The History and Resurgence of Mexican Silver

Beginning in the 1930s, silver workshops clustered in the mining town of Taxco spearheaded a revival in this traditional craft in Mexico.

At the same time, the artists and artisans working there took a new direction in design that mixed age-old motifs from native cultures with 20th century Modernism. The objects and jewelry they produced have become extremely popular with discerning collectors. Each piece provides a hands-on aesthetic appeal when used or worn. In other words, this silver makes daily life a little more beautiful.

Mexican silver dinner bell, circa 1960, marked ‘William Spratling, Taxco Mexico.’ Heritage Auctions image

In a past auction, Cincinnati Art Galleries offered a large group of Mexican silver, much of it from a single collection. Karen Singleton, who, at the time, was the firm’s art glass expert, explained, “This was the first time we had a round of Mexican silver. I accepted the lots because I keep telling them that we could sell more than pottery and glass.” The pieces were signed by many important makers in this field, including Williams Spratling, Frederick Davis, Hector Aguilar, Los Castillo, and Margot de Taxco.

Part of the sale was devoted to hollowware of silver and mixed metals, including a teapot, coffee pot, and chocolate pot by Spratling. There was also a selection of jewelry, some set with Mexican amethyst, malachite, and onyx. Singleton said, “I appreciate the jewelry. I put some of the necklaces on and was amazed how comfortable and light they were… They contoured themselves to the body.”

Any story of modern Mexican silver begins with the biography of artist and author William Spratling (1900-1967), who served as a catalyst for the industry’s revival. Born in New York state, he was an associate professor of architecture during the 1920s at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he shared a French Quarter apartment with author William Faulkner. He first traveled to Mexico to study architecture, then became enchanted with Taxco, and moved there in 1929.

Drawn by the inspirational scenery and post-revolutionary spirit of the country, many artists and writers lived and worked south of the border. Spratling met American writer Hart Crane, who finished one of his last great poems in Taxco, and became friends with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, for whom he organized an exhibition in New York. Looking for a way to support himself as an expatriate artist, Spratling noted the city’s silver-mining history and opened a workshop, the Taller de las Delicias (Factory of Delights). He would later write: “Nineteen-thirty-one was a notable year in modern Mexican silversmithing. A young silversmith from Iguala named Artemio Navarrete went to Taxco to work for a small silver shop, founded with the germ of an idea, where Artemio as a nucleus, began to form silversmiths. The present writer, encouraged by his friends Moises Saenz, Dwight Morrow and Diego Rivera, had set up that little shop called ‘Las Delicias.'”

Large silver bracelet with malachite stones, marked ‘Spratling Made in Mexico.’ Courtesy Treadway Gallery.

The major authority on Spratling’s work is Penny Chittim Morrill, Ph.D., who co-authored Mexican Silver: 20th Century Hand-wrought Jewelry & Silver with art dealer Carole Berk. Morrill served as Guest Curator for the 2002 traveling exhibition William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance: Maestros de Plata, organized by the San Diego Museum of Art.

In her catalog essay, Morrill wrote, “In establishing silver as an artistic medium, what Spratling achieved was a delicate balance, a synthesis of abstract tendencies in the existent folk art tradition and in contemporary fine art, resulting in a visualization of concepts and ideas. As importantly, the Taller de las Delicias became the paradigm for other silver designers to follow. Las Delicias was a community in which imagination and innovation were fostered and encouraged as the men learned the art of silversmithing while producing for profit. In the hierarchy of the workshop, these silversmiths advanced according to their ability, enthusiasm, and technical expertise.”

Many alumni of Spratling’s workshop eventually ‘graduated’ to set up shop on their own. Antonio Castillo, who became a master silversmith there, left in 1939 with his brothers to establish their own successful Taller and shop, Los Castillo, on the Plazuela Bernal. Hector Aguilar, who had managed Spratling’s shop, also left in 1939 taking a number of silversmiths with him to found the Taller Borda.

Not all Mexican silver was marked by the maker. This 4 3/8-inch-wide silver cuff bracelet with a traditional feathered-serpent pattern is stamped 950 for the silver content. Courtesy Cincinnati Art Galleries.

One of the most important silversmiths from an artistic standpoint, Taxco native Antonio Pineda began his career studying painting at the Open Air School of Taxco, established by Japanese artist Tamichi Kitagawa who lived with his family. After further studies in popular arts and sculpture, he worked as an assistant in Spratling’s workshop and opened his own studio in 1941. A 1944 exhibition in San Francisco led to an early commercial coup, when his entire presentation of 80 objects was purchased by a prestigious northern California store, Gump’s.

