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What to do When Preparing to Clean Out an Estate

What to do When Preparing to Clean Out an Estate

Whether it’s you, your mother, or brother, everybody has some degree of stuff, fluff, or clutter. When it comes to dealing with an estate there are many steps to take before simply calling a clean out company. Why pay to have your items removed when there is a possibility people might pay you for them. In today’s world, almost anything can be collectible to a certain point. Obviously, if you did nothing but save used Kit Kat wrappers then odds are you are not sitting on a hidden treasure, but you’d be surprised what your grandfather’s collection of wrappers would be worth.

Dealing with an estate whether it’s a family member or friend can be a difficult and emotional process. For most, it starts out as a tedious and slow one eventually leading to the mentality of get all this stuff out, I don’t care, and the list goes on. This mindset is what brings everyone to the clean out phase, but it is paramount to get a trusted expert and auction house involved first. The auction world in most circumstances is consignment based, so involving an auction house first is solely to your benefit. It is the house’s job to dig through and find that needle in the haystack because they only make money by making you money. The second factor is that a professional will be able to make an assessment much faster than the average home owner. Specialists are specialists for a reason, through years of experience they are able to give real time assessments of your articles without the deterrent of emotional attachment or stress. Clearing a house can appear to be exhaustively overwhelming, but what appears as multiple months’ worth of work can typically be executed in an orderly and expeditious way.

Now, another assumption most people make is that an auction house will leave you with the junk…that is not true. A professional auctioneer will have all his ducks in a row and will be willing to help and guide you from start to finish. It is much easier to walk down a hill then climb up one, so when beginning the estate process, it is always best to seek out an auction house that has experience in selling quality antiques, fine arts, and collectibles. They’ll be the one to identify your grandfather’s 1940’s Topps candy wrapper worth $200, or that coverless, torn, and stained Detective Comics No. 27 still worth $5,000. So, take a breath, relax, and let the professionals do their job. Just think, all that clutter you were going to pay to have taken away might instead become useful for some fun in the sun.

Style On A Budget

Style On A Budget

Regardless of what your taste in décor is, used quality furniture can be purchased today at auction for pennies on the dollar. This is in part caused by the ever-growing popularity of build it yourself and high end branded furniture stores. While these stores are catchy with their marketing and designs, the furniture lacks the quality and ability to stand the test of time. Besides, what do you think their furniture is based on?

Every auction offers furniture in a sale, and that is simply because every estate has furniture they need to liquidate. So be patient, enjoy the hunt and regardless of what you are looking for it is bound to pop up. If you are more traditional in style and prefer dark stained woods such as cherry, mahogany, oak, or walnut, the American furniture market is primed for you. In today’s market period eighteenth and nineteenth century furniture can be purchased at ten percent of what it cost twenty years ago. Aside from the unbelievable savings, it is a cool topic of conversation to say your bureau is as old as the United States. For example, a circa 1800 Federal flame mahogany bureau can be purchased between $300.00 and $500.00 for a nice example, and that is for a solid mahogany constructed chest, not something made of particle board with an Allen wrench. If you are also in need of a dining room table don’t fret, those are even cheaper. Full dining room suites including a table, six chairs, leaves, hutch, and server if need be can be acquired for under $500.00. Obviously, an Important 18th Century dining room set which belonged to John Hancock will always be a treasure, but the supply of quality and clean sets today is staggering leaving the market softer than ever before.

If dark wood furniture isn’t your style that is ok too, there is plenty of modern furniture to be had today. While authentic pieces designed by artists such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) or Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) will always command a premium, the majority of pieces have become very affordable over time. Whether it be a coffee table or night stand, most smaller pieces can be purchased for under $500.00. Even though a good Danish designed dining room set consisting of a table, chairs, and hutch will cost $1,000 or more, that is nothing compared to the average $5,000 spent on a contemporary designer set, worth a fraction once it leaves the store.

