NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane Past Times Newsletter for December 2003
Past Times 'Tis the season! And if you're stumped as to what to get those __________________________________________________________________ Linda and Tom Brownfield-Perry of Mezzetin, offer an eclectic __________________________________________________________________ Antique doll collecting has grown rapidly in recent years, __________________________________________________________________ Now that I am in my 60th year, I look back to Christmas 1956. In
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art and Jewelry
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o Let Ruby Lane Help You Find The Right Holiday Gift
o December HOT SHOP: Welcome to Mezzetin Art & Antiques!
o Collecting Antique Dolls by Joy Bradley of Joy's Antique
o My Christmas Gold by James C. Johnston Jr. of the Journal
of Antique & Collectibles
LET RUBY LANE HELP YOU FIND THE RIGHT HOLIDAY GIFT
on your holiday gift list this year, Ruby Lane can help! Visit
Ruby Lane's new Holiday Search page for customized gift ideas.
To get there, click on the gifts image in the upper left corner
of the home page or on the link at the top of any page not
within a shop. Once there, simply enter your desired price
range, and scroll down to find the type of person you're
shopping for. Then click on the links underneath that match that
person't gift interests. Ruby Lane will give you a suggested
list of gift ideas, with a direct link to each item! Be sure to
check it out at Ruby Lane Holiday Gift Ideas.
mix of European antiques, specializing in 18th & 19th century
European ceramics, including French faience, Italian majolica,
Delft and Continental porcelain. A second-generation family
business, Mezzetin boasts a reputation for excellent service and
Here you'll find such fine pieces as a Set of 3 - 18th Century
French Faience SINCENY Plate Plates ($600), a 19th C Italian
Majolica 15" Plant Stand Jardiniere ($495), a 18 - 19th C French
Faience de L'Est Plate ($100), and a Pair 19th C French
Porcelain Sevres Style Lamps ($2,250).
Tom and Linda have have worked hard to earn the respect of their
customers. All of their items are guaranteed to be as
described. They are very experienced with international shipping
and encourage international buyers. They gadly accept
PayPal/Visa Mastercard, bank wire, personal checks, cashiers
checks, and money orders.
We invite you to visit Mezzetin Art & Antiques.
fueled by the staggering numbers of new internet shoppers
flooding to online shops and auctions every day.
Trends come and go in all collecting avenues and antique dolls
are no exception. Currently, it seems that one of the hottest
categories is antique rag dolls. Several large and well-known
collections have come on the market recently, and this has
fueled the fire. Collectors clamor at the chance to own these
"one-of-a-kind" homemade dolls from the circa 1900 era and even
earlier. Care must be taken to be sure that the dolls are truly
antique, as great strides have been made in "fake" period rags.
While many of the early collectors of these precious rag dolls
were purists, others purchased newer fakes as well because they
loved the character or just wanted another doll and they did not
necessarily care whether it was antique or not. Today,
collectors are faced with determining whether or not the doll is
truly an antique, as value is seriously affected by the age of
Newer collectors often write to ask us what type doll they
should begin their collections with. First and foremost, we
advise collectors to purchase what they really love. First
purchases are often made timidly because new collectors are
afraid of making costly mistakes and they do not want to spend
large sums of money on a doll until they really know what they
are doing. This can be a double-edged sword. Many new
collectors focus solely on price; this inherently brings with it
the likelihood of disappointment. They may have their eye on a
c1870 Bru Jne which may be valued at $6,000 or more, but they do
not want to risk that kind of money on their first purchase.
What if it isn't authentic? What if they don't like it when
they see it in person? So they buy an Armand Marseille #390 for
$450 and although it's a lovely doll, it just doesn't excite
them the way that Bru Jne did.
Here are some suggestions for beginning collectors that I hope
will answer some basic questions and also set out some
guidelines to protect their investments while at the same time
keeping their collecting appetites satisfied.
1. Read! Start with generalized books and encyclopedias on
dolls before progressing to more specialized books on specific
types of dolls; unless, of course, you already have decided to
collect one type only. Building a good library is absolutely
invaluable, as you will refer back to it constantly while
building your collection.
2. Establish a relationship with a seasoned and knowledgeable
dealer who takes the time to answer your questions thoughtfully.
