This Isn't Your Grandmother's Antiquing...

 

Pickers

 

AMERICAN PICKERS is produced for HISTORY by Cineflix Productions  Official Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanPickers  Official site: http://www.history.com/shows/american-pickers Promo Clip: "http://www.youtube.com/v/Jd_UArPMTUU?hl=en&fs=1


Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are once again searching the back roads, junkyards, and filled-to-the-brim barns in America for “rusty gold.” AMERICAN PICKERS, the #1 new cable series of 2010, returns for new episodes of its second season in December 2010.  

 

Part sleuths, part antiques experts, and part cultural historians – Mike and Frank’s adventures bring them to small towns across the country in search of weird and wonderful Americana. Each treasure hunt leads them to fascinating, quirky characters – everyday people with stories that open a window onto American life.

 

As professional “pickers,” these childhood buddies comb through memorabilia and artifacts, hoping to find treasures among the trash. Sometimes they make a few bucks; and sometimes they walk away with little more than the history of an item.

 

“We’re caretakers of treasures and the stories behind them,” says Mike. Traveling along with the duo, viewers will meet an assortment of American originals and watch as a patchwork of history unfolds – one treasure at a time.

 

In honor of the new episodes, I am giving away two CD's of the complete episodes of season one. To become eligible, please post a comment on my blog together with your email address.

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable that you would like to see on TV? Reality TV-land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasure: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


 


 

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The Eyes Have It: More Mystery Unfolds in the Mona Lisa

 


Mona_Lisa

Did Dan Brown Have It Right After All?

London, Dec 13 The Mona Lisa painting continues to throw up mysteries, as art experts now claim to have found a set of tiny letters painted into the eyes of the woman in the Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece.

 

The experts - from Italy's National Cultural Heritage committee - discovered the mysterious hidden message while studying magnified images of the 500-year-old portrait.

 

'In the right eye appears to be the letters LV, which could well stand for his name. In the left eye, there are also symbols. It is difficult to make them out but they appear to be the letters C and E or B,' art historian Silvano Vinceti was quoted as saying by The Sun.

 

'To the naked eye the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they are clearly seen.'

 

'We know Da Vinci used symbols so we are confident that they are a message from him,' he said.

 

The experts also found a 72, or an L and a 2, painted into a bridge in the background of the painting, which is in Paris' Louvre museum.

 

Vinceti said the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible, a vital clue to identifying the model who sat for the Renaissance artist. She has often been named as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant, but Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan.

 

'On the back of the painting are the numbers '149', with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan,' Vinceti said, according to The Guardian.

 

They examined the Mona Lisa after finding a book in an antique shop that claimed there were tiny hidden symbols in the eyes.

 

The question now is, what do they mean?

 

 

 


 

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Custer's Last Flag at Little Bighorn Sells for $2,210,500 m

 

flag134 years ago, General George Armstrong Custer, the 'pride' of Michigan, led the 7th Cavalry into battle against the Lakota Sioux and the Northern Cheyanne near the Little Bighorn River in Montana. It was not Custer's finest hour. All 210 men under his immediate command died in the massacre. So did Custer. As the battle detail surveyed the carnage a few days later, a swallow-tailed American flag, known as a guidon, was found hidden beneath a dead soldier. That flag was later sold to the Detroit Museum of Art on 1895 for $54. Now, 115 years later, the Detroit Institute of Arts has decided to sell Custer's Last Flag at auction this fall at Sotheby's in New York for an estimated price of 2 to 5 million dollars. Because there are no direct comparables to the Custer flag in the auction record, estimating a price certainly involves a bit of hocus-pocus and intuition. In the end, the allure still comes back to Custer, an enormously complex figure, ambitious, flamboyant, eccentric. His legacy, the subject of many books, has seesawed from gallant warrior to military fool to racist symbol of anti-Indian hatred. Custer, however, wasn't just an Indian fighter, he was one of the first self-made American celebrities. An icon of the west, he did not survive - but his flag did.

By Caroline Ashleigh

 

 

The Culbertson Guidon, 1876

 
 

The silk guidon with a field of thirteen red and white stripes and a canton of blue with 35 applied gold stars, with a swallow-tail design at free edge;some fraying, splits, and tears; some running of color; staining, including, evidently, blood stains; with losses from both battle and souvenir-takers, including an 8 ¾ x 6 inch patch just below the canton at the hoist and one of the gold stars;measuring 27 ½ inches (699 mm) at the hoist by 33 inches (838 mm) at the fly.



Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium:  2,210,500 US


Sotheby’s New York
Dec. 10, 2010

 

 

 

 


 

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An Object of Beauty - A Novel by Steve Martin

An_Object_of_Beauty 

 The Comic Actor-Writer Talks About the Allure of Art, the Hazards of Collecting, and His New Novel About the Art Work

 

Martin's main character in his new book, Lacey Yeager, is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today. (She sounds eerily similar to more then a few people I've known in my career). The story is told through the eyes of a young narrator, who sounds a lot like Steve Martin.