So remember, when it comes to home décor and design think outside of the box and head to an auction. While big box stores are appealing and convenient, their severe lack of quality in their general lines is appalling. Don’t spend money on particle board, invest in quality furniture because it’s not just furniture, it is history. Going forward when it is your turn to sell, you will typically get a great percentage on your money back. If all goes right and the market turns around who knows, maybe you’ll make a few bucks

Art Collecting 101: What You Need To Know

Art Collecting 101: What You Need To Know

In the antique and auction world, one of the broadest categories if not the most is fine art. Fine Art is not just limited to paintings. Engravings, etchings, lithographs, sculpture, furniture, and architecture can all fall under the umbrella. Realistically what it comes down to is anything created or taken by an artist is then deemed fine art as long as the artist states it so. For example, modernist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) had created Readymades, an artistic creation which utilized normal, all ready manufactured objects, a Found Object, which was repositioned and signed, becoming art. One of his most famous works Fountain, utilized a porcelain urinal turned upside down and signed with a pseudonym “R. Mutt” and dated “1917”. The point is that prior to 1870, visual arts had been limited with a set structure.

The “Hierarchy of Genres” was established gradually throughout the fifteenth century as art institutions were established in continental Europe. History painting was of the upmost prominence followed by portraiture, genre (scenes of every day life) painting, landscape, and lastly still life. It was in the second half of the seventeenth century when the hierarchy became a foundational formality. In 1667, Andre Felibien (1619-1695), the chronicler of the arts and court historian of France under Louis XIV, (1643-1715) formalized the hierarchy instituting a ranking system that affected exhibitions and academies for the next two hundred years in France. After centuries of artistic restriction, artists began to rebel against the formal institutions bringing us back to 1870 with the creation of Impressionism, the spark to Modernism. 1870 was the tipping point that sent the art world on a radical growth spurt with so many unique styles and artists coming to fruition. It is impossible to cram one hundred and forty-seven years of modern art history in a column, let alone the over five hundred years of history since the inception of the “Hierarchy of Genres”. What this entire synopsis boils down to is that just how the artist themselves rebelled, so is the art collector today.

In today’s auction world, we are finding it harder and harder as time goes on to sell the works of traditional academic taste. It Is not that they are worthless, just paintings that were once $5,000 can now be worth $1,000, and that is because of simple supply and demand. As time goes on more works become available as the people who collected over the past fifty years sell their collection, with a smaller crowd waiting to buy versus when they collected. Most collectors today no longer relate to that form of art, and I couldn’t have a more perfect example for you. In our most recent auction over Thanksgiving weekend we had two phenomenal landscape paintings. One by Massachusetts artist George Frank Higgins (1850-1891), the other by English modernist William Gear (1915-1997). The Higgins, an exemplary American landscape sold for $1,875, which twenty years ago would have easily brought $7,000 or more. The Gear on the other hand sold for $11,875 with four phone bidders and interest from New York to England and France. To some reading this article you might stare at the Gear cross-eyed, others observed it this weekend as one of the most beautiful works they’ve seen in person. With art the beauty, and more importantly the value is in the eye of the beholder. If there is no one there to collect, there is no value, no matter who the artist is.

So You Think You Can Sell

So You Think You Can Sell

So, You Think You Can Sell? It sounds like a title to a popular week night television competition show, sadly it’s not. But it should be!  The reason why is because in the present day antique and auction world, hobbyists build up a false sense of confidence that they are seasoned veterans in the business. This is in part for two reasons – the graces of technology and access of information at the reach of a fingertip, and the over sensationalization of the trade on television. This article is to serve as a warning for people to take a second thought about who they’re contacting and letting handle their personal tangible property.

In today’s day and age, the newspaper, internet (with the most notorious being Craigslist), and radio are filled with advertising for doing cleanouts, paying CASH for gold, silver, and coins, paying CASH for your antiques, dusty collectibles, old toys, and comics. You name it, it is out there. The reason why I emphasize cash is because that’s the tag line that brings the unsuspecting customer to pick up the phone or write an email. This puts you in a situation of not knowing what you have, potentially short selling yourself gravely. It is not just these fly-by-night professionals that people fall victim too. Unknowingly people do it to themselves just as frequently. It is great to sell something yourself, but the “I can do it myself” for less attitude doesn’t make sense for the want-to-be smart seller in today’s world. On average, with internet transaction fees, it costs thirteen percent of your sale to sell something yourself. So automatically even though you are doing it, you still give a cut exactly like an auction consignment. Now, is the average person going to properly research, describe, and photograph the item? On top of that you need to take on the responsibility of the shipping and handling of the item. But that is only the mere basic barebone essentials of the operation. If you want to capitalize on your objects of virtue then you need to think of the grander picture.

