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Newsletter February 12, 2010
Mourning Jewelry, Giacometti, Sports Collectibles
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Aldie, Virginia

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Aldie, Virginia

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Newsletter 10-23-2009
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Newsletter 01-15-2010

Mourning Jewelry

Mourning Jewelry has been around in one form or another since the 1400’s but did not become mainstream and popular until the Georgian and more so the Victorian periods.  In England, Mourning Jewelry, although used in some eras as status symbols, was really a way for people to remember loved ones who passed away.  Mourning Jewelry didn’t really become popular in the United States until 1861 – 1865, the years of the American Civil War, where more than 600,000 soldiers died.  This period also coincided with the death of Prince Albert in 1861, after which Queen Victoria’s went into mourning and wore the jewelry as a remembrance of her husband and was quickly imitated by the population.

Rings, lockets, earrings and cameos all served as souvenirs to remember loved ones who died; proudly worn, they showed that the person was being remembered but it also reminded everyone with certainty that someday we too would pass.  As such, mourning jewelry was usually designed and adorned with all of the symbols of death, including skulls, urns, coffins, and sometimes serpents. Morning jewelry was usually made of gold and or sterling silver and more collectible pieces are made of Jet, which is sometimes called black amber but which is really fossilized coal.  A lot of the jewelry in the 1800’s could also include a lock of the deceased’s hair, as such, this type of mourning jewelry is now known as hair jewelry.


Where you might Find Mourning Jewelry . . .

Our friends at Diamonds and Rust have a huge collection of estate, vintage and antique jewelry.  Owner Marcia Hall shops every week to fill her rooms with unique, vintage finds at affordable prices.  Diamonds and Rust is located in the historic town of Aldie, Virginia, less than one hour from Washington, DC.  In addition to jewelry, Diamonds and Rust carries a nice selection of vintage prints, ephemera, furniture and salvaged architectural elements.

On Friday – Sunday, February 12 – 14, 2010, the Annual New Bern Preservation Society Antique Show will take place at the Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern, North Carolina.  This antique show which benefits the foundations various preservation activities attracts many dealers from the Mid Atlantic region featuring antique furniture, vintage collectibles, fine art, sterling and pottery as well as antique jewelry and decorative accessories.

The Annual Lawrenceville - Princeton Antiques Show will take place this Saturday & Sunday, February 13 – 14, 2010 at the National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  This antique show which attracts forty dealers from the Mid Atlantic region benefits Womanspace, an organization dedicated to helping women and children in crisis. Included in this show are European and American period furniture, jewelry, fine art, antique china and porcelain.

February 12-13, 2010, Valentine's Vintage Fashion Show & Sale, DoubleTree Hotel Route 9, Tarrytown, New York

February 13-14, 2010,Gaithersburg Antique & Collectible Show, Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg, Maryland

February 19-21, 2010, International Gem & Jewelry Show, Dulles Expo & Convention Center, Chantilly, Virginia

February 21, 2010, Spring Antique Show, Northern Valley Regional High School, Demarest, New Jersey

The Annual Hunt Valley Antiques Show will be held on Friday – Sunday, February 19 – 21, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Baltimore, Timonium, Maryland.  This antique show attracts more than forty nine dealers from the Mid Atlantic region and benefits Family & Children’s Services or Central Maryland. Included in this show are English and American period furniture, decorative arts and fine arts as well as antique jewelry, sterling and antique porcelains.


Jet Jewelry

To some, Jet Jewelry may bring to mind jewelry that includes airplanes, helicopters and dirigibles; to others, Jet Jewelry brings to mind jewelry that is made of a black substance, and especially Mourning Jewelry.  Sometimes people confuse Jet Jewelry with jewelry made of other materials such as vulcanite (sometimes called ebonite) or bog oak.  Jet, also known as gagate or black amber and is actually fossilized coal was used to make jewelry because it was easily carved and decorated.  Jet has been used to create jewelry for thousands of years and examples dating to 200 BC have been found.

Jet Jewelry came in many designs and styles, but some of the most beautiful pieces are intricately carved brooches and cameos designed by top artisans and worn by the Victorians.  This type of jewelry, which is highly prized and collectible today, featured rose and flower bouquets; birds and cameo figures also adorned some of the most beautiful examples of these mementos.  Other Jet Jewelry can be found with hand painted floral, figures and cherubs in bright colors that offset the black polished backgrounds.

Some of the more desirable pieces of Jet Jewelry can be purchased by collectors for thousands of dollars but many other pieces of the jewelry can be found at more reasonable prices.  However, beware of the imitations.  Several sources tell us that to determine if a piece jewelry is made of Jet, use a red hot needle on an inconspicuous part of the jewelry.  If it smells like coal burning, you can safely assume it is Jet.  Others say to lightly rub it against concrete. If it leaves a brownish mark it is Jet.  Jet is also warm to the touch.


Dumb Mikey

Mikey and his buddy Billy Ray are digging a ditch on a very hot and humid day.  Billy Ray asks Mikey, “Why are we down in this hole digging a ditch when our boss is up there in the shade of a tree?”  “I don’t know,” replied Mikey, “I’ll go ask him.”  So he climbed out of the hole and went to the boss. “Why are we digging in the hot sun and you’re standing in the shade?”  “Intelligence,” the boss said.  “What’s intelligence?” asked Mikey.


