Wood veneer: cutting it a little too thin

This striking effect is called ‘oyster’ veneer. Instead of slicing a piece of wood lengthwise it is cut cross grain.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – In the last 50 years or so veneer has gotten a bad rap in the furniture trade. Somehow, back in the 1960s and 1970s veneer became associated with, and in many cases actually blamed for, some of the absolute garbage that was being manufactured at the time. But it probably goes back farther than that. That attitude is a holdover from the Depression era that is lodged in the minds of the children of the time. They remember some of the furniture their parents bought back in those dark days.

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Gallery Report: April 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

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Gallery Report: March 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report: Read more

Understanding vintage furniture’s shifting values

This coffee table was one of the few pieces of furniture my wife’s grandmother bought new in the early 1930s. Since inheriting the table it has lived everywhere she has, including college housing. Is it valuable? You better believe it is to her.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – A while back I presented the second most often asked question regarding older and antique furniture. That question: “Will I destroy the value if I refinish it?” I chipped in my two cents on this subject at that time, trying to soften the Antiques Roadshow hard-line attitude about original finishes by applying what we called in the 1980s “situational ethics.”

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Furniture makers’ uncharted routes to success

The Mersman triangle mark, or a close relative, was imprinted on 30 million American tables.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Few of us are probably doing what we thought we would be doing 30 years ago. Things happen along the way and unforeseen turns make life interesting if not always predictable. Sometimes one of the things that can make an older or antique piece of furniture more interesting is the value added by a little bit of eccentric knowledge about where the piece came from and how it came to exist.

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Gallery Report: February 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report: Read more

Tool marks on antique furniture: where to find them and why

Close comparison of the spindles of this Empire/transitional chair reveals the variations produced by handwork in ‘identical’ turnings. Since we expect them to be identical they appear to be until inspected and measured.

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – When field cut lumber, recently converted from timber, finally reached the 18th century cabinetmaker’s shop, his main tasks were to cut and shape the wood to his own design and to smooth the surface. He and his journeymen and apprentices accomplished these tasks with an amazingly small array of hand tools, some of which would be familiar to us today and some that many of us would have no idea how to employ.

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Gallery Report: January 2017

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

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Sorting furniture styles: pigeonhole with caution

Is this a Phyfe chair and a Hepplewhite chair? Or is it a pair of Federal chairs? Or is it two antique chairs? Or is it just two old chairs?

Is this a Phyfe chair and a Hepplewhite chair? Or is it a pair of Federal chairs? Or is it two antique chairs? Or is it just two old chairs?

 

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – One of my jobs as a reporter when I cover an antiques show or sale naturally is to ask exhibitors for details of their merchandise, take photos and record comments. But I also sometimes have the opportunity to pester attendees who don’t know me and to whom I do not introduce myself.

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Gallery Report: December 2016

ATLANTA – At the start of each month, ACN columnist Ken Hall gathers top auction highlights from around the United States and beyond. Here’s what made headlines since last month’s report:

 

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Marklin steam-powered liner, $59,000, Bertoia Auctions

A circa 1929-1930 Marklin ‘Amerika’ Series II steam-powered liner, exquisitely detailed, sold for $59,000 at an annual Fall Auction held Nov. 11-13 by Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, N.J. Also, a circa-1929 Marklin ‘Rheingold’ paddleboat, 30 inches long, sped off for $35,400; a Belsnickle candy container with glass icicle beard, mica “snow” on the coat and hood, and golden beads around the hood, 16 inches tall, realized $26,550; and a Gunthermann eight-man plus coxswain tinplate clockwork scull made $20,060. Prices include the buyer’s premium.

 

sir-isaac-newton-bookSir Isaac Newton book, $3.7 million, Christie’s

A copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica sold for $3.7 million at a Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction held Dec. 14 by Christie’s in New York. It was a new world auction record for a printed scientific book. Also, an autographed letter written from Mount Vernon, N.Y., and signed by George Washington, dated April 25/May 1, 1788, brought $307,500; and Walt Whitman’s personal copy of Leaves of Grass (N.Y., 1855) made $162,500. Prices include the buyer’s premium.

 

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Cartier Mystery Clock, $504,500, Sotheby’s

A platinum, yellow gold, rock crystal, onyx, mother-of-pearl and diamond-set Mystery Clock made in 1929 for Cartier, designed by Maurice Couet, sold for $504,500 at an Important Watches Auction held Dec. 7 by Sotheby’s in New York. Also, a massive open-face Patek Philippe grande and petite Sonnerie clock watch breezed to $468,500; and a fine and rare yellow gold Rolex chronograph wristwatch, the “Paul Newman” Daytona (Ref. 6241, No. 2084361), went for $275,000. Prices include the buyer’s premium.

