Kilim and Dhurrie Rugs Complement Trending Tribal Style

As part of the red-hot globalism trend, “tribal style” – exotic, eclectic and influenced by travel – has spread from fashion to home decor. There’s a caravan of interesting furniture and accessories that work in any space, from the sleek and contemporary to the simple and functional.

“It’s a look that’s meant to reflect the places you’ve been and the decorative objects you brought home,” says New York designer Elaine Griffin. “And it’s perfectly fine if you’ve voyaged no further than the Internet, in the comfort of your living room.”

Authentic tribal Persian hamedan rug, all-wool, vegetable dye pile hand-knotted in Iran. Jasper52 image

Rugs are a big part of the style, and not just on the floor. Griffin says “the flat-weave kilim and dhurrie rugs that are now back with a vengeance move stylishly onto upholstered chairs, sofas and ottomans.”

Kilim rugs are admired for their bold, geometric flat-weave patterns. They’ve been hand-woven for generations in Turkey, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Indian dhurrie rug, 13 1/2 x 14 1/2 feet. Kaminski Auctions image

A lot of their appeal lies in the bold motifs and pigment dyes, with elements like wolf’s mouths, stars and fertility symbols interpreted in geometric patterns. Back in Victorian England, smoking rooms and nooks were rife with kilim-covered furniture.

British manufacturer George Smith is known for kilim upholstery marked by careful pattern alignment and crisply tucked edges. They make a range of armchairs and benches covered in detailed modern and vintage Turkish flat-weaves. Karma Living’s collection of smartly styled midcentury modern chairs and footstools are upholstered in bold strips and tribal patterns.

Both new and antique versions are interesting, working well not only as upholstery, but as wall hangings or table coverings. The handcrafted nature of kilims, Oriental and rag rugs plays well with woods and metals. White walls make them pop, while more saturated hues are complementary frames.

1900s Caucasian Kilim, all-wool, natural dyed with vegetable dye, detailed colorful design pattern, flat-woven rug. Jasper52 image

Joss & Main’s style director, Donna Garlough, says pouf ottomans are one of her favorite twists on the Bohemian-inspired trend.

“They’re a great way to add a pop of pattern to a room, and you can use them for extra seating if you’re having a party,” she says.

An added bonus of these materials is that they’re pretty tightly woven and durable, and the bright patterns often camouflage stains.

“You don’t have to worry as much about a toddler spilling juice on a kilim-covered cocktail ottoman as you would if the upholstery were linen or leather,” Garlough says.

Turkmen kilim wool rug, hand-knotted, 9 1/2 x 15 feet Afganistan, 2000s. Jasper52 image

Atlanta-based artist and textile designer Beth Lacefield has done a collection of kilim poufs for Surya in both muted tones and vibrant hues like raspberry, burnt orange and olive green.

Boston designer Jill Rosenwald’s pouf collection for the retailer is also inspired by Indian flat-weave rugs, with sophisticated chocolate browns, grays and other muted hues.

Crafters will find lots of ideas online for turning inexpensive rag rugs from big box stores into floor pillows, headboard covers and benches.

Courtney Schutz, a designer from Point Reyes, California, turned a staid, traditional, upholstered bench into a fun piece for a girls’ room by gilding the legs and covering the seat with a gumball-colored rag rug.

At Style Me Pretty, Toronto designer Jacquelyn Clark offers a simple tutorial on sewing throw-rug pieces into a square, filling it with foam beads, and then closing it up with thread or a zipper to make a big pillow.

While the kilims have an earthy rusticity, distressed wool, linen or silk rugs can make a more elegant piece. Pottery Barn has a cotton velvet line inspired by Persian carpeting. And West Elm‘s Ornament velvet pouf comes in sophisticated, soothing hues of ivory or platinum.

By KIM COOK, Associated Press
Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
AP-WF-02-21-17 1537GMT

Handcrafted Advertising Signs Now Attracting Collectors

Look carefully at any real-photo postcard of Main Street in an American town of the early 20th century and chances are you will see a number of hand-painted signs. These signs were hand-lettered by sign painters, now a near-obsolete occupation in an age of computerized graphics.

Collectors are drawn to the folky look of signs made with brush and paint, which stand out amid modern cookie-cutter signage of today. There has been a renewed interest in recent years in the visually captivating craft of sign painting.

A high illiteracy rate was the main reason early trade signs were formed as figural representations of the product or service the vendor provided. A butcher might display the carved-wood head of a bull. A dentist would hang a larger-than-life molar, complete with roots. A giant pocket watch represented a jeweler or clockmaker. Of all the figural trade signs of the 19th century, the most valuable is the iconic cigar store Indian, which stood at the entrance to the town tobacconist’s establishment.

