Newsletter
December 2015 Christmas Newsletter
Saturday, 12 December 2015 11:35

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year!!

 

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and that the new year brings you much happiness. We are celebrating the new year by once again offering special sale weekends that coincide with the Bath Antiques Show and Sale days. So, on January 9th and 10th, February 13th and 14th (no Bath show that weekend, but we will still have a sale!), and March 12th and 13th, all items will be reduced from 10%  to 50%. Come in and take advantage of these bargains.

 

We also want to make you aware of some changes in our hours. As has been our custom recently, the Gallery will be closed on Tuesdays in January, February, and March. Also we will be closed from January 3rd through the 8th for a much needed, but short, vacation.

 

In closing we remind you that antiques make great Christmas gifts. We will be open regular hours, 10 to 5 daily, every day until Christmas and 10 to 5 every day from the 26th through the 2nd to get the gifts you forgot or the ones you wanted but didn’t get! Our best wishes to all.

 

 

 
July Newsletter
Monday, 29 June 2015 13:39

Summer is here! Happy Fourth of July! After that endless winter, we thought it would never get here, but here it is! The summer visitors are here too, looking for that treasure they’ve always wanted or a nice reminder of their visit to this wonderful area of a great state. Wiscasset is the home to many antiques shops so whatever your interest someone here has it. In Showcase Antiques Gallery we have more than fifty dealers from all over the country who have brought us fantastic merchandise to share with you. Come and find just that right piece. We have added some new dealers and they are broadening our coverage. We have also expanded our hours, now 9:30 am to 5:30 pm every day through the summer. Yes, traffic can be heavy here in this wonderful little town in the summer, but if you come early in the day you can always find parking, either right out front on Main Street or on the side streets or parking lots.

The town of Wiscasset has some new attractions to bring you in and keep you busy. There is a walking tour called The Museum in the Streets, which covers the more than two hundred years that this town has been here. And there is a fantastic new restaurant, Little Village Bistro. A new discovery for us is Judi’s Country Store, less than two miles south of us on Route One. Among other things, the best pecan pie ever!! Ask us about it when you’re here.

We have spent the last couple of months revamping our website, especially the Featured Items page. We have also joined facebook and we’re trying to put up new items each day. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/showcaseantiquesgallery?ref=hl  and then, please, like us and share it with all your friends. We want to do whatever we can to make this summer as fantastic as it can be. If you have any suggestions or requests, just let us know. We look forward to your visit!

 
October Newsletter
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:46

The calendar says that Summer is over. In Wiscasset that is apparent. The crowds have changed. Somewhat fewer visitors, and they are less in a hurry. Leaf-peepers and such, waiting for the trees to turn that magical palette of reds and yellows and oranges and rust and brown. Gorgeous. Part of the charm of New England. Maybe the very best time of year. Red’s Eats is still making wonderful Lobster Rolls and the lines are a bit shorter.  Parking is easier, traffic less congested. What are you waiting for? Stop by Showcase Antiques Gallery for an unhurried and uninterrupted chance to find something new for your collection or to start a new collection or just to look at fabulous treasures.  The dealers bring in new items every day. We keep our Summer hours of 9:30 – 5:30 until the end of September, then we return to the regular hours of 10:00 to 5:00. 

Remember the good old days when Aunt Minnie had a nice big bowl of fruit that was always on her table and once you tried to take a bite out of an apple and found out it was made of stone? Hard on those teeth wasn’t it! That was stone fruit, more accurately known as marble fruit. It was carved and painted to resemble the real thing. It could be apples, pears, peaches, plums, oranges, pomegranates, grapes, persimmons, lemons, limes, cherries, strawberries, figs, or bananas. It could be sliced versions of them or of watermelon. It could be nuts, such as hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds. It could be vegetables, like potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, beans, eggplants, peppers, or mushrooms. They could be life-sized or miniature or over-sized.

Stone fruit, mostly made in Italy, became popular in the Victorian era. Around 1900 it made its way to the US, reaching its peak around 1950 as a fashionable decorative item. Now stone fruit is once again a sought-after collectible and it is still made in Italy. It is, however, also now made in China and Mexico. You have to be aware of what you are really purchasing.