Although he was born into the artistic tradition of Mexico, some of his most successful works of hollowware and jewelry are modernist, even futurist in concept. Examine the sculptural shapes of the circa-1960 tea service design, illustrated here as a set which sold in a 2005 Sotheby’s Modernism auction for $39,000. Morrill and Berk commented on the design in Mexican Silver: “Antonio Pineda has molded and manipulated the material to effectively convey an aesthetic idea. The sugar and creamer and teapot are no longer simply utilitarian vessels, but have taken on the qualities of works of art.”

Mexican silversmiths produced tableware for all aesthetic tastes. This pair of sterling silver candelabra in traditional style (height 20 inches, weight 184 troy ounces). Courtesy Cincinnati Art Galleries.

Most of the silver sought by collectors today was produced during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Spratling continued designing jewelry and serving pieces until his death in a car accident near Taxco in 1967. Books, such as the references mentioned above, are extremely useful because success bred many imitators; popular designs were quickly copied by competitors.

The Taxco output ranges from the dramatic silver necklaces and cuff bracelets of great weight made by Spratling’s workshop, to the less interesting trinkets made for tourists. Many travelers stopped at the silversmithing town, just off the main road from Mexico City to Acapulco. Pieces they brought back with them turn up at auctions and antique shows throughout the United States. Evaluating the quality and value of vintage Mexican silver takes considerable study. Sterling – 925 parts silver in a thousand – is the standard, but pieces in higher grade silver were made and may be stamped “980” or even “990.”

Penny Morrill said at the time of the Spratling exhibition, “You have to envision this market that was created by Spratling; he created opportunity for thousands. At any one time, there were so many silversmiths working in Taxco itself and a number working in Guadalajara and Mexico City marking their pieces ‘Taxco.’ They were sending their stuff to Taxco because they knew that was where people were buying.”

Morrill noted that even works by unknown makers can have merit: “A lot of the material is in 980 silver, a lot of it is interesting, you put it on, and it makes this incredible statement. I tell people over and over again, if you like it, wear it. If it costs $150, go for it, if it makes you crazy. It may be that one stellar moment when this little silversmith had a wonderful idea.”

Kevin Tierney, silver consultant to Sotheby’s in New York, has a great admiration for the best Mexican designers and their creations. Tierney said of Spratling, “He woke them up, he combined American know-how with an appreciation of their cultural history. They had the silver, and he provided the employment for artisans who needed it. I love the mix – a bit of European style with the motifs of Mexico enhanced by their superb ability to handcraft the silver.”

Interested in seeing more beautiful Mexican silver? Take a look at this week’s Mexican silver auction here.

Adapted from original piece by Karla Klein Albertson in Auction Central News

Travel Through Time in 7 Prints

This curated mix of modern and antique prints spans from the 19th all the way through to the 20th century. Join us on this journey through time in 7 unique prints and works on paper.

Indian Decor Sheet

This original chromolithograph of Indian décor from Das Polychrome Ornament by Albert Racinet and Owen Jones (1871, Paris) is complemented by a fine frame.

Indian decor sheet, 1871, original chromolithograph of Indian decor from ‘Das Polychrome Ornament’ by Albert Racinet and Owen Jones, Paris, 1871, framed, 19.5in x 24in. Estimate: $450-$550. Jasper52 image


Victorian Colored Lithographs

This pair of beautiful Victorian women depicted in large color lithographs makes an appearance in matching oval frames.

Pair of Victorian colored lithographs behind glass on gold, in gilt wood oval frame with high relief details. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image


Audubon’s Baltimore Oriole Print

John James Audubon’s original Princeton Audubon print of Orioles (505/1500) is framed under UV protective glass and expected to sell for $1,300-$1,700. This is a stunning example of a print fusing illustration and history to display wonder of the natural world.

Audubon’s Baltimore Oriole print, original limited edition Princeton Audubon print of Orioles (505/1500), framed. Estimate: $1,300-$1,700. Jasper52 image


Keith Haring Signed NYC Peech Boys LP

The first of several Keith Haring works includes this LP album cover for the NYC Peech Boys titled “Life is Something Special.” This was designed and signed by Haring himself, and dated 1983.

NYC Peech Boys LP “Life is Something Special”, Signed by Keith Haring, 1983. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000


See, Hear, Speak, No Evil

This Keith Haring marker and paint on paper print is signed by the artist and dates to 1988.

Keith Haring, ‘See, Hear, Speak, No Evil,’ marker and paint on paper, signed ‘K. Haring 88.’ Estimate: $2,000-$4,000. Jasper52 image


5 Dancing Men

The final standout Keith Haring work is ‘5 Dancing Men’ dated to 1989.

Keith Haring, ‘5 Dancing Men,’ marker on paper, signed ‘K. Haring 89.’ Estimate: $2,000-$4,000. Jasper52 image


The Angel Series Poster

Bringing us nearly to the brink of the 21st century is this The Angel Series poster signed by artist Peter Max, dated to 1999.

