working for his dad in the family auction business starting at age 12. By the following year, he was conducting auctions for his father and guest auctioneering for people in the area. He was only in his early 20s when his father died in 1980, but he kept the business going. Today, Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is thriving and a third generation has signed on. His son, John, is an auction specialist, and his daughter, Mia, catalogs the jewelry and watches. The auction business has changed dramatically over Fontaine’s life, but one truth endures: good stuff is always in demand.

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Cape Ann: a picturesque magnet for artists and tourists

Gifford Beal’s oil on Masonite of Rockport Harbor brought $5,500 plus the buyer’s premium in January 2018 at Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

Gifford Beal’s oil on Masonite of Rockport Harbor brought $5,500 plus the buyer’s premium in January 2018 at Nadeau’s Auction Gallery.

NEW YORK — While Cape Cod is better known as a tourist destination, Cape Ann has cemented its own legacy in the art world. About an hour’s drive north of Boston, Cape Ann juts out from Massachusetts on the Atlantic Ocean and demarcates the northern edges of Massachusetts Bay. The rocky cape has attracted legions of artists for more than 150 years and still enjoys a rich and diverse tradition in art-making.

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This extensively carved Chinese lapis scholar’s rock on a rosewood stand brought $20,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2020 at Bridgewater Auction.

Chinese scholar’s rocks: artworks created by nature

This extensively carved Chinese lapis scholar’s rock on a rosewood stand brought $20,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2020 at Bridgewater Auction.

This extensively carved Chinese lapis scholar’s rock on a rosewood stand brought $20,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2020 at Bridgewater Auction.

NEW YORK — Few artists can aspire to be as talented as nature. Over centuries, its forces have shaped rocks into elegant objects that have inspired Chinese painters and poets. The objects called gongshi (Chinese, 供石), better known as scholar’s rocks, began to be appreciated for their striking forms in the late Tang Dynasty (600-900) and gathered from riverbeds, on mountains, and in far flung locations. By the Song dynasty (960-1279), their place in history was cemented when Chinese scholars brought them into the studios where they wrote and painted. Scholars would draw inspiration from these rocks that represented nature — mountains in particular — gazing upon them in meditative contemplation. Many poems and essays were based on these rocks, and they have been subject matter for paintings.

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