Friday, April 12, 2013

Glorious Georgian

Georgian 18K Gold Amethyst Parure 
 My specialty is antique jewelry! My favorite period of antique jewelry is Georgian.  

Hey. Do you know that antique jewelry periods are named for the English monarchs who were reigning in England during the time period? 

     
King George IV 
                                                                            The Georgian period is between 1714 and 1830   during the reigns of kings George I (1714-1727) , George II (1727-1760), George III (1760-1820) and George IV (1830-1837).  These King George’s were the Hanoverians. King George the IV was Queen Elizabeth's Great-Great-Great-grandfather. Queen Elizabeth's family the Windsor's didn't wear the crown until 1952. 

On the left is King George IV notice his fancy clothing and over the top ornamentation?  Can you imagine Prince Charles wearing all those jewels and huge Satin Bows on his shoulders? 

This period is all about fancy. The English kings Georges were OK. However the stars of the Georgian period were the Kings of fabulous flamboyancy Kings Louis XIV Louis XV and Louis XVI.

What else do you need to know about Georgian jewelry? 


These pieces of jewelry were being made way back when our country was still an English colony. The period lasted through the American Revolutionary, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, The reign of Catherine The Great, Lewis and Clark, Mozart,  industrial revolution, and other cool stuff that I didn't pay enough attention in History to be able to tell you about. 

But, I can tell you that this period of a hundred and 15 years had "...great strides in science and world exploration, the advent of rail travel and a changing role for women in society created the perfect backdrop for the creation of the magnificent jewelry we call Georgian."  Nice huh, so poetic. 



The Period of Georgian Jewelry can be broken down into to the three artistic styles /aesthetics of the times: 

 Rococo,  Gothic Revival/Romanticism and  Neoclassicism


All three styles overlapped and in my mind are equally important and fun. We are going to start with Rococo. (Pronounced row-cocoa)


Rococo style is best described as flamboyant, ostentatious, Louis XIV style, or blinged out bedazzled style. This fabulously over the top artistic style started in Paris in the early 1700’s championed by King Louis XIV and made infamous by King Louis XVI and his fabulous wife Marie Antoinette
Versailles  Rococo Masterpiece 

You know about King Louis XIV? He built  the palace Versailles.  Ah Versailles, the gilded, sparkling, temple of flamboyant indulgence and excess.  the quintessential example of the Rococo aesthetic pictured here, for some reason during the French Revolution this castle became a symbol  the excessive luxury and absolute power of the French monarchy.  Go figure?

A magnificent example of the Rococo Georgian jewelry is the famous necklace pictured at the top of the page. This necklace was a gift from King Louis XVI to his wife the one and only Marie-Antoinette. His grandfather decorated a castle, he decorated his wife. She did love her bling, in fact her wedding dress was covered in real diamonds. 



A Small Sample of Marie Antoinette's Jewels


What does the jewelry look like? 

Fancy with highly complicated designs  heavily decorative with asymmetrical gems set elaborately as possible in gold.  Often with bows, tear drop shaped dangling stones, and chandelier earrings.  The fancy name for 3 pear shaped dangling stones in the style of a chandelier is called girandole pronounced (Jeer-in-dole). Bows, leaves,  and and three tear drops is the most common design from this era.
Georgian Table Cut

More is more. More design, more stones, more gold, more of everything!




How do you identify Georgian Jewelry?

Rose cut diamonds
Look at the stones. The way the stones are cut can be the most obvious clue that a piece maybe Georgian. These pieces have peculiar looking stones that look more like ice cubes or pieces of glass.  The official names for these old cuts  are Rose-Cut for the pointed ice cube looking stones, and Table-Cut for the flat cut glassy looking ones. Fine quality gem stones  were so scarce that the jewelers used as much of the stones as possible and never wasted any. For that reason gems should be slightly different sizes and surfaces. 



Also Georgian stones may have foil around the edges. This was meant to compliment the stones by glow of candlelight. 


Like in these earrings pictured bellow. Gold and amethyst made in Spain, these gorgeous earrings come apart in three pieces. You can wear the tops alone, wear the tops and bottoms, or go full on diva and wear them full length.    