When it comes to the sale of antiques, fine art, and collectibles, finding a trusted auction house is the most savvy and productive way possible. But the key is finding the right one. Even if you can describe and catalog your collection, auction houses bring a following, customer base, and marketing ability far beyond the realm of your average Craigslist or newspaper add. The best part about an auction house is they only make money by making money for you, and most unknowing and sometime stubborn people say percentages are high. But the average auction house consignment premium for one both catalogued and online is typically twenty-five to thirty percent. I don’t know about you but giving up an extra ten percent is worth being able to use modern technology and expertise to advertise your collection to the world, and that can mean the difference of hundreds and thousands.

Not Hot…Just Not…

Not Hot…Just Not…

Not Hot…Just Not…

Every week I typically visit a topic to make the reader aware of what is valuable in the world of antiques and fine art. But this week, I’m going to strive to make my job back at the gallery a whole lot easier. Every time the phone rings, I’d say there is a fifty percent chance someone is calling with one of these items. This week’s topic is the top most absolutely worthless items that people think are opulently expensive. Before we start, as with everything there can always be the rare exception, but generally speaking this stuff is equal to dirt. Use it as skeet, shoot it, or light it on fire and burn it in your fireplace. These are the items you’d be happy to see sell at a yard sale for a dollar.

Beanie Babies, oh yes, Beanie Babies. The Beanie Baby craze of the 1990’s seemed like an unstoppable train with no market ceiling to be had. Then the realization sets in that you just spent $500 on a mass produced stuffed animal you were convinced was an investment. While Ty Inc. was genius in their marketing by retiring and restricting releases, the product was simply too mass produced to sustain the secondary market it had. Beanie Babies suffered two fold, because they also fell victim to the rule “If it’s made to be a collectible, then it is not collectible”. How can something become rare if it is never given the opportunity? With Beanie Babies, everyone saved them from new, it’s not like 1978 Star Wars that every kid played with. This rule takes us to our second dreadful category.

When the first line out of anybody’s mouth is “I ordered these directly from the Danbury Mint”, it’s the antique equivalent of being a doctor and telling someone they have six months to live. Danbury, Franklin, or any television advertised collectible “Mint” is the upmost worst investment you could make. Unless you are buying something for the pure joy of collecting, with no want for a return on investment, do not buy these articles. They sell it all, plates, coins, stamps, statues, chess sets, jewelry, train sets, and die cast cars. You name it, they make it, and it’s “Collectible”. All of these articles are considered a first market collectible. The value (I guess) is in watching an infomercial, placing the order, receiving the package, and then repeating after waiting for next month’s addition. Once you purchase it, there is nobody waiting in the wings to buy it from you.

The message here is that if you want to collect something, collect quality. While you may not get the joy of buying stuff frequently, your money would be so much better spent in even just one item a year then twelve from a subscription service. Learn from you parents and grandparents’ mistakes. If you have two hundred Norman Rockwell collector plates in front, it will be ok. Just remember you will need to go to work tomorrow.

Investing in comics, how and what to buy when the market is right

Investing in comics, how and what to buy when the market is right

Nine years ago, in April of 2008 the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with the release of Iron Man. Since then there have been fifteen films in total with nine more scheduled to be released by 2019. Due to their popularity, these films have created an ever-growing demand for the Silver (1956-1969) and Bronze (1970-1985) age comic books they are based on. Following the ways of Marvel, D.C Comics has been building their own Extended Universe since 2013 comprised of four films soon to include theatrical adaptions of Justice League and Aquaman. While the Marvel market is strong and flourishing, Silver and Bronze Age D.C comics have not reached their full market potential. So, whether you are simply a super hero fan or economic opportunist, buying comics can be more rewarding than the stock market, and these are the tips and tricks on what to look for.

