NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for June 2006
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Knowledge is Jewelry Golden by Sharon Lemell of Years After
- Mid-Century Modern: A Blast From The Past by Finely Antiques, Collectibles & Decorative Arts
- Antique Sterling Silver: The Allure Seems Untarnished by Deborah Hartsook of 43 Chesapeake Court
- June Editor's Pick:A Fine European Antique
- Share Past Times with A Friend
KNOWLEDGE IS JEWELRY GOLDEN BY SHARON LEMELL OF YEARS AFTER
To wear and enjoy a beautiful piece of antique and vintage jewelry with a history behind it can be a wonderful, exhilarating experience. For many it is a lovingly addicting hobby. The more you collect, the more you want to collect! It's that exciting! But when buying these jewels of yesterday, how can one be certain that what they are buying is truly authentic and not relatively new and/or of its claimed value? It's always advisable to buy from reputable dealers who guarantee their items plus learning what to look for in a piece. Attend Antique & Collectable Shows, browse Antique Shops and read lots of books to familiarize yourself with period styles and their findings.
When looking at a piece, examine it carefully both front and back. A genuinely old piece will have all the ingredients to confirm its authenticity. Many jewelry styles do tend to overlap so always check the entire piece for clues. Is the piece signed, hallmarked? Surprisingly enough a lot of antique jewelry was marked in the most unusual of places so check along the edges, inside of the bale, the pin stem and even on the back of the pin stem! You'll be amazed at what you could find and where you will find it. Suddenly a piece of jewelry that you thought was newer or made of silver plate or gold plate now may be seen in a whole different light as genuine antique silver or gold and have a lot of value!
A lot of old jewelry such as Victorian Jewelry was not marked. So now what? A Victorian brooch with a long pin stem extending outward is a good indication that it's early Victorian while a shorter one is of a later date. The "C" clasp is another indication that the piece is old. Remember that there are always exceptions to the rules since the "C" clasp was also used later on in Europe so take every detail into account to come to your full conclusion. Look at the hinge and the clasp of a brooch, bracelet, necklace, etc.. Does it look like a clasp used today or does it seem a bit different to you? Compare new pieces to old pieces. Does the jewelry have a brass spring ring clasp from the 1930's or a shiny gold plate clasp? Are the findings on a piece consistent with the design of that era? Those small differences could answer your questions and drastically influence the value of a piece. The tube hinge was generally used until the 1890's where the safety catch clasp became popular in the Art Deco 1920's period. Over the years the appearance of the safety catch clasp has changed so it's good to recognize the old from the new. Many clasps on old jewelry such as pins broke in time, so replacement ones were soldered onto the back. All better Jewelry is soldered at some place but if the piece has raised pads soldered to the back of the Brooch where the clasp is attached then it is a replacement clasp.
Another good clue to dating a piece and determining the value of Antique and Vintage Jewelry is to look at the metal content where there might be some underneath wear, usually in back where it would rub against the clothing. Genuine Gold and Silver, even if it has wear, will not show a base metal underneath since it continues all the way through. Many costume pieces from the nineteenth century and into the Art Deco period were made of gold and/or silver over base metals such as gold over brass, silver over brass, silver over copper, gold over copper, etc. That's one way of knowing the piece is at least 60 years old and more. During the war years of the 1940's there was a shortage of base metals where it affected the jewelry industry so sterling silver was substituted. If you see a marking such as "1/20 12K on Sterling" then 1/5 of the piece is 12K gold and is likely to be from 1942 to 1945. Vintage Bakelite which is a Polymeric Plastic invented by Leo Hendrik Baekeland in 1907, became popular in jewelry design during the hardships of World War II also. There are several tests in determining Authentic Antique and Vintage Bakelite Jewelry using Formula 409, Hot Water, Simichrome Polish and a Q-Tip. Still some Bakelite such as Black Bakelite may not test positive. Since Bakelite is either cast or molded it would not have a seam line anywhere and the workmanship should look hand carved and not be crudely executed as if a stamp was used. On Vintage Bakelite brooches, the clasp
would be embedded into the piece.
