Box disguised as a book. It’s a money box.

Box disguised as a book. It’s a money box.

If you’re asking a question about an antique make sure to have photos of all sides of the object, and close-ups of any maker’s marks. Also, add in any background information you have, and add in a question so we know what you want from us! You must tell us the country you’re in. If you do not provide this information your post will be removed.

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Published at Wed, 10 Jun 2020 16:25:21 +0000

Interview with Hays Worthington & Sarah Lee Martin

Interview with Hays Worthington & Sarah Lee Martin

Interview with Hays Worthington & Sarah Lee Martin


antique jewelry trade show

In this video interview, we interview Sarah Lee Martin, one of the co-founders of Hays Worthington, an estate and antique jewelry company based in New York City. Hays Worthington specializes in everything from Georgian to Art Deco, Retro to Contemporary jewelry sales; they also design many of their own jewelry based on some of the most unique pieces they’ve found from a multitude of time periods. In the first part of the video, Sarah discusses how a buyer can learn the different time periods.

When it comes to market shifts in what collectors are looking for, Sarah feels that quality is the cornerstone of most antique jewelry purchases today.  She also shares that for younger buyers, the details, the story behind a piece, and the workmanship are what bring them to purchase and becoming collectors. Watch the first part to gain more insight into developing a younger buyer by understanding what’s important to them.

In this part of the interview, Sarah goes step-by-step through the time periods and shows you what to look for when collecting jewelry across multiple eras. Do you know when jewelry makers stop using silver to set diamonds and developed the ability to work in platinum? Do you know what makes European diamonds set in platinum with rubies and emeralds a hallmark of the Art Deco period? After watching this pare you will:

After Art Deco, Retro (which followed WWII) jewelry featured big, bold designs and brought on the use of gold. Tube De Gaz became popular during this time because of the industrial and military influences. There were other significant shifts in jewelry design and symbolism due to the war. Watch on to learn more:

While newer, the contemporary side of antiques hold a high demand. From Chanel to Hermes, Cartier to Patek Philippe, Sarah discusses the importance of contemporary jewelry. In this part of the interview, she uses Seaman Shcepps and Henry Dunay jewelry to illustrate key design elements, metals and stones found in more contemporary pieces. Watch to learn more:

To learn more about antiques and high-end jewelry, visit our blog at http://blog.usantiqueshows.com/. To register for one of our shows, visit http://www.usantiqueshows.com.

Published at Mon, 24 Sep 2018 22:17:26 +0000

Residents bring items to Tarentum antique store hoping to find treasure

By: EMILY BALSER

Allegheny Township residents Robert and Elaine Bargerstock knew the items they brought into an antique appraisal event Sunday were worth a lot in sentiment, but they had no idea how much they would be worth in dollars.

The photos feature Robert Bargerstock’s grandfather, who was an Allegheny Ludlum worker during World War II.

He was part of a poster made by the government that depicted an Army soldier and a sailor with a factory worker and had the phrase “Men Working Together” on it.

Bargerstock said it was to show U.S. soldiers around the word that the men back home were supporting the war effort, too.

To read more:

Stage set for Zoar Civil War Review & Burton Antiques Market: Yenke Peddler antiques

By: Brenda Yenke, Sun News

Civil War re-enactors bring history to life, sharing their portrayals of civilians, soldiers and famous statesmen. The Battle of the Wilderness will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, in the storied village of Zoar, Ohio.

Music, battlefields, food and demonstrations will transform Zoar into the era of the 1860s. Sutlers (civilian merchants) will be offering period goods, along with reproductions.

To read more:

Antiques experts Catherine Southon and Mark Stacey to give free valuations

By: Lewis Berrill

Now is the time to find out if you could be sitting (quite literally) on a fortune.

TV antiques experts Catherine Southon and Mark Stacey will be offering free live valuations as part of this year’s South East Property Expo, to be held at the Hop Farm in Kent on October 17.

Catherine and Mark have been regular personalities on our screens for many years, being featured on shows such as Bargain Hunt, Flog It and Antiques Road Trip. However, both cut their teeth at London auction house Sotheby’s before setting up their own separate valuation businesses.

Mark is well known for his passion for ceramics, particularly white and blue pottery, and is still an avid collector today.

To Read More:

The Vogels filled their modest apartment with contemporary art, but wage stagnation has seen the professional-classes squeezed out of this overheated market

It feels like a bygone age. Dorothy (b. 1935) and Herbert Vogel (1922-2012) were a New York librarian and a postal worker who spent almost half a century acquiring art that they crammed into their one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Bought for enjoyment rather than investment, the resultant collection of more than 4,000 items, mostly works on paper, by conceptual and minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, was donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and various other museums throughout the US.

