Archive for the ‘What do you Collect?’ Category

Cameo glass is a form of glass art that is produced by etching and carving through fused layers of different colored glass to produce wonderful designs. This is usually done with white opaque glass figures and motifs on a dark-colored background. The technique was first seen in Roman Art of around 30 B.C.   The glass medium allows consistent and predictable colored layers, even for round objects.

In the mid-19th century there was a revival of cameo glass, who doesn’t love the the French Art Nouveau practiced by Emile Galle and the pieces signed Duam Nancy. I could spend days looking at Galle and Nancy cameo glass pieces but the Cameo glass I want to introduce you to are the Cameo Paperweights that have been made in the past 25 years (known as modern paperweights) and are still being produced today.

In the modern revival of cameo glass paperweights all of the top layer except the areas needed for the design are usually removed by an etching process — the figure areas are covered with a resistant layer of wax or some other acid-resistant material such as bituminous paint, and the blank repeatedly dipped in hydrofluoric acid, so that cameo glass is in some sense an acid etched glass. Some artist use a sand blasting technique. The detailed work is then done with wheels and drills, before finishing, and usually polishing.   It seems that in the ancient world the entire process of removing the unwanted white or other top layer was done by drills and wheels — wheel-cut decoration on glass of a single color was very common in ancient Rome. In the case of “three-layer” (or three-color) cameo, there is another layer of glass on top of the white opaque one, and further layers are possible. One Roman piece uses a record six layers.   It is not known where the ancient pieces were produced, but for want of any better suggestion most scholars think it is  likely that at least the making of the blanks was initially in the hands of imported Syrian glass-workers.

Some of the more common pieces found today are works by Barry Sautner.  Also pieces by Kelsey at the Pilgrim Glass Studio are very familiar to collectors of cameo glass paperweights.

Barry Sautner,  1952 – 2009

A beautiful cameo paperweight done by Barry with retail value listed at $9000.00. This is known as the “Lily” Sautner weight. Made at the Sautner Glass Studio in the 1980s.

     Vandermark-Merritt 1982 green cameo cut glass paperweight by Barry Sautner. Retail value $1200.00.





Barry R. Sautner, a nationally recognized glass artist, formerly of Flemington, passed away suddenly on June 30, 2009 at his home in Vero Beach FL. He was 57.

Barry was born to Elva and Alfred C. Sautner in Philadelphia in 1952, and later moved to the Flemington area, where he lived for nearly 30 years before relocating to Florida.

His background as a glass-blower in New Jersey for nearly 10 years was fueled by a passion to explore glass as a means of artistic expression. But after an illness forced him out of the sweltering heat of the furnace room, he found he had artistic visions yet to be fully realized in glass.

“Glass has always been my canvas and my voice,” Saunter said. In describing his artistic passion, he said, “In my carvings, I attempt to express my innermost feelings which for me, are difficult to express verbally. Major themes in my work have included the environment, beauty, nature, mythology, and the spiritual nature of man as well as people’s struggles with themselves. I’ve attempted to bring the past into the present and future by developing methods that challenge me to take glass carving beyond its acknowledged limits. In addition, I create each piece with a great degree of fine detail, hoping to involve and captivate the viewer with the piece and the message contained therein. I sincerely hope that my art will represent to the viewer something more than virtuoso carving.”

Beginning with shallow surface relief designs, Sautner continued to test the depths of the glass. The deeply undercut methods of the Romans were catapulted into the modern age, as the artist introduced a sand-blasting method of his own, called insculpture. Using his invention, he could hollow out an interior image in clear glass blanks. This resulted in infrastructures, previously thought to be impossible.

But Sautner saw the image inside, and revealed it to be possible. It is a remarkable skill to visualize and create an artwork in three dimensions, and the extractive methods Sautner had made his own, amaze even the most well-versed in glass art techniques. Technique aside, however, the complex, personal symbolism of Sautner’s artwork seems more daunting. He kept notebooks to record dreams at his bedside, thoughts that rushed to him at odd moments in the day.

“My work doesn’t come from my mind,” he explained to those close to him. “It comes from my heart, my feelings, my emotions. There are many times when I will sit down and just draw, then only through finishing it, realize that it’s symbolic of what is going on in my life. If you look closely at each piece you will see much hidden detail. If you look closer yet, you will see its meaning.”

