Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Babe Ruth and the Mystery of the 1923 Lections Baseball Cards

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1923 Babe Ruth Lections baseball card PSA graded
In the mid-1980s, American baseball card collectors were surprised to find a previously unknown group of baseball cards displayed at the Parsippany National card show. In 1997, a second group of these unusual cards showed up at auction. The origin of the "Lections" baseball cards is still shrouded in mystery. It's estimated that only 40-50 cards from the set still exist today - and an additional four Lections baseball cards have just been discovered from an upstate New York estate and are now being offered for sale in the Nine Caroline Antiques store. The exceedingly rare group includes a Babe Ruth baseball card, a Roger Hornsby baseball card, a Howard Ehmke baseball card, and a "Bob" Emil Meusel baseball card.

The Lections baseball cards date to around 1923. Each card is printed on a thick cardstock and features a black and white photograph of the featured player, with the name and team printed below. The rest of the card is printed in green or orange ink, with a drawing of a baseball game in progress to the right underneath "Lections / Trade Mark / B & B Co." The cards are blank on the back.

Almost all of the Lections baseball cards discovered so far are in well-loved (aka not very good) condition. Some of the cards, like the Roger Hornsby card offered for sale in our store, have punch holes. This may indicate that the cards were perhaps part of a redemption promotion at a candy store or toy store.
1923 Roger Hornsby Lections baseball card PSA graded
However, a first-hand account from a gentleman who actually collected Lections baseball cards in his youth sheds some additional light on the subject: the Lections baseball cards were probably handed out to children in conjunction with "election cards" handed out to adults at public events or fairs in Albany, New York. The grownups' election cards were handed out by public officials running for election. The Lections baseball cards were handed out to children at the same time, all in an attempt to win the support of both children and their voting parents. Since the cards were only handed out over the duration of a local fair (just a few days in a small area), their existence is very scarce and as such very rare.

Most excitingly, one of the Lections baseball cards discovered in this new group is that of the renowned Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino himself, the famed pitcher/outfielder for the New York Yankees (1920-34). Only seven PSA graded Babe Ruth Lections baseball cards are known to exist, and only one card is graded higher than our "Good 2" Babe Ruth baseball card.

1923 Howard Ehmke Lections baseball card PSA graded
1923 Bob Emil Meusel Lections baseball card PSA graded

This is an exciting group of Lections baseball cards. The cards came to us from an upstate New York estate, as befits a group of cards with a very specific and localized origin. Each of the Lections baseball cards has been graded by the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), the world's largest third-party sports card authentication service. All of the original 1923 Lections baseball cards can be found in our store by clicking here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rare Tiffany & Co Aluminum Coffee Spoon from the 1893 World's Fair

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Antique Tiffany & Co aluminum coffee spoon Olympia 1893 World's Fair Columbian Exposition
Every now and then we come across an item that is truly rare and unique, an undeniable treasure of which only a handful exist. Upon first glance, this coffee spoon looks pretty but not terribly unusual. However, when you look closer, its amazing background is revealed: the spoon is aluminum, not sterling silver, and bears a unique hallmark.

This antique aluminum coffee spoon was crafted by the noted New York firm Tiffany & Co. The spoon was part of a set of twelve created for display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The spoon handle is Tiffany's elegant Olympian pattern (Bacchantes amusing the infant motif). The standard Tiffany & Co hallmark is accompanied by an unusual hallmark of a "T" through a globe. This hallmark was used by Tiffany & Co only on items specifically made for the Columbian Exposition. Throughout the entirety of its storied past, Tiffany has made only twelve spoons in aluminum, and this amazingly rare find is one of them.

"Tiffany Silver Flatware 1845-1905, When Dining Was an Art" Antique Sterling
A passage concerning the history of the spoons can be found on page 217 of "Tiffany Silver Flatware 1845-1905, When Dining Was an Art" by William P. Hood Jr. with Roslyn Berlin and Edward Wawrynek. Published in 1999 by the Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., Woodbridge, Suffolk.

