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Auctioneers and Appraisers

Category Archives: Blog

Does Signed Jewelry Matter?

Here’s my advice that I gave in the talk: If you’re going to buy signed Cartier or signed Tiffany, you should buy unusual things. I’m talking about fine jewelry pieces that were done on a smaller run and that are not mass-produced. I think the unfortunate trend is that some collectors forget to really look at the piece and just buy a signature. Also, it’s important to make sure that the signature is correct.

The Unusual History of a Six-foot-tall Doulton Lambeth Vase

Have you ever stood next to a vase that’s taller than you are? Standing nearly six foot four inches in height, this Doulton faience baluster vase, with its painted dahlias among bamboo and exotic foliage, is certainly an eye stopper. The Royal Doulton Company is one of the most renowned manufacturers of table, ornamental and collectible wares dating back to 1815, and this antique vase was decorated by Florence Lewis, one of the Lambeth studio’s most highly acclaimed artists.

5 Expert Insights: Quality Materials

No one will argue that quality matters in buying and selling antiques and art objects. The trouble is, the characteristics that make one piece quality and another piece mediocre are often subtle. Skinner experts and appraisers offer their insights, stemming from years of experience, into what kinds of materials mean quality. Let’s take a look at how to recognize quality in jade, wine, Native American art, furniture, and metal sculpture.

The Charles Bulfinch Church: A Treasure in our Backyard

I have always been drawn to the quiet aesthetic of New England. Just down the road from Skinner’s Marlborough, Massachusetts auction gallery sits a national treasure. The Fifth Meeting House of the Unitarian First Church of Christ was designed by Charles Bulfinch in 1816. Although he is most known for his design of the State House in Boston, many view the Lancaster church as his crowning achievement.

Make Do and Mend: An Antiques Appraiser's Busman's Holiday

As an antiques auctioneer & appraiser, when I travel for pleasure, it’s nearly impossible to refrain from taking in the material culture, art and history of new surroundings. A recent brief 2-day visit to Iceland on the way to Great Britain included a stop at the National Museum of Iceland.

Quality in Wine

If the concept of ‘quality’ in wine was rendered visually, consider it a triptych – the view on the left a vineyard, the middle scene the wine making process, and finally, the third view – the wine’s performance in your glass. The definitions of the three concepts can be incredibly broad and somewhat exhausting. To do justice to defining quality in wine, it’s tempting to contort language to simultaneously cover such vast subjects as history, terroir, geneology, culture, philosophy, but I won’t!

Top 3 Stars at the Tucson Gem Show: Moonstones, Pearls, and Spinel

The Tucson Gem Show attracts gem dealers and jewelry professionals from all over the world, including professional gem cutters from the Idar-Oberstein region in Germany, stone dealers from India, and dealers in Chinese freshwater pearls. This year, it was 17 degrees below zero in Tucson, Arizona—the lowest temperature on record! A lot of the vendors set up in tents outdoors, and they all sat around huddling. Despite the cold, it was an excellent show, and gave me a glimpse of what’s going to be “in” for jewelry this year.

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.

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