Monthly Archives: January 2010

OH My! What’s An Antiques Dealer To Do?

Is The Past Being Flushed Away?

Doulton & Co Simplicitas Antique Loo £850 From Leominster Reclamation

With rapid progress comes forgetfulness, and with forgetfulness comes disconnection and with disconnection comes apathy. And when forgetfulness is applied to history, then the apathy that follows is mighty, and that leads to the consequences of repeating all the worst that the forgotten past wrought upon the landscape of civility.

What Of The Past Should We Wash Our Hands Of?

Antique Earthenware Oval Pedestal Sink From Urban Remains

Certainly, I have no wish to remember everything, to wallow in the past, or to incorrectly state that all the past was “Glorious.” But, and I think that this is the important part, Do I want To Wash My Hands Of It…? For this writer, I’d say, I don’t think so, and I don’t think that the general population does either.

We can remember the past…with Antiques, and Odd Collectibles…

Quebec Parcheesi Board From Jeff Bridgman Antiques $6,500.00

Is the sky falling for the Antiques Business? Are consumers really not buying antiques? Will passing Baby Boomers possessions soon flood the marketplace? Well there certainly are marketplace changes afoot, and trends to analyze and take into consideration, but The Sky Falling, I don’t think so. But, if you are an Antiques and Collectibles Dealer who refuses to grow with the times, then this will be true – Your Antiques Business Will Fail…

As Dealers, It’s Time To Take Back The Internet

Golden Bridge Sparkling Water Neon Clock From Off The Wall Antiques $1,200.00

If you are an Antiques Dealer, and have moaned and complained that the malls, and Walmarts have made your selling life hell. Or if you think first eBay, and then other internet enterprises like Etsy, Bonanzle, Ruby Lane, and 1st Dibs have taken business away from you, then Take a Page Out Of Their Book, a web page that is…make your online presence stronger.

Big Business Is Making A Web Mall Of The Antiques Business…

1960’s Teaching Aid Map From Lisa Sherman Antiques $1,000.00

Own Your Territory!!!

If a local buyer in your area can’t find you on the internet, then guess what…they are going to find someone else outside of your area. Make no mistake, people are buying Antiques and Collectibles everyday: Billions of Dollars worth of Antiques and Collectibles, and many of them are making those purchases and developing relationships with online Antiques and Collectibles Dealers.

Sign On To New Concepts, or Be A Sign Of The Times

Image From: Lost City

Here are 5 things you can do.

  1. Think Locally and Act Locally. The Major Antiques and Collectibles Websites can compete with you and blow you out of the water on a National Level, but they can’t compete as well with you in Local Antiques Markets. It’s just a fact.
  2. Take Control of your website! Delegate the task of managing your web presence only after you yourself understand how the whole thing works. Think of yourself as the director, your store as a stage, and the buying public as a participating audience.
  3. Spending lots of money on your website before you have a firm idea of how local shoppers are actually looking for Antiques and Collectibles Information in your area is a complete waste of your precious resources. So be cheap, until you more fully understand the most useful ways to apply cash to your web endeavors.
  4. Befriend as many dealers as you can, read as much about Web 2.0 as you can get eyes on. Exclusivity was once a virtue in the Antiques Business, but now, it sometimes gets in the way.
  5. Update your website often. There are basically two kinds of websites: Static and Dynamic. You want your site to be Dynamic, because Dynamic sites have a way of maintaining and increasing your sites SEO. Don’t know what SEO is, well look it up…


Martin Codina

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Sink Your Teeth Into Antiques

Sink Your Teeth Into Antiques and Collecting

Antique Dental Model From: Phisick Medical Antiques

We have to eat because we are so very hungry – like everyday 365 days a year. And we have to have variety, we don’t want to eat the same thing everyday…we get kind of bored by the same old same old. So we seek out the exotic – the new, and that’s what we consume.

Maybe that’s OK when it comes to food, variety being the spice of life and all, but what about the way our hunger translates to fashions and furnishings? Is it still OK to always seek out the new? Is it at all unreasonable to continue to demand that new items be manufactured, used a few years, then to load them onto a truck, and cart them to a landfill?

Buying Antiques Is A Small Way To Save The World

Tooth Shaped Drinking Cup Sold By Lyon & Turnbull For £380

It’s this writers observation that the biggest consumers of home furnishings are younger people, somewhere in the age range between 25 and 45 years old. Guess what, they are not buying a lot of antiques, they’re instead making the decision to purchase home furnishings of recent manufacture.

Fashion is the engine of so much new commerce, which is great. New fashions are wonderful expressions of a cultures creativity, and that creativity has a trickle effect throughout the economy – which is great as well. But what about fashion, and the search for the next Big Thing’s effect on the environment? How many trees does it take to furnish a house?