Primitive boot maker’s sign, circa 1870s, wood with metal trim reinforcement, 36 x x 23in, stenciled name ‘J.E. Breeze.’ Brian Lebel’s Old West Events image


By the turn of the 20th century, most Americans could read, so accordingly, commercial signs incorporated text in eye-catching lettering. Sign painters were in high demand, whether to create a sign for display in a store window or a large advertisement to be painted, and viewed, high on the side of a building.

While the latter has often been covered up by development or faded into what some call a “ghost sign,” smaller hand-painted signs advertising goods and services do appear on the secondary market and are appreciated for their folk-art qualities.

The simplest are single boards, usually having an attached wooden frame, that have painted text on a contrasting background color. The expression “to hang out your shingle,” in the sense of starting your own business, may have originated with such a sign.

Nineteenth-century wooden trade sign, ‘O.B. Richards, M. D., Office,’ artist-signed ‘ALLEN,’ 12 x 23in. Copake Auction Inc. image


Signs to be placed out and over a store’s entrance or posted on a roadside were double-sided so they could be seen by passersby from two directions. It’s common to find that such signs are more weathered and faded on one side than the other, due to greater exposure to the sun and prevailing elements.

‘Tourists’ sign, probably intended for travelers seeking lodging, painted on both sides with red wood frame, early 20th century, 28 x 14 in. MB Abram Galleries


Signs posted in rural locales often have arrows directing motorists off the highway onto a side road to the desired location.

‘Sunset Farm Milk,’ painted wood, 1930s, 15.5in x 40.5in. Jasper52 image


Figural signs did not disappear entirely as the literacy rate increased; instead, they transitioned to include hand-painted lettering. Like weather vanes of the late 1800s, many signs simply became flat rather than three dimensional.

Folk art hollow body trade sign, double-sided fish with painted lettering ‘Fishing Tackle and Ammunition,’ 44-1/2in long. Conestoga Auction Co.


For added visual appeal, many sign painters depicted the product being sold by the vendor, such as fruits and vegetables.

Double-sided farm stand sign, on plywood, 24 inches square, circa 1930. Jasper52 image


Reverse-painting on glass gave a sign a formal look and preserved the lettering from wear, since it was often protected by a frame.

Early 1900s reverse-painted sign, 18 x 37 1/2in. Copake Auction Inc. image


Expect to find usual wear, weathering and fading on signs that were used outdoors. Avoid the temptation to repaint or even touch-up old paint. It is better to leave a vintage sign in “as found” condition, which speaks to its character.

Vintage painted wooden antiques trade sign having applied carved letters on long rectangular reserve, old painted surface, now weathered, mid-20th century. 20 1/4 x 89in. Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates image

For a fascinating look into the world of antique signs and advertising turn to the Picker’s Pocket Guide: Signs by Eric Bradley (2014: Krause Publications, 800-258-0929).

For more handcrafted antique signs, take a look at our weekly Americana and Folk Art auctions.


How Youth Literature Became Big Business

The Many Pens Behind Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Other Youth Fiction Heroes

Juvenile literature is big business. Of the top 10 most successful authors of all time – both in terms of books sold and total revenue generated – three wrote for young audiences. Those titans of youth fiction include Britain’s Enid Blyton, illustrator/cartoonist-turned-writer Dr. Seuss, and, of course, Harry Potter mastermind J.K. Rowling, whose book sales surpass all but those of William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and a few other long-established authors, including Barbara Cartland, Danielle Steele and Harold Robbins.

Today, the names of successful writers of youth-oriented literature – Stephenie Meyer, Veronica Roth, etc. – are virtual “brands” of their own and known the world over. But there was a time when book publishers owned the authors’ invented names and used salaried, in-house ghostwriters to pen the riveting tales of young but confident characters like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and the earliest protagonists of the late-19th/early 20th-century adolescent-fiction genre: the Rover Boys. The writers were interchangeable, but the tone of each series remained remarkably consistent throughout.

1903 photo portrait of Edward Stratemeyer from the Stratemeyer Syndicate records, Manuscripts and Archives Division. Public domain image

The first book packager to aim its books at children rather than adults was the Stratemeyer Syndicate, founded by New Jersey publisher Edward Stratemeyer. A national survey conducted in 1922 revealed that, by far, most books read at leisure by American children were titles produced by Stratemeyer.

What made Stratemeyer’s books different was their focus on entertainment, as opposed to moral instruction. Children could tap into their imaginations and mentally immerse themselves into the adventures of sci-fi savant Tom Swift or boarding school sleuths the Dana Girls, or for the very young, the Bobbsey Twins.



