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Dumb Mikey decided he was going to paint his house himself to save some money, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend. So the first day he paints the front of the house and all is well. The second day, he only paints half of the left side of the house. The third day he could only accomplish finishing the side he had started the day before. His girlfriend was dismayed and told him, “you know the first day you started out like gangbusters and finished the whole front of the house.” She asked, “What did you lose your motivation when you started on the side of the house?” Mikey looks at her, deadpan, and says, “It would take a professional painter just as long you know. Everyday, I have to walk further and further to the paint can.”
Look at the beautiful lidded candy dish pictured on the right and see if you can guess the pattern. Most people would say that the pattern is the Moon & Stars pattern and they would be correct. If we asked them next, who made the candy dish, most probably an argument of epic proportions would begin. Some people would guess that glass in the Moon & Stars pattern was made by Fenton Glass; others would argue that it was made by a company called L.G. Wright; others would say it was L.E. Smith and finally some would say Weishar. And who would be correct? If you guessed all the answers are correct, you may be a vintage art glass aficionado.
The earliest glass pieces in the Moon & Stars pattern were originally made by a company called Adams & Company in the late19th Century. Most of it was clear glass and not the more colorful pieces that came later as others leased the patterns or bought the molds. In the middle to late 1930’s, L.G. Wright started reproducing pieces of glass in the Moon & Stars pattern. They continued to produce this type of glass up until 1999 when the company closed its doors for good. Other companies also produced this pattern including Weishar, Crescent, and Imperial glass.
However, Wright, L.E. Smith, whom we would bet most people associate Moon & Stars with, didn’t start producing the pattern until the 1940’s. L.E. Smith is one of the leaders in the pattern glass companies and was established in 1907. Like most companies, the first glass produced by this company was clear pressed glass pieces and they didn’t start producing colorful pieces of glass until the mid-1920’s. Glass from this company in the late 20’s and early 30’s included cobalt blue glass, amethyst and amber. Some of their earliest patterns include the Melba pattern and the Mount Pleasant pattern. L.E. Smith was purchased by William Kelman and still producing glass today.
Alexander Calder, also known as Sandy Calder is an American artist who was born in Lawnton, Pennsylvania in July 1898. Mr. Calder came from a family of artist, his grandfather being Alexander Milne Alder who created the statue of William Penn that sits atop the Philadelphia’s City Hall. His father and mother were also artists. Sandy Calder studied his craft in Philadelphia, New York, Paris produced many paintings, lithographs and even jewelry, however his claim to fame is in being the inventor of the mobile. At a recent Sotheby’s auction, one of his works went for more than $3.5 million.
Presale estimates for Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle at Sotheby’s Auction of Contemporary Art in New York had the work going for between $1 million to $1.5 million. So imagine everyone’s surprise when it reached a record $3.5 million. The sculpture is described as a wood, steel and string standing mobile 54.5” x 44.25” and was once owned by Katherine Dudley of Chicago and Perls Galleries of New York. Previous to the sale, Ebony Sticks in Semi-Circle had been exhibited in Chicago and Paris.
Due to the economy and the state of everyone’s finances, we have been getting a lot more e-mails lately from people trying to sell us their possessions. In some cases it is a person who has one or two collectibles that they want to get rid of, in other cases we get someone who has a houseful of things that a relative left behind. In all cases, we try to give them advice about selling their merchandise. The most important questions for someone to answer are “what do I expect to get for it?” and “How fast do I want to sell?” These questions will guide most sellers in their decision because a lot of people have unreal expectations about what something, especially antiques and collectibles, might be worth. Here is what we tell people who contact us about selling their possessions:
To realize the most money and if you are not in a hurry to sell, there are a few options. One is to sell it yourself by either placing an ad in the newspaper, Craigslist or an online auction site. Remember that a local paper has a limited amount of circulation and readership and your item will not be viewed by as many people as you would have if you were selling it online. If you sell it online, you might try Craigslist as it enjoys many hits a day from around the world; giving your item an international presence. However, be careful with scam artists that live out in cyberspace trying to cheat you out of your money. Lastly, you can try using one of the many online auction sites. Online auction sites have the international presence that you will want for your item. If you choose this route, check the fees for selling prior to listing your item.
If you are not in too much of a hurry to sell and you don’t really care how much money you get for the item, then you can try to sell using a consignment shop or a local auction house. A consignment shop normally takes your merchandise and prices it according to what they think it is worth and will try to sell it at that price. Typically, a consignment shop will charge you between 30%-50% of the selling price and may add on other fees as well. Unless you place a reserve price on an item, a local auction house of course sells the item to the highest bidder. Then the auction house will take their fees, normally between 30%-50% from the proceeds of the sale. They too may have other additional fees. Always ask before you consign an item to a consignment shop or auction so that you know what fees to expect.
If you are in a real hurry to sell the item and you really don’t care how much money you get for it, you can sell it to a dealer. Keep in mind that a dealer typically buys his merchandise at 50% or less of what the item is worth; and rightly so, because the dealer is placing the item in their inventory and taking the risk of selling it or not selling it. In addition, the dealer will have to pay for overhead and other incidental expenses of selling. If you decide to sell to a dealer, take it to different dealers to find the best price. Taking it to a specialty dealer might also get you the best price, for example if your item is a Barbie doll, take it to a dealer that specializes in vintage toys. One thing that you will find with selling to a local dealer is that most are hardworking and honest and will go out of their way to help you out.
We recently went to an MB Estate Sale in McLean, Virginia and we found a treasure trove of retro art glass including many vintage cranberry glass pieces and a beautiful Anchor Hocking Royal Ruby bowl. However, one of the more interesting finds was a Kanawha slag glass basket with some very striking colors; oranges, pinks and reds on milk glass. This vintage basket which measures about 6” tall still had the original Kanawha sticker on it. Unlike L.E. Smith glass, Kanawha Glass has a short history.
Kanawha Glass was only around for about 35 years and began producing art glass in 1953, when Dunbar Glass Company closed its doors. A few of the artisan’s founded Kanawha Glass and continued to produce beautiful pieces until 1987 when the company was purchased by Dereume Glass. In its 35 years however, they produced some of the most sought after vintage and retro art glass. Their specialties, besides slag glass pieces, were amberina glass and crackle glass.