Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Author Archives: Christopher D. Fox

The Enduring Legacy and Likeness of George Washington and President’s Day

George Washington is one of the most recognizable figures in American history. Revered as the father of our country, America’s first Commander in Chief led the struggle for independence and served as the nation’s first president. His legacy remains a vivid part of our daily lives. There are countless counties across the United States named in his honor, a state, and the nation’s capital. We see his image nearly every day on the quarter and one dollar bill, and around the President’s Day holiday in February through a dazzling array of television and print advertisements for automobiles, furniture, and a vast sea of consumer goods specially priced in celebration of the holiday.… Read More

Americana Exceptionalism

A legacy of beauty, ingenuity, and craftsmanship in Skinner’s August Americana auctions

Skinner’s tradition of notable Americana sales continues with auctions on August 12 & 13 and an online auction August 6-14.  The two-day and online sales comprise nearly 1500 lots of fine American folk art, furniture, ceramics, and maritime antiques.  Day 1 kicks off the auction with two outstanding collections, the Collection of Gail and Don Piatt and the Arthur & Sybil Kern Collection of American Folk Art, Part I.  The Piatt collection features a delightful array of fine country antiques with an emphasis on early New Hampshire painted furniture, samplers, lighting, decorative arts, and painted miniature smalls.  Highlights include:

The Kern collection is encyclopedic in its representation of New England folk art.… Read More

The Tom and Adelle Hersh Collection of Mennonite Quilts of Waterloo County, Ontario

Skinner is pleased to offer selections from the Tom and Adelle Hersh Collection of Mennonite Quilts from Waterloo County, Ontario. It is a collection that Canadian quilt historian, Carol Telfer, describes as “an important piece of western Ontario textile history.”  Most of the collection was assembled in the 1980’s, an era when many families were moving from the country to the city. As they collected, the Hershes were careful to record the provenance for each quilt when it was available and many can be traced to specific towns and families.… Read More

A Panoramic View of the Town of Boston in 1815

At Skinner we are privileged to be able to offer extraordinary items in all categories of antiques and fine art. Items of great historical importance are also regularly consigned for auction. Sometimes the objects are well known; often they are not or have not been seen for generations. The November 19 American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction features a beautiful watercolor panoramic view of the Town of Boston (Lot 2) that has been lovingly housed in a private collection since World War II.… Read More

Commemorating a Fallen General in Cast Iron

For centuries cast iron firebacks have decorated the insides of fireplaces and typically, served two primary functions. Firstly, they protected the wall at the back of a fireplace from the excessive heat of the hearth’s fire. This was particularly important in chimneys constructed of daub (a mixture of clay and straw over woven sticks or branches). The secondary function of a fireback is to radiate heat from the fireplace into the room.… Read More

War of 1812 History Recorded on Wood

Naval battle scenes have been popular subjects in American art for centuries, and actions during the War of 1812 inspired a great number of such works. For obvious patriotic reasons, in nearly all cases the scenes depict American victories. However, on occasion a remarkable work surfaces that captures the drama of naval combat from another perspective. A wonderful overmantel painting on wood (Lot 224) in the February 27 American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction records the battle between an American and a British frigate after the former slipped past a British naval blockade.… Read More

Keeping the Past Alive: Silver Tankard Tells a Fascinating Story

Silver Tankard

Objects with old inscriptions or accompanied by even a shred of historical information often offer great potential for further research.  Sometimes that research opens a window illuminating largely forgotten past events.

One such object is an 18th century silver tankard made by Boston silversmith John Burt, which is on offer in our Fall American Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction (2855B) on October 25th in Boston.  Like most other American tankards of the mid-18th century it has a beautiful turned and stepped domed lid that covers a tapered cylindrical body mounting a hollow scroll handle. … Read More

Buckets, Pails, and Firkins; What’s the Difference?

Whether painted or undecorated; staved or tinned, with or without lids; utilitarian buckets, pails, and firkins have for over a century, been popular with collectors. Like so many things with the passage of time, the terminology that is used to describe these humble objects has become muddled.  I have always been a firm believer that when describing historical objects, we should describe them today as they were described during their original period of use.… Read More