The back story began when Martin started collecting art over 30 years ago. He says, "I sort of prowled antique shops and I first started buying little antique store paintings and then hung a light over it in my apartment, and I thought, Wow, that looks great! Sometimes I liked the frames more than the paintings!"

He draws on his own experience in his new book, when his main character keeps a Milton Avery painting in her apartment overnight for a client. "And she thinks, 'Well, as long as I'm here, I may as well hang it.' And it's the first beautiful thing she's ever been with in her life in a private situation. And it immediately makes her look around at everything else."

 

Martin also acknowledges part of the allure of collecting is the thrill of the hunt: "I talked to a collector friend of mine and he said, 'Steve, I followed this Jackson Pollock for years, I wanted this picture so bad for years, and finally it came up and I got it. And I got it, and I took it home, and I put it on the wall, and I looked at it for five minutes!"

 

Whatever Martin is up to, whether it's being funny man, banjo player extraordinaire, or art connoisseur/collector - it's always about pleasing the crowd.

 

When asked if he would rather win a Pulitzer or an Oscar, he says, "Well, since the odds of either are almost zero, well, I would - I'm trying to think what would hurt my friends more! I think a Pulitzer would hurt people more!" "They'd be more jealous?" "Yeah!"

 

And what about those tawdry sex scenes? Did our old Steve Martin even write them? I had to read them with one eye shut.

 

 

 

 


 

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Signs & Symbols - The Secret Language of Textiles

  MandalaFor textile collectors, exploring the meaning and significance of the signs and symbols printed or sewed onto fabrics throughout the ages can hold a certain intrigue. From my own experience as a collector, I have been fascinated with exploring the meaning of designs and symbols from a cross-cultural perspective and awed by their ageless beauty. I have often found that as symbols pass through time, they gather and lose meanings, and it is in the study of these changes that has lead me to be more interested in collecting examples of symbols rather than examples of a particular style of textile. For example, instead of collecting Amish quilts or French shawls, I have found it more interesting to collect specific symbols found across such mediums.

 

As a result of this interest, I have spent untold hours in museums, libraries, private collections, archives, exhibits, auctions and through my travels, to study the many cultural sources and visual examples in textiles that illustrate these various universal themes. In doing so, I found that the patterns of printed cloth suggest a larger pattern that contains them. In that larger pattern, nothing appears out of nowhere, nothing disappears. Motifs, myths, signs and symbols repeat over the course of centuries only to be translated in newer cultural expressions, moving at different speeds, coming and going in different rhythms. These images predate the modern textile industry by millions of years having first appeared on prehistoric cave walls, Persian carpets, Chinese robes, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Tibetan thankas, Pygmy pongos, Celtic manuscripts, pre-Columbian textiles, Islamic mosaics. The context may change but the symbol endures eternally.

 

In textile patterns we see an immense library of images, which, according to Carl Jung, are part of the collective unconscious, made manifest through this warehouse of symbols with which we surround ourselves. From the clothing in which we dress our children, such as Tibetan children’s hats loaded with symbols to insure health, happiness, good fortune and long life, to the carpets upon which we walk, these elements are pervasive in every culture on earth.

 

As these symbols pass through time sometimes they gather and change meaning. Perhaps one of the most infamous examples is, of course, the swastika, which is found in almost every ancient culture from Asia to Native America. When the Nazis appropriated it in the twentieth century, the formerly positive cultural symbol was supplanted by another, very disturbing, one. In contrast, a swastika in Chinese carpets has ‘wan-fu’ meaning, “may we enjoy happiness.”

 

As a researcher, I became interested in finding out about shapes and symbols found in the art of textiles throughout cultures and time, and what meaning humans attribute to them. In my research, I discovered that there are five basic shapes that appear in the textile arts of many cultures: the spiral, the circle, the square, the triangle and the cross.

 

The Cross

Crosses appear in every culture, but for Christians it has heightened religious meaning. Most societies see the symbol of the cross as two parts merging to create a greater whole. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the cross stands for life and living and forms part of such words as health and happiness. These examples explain the major cross-cultural functions attributed to the cross – the process of relationship, balance and integration.

