Newsletter #247

July 15, 2004


Greetings Accumulators!

Ah, Summertime. To some it is a time to relax and laze, to enjoy the beach, to read a great book, to dream and loll. To those of us in the antiques and collectibles business, it is a time for the frantic never-ending circus, the running and doing and buying and selling and appraising and speaking and teaching and writing and appearing. So, if I'm less than attentive to you, Dear Accumulators, at least you know why. Not that you don't have your own busy lives. Still, I'm glad to sit down and type to you whenever I get the chance.

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF TREASURES FROM BENEATH THE SEA I love the beauty of fine porcelains but, let's face it, they are very fragile, and the smallest chip renders them pretty much done for. My advice, for example, to people who own cats, is that they should not collect porcelains. But what is the one situation in which porcelains have a shot at survival even if they're involved in a crash? Why, in a shipwreck, of course! Water is a gentle cushion against hard impact, and porcelains can withstand eons of submersion. He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I know this because we are scuba divers, and have found many interesting and intact items on shipwrecks. So, it is not entirely amazing that, when fishermen in the South China Sea discovered a shipwreck last year off the coast of Malaysia's Terengganu state, and a two-month salvage operation ensued, it was discovered that at least twenty percent of the Chinese porcelains on board were in pristine condition, according to the BBC. The experts think the ship was a Portuguese merchant vessel, possibly blown up by a rival ship. Apparently, long before the car bomb, there was the slower-moving, but just as destructive, boat bomb. According to Adi Taha, the director of Malaysia's Department of Museums and Antiquities, the ship was probably sunk in the 17th century, as it was sailing from China to Jakarta. Now, here's the best part: these are no ordinary household coffee mugs. No, some of these are plates and vases carrying the mark of Emperor Chenghua, who ruled from 1465 to 1487. And others have the mark of Emperor Chia-ching, who was in power from 1522 to 1566, Mr. Adi said. Probably en route to the Jakarta Superflea Market, or some hotshot Indonesian antiques shop, no? Thirty percent of the artifacts will be retained by the Museums department for exhibit. The rest will most likely be auctioned off by the company that financed the salvage operation. Get your checkbooks ready!

A group called The Barn Saver is selling a house this Saturday, July 17. Piece by piece. The house, known as Poplar Neck Farm, a 1750 Federal-style building, is being dismantled and will be auctioned off. This means you can buy the fireplace mantles, the doors, cupboards, rafters and beams, flooring stone steps, even the woodwork and the grand staircase. Somehow this strikes me as the opposite of being a Barn Saver, but apparently, no one asked for my opinion. The auction will take place in Cumru Township, Berks County, Pa at 9AM on Saturday, July 17. Here are the directions: From Reading, Pennsylvania: 422 E to 176 S, to first exit (Route 724). (Follow Barn Saver signs.) West on Route 724 (100 yards.) Right on Poplar Neck Road. House is 1/2 mile on left. From Pa. Turnpike: Exit 298 to 176 N to 724 W. 150 yards to right on Poplar Neck Road. House is 1/2 mile on right. The Barn SAver will accept checks or cashier's checks, and they want you to know that food and drink will be available. Oh, good. You never want to attend the destruction of a historic home without refreshments.

GI Joe collectors are livid about the fact that their toy hero has not made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame, alongside other greats, such as Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, and Silly Putty. Personally, I agree with them, and I don't. I've always believed (and you all know this) that Joe would be a much better boyfriend for Barbie than that swishy commitment-phobic Ken. Yes, I know she finally dumped Ken, and took up with an Australian boogie boarder. The girl has no sense at all. So, yes, Joe deserves some recognition. But, who in his right plastic mind would want to be enshrined alongside Silly Putty? G.I. Joe is "an interesting landmark in American toy history," said Christopher Bensch, director of collections at the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., home to the National Toy Hall of Fame. Bensch, who oversees the nomination process, notes that a toy must reach icon status to be worthy of induction. Of course, that would explain the Silly Putty thing - an icon. Right. Twenty-eight toys have been inducted since the Hall of Fame was founded in 1998. Nominations are now being accepted, and new inductees will be announced on November 12. I hope that GI Joe fans get their wish, so they can devote some time to getting lives.

Well, well, well, Accumulators, the end of another newsletter has crept up on me. Artie and I are headed for Allentown, Pa, to do the Great Antique Paper, Advertising , and Collectibles Show at the Agricultural Hall in downtown. If you're in the nabe, stop by and say "hi". And bring money. have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!


2004 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #247
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


Your comments, as always, are welcome. If you have something to say, write to me.
To subscribe to the free short weekly email newsletter, send a blank email to





Any questions? E-mail us at

1996-2004 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.