For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts

Features From Previous Issues

The Ultimate Attic

By Sallie Brady The Duke of Devonshire is cleaning house, and collectors, dealers and curators are descending on his Chatsworth estate for a historic auction conducted by Sotheby’s. Forget the 2009 Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Bergé sale. For anyone who is … Continue reading

The Lure of Egypt

Ancient Egypt has always inspired awe. Part of its power lies in the grandeur of its ruins, the “vast and trunkless legs of stone” that Shelley described in his sonnetOzymandias. Part of it is sheer age. Founded over 5,000 years ago, Egyptian dynastic civilization seemed ancient even to the ancients: In Plato’s Timaeus, an Egyptian priest tells Solon that compared to his own people, “you Hellenes are never anything but children.” Continue reading

Lighting Out for the Territory

If you wander around shops in a city like New York, looking at old maps for their beauty alone in the company of dealers like Harry Newman at The Old Print Shop; or Paul Cohen and Henry Tagliaferro at Arkway; or Graham Arader of Arader Galleries; or Richard Lan, Robert Augustyn and James Roy at Martayan Lan, you could be forgiven for forgetting something important. Continue reading

In a Nutshell: Box of Brothers

Toy soldiers have been around for millennia—tiny warrior figurines were found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, and the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed them as well—but it was the Britons of the Victorian era who made them a Christmas-morning must for generations of would-be generals. Toy soldiers fired the imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson, who romanticized their power to enliven a childhood sick day in his poem The Land of Counterpane, and that of H.G. Wells, who wrote an entire book,Little Wars, on war-gaming with toy soldiers. Continue reading

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