Sautner’s willingness to explore monumental themes: emotions, philosophies and life transitions, speaks to people because his art’s scale is approachable and intimate. The proximity of the viewer to the piece creates an exchange on a personal level. Inspired as he was by the delicacy of ancient Roman diatreta, and the demure qualities of cameo carving, one can immediately appreciate Sautner’s skill. The complex framework of the works shows balance and sophisticated sculptural sensibilities, but their fragile nature belies their poise. Sautner removed layers, uncovered truths, and carved so deeply into this glass skin, one may see a tremulous heartbeat in each piece.

My inlaws live in Vero Beach Fl and while visiting my wife made a trip to the Sautner Studio.  She just went on and on about it.  I can see why.

Kelsey Murphy at  Pilgrim Cameo Studios- Ceredo, West Virginia – c. 1980’s – 2001

Under the direction of Kelsey Murphy, Pilgrim Glass introduced a line of cameo glass in the 1980’s. Cased glass is carved through a sandblasting process, to reveal the desired color and design. The designs are Murphy’s own pictorial scenes. All pieces are signed by Kelsey. Most are issued in limited editions and numbered.

Check out these pieces being offered at an on-line auction as well as prices actually sold for (after 4/15/2012).

Titled “Crowning Wish”. This is a 5 color cameo, very difficult to make. Signed by Kelsey Murphy. Retail value listed at $4000.00 to $7000.00.

Titled “Fall Gum” . This is a three color cameo signed by Kelsey Murphy. Retail value listed at $2000.00 to $3500.00. 

This is a 2 color weight called the Fern weight by Kelsey Murphy with a listed retail of $400.00 to $700.00.




I have tried to show you at least three of the different priced Kelsy cameo weights so that you have an idea of the values as compared to the amount of work and the rarity of the peice.  One thing for sure is that there seems to be an abundance of the Pilgrim Glass Studios work marketed.  However, since they are closed that may not last long.  If you want such a weight NOW is the time to buy it!  You can attend an online auction on April 14, 2012 at this address: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/29022_kelsey-murphy-cameo-glass-auction/page1  or you can check after the sale date to see what the pieces actually sold for.

Another interesting cameo artist I have found is Joye Colbeck. Joye is a glass artist located in the UK. On a recent weblog I found the following info that she shared with us. (quote) “I make my work infrequently and make for my own enjoyment. Many glass artists are quitting due to the high prices of fuel and the worldwide recession, but I’m hanging on in there because I love the process too much to see sense!. I intend to make a living from glass making again someday but since a motorbike accident I’ve struggled with a very painful arm. I blow cased vessels which are then etched to leave the design in relief on the surface. I put my pieces on sale, I’m always hoping to cover the cost of my materials, if they go for more then it’s something towards my time. If you like my work, pay what you can to support my future endeavors. I am in the process of setting up my own website to share more of what I do. Recent shoulder surgery has delayed this but I’m on the mend so it shouldn’t be long now. It has also kept me from the glassmakers chair thus the need to blow and feel the heat of the molten material is spurring on my attempts at recovery”.

I have purchased, owned and sold a few of the Colbeck weights.  They are certainly cameo in nature however probably more of a carved weight using a sandblasting technique.  I love her work. She is just great!

   SOLD!  This was a beautiful Blue glass weight of birds and trees hand carved and signed by Joye.

Made of purple glass and then hand carved.  Signed on the base in script Joye Colbeck, PPWT2, 2/50, 2009.  Currently listed in my eBay store Kelekchens.





I hope Joye is well and continues to make her excellent weights however I have not seen anything recently made or listed for sale.  They may be now hard to find.  Check for yourself.

As many of my followers and readers know, I do collect paperweights and have a fairly substantial collection of glass weights.  My collection mostly is of American artist from the 1970s – 1990s.  I have always been a huge fan of Orient & Flume, Lundberg Studios and Lotton Studios to name a few.  I love the aurene and irridescent styles that were made by these studios.  I have tried to write a pretty exhaustive article on Orient & Flume paperweights simply because it is an interesting story and the O&F studio contracted so many artist over the years. I continue to add to the Orient & Flume blog with new purchases and new sales.  Even after 35 years of collecting and paying attention to Orient & Flume’s work I still get an occasional surprise, and here is another.  I never considered that O&F would have a cameo glass weight.

