Sept. 4 auction showcases luxe array of antique to modern jewelry

Whether you’re looking for a classic diamond tennis bracelet, a head-turning emerald necklace or an antique heirloom, you’ll find it in Jasper52’s Antique to Modern Jewelry auction on Tuesday, September 4. Bid absentee now or live online on auction day exclusively through LiveAuctioneers.

1920s Art Deco bracelet, platinum-topped 18K gold with mine-cut and rose-cut diamonds, sapphire accents. Est. $9,000-$11,000

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Something plush is underfoot in Jasper52’s Sept. 4 Premier Rugs sale

Jasper52 will roll out a wonderful selection of antique and vintage rugs on Tuesday, Sept. 4, in an online-only auction featuring more than 100 lots. Bid absentee or live online exclusively through LiveAuctioneers. Any rug purchased in the sale will be shipped free of charge anywhere in the contiguous United States.

Rare antique Persian Serapi rug, 1910s. Est. $30,000-$36,000

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Raise your glass to saloon collectibles

While saloons of the past bore little resemblance to, say, Cheers in Boston, The Bamboo Lounge in Goodfellas, or De Rossi’s Wine Bar in Dr. Who, they were nevertheless places where everybody knew your name… if not more.

The world’s oldest continuously operated drinking establishment is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as Sean’s Bar, in the medieval Irish town of Athlone. Brews have been poured there since the year 950 A.D. On the other side of the Atlantic, the oldest bar in the United States is The White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1673, nearly 750 years after Sean’s.

All are fun facts, but you don’t have to travel to experience the history of bars and saloons when you can do so vicariously with saloon collectibles. Here are six popular types:

Saloon Tokens

Let’s say you bought a round of drinks for your friends. You paid for them all, but if someone already had a drink, the bartender would instead give the person a token good for their next drink.

Midway Saloon token, Arizona Territory, circa 1905, sold for $10,500. Image courtesy of Archive and Holabird-Kagin Americana

Saloon tokens were a familiar sight from the 17th- through early 20th century in Great Britain and the United States. There are literally thousands of individual saloon tokens available to collect.

Most saloon tokens bore the name of the establishment that issued it and the amount it was good for, however some tokens did not have a have a name imprinted on it. These are “mavericks” and comprise a collecting category all their own. )Learn more at

Saloon Photographs

Interestingly, the physical structure is technically known as the tavern, public house or “pub” for short (British), or saloon. The “bar” is actually the metal or wooden rail that extends along the bottom of the usually long wooden structure where drinks are dispensed. Yet, over time, the entire establishment has come to be known as a “bar.”

In the past, the metal bar was the most distinctive part of the tavern. With spittoons placed at convenient points from one end to the other, a bar could be either simple or highly decorative – usually a reflection of whether its clientele was neighborly or distinguished. Antique photos of saloons immediately identify whether they were upscale or down-to-earth places, simply by the type of bar and other fixtures depicted.

Vintage photograph of a Western saloon, circa 19th century, sold for $3,750. Image courtesy of Archive and Dan Morphy Auctions

Early saloon photos are historical works of art that capture a moment in time that has since been lost, such as this picture of a circa-19th-century Western saloon that sold for $3,750. Note the lawman standing at the far right of the bar and the spittoons placed along the length of the bar.

Saloon Gambling

Luring thirsty drinkers during the mid-19th-century Gold Rush era wasn’t difficult. Main streets of larger towns were littered with bars and saloons on every corner and anyplace in between. But in smaller localities, a bit of gambling could attract local patrons on a more regular basis, just as “happy hour” or a live band might do today.

Will & Finck Gambling Wheel, circa 1900, sold for $10,000. Image courtesy of Archive and Potter and Potter Auctions

Early gambling devices are coveted saloon collectibles. The circa-1900 Will & Finck gambling wheel shown above sold for $10,000 at auction. Gambling collectibles range from a simple deck of old cards to gambling chips to the more sophisticated coin-operated poker machines, which are mostly electronic today.

Saloon Paintings

Overwhelmingly, 19-century saloon patrons were men. Artworks placed above saloon mirrors were aimed at the predominantly male clientele and usually depicted nude or semi-nude women in various fantasy poses.

Example of a saloon painting of a woman, circa early 20th century. Image courtesy of Archive and Showtime Auction Services

Collectors seek out such paintings of “pretty women,” as well as paintings that depict saloons themselves. Although most paintings of saloons were not created contemporaneously, each still bears witness to the rough-and-tumble, often transitory nature of those who frequented saloons of the Old West.