 

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Giltwood figure of Amida Buddha, $22,800, John Moran Auctioneers

A handsomely carved Japanese giltwood figure of Amida Buddha, shown seated in a lotus position and clad in flowing robes, dating to the 1930s, sold for $22,800 at a Decorative Art Auction held Nov. 15 by John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, Calif. Also, a color collotype after Pablo Picasso titled L’Arlequin et Campagne, made $11,400; and an art vase titled A Summer Queen, a fine example of Amphora’s Art Nouveau portrait pottery, hit $1,560. Prices include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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Palace-size antique Heriz rug, $2,530, Direct Auction Galleries

A palace-size antique Oriental Heriz rug from a London Ritz-Carlton Hotel by way of a Ritz in St. Louis, reputed to be 130 years old, sold for $2,530 at an estates auction held Nov. 15 by Direct Auction Galleries in Chicago. Also, a 14K pendant with a 1.40-carat round diamond brought $2,185; an Omega Speedmaster chronograph watch with box and papers fetched $2,185; and a lithesome bronze mermaid figure, 33 inches long and 23 inches tall, went for $2,415. Prices include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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Buster Brown comic strips, $47,700, Kaminski Auctions

A collection of six Buster Brown Sunday comic strip original artworks by the illustrator Richard F. Outcault (1863-1928) sold for a combined $47,700, with the top lot titled The Worm Turns Twice (shown, dated March 19, 1916, at a Thanksgiving sale held Nov. 27 by Kaminski Auctions in Beverly, Mass. Also, an 18th century French Louis XV basin, decorated with carved putti and figureheads, brought $14,000; and a signed Tiffany Studios Turtleback table lamp rose to $18,000. Prices include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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Mickey Mantle rookie card, $183,750, Goldin Auctions

A 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle rookie card, graded PSA NM7, sold for $183,750 at a Holiday Auction that closed Dec. 3 by Goldin Auctions, based in Runnemede, N.J. Also, Mike Trout’s 2014 MVP season game-used and signed glove soared to $31,850; the handcuffs used by officer Ray Hawkins to arrest Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas, in 1963 realized $110,250; and a baseball signed by both Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth went for $40,250. Prices are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

 

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29 carat Colombian emerald, $1.03 million, Rago Arts & Auction

An unenhanced, 29-carat Colombian emerald sold for $1.03 million at a Jewelry Auction held Dec. 4 by Rago Arts & Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J. Also, a pear-shape diamond necklace of 28.67 carats finished at $850,000; a 7.70-carat unmounted pear-shaped diamond realized $68,750; a Tiffany & Co. ruby and diamond ring hit $62,500; and a predominantly natural pearl necklace rose to $56,250. Prices include the buyer’s premium.

 

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Isidor Kaufmann painting, $455,000, Shapiro Auctions

A painting by the Austrian-Hungarian artist Isidor Kaufmann (1853-1921), titled A Business Secret, sold for $455,000 at an auction held Dec. 10 by Shapiro Auctions in New York City. Also, a rendering of an outdoor garden by Henri Martin (French, 1860-1943) brought $350,000; a painting by Alexander Samohvalov (Russian, 1894-1971), titled Girl in an Interior (1940), rose to $131,000; and a 1927 colorful, stylized landscape by Jean Dufy (French, 1888-1964) gaveled for $149,000. Prices include a 25 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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Alfred Mira street scene, $19,000, Carlsen Gallery

An oil on canvas New York City street scene signed by Alfred Mira (1900-1980), 25 inches by 30 inches, sold for $19,000 at an auction held Dec. 4 by Carlsen Gallery in Freehold, N.Y. Also, a pair of cast-iron urns on bases, 43 1/2 inches tall, realized $9,000; a trade sign for Iroquois Beer Co. brought $9,000; an Egyptian marble-top center table hit $6,000; a cast-iron recumbent dog fetched $4,250; and a pair of 19th century mahogany saber-leg armchairs hit $4,000. Prices are hammer, exclusive of the buyer’s premium.

 

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Revolutionary War copy book, $35,966, Alderfer’s Auctioneers

A fragment of a Revolutionary War-era copy book belonging to Jonathan Williams (1751-1815), the first superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy and the grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin, sold for $35,966 at a Fine & Decorative Arts Auction held Dec. 8 by Alderfer’s Auctioneers & Appraisers in Hatfield, Pa. Also, a land indenture document signed by Benjamin Franklin in 1763 went for $8,061; and a document fragment signed by Sir Isaac Newton gaveled for $8,540. Prices include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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Patek Philippe watch, $389,000, Antiquorum

A Patek Philippe 18K white gold minute-repeater retrograde perpetual calendar watch sold for $389,000 at an Important Watches & Jewelry Auction held Dec. 8 by Antiquorum in New York City. Also, a Patek Philippe minute-repeater watch with enamel dial in platinum rose to $245,000; a Chopard Imperiale Tourbillon watch with baguette diamonds in pink gold gaveled for $205,400; and a Graff diamond and gold necklace with matching bracelet realized $173,000. Prices include a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

