Viking jewelry in Aug. 1 auction comes ready to wear

Rings, amulets and pendants dating back to the 8th through the 15th centuries – many of them made and worn by Vikings – will be sold in a Jasper52 auction on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The symbolic meaning in their shapes often embodies the great strength of Viking warriors who bore them. Also offered will be jewelry items worn by ancient Romans as well as early Christians.

Early Christian pilgrim’s ring, 7th-10th century, size 9, professionally refurbished with the gold overlay restored for contemporary wear. Estimate: $250-$300. Jasper 52 image

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Old West comes alive in Jasper52 auction Aug. 1

Relics of the Old West conjure up the dreams and visions of America in the second half of the 19th century. A Jasper52 auction on Wednesday, Aug. 1, is loaded with artifacts once used by ranchers, miners, lawmen, outlaws and Native Americans of that period.

Wild West show miniature jail stagecoach, 46in tall x 57in long x 31in wide, circa 1890s. Estimate: $2,000-$5,000. Jasper52 image

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Looking for Spectacular Spectacles

From Benjamin Franklin’s spectacles to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s sunglasses, eyewear plays an important role in our perceptions of history and culture. While the first eyewear emerged in the 13th century Italy, it didn’t mesh with fashion until much later. In 1730, an English optician developed a pair of glasses with two attached rods that rested on the wearer’s ears. From that point, corrective lenses became wearable accessories.

Full-Vue rimless eyeglasses, circa 1940s. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

Through the 18th and early 19th centuries, eyeglasses were known as spectacles to differentiate them from single-lens monocles and pince-nez, which rested on the nose but did not connect to the wearer’s ears. Spectacles during this time were commonly rimmed with wire, tortoise shell or horn, and lenses tended to be small and round. Early bifocals featured one lens for far-sightedness and the other for near-sightedness. Their invention has been credited to Benjamin Franklin, but while he was certainly an early adopter of bifocals, he never overtly claimed to be their creator.

Until the late 19th century, spectacle style had much to do with variations in bridge and lens shape. Most spectacles had a gently curved bridge, a “crank” bridge with a sharp curve in the center, or an “x” bridge (two wires joined at the middle). Just prior to the Civil War, American companies began to mass-produce spectacles, greatly reducing their cost and making vision correction more readily available to consumers. By the 1870s, manufacturers were producing a wider range of eyeglass styles.

The collectors’ market for antique eyewear is small but growing, says Thomas Valenza, retired optician and owner of Historic EyeWear Co. []. Valenza’s interest in the history of his profession led to an interest in collecting antique and vintage eyewear, and then to starting a historic eyewear reproduction business.

Driving glasses with perforated metal side shields, circa 1910. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

“My wife and I began going to historic reenactments and noticed that the glasses they wore were often historically inaccurate,” Valenza says. “We thought there might be a niche market.” There was, and pieces from the Historic EyeWear Co. have since become popular with reenactors and have appeared in period movies, television programs, and Broadway productions such as “Hamilton.”

Original antique spectacles are difficult to wear today, even without lenses. “Most pre-20th century frame styles are too small for modern faces and modern lens edging equipment, so reuse is very limited,” Valenza says. “Our reproduction styles have been increased in size to accommodate these modern requirements. Original pieces are very collectible and the market for them is driven primarily by collectors, actors, reenactors, historians and antique dealers.”

Collector Terry Marshall owns an array of curious spectacles, including eyeball massage and electromagnetic glasses associated with quack medicine.

“Early glasses often have telescoping sliders and loops that connect to a wearer’s wig,” says Marshall. “The market for collectors is pretty soft right now. You can get some decent sliders for around $20.”

Gold, round-framed spectacles from the 1970s. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

Once mass production began in the late 19th century, the market for eyeglasses began to expand. Over the next several decades, glasses became fashionable accessories, available in many sizes, shape and colors.