Scan of the cover of the original 1910 book Tom Swift and His Motorcycle, 1910, from a series ghostwritten by numerous Stratemeyer Syndicate in-house writers using the pen name Victor Appleton. Public domain image

No fewer than 15 ghostwriters produced the hugely successful Nancy Drew books under the pen name “Carolyn Keene,” although Mildred Wirt (later Mildred Wirt Benson) is credited as having been the principal writer. The writers initially were paid $125 for each book and were required by their contract to relinquish all rights to their work and to maintain confidentiality. That’s a far cry from, say, J.K. Rowling’s lucrative deals, which have led to her astounding net worth of an estimated $750 million.

15 Nancy Drew titles actually used in the filming of the opening sequence of the movie ‘Nancy Drew: Mystery in the Hollywood Hills.’ Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and PBA Galleries

The Stratemeyer series of books about teenage detective Nancy Drew began in 1930 with The Secret of the Old Clock. It was followed with a new book release every year for the next 26 years. A joint publishing venture between Stratemeyer and Grosset & Dunlap added 21 more titles from 1959 through 1979, followed by the last 22 books of the series, which were issued as a Stratemeyer/Simon & Schuster collaboration, from 1979 through 1985.

‘The Secret of the Old Clock,’ Nancy Drew mystery originally published in 1930. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and Gray’s Auctioneers

A cultural icon, Nancy Drew is cited as a formative influence by a number of successful women, from Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush. Feminist literary critics have analyzed the character’s enduring appeal, arguing variously that Nancy Drew is a mythic hero, an expression of wish fulfillment, or an embodiment of contradictory ideas about femininity.

‘The Secret of the Golden Pavilion,’ Nancy Drew mystery originally published in 1959. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and PBA Galleries

Where Nancy Drew appealed mostly to girls, amateur detectives Frank and Joe Hardy – the Hardy Boys – attracted a mostly male readership. Like the Nancy Drew books, which all carried the Carolyn Keene byline, the Hardy Boys titles were created by a number of different ghostwriters who used the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon. Nineteen of the first 25 Hardy Boys books were the work of Canadian journalist Leslie McFarlane. The series enjoyed a long original-print run lasting from 1927 through 2005. Worldwide, more than 70 million copies of Hardy Boys books have been sold, and the first title of the series, The Tower Treasure, still sells over 100,000 copies per year worldwide.

‘The Disappearing Floor,’ first edition Hardy Boys mystery published in 1940. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers archive and Heritage Auctions

Both Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have reappeared in other forms of entertainment, including feature films, TV shows, board games, and video games. But to collectors, the most imaginative way to experience their teen heroes’ adventures is still through a book from the original series, especially with the colorful dust jacket still intact.

4 Names To Know When Collecting Photogravures

Early photographs are appealing for several reasons. They have artistic value, sometimes historical relevance, and often a connection to personal and societal moments captured in time. An element sometimes forgotten among the other qualities of early photographs is the scientific innovation within photographic processes. Remarkably intricate processes shaped the evolution of photography, and one of those processes is photogravure.

When asked about the simplest definition of the complex process of photogravure, Wm. B. Becker, director of The American Museum of Photography, provided this explanation:

“It’s a way of printing photographs in ink instead of using chemicals. There is no dot pattern like you’d see in a photo printed in a newspaper or magazine.”

Karl Blossfeldt (German, 1865-1932), lot of 30 black and white photogravures of flowers, 1928, 1932, 1942. Estimate: $350-$450. Featured in the Feb. 4, 2017 Fine Prints & Multiples Auction by Jasper52. (Jasper52 image)

Becker, who has curated exhibitions and published two books and dozens of articles about the history of photography, further explained that the photomechanical process results in prints that are made in ink on a printing press. The process involves transferring the photographic image onto a copper printing plate. The plate is then etched to retain ink in areas corresponding to the black sections of a picture.

The process, patented by Karl Klič in 1879, has inspired generations of  photographers and produced a multitude of impressive gravures. The process Klič formalized expanded on the method of photoglyphic engraving developed by William Henry Fox Talbot.

RIGHT: Karl Blossfeldt (German, 1865-1932), Anemone Blanda, First Edition, 1829. Estimate: $100-$250.
CENTER + LEFT: One of a group lot of 30 Karl Blossfeldt, black and white photogravures of flowers, 1928, 1932, 1942. Group lot estimate: $350-$450.
Featured in the Feb. 4, 2017 Fine Prints & Multiples Auction by Jasper52. (Jasper52 images)

As with many forms of art, there are names that are commonly cited as leaders in the field. The history of photogravure is no exception, and among its most referenced pioneers and champions are:

Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) is an American photographer whose contributions to the advancement and appreciation of photography are numerous. He founded the Photo-Secession Movement, which, according to information from The J. Paul Getty Museum site, is defined as an attempt “to prove that pictorialist photography was a fine art form.”