 

The Circle

In every culture, the circle symbolizes wholeness and the experience of unity. The circle is represented in Hindu mandala, where concentric circles are an instrument of contemplative meditation for the purposes of the spirit. In Black Elk Speaks, tribal elder Black Elk describes the meaning of circles in Native American culture, “Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. The sky is round, and…the earth is round like a ball. And so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to adulthood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

 

The Spiral

The spiral symbolizes the process of growth and evolution. The life renewing potential of the spiral appears in weaving and spinning stories from all cultures and times including our present day Spider Man to the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin. The spiral metaphor and the spiral in art, from prehistoric cave drawings to the delicate scroll atop an Ionic column, to the Mola designs of the Kuna Indians of Panama, are all symbols for the same universal process of growth. All announce diverse, yet universal, expressions of creativity.

 

The Triangle

The triangle is the universal shape associated with the attainment of desired goals and dreams, and envisioning new possibilities. It carries the theme of self-discovery and revelation. Symbolically, it represents one of the four elements, fire, and, on a spiritual plane, the Trinity. It is associated with arrowheads, pyramids, and mountains. In the pyramid, whose sides are all triangles, it is an emblem of immortality and symbolic power, as evidenced on the back of the one-dollar bill.

 

Climbing a mountain often describes the process or quest of attaining a goal, manifesting a dream, finding a lost treasure. To Westerners, this is reminiscent of the quest for the Holy Grail; and in the Native American culture, the Vision Quest or rite of passage for young adults. All of these stories demonstrate how goals and dreams are necessary in order to manifest creative results.

 

The Square

After the circle, the square is the most common geometric shape printed on textiles. Its equal proportions give it a feeling of stability, solidity, security and rationality. In many cultures, the four points of the square symbolize the foundations of life: the four seasons, the four directions, the four elements. The process of stability is being reinforced whenever a square appears in art and whenever examples of foundation metaphors are expressed in religious lessons such as the four Gospels, or the four truths of Buddhism.

 

These five symbols are found in the textile arts of many cultures and continents from around the world, which shows their pervasiveness and timelessness. Collectors can use the information in this blog and in other articles about signs and symbols to discover their own individual preference for a specific symbol or symbols that speak to their inner processes and sensibilities. One can then begin to build a collection based upon signs or symbols that span through various cultures, belief structures and forms of expression.

 

Whether a European ceramic tile or an Amish quilt, the collector’s consciousness evolves through experiencing the object’s intrinsic beauty, and the understanding of its symbolism enhances it. As in all forms of artistic expression the context may change, but the secret language of symbols endures eternally. Which universal signs and symbols speak to you as a collector?

 

copyright 2010 Caroline Ashleigh, AAA, USPAP

 

 


 

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First All-Star 1933 Chicago Baseball Scorecard

Program

 

As  guest appraiser at a recent appraisal venue in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sponsored by the Rotary Charity Club, one of the more unusual objects that I had the opportunity of appraising was a 1933 Chicago All-Star Baseball Program, in pristine condition.The example was extremely clean and perfectly flat, with no tears, and a flawless spine, an exceptionally sharp and attractive example of significant rarity.

 

This was a superb high-grade official program from the very first All-Star game. Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, organized the first All-Star Game in 1933 as an attraction for Chicago's Exposition. That first game, played July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park, featured what many consider to have been the greatest assembly of baseball talent to ever take the field in a single game. Seventeen future Hall of Famers made appearances in the game, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Frank Frisch, Chuck Klein, Chick Hafey, Bill Terry, Paul Waner, Pie Traynor, Gabby Hartnett, and Carl Hubbell. Connie Mack and John McGraw served as managers for their respective leagues. Babe Ruth hit the first homer in All-Star game history. Frisch provided the NL offense, with a two-run homer in the sixth inning, but the combined talents of Lefty Gomez and Babe Ruth allowed the American League to prevail, 4-2. 

 

What's interesting about the game and the program is that the game was never meant to be a traditional classic but an exhibition in conjunction with the 1933 Chicago "Century of Progress" World's Fair. In fact, the promoters used a regular season White Sox scorecard and adapted it for the game. However, more than 70 years later, the game has become a mid-season showcase. Now all the major team sports leagues have All-Star games, but baseball was the first.

In 2006, the first All-Star Game homerun, hit by Babe Ruth, sold at Hunt Auctions for $805,000; Ruth's 1933 All-Star uniform sold for $657,250 at Heritage in 2005.  Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable? Television land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasures at Email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 


 

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Lights, Camera, and (More) Action!

 

Detective

Adding to the new reality television shows staring appraisers, auctioneers, vintage objects, on Sunday, November 14th, at 10pm and 10:30pm ET/PT, TLC unveils its newest program with WHAT THE SELL?, a pilot that follows a family of appraisers. They take you into their hectic days managing their antique store just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and show how they haggle for every penny they make on a sale.

 

Another show, soon to appear from Zodiac Media, is centered around the concept of "Mantiques," -  designed to capture the male viewing audience. A "Mantique" is an antique or collectible that appeals mainly to men, such as old fishing rods & lures, pin-up calendars, tools, toy cars, motorcycles, etc.  - man + antique = mantique

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable? Television land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasures at :

 

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Lights, Camera, Action!