With the advent of popular film in the early 20th century, stars began to set the standard for eyewear. Harold Lloyd’s round tortoiseshell spectacles were all the rage for a time, and in the 1930s, newly invented sunglasses hit the market.

Adjustable nose pads, introduced in the 1920s, gave designers additional creative liberty. By the 1940s, consumers could find eyeglasses with larger lenses and a variety of frame widths. Aviator-style glasses also appeared during World War II, and their popularity continues today.

Cat’s-eye glasses (so called because of the pointed top edges of the frames) rose to popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and became a coveted fashion item for women of the era.

Cat’s-eye glasses introduced color and flair into what was once a fairly unvaried market. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Co.

“When cat-eye glasses originally came out, they introduced color and flair into what was a pretty boring market of eyeglasses,” says Levi, owner of the Vintage Optical Shop. “Before that, frames were generally gold, silver or tortoise shell, but cat-eye glasses came in all shapes and colors.”

The Vintage Optical Shop specializes in finding and restoring high-quality vintage frames and making them available to customers via its website, Levi has noticed an increased demand for vintage cat-eye glasses.

“Many women are into vintage and pinup culture, and it adds a unique touch to their otherwise modern style,” he says. “There are many new brands making reproduction frames in the cat-eye shape, but people often prefer genuine vintage frames because they’re looking for something authentic and unique – something they won’t see anyone else wearing.”

Which brands are most sought after? “Collectors continue to look at the really exclusive pieces from brands like Cazal, Persol, Silhouette, Mikli and Oliver Goldsmith, to name just a few,” says Clodagh Norton, co-founder of

Norton notes that celebrity connection is important, too. “In the vintage market, people do look to the celebrities of the past and what they were wearing. The real classics will always resonate with consumers who are fascinated by original handmade designs, and iconic pieces that were worn by film stars like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.”

Consumers have been interested in vintage frames for decades, but Norton says the rare, expensive pieces are becoming status symbols.

American Aviator glasses, 1958. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

“The really iconic frames from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are increasingly difficult to find and are, after all, a little piece of history,” she says. “Once you have a pair of these in your hand, you can appreciate the craftsmanship, stunning materials, and creative ideas immediately.”

Another current trend is for 1990s style frames inspired by Keanu Reeves’s character in The Matrix.

“This trend for rimless, smaller designs will impact what’s selling in terms of vintage,” Norton says. “But eyewear trends are changing all the time.”

Valenza agrees. “There’s only so much that can be done with eyeglasses designs, so what most of these designers and manufacturers do is go back to the originals and modernize or update them,” he says. “Every past style will come back—it’s only a matter of time.”




Author: Jessica Leigh Brown is a freelance writer based in Clinton, Tenn. Her work has appeared in a number of regional and national publications, including Tennessee Archways, Flea Market Décor, Tennessee Home & Farm, and Tourist Attractions & Parks. Find her on the web at

Our thanks to Antique Trader for sharing this article. Click to visit Antique Trader online.

’70s prints & posters sale July 25 salutes era’s top artists

Art of the 1970s is recalled in vintage prints and posters that will be offered in a Jasper52 auction on Wednesday, July 25. The era’s top artists are represented in the online auction of more than 150 lots. Many of the limited-edition prints are signed and numbered.

Will Barnet, ‘Woman Reading,’ serigraph, 1970, signed, paper size is 40 x 30in, image size is 35.5 x 27in, from an edition of 300. Estimate: $1,800-$2,500. Jasper52 image

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Jasper52 auction July 25 dedicated to collecting British stamps

A collection of vintage British postage stamps comprise a Jasper52 auction that will be conducted Wednesday, July 25. Some of the nearly 100 lots offered in the auction date to the earliest years of the postal system established by the United Kingdom. The auction will open with seven lots of the British Penny Black. First issued in 1840, it is generally acknowledged as the world’s first postage stamp.