Peter Max signed poster, ‘The Angel Series,’ signed in black felt pen and dated 1999. Estimate: $500-$1,000. Jasper52 image


For more unique antique and modern prints, take a look at the full catalog of prints, multiples and works on paper.

Venetian Glass With a Touch of Whimsy

Many fine examples of 20th century Venetian art glass are featured in this week’s Designer Glass Auction. The collection features vases, bowls, and sculptures that were crafted on the Venetian island of Murano, which has been a glassmaking center since the 13th century.

Examples of the Venetian glass range from a colorful swirl bowl signed Pauly Venezia to a rare Murano white over black art glass vase designed by Italian architect Rodolfo Dordoni.

Murano hand-blown art glass swirling bowl signed Pauly Venezia. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image


A pair of Ansolo Fuga designed “mood” face drinking glasses are a 1960s reinvention of his original enamel face glasses made three decades earlier. In the style of Jean Cocteau, they feature three different faces: smiley, sad or annoyed, and kissing face. Each eye becomes part of the next face as the glass is turned.

Pair of Murano hand-blown art glass ‘mood’ face drinking glasses, designer Ansolo Fuga, 1960s. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Another whimsical piece is a large Murano parrot, which is documented to the Seguso Vetri d’Arte company. The art glass sculpture stands almost 11 inches tall.

Murano hand-blown art glass parrot sculpture, Seguso Vetri D’ Arte, 10 3/4in. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Just as rare, is this Murano glass hand-blown abstract pitcher vase with a deep green and flashed iridescent color. This beautiful piece is documented as a Giorgio Ferro “Anse Volante” piece for the A.Ve.M. (Arte Vetraria Muranese) company. The stylish modern design is 14 inches high and carries a $3,000-$4,000 estimate.

Murano hand-blown deep green and flashed iridescent art glass pitcher vase, Giorgio Ferro ‘Anse Volante’ piece for the A.Ve.M. (Arte Vetraria Muranese). Estimate: $3,000-$4,000. Jasper52 image


A little less whimsical, but no less delightful, is this 1920s Murano Soffiati blue art glass vase attributed to Vittorio Zecchin and V.S.M. Capellin Venini & Co.

Murano Soffiati blue art glass vase with dimpled surface and applied handles flower vase, attributed to Vittorio Zecchin, V.S.M. Capellin Venini & C., circa circa 1920s-1930s, 11 1/2 in high. Estimate: $4,000-$5,000. Jasper52 image


This last unusual lot is a colorful arrangement of German hand-blown glass tulips from the 1920s. It’s almost a sure thing these ones will never wilt.

Arrangement of 19 German hand-blown glass tulips, circa 1920s-1930s. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image


View the full catalog filled with beautifully crafted objects, including art glass paperweights and Waterford crystal.

Fraktur: Americana with a German Accent

Fraktur (pronounced frahk-toor), in the simplest terms, is a distinctive letter style with origins in 16th-century Europe.

However, upon viewing examples of fraktur created by Pennsylvania Germans in the 18th and 19th centuries, “simple” is hardly fitting.

To better understand fraktur, which is seen by many as both a resplendent form of folk art and a remarkable record of many German-American colonial families, we turned to Patricia Earnest, owner of Earnest Archives and Library – a private library devoted to researching Pennsylvania German genealogy recorded in the form of fraktur.

What role does fraktur serve in history?

Fraktur is an Americanized “catch-all” term referring to the 18th and 19th-century decorated manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans. Taufschein (singular) or Taufscheine (plural) are the birth and baptismal records of the predominately Lutheran and German Reformed denominations. In terms of those that exist, Taufscheine dominate the fraktur field. Bookplates, religious texts, writing exercises, birth and baptismal certificates, confirmation certificates, bible records, and even pictures without writing, all fall under our broad definition of “fraktur.”

In Europe, the term fraktur refers to an archaic style of writing. Birth and baptisms were documented in the local church book so the reigning lord could track his subjects for taxation and conscription. In colonial America, many families purchased their Taufschein, which was usually drawn by a schoolmaster. It was a personal record, not an official document. After Taufscheine started to to be mass-produced on the printing press (after 1780), they became less expensive, which made them available to almost all German-speaking families. The artwork enhanced their appeal, prompting fraktur to be valued for many generations, even after the family could no longer read German. My mother used to say that the earlier fraktur represented the freedom and liberties that had not been available to them in Europe.

Birth fraktur by Jacob Crop(th), circa 1809, Daniel Wiessler, Rockingham Co., watercolor and ink on paper, with imagery featuring two parrots perched on a floral vine with tulips above the inscribed, 7 ¾” x 12 ¼”, commanded $26,950 at Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates, June 18, 2016 auction.


