Category Archives: Features

Collecting Inspiration: Henry David Thoreau & Nature

Figure 2: Henry D. Thoreau, ambrotype by Edward Sidney Dunshee, 1862. Th33b, Henry D. Thoreau, Gift of Mr. Walton Ricketson and Miss Anna Ricketson (1929). photo courtesy of the Concord Museum

by Erica Lome, Ph.D.   One April morning, when Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was fishing in a stream outside the center of Concord, Massachusetts, he was distracted by a hawk as it soared gracefully over the water. “It was the most ethereal flight I have ever witnessed,” he recalled. Thoreau began noticing other details around […]

Inspired by Plants: The Glass Flowers as a Window into Botanical Education

The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants on permanent exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Harvard University Herbaria. Photo by Jennifer Berglund

By Donald H. Pfister and Jennifer Brown, Harvard University Herbaria Unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, Harvard University Herbaria / Harvard Museum of Natural History. Photos by Natalja Kent © President and Fellows of Harvard College   When we look at the Ware Collection of […]

Taxidermy: Exploring one of the Most Complicated Collectibles

Carl Akeley, considered the father of modern taxidermy, was also a talented sculptor, naturalist, and an inventor. He worked on these elephants at the Field Museum but also has a history of working with another famous elephant. While an apprentice at Ward’s Natural Science Establishment, he preserved P. T. Barnum’s beloved elephant Jumbo after a train accident. The project took five months. Fighting African Elephants, photo: Field Museum

by Kary Pardy Someone mentions taxidermy and a few main themes come to mind: trophies in hunting lodges, decor in rustic cabins, or the old stuffed fox at your grandparent’s house or neighborhood antique store. The practice of preserving dead animals was once an art form, and in several ways still is, but taxidermy’s relationship […]

Viking Glass – A Colorful History

Viking Glass Epic Line Rooster

Viking Glass grew out of its predecessor, New Martinsville Glass Company, which was established in 1900 by Mark Johnson and George Matheny. The plant was up and running in 1901 in New Martinsville, West Virginia, known for its natural gas and access to transportation by rail and by river – the Ohio river. The company […]

Mercury Glass: Encasing the Brilliance of Silver

Collection of seven antique mercury glass vessels selling for $750 at charish.com

Mercury glass is not all it is wrapped up to be as there is no actual mercury used in the encased silvered part of the glass, except during its first few years. While rumors abound regarding the danger of being poisoned when using tableware made with “mercury glass,” it is a myth that comes from […]

Forged Signatures: Tips to Help Collectors Find the Real Deal

The Declaration of Independence boasts of a plethora of signatures from some of America’s most famous men, but whose do you think is the most valuable? The podcast Radiolab conducted in an investigation and the winner is Button Gwinnett! Surprised? Gwinnett’s obscurity increased the value of his signature. He only has 51 documented signature examples and was killed in a duel in 1777. photo: Andrea Izzotti/ Shutterstock and Reader’s Digest

By Kary Pardy, writer of “Exploring Antique Technology” Mickey Mantle’s baseball, a celebrity-signed photograph, the copy of the Declaration of Independence from your relative’s attic: the value of each of these items lies in its authenticity. Forgers go to great lengths to dupe collectors, but unfortunately, several other roadblocks are not inherently sneaky. Collectors of […]

Can I have your Autograph?

Stan Lee at an autographing event. "I would write the stories, and hope the public would buy them and like them, and then I'd be able to pay the rent. I never really spent time thinking how long will that last, because I knew if the character became unpopular, I can always write another one. I was always writing other ones."

by Maxine Carter-Lome, Publisher Since ancient Roman times, a man’s ability to sign his name separated him from the masses and marked him as a member of the ruling class at a time when all but a very few were illiterate. A man’s signature entitled him to make decisions that affected people, property, and wealth, […]

What’s in a Name? Sascha, Marc, and Sometimes, Matthew

Rooftops irregular plate by Sascha Brastoff, 10-1/2” longest side, $75-$100

Story and photos by Donald-Brian Johnson In the world of mid-twentieth-century décor, it wasn’t enough for a designer to be a household name. What sold everything—from dinnerware to dishwashers to draperies—was exactly the right household name. That name had to be exotic, but not so exotic as to frighten away customers. It had to suggest […]

The Fostoria Glass Company: Staying Flexible with Solid Glass

1904 Fostoria Glass Company Catalog lamps and vases

by Mary Sue Lyon, director, Fostoria Glass Society of America   The Fostoria Glass Company began operations in Fostoria, Ohio in 1887 where natural gas was offered at low cost to attract new industries. That rate was very short-lived, and the Fostoria Glass Company moved to Moundsville, West Virginia in late 1891. Fostoria existed as […]