Category Archives: Dr. Lori – Antiques and Your Home

As seen on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, and entertaining guests onboard Celebrity Cruises’ cruise ships around the world, internationally known and funny art and antiques appraiser, syndicated columnist, author, and award-winning TV personality and talk show host, Dr. Lori pulls no punches when she evaluates your flea market finds and sentimental family objects. She tells Americans the truth so they can sell their antiques for top dollar or properly display their heirlooms within their overall home design.

A certified art and antiques appraiser and museum designer, Dr. Lori is the director of
www.DrLoriV.com
Presenting more than 100 events every year and conducting in-home appraisal and home design visits, Dr. Lori evaluates approximately 20,000 items a year. During her personal appearances and popular antiques themed vacation cruises, Dr. Lori makes people laugh with her straightforward and honest approach.

Dr. Lori says, “You’ll laugh out loud while learning about your antiques, your friends and even your spouse at my events and through my columns and TV shows! I’m not an antique dealer or affiliated with any auction house, so my evaluations are straightforward and honest. I’ll even tell you how some appraisers are not telling you the truth and that they fail to meet professional museum standards which can cost you money.”

When a major story breaks in the world of art and antiques, you will see Dr. Lori lending her expertise on ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. She holds a PhD in art history from Penn State. Dr. Lori’s columns about antiques, travel, and home design are read across the country by more than 8.2 million readers monthly. She is also an editor of several lifestyle magazines and an author with 30 books to her credit.

Cracker Jack Toys

cracker jack 1

by Lori Verderame, Ph.D.

Do you remember the lazy days of summer when you were a kid? You played croquet in the backyard with the rest of the neighborhood gang, frolicked in the lawn sprinkler, or went to the ballpark to take in a baseball game. Snacks were part of the summer fun and a popular snack food was Cracker Jack, the candy coated popcorn and peanut snack.

An early form of Cracker Jack was first sold at the World’s Fair in Chicago, also known as the World Columbian Exposition, in 1893. By 1896, the popcorn and peanut snack was perfected and sold by the Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein Company. While the delightful snack became a well-known American treat, it became associated with the American past time, the game of baseball. In 1908, Cracker Jack was highlighted in the tune, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” written by Jack Norworth urging sports fans to “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack!” The game, the song, and the snack became synonymous with America in the early decades of the 20th Century.

While the yummy mixture was enjoyable, it was the introduction of the Cracker Jack toy that solidified Cracker Jack’s place in American culture.

Back in the day, Cracker Jack toys or prizes were included in every single box sold. The idea of placing a toy prize in the Cracker Jack box had actually been a continuation of an earlier promotional campaign where sellers handed buyers a prize when purchasing a box of Cracker Jack. The idea of putting the toys into each box didn’t come to pass until 1912.

The toy prizes ran the gamut from decoder rings to plastic charms. Some of the prizes were tin lithographed sundials, penny banks, mini magnifying glass, paper dolls, tops, alphabet charms, celluloid on metal pin backs, lithographed metal clickers, miniature booklets, doll house cutlery sets and the list goes on. Cracker Jack even distributed baseball cards in a set of 144 cards at the outset of World War I. The entire set of Cracker Jack baseball cards command $100,000 on the collectibles market today.

While most collectors don’t have the highly sought after Cracker Jack baseball cards, many people still retain a few of those miniature Cracker Jack toy prizes. Many collectors kept the little toy prizes and displayed them in shadowboxes or traded them with their friends. Some Cracker Jack afficionados embroidered the small charms onto beanie caps, hats or framed pieces of velvet in the shape of a Christmas tree. And, for the crafty child, Cracker Jack toys were molded into decorative ceramic planters and glued onto wooden jewelry boxes. These objects are highly sought after in today’s repurposing antiques marketplace with values ranging from $250 to $1000.

Most Cracker Jack toys dating from the early 1900s are unmarked. Cracker Jack toys ran the gamut such as gumball trinkets, copper charms, 3-D dioramas, plastic rocking horse charms, miniature pot metal race cars, celluloid soldier figurines, or paper prizes. German toy makers were the source for most early Cracker Jack toys. Particular Cracker Jack toys sell today to collectors for between $5 and $25 each depending on condition, type, and age.