A “key”, and not what you use to open a door, is a comic book in which something important happens during the story that effects the greater picture of comic book history. The most important key issues of any line are typically debut issues and character introductions.  For example, Tales of Suspense issue thirty-nine was the first appearance of Iron Man, a critically important book in comic book history which in recent times has sold for as high as a quarter million dollars. Now, if you are reading this and have a Tales of Suspense thirty-nine at home don’t think just yet you have a six-figure comic.

When it comes to determining the value of a comic the most crucial factor is condition. Condition is everything, and what most might find insignificant can make a difference of thousands. Creases, scratches, pen marks, corner tears, and other minute defects are what separate most books from the superb examples. So, when it comes to starting a collection be selective and think quality over quantity. It is much better to have a collection of key books in nice condition versus a hoard of beat up readers.

So what book(s) do you buy? Not every first issue or first appearance is a sure money maker, so when it comes time to make an investment you need to be able to look at the grander picture to make an educated conjecture. Aquaman issue thirty-five was the first appearance of Black Manta, and it is already known that he will be a character in the upcoming 2018 Aquaman film. Depending on how the film is received the book may either sky rocket or be stuck like a stick in the mud, but the odds of it depreciating are slim to none.

Now on the flip side, you don’t want to collect comics, but you have a box or two or ten at home. What do you do? You call a professional, because there is the right way of doing things and the wrong. There are many books beyond first appearances and issues that are worth money, and until you’ve sorted over one hundred thousand comics, even finding just one key can feel like a needle in a haystack for people. For example, at Bruneau & Co. we recently finished sorting a collection of over ten thousands books for a client of which three hundred were deemed important.

Those books since have undergone cleaning, pressing, grading, and for some even restoration. Yes, just like a car they restore comic books. Those books will now be sold at our next Comic and Comic Art Auction with Rhode Island Comic Con. So, before you sell your comics at a yard sale or on craigslist, you might want to stop and think and call a professional.

 

GIVING THANKS TO THE PAST

GIVING THANKS TO THE PAST

“We are passionate about the past….”. That’s the first part of our slogan.  Just what makes us passionate is something we have thought about this past week – as we celebrate this season of Thanksgiving and get ready for the holidays ahead.

While we are excited every day by the work we do, there have been a few things happening on the world plain that have stood out. The most recent is the auction of the daVinci “Salvatore Mundi”.  At over $450 million dollars – yes, million, it was a record holder.  The previous record of $110.5 million for the Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 skull painting seems like a pale and distant memory.

With an as yet unidentified buyer, we don’t know what the future of the daVinci will be – will it be sent on tour – donated or lent to a museum – flipped! – or sit in storage as just so much of an investment asset? Many in the art world might even question the “beauty” of either the Basquiat or the daVinci – and have.  Perhaps the most important message to the average person is that the collection of fine art, antiquities, sculpture and unique collectibles can – and should – be part of a full investment portfolio. Sometimes items can appreciate in value in very short order – just a few years in the case of comics – particularly those that introduce a new character or mark the end of one.

As we think of advice to give our millennials about why they should save for the future – it’s prudent to give them some creative suggestions on how.  With interest rates maddeningly low and stock market risks best left for the professional manager, and pensions rarer than a Picasso at a flea market, becoming educated on collecting items that increase in value on the secondary market, we believe, should be part of a creative and forward stepping investment strategy. Starting young will only determine even better outcomes.

Spider-Man! At our October toy and comic auction, a scarce copy of Marvel Comics Amazing Fantasy #15 from August 1962 – with a CBCS Gold Label 2.5 grading – marking the first appearance of Spider-Man in a comic book and signed by the legendary artist-illustrator Stan Lee – sold for $13,750. This noteworthy event was written up in the recent issue of Live Auctioneers.  They also noted our sets of Hasbro G.I. Joe Action Pilot dress uniform equipment sets, which included a dress jacket, dress pants and dress shirt, in little plastic and cardboard packets going for over $2,600. As a pop culture, toy and comic enthusiast it’s always gleeful to see these items go for prices like this – right up there with fine art and antiques.  How much is something worth?  What someone is willing to pay for it.

