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Category Archives: Blog

Pointed Caps and Silver Hat Bands: Intriguing Finds in an Important Penobscot Indian Collection

A Penobscot woman nicknamed Mary Molasses sits staring at the camera, a tall, pointed cap on her head and a large silver brooch adorning her neck. This 1860 photo is a relic of a time when the Penobscot Nation in Maine still spoke its own language and wore traditional clothing made almost entirely from European trade goods.

A Gorgeous Gold and Swiss Enamel Necklace: Worth Far More than Scrap Value

Imagine my surprise when the consignor of a wonderful Swiss enamel necklace walked in the door. We do see Swiss enamel jewelry from time to time, mostly in the form of brooches, but to have a necklace is quite unusual. Both pieces (pictured here) sold well in Skinner’s spring 2011 Fine Jewelry auction.

Outdoor Antiques Capital Hit by a Massive Tornado

“Did you know there’s a tornado watch in effect?” my coworkers started alerting me on the afternoon of June 1, 2011. Reports of an enormous funnel cloud with 90 to 160 mile per hour winds began to trickle in as a massive twister began its deadly 40 mile path across south west and south central Massachusetts. Westfield, Springfield, Monson, Brimfield and Sturbridge were soon swept into the half mile wide path of destruction.

English Violins of the Eighteenth Century: Benjamin Banks of Salisbury

English violins of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are popular alternatives to Italian instruments for musicians seeking value. One of the best proponents of English violin making in the period of 1750-1800 was Benjamin Banks, who worked about 75 miles from London in the town of Salisbury. He trained as a musical instrument maker with his uncle, and eventually concentrated on the instruments of the string quartet: the violin, viola, and ‘cello.

A Century of Beauty & Light: The Lasting Appeal of Art Nouveau Glass

First introduced in the latter half of the 19th century, Art Nouveau glass was a completely new kind of art form for its day. Modern, bold, original, innovative and flamboyant, the Art Nouveau style was a complete diversion from the art forms of the Victorian era. Art Nouveau artisans, such as Emile Gallé, drew on the free- flowing motifs of nature to create some of the finest examples of art glass ever made.

Selling Antique Books, Part I: How to Tell a Rare Book From an Old Book

I’m an antique book appraiser, so I hear this phrase a lot, maybe eight or ten times a week. However, it doesn’t always inspire the excitement or anticipation that I usually feel at the start of a great antique book hunt. Old books aren’t necessarily rare books.

Top 5 Fine Art & Antiques Blog Posts by Skinner Appraisers

Now that it’s June and summer is just around the corner, we’d like to celebrate by sharing some of the most popular blog posts of March, April and May. If you missed these Fine Art & Antiques articles before, now is your chance to check them out and join the conversation.

#5 The Mantua School, New and Old

by David Bonsey, Director of Fine Musical Instruments at Skinner, Inc.



This two part series explores the Mantua school of violin makers, including Guarneri, Balestrieri, Dall’Aglio, Scarampella and Gadda.… Read More

Why Buy Gold Jewelry at Auction?

With the price of gold so high, designers today are finding that they have to be exceedingly creative with their designs. They can no longer rely on selling a pair of plain gold earrings–the price to manufacture them is simply too high. Therefore, many designers are incorporating less expensive metals into their works such as silver, brass and steel, and using gold as an accent instead of the main focus. It is not as easy as it once was to buy new gold jewelry.

Violin Makers in Naples: The Gagliano Legacy 1780-1820

In the 1780s, the Gagliano family workshop was headed by Ferdinando Gagliano, the son of Nicola. Ferdinando’s younger brothers Joseph and Antonio frequently collaborated with each other on instruments and produced what was likely the largest output of instruments bearing the family’s name.

Consigning to Auction, Part IV: Auction Fees

Auction Fees

This blog post completes my series on Consigning at Auction. We’ll cover auction fees, as this is often an area where many people have questions. Auction buyer fees and seller fees are the industry standard. The fees pay for the work the auction house puts in to make sure your property reaches the best possible buying audience.

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