“It had to be affordable, and it had to be able to fit into the apartment,” explained Herbert Vogel in a 2008 interview with the Daily Telegraph.

But in an era of growing income inequality, in which the wealthy have embraced art—particularly contemporary art—as an alternative asset class, pushing gallery and auction prices ever-higher and hollowing out the middle market, is it still possible for professionals of relatively modest means to become serious collectors?

“If they exist, I haven’t seen them,” says Douglas Walla, the founder of the New York-based contemporary dealers, Kent Fine Art. “In large part, the entry part of the market for young artists, where the price point would be very accessible, has been consumed by speculators,” Walla says, adding that much of this activity is currently focused on “artists of colour—long neglected—and older women artists of merit. The endgame is profit.”

The £371,250 bid by the New York-based dealer Jose Mugrabi for the 2015 oil-and-fabric collage Out of Body by the young African American artist Tschabalala Self at Christie’s in London in June—more than six times the high estimate and setting a new auction record for Self—showed the sort of profits that can be made “flipping” works by sought-after names. There is a lengthy queue of buyers for new pieces by Self, one of which sold for between $60,000 and $80,000, on the booth of the London dealer Pilar Corrias at Art Basel earlier that month.

The idea that a postal worker or a librarian might be able to collect in today’s art world seems almost laughable. But it is not just the overheated contemporary market that is suffering from a shortage of collectors from the middle or professional classes.

“So many of my clients were doctors, dentists and veterinarians,” says the New York dealer Michele Beiny, who has run a gallery specialising in 18th- and 19th-century English and Continental porcelain since 1987. “Now they tend to come from finance and real estate. It has changed.”

Even though 18th-century porcelain has become less fashionable with collectors and therefore less expensive than most 21st-century art, quality pieces in the $5,000-$10,000 range can still be out of reach. “People would love to collect but they’ve been hit by the economy,” Beiny says.

According to the report Under Pressure: the Squeezed Middle Class, published in May by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, “over the past 30 years middle-income households have experienced dismal income growth or even stagnation in some countries.” In addition, “the cost of living has become increasingly expensive for the middle class, as the costs of core services and goods such as housing have risen faster than income,” the report says.

This economic squeeze has affected every sector of the art and antiques trade. “The market took a huge hit in 2008-09,” says Julia Boston, the founder of Julia Boston Antiques, one of the few antiques shops left in the King’s Road in west London. “I took the decision to have much better stock. The rich are protected from recession. The antiques trade has contracted enormously. The middle is dead,” says Boston, who specialises in 18th- and 19th-century French furnishings in the £1,000-£100,000 range.

Boston points out that nowadays successful younger professionals in their 30s and 40s “spend their money on mortgages and education”, and there is little left to spend on big-ticket discretionary purchases. She added that their homes tend to be “very minimalist, very modern.”

A shortage of disposable income and a shift to plain white interiors are two of the reasons why the professional classes are buying fewer works of art and collectables. But there are other cultural factors at play. Collecting, like many other aspects of 21st-century life, has been financialised at pretty well every level. The titles of British TV programmes such as Fake or Fortune?Cash in the Attic and Flog It! attest to the extent that material culture has become perceived as a cash prize, rather than something to live with and enjoy, à la Vogel.

As a result, most antiques have never been cheaper, at least at auction. “There are wonderful opportunities in this sector,” says Kerry Shrives, the senior vice president at Boston, Massachusetts, auctioneers Skinner, which on 13 July held a 530-lot sale of European furniture and decorative arts. A Spanish walnut chest from around 1700 at $461, and a 19th-century Biedermeier mahogany veneer bureau at $185 were among the handsome period pieces selling way below estimates at Ikea-like prices.

But to what extent do such purchases represent opportunities in a culture that seems to care less and less about old things, or even things? Shrives is aware of recent consumer research that has shown millennials would rather spend their money on experiences rather than possessions and that an increasing percentage of professionals in their 30s and 40s rent rather than own their homes. 

“Prices have softened a bit,” Shrives says. Her clients buy in a different way to how they did in the 1980s: “They’ll buy the conversation piece, but then not feel the need to buy seven others.”  

For the investment-minded, contemporary art remains pretty much the only opportunity in town, but today how can a collector with only a few thousand to spend hope to emulate the Vogels? At that price level Gagosian is not going to greet you with open arms, but what about cultivating a reputable smaller gallery that is trying to discover and support future Donald Judds and Tschabalala Selfs?