Fine Jewelry containing Diamonds or Precious Stones such as Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires are either bezel-set, inset or set with prongs and will always have open-backs for maximum brightness. Air bubbles seen in stones is a clue right off that the piece is glass. Marcasites which were substituted for diamonds as early as the 1700's, regained its popularity in the 1920's and 1930's. A higher valued marcasite piece would have better workmanship where each marcasite would be set with tiny prongs or beads versus glued in ones and because of this the stones will stay in place longer. This is also true for Rhinestones in Vintage Costume Jewelry where prong set ones are valued higher than glued in ones.
These are just some of the many tips to knowing your Jewelry. It's so helpful to learn what to look for when buying Antique and Vintage Jewelry which also can be as much fun as wearing and collecting it! Knowledge is definitely Jewelry Golden!
We at YEARS AFTER at Ruby Lane have been dealing in Antique & Vintage Jewelry for over 20 years and offer a Wide Selection of Authentic Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Retro, Fine Gold and Silver, Mexican Silver Jewelry, Vintage Plastics such as Antique Vintage Bakelite, Celluloid & Lucite Jewelry, Kitchenware Utensils, Purses, Dolls & Clothing and related items.
We hope you'll visit Sharon and Michael's shop: YEARS AFTER Antiques Jewelry Bakelite Deco Dolls!.
MID-CENTURY MODERN: A BLAST FROM THE PAST BY FINELY ANTIQUES, COLLECTIBLES & DECORATIVE ARTS
A selling trend you'll see in our shop "Finely Antiques, Collectibles & Decorative Arts" is mid-century modern furniture, lighting, art, accessories, etc. We've been having fun buying and collecting mid-century modern items from the 40's thru the 80's. For some of us, this is the decor we grew up with--pieces that decorated our family homes for so many years. Mid-century modern décor is very popular now. It's everywhere--in movies, TV, commercials, homes and businesses. This modern movement is also catching the attention of young adults. They buy pieces to decorate their homes and collect what makes them feel good about their surroundings.
Anyone can get started collecting and decorating in mid-century modern décor. This article will present some tips for the novice collector.
Mid-century modern décor can definitely deliver an upbeat feeling to a room. The designs are clean, crisp, and colorful which make a room really pop. You can find and purchase mid-century modern art, lighting, furniture, glass, and pottery. Popular pieces come in the blue 50's colors to the orange and green colors of the 70's. Or you can decorate a room with the "space-age" style that is so appealing to many collectors.
Another popular trend in this movement is to collect Danish Modern or Scandinavian designed glass, art, pottery, and furniture. These pieces have quality craftsmanship with straight, clean modern lines and really give a room mid-century modern flair.
Before collecting or buying, it will help to become familiar with mid-century modern pieces. Some collectors focus on a particular designer or company, which is a great way to begin. To learn about and buy authentic vintage mid-century modern items, visit mid-century modern trade shows or reputable dealers.
Of course for a serious collector, the hunt is always the best part of collecting. It is more about the decorative arts for this collector who focuses on the more prominent designers like Eames, Bertoia, Knoll, and Jere etc. The price for designer items can go for thousands of dollars, depending on maker, design, material, rarity, and condition. This collector will be concerned about the value of the pieces he or she buys (a piece that is all original and in excellent condition has the greatest value).
However, even a damaged vintage piece can still be a good purchase. For example, the furniture may need to be re-upholstered. Re-upholstering will have minimal affect on the value of a piece, and if you want, you can still keep the piece totally vintage. Look for vendors that sell vintage designer fabrics. Sometimes, you can find these vendors at mid-century modern trade shows. This can be expensive but worthwhile because the piece will have more value than using regular fabric. Also, it's not a good idea to refinish the wood or the surface of a piece of furniture; this reduces the value of the item. Finally, be aware that there are some designers that are reissuing their vintage mid-century furniture designs, such as Norman Cherner and Herman Miller.