 


Detective

Have you been listening to all the buzz lately about the new reality television shows staring appraisers, auctioneers, vintage objects, and the suspense their discoveries generate?

 

The venerable forebear of the trend is, of course, PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, broadcast since 1997. Marsha Bemko, its executive producer, said in a recent telephone interview that she welcomed the new programs, partly because they help to remind people to research possessions carefully. “What is nice to see is this great appreciation and enthusiasm for old things. If we’ve helped spread that passion, great.”

 

Starting with History Channel’s American Pickers who scour the country’s junk yards, basements and barns for hidden treasures; and Pawn Stars, filmed in a Las Vegas family owned pawn shop, which has garnered great interest; many more new shows are on the horizon. Many of the series’ titles are confusingly similar, but the underlying premises do vary.

 

Syfy’s Hollywood Treasure, explores the celebrity memorabilia trade. Spike TV’s Auction Hunters stars an improbable pair of dealers in Los Angeles who buy abandoned storage units and dig through the flotsam; valuables like paintings and jewelry are sometimes hidden amid Christmas decorations, together with pornographic videos and unopened mail. Discovery’s Auction Kings features an Atlanta based auction house often dealing in creepy or mysterious oddities like shrunken heads and arrows for killing vampires. TLC’s Auctioneer$ has been generally wholesome, but already ominously on hiatus. Antique Warriors set in stores under construction in SoHo and in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, hopes to film that series in 3-D, while the cast picks through some half-ruined rural buildings.  American Restoration is filmed in Las Vegas, Nevada, which chronicles the daily activities of an antique restoration store, by bringing various vintage objects back to their original condition. And coming soon to a television near you - Great American Auction is featuring people who have valuable treasures they want to see auctioned off on a major network television show, and HG-TV's American Treasures follows the estate sale business in finding suspense in the normal business rounds of discoveries, appraisals and sales. A&E will also be airing a new docu-series featuring families with estates in limbo, together with their lawyers and appraisers, who help settle disputes over wills and personal property.

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable? Television land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasures at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 


 

carolineJoin us on facebook and twitter-logo
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First Ever Auction of Vintage Marbles

 2010_1102_CranberryLutz_lead

Large cranberry Lutz marble, 1-13/32 inches in diameter, condition 9, rarely found in this size. Estimate $3,000-$4,000. Morphy Auctions image.


DENVER, Pa. – Marble collectors will be gathering at Morphy’s gallery on Saturday, Nov. 6, as the Pennsylvania company presents at auction 300+ lots of marbles, boxed sets and affinity items. The inventory includes early handmade, transitional and machine-made marbles, as well as coveted boxed sets and novelties. Internet live bidding will be available through www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

 

“As far as I know, this is the first cataloged auction exclusively for marbles,” said Morphy Auctions CEO Dan Morphy. “We’ve put together a well-rounded sale containing fresh to the market items from old-time collections. Collectors are very excited about it.

 

Morphy noted that of the dozens of categories of antiques and vintage collectibles auctioned by his company, marbles are among the top five in terms of current interest to new buyers. “Right now the interest in marbles is the strongest it’s ever been. They appeal to a broad demographic – young and old, male and female. Everyone can relate to marbles,” Morphy said. “They’re beautiful little works of art that can be easily displayed in any home, and there’s a price point to suit every pocketbook.”

 

Are you a collector of vintage marbles? Blog me your comments on how you got started in this collecting genre, and tell me about some of your favorites.

 

 

 

 


 

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Fake vs. Real—Does It Matter?

 

cabinet_overall

Cabinet by an unknown maker, French 1580 with minor additions from the late 1850s. Carved walnut and oak with painted panels, linen and silk lining. 10 ft. 1 1/8 in. high. J. Paul Getty Museum

 

What is fake? What is real? Who decides?

Copies and forgeries of art have been around since, frankly, art. The Romans copied Greek originals. The infamous Han van Meegeren forged the paintings of Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals.

This elaborately carved French Renaissance-style cabinet was purchased in 1971 by J. Paul Getty against the advice of his curators, who thought it was a fake from the 19th century. The piece was relegated to storage for years.

But knowledge, even in a museum, changes over time. Through close visual analysis, as well as carbon dating and dendrochronology, the cabinet was declared to be—mostly—genuine, dating to 1580.

To scholars, knowing an object’s true date is key to understanding it. But what about you? Does knowing that this beautiful cabinet is from 1580—as opposed to 1880—make you look at it differently? If so, why? And does the museum’s stamp of approval make you appreciate this amazing work more? After all, it’s the same object either way. Blog your comments to me.

 

 

 


 

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