Tag Archives: Collecting Tips

How to Buy American Indian Art: A Guide to Plains Material

American Indian Plains material is one of the most popular and consistently available collecting areas in American Indian art. Plains Indians, including the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Lakota, Sioux, Crow, Kiowa, and Comanche, populated the continent from Texas to Canada, from west of the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. While some Plains Indian material was made for the tourist market, many examples were worn and used by Indians themselves, making them all the more desirable.

Top Ten Reasons to Buy Antiques

1. Save money.  Really live better.

Antiques are often reasonably priced and can be found in any price range.

2. Buying local does not just apply to tomatoes and kohlrabi.

When you buy an antique, you are supporting a small, locally owned business.

3. George Washington did not sit in your La-Z-Boy.

Antiques are tangible pieces of history.

4. There is no such thing as a McBlanket Chest.

Antiques are unique and offer nearly endless variety.

5.

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Seeing Triple: The Mystery of Three Identical Rubens Paintings

I was seeing triple – or at least that was what it seemed like. Three versions of the exact same Rubens portrait hung on the wall. This was quite unusual for the Skinner Paintings department; to have three copies of the same painting at the same time. All three were based on a self-portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640). The original painting remains part of the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. It is signed and dated 1623, commissioned by Henry Danvers, Earl of Danby, as a gift to the Price of Wales, later King Charles I.

A More Affordable Italian Violin: The Neapolitan School

For over a century, modern string players have found that Italian violins from Naples can satisfy the need for a first professional quality instrument at a fraction of the price of those by Northern Italian makers. Many, including soloists, continue to use the same Neapolitan violin throughout their careers without needing to upgrade to something older and more expensive.

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.

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.

Spring Cleaning? Watch for Valuables you Shouldn’t Toss Out!

It’s almost April, and I’m sure I’m not the only one getting ready to do some spring cleaning. Now is the time to organize and cut down on possessions, but be careful not to just throw out things that don’t have a place in your life anymore.

Three Expert Insights: Quality Details

Quality in antiques and collectibles can stem from fine workmanship or exquisite materials. Skinner experts and appraisers have weighed in on these aspects of quality in the two previous posts. However, there is yet one more major theme when it comes to quality: detail.

As Executive Vice President Stephen Fletcher puts it, “It’s like buying a car.” You could be looking at two identical models, and one has a walnut interior, gps, and a sunroof, while the other has nothing special.… Read More

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.

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