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We counted down to the Gala Publication Party on September 17 with these article spotlights.
by Cole Ferry
Jules Cheret (1839–1932) is considered the “father of the modern poster.” He designed more than one thousand posters for a diversity of clients that included music halls, department stores, and consumer goods. In his work for Saxoline lamp oil, his distinctive style pairs brightly dressed women illuminated by the very lamps they hold aloft. Cheret conceived 20 different yet consistent images for the company and these images are credited with being the first modern ad campaign. The “Cherettes,” as the public deemed his smiling saleswomen, began to appear in all his work and embodied a new approach to visual advertising.
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American Paintings and Drawings
by Debra Force
Regardless of the artist, certain subjects in American art have a negative impact on the marketability and value of a painting despite its quality. These include nudes, deaths of humans or animals, religious themes, society’s ills and woes, disasters, age (older sitters) and gender (men), and interestingly enough, cows or sheep. Although the quality of a work featuring any of these subjects may equal that of a more desirable subject, the demand and therefore value for such works is significantly reduced.
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American and English Silver
by Joseph P. Brady, AAA
Due to its softness, silver must be alloyed with another metal, usually copper. The percentage of silver to copper can vary from one country to another (silver alloys in Great Britain and the United States will be discussed below). Silver, after being properly alloyed, can be made into every conceivable form. It can be beaten into thin sheets, drawn into wire, or shaped by casting. It can be wrought into a spoon or raised into a bowl. An outdated form can easily be altered, newly decorated, or made into a completely new object by a silversmith. Silver can be decorated by chasing, repoussé work, engraving, or piercing. Chasing is the technique of hand decorating the surface with relief work by indenting with tracing tools and a hammer from the front of the object, while creating a hammered pattern that is flat is called flat chasing. Repoussé work involves embossing the object by punching or hammering from the inside to create the design on the outside. Engraving is decoration by incising patterns, while piercing is openwork achieved by creating a pattern of holes with a punch or saw.
Sports Memorabilia: Finding the Winners
Lee Dunbar, AAA
Typically, the rarer the item the higher the value. Signed baseballs from living players are considered to be in infinite supply; therefore, they tend to sell for $25-$200. Once the player passes away, the supply becomes finite and the prices usually rise. Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Ted Williams signed baseballs basically doubled overnight after the athletes passed. And these signatures are still relatively common. Signatures from Hall of Fame players who passed away before the rise of the signing shows in the 1980s will generally sell for much higher prices. For example, a signed ball from Christy Mathewson, who passed way in 1925, can sell for from $10,000-$75,000; Ty Cobb, who passed away in 1961, sells from $2,000-$40,000; Jackie Robinson, who passed away in 1972, $1,000-$10,000.
Latin American Art
by María Josefa Velázquez, AAA
Although Latin American sales cover items from the sixteenth century onward, in some cases the type of work rather than the date determines its inclusion in the Latin American sales. Sixteenth-century artifacts such as vessels, jewelry, and stone carvings produced exclusively within the pre-Columbian artistic tradition are sold in the pre-Columbian category in ethnographic sales regardless of their date. This categorization derives from the definition of what Latin America is. Latin American begins to exist at the convergence of the pre-Columbian cultures and the Latin traditions brought to the Americas by both the Spaniards and the Portuguese. This difficult assimilation produced artworks with distinctive characteristics that, though done to satisfy a European life style and its cultural needs, differed, stylistically and in use of materials, from those produced within the strict European tradition. Works produced as a result of such a cultural blend from the sixteenth century onwards are considered Latin American.
by Alan Aimone
A book appraiser typically addresses nine major factors that affect value. They are demand, condition, aesthetic value, scarcity, evidential value (provenance association or previous ownership), age, edition, and market considerations. Books in high demand are usually well written (Pulitzer Prize winners) or have unique reference value (such as the Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins by Rasiel Suarez. A missing title page can drop the value of a book by 60 percent. A replacement, reproduced title page, however, can increase the value by 10 percent.
Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Frames
by Suzanne Smeaton, AAA
Up until the latter part of the eighteenth century, American frames were carved from wood and usually finished with a water-gilded surface. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a material known as composition or “compo” came into wide use. A mixture of chalk, hide glue, resin, and linseed oil, the moldable putty was pressed into intricately carved boxwood molds; it was soft and pliable when first removed from the mold, dried as it hardened, and could be treated just like carved wood. This revolutionized frame construction, allowing craftsmen to create a basic wood substrate that comprised the form and shape of the frame and then use compo for all the decorative elements.
by Jonathan Snellenburg
Clocks remained mechanical curiosities until the late seventeenth century when a truly useful clock with a pendulum was perfected. In the form of the English tall case or “grandfather” clock, it was so practical and so reliable that demand for clocks increased greatly during the eighteenth century. Clocks of this early period are prized by collectors as examples of a developmental era characterized by fine craftsmanship, experimentation, and limited production. Public fascination with the “Longitude Problem” and the search for ever more precise timekeeping increased demand further. Individually crafted in specialized workshops, clocks remained expensive luxuries throughout most of the eighteenth century. This situation began to change in France with the introduction of the “pendule de Paris,” developed about 1750.
