Friday, December 16, 2011

Did anyone notice this cartoon in the November issue of Maine Antique Digest?

I think a non-intrusive "conversion" of a Hudson Valley kast would be a perfect way to make it relevant to a 30-something and his/her lifestyle. If you don't believe me, read below in our August 22 post. (And for the record, I'll take my Indiana schrank over a New York kast any day of the week.) And when I get it in the house, I'll even post photos of our new schrank...from Michigan.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Catching up...

Yep, the date is right on this post. It's been an embarrassingly long time since we've posted. It's been a good summer here in the Midwest. Nora is growing like a weed and the antiques market continues to see improvement (no, it's not 1995 again, but it probably won't be for a very long time). Garth's is looking towards a good fall with a big Labor Day auction (guns, medical antiques, and, of course, Americana), and half of our Thanksgiving and January Americana auctions are already booked with single-owner collections. And as fall approaches, so does our fall travel season: the Deerfield and Delaware shows--two of our favorites.

In 2012, we're looking to head west for some shows. Anyone have any thoughts on good Midwestern shows that are west of Ohio?

You might recall the wonderful Indiana wardrobe I mentioned in our post about the Midwest Antiques Forum. I'm very pleased to say that I've tracked it down and we now own it! I have found that many buyers don't like wardrobes because they're big and bulky. And certainly when you live in a converted one-room schoolhouse, you don't necessarily have room for big and bulky. But in a recent rearrangement of our downstairs, we created a better office space, and our new wardrobe is what we call our hide-a-office. See the photos below. You don't just have to store clothing in wardrobes!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In honor (?) of Indedependence Day....

And as a preview for our upcoming column, we invite you to read this article about the sorry state of history knowledge in America.

We've heard lots of folks grumble about how "young people just don't care about history," and clearly this article suggests that the lack of history knowledge is far more widespread. What do you think? Has this played a role in the diminishing interest in antiques? And if so, what's the solution?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Local matters, especially in antiques!

In our newest column, we talk about how a grassroots movement, a la the local food movement, may be very useful in galvanizing interest in antiques beyond traditional collectors. Here are some of our favorite spots, both antiques and not, that focus on "local":

Garth's Auctions, of course, and their annual Ohio Valley Auctions in May
Jeffrey S. Evans and Associates, they have great focus on Shenandoah Valley antiques and arts
Neal Auctions and the Historic New Orleans Collection, both great places for NOLA stuff

Local Matters, a great central Ohio local food resource
Sippel Family Farm, where we get our produce (you likely have CSAs in your area...check them out)
3/50 Project, great plan to support your local businesses

These represent just a tiny scratch in the surface. What local places do you enthusiastically support?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The First Midwest Antiques Forum

I'll admit, with only 35 paid attendees, we were a teensy bit disappointed going into last weekend's inaugural event, but once folks arrived and the enthusiasm filled the room, any disappointment quickly dissipated.

We don't want to boast, but I think we can say that the MAF was a tremendous success. The speakers were fantastic, and they showcased some tremendously important objects. (Really, have you ever seen 18th century carved furniture from Indiana?? Or 1890s wardrobes made by Euro-Russian Mennonites in Kansas? Okay, I have a thing for wardrobes, check out the Oldenburg, Indiana example below.) And the crowd more than made up for the small-ish size with their unsurpassed enthusiasm.

Many kudos to our speakers, our gracious host (the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio), our sponsors (, Garth's, Cowan's, Maine Antique Digest, Antique Week, and the Ohio Historical Decorative Arts Association), our conference staff (Jennifer Castle, Mimi Morgan, Cheryl-Lynn May, and Kristin Crump), and everyone else who helped make the MAF such a success. I think we may have started something here....

Monday, May 9, 2011

More television shows....

Apparently, when tv production companies are developing new ideas, they spend much of their time Googling. We've had several folks call us about in-production antiques-related shows after they've found our blog. At first, we were flattered. We even submitted a video to the casting director. But several calls later, we're just getting annoyed.

Back in January, a guy calls looking for someone to act as a buyer in a new show that he was casting for. The premise? They find someone who has "valuable antiques" to sell, get in them in line to send their items to auction, and then bring in "collectors" to see if they could make them an offer they can't refuse. Basically, take the cash now or see what happens at the auction. When he referred to the sellers as "contestants" is when I stopped listening. I pointed out to this gentleman that as an auctioneer, I believe in the auction process and really don't want to be involved in poaching auction consignments.

Then last week, someone else calls, different company and different show. This time, the premise is to identify younger collectors who may be willing to part with some of their "valuable antiques" if the price was right. This guy wanted leads. Seriously, this guy wanted me to hand over names of folks who have stuff to sell. If I had such leads, I explained, I'd be calling them myself.

Dont' get me wrong, and as we've stated in our column before, we readily acknowledge that these programs are putting antiques in front of mainstream America. And we are grateful for that. We just wish they all weren't all gameshows. True, the get-rich-quick model is more likely to elicit better ratings, but isn't there any production company out there with a little more creativity who can come up with an antiques-related program that doesn't focus on the dollars and cents?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ya gotta be kidding me...

I just encountered one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in a while.

