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  • 10
    Mar

Q and A with Harry Rinker: A Cheating Gambler’s 19th Century Card Cutter

[caption id="attachment_2526139" align="aligncenter" width="605"] Collectors will pay around $1,000 for this Will & Finck of San Francisco card cutter, used by gamblers to cheat.[/caption] QUESTION: I found a Will & Finck of San Francisco card cutter in a thrift shop in the mountains of North Carolina. A card trimmer is used to alter a deck of cards if...

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  • 9
    Mar

The Perils of Improperly Storing Your Campaign Buttons

Have you just started to collect political buttons? Did your grandfather just give you his prized collection of buttons from the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy? Did you mother just hand over the women’s suffrage movement buttons worn by your great, great grandmother, who marched for the right for women to vote? Or did you just begin collecting during...

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  • 9
    Mar

A Shocking Collectible Theme: The Death House Electric Chair

[caption id="attachment_2526144" align="aligncenter" width="401"] An electric chair dating from the 1930s was up for sale on the 1stdibs.com website with a price tag of $5,200. The listing is no longer active.[/caption] When Dr. Alfred Southwick of the New York State Legislature's death penalty commission called Thomas Edison in 1887, his purpose was to get Edison's advice regarding electrocution...

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  • 8
    Mar

Kutani Ceramics: Warmth with Technical Complexity

[caption id="attachment_2489466" align="aligncenter" width="553"] A pair of sake cups with rare Tomobako by Shimizu Bizan.[/caption] Kutani ceramics didn’t appeal to me at first. They seemed a little gaudy, ornate, the opposite of the type of work I like. Until I saw a number of pieces from the Edo and Meiji period , I didn’t really understand the technical...

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  • 7
    Mar

J.K. Rowling’s chair, in which she wrote the first two Harry Potter books, to cross the auction block

[caption id="attachment_2526121" align="aligncenter" width="424"] This chair has been sold twice at auction, most recently in 2009 for 19,555 British pounds (approximately $29,117 in US currency), of which some of the proceeds benefitted the charity organization Books Abroad. For comparison, a handwritten manuscript of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2007 and purchased by...

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  • 7
    Mar

The 12 Biggest Small Business Mistakes Part 1

[caption id="attachment_2526112" align="aligncenter" width="650"] No matter what you small business is—online reselling on eBay or a small brick-and-mortar antique shop—make sure you don’t make these mistakes.[/caption] “Cliff, we love your column,” I hear often. “You give lots of good advice but you dole it out piecemeal, week by week. Every once in a while, can you pull together...

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  • 4
    Mar

Rinker on Collectibles: Antiquing Phobias

[caption id="attachment_2526105" align="aligncenter" width="605"] The Yaara Dekel-designed Coppelius Chair is designed to cast the shadow of an evil face. Even if you don’t have altussessiophobia, the name of the ailment afflicting actor Billy Bob Thorton, this chair is scary.[/caption] When I received a telephone call from a listener to WHATCHA GOT?—my syndicated antiques and collectibles call-in radio show—asking...

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  • 4
    Mar

Operator, Get Me MUrray Hill 5-9975: Collecting Candlestick Telephones

[caption id="attachment_2526091" align="aligncenter" width="602"] The sales description for this 1905 Strowger Pot-Belly candlestick phone says that it is all original with a replaced number card, the original cord and connector and a Bakelite-over-metal finish and mouthpiece. It can be yours for $4,500.[/caption] The eBay description is succinct, if not grammatically correct: “(sic)...the price is right 2 years ago...

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  • 4
    Mar

The Last Two Centuries Flew by at Warp Speed

[caption id="attachment_2526082" align="aligncenter" width="604"] When we bought our house back in the 1990s, the prior owner gave us this photo of the house as it stood 100 years ago, along with one of its’ prior unnamed inhabitants.[/caption] As we are bracing for maybe the last round of snow storm this week, it reminds me of a recent a...

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  • 3
    Mar

Andy Warhol’s Collectibles: More than 15 Minutes of Fame

[caption id="attachment_2526054" align="aligncenter" width="406"] Andy Warhol amid paparazzi.[/caption] When Andy Warhol died in 1987, it was quite unexpected. He very nearly succumbed in 1968 when a deranged acquaintance shot him three times. But he survived that attack and lived almost 20 more years. He passed away at age 58, after seemingly routine gallstone surgery. Five years later, his...

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