Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not Another Fluffy TV Show !

Mean While Back at the Store: 

Just a bit of ranting. I found out today, from a favorite podcast, that the Scripps Netwoks, owners of such channels like HGTV, Food Network &Travel Channel among others. They are planning a new antique show with Paul Brown. Paul was the well known host of Auction Kings. Don't get me wrong I like Paul and Auction Kings when it was on. This new show,called Endless Yard Sale, is to travel up and down taking in the Highway 127 Yard Sale. People who live on 127 will love that. Take that as you want. This Endless Yard Sale is so NOT what this industry or the public needs. Please not another helter skelter, antiquers for hire, random, fluffy show. This type of show does nothing to help the business or educate the public. Dear Scripps folks there are people out there that need help. They are looking into the barrel. The barrel in this case, is a man who's having to disperse his grandmothers estate, its a woman who's dealing with downsizing her elderly father's 4 bedroom house, its a young married couple who don't know what to buy for their home and WHY. For all of these, so called popular shows, people are still ignorant over values, markets, the antiques economy, the change in tastes and trends and I won't even mention not encouraging scholarship for antiques, collectibles and decorative arts. People will blindly stare at more either common or "planted" rare items with no idea as to why these things are common OR rare. While their problems go untended or they make serious mistakes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Spirit and Grace of Reading

Just The Way It Is: 

 I talked about this the other day on the radio show. I wanted to take some time and really delve into this subject. Now, bear with me as I kind of get out on a limb.   

I have so many people to ask me, "Jerry, What should I read?" Now, some are asking me to suggest to them what is a good or informative read in their favorite category.  Many, really mean, WHAT SHOULD I READ! TELL ME I HAVE NO IDEA!"  Now, there are no stupid questions, but there silly questions.  My response to them is, "What do you like?" I mean its the same thing as me going up to someone and saying, " What do I like to eat?"  I promise you that anything you have an interest in, from cooking to camping, mysteries to space  travel,  needlepoint and  nuclear powered  ships or famous dogs, there is a book or something with the printed word out there for you to read.  Pick something. 

I've said over and over that there is nothing any more personal that reading.  Its more personal than the clothing you wear, the art you hang on the wall, the jewelry you wear on your fingers, wrists or neck. Reading is right up there auditory abilities, these will play into each other soon.  Yes, reading is that important.  Now, lets get this out of the way. 

Never let anyone tell you what to read or that what you're reading is wrong. Suggestions are fine, but to childe you or to be rude to you for what you're reading is wrong.  As I book dealer, I don't care what you read. You can read  the ancient classics, physics, medical textbooks or you can read harlequin romance novels, comics or cereal boxes.  I don't care what you read, just that you read!  Now onto the reason that I think that reading is so personal. Reading is personal as it actually gets into your head.  I mean you see a word and its letters. You know from your earliest schooling that  C- A - T spells Cat and you know what a cat is.  You're brain is actually registering that these marks mean CAT. Yes, you can look at your ring and  think of the store you bought it in, the town you were in, the people you were with and on and on. But reading is like exercise for your brain.  Then you speed that up and you branch out into sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters and you're taking it all into your noggin.  You retain more information when you read.  You apply your new found knowledge to your life.  Now, if you really want to retain and remember, read it out loud.  You remember more of what you read when you read it out loud to yourself. In a way, you're getting it right into your brain with your own eyes and voice.   That's why I think that its so personal and private.  Here's the cool part.  In some secret part in you head you keep that information,forever. You may never use it again. It may be clouded in sickness or disease. But, its there. You never take it off. You never sell it or store it in the basement. Its always there.  READ for the process not for the content.  Now, understand I want you to grow and expand and read many things not just comics  or the fluffy stuff.  However, you've got to start somewhere.  Reading is one of the most important things that you can do during your day.  Hopefully, you're read this. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

That's a Good Question: 

 Personal Effect Goblets December 2014 AM

Sterling silver goblets
Question: Dear J, I wanted to ask you about my sterling goblets. My father who worked at a manufacturing company in Georgia received these from his co-workers upon his retirement. He had worked at the same plant since he was a teenager. He retired in1958. He's been gone for many years and I think of him often. I know that I'm crazy but I enjoy setting a pretty table for several holidays. I always use these goblets. They have no damage or initials written on them. Should I have them added on my insurance? I don't know the mark on the bottom, its a cross with a crown. Were they made for a church? Thanks for taking the time to look at these.