As we wax a little melancholy at this time of thanks, we have much to be grateful for.  We are grateful for the trust instilled to us when people welcome us into their homes to review and appraise the items they have, some generational keepsakes, others just acquired in one way or another.  We are respectful that while something might not be valuable to resell right now or less valuable than the owner thought, the real value might be just in giving the owner information and appreciation for its worth and history.  We are happy to do that and hopefully one day that or another item may surface in the loving care of our auction house.  When it’s time to help a family liquidate, downsize, or even generate funds, we are grateful when those calls come to us and one’s possessions are passed into our care.

Fine China: The Relation of Style and Design to Value

Fine China: The Relation of Style and Design to Value

In the antique and auction world, one of the most asked about items has to be if china is valuable. And that is simply because china is “Fine”. China, which is made from hard paste porcelain has been a commodity to the western world for centuries. Originally invented in china during the Han Dynasty, first century A.D, the code to porcelain was not cracked by westerners until the eighteenth century.

In 1710, German alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger reversed engineered the Chinese “recipe”, introducing domestic European hard paste porcelain to the market for the first time. Bottger went on to become the first director of the Meissen Manufactory near Dresden, Germany. From Germany, hard paste porcelain production spread to France with the founding of the Royal French Porcelain Manufactory in Vincennes, later relocated to Sevres – the place and name everyone knows as the manufacturer of porcelain for royalty. But the question is with all this history, where does that leave us today?

Original Meissen and Sevres hard paste porcelain from the eighteenth century is always going to be collectible and valuable to some extent, but the odds of a Sevres service for twelve being in your grandmother’s china cabinet are highly unlikely. The most common fine china found in homes today is typically American or English by manufacturers such as Haviland, Pickard, and Lenox (American) or Aynsley, Royal Crown Derby, and Wedgwood (English).

There are countless manufacturers, but through experience these are the typical household names in question on a regular basis. The answer is that ninety-nine percent is relatively worthless; you can’t give it away, and the reason is rather simple. How many forty and under couples do you know who use china? And of that small group how many want to decorate with frivolously gilt bordered botanical plates? The answer…not many. So what china is valuable?

The general rule of thumb for china is – less is more – or it needs to be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. China that was senseless and absurdly decorated with highly unusual patterns that were avant-garde for the time it was produced are predictably valuable. For example, a Royal Crown Derby service for twelve in their “Vine” pattern with serving pieces sells between $250 and $400 at auction if you’re lucky. Find that same service for twelve in their “Red Aves” pattern and it will easily achieve $2,500 or more at auction. On the less is more side of things color is key.

China services with a simplistic, mono-color border are timeless in design. In a time where all green, red, or yellow kitchens are a “thing”, simplistic services could not be more popular for the modernist who enjoys the finer side of dining. So, next Christmas or Easter you might want to pay attention as to what you are cutting your ham on, you’d hate to put a scratch on grandma’s thousand-dollar plate.

Art Nouveau & Art Deco in The United States

Art Nouveau & Art Deco in The United States

The Art Nouveau Period In The United States

The Art Nouveau period in the United States was at its pinnacle from 1890 to 1910 before fading out in the beginning of the roaring twenties. Regarding decorative arts, the period was dominated by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, Duffner and Kimberly, and other New York-based decorative arts firms specializing in bronze table lamps with leaded glass shades, vases, bowls, candlesticks, desk sets, and various other household accents and accessories.

Art Nouveau design was intricate yet organic, table lamps were commonly comprised of floral or geometric patterns, with rare Tiffany lamps featuring a hanging head dragonfly pattern. Bases were commonly inspired by trees with a natural, organic flow to the casting.

Near the end of the Art Nouveau period, lower quality spelter lamps and sculpture became popular as cheaper alternatives to New York firms. During this transitional time between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco period, it was common to see female form patinated spelter lamps and decorative arts.

The form was sensualized in pose and demeanor, but rarely exposed, and if so, only partially. The organic flow of earlier foliate and vine designs transitioned to fluent diaphanous drapery on elegant female forms. While these designs could be considered risqué for 1915 America and the Art Nouveau period, it is nothing compared to what followed.

The Art Deco Period In The United States

The Art Deco period brought vast changes in art and design. It was no longer a time of graceful and organic compositions with layered intricacies, but that of stark and crisp form with defined lines and angles dominated by the female figure. The female body as a subject was anonymized with an accentuated physique and commonly used in lamps, ashtrays, bookends, and clocks among many other things.

