Art for the Masses - Massachusetts Metallic Compression Casting Company

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Mass produced plaques produced in factories after the Civil War are not only artistically       successful but also affordable for collectors.  Renewed interest in these metal objects makes them an attractive investment for me at auctions.  Collectors enjoy them both as an art form and also a functional decorative accessory in the home.  This moment mori plaque produced by the Metallic Compression Casting company operated in Massachusetts is an affordable example of this lesser known facet of sculpture. These decorative pieces can be acquired for between $100 - 300. Doorknobs and other architectural hardware would prove an accessible option for those looking to begin collecting in this area as described in this recent blog post by This Old House.  

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Conservation Questions Answered

One of the components of my work involves evaluating the condition of art and antiques for my customers. Understanding best practices and current trends in the conservation field requires expertise.  Clients both in and out of the trade can be overwhelmed by the complexity of conservation and preservation work, specifically for works on paper, watercolor, and gouache. 

Over decades I have developed connections with a range of professionals in the New England region whom I recommend based on the needs of the client and the issues indicate in the object. 

Recently a customer brought this mixed media work by Walter King Stone to my attention in the hopes I might recommend possible next steps to save a damaged object.  As you can see in the photos the work had what appeared to be a splash of coffee stain in the foreground.

Work on paper by Walter King Stone before conservation treatment. 

I identified the appropriate expert for this job paying particular attention to what was appropriate based on its condition and value. We successfully mediated the stain and saved the $1,000 painting with a treatment that cost less than $150. 

If you have works of art with damage or condition issues feel free to send me an image either by text or email and I’d be happy to work with you to identify the appropriate treatment plan to fit both the object and your expectations. 

Sorting the Estate

Dealing with a person's estate (the contents and collections someone has amassed over a lifetime) can be overwhelming, particularly when the deceased is a loved one.  The process involves making challenging decisions and valuations of everything from the dining room table to a collection of family silver. 

Recently, a childhood friend of my father’s passed away at age 84. He had spent decades collecting furniture, china, silver, glass, paintings, and jewelry.  His 3,500 square foot home contained not only these collections but also the stuff we all have in our homes, pots and pans, clothing, and Christmas ornaments.

As most of us would be in this situation, the executor was overwhelmed by the daunting task of sorting through this material. The hardest thing to do when faced with an estate to dissolve is to figure out the first step. 

When I approach an estate liquidation I bring 25 years of expertise in evaluating and recommending the most likely and appropriate venue for selling content, either in a fine art auction, estate sale on the property, or via a liquidator.  My experience and knowledge of market trends enables me to quickly and accurately categorize content to identify the best approach to sell every item. 

Understanding and respecting the emotional, financial, and logistical complexity of a situation like this one is a priority of mine. If you’ve found yourself responsible for the management of an estate and would like to discuss possible first steps I am available for a free consultation

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Errol Stephen Boyley (1918-2007) South African Artist

I have had the pleasure to have bought, sold and brokered paintings to private customers as well as to galleries in countries around the world but have never had the opportunity to have done business in South Africa until June of this year.  There is an emerging interest in South Africa for 20th century art by South African artists which has made it economically viable to begin seeking works in the United States and importing them back to their native country.  If you have a painting by a South African artist that you would consider selling I would be happy to speak to you about its value in the South African marketplace where it will garner the highest return. 

"South African Village with Cattle" oil on Masonite signed Errol Boyley

"South African Village with Cattle" oil on Masonite signed Errol Boyley

Tax Season!!!

It is this time of year when I receive scores of inquiries regarding appraisals for tax preparations. Most of which have been gifts of tangible personal property to 501c3 qualified charitable organizations.  In these cases I am asked to make fair market valuations for gift tax purposes, most of which are donations to museums and historical societies which in turn are allowed by law to become credited as income tax deductions. 

One recent appraisal I performed of particular local interest was for a 1:24 scale 28 inch model of the steamboat Sabino donated to the Newburyport Maritime Society, Customs House Maritime Museum in 2015.  The original Sabino  was built in 1908 by W. Irving Adams and had once been owned and operated in Newburyport Harbor during the beginnings of Newburyport’s redevelopment in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Today the Sabino is owned and operated by Mystic Seaport and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992. The scale model was donated by its maker and one time co-owner who spent over 500 hours to faithfully reproduce. Please visit the Customs House Maritime Museum this season to view this remarkable addition to their permanent collections.


Happy New Year !!!

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The 1840 Angel Gabriel Weathervane made by Gould and Hazlett Company of Boston ultimately became the subject of a 1965 US postage stamp after a watercolor by Lucille Chabot which is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute

The weathervane once flew above the People’s United Methodist Church on Purchase Street in Newburyport, MA.  I was so inspired by it during our Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 that I made a replica of it for woodshop at the Nock Middle School.  This season I recreated it with my daughters and incorporated it into a wreath for our home in neighboring Amesbury, MA.  Happy New Year!!!

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John Greenleaf Whittier Home a National Historic Landmark

Perhaps, for me, the most rewarding work related experience of this past year was to assist the John Greenleaf Whittier Home, a National Historic Landmark, with an insurance claim which involved a burst heating pipe that occurred in January. Over two dozen works on paper (including photography), oil portraits, Victorian furniture, woodwork and furnishings were damaged by water associated with condensed steam.  Working closely with the Whittier Home Association President we were able to negotiate with their insurance adjuster to bring in a team of conservation experts of our choosing.  This control guaranteed that the best results would be achieved because the many priceless artifacts were being managed under our watchful eye and control locally.  Please visit the John Greenleaf Whittier Home in Amesbury, MA in 2016.