March 20, 1998
The first day of Spring in soggy, dreary, cold New York. Adios El Nino. Good riddance!
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF WHAT A SCOTSMAN WEARS UNDER HIS KILT
Japanese businessmen, before they branched out worldwide and had to worry about drafts in places like airports, wore kimonos, not the power suits they wear today. And since kimonos had no pockets, all their personal possessions (you know, keys to the Honda, chopstick rest, gum) had to be carried in a bag suspended from a braided silk cord which was in turn suspended from the obi, or sash. To keep the cord from slipping, a toggle was attached to one end to hold it in place. This toggle was called a netsuke. In the beginning, any old found object made a good netsuke. Polished nuts or a shark's tooth, maybe. But, Japanese artisans being who they were, it wasn't long before they were turning out miniature works of art, made from ivory, amber, coral or bone. The Minneapolis Institute of Art will host an exhibit entitled "Netsuke: The Japanese Art Of Miniature Carving", from April 4 to July 5. If you can get there to see it, be prepared to experience Japanese culture, from spirituality to sex, all portrayed in teeny tiny little carvings.
OF COURSE HE WAS FROM BROOKLYN DEPARTMENT
On April 7, Sotheby's will auction a photograph of baseball's first professional player. The large tintype depicts (they think) James Creighton, the first pitcher to throw overhand, and the first to skip from team to team for money. The photo was taken around 1860, and the pre-sale estimate is $30,000 to $50,000, less than the signing bonus most guys get for skipping college to join a farm team these days.
OH PLEASE, TELL US HOW TO TELL REAL TORTOISESHELL FROM PLASTIC
Seriously, people ask me this all the time. I'm happy to share this test, but I warn you, it isn't much fun. Most unknown materials will identify themselves, when immersed in hot water, by the fragrance they emit. Real tortoiseshell smells like wet hair or fur. Think of giving the dog a bath and there you have it.
POSTER ART-HOT, HOT, HOT!
Posters, a much lower-cost alternative to original art, are gaining in popularity. And what types of posters are most popular right now? Magic posters, posters from horror and science fiction films of the thirties and cigar posters. Lots of really nice posters may still be bought for under $1,000.
This weekend, I'm catching up on the mountains of correspondence (yes, some
of which are requests for me to make an offer) sitting here on my desk.
And Artie and I are doing - shudder - the taxes. Happy Hunting!
© 1998 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #34
U.S. Library of Congress
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