Answer: You have a great set of eight sterling goblets. I remember working at Graves Jewelers, here on Main Street, and polishing the few goblets that we had in stock in the late 1980's. I loved the way that they felt and reflected the light. I don't think that you're crazy at all for setting a fine table. If you have nice things you should use them. People should take more care in a the environment that they eat. Ahhh... the 1950's, what a hey-day for sterling silver. Seems that every bride had a set of sterling flatware,sterling goblets were on tables and the julep cups and bread trays used as trophy prizes at county fairs were all made of sterling. The Hunt Brothers, and their quest for domination in the world of silver, changed all of that forever. No longer were table and gift wares made in sterling. It was far too expensive and other materials were used. Today, its even worse, with silver plate and pewter taking second stage to aluminum and other metals that don't require polishing. Those days are gone forever and we should just let them go. But nothing is like the cool, classic beauty of sterling silver.

When your father received these nice gifts, they likely retailed for about $10.00 - $15.00 each. Today, at a nice antiques show, these should be priced at $175.00 each. If they had been monogrammed that would have been less. I'm surprised that they didn't have the date or some other message on them. For your set of eight goblets that would be about $1,400.00 for the set. Yes, you should have them listed on your homeowners insurance policy. You'll need to have a written appraisal for this to be added to your policy. Check with your insurance agent. The mark you see on the bottom is not for a church, its for a company called Manchester Silver Company. Manchester Silver Co. was founded in 1887 by William H. Manchester. William was a descended from a family of silversmiths. Manchester was famous for the slogan, “If its Manchester, its sterling.” In time the company became Baker-Manchester, and as is often the case, the company was merged, absorbed and liquidated into several other silver and metal manufacturers several times, until it just ceased to exist in the 1960's. Based on this mark, it could be possible that these were purchased at an antiques store or were “old” stock when they were gifted to your father. Either way, they are beautiful goblets and a very nice gift. Keep them polished and use them often and think of your Dad when you lay out your table for Christmas. Thanks for sharing them.   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On The Road:

The group is ready. 

Examining a beautiful piece of enameled glass.

Looking at a French or German porcelain basket.

Really had a great time at the Boyle County library last night. For all the wet and nasty weather, there was a good group of folks out. There is thing better than an small intimate crowd. I love it when I don't have to use a microphone.  I was just up close and personal with these folks.  There were some interesting things that were brought for me to examine. I have to say that everything that was brought into the hall was of nice to great quality.  I've here to tell you, that one lady had an amazing eye for picking up good things.  She kept saying, "I like to go junking."  Well her junking skills were excellent.  I have to say that I've never had, so many people, call me the next day, thanking and saying such good things over me. I really makes one feel good when they have this type of honest praise. I very much appreciated it.   They really enjoyed themselves. I knew they were when the library was closing up and the announcement was made, " You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  No they really didn't say that but I knew that those couple of hours flew by.  What a sweet bunch. I hope they do it again. Thanks to 
Mary Ashby for being my official photographer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:

 I've not had one this funny in a while.  Christmas & gas bills always brings them out. Remember high school chemistry, folks.  

A man comes in the store with a box

(me) Hi, Can I help you? 

(man) Yeah, I want to sell these candlesticks here.

(me) Well, lets see them. 

He takes out 3 or 4 pair of modern brass candlesticks. 

(me) I'm sorry, I can't use them. They're too new for me.  Pretty but they won't sell. 

(man) But these are special! 

(me) Oh, how so? 

(man) Well my great great grandfather in the 1800's owned a brass mine. And there were made from brass taken from that mine.  They're made by hand from a famous craftsman. 

(me).  Sorry but that can't be.  Brass can't be mined. 

(man) WHY THE HELL NOT!  He owned a mine and this is from there. 

(me) Brass is an alloy. 

(man) What's that? 

(me) An alloy is a mixture of metals. Its created by man.  In this case its copper and zinc.  Copper and zinc make brass. 

(man)  So they not old?  

(me) No, I'm sorry. They might be from the 1950's or there about, but they aren't really very old.  I'm not sure about the craftsman part either, as all of them are machine made. 

(man) Well, let me ask you this...  

He glances around like someone might over hear him.  

