Freund explores the high-stakes world of American antiques collecting. He focuses on three of the most highly valued pieces at the prestigious 1991 Americana Week in New York. Tracing their histories and showing how they came to be at the heart of the antiques market, Freund also shares the fascinating history of how the world of antiques evolved.
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Vividly well-written love story about antiques, those who collect them, and those who sell them, as debut author Freund follows the adventures of three major pieces of furniture from their crafting centuries ago to their present-day sale in the Manhattan antiques market. Freund devises an exciting framework for his tale, introducing us to the three objects one piece at a time, then to each antique's present owner, then to the sales people at Sotheby's and elsewhere who are handling each piece, then to the former owners of each piece--all of this building up to the big auction at book's end. Most richly done is the coverage of who made what when, passages that soak us in the handicrafts of the Colonies. There's a pine blanket-chest with false drawers, still coated with its original robin's-egg blue paint, made for a Connecticut farmer in 1750 or so--an object so utterly plain and unadorned in the Queen Anne style that the reader (and visitors to the Winter Antiques Show where it's being exhibited) can hardly believe anyone will pay the present owner's $250,000 asking price. Then there's a fabulous Chippendale card table, decorated by a genius for carving vines and leaves that seemingly turn in the wind and catch raindrops, a piece made in 1759 for a Philadelphia millionaire and whose breath-of- life carving Freund describes as fondly as Pygmalion might describe Galatea's hip. Will it go for a million? The inlaid sofa table from the Federal period, which has passed through the fond hands of many millionaires--$100,000? Connoisseurship that floods the reader's cells like fine brandy and Havanas. The passages about the lost time recaptured in each piece sing. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
This is such an interesting--at times even exciting--look at the American antiques trade that it's unfortunate the material is presented in such a convoluted style. Freund, a freelance writer, relates so much trivia that he frequently goes off track, as, for example, when he takes paragraphs to tell us that one dealer once met an antiques "picker" whose father was a newspaper editor. Yet the book is otherwise notable, for Freund accurately reads the pulse of the trade, appreciates the love of "things" that causes many dealers and collectors to be forever on the prowl. Here he focuses on the annual Americana Week in Manhattan--in this instance, 1991--which opens with the Winter Antiques Show and includes events at auction galleries. He tracks three masterpieces of 18th-century American furniture--a sofa table, which fetched $75,000 at Sotheby's; a card table, auctioned also at Sotheby's for $950,000; and a blanket chest, priced at $250,000, which failed to sell at the Winter Antiques Show. He traces the provenance of each piece and introduces us to such major dealers as Harold Sack and to the first-rank auctioneers and collectors. The book will enthrall those for whom patina is all.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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