Worst of the Decade? Bothersome Home Trends.

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I subscribe to several personal growth newsletters.  Today in my INBOX was a summary of the articles in Soular Energy. Chaya, from Networx, counts down the 10 worst home trends of the Decade.  At number 10 is the McMansion.   Joe, my husband, and I were driving around our town looking at some possible home sites for our more modest (2,500 sq. ft.) dream home – a mid-century modern built in the 21st century with green and more modern features.  Driving through a lake front subdivision we marveled as we usually do at the hugeness of the homes.  We always wonder the same question – “Where do all this people work ?”  Next, I look at the weird mix of stylistic elements and architectural features.  As you see,  that makes number 3 on the list below.  I thought I would share part of the list with you and see what you thought about the worst trends of the decade in homes and home furnishings.  Note number 6:  The author confirms our thoughts – That antiques are the best green products! No longer are we in the disgusting, dirty, second-hand land but at the top of the green list.

6 . Faux Green Trend

This may seem to be a controversial opinion. But the “marketization” of the green movement has meant as much about sales of new products (more and more to fill the landfill) as it has meant about real conservation. The best green products are antiques. We’ve been overwhelmed by the marketing of the products and forget about other factors like transportation. Wrapping products in the “green flag” can sometimes be like putting lipstick on a pig. You can dress it up, but it may still be an unnecessary product in the long run.

5. Cheap Furniture

There was a time when those setting out to start their first homes would make do with lots of hand-me-downs and carefully considered first time purchases. A dining room set or bedroom suite was purchased for life, not for right now. Furniture was expensive and the decision around what to purchase was about value and lifetime use. Because of this, most young people ended up with better quality, even if it was considered moderate at the time, and they respected it enough to take care of it. Once furniture prices started to drop due to mechanization of production and cheap imports, furniture buyers stopped thinking about longevity or even had any expectation of quality.  Furniture became “temporary” and “throw away.”  This is bad for the landfill and ultimately bad for the pocketbook, as this furniture requires replacement more often than that of higher quality.

4. Faux Tuscan or “Olde World”

The faux Tuscan or Olde Wold look has been very much overdone in the last decade. Rather than spending time studying what makes Tuscan or European style so unique and beautiful, we’ve reduced it to a few elements and done bad reproductions of those elements. When we’re enamored of a certain place or style, we can sometimes fixate on the most obvious elements, but it’s the subtleties that give those originals life.

3.  Mix ‘n Match Architectural Styles

Little is worse than the random mixing of architectural styles both inside and outside a home. Small ranch homes are remodeled and suddenly feature Palladium windows. Columned front porches are slapped on modest Cape Cod style homes. All traditional architectural styles have a beauty of their own — their details are scaled to work with their innate size. Loss of proportion and scale makes many newer homes seem neither here nor there

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/worst-home-trends-of-the-decade.html#ixzz18J1UyRAG


Words and The World of Antiques.

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I’ve been thinking about words.  More succinctly my thoughts are traveling (see the end of the post to learn where Tokyo and Wendy are heading in a few days) to words and abbreviations.  Words convey meaning; but, only if we know their meaning within a given context.  Abbreviations or acronyms are even dicer.  Two or three letters meant to stand for a word.  But which word?  My mind plays tricks when it encounters abbreviations.  Take for example “tbl” .  To ValtheEvaluator, appraiser by day, “tbl”  represents table.  But to KnitorBe, my knitting i.d., it means “through the back loop”.  This abbreviation directs my hands to knit a stitch through the back loop instead of the normal front.  However, my mind is thinking knit through the table.  The weird thing, is when my mouth opens and talks to another knitter.  Out tumbles, “knit through the table” and I get the strangest looks.

There are so many terms used by appraisers. For illustration, let’s start with periods of design.  Within periods are styles. Within styles there are elements.  You see where I am going?