Know what this is? If you answered "a dingy old tennis racket that you can buy at any yard sale for $2.50" you'd be right. But what a sexy photograph! Who is spending big bucks making used sporting goods look so fantastic? Pottery Barn....ack!!! Described as bearing "the rare character and timeworn beauty of a vintage piece," you can buy their "PB Found Tennis Racket" for the bargain price of $199.

TWO HUNDRED BUCKS??!!!??!! Plus $21 shipping, of course.

The antiques trade needs to find these buyers. Seriously. We could joke about them having more money then sense, but the reality is, anyone who would buy this item from Pottery Barn has a desire for vintage and antique, and they are willing to spend money to satisfy that desire. Their problem is simply that they don't know that we exist. We need to seek these folks out and get them to auctions and and shows and watch their heads spin with excitement. I'm not quite sure how to reach them yet, at least without spending big bucks on advertising, but we're thinking on it. Any thoughts?

Many thanks to our good friend LaGina Austin (from Skinner's Americana Department) for bringing this to our attention (because we don't, thankfully, get PB catalogs.)

(Yes, by the way, the nifty objects next to the tennis racket are simply old books with their covers torn off and bound with string....nice.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shameless plug.

We've mentioned this before here and in our column, but it's worth mentioning again, especially for those of you folks interested in regional material culture. The first annual (we hope) Midwest Antiques Forum will be happening in a little over a month.

When: Friday-Sunday, May 13-15
Where: Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, Lancaster, Ohio (40 minutes east of Columbus)
How much: $245 registration includes lectures and some meals
More info:

Speakers include:

Andrew Richmond, Vice President, Garth’s Auctions
Big, Heavy, and Brightly Painted: The Germanic Furniture of the American Midwest

Trish Cunningham, Associate Professor, The Ohio State University
Ohio Woven Coverlets: Textiles in the Folk Tradition

Emily Pfotenhauer, Outreach Specialist, Wisconsin Heritage Online
Of Every Variety: Wisconsin Decorative Arts 1820-1900

Dean Zimmerman, Chief Curator, Western Reserve Historical Society
Treasures of the Western Reserve Historical Society: 140 Years of Collecting

Francis J. “Bill” Puig, Independent scholar
Creole Furniture from the Upper Valley of Louisiana

Ellen Denker, Independent scholar
Sermons in Stone: Kirkpatrick Brothers' Anna Pottery

Brock Jobe, Professor of American Decorative Arts, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
Summing Up: What have we learned about the decorative arts over the past forty years?

Panel discussion: Midwestern Antiques and the Marketplace. Panelists include Jeff Jeffers (Garth's), Wes Cowan (Cowan's), Chuck Muller (dealer/scholar), Dean Zimmerman (WRHS), and Susan Widder (collector).

Optional tours of Equal in Goodness: Ohio Decorative Arts 1788-1860, The Georgian Museum, and Historic Square 13.

For more information and to register, visit

Sponsored by: Prices 4 Antiques, Garth’s Auctions, Cowan’s Auctions, Maine Antique Digest, Antique Week, the Ohio Historical Decorative Arts Association, and the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New topic: Antiques TV

This is so embarrassing. Back in January, I (Andrew) had an excuse for my absence--the Ohio exhibition (many thanks for all of your kind words, by the way...check out next Friday's New York Times for an article that will discuss regional museum shows, including Equal in Goodness). The past 2 months, I have no excuse. Just still recovering, I suppose.

But, it's a new season (spring!) and I'm feeling energized, so let's start a real discussion. Our next column will talk about the current crop (bumper crop, that is) of antiques-related television shows. Roadshow, Pickers, Pawn Stars, etc. etc. etc. What are your opinions? Do they accurately portray antiques and the antiques business? Can they be improved? If so, how? Okay...discuss!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We're baaaaaackk.....

I (Andrew) knew we'd been away for a while, but when I logged in today, I see our last post was December 2. Ack!

Well, of course there were the holidays. Travel south to Hollie's folks in WV and then back north to my folks in NE Ohio. And then...there was the exhibition.

Back in the spring, I was extremely honored to be invited to curate an exhibition of Ohio decorative arts at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster. It's a great little museum that hosts 2-3 exhibitions per year, some they sponsor, others they simply host. Opening next weekend will be Equal in Goodness: Ohio Decorative Arts 1788-1860. To my knowledge, it's the first comprehensive examination of Ohio's decorative arts ever. And the published catalog (thanks to a generous donation from the Johns family of Lancaster) will be the first major work on Ohio material culture in over two decades. The show runs through June 5 and the catalog will be available through the museum's gift shop beginning next weekend.

While I spent a good deal of time since April working on this show, the bulk of my December and January have been consumed by it. There are over 200 objects from over 50 lenders. There was tremendous amounts of research and writing, lots of time on the road transporting these objects from hither and yon to Lancaster. (Quick thanks and plug for my employer Garth's who gave me lots of freedom in my schedule and footed the bill for photography, design, and much more!) Let me put it this way...this weekend is the first free weekend I've had since there were green leaves on Ohio's trees! apologies for the lapse in communications, folks. But we're back and ready to resume our efforts to help create a flourishing antiques trade for another generation.