Alfred Stieglitz (American 1864-1946), The Terminal, photogravure on tissue, dated 1892 in lower right margin. Sold for $72,000 + buyer’s premium on Dec. 1, 2012 by Leland Little Auctions. (LiveAuctioneers/Leland Little Auctions image)

Stieglitz’s archive of early work seems to serve as a diary of his travels. In the 1890s his photographs included scenes taken in various European countries as well as the bustling streets of New York City, just ahead of the turn of the 20th century.

Upon his return from studying in Germany, Stieglitz’s father helped secure a job for him at the New-York Photogravure Co., Becker explained. It’s believed that this company published Stieglitz’s first portfolio. Stieglitz went on to also head the very popular periodical, Camera Work magazine.

Gertrude Kasebier (American, 1852-1934), Portrait of Miss Minnie Ashley from Camera Work 10, 1905, photogravure on laid tissue. Sold for $200 + buyer’s premium on May 20, 2011 by Skinner Inc. (LiveAuctioneers/Skinner Inc. image)

Gertrude Kasebier (1852-1934) was among the early modernists who were members of the Photo-Secession group, said Becker. Before producing revered photographs, she was an art student at the Pratt Institute. She was also one of the first two women to be elected to the British Linked Ring (also referred to as The Brotherhood of the Linked Ring).  The group’s focus, similar to that of the Photo-Secession Movement, was to present and promote photography as a form of fine art, that drew on science to continually improve and evolve.

Becker cites “The Manger” and “Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women” as some of Kasebier’s most creative photographs turned into gravures for Camera Work magazine.

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was a native of Luxembourg, who moved with his family to the United States when he was a child. Early on, teachers identified his artistic talents. Eventually he worked as an apprentice at the American Fine Art Company, which resulted in his exposure to photography. In short order, he was exhibiting his photography at shows. According to information at the International Photography Hall of Fame website, he participated in his first show when he was just 19, and the single juror of that show was another famed photographer and practitioners of the photogravure process, Clarence White.

Edward Steichen (American, 1879-1973), Gloria Swanson, photogravure, 1924, printed 1930. Sold for $1,200 + buyer’s premium on Oct. 15, 2016 by Stanford Auctioneers. (LiveAuctioneers/Stanford Auctioneers image)

At the age of 20, Steichen sold his first photographs to none other than Alfred Stieglitz, and a couple years later he joined Stieglitz in forming the Photo-Secession. His work appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Art et Decoration. Subjects of his portraits included Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, and George Gershwin, among others.

Becker points to works including “The Flatiron,” “J P Morgan,” and “Pond – Moonlight,” as beautiful and innovative examples of Steichen’s work.

Peter Henry Emerson (1856-1936) began life in Cuba, lived in the United States for a time during his youth, and ultimately moved to England as a teen. His dedication and promotion of the naturalistic approach to photography is at the cornerstone of his career portfolio.

As Becker points out, Emerson was among the first to use photogravure as a means of distributing his photographs. They were included in bound volumes and at least one portfolio. His book titled Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art was published in 1889. Among the profound statements Emerson makes in this highly sought-after reference is, “Many photographers think they are photographing nature when they are only caricaturing her.”

Whether looking for examples by these oft-referenced iconic photographers, or contemporary photographers, Becker says the collector should start by knowing exactly what they are buying — and the best way to do that is to ask questions. He suggests these queries:

  1. Where did the gravure originate?
  2. If it was taken from a book or magazine, which one, and how many copies were printed?
  3. Is it signed by the photographer — and if not, why not?
  4. Was the intent of the photographer to see it removed from the context of the book and framed on someone’s wall, or was it intended to be seen in a particular order with other illustrations?
  5. Is there any advantage to purchasing a photogravure of this image over a modern-day print that might, because of improved technology, more accurately capture the nuances of the original (darkroom-made) photograph?

View this week’s Vintage Gravures auction and find your next artwork.

Wm. B. Becker is a journalist, writer, collector and historian of photography. In addition to serving as director of the award-winning online museum The American Museum of Photography, images from his collection have been exhibited at museums in the United States and Europe, and have appeared in numerous publications. His 25-year career in media resulted in four Emmy® Awards and led to two terms as a National Trustee of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He currently serves on the board of the Michigan Photographic Historical Society.

Online Resources: The American Museum of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, Collectors Weekly, The J. Paul Getty Museum, International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, Art of the Photogravure

7 Fine Prints That Scream Springtime

As we round the corner into February, we can’t help but feel a natural wistful-ness for sunnier skies, warmer weather, and greenery. Winter is certainly a precious time of year, but one that drags on far too long. Luckily for us, this week’s fine print auction is full of spring-time inspiration from flowers to birds to prints of outdoor scenes. Mixed in with the impressive Keith Haring prints and the unique “Head of a Woman” by Pablo Picasso are elements of the upcoming season.