Danish Modern furniture is very appealing to mid-century modern collectors. Prices for vintage furniture can be moderate to thousands of dollars depending on the designer and condition of the piece. Designers such as Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner are more expensive to purchase. Furniture made for Selig or Tingstroms can be more affordable for collectors. Familiarize yourself with Danish Modern designers, their marks and labels. This will assist you in making a purchase. Danish modern pottery has also caught the eye of collectors. This pottery is very modern and unique in color and design. A few of the popular artists to collect are Stig Lindberg, Wilhelm Kage, and Berndt Friberg. Pieces by these artists can start in the low hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most Scandinavian pottery pieces will be marked by the artist. Once you start collecting these pieces, you'll definitely see the appeal of this wonderful and unique pottery.
A collector definitely needs to look at mid-century lighting. The designs are very artistic and can have bright colors with very unique shapes and sizes. Each piece can give a room a very modern accent. Prices in lighting also vary from moderate to very expensive designer pieces, like the famous designers Noguchi and Nelson. Be aware that Noguchi lamps are still being made from his original designs.
Also, modern glass is still being produced. You can buy beautiful new modern glass from designers such as Blenko, Murano, Kosta, and Orrefors. However, the older vintage modern pieces by these designers are highly coveted and are becoming more expensive to buy. Vintage pieces will usually have signs of wear, usually on the bottom of the piece, and should have a signature. In order to identify vintage pieces, it'll help to become acquainted with the different manufacturer marks, labels, and signatures.
Don't forget to look at collecting mid-century modern art. Most modern art that is collected for mid-century modern décor is called abstract expressionism. Abstract art is so wonderful. These pieces contain lots of bright colors with unique abstract forms and designs. Buy a piece of this art and make it the focal point of a room. Serious collectors like the very expensive original art from artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But more affordable artwork is available. Usually you can purchase silkscreens and lithographs by popular listed artists at reasonable prices or buy artwork from unknown artists. Whatever you decide to buy or collect, now is the time to start. As this mid-century modern trend continues to grow, availability of good vintage pieces will decline and prices will increase. Even if you don't see the appeal of this trend right away, give it a second look by adding a piece here and there to your décor. By adding a lamp, a chair, or even a coffee table, you can really give a room a special and interesting modern quality.
When collecting mid-century modern pieces, you don't have to be a serious collector or an expert. Buy what you like because you love it, not because it will go up in value. These pieces are fun and you'll enjoy this "Blast from the Past" mid-century modern trend!
We invite you to visit Therese and Leroy's shop: Finely Antiques, Collectibles Decorative Arts.
ANTIQUE STERLING SILVER: THE ALLURE SEEMS UNTARNISHED BY DEBORAH HARTSOOK OF 43 CHESAPEAKE COURT
Over the past year one of the top selling items for my store has been antique sterling silver. It appears it is also a top seller for many others. Sterling silver is in the top ten best selling items for several on-line auctions. I have also noticed at recent estate auctions, bidding on antique sterling silver requires real stamina. Some weeks the items on my "Wish List" at Ruby Lane are almost entirely sterling silver. In recent months, I have sold pierced baskets, bowls, a tea caddy spoons, calling card cases, fish knives, serving spoons, and several chargers. Most of my buyers have purchased these pieces to add to their collections; however, some buy to present as gifts.
Sterling silver has been part of most people's lives in the way of wedding gifts, baby gifts, anniversary gifts, Christmas gifts, and gifts for major milestones in their lives. Memories of holiday dinners with the table set with family silver. Memories as a child having tea from your Grandmother's silver teapot. Memories of our children in pictures captured in silver frames collected over the years bring a smile. Memories, of a race that first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, and a cool Mint Julep in a silver cup. Memories and tradition add layers to our lives. Sterling silver adds a nice layer! Or lining, as some would say!
One area that is really "hot" today is sterling cocktail items. The resurgence of the "cocktail hour" has motivated this interest. Cocktail shakers, trays, servers, stirrers, picks, and ice buckets are receiving a fair share of the attention. Claret jugs, though from another period of time, also enjoy popularity. Wine funnels, labels, and mint julep cups also command attention.
