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Antiques Considered - February 4, 2009

    Last week I noted some of the treasures which we saw at the Appraisers Fair at the Saint Clement's Island/Potomac River Museum at Colton's Point, Maryland.  The artwork which visitors brought to the Fair was also outstanding, and worthy of discussion.
    One couple came with a Chinese ancestor portrait, done on rice paper, and dating from the mid-nineteenth century.   The frame was carved bamboo, in good condition, but without a glass cover.  It had been in a house with a woodstove and a family of heavy smokers, thus it was discolored, but still quite good.
    I urged the owners to take it to a conservation-quality frame shop to have the cardboard backing removed, to be replaced with acid-free material, and then to have it put back in the frame, but this time under glass.
We saw several fine watercolors and oils.  Many were family pieces depicting the owners' relatives  as seen by nationally acclaimed artists. One lady came with a wonderful biblical scene of Ruth and Naomi in a fine gilt gesso frame.  It was a typical art school painting, signed Ann McGathran, an unidentified artist, who possibly was a student at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.
   The family of Cullen Yates, a well-recognized member of the National Academy of the Arts, brought a wonderful scene of a couple sitting in a meadow.  It too was in the original gilt gesso frame.
   Each year I am impressed by the high quality of the Saint Clement's Island/Potomac River Museum.  It is truly one of the finest regional museums I have visited anywhere.  The professional staff and volunteers work together to produce a memorable experience for all of their visitors.  This Appraiser's Fair was in keeping with that tradition.  If you want a great afternoon, head across the Harry Nice Bridge and turn south to Colton's Point, less than 45 minutes away.  It is a spectacular place to see, and in summer months you can take the boat over to the Saint Clement's Island where Maryland began nearly four centuries ago.

• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.
 

Antiques Considered - January 29, 2009

This past Saturday we traveled over to the Saint Clement's Island/Potomac River Museum for the annual Appraiser's Fair.  We have participated with the event since its inception in 2001, and this year's event was perhaps the best ever from the standpoint of the quality of the items folks brought for us to see.  I particularly noted the number of folks who came over from the Northern Neck, regular readers of "Antiques Considered" whom we often see at these functions.  Delighted to see such a fine turnout, which ran an hour and a half past the closing time.
One lady brought a splendid Roseville pottery ewer and another an equally spectacular Roseville teapot.  Both dated from the early twentieth century and were in pristine condition.  I told the ladies that they were among the finest pieces of Roseville that I have seen.

One of the finest pieces was a lidded Canton tureen, dating from the early nineteenth century.   Not only was it in perfect condition, most interestingly, it has been in the same family since shipped from China two hundred years ago.  
Another lady came with a large pewter charger, inscribed "Sarah Stone 1793."  It was British made, and her husband is a direct descendent of that Sarah Stone.  These last two items represent the continuing tradition of many of the old Southern Maryland families who have passed on their pieces from generation to generation.
One couple came with a leaded glass ceiling fixture bearing a small bronze insert reading "Tiffany Studios, New York."  They had purchased it for $200 at an estate sale.  Unfortunately, it was a forgery, but still worth many times the amount they paid.  They both remarked that they thought it was too good to be true.  Sadly, it was.
I also particularly like a bronze railway lock, replete with its original key, in perfect working condition.  It too had come down trough a family where an ancestor had worked for the line over a hundred years ago.
Next week we'll talk about some of the remarkable artwork that folks brought to the fair, as well as two pieces of extraordinary folk art from West Virginia.
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.

Antiques Considered - January 21, 2009

 

 

   At the Washington Antiques Show this year several dealers displayed some fine toiletries cases, replete with all of the accoutrements which were deemed necessary for proper ladies and gentlemen of the nineteenth century.