Find some spring excitement with the below 7 prints.

Wildflowers by Mary Vaux Walcott

This lot of 29 prints wildflower prints stunningly portrays the beauty of spring flowers.

Lot of 29 Wildflower Prints from North American Wildflowers, Volume I by Mary Vaux Walcott, published by Smithsonian Institute, 1925. Estimate: $100-$300


Glaucis Lanceoalota (Lanceolate Hermit) by John Gould

Nothing says spring like a chirping bird.

Glaucis Lanceoalota (Lanceolate Hermit) by John Gould, First Edition, Published by London, 1849. Estimate: $900-$1,000


Fiery Rosebay Rhododendron by Robert Sweet

Fiery? Yes, please.

‘Fiery Rosebay Rhododendron’ by Robert Sweet, from The British Flower Garden, 1838. Estimate: $350-$450


Eye-of-the-Sun Tulip (Tulipa Oculus Solis) by Pancrace Bessa

This hand colored print dazzles with color.

Eye-of-the-Sun Tulip (Tulipa Oculus Solis) by Pancrace Bessa, from Flore des Jardiniers, Amateurs, et Manufacturiers, 1836. Estimate: $400-$600


Bass Wood by Pancrace Bessa & J.P. Redoute

We all crave some greenery in springtime after a bare winter of white.

Bass Wood by Pancrace Bessa & J.P. Redoute, published by F.A. Michaux, Philadelphia, 1865. Estimate: $50-$100


Yellow Canary by James Bolton

Waking up to the chirps of the canary is so sweet.

Yellow Canary by James Bolton, from Harmonia Ruralis, 1824, framed. Estimate: $400-$600


Myrtle Beach Dunes Golf by Mark King

Hurry up, it’s almost tee time!

Myrtle Beach Dunes Golf, XL/CXLV, by Mark King, 1991. Estimate: $800 – $1,000


Explore the full catalog of fine prints and register to bid in this weekend’s auction.

How Dust Jackets Play a Key Role in Value of Collectible Books

In this throwaway society it seems ironic that the 19th-century innovation known as a dust jacket is no longer discarded once the book it was designed to protect is brought home. In collector circles, the paper wrapper is regarded as an integral part of a book.

By definition, the dust jacket is a book’s detachable outer cover, usually made of paper and printed with text and illustrations. This outer cover has folded flaps that secure it inside the front and back book covers.

LEFT: One of the most important literary works of the 20th century and Ernest Hemingway’s most difficult first edition to find with its dust jacket is ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ This first edition with the proper first-edition dust jacket sold at a PBA Galleries auction for $42,000 in 2006. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and PBA Galleries
RIGHT: A first edition of ‘The Sun Also Rises’ without its dust jacket sold at auction in 2006 for only $168. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and PBA Galleries

Early dust jackets looked much different than they do today. After book publishers began using cloth bindings in the 1820s, they started providing dust wrappers, which protected books while being transported from the merchant to the buyer’s home. Because jackets of this type were torn when opened, they were normally discarded. Since they were not intended to be re-used, few survived.

Publishers’ dust jackets of the modern style, which covered just the binding and left the text block exposed, were in wide use by the 1890s.

After 1900, as bookbindings became less decorative, publishers paid greater attention to dust jackets, adding multiple colors, graphics, information and advertising. As dust jackets became more attractive than the bindings, more people began to keep the jackets on their books.

Today it would be unthinkable to discard a book’s dust jacket. Booksellers and collectors generally consider it essential to the package. A dust jacket on a book can be compared to the original finish on a fine piece of antique furniture.

“Not all dust jackets are created equal. It matters most with books that are avidly collected – that usually means some 20th-century literary first editions and fine press books. It can matter much less where the content is the major factor when purchasing the book,” said Dale A. Sorenson, PhD, ISA AM, a rare book expert and former owner of Waverly Auctions Inc. (now Waverly Rare Books).

“Of course, condition of the book and condition of dust jacket – or lack of a dust jacket – can play an important part in determining value. Recent literary first editions without a dust jacket become very difficult to sell unless priced at a few dollars,” said Sorenson.

In many instances a book with its dust jacket will appeal to collectors, but without it? Not so much. “It matters most where the dust jacket becomes the wide swing factor in value – first editions by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, where depending upon the condition of the dust jacket, the presence of one can raise the price 5, 10, sometimes 20 or more times than one without dust jacket,” said Sorenson.

A dust jacket can also support the distinction of whether or not the book is a first edition. As an example, a short statement by Truman Capote is printed in green on the inside front flap of first-edition dust jackets of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Such examples are scarce and highly prized.

“On Our way” by Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1934, hardcover with dust jacket. Sold for $1,000 by Jasper52.

