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A sensational folk art house portrait!

Posted 19 Feb 2017, by Don

The resolution of photos on my website can’t be as large as I’d like or the pages would take too long to open. So often there is more detail to be seen than the on-line photos show. Take for example this special little folk art house portrait. Lets explore and see what details can be discovered. The side door is grained below an arched doorway, with a curtain hanging down. See the subtle “shade” from the large trees cast on the house? He included the bricks of the foundation, the 12-light windows on the side of the house, and the pathway leading to the barn outback even showing the barndoor hinges. And check out the leading lines of the clapboards leading ones eye down the path and the subtle color changes of early autumn.     In the left foreground we see a hitching post!,a newly planted tree in autumn …

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The real economics of an antique show.

Posted 13 Apr 2014, by Don

I often get asked how much it costs to do an antique show.  Here is an example:  Recently, I exhibited at a fine show about 400 miles away with room-setting walls and a regional audience.  I traveled to the show the day before setup, took two days to get my booth ready, the show lasted for two days, another day to get home, so a total of 6 days on the road, 5 nights in a hotel.   Would you be surprised to learn that my costs were about $4500? Here is what made up the $4500:  Booth (including space rental with walls and wallpaper, carpeting, electrical, display case) about $2250; rental cargo van $600; show advertising $300; hotel $500;  gas/tolls $250; insurance (product and liability, allocated) $250; food/incidentals/misc $350.  Other dealers may have more or less, depending upon how far they come from, their need for staff and porters, …

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WHY?

Posted 16 Dec 2013, by Don

Many years ago, before I was a dealer, I bought a small, mid-18th century painting of a boy holding a candle as a gentleman read.  It was probably a study for a larger work.  It was on a thick, small pine panel, hand-planed on the back with deep patina, the ends of the board uneven and rough.   The surface was  dry and alligatored.     I loved it.  I think Nina Fletcher Little would have loved it too.   I was so excited about the painting that I wrapped it up, took it into the office and showed it to a co-worker at lunch.  Her response was “WHY?”  WHY would anyone want THAT? For years now I have been asking clients and colleagues WHY?  What causes us to spend often large sums of money on early American antiques and art  that others might disdain? I have received many answers …

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Look for hidden information!

Posted 5 Dec 2013, by Don

Sometimes one can find an indicator of the origin, the maker, an owner, or other provenance or history of a piece by looking very carefully for written or impressed writing. Case study:  I recently had a wonderful gameboard that had mellowed to a desirable, very dry surface.  It has a picture-frame molding, joined by cut nails, which usually indicate a 19th century date pre-1880, yet the nails, and the form of the board, were not of that of the earlier 19th century.  So roughly the gameboard was mid-19th century to 1880, yet could be a bit earlier.  Upon careful examination of the back, I found a faint inscription in gold ink.   It was virtually  invisible when looking at the back as a whole, I only found it when looking in bright light and obliquely across the surface.   Under magnification, it appeared to read Geo. (short for George), I thought I …

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A Great Side Benefit of Pursuing Antiques

Posted 20 Sep 2013, by Don

I am often in small towns from Ohio to Pennsylvania, New York State, all of New England, and a bit into New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware, only because of travel related to antiques.  Without antiques, I would never have seen so many places, and often I have observed cool festivals, historic buildings or settings, and other noteworthy locations that are way off the thruways, pikes, and highways.  I have visited many collectors in their homes and have had the opportunity to see extraordinary early American material that hasn’t been in the public eye in decades.  These trips are best when I have one of my kids with me to share the experience.  For example, below are a couple of pictures from several years ago when Mandy and I were on our way to a show in Vermont, with a fabulous stopover in “Old Bennington” on a sunny, crisp, October day.

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