Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Category Archives: Blog

The Flawed Masterpiece: Tale of a Too-short Chair

The chair pictured here, you may realize, used to be about three and a half inches taller than it is now. For some unknown reason its long-ago owner, whether by necessity or choice, lowered it. Maybe it became water damaged or rotten. Maybe one foot cracked and weakened and the easiest way to make the chair’s other legs useful was to just even ‘em all out. Maybe the owner wanted his child to be able to sit in it more easily.

What’s Your Pembroke Table Worth?

One of the guiding principles behind understanding the value of antiques is the notion of “good, better, best”— the idea that seemingly similar pieces can vary in quality, construction, and history. These differences often result in a wide range of prices for the same kind of item. Understanding the “good, better, best” principle, and knowing as possible about a particular piece will ensure that as a buyer, you don’t pay too much, and as a seller, you estimate your antique accurately so that it sells well at auction.

The Yankee Cellar: A Memory Palace of Fine and Rare Wines

The qualities of the New England ‘Yankee Cellar’ are parts travelogue, family chronicle, and individual taste, which usually evolves over time. As a visitor to this kind of cellar, I am often impressed by the personal nature of the layout. Binning and organization are driven by eras of collecting, trips taken to the world’s classic wine regions in France, Italy and Germany, which influenced subsequent buying patterns. Bottles and cases are stored with a layout akin to a memory palace – making sense to the collector, but little to others.

Fabulous Hand-crafted Jewelry by Early Modernist Margret Craver

Have you ever heard of Margret Craver? This amazing silversmith and master jeweler lived to 103, but many people do not even know her name. Although several museums exhibit examples of her early modernist jewelry, her work has never sold at auction… until now.

Welcome to Grunge School: Where you Learn to Leave Original Surface Alone

When you look for a new acquisition for your collection, do you seek out dusty and dirty objects with original surface or interesting patina? If you do, you’re not alone. The phrase “Grunge School,” describes this learned or acquired taste. There’s a sense of discovery and wonder when you come across a piece of antique furniture, a mirror, a painting, or almost anything that has been forgotten for a long time. Original condition and original surface mean an elevated value for most American antiques.

The Mantua School, New and Old: Part 2

In 1886, Stefano Scarampella arrived in Mantua from nearby Brescia and established himself as a full-time maker two years later. His father had been an amateur builder, and his brother Giuseppe was trained in Nice and Florence. When Giuseppe died in 1902, Stefano inherited his tools and plunged himself a period of artistic isolation and intense creativity.

Memories of the Wayside Inn

My grandmother was a New Englander but moved to New Jersey later in her life. One time she brought several of her friends on a trip up to New England. She loved American antiques and old houses, and she told her friends, “You have to see the Wayside Inn.” She really talked it up and they were all very excited to visit.

Sell This at Auction! 3 Strong Performers in the American Art and Antiques Appraisal Market

The American antiques market has recently seen a strong comeback from previous seasons. While collecting trends come and go, some objects always find favor with bidders and consistently hold their value. It’s good to know what’s hot at auction right now; it’s better to know what remains popular year after year. That’s your best bet for selling auction-ready property and netting the highest price possible, no matter what the collecting climate.

Upcycling is Upending a World of Waste

Pottery shards adhered to an upcycled bathtub

Earth day lands on April 22nd this year, and I’ve already started to think about being green, and our responsibility to the world around us. In Americans’ quest for the new, hot, ‘thing’ it’s easy to overlook the treasures of the past, but the mid-century furniture, art glass, and other beautifully designed pieces I work with every day still have a place in our lives.

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