Since the mid-20th century, it has become a widespread practice for publishers to print the price of a book on the inside flap on the dust jacket, and for many years it was common for the buyer to clip off the corner of the jacket bearing the price. Most book collectors frown upon this practice. In some cases – one being John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath – the lower inside corner of the dust jacket states “First Edition.” Sorenson says,“If clipped, much of the value is gone, as it becomes unclear if the dust jacket is the one that was actually issued with a first-edition copy.”

Another problematic practice is matching a found dust jacket with a book that lacks one. “It is done, but there could be a subtle difference between the original dust jacket and the one supplied, negating the value hoped for by supplying the dust jacket from another source,” said Sorenson, adding that the marriage should be noted along with the source.

Sorenson said that the subject of just jackets is complicated and that there are many exceptions to be considered. Dust jackets add only nominal monetary value to books in general circulation. They function as intended, i.e., to attract the initial buyer and to protect the book from too much direct handling and wear. “Where they do become important is when the book is a title that attracts collectors as opposed to readers,” Sorenson said.

For more information, Sorenson recommends Book Collecting 2000 by Allen and Patricia Ahearn. The first section contains extensive detail on the various aspects of collecting books. He also recommends Collected Books The Guide to Identification and Values by the same authors. It contains less detail about collecting and is primarily an extensive list of books in various categories, with current market prices.

Check out this week’s book auction for excellent antiquarian book finds.

Dale A. Sorenson, Ph.D., is former owner of Waverly Auctions Inc. and currently an ISA accredited personal property appraiser of used and rare books, maps, prints and autographs.

Key Facts and Tips About Collecting Books by U.S. Presidents

The inauguration of the 45th president of the United States is a fitting time in which to compile a few fascinating facts about books written by presidents of the past and present.

Books authored by presidents are a popular choice with collectors, and for good reason. The depth and diversity of topics addressed in such books is simply staggering. Books penned by American presidents appeal to an immeasurable cross section of people. From die-hard bibliophiles and historians, to educators and even the most casual of readers, there is a shared interest in the memoirs from the Oval Office perspective. Below are a few interesting facts on these presidential books:

Fact #1: The first U.S. president put pen – likely a quill pen – to parchment paper well before he was elected to the nation’s highest office. President George Washington wrote “The Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation” before he celebrated his 16th birthday. The “Rules,” of which there are 110, are said to be an extension of a list compiled by French Jesuits in the late 16th century. President Washington reportedly copied the rules as part of a writing assignment. Washington’s version of the “Rules” was first published as a book in 1888, according to an article from The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington by Katrina Schoorl.

Tip #1: Collecting autobiographies written by presidents, especially modern-era presidents, is often a more affordable option if collecting presidential ephemera is the goal. The investment in a president-written book is often less expensive than presidential signatures, according to Ken Gloss, owner of Brattle Book Shop, in an article in The Journal of Antiques and Collectibles.

The Winning of the West, Daniel Boone Edition, leather-bound four-volume set, Theodore Roosevelt, G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York and London, 1900, sold for $9,000 during a 2013 auction conducted by Wiederseim Associates, Inc.

Fact #2: Many presidents opted to write memoirs or autobiographies, or assist in biographies about them. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter both took this approach. In addition, their prolific literary paths also included writing adventure tales or fiction, respectively. Roosevelt, reportedly the author of more than 30 books, wrote about the settlement of the Western U.S. in the multi-volume work “The Winning of the West.” In addition, Carter’s tale “The Hornet’s Nest,” was the first fiction novel written by a U.S. president.

The Winning of the West, Daniel Boone Edition, leather-bound four-volume set, Theodore Roosevelt, G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York and London, 1900, sold for $9,000 during a 2013 auction conducted by Wiederseim Associates, Inc.

Fact#3: Various U.S. presidents’ writings have achieved bestseller status, but only one has garnered a Pulitzer Prize. President John F. Kennedy was awarded the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for his book Profiles in Courage, although for years there have been rumblings about the book having been written by a ghostwriter.

Tip #2: One way to enhance a collection of works written by U.S. presidents is to consider including books written by first ladies. In the 2015 blog post Collecting Rare Books and Autographs of American Presidents, from Bauman Rare Books’, author Rebecca Romney refers to books by Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Romney states, “Books signed or written by Jackie O. and other first ladies are naturally a rewarding path to explore as well.”

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Charles L. Webster & Company, New York, 1885, first edition, two-volume set, sold for $676 through Early American History Auctions in 2015.