For instance, the Federal Period – the period that corresponds to the beginning decades of our new nation.  Within the Federal Period are the Adams and Sheraton style.  These two styles are delineated by differences in stylistic elements.  With furniture, for instance, Adams style equals straight legs ending in plinth feet, semi- circular case forms, and simplified moldings. However, with Sheraton style we see the emergence of turned and tapered legs and a shift from sweeping curved fronts to more lightweight rectilinear forms.

When describing a piece I am appraising, I identify the piece and style and then use words to paint a picture of the style; I use more words that reference techniques or features.  Then you have types of woods and cuts.  The finishing hardware of a piece also has it only body of terms. Afterwards a non-appraiser should be able to pick the piece out of the room.

The styles like Adam, Eastlake, Transitional, George III are simple words; yet, they can convey immense meaning, if you know the reference, context, and definition.  Since time is valuable and terms are complex and often misused in the world of antiques, what is a lay person to do?

The best way to learn antique terms is to study a good book.  Take furniture.  There are many good books on furniture, some include all furniture, some only American, and some only American from a particular century or period.  Choose the book that mirrors your collecting interests and let your new knowledge of words make your collecting more exciting and your purchases “smart.” Visit museum collections and listen to the tour narratives or read the description on the item identity cards and try to match the description to the pieces.  Talk to other collectors.  Look at auction catalogs.  Attend seminars.  Again, so many words so little time; but, the investment of time is sure to land a great find at a good price.

If there is a word or abbreviation you would like to discuss and learn more about, please comment on this post and begin a discussion!

Tokyo and Wendy are sailing to the Caribbean for the Holidays.  We hope everyone has a great holiday season and look forward to sharing pictures of our travels when we get back.

Hot or Not? Antiques Dealer View from the Road!

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This week my colleague Peggy Maraschiello of River Wind Antiques in CT wrote the following blog post for us all on the state of the antiques market from her vantage point –  a booth at a show.  Either buying or selling,  Peggy’s years of experience provide a keen sense of what is up and down in this volatile market.  Peggy appraises antiques, sells at Brimfield(the Antiques Show goers mecca) , and runs a brick and mortar antique store in CT.  Thanks Peggy for sharing your insider insights.

What’s Hot & What’s Not after selling in Brimfield and Buying in Chicago

We’ve been selling at the Brimfield Antiques Show/Flea Market for almost 20 years.  We’ve had great shows and lesser shows over the years.  But since the downturn in the economy our shows have echoed the economy.  I should say we do 2 of the 3 shows, May and September always foregoing the July show due to heat and better shop business during the summer.

Everyone in Brimfield had a fabulous show in May this year with hopes lifted for the economy turning around.  We sold some of everything and saw dealers back from the South, Texas, California, Asia and Europe.  And then July rolls around and many dealers said it was their worst shows ever…partly because of the heat, but who knows what else caused the shift.

When it came to getting ready for the September Brimfield, I felt it was time to do something different.  I went through my Brimfield inventory and deleted much and reduced prices.  Although I’ve been very fussy buying new inventory, I did buy from 3 estates during the summer so when it came time to pricing for Brimfield I priced with a dealer purchase in mind and it worked.

Rare items still sell well:  Stangl Tropic vase , Jensen Naja Salto, Limoges punch bowl; Pedigreed items:  Tiffany, Blenko glass, Lalique.  Paint on furniture and smalls are still selling.  I had a large hand turned bowl with old red paint and it sold.  Also, several of my French crystal boxes sold.  They’re still popular.  And one of our favorite things went out right away.  As we say, “Last in, first out.”  It was a book with over 200 hand colored lithographs of fruit and flowers in original bright colors.

When I attended the Chicago Antique Show at the Merchandise Mart in early October dealers were varied in their success at the show.  The mid century modern furniture and decorative accessories dealers said they did very well. Jewelry and silver continue to be good sellers.

Antique furniture continues to be slow to catch up with dealers concerned about young buyer’s taste in furniture.  But we carry on with our shop and estate sales cause we still love all kinds of stuff.

Happy hunting.  Peggy

Fall antique shopping tips.

Shopping Tips - Make shopping Great!