The south London gallery The Sunday Painter, for instance, represents the New York-based conceptual artist Kate Newby and the British sculptor Emma Hart, who in 2016 won the Max Mara Prize for Women. Its co-founder Will Jarvis says that there are potentially plenty of new buyers “but they need to be introduced to collecting. The industry is opaque”. Jarvis adds that because of the financial pressures smaller galleries face, “you have to gun for established collections. It takes time to bring on younger collectors, and we don’t have much time”. He says editioned pieces are a good entry point for new collectors.

Newby, a New Zealander, is best-known for her installations but in 2017, while on a residency in San Antonio, Texas, she produced a series of abstract soft-ground etchings made with local fauna. Printed in editions of ten, these are priced at $2,500 each.

These are affordable and can fit into any apartment. But can a print make a decent return on ones money? While editions may not lose value, the chances of a spectacular profit are slim to none.

This, ultimately, is the problematic distinction between the mindset of today’s collectors and that of the Vogels. They did not care about investment; they just wanted to live with the art.

“Upholstery CSI”: Preserving antique furniture at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is all about dressing up for the 18th century, getting period details just right, down to the chairs. 

Meet Leroy Graves, the remarkable man who, for more than three decades, has kept Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned collection of 18th century furniture splendidly and correctly attired, and along the way has revolutionized how museums preserve and protect upholstered antiques.

Teichner asked, “Can you look at a piece of furniture and say, ‘This is a fake’?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

Fake, as in making it look old and valuable, when it really isn’t.

To be an upholstery conservator, Graves also has to be a detective. An ongoing exhibition of his work is actually called “Upholstery CSI.”

“So, every time somebody new upholsters it, it gets more intrusive, and more damaging?”

“Correct. I said, ‘Well, why don’t we come up with a system that we don’t use nails at all?'”

What came to be known as “The Graves Method” is now being used world-wide.

He used trial and error with different materials, sometimes in combination – copper, plexi, plywood, plastic. He uses anything and everything that works to create a kind of rigid exoskeleton for each chair or sofa, to which he adds removable upholstery. 

What’s the crime?  Grievous bodily harm perpetrated on fragile, historical pieces by nails and tacks. “Sadly, they used all these larger nails,” he said.

Designing A Life Less Ordinary

Designing A Life Less Ordinary

When I was in my 20’s and had first moved to Paris, I opened a new journal and I wrote one sentence. I’ve started a million other journals since then, living a million different lives, as my journey took me the last two decades from living in Paris to Amsterdam and Berlin before making Venice home – but in that particular journal, there is still only that one sentence. The rest of the journal is blank. I didn’t know what words would follow – but I knew I was writing my manifestation. My mantra. The life I would live.

I want a life less ordinary.

Venice: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva 0036

My mom often reflects, “Your life is interesting, but it’s not easy.”  She sees past the glamour of my life to the day to day toils of living abroad. Here there are inconveniences you don’t face in Oklahoma where I grew up. Radiators that never seem to heat the apartment causing me to sleep under fur coats in the winter. She sees me carrying groceries home in the rain over bridges and up flights of stairs. She’s regaled with stories of the acqua alta filling my magazzino and me frantically elevating storage items so they’re not ruined by the famed Venetian floods. More than once our Skype has been interrupted when the electrical fuse blows because I turned the tea kettle on forgetting I was running the washing machine. She sees the minor – but yet –  practical – inconveniences of my life abroad. And while my life may not be convenient by American terms, darn it’s sexy.

I joke I can tolerate anything but two things – ugly decor and to be bored. And – my life is many things – but it’s always beautiful and it’s always interesting. 

Venice Biennale

It’s this sentiment that made me smile when I saw the theme of this year’s Biennale di Venezia – “May You Live In Interesting Times.” The quote refers to 1966 when Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech saying, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” Anything is possible.

I found myself reflecting on this sentiment during the opening week of the Biennale as I attended the #DiorBall- also known as the #TiepoloBall – organized by the Venetian Heritage Foundation for their 20th anniversary. Held in the Baroque 17th-century Palazzo Labia, the ball was a reenactment of the 1951 Beistegui “Bal Oriental” – dubbed the ball of the century. Both in 1951 and this month at the event, all of European society floated down the Grand Canal clamoring to get in. Among the original guests in 1951 were Christian Dior, Salvador Dalí and Orson Welles. Now, the guests were Sienna Miller, Tilda Swinton and Sandro Kopp, Peter Marino, Monica Bellucci… and… uhm… me?!?! alongside my dear friend Steven Moore of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. At times like this, I pinch myself. How did I get this life I’m living? With 380 guests in attendance, it was a formal sit down dinner catered by the Gritti Palace. And just as at the original event, the guests were charged to dress as if in a Tiepolo paintingtableaux vivants – so they became part of the decoration. As we climbed the stairs after being dropped by our water taxis and private boats at the palazzo we were presented in the main salon of the palace in the room where Giambattista Tiepolo painted his masterpiece The Banquet of Cleopatra. It was magic… (You can read more about the night in Vogue.)