"Certainly the most unusual items made in Olympian of which we are aware were twelve coffee spoons 'made of aluminum' and so listed as entry no. 183 in the catalog of Tiffany & Co.'s exhibits for the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. These were very likely the first pieces of flatware ever made from this metal. It had only been in the late 1880s that advancements in production methods had reduced the price of aluminum below the semi-precious metal category and had opened up the possibility of widespread commercial application. Whether Tiffany made these spoons as a novelty or as a trial balloon to test public acceptance of flatware made from a light but relatively strong and corrosion-resistant metal is unknown. (It was not until just after World War II that aluminum flatware was introduced commercially as a cheaper alternative to silver and stainless steel.) The fate of Tiffany's twelve Olympian aluminum coffee spoons is a mystery." [emphasis ours, pictured at right]

This extraordinary find came out of an upstate New York estate and is an amazing example of the incredibly rare things you can discover if you keep your eyes open. The knowledge that this is a unique piece of flatware, one of only twelve in the entire world, is quite spectacular. Take a closer look at this one-of-a-kind piece by visiting our store.

Are you interested in learning more about the 1893 Columbian Exposition? Read more about it here, or try The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson for a fascinating glimpse into the dizzying heights of creation and human achievement of the World's Fair, contrasted sharply with the depths of humanity's dark side.

Are you looking for more interesting estate discoveries, antiques, silver, jewelry, or collectibles? Explore the Nine Caroline Antiques store.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lucky, Gentle Giants: Collecting Elephants

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Large Royal Dux Amphora Porcelain Elephant Sculpture

What is it about elephants that we love so much? Is it their gentle gaze, their intelligence, their capacity for love? Many cultures see elephants as a symbol of luck, the love between a mother and child, knowledge, and protection. The principles of feng shui include several different ways to incorporate elephants into your home decor to bring good luck, love, academic success, work success, fertility, and protection. Perhaps it's no wonder that elephants are memorialized in fine art, decorative art, folk art, and jewelry. Collecting elephant items has been a passion for many people for ages.

We recently purchased a very large, very wonderful collection of elephants from an upstate New York estate. A locked, hidden door was discovered that no one could recall ever having been opened. How many years had it been sealed shut? No one was sure. Once the door was finally opened, this find was revealed: a collection of over a hundred different types of elephant sculptures, figurines, jewelry, and decorative objects. Each piece had been carefully wrapped in 1940s-era newspaper and appeared to have never been touched after that initial wrapping.

Below is a small sample of the varied types of elephant collectibles found in this hidden space. The entire collection can be found in our online store.

Vintage Figural Elephant Sewing Tape Measure

Schafer & Vater Porcelain Gaping Mouth Vase

Japanese Gilded Lacquer Elephant Netsuke

Scottish Sterling Silver Elephant & Castle Cane Topper

German Majolica Smoking Elephant Humidor Box

Mughal Moonstone Silver Elephant Pendant

FGW Ferdinand Gerbing Pottery Elephant Cigar Humidor

Austrian Cold Painted Bronze Elephant on Skis Figurine

Antique Bisque Porcelain Elephant Nodder Figurine

Antique Folk Art Carved Wood Elephant

Orientalist Elephant & Girl Porcelain Smoking Stand

French Silver Figural Elephant Snuff Box

Cast Iron Elephant Still Bank

Mughal Jeweled Silver Elephant Perfume Bottle

Bradley & Hubbard Cast Iron Elephant Doorstop

Bradley & Hubbard Bronze Elephant Doorstop

Schoenhut Carved Wood Circus Elephant Toy

Antique Carved Coral Elephant Pendant

Antique European Porcelain Elephant Coin Bank

Asian Carved Wood Elephant Sculpture

Intrigued by this group? So were we!

Check out the entire collection in the Nine Caroline Antiques store.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jewelry by Louis Comfort Tiffany

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 Here are a beautiful pair of unmarked 14k and citrine cabochon cufflinks that recently came from a local estate. They arrived in a Tiffany & Company box that the cufflinks appear original to. Stylistically, these cufflinks appear related to the decorative motifs in Tiffany objects from the early 20th century. However, original pieces of jewelry designed and made under the direction of Louis C. Tiffany are uncommon, under-documented, and, we would typically expect such pieces to be clearly marked as made by Tiffany in some manner. There were also other firms such as Marcus & Co. during the same period making similar designs. Are these by Tiffany? Maybe, who knows? The only markings are a miniscule 285 (or 582) inventory mark scratched into each one. Whatever their origin, they are a beautiful and striking example of early 20th century craft and design.