 These Georgian earrings are from my personal collection.
A little to fancy to wear in New England, well unless you're Marie-Antoinette. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bargain Jewelry that's a Real Bargain

My brain hurts! I have spent the last 4 hours trying to find examples for this article on comparing jewelry prices. There is so much on the internet and it is hard to know what to choose. The goal of this article is to explain to you why buying jewelry from a chain jewelry store is a bad investment and how you can save money by buying used, or better use the money to buy a piece of vintage jewelry. The average retail chain jewelry store buys machine made wholesale jewelry from another country usually in Asia. I looked on http://www.jewellerynetasia.comsale and found a list of 2,360 finished jewelry suppliers. The stores buy the jewelry, the large stores have their "designer" jewelry lines made by over seas usually in the same factories. The jewelry is bought wholesale and then marked up 500% or more. Example; a ring bought for $25.00 each will be sold retail for $150.00-$200.00. Some stores like Ross Simmons inflate the price and then mark it down. Here are some examples that I found today.
KAY JEWELERS ON NEW ON EBAY $50.00
The first trip I made was to the Kay Jeweler’s website. They call themselves “America’s Favorite Jewelry Store”. While there I found a lovely Lover’s Embrace heart shaped necklace with diamonds for $199. Kay's site doesn't let you use their pictures. Here is the description "DIAMOND NECKLACE 1/5 CT TW ROUND-CUT STERLING SILVER" Stock number 172186607. I'll save you the trouble it looks exactly like the picture on the left. The exact item with original Kay box sold for $50.00 on EBAY, a savings of $149.00 or 75% off.
EBAY $100.00
An isolated incident? NO. On the contrary I found so many currently sold jewelry items on EBAY for a fraction of their price I had a hard time choosing. See the fing on the right? Kay's description ""DIAMOND HEART RING 1/10 CT TW ROUND-CUT 10K WHITE GOLD" $237.30 Ticket $339.00"

You think it's such a deal. A hundred dollars off. Until you look on EBAY and find that someone bought the same ring with the box included for $100.00. This is the same item. No one will ever know that you bought it used at a almost 75% off the original price or over 50% off the sale price.
Ross Simon 25% off sale Sale $395.00

EBAY $89.00 

I am not picking on Kay Jewelers. I looked at Ross Simons as well. Here I found on the far left Pave Diamond Accent Starfish Pendant Necklace in 14kt White Gold. 18" . See description $395.00. On EBAY I found a similar necklace but in yellow gold also. The EBAY necklace comes with the original Ross Simons box and claims to be brand new. I know they aren't the same but I found Ross Simons so much harder to find. The sell so many different kinds of jewelry and sell retail for a much shorter time. 

The main point is that if you want to buy yourself a piece of "fashion" jewelry for the best price. Never buy it from a retail store. You can buy the same jewelry used and at times even with the original box. Or if you are done wasting your money on fads like Cape Cod bracelets and Pandora beads, and Alex and Ani, and want jewelry that won't go out of style that you can wear forever. What I am asking you to do is to think about the jewelry you buy. Have you ever considered buying vintage or antique jewelry?

Vintage jewelry is t least 25 years old and antique jewelry is 75 years old or more. Antique jewelry is usually handmade with care, the artists used high quality materials and constructed the pieces to last. I know, you have watched Antique's Roadshow and know that antique jewelry can cost a huge amount of money. Or you have looked in those fancy antique store jewelry cases and been too intimidated to even ask to see a piece close up. Well my friends here is a huge secret. So come close and make sure no one else is watching.
Art Deco Diamond Pearl $91.00
15K Victorian Enamel Amethyst $75.00
You can buy gorgeous affordable antique jewelry on EBAY! This jewelry is usually bought from the owner or from an Estate sale and then sold to you for fantastic prices. This antique jewelry would cost you 5 to 7 times more if you bought it in a fancy antique store. I gave myself a $100.00 limit and went on EBAY to see what I could find. Look at these deals! These are "sold for" prices.

Pretty cool stuff. Their are jewelry bargain.   But you will never find them in a retail store.


14K seed pearl pin pendant






Monday, March 11, 2013

Gold Seller Beware


Happy Monday. This morning the price of gold opened at $1,580.04 a Troy ounce!

I know, now you’re rich! You have tons of gold in your jewelry box; your old herringbone chain, dome ring, Aunt Erma’s heinous brooch, your big hoop earrings, all that old boyfriend jewelry, and all of those now embarrassing charms that we had to have.  

Wait! Listen girl, before you run out to cash in all of your gold at the jewelry store, please read on.

First please understand that, yes, gold is highly priced right now, however the price of $1,580.4 is for one Troy Ounce. Because Gold is an international market they use Troy Ounces.  Troy ounces are abbreviated as t.oz. .  1 regular every day ounce = 0.911458333 troy ounce.

Also that big $ 1,580.04 is for 24K or 100% pure gold. Most of us have 14K 10K gold, and you lucky Lucy’s have 22K or 18K gold too. Here is what your gold, the percentage of gold and the price per t.oz.