(man)  Who made the copper and zinc??

(me)  God, I'd say. 

Nodding his head with eyes closed. 

(man)  That's what I thought.  Thank you. 

 And off he went.  So I guess, that he went off to speak with God over the fabrication of brass.   

Its always something. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Just The Way It Is: 

The Sanctity of Wood

Sanctity: The state or act of being holy, sacred or saintly. 

 Examples of the rare Koa wood. 
 The question of wood and its finishes has for decades been a hot bed for conversations.  Nothing will cause a mild mannered person to roll eyes and gnash teeth over the altering, replacing or restoration of a finish.  Today's decorating trends only add tender to the fire. 

1. The dealer: "Yes, this is the original finish. You'll note the long white streak on the side? Its been proven to be fecal matter from the Carolina Parakeet. The last known, wild citing of the this bird, was in 1910. So that dates it to at least that time.  Couple this with established history and its construction techniques and we think that it will date to the 1840's.  You could wipe it off but why would you?? Its part of the history. "

2.  The decorator:  "Dark wood is so out of style.  Its weighs down a room and just causes it to be transported to the 1970's.  No one in my field would allow a dark piece of furniture in a room.  It simply isn't done. Yes, of course, I know that this is a Koa wood, but its dark and so sad.   It really would "pop" if it were painted lime green.  It'll be fine sweetie darling, I know the best paint experts." 

3. The collector:  "Its and old finish, certainly it is.  But I want to see that beautiful wood grain.  I know that its poplar wood and that it has a grain painted finish. But, I want to see that wood.  Furniture is all about wood and pristine condition.  I want it to look like it just come from the craftsman's shop.  Yeah, go ahead and strip it off so that wood can shine again."

 Three wildly exaggerated scenes, or are they? I've been to many a show that had old bird poop on a piece of furniture.   I've also seem incredible pieces of wood painted with a modern paint. Sadly, I've seen my fair share of old or original finishes scrubbed or belt sanded into oblivion. The following is my opinion and you should always consult an expert first before you make decision that changes a finish. 

A cruddy, old finish is currently in vogue right now.  And rightly so.  An original finish is like a fine wine, once drunk, its gone. There is no refilling that bottle. If you find that you simply can't live with a cruddy finish, then you should find a piece of furniture that you can live with.  Some will say that if a finish clouds a woods grain then it has out lived it purpose.  I disagree.  I think that its simply another layer of patina. Honestly, I have seen furniture that needs to be gently cleaned.  Come on folks, its poop... in your living room. On the flip side, a piece that is 150 or 200 years old, should not look like its show room new.  I can understand removing a modern finish in favor of an period finish.  But to replace an old finish with a modern poly finish is just wrong and is insulting to an antique piece.  Wood, like silver or metal should have a worn, soft glow to it. It should show those tiny scratches, mars, dings and spots where hands have rubbed and burnished a finish down to the bare wood. This can't be duplicated. ANY sandpaper will destroy glowing feel. Move the piece on to another collector, if you must restore the life force out of a piece of furniture. 

Paint.  We're talking about applying modern paint to an old piece here.  First off, NO fine antique, let a lone a masterpiece or a rare wood should ever be painted. Shop around until you find what you need with out committing this travesty.  However,  this opens the field up for the painting of modern reproductions, reproductions that are from the 1930's to the modern days.  EXCEPT for the really fine AND highly collectible manufacturers like Kittinger, Hendendron, Drexel and pieces made for the historic foundations like Williamsburg or Old Sturbridge Village, or the coveted mid century makers like Wright, Nakashima, Eames, Gershun and several others. Probably 90% of common, mass produced, machine made, Victorian furniture could be painted. Its a personal preference on this one. Check with an expert first. At least Google it!   You know, I see this all the time, in the magazines, a walnut Victorian ladies chair painted  white or hot pink with a funky upholstery and placed in a little girls room.  People will say to me, "Jerry, aren't you horrified??" No, not really, this type of furniture brings, little money in todays market. Some pieces actually look good, great in fact. Besides, I'd rather see it painted and used rather than sent to the junk heap. Paint can always be stripped and if sealed with a light spit coat it will come off easier.  This paint topic is hotly debated and I'm sure I'll catch hell for it either way.  But, it is very, very personal. Remember the adage, First do no harm.