What's Selling on eBay - May 2014
By Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
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The following items sold recently on eBay. The comments are those of expert appraiser Deborah Abernethy.

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$2,550 (150 bids): John F. Kennedy Antique Painted Armoire. John F. Kennedy antique painted Swiss armoire having an architectural molded cornice with canted front corners above a frieze centered by the painted date "1853", the lower cabinet of conforming shape, centered by a full paneled cupboard door opening to a fitted interior. The armoire is all-over painted with faux wood graining, marbling and flowering urns.

This beautiful painted armoire was purchased by my father from the Caroline Kennedy auction featuring antiques from a number of their properties and liquidated by Sotheby’s as described below. Total purchase after buyer’s premium was over $23,000!

Armoire was acquired exhibiting moderate wear. There is a piece of missing molding on the upper right side of item. Some cracking of the wood is seen on the front upper/top molding section. Some wear is visible on the front panel, but hard to see as it is hidden in the middle of the urns. And there are some worn places on the paint along the bottom of the front and side panels. One interesting thing is that there is pencil writing on the inside of the cabinet door which I assume was by the artist, but I can’t make it out. Still, a beautiful piece of art and wonderful colors that would be an outstanding addition to any collector.

Provenance: this lot was in the family quarters of the White House during the Kennedy's residence. Sotheby's, New York auction "Property From Kennedy Family Homes" NO8068, lot 380, reference page 232 of catalogue. Acquired by the most recent owner at the above auction Feb.16, 2005. Height, 68.5 inches, width, 47.75 inches, depth, 22 inches; circa 1850-1855. Original Sotheby’s catalogue included as evidence of provenance. (Photo: eBay seller springcreekantiques77.)

DBA: Oh, my! From $23,000 at auction to $2,550 on eBay is quite a difference in price. I think that sometimes buying at auction is more of a party. Here is an excerpt from Maureen Callahan’s article about the auction in the New York Post: “In 1996, two years after Jackie Kennedy Onassis died of cancer, Caroline and her brother John, Jr. put the bulk of their mother’s estate up for auction. Mixed in with the oil paintings and jewels was JFK’s hat box (worth $100, sold for $31,625), a foot stool (worth $150, sold for $33,350) and one of Jackie’s lamps (worth $900, sold for $48,875). Even the doors from Jackie’s White House dressing room were ripped off their hinges and put on the block.”

This auction sounds more like a party than buyers working to get a good deal. With the story behind this (White House setting, JFK ownership), I would say the buyer got a deal. This is more a memorabilia category item rather than furniture, especially with the damage listed and the object not so old. 

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$2,948 (24 bids): 20th C. German Neresheimer Solid Silver gilt Wager Cup, London, c. 1905. Antique early 20th century stunning German Hanau solid silver wager/marriage cup, extremely large, richly gilt; the cup has the look of a noble girl supporting over her head a domed, smaller swiveling cup unusually shaped as a shell. The cup chased, composing beautiful floral patterns on the elaborated dress. The silver wager cup was created for use in wedding banquets, where the spouse drank wine from the bigger cup and offered his bride to drink from the smaller, avoiding pouring out even a drop of its contents. (The smaller cup rotates 180 degrees.) This piece is hallmarked German Hanau silver, between the late 19th century and 1905. Maker's marks Neresheimer & Co, one of the most important Hanau silversmiths. (Photo: eBay seller pushkin.antiques, www.pushkinantiques.com, www.stores.ebay.co.uk/Pushkin-Antiques-Ltd.)

DBA: Legend says that the marriage cup came into use because the daughter of a wealthy nobleman fell in love with a goldsmith. Her enraged father imprisoned the suitor and reluctantly, after a lengthy period, told his daughter that he would let her marry the goldsmith if he could make a cup where two people could drink at the same time without spilling a drop. (He thought no one could do this.) Hence, the marriage cup was made. The wager name is because many guests after several glasses of wine would wager that they could or could not drink without spilling the contents. This price is a fair deal for both seller and buyer.


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$3,046 (48 bids): 1941 Pisgah Forest American Art Pottery Crystalline Vase.
Pisgah Forest Pottery was made in North Carolina beginning in 1926 by Walter B. Stephen and was in production throughout the ‘60s. Measuring 11.5 inches tall by 6.5 inches wide at the shoulders, this vase has a blue and white crystalline glaze. The small blue flowers have a unique iridescent surface that makes them shimmer as you move the vase. According to the marking on the bottom of this vase, it was made in 1941, and the condition is guaranteed to be perfect, with no restorations. (Photo: eBay seller wwolst12)

DBA: This is a major amount of money for Pisgah Forest Art Pottery, but this glaze is the signature color/type and is the first you see on the Pisgah Forest Art Pottery website. While other Pisgah Forest pottery will sell for much less, the crystalline glaze consistently sells for more money than the other types. This amount exceeds pre-2008 amounts, which shows how special this particular piece is considered. This is a fair deal for both buyer and seller.


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$8,100 (62 bids): HMS Invincible Ship’s Logbook, Revolutionary War 1780-1782 Battles. The HMS Invincible had an important role in the American Revolutionary War. The inside cover of this 18th century ship’s log reads, “A Journal of the Proceedings of his Majesty’s Ship the Invincible. Kept by John Grigg &&& Charles Saxson Esq. Commander Commencing on y 29 of Nov 1780 and ending y 10 Day of July 1782.”

The HMS Invincible was launched in 1765 and served the Royal Navy during the Revolutionary War until it shipwrecked in March 1801. This log consists of 23 large pieces of handmade paper folded into 23 pages. Each piece of paper is watermarked with the name “I. Taylor” on one page and a crest with a man on a horse holding a spear on the opposite. The outer shape of the crest mark has a crown on the top, resembling many examples of Royal watermarks that we found while doing research. The original soft cover is still with the log and in very good condition, although no longer attached. On the left hand pages there are several columns stating the day, location and other information. The right-hand pages are labeled “Remarks” and have descriptions of the days recorded in the log. The pages are all complete and in very good condition, aside from some toning and foxing spots.

I have been trying to get into the way John Grigg writes, and I know with practice the high bidder will be able to read all the details of this 74-gun British Man of War. The two most important years of this ship were between January 16, 1780 when it fought the battle Cape St. Vincent through September 5, 1781 and ending with her last battle at Saint Kitts, also known as the Battle of Frigate Bay, on January 25 and 26, 1782. All these battles took place during the writing of the ship’s log, and there are written accounts found on those days. I am not going to get into every detail, but not only are the battles described, but there are many interesting “remarks” pertaining to the crew and officers on all the other days. I found references to flogging, sickness and other interesting facts. This is a very important ship’s log, and I’m sure there is important information in it about the Invincible and the battles she took part in that are unknown.

DBA: Wow. I would like to hear the story of how this journal was found and where it has been for the last two hundred-plus years. I could find information on the ship, and there is a log listing of men who served on various British ships in a database. I could not find specific information on ship logs or if the information has been previously published, which could make a difference in the value of such information. My thought with this type of historical document is the potential commercial use since there would not be a copyright issue. I did write about a series of Civil War Era letters last in the April 2013 edition of this magazine. Those letters from a school teacher brought almost $4,000. This document is much older and with the Revolutionary War connection would have added interest. 

Deborah Abernethy is a certified appraiser with the International Association of Appraisers. She can be contacted at 404-262-2131 or Deborah@expert-appraisers.com . Her website is www.expert-appraisers.com .




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