Today, Cracker Jack is owned by Frito-Lay. Unfortunately, the prizes are not what they used to be. Most contemporary Cracker Jack toys are simple paper prizes such as optical illusion drawings or printed mind-teaser riddles.

In 2004, when the New York Yankees baseball club tried to replace Cracker Jack at their stadium concession stands with a similar peanut and popcorn snack product, the public forced club management to return to selling Cracker Jack at Yankee Stadium. The team listened to their fans and returned to selling Cracker Jack. Some things should never change.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality, and TV talk show host, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com/Events, Lori Verderame on Google+, www.facebook.com/doctorlori or call (888) 431-1010.

(Photo credit: http://www.DrLoriV.com)

 

George Washington at Mount Vernon

George Washington at Mt Vernon2

By Lori Verderame

To discover the real George Washington, you must visit historic Mount Vernon. Just 16 miles south of Washington, DC, the stately home of our country’s first President is a site to behold. President and Mrs. Washington made Mount Vernon home from 1759, the year of their marriage until Washington’s passing in 1799. The 21 room mansion was purchased by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1858 and government tax dollars are not used to support the 500 acre estate or related programs. As one can imagines, Mount Vernon is an historical treasure trove and features fabulous collectibles. For instance, George Washington custom ordered the weathervane the decorates Mount Vernon’s cupola from a Philadelphia craftsman in 1787. The weathervane was modeled in the form of a peace dove and is made of copper and cast lead and covered in gold leaf. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the estate.

Today, Mount Vernon is maintained as it was back in the 1790s. The home demonstrates the fashion sense of George and Martha Washington with original furnishings dating to the 18th Century, objects belonging to the Washington and Custis families, and vibrantly colored walls. The estate is the site for the central Colonial era mansion home and other structures.

Like other entrepreneurs of his day, Washington was a farmer/businessman as well as a patriot. He ran a distillery and gristmill near the property. Mount Vernon, like many 18th Century estates, was self sufficient when it came to foodstuffs and other necessities. For instance, the farm provided vegetables and fruits, meats were cured in the smokehouse, and fish came to the Washingtons’ dinner table from the nearby Potomac River. Flour was produced in the gristmill and liquor and beer were made from the President’s distillery on the estate’s grounds.

There are four darling octagonal structures on the garden grounds which were known in the 1790s as “garden houses” and sometimes referred to as “schoolhouses”. Situated in the upper and lower gardens, these small buildings were used for the cultivation of plants and as sites of study for the Washington’s grandchildren, Nelly and Washy Custis. Washington’s brick tomb and burial vault are located on the property and they house the bodies of both President and Mrs. Washington. Wreath laying ceremonies take place daily at Mount Vernon to pay respects. Flower gardens, greenhouses, boxwoods, and vegetables are maintained there, too.

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The Mount Vernon museum and education center features personal objects and pieces that speak to American history such as Washington’s dentures, his Brown Bess musket used by many colonial era soldiers, gifts from the Marquis de Lafayette, and a lifelike portrait bust of Washington by the master sculptor, Houdon. Collectible objects adorned Mount Vernon such as the famous 18th Century blue/white Canton ware china. This china (pictured above) would have been  used as the Washington family’s everyday china and the porcelain was collected in large numbers. The Washingtons had hundreds of serving pieces of Cantonware. The porcelain features hand painted river, landscape, and genre scenes. Eventually, the blue white china was bequeathed from Martha Washington to her granddaughter, Nelly Custis.

For visitors, Mount Vernon features beautiful landscapes along the mighty Potomac River. Twenty five new galleries chronicling the life and times of George Washington are also the focus of the highly historic and educational site in the heart of Virginia’s countryside. For more information, visit www.mountvernon.org.

Dr Lori Headshot

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery channel and has been featured on The Tonight Show, The Daily Show, and with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori,  Lori Verderame on Google+ or call (888) 431-1010.

Travel, Eat, Shop

cooking with antiques

By Lori Verderame 

Can’t keep track of all of your digital photos? Do you want to neatly organize photo files and share them with others? Want to share images from your family vacation, school play, soccer game, or special event with friends and relatives at home? Don’t want to spend hours at your computer sending out email after email with photo attachments?