Pair of Penny Black stamps, (MK/ML) Plate 4, bearing part of a marginal inscription, canceled with crisp red postmarks. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

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Baltic Amber Jewelry: more than meets the eye

It has often been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of Baltic amber, humans have admired and appreciated it since the early Stone Age, also known as the Paleolithic Period. That’s millions of years of beauty for millions of people to behold. Cultures and societies may have arisen and changed dramatically since cave man days, but the composition of Baltic amber and peoples’ fascination with it hasn’t.

This hand-carved translucent honey-colored Baltic amber piece contains various insects, including flies, spiders, ants, and a beetle. It is paired with an antique sterling silver chain to form a unique pendant. Image courtesy Jasper52

“The interest in the Baltic amber is growing everyday,” said Kazimieras Mizgiris, co-founder (with his wife Virginija) of a pair of museums focused on amber, including the Art Center of Baltic Amber, located in Vilinius, Lithuania. “Baltic amber has always been attractive to people. It was only 5,000 years ago that people used to work in the Baltic Sea for the production of amulets. Amber is warm, spreading good energy, and it glistens in the sun, Mizgiris said.

In the simplest terms, Baltic amber is resin from pine trees that has fossilized. It is not just any pine tree that produces this resin; it is specific to pines that grow in Northern Europe and regions surrounding the Baltic Sea. This particular resin contains more than 40 different compounds, most specifically, succinic acid. According to information on Mizgiris’ website,, these naturally occurring acids possess attributes that may heal various forms of discomfort, such as wounds and cuts, tooth pain, headaches, and general inflammation within the body.

12 stones of honey-colored Baltic amber form this bracelet, which weighs 27 grams. Image courtesy Five Star Auctions & Appraisals.

Many believe that simply wearing objects that contain Baltic amber may benefit the wearer. Various sources report that when Baltic amber necklaces are worn, their stones or beads are warmed by body heat and release small amounts of succinic acid when warmed by body heat.

Amber and Aromatherapy: According to various sources including The Poland Import Export Chamber of Commerce site, Baltic amber played a role in limiting the death toll from the plague during the Middle Ages. When it was discovered that those who worked with Baltic amber on a regular basis did not fall victim to the disease, it was used to fumigate residences and businesses.

Vintage gold and Baltic amber ring. Image courtesy John Nicholson Auctioneers

With the longstanding connection between Baltic amber and wellness practices, it’s not surprising that evidence of amber jewelry has been discovered among ancient remnants in the advanced civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the Baltic region. While the most common color of amber, as one might expect, is its namesake shade of yellow or white yellow, it’s not the only shade seen in amber. In fact, amber comes in seven colors and more than 250 shades.

Amber Fact: Annually for the past 25 years, thousands of people from around the world have gathered in Amberif Gdańsk, Poland, to discuss and display their shared interest in Baltic amber at a trade shown known as AMBERIF. The acronym stands for Amber International Fair.

Art Deco Baltic amber jewelry box made of wood and featuring tiles of natural butterscotch-color Baltic amber on top and honey-colored amber slabs along the sides. Its metal plaque indicates a manufacturer located in Königsberg, Prussia made it. Image courtesy Jasper52.

The opportunity to view an extensive selection of Baltic amber is not limited to those in attendance at AMBERIF. In Lithuania, a hub of Baltic amber history and processing, there are multiple museums devoted to the fossilized tree resin. The Amber Gallery-Museum is located in Nida, Lithuania, while the Amber Museum-Gallery is located within the Art Center of Baltic Amber, in Vilinius, Lithuania. The Mizgiris’ opened the museum in Nida in 1991, while the museum in Vilinius opened its doors in 1998. The Art Center of Baltic Amber opened seven years later. Every year, according to Mizgiris, each of the locations welcomes more than 50,000 visitors. In addition to presenting a variety of displays of Baltic amber, the museums and the center present educational activities and demonstrations of amber processing.

