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Briefly Back to the "Analog" World

Posted 2 Aug 2013, by Don

I have been busy prepping for days for next week’s ANTIQUES IN MANCHESTER, THE COLLECTOR’S FAIR, Aug 7 noon-6 and Aug 8 noon-6. Prepping for a show is so different than for my website.   The website it is all about photography and research and communications. For shows there are so many additional details, such as booth and van and display-case rental, hotels, advertising, painstakingly packing precious pieces first in the house, then to the garage, then to the van, physical writeups, scheduling in-person meetings with clients and colleagues, testing lighting/electrical, detailed listings for insurance, assembling all the little things I will need from bubble wrap to tissue paper to bags to packaging to track-lighting to tools and ladders to pedestals to risers and wall-wedges to etc, etc, to then “knitting” all of my antiques and infrastructure into a cargo van better suited for transporting plumbing supplies. Then carrying and …

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Early Painted Trade Signs Can Highlight Any Collection!

Posted 16 Jul 2013, by Don

I have been in many great collections in recent years, both in early homes and contemporary settings, and often a highlight is an early, graphic, painted trade sign.  These signs are often of considerable size and shout to be seen.   When literacy rates were low, in the 18th and 19th centuries, shop owners relied on carved and painted signs to supply a visual message to potential patrons.  Subject matter includes dressmakers, boot makers, physicians, carriages, inns, food, and drink…..Often itinerant artists who also painted gameboards, coaches, homes, and even portraits were retained to create the sign…..Now they provide visual stimulation in the home and often are just the right object to carry a large space, particularly modern homes with vaulted or cathedral ceilings with acres of wall space.  Good early painted tradesigns are rare to find, as most were used outdoors and the vast majority did not survive.  Often …

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Painted Gameboards!

Posted 22 May 2013, by Don

I love early painted gameboards.  They often not only provide a special splash of color, but also are much more robust than paintings, they have been handled often thousands of times and only get more character from it.  Grouped together, gameboards can  produce a compelling visual that can’t be matched by other antique forms.  And early examples have a “soul” that comes from hand-making and decoration,  and having witnessed and been part of a prior period of history.  Shown are a double-sided, vibrant mill-game/American checkers combination, two beautiful “coach-painter” examples likely created by individuals that painted signs, coaches, houses, boxes, and maybe even portraits, and a parcheesi board in fabulous bittersweet and mustard paint.  Great early gameboards are very hard to find as most are in private or museum collections.

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Great pieces can be hidden in plain sight!

Posted 27 Mar 2013, by Don

I often observe collectors passing on special pieces because of their perception that it is no longer “fresh” (freshness referring to how long a piece has been available).  Their stance is that if no one has yet bought it, then there must be something wrong with it or it is over priced.  It would seem that a piece of American material culture can become “unfresh” in just days, despite being 150 to 300 years old….I have seen many examples, but lets use this Civil War painting I had several years ago: I proudly displayed it at serious antique shows and www.donolsonantiques.com, ran advertisements, and even discussed it live on Good Morning Connecticut TV.  Lots of interest; no buyer.  For almost two years.  Despite praise for the painting from experienced folk art and Civil War collectors and dealers and authors and researchers.  Potential buyers told me that they loved the piece, …

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The hardest part of being an antique dealer!

Posted 11 Mar 2013, by Don

I invest hours most every day searching for special antiques and folk art via phone calls, in-person visits that may be a day’s drive away, on-line, emails, books, and in-bound offers.  Special objects are very hard to gain access to as most are in private or museum collections.  So when I do encounter a piece that fits my focus and satisfies my very selective needs for form, surface, condition, accessability, and business opportunity, I am often excited to acquire it.   Yet I can not become too attached, as I have to market it.  That is the downside of what I do.  Being a collector at heart, parting with special pieces of early American material culture is difficult, the more special the piece, the more difficult the parting.  I know a piece is really good if it is painful to ship it out.  On the positive side, I do have …

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