The allure of silver has endured since civilization began. It is second only to gold as a precious metal. Silver has a long history. It has been mined for over 5,000 years. The Greeks minted the drachma; the Romans the denarius; and the British their English shilling (sterling). Alexander the Great had an elite guard on which he bestowed silver shields. Imagine the opposing army facing those shields on a sunny day. The Lavrion Silver mine in ancient Greece provided funds for the Athenians. The funds helped them defeat the Persians and build the Acropolis and other monuments. In the Medieval period through the seventeenth century spoons were a personal item and presented at baptism. Horn, pewter, brass, and silver were used to craft spoons. Normally, only wealthy families presented silver spoons. People took their spoons to banquets (none were provided) so your station in life was revealed by your spoon. There really is meaning behind that old saying "Born with a silver spoon in your mouth".
Silver's great strengths include reflectivity, malleability and ductility. Silver reflects a high percentage of light that falls on it. Photographing silver for Internet listings can be a challenge! Malleability and ductility refer to the ability to shape and mold. These two characteristics have made it a favorite for craftsman through the centuries. Their creativity is almost unlimited when working with silver. Silver is also an excellent heat conductor. One additional interesting note: bacteria cannot survive on silver. Some early surgical instruments were crafted of silver. Today antique silver surgical items from the 1800's are highly collectable.
Other popular items I see collectors buying include serving pieces such as asparagus servers, tomato servers, candelabras, candlesticks, trays, condiments, salts, mustard pots, stirrup cups, boxes, nutmeg graters, card cases, vesta boxes, cigarette cases, picture frames, napkin rings, tea/coffee services, tea canisters and tea caddy spoons. These items always seem to captivate collectors.
A silver collection can be built over time and can take as little space as a table top. Once you have decided what will be in your collection, spend some time reading and researching. The Internet is a great source for research and there are also many good books on the subject. My personal favorite is "Antique Silver" by Ian Pickford. I have included in this article information from his book. Begin to familiarize yourself with hallmarks. Again, you can find sites on the web and books to help identify marks. One of my favorites is Miller's "Silver & Sheffield Plate Marks" by John Bly.
It may help you to first choose a style, period or era. Some people prefer to collect only by maker, such as Tiffany, or country of origin. Decide what you want to invest in your collection. It is also important to collect what you like and what appeals to you. I have a collection of silver creamers and sugars. I use these for flower arrangements; they are great for floribunda roses, which have many blooms but short stems. I love to use them next to guest beds, in bathrooms, or all of them as a centerpiece for my table.
Once you have made a decision on style, period, and price you are ready to start. Keep these four things in mind: Quality, Condition, Maker, and Marks. Regarding quality, buy the best you can afford in your price range and consider design and workmanship. Considering condition, ask yourself: Will it need repair, what kind of wear; and will it need restoration? What condition are you willing to accept? Also consider monograms. Some people approve of monograms and some do not. Evaluate the maker. Is it known to be a quality maker? For a quality maker there may be an extra cost. Is it worth it? Familiarize yourself with marks. You may pay a premium for rare marks.
Important Terms When Buying Antique Silver
Sterling Silver Sterling silver is 92.5percent pure silver and 7.5 percent alloy metal. American sterling is simply marked "Sterling", sometimes followed by 925, and a makers mark. British sterling bears hallmarks that include symbols and letters to indicate the standard (Lion Passant which indicates sterling), town, date, duty marks, and makers mark. It may seem confusing at first, but after you decipher the system it is easy to use. After you have been collecting for a while, you will begin to notice the leopard's head mark and you will know the town is "London" and the anchor mark will register as "Birmingham". In time, you will be able to pick up a piece of silver and recognize the marks. Other European countries have systems in place for identifying sterling. One web-site that is most helpful is: http://www.925-1000.com/foreign_marks.html
Britannia The legal standard for all silver pieces produced between 1697 and 1720. It contained 958 parts pure silver - 33% more silver than sterling.
Coin Silver Coin silver is 90 percent pure silver and 10 percent alloy metal. It was used to produce U.S. currency during the 19th. Century. It is no longer used, but highly collectable.