 

harry-bertoia-sculpture

 

Harry Bertoia sound sculpture, $24,000, Schwenke Auctioneers

A large, untitled Sonambient sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia (American, 1915-1978), made from beryllium copper and brass and standing 42 1/2 inches tall, sold for $24,000 at a Holiday Fine Estates Auction held Dec. 4 by Schwenke Auctioneers in Woodbury, Conn. Also, a Gorham sterling silver Aesthetic Movement square pitcher with elephant-head handles made $15,860; and a Chinese porcelain oxblood glazed bowl, bell form and bearing the Yongzheng seal mark, hit $5,700. Prices are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

 

edward-redfield-painting

 

Edward Redfield painting, $200,000, Freeman’s Auction

A painting by Edward Willis Redfield titled Road to the River sold for $200,000 at an auction held Dec. 4 and 6 by Freeman’s Auction in Philadelphia. Also, Frederic Remington’s The Bronco Buster soared to $106,250; Winold Reiss’s triptych depicting members of the Black Foot tribe realized $125,000; an illustration by N.C. Wyeth titled The Departure of the Rose (The Mother of the Hero) fetched $112,500; and a Harry Bertoia sculpture titled Sea Anemone (Bush) made $137,500. Prices include a 25 percent buyer’s premium.

 

HyperFocal: 0

 

English butcher shop diorama, $33,600, Pook & Pook/Noel Barrett

An elaborate English butcher shop diorama window display made from painted wood and embossed paper board, with 75 cuts of meat, two butchers and a delivery boy, sold for $33,600 at an inaugural toy auction co-held Dec. 2-3 by Pook & Pook Inc. and Noel Barrett. Also, a Gustave Dentzell carved and painted outside row standard carousel horse, circa 1905, went for $20,400; and a Knickerbocker Toy Co. Mickey Mouse toy, showing Mickey in his Sunday best, rose to $7,800. Prices are inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

 

winchester-model-1873-rifle

 

Winchester model 1873 rifle, $529,000, Rock Island Auction

A special order John Ulrich-signed, relief engraved and monogrammed Winchester deluxe first model 1873 lever-action rifle sold for $529,000 at a Premiere Firearms Auction held Dec. 2-4 by Rock Island Auction Co. in Rock Island, Ill. Also, a Savage model 1899 lever-action rifle presented to Horace Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge Brothers Motor Co., rang out at $195,500; and a Colt Paterson No. 1 ring lever percussion revolving rifle hit the mark for $115,000. Prices include a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

 

diamond-and-18kt-ring

 

Diamond and 18K 2-tone ring, $72,600, Clars Auction Gallery

A diamond and 18K two-tone ring centered by one round brilliant cut 6.30-carat diamond accented by 43 full diamonds sold for $72,600 at an auction held Dec. 10-11 by Clars Auction Gallery in Oakland, Calif. Also, a Verdura Spinel diamond and 18K white gold bracelet with 69 oval-shape and 14 pear-shape purplish spinels brought $48,400; a calligraphy by Yu Youren titled Wo yu tian shan realized $20,570; and a Chinese patinated bronze globular tripod censer made $45,375. Prices include a 19 percent buyer’s premium.

 

Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (Filipino 1892-1972), ‘Marikina,’ 1927. Sold for $112,100. Michaan’s Auction image

 

Fernando Amorsolo painting, $112,100, Michaan’s Auctions

A landscape painting by Filipino artist Fernando Amorsolo, titled Marikina (1927), of a lush countryside and fieldworkers at rest, sold for $112,100 at a Fine Art, Furniture, Decorative Arts & Jewelry Auction held Dec. 9 by Michaan’s Auctions in Alameda, Calif. Also, Etienne Trouvelot’s portfolio of chromolithographs titled The Astronomical Drawings fetched $44,250; and Bernard Buffet’s striking mid-century French landscape titled Coastal Town with Lighthouse netted $31,860. Prices include a 17 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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1913 Type II buffalo nickel, $58,750, Legend Rare Coin

A 1913 Type II buffalo nickel, graded PCGS PR68 CAC, sold for $58,750 at a Regency Auction held Dec. 15 by Legend Rare Coin Auctions in Lincroft, N.J. Also, an 1892 $5 US gold coin, PR65, gaveled for $52,875; an 1893 U.S. 50-cent piece, MS66, fetched $45,825, an 1898-O U.S. 10-cent coin, MS67+, changed hands for $36,425; a 1914-D Lincoln head cent, MS66, rose to $30,550; a 1913 Type I buffalo nickel, MS68, realized $28,200; and an 1898-O silver dollar made $18,800. Prices include a 17.5 percent buyer’s premium.

 

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