Tip: The date shown on fraktur may not necessarily represent when it was made. Many Taufscheine were drawn, or data filled in on printed sheets, years after the child was born.


For someone interested in beginning a collection, what themes or similarities among fraktur could someone base a collection?

One of the most important reasons to collect might be the desire to document the history of a particular family. Others collect specific artists, motifs, geographical locations, or scriveners who created fraktur. One collector is known to pursue only fraktur that feature red as the predominant color. The possibilities for collecting extend as far as one’s imagination.


What type of clues can people look for to ascertain that a fraktur is authentic?

This advice could apply to anything being collected: Ask yourself, “is it too good to be true?” If so, stay away.

In the case of paper, know your paper. Check the paper type to see if it is consistent with the age of the piece. As an example, if an item is dated prior to 1785 or so, it should be on laid paper (ladders running through). Look at the paper coloring and condition. Sometimes, a faker might draw a picture on a piece of older paper, such as a ledger page. In that case, the paper is old but the artwork is not, so proceed carefully.

Many forgers may not know how to duplicate or read German fraktur lettering or script, so their handwriting looks forced or cramped. For that reason, many fakers recreate pictures, as opposed to forging an illustration with writing.


Tip: Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Wilmington, Delaware) recently held an exhibition that presented real and fake fraktur side by side. Collectors should take advantage of exhibits such as this one, and any other events where genuine fraktur are shown, to become familiar with the paper, ink, and all aspects of fraktur.


What do you appreciate most about fraktur and its presence in German-American history?

Ask three different people and you will get three different answers. I like looking at history through the eyes of our ancestors.

Can you imagine making that journey, saying goodbye to everyone you knew and loved, to set foot onto colonial shores, then experiencing a freedom never before known by Europeans from German-speaking areas? They sometimes faced awful conditions and poverty here, as they often arrived with nothing, but were so proud they bought these certificates as testaments of their family. In my mom’s case, she loved the genealogy on fraktur. Unlike our English counterparts, the mother’s maiden name was usually recorded. In that way, their histories can be followed.

Ink and watercolor on laid paper fraktur birth certificate by Johann Congrad Gilbert, for Eliesabeth Kunkel, dated 1815, Albany Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The central script flanked by two trumpeting male angels, 8” x 13 ¼”, sold for $56,182 at Pook & Pook, Inc., Nov. 11, 2011 auction.

Is there an example of fraktur that simply took your breath away when you saw it?

Too many have taken our breath away to be counted, but my particular favorite is one by Christian Mertel (1739-1802). I adore his lions.


The work your family has done over the decades to index various examples of fraktur has resulted in an impressive cache. It is from this index that you draw on the information that appear in the many references you and your parents have authored over the years, as well as the newsletter you regularly deploy, correct?

The archive contains over 40,000 fraktur. As each fraktur has approximately four or more surnames (child, parents, witnesses and preacher), the name index would be over 200,000. Additionally, we are trying to catalog examples of Pennsylvania German broadside printing. Yes, we use this archive for book and article ideas.

Shenandoah Valley of Virginia Taufschein fraktur attributed to Jacob Strikler, watercolor and ink on paper, circa 1806, Susanna Rothgeb Rockbridge, Co. Two Federal eagles with heart-shaped breast medallions, tulips, and a characteristic polychrome diamond border frame the central inscribed reserve, 7 5/8” x 12 ¼”. The document realized $31,200 at Jeffrey s. Evans & Associates, June 20, 2015 auction.

What does it mean to continue the valued work your parents began?

Everything. Mom and Dad embraced every aspect of the Pennsylvania German fraktur culture. I am more focused on printing by Pennsylvania Germans, which has largely been ignored by historians; although the German-language printers were an important part of America’s printing history.

I like being able to share these connections with other groups. For example, I just wrote about William Young, a Philadelphia printer and Delaware papermaker, who advertised the loss of a runaway family. The Janney family  had been indentured to work in Young’s Delaware Paper Mill. The Delaware Bibliophiles just published the article in their periodical, Endpapers. I like these connections between American subcultures, which are often made visible via the certificates and papers they left behind.

Patricia Earnest received her undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico. In 2005 she joined Russell D. Earnest Associates and the Earnest Archives and Library as an archivist, researcher, and writer. She is the lead author of The Hanging of Susanna Cox: The True Story of Pennsylvania’s Most Notorious Infanticide and the Legend That’s Kept It Alive (2010). She also authored Kids and Kin: The Family History Vacation That Involves Kids (1997). Patricia currently serves on the Board of the Children’s Theater in Dover, Delaware.