Fact #4: Thomas Jefferson, the man credited with authoring the Declaration of Independence, was also a serious bibliophile. At one time, his personal library included nearly 10,000 books. In a letter he wrote to John Adams, Jefferson stated, “I cannot live without books,” according to an article by Endrina Tay appearing on the Encyclopedia Virginia site. In addition to published letters, he completed one full manuscript, “Notes on the State of Virginia.” This work was published in 1785, with an initial run of 200 copies paid for by Jefferson, according to information on the Massachusetts Historical Society site.

A video from the Massachusetts Historical Society about the conservation of Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia” can be viewed on YouTube.

Interested in viewing rare books by presidents and prolific authors alike? Take a look at this week’s Jasper52 books auction. You’re “bound” to find something to enjoy. 

Discover 19th Century United States in 13 Antiquarian Maps

One interesting way to understand historical picture is through antiquarian maps. Maps can tell stories with a unique geographical, objective perspective in a way no other medium can. And they make great wall art.

Today, we’re traveling back in time through these 13 historical maps of US states from the 19th century:

Florida, 1835

Map of Florida by Illustrator and Cartographer Thomas G. Bradford, First Edition, 1835. Estimate: $200-$250


Arkansas, 1841

‘Tanner Map of Arkansas – A New Map of Arkansas with its Canals Roads & Distances,’ Cartographer: Henry S. Tanner, 1841. Estimate: $200-$250


Atlas Map of Texas, 1873

Gray’s Atlas Map of Texas, Illustrator: O. W. Gray, 1873. Estimate: $250-$300


New York, 1846

A New Map of New York with its Canals, Roads & Distances, Cartographer S. Augustus Mitchell, Illustrator H. Burroughs, First Edition, 1846. Estimate: $150-$200


New Jersey, 1814

The State of New Jersey, Compiled from the Most Authentic Information, Cartographer M. Carey, 1814. Estimate: $600-$800


Illinois, 1874

Warner Beers Map of Illinois: Political and Geological – Political Map of Illinois / Worthen’s Geological and Climate Map of Illinois, ca 1874. Estimate: $100-$150


Indiana, 1846

A New Map of Indiana with Its Roads & Distances, Cartographer: S. Augustus Mitchell, Illustrator H.N. Burroughs, 1846. Estimate: $100-$150


Iowa, 1853

A New Map of the State of Iowa, Cartographer: S. Augustus Mitchell, Publisher: Thomas Cowperthwait & Co, 1853. Estimate: $150-$200


Nebraska & Kanzas, 1855

Nebraska and Kanzas, Cartographer: J. H. Colton, 1855. Estimate: $200-$250


Minnesota, 1882

Rand McNally Map of Minnesota – Rand McNally & Company’s Indexed Atlas of the World, 1882. Estimate: $100-$150


Ohio, 1887

J.T. Barker’s Rail Road and Township Map of Ohio, 1887. Estimate: $100-$150


California, 1892

New Business Atlas Map of California, Rand McNally, 1892. Estimate: $150-$200


Texas, 1883

Texas, Cartographer: George F. Cram, 1883. Estimate: $120-$200


Want to explore more of the United States or perhaps jump continents? Check out this week’s Antiquarian Map auction for beautiful map prints.

5 Types of Unusual Americana to Display in Your Home

If you’re looking for a conversation piece for your home that no one else could possibly have, you might want to check out the many subcategories of Americana. You’ll be amazed at the artistry and ingenuity that went into hand-made objects and one-of-a-kind hand-painted signs from the 18th through 20th centuries.

Many of the things modern-day Americana fans covet were never intended to be collectibles of the future; they were meant to be functional items of their own time. Today they’re all part of our cultural history and are charming to us because of their naïveté, including the misspelled words and use of non-traditional materials.

You might choose to display just one piece as an artwork on its own and later find that it becomes the springboard for an entire collection – don’t be surprised if that happens!

Here are five unusual types of Americana you can watch for in online auctions or as you browse through antique shops or flea markets:

Hand-Painted Sleds

Early painted-wood child’s sled with stenciled horse motif and cast-iron rails terminating in figural swan decorations. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Milestone Auctions

Early painted-wood child’s sled with stenciled horse motif and cast-iron rails terminating in figural swan decorations. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Milestone Auctions


Canine Antiques

Antique dog muzzle of metal and leather. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson

Antique dog muzzle of metal and leather. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson


Old Store Displays

Unique circa-1940s sheet metal robot used by a hardware store as a mascot and “trade stimulator.” Note the eyes made from lead marbles and the use of screen to help create the illusion of teeth and nostrils. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson

Unique circa-1940s sheet metal robot used by a hardware store as a mascot and “trade stimulator.” Note the eyes made from lead marbles and the use of screen to help create the illusion of teeth and nostrils. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson


Non-Manufactured Signs

Antique hand-crafted wood trade sign used by a farrier to identify his place of business. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson

Antique hand-crafted wood trade sign used by a farrier to identify his place of business. Photo by Catherine Saunders-Watson


Hand-Painted Game Boards

Chinese checkers game board, circa 1930, hand-painted plywood. Image courtesy of Jasper52

Chinese checkers game board, circa 1930, hand-painted plywood. Image courtesy of Jasper52


Once you venture into the colorful, often whimsical realm of Americana, you’ll find it irresistible. Our ancestors definitely left us a rich supply of objects from which to choose, an best of all, you can start a collection with relatively little money.

