Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Save Our History" Auction Records Set

It was "save our history" week at New York auctions last week, with record prices set at Sotheby's for three items:

1) An original copy of the Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation sold for $3,778,500, the highest price ever paid at auction for a U.S. Presidential document. The 1863 document that declared the slaves were "forever free" was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The copy that sold, one of 48 originals signed by Lincoln, belonged to Robert F. Kennedy, who bought it in 1964 while he was attorney general of the United States. The new owner remains anonymous.

2) The guidon (the flag carried on a pole that identifies the unit going into battle) carried in Custer's 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn sold for $2,210,500. The swallowtail flag was found after the battle hidden under the body of a dead soldier. All other flags had been taken by the Indians. This flag belonged to the Detroit Musem of Art and had not been on display for over 80 years. The money will be used to buy items related to American Indians.

3) The third bit of history was the document that listed the 13 rules for the game of basketball invented by James Naismith in 1891. It sold for the highest price of all, $4,338,500. The money from the sale will go to the Naismith International Basketball Foundation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Duchess of Windsor’s Jewels Sell for $12.5 Million

An onyx and diamond panther bracelet (1952) by Cartier sold for 4.5 million pounds at auction. It had been estimated to fetch between 1 million pounds and 1.5 million pounds at Sotheby's during a sale of jewels formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor.
A ruby, sapphire, emerald, citrine and diamond flamingo brooch designed by Jeanne Toussaint for Cartier sold for 1.7 million pounds with fees. The item had been estimated to sell for at least 1 million pounds at Sotheby's Nov. 30 auction in London of jewels owned by the Duchess of Windsor.
An 18-carat gold and gem-set cigarette case by Cartier. The item was given to the Duke of Windsor by the Duchess of Windsor as a Christmas present in 1935. Estimated at 150,000 pounds to 200,000 pounds, it was one of 20 pieces that formerly belonged to the Duchess that were sold by Sotheby's in London. The final price was 181,250 pounds
Jewels that King Edward VIII gave the woman for whom he abdicated sold for 8 million pounds ($12.5 million) in London tonight, almost twice the presale estimate, as collectors battled for works by Cartier.
The King of England stepped down in 1936 to become the Duke of Windsor and marry U.S. divorcee Wallis Simpson. Sotheby’s was offering 20 pieces that previously belonged to her. The Windsors were enthusiastic jewelry collectors. They commissioned pieces from Cartier and other makers during their courtship in the U.K. and married life in the Bahamas and France.
Eleven Cartier pieces were included in the sale that was estimated to raise as much as 4.2 million pounds at hammer prices. Among these was an onyx-and-diamond bracelet designed, with the Duke’s encouragement, in the form of a panther by Jeanne Toussaint for Cartier in 1952. This fetched 4.5 million pounds with fees. It was estimated to sell for between 1 million pounds and 1.5 million pounds, as was a flamingo-shaped brooch by Toussaint that the Duchess bought in 1940. The brooch fetched 1.7 million pounds with fees.
“The inscriptions tell the story of perhaps the greatest love story of the 20th century,” said David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry in Europe and the Middle East.
An unidentified owner was selling the items, which were acquired at Sotheby’s record “Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor” sale in Geneva in April 1987, the year after her death. At that auction, the panther bracelet and flamingo brooch sold for the equivalent of 860,082 pounds and 497,942 pounds, said Sotheby’s.
Charm Bracelet
The Duchess’s Cartier diamond charm bracelet today sold for 601,250 pounds against a low estimate of 350,000 pounds. The piece featured nine gem-set Latin crosses that commemorate moments of personal significance to the couple, including an assassination attempt on the King.
An 18-carat gold and gem-set cigarette case by Cartier inscribed with the words ``David from Wallis Christmas 1935'' and engraved with a map of holiday destinations they enjoyed together fetched 181,250 pounds. It was estimated to sell for at least 150,000 pounds.
All four lots went to telephone bidders. The flamingo was bought by the Collection Cartier and the panther was a record for a piece by Cartier, said Sotheby's. The panther was also the most expensive bracelet sold at auction.
Sotheby's 1987 Duchess of Windsor sale in Geneva fetched 75.4 million Swiss francs ($71.7 million), which remains an auction record for a single-owner collection of jewelry.
Today’s 20-lot sale carried an official low estimate of 2.9 million pounds, based on hammer prices. All the lots sold.

(Article by Scott Reyburn who writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Amazing Cucumber

This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8.. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won't leave streaks and won't harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Great Buying and Collecting Tips for 2010

In spite of the economy, antiques can still be fun and could be profitable. Here are some collectibles that seem ready to go up in price over the next few years. So go to garage sales, flea markets, malls, and shops and look around. Even if you don't spend any money, the walking is good exercise and it's an inexpensive way to spend the day. Good luck--go find a treasure and share these tips with your friends

Chinese and Japanese furniture from the nineteenth century, whether dark wood or lacquered, is down in price and not selling well at auction. If you like it, buy it.

Carved wooden sculptures made after 1920 are now low-priced, but they're starting to sell at top auction houses. Look for works at least 12 inches high by known artists like Hans Hagenauer.

Eighteenth-century Chippendale desks with dropdown fronts are very low-priced because they are not practical as computer desks. Some desks have an open area near the drawers in the dropdown section. It can store a laptop--a new idea that makes the desk usable again. Prices will go up.

Enameled metal ashtrays, bowls, vases, and jewelry were very much in style in the 1950s. They were made with colorful, often abstract, decorations. Out of style until the 1990s, they are still low-priced. Buy pieces that are covered front and back with enamel. If a copper back shows, it was probably made by an amateur. Buy signed pieces for best resale value.

Japanese kaiju (meaning "strange beast" or "monster") toys have been the rage in Japan for over 25 years. (Think Godzilla.) Plastic and metal toys between 2 inches and several feet tall sell in Japan and in a few shops in other countries. Early kaiju toys are selling for hundreds of dollars. As interest grows, so will prices of newer toys--the way the prices of robot toys grew.

Look for old, working electrical household goods like electric fans, toasters, typewriters, telephones, television sets, computers, and even early handheld electronic games. There are collectors for all of these, usually people who like to repair the items. Often the old item is of little value until repaired, but prices are in the hundreds of dollars for the right make and model in working condition.

DIY works for antiques too. Dig your collection of bottles and it is bound to be profitable. Search attics, river beds, Grandma's house and garage sales for unrecognized treasures.

Furnish your garden and patio with antiques--planters, statues, pieces of old buildings, old flower pots, tools, fences, and even birdhouses and birdbaths. Prices have been going up for large statues, fountains, and urns. Gardening is another way to join the movement of "going green." A collectors garden should always have extra space near plants for collectibles.

Some things seem underpriced for no apparent reason: Glidden pottery, 1960s designer furniture made of metal, 1950s wooden costume jewelry, modern-design aluminum serving pieces.

Buy what you love. There is the joke of the damn fool theory of collecting: "If I was damn fool enough to buy this, there must be another damn fool who will buy it from me.

*Many thanks to Kovels for sending this to me and allowing me to share it