Russell and the late Corinne Earnest spent more than four decades recording and indexing Pennsylvania German genealogical data recorded on fraktur, and the elements that reside within this umbrella. The couple founded the Earnest Archives and Library, and later established the publishing firm Russell D. Earnest Associates. The firm publishes books and articles pertaining to fraktur, Taufscheine, Pennsylvania German broadsides, family registers, Bible records, family histories, and other documents. View the latest book by this firm, The Jungmann Woodblock Fraktur Artist and a Peek At Other Woodblock Artists, published in 2016, as well as many other related references here.

6 Vintage Toys with Lasting Value

In this technological age, the lasting value of vintage toys is not to be underestimated. A century’s worth of toys has been curated into a prized collection that allows bidders to indulge their nostalgia for trains, planes and automobiles. Here are 6 standouts from the auction’s collection:

Technofix Wind-Up Tin Motorcycle

Technofix windup tin motorcycle with original box, 5in x 7 1/2in x 2 3/4in. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image

The popularity of mid-20th century toys is reflected in a trio of dramatically different models offered in this auction. Leading the parade is this postwar tin wind-up Technofix motorcycle. The bike is marked “Made in U.S. Zone Germany,” while the hard-to-find illustrated box is marked “Made in Western Germany.” In all-original, as-found working condition, this toy is estimated at $750-$1,000.


Nosco Friction Indian Motorcycle

Nosco friction Indian motorcycle with sidecar, early plastic police cycle, 5 1/2 inches. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image

The Nosco Indian police motorcycle with a sidecar has friction drive that produces a siren-like sound. This early plastic toy has a rare color and an adjustable front wheel, which allows the toy to run straight or in a circle.


Globe Cast Iron Indian Motorcycle

Globe cast-iron Indian motorcycle, 1930s, 8 3/4 in long. Estimate: $1,300-$1,700. Jasper52 image

The traditional choice in motorcycle toys is the cast-iron Indian with rider from the 1930s. The all-original bike is nearly 9 inches long and rides on black rubber tires.


Horse Drawn Wooden Wagon Toy

Horse-drawn wooden coal cart, 1920s, made by S.A. Smith Brattleboro Vt., 24in long. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image

From the 1920s comes a horse-drawn coal wagon toy, which is stamped with the maker’s name, “S.A. Smith, Brattleboro, VT” on both the base of the horse and the wooden cart. The 24-inch long toy is all original with an old repair to the cart.


Kai Bojesen Toy Dachsund

Kai Bojesen toy dachshund, articulated, mahogany, 12 1/2in long, 1934. Estimate: $800-$1,200. Jasper52 image

Kai Bojesen, an iconic figure in Danish design, earned worldwide acclaim for his collection of wooden toys, notably his monkey and toy soldiers. In 1934 he designed a dachsund made of mahogany. The head, tail and legs of this rare 12 1/2 inch long dog all swivel. In excellent vintage condition, this highly collectible toy is expected to find a new home for $800-$1,200.


Buddy L Tank Truck

Buddy L tank truck, 1926, original condition. 26in long. Estimate: $2,000-$2,800. Jasper52 image

Perhaps saving the best for last, here we have a 1926 Budy L tanker truck in fine original condition. The early Buddy L trucks are considered the Cadillacs of “floor toys,” large in scale and built of heavy gauge steel. Manufactured in Moline, Ill., this 26-inch long model is estimated at $2,000-$2,800.

View the full collection of vintage toys including dolls, stuffed toy animals and tin windup characters.

A Vintage Porcelain Collection with Loads of European Elegance

Exquisite European ceramic wares comprise much of the catalog for this week’s Vintage Porcelain sale. From teapots to plates, vases to candlesticks, this collection has it all and delivers with elegance. Here are 6 standout pieces from the collection.

A large ceramic tray designed by Carl Sigmund Luber (1868-1933) and produced by the ceramics firm of Johann von Schwarz in Nuremberg, Germany at the turn of the 20th century is a remarkable example of of Art Nouveau style. The tray, estimated at $700-$1,000, features a hand-painted design of a young woman’s profile with yellow poppies and has a majolica glaze. The nickel-plated, or possibly silver-plated, copper frame has handles on two sides.

Art Nouveau ceramic tray by Carl Sigmund Luber, circa 1901, manufactured by Johann von Schwarz, Nuremberg, Germany. Estimate: $700-$1,000. Jasper52 image


18 pieces of mid-19th century Louis-Philippe Paris porcelain dinnerware consists of plates, cups, and saucers. Decorated in royal blue and gold, this lot is estimated at $700-$1,000.

Eighteen pieces of Louis-Philippe Paris porcelain dinnerware, mid-19th century. Estimate: $700-$1,000. Jasper52 image


A rare pair of antique Sampson French porcelain lamps, each measuring approximately 20 inches base to socket and 25 inches overall, is estimated at $600-$700.