This set of three Baltic amber bead bracelets, yellow/white in color, weights 28.3 grams. Image courtesy Jasper52

Interest in Baltic amber, including natural specimens and pieces incorporated into jewelry or decorative art, is drawing attention worldwide. Whether the interest is scientific in nature, an aspect of collecting, or appreciation for and interest in jewelry and jewelry making, Baltic amber continues to tell its story, while also providing opportunities for more people to incorporate this unique form of nature’s artistry into their lives.

Beautiful views of Japan found in woodblock print sale July 17

Scenic views or Japan and glimpses into Japanese culture are found in a Jasper52 auction of woodblock prints on Tuesday, July 17. The collection of 134 Japanese prints reveals the influences the traditional medium has had in the development of modern art.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), ‘A Poem by Nakatomi,’ circa 1835-1845, 15 x 10.2in. Estimate: $11,000-$13,000. Jasper52 image

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Rock concert posters get top billing in Jasper52 auction July 18

Dozens of original rock ’n’ roll concert posters from the Psychedelic ’60s are available in a Jasper52 online auction taking place Wednesday, July 18. Famous rock stars include the Who, Cream and Fleetwood Mac along with San Francisco “Summer of Love” favorites like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Original BG-110 Cream poster by Stanley Mouse for Bill Graham Presents, lithograph, 1968, 14 x 21 in., first printing. $250-$500. Jasper52 image

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Imari: Japan’s original porcelain masterpiece

NEW YORK – Imari ware is a broad term for the first porcelain ever produced in Japan. Its development was made possible by the discovery of exceptionally fine kaolin in 1616, early in the Edo period. It is also known as Arita ware, named for the town where it was made, which was a traditional ceramics center on the island of Kyushu.

Initially, Imari utilitarian tea bowls, rice bowls and dinner plates featured simple, hand-painted, Korean-style cobalt blue designs against white grounds. This thickly potted, thinly glazed, grainy quality dinnerware was expensive and generally used by Japan’s privileged classes.

Massive Japanese Imari porcelain punch bowl, 18th/19th century, 18¼in diameter. Image courtesy of I.M. Chait Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Innovative, multicolor Imari ware, created by painting bright enamel over their glazes, appeared in the 1630s. Vivid overglaze fauna, floral and figural motifs, executed in green, yellow, red, black and underglaze blue, adorned useful items like bottle vases, saki flasks, mugs, bowls and pots. Thereafter, Imari porcelain featured elaborate, colorful designs.

When political turmoil halted the production and export of Chinese porcelain in the 1650s, international demand for Far Eastern decorative items prompted the Dutch East India Company to ship Japanese Imari ware instead.

Though production of simply styled blue and white Imari cups, plates and bowls continued as before, many of Japan’s export wares, through form, decoration and style, were tailored to appeal specifically to European tastes. In fact, Dutch artists often provided Imari potters with prototype figural designs. Examples include colorful Japanese courtesans, naturalistic hunting dogs and cheery scenes of drunken Dutchmen astride spirit kegs. Few of these prized “Old Imaris,” which were produced before 1750, reach today’s market. Those that do are generally costly.

Large pair of 18th-century Japanese Imari (Edo Period) porcelain figures, 17.5 and 17in high, respectively. Image courtesy of John Nicholson Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

By about 1680, simple Imari designs featuring crisp, red, blue and green images of dramatically styled birds and floral scenes against milky white grounds had morphed into designs that were not only brighter and asymmetrical, but also more complex. Their shapes – square, octagonal or hexagonal plates and bottles, and fluted bowls, dishes and vases with lobed edges – were often sophisticated, as well.

From around 1700, high-quality, delicate Imari ware from the Kakiemon kiln dominated both the domestic and export market. Their overglazed, enameled motifs, which include geometrics as well as favorites like cranes, courting birds, flowering plums, pines, peonies, bamboo, cherry blossoms and floral scrolling, are derived from the classical Japanese style of painting. Created in various shades of blue, iron red, yellow, black and eggplant purple enamel, some also incorporated gold in their designs.