22K is 91.7 % gold which is $1321.93 t.oz
18K is 75% gold which is $1081.00 t.oz
14K is 58.3% gold which is $840.00 t.oz
10K is 41.7% gold which is $601.0 t.oz
G.F  E.P. 1/10 10K  RPG isn’t gold remember. ZERO

What does all of this mean? Well if you want to sell your gold to a jewelry store, or gold buying store or service, they are going to sell it to a scrapper who melts the gold and then resells it as raw materials.
You are basically selling your jewelry based only on the cost of the metal.  To do this well you need to know what your gold is worth. Most gold buyers will completely confuse you. I hear horrible stories like when my sister sent away for a gold selling kit from Cash4gold or one of those rip off gold companies. They sent her a pre-addressed envelope and she didn’t have to pay postage. She filled it up with her old gold. Including pieces bought for her by my father over the years before he died. She received a check for $86.00 dollars.

I will never forget. It makes me sick even to this day that she basically had all of that beautiful jewelry stolen by some crook company. My sister has emotional disabilities and she needed money in need of money and saw this as a quick fix. She had no idea how many dwts or t.0z she sent them. So she couldn’t prove that they took advantage of her.

I have even tried to sell gold to jewelry stores just to see what they would offer. They usually offer 50% of what the gold is actually worth and then when I tell them that I am a professional they may  raise their offer 10% or 15%.  They talk so fast and use so many numbers that my brain hurt.

The gold buyers count on the fact that none of us follow gold stocks or have any of these strange measuring systems are. Most of them use Pennyweights.  Pennyweights is abbreviated as 1 dwt .

20 dwt. are in 1 Troy Ounce. Or 1 dwt is .05 troy ounces. I hate math and have come up with quick math tricks.

Lazy math trick- 14k is $840 for 1 t.oz. Step 1) Divide by 50% =$420 Step 2) Remove zero  = $42.00 dwt
Once you know that your gold should cost $42.00 a dwt you’ll be prepared when your local jeweler offers you $18.00 or $20.00 a dwt.

Here are the secrets that your gold buyers 
don’t want you to know.

1.      They never ever want you to know what your gold is actually worth.  

2.      That they are only paying you 50% or less of the actual value.

3.      They have to buy your gold for less because they have to pay for rent, electricity, employees, insurance, advertizing, ect.

4.      That your designer, antique, and studio jewelry is being resold for big money.

5.      Not all, but some gold buyers will fix their scales so your jewelry weighs less.

6.      Not all, but some gold buyers claim that your jewelry is stamped wrong and claim that it’s 10K when it’s 14K or 18K. Or if it’s not stamped they claim it tested at a lower Karat.

7.      That this industry has no regulation and they can basically do whatever they want.
Cartier Necklace auction price $750
Scrap price $102.58

8.      They want to pay you cash without any documentation so that they don’t have to pay taxes or have a record of the transaction.

Jewelry is a pretty but it’s an ugly business. Be careful. Be knowledgeable. Trust your gut.

Jewelry is a crazy business. If you want to sell fine jewelry always find a reputable trustworthy person. Some jewelry stores have wonderful reputations and are honest. They won’t be able to pay you as much as other venues. I had a lot of luck selling on EBAY. Auctions like EBAY or even better live auctions are best because they only take a 10%-25% commission of the final sale price. So they are motivated to make you the most money possible; because their pay is based on your selling price.


If you have any question comment or email me at lydiadustin@gmail.com I do have a list of trusted jewelers.
I do love my local jewelers for fixing my broken pieces or for resizing; but never ever for buying retail. 

Please tell me that you or members of your house are buying jewelry retail! NOOOOOOO! STOP! I’ll tell you why and you will never make this mistake it again.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Antique Cookbook Sunday! 

What is better for a Sunday dinner than a boiled dinner? A what? You may ask dismayed and confused. A boiled dinner needed no explanation. We all knew what boiled dinner people were referring to. The boiled dinner that was a staple in my childhood kitchen and in the kitchens of most of the families of Irish heritage in the Boston Area.  Of course I am talking about boiled Corned beef in a pot boiling on the stove with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, and anything else that was on sale that week.

My mom always made her boiled dinner in a huge oval shaped covered pot that looked old, dented, and well used, even when I was a little kid. I always assumed that it was her mom’s or her grandmothers. But by the time I remembered to ask the cancer drugs made her so loopy that she couldn’t remember.

I found this recipe in The New Yankee Cookbook, Ironically dated 1939.
I love this cookbook of old Yankee recipes. Reading it reminds me of my mom and my nana who loved New England and taught me about the generations of scrappy hard working women of my family came before us.   

