For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts

Features From Previous Issues

Collecting: Take Me Away

Toward the end of the 1920s real estate entrepreneur Carl Fisher attempted to repeat the huge success of his Miami Beach residential development, promoting what he called the “Miami Beach of the North” on New York’s Long Island. To promote the 10,000-acre luxury resort, Fisher commissioned a poster that featured star athletes of the time posing in the foreground of his grandiose 200-room Montauk Manor. Continue reading

In a Nutshell: Fine Print

When it comes to miniature books, smallness is the point. “What’s nice about them is the fact that they’re so complete and so tiny,” says Catherine Williamson, director of the books and manuscripts department for Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles. “The entire text is there, it just happens to be on a miniature scale.” Continue reading

Collecting: Blowing in the Wind

The weathervane collection at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont presents a visual feast of folk art. Dozens of antique wooden and metal sculptures that once crowned barns, churches, meeting houses, town halls and other structures symbolic of small-town America grace the interior of Shelburne’s Stagecoach Inn building. “We’re known for weathervanes,” says Jean Burks, senior curator and director of the museum’s curatorial department. Continue reading

Ancient Art, New Rules

The field of antiquities—the art of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East—has had some hard knocks lately. A spate of lawsuits and even a headline-grabbing criminal trial have focused the public eye on the pitfalls of the trade and on the international debate over whether or not it is ethical to collect ancient cultural objects. Yet demand and prices for antiquities remain strong. In part this trend is a testament to the fact that there’s no such thing as bad publicity—due to the news stories, more people than ever before are aware that antiquities exist, are beautiful and desirable and are for sale—but also, it reflects the fact that the antiquities trade has made important alterations in the way it functions. Continue reading

Exhibitions: Shore Thing

When upper-class Romans looked to escape the stress of modern life in the first century A.D., they ventured to the shores of the Bay of Naples, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, where they built elaborate vacation villas filled with Greek antiquities. Continue reading

In a Nutshell: Sculpted Stones

Fashionable women from the Renaissance onward were keen on collecting the carved gems known as cameos, which were commonly worn on jewelry as a symbol of elegance and high status. Queen Elizabeth I introduced the concept of using these carved gems—worn on brooches or pendants—as payment for a service or favor. At one time, Catherine the Great of Russia had more than 400 in her personal collection. And Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, is believed to have broken up some of the family’s jewelry in order to create perfectly coordinated suites. Continue reading