October 26, 1998
No, I didn't fall into a hole somewhere. I was in Adrian, MI at a fund raiser for The Croswell Opera House. Nice place! So, now I've rested, done the radio show and unpacked, and I get to spend a few moments writing to you.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF APROPOS OF NOTHING
This really has nothing to do with collecting - well, in a roundabout way, it might: Halloween is upon us and, at least in my neighborhood, we're all pretty particular about what we give the children who come trick-or-treating. We're always looking for low fat, low sugar, safe and fun stuff. So, I thought I'd share with you what I've been giving the kids who come to my door: I open the door and snap their pictures with a Polaroid camera. Then I hand the picture to the child. They all save their photos, and they all show up the next year to get their pictures taken again.
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE DEPARTMENT
It seems that P.T. Barnum, that bastion of regard for one's fellow man, had another profession before he became the world's most famous fleecer of suckers. He was a journalist. Sounds like pretty much the same thing in light of current affairs, you say? I was just thinking that very thing.
The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, CT, has just acquired some examples of Barnum's work as a newspaper writer, newly discovered proof of his previous career. He was, at 21, the publisher, editor and featured writer of the Herald Of Freedom And Gospel Witness of Bethel, CT (Imagine how wide across that paper had to be in order to fit it's own name on the masthead!). The Unitarian Universalist Association of Fresno, CA gave the papers to the museum after finding them in an old desk donated to the church.
Always the controversial fellow, Barnum was convicted of libel in 1821, jailed for 60 days, and had to pay a fine of $100. He had written that a church elder was a "canting hypocrite". Barnum was, of course, a big man in that town, and the quality of life during his stay in prison was pretty high. He continued to publish his newspaper while in there, his cell had allpaper and carpeting, and he could have visitors all the time. When he was released his pals threw a parade and drove him home in a coach with six horses.
He sold the newspaper in 1834 and went to New York to enter showbiz. What a guy.
BARNUM MAY HAVE BEEN RIGHT!
Christie's of London is about to auction off part of the collection of Charles Saatchi, a famous collector of what is considered (in the art world, anyway), some of the world's leading contemporary art. The collection includes the works of two British artists, Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread. Hirst's forte is the pickling of dead animals in formaldehyde and Whiteread's is bathroom appliances. Seriously.
Hirst's work, entitled "The Lovers" consists of four cabinets with jars of internal organs from bovines. Christie's describes it, get this, as the most significant of his series of animals in formaldehyde, and expects it to make $170,000. They say it raises philosophical questions about life and death.
And Ms. Whiteread's sculpture is of the underside of a bathroom sink. This is supposed to be one of her best known works, and is expected to fetch $85,000.
Proceeds from this auction are going to fund schooling for more young artists. Heaven help us.
Have a good week, Accumulators. I'll be back to talk to you on Friday. Happy Hunting!
© 1998 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #61
U.S. Library of Congress
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