New England Boiled Dinner


§  4 pounds corned beef
§  15 peppercorns
§  8 whole cloves
§  1 bay leaf
§  8 small beets
§  2 turnips, cut into pieces
§  16 small new potatoes, peeled
§  16 baby carrots
§  8 small white onions
§  1 head cabbage, cut into 8 wedge-shaped pieces

Cover beef with water and simmer 10 minutes, covered, in a large kettle. Skim off and discard the residue that forms on top of water. Add peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer 3 hours or until meat is tender. Put beets in separate pan with a little water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add turnips, potatoes, carrots, and onions to kettle with meat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes longer. Add cabbage and cook, covered, 15 minutes more. Remove meat, cut into serving pieces, and place on platter surrounded with well-drained vegetables.

My mom shoved it all in the pot on our old brown gas stove for what seemed like all day and let nature take its course.  Mash it all together and serve with a butter on top. Now that’s New England Boiled Dinner.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jewelry Trash or Treasure?



My specialty at our auction house is jewelry. Jewelry is my passion and has been since I was a little girl. One of my favorite things to do is sort clients jewelry.  Last year at a client’s house I found assorted 14K gold jewelry mixed in with their mom’s cheap costume jewelry. The jewelry sold for almost a thousand dollars at auction. Treasure from a box that was headed to the Salvation Army.  Another client was shocked when I told her that the cheap silver ring that she bought at a flea market twenty years earlier was actually real platinum, diamonds and rubies. The ring she paid less than $10 dollars for had an insurance replacement  value of  $1,500 to $2,500 dollars. 

Here are some of my secret jewelry detecting tips for you.   

Consider the source. If you have a gold colored charm bracelet that you bought from a department store for under $100.00. Chances are 100% that it’s not going to be real gold. On the other hand if rich Aunt Beatrix presents you with a similar style charm bracelet in a light blue box labeled Tiffany’s than you can bet your life its gold. Unless she’s like my husband’s Granny who used to put gifts in Tiffany boxes just to mess with people. Oh how I miss her.
Which brings us to our second tip.  

Look for Clues. If the piece of jewelry is less than 100 years old it will be marked. If it’s not marked and you think it may be older than 100 years old bring it to a professional.

MARKS Look inside the band, on the back, and on the clasp. The marks are your best clues.  

American Standard Gold marks: 22K 18K 14K 10K

Not Gold Marks:

 18KGE. Electroplated not real gold. If it ends in GE It’s not 18K gold.
14KG.F. If your gold mark ends with G.F. it’s gold filled. Not real gold.
1/20 12K. or 1/10 10K.  If your piece says either of these it has a tiny insignificant layer of gold over the base metal. So sorry a little better, but still not real gold.
14KRPG. Means Rolled Gold Plate. Better but no not real.
14K over sterling. Just means they put an insignificant layer of gold over sterling. Not gold. But real silver.

No matter how much the Home Shopping Network and retailers try to make these fakes seem like the real thing they’re still fake. It doesn't matter if they claim the item is ”genuine” Electroplate or they claim the  “original” sticker price is $500.00 but, 75% off the markdown price. Ignore them and look at the clues. They can say whatever they want, but legally the jewelry has to be marked and if retail jewelry isn't marked it's always going to be fake. Look at this sterling silver ring with a simulated ruby below advertised as being 80% off. In my opinion even at $69.00 the store is making a 50% profit. The inflated retail price is insane.

Outlet Price : $69.95 
Was: $235.00
 
Retail: $350.00
 
Save $280.05 (80%) Off Suggested Retail!
More clues.

Does the piece make sense? Now you are savvy and you know that the metal of your ring is 14KG.F. How can you tell if the clear stones are diamonds? Consider the size. If the diamonds are the size of  grains of sand I would assume that possibly they could be real diamonds. If the stones are the size of peas I would assume their is a  100% chance that the stones are simulated.  

Use Common Sense.  Think like a jeweler. If you have an expensive high quality stone you would set that stone in equally fine quality metal right? If the stones and the metal are high quality you would want them sold in a high end jewelry store for a high price. Therefore the best fine jewelry will be set in higher karats of gold and sell for high prices.  Semiprecious or less quality stones are usually set in 10K gold or gold or gold alternatives and more affordable.

Also If the piece is handmade by a jewelry designer it will be signed and be worth a lot more than a piece massed produced by machine. Please tell me that you all know enough never ever to buy jewelry at a mall or from a chain jewelry store right? Oh there is so much to learn. 

