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More than thirty years ago a criminal and armed home invasion took place at the home of the late Mae Persky, a wealthy woman from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The thieves ransacked the home and after tying up the inhabitants, including her nurse and companion, took valuables including three paintings that are today worth $1 million. The home invasion has never been solved and the perpetrators are still at large, but the paintings have now been returned to their rightful owner after a whirlwind route.
Mikey was driving through Arlington one day when he spots a truck broken down on the side of the road. He slows down and a man approaches his car and asks, “hey are you going to DC?” Mikey replies, “No, I wasn’t headed that way.” So the guy scratches his head and looks in total distress and says and tells Mikey that he has two chimps in the truck that he was supposed to get to the zoo. If he doesn’t get them there soon, he will be in trouble. “Look buddy,” he tells Mikey, “I’ll give you $100 if you take them to the zoo for me.” Mikey reluctantly agrees and after strapping the monkeys in the car he heads for DC.
Overshot glass was made by manufacturers such as Hobbs and Falcon Glassworks, from about 1870 to the early 1900’s and was used to cover glass defects on the surface of glass. The process to achieve this effect, which looks somewhat like crackle glass, was different in that the molten hot glass was rolled on a steel plate covered with smaller pieces of glass shards. The molten glass mixture was then returned to the oven and reheated to melt the shards and then blown to its desired shape. The thickness of the finished pieces often differed with this process but the outside of the glass was always smooth to the touch.
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Crackle Glass was first made by the Venetians in the 1500’s and the process was a little different. They took the molten hot glass and immersed it in water causing it to crack. The molten glass was then reheated to seal the cracks and either molded into shapes or hand blown. The difference between overshot glass and crackle glass is that on crackle glass, you can feel the cracks on the outside of the item. Many American companies have used this technique in the past including, Blenko, Pilgrim, and the Kanawha glass companies. Crackle glass has become very collectible in the recent past, especially the miniature amberina colored crackle glass pitchers made by Blenko.
The paintings, which were done by Gustav Courbet, William Hamilton and Childe Hassam, found their way into a little known antique dealers hands via an art auction. The dealer, William Conley, unaware that the paintings were stolen, used them as collateral to borrow money from his brother Patrick. For many years, the paintings hung in Patrick’s home unnoticed by frequent visitors to his home. Then one day Patrick decided to find out how much the paintings were worth and took them to an appraiser and this is where the story becomes even more interesting.
Rookwood Pottery originated in Mount Adams, Ohio in the late 1870’s and was founded by Maria Longworth Nichols. In the beginning, Ms. Nichols painted blank china items and later hired others to help her create one of the most renowned potteries in the world. He attention to detail and her quest for perfection led to making some of the most stunning if not perfect pieces of beautiful art pottery. This and the fact that Rookwood easily made the transitions from one era to another flawlessly, makes Rookwood Pottery some of the most sought after and desirable art pottery in the world.
The appraiser informed Patrick and the authorities that the paintings appeared on the national register listing stolen and lost art. Although bad news for Patrick, it was good news for Judith Yoffie’s family but not before a long and contested fight over the paintings that also included the insurance agency that had previously paid out on the loss. In the end, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi signed a consent where all three parties agreed that the Yoffie family were the rightful owners of the paintings, with Patrick Conley receiving a “finders fee” for recovering the stolen paintings.
Beatrix Potter was born Helen Beatrix Potter on July 28, 1866 in Kensington Square, London England. As a child she was isolated from other children but grew up in a privileged household where her nannies and governesses taught her how to draw and paint. Potter loved pets and spent much time as child both caring for and observing them at home as well as in the wild while on vacation in Scotland and the Lake District. She published her first children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and was very successful by the age of thirty. She went on to publish 23 more children’s books.
Sotheby’s in London reported this past week the sale of an original watercolor painting by renowned children’s book illustrator Beatrix Potter. The painting from The Rabbit Christmas Party sold for more than $578,700 dollars at auction and was only one of twenty illustrations and ephemera lots that sold for a total of more than $1.5 million. The painting set the record for the most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction and the buyer was a private British collector and not identified by the auction company.
The Virginia Beach Antiques Show makes its yearly appearance this month on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 1 – 3, 2008 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This show, which is billed as one of the oldest and most respected shows in the country, highlights over 130 dealers from 22 states and Canada. EMG Inc, are the promoters of this show and they insure that only quality merchandise is displayed by the dealers and vendors.
The show features fine period furniture, porcelains, rugs, art glass, Americana, antique lithographs and prints as well as original fine arts, books and vintage and antique lighting. This show which has come to town once per year since 1967 draws thousands of people, collectors and designers as well as the curious. The Virginia Beach Antiques Show is open from 10-6 on Friday and Saturday and from 12-5 on Sunday.
It is not unusual to find Rookwood Pottery in different styles and colors reflecting the eras it was produced in. From Victorian to Art Nouveau to Art Deco, Rookwood Pottery never lost a beat. They produced beautiful pieces and were the first to introduce some of the most striking glazes, such as Iris, Vellum, Sea Green and Ariel Blue. One of the last styles of Rookwood was Ombroso, which was used on cut pottery and was a very dark lusterless brown glaze. After its rise to greatness, Rookwood Pottery succumbed to the Great Depression and never totally recovered.
In 1941 Rookwood Pottery filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors. However, this was not the end of the great art pottery maker, because its fans have never let it die. There are still many Rookwood collectors and in 2004 a record auction price of more than $375,000 was realized for a piece of their art pottery. In addition, the company was revived in 2006 when The Rookwood Pottery Company purchased all that remained of the original company, including original molds, recipes and trademarks, allowing Rookwood Pottery to live on into the future.
Later in the afternoon, after finally getting the truck fixed, the truck driver is driving through DC and he spots Mikey walking along holding hands with the two chimps, much to the amazement of a large crowd. He brings his truck to a quick halt and asks Mikey why the chimps are not at the zoo. Mikey replies, “Well actually we have been there and it was free, so I figured I’d take them to see the other sites and then buy them some ice cream.”