   In a dust free case. Of course!   

     Ahh! There it is! The detailed carving of the surface ie; leaves and flower petals was done with a scrimshaw tool, by hand.

     This is actually a three color cameo  (two greens on white base) that has also been hand worked and polished. All exquisite hand made glass details.

 Signed by Dan Shura, 1983

    Created for and marketed by Orient & Flume Studios in Chico, CA  1983





Having collected the Orient & Flume weights for a very long time this is the very first O&F Cameo Glass weight I have seen.  Unlike other studios that I have listed above who have focused specifically on cameo weights this one is a rarity!  A very unique paperweight done by Dan for Orient and Flume.  If you would like to know more about Dan Shura be sure to read my previous blog on Orient & Flume.  Also, be sure to look at two weights that are currently for sale at the official O&F website.  Current retail prices are $2500.00 – $3000.00.  Go here:  http://www.orientandflume.com/Categories/Paperweights.aspx?sortorder=1&page=4  Listed as the Engraved Fox and the Engraved Wren.

You can find this Orient & Flume paperweight done by Dan Shura in my eBay store.  Put your cursor on my assistant, the Duck, double click and you are there.  Thanks for reading my blog and until next time Happy Collecting and remember “The best is yet to come”.


Read Full Post »

Numerous types of fine glass were made by A. H. Heisey & Co. , Newark, Ohio from 1895.  The company’s trademark, an H enclosed within a diamond, has become known to most glass collectors. The company’s name and molds were acquired by Imperial Glass Co., Bellaire, Ohio, in 1958, and some pieces have been reissued.  Below are a few pieces I have acquired and some sold.


All of the above pieces are listed in my eBay store “Kelekchens”



A few pieces that recently sold! 

Heisey glass is very collectible.  The green, or what is called Moongleam is especially desirable among collectors.  So be sure to look at the glass items when out and about visiting your local garage sales or flea markets.  This glass is usually fairly easy to find and not everybody knows its true value.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”.

Read Full Post »

What do you have?  A question we all ask ourselves from time to time when we have found a collectible and we don’t know where it came from.  I am going to show you how I did recent research on a collectible I have had for many years, a portrait of two nuns.


The first photo was taken outside under natural light and the second inside using my homemade photo lab.

I always believed that this print was hand stitched.  It looks as though it is when examined closely.  I recently decided to market the print and knew I was going to have to research to find out exactly what it was and where it came from.  Here is how I tackled the research.

1.)  I examined the print closely for Maker’s Marks. No matter what item you are researching pottery, paintings, glass, prints etc. finding the marks are very important.  On some peices “No markings” tells the history and maker of the antique or collectible.  When I examined this peice of history I found NFF woven into the lower left hand corner and D’APR E. Sonrel woven into the lower right hand corner. I had to disassemble the print from the frame to find that information.

2.)  With the emergence of computing we now have a full library of information at hand.  Although I own a good size library of reference books on the things I collect this was one of those decorative art collectibles I own for it’s beauty and not to build a collection. So I had no books to pour through to determine what it was or where it came from. 


3.)  I first searched for the name of Sonrel.  Almost immediately I came across the name of Stephane Sonrel. A male painter from Tours France in the 1800’s.  After reading his bio I learned he had a daughter that he trained in art and her name was….Elizabeth Sonrel.  Pretty easy so far.  Elizabeth Sonrel also became a known French painter 1874 – 1953.  Elizabeth went on to train in Paris under a master artist and displayed her first work at the age of 18.  Her paintings are mostly portraits of woman with lots of decorative lace. But what about the D’APR that was woven before her name.  I checked my French dictionary.  D’Apr means “before”.  So this told me that the image had been painted before the print was made and that image was a painting by Elizabeth Sonrel. “Two Nuns Praying”.