Antique stone fruit was hand carved from white Carrara marble and painted and was then baked to harden the finish. The original chisel marks may be visible. Older pieces will have a nice dark patina with dry paint. The colors may have softened with time, possibly with dark veins of the marble showing through. The fruit stems on older pieces are made from real grape stems. The older peanuts and almonds are carved from travertine stone, which with its small pits gives the look of the real nuts. All of these would feel cold to your cheek, just like the real stone would. They would also probably show wear from the years of display (and maybe tooth marks).

Newer stone fruit is different. Mostly carved on a lathe, and generally painted with a sponge blush or a spray. The rich gold and red colors are not as vibrant since they took the lead out of paint in the 1970s. Also, most of the newer ones have plastic stems instead of grape stems. They also tend to be shiny.

 

If you are interested in stone fruit, there are several ways to display it. A bowl of apples or oranges is one way. So is having a bowl of mixed fruit, with some of the larger ones, like apples and oranges, and also some smaller ones for contrast. Perhaps a few strawberries or persimmons. Of course a darker contrast as from a bunch of black grapes would be nice. Maybe some nuts in the corners. Nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to get into this type of collection, beware of fakes. Those made in China today are not the best quality. Some of the nuts are plastic resin, not stone. So beware. Buying online where you can’t really inspect them can be risky. The best bet is a great antique shop. Showcase Antiques Gallery in Wiscasset is such a shop and has several dealers with wonderful examples of stone fruit for sale, including the life-sized, miniature, sliced, and oversized. 

 
September Newsletter
Saturday, 06 September 2014 12:40

Well, we’ve gotten through Labor Day here in the shop. The best season is just about upon us – the wonderful Autumn with its leaf-peepers and the kinder, gentler visitors in less of a frantic urge to have a great time, and to have it right now!! Therefore the best time is right now. The weather is calming down with cooler, but still sunny days, the traffic is less of a worry, and the people are all  a bit more relaxed. So come and visit. The August Wiscasset Art Walk was phenomenal – perfect weather, lots of people, music all over the place with live musicians in many businesses, with groups on the pier, with modern dancers in the street, and with, of course, the required artists on the street corners. Great time for all! There’s only one Art Walk left this year, on September 25th, so do not miss it!

The Gallery is doing quite well. We have some great new dealers. Some of our dealers are having sales – up to 50% off. (Look for the yellow tags on their cases.) Our Summer hours of 9:30 am to 5:30 pm will continue through September. Then they revert to the regular hours of 10:00 to 5:00.  Also, it’s not too soon. We have already had people doing their Christmas shopping. Check it out with that in mind too. And pick up a Gift Certificate while you’re here. That way the gift is bound to be just what they wanted.

Meanwhile, we have a new subject to talk about this month. Steiff Animals. Remember them? Well, keep reading...

It is very difficult to build a business manufacturing exceptional quality merchandise. To build one that maintains its reputation for well over a century is very, very difficult.

 

To do it when the founder is a polio victim unable to walk and with only one arm usable is even more remarkable. This is the story of Steiff Animals, started by Margarete Steiff in Giengen an der Brenz in southeast Germany.  She had a clothing company at the time making felt clothing but she fashioned a small felt elephant to give to children as a toy. One thing led to another.

She sold 8 elephants for the official start of the Steiff Toy Company in 1880. Her brother Fritz went looking for a greater audience for her toys and opened a showroom in Stuttgart in 1883. The variety of animals increased dramatically. There was a storefront and a factory and a mail order business, all of which were successful.

 

The first catalog was produced in 1892 with the motto “Only the best is good enough for children” and their first traveling salesman started in 1894, working quite effectively. Fritz’s son Richard drove the company to international success when he realized that in that very rigid masculine world of late 19th century Germany boys too needed a toy to snuggle with. Among his many designs was the first bear. He also conceived the patented “Button in Ear” tag which is still used today.

 

In 1903 Richard and his brothers took their wares to the United States. They were not well received because they were considered too expensive and cumbersome for children. They packed up and went back to Germany but an American toy store owner saw the bears and immediately purchased 3,000 of them. After some design changes to make them better appeal to an American audience, they went to the St. Louis World’s Fair and won the prestigious Grand Prix Award. They also sold 12,000 toys.

Major claim to fame came when their bear toys became associated with President Teddy Roosevelt. A cartoonist published a cartoon of Roosevelt on a hunting trip, turning away from a bear cub that had been offered to him to shoot. He turned away and that gesture of saving the bear cub started teddy bear fever. Steiff was the first company to produce a toy bear with jointed arms and legs.

