The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

Derived from the Greek sarx, meaning flesh, and phagein, meaning eat, a sarcophagus is, essentially, a container for a body, much like a coffin or casket. Historically, sarcophagi were typically made of stone (though sometimes of other materials, such as wood or metal), with a relief-carved or pediment top, and designed to be above ground, and have been used by many cultures since ancient times.

An ancient [...] Click here to continue reading.


Battleship Maine – Spanish American War

The Battleship Maine

Construction of the U.S.S. Maine was authorized in August of 1886, and she was launched in 1889 and commissioned in 1895. After several years spent patrolling the East Coast and Caribbean, orders sent the Maine and her crew to Cuba in response to continued civil unrest on the island.

The photograph above is a 1896 image of the ship framed in a sheet iron frame made from remnants of [...] Click here to continue reading.


Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.


Dan & Marty Campanelli Samplers

By Their Samplers They Will Know Them

By EVE M. KAHN Published: July 5, 2012, New York Times.

“Our girls,” Dan and Marty Campanelli call them. Each girl was a sampler embroiderer, mostly in the early 1800s, along the East Coast. Each one now has her own biographical research binder on shelves at the Campanellis’ farm in western New Jersey. The couple have spent a decade tracing the sewers’ genealogies and identifying the stitched [...] Click here to continue reading.


Hires Root Beer, Googly Eyed Man

Hires Root Beer

While traveling in 1875, Charles E. Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist, first tasted root beer. Root beer, traditionally made with sassafras, was a popular “small beer” or low-alcoholic drink in the colonial era, and was becoming popular in an alcohol-free format. While root beer has a long history, it has a wide range of recipes that call for everything from birch bark to vanilla, molasses to juniper berries, so Hires set out [...] Click here to continue reading.


Estate of Peter L. Rosenberg of Vallin Galleries – Skinner 3-18-2014 Prov Note

Estate of Peter L. Rosenberg of Vallin Galleries, Wilton Connecticut

Discerning collectors, dealers, and museum curators of Asian art regularly made pilgrimages to a charming 18th century saltbox home in Wilton, Connecticut: Vallin Galleries. Owned and operated by Peter L. Rosenberg for nearly thirty years until his sudden death in December of 2013, Vallin Galleries was widely regarded as an outstanding source for the best of Asian art and antiques. Skinner is proud to [...] Click here to continue reading.


Linsey-Woolsey – definition

Linsey-Woolsey

Linsey-woolsey is a fabric that is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of linen and wool woven together to create a coarse, durable fabric, sometimes woven plain or as a twill (for twill, think the diagonal weave pattern often seen on denim). “Lin” is an old term for flax, the plant whose fibers are used for linen. Occasionally, it’s referred to as “woolsey-linsey” or by the blending of the two terms, “wincey.”

[...] Click here to continue reading.


Collection of Gertrude Dittmar – Pook Provenance 10-2013

Collection of Gertrude Dittmar, Colts Neck, New Jersey

In 1943, from the army camp where he was stationed, my father wrote to my grandparents asking them to store for him an 18th century table and corner cupboard he’d just purchased for the home he would make with my mother after the war. Once in that home, these two pieces were gradually joined by others, until the farmhouse my parents share for over half a [...] Click here to continue reading.


Collection of Joanne and Jeffrey Klein – Provenance Keno 1-22-2013

Collection of Joanne and Jeffrey Klein

Collectors Joanne and Jeffrey Klein enjoy the eclectic mix of American folk art, painted furniture and modern sculpture and paintings. They love the juxtaposition of modern with traditional ranging from symbolism to widely varying textured painted and weathered surfaces. Their appreciation of form, color and texture is exhibited in their collection of exceptional painted furniture, weathervanes, redware pottery, hooked rugs and wood carvings.

Information courtesy of Keno Auctions, January 2013.


Shakudo Definition

Shakudo – Definition

Shakudo is the Japanese term for a copper and gold alloy consisting of 2% to 7% gold and the remainder copper. This alloy can then be treated to achieve a blue-black color sometimes resembling lacquer. It was historically used to make and/or decorate Japanese swords. Contemporary jewelry makers have revived the use of shakudo for its unusual and beautiful coloring.

p4A editorial staff, March 2013


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