4.)  I then tackled the NFF.  When doing research, it is important not to give up easily or become discouraged.  You must have dogged determination.  I read many articles, documentaries etc. and opened tons of web pages.  I finally found the NFF I was looking for way down on Google’s placement of pages.  What I found was a website where three other person’s who had the same peice of artwork that I have (described verbatum) had written to an expert researcher to try to learn what it was.  This expert told them they had a “silk screen” that was a print of an E. Sonrel painting.  And she gave the name of the company of the Maker’s Mark as Neyret Freres.  Eureka!  I found it! Joy is the only word to describe an exciting find.

5.)  I then expanded my research to include Neyret Freres.  Neyret Freres is a French Company that specialized in the making of silk ribbon and operated from the end of WWI and closed before the beginning of WWII.  The most interesting thing was that they made Silk Screens on a loom called a “jacquard” loom. But this was not just an ordinary jacquard loom. This was a period when industrialization was flourishing and the Neyret Freres company had a water powered jacquard loom.  A very unique and modern peice of equipment at the time. That loom is now retired and housed in working condition at the “Museum of Art and Industry” in France.

6.)  My next task was to get a monetary value of this peice.  Again, turning to the computer search engines I started to look for auctions that had sold “silk screens”. After considerable search I found not one but two auctions, the last on Feb 6, 2010 of an exact copy of the very screen that I have.   And so I had the value of the screen.

7.)  I wanted to put the “silk screen” up for auction through my eBay store, so I then researched what silk screens sold for on eBay by using Advanced Search, closed listings as well as active listings.  I also used Terapeak, a software program that researches closed sales with values sold for, date as well as number of bids and time of day sold.  With this information I was able to adequately market my Neyret Freres Silk Screen, “Two Nuns Praying” for a price that I could part with it.

For collector’s the research and the finding of exactly what you have, who made it, where it came from and the period in history it is from is euphoric. The best part of being a collector.  I am very exicited to learn that I have a silk screen, made on a water powered jacquard loom from the late 1800s, a copy of Elizabeth Sonrell’s work and a religous artifact all in one.  Eureka!

You can check out my find in my eBay store.  Just click on My Assistant Editor (the Duck) in the upper right hand corner of this page to veiw or even purchase this artifact in my store. It has a search feature so put in “Two Nuns” and you have it.

So collectors, until next post Happy Collecting and remember the best is yet to come!

Read Full Post »

Go to any public library and stroll down the aisle where the psychology books are at.  You will see book after book about the psychology of collecting.  Google “Psychology of Collecting”  and again, you will find post after post and informative articles of many educated and learned men and women discussing the psychology of collectors.  Over kill probably is appropriate for all the drivel about why a collector collects.  Psycho-babble!  Sigmund Freud was an avid collector of Egyptian artifacts.

It seems to me that everyone is a collector of something.  Young people today, such as my grown children might say “I don’t collect anything”.  Really.  What about your FaceBook account.  What are you doing on FaceBook?  Collecting!  Your collecting friends and the goal it seems is, the more friends you have on FaceBook the better and bigger your collection.  The bigger the collection, the more time and effort it takes to clean it up, dust it off and figure out just where are you going with your collection.

So it is with all of us as we accumulate more and more to add to our collections.  Collecting in my own opinion has more to do with our own idea of what collecting means to each of us and the why  just isn’t really that important.  That being said, if you are a pathological collector and do evil things to get more for your collection.  You, have a problem!

I believe for myself it is best to explain my own path to collecting and how I have arrived at this point in my life with such a large accumulation of….things.  One of my favorite stories about collecting is of the family, husband, wife and three young children who lived in Ohio.  The couple were actually born and raised in Michigan but moved to Ohio for his job.  On long weekends they liked to pack up the kids in the minivan and head out across country. You know, kind of do the gypsy thing.  Mom liked to browse antique stores but Dad wasn’t really interested…until Mom bought him a nice little sterling silver collector’s spoon from Michigan.  Dad decided he would collect these ornate and interesting little spoons so they didn’t pass antique stores any more.  Now, they stopped at every antique store they saw.  Soon, even the kids got involved collecting commemorative spoons from Michigan and over the years the collection grew and grew.  To me the moral of this story is that Mom and Dad was able to pass on to their children the roots of where they were from and the history of their own lives from a young age.  Also, I find this story pleasing because Mom and Dad were involved and with their children teaching them the virtues of collecting and saving. The children will always have stories about that “great find” to pass on to their own children and so it goes.