Take a closer look at these cufflinks at the Nine Caroline Antiques store. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Victorian Lingerie Jewelry Pins

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Lingerie pins are sweet, little pins used to hold a proper lady’s undergarments in place. Often sold in pairs to combat each bra strap from a visible display of embarrassment. Since a Victorian lady would want something elegant, even for her undergarments, pins were often decorated with gemstones, pearls or decorative enameling. Used not only for bra support, they could often be found holding slips and other intimates. Never to be seen on the outside of a garment, of course! But first we must understand the history of undergarments, from corset to the modern day brassiere.

It is said that the corset was a direct result of Queen Catherine de’ Medici’s strict distaste of thick waistlines in her French court during the 1550s. She despised an ill figure and wanted only the hourglass figure to surround her. Corsets are known for slimming the body to conform to a fashionable silhouette. Historically a corset was made out of lace with rigid stays sewn around the lace to ensure a proper figure. The stays, or boning were often whalebone or reeds, and later metal was used. The undergarment was typically laced up the back, with help from a lady’s maid extreme force was needed to secure the garment in place.

During the 1700s, a casual corset evolved. A quilted waistcoat could be worn for more informal occasions, saving the stiff corset with stays for formal court appearances. As a woman’s corset was fading during this time, the man’s corset surged. Claiming that a corset could solve back pain, men began wearing corsets to help with body ailments.

While clothing silhouettes slimmed down so did the use of multiple undergarments. The need for crinolines, hoop skirts, and bustles were a thing of the past. In the late 1800s the dawn of the corset was diminishing. The role of women in society was quickly changing, women began entering the “man’s” world and the need for more flexible clothing grew. By the 1890s the first wave of feminism was in full swing. A corset prohibited a more active lifestyle and by the early 1900s was no longer en vogue. The term brassiere was first used in the 1893 publication of the Evening Herald in Syracuse, New York. It wasn’t until 1907 when Vogue magazine first published the term. Undergarments were the first to be modified because they could be changed without exposing the wearer to social ridicule.

By World War I the corset was nearly extinct. The metal that was once used for stays was now used for the war effort. A simple fabric bra and slip were common lady’s undergarments. Secret, hidden accessories were always needed regardless of which type of undergarment worn. Social etiquette dictated the need for lingerie pins, and garment clips, so as not to expose the unmentionable. By 1932 the brassiere was mass produced with elastic straps and standardized cup sizes. Clips and pins appeared on the outside of garments to hold sweater necklines.
As antique fashion etiquette is exposed, so shall its beautiful adornments be displayed and worn on the outside of current en vogue garments. Lingerie pins can be quite collectible in the current market. To shop for some of our Victorian jewelry, visit it us at NineCarolineAntiques.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Original Art Deco Artwork by Erté

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The sleek lines, unique shapes, and bold colors of Art Deco design are still eye-catching today, almost 100 years after the movement’s heyday. One of the most recognizable artists and designers of the Art Deco period may be Erté, who created breathtaking paintings, prints, costumes, and set designs. We are excited to feature two original gouache paintings by Erté: “Don Juan” and “Holeproof Hosiery XII”.   

Erté (1892-1990) was a Russian-born French artist. Born into a distinguished family, his given name was Roman Petrovich Tyrtov. Despite the wishes of his father, an admiral in the Russian fleet, and his family’s expectations for him to become a naval officer, he followed his dream to become an artist, moved to Paris, and took the pseudonym Erté to avoid disgracing his family. In Paris Erté worked as a designer for the renowned French couturier Paul Poiret from 1913 to 1914. In 1915, Erté contracted with Harper’s Bazaar magazine where he started designing costumes and stage sets. From 1915 to 1937, Erté designed over 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar. Other notable works created by Erté were published on the covers of magazines such as London News, Cosmopolitan, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Vogue. He was well known for his elegant fashion designs which captured the spirit of the Art Deco period; his earliest success was designing costumes for the French dancer Gaby Deslys. After gaining fame in Paris, Erté left for Hollywood to design costumes and sets for the silent film Paris. However, the film faced many delays and, to keep him busy, the studio also had Erté work on sets for movies such as Ben-Hur, The Mystic, The Comedian, Time, and Dance Madness.