Pair of antique Sampson French porcelain lamps decorated with an armorial crest and faces. Estimate: $600-$700. Jasper52 image


Minton china has been made in the Staffordshire region of England since 1793. 12 Minton luncheon plates made for Tiffany & Co. in the early 1900s are offered at $600-$900. The plates are hand-painted in gold, red and brown decoration.

Twelve Minton luncheon plates for Tiffany & Co., hand-painted decoration, early 1900s. Estimate: $600-$900. Jasper52 image


A pair of large Spanish revival garden pots features superbly rendered Renaissance motifs. The palm and the oranges adorning these antique garden pots link them to California. They are estimated at $800-$1,000.

Spanish Revival glazed garden pots, Renaissance motifs, 16in diameter x 12in high. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Rounding out this 100-lot collection are pieces made in America, like the Claycraft relief tile in the form of an architectural surround. Two small corner nicks are noted on this delicately molded item, which is estimated at $700-$800.

Claycraft decorative relief tile, strongly defined architectural surround featuring peafowl. Estimate: $700-$800. Jasper52 image


On the hunt for more porcelain finds? View the full collection featuring additional highlights such as a Jasperware teapot and a Russian Imperial coffee service by Gardner.

Why 1960s Vintage Watches Are So Popular

This week, our collection of vintage watches focuses on timepieces from one decade – the 1960s. Watches from this time period are among the most highly collected and feature many of our favorite brands known for design, function, and precision. Here are 6 standouts from this 1960s collection for which we’d absolutely turn our clocks back.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

This 1967 watch has an automatic Rolex movement that functions precisely and is in beautiful condition. With its original 14K gold and stainless steel band, the watch is expected to sell for $6,000-$12,000.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual, 1967, stainless steel with solid 14K gold bezel, original Rolex 14K gold and stainless band. Estimate: $6,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image


Breitling TransOcean Chronometre

This rare 1960 piece features an automatic chronometer movement in an 18K solid gold case. In excellent condition, there’s no doubt you’ll be placing a bid on this handsome watch.

Breitling Trans Ocean, chronometer 1960s, 18K gold. Estimate: $5,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image


IWC Schaffhausen Automatic

This Swiss-made International Watch Co. Schaffhausen model dress watch has a mechanical automatic movement in a stainless steel case. Perfect for the stylish occasion.

Men’s Swiss IWC Schaffhausen dress watch, 1960s, stainless steel case. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Jasper52 image


LeCoultre Manual

This LeCoultre wristwatch has a bold design in 19K gold-filled case. The manual-wind watch by the Swiss luxury watch and clock maker is in excellent condition.

Swiss-made LeCoultre 10K gold filled manual wind watch, 1960s. Estimate: $1,300-$2,000. Jasper52 image


Omega DeVille

And finally for the ladies, this Omega DeVille dress watch in an Andrew Grima design is a perfect throwback to the 1960s while maintaining a timeless fashion.

Swiss-made Omega DeVille women’s dress watch, Andrew Grima design, 1960s. Estimate: $900-$1,800. Jasper52 image

6 Rugs To Make Your Living Room Even Cozier

There are over 100 beautiful and lush Persian rugs in this week’s collection, but today we’re going to highlight just six for you to lust over.

Woven in village workshops, these ornate rugs reveal a variety of intricate designs. Whether floral or geometric, each rug pattern retains a sense of elegance and refinement. These carpets carry as much utilitarian as artistic value, accentuating any home with their rich tradition.

A handmade Tabriz area rug, about 7-by-10 feet, is one of the top picks in the auction. This original home decor floor covering was made by the hands of artistic skillful weavers inspired by ancient designs.

Genuine handmade Tabriz area rug, 6 feet 8 inches x 9 feet 11 inches. Estimate: $1,150-$2,650. Jasper52 image


Another standout is a big and bold handmade Bakhtiari, which measures about 9-by-12 feet, perfect for your living room or den.

Bakhtiari rug, handmade, 8 feet 8 inches x 11 feet 8 inches. Estimate: $1,725-$3,975. Jasper52 image


A masterfully woven Persian Hamadan rug features intricately done hybrid geometrical and floral borders. The 5-by-10 rug is lamb’s wool on a cotton foundation.

Persian Hamadan rug, 5 feet 2 inches x 10 feet, hand woven, lamb’s wool on cotton foundation, natural vegetable dye. Estimate: $550-$800. Jasper52 image


A smaller Persian Hamadan rug of lamb’s wool projects great contrast in the variety of colors in all natural vegetable dye.

Handmade Persian Hamadan, 4 feet 10 inches x 3 feet 4 inches, lamb’s wool pile on cotton foundation, all natural vegetable dye. Estimate: $270-$400. Jasper52 image


This Chinese Peking area rug represents the period immediately following World War I when rug production moved from Ningxia and other interior centers to the capital.

