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Welcome to our November 2011 Newsletter!

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News from the world of art and antiques

Blaze spares 30-foot mural in San Antonio

Associated Press - October 5, 2011

A fire that destroyed a historic San Antonio building has spared a 30-foot mural painted by a Hill Country landscape artist more than 50 years ago. Saturday's fire destroyed the 131-year-old Wolfson Building and damaged an adjacent building. But on Monday, historians and the Wolfson's owner were optimistic about the condition of Porfirio Salinas' Spring Scene of Texas Hill Country.

Paul Carter, the building's owner, says while surveying damage, "the sunlight came through the roof and shined on the field of bluebonnets."

The mural, given to the Witte Museum in 2007, was on display at the Wolfson until the completion of a museum expansion next year.

Peeking into the Wolfson, Witte curator Amy Fulkerson tells the San Antonio Express-News, "To see what we're seeing through the windows is encouraging."

The Wikicollecting Top 10 Most Expensive Historic Baseball Memorabilia

News-Antique.com - October 5, 2011

On October 7 2001 Barry Bonds hit his 73rd home run of the season, a record which still stands today. To commemorate the 10th anniversary, Wikicollecting presents a list of history-making memorabilia.

10. Mickey Mantle’s first contract - $19,550 Mickey Mantle’s contract, which he signed with the Ban Johnson League to enable him to play for the Independence Yankees in 1949, sold for $19,550 at Christie’s in September 1996. Mantle went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the New York Yankees.

9. Babe Ruth’s earliest known used baseball bat - $107,550 The earliest known used baseball bat by Babe Ruth sold for $107,550 at a Heritage Auctions sale in 2010. Dating from early 1916, the Hillerich & Bradsby Co bat is thought to have been the 21-year-old’s main weapon of choice during the early part of the season.

8. Sandy Koufax’s 1963 “no-hitter “glove - $126,500 The glove Sandy Koufax was wearing when he pitched his no-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants in May 1963 sold for $126,500 in December 2004.

7. Fenway Park’s first pitched ball - $132,000 The first ball pitched at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, sold for $132,000 at Sotheby’s in June 2005. The ball was pitched by Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald , the grandfather of John F Kennedy, on April 20, 1912. Fenway Park is beloved by baseball fans for its idiosyncratic design and wonderful history.

6. Barry Bonds’s record-breaking 73rd home-run baseball - $450,000 The baseball Barry Bonds hit to record his record-breaking 73rd home-run in the 2001 season sold for $450,000 at auction to toy manufacturer Todd McFarlane in that year. Bonds's 73 home runs in a single season still stands as a Major League record.

5. Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 755th home run baseball - $650,000 Hank Aaron’s then record-breaking 755th and last home run in July 1976 sold for $650,000 in 1999. In 1974 Aaron had previously surpassed Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs, despite receiving racially-motivated death threats as he approached the record.

4. Barry Bonds’s all-time home run record breaking ball - $750,000 Barry Bonds’s 756th home run ball, which broke Aaron's all-time home run record in 2007, sold for $750,000 later that year. The ball was caught by 22-year-old Matt Murphy who was quickly ushered away from the throng of fans by police officers.

3. Babe Ruth’s 1919 New York Yankees contract - $996,000 Babe Ruth’s 1919 New York Yankees contract was sold in June 2005 for $996,000 at Sotheby's. At the time, it was the top price ever paid at an auction for a sports document. Signed on December 26, 1919, the contract consists of five pages, yellowed through age. The agreement details the $125,000 sale of Ruth to the Yankees from rivals the Boston Red Sox, more than doubling the previous record for a player sale.

2. Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger bat - $1.26m Babe Ruth’s Louisville Slugger bat – used to hit the first run at the newly-opened Yankee Stadium in 1923 – sold for $1.26 million in 2004. It later commanded just $537,750 at a Heritage Auction in October 2009.

1. Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball - $3m The most expensive item of sports memorabilia ever sold at auction is the ball hit by Mark McGwire for his record-breaking 70th home run in a single season in 1998. The ball was sold at a Guernsey's auction in New York in 1999 for $3m to Todd McFarlane. The price was 23 times higher than the record price for a baseball.

Wikicollecting.org is an online, open-source encyclopedia written by collectors, for collectors.

Pancho Villa silver saddle headed to auction in January
Auction House PR - October 4, 2011

MESA, Ariz. – Pancho Villa – infamous renegade, Robin Hood, revolutionary and hero of the Mexican people – was assassinated almost 100 years ago, at the age of 45. His adventurous life has been celebrated numerous times on the silver screen, in museums and institutions around the world, and his name appears on street signs and plazas throughout the Americas. What remains today of this complex and mysterious man are facts, folklore and his final magnificent silver threaded saddle. That saddle will now appear on the world stage when it is auctioned on Jan. 28, 2012 in High Noon’s Western Americana auction in Mesa, Arizona. It is expected to make $150,000 to $250,000.

The provenance of this saddle matches the richness of Villa’s life. It was given by Villa’s widow and only legal wife (reportedly he had eight marriages) to famed Hollywood director Howard Hawks during the filming of Viva Villa. Mrs. Villa felt the film extolled the merits of the Mexican Revolution and Villa as she knew him. For the past 20 years, Villa’s saddle has been on display in Texas, at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the South Texas History Museum in Edinburg.

In excellent condition, the saddle is smothered in silver-wrapped threads and boldly-domed silver conchos. Made and marked by expert craftsmen, it has Francisco (nickname: Pancho) Villa’s initials in high relief on the stirrups. Thematically, it has a 3-dimensional silver snakehead and a carved diablo in the leather under the saddlebags. Joseph Sherwood of High Noon remarked, “This is the trifecta for saddles – beautiful, in great condition and historically significant.”

Linda Kohn Sherwood of High Noon observed that Pancho Villa was “both a charismatic hero and cruel outlaw” who survived countless battles during his country’s struggle for freedom. His place in history is a paradox. He was a revolutionary idealist who believed firmly in public education, health and good government; but on the other hand, he was a vicious and mean spirited, and would do anything to win.

The saddle’s colorful history also has a Hollywood mystique. Pancho Villa has been played by more than 35 actors since 1919, including Telly Savalas and Antonio Banderas. The most recent rumor is that Johnny Depp may be next.

The 22nd Annual High Noon Western Americana Weekend Event will be held Jan. 28-29, 2012 at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona.


The Care and Feeding of Antiques

       Cut Glass and Art Glass

Dexter S. Augier by Dexter S. Augier

They say life is like a roll of toilet paper….the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the holiday season is just about here again! One of the nice things about this time of year is that it gives us a chance to display and use some of our treasures…those ‘special’ things you inherited, collected, or just plain bought because you liked it. This would be an excellent time to think about your nice glassware, so here are a few tips………

The first rule in taking care of your glass objects is simple: Don’t Break It. This must be a lot harder than it sounds, ’cause I see a lot of glass that is chipped or fractured. Here are a few good rules and methods that we use when caring for antique, vintage and important art glass, cut glass and stemware:

