Danielle Arnet

The rare Patek Philippe wristwatch sold for $576,000 recently in an Antiquorum New York auction
Rare Patek Philippe Wristwatch

The rare Patek Philippe wristwatch sold for $576,000 recently in an Antiquorum New York auction

Q: I picked up a painting at a yard sale held by a world traveler. I don't see a signature on it, but she told me it was by August Schwabe, a German artist. Value?

A: Let me count the reasons why I cannot begin to quote you a price. First, the art must be seen to verify that it is indeed a painting. Many "paintings" are actually prints. Then, is it on board or canvas? And what is the condition? Is the subject figural, landscape or neither? Are aesthetics pleasing? Is it a good example of what it is supposed to be? And so on and so on. All those factors impact value.

Next, is it indeed by Heinrich (Henry) August Schwabe, an American painter from New Jersey who lived 1843-1916? You have only a say-so on that. The fact that the seller was well traveled means zip when determining the artist.

Known especially for portraits and some landscapes, Schwabe was a realistic painter. According to www.artfact.com, a database of auction prices, his top price was $7,475 in 2003 for an oil on canvas. That was for an appealing subject sold during a hot market. On www.liveauctioneers.com, we found a more recent sale for $400, another that sold in May this year for $2,200 at Heritage Galleries in Dallas.

Fact is, the painting must be authenticated, and that costs. If it is indeed a Schwabe, the process can pay. For a qualified appraiser, see FYI below.

FYI: To find a professional appraiser in your area, key www.appraisersassoc.org, www.isa-appraisers.org www.appraisers.org.

Q: What is value on my Niloak pottery vase? My camera does not work, but I'll give you sizes.

A: This is another case where the piece must be seen. If the exterior has a high-gloss glaze, value is easily double that of a matte finish.

First, let's clue readers about the pottery. Started around 1910 in Benton, Arkansas, Niloak Pottery was based on the unique characteristics of Arkansas clay. Instantly recognizable for its swirl pattern, Niloak's Missionware pottery is a classic of American art pottery.

Some swirl pieces are all shades of one color. Others have two colors. Some combine up to four shades plus white in a single swirl piece.

As with most pottery, the earliest examples and specific patterns tend to bring the most. Niloak made Missionware for three decades, and much is marked. Value is affected by unusual swirls, unique shapes and/or coloration, and certain marks. That's why an art pottery expert needs to eyeball the piece.

When researching values, it is always helpful to look up recent sale results. Buying a short-term subscription (starting at $29.95 for a day's use) to an online prices database for recent auction results can pay off. Bonus: The sites have photos for ID, and auction house info where sold, for contact.

One such database, www.artfact.com, quotes a sale last fall where four Missionware swirl vases brought $500. Earlier, separate tall vases brought $150 to $225 each.

The results site www.liveauctioneers.com covers only auctions beamed by the site, but it is free. There, recent vase sales were $40, $90 and $70. The market is flooded at the moment.

Q: Decades ago, I bought a Moser syllabub bowl for $325 at an antiques show. My kids don't want it, so how can I sell? I've been told that the only way is to find someone who collects syllabub bowls.

A: An old English/Irish drink that combines ale, wine, or other alcohol with cream, sugar and spices, syllabub is often served in a large upright bowl that is sometimes covered.

I'll bet more collectors relate to Moser than to syllabub. A Bohemian master of fine art glass, Moser is more collected than syllabub paraphernalia. That collector is your target buyer.

An auction that sells fine art glass may take the piece. I'd shop it around. You can also take good photos from several angles to large antiques shows in the area and offer it to dealers.

Early and highly decorated Moser is better than later work. A fancy bowl brought $805 at Maine auctioneer James D. Julia recently. Other prices for Moser bowls listed on artfact.com and liveauctioneers.com range from $40 to $1,000.

AUCTION ACTION: Introduced in 2006, the Reference 5104 Patek Philippe wristwatch marked a new high in complications for the Swiss watchmaker. A one-owner version brought $576,000 in a recent $4.5 million Antiquorum New York sale of collector watches and clocks.

The watch with a skeleton perpetual calendar has transparent sapphire crystal disks that show days of the week, months, moon phases and leap years. Sold with a fitted winding box that has a voltage converter, the platinum watch has mechanisms plated in pink gold.


Question: When did Niloak Pottery stopped making cast wares?

a. Late 1940s

b. Early 1950s

c. Mid 1940s

d. Mid 1950s

Answer: The answer is b. Source: "Collector's Encyclopedia of Niloak," 2nd ed., by David Gifford (Collector Books, $29.95).






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