That’s all I have time for today. Before you get started a few quick rules.
All of these rules can be broken. That’s why jewelry is so hard to identify and we professionals rely on chemicals and gem testers that can identify unidentified materials. If you want to be 100% sure if your jewelry is worth big money, always go to a reputable professional. If you live in MA, RI, or parts of NH, and CT, I can help you or recommend someone.
Costume jewelry can be worth just as much as the real stuff.
Antique jewelry is like clothes. It goes in and out of style. Your pieces go up and down in worth every 6 months.

Now sort through that jewelry!

Tomorrow is going to be NEVER EVER SELL YOUR GOLD TO GOLD BUYERS OR AT GOLD PARTIES!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday's Recipe


Every Sunday I am going to post an important recipe or entertaining tip from one of my antique cookbooks. 

I love antique cookbooks! Not only for the recipes which at times seem more like science experiments, but for the advice about entertaining and taking proper care of your family. I read these books like an archaeologist uncovering the lost world of the domestic goddesses.



This week’s selection is from Anyone Can Bake published in 1927 by the Royal Baking Powder Company. 

I have chosen page number 6 and 7.
This is not from book


Titled: SETTING THE TABLE-For Breakfast


1. Cover the table with silence cloth made of felt, heavy flannel, or bound asbestos.*

2. Lay nicely laundered, unstarched damask cloth with center dividing table exactly in half. Cloth should hang at least one foot over edge of table.

3. Place forks at the left, knives at the right with the blades turned in, one inch from edge of table.

4. Place spoons, with bowls turned up, at right, in order of use; that is, the spoon used for first course at outside. Place the napkin folded or not, as desired at the left of the fork.

5. The butter plate is placed at the upper left. The spreader on the plate or in same position just to upper right of butter-plate. The glass at the upper right.

6. Place service plate in center of each cover. If bowl is used it should be placed on service plate.

7. Butter curl is placed on each plate---glasses are three-quarters filled with water and fruit placed on service plate just before breakfast is served.


*Please note that I do not recommend covering your table with poisonous materials.



I don't know about you, but this is how I set my table for Christmas dinner. I don't even think that my son knows how to use a fork. Forget using multiple forks? Cloth napkins? Butter plates? Can you imagine setting a breakfast table like this for your family every morning? My kids are happy with a bowl of cereal at our mail covered kitchen table. Maybe I should freak them out this week with a pretty table set for breakfast? But I will leave off the Asbestos and the butter curl.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dedham Pottery


Dedham pottery is the perfect culmination of the things I love; bunnies, pottery, and Boston history. Did you know that the first blue and white rabbit crackle glaze pieces were actually made in Chelsea? 

 Chelsea Pottery
I know that Chelsea Massachusetts is a town across the river from Boston. But for the record we locals refer to every town with in a fifty mile radius of Boston, as Boston.  Back to Chelsea, the famous potter Hugh Robertson of Chelsea Kermaic Art Works, whom this talented blogger wrote about on Wednesday, started a new endeavor making a line of commercial tableware for the home. While his Dragon’s Blood vases where of huge importance to the Art pottery movement and acclaimed at the San Francisco World’s Fair  and the Paris Expedition, his company wasn’t a commercial success, and closed.



Dedham Pottery Factory Dedham, MA
A year later in 1890 Robertson was propositioned by Boston investors to start a new pottery business. Robertson and his new partners decided to produce a new line of blue and white crackle glaze dishware. In 1891 Robertson opened Chelsea Pottery and started making his now famous rabbit design. These blue and white pieces with the crackle glaze that he discovered years before when trying to reproduce oriental porcelain glazes, was his modern take on oriental blue and white porcelain.  Robertson had married his love of oriental techniques with his investors need for commercial success. Of course Robertson’s new line was very successful. Who could resist blue and white pottery with whimsical designs? Also the Arts and Crafts movement and the popularity of Japanese designs had made oriental and nature based decoration all the rage with the general public.


Baby Chicks Pattern
Robertson’s new endeavor had only one problem, the town of Chelsea is close to the ocean and that great sea air was distressing the crackling process and they had to move.  They found a great site about 15 miles away in the delightfully landlocked town of Dedham, hence changing the name to Dedham Pottery.  The blue and white pottery was a huge commercial success. They did briefly  introduce a green line of Dedham Pottery that was no popular at all. A green Dedham piece is a rare find.

This new success allowed Hugh Robertson to go back to making his dragon’s blood vases as well as continuing his experiments with glazes, making one glaze that had the look of lava. Sadly he died in 1908.

Sold for $1200 at Auction
Hugh’s son William Robertson would take over the Dedham pottery and keep producing their popular rabbits and continued to produce 50 more animal and nature themes including: turkeys, swans, ducks, turtles, butterflies, roses, lilies, azaleas, trees, and rare experimental patterns like the double scottie dog plate pictured on the left. It’s important to know that every piece of Dedham pottery is decorated by hand, not stamped or stenciled, making each piece unique.