Lalique Glass and Jewelry
by Nicholas M. Dawes
In 1885, René Lalique began his career as a jeweler in Paris, working in an innovative style using materials unfamiliar to most traditional jewelers. By 1900, his style had evolved into an extraordinarily robust and daring form of Art Nouveau, achieving the highest technical and artistic standards. Original works from this period are rare and most are unique, though some simpler designs were made in series. Typical materials include gold, colorful enamels, and baroque pearls, and many include glass or plique-à-jour elements. Most pieces are stamped LALIQUE in tiny capital letters, often on the outer rim or back, and most are identified in the catalogue raisonné or many subsequent exhibition catalogues. Unsigned pieces are unlikely to be by Lalique.
by Shari Cavin, AAA
In the United States, the self-taught field, as opposed to the more traditional folk art field, essentially began with the efforts of noted New York City art dealer Sidney Janis in the 1940s, and it has remained dealer driven since then. Most relevant comparables are not a part of the public record. It has taken years for the major auction houses to begin to include the work of self-taught artists in their sales. This hesitation extends to artists whose work has had extraordinary private gallery success including William Edmondson, Bill Traylor, Martin Ramirez, Henry Darger, William Hawkins, and James Castle. The most active and accurate marketplace both for established artists and emerging artists to date is with private galleries.
American Arts and Crafts Furniture
by David Rago
The Arts and Crafts movement in America lasted for only about 15 years. Beginning around 1900 and continuing until World War I, the style left a far less idealistic civilization in its wake. The meaningful furniture made during that period was produced by only a handful of companies that made their premier pieces during a period of less than five years. The lines were uniformly simple, the finishes invariably dark, and the forms and functionality unfailingly predictable (dining tables, chairs, sofas, lamp tables). Why then is this material so difficult to evaluate? The Arts and Crafts movement was a direct response to the soulless excesses of the Industrial Revolution. The belief was that mass-produced goods, those stamped out in uniformity by a heartless machine, were rotting society from the inside out. The machine had no soul, imparting only lifelessness into what its mechanical hands made. The workers running these machines were similarly robbed of any sense of creatorship.
Nineteenth-Century European Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, and Sculpture
by Nancy Harrison, AAA
Reviled by art historians and critics in the thrall of modern art as retardataire,kitsch, or worse, Academic art found its way out of the deep storage of many museums in the early 1970s with exhibitions by a pioneering generation of revisionist art historians who waded through this vast body of work to discover its enduring quality and rich cultural context. An exhibition of the work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1975 at the prescient New York Cultural Center (originally A & P heir Huntington Hartford’s Gallery of Modern Art at Columbus Circle), brought this work out of “mothballs” as did the 1973 landmark London dispersal at Sotheby’s Belgravia of Hollywood television personality Alan Funt’s collection of paintings by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, considered the consummate painter of “Victorians in togas.”
by Laura Woolley
Entertainment memorabilia includes a wide range of property from various categories of popular culture. Although celebrity auctions such as the estate of Rudolph Valentino, which sold in December 1926, have occurred throughout the twentieth century and even earlier, it is not until 1970 that the market took form. In May of that year, David Weisz Co. conducted a marathon 18-day auction on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. This epic auction emptied the MGM back-lot warehouses of thousands of Hollywood treasures. The sale was followed the next year by Sotheby Parke-Bernet’s 12-day sale of property from 20th Century Fox. These seminal sales were the first of their kind to demonstrate the emotional value placed on iconic props and costumes by buyers eager to own tangible pieces of Hollywood history. By the early 1980s, both Christie’s and Sotheby’s had incorporated pop culture and entertainment-related property into their sale schedules. The earliest sales featured Hollywood costumes and props, as well as a growing number of music-related items. Although these early sales featured a disproportionate number of items relating to The Beatles, the market for rock n’ roll memorabilia has continued to grow, featuring an ever-expanding diversity of property.
American Furniture: The Jacobean Style to Federal and Empire Styles, 1600–1830
by Wendell Garrett
The style that had grown up in England during the reign of Queen Anne (1702–1714) did not really take hold in the North American colonies until about 1725. While many William and Mary forms were large-scale ornate pieces, classic elegance and simplicity, gracefully curving outlines, and sparingly ornamented surfaces sum up the Queen Anne period. The “S” curve—William Hogarth’s “line of beauty”—was the main theme of the Queen Anne period and can be traced through all the decorative arts in the vase-shaped splats of chair backs and cabriole legs, and in the undulating scallops of tabletops. Probably the most popular decorative motif was the scallop shell.
