Goldfields spawned Levi’s blue jeans

A pair of Levi’s 501XX vintage jeans, circa 1947, having the original leather tag with red XX, the big ‘E’ in red rear tab, button fly, sold to a LiveAuctioneers bidder for $2,500 + the buyer’s premium in December 2016. Photo courtesy of John Moran Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Born in Bavaria in 1829, Levi Strauss immigrated to America in 1847 to join his two half-brothers in New York at their dry goods business. Six years later, he headed west during the California Gold Rush and set up a wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco, selling to small general stores in the area. Read more

Paul Revere: beyond his midnight ride

Four-piece Tiffany & Co. sterling silver tea set, replica after original pattern by Paul Revere (1734-1818), includes a navette-shaped teapot with a wooden handle, fitted trivet, cream jug and covered sugar urn. All pieces are stamped on the underside. Sold for $2,400 + the buyer’s premium at an auction held May 16, 2014. Manor Auctions and LiveAuctioneers image

NEW YORK – Nearly every American must surely be familiar with the name Paul Revere, if only for his famous midnight ride in 1775, alerting the Colonial militia to approaching British forces prior to the battles of Lexington and Concord in the Revolutionary War. The ride was made even more famous in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1861 poem Paul Revere’s Ride, and the expression, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” – whether actually spoken – forever cemented Revere’s reputation as an almost mythical figure in the country’s epic battle for independence.

Read more

Militaria: reflecting on Memorial Day

A hand-sewn Civil War-era 13-star flag earned $35,500 + the buyer’s premium in October 2019. Photo courtesy of Poulin Antiques & Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – While Memorial Day serves as the unofficial start of summer and is often celebrated in America with trips to the beach and family barbecues, the real reason for this holiday is to remember the fallen heroes who died in active service to their country. Parades, memorial ceremonies and American flags gracing veteran’s tombstones are some of the ways people commemorate this holiday.

Read more

Commemorative quilts: stitching history

Campaign textiles from ribbons to flags have long been incorporated into quilts such as this Blaine & Logan quilt, made from eight silk 1884 campaign flags. It earned $15,000 + the buyer’s premium in May 2015. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – At first glance, commemorative quilts seem like a narrow niche of quiltmaking. After some research though, they are far more far-ranging than they appear. Quilts provide warmth and comfort but they are symbols of personal expression. Quilts have been made to commemorate graduations, births, retirements, U.S. presidents, special events, politics and social activism, military victories, branches of the armed forces and much more.

Read more

Viktor Schreckengost: prolific industrial designer

Viktor Schreckengost designed the massive Jazz Bowl while he was associated with Cowan Pottery in the early 1930s. This rare example sold at auction for $80,0000 + the buyer’s premium in 2012. Image courtesy: Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.com

NEW YORK – If there was ever an influencer in antiques, it would be industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost. His reimagining of the midcentury toys, ceramics, furniture, glassware, dinnerware and even the basic lawnmower infused everyday products with an artistic flair.

Read more

Black Forest carvings: 200 years of tradition

A Black Forest carved wood dog grouping by Walter Mader fetched $18,000 in June 2016 at Quinn’s Auction Galleries. Photo courtesy of Quinn’s Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — The beauty of Black Forest carvings lies not only within the artists’ skill in which they yield their chiseling tools but also within the wood and the tree itself. Carvers have long known certain trees grown in the shade and harvested in winter would provide denser wood that would be better for carving and this knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation.

Read more

Mary Cassatt: mothers and children

Mary Cassatt, ‘Simone Seated on the Grass Next to Her,’ realized $900,000 + the buyer’s premium in September 2010. Photo courtesy of John Coker Ltd. and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Renowned painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt never married or had children of her own but she excelled at creating a body of work painting mothers and children with a tenderness and intimacy few artists have achieved.

Read more

Milo Baughman’s dramatic furniture designs

This large Milo Baughman sectional sofa and table went for $8,960 + the buyer’s premium in March 2018. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Modern Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Playful and dramatic yet functional and, above all, comfortable, Milo Baughman furniture is the epitome of good design. The designer’s work is renowned among aficionados of the midcentury modern look. In the mid-1940s, he was an integral part of the California modernist movement and designed furniture for big companies like Directional, Drexel and others.

Read more

Mattel Hot Wheels: fast and furious fun

A rare 1976 Hot Wheels Redline Z Whiz die-cast car 1976, Hong Kong, (possible a prototype) with white body and Datsun Z decals, sold for $6,500 + buyer’s premium in February 2020. Photo courtesy of Matthew Bullock Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – There are certain toys that can immediately transport a person back to childhood and call up a bevy of happy memories. Hot Wheels cars have that power. Long before the advent of electronic toys, kids of all ages, both boys and girls, would play with their Hot Wheels for hours on end. Setting up the orange plastic tracks and racing against friends provided hours of fun. There was also the unbridled joy of going into a store to buy the newest car, choosing carefully among the many models (infinite, or so it seemed at the time), and at last breaking open the packaging emblazoned with bright flames to get our hands on the car at last.

Read more

Horner carved a place in furniture industry

R.J. Horner 10-piece mahogany dining room set, refinished. Price realized: $12,600 at an auction held March 7, 2020. Image courtesy of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – Robert J. Horner was a clerk in a curtain store in New York City with a keen business sense and knowledge of trends in the furniture industry, and that prompted him to establish R.J. Horner & Co. in 1886, at 61-65 W. 23rd Street in lower Manhattan. Horner’s marketing strategy was to target the wealthy as well as those of modest means. It paid off handsomely. Much of what came out of his shop was heavily carved, but it could also be formal and less embellished.

Read more