The one company who did it better than anyone else and is still popularly collected today is Frankart. Founded in 1922, Frankart Inc. was a New York firm specializing in spelter decorative arts capitalizing on the Art Deco period. Contrary to the dark patinations seen in the Art Nouveau, Frankart finished most of their works in a sea foam green or silver finish. Frankart was mass produced and not of the quality of its Art Nouveau predecessors, but it’s avant-garde high style designs at affordable prices made them a commodity. In today’s market at Auction, certain Frankart pieces can be worth thousands.

When it comes to factoring a piece’s value, the three factors are size, condition, and of course rarity. For example, having a large two-foot-tall ashtray of a standing nude with perfect original paint translates to $800 to $1,200 at auction. That same ashtray missing a portion of its finish with the spelter exposed would more than likely sell for $500 or less, so condition is key.

If you’re sitting at home with a stash of your grandfather’s Art Deco furnishings, it’s crucial to contact a trusted specialist and auction house. With items of specialized interest, marketing is very important, and if they end up at the wrong auction house, I’m sure to be there to buy it, that’s why this exemplar photo was taken on my living room table.

Automobilia – What’s HOT in Collectible Cars?

Automobilia – What’s HOT in Collectible Cars?

Within the antique and auction world, one of the largest collecting communities has always been Automobilia. “Automobilia”, for those who do not know, refers to cars, trucks, and everything that relates to them. Numerous times a year auctions like Barrett-Jackson and Meecum showcase $200,000 Corvettes and $100,000 Mustangs on television having everybody looking for the next barn find. As with all cars and realistically every collectible, markets are cyclical and values heavily change within short amounts of time, and muscle cars already hit their peak. For auto enthusiasts looking to collect in tandem with a wise investment, the vintage Japanese car market is here for you.

What if right now you could buy a triple black all “original numbers” matching 1970 Plymouth Cuda for $10,000… or even $50,000? You would be a fool if you didn’t buy ten. The point is extremely rare high optioned Japanese cars are just beginning to become part of the automobilia collector world. They are beyond the point of high school teenagers modifying them with cold air intakes and pineapple exhausts, but that is exactly why they are collectible. Just how kids of the 70s and 80s drove GTOs, Mustangs, and 442s dressed up with Cragars, window louvers, and a loud exhaust, it was fun in 2005 to put rims on your 1997 Acura Integra Type R. In 2005 the Type R would have sat on any used car lot between $4,000 and $7,000 depending on mileage and condition. Today, only twelve years later, an average example can’t be touched for under $18,000. Find one completely stock with 40,000 miles or less and its $25,000 or more. That is a considerable amount of appreciation for a car in a little over a decade, compared to what a 1968 Camaro would have been worth in 1980.

When looking at the Japanese car market, the best and top cars within the class seem shockingly expensive (used car mentality), but in actuality it is still only the beginning. In my opinion, the 1997 Toyota Supra 15th Anniversary Twin Turbo is the triple black Cuda of Japanese cars. In 2005, a ’97 Supra twin turbo could have easily been purchased for under $25,000 when in 1997 its MSRP was $40,000. By 2014 the secondhand price was par with its original MSRP with stock examples few and far in between. Present day you can’t touch one for under $60,000, and the next one always sells for more than what came before it. Not that I have a crystal ball to see the future but the ’97 Supra is on its way to being a six figure collector car in the very near future. Beyond the Supra the world of Japanese cars is endless with a car suited for every collector. If you ever wanted to drive a 300ZX, WRX, Evolution, or 3000GT now is the time to buy, don’t wait for everyone to hop on the bandwagon. Buy now – and make money in the future.

What Is Grandma’s Antique Glass Collection Worth?

What Is Grandma’s Antique Glass Collection Worth?

One of the most common calls received when working in the antique and auction world is, “what is my grandmother’s antique glass collection worth?”