My own story is much the same.  My Mother was a collector from a very young age and collected antiques.  First, antique dolls but later many other antique things.  Eventually after following my mother to farm sales, garage sales and the like my Father also became a collector. He collected old wood working tools.  (woodworking being his hobby).  When my parents retired they built a beautiful and large log cabin home in the country and all of their collections found a home. One whole room was dedicated to my Mother’s doll collection and in the basement my father built a beautiful bar with all of his German antique beer stein collection displayed not to mention my father had a four car garage separate from the cabin to house his tool collection and a very modern woodworking shop. He actually built the garage first and then he built the log cabin home.  It took them three years to build the home of their dreams but it was clear from the beginning they wanted to display their collections.

Because my parents were collectors and often took my brother and I to different sales with them (an all day affair normally) I also became interested in collecting.  I started with collecting antique items for my bedroom.  As a teenager my bedroom furniture was all Victorian antiques including an oriental rug for the wood floor after all my parents were avid antique collectors.  My brother collected music albums.  Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones etc.  He still has those albums today as well as an extensive Indian Artifacts Collection.  We were raised on a farm in the Midwest and when plowing or planting we would often turn up arrowheads and the like which fascinated my brother and he just started accumulating. So I am from a family of collectors.

In an article written by Jack Lowenstein he writes that people collect for three reasons.  1) nostalgia 2) the compulsion to accumulate 3) the desire to amass negotiable wealth. I agree with all of that.  I enjoy the history, beauty and workmanship of those things created by our ancestors.  I like the game and excitement of finding, buying, trading and selling to accumulate an enviable collection and I always keep in mind the resale value of pieces I collect and how much I have invested in my collections.  More than a hobby I have turned my joy of collecting into a business interest. I am also continuing the traditions of my own family and upbringing.  My own children seem truly amazed of antiques I purchased over 35 years ago that I still have and that some things I collected were not antiques when I bought them but now they truly are 100 years old. Collecting and saving.  Synonymous. This is the true joy of collecting.

What collections do I have?  Asian Antiques, glass paper weights, antique beer steins, sterling silver commemorative spoons, Victorian furniture, Frankoma political coffee mugs and yes all of the above listed items are true collections. Not just odds and ends.  I have odds and ends as well such as Heisy glass, old games, old books, and civil war relics to name a few but I never built a collection of those items. Am I a packrat?  I don’t think so. I have organized collections, well cared for and I continue to buy, build, trade and sell within my collections.  The nature of my blog and newly formed business interest on eBay.  Be sure to click on my Assistant Editor to visit my eBay store “Kelekchens”. My goal now that I have started blogging is to build my own website and to continue to improve my ecommerce skills and of course improve my collections.

I have a little story to tell you about those unusual finds collectors run across in their daily lives.  One thing we all handle is currency.  Good “ol” dollars and cents. U.S. of course.  I have a few old bills like a Black Eagle Federal Reserve note and a “Wood Chopper” note.  So…I have dabbled a little bit in currency collecting.  About 10 years ago I stopped at a convenience store to purchase gasoline.  I paid in cash and upon receiving my change I noticed a strange $5.00 bill I was handed.  After I got home I pulled the bill out of my wallet and examined it carefully.  I still have it and it is for sale in my eBay store.  This is what it looks like:


This is a 1993, $5.00,  Federal Reserve Note printed at Atlanta, circulated.

Notice anything different about this note?  Missing the 5 on the back, upper right hand corner.  This is known as an “error note”.


If anything collectors are observant and “pay attention to detail” a character trait honed in me by my 23 years of military service.  After alot of reasearch I found that this was an error in printing on the third run and most likely one of a kind.  That makes it collectible to those that collect such notes.  That $5.00 turned into a little windfall.  Best purchase of gasoline I ever got! Ha -Ha.  The moral of this story…pay attention to the money you get, look it over. Notice anything different about it?  What is the date on the money? Is it an antique?  This penny is:

This is an 1880 Indian Head Cent. Another lucky find.  So watch your money. It may be worth more than its intrinsic value.

That is all for today fellow collectors so until next post Happy Collecting and remember the best is yet to come.


Read Full Post »