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Behind the scenes at the Venice Biennale Dior Tiepolo Ball

When debating what to wear to a ball hosted by one of the world’s greatest fashion houses where everyone I knew was going to be wearing haute couture… I decided to focus on the accessories. After all, “if” as Oprah says, “there’s one thing I know” – I know it’s all about the accessories. My dress was pretty – an emerald green empire waist strapless gown that I’d worn once before but on my head – I wore a swan. Yes. You read that right – but don’t take my word for it, watch Paris Mode TV to catch a glimpse of my feathers! 

The jewelry was all my own design, Republic of Toma. Around my neck, I wore a ring of interconnecting pearl frogs with black diamonds for eyes. In life – not just in romance – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get what you want. That means sometimes you have to go through failures and times in your life that things don’t go your way to get what you want.

The Dior Tiepolo Ball in Venice: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
My dress was pretty – an emerald green empire waist strapless gown that I’d worn once before but on my head – I wore a swan.

At my table in the SeaRoom, I sat at one head of the table with my escort Steven across the table parallel me. At the very moment the Frenchman from Van Cleef & Arpels sitting to my right asked, “Why do you live in Venice?” and I responded matter of factly, “Because it makes me happy,” a photo was snapped. On my face is a look I rarely see. A look of quiet contemplation. I manifested this life. I build this life. A life less ordinary. I have found my home. Ca’ Toma. 

In Dior’s autobiography, he wrote about the 1951 event, describing that evening as “the most beautiful” he had ever seen and that he “would ever see” and the event “a true work of art.” As my friend Steven Moore was on the water taxi heading home after an amazing week in Venice to England he texted me, “No detail was left unattended. No matter how small. We seemed to float along as if in a dream. I kept thinking I was going to wake up, but sometimes dreams do come true.”

You and only you have the power to make your dreams come true.
What are you dreaming?

Antiquing in the South of France

antiquing in a WWII era Ulta motorcycle in the South of France: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Antiquing in a WWII era Ulta motorcycle in the South of France

Coco Chanel said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Two photos, taken a week apart capture the essence of me. In one I’m wearing a White Swan fascinator on my head at the Dior Ball in Venice. In the other, I’m wearing a white motorcycle helmet while sitting in a sidecar of a WWII era Ulta motorcycle antiquing in the South of France putting finishing touches on our newly revised Antiques Diva Provence Tours. (lol. Sidecar optional :). #WatchThisSpace we’re working on organizing our next training program for antique dealers held at a special retreat in the South of France. The photo is not about the helmet – though that is a great accessory – It’s about the adventure. We’re visiting Carpentras and Ville Neuve les Avignon, Aix en Provence and of course Ile sur la Sorgue. The deballages – in Avignon, Montpellier and Bezier – are still at the top of our #mustshop Provence list for antique dealers – but we’re also adding in appointments in private homes, and a surprising amount of chic new concept stores that show you that antiques can be super sexy. I’ve fallen in love with Marseilles recently – a city that wasn’t my favorite and now suddenly feels like home. It’s a city where Europe and Africa meet, allowing you to take a journey within a journey.

Provence Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Journeys in Provence
Provence Flea Market

Journeys Ca’ Toma

Perhaps that journey within a journey is also what I like about reading. Summer is coming and we’ve our cabana booked in Lido and my stack of summer reads is mountainous. My bookshelves are overflowing with biographies, business books, travelogues and simple inspiration/motivation. It can take me months to finish a book as I don’t want to reach the end of the author’s journeys. I’m sad when it’s time to say goodbye, like parting with a dear friend who I don’t know when I will see again.

The last few books on the list start revolving around Venice… As Joann Locktov writes, “I Dream of Venice.” (If you’ve not read Joanne’s books then you must add her newest book to your reading list.) Hmmm… this makes me ponder…  Joanne is another American woman making a mark on Venice.  