by Susan McDonough, AAA
Tonalism, with its misty atmospheres and subdued palettes, was, as anyone who has enjoyed a foggy summer day in San Francisco can tell you, perfect for depicting Northern California’s coastal climes. This artistic style dominated landscape painting in Northern California from the 1880s up until the second half of the 1910s. Much of the activity took place on the Monterey peninsula, an area that includes the towns of Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Santa Cruz. The artists who congregated there, led by painter and Bohemian Club founder Jules Tavernier, became known as the Monterey Colony (active during the late 1870s to 1930).
by David A. Gallager, AAA
Construction methods and details are also very helpful in determining the age and origin of English furniture. Since American furniture styles were so dependent on English design, the appraiser frequently is confronted with the question: is it English or American? Is this Pembroke table federal or George III? While either could have pine as a secondary wood, it is unlikely that the American piece will have oak as a secondary wood, and it is highly likely that the English one will have a drawer constructed of oak. The English example may have long, slender dovetails while the American example will have shorter, wider dovetails. Generally, an English drawer will be constructed of thinner boards than its American counterpart will have. In eighteenth-century chairs, the American example will more likely have corner blocks to brace the seat and the English example will more likely have open struts at the corners.
East Asian Art
by Patricia Graham, Ph.D., AAA
In East Asia, replication does not always imply inferiority as an artist, lack of creativity, or intent to deceive. The production of copies is part of the East Asian cultural tradition which often favors conservatism. Not all copies are fakes; and many are highly valued, sometimes more than the original. It depends on who made them, why, their quality and the interests of collectors. Understanding the different contexts in which copyists worked helps an appraiser understand how to evaluate their products.
Oriental and European Rugs and Carpets
by Mark M. Topalian, AAA
The first question that must be answered when appraising rugs and carpets is whether the item is handmade or machine made. Machine-made rugs have minimal fair market values and retail and/or replacement values can often be easily obtained by visiting lower-end retail establishments in person or online. Inspection of the back of the carpet will often answer this question. For an item to be handmade, the design on the face of the carpet will be clearly rendered knot by knot on the reverse side. Machine-made carpets tend to have synthetic backings and are bound on the perimeter by machine-made edges and fringes.
by Tony Fusco
“Art Deco” came into popular usage during the late 1960s, but it is derived from the title of the 1925 Parisian Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which emphasized the “Arts Décoratifs” or the decorative arts: furniture, glass, ceramics, and textiles of the period. istakenly thought by many to be the starting point of the Art Deco style, the 1925 exposition actually marked the culmination of a de luxe French Art Deco and the emergence of a more geometric, Germanic-influenced “Modern” style. Today, accurately or not, the term Art Deco is applied to a whole complex of trends in the decorative and applied arts, architecture, and the fine arts in the period roughly between 1909 and 1939. Be aware that some earlier designs strongly foreshadow the Art Deco style, while elements of the style lingered well into the 1940s and 1950s and continue to be reproduced today. Among the many early influences that contributed to the emergence of the Art Deco style were the opulent sets and costumes of Les Ballets Russes that arrived in Paris in 1909 and set off an explosion in the design and fashion worlds. The full development of the style, however, was delayed by the advent of World War I. A few years thereafter, French interior designers, fine furniture makers, and the boutique workshops of the great Parisian department stores took the spotlight at the 1925 exposition.
Evaluating Vernacular Photographs
by Daile Kaplan, AAA
In 1888, the Kodak #1 box camera, a vehicle for making the first snapshots, was marketed to American consumers. Subsequently, photography was placed in the hands of millions of practitioners, many of whom were women (homemakers, i.e., the keepers of family memories). Kodak marketed its camera with the motto “You press the button, we do the rest.” For the first time, prints were processed by the manufacturer (not the maker). The photographer sent his or her camera to Rochester, New York, where Kodak processed the negatives and prints, and returned a newly loaded camera to the consumer-photographer, who happily snapped away. Anonymous practitioners made thousands of photographs; as a result, photography emerged as the most populist and popular of media. (Interestingly, in the 1920s, modernist photographers László Moholy-Nagyand André Kertész were inspired to posit a new visual vocabulary by utilizing the “mistakes” associated with amateurs’ snapshots—blurry, skewed angles, flat depth of field—in their images.)
Old Master Paintings
by Alan Fausel
Although I have gone to great lengths to state that most Old Master Paintings are not signed, one of the first things to look for is a signature . . . authorship, though often elusive, is extremely important when trying to identify and then value an Old Master Painting. One problem with signatures on Old Master Paintings is that they are difficult to locate and read. Early Italian works from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries are rarely signed. This is especially true in the case of gold- ground paintings. One begins to see more signatures from the seventeenth century on, particularly in Dutch paintings, on which signatures are often small, can be just a monogram, and are frequently placed on objects in the painting such as the back of a boat, a piece of driftwood in the foreground, or on the side of a cart. With Dutch, French, and English portraits, signatures are often found in the background, level with the sitters head, but are often dark on dark and difficult to see.
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