Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Author Archives: Sara Wishart

Wonderful Witchcraft: Rare Books at Auction

Happy Halloween from the Fine Books & Manuscripts Department! Halloween is department director Stuart Whitehurst’s favorite holiday, so we thought we’d share a few spooky selections from our November 13th auction.

Witchcraft from the 17th Century

The rare book auction includes a collection of twenty unusual titles concerning witchcraft, most published in London in the 17th century. A few have really fascinating frontis engravings, including lot 772, a work entitled Cabala, Speculum Artis Et Naturae, in Alchymia; Exinde.… Read More

Exploration, Adventure, and Endurance Part II: Henry F. Sullivan’s English Channel Swim

The press described it as “the greatest feat of endurance of all time.” Henry F. Sullivan had become the first American, and only the third person ever, to swim across the English Channel. His feat established the world’s endurance record and the world’s breast stroke record, and earned him a stunning silver trophy.

Exploration, Adventure, and Endurance Part I: How to Earn a Three-foot-tall Sterling Silver Trophy

This monumental George V sterling silver trophy made by Elkington & Co. is an intriguing relic of the golden age of achievement, adventure, and historic firsts. Known as “The Alexander Channel Cup,” it is a stunning piece of silversmithing that measures over three feet in height — only 2 feet shorter than me. The trophy was presented to Massachusetts native Henry F. Sullivan in 1923 as a prize for becoming the first American to swim the English Channel.

Broadsides, Blogs & Breaking News

Printed news notices are called “broadsides” by collectors. In a way, a broadside can be considered an antique form of a tweet, a blog, or an email newsletter: it was intended to spread the word about something to the widest audience possible, in as expedient a manner possible. Broadsides were also intended to be printed quickly and efficiently, in order to keep news as fresh as possible.

What Price Freedom? Draft Manuscript Petition of Abraham Lincoln’s XIIIth Amendment

My dad, a Korean War vet, uses the very father-like expression “freedom isn’t free.” It often gets boiled down to a sound bite, but it’s absolutely true. The freedoms we enjoy every day in this country all came with a price—turmoil, sweat, tears, and blood.

Unearthing Treasure: Classical Pier Tables in As-Found Condition

Being an antiques appraiser is a little like being an archaeologist or treasure hunter. Sometimes in the course of an appraisal in a big, old house, as we’re scurrying from room to room, attic to basement, opening closet doors, and exploring out-buildings, great antiques get unearthered.