Newsletter #209

February 22, 2003

Greetings Accumulators!

We are back from Florida and very glad we missed the giant storm that blanketed a good portion of the country with snow measured in feet, not inches. He Who Is the Light Of My Life spent a good amount of time watching The Weather Channel, pointing at the TV screen, and saying "Hahahahahahahaha". We did get to visit some antiques shops while we were in Florida and my observations about them are very similar to what I noticed in Nashville. There were lots of overpriced items in the malls and group shops, and they were all sitting there gathering dust. Even in a good economy, I can't believe people would pay some of those prices. Artie and I also visited some very high end importers, folks who bring in container loads from Europe. We looked at many $22,000 desks and $50,000 tables and they were just sitting there too, in shops devoid of customers. In fact, one shop we were in was dark. The owner stayed one room ahead of us so he could turn on the lights. Can't imagine that would be happening if they were doing any business. What I'm saying is that dealers will just have to hunker down until the economy picks up. Antiques and collectibles ar indeed luxury items and, with a bad economy and lots of uncertainty about a looming war, luxuries are the first things people decide to forego.

Now, there's going to be some politically incorrect language in this story, so if it's going to upset you, move on to the next paragraph please. A California-based organization called the National Alliance for Positive Action (NAPA - get it?) claims to have asked eBay to stop the listing of items they say are racially offensive and demeaning to black people. I say the claim to have approached eBay because eBay says they are unaware of any such request. I doubt very much whether they are actually a national organization, but that has nothing to do with it. The group is offended by items that depict blacks as having "large red lips, dark skin and rolling eyes" a caricature depicted on a mechanical bank. They say the "n" word was used to describe the bank. This is utter nonsense. The bank, made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is called "The Jolly Nigger". It was made at a time when the word was socially acceptable. And that's the bank's name. Is the group actually advocating that a seller change the name of something so as not to offend them? I've seen auction listings for the bank, where it's called "The Jolly Black Man" and that always struck me as silly. I think I'd be offended if I saw the bank described as "the head of a nigger". That would be insensitive at best. But, the item has a title, and "Jolly Nigger" is it. Let me just add something you probably all know: it is common practice for people of color to call each other "Nigger". It is, apparently, a term of endearment. Is it not racism to forbid people to use the word even when it is a factual name for something? I'm sorry, but is it not racism to forbid one race of persons to use a word that is perfectly acceptable when it is used by another race? Is it right for us to rewrite history, to rename things because of an offense taken centuries later? Does using the actual name of the object mean one condones the way things were? I think not. Nevertheless, I find the word ugly and cruel, so I don't use it. Except when someone says, "What do you call that mechanical bank over there?" Then I say, "It's called The Jolly Nigger Bank." I think there's more to learn about prejudice by being accurate. There's more to learn about the history of our country by observing how things actually were than by sanitizing things and making them inaccurate. Changing historical reality is a slippery slope, and I don't want to go there. This oughta fill up my mailbox!

Some of you may be too young to remember the sixties. Then again, you may have heard of the Plaster Casters, young women who went around making plaster casts of rock stars' - um - privates. Before they did the actual casting, the young ladies were rumored to have assisted the musicians in looking their most - um - upright. A Utrecht book show has made plaster casts of the genitals of Dutch writers and is trying to sell them. Some prominent authors, both male and female, have apparently agreed to "sit" for the casts. Show organizer and author, Vrouwkje Tuinman, said it was not an easy task to make the casts. "You have to sit for at least 20 minutes in a rubber mould", he told a local newspaper, "and all the time a possible erection is not allowed." Just think about football, Guys. If the plaster casts are not sold, organizers want to offer them to the Literary Museum in Den Haag. Mr Tuinman said: "I expect nobody will buy our genitals and by the end the Literary Museum won't accept them either. But anyway, it's a very funny thing to do." Yes, the Dutch are famous for their uproarious sense of humor. No word on whether collectors want to touch the casts, much less purchase them.

Underwater Discovery - Yes, the unseen world beneath the sea houses artifacts, lost cities and sundry objects, items that provide a unique glimpse of history. The Franck Goddio Society preserves and reveals this history for all to see. Goddio has discovered more than ten historically important underwater sites, including Napolean's sunken fleet. Here they are displayed , along with ongoing missions, in photos, mission reports and maps. Galleries show artifacts, exploration equipment and startling undersea images of work in progress. Don't miss it! LINK
Art By Elephants.Com - Yes, they've been painting for years, and some of it is wonderful! Go look at the elephant art presented by The Western Forest Elephant Conservation Project in Thailand. You can even enter a contest to win an elephant painting. LINK
Great Speeches - Think Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" or Lou Gehrig's farewell speech and you'll come to realize that speaking the right words at the right point in history is an art form. This art sometimes changes the world. The History Channel's Great Speeches site is a powerful place. Search politics and government, science and technology, arts and culture, war and diplomacy to listen to such gems as Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech on the loss of the "people's princess," and Anita Bryant's 1977 forgiveness speech after being smacked in the face with a cream pie by a gay rights activist. LINK

Accumulators, I love the time I spend with you, but I haven't unpacked yet. I've been at this computer trying to catch up with work since 6:00 AM. So, I've gotta go. Wishing you a fruitful, enjoyable week. Until we meet again, Happy hunting!

2003 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #209
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


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1996-2003 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.