Antique Chinese Peking rug, 8 feet 7 inches x 5 feet 11 inches. Estimate: $2,500-$3,500. Jasper52 image


A colorful transitional design area rug made of stain-resistant polypropylene pile was made in Turkey on a power loom.

Transitional design area rug, power loom-made in Turkey of polypropylene pile, 5 feet 3 inches x 7 feet 7 inches. Estimate: $280-$640. Jasper52 image

Additional pieces in the auction catalog include a French wall tapestry and an antique American hooked rug. Click here to view the full catalog and begin decorating your home.

Georg Jensen: Godfather of Danish Modern Silver

In the realm of silversmithing, the name Georg Jensen is the epitome of the craft. Longtime collectors seek out Art Nouveau-influenced Jensen hollowware – the large tableware that is both highly decorative and functional. Younger consumers, on the other hand, tend to favor the modernist flatware and jewelry – the more-affordable pieces that still reflect the uncompromising quality long associated with the Jensen marque.

“It’s like the names Tiffany and Cartier,” said Michael Millea, co-owner of Millea Bros. Ltd., the Madison, N.J.-based auction house. “Jensen is the kind of thing that is always popular.”

Georg Jensen Sterling Silver “Melon” Bowl, designed in 1911 by Georg Jensen. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Jasper52 image


The Georg Jensen name takes in more than just the creations of the artist himself. More than 90 craftsmen worked for the firm during the founder’s lifetime and beyond, covering some 95 years of production and an evolution of styles. Born in 1866 in Dyrehaven, Denmark, Jensen was trained as a goldsmith, sculptor and ceramicist.

His best-selling products in the early years, however, were silver rings, brooches, bracelets and hat pins, adorned with amber, malachite, moonstones and opals. They weren’t costly to make or purchase, and they appealed to middle-class shoppers. Jensen’s style reflected themes from nature, in tune with the Arts & Crafts movement in England and Art Nouveau in France. The pieces were all carefully, lovingly handmade, as if each were a work of art unto itself, as opposed to the machine-stamped, mass-produced lines of the Industrial Revolution.

Pyramid pattern flatware set, service of 12, designed by Georg Jensen. Sold for $1,800. Jasper52 image


The Jensen craftsmanship was then carried over to the production of flatware and hollowware. His teapot with a floral motif called Magnolia was expanded into a full tea or coffee service. His work in utilitarian pieces blossomed into bowls, boxes, pitchers, candelabra, chandeliers, clocks, dishes and trays.

Finding and being able to acquire those large pieces from the Jensen workshops has become increasingly difficult, according to Millea.

This sterling silver cake service, with stylized bud handle, was designed by Georg Jensen in 1945. Courtesy of Brunk Auctions


Robin Rice, silver specialist at Brunk Auctions in Asheville, N.C., said Jensen hollowware is still appearing on the market, often coming from the shelves of collectors who are downsizing. They tend to end up in the hands of
 other advanced collectors, though.

Younger customers tend to pay more attention to Jensen jewelry, such as brooches, cufflinks and tie clips, or to the flatware, said Michael Millea. His design-conscious peers are often more interested in the “clean-lined” designs. “The Pyramid-patterned flatware and the fluted patterns appeal to the modernist aesthetic that is so popular now.”


Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Large Meat Platter or Serving Tray No. 290B, Circa: 1930’s. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Jasper52 image


Rice said the most desirable, larger pieces are the trays, pitchers and bowls. Flatware designed by Georg Jensen himself, particularly in the Grapevine and Blossom patterns, are also highly sought after and remain among the more affordable Jensen products. While the Jensen artists intended their work to be beautiful objects that could and should be used, collectors of the hollowware and flatware don’t always concur. “Whether it’s Jensen or English silver or something else, there are certain collectors who like to surround themselves with antiques and feel that using them is part of owning them, and that they should be used,” Millea has found. “And there are certain people who feel just the opposite – that they should be looked at and admired but not used. That’s true in most collecting categories, whether it’s Jensen or other antiques.”

A 1945 sterling beaker by Georg Jensen. Courtesy of Brunk Auctions


Jensen Jewelry

Interest in jewelry produced by the Jensen workshops is stronger than ever, according to Gloria Lieberman, director of Fine Jewelry at the Boston headquarters of auction and appraisal company Skinner Inc.

Jensen sterling silver and green onyx necklace. Courtesy of Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers


“I think the popularity is growing because there is a larger population looking at Jensen (through) the Internet,” Lieberman explained. And because Jensen pieces are easily identified by their name and number, the Internet is a reliable marketplace, she said. Web searchers are purchasing Jensen’s modernist styles, many of which were not as popular a mere 10 years ago. And the hottest trend in Jensen jewelry is the gold line. The name Jensen is primarily associated with silver, but at age 14 Georg Jensen apprenticed with a goldsmith in Copenhagen. So gold actually goes back to the designer’s roots, as well.