One of our original featured works of Erté, the 1930 gouache painting “Don Juan”, is a great example of his high Art Deco style. The well-known literary character was a wealthy man who devoted his life to the act of charming women. In Erté’s painting, Don Juan is appropriately depicted surrounded by hearts, with stylized women’s silhouettes at either side. The use of contrasting colors and difference of style between the green women and the passionate red color of Don Juan, brings the viewers eyes inward and onto the character of Don Juan and his influential personality, so artistically depicted in this painting.

Our second original featured artwork by Erté is a gouache painting titled “Holeproof Hosiery.” This mysterious and evocative painting depicts various opera glasses reflecting light, one reflecting the white elegant figure of a ballerina. The orange reflecting light contrasts with the purple of the background and the white ballerina figure at the center stands gracefully within the orange, capturing the eye. Erté was known to have created artwork for advertising, and this piece may have been for such a purpose; however, this particular painting remains something of a beautiful mystery.

Both of these original gouache paintings are striking examples of Erté’s distinct style, and each is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. Check them out in our store by clicking here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Say “Hello” to Antique Text Messages: Calling Cards, Embellished Cases & Entryway Baskets

Antique Calling Card Case
Imagine a world where electronics ceased to exist and the handwritten letter was your main source of correspondence. It was not so long ago that this world existed. Unfortunately it is a pastime that many younger generations are clueless to understand. Not but one hundred years ago did society communicate through letters, cards, or simply word of mouth. During this era the calling card was like receiving a text, a way of saying “hello” to friends, family and loved ones. Although the calling card is now obsolete, beautiful ornate cases that once housed these cards are prized possessions and are collected by antique enthusiasts.

Antique Calling Card TrayThe custom of carrying a calling card began in the early 1800’s in France. It was a popular trend among high society and soon spread throughout Europe and the United States. Each card was hand written, typically by talented calligraphers and then embellished by the bearer. Just as the cards themselves were decorative works of art so were the carrying cases. Many card cases were often small, just bigger than the cards to ensure ease of transport. Cases would hang from chatelaine belts or be tucked away in evening bags. Historically, cases were made out of silver, mother of pearl, bone, ivory and any other materials that were en vogue.
Antique Bride's Basket
These small elegant portfolios were carried by both men and women. A man's case was often less decorated and plainly designed because they were not as visible to the crowd. A simple design is not to disregard the man’s calling card which was often used to request a dance, or show interest in courting a young woman. A social endeavor that was necessary if you were outside the arranged marriages custom. However, it was the women’s cases that had engraved, embossed, carved, or even inlaid details. These are the cases that many collectors seek. Everything from floral bouquets, to figural designs adorned these cases.

It was proper etiquette to leave a card at the house you were visiting. Making social calls was a ritual, it was way to communicate. Every detail about the ritual was elaborate. The cards, the cases, even the trays or baskets where they were left in the entrance of the visiting home. The act of leaving a card was not only for the bearer of the card announcing their intent, it was also a way for other visitors to see who the household entertained at any given time, an act of social status.

The trend continued into the early 1900’s, although less popular by that time due to the invention of the typewriter and other printing devices. The once fashionable card soon turned into a businessman’s identification card. Although we carry business cards today they are not as elaborate, nor are they used in the same fashion. To blossom a romance or to request a dance are not traditional reasons to leave a business card in the 21st century. Collectors of calling card cases seek only the very best, most ornate, most unique designs found. Antique enthusiasts have been found using the cases for carrying modern day business cards. A case used today is a unique fashion statement with a sound historic social past.

Discover our fine examples of antique calling card cases, baskets, trays and accessories at our shop: NineCarolineAntiques!