By 1913, despite the deaths of the founders, the company was thriving and had begun to make wheeled ride-on toys in addition to the plush animals and holiday toys.

World War I nearly stopped the production as all available energy had to go to the war effort. A difficult recovery followed with the help of half a million “Molly” the Steiff dogs, but was hampered by the Great Depression and the ongoing anti-German feelings. Nor did World War II help when the company was required to manufacture military equipment. After that war, many new toys were added to the line, including dolls with vinyl heads. “Mecki” the hedgehog mascot of a German TV magazine was produced as a toy in 1951 and became the top seller the world over. In the 1980s a reproduction of some of the older animals was undertaken and has seen a huge surge in their popularity.

 

Steiff animals can be separated into two main categories: collectibles, usually made of high quality natural materials like mohair, felt, alpaca, and cotton velvet and, secondly, plush toys, made primarily for children to play with, thus mostly made of woven fur. Eyes are made of wood or glass. Stuffing is most often wood shavings or polyester fibers. There have been over 20,000

different animal toys manufactured. They range in size from keychain creatures to large enough to ride on.  Their riding animals are mounted on wooden rocker feet but older models had wheels rather than rockers.  There are also studio animals, like elephants and lions, made of woven fur, some nearly life size. In addition to the animals, Steiff releases a limited edition doll each year, which is the rarest of all Steiff collectibles. By never wavering from Margarete’s standards of perfection, Steiff has remained one of the most highly regarded toy companies in the world.

Because Steiff has been making superb stuffed toys for over 130 years they have become very collectible. Older, out-of-production items are now available in quality antiques shops. When you consider collecting Steiff animals and toys, it is crucial to understand the many identifying tags and labels that have been used. The most common is the button in the ear, but there have been many variations of this and many other tag types used.  It is important to get help from a Steiff catalog or price guide or a definitive book such as “Steiff Sortiment” by Gunther Pfeiffer, or “Button in the Ear” by Marianne Cieslik. Although the button in the ear is considered quite important, it should be noted that many of the buttons have been removed over the years by parents who wanted to protect their children from the possibility of choking.

   

Showcase Antiques Gallery has many Steiff animals presented by several of our dealers. The largest collection of them is presented by Cathy Southard. Be sure to check out the wonderful examples that she and the other dealers have available. Cathy was also instrumental in gathering the information for this newsletteer, for which we thank her profusely. 

 
August Newsletter
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:16

Showcase on Wedgwood Jasperware

Have you been here lately? If not, you are missing out. This town is alive! So is this shop! It has been a busy summer so far and things are moving. So get here soon and pick up that favorite thing you’ve been seeking. If it’s small enough to fit in a showcase, we probably have at least one of whatever it is. Even if you don’t need anything, come for a visit. Some of our dealers are offering special sales on their items – up to 50% off. There is a special sale on a large selection of Wedgwood, as a matter of fact, which is the subject of the featured article following. Mention that you read about it here and you get an extra discount.

We get comments every day about how clean and beautifully displayed this shop is and about the overwhelming quality and variety of merchandise. Check out our great dealers. If you have time this Thursday evening, we are open until 8 pm to coincide with the monthly Wiscasset Art Walk, when all of the galleries and most of the shops and restaurants stay open late. There will be artists on the street and live music all over the place. Don’t miss it. Keep in mind that Good Morning America on ABC proclaimed Acadia National Park as America’s favorite spot, so while on the way there, stop here for a break.

There are two great new shops in town too – French & Co./Trifles, just a few doors away, with a great selection of American and European antiques, and Indian Trail Antiques, a few miles up Route One, which is becoming famous for its mantiques and automobilia as well as traditional treasures. These two new shops add to the list of twenty-seven antiques shops in this little town. Also there are several wonderful antiques shows in the area in the next month, so we have encouraged our dealers to fill up their cases in preparation for the shows that bring buyers in. Come on up! And continue to enjoy this wonderful summer.

Remember that blue dish that Grannie kept on the side table ? It looked like an ashtray but it was never used and you couldn’t touch it because it was special. The term Wedgwood conjures up in many people’s minds those pale blue items with white decoration. And, while many such items are actual Wedgwood, some are not. Copycat items were produced by several other manufacturers. Many spell the word by adding an “e” in the middle but it does not have one. Many think of all Wedgwood as being blue but there are a wide variety of colors, finishes, and types of wares bearing that Wedgwood name. We have had an increasing number of people come into the shop lately asking about Wedgwood, so we have decided that this month we should talk about it a bit.