Don’t let grandma miss out on sharing those special moments… make a photo book! If you haven’t tried making your own photo book, it is easy, good looking, and fun.

I work a lot on the road presenting my popular antiques appraisal show. So, when I am not on the road hosting my antiques appraisal events at more than 100 venues worldwide or taping a TV show for Discovery channel, I like to be at home in my kitchen cooking or enjoying my kitchen collectibles. Since I don’t have children and usually take pictures of objects as often as I do people, I didn’t know if a photo book would be something that I would use or enjoy. Boy, was I wrong about that.

When I took a look on my computer, my home server, my cell phone, and my digital camera, I realized that I had a load of photos! I wasn’t using them. I wasn’t enjoying them and reminiscing over them. They were just taking up space. The Picture.com photo book was a great way to get those photos into my everyday life.

I have so many pictures from my travels, from my antiques appraisal events where people bring me their objects to review, and of special objects and souvenirs that I have collected from my travels over the years, that I thought I would highlight them in book form. With my Picture.com photo book, I can now share my antiques knowledge and cooking expertise with everybody. Once my photos were in a handy book form, the photos meant something more to me. They reminded me of my travels, sparked memories of my time collecting objects or reminiscing with family over aging treasures, and they were all in a neat format.

I used Picture.com to make my photo book featuring some of my favorite recipes and highlighted the cookbook with information, tips, and little known facts from my background in antiques and collecting.

I went to the Picture.com website and followed the directions. Easy. I chose a theme. Easy. I selected the number of pages that my book would be which correlated to the cost of my final photo book. Easy. I downloaded some photos from my computer, cell phone, and digital camera. Easy. I designed the pages of my book one by one. Easy. I added text and some graphics. Easy. I moved some elements around so the overall book looked good to me. Easy. I ordered my book using the order form and online help feature. Easy. I had a question and got help online from their support staff. Easy. I got my book shipped to me. Easy. Guess what the experience was? Easy!

Was it fast? No. It was a project. And projects—like a craft project of any kind—take time. I enjoyed the time I spent making the photo book. I have a somewhat impatient personality but I was surprised because I did not get frustrated by long load times or those silly glitches that occur with some online photo book websites. When it comes to user expectation, I think Picture.com’s picture book maker worked well. I didn’t run into any surprises. I knew what would happen when I clicked on a graphic or moved a photo within the book format. And, the best thing was that I could always “Undo” something without the fear of losing my work or being stuck with something that I didn’t really want. When I wanted to take a break from the project and make a cup of coffee, I just hit “save” and came back to it later. No problem.

It took me about 2 hours to make my 20 page photo book but I think my book took longer than most books because I choose to include a good amount of text. Writing takes longer than just selecting photos. I think that my 2 hours is longer than the time it would take to make a traditional photo book that most people make using mainly photos. If you are making a straightforward photo book consisting of mainly family vacation photos and some short captions, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to 1 hour from start to finish. I would think that making a themed photo book featuring pictures from a family vacation or baby’s first holiday would take about 1 hour with time to spare. And, after you are thrilled with your photo book, you can order additional copies by logging into your Picture.com account and clicking on My Projects. You can then choose the icon to add your photo book to your shopping cart. Then you can order as many copies of your photo book as you want.

My book arrived in a nice package to protect it during shipping which I appreciated and it looked very good when I saw the end result. The binding was strong, the endpapers nicely produced, and the photos and text looked just as I expected it would. My book, Cooking with Antiques, is a project that I have been working on for quite some time so it was great to see the actual real thing in print!

When it comes to my work as an antiques appraiser, I know that many of my clients can use the Picture.com photo book to keep track of their collections, share cool items with others, and from a more serious note, document their personal belongings. I can use it to help my appraisal clients identify their valuables too.

I would most definitely take part in another photo book project or maybe I will try my hand at making a calendar using Picture.com. I hope you give it a try too. Visit www.Picture.com and select Photo Book from the main menu. After that, it’s all about you!

Image:
Dr. Lori’s Cooking with Antiques book.