Saloon signage

Early hand-painted signs advertising saloons and/or the beverages they served came in two types: highly artistic and colorful, or hand-carved wooden posts to be nailed above the front door.

Olympia Bottled Beer painted glass saloon advertising sign, circa 1900, sold for $17,000. Image courtesy of Archives and Dan Morphy Auctions

Some collectors focus on acquiring signs for a particular product, the city where a beverage was manufactured, a particular timeframe, or some other criterion. Because such signs were made in limited numbers, rarity and condition can make even a small collection a worthy one.

Saloon Advertising

In large cities or rural towns, inevitably there would be more than one saloon within easy reach in a given geographical area. How to advertise? Simple. Create your own advertising items.

Collectors can be as broad or as narrow in scope as they wish when pursuing saloon advertising items. Just a few of the items available are: pocket mirrors, calendars, whiskey jugs, coin purses, match holders, and even saloon currency.

Saloon currency, such as the example shown here, was an early form of advertising. It sold at auction for $150. Image courtesy of Archives and Early American History Auctions

Whether you call them saloons, bars or pubs, you’ll find no shortage of material at auction that pertains to drinking establishments of centuries ago. Collecting such items can be a fascinating way to visually review a part of social history that unfolded from continent to continent and coast to coast.

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Select fine jewelry and bullion headline Jasper52 specialty auction, Aug. 28

There is no mistaking the look of old, high-carat gold and diamonds. For centuries they’ve been prized for their beauty, especially when paired in an exquisitely crafted setting — whether a queen’s crown, an engagement ring, or a favorite piece of inherited jewelry. Jasper52 has prepared an especially fine selection of gold jewelry, bullion and silver creations for its 118-lot auction slated for August 28. Whether you’re seeking a sophisticated signature piece or investment gold, you’ll find it in this sale, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.

Sophisticated 22ct gold tassel necklace, purity 916/1000. Est. $2,500-$3,000

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Treasures abound in Aug. 28 boutique auction of Asian art, antiques

With its tradition of elegant simplicity, Asian decorative art is universal in its appeal, transcending borders and influencing cultures on nearly every continent. For centuries, the Western world has embraced the rich legacy of paintings, ceramics and metal statuary of China, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Korea and other nations. Jasper52 will pay tribute to the art and antiques of Asia with an August 28 auction featuring 74 high-quality lots. Absentee and live-online bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Golden copper sculpture of the Buddha Sakyamuni, 18th century, 74cm high. Est. $12,000-$13,000

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Yearbooks: Not So Embarrassing When They’re Collectible

Remembrances have been around for centuries in the form of scrapbooks containing special things – ribbons, drawings, handwritten stories, dried flowers, even hair. Bound together, these items have a way of keeping memories alive.

A new way of commemorating personal experiences was introduced in 1806 with the publication of the first college yearbook. It was produced by Yale and titled “Profiles of the Class Graduated at Yale College.” There are no known surviving copies of the book. The “Signia,” a yearbook from the 1823 graduating class of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, is believed to be the oldest extant college yearbook. As for the oldest high school yearbook, that honor goes to the 1814 edition of “The Cue,” from Albany Academy in Albany, New York.

It’s not certain what each of these yearbooks contained, but a best guess is that they might have been formatted in scrapbook style and focused only on the graduates.

1877 university scrapbook with remembrances and advertising cards. Images courtesy of Uniques and Antiques Inc., and LiveAuctioneers Archive

Photography would change how yearbooks looked. As early as 1826 or so, a practical image was made from a camera obscura by French inventor Nicéphore Niépce. His View from the Window at Le Gras is considered the earliest surviving photograph. Since yearbooks are all about visuals, Niépce’s invention would change and define the yearbook over time.

Early Photographs

The 1845 edition of “The Evergreen” is the oldest surviving high school yearbook issued by Waterville Academy in New York City. Highlighting its academic and other activities, the yearbook also allowed daguerreotype images to be tipped in by hand.
When the daguerreotype fizzled out by the end of the 1850s, George K. Warren, a photographer specializing in portraits in and around Boston, moved on to the more useful tintypes where more copies could be produced from a single negative – a useful breakthrough. Concentrating on college portraits, patrons bought several copies of their image and passed them around to their friends. Your friends then gave you a copy of their photographs, and after amassing a selection, you could have them bound in a book of your own.

However, yearbooks were only for seniors at college and high school and were quite expensive to produce. This remained the case until the 1870s, when the albumin process made it easier to mass-produce photos.