Josiah Wedgwood, a pottery designer and manufacturer, the founder of the firm still bearing his name, was born  at Burslem in Staffordshire, the heart of English potteries, in 1730. He is called the Father of English Potters. The combination of quality and quantity of Wedgwood items has made them the most collected of all ceramics. He invented and produced wares still produced today. His most famous invention, jasperware, was perfected in 1774 after thousands of trials and experiments.

Jasperware is a durable fine-grained matte finished or unglazed white stoneware. Its name comes from its similarity to the natural stone, jasper. Its various colors are produced when stained by metallic oxide colors. Wedgwood produced pieces stained completely throughout, called solid jasperware, and pieces stained only on the outer surface, called dip jasperware. The accompanying photos will show examples of each type.

Wedgwood jasperware has been produced in many colors, including the popular pale blue (or Wedgwood blue). Other colors include sage, lilac, black, primrose, pink, cane, terra cotta, grey, teal, spruce, crimson, taupe, Portland blue, and royal blue. Jasperware is typically decorated with a white relief design of either classical or contemporary designs produced in molds and hand applied to the particular items. Jasperware items include vases, plates, bowls, covered boxes, plaques, and cameos used for jewelry.

Photo by Showcase Antiques Gallery, Wiscasset.

This photo gives a glimpse of the variety of colors available in Wedgwood, with a large reverse blue on white cake plate, a lilac oval tray, a tricolor Royal blue and white on pale blue bud vase, a white on black large egg shaped covered box, a pink bud vase, a taupe cup and saucer, a terra cotta small tray, and green posy vase.

 

The dip jasperware colors include dark blue, pale blue, black, yellow, sage, teal, olive green, and crimson. One of the most desired dip colors is crimson but its production was limited due to the bleeding of the crimson color into the white relief. 

Photo by Showcase Antiques Gallery, Wiscasset.

This large black dip planter is joined by a group of dark blue dip pieces - a Dutch Jug, a covered match box, a posy vase, and a cream pitcher.

Relief decoration was predominantly white but other colors were used as well. For example, reverse Wedgwood has pale blue relief on white background. There are tricolor pieces, four color pieces, and five color pieces, all of which combine different colors of relief to an individual piece. Collectors often search out these varied examples, as they can be very difficult to find.

There are diced jasper pieces in which different background colors are combined and different relief colors are added. See the diced Wedgwood bowl in the photo. 

Photo by Showcase Antiques Gallery, Wiscasset.

This wonderful example is a large tricolor dice jasperware bowl.

In the 1980s the Wedgwood Collector’s Society produced limited issue pieces for members in some unique color combinations. 

Photo by Showcase Antiques Gallery, Wiscasset.

 The examples in the photo are Collectors Society pieces. Pictured is a heart-shaped terra cotta on white covered box,  a tricolor Etruscan Jug with terra cotta and cane on teal, a tricolor covered egg box, and a primrose potpourri.

Some collectors prefer older Wedgwood pieces with the impressed mark Wedgwood or WEDGWOOD. After 1891 the word ENGLAND was added, and after 1908 the words MADE IN ENGLAND were used. Others look for more contemporary pieces impressed WEDGWOOD MADE IN ENGLAND. Additional research will help you to identify the age of specific pieces. Some look to find various colors of a particular shape, while others look to have samples of each color.

Jasperware is still produced by Wedgwood today. In 1968 Wedgwood purchased a number of English potteries, including Mason’s Ironstone, Johnson Brothers, Royal Tuscan, William Adams & Sons, J & G Meakin, and Crown Staffordshire. The company merged with Waterford Crystal in 1987. In 2009 the Waterford Wedgwood Company was purchased by KPS Capital Partners and became part of a group of companies known as WWRD Holdings Ltd., an acronym for Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton. Some products are now being produced in China. High-end items, however, are still produced in the UK. Some collectors see the interest in earlier pieces and in unique pieces on the rise.

Showcase Antiques Gallery has a very nice selection of jasperware on sale. Check it out between 9:30 and 5:30 any day. 