Seeing them I thought of a lady from the Northern Neck who asked about her own box.  It is mahogany with mother-of-pearl inlay, and contains all of the original fittings.  These include perfume bottles, files, pomade jar, ivory comb, and tweezers.  The box is trimmed with brass corners, and has an ivory escutcheon.
The cases served a useful purpose for those who traveled.  Being tightly fitted and lockable with a key, they could be used safely on a coach ride or later on the railroad.  Some were for ladies, others for gentlemen.  Rarely, one finds a complimentary pair, which always have been together.
   More often, such duos have suffered separation, either through estate divisions, or simple sales, which have cast them to the wind.  In addition, many have lost some of their contents, items which were unique to each case, and thus cannot be replaced.  Other pieces of glass have been chipped or broken, thus a good, complete case is especially desirable.
   A good case can reach into hundreds of dollars, depending on the wood, trimming and contents.  Ebony ones with silver and ivory decoration are the most expensive.  Others with brass trim, usually sell for less.  An important aspect of value is the condition of the velvet or leather lining of the interior.  Ones with replaced leather or velvet never seem to look as good.
   Toiletries boxes must be distinguished from letterboxes or lap desks, which are an entirely different genre, one to which I shall return in another column.  Box collectors are a determined sort, and for all types of wooden boxes they can run prices up quickly at auction, particularly if the items are pristine and decorated in an ornate manner.
   This coming Saturday, January 24th, we once again shall be participating in the Saint Clement's Island/Potomac River Museum's annual Appraiser's Fair at the Museum at Colton's Point in Saint Mary's County, Maryland.  Each year it is a great event, and the attendance indicates that its popularity only grows over the years.  I hope to see our readers and their treasures there;   the Fair is always worth the effort.

• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."
   Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.

 

Antiques Considered - January 14, 2009

Last Saturday our family made the annual pilgrimage to the Washington Antiques Show.  This year offered a new venue, the Katzen Center at American University.  There, on three floors, one could visit with some of the finest antiques dealers from across the country, and see some of the best things that they had to sell.

As has been traditional for decades the first exhibitor which one encountered was Gary E. Young from Centreville, Maryland.  As usual, he presented an exquisite collection of pieces of furniture and works of art.  He deals in all aspects of the decorative arts from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Moments before we arrived he had sold a pair of George III mahogany side chairs which were among the finest items in the show.  He also showed a wonderful mahogany library ladder, and a pair of continental Gothic Revival wall brackets.

Malcolm Magruder from Millwood, Virginia, had a great array of American and English antiques, which included three Staffordshire figurines by Obediah Sherratt, representing Saint Paul, Elijah, and The Widow.  At most shows I rarely see even two of his pieces.

The doyenne of the Washington Show is Elinor Gordon from Villanova, Pennsylvania.  She had been in business for 55 years, and has exhibited at this show since it began 54 years ago.   She is the undisputed Queen of Chinese Export Porcelain.  That is all she presents, and to my knowledge, no museum can equal what she displays.  She has written numerous works on her field, and is the world's greatest authority on the Chinese porcelain trade, and like all profound scholars, she delights in sharing her knowledge with all who stop by her booth.

On Saturday afternoon the show seemed to be bursting with people, eager to see and to learn, and for the sake of the dealers, I hope to buy as well.  This show should be a must for collectors in our region, as it is for so many who travel from far and wide to attend. Leaving, one takes home the magnificently illustrated catalog filled with in-depth articles, and beautiful photography.  It alone is well worth the price of admission.

• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."

Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.

 

Antiques Considered - January 7, 2009

A couple from King George recently purchased this chair from an antique shop in Fredericksburg.  She refers to it as being tiger oak, but I suspect the possibility exists that it is English oak.  The finish seems to be in its original condition.  They paid $175 for it, and speculate whether it is a church chair or not.
My initial comment is that the couple got a wonderful bargain.  This chair appears from the photographs to be Jacobean Revival, dating from the mid-nineteenth century.  It is probably not an altar chair from a church, but rather possibly part of a larger dining suite.  The latter likely included another armchair, several side chairs and a large refectory-style table.  I see no carving of religious symbolism on the chair.
This chair replicates the style which was popular in the reign of King James I of England, the first Stuart king, who also James VI of Scotland, and who ushered in a new wave of furniture after the reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch.   
The Jacobean Period, which was the predominant motif down to the reign of William and Mary at century's end, came back into vogue in the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901, and pieces were in great demand.  From the dark tone of the oak, I question whether the chair is English, but it also could be American.  To be certain I should have to see it in person.
The carving is the great value in the chair.  It is done by a master craftsman, and shows a high level of sophistication.  Happily, no one decided along the way to strip and refinish the chair.  Given its excellent condition, it is worth $350, or twice what the sale price was.   Obviously, were the chair an original Jacobean piece from the seventeenth century, the value would be much greater, but the Revival pieces have a fine market of their own.
• Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there,  or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."
Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.
 

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