Gravure Printing

By 1880 or so, printing by the offset process made mass production of books, newspapers, and advertising more economical and commercially available. Utilizing an intaglio process, photographs could be more easily reproduced and rendered in higher quality using a photogravure process. Because such images were produced by hand, it was limited to fine prints.

Princeton University Yearbook of 1899 showing then-new rotogravure printing of half-tone photos. Image courtesy of Quinn’s Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers Archive

However, it is the rotogravure process that enabled photographs and images to be printed using a rotary printing press. With this process, yearbooks became more widely available, with images and photographs using the half-tone printing process. By 1920, all yearbooks included more than just the graduating class; they also included club activities, sports teams and individual graduate poses.


Beginning in the 1930s, high school and college yearbooks became much more affordable for the average family thanks to offset lithography. They began to be produced for graduating classes everywhere.

Availability to Collectors

It isn’t difficult to find 19th-century scrapbooks at auction. Most are filled with clips of newspapers and other items of personal interest, but they contain virtually no photographs or advertising to tell a more compelling story.

Almost all vintage yearbooks that show up at auction are from the beginning of the mass-production movement, which started around 1920. They include individual images, sports activities, clubs, histories, personalities and even advertising.

The Seminole, 1946 and 1947, University of Florida yearbooks. Courtesy Florida Estate Sales LLC and LiveAuctioneers Archive

Collecting yearbooks, particularly those from high schools, is a favorite pastime for fans looking for early photographic depictions of current celebrities. Having an insight on stars and public figures at a time when their personalities were not fully formed adds an interesting dynamic to the individuals we now know.

For example, Neil Armstrong, who, in 1969, became the first man to set foot on the moon was something of a recluse later in life, choosing privacy over the trappings of celebrity. His autograph became harder to obtain, as he refused all requests for his signature. A 1947 high school yearbook that recently sold for $2,050 shows a handwritten signature in capital letters. Very unusual.

Neil Armstrong signed his Blume High School (Wapakoneta, Ohio) yearbook in all caps. The description of Armstrong reads: “He thinks, he acts, ’tis done.” The book sold for $2,050. Image courtesy of RR Auction and LiveAuctioneers Archive

Yearbooks provide a snapshot in time that goes beyond the embarrassing senior photo. The advertising in yearbooks, for example, provides a frame of reference for local histories. The activities or clubs that were important at that time may have disappeared, and athletic achievements may have been forgotten.

Yearbooks are plentiful; in fact, the supply is overwhelming. There are about 17,000 to 25,000 or so high schools in the United States. If each school produces a yearbook with an average of about 500 students or so per graduating class, that could mean about 8.5 million to 12.5 million yearbooks published per year and that’s not including colleges and universities. Most yearbooks continue to sell at auction in the $10 to $30 range. A premium is paid for any that contain a student who later became famous, whether an actor, politician, athlete or other public figure.

Examples of albumin photo processing are seen in this 1870 West Point Officers yearbook. Image courtesy of Alderfer Auction and LiveAuctioneers Archive

Additionally, yearbooks now encompass more than just colleges and high schools. Military graduating classes such as boot camp, specialized training, and naval tours all have their individual yearbooks commemorating the class or event. Businesses also have created yearbooks for anniversaries and yearly conferences, and so do sports teams. The New York Mets have issued a yearbook annually since 1962.

The New York Mets baseball team has issued yearbooks since 1962. Image courtesy of Baker’s Antiques and Auctions, and LiveAuctioneers Archive

Lastly, unlike other collectible categories, there are no specific price guides for yearbooks or organized collecting associations. However, there is no shortage of collecting opportunities with yearbooks. They encompass art, culture, language, advertising, and personalities. They also tell the story of printing and photography. That’s what makes collecting yearbooks a fascinating and long-lasting avocation – one year at a time.



Konkle, Bruce E., A Preliminary Overview of the Early History of High School Journalism in the U.S.: 1775-1925, University of South Carolina-Columbia, 2013

Yearbook History:; NPR

About George K. Warren, J. Paul Getty Museum:

Firsts by noted authors featured in vintage book auction Aug. 22

First editions penned by many of the 20th-century’s greatest authors, including George Orwell’s 1934 Burmese Days, Ernest Hemingway’s Men Without Women and Jack London’s Call of the Wild – all three with dust jackets – are featured in a book auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

‘Junkie,’ William S. Burroughs, first edition, first printing, softbound, bound dos à dos with Maurice Helbrant’s ‘Narcotic Agent,’ Ace Book Inc., New York. Estimate: $1,200-$1,500. Jasper52 image

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Famous faces grace Jasper52 photo auction Aug. 22

More than 60 lots of original photographs will be offered in a fine art auction presented by Jasper52 on Wednesday, Aug. 22. The featured artist is British photographer John Stoddart, who has taken scores of photographs of famous faces.