Vermeil Sterling silver electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold.
Old Sheffield Plate The object is made from metal already plated. Unlike other forms where the object is made first then plated. Today the term Sheffield Plate is used rather broadly.
Electroplated The name given to articles coated with pure silver by electrolysis.
EPNS (Electroplated Nickel Silver) and EPBM (Electroplated Britannia Metal).
Things To Consider When Buying
Study the period you are considering. There is a wealth of information both on the Internet and in books. Consider damage. For a rare piece damage will not be as big an issue as for the less rare piece. Repairs and dents can be repaired by a silversmith. Keep in mind repairs mean added costs. Tarnish can hide wear or repairs. Be wary of items that are not cleaned. Also be aware that some damaged items may have been modified, especially in flatware, such as damaged spoons cut into forks. When buying on the Internet, do not hesitate to contact the seller for more information and pictures. Most reputable sellers invite questions and request for more pictures. Today the Internet has many reputable sellers with quality merchandise.
Antique Sterling Silver can be found in many places today. Shops, fairs, antique shows and the Internet offer a variety of items. Today on Ruby Lane I found a George II Sterling Silver Coffeepot 18th Century, a pair of 18th Century German Sauce Boats, and over 300 listings for items under $100.00. Something for every price range!
I will close with two reminders. As I mentioned earlier, I frequently use silver sugar and creamers for flowers. Always use a liner of some sort before placing flowers inside sterling. The flowers as they decay and can cause damage. I keep an assortment of paper cups in different sizes for liners. Second, sterling silver that is used and washed more often does not need polishing as frequently. Antique sterling silver achieves that beautiful patina (new sterling just does not have it) after years of handling and use. Use and enjoy your silver.
We invite you to visit Deborah's Shop: 43 Chesapeake Court.
JUNE EDITOR'S PICK:A FINE EUROPEAN ANTIQUE
Thought to have begun circa 1850 with whimsical carvings and interior furnishings of walnut or linden wood, a cottage industry catering to a growing tourist trade eventually came to flourish in Brienz, Switzerland. The term 'Black Forest' is used in reference to folk art carving done in this very recognizable style. The Schwarzwald (Black Forest) expands from Basel in Switzerland to Pforzheim, Germany, a city considered by many to be the gate to the Schwarzwald. European tourists began to visit the Black Forest as early as1847, when the Mannheim-Basel railway made the trip somewhat easier to accomplish. After some rather incredible feats of engineering, which gave the thrilling Schwarzwaldbahn line its passage in 1873, the Black Forest could be traversed to near the headwaters of the Danube.
The Victorian era was one in which being well traveled hinted to the neighbors that one possessed a certain amount of disposable wealth. International travel was prohibitively expensive, especially if one's vacation entourage was large and included the entire family right down to the smallest of children and all of the servants and luggage that were necessary for keeping up a genteel appearance. One can but imagine how many times the familiar childish refrain of, "Are we there yet?" might have been heard by Father in the late 1800's when taking the family on a slow boat to a foreign land. But it's easy to imagine that other than just speaking of wealth, returning with souvenirs like carved bear umbrella stands and incredible boxes embellished with realistic birds and edelweiss for display in one's home, this could also be suggestive of other important possessions - stoicism in the face of adversity, and a grand spirit of adventure.
Fantastic 'Black Forest' carvings were shown outside of Switzerland as early as 1851, at the Great Exhibition in London. Such displays there, and at later international exhibitions, surely could only have increased the desire of intrepid Victorian travelers to go to the source. The Trauffer family helped to popularize the art form, teaching wood handicrafts and furniture making at the woodcarving school in Brienz. But they carried on a regional tradition already well established. The church in Brienz houses a wooden alter carved in 1517. The Woodcarving School that was touted as well worth a visit in regional Victorian era Baedeker's travel guides is still open for tours today. The Kantonale Schnitzerschule Brienz includes a woodcarving museum.
Picture attributed to Europe Antiques, Collectibles and Decorations Shop.
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