Connect with Dr. Lori on Google+

Antiques and Your Home: Great Stories Accompany Great Antiques

by Dr. Lori

Many people attend my appraisal events with family heirlooms or flea market finds; but there are some audience members that just like to watch the show. While my appraisal style is unlike anything you’ve seen in the antiques world, my audience likes to hear about history and partake in my rapid fire, informative, funny, and totally unscripted events.

Here are some of the stories that I recall from the latest round of touring the country presenting Dr. Lori’s Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show. Some objects are worth big bucks and other objects have big stories to tell. From locales far and wide, these are America’s stories. Read on.

Estero, FL: A woman named Beverly brought in a $6,000 sterling silver gravy boat made by the esteemed designer Georg Jensen. She said she didn’t care much for her mother in law who gave it to her, but she sure liked her gravy.

Denver, CO: A guy named Jeff who said he’d rather eat mud than go to a yard sale bought an 1850s era quilt from a yard sale for $20 and brought it to me for an evaluation. It was an Amish-made Rose of Sharon pattern textile worth $8,500.

Seattle, WA: A waiter named Kelly served a big table of diners and did not receive a tip. Instead, the diners left a small bag on the table with a Native American turquoise and silver squash blossom necklace. After a month of waiting for the owners to return to the restaurant to pick up the necklace, the owner told Kelly that the necklace was his tip. It was worth $5,000.

Tulsa, OK: I was rendered speechless–a first for me–when I saw an amazing Albrecht Durer print among the objects for me to appraise. I got very, very quiet when I realized that an audience member had brought in an authentic Durer work of art dating to the 1500s. It was a magnificent piece of Renaissance art produced by the artist best known as the “German Leonardo.” The lovely owner told me that it was a gift from her deceased friend who collected old master prints. And, a masterpiece it was–worth $60,000-$75,000.

Portland, OR: While cleaning out her aunt’s house, Cathy discovered a Walt Disney animation cel from the 1940s. Appraised value: $9,000.

St. Louis, MO: Seven year old Corinne wanted me to appraise her cell phone to see if her mother loved her or her nine year old sister more…  Truth be told, they both had a better cell phone than I did.

Mt. Carmel, PA: A woman showed me her circa 1920s platinum, diamond, and sapphire ring that was an anniversary gift from her husband. She said that her husband got it from “Blackie at the pool hall.” That Art Deco piece of pool hall jewelry was worth $25,000.

Washington, DC: A gentleman who made it clear that he was not a tea drinker brought me an 18th Century French-made sterling silver samovar produced for the Russian court of Catherine the Great. It was worth $15,000.

State College, PA: A gentleman in his 90s whose family had links to the Plimoth colony brought a teapot that came over on the Mayflower. With significant information and the documentation to prove it, the silver teapot was worth $150,000.

Houston, TX: A lawyer named Ray and his wife Robin were having a heated discussion over a beat-up upholstered chair that Ray bought at a yard sale. He wanted to try a new hobby, furniture re-upholstery, so he had stored the chair in their garage in anticipation of starting the project. Robin, fed up with the situation that left her car outside, told him to start the re-upholstery project or trash the chair. So, Ray started ripping off the old upholstery only to find two pieces of cardboard inside the back of the chair with a work of art sandwiched in between them. The work of art was brought to me for evaluation. It was a French Impressionist drawing by Edgar Degas depicting ballet dancers worth $100,000.

Bloomsburg, PA: I will never forget the man who yelled at me when I told him that his glass Ball canning jar was not rare. It was marked 1858 on the side. The owner believed it was the first one ever made—it wasn’t! Value: $8.

Seattle, WA: Mai Lin brought me a French Impressionist watercolor by the artist, Eugene Boudin that her father got in payment of a debt. He ran a dry goods shop in Hong Kong during World War II. The watercolor was left to him in exchange for a payment. The piece was valued at $17,500—there aren’t enough dry goods on earth to make that a fair deal.

Hazelton, PA: A couple in their 80s brought an American Impressionist landscape painting to one of my events. While waiting for the event to begin, they were approached by two young men who offered to buy the painting from them on the spot. They offered the couple $8,000 for the painting and urged them not to have me appraise it. They rejected the offer. I appraised it and it was worth $100,000. Sometimes you don’t want to take the first offer you hear.

