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Welcome to our October 2007 Newsletter!

If you missed any of our previous newsletters or are having trouble viewing this page correctly, you can find a link to it on our website at our newsletter archives.

Please feel free to visit our website FindersFayre.com where you will find an array of furniture, accessories, and information about our interior design services. Read on! and email any questions, comments, or suggestions to Newsletter@findersfayre.com. Thanks again!

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News from the world of art and antiques

Sotheby's to Sell Van Gogh Work

Sep 22, 2007, London — One of Vincent van Gogh's final landscapes, "The Fields," will be auctioned in New York in November, a British newspaper reported Saturday.

The painting will go display at Sotheby's auction house in London on Oct. 7 and will be sold in New York a month later with an estimated price of $34 million, The Independent reported.

Officials at Sotheby's in London were not immediately available to confirm the report on Saturday.

Van Gogh is believed to have finished the painting, which depicts wheat fields swaying in the breeze under a blue sky, weeks before he died in a town near Paris on July 29, 1890, at the age of 37.Van Gogh, The Fields

He died two days after going to a field and shooting himself in the chest.

In a letter the artist wrote to his brother, Theo van Gogh, on July 10, 1890, he described having just painted what experts believe to be "The Fields," along with two other works, according to the report.

"They are vast fields of wheat under troubled skies, and I did not need to go out of my way to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness ... I almost think that these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, the health and restorative forces that I see in the country," van Gogh wrote.

The painting was sold by Theo van Gogh's widow in 1907 and has since remained in private hands.


Goddard's Silver Polish

Stained Glass Window, France, c.1850.

The center panel of this beautifully colored round window depicts a winged ox, the traditional symbol of St. Luke the Evangelist. The banner beneath him, written in middle period Greek, translates “Because Many Have Struggled”. The window has been strengthened for use in the vertical or horizontal position.
49” diameter of the actual glass window.
57” diameter of the original wood frame.

$ 5000.00

Damien Hirst's Diamond Encrusted Skull, Reuters News Service, September 2007.

British artist Damien Hirst revealed his latest work of art at the White Cube Gallery in London, June 1, 2007. “For the Love of God” is a life-size cast of a human skull in platinum and covered by 8,601 pave-set diamonds weighing 1,106.18 carats. hirst skullThe single large diamond in the middle of the forehead is reportedly worth $4.2 million alone. Hirst financed the project himself, and estimates it cost between 10 and 15 million. Of course, it will cost someone a pretty penny to own the work: It’s priced at $99 million. But given the cultlike following for Hirst’s previous works — and corresponding financial takings — some hedge fund manager, and closet Hirst fan, may shell out the cash for the diamond-crusted skull.

Antique Duck, Goose Decoys Break $1 Million Barrier in Private Sale, Maine Antique Digest, September 2007.

According to a press release from Stephen O’Brien, Jr. Fine Arts of Boston, the firm sold two antique decoys, a duck and a goose, on September 20 for a record-setting $1.13 million each in a private sale. The decoys were both made by carver A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1954) of East Harwich, Massachusetts.

Both birds have illustrious market histories.

The duck decoy, a preening pintail drake c.1915, was last sold in 2003 at Christie’s for a then record-setting price of $801,500. In 1986 the duck sold for $319,000 at a Richard Oliver auction in Kennebunk, Maine.

The sleeping Canada goose decoy c.1917 last sold in 2000 at Sotheby’s for a then record-setting price of $684,500. Prior to the Sotheby’s sale in 2000, the goose decoy sold at a Skinner auction in 1981 for $48,000.

These are the first decoys to reach the million dollar mark, but broker O’Brien speculated they might have brought even more had they been offered at auction.

According to O’Brien’s press release, “If we had had these birds in our summer Copley Fine Arts auction our presale auction estimate would have been in the $1-$1.5 million range for each. But, given today’s skyrocketing auction market, it wouldn’t have shocked me if each bird had gone for $2-$3 million.”