Fall is a perfect time for a surge in shopping, the air is cool, the kids are back in school, and there is no holiday rush.  Outdoor antique shows or monthly shows are an excellent place to spend some time browsing.  Antique malls are usually brimming with nice finds, as the months of August and September are historically low traffic months making October and November a good time to snag great stuff.  Due to my love of shopping, I thought I would offer you four tips, for this Thursday’s Tip Blog,  for shopping in antique malls.

1)      Always ask for a discount. Most shops give 10% off for purchases above a certain dollar amount –  usually $20 or $25 dollars.  Also watch for signs in booth, advertising a percentage off.  Some shoppers actually miss these and mall staff may not always point out the dealers with sales.

2)      Start thinking of your holiday shopping list. With the surge in awareness about recycling, reusing, or repurposing you are honoring anothers awareness and dedication to this cause.  Neat stuff, unique and personal treasures(which turn into cool gifts from you) are yours for the gifting if you start the hunt early with specific people in mind.  For instance, a vintage camera for the photography buff  or a wonderful leather tome of English authors for the avid reader(with or without a Kindle!) make thoughtful gifts.  Do your part for the environment and recycle.  Shop with zeal. Your zest and thoughtfulness equals gifts which say –  you cared enough to hunt with forethought.  These items keep giving for years and generations to come and are not forgotten before the holiday decorations hit the packing boxes.

3)      If you are drop dead serious about purchasing the item, it is fair game to make a reasonable offer.  I define sane and reasonable in the range of 15-20% off.

4)      As always, if you love it and think you will regret leaving it behind – Buy it! You would not want it gone when you come back and life is much too short for regrets.  Especially regrets so easily adverted with a few $$$.

So clip that virtual, coupon and ask for a discount.  Enjoy your finds.  ValtheEvaluator

Pawn, Pick, and Podium. The new reality TV craze.


Antiques and TV


Have you gotten sucked into the recent rash of reality TV involving stuff ?  Our dials offer up titles such as Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and as of last night Auctioneer$.  My husband saw the owner of Auctioneer$ interviewed on Fox and then brought home a USA Today article on the show.  He reported the most interesting note from the interview as “Auction Systems founder Deb Weidenhamer, a former corporate mergers specialist, started the company after learning about the business from an auctioneer with whom she shared a flight. “By the end of the trip, I was completely intrigued. A month later, I quit my job and signed up for auction school,” she says. “Most of the auctioneers were ma-and-pa operations or run by families. I saw a huge opportunity to put a corporate approach on the business.”

Of course we tuned inSaturday night at 10PM to TLC and watched two half-hour episodes. The show was good and differed from Pickers and Pawns. The viewer actually saw where the goods went and people’s reaction to purchasing or losing the bid on the item.Albeit only 5 minutes after the hammer hit the podium, but still they were the owner or loser.  I also liked that a member of the auction house staff explained what the auctioneer and spotters or callers were doing.  Some of these actions are subtle and for those unfamiliar with the process I believe the information was valuable.

Atlanta will soon be the hometown of an auction based show now renamed “Auction Kings”(originally it was to be titled Bidder Rivals) on Discovery.  I also read that Spike TV will be jumping on the band wagon.  How much room is there for this type of programming and how long will viewers tune in ?  Are you watching Pawn, Pickers, or now the podium variety of these offerings ?  If so, what do you think ?  Do you believe that beyond editing, which often increases the drama of an exchange, the producers of these shows stage scenes ?

Antiques Roadshow is the grand dad of shows about antiques and collectibles.  This year the 15th season of Antiques Roadshow(America) entered our living rooms.  Some professional appraisers cite the Roadshow as a contributor to people’s misunderstanding of appraisers, the appraisal process, and appraisal fees.  I  believe they have brought to light that appraisers are professionals with knowledge.  One of the main contentions of anti-Roadshow group is that viewers don’t understand that what they see on TV is not really an appraisal.  It is a verbal assessment, what we call a verbal approximation of value.   Also, this group feels viewers don’t understand the depth of research that takes place in a real appraisal.  I find the Roadshow is trying to allude to this with statements during a verbal assessment like “in our research before airing” or “we called a specialist in xyz artist”.  I have also seen segments were an appraiser after the show has corrected their findings.  I am also pleased to see that there is a document on the Roadshow website that covers many of these points.

