About this time a week ago (another hot and sunny Sunday afternoon) I was decompressing after a nine-hour trip from Leesburg, Virginia back to Savannah. My trip killed three birds with one stone. It was a two-day symposium to enhance my knowledge of appraisal issues, earn a substantial amount of credits for re-certification, and an opportunity to donate $200.00 to the Foundation for Appraisal Education.
Perhaps the best ancillary benefit to the above was the chance to see old colleagues again and offer encouragement and advice to new appraisers. It is always gratifying to mentor the “newbies.”
Some new information I picked up during the talks were as follows:
From Sumpter Priddy, III and his talk entitled “Adorn us with his blessings: Religion and Furniture in the Southern Back-Country 1795-1840” I learned that religion informed furniture decoration during this period.
From Betty Krulik, Betty Krulik Fine Art, Ltd. And her talk entitled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in American Painting, I learned that recognizable landscapes, fine condition, iconic subjects, provenance, and connoisseurship add to value (with some caveats.) I was also crestfallen to learn that cows in the landscape are bad. Very bad “moos” for me. I love cows.
From Luke Zipp, Crocker Farm Auctions and his talk “American Stoneware: It’s History and Uses 1812-1900 I learned that value on stoneware depends on an incised and slip-trail decoration, and that rarity and beauty trump condition. I also learned that glass killed the stoneware industry because molds began to come into use in the 1860’s and were used almost exclusively after 1890.
From Louisa Brouwer, Israel Sack, Inc. and Archives Fellow, Dept. of American Decorative Arts, Yale University Art Gallery I heard the story of Israel Sack, Inc. and the extraordinary family that started and built the business, then closed it in the early 21st century.
Daniel K. Ackermann, Associate Curator, MESDA, showed us how to “Google It: Using New Tools to Unlock Secrets of Old Things” and Alan Fausel, VP and Director of Fine Arts, Bonham’s, gave us “Ten Ways to Tell a Fake Painting Without Looking at It.”
Ronald W. Fuchs, II, Curator of Ceramics and Manager of the Reeves Collection, Washington and Lee University, made me feel better about trying to date Canton blue and white. It turns out that dating it is almost impossible because it was imported to America for over two hundred years and so much of it looks similar. Whew!
Finally Robert Wittman, former FBI agent, and author of “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures” kept us on the edge of our seats with his description of his work with the FBI and how he recovered a thirty-nine million dollar self-portrait by Rembrandt on copper. His opening comments included the suggestion by someone at the FBI that the small group be called the Federal Art Recovery Team, which was quickly changed to the Art Crime Team. Who says that the Feds don’t have a sense of humor?