Why Rabbits?
The first rabbit design was created by art student Alice Morse and her professor Joseph Lindon Smith of the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. A contest was held to make the first design for the crackled pottery line, and if you can believe it, the pair won the $25 cash prize. That prize calculates in to about $700.00 today.

Elephant Creamer
They also didn't just produce plates they made a full range of dishware and tableware including; plates in four sizes, mugs, bowls, service pieces, pitchers, egg cups, tea cups & saucers, and more. They even made special order custom pieces and sets.

See Maude's Circle Signature
They made their full range of 50+ patterns products with never more than 6 employees at a time. They had people to make the molded pieces, potters to make the thrown pieces, and of course the decorators. The most well know decorator Maude R. Davenport, she was a local girl who started working for Dedham Pottery in 1904 until 1928. She started when she was only 20 years-old, but because of her delicate brush work she quickly became recognized as the most gifted decorator. She signed her work with a tiny circle and her pieces are quite collectible. Her brother Charles came to work there in 1914 and notably designed the elephant pattern.

Owl Pattern
Magnolia Pattern
 William Robertson’s son J. Milton Robertson also worked there. J. Milton Robertson was the 7th generation of the Robertson family to be a potter and after his father William’s death in 1929, he started running Dedham Pottery. Also J. Milton had learned the secret art of making the Dragon’s Blood glaze and continued to make them. Sadly we don't know if the secrets of the famous red glaze died wigth him.


Hugh Robertson had started a Dedham Pottery Museum on site and visitors could see the finest pieces that were made each year. The museum contained one of a kind Dedham Pottery pieces, as well as many experimental pieces prized by the Robertson family. William and J. Milton after him continued to add pieces to the museum each year. 

Butterfly Pattern
J. Milton also made the important addition in 1938 of a complete Dedham Pottery catalog. This booklet has become very collectible today and sells for $50-80 dollars.  In 1943 sales were down, the country was involved in World War II and J. Milton Robertson  closed the Dedhan Pottery and joined the Navy as a commander.   I did find some references to him in later years being an authority on Dedham pottery but I don't know what happened to him.

Rare Beehive Print
Dedham Pottery was closed such a sad day for an important part of Boston and pottery history. An article published in 1943 written by By Braset Marteau says that “Visitors to Boston have usually included a trip to the Dedham Pottery on their "must" list. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts included this as one of its conducted tours for students of the ceramic arts.”  What was worse than the factory being closed the hundreds of important pieces in the museum and thousands of pieces in the factory were liquidated at Gimbel Brother’s Art Department. Cab you imagine a Dedham Pottery blow out sale? Marteau continues ”Here lucky collectors may acquire a piece of this wonderful ware for as little as one dollar or as much as a few hundred dollars”.  

One of those “few hundred dollar” dragon’s blood vases would sell for $5000-8000 today. Those bargain  one dollar pieces of Dedham Pottery will most likely sell for $100-200 dollars today, such a small price to pay for an important piece of Boston history. 
Rare Lobster Pattern

Buying Dedham Pottery
Always look for marks on the back of the plates.
1892-1895: C.P.U.S. (Chelsea Pottery U.S.) impressed inside a clover leaf.
1896-1928: Square blue stamp with DEDHAM POTTERY printed over a rabbit; impressed foreshortened rabbit beneath.
1929-1943: REGISTERED added under standard Dedham Pottery stamp; two impressed foreshortened rabbits beneath.
Dedham Pottery Reproductions

Two Massachusetts companies are presently producing replicas of earlier forms. Each of these retro replica versions is clearly and properly marked to avoid any collector confusion with the pre-1943 antiques. Also, the Dedham Historical Society, which owns the rights to the original Dedham Pottery trademark, has reissued a limited-edition lion plate with a new variation in the original mark to permanently distinguish it from the originals. 


Rare Green & Blue Sold for $8100.00

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chelsea & Dedham Pottery

Chelsea Keramic Art Works


Chelsea Keramic Pitcher 1870
This is a post about the most important Art potters that you have never heard of. I had never heard of the Robertson family before I started my homework for this post.  I will start with the Robertson's Patriarch, James Roberson. He was a Scottish born potter who came to America in 1853 to find a better life.  Once in America he continued to try and live his American dream working as a potter in different companies. First in NJ and then in Massachusetts where he finally settled with his family in Boston. During this same time he was raising three sons; Hugh, Alexander, George and training them all as potters.  
Early Red Ware from  the
 Chelsea Keramic Art Works

In 1866 James's son Alexander opened his own pottery company in Chelsea, a small city right across the river from Boston. Soon his younger brother Hugh started working with him. The brothers were making a red clay pottery called  Redware. Eventually in 1872, James retired and joined his sons at the pottery and they became the Chelsea Keramic Art Works.