Tulsa, OK:As a Connecticut native, I couldn’t resist wearing–with the owner’s permission–a real western sheriff’s badge. A woman brought in a US Marshal’s gold sheriff’s badge from the Oklahoma territory, circa 1906-07. It was worth $1,000. It’s not too often that you see one of those in New Haven!

Trenton, NJ: I coaxed a guy named Dan into wearing the strand of pearls that he bought at a Goodwill Thrift Store for $15 and brought in for an appraisal. When I explained that he had a purchased an opera length strand of hand knotted 6 millimeter Mikkimoto cultured pearls dating back to the 1950s worth $2,500 bucks, he ran up to my stage to model them for the audience.

Roanoke, VA: I told a nice guy who just wanted to keep an old crock that sat at the top of his grandmother’s staircase that some sentimental objects are worth cash. While he acquired the oversized crock from his late grandmother for sentimental reasons, he soon  found out that it was the perfect size for putting his beer on ice. The early 1900s crock featured a cobalt blue flower on the side. The owner nearly fell off my stage when I told him that it was worth $5,000. He said that he was heading home to break the news to his football buddies that they need to chip in for a new beer cooler.  

Hazelton, PA: Nick, a regular at my appraisal events, brought an American flag for me to appraise. His flag showing the dates 1776/1876 had been in his family for years and was flown over the streets of Philly during the 1876 World’s Fair (Centennial Expo) parade. Today, that handmade flag is worth $20,000. Nick’s flag was not only old but glorious, too.

Lancaster, PA: Five-year old Carlie brought me a Lewis and Clark peace medal like those that the Jefferson administration gave to the Native Americans as Lewis and Clark explored the western territories. It was discovered when she was sifting through her grandfather’s button jar. It was worth $5,000.

Knoxville, TN: A woman purchased a box lot that included a metal badge from the early 1800s. Engraved on the badge was a statement that read: “Coachman is allowed in the city of Charleston, SC at any hour with the coach.” This was an unusual object even for this city which was known to be at the center of the slave trade. It was worth $400.

Akron, OH: An 80 year old woman was accompanied by her adult daughter and one of the family’s many Currier & Ives prints. The daughter wanted me to tell her mother to stop letting perfect strangers into the house where she lives alone to see her prints. Mom promised to stop the dangerous practice after I appraised just one of the original 19th Century American prints for $18,000.

Kansas City, MO: A woman named Joan purchased an ugly drawing of an eagle with a Picasso signature on it that she thought was a print at an estate sale for $2.50. It wasn’t a print but rather an original Picasso drawing worth $50,000.

Baltimore, MD: A US Airways flight attendant brought an old radio with Disney characters (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) on it from the 1940s in fair condition. Another one just like it had sold for $11,500 in excellent condition. I told Laura that her Disney collectible is worth $5,000-$6,500.

Anderson, SC: A first edition, signed copy of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell with the original book jacket was purchased by Bob at a book fair about 10 years ago. When he brought it to me for an appraisal, I told him that he made a good return on his $200 investment. That book is worth $50,000.

Louisville, KY: A 30-something guy named Paul was supported his grandmother and his extended family when grandma’s house went into foreclosure. He took the weathervane off of the barn on the property that was in deep financial trouble and brought it to me. The copper weathervane was worth $15,000 and would help get the family back on their feet again.

Indianapolis, IN: A newlywed couple brought in a Gibson banjo that was found in the attic of the new house they purchased from their grandfather. Disappointed that the instrument wasn’t a guitar, I explained that banjos were actually more popular than guitars in the early 1900s. The banjo by the famous maker was worth $1,500 which was just enough to fund their honeymoon.

Ft. Myers, FL: A woman paid $1 at a yard sale for a drawing by the court artist to Louis XV, Francoise Boucher of an angel. Betty brought it to my appraisal event in southwest Florida and I told her it was authentic and worth $40,000.

Akron, OH: A very smelly old sock monkey was purchased at an estate sale. If you can smell it, you can’t sell it. Value:  Smelly!

Lubbock, TX: A collection of rare autographs from the 1930s-50s owned by a man named William that were collected by a policeman who worked near the Polo Grounds in New York. The officer would just leave a blank autograph book near the locker room exit and when the New York Yankee players and members of the opposing team left the ball field, they would be asked to sign the book. Value of the hundreds of autographs by the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and others was $5,000.