 
July Newsletter
Monday, 23 June 2014 14:30

Wiscasset is hopping now!! The sun is shining, the air is fresh and clean, the temperature is perfect. The shops are open, the restaurants are humming. What more do you need to justify a visit? Of all the towns in Mid-Coast Maine, Wiscasset is perhaps the very best. And, now we have a historical walking tour provided by the Museum in the Streets. Very interesting. Today as I was about town I saw many, many people taking advantage of it – reading the information on the signs and checking out all of the historic sites. Beautiful houses! All within easy walking distance. Last Thursday evening was the first of the monthly Art Walks for which we, along with most shops and galleries in town, stayed open until 8:00 pm for your viewing pleasure. Come again on the last Thursday of each month through September. You really don’t want to miss this town with all it has to offer.

And now for the Showcase for this month:

 

Showcase on Militaria

Our discussion for this month is on the subject of militaria. That is a complex subject including various facets of the collection of artifacts of military life. Among the fields involved, of course, are firearms of all types. Among those displayed for sale in our shop are these:

 

Additionally the field includes knives, swords, daggers, or shields, and theoretically  it can go back to the beginning of warfare. Primarily these days the collectors are interested in items from the Civil War or from World War II, but World War I, the Revolutionary War, the Spanish-American War, and any others are also of significant interest.

It goes without saying that flags of all eras and all types are collectible. In addition to flags and weaponry, uniforms are sought after – not only the uniform itself but also helmets and other headgear, boots, gloves, flight jackets, and belts. Military decorations of all types are on the list of items people seek – medals, badges, jewelry, patches, buttons, etc. Sweetheart items for those left behind constitute yet another facet of the broader category of militaria. Letters from home (or to home), decorative pillows, sweetheart jewelry, and such all fit this category. One set of items that is not generally considered but has recently become highly collectible is language books with short phrases in various languages, maps of countries in which soldiers may find themselves, and currency used in those lands. During World War II it was not uncommon for soldiers to have some spendable cash, a phrase book or dictionary, and a map of the areas in which they may find themselves. Another part of the standard gear could be a watch, compass, stop watch. Occasionally, a compass from a ship may be available, as is the spectacular one pictured below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Various types of communication aids were also used, for instance a special mirror for flashing coded signals back and forth, or two-way radios, or combat telephones.  Warplanes and ships had identification charts for figuring out which of the enemies is attacking or are flying overhead. Of course there are also mess kits with all types of food gear and supplies, medical kits of many types, emergency supplies like canvas water buckets, life jackets, strap-on belts to secure your signaling waterproof flashlight to your leg while marching or swimming. Below is a photo of a French dagger, two powder horns, a Revolutionary War fork, a World War I kitchen set, a late 1800s toothbrush and a pair of Civil War era sharpshooters glasses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course the Civil War presented its own particular list of collectibles.  Determining the exact manufacturer of items, such as swords or guns,  can be very challenging but is crucial to seeing which side it was used by – the Union or the Confederacy. For at least the beginning of that war the same suppliers provided weaponry for both sides. If you are a dedicated Union collector you would not want a Confederate rifle in your arsenal.

Among the supplies needed in the Civil War one must include currency. We are all familiar with some type of Confederate currency, but there were many different types for the Confederacy as a whole and for separate states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another thing not often thought of is stamps. The Confederacy did produce some stamps as well and they are very collectible, albeit hard to find.

During all wars there is always some down time in the trenches and thus springs forth trench art, where a soldier will whittle something from a spare piece of wood, for instance. Small pieces of furniture, like a little cabinet or chest of drawers, or a letter box, or a carved toy for a child left behind. Many of these treasured items are around  and highly sought after. Here is a photo of some trench art found in our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are only the tip of the huge field of militaria. We must not forget the incidental pieces like photographs, ephemera, magazines, newspapers, posters, movies, recordings, and sheet music of the period. Toy soldiers and model ships and planes are also part of the broad field of militaria. Young collectors are fascinated by these toy soldiers and such. Not only do the toys capture their imagination, but recently we had a ten year old (!) collector whose knowledge and collection of real swords was most impressive.

 

 

 

 

All of the items photographed are available in Showcase Antiques Gallery and await your inspection. Stop by during our extended Summer hours of 9:30 to 5:30, seven days a week. Bring the young collectors as well as the more seasoned. We’ll look forward to your visit.

 
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