The term “antique glass” is very broad, encompassing a myriad of different makers and styles worth anything from $1 to over $20,000 per piece. While everyone is not going to have a Tiffany Studios Jack-In-The-Pulpit Favrile Glass Vase, there is a range of collectible glass Grandma could potentially have sitting on her shelf that’s five times more valuable than that large and beautiful, brilliant cut punch bowl set.

Does Clear Glass Have Value To Collectors?

The first tip is simple, clear glass is out. Twenty-five years ago, collectors existed for brilliant cut, blown, and pressed glass crafted by companies such as Heisey, Fostoria, or Sandwich. Unfortunately, today there is no longer a viable and robust market for this type of glass.

Now there is always an exception to every rule, the 1% which is extremely rare or historically significant will forever hold some value, but the majority has fallen by the wayside. The majority of this type of glass was produced beginning in the second quarter of the nineteenth century continuing through the 1940’s.

Beginning shortly after the turn of the century companies began to introduce inexpensive colored and iridescent glass as an alternative to expensive artisan works known as Carnival glass. Although this glass is tinted and shiny, it is not as valuable today as it was just a short time ago.

Bruneau Tip: For determining what glass is valuable the answer is rather simple; if it was expensive to buy new, then odds are it is expensive today.

Which Type Of Glass Is Popular With Antique Collectors?

Frederick Carder (1863 -1963) and Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 -1933) were both New York-based innovators specializing in iridescent glass during the early 1900’s. Through Steuben Glass Works, Carder introduced Aurene glass to compete with Tiffany’s already popular Favrile glass. Both wares possess a high luster finish most commonly seen in gold.

What separates Tiffany from Steuben is that Favrile glass possesses a faint craquelure within its surface. Showcased initially through New York, Boston, and other metropolitan based showrooms, Tiffany and Steuben glass was coveted by all and afforded by few. Tiffany and Steuben glass was unmistakable, the shapely forms and iridescent polychrome finishes are what separated them from the pack.

Over one hundred years later, both Steuben and Tiffany glass has remained popular within the antique collecting community with Tiffany being the rarer favor. On average, a twelve-inch Steuben vase of typical form will sell at auction between $500 and $800, while its Tiffany counterpart would bring over $2,000.

Outside of making extravagant vases, Tiffany and Steuben made smaller, more affordable pieces too. Back in 1915, a Tiffany Favrile finger bowl would have been a common wedding present for Grandma, and that little candy dish today you initially thought was nothing could easily fetch $400 to $600 at auction. So, when looking through glass remember to push aside the clear twenty-four-piece goblet set or punch bowl, and find that one small iridescent bud vase hiding in the china closet.

Will There Ever Be Too Many Star Wars Movies Made?

Will There Ever Be Too Many Star Wars Movies Made?

Later this month on December 14th, the second installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy Episode VII: The Last Jedi will be released. In total, this will be the ninth live action film released since Episode IV in 1978. Upcoming we know there will be Episode IX and a second standalone film Solo giving the backstory of Han Solo prior to A New Hope. With the amount of films being released on top of other Star Wars media, this results in an exuberant amount of Star Wars merchandise being released. Media plus merchandise, not to mention the recently unveiled Disney Star Wars theme park, leads to an over saturation of Star Wars. Am I against this? No, I love it! I’m a huge Star Wars fan and can’t get enough of it. But, what does this mean for the Star Wars collectible market? For that answer we need to look at a different property which underwent a similar contemporary revival.

While it was not as popular as Star Wars upon its initial release in the 1980’s, the Transformers have had five live action films released since 2007 with a Transformers six and Bumblebee spinoff movie planned for 2019 and 2018 respectively. Since then, the Transformers market for the vintage toys has had a roller coaster ride with a tremendous peak and spiral down. When the first movie was announced up until the release of the third installment Dark of The Moon in 2011, the Transformers market was climbing with no end in sight. For example, a G1 Optimus Prime open, but complete with all paperwork and nice condition would easily sell for $600 or more. The third film was rather subpar and left fans with a sour taste in their mouth. The fourth installment Age of Extinction in 2014 was the “stick a fork in it” moment for the franchise. What happened was the initial movies created a huge revival in interest for Transformers, were people who never once thought of collecting were now competing for $500, $1,000, and even $2,000 figures. As demand could not meet supply initially prices soared, but as the market blossomed this lead to major liquidations of collections as people who bought pre-movie era could quadruple their initial investment. The rise in value lead to a flooding of the market over time. So, you have an increase in merchandise, now people are getting tired of the films, enter installment five The Last Knight. Present day 2017 the market for average Transformers has flatlined.  The Optimus Prime that was once $600 is now $150, maybe $200 if you are lucky. The benefit to the movies was that what was truly rare remains highly sought after rising in value. So where does this leave us with Star Wars.