Glastonbury, CT: An original campaign button from George Washington’s campaign in the form of a car coat button. The piece was dug up from the ground while its owner was doing some light gardening. He dug up an object from the Revolutionary war period worth $2,200.

Omaha, NE: A gentleman had an early 1800s good luck charm that had a provenance linking it to Napoleon Bonaparte. It was a jewel encrusted object in the form of a crystal sphinx that was like the one painted in a portrait of the French Emperor. The owner, a golf pro, got the object on a trade for a set of golf clubs.

Lynchburg, VA: A man brought in one of the oldest objects that I’ve appraised in a long time: a portrait bust from ancient Rome that his parents handed down to him. He knew it was valuable but didn’t know how valuable. It had been in his family for quite some time, dating back generations. Value: $25,000.

Virginia Beach, VA: A few members of one military family struggle to bring their object to my event. It takes three big guys to lift it. Why? Because the object they want me to appraise is a giant piece covered in graffiti of the Berlin Wall…

I can safely say at a rate of 20,000 objects a year for nearly two decades appraising people’s stuff, I have seen it all. The stories are just as fabulous and the people and the objects that accompany them.

Appraising some Manly Antiques

At more than 150 antiques appraisal events all over the world every year, I tell people what they’ve got and what it is really worth. My approach is plain, simple, straightforward. Women typically bring their guys to my events but the guys stay for my no holds barred approach to appraising antiques. This approach, along with my unexpected flair for the comedic, has attracted many, including many men, to my appraisal events

Dan and Dr. Lori with his $1,200 strand of pearls

Guys are keen collectors and know, dare I say better than some women, when someone is feeding them a line. I reveal the real deal and that, among other things, brings the guys to my events with the objects that they collect. They want to hear the truth and they know I will tell them just that.

In Baltimore, MD, I just had to coax Dan into wearing the strand of pearls that he bought at a Goodwill Thrift Store for $15. When I told him that the pearls matched his Baltimore Ravens football jersey and purple camou ensemble, he laughed along with his wife and just shrugged me off.  When I explained that he had a purchased an opera length strand of hand knotted 6 millimeter Mikkimoto pearls dating back to the 1950s worth $2,500 bucks, then he ran up to the stage to model them for me. Who says men don’t like to buy jewelry?

In Roanoke, VA, I told a nice guy who just wanted to keep the old crock that sat at the top of his grandmother’s staircase for years that sometimes sentimental objects are also worth some cash. He initially took the oversized crock from his late grandmother’s house for sentimental reasons and then found that it was the perfect size for putting his beer on ice. The early 1900s storage crock had a cobalt blue image of a flower on it and he nearly dropped it off the stage (I couldn’t lift it) when I told him others like his had sold for upwards of $5,000. After my event, he was heading home with his crock to break the news to his football buddies that they needed to chip in for a new beer cooler.

I first met Nick in Hazleton, PA and since then he has been at many of my events over the years. At one event, Nick brought a flag to appraise. The flag had been in his family for years and it was from Philadelphia. It was a Centennial flag dating to 1876. As was customary, the flag was flown in the streets of Philly during the 1876 World’s Fair or Centennial Expo worth $20,000. Nick was so happy and surprised to know the real information about his flag. Nick’s flag is not only old but glorious.

Nick and his $20,000 1876 Centennial Flag from Philadelphia

I review wonderful historic objects, sporting objects, guns, and a litany of objects all over the world. Some are more masculine than others, but no matter the object, guys want to hear the real truth about their art, antiques and collectibles. I am glad to share the news – good or bad with the boys!

Photo courtesy of the staff of www.DrLoriV.com

Collections from Italy: Murano glass and Majolica ceramics

The vast number of antiques and art collectors interested in the collecting category of Italian objects is ever growing. Want to add a taste of spicy Italy to your home décor? Consider collecting Murano glass and ceramic majolica.

Murano glass is the age-old glassware made in the glass furnaces of Venice. Amid the gondolas and beautiful architecture and fine art museums, Italian glassware is highly collectible and very, very valuable. Designs date back to the mid 1200s AD and spark interest with collectors of Murano glass. Colorful objects, display pieces, chandeliers, and works of art comprise the history of the glassmaking center of Murano.  Display chargers command as much as $3,000 for serious collectors and custom made glass pieces from Murano cost upwards of several thousands of dollars.

