6/9/18 – As the summer approaches, things are slowing down at Pook & Pook. However, our office continues to swell with antiques as we prepare for our June 13th and 14th Online Only Auction. Over the two day sale, 1421 items will cross the auction block. We’re up to our eyeballs in Windsor chairs, wooden decoys, oil paintings, and splint baskets!
With such a vast and varied selection of items, it has been a fun challenge to pick just a few favorites for the pick of the week. My choice this week is not a canning cupboard, a Chippendale style mirror, or a tea table – I surprised myself and chose lot 2228, a 16” Victorian-era Greiner doll. She has a cheerful smile set on petal pink lips, a lively pair of single-stroke eyebrows, and teeny black lashes framing deep blue eyes. Her conservative hairstyle is worn tucked behind her ears and she has a bloom of pink blush brushed across her cheeks. She is charming in a handmade floral-patterned dress, complimented by a lacy petticoat and fanciful leather shoes. Dark brown hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion… she looks like me!
It is my opinion that any worthwhile antique should connect with you on an emotional level. It is exciting to find yourself drawn to an object that you wouldn’t expect because it is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. As I held this dolly in my arms, I visualized my own childhood, growing up in the early 90’s and holding my own cherished toy – Samantha, the American Girl doll. Over centuries and across the world, dolls have been an instrument for children to develop their imagination and learn real life skills like compassion and empathy. Carefully holding this doll in my arms, I am cognizant of the generations of children who have nurtured her and enjoyed her companionship.
It is my hope that other young collectors are able to see the emotional value in an object like this little doll. With such a modest auction estimate at $80-100, maybe she can be the keystone on which you build a larger collection. Indulge your inner child; there’s something so soothing about the weight of a doll in the crook of your arms, isn’t there?
By: Kaitlyn Julian
Some collectors cherish antiques for the stories they can tell us. We get joy out of imagining the past life of a simple object, dreaming of all the events it has “witnessed”. Such is the case with this week’s pick of the week, a Boardwalk National Bank of Atlantic City series 1929 five dollar note. While this bill is not particularly rare, only carrying an $80-$120 estimate, one might say the value of this item really comes from where it takes our imagination and its ability to transport our minds to a specific time and place in American history.
In 1929, our beloved New Jersey beach town was quite a different scene from what we are familiar with today. The town would not legalize casino gambling until 1976, and from 1920-1933 the country was subject to the rules of Prohibition. The residents of Atlantic City had a way of getting around these restrictions, and in 1929 a conference was even hosted in the city for organized crime figures across America to attend. The National Crime Syndicate was formed, a confederation of mainly Italian and Jewish organized crime members. . In Atlantic City in the 1920s and 1930s, the mob’s presence was unavoidable. Even today, mobsters and their legacy have had a lasting effect on America’s cultural identity, as popular movies and TV shows make the lifestyle of a Mafioso look intriguing. Living in America in 1929 also meant you were witness to the October 1929 stock market crash, an event that would change the trajectory of many American’s lives. These historic events seem to intersect around one idea: money. Which brings us to our $5 bill – did this $5 note pass through the hands of some unsavory characters? Was it once part of the earnings of a winning poker game played amongst mobsters? Or was it used to purchase alcohol from a bootlegger? Perhaps it was the precious little earnings for a struggling family feeling the initial effects of the Great Depression. Maybe it was the entrance fee to the Museum of Modern Art, just a two and a half hour drive north, having just opened for the first time in November that year. Antique objects are lucky to live many lifetimes. On May 23rd this bill will change hands again and Pook & Pook will be just another stop on its journey.
By: Kaitlyn Julian
5/7/18 – There is a change of pace this week as we finished up another successful Americana sale. Hopefully everyone who wanted to buy something was successful and for our sake I hope you paid too much! As we move along in the calendar year it appears that summer may actually get here. There is a terrific jewelry sale on Friday May 11th, but, as a typical guy, I couldn’t find anything to write about in that sale so I picked the following day. Saturday May 12th, is our Firearm & Militaria Auction. I found many things in that sale that I like, but the one thing that stuck out to me was lot #92. This lot came to us from the Civil War and is dated April 10th, 1865. For you history buffs April 10th, 1865 was the day after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant and he made his final speech to his troops. Confederate soldiers upon surrendering were issued these paroles allowing them to return home without fear of arrest as long as they did not take up arms against the United States. General Lee asked for and received from General Grant permission to produce 30,000 partially printed parole forms. Hand crank field presses were set up inside Clover Hill Tavern. These documents were produced at a feverish pace and held four on each sheet of paper. This one was filled out for Frank P. Whitehead, Sergeant of Company A, First Regiment of the Virginia Cavalry. It is signed by Edward A. Flint, Captain, Provost Guard. The condition is excellent with light creases. With an estimate of $800-1200 I hope that it exceeds the upper end and finds a new home.
