I’ve been an appraiser on the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow for 18 years, and during each event, I meet hundreds of people who wait in line for hours hoping for a chance to be on the show. Our day starts early, with appraisals beginning at 7:30 AM and running through the early evening. As an expert in European Decorative Arts, I typically stand at the Pottery and Porcelain, Silver, or Decorative Arts table where I greet people and give evaluations of their prized possessions.… Read More
Category Archives: Blog
Kinetic sculptures add a dash of fun to Skinner fine art and design auctions. In June, an outdoor sculpture by artist George Sherwood, titled “Flock of Birds” brought $21,600 — well over the pre-sale estimate.
In our December 7, 2013 20th Century Design auction in Boston, we’re pleased to be offering a piece by David Roy (Lot 536, Estimate $500-$700). The indoor sculpture is on a smaller scale than the Sherwood piece, but with no less charm.… Read More
In the history of race cars, Ferrari is one maker that stands above the rest for consummately stylish designs built for pure speed. Enzo Ferrari, the company’s founder, groomed his son Alfredo, nicknamed “Dino,” to be his successor. Dino attended the best schools in Europe, became a mechanical engineer, and was instrumental in the development of the overhead camshaft V-6 engine.
Sadly, Dino passed away in 1956 at the young age of 24.… Read More
“My earliest collecting was in the area of cow creamers,” explains Harry A. Root Jr. “This was because I had a dairy farm in Vermont.” See those cow creamers and many more examples of early English pottery in these two videos. Harry Root takes family friend David Grober on a tour of the collection and tells the stories behind the rare and exquisite works.
The Harry A. Root Jr. Collection of 18th Century English Pottery will be offered at auction on July 13, 2013 at the Skinner Boston gallery.… Read More
In December 2012, a collection of garden sculpture attracted interested bidders from across the country. “Placed into the right natural environment, a garden sculpture can become something more than just an interesting form. It becomes an extension of nature and may even take on a personality that changes with the seasons,” wrote department director Jane Prentiss.
That personality is even more apparent when the sculpture moves!… Read More
Few pieces of design excited the early modern American imagination like Cass Gilbert’s skyscraper for F.W. Woolworth. Built in Manhattan as the tallest building in the world (792 feet tall), it literally pushed to new heights the frontiers of modern engineering and design. Referring to Woolworth’s success as a five-and-dime magnate, the New York Times would later call the building “the skyscraper built by the nickels of millions.” The 20th century archetype for the American Dream started his first shop with a few borrowed and saved dollars; by the time he commissioned Gilbert to design his corporate headquarters, he was personally worth many millions.… Read More
“St. Dennistoun Mortuary” is a coin-operated automaton, attributed to John Dennison, c. 1900. The mahogany cabinet and glazed viewing area displays a Greek Revival mortuary building with double doors and grieving mourners out front. When a coin is inserted, doors open and the room is lighted revealing four morticians and four poor souls on embalming tables. The morticians move as if busily at work on their grisly task and mourners standing outside bob their heads as if sobbing in grief.
Singing mechanical bird boxes have fascinated viewers since the 18th century. Contained within these small, elegant boxes is a complex mechanism and bellows which provide mechanical movement to the bird, wings, tail and beak while pumping air through a multi-pitch whistle providing the sound. Many of the later boxes, like the one shown in this video, are made in Germany and are available for a fraction of the cost of the 18th century examples.
On July 16th, Skinner will sell Henri Robert’s perpetual calendar clock, which was shown in the Paris Exposition of 1839. The calendar mounted in the lower section of the Belgian slate case was uniquely designed to show the year, month, day-of-the-month and day-of-the-week through the use of a single silvered dial and concentric hands, all self-correcting for the four-year cycles of leap year.