During this period, overglazed pieces produced at the Nabeshima kiln, which feature sparsely arranged but sophisticated motifs derived from traditional Japanese fabrics, dominated the market as well. In fact, porcelains produced at both these kilns, which were created expressly for use by feudal lords, shogunal families and members of the ruling classes, are considered to be among the finest Japanese porcelain ever produced. They also dominated the European market through the mid-1750s, when matching sets often adorned shelves and mantelpieces of the aristocracy.

Rare 19th-century Imperial Japanese Imari porcelain vase, melon-shape design, 19in high. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

These refined, unusually high-quality Kakiemon and Nabeshima Imari pieces are the rarest and most expensive of all at auction today. Yet many Western collectors tend to overlook their simple but elegant designs, which are characterized by soft colors, smooth surfaces and natural motifs. Japanese and Westerners with a strong sense for the Japanese aesthetic, however, are always in pursuit of these exceptional items. One of their highly desirable plates can easily reach into five figures.

Japanese exports declined considerably in the mid-18th century when China began flooding the European market with similar yet far less expensive pieces known as Chinese Imari. In addition, because the Imari style had become so popular, enterprising European kilns, such as Meissen, Royal Crown Derby, Chantilly and Worcester, also produced Imari-inspired designs. Over time, the term Imari came to mean any densely decorated, gilded porcelain that featured Oriental-style motifs in vivid shades of gold, green, red and underglaze blue.

Exceptional palace-size Japanese Imari porcelain charger, 26in in diameter, on ebonized stand. Image courtesy of J. Garrett Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

Exports of authentic Japanese Imari rose once more during the late 19th-century Meiji era, when Japonism, a fascination with all things Japanese, was influencing Europe’s art and design landscape.

“Though many matching or oversized, richly appointed pieces of this era, which were produced solely for decoration, are of lesser quality than previous creations, they are currently in high demand when well executed,” said Matthew Baer, a dealer at “A really nice Meiji Period Imari vase in the 12-to-16-inch size range can retail anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in today’s market,” he added.

“Currently, collectors consider Imari ware produced by the Koransha/Fukagawa kiln during the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most desirable by far,” Baer continued. Most of their productions tend to exhibit bold, dense, precise, well-executed artwork that features stylized motifs such as koi, irises, chrysanthemums or bamboo.

These may seem most familiar to collectors because they are often displayed in homes and featured in decorating magazines. Yet their prices vary immensely. A well-decorated 19th-century Koransha plate of good to excellent quality, for example, will generally run between $150 and $600. In recent years, however, medium and lesser quality pieces have seen a decline in value.

Nineteenth-century Japanese Imari (Meiji Period) porcelain floor vase, 37in high. Image courtesy of Soulis Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Moreover, though a wide range of high-quality, traditional Imari ware is available in a variety of styles, most enthusiasts are seeking pieces with fine and/or unusual designs and forms. So, unless something is of exceptional quality, it is often passed over.

“A beginning collector on a limited budget might consider seeking 19th-century, traditional three-tone platters, vases, serving bowls or charger plates,” Baer said. Many of these are currently found for under $1,000 each. Alternatively, they might prefer seeking more interesting or unusual items, like a small 19th-century incense burner, covered rice bowl, figurine or tea caddy. These are also found at reasonable prices.

One of the joys in collecting Imari is that there really is something available in every price range. Examples of this ancient art form are currently within reach of just about everyone.



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Great times ahead for Jasper52 luxury watch buyers July 11

Nearly 200 authentic Swiss-made luxury watches are being offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will take place Wednesday, July 11. More than half of the auction catalog is devoted to Rolex watches, from vintage to contemporary models that are like new and in their original boxes.

Rolex Submariner, Oyster Perpetual date, stainless steel case, automatic movement, with original Rolex box, papers and cloth. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

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