This will help you make wise investments and you won't have to
worry about making costly mistakes. Because the dealer's
reputation is on the line, you will not have to worry about
unknowingly buying a damaged or restored doll or one that is a
fake. Your knowledge will grow more quickly as the dealer
assists you in making your purchases.
3. Always purchase what you love, rather than seeking out the
best "bargain". There are many collectors who begin their
collections with bargains collected from all kinds of sources.
This is an extremely risky endeavor. I've encountered many
collectors who have lots of dolls in their collection but
absolutely no excitement. When they stand back and contemplate
what they have purchased as a "collection", they wish they had
purchased that one doll that really excited them instead of all
the inexpensive ho-hum dolls they see in front of them. They
may want to sell or trade their bargain dolls for something they
like more, but find instead that they cannot even get what they
paid for them.
4. Investigate some "untapped" markets where you can find some
very reasonable prices, while still collecting high quality
dolls which will appreciate in value. Some categories of dolls
are still considered to be priced "below their potential" in
today's market. China head dolls and parian dolls are two of my
personal all-time favorites and are still largely under-priced
in the market, as are early papier mache and wax dolls. People
seem to either love them or they don't. Why their prices have
remained so low is a mystery. After all, when you consider that
they were purchased as "toys"150-200 years ago, it's amazing
they exist at all. Prices are all over the spectrum, based
mostly on the rarity and scarcity of the hairstyle and
decoration, as well as condition and originality. Compared to
later German and French bisque dolls, their prices are truly
still in the bargain category although their quality can be
5. Whether you buy from online shops, doll shows, mail order,
store-front shops, or auctions, there are common sense
safeguards to follow. First and foremost, know who you are
buying from. In all venues, discover who the seller is and get
a sense of their ethics as well understanding their shop
- Dealers: Still the best place to start for new collectors,
reputable dealers will take the time to answer questions
thoughtfully and will give sound advice that will ultimately
save you money in costly mistakes. A good dealer will help you
build your collection wisely and along with your doll purchases,
you will be buying his or her knowledge and years of experience,
assuring that you will build a collection you will cherish. A
reputable dealer will also offer a return policy to protect you;
know what it is and be sure you agree with the terms prior to
committing to a purchase. If you are buying from an online
dealer, look for full descriptions including flaws, and lots of
clear photos. If you have a question unanswered in the photos
and written description, send an email or call the dealer for
the answers. If they are reluctant to help you, move on; there
are plenty of dealers who will help you and will be sure you are
comfortable with your purchases.
- Auctions: Here you will see a lot of dolls in person, but a
strong word of caution is needed: auctions are extremely risky
for the new collector. Beware of auction houses or online
auction sellers that do not thoroughly describe the condition of
the dolls. "Generally excellent" is overused in the industry
and tells you absolutely nothing about the condition of the
doll. Also, auctions are "final sale" venues, so if you did not
fully inspect the doll prior to your winning bid, you will have
no recourse and will not be allowed to return it. Most auction
houses today charge a buyer's premium or penalty and you must be
aware of it and consider it in your bidding. Currently, these
penalties range from 10% - 20% of the winning bid and we know of
a few even higher.
- Doll Shows: Doll shows are located in most major metropolitan
areas at various times throughout the year. Find one near you
and attend. This will give you an excellent opportunity to meet
dealers and see many dolls all in one day. You can find show
schedules in doll collecting magazines and online. Keep in mind
that not all doll dealers display at doll shows, so this will
not be an all-inclusive representation of dealers.
- Doll Clubs: Invaluable for meeting other doll collectors and
dealers and broadening your knowledge in this collecting field.
There are doll clubs located all over the US and in foreign
countries as well. Most meet monthly and there are even online
clubs which have formed within the last few years.
- Flea Markets, Yard Sales, and Antique Malls: While you may be
lucky enough to find a real bargain in a rare and valuable doll,
serious caution must be exercised in these venues. You may be
purchasing a reproduction or a "put-together" doll, which may
not be such a bargain after all. Reproductions are plentiful
and may be offered as authentic by unwitting sellers or
knowledgeable sellers who mean to trick you. The old adage: "if
it looks to good to be true, it probably is" should be
I've met many, many doll collectors over the years through all
of these venues, and enjoy a robust antique doll business which
is blessed with a high number of repeat customers who have added
such joy to the way I earn my living. Even after 30+ years of
collecting and selling dolls, I continue to learn more about
these cherished treasures from the past.