As an American woman living here, I find it fascinating is that Venice has a history of being influenced by American women. There is Peggy of course. But the Countess Elsie Gozzio saved Fortuny, allowing it to become what it is today. And it’s practically impossible to write a chronicle of the 20th C without including the salons of Princess Winnaretta Singer de Polignac – yes, that Singer of sewing machine family fame. When she married her husband Edmond she bought him the Palazzo Contarini Polignac as a gift. And then there was Isabella Stewart Gardner who of course rented the nearby Palazzo Barbaro in 1890 becoming a patron of the arts. Today these American women who left their mark on Venice surround my home here. I live across the Grand Canal from the Guggenheim and the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac. My grocery store stands in the shadow of the Palazzo Orfei (today known as the Palazzo Fortuny on the Campo San Beneto) and the Palazzo Barbaro is a mere stone’s throw away.

Living Room Abbey Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Living Room of the Abbey

Colnaghi: Private Exhibit at Abbazia di San Gregorio

During the Biennale Opening Week, I attended countless parties – but one of my favorites was the invitation from Parisian interior designer Chahan Minassian, Richard Nathan and Jorge Coll, the Spanish art dealer, and the CEO of Colnaghi, one of the world’s oldest and most significant art galleries. In the historic Abbazia di San Gregorio, Chahan Minassian created his signature atmosphere incorporating Colnaghi master paintings with vintage and modern furniture and design showing how one lives with art and antiques. The collaboration is “the home of a 21st-century traveller” illustrating the lifestyle of a modern-day collector. And much like the Rothschild home I featured in last months blog, the Abbazia di San Gregorio encapsulates the timeless spirit of the Grand Tourist in a contemporary setting. Just as in love and in science, in interiors opposites attract. The juxtaposition of contemporary furnishings set amidst medieval architecture and art spanning the centuries is simply sexy.

While the exhibit is private, Colnaghi will take private appointments to shop the exhibit where all the art is for sale. Of the Grand Tour connection, Jorge Coll of Colnaghi explains,

“Throughout this project, we want to show that a collection is not just a pool of assets: its real value lies in its connection with the life of a collector and is built from memories, experiences, friendships and discoveries. Building a collection is a voyage of discovery and, as with every voyage, the traveler needs guides if he or she is to arrive at the right destination. The collector needs to have good people to do research, to create the right relationship with the experts and dealers to ensure that what is collected is something that he or she can feel proud of and enjoy, something that will live on into the future.”  

Read more about the Collection here.

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A Private Tour of Abbazia di San Gregorio

Fortuny

Over the years on The Antiques Diva blog, I’ve written frequently about the Grand Tour – and last month after my visit to see Alessandro in China, I introduced the Silk Road into my dialogue. His book detailing his journey bicycling from Venice to China comes out soon and I’m anticipating its release. Silk is the thread that unravels in my mind as my mind shifts from the Colnaghi private exhibit in Venice to the Palazzo Fortuny. While you can’t visit the Fortuny factory itself – the process is still a tightly woven secret – you can visit the 15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century lived and created. Mariano Fortuny was a 19th/20th C Renaissance man and perhaps one of the people from heaven I’d most like to meet. While we think of Fortuny for fabric – his stretch and influence go beyond textiles. He was a pioneer photographer, an inventor of theatre and stage lighting plus he patented a plethora of inventions, among them a machine for pleating silk which he used to create his Grecian-style “Delphos” dresses. In his will, Mariano spelled out his wishes that the factory no longer makes the Delphos gown after his wife Henriette’s death.

15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where Mariano Fortuny lived

Knowing the rarity of these gowns, my friend Nancy Heckler donated her mother’s Delphos gown to the museum. (You can find out more about Nancy’s mother’s foundation by visiting the janetcramerfund.com). When the curators opened the box and unfolded the pleated Japanese silk dress they wept. The dress now is on display in a room layered in antique and oriental fabrics alongside more exotic artifacts and patterns from Africa, Central America, and Polynesia. The room is indeed another tribute to the Grand Tour and beyond. It’s a glimpse into the objects that inspired an artist from around the world – and perhaps a glimpse into one of the greatest minds on the intellectual and artistic scene at the turn of the 19th century.

Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac | Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac

I always joke that I wish my friends could see into my own mind. While I’m far from an intellectual, my mind is nevertheless a beautiful place. I dream in colors that Pantone hasn’t classified yet. As I begin the process of writing my book I’m seeking the words to describe that cavern in my head. In the end – art is often merely about just that. Expressing ourselves. I visited the Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac – one of the official collateral events of the Biennale. The curators of the exhibition have layered Gunther’s art over the family’s own tapestries which lined the walls of the piano noble. As we were leaving the exhibit which is held in a private home a member of the Polignac family stopped my friend Steven Moore – one of the worlds leading porcelain experts – to ask his opinion. And back up the stairs we climbed, to see a collection of tiles on the palazzo balcony walls. My friend named the artist he believed who had created the tilework and as we stood on the balcony overlooking the mouth of the Grand Canal again I smiled that smile of quiet contemplation and felt that perhaps finally – nearly 20 years later – I had the words to write in that journal after my one sentence,  “I want a life less ordinary.”

