September 25, 1999
We're having a glorious autumn so far in New York. I'm seeing the last of the big yard sales before we all snuggle down for the winter in the Northeastern U.S., and start swarming to the indoor auctions and antiques shows.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF GUESS WHO'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
For those of us who buy or sell antiques and collectibles on the Internet, the spectre of sales and use taxes looms large. Arizona Senator John McCain, who last year helped push through the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which set a three year moratorium on such taxes, has just introduced an amendment that would make the ban permanent (until a later Congress decided to change it, of course). Besides this permanent ban on "Net-derived sales and use taxes", the bill also urges that U.S. representatives to the World Trade Organization work toward maintaining the Internet as a tax-free zone worldwide. Hmmmm - but will we all leave the old keyboard lomg enough to get out there and vote?
SILLIEST AUCTION ITEM DEPARTMENT
As we all know, because the publicists can't seem to stop trumpeting the news, the Barbra Streisand Millenium Concert in Las Vegas is completely sold out. Except for these two VIP tickets that will be auctioned at Christie's in Los Angeles next week. The winning bidders will be Miss Streisand's personal guests at the show (whatever that means), and the winnings will include luxury accomodations at the MGM Grand. The good part is that proceeds from the auction, which includes some of Streisand's diamond jewelry, will go to the Streisand Foundation, which benefits a number of worthy causes. No word on whether all that money buys you more than just Barbra's genuine friendship - like, do you get to sit with Jim? Also, no word on whether Christie's will be foregoing it's buyer's and seller's commissions for this sale.
RIGHT MOVE, WRONG REASON
Amidst the ongoing finger-pointing, there is a sad trend developing. Sears is dropping an action figure from its 1999 Christmas Wish Book because of complaints that the doll resembles the two teenagers who went on a rampage and killed so many people last April at Columbine High School. The "modern villain figure", which is 12 inches high, appears on page 203 of the catalog, and is dressed in a ski mask, black trench coat, body armor and combat boots. It is also holding an Uzi-type gun and has a shotgun in a leg holster. The toy's manufacturer, 21st Century Toys, says the doll was conceived in 1998, long before the Columbine tragedy, as part of the "Villains" series, which is a counterpart to its "America's Finest" hero series. The Alameda, CA company says it has stopped shipment of the dolls and has asked retailers to remove them from shelves. They will, no doubt, be a hot collectible in the future. Personally, I've never understood why we have to have action figures whose sole purpose is killing, in the first place.
NEVER MIND HIM - WHAT DID HE SAVE?
Stepan Kovalchuk, a 75 year old Ukranian man has just emerged after having spent 57 years in an attic. Yes, that's 57 years. He went into hiding in 1942, according to Ukraninan newspapers, in order to evade the occupying Nazis, whom he feared would send him to a German work camp. As long as he was up there, he stayed in hiding after the war, because he was afraid he'd be drafted into the Soviet army.
He finally came out last week, after the death of his sister, because there
was no one left to take care of him. He is described as being in
remarkably good health, but stunned by the changes in his world. Now, I
know he doesn't sound like a man to look up to, but think of the kinds of
things that went up into the attic with him that could now bring him enough
kopeks to live in style.
Miniature stoneware advertising jugs: A perfectly legitimate business in Kansas City is producing miniature stoneware advertising jugs, which could turn up in the market, being touted as old advertising pieces. The jugs, all 3 to 31/4 inches high, are individually wheel thrown, not mass-produced by casting in molds. They are being made for quantity sale to the wholesale market. They may be custom-imprinted with advertising of the buyer's choice. The manufacturer also attends bottle shows and pottery conventions, where it sells samples for up to $35 each. These samples all contain a stamp on the bottom that says "Painter Pottery Works". The sides may also say "Compliments of W.A. Painter, Overland Park, KS" or "W.A. Painter Pottery Works". The writing is blue, and the pottery may be white, brown top over white, or sponged blue.
The concern here is that these samples could find their way onto the market
as "old" items. Since there never was a Painter Pottery Works, any jug you
see with this mark on it is new. Also, since quantity orders are custom
imprinted with advertising, unethical people can order them with old and
collectible trademarks on them. The best thing to do if you see one of
these miniatures is to turn it over and look for the Painter Pottery stamp
on the bottom.
Another busy week draws to a close, Accumulators. I'm off to Chesapeake,
VA tomorrow, to do this week's "Treasures In Your Home". On Friday, the
show will be broadcasting live from the Chelsea Antiques Center in New York
City, and I'll be there, along with the very debonair John Bruno. So, I
wish you all a busy and stimulating week, full of great finds and good
times. Have a great one, Accumulators. Happy hunting!
© 1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #101
U.S. Library of Congress
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