John Stoddart enlarged photo contact sheet, ‘Catherine Zeta-Jones,’ 2002, edition of 20, 40in x 30in., signed bottom right. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

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Petroliana: Separating the real from the unreal

It’s no secret that fakes, frauds and forgeries have infiltrated virtually every corner of the antiques and collectibles market. Counterfeiters have tried to replicate everything from rare coins to Confederate belt buckles in hopes of passing them off as items of great value. And some fakes are very, very good – good enough to fool even prestigious art museums with world-class experts on staff to vet their acquisitions.
Until the 1970s and ’80s, the field of petroliana was pretty much immune to this sort of nefarious activity. It was a sleepy sub-genre of vintage collectibles, supported mainly by classic car and gas station enthusiasts. Almost nothing in the field carried great monetary value. Signs, oil cans, gas globes and pumps were pretty cheap to come by. But starting in the 1970s, and certainly in the ’80s and ’90s, everything changed as the category got more organized and the nostalgia craze took hold.

Thirty-inch Sinclair HC porcelain signs. The one at left is a rare original. The one shown at right is a poorly made reproduction. Notice the large ‘C’ that doesn’t match anything Sinclair ever incorporated into their signs. Images courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly

“The fakes started showing up when car guys began looking for items to put in their man-caves and garages,” said Wayne Henderson, the editor and publisher of Petroleum Collectibles Monthly. “Those reproductions started out innocently enough as restoration supply items, and they were marketed and priced out as such. Then, folks started re-working old globes and signs, often without doing a whole lot of due diligence or research. In those instances, the frauds were easy to spot. But it didn’t matter so much, because prices hadn’t taken off yet.”
Fast forward to 1992, at an auction in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over time, signs had risen in value. Henderson, who attended that event, estimated that “80 percent of what was in that auction was fake.”

At left is an authentic 1938 lithographed-tin Texaco Sky Chief curb sign. This sign and globe lenses (examples not shown) are the only legitimate non-print uses of the Sky Chief logo in a round format. At right is a neon-added 24-inch lithographed-tin fantasy sign. Neon was used in gas stations only on identification signs or building signs and lettering. This sign is much too small for any logical use. Images courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly

It was a wake-up call not just to him, but also to the industry as a whole. He and a colleague, longtime petroliana insider Scott Benjamin, began to write books to enlighten collectors to the dangers of buying a worthless knock-off advertised as the real McCoy. They pretty much succeeded in cleaning up the fake gas globe and gas pump trade.
Oilcans, too, have been faked, but they’re difficult and labor-intensive to produce, so they’ve never been a real factor. “I’ve seen decanter-style phony cans that wouldn’t fool a two-year-old,” Henderson remarked. “Some others have been cleverly made and can reach prices approaching five digits, but I think the payoff just isn’t worth the time and effort.” So, with cans, globes and pumps largely under control, that left just one problem area: signs.

The sign at left is a known original, with holes for mounting onto truck panels and other places. The colors and hand-stenciled irregular stroke lettering are correct. The sign at right is a fake lithographed-tin sign. It has no mounting holes, the computer-set typeface for ‘Pennsylvania Motor Oil’ is too sharp and the wrong color, and it is missing the border and motto that appear on the original. Images courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly

Face it, when a single Musgo, Harbor or Clipper sign can bring $50,000 or more at auction, it’s no surprise that people will be out there trying to fake them and pass them off as genuine. To be clear, most reproductions are clearly marked as such and are not meant to deceive the public. But the problem of fakes is so prevalent that a new company has sprung up to combat it. It’s called The Authentication Company (or TAC) and was co-founded by Dan Matthews, a petroliana auctioneer and expert who’s authored several books on the subject; and Joey Whiteside, a lifelong petroliana collector who specializes in advertising signs. The firm is headquartered in Nokomis, Illinois, and is online at
TAC specializes in marketing original period-correct items, including signs, globes, cans, metal thermometers, displays and various other advertising items, but with a heavy emphasis on porcelain signs (and tin, to lesser extent). It guarantees that all items that have been marked with its special security holograms and serial numbers are original. “Many fakes are pouring into the country from places like India, China, eastern Europe, the Philippines… and, of course, some are made here in this country, too,” he said. “Most repros are easy for the trained eye to spot, but the last thing a collector or auction house needs or wants is a fake.”