Until next month,
Yours

Toma 




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Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America’s largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

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Published at Tue, 28 May 2019 19:15:18 +0000

Designing A Life Less Ordinary

Designing A Life Less Ordinary

When I was in my 20’s and had first moved to Paris, I opened a new journal and I wrote one sentence. I’ve started a million other journals since then, living a million different lives, as my journey took me the last two decades from living in Paris to Amsterdam and Berlin before making Venice home – but in that particular journal, there is still only that one sentence. The rest of the journal is blank. I didn’t know what words would follow – but I knew I was writing my manifestation. My mantra. The life I would live.

I want a life less ordinary.

Venice: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva 0036

My mom often reflects, “Your life is interesting, but it’s not easy.”  She sees past the glamour of my life to the day to day toils of living abroad. Here there are inconveniences you don’t face in Oklahoma where I grew up. Radiators that never seem to heat the apartment causing me to sleep under fur coats in the winter. She sees me carrying groceries home in the rain over bridges and up flights of stairs. She’s regaled with stories of the acqua alta filling my magazzino and me frantically elevating storage items so they’re not ruined by the famed Venetian floods. More than once our Skype has been interrupted when the electrical fuse blows because I turned the tea kettle on forgetting I was running the washing machine. She sees the minor – but yet –  practical – inconveniences of my life abroad. And while my life may not be convenient by American terms, darn it’s sexy.

I joke I can tolerate anything but two things – ugly decor and to be bored. And – my life is many things – but it’s always beautiful and it’s always interesting. 

Venice Biennale

It’s this sentiment that made me smile when I saw the theme of this year’s Biennale di Venezia – “May You Live In Interesting Times.” The quote refers to 1966 when Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech saying, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind.” Anything is possible.

I found myself reflecting on this sentiment during the opening week of the Biennale as I attended the #DiorBall- also known as the #TiepoloBall – organized by the Venetian Heritage Foundation for their 20th anniversary. Held in the Baroque 17th-century Palazzo Labia, the ball was a reenactment of the 1951 Beistegui “Bal Oriental” – dubbed the ball of the century. Both in 1951 and this month at the event, all of European society floated down the Grand Canal clamoring to get in. Among the original guests in 1951 were Christian Dior, Salvador Dalí and Orson Welles. Now, the guests were Sienna Miller, Tilda Swinton and Sandro Kopp, Peter Marino, Monica Bellucci… and… uhm… me?!?! alongside my dear friend Steven Moore of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. At times like this, I pinch myself. How did I get this life I’m living? With 380 guests in attendance, it was a formal sit down dinner catered by the Gritti Palace. And just as at the original event, the guests were charged to dress as if in a Tiepolo paintingtableaux vivants – so they became part of the decoration. As we climbed the stairs after being dropped by our water taxis and private boats at the palazzo we were presented in the main salon of the palace in the room where Giambattista Tiepolo painted his masterpiece The Banquet of Cleopatra. It was magic… (You can read more about the night in Vogue.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Behind the scenes at the Venice Biennale Dior Tiepolo Ball

When debating what to wear to a ball hosted by one of the world’s greatest fashion houses where everyone I knew was going to be wearing haute couture… I decided to focus on the accessories. After all, “if” as Oprah says, “there’s one thing I know” – I know it’s all about the accessories. My dress was pretty – an emerald green empire waist strapless gown that I’d worn once before but on my head – I wore a swan. Yes. You read that right – but don’t take my word for it, watch Paris Mode TV to catch a glimpse of my feathers! 

The jewelry was all my own design, Republic of Toma. Around my neck, I wore a ring of interconnecting pearl frogs with black diamonds for eyes. In life – not just in romance – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get what you want. That means sometimes you have to go through failures and times in your life that things don’t go your way to get what you want.

The Dior Tiepolo Ball in Venice: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
My dress was pretty – an emerald green empire waist strapless gown that I’d worn once before but on my head – I wore a swan.

