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Tag Archives: Stephen Fletcher

Daguerreotypes Part I: Haunting, Beautiful, and Storied Pictures in the Early Photography Collection of Rod MacKenzie

Daguerreotypes are a reminder of a time when photography was very different from the “point-and-shoot” instant pictures of today. Now, you carry a camera in the cell phone in your back pocket everywhere you go. Then, photographers were purveyors of state-of-the-art technology.

In fact, the 19th century photographers who made these long-exposure images were referred to as daguerrean artists, and quickly supplanted the portrait painters of the day. The artists “images,” particularly daguerreotypes, were valued for their clarity and honesty in representation.

Three Tales of Tragedy: American Antique Furniture Lost to Refinishing

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Welcome to Grunge School: Where you Learn to Leave Original Surface Alone.” Those of us who have been immersed in the antiques world our whole lives all know horror stories of wonderful relics that were lost to naïve or over-exuberant refinishing or repainting. Here is a story that was left as a comment on my blog post. It makes me cringe to read it.

Top 5 Fine Art & Antiques Blog Posts of the Summer

It’s hard to believe that summer is already over. In the midst of vacations and appraisal house calls, Skinner antiques & fine art experts found the time to write intriguing and informative blog posts. These are the top 5 most popular articles from June, July, and August. Read them for the first time or enjoy a re-read, then join the conversation by leaving a comment.

Reflections on Antique Mirrors

I’ve always been attracted to antique mirrors, and have been collecting them for quite a while. One time, my mother came to an auction preview I’d put together as director of the American Furniture & Decorative Arts department at Skinner. She was in her nineties at this point, and not a stranger to blunt questions. She took one look at an antique mirror on the wall, and asked, “Why would anyone want that?” It was a Queen Anne mirror with totally untouched surface. The glass was reflective, but so foggy and misty from age that it wouldn’t really be useful as a mirror. Still, it was worth thousands of dollars.

Antique Weathervanes, Part II: Folk Art or Not?

When you see a nice rooster or running horse weathervane with great original surface, you might comment, “What fabulous folk art!” In reality, most antique weathervanes that collectors buy and sell were actually manufactured in large quantities and marketed to the general public. These weathervanes do not fit the traditional definition of folk art, or objects made by a person who wasn’t academically trained working in an isolated area.

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.

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.

What's Red and White and Glad all Over?

Karen Keane, CEO of Skinner, and I had the opportunity to attend a gala opening of this remarkable exhibit on Thursday night. Everyone who walked in said, “This makes you feel so good,” and I agree. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The exhibit is only open for a few days: from Friday, March 25th through Wednesday, March 30th, and it’s free to the public, so get down to New York and see it if you can.

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