by: Jamie Shearer
4/30/18 – Before cataloging this ring, I knew I had to try it on. For me, trying on new jewelry is akin to slipping into a new identity, if only for a moment. Just my luck – the 5 ¾ fit of this ring is my Cinderella’s slipper, a perfect match for my finger! This is the ring of a fearless, self-assured and sophisticated woman. It can’t be worn with your ordinary 9 to 5 look. Instead it demands an elegant ensemble and a special occasion where it can really shine. Picture yourself with shoulders straight and eyes narrowed, perhaps clutching a champagne flute, with this glittering rock on your finger. You will definitely make an impression at your next cocktail party.
Now consider the 4.60 carat oval-shaped tension-set tanzanite; the boldness of the platinum mounting and the hefty glittering gemstone working in active opposition to the perilous balancing act of the tension setting. The stone is a sensation. Tanzanite is known for its pleochroic effect, meaning its color will appear to change when viewed at different angles. Shifting from royal blue to bluish-violet to vibrant purple, this chameleon stone craves attention and drama. Not to mention the thirty-four diamonds which frame the tanzanite from all angles.
Like everything that passes though Pook & Pook, this item isn’t brand-new. Minor imperfections here and there along the platinum band tell us that this ring has been a cherished and faithful companion to a number of dignified affairs. With second-hand jewelry, these small blemishes underscore the wisdom that comes with experience and are part of what makes my job at Pook & Pook exciting every day. A number of different women may have worn this ring and there is something bewitching about being part of a shared experience that spans many years. I am gratified for sharing in this ring’s story as it passes through our hands and onto the finger of its next owner. Perhaps I’ll be able to recognize her by the twinkle in her eye.
by Kaitlyn Julian
4/23/18 – Our April 28th, 2018 auction is filled with great objects. There is great American History with the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson signed documents and letters, but which for me are not eye catching enough for my pick of the week. There is the historic blue Staffordshire Arms of Pennsylvania platter, holder of the world record for a piece of Historical blue Staffordshire. Despite being my favorite color and its overwhelming importance, I did not choose that either. There is a Western Pennsylvania piece of stoneware by Eberhart and Williams, which, being so rare I can find no other with that very marking. Again, rare and the right color but I did not pick that. So, what could possibly eclipse all of these wonderful things? Well my pick this week is the Berks County, Pennsylvania dower chest, lot 1138. Did you see the drawer fronts with the soldiers who are arm armed and wielding tulips? How about looking at that blue background with every inch filled with vibrant tulips and trailing vines? Looking closer you can find a number of birds perched on flowering branches overlooking the gardens below. The rearing unicorns under a tree take center stage in the middle panel. How could anyone not love the rampant lions with their whimsical faces? This chest just seems to have it all. What is it going to bring and who is taking it home? We will find out soon enough!
by: Jamie Shearer
4/16/18 – When this week’s pick gets posted, all of the dust will have settled from the highly anticipated Ruth Bryson Auction. I am sure that there will be a few eyebrows raised at some of the results, perhaps more than a few. After all, great things continue to bring great results. Speaking of great, my pick this week is lot number 1450, the sheet copper ice skate weathervane. We have seen eagles, deer, cows, and even a lobster represented in weathervanes, but how about an ice skate? What a great form with an even greater gilt surface. This one was purportedly found in Hardwick, Vermont on the roof of a workshop of a gentleman who sharpened and made ice skates. I can clearly picture a spectacled older gentleman wearing a work apron while a group of young kids assembled out front to wait on a pair of skates to be sharpened, eager to get on the way to Hardwick Lake to spend the day in the chilly winter air. I can imagine the kids adorned in homemade scarves and gloves, running along with a brass skater’s lantern, as a dog in tow bounces along behind them nipping at their heels. Winter in a small New England town! What an iconic image of old time days gone by.
by: Jamie Shearer
4/9/18 – Yet another week of agonizing over my pick of the week. Do I dare limit myself to just pick one thing? No, I don’t think I can. Looks like it will two picks of the week again! My first choice for this week from the collection of Ruth Bryson is lot #147. I love the whimsical artistry and painted details of fraktur. This fraktur appeals to me because of its strict uniformity of the mirror image, as well as the great use of simple color. I am drawn to the checkerboard blocks used to balance the image. I love the striped orb in the top center flanked by very precise flowers. I especially like that it is from “New Ephrata”, the place I currently call home. There are lots of things to like about this one and I hope that buyers will think so too. The second item this week could be any one of the traditional power pieces, the painted boxes, quilts, fraktur or even baskets. I wanted to bring attention to a piece that was created with not only pride and love of one’s work, but also a piece which took great skill acquired by years of honing one’s trade. Lot #89 is just that item. This is one of the best wrought iron button hole cutters that I have ever handled. From the fluid lines of the crescent handle to the shaped shaft to the curved cutting blade. Can you image the delicate hand it took to inlay the brass circles and accent them with small punches? A true labor of love.