At my table in the SeaRoom, I sat at one head of the table with my escort Steven across the table parallel me. At the very moment the Frenchman from Van Cleef & Arpels sitting to my right asked, “Why do you live in Venice?” and I responded matter of factly, “Because it makes me happy,” a photo was snapped. On my face is a look I rarely see. A look of quiet contemplation. I manifested this life. I build this life. A life less ordinary. I have found my home. Ca’ Toma. 

In Dior’s autobiography, he wrote about the 1951 event, describing that evening as “the most beautiful” he had ever seen and that he “would ever see” and the event “a true work of art.” As my friend Steven Moore was on the water taxi heading home after an amazing week in Venice to England he texted me, “No detail was left unattended. No matter how small. We seemed to float along as if in a dream. I kept thinking I was going to wake up, but sometimes dreams do come true.”

You and only you have the power to make your dreams come true.
What are you dreaming?

Antiquing in the South of France

antiquing in a WWII era Ulta motorcycle in the South of France: Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Antiquing in a WWII era Ulta motorcycle in the South of France

Coco Chanel said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Two photos, taken a week apart capture the essence of me. In one I’m wearing a White Swan fascinator on my head at the Dior Ball in Venice. In the other, I’m wearing a white motorcycle helmet while sitting in a sidecar of a WWII era Ulta motorcycle antiquing in the South of France putting finishing touches on our newly revised Antiques Diva Provence Tours. (lol. Sidecar optional :). #WatchThisSpace we’re working on organizing our next training program for antique dealers held at a special retreat in the South of France. The photo is not about the helmet – though that is a great accessory – It’s about the adventure. We’re visiting Carpentras and Ville Neuve les Avignon, Aix en Provence and of course Ile sur la Sorgue. The deballages – in Avignon, Montpellier and Bezier – are still at the top of our #mustshop Provence list for antique dealers – but we’re also adding in appointments in private homes, and a surprising amount of chic new concept stores that show you that antiques can be super sexy. I’ve fallen in love with Marseilles recently – a city that wasn’t my favorite and now suddenly feels like home. It’s a city where Europe and Africa meet, allowing you to take a journey within a journey.

Provence Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Journeys in Provence
Provence Flea Market

Journeys Ca’ Toma

Perhaps that journey within a journey is also what I like about reading. Summer is coming and we’ve our cabana booked in Lido and my stack of summer reads is mountainous. My bookshelves are overflowing with biographies, business books, travelogues and simple inspiration/motivation. It can take me months to finish a book as I don’t want to reach the end of the author’s journeys. I’m sad when it’s time to say goodbye, like parting with a dear friend who I don’t know when I will see again.

The last few books on the list start revolving around Venice… As Joann Locktov writes, “I Dream of Venice.” (If you’ve not read Joanne’s books then you must add her newest book to your reading list.) Hmmm… this makes me ponder…  Joanne is another American woman making a mark on Venice.  

As an American woman living here, I find it fascinating is that Venice has a history of being influenced by American women. There is Peggy of course. But the Countess Elsie Gozzio saved Fortuny, allowing it to become what it is today. And it’s practically impossible to write a chronicle of the 20th C without including the salons of Princess Winnaretta Singer de Polignac – yes, that Singer of sewing machine family fame. When she married her husband Edmond she bought him the Palazzo Contarini Polignac as a gift. And then there was Isabella Stewart Gardner who of course rented the nearby Palazzo Barbaro in 1890 becoming a patron of the arts. Today these American women who left their mark on Venice surround my home here. I live across the Grand Canal from the Guggenheim and the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac. My grocery store stands in the shadow of the Palazzo Orfei (today known as the Palazzo Fortuny on the Campo San Beneto) and the Palazzo Barbaro is a mere stone’s throw away.

Living Room Abbey Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Living Room of the Abbey

Colnaghi: Private Exhibit at Abbazia di San Gregorio

During the Biennale Opening Week, I attended countless parties – but one of my favorites was the invitation from Parisian interior designer Chahan Minassian, Richard Nathan and Jorge Coll, the Spanish art dealer, and the CEO of Colnaghi, one of the world’s oldest and most significant art galleries. In the historic Abbazia di San Gregorio, Chahan Minassian created his signature atmosphere incorporating Colnaghi master paintings with vintage and modern furniture and design showing how one lives with art and antiques. The collaboration is “the home of a 21st-century traveller” illustrating the lifestyle of a modern-day collector. And much like the Rothschild home I featured in last months blog, the Abbazia di San Gregorio encapsulates the timeless spirit of the Grand Tourist in a contemporary setting. Just as in love and in science, in interiors opposites attract. The juxtaposition of contemporary furnishings set amidst medieval architecture and art spanning the centuries is simply sexy.