Take a Long Sip From The Past

Sold By Cowans $510.00Sold By Cowans $206.00Sold By Cowans $316.00

The Question Might Better Be: How Can You Meld The Old With The New

Yesterday, I was in the San Francisco home of a wonderful woman who is in my opinion, designing her interiors to reflect the past in such a way that they are still clearly useful to today’s consumers. She had an amazing kitchen with all the latest modern conveniences, but it was also decked out with antique lighting and vintage china and cookware. Every wall sconce and ceiling light fixture seemed to come out of an old Moe Bridges catalog. Art Deco furnishing were highlighted here and there throughout her house; paired with objects a’ la Steampunk. Did I mention the Marshall Stacks and Vintage Guitars…?

She is kind of like an Inspired Design Diva…I wish there were more like her. People who can show others how to incorporate antiques in such a visually stunning way, but at the same time keep the feeling of the house fresh and somehow contemporary.

Eat, But Don’t Have Your Hunger Create Negative Effects

Antique Ivory Dental Model with Hinged Jaws Sold By Skinner For $1,293.00

Here Are 5 Environmentally Positive Ways You Can Furnish Your Home…

  1. Purchase used high end designer furniture from auctions.
  2. Decide that 50% of all new acquisitions will be vintage
  3. Tell Antique Dealers what you really want, they need to know.
  4. Go to Estate Sales, their variety will surprise you.
  5. Look for deals on Craigslist.

Now Sit Back And Enjoy Your Less Environmentally Painful Surroundings

Antique Dentist Chair Sold By Skinner For an Undisclosed Amount


Martin Codina

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Antique Typewriters “The Crandall”

Tales From a Typewriter Collector “The Crandall”

Guest Column by Martin Howard

CRANDALL ~ New Model Made By The Crandall Machine Company, Croton, N.Y. 1886

Lucien S. Crandall was born in Broome County New York in 1844. He would become one of the great early typewriter pioneers during the 1860s and 1870s. He patented perhaps ten typewriters with about six being manufactured. All of his designs are very intriguing and brilliantly imagined machines. The Crandall New Model was his third typewriter to be manufactured, but the first to have a fair success in sales.

A Luxury Typewriter at an Affordable Cost

Inlaid Mother of Pearl Detail Of The Crandall Typewriter

The Crandall New Model is one of the most beautiful typewriters ever made. It has a wonderful curved and ornate Victorian design and is lavishly decorated with hand painted roses, accented with inlaid mother-of-pearl!

It seems remarkable that the Crandall, with all this fine additional craftsmanship, had such a low selling price of $50.00 As most other full size typewriters were selling for $100.00

The Crandall Typewriter Had A Unique Type Cylinder

The Crandall was one of the very first typewriters to print from a ‘Single-Element’ or ‘Type-Cylinder’, well before IBM’s ‘Golf Ball’. This Type Cylinder about the size of your finger, rotates to the selected character and will rise up one or two positions for capitals and punctuations – before striking the roller; achieving 84 characters with only 28 keys.

It is made of hard rubber with a metal shield and type. The holes below the type are for alignment, so when the type-sleeve moves towards the roller to print, it pushes against a little metal rod that slides into the hole, insuring perfect alignment.

The Crandall catalog describes another key feature of this machine. The “Type-Cylinder may be removed, and another with an entire change of type inserted in the machine by simply lifting one cylinder from its position and replacing it by another; by this method any language or style of type may be used, including special styles of type for manifold work.”

The Crandall Type Cylinder Was Changeable!

Scripted fonts were available in order to make the type face look like the finest of handwriting.

One might well wonder why the Type-Cylinder did not become the standard in typewriter design and why typewriters with type-bars did, until it made its reappearance in the IBM ‘Golf Ball’ in 1961.

The reason was speed. Even though type-bars are in essence many separate hammers striking away, each hammer has a very simple and quick action, whereas the type-cylinder is moved through a more complicated mechanical dance, which reduces its speed to respond to the keys being struck. The IBM ‘Golf Ball’, with its single-type element, was able to move very fast because it was designed to be driven by an electric motor, type-bars had finally become antiquated.

The Crandall has a gracefully curved keyboard with just two rows of keys.

(While the modern typewriter has 4 rows of keys.)

This was achieved by having a double shift function with an ‘F. & P.’ key for figures and punctuation and a ‘CAP’s’ key for capitals. So for example, to type the number ‘2’ you would push the F. & P. key and while depressed you would push the ‘P 2’ key. Then release both. The double shift function was not unique to the Crandall.

1898 Photo showing a Crandall New Model in use

(Courtesy of The Peter and Cornelia Weil Typewriter Archives).

Article by Martin Howard

Editing by Martin Codina

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I once had a Vintage Red Bicycle

Not Exactly like one of these Vintage Bicycles

…except it did have Big Ol’ Balloon Tires…

Elgin Twin 20 Bicycle (circa 1936) Sold by Copake Auctions For $358.00

When I was a kid of around 8 or 9 years old, my dad went to a local junk yard and bought an old derelict bike. Here’s what I mean by “Derelict” – the bike was falling apart. It needed a complete overhaul: It had shredded tires, a rusted frame, and not one iota of non corroded chrome.