  1. Wash & dry your hands first…make sure there is no oil or hand lotion that might cause you to lose your grip.
  2. NEVER PICK UP AND ANTIQUE PIECE OF GLASS BY THE HANDLE. It’s the very weakest part. Instead, use both hands, and get one under the base of the object.
  3. Never display cut glass in direct sunlight, or plunge it into hot or cold water. Glass, especially cut glass is under a lot of internal pressure. The depth of the cut makes for lots of sparkle, but the thinner parts of the glass will cool off or heat up faster than the thick parts, and a too rapid temperature change will often break the glass.
  4. Putting liquids into your glass pieces can cause problems. Although folks usually don’t use art glass for this purpose, cut glass vases are beautiful with flowers, and pitchers and decanters are delightfully elegant to use for serving.
    • If you put a liquid into your glass piece, do not leave it more than overnight. It may leave a stain or “etch” the surface of the glass.
    • Remember!! Putting an extremely hot or cold liquid into your glass may cause it to crack. Use water to gradually increase or decrease the temperature of the glass so it doesn’t expand or contract too quickly.
    • After use, remove all liquid residues immediately. When using water in vases, change the water daily, and clean the inner walls of the vessel. When water is allowed to sit too long, or evaporate in the vessel, it will leave residue stains behind. These stains can result in calcium deposits that can be next to impossible to remove if left untreated.
  5. Glass displays well on glass or mirror shelves. Check your cabinet shelves for sagging. A minimum thickness of 1/4" for shelving is acceptable, and 3/8” thick is much better. I have seen the aftermath of a glass collection that sat on the same shelf for years and without warning the shelf just broke.
  6. If the glass is to sit on a hard surface, you may want to place small dots of felt or plastic on the bottom of the piece. These may need to be replaced after each cleaning, but they will protect the glass as well as your fine furniture. (Ever put something down harder than you intended?!)
  7. If you live in an area where there is a possibility of earthquakes, or have children or pets that are like earthquakes, you can secure your glass with a wax-like product. There are two kinds; a green one used by florists, and a white one known as Quake Wax® available online, or a product like "Stick-um®" candle adhesive usually sold at hobby shops or hardware stores. I prefer the white one; it’s easier to remove and won’t stain furniture.

Cleaning Glass

I find the best way to clean my glass is to use a plastic wash tub. Even using a towel to line the kitchen sink is risky, due the hardness of the sink itself and the danger of hitting the metal faucet.

  • If you have any doubts about the structure or stability of your glass, then just wipe it with a damp cloth.
  • I use a nylon scrub brush with a plastic handle on the top, with bristles at least one inch long so it will get in all the cuts.
  • Do only one piece at a time.
  • If you have cleaning help, don’t let them clean your good glass…. no one will take as much care of it as you will. After all, it is not just beautiful to look at, it’s also an investment!
  • Don’t put art glass, cut glass, or crystal stemware in the dishwasher. Period. Ever. Besides the extreme danger from the heat, there is also a lot of movement due to sprayers, and chips might occur.
  • Some types of cloudy deposits can be removed by soaking in one of the various patented formulations to clean false teeth, like Efferdent®….Add enough water to cover the encrustation and drop half a tablet in. Soak for 1-2 hours. This is a good method for bottle interiors. Vinegar with kernels of uncooked rice or lead shot also works well as a bottom scrubber.
  • It is recommended to wear lightweight plastic or rubber gloves when cleaning cut glass to avoid having the glass slip from your hands.

Fill the tub about half full with “baby warm water” with a little glass cleaner detergent added. If the glass is really greasy, add a little dish-washing detergent, or a detergent known as Simple Green. Make sure you scrub all the cuts in the pattern of cut glass and the serrated top edge. Rinse with clear water in a separate plastic tub and dry with an old worn towel that doesn’t leave lint. Also, wearing a pair of cotton gloves while drying your glass will prevent those dulling finger prints.

Vases are harder to clean and dry inside. However don’t be tempted to use a bottle brush or anything with metal parts as this can scratch the interior. After drying with a towel, slosh a small cup of rubbing alcohol around the interior then pour it out. This will displace the moisture, and evaporate quickly.

I hope these simple tips will encourage you to enjoy your beautiful glass this holiday season!

Condiment set, England, c. 1890.

Overall Width: 10”.
Overall Depth: 11”.



Did you know...?

by Dexter S. Augier

That the period of cut glass known as the American Brilliant Period, 1880-1917, produced the most beautiful cut glass before or since? It was and still is the finest in the world. It was always expensive, and ownership denoted economic and social status. It was popular to set entire tables with it to send light shimmering across the dining room.


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