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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Past Times Newsletter - October 2001
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Arts & Crafts
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o THE FUN OF COLLECTING ART DECO by Toni Delicio of Deconut
o The Rich History of Game Board Art by Adam Halterman of the
Journal of Antiques & Collectibles
Ten years ago, collecting Art Deco was a lonely job. People
like me, certified "Deconuts" were few and far between. We were
a small and dedicated collective who were not recognized by the
Antique World, since Art Deco wasn't yet considered a legitimate
The result: an incredible abundance of Deco pieces at great
Today, it"s a different story. With the Internet and on-line
venues and auctions, the general public has been exposed to more
and more of the collectible world, in particular, Art Deco and
Art Nouveau– and now people can't get enough.
Feeling like a movie star from the 1940s and 1950s is, in my
opinion, one of the main reasons why people collect Deco. Look
into an etched mirror and you can just see Barbara Stanwyck and
Joan Crawford in their glamorous deco outfits sitting at their
vanities getting ready for the Oscars. It was truly a glamorous
time. Lines, triangles and art moderne designs replaced the
flowery and more detailed furniture pieces of the past.
Furniture in the Deco Era became simple, more streamlined,
machine made and less ornate than the Victorian Era.
Now, there are "Deconuts" everywhere. While it's wonderful that
Deco has finally won its celebrity and legitimacy in the antique
world, unfortunately, those irresistible prices have become more
elusive. There are still good deals to be had out there, but I
predict they won't last much longer. If you're looking to jump
in to collecting Art Deco, you'd better jump now. Here are four
tips to get you started:
1. Condition, condition, condition. Of course "condition"
always applies to collecting. In particular, look for Patina. I
love pieces that have that true "old" look to them.
2. Before you buy, do your research. Talk to dealers and other
collectors. Follow the market and see what pieces are going for.
Read lots of books. Some good guidebooks include Mary Frank
Gaston's Guide to Art Deco, Hutchison & Johnson's Affordable Art
Deco and Vintage Bar Ware by Stephen Visage. And one of the
most important: Millers Guide to Art Deco and Nouveau.
3. Watch out for reproductions. And take the time to know your
dealers! There is a flood of art deco repros out there so make
sure you buy from a reputable dealer.
4. Buy what you can afford and love what you buy. Find the
designers and the types of pieces that attract you. And most
important: buy it because you love it!
We invite you to visit Toni Delisio at Deconut Antique at
HALTERMAN OF THE JOURNAL OF ANTIQUES &
From trash to treasure, the last hundred years have brought
dramatic changes in the antique world's concept of value. Folk
art, once frowned upon by snobbish aesthetes, now dominates the
market. This, of course, was not always so, and those early
days when the rustic work of unschooled artists first captured
the imagination of visionary collectors teach an important
lesson about market value and inherent value. When artists
Charles Sheeler, Charles Demuth and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, pioneering
folk art collectors in the 1920's, first began seeking out these
curiosities, they were not doing so to make a buck, but because
something about the pieces spoke to them. It is refreshing,
from time to time, to step back and, forgetting the market, see
things with fresh eyes.
It is this approach to looking at pieces, not in terms of market
value and trends, but in terms of their inherent meaning that
Missouri antiques dealer Tim Chambers fell into when asked by
friend and collector Selby Shaver to put together a book
featuring Shaver's collection of handmade game boards from the
late 19th and early 20th century. No stranger to the business
end of the antiques world, Chambers found himself unable to
shake the sense that Shaver's collection was larger than all
that. "I didn't fully grasp the magnitude of the undertaking
until I was well into it" remarks Chambers. "I discovered there
is no simple way to define this remarkable collection"
The self-published book, The Art of the Game, follows none of
the conventions collectors expect from antiques books.
Organized by color, rather than chronology or type, and
presented with a clean, spare design, the book is more a
meditation, an object lesson in seeing, than anything else. It
begins simply with the thing, pictures of nearly 200 game
boards, but its resonance is bottomless.
What makes the game boards in this expansive collection so
compelling is their meaning as folk art, graphic design, and
cultural history. They hearken back to a time remote enough to
pique the imagination, yet similar enough to speak to us today.
In order to understand just what these boards have to say, it is
important to keep in mind the context from which they came, both
in terms of gaming and society at large.
The final quarter of the 19th century, from which the earliest
of Shaver's game boards date, marks a unique time in our
history. While mankind has always partaken in social and
leisure activities, industrialization effectively separated
work, home, labor and leisure in way that everyday people had
never known. This revolutionary concept of "free time" while
subtle, was reinforced by a myriad of activities and
destinations vying for people's time. Though games had been
manufactured in America for over a hundred years, it is no
coincidence that large manufacturers such as McLoughlin
Brothers, Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley blossomed in the
late 19th and early 20th century with unprecedented success.
The awareness that manufactured games were readily available at
this time makes Shaver's collection all the more intriguing,
revealing the fact that the making of these game boards was
itself a popular pastime. The book covers the full spectrum,
from simple boards made by folks who may not have had enough
money for store-bought games, to sophisticated boards made by
professional sign painters and the like to showcase their skill.
As these boards change hands, making their way from one
collector to the next, their legacy grows. It is a testament to
the value of these unique pieces that they continue to fascinate
and spark interest. May they always find welcome homes.
Visit The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles.
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