Newsletter #70

January 23, 1999

Greetings Accumulators!
I've no idea what is going on in New York City today. I'm 42 stories up and the fog is so thick, I can't see the ground. I'm assuming everything is still there.

Last night an historical enactment took place in Springfield, MA. It was performed by Marcia Esterbrook, who bills herself as an "historic interpreter" (!), and who played the part of Ellen Craft, a Georgia slave, who escaped to Philadelphia. What's interesting is how Craft, accompanied by her husband, managed to accomplish the escape. She travelled disguised as a white male plantation owner, accompanied by her slave (the hubby). Now, while I think that Barbra Streisand should option this story immediately, and that the premise of the whole thing could potentially provide a million yoks (the restroom situation alone has enough hilarious possibilities that Steve Martin might consider it as well), I also wonder whether the innkeepers and carriage drivers along the way were in dire need of the services of an eye doctor. At a minimum, their powers of observation must have been seriously impaired. Anyway, after four days, they made it to Philadelphia and, presumably, Ellen Craft became a wife again. Too bad. I bet it was the best four days of her marriage.

Last year, when Gloria Vanderbilt chose to auction several lots of her costume jewelry and handbag collections on Ebay, I wrote an article saying the traditional auction houses had better sit up and pay attention. Online auction venues such as Auction Universe and the big E provide sellers with a low cost way to present their items to a worldwide audience, and they provide buyers with a no-fee way to shop the world's riches. With live auction attendance dwindling (although, in my mind, nothing can replace the excitement of the doings at an auction house), Sotheby's has become the first of the auction giants to step forward and establish an online bidding venue. Beginning next spring, visitors will be able to bid on auction items displayed at Sotheby's website. Although the most important items will still be sold live at Sotheby's (with traditional phone bidding as always), many lots heretofore unavailable to Internet visitors will be accessible to anyone with a keyboard and a modem. Is Sotheby's inventory too rich for cyberpockets? Stay tuned....

Last year I reported an incident in which a customer at an estate tag sale bought two paintings for a few hundred dollars and then sold them at auction for more than $1 million. The estate sued not only the tag sale management company and its appraisers, but the buyer as well, hoping to share in his profits. Fellow Accumulator Karen King tells me that the TV show, "Extra" recently reported on the resolution of the case. It was thrown out of court by the judge. This is good news for all of you who have haunted weekend garage sales for years, digging and probing in an effort to uncover that great find. Had the case been heard by the court, it would have set a precedent allowing any previous owner to drag any buyer into court, and to attempt to benefit from your research and hard work, not to mention your marketing efforts. Thanks, Karen!

Look out for Battersea trinket boxes, those little porcelain painted hinged thingies popping up at flea markets and shows everywhere. They are newly imported from Asia.

Watch for any 1939 NY Worlds Fair celluloid-backed item, such as a pocket mirror or pinback button. Read the edge of the celluloid carefully. If it says something like "Kathy and Tom's great toys" pass it by!

Well, dear Accumulators, my promise has always been that this newsletter will be short, so I'll take my leave now. Artie and I are going to a surprise birthday bash this evening (no, the "victim" is not a subscriber to this newsletter!), and plan to hit a few flea markets tomorrow. Provided we can be convinced the city is actually still down there where we left it last night. Have a great weekend, Accumulators. Happy Hunting!


1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #70
U.S. Library of Congress
ISSN 1520-4464


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1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.