We invite you to visit Joy's shop: Joy's Antique Dolls.
JOURNAL OF ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLES
my 12-year old glory and greed, I hankered for coins, books,
stamps, raw lumber to build things with, antiques of all sorts ñ
Oh, electric trains, bicycles, and Lincoln Logs were okay, and
once I was given some modern plastic ship models I was pretty
happy to have. But I come from a long line of deep-water Yankee
seadogs. I wanted antique ship models (eventually I got quite a
few) made of wood and fitted out with accurate rigging and
sails. And I wanted gold.
I read about gold in the wonderful works of Edward Rowe Snow, a
20th-century writer of books about the sea, pirates, treasure,
shipwrecks, and cursed pirate hoards. Books like his True Tales
of Buried Treasure, Amazing Sea Stories Never Told Before, and
Secrets of the North Atlantic Islands fired my imagination and
made me lust after gold.
In 1956, sources of gold at Christmastime were rare. But where
there is a will, greed will find a way. (I was way ahead of Wall
Street's villain Gordon Gecco, who said it right out loud:
"Greed is good." Now that takes real courage.) The very idea of
gold coins made me tingle all over like the mythic English
antiques dealer, Lovejoy, who felt pins and needles whenever he
was near a great rarity. (This sensation was celebrated in a
whole series of books about this loveable scoundrel.) At the
time, I discovered that there was a policeman in town who
dabbled in the coin trade on a part-time basis and actually had
a gold piece for sale. I contrived to see it as soon as I could.
It was a Russian five ruble coin of the hapless Czar Nicholas
II. Nicholas was kicked off the throne of Russia in March of
1917. He was imprisoned all over his former empire, sent as far
as Siberia with his entire family and then sent as far away as
Ekaterinburg. If that was not bad enough, he was shot, clubbed,
kicked, tossed in a truck, chopped up, and then thrown down a
mine shaft where his remains, along with those of his family and
doctor Bodkin and servant Demidovna, were burned and dissolved
with acid. This act by the Bolsheviks was hateful to me, but
here in front of me was an honest-to-goodness portrait of poor
Nicholas II on this gold coin. It was not exactly pirate
treasure, but it was gold and it had history. I alerted my
parents to my Christmas wish and handed over to them the phone
number of kindly Officer Carr.
This Russian gold five ruble coin was the object of my Christmas
lust. It bares the image of the hapless Nicholas II.
They already knew him of course. Unbeknownst to me they secured
the coin. They never let on, and I sweated out the ordeal.
Christmas Eve was a trial. I found it difficult to sleep. The
next morning came early, and my sisters and I made enough noise
to wake my folks and my grandmother. At long last we went to the
living room where a mountain of gifts had materialized
overnight. This was an effort on the part of my parents to spoil
us rotten. What a good job they did!
There were skates, books, clothes, and a globe. But there was no
gold in sight. Finally, my eyes wandered over to the fireplace
where my large red stocking was hung with care. I took it down
and deposited the contents on a tabletop. Something stuck in the
toe of the stocking. Some careful probing was required to remove
a very small box. I opened it, and there was the hapless czar
himself, Nicholas II. My heart soared. I still have the coin
Generally speaking, gold coins were a more common Christmas gift
in the years preceding 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt
demonetized gold as money. Coins were presented in little
plush-lined boxes that were decorated in glossy red, green, or
white paper or with gold or silver foil. Sometimes these
Christmas coin boxes would be decorated with poinsettias. More
affluent youngsters were given five, ten, or even 20-dollar gold
I hope that you, too, will get your gold piece from Santa this
year. Merry Christmas to all and best of luck to you in 2004.
We also invite you to visit The Journal of Antiques &
'Tis the season! And if you're stumped as to what to get those
Linda and Tom Brownfield-Perry of Mezzetin, offer an eclectic
Antique doll collecting has grown rapidly in recent years,
Now that I am in my 60th year, I look back to Christmas 1956. In
Subscribe Now to our Newsletters
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