The boss said, “I’ll show you. I’ll put my hand on this tree and I want you to hit it with your fist as hard as you can.” Mikey took a mighty swing and tried to hit the boss’ hand. The boss removed his hand and Mikey hit the tree. The boss said, “That’s intelligence!”  Mikey went back to his hole.  Billy Ray asked, “What’d he say?”  “He said we are down here because of intelligence.”  “What’s intelligence?” Billy Ray asked.  Mikey put his hand on his face and said, “Take your shovel and hit my hand.”


Recent Auction of Giacometti Sculpture

A statue by the artist Alberto Giacometti shattered records for art at auction when it sold for more than $104 million.  The sculpture titled L’Homme qui Marche I, which was sold by Sotheby’s of London, is one of six bronze sculptures the artist made in 1961.  This is not the first time we have written about a record auction price for Giacometti; in 2008 before prices tumbled in the art world, a Giacometti statue, Grande Femme Debout II sold for more $27.5 million by Sotheby’s in New York.


Upcoming Auctions

Depeche Mode a popular band from England is auctioning off twelve watches to benefit Britain’s Teenage Cancer Trust. The watches were made by Swiss watchmaker Hublot and are being sold through Patrizzi & Company Auctioneers.  Each watch is a one of a kind creation and features artwork from each of twelve Depeche Mode album covers.  You can bid on the watches until February 24, 2010.

Miley Cyrus has put together a celebrity charity auction to benefit Haiti.  The auction, which will run on eBay until February 18, 2010 includes many items including the dress that Miley wore to the Grammy’s this year.  Other celebrities participating in this charity auction include Britney Spears, Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres.  All proceeds benefit the American Red Cross in assisting Haiti.

Also assisting with the devastation in Haiti is Charitybuzz, who are conducting a Heal Haiti Auction with donations from major celebrities Orlando Bloom, Taylor Swift, Bono, Robin Williams and David Beckham just to name a few.  Proceeds from this auction will directly benefit various non profits in support of the people of Haiti.  Art, tickets to shows, jewelry and memorabilia are just some of the things that the stars have donated for this cause.

Sports Collectibles – Super Bowl

Collecting sports memorabilia has been around since the late 19th Century, when the first baseball cards were first introduced as marketing ploys inside of cigarette packs.  However, it wasn’t until the mid 70’s when the industry took a turn northward, pricewise, as collectors starting having swap meets and shows to buy, sell and trade sports cards, which now included not only baseball, but football, hockey, and even wrestling.  Reports estimate that the sale of sports memorabilia reaches about $6 billion a year worldwide and now includes not only sports cards but sports jerseys and clothing, autographed pictures and other memorabilia such as footballs, baseballs and yes even Super Bowl rings.


Now for the first time ever, the turf from a Super Bowl will be cut up and sold as collectibles.  The three inch by three inch squares of end zone turf, which is freeze dried and encased in a commemorative glass sell for about $100 plus shipping and handling. Turf from those areas of the field where “special moments” took place, sell for more and there is only a limited supply of those pieces of turf.  The Super Bowl, which featured the Indianapolis Colts versus the New Orlean Saints will surely produce even more collectibles, given the “upset” that took place.  For those that are interested, the turf is being sold by Stadium Associates who have in the past also sold pieces of Yankee Stadium turf.

A Super Bowl ring is a prized possession for a player or coach getting to the big game and winning.  However, most players and coaches do not wear the rings quite simply because of their size.  Players and coaches alike complain that it makes it difficult to put their hands in their pocket and or they get snagged on other items of clothing.  However, most coaches and players don’t sell their cherished Super Bowl rings, they either lose them or they get stolen and that is how they end up on the open market. As a matter of fact, I was reading a story recently of how John Elway almost lost his ring while dancing at a party after his Super Bowl win, luckily his twin sister was able to retrieve it.


Upcoming Estate Sales

Estate Sale, Friday & Saturday, February 12 -13, 2010, 389 Cherokee Drive, Cheektowaga, New York; Royal Doulton, Oil Paintings, Staffordshire; John Urtel Estate Sales; 716.433.0859

Estate Sale, Saturday, February 13, 2010, 301 Fawn Haven Way, Morgantown, West Virginia; Model Home, Furniture, Decorative Arts, Lamps; Golden Estate Sales; 724.941.8373

Estate Sale, Saturday – Monday, February 13 – 15, 2010, 2605 Londonderry, Alexandria, Virginia; Fiesta, Spode, McCoy Pottery, Furniture; Emerald Estate Sales; 703.582.1135


Hair jewelry became very popular during the mid 1800’s, so much so that many magazine articles and books were authored about the jewelry and how to make it.  Hair jewelry became an art form and “hairwork” was done by many companies and institutions, especially in Europe.  Working with the hair was tedious because it first had to be boiled and then separated and divided by strand and length of strands.  Bracelet, lockets, brooches and earrings were made of hair; soldiers leaving for war would leave a lock of hair with their family’s to be made into remembrance jewelry if they died in battle.


Alberto Giacometti was born in 1901 in Borgonovo, Switzerland and although an accomplished painter and printmaker, he is best known as a sculptor with surrealist sculptures being his most famous works.  His sculptures are easily identified because of their elongated limbs and stretched out torsos and everything is thin including the sculpted heads.  Originally, his sculptures were small, four or five inches tall.  However, later in life he created larger pieces such as L’Homme qui Marche I, which was about six feet tall.