While the exhibit is private, Colnaghi will take private appointments to shop the exhibit where all the art is for sale. Of the Grand Tour connection, Jorge Coll of Colnaghi explains,

“Throughout this project, we want to show that a collection is not just a pool of assets: its real value lies in its connection with the life of a collector and is built from memories, experiences, friendships and discoveries. Building a collection is a voyage of discovery and, as with every voyage, the traveler needs guides if he or she is to arrive at the right destination. The collector needs to have good people to do research, to create the right relationship with the experts and dealers to ensure that what is collected is something that he or she can feel proud of and enjoy, something that will live on into the future.”  

Read more about the Collection here.

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A Private Tour of Abbazia di San Gregorio

Fortuny

Over the years on The Antiques Diva blog, I’ve written frequently about the Grand Tour – and last month after my visit to see Alessandro in China, I introduced the Silk Road into my dialogue. His book detailing his journey bicycling from Venice to China comes out soon and I’m anticipating its release. Silk is the thread that unravels in my mind as my mind shifts from the Colnaghi private exhibit in Venice to the Palazzo Fortuny. While you can’t visit the Fortuny factory itself – the process is still a tightly woven secret – you can visit the 15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century lived and created. Mariano Fortuny was a 19th/20th C Renaissance man and perhaps one of the people from heaven I’d most like to meet. While we think of Fortuny for fabric – his stretch and influence go beyond textiles. He was a pioneer photographer, an inventor of theatre and stage lighting plus he patented a plethora of inventions, among them a machine for pleating silk which he used to create his Grecian-style “Delphos” dresses. In his will, Mariano spelled out his wishes that the factory no longer makes the Delphos gown after his wife Henriette’s death.

15th C Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei where Mariano Fortuny lived

Knowing the rarity of these gowns, my friend Nancy Heckler donated her mother’s Delphos gown to the museum. (You can find out more about Nancy’s mother’s foundation by visiting the janetcramerfund.com). When the curators opened the box and unfolded the pleated Japanese silk dress they wept. The dress now is on display in a room layered in antique and oriental fabrics alongside more exotic artifacts and patterns from Africa, Central America, and Polynesia. The room is indeed another tribute to the Grand Tour and beyond. It’s a glimpse into the objects that inspired an artist from around the world – and perhaps a glimpse into one of the greatest minds on the intellectual and artistic scene at the turn of the 19th century.

Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac | Designing A Life Less Ordinary | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva
Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac

I always joke that I wish my friends could see into my own mind. While I’m far from an intellectual, my mind is nevertheless a beautiful place. I dream in colors that Pantone hasn’t classified yet. As I begin the process of writing my book I’m seeking the words to describe that cavern in my head. In the end – art is often merely about just that. Expressing ourselves. I visited the Förg in Venice exhibit at the Palazzo Contarini-Polignac – one of the official collateral events of the Biennale. The curators of the exhibition have layered Gunther’s art over the family’s own tapestries which lined the walls of the piano noble. As we were leaving the exhibit which is held in a private home a member of the Polignac family stopped my friend Steven Moore – one of the worlds leading porcelain experts – to ask his opinion. And back up the stairs we climbed, to see a collection of tiles on the palazzo balcony walls. My friend named the artist he believed who had created the tilework and as we stood on the balcony overlooking the mouth of the Grand Canal again I smiled that smile of quiet contemplation and felt that perhaps finally – nearly 20 years later – I had the words to write in that journal after my one sentence,  “I want a life less ordinary.”

Until next month,
Yours

Toma 




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Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America’s largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

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Published at Tue, 28 May 2019 19:15:18 +0000

Aumann Auctions to Sell Massive Array of Vintage Iron and Antiques

RIDGEFIELD, Wash., Aug. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Once featured on an episode of “American Pickers,” the Alan Schurman Iron Ranch Collection of vintage iron, antique tractors, vintage cars and trucks, hit-and-miss engines, vintage signs, antique bicycles, and early literature will sell at auction. Alan Schurman was charitable and generous locally with his time and collection, and he was also well-known, respected and loved in the vintage iron hobby both nationally and internationally.

“We don’t get auctions like this every day,” says Kurt Aumann of Aumann Auctions. “When we first arrived, we were overwhelmed at not only the quantity but also the quality of the collection. Then when we started cataloging, we just kept finding great pieces every day,” he says. Each separate category has its own catalog and end time; the pick-up dates/times for all will be combined. “This auction presents a unique opportunity for the public to virtually pick just like on ‘American Pickers,'” says Aumann. 

To read more…