Category Archives: Blog

Fire Buckets in 18th Century Boston

Fire buckets have been popular with collectors and owners of period homes for a long time. They represent a time long before most towns had established and well-equipped fire departments ready to respond at a moment’s notice to a house or shop fire, when people relied on their neighbors to come to their aid. The risk for catastrophe from fire was great. A single stand-alone house could be consumed in minutes. In towns, fire in densely populated neighborhoods could quickly result in the destruction of dozens of buildings.… Read More

Staff Picks—Our Favorite Things: The Tornek-Rayville TR-900 Dive Watch

Tornek-Rayville TR-900 Dive Watch, serial number 0270

As a teenager in the 1980s, wristwatches, especially Swatches, were what got me and a lot of my friends into wearing timepieces. I recall owning Swatches, Seikos, and a few Victorinox “tool” watches. I remember receiving a small diameter, 34mm I think, white or ivory dial Seiko with simple stick hands and indices for my 8th-grade graduation. I loved it, but years passed and like many things it found its way to the back of a drawer (my dad found it back there—he wore it for decades, and my mother still wears it today, with an olive green leather Hirsch strap).… Read More

Specialist’s Picks: 5 Oriental Rugs & Carpets Highlights

Lawrence Kearney, Director of Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets

Hello everyone, and welcome to our Virtual Gallery Walk for the current Skinner Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets auction. I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on the auction as a whole, and some highlights in particular.

As you browse the sale, you’ll see a number of wonderful Caucasian rugs, Turkish pillow covers, Shahsavan flatwoven covers and kilims, some remarkable early Chinese rugs, and a selection of beautiful, good condition antique carpets, many of which come from private collections and are offered here without reserve.… Read More

The Polynesian Art of Tongan War Clubs

Tongan war clubs are weapons usually known by the term ‘akau, which means stave. Tongan clubs are one of the few instantly classic and easily identifiable artifacts from Polynesia. They were widely collected from the period of James Cook’s voyages in the 1770s onwards, and reflect the militaristic collecting interests of sailors and traders, as well as a vigorous demand for non-western weapons in the European curiosities markets.‘Akau, along with spears, were the principal weapons of war in Tonga up until the middle of the 19th century, despite the introduction of firearms from western sailors and traders from the late 18th century onwards.… Read More

Early States & Trial Proofs: A Window into the Mind of the Artist

Every artist works differently and is inspired by different things, but print-making gives us the unique opportunity to view the creative process at work. When an artist makes a print, they create the matrix from which prints can be pulled. This might be a copper plate that has been etched or a lithographic stone that the artist has drawn on with crayon, but the process has an inherent flaw. The finished artwork is an impression from that matrix rather than the matrix itself, so the artist needs to pull an impression in order to know how their art actually looks.… Read More

Conditional Rarity & the Set Registry Effect

Unlike most pieces of decorative arts offered at auction houses across the country, the number of coins produced by series, year, and mint is well documented by the governing bodies that created them. This allows for fairly consistent estimations of rarity. With the introduction of third-party grading in the 1970s and 80s came a standardized system in which a coin’s condition is assigned a numerical value. This led to an accurate estimation of a coin’s worth based on what examples at the assigned grade had previously sold for.Read More

Virtual First Tuesday | May 5

Join us for First Tuesday online!

Tuesday, May 5 | 1:30PM – 4PM

Find out the value of your objects from your home!

While we cannot invite you to join us in our Marlborough Galleries on May 5, we are here to help. All of our Skinner specialists from all departments will be on hand from 1:30PM 4PM to evaluate items via email. Contact us with your auction evaluation requests at evaluations@skinnerinc.com and we will answer them in as “real time” as we can.Read More

Find the Regency Design of ‘Emma’ at Skinner

The mint green drawing room in the Woodhouse home. Photo: Focus Features

Like almost all of us now staying safe at home, I’ve been catching up on some TV and movies. I’m obsessed with Autumn de Wilde’s 2020 version of Emma with its candy-like colors and stunning scenery—I kept pausing and rewatching scenes just to take it all in. Based on the novel written by Jane Austen in 1815, Emma takes place during the English Regency period, which refers to the period (1811-1820) when George III was unfit to rule and his son, the future George IV, ruled by proxy as The Prince Regent.… Read More

Wines to Open Now:

Wines to Open Now:

Wine certainly seems to be a key player during this strange time of quarantine. Never have so many people been talking about and drinking wine; parents deserve it after a long day of simultaneous homeschooling and work, friends are drinking it throughout Zoom hangs, and it seems like we all are pouring ourselves a glass when the clock strikes 5PM and we close our computers for the day. While we work through bean recipes and sourdough starters, now is the perfect time to dive into the wine reserves.… Read More

A Virtual Gallery Walk with Stephen Fletcher

We invite you to browse the April American Furniture & Decorative Arts auction which offers an opportunity to acquire fine early American urban-made furniture from two Massachusetts private collections, the roots of which began in the 1930s and which represent over a hundred years of combined connoisseurship. Furniture deaccessioned from Historic Deerfield complements the group with a number of more vernacular pieces.

We asked partner, and Director of American Furniture & Decorative Arts, Stephen Fletcher to guide us through the auction and introduce some of his favorite highlights from the upcoming auction which is open for bidding through April 13.… Read More

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