Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gold and Silver Sellers Beware!

I was speaking with a client who attended an event, at a local hotel, where out-of-towners were offering to buy your gold and silver. She only had silver to sell, and was offered $7.00 per ounce!

Take a look at silver prices today: $33.38 per ounce. Now sterling silver is 92.5% silver, and a dealer will pay you less than market value, but don't get ripped off. Reputable silver dealers are paying up to 75 and 90% of silver value.

Don't be afraid to sell, just be cautious and educated.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Was Outdated is New Again!

by Miriam Randazzo

We recently held a Mid-Century and Retro Auction at the auction gallery where I work. The auction was filled with over 200 lots of merchandise from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, including 1970s psychedelic polyester shirts, life sized robots, Herman Miller bent wood chairs, and 1960s movie posters and lobby cards.

The auction screamed, "Funky Retro!" and was the first time we conducted a specialty auction of this sort. Truth be told, we questioned whether or not the auction would fly here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where change is something people like in their pocket and avoid in all other facets of life.

As it turned out, the crowd was big, the bidding swift and the results super!

The highlight of the evening was a 1980s life sized robot that sold for $1100, including buyer's premium. The robot, zoomed and spun about the gallery, bringing us a grinning, laughing audience. Is there anything more pleasing?

Its good to reinvent your business, every now and then. It brings a renewed curiosity from past customers, excitement from a new clientele, and a staff satisfaction second to none. You may have to endure a few remarks in exchange, but it is definitely worth it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Antique Appraisal Tea at the Stegmaier Mansion

How exciting! An afternoon tea and antique appraisal set at the Stegmaier Mansion in downtown Wilkes-Barre! If you haven't had the opportunity to visit this extraordinary Victorian delight, let me encourage you!

Mr. Joe Matteo, owner of the bed and breakfast, painstakingly restored the 19th century building, previously owned by Frederick Stegmaier, whose family owned and operated the the Stegmaier Brewing Company. The building dates back to the 1870s, and from its detailed entry foyer to opulent dining room, is Victorian splendor at its finest.

Hostess for the afternoon will be the always entertaining, Ms. Lisa Griffiths-Lewis, a professional Victorian Era living history actress. Ms. Griffiths-Lewis is the owner of Victoriana Lady, a traveling museum of Victorian clothing and accessories.

Food will be prepared by award-winning executive chef, Mr. Jody Klocko, who's food and presentation is second to none.

Antique appraisals will be conducted by Miriam Randazzo, owner of Tillie's Antiques & Trinkets. Mrs. Randazzo has been engaged in the antique industry for over fifteen years and completed appraisal training with the Institute of Appraisal of Personal Property, in 2003. She conducts estate sales in the Luzerne county area and displays at a variety of notable antique shows in the state of Pennsylvania. She also works as a research and technical analyst and appraiser for Cook and Cook Auctions of Plains, PA and as an auction consultant with White Rose Auctions of Boiling Springs, PA.

For reservations, please contact Lisa Lewis, The Victoriana Lady, at 570.655.8392 or at

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Cards

of the

Late 1800s and Early 1900s

by Miriam Randazzo

Valentine's Day greetings have been exchanged for hundreds of years, beginning as hand written notes and gradually giving way to printed cards, during the early 1800s. By the mid 1800s, Valentine's Day cards were mass produced and exchanged in much greater numbers. Some of the prettiest antique, Valentine's Day cards date to the Victorian Era, are die cut and made in Germany.

Three dimensional Valentine's Day cards from the Victorian Era were quite popular for their beautiful colors and design detail. The cardboard die cut designs opened from a flat greeting to a three dimensional shape, like the one shown to the left. Some of the Valentine's Day cards combined cardboard with tissue paper. It is the three dimensional cards that remain most popular among collectors today.

Not all Victorian Valentine's Day cards were three dimensional, some were simpler flat cards, like the German dog example shown to the right. This example is also die cut.

Another popular style of Valentine's Day greetings was the postcard. Postcards were sent in mass quantities during the late 1800s and early 1900s and can still be found in abundance at most antique shows and shops. Richly adorned with embossed roses, cherubs, doves, hearts and arrows, these cards epitomize romance.

Although the message wasn't private, postcards did have the advantage of being less expensive to purchase and to mail.

The most popular Valentine's Day postcards include those made in Germany and those that are artist signed. Many collectors decorate their homes for the holiday with these pretty antique postcards. They are simply works of art.

As the Victorian Era ended, the style of Valentine's Day cards became simpler, but remained aesthetically pleasing, even by contemporary standards.

As the 1920s approached, mechanical cards surged in popularity. Notice how the young girl's eyes move and the swing moves back and forth on the card below.

For a period of time during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the value of antique Valentine's increased dramatically, due to an increased demand and limited local availability. With the introduction of the online market place, availability increased and prices dropped significantly. Lucky for today's collectors, antique Valentine's Day cards can be readily found and for a reasonable price.

If you decide to collect antique Valentine's Day cards, recognize their fragile nature and always ask a dealer for permission to open a card or work a mechanical card. Inspect cards for tiny tears, spotting and paper break down.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Victorian Dining
by Miriam R. Randazzo

During the Victorian Era, society's elite filled their dining tables with beautiful porcelain dishes and serving implements. Nine course meals ranging from soup and savory ramekins to sorbet intermezzos and desserts, were elaborately served to impress guests.

Oysters were served on oyster plates; eggs, served on egg dishes; and cocoa poured from chocolate pots. Perhaps the most unusual porcelain oddity I've discovered from this time period is the soup bowl shown here.

Made in France, this Limoges dish was manufactured and decorated by the Charles Field Haviland, makers and purveyors of some of the prettiest porcelain dinnerware used during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The soup bowl is non-traditional in form, which at first glance could easily be overlooked.

Careful inspection of the bowl's rim reveals the head, tail and four legs of turtle. Fascinatingly enough, the dish was designed for serving of all things, turtle soup!

Collectors of porcelain rarities search for these strange little oddities and it my pleasure to present this one for you to enjoy.