The sale of the two million-dollar decoys was part of a larger private sale of 31 decoys brokered by Stephen O’Brien Jr. Fine Arts for $7.5 million, in what O’Brien describes as the “largest private sale of decoys ever.”





The Care and Feeding of Antiques

Antique Furniture

Dexter S. Augier by Dexter S. Augier

There are two reasons to wax your furniture:

  • To add a layer of protection
  • To make it more beautiful

Before we get into the details of methods and products we recommend, let’s try to clear up some of the confusion and misunderstanding that we regularly encounter.

Three basic types of waxes or polishes        

  • Liquid or cream
  • Spray
  • Paste

Because it is relatively inexpensive to manufacture waxes and polishes, their makers have managed to make the choice of what to use a confusing one.  All of the products will work to various degrees, however years of experience have helped us discover their pros and cons…some serious, and some merely aesthetic.

Let’s start with polishes.  Polishes are liquid, varying in consistency from thin to creamy, but are all basically mineral oil.  Other ingredients are added to give them unique selling points…things like beeswax, citrus oil, silicone, etc.  Polishes will provide a good moisture seal, but that’s not really important.  They’re easy to use, but have to be applied often to remove smudges and fingerprints.  They also hold the dust that falls on them, and worst, they tend to darken the finish with age.  Some are marketed as being able to ‘feed’ the finish…
how do you politely say ‘malarkey’?
First of all, no polish or wax ever penetrates an intact shellac, lacquer or varnish finish.  Secondly…the finish or the wood beneath it, is not living but dead…ever try to feed a dead goldfish?

Lemon oil is nothing more than scented mineral oil, and
sometimes it is kerosene.         
Linseed oil is extracted from flax seed.  When applied to a piece of furniture, it absorbs oxygen from the air and dries to a tough, hard film…making it a finish, not a wax or polish.  It also has the disadvantages of being sticky, gathers and holds dust, and darkens with age.

Overall then, liquids are easy to use and give a nice shine, provided

  • The piece is on display, with nobody touching it
  • You don’t mind re-applying it at least once a week
  • You don’t mind the piece getting darker and darker.

Spray waxes, provided they in fact have some type of wax in them and not just silicones, provide a beautiful look, but are too soft for surfaces that receive any use.  We find them very valuable for dusting with, and I’ll tell you how we use them in our next newsletter.

Paste waxes (think of shoe polish) are mixtures of either natural or synthetic waxes and a softening agent like mineral spirits that makes them practical to use.  The hardness of the wax itself determines how easy it is to use….the harder the wax, the harder it is to buff to a nice shine.   However, the harder the wax, the longer it lasts!   Carnauba, paraffin, and microcrystalline are some of the chief ingredients of furniture wax.  Some paste waxes have colors added to them, which aid in producing a rich deep shine.  The colored waxes also will dry dark in the tiny defects of an antique’s surface, adding to the overall warmth of the shine.

          Paste waxes

  • Offer the best resistance to spilled liquids
  • Have the best resistance to scuffing from normal wear
  • Are much easier to maintain and keep looking nice
  • Are easy to remove, as they don’t sink into the surface

Beeswax for some reason has a lot of followers in the antique world.  I suppose, if you didn’t have anything else, beeswax would be OK in protecting your furniture, but it can never be polished to a nice shine.  It has to be mixed with something else, like paraffin, to do that.  It does produce a tough, albeit dull, coat. In fact, when it is used as an ingredient, it is merely as an additive to cut the gloss in the final shine. 

In our next newsletter, we’ll teach you the techniques and products that we use, and that our 42 years in the business have proven to work the best.

Did you know...?

by Dexter S. Augier

While we normally think of it as English, the cabriole leg originated in China.  The shape is a double curve, with the upper portion, or “knee” curving out, and the lower part, the “ankle” curving inward.  It was introduced into Europe in the early 1700’s where curvilinear lines were becoming the rage in furniture.  Queen Anne and Chippendale styles are the English version, while Louis XV is the French.  The word itself is French, and derives from the word cabrioler, meaning to leap like a goat.


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