Like the famous glassware from Murano, ceramics have a long history in the realm of Italian collectibles, too. Majolica is a soft, earthenware ceramic that is often associated with its southern European background. Shipped from the port of Majorca, the site where this style of earthenware got its name, the tin glazed ceramics were deemed “maiolica” or “majolica” wares. A pottery enhanced with tin and lead glazes, majolica came of age during the Renaissance 1400s-1500s. With great market success, the process of producing tin glazed earthenware ceramics quickly expanded to other countries around the world.

Based on Renaissance designs, Florentine-inspired majolica looked to early masters of art history like Botticelli, Luca della Robbia, and Fra Angelico for inspiration. Today, majolica pieces range in value from $350 to $1,000 for decorated tableware and major figural teapots and garden sculptures commanding prices into the tens of thousands of dollars.

By the 1700s, a ceramist named Bernard Palissy reformulated the Renaissance tin glazes and produced functional objects decorated with subjects such as marine life, fruits, and flowers. Called Palissyware, these majolica pieces became a big hit with the high socialites of the time. In the late 19th Century when the Renaissance Revival was in full swing in architecture and furniture design, majolica followed the classically inspired trend.

Today, majolica is collected for its textural appearance, colorful body, and fascinating forms. Majolica objects regularly relate to the seasonal nature which is popular with collectors. Majolica pieces are often found in the manner of autumn hunting or game subjects, in the shape of sea creatures for holiday feasts, delicate flowers abundant in spring and luscious, bulbous summer fruit forms. Of course, Tuscany’s favorite sunflowers are commonly found in antique and vintage majolica wares. These tin and lead glazed ceramics remind today’s collectors of the idea of abundance as they recall the Renaissance interest in presenting guests with a plentiful and visually appealing meal.

Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori

Antique Jewelry Tips for the Novice

I have heard many men, at various venues across the country, report that they don’t buy jewelry for their wives or girlfriends because they don’t know enough about jewelry to make an informed decision. I have had my fair share of cheap boyfriends and let me just tell you what most women think of that lame excuse—you sound cheap. So, in order to educate the masses and help all of my girlfriends get gifts of bling, here are some tips about jewelry.

If you are interested in purchasing a colored gemstone, diamond, or strand of pearls, a jeweler with a GIA certification and a strong, honest reputation in the community is your best ally.

When it comes to colored gemstones like garnets, sapphires, rubies, amethysts, citrines, and emeralds, remember that stones develop differently so they will look different to the naked eye.

Color Forms

Color has the greatest impact on value when it comes to antique or contemporary jewelry. Generally, the most valuable colored gemstones have a medium to medium dark tone. Light colored or cloudy colored gemstones are typically not as good as their dark or clear counterparts. Some colored gemstones like the amethyst can actually fade.  Be careful and avoid prolonged exposure to bright light.

While clarity relates to value, inclusions in a gemstone are like birthmarks. They show a gemstone’s individuality and not necessarily its flaws. Inclusions impact the look of a gemstone and its value.

Carat weight is the standard unit of weight for most gemstones and the per-carat price will increase as size increases. I’ll just say it, size matters!

Security First

When buying estate jewelry, be sure that the prongs on a setting of a ring or pendant are secure. Check the prongs holding a gemstone in place. It is a good idea to replace old clasps, install security chains and other safety clasps to protect the investment of your piece of vintage estate jewelry.

Today, there are certain jewelry styles and trends that are making a comeback. For instance, contemporary designers are re-introducing deep red garnets, popular in the early 1900s, into their new designs. Tiaras, cameos, and lockets are also making a strong statement in the fashion world as they did back in the Victorian era when they were among some of the most popular pieces of jewelry.

One of the most interesting trends in jewelry design is the return of rose gold, which was in favor from the late 1890s to 1920. Rose gold has a distinctive rosy color thanks to its high copper content and mixture with yellow gold.

When buying jewelry, set your budget and don’t be afraid to shop around. Forget the excuses, do your homework, and get something beautiful for your special someone.

Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori