Monday, December 16, 2013


So many objects come through our doors, such a diverse variety it blows my mind.  The different uses and reasons for creation range from fine art, created for adornment and pure expression to weapons meant for warfare.  All of these objects have their own unique story to tell, since they cannot relate it directly, close observation and careful research can tease it out of the past.  Some things we can hold and truly feel an energy and history associated with them.   Antique Militaria is a category which truly exemplifies this phenomena.

An interesting collection of weapons and accoutrements will be featured in our January 21st Auction, ranging from a civil war Remington Zoave Rifle to an Early 19th C. British Bandsman's sword.  What truly draws my eye is a salty model 1841 Cutlass made by Ames Mfg Co for the United States Navy.  This piece has the look!  The hilt is brass with a grip made in a fish scale pattern, with numerical rack marks.  The blade is marked with a faint 1842 date.  Holding this piece can carry one back to the early days of the United States Navy.  Was this cutlass aboard a ship in the African squadron, running down slavers off of Sierra Leon?  Did it ride upon a blockade ship during the Civil War?  Was it in hands of a boarding party during the war with Mexico?  This piece truly speaks to you.

Another military piece which carries a compelling  history is the Model 1866 Allin Conversion Springfield Trapdoor.  These muskets armed our boys during the Indian Wars of the 1870's. They were lethal, but already obsolete when issued due to a single shot capacity.  I imagine this weapon griped  by a Pony Soldier fighting the Sioux.  Out on the barren plains, he would have been cursing it's limited capability in the face of an enemy armed with repeating rifles.

I have been working on a large lifetime collection of Militaria over the past few months, which we will feature in a specialty auction this Spring.  This amazing group spans both time and the continents, it includes everything from revolutionary war uniforms to one worn by an SS General during the second world war.  I will share some highlights in the coming weeks. Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I absolutely love antique signs,  porcelain advertising signs, hand painted carved wood signs, street signs, posted signs, trade signs, loud signs and subtle signs.  I wonder at the art, what the written word evokes in the mind of its reader.  The symbolic aspect of signs is truly worth contemplating.  

There are several signs still in use Today which I absolutely covet.  One is attached to the building of a South Shore car dealer and has probably been there for seventy years,  it is the iconic Art Deco Pontiac logo in neon.  Another is a hotel sign which dates from the 1940's in East Greenwich Rhode Island.  It is part of a small town main street vista, which can act as a time machine if you look long and hard enough. This Neon flange sign advertises a lounge and weekly rates

  Signs have been with us for a very long time.  While visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum one can see the remains of painted signs on the ruins of the Ancient Roman equivalent of a strip mall.  18th and 19th Century signs often appear in the shape of the goods or services they advertise, to speak to the many illiterate potential customers.  I once owned an early painted French metal sign in the shape of a woman's shoe.  Early twentieth century porcelain signs demonstrate this art in high form.  These signs show the artistic potential, when color and design intersect.  I am always thrilled when an early porcelain sign crosses our threshold.

I sometimes wonder  how our sign resonates in the minds of people passing our business offices.  The day it was hung will always reside in my memory as both a moment of pride and anticipation.  Does our sign create a positive response?  Is it's message clear?  Did we get the color right?  I welcome you the reader to let me know.  Until then my hunt for early signs continues.  Please join us for our January 21st Auction, at 83 Court Street, look for the "Auction Today" signs out front.