If you want to connect with a real-live professional appraiser in the metro Atlanta area, please contact Valerie Hale for  a free phone consultation at 770-757-1479 today.

Negotiate but Don’t Maul – Thursday’s Tip

A colleague sets up monthly at Scott Antique Show in Atlanta.  He vents about what show attendees lack.  Thursday’s  tip topic – Show and Negotiating Etiquette is, for you my reader, so you won’t be in the lacking class. Below I share some key points for easy shopping:

1)       Dealers setting up at large antique shows, in public venues, haul their stuff in and out each month.  They don’t store it at the venue. Therefore, it is not polite to say “I’ll see this(item) next month and buy it then. “  This is not a shop.  Transport of goods and show setup and breakdown is an exhausting process.  The items are there to be sold at that time and place.  Each time a dealer moves an item there is risk of breakage, this overhead cost  is calculated into the asking price of  items.

2)      It is inconsiderate to stop and call over your friend, pick up an item in the booth and say something like” I have one of those or my grandmother had one of those.” While your friend eyes the price and says “you should sell yours it looks better than his”.  A customer lacking in savvy, then puts the item down and walks away without even acknowledging the dealer or thanking them.  Not so nice!

3)      Remember when negotiating that cutting down the item by saying something bad is akin to a cut.  Depending on how far a person goes with this tactic it can range from a paper cut to a deep gash.  This does not win the prospective buyer good will. Also remember, that the dealer spent time, energy, and money to bring the item to the venue.  They need to make a living, so negotiate but don’t maul the deal.  Most dealers expect to dicker a bit, but they can’t sell items at their cost.  It is okay to point out inherent defects in the item that you feel warrants an adjustment to price.  However, do so honestly and in an informed way.

4)      Be considerate.  Don’t waste a dealer’s time by asking for a best price if you have no intention of purchasing once given a price.

5)      Once you establish a relationship with a dealer it is okay to ask for tips or for a sharing of information.  Don’t say I have one at home and it looks like this and has this type of leg or knob, what do you think it is worth.  Expertise is something that is given not taken.

I hope sharing some insider tips will help you enjoy your experience at antique shows.  Wear comfortable shoes and hunt for something you love, love, love!
Need help evaluating your collection, please contact the experts at Turn the Page.

Tuesday Term: What is Cocked Beading ?

This summer I defined stringing in a blog post accompanied by a picture of Tokyo and I crabbing(with String!) in Florida.  Today, I want to discuss another term used in the world of furniture.  Cock bead or Cocked Beading. While I don’t really know the origins of the term, The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defines the term as “In joinery, a bead which is not flush with the surface but raised above it.”  However, appraisers and students of fine furniture more typically think of cocked beading as it refers to drawers.  An old reference book, in my vast collection of books, defines cock bead as such “small half-round projecting molding applied to the edge of drawers.  First appears in English work after 1730, and American work somewhat later.  Sheraton and many French designers sometimes used strips of brass for this purpose.”

Cock beading on drawer edges

You can see how veneer edges chip without cock bead!

Speaking of purpose, what is the purpose of cock-beading ?  Well there are several purposes.  1)  It protects.  Drawer fronts usually have applied fine and exotic veneers, the edges of a veneered surface are the first to get chipped or begin to loosen.  Cock-bead covers that veneer joint and protects it.  2)  It is a visual detail.  It looks good.  It outlines the drawer fronts and creates a more visually appealing front profile.

Like stringing cock beading is an “extra” or “add-on”.  It adds visual interest but is not necessary .  More expensive to originally craft and apply to an early American piece of furniture, it typically is a sign of craftsmanship and can add to the value of a piece.

Contact us if you have questions about your antique furniture.

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