4 Chelsea Keramic Art Works Pieces Made
 by Hugh Robertson

 This is the quick version. The Roberston family started making red ware without glaze and that looked like ancient Greek pots. Early pot pictured above. Thankfully the public disliked this style as much as I do and they stopped making it in 1878 and by 1880 everything had changed. 
Dragon Blood Vase
Sold for $6000 in 2004.
The brief version is that around this time James, the dad had passed away, Alexander moved away, and Hugh was experimenting with pottery glazes. Hugh had seen the Korean exhibits in the Philadelphia Exhibition and the Chinese vases with their deep red color called "Dragon's Blood" and the blue and white Ming vases with their crackled glaze.   He became obsessed with recreating these rare glazes. In fact the reason why you hardly ever see true bright red pottery is because hardly any potters can make red. In the 1880's no one on the continent could make anything closes than light reddish rose. When I say Hugh became obsessed with finding the secret formula for deep red glaze. I am talking working like a crazed mad scientist for over 10 years hours and hours a day trying to find the secret of these glazes.  

Finally his diligence paid off and he had success and made a few true red Dragon's blood vases that he felt were god enough. He also made a lot of experimental shades of red in many different textures. He also discovered how to make yellows, green, blue greens, all kinds of color combinations and a crackle glaze that would make him a huge commercial success later with Dedham Pottery. 

Hugh Robertson's best pieces are a pair of small vases named the Twin Stars of Chelsea that are now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They have a deep cherry red color similar to the piece bellow. See the glossy rainbow finish? The even glaze coverage and even color? Hugh was able to make a little more then 10 vases with met his expectations of what true dragon's blood should look like. That's like one vase per year of blood, sweat and tears. I hope that it was all worth it. True art pottery collectors will say, yes. 

Excellent Dragon Blood Color

If you are thinking of buying a piece Look for the initials "CKAW' stamped on the bottom. You can buy a good piece of non red piece of Chelsea Keramic Art Works pottery for $100-$400.00. A Dark brown-red pieces can be bought for $600-$1,200. The true dragon's blood pieces are very rare and very pricey.

These are historical pieces that changed the art pottery world and they need to be appreciated. Sadly the prices aren't terribly high because the CKAW pieces are not traditional what I would call attractive  or pretty. Some of them look like dried lava, or like something your kid painted in preschool. Proving once again that their is more to art pottery than it's aesthetic beauty. On the other hand it's the pretty red ones that sell the most.

On Friday we'll leave red behind and be all tangled up in white and blue. With Dedham Pottery.




Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rookwood Amazing Glazing


Rookwood  Glazes

Rookwood Vase by Kataro Shirayamadani

If you read my last blog you are now an expert in the history of the Rookwood Pottery company. OK so you know enough to hold your own on the subject at a cocktail party. If you want to be able to recognize a fair Rockwood price at an antique store you need to know about the glazes. If you want to buy a major bargain at an estate sale you need to know about the first and most important glazes.

OK were you paying attention in my last blog I told you that the first pieces made from Rookwood had no name, but were commonly referred to as what?           

A) Cincinnati Wedgwood              
B) Cincinnati Limoges     
C) Cincinnati Meissen

Of course you got that right, my attractive smart reader. If you aren’t sure then please read the fascinating post before this one...we’ll wait. 



Standard Glaze

Standard Glaze

                                      The most desirable Rookwood Pottery  
Standard-Green-M.A. Daly 1900
Add caption

glaze is simply named Standard. Not the most inventive name, for their most popular glaze and the style most copied over the years. The Standard glaze line is dark; the base color is mostly in brown, sometimes green. The background color usually starts dark and then gradually lightens with a yellow shiny over glaze. Each Standard piece when held in the light should look like its’ outside during sunset. The background color should look like its’ dissolving. Kind of like when you pour a bottle of Black & Tan into a glass. Each Standard piece should also have excellent high quality decorations; the key to Rookwood Pottery’s auction value is the artist and the quality of the painting. The better the painted image the most important and valuable the piece. Some of the most valuable Standard glaze pieces are portraits of Native American’s. Most notably the pillow pot pictured upper right painted by Matthew A. Daly in 1900 and in 2004 sold for $65,000 at auction. 