by: Jamie Shearer
Weber boxes, dower chests, and frakturs, oh my! I checked two off my favorites list last week and am down to a hundred or more still on my list. Looking at this catalog is like opening a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints, how could you possibly only have one? Well I couldn’t last week and this week I am picking two again. My first choice this week has all of the bells and whistles. Great paint, great form, great surface, and well frankly it’s just plain great! Lot #183 the Pennsylvania Dutch cupboard checks off every box of must haves in great country furniture. We have all heard of “eye dazzler” rugs, well I think eye dazzler is a perfect description for this cupboard. With a boldly painted surface in red and yellow graining and smoke decorated doors with fabulous wear, this one screams “TAKE ME HOME!!!” The width of only 49” means that it will fit anywhere in your house but is still big enough to exhibit a few of your picks.
My second pick this week involves my favorite color – blue! Lot #35 just happens to have a great blue painted surface. Then throw in some very nice wrought iron hinges, a tulip hasp, and an iron band dated 1808 with initials and you have the perfect accessory for your cross-country trip in a behemoth of a Conestoga wagon. Once again, a great surface with good honest wear on this wagon box. Imagine the stories it could tell of its journey into the unknown. As the wagon ambled down the dusty trails this box probably witnessed wild black bears, buffalo stampedes, the crossing of the Mississippi River, Native American Indian tribes, the Painted Dessert, or perhaps the Donner Pass. Imagine the number of times the travelers would open this box to get out a tool to fix something on the fly. I wonder if the men hid a bottle of whiskey and snuck into the box far more often for a nip rather than a tool. I wonder if a GPS fit in there?
by: Jamie Shearer
3/27/18 – How can I possibly pick just one? Coming up for auction on April 14th, 2018 is the collection of Ruth Bryson of Quarryville, Pennsylvania. It is 321 lots of things that I love! I find it a painstaking process to narrow it down to just one choice each week for just about every sale, but painted Pennsylvania folk art and Germanic decorative arts is my passion and this sale is loaded with eye candy. I just can’t pick one thing for this week so I am picking two! After much debate I decided my first pick is lot #47 the wrought iron fat lamp. This lamp is dated 1833 and is stamped “no. 81” on the flattened arm. It still retains the shaped wrought iron hanger as well was the pointed pick hanging from the delicate wire chain. The best part is that the lid is initialed “JS” within a wrigglework heart. Surrounding the heart is a fantastic wrigglework chain wreath. The Winterthur Museum collection has an almost identical example dated 1845 and numbered 130. They have identified the maker as Joseph Stanem of Lancaster and the example was donated by Jefferson and Anne Miller whose collection sold at Pook & Pook in April of 2015. What a great form with great flair and detail work, but honestly, I think it was the initials that got me! My second choice for this week is lot #1, the carved and painted Carolina parrot by Schtockschnitzler Simmons. I wonder how many kids would get that spelling right in the Scripps National spelling bee. This translates to cane carver of which Mr. Simmons is well known for. Many of you have also seen the inspirational bird trees, many of which have been sold through Pook and Pook auction. This one being a single boldly turned and painted parrot proudly perched atop a bed finial base. The vibrant color, elegant curves, and great surface all lead to it being one of my many favorites of the collection. Who has a spot on the mantle for this one?
by: Jamie Shearer
3/19/18 – This week’s pick comes to us from our March 26th online only auction. Every Pook and Pook online sale always seems to be filled with treasure just waiting to be uncovered. The lot that I picked is lot 1314 French cycling poster for La Marque Georges Richard. So who was Georges Richard? Well, a quick Google search tells you everything you ever wanted to know and then some. The most interesting thing I learned was during the 1890’s Georges and his brother worked in a bicycle repair and manufacturing business. They were so confident and proud of their work that they offered a lifetime guarantee on manufacturing defects on every bicycle that they sold. Eventually the brothers got into cars and made autos for a short period of time before a family squabble ended with a lawsuit and a dis-banding of the relationship. Maybe they should have stuck with making bicycles. Who doesn’t love a nice bike ride? I know I’m ready for spring and some cycling on one of our great rail trails!
by: Jamie Shearer