Click to view this week’s curated Americana auction hosted on LiveAuctioneers. Bid today.

Lord of the Rings: 7 Viking Rings With Nordic Symbols

Viking tales often recall stories of bloodthirsty behaviors of war and violence, so it may surprise you to learn about the Vikings’ rich history in jewelry-making. The Vikings were masters of metalwork, which ranged from the production of weapons to the crafting of jewelry. From the 8th-15th centuries, the Vikings produced rings, amulets, pendants and more, which all held symbolic meanings to their culture.

Below you’ll find 7 outstanding examples of Viking rings, each with their own unique display of Viking symbols.

Viking Warrior’s Ring

This warrior’s ring features a narrow band flaring to the top, in the form of an eye with rounded stippled edges. The field is decorated with panels of geometry, the central of which enclose small crescents, which are lunar references. As expert navigators, the constellations in the jewelry pieces signified mystery and power to Vikings.

Viking Warrior's Ring, 900 A.D., size 10, gold overlay. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

Viking Warrior’s Ring, 900 A.D., size 10, gold overlay. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image


Rare Viking Signet Ring

This narrow band features a large circular bezel incised with four designs. The surface is covered with uniform frosty patina from a burial. This ring has been professionally refurbished with the original gold overlay restored.

Rare Viking signet ring, ca. 900 A.D., gilt bronze, size 8.5. Estimate: $250-$300. Jasper52 image

Rare Viking signet ring, ca. 900 A.D., gilt bronze, size 8.5. Estimate: $250-$300. Jasper52 image


Man’s Wedding Ring

This copper ring was a man’s wedding band, circa 850-1050 A.D. The use of unalloyed copper is specific to the Vikings, who were highly skilled metallurgists. Vikings traditionally exchanged wedding rings on the pommel of the groom’s sword.

Viking Man's wedding ring, 850-1050 A.D., size 10 3/4. Estimate: $100-$150. Jasper52 image

Viking Man’s wedding ring, 850-1050 A.D., size 10 3/4. Estimate: $100-$150. Jasper52 image


Warrior’s Heart Ring

For Vikings, the heart symbolized bravery, fortitude, loyalty, and integrity – all attributes of the warrior. The warrior’s heart ring defines the very essence of his place in society and the spiritual world.

Viking warrior's heart ring, 850-100 A.D., gilt bronze, size 10 1/2. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

Viking warrior’s heart ring, 850-100 A.D., gilt bronze, size 10 1/2. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image


Warrior’s Coil Ring

This gilt bronze coil ring was delicately made with six full rings. The coil is a repeated theme in Viking jewelry and adornment, but few rings survive due to their fragility and finding one this complete form is very rare.

Viking warrior's coil ring, 10th century A.D., size 9. Estimate: $100-$200. Jasper52 image

Viking warrior’s coil ring, 10th century A.D., size 9. Estimate: $100-$200. Jasper52 image


Twisted Viking Warrior’s Ring

This traditional 9th century Viking warrior’s ring features an overlapping split band, which was specific to the Vikings. The top features a heavily corded twist form, another signature of Viking design.

Viking warrior's ring, 9th century, size 10 1/4. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

Viking warrior’s ring, 9th century, size 10 1/4. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image


Great Plague of London Ring

While not of Viking origin, this medieval piece of jewelry is revolutionary in its construction with the band of rolled brass and bronze, with a pattern imparted by the roller. The bronze flower bud top was cast separately and the two were joined by brazing. The process of rolling was in place in the 15th century.

Child mortality was indigenous to the culture and it was expected – barely half of the population lived to adulthood. Burial in the church brought you close to God, but space was limited and those nearer our hearts had priority over those whose names were forgotten. Graves were periodically dug up, and the bones removed to storage, making space for newcomers. It happened all over Europe, north to south and no jewelry is preserved with the bones. From extensive research of the time period, it is believed this rings were produced in England and recovered from graves of children who perished in the Great Plague of 1655-56 in London.

Great Plague of London ring, 15th-17th century. Estimate: $100-$150. Jasper52 image

Great Plague of London ring, 15th-17th century. Estimate: $100-$150. Jasper52 image


View all these rings and more exquisite pieces in this week’s Jasper52 auction of Viking & Medieval Jewelry.