That was OK with my My Dad because he liked to fix things, as a depression child, and a one time paperboy; he knew his way around sprockets and spokes and handlebars.

Back Then People Rode Bicycles More Leisurely

JC Higgins Bicycle (circa 1950’s) Sold by Copake Auctions For $341.00

The first thing my Dad did was to completely take the bike apart. And then he sanded away all the rust and old paint almost down to the bare metal, and then hanging the bike from wires he had hung from the the ceiling rafters of our Norwalk CA. garage, he spray painted the frame red; to me it looked like – fire engine red…or at the very least a speedy, very fast red…

In Those Days We Never Once Thought About Mountain Biking

Cleveland Welding Roadmaster Supreme (circa 1937) Sold By Copake Auctions For $14,300.00

After all the painting and such, my Dad still had to search high and low for a store that still sold the right tires for this bike; no one seemed to have the balloon tires this bike needed. It was the early 60’s and most of my friends were riding around on Stingrays and 10 speeds. We needed Balloon Tires…big bulbous balloon tires…with plenty of thick and road worthy rubber…

I don’t remember where my Dad found those replacement tires, but he did find them, and afterwards he put the whole bike back together.

I loved that bike.

I Rode My Bike As A Get Away Bike…and get away I did

Monark Super Deluxe  Bicycle (circa 1940’s) Sold by Copake Auctions For $715.00

And my friends snickered and laughed at the bike my Dad had worked so hard and had taken so long to reconstruct. They said that it was not a fashionable bike, that it looked big and clunky – they thought that it was funny looking too, and well I kinda had to admit that it was a big ol’ funny and clunky looking bike as well…

Except for one thing: Its big sprocket held a secret.

Colson Commander Bicycle (circa 1937) Sold By Copake Auctions For 2,310.00

In our little neighborhood, on “Our Block” as we used to call it, all us kids held regular bike races. The true test of a bike was how fast it would go. To be a hero you had to win the race. You had to pump your little heart out, and cross the finish line first to achieve the checkered flag and your friends hearty congratulations. I had never won one of those races.

On the big day – the first race day of my Big Ol’ Red Bike, I was nervous even though my Dad had explained the mystery and physics behind my bikes big sprocket. But I am not sure if I believed him about all that. I just wanted to win…once.

On Your Mark, Get Set…Go!

Restored Shelby Airflow Speedway Special (circa 1938) Sold By Copake Auctions For $1,760.00

Here’s the thing about a big sprocket bike: They are slow starting, and it takes a while to gain any momentum, and you have to work at it, but then the bike really starts to move, and the bikes that were so far ahead, were suddenly less far ahead, and then I was neck and neck with the leader who was furiously pumping…and then I passed him.

Dang…! It felt Great To Be Winner.

By Martin Codina

All Images and Auction Results From: Copake Auctions, an auction house who by the way, would make an excellent choice to sell your vintage bicycle collection through.

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Pair of American Aesthetic Movement Chairs

In Auction News: Pair of American Aesthetic Movement Chairs

David Rago Auctions Sells These Chairs For $390,400.00

Extra! Extra!

These Chairs were found in a boiler room…

Take a good long look at these chairs, nice enough right, especially now that you know that they sold for almost $400,000.00. It’s easy to think that these are a pair of very fine American Aesthetic Movement Chairs after you know what they sold for.

But take a closer look, notice the torn upholstery, the faded and scratched wood finish. The lack of original casters; the slightly split wood of the feet; where it appears that these chairs at one time or another may have stood in an inch or so of water.

Remember that Boiler Rooms aren’t where you find Treasures

Or is that Precisely Where You Should Look…?

Here’s The Back Story: A visitor to one of David Rago’s Appraisal days walked in carrying a bunch of photographs of all sorts of antiques. The pictures showed Bronzes, Ivories, Artwork and various other interesting antiques. There were no pictures of these chairs, because the person who brought in the pictures didn’t think the chairs were important enough to include.

Tom Martin and the Rago Arts and Auction Center Crew spent three days in the house cataloging and packing up the house. No one thought much of the chairs. They didn’t know yet. The chairs were in a boiler room for crying out loud, it’s dark in boiler rooms and basements.

To be Discovered, and Sell for $390,400.00?

It Was Essential That These Chairs Be Handled By Professionals

There are no experts who know everything!

A prepared mind favors chance: At a lesser Auction House than Rago Arts and Auction Center, these chairs would have sold for far less, maybe a $1,000.00. But because David Rago and staff are surrounded by a whole slew of great people, a greater community of experts and antiques enthusiast, one or two of them began to ask deeper questions about these chairs. And that got Tom Martin and likely as not David Rago himself to start to make further inquiries about these chairs.

Estate Liquidators and Small Auctioneers Take Note: It is very very important to surround yourself to the extent that you can, with as many experts, from as many disciplines as you can. Assume everything is worth a million dollars until it can be proven to be worth only .50 cents.

Written By:

Martin Codina

Image Source: Rago Arts and Auctions

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