“It has been around for a while,” Lieberman said, “but nobody cared about it years ago…not until the last year or two.”


Georg Jensen Silver Moonstone Bracelet, made by Georg Jensen in Denmark circa 1926. Estimate: $3,500-$5,000. Jasper52 image


Collectors still chase after the larger silver pieces as well. “The bigger and drippier, the better,” Lieberman said. “But those pieces were not in large production, so they fetch a high price.” Past sales at Skinner have seen the sale of a large brooch and early necklace, each reaching the $10,000 range. “It is, of course, about rarity,” Lieberman added.
 Jensen’s jewelry was not always so dear in price. “He was part of the Art Nouveau movement, and that was not about using precious stones and precious materials. It was about handcrafted floral designs. It was about silver, and the look of jewelry forged by hand.” In Jensen pieces, the hammered work and markings are plainly visible, and the stones were not the principal concern.

“But customers loved his combination of amber and green stones. Collectors love the moonstones still.”


By Alan Jaffe

Adapted from original article appearing in Auction Central News

A Trip Around the World Through Historical Maps

Maps are snapshots of world history. They record the result of battles, migrations and the birth of new nations. Enthusiasts collect maps for various reasons. The mind, the eye, and the heart all play a role in making new acquisitions.

For serious scholars, maps are crucial documents that present reality on the ground at a particular date. They reveal the borderlines in a year of conflict or the growth of cities during and after a period of global exploration. Rarity is more important than condition; a single example may reveal information that was previously unknown to anyone.

Maps can be as ornamental as they are informative. Cartographers were not content with just the ground plan; artists added ornamental borders, stately personifications of a city or state, and even mythological monsters swimming in the oceans.

Maps hold extra visual appeal when displayed in groups of three or four. Maps can reveal details of the place and time when ancestors were born or record pleasant details of special events – a honeymoon in France, gap year in New Zealand, anniversary cruise to Alaska – a map that recalls a special memory will bring a smile every time you walk past it.

Cuba with Havana Inset

Cuba with Havana inset, 1902, 14½ x 22in. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Thanks to improved diplomatic relations, a new wave of American travelers is discovering the rich cultural heritage of the island-nation of Cuba. The date of the map shown above – 1902 – was a crucial year for the country; American occupation had ended and a free Republic of Cuba was born.


Map of North America

1850 Map of North America by Thomas Cowperthwait. Image courtesy of Jasper52

This 1850 Map of North America by Thomas Cowperthwait is a colorful lesson in global spheres of influence. Canada remained a British possession until 1867, and Russia ruled Alaska until Seward’s purchase of the territory that same year. The Southwestern United States were still in transition. Texas declared statehood in 1845 and California in 1850, but Arizona and New Mexico would remain Mexican territories until 1912.


Map of France

1829 Malte-Brun Map of France. Image courtesy of Jasper52

Maps approach their subjects with different objectives. This 1829 Malte-Brun Map of France indicates not only the region’s settlements and topography, but also its political divisions.


Map of the Low Countries

1753 Homann Map of the Low Countries. Image courtesy of Jasper52

Anyone with ancestry from Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxembourg can trace family history on this detailed Map of the Low Countries with counties carefully outlined in color. An elaborate cartouche depicts the heraldic shields of the 17 provinces, as well as Neptune and Hermes with a globe illustrating the Dutch East Indies. The 1753 map was printed by Homann, Nurnberg.


Map of Virginia

1855 map of Virginia printed by G.W. Colton shows the state before West Virginia became a state of its own. Image courtesy of Jasper52

This map from G.W. Colton was printed in 1855 and shows Virginia as it looked before West Virginia became a separate state and six years before the beginning of the Civil War. Its insets depict the cities of Richmond and Norfolk.


Map of Northern Russia

1792 de L’Isle Map of Russia. Image courtesy of Jasper52

This attractive 1792 de L’Isle map covers northern Russia, from the Arctic Ocean and Finland to just beyond the Petzora River. It highlights in detail the topography, along with numerous villages, towns and roads. Its colorful cartouche features putti and a variety of scientific instruments. This important map of the European portion of the Russian Empire of the late 16th century is a testament to how much change has occurred in the area that eventually became the Soviet Union.

If you’ve purchased a map that is not already framed, it is wise to choose a frame shop with experience in mounting fragile documents. Once preserved with acid-free materials and sun-resistant glass, your map becomes a handsome virtual time capsule of geographic history to adorn your home or office.

By Karla Klein Albertson