Provenance (a record of ownership) is key when selling items purportedly owned by historic or famous people. Although the ownership of a pair of 19th-century black leather boots couldn’t be tied with certainty to Napoleon Bonaparte, there was strong enough circumstantial evidence to push their recent sale to more than twice the auction estimate. The boots, reportedly worn by Bonaparte during his exile on St. Helena after his 1815 defeat at Waterloo, sold for $128,000 in Paris on Nov. 29.
The size 40 boots (size 7 in American shoes) match descriptions of Napoleon’s boot orders placed with shoemaker Jacques in Paris’ rue Montmartre. They were saved by General Henri-Gatien Bertrand, who had followed the French leader into exile, according to the Drouot auction house. The general later gave the shoes to a sculptor working on an equestrian statue of Bonaparte. The boots were given by the son of the sculptor to the French politician Paul Le Roux, a minister under the Second Empire of Bonaparte’s nephew, Napoleon III. His family has owned them ever since.
Photo: Drouot Auctions
When packing a piece of pottery for shipping, look at the shape. If it has a hollow space larger than one inch across, fill the space with sponge, foam or bubble wrap.
Colors and color combinations often can immediately bring to mind a certain decade. In the 1950s, turquoise, often paired with pink, was popular in appliances, paints, décor and clothing. For the 1980s, forest green and magenta were totally rad. As we start a new decade, the Pantone Color Institute has designated “Classic Blue” as its Color of the Year. In honor of that, we have come up with five blue antiques and collectibles worthy of the new year. All are from the Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2020.
Q: I picked up this poster some time ago and always meant to find out about it. I know it’s a copy of the poster of the first Automobile Club of America show. The poster is about 8 inches high and 6 inches wide and is glued to a board. It says “Malcolm A. Strauss” on the bottom of the picture and “H.A. Thomas & Wylie Litho. Co. N.Y.” Can you tell me anything about it?
A: The Automobile Club of America was founded in 1899, one of the first automobile clubs in the United States. It merged with eight other automobile clubs to form the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 1902. Malcolm A. Strauss (1883-1936) was a New York artist known for his pictures that included early automobiles. He used this image again in a painting done for the poster advertising the second Automobile Club of American show in 1901. It’s interesting to note that the poster pictures a women driver, although women were not allowed to be members of the Automobile Club of America in 1900. The original advertising poster was probably much larger. An original poster might be hundreds of dollars. A reproduction print is worth less than $10. Your is worth less because it’s glued to a board.
A 10-cent purchase by a mail carrier in 1939 turned out to be a marvelous investment for a later owner: A rare and near-mint condition Marvel Comics No. 1 sold at Heritage Auctions in November for $1.26 million. The issue had originally been bought by a postal worker who frequently bought and saved first editions of comics and magazines. The comic had changed hands only a few times, according to Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage.
The previous “most expensive Marvel comic sold at public auction” was Amazing Fantasy No. 15, which featured the first appearance of the company’s most popular character, Spider-Man. It sold for $1.1 million in 2011. Marvel Comics No. 1 featured the characters Human Torch, Ka-Zar, Angel and the Sub-Mariner.
Marvel comic characters are experiencing a red-hot popularity because of the nearly two dozen films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has become a multi-billion-dollar franchise.
Photo: Heritage Auctions
Be the first to guess what the pictured item is by leaving a comment below. If you have your own whatsit, our editors can include it in a future post. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and attach a clear picture, the size and any markings. Hopefully, we will be able to identify it for our readers!
The pictured item is 7 inches high by 20 inches wide by 13 inches deep.
(Photo: Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc.)
Note: For those of you who signed up to get notified of each response (by checking the “Notify me of follow-up comments” box in the “Add Comments” section) and find it’s generating too much email, you can unsubscribe to the “Whatsitwednesday” comments by clicking the “unsubscribe” link in the “Whatsitwednesday” email you receive.
Worried about where to hang a picture? Put a small dot of toothpaste on the top corners of the frame and press the frame against the wall so the toothpaste leaves a mark. If the position looks okay, then pound in the hook and wipe off the toothpaste. Don’t do this if the wall is papered.
Collecting trends come and go, but the Kovels online price guide is a steady and reliable source on trends, collections, record prices, amazing finds and what’s new in the antiques world. We love looking at our most searched items because that helps us stay in tune with you, the collector! Pottery, porcelain, ceramics and glass still intrigue our readers.
Here are the 10 most-searched-for-antiques and collectibles categories on Kovels.com in 2019:
Buy Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2020 at Kovels.com and take advantage of this special bonus offer choose between two free gifts: a printed booklet, “Fakes, Fantasies & Reproductions No. 21,” with tips on how to spot fakes, repros that look like originals, and fantasy items to watch out for (a $7.95 value) OR the Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles 2020 Companion eBook that lists all the items, prices and category information in Kovels’ printed price guide (no images), downloadable to your Kindle, Nook or other eReader tablet or smartphone app (a $14.99 value).
Collector preference has changed in mechanical bank collecting. The rarest banks were the most expensive from the 1950s to the 1980s. Now the collectors want great condition; almost perfect paint more than rarity.