 Lydia’s Opinion

While I appreciate the Standard glaze line and understand why the pieces are important I don’t just don’t like them. The color combination just reminds me of my most hated vintage item ever Brown Drip Ware. I am not picking on any particular brand Hull, Haeger, Marcrest, McCoy, Pfaltzgraff, I can’t stand all your brown drip styles equally. I don’t know why but seeing sad brown pottery, ceramics, and stoneware with ring around the collar just makes me sad. I can’t even stand seeing brown drip bean pots and I am from Boston.


I know in my mind that aesthetically there is a big difference between handmade expertly decorated and glazed Rookwood Standard and mass produced Hull pottery. However my eyes like what they like.  

Mahogany

Mahogany by Laura Fry 1885
1897 M.A. Daly
The Mahogany line is better for me. I have another confession to make; I also hate Black and Tan beer. I am a red wine lover and an enthusiast for the color red in general.  Rookwood’s Mahogany line is made with red clay, without an under glaze and a yellow glossy glaze. The overall look is much like more pleasing to me. I prefer to see the clay’s natural beauty and the slight yellow tint makes the pieces come alive with an inner warm light. As far as value goes the most known artists always bring the most at auction. Recently this Mahogany vase decorated with lilies by Matthew A. Daly sold at auction for $2,500.00. Sadly prices are down on art pottery these days. Also some glazes are more desirable than others. I love the simplicity of Mahogany, but the market seems to like the multi layered  experimental techniques of more complex glazes.

Tiger Eye and Goldstone


Tiger Eye- Albert Robert, Valentien 1900
Close up of  vase on lower left
Gold Stone's flecks 
  Gold Stone Albert Valentien 1884
Tiger Eye and Goldstone are  desirable glaze lines for collectors. Listen up those of you who enjoy all that sparkles and shines. With their Tiger Eye line Rookwood used the same red clay but overlaid their newest experimental glaze, “Crystalline”.  Crystalline glaze actually contains all the seed materials needed to grow crystals and during a special cooling and firing procedure grows actual crystals structures in the glaze.  How cool is that? The result of these crystals structures is an organic gold foil pattern that looks like it’s under glass. The effect is like that of the tiger eye stone.  Collectors pay top dollar for Tiger Eye glazed pieces the "Swimming Fish" vase on the  above left  has an auction estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Gold Stone 
The Goldstone line used their other experimental glaze, “Aventurine”. Aventurine glaze is also a science experiment of sorts with a complex heating and cooling procedure. The end result is a fine sparkling metallic see close up of glaze on above right. See the effect like tiny pieces of glitter put into the glaze?  Below right I found a Gold Stone vase with an auction estimate of $2000-$3000. However the vase was described as Tiger Eye. I found that with these early glazes their is a lot of confusion. I found all of the early glazes; Standard, Mahogany, Tiger Eye and Gold Stone all labeled incorrectly.  Remember that just because an item is in a fancy antique store or brand name auction people make mistakes. You are not going to be one of those people.

Limoges: 1880-1884 Clear glaze over under (slip) painting. Check date on bottom.
Standard: 1884-1909 Yellowish glaze over brown or green ( black and tan dissolving) background.
Mahogany: 1884-1900 natural red clay background yellowish tinted glaze.
Tiger Eye: 1884-1909 Crystalline glaze, like gold foil under glass.
Gold Stone: 1884-1900 Aventurine Glaze, like tiny specks of glitter (see sample).

Check the bottom! Always check the date. None of these glazes were used after 1900 or 1909. If you see a Rookwood Tiger Eye vase dated 1945 in a fancy antique store you  know it's labeled wrong. You are now an early Rookwood Pottery super star!

I don’t have time to go into all of the different glazes invented by those brave folks at Rookwood pottery.  My favorites Rookwood glazes are Iris, Sea Green, Poppies, and Vellum check them out if you have time. But this isn’t about me it’s about the scientific geniuses, gifted potters, and superb artists of Rookwood pottery. Their innovation and skill made them one of the most celebrated Art Pottery companies of the twentieth century.

If you want to make a good buy check the piece out. Never buy a cracked or chipped piece. You are looking for even glaze, pretty form, most importantly you want beautiful decorations, perhaps even an important artist. All of the pieces are singed by the artists. Most Rookwood pottery books will have a list of artists and glazes with dates. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a piece make sure you research as you know the description may be wrong.  Most important of all buy a piece that you think is beautiful.

Rookwood's Claim to Fame!  

In 2008 a piece of Rookwood Pottery painted by  Kataro Shirayamadani pictured at the top of this post sold at auction for $350,000.00, the most ever paid for a piece of art pottery.


No one has guessed why it's called Rookwood 

 I'm not telling unless you guess.




Sea Green by John Dee Wareham 1898