Just this past November one of the holy grails of Star Wars, a double telescoping Obi-Wan Kenobi sold for $75,000 at auction. That is unbelievable, the previous example to have entered the market over five years ago had sold for roughly $22,000 publicly. Rewind to the release of Episode VII December 2015. While Star Wars has always been more expensive to collect than Transformers, the staple collectible for a Star Wars collector is the twelve back, the initial twelve figures released in 1978. After Episode VII, in our March toy auction we had sold a twelve back Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Han Solo all graded AFA 85 for $6,000 apiece. By December 2016 the market was flooded, and the same figures could be bought for $2,500 online if you were savvy. Fast-forward to present day a week before Episode VIII, the AFA 85 twelve backs are back to around $4,000. Nowhere near their original hype but an increase none the less. It is impossible to predict the future, but Star Wars has already been subject to vast market fluctuation within a two-year period. If Disney continues to create great films, hopefully we will have a sustainable market for the future.

The history of Transformers before the Transformers

The history of Transformers before the Transformers

2017 marked the ten-year anniversary of the Transformers film franchise and thirty-third anniversary of the brand as a whole. This past June, Transformers: The Last Knight was released, being the fifth film in the franchise with a Bumblebee spinoff planned for 2018, and Transformers Six for 2019. But regardless of the big screen, Transformers have been one of the most beloved and collected toy lines since their inception, hence why some vintage Transformers are some of the most valuable toys today.

“Generation One” or simply just G1, is a term collectors use to refer to the first series of the Transformers toy line which in the United States ran from 1984 to 1990. What most collectors don’t realize is that we wouldn’t have the Transformers if it were not for the Transformers before the Transformers. Do you follow? In 1983 Hasbro representatives went to the Tokyo Toy Show looking for new merchandise to introduce to the American market. At the show, Japanese toy manufacturer Takara had been displaying the newest lines of their Diaclone and Microchange toy lines. Through Diaclone, Takara introduced a series of transforming robots which turned into present day vehicles from a Lamborghini to ambulance, tow truck, Honda van, or fighter jet, accompanied by a humanoid pilot. That is why all 1984 G1 Transformers cars and planes like Jazz or Starscream have an opening cockpit with nothing to put in it. Microchange is what gave us the remainder of the G1 toy line introducing transforming cassettes, tape decks, guns, and miniature cars used for characters such as Soundwave and Laserbeak, Bumblebee, and the all evil Megatron.

The original Diaclone and Microchange toys are extremely rare and highly valuable, but the odds of having them in the United States are low. For the fortunate few who grew up in Boston, New York, or California and remember shopping at eccentric Japanese import stores, you should start digging in your basement. For example, the Diaclone release of Transformers Sunstreaker in the white police car variant easily sells for $1,500 to $2,000 in unused condition, compared to a G1 Sunstreaker in pristine, factory sealed condition for $1,000. While the police Sunstreaker is the rarest variant of the Lamborghini Countach (Sunstreaker) mold, it was also more commonly released in red, which in unused condition brings between $800 and $1,200 at auction. Very few people are going to have a Japanese issue police or red Sunstreaker, but there are a few pieces of Diaclone history that can be more commonly found.

Between the initial release of the transforming Diaclone figures in 1983 and Transformers in 1984, Takara released a small toy line just prior to the Hasbro partnership in the United States known as Diakron. The Diakron line consisted of seven toys of which three were Diaclone transforming cars. The three released included a blue Trailbreaker, black Ironhide, and a red Sunstreaker. Today, any of the three Diakron cars when sealed bring $1,000 or more depending on condition of the box.

Thirty-three years and five blockbusters later who would have thought a simple Transforming toy could become so popular, but it is important to remember the history of where it all began.