May 3, 2002
Sorry I missed you last week. I was teaching a course at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Twenty hours of teaching in 2 1/2 days, with three hours of travel on each end. I slept quite well when I got back. An added bonus of the trip was that I got to have dinner with my cousin Janice Williams and her son Jeremy, whom I last saw nine years ago, when he was just sixteen. We went to an interesting Italian restaurant in Georgetown. It had two elderly women, dressed right out of the Sicilain scenes in "The Godfather", imprisoned in a glass cublicle at the entrance. They were working at a table, silently, accompanied by a small electric fan. They were making endless piles of gnocchi, those little potato dumplings rolled with forks. Janice ordered gnocchi for dinner and they brought her a portion suitable for about six hungry mafiosi, which explains why the poor old ladies were trapped in the cubicle all night, furiously producing gnocchi. The restaurant was intolerably noisy. I know this because Jeremy, who is both 25 years old and a DJ (which presumably means he has an infinite tolerance for noise) said, "It sure is noisy in here." So nice to be validated by the young! So, a good time was had by all and now I'm back typing to you. I'll be on the road for a good portion of May, but will try really, really hard to do the newsletter anyway.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF QUESTIONABLE COMMEMORATIVES
A new commemorative license plate in Nevada has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. It features a mushroom cloud suspended over a desert scene. The Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation (Wow - the things we preserve for history!)says the license plate is a tribute to the workers at the nuclear weapons test site, workers who helped us to win the Cold War. I'm not making this up. It was all top secret while it was going on, but we're commemorating it now. However, some folks in Utah, Nevada and Arizona find the license plate "tasteless and offensive", seeing as how the radioactive fallout from the testing caused high rates of cancer among those living downwind from the test site. Some of the funds raised from selling the plates have been earmarked for a test site museum and the angry neighbors aren't happy with this either. They say the museum will glorify nuclear testing and downplay the suffering it caused. I'm not sure how they could possibly know that. Still, the museum sounds like a creepy idea. The designer of the license plate pretty much said, "Hey, if you don't like it, buy another plate." Can't argue with that.
UNIQUE SOUVENIR DEPARTMENT
An Australian family has decided to turn over to authorities a souvenir brought back by a relative who fought in World War I. It's a head. A head in a velvet-lined wooden box. The head, which has a bullet hole in its left side apparently formerly resided atop a Turkish soldier. It was handed in by the descendants of an Australian trooper who had fought at Gallipoli. Ramazan Altintas, president of the Turkish section of an Australian veterans' group, the Returned Services League, said, "It still has hair, very short, some moustache hair and teeth." Wow, thanks for the details, Ramazan. The Turkish government has been asked to attempt to identify the head through dental records. It could then be reunited with its family, who no doubt observed that its owner was noticeably shorter when he got back from the war.
I was taken by this one myself. It never would have happened if I had purchased the item in person, but I bought it on eBay, and when it arrived, it only took a quick look through a loupe to see it ws a reproduction. The item was a "Victorian" paper fan, composed of sections decorated with beautiful ladies' faces. It was framed under glass, so it was heavy, and the shipping charges were almost equal to the price of the item. Therefore, it made no sense to try and return it, especially since the seller stated that shipping charges are non-refundable. So, my advice is to only buy these things in person, unless you know the dealer, or can count on a full refund if the item is a fake. Oh - when you look through a loupe or magnifying glass, you can see the tiny dots that make up a photo-reproduction.
That's all for this week, Accumulators. As I said, I'll try to write to you these next two weeks, but no promises. Tomorrow night He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I will be attending this month's fabulous country auction at The Old Red Barn in Cuddebackville, NY. Vince and his hilarious sidekick, Bob will be providing the salesmanship combined with entertainment, while the Lovely Linda holds down the business end of things. Come on by, and bring money! On Sunday, we'll be at Congregation B'Nai Sholom in Newington, CT, doing an appraisal event. If you're in the nabe, stop by and say "hi".
Mother's Day is coming. Ya know, a copy of "Protecting Your Collectible Treasures: Secrets Of A Collecting Diva" is a wonderful Mother's Day gift, and inexpensive, too. Follow the link provided at the beginning and end of the newsletter to order an autographed copy, inscribed to your Mom.
Hope you have a great week, filled with fabulous discoveries at rock bottom prices. Happy hunting!
© 2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #179
U.S. Library of Congress
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