The known original porcelain sign at left has a smooth finish, irregular hand-lettered lettering, and a white border ‘T.’ The sign at right is a fantasy reproduction Sky Chief pump plate. It is lithographed tin as opposed to porcelain, has an embossed logo, computer-typeset ‘Texaco,’ and a black-border ‘T,’ which was never seen on original Sky Chief pump plates. Images courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly

Matthews said there are eight things to consider when examining a porcelain sign for authenticity. They are as follows:
• Size and style. Was the size or style of sign ever even made? (remarkably, oftentimes it wasn’t). If, for example, a size was only made in a 30-inch and a 40-inch size and you see one that’s 24 inches in diameter, run the other way.
• Quality. Look at the sign for its overall quality of workmanship. Does it look and feel real? Original signs have crisp, clear lines and edges on all letters and graphics, and were made with porcelain covering all sides. If a sign is missing enamel on the sides or inside the grommet holes, it’s probably a reproduction. The enamel inside the grommet holes can get chipped away, but there’s usually some evidence of its prior existence.
• Stamps. Pay close attention to the stamps printed on a sign. These will often tell the date a sign was made, or the company that created it. For example, reproduction Mobil signs are supposed to be marked with the words, “Licensed by Mobil Corporation,” but a huckster may try to knock off the finish where the distinguishing words are located.
• Holes. Are the holes in the right places? Some signs look very close to the originals, but the holes that were meant to be used in hanging the signs don’t appear in the right places.
• Grommets. Does the sign have grommets in the mounting holes? Almost all original signs had them at one time or another. If the sign doesn’t have grommets, there should be some chipping in the holes since they were most likely there at one time.
• Color. Are the colors and/or sign design accurate? Compare the sign to others that you know to be legitimate. If the color of the sign is a little off, this is a red flag. It’s not a mistake that would have been made by the factory. On original signs, the paint color will always be consistent.
• Feel. Does the back of the sign feel like sandpaper? The backs of most porcelain signs are smooth, or have some texture, but if the back is rough, it’s probably a fake. There are exceptions. The porcelain on the back of an original sign is usually not as thick as the front, so that’s almost always the first place it will rust. Also, if a sign has been buried in the ground for a while to artificially render the effect of “ageing,” the back will start to rust, which can make it feel like sandpaper.
• Design. Many repros are “fantasy” pieces – signs that are appealing to the eye but were never created that way. The fabricators take the logo and colors of a company and invent a new, eye-catching piece they think people will want to buy. This is fine, so long as the sign is clearly marketed as a reproduction and not an original. Unfortunately, some people (new collectors, especially) are dazzled by what they see, believe it to be original, and as a result, overpay for it.

The original sign at right included grommets (see 6 o’clock hole). The fake at left has none. The real sign has a vertical white outside line to the left of the ‘B’ in Buick (just above the tip of the curlicue), while the fake has none. The bottom of the ‘B’ should have a wider, flowing curve, per GM specs; but on the fake sign it’s squeezed together. Image courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly

Matthews and Henderson both agree that best way to protect oneself against being knowingly or even unknowingly sold a fake sign is through self-education. They strongly urge newbies and even seasoned petroliana collectors to read guidebooks, join clubs, talk to people who are knowledgeable in the field and – most importantly – always buy from reputable auction companies or dealers who are familiar with the items they’re selling.
Remember, there are a lot of great auction houses and dealers who unwittingly sell reproduction items to the public because they’re not entirely familiar with a particular genre of collectible. As with many things in life, the caveat emptor (buyer beware) rule definitely applies when buying petroliana for your collection – most especially porcelain signs

Both the 8-inch Texaco sign at left with a white-outlined T and the 15-inch Texaco sign at right with a black-outlined T are authentic. The heavily pitted 12-inch sign shown at right is a phony that was aged to deceive the unsuspecting. Errors include an incorrect typeface for the word Texaco, computer typeface oversized registration text, and a fake date. Images courtesy Petroleum Collectors Monthly.

Classic designs presented in antique & vintage rug sale Aug. 14

Nearly 200 antique and vintage handmade rugs, mostly Persian, will be offered in an online auction by Jasper52 on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Woven for decades in village workshops, these rugs provide both utilitarian and artistic value, accentuating any home with their rich tradition.

Vintage Tabriz rug, wool and silk, 11ft 4in x16ft .7in. Estimate: $10,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image

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