Whitehall Blog

Archive for the ‘Educational Opportunities’ Category

Birmingham, Alabama “Antiques in the Garden”

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


Well I have been remiss, mainly due to the overwhelming amount of spam. However I have simply decided to ignore and return to writing, especially since a delightful email from Australia about Samson fakes of the 19th and early 2oth centuries. So now I will play a bit of “catch up”.

One of the most innovative charity antiques shows takes place annually on the first weekend of October in The Birmingham Botanical Gardens–a combination of antiques dealers and noted designers and architects creating a variety of opportunities both concrete (buy stuff now!!!) and ephemeral (ideas to re-imagine your home based on intriguing displays–often featured later in Veranda magazine).

These photos share views of our booth at the show, a group of young tastemakers being talked to by a Taste Maker (their name for the design booths), and a couple of detailed photos of an architect designed room and a graceful room elegantly blending antiques with modern concepts.


Watching that enormous wooden facade be built was fascinating–a true test of the patience of all concerned, but wonderful when completed.

My chief criticism of the show has been too many local dealers and designers, but the attendance from local folks has been great since the new program of balancing designer spaces with antiques spaces began.  I am happy to report that next year will see more dealers from out of state replacing local dealers, but continuing to have brilliant designer vignettes.  It should be truly exciting next year–the first weekend of October as always!  We will have links from our website once concrete details are announced!  Always check our Events section of the website for what is happening throughout the country!

Ayr Mount Fundraiser!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

This Thursday from 4-7 pm Elizabeth and I will be joined by Leland Little and Doug Lay to conduct an “Antiques Road Show” at Ayr Mount Plantation in Hillsborough, NC.  For $50.00 receive a tour of this great house and collection, attend mini lectures throughout the afternoon, sip wine and enjoy nibbles and OF COURSE, have your mystery antique appraised by the experts!  This is a great opportunity for a delightful early evening on the lawn and in the grandest house of the Federal Period in our area.

Elizabeth and I have conducted two all day seminars on Federal Furniture using the collections of Ayr Mount which range fro original furnishings to the superb collection built by Richard Jenrette.  I will conduct several mini lectures on the collection, turning pieces upside down and inside out to share the story that each tells from original construction through 200 years of use.

Visit the website and then join in the fun!


“These are a few of my favorite things”

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

In addition to music (yes that is a line from The Sound of Music) and family,  much of my life is visual.  So here are some photos I took this year–hope you enjoy them.  In just a week we will load for The Vero Beach Museum of Art Show and return to unload a new shipment from England and France–so what better time than now to remember the past year.

Nelson, Christmas 2012 at grandma's

Alexander's Christmas Past--2012 at grandma's

The glory of North Carolina from Grandfather Mountain

Elizabeth ready for opening night, Vero Beach Museum of Art, 2013

Oops--it slid! Uncle Erik with Nelson and Alexander and Elizabeth presenting her masterpiece: Erik and Alexander in a joint birthday celebration

Topiary magic in the Nashville Antiques and Garden Show

The epitome of George I walnut bureau bookcases

Thomasville, Georgia hospitality--we stayed in dear clients' guest house

Chang at work--half snoozing in the Villa entrance room

Serenity in the Asiantiques booth, Alexandria, March, 2013

Spring finally arrives in the Duke Gardens in mid-March--at least the jonquils arrived in February!

A sweet Edwardian Sutherland table came home to Whitehall after 50 years in a Mebane, NC home--and now has a new home in Florida

May 2 brought Paul's 65th birthday celebration at Kipos, a new West Franklin Street Greek restaurant in The Courtyard

Spring Market was a great success: part of our huge booth at The Antique and Design Center of High Point

26 Abraham Derby roses by David Austin line the Whitehall parking lot producing a heady fragrance in memory of our dear employee of 50 years, Frances Farrington

Our new condo nears completion in mid-June

We ran the floors from the front door 30 feet toward the glass walls–this view covers most of the 30 feet lateral into the study making a large “L”.  Always run flooring so that you carry the eye to create a greater sense of size, rather than chopping up the desired view.

A "Moral Monday" sea of protestors in Raleigh--this year NC traded a 50% tax cut for the wealthy for reducing education funding to 47th in America. Bless our great teachers who soldier on.

The thrill of entering a lovely retirement home and finding a period breakfront from the late 18th century! I was waxing it again today at the shop!

Moving day was June 27th--this is July 1st and off to England July 4th to buy for the shop

Looking for nifty sporting items in southeast England

And finding 1960's G-Plan furniture for Paul's new Studio Design Gallery at The Courtyard (a three block walk to work each day) and already a huge success!

Nelson and Dad join us in London and then off to Paris!

View from the hotel room

Grandpa as Napoleonic Soldier--yes the sword is period

An Exciting Durham estate--I had worked with the parents for 25 years--yielded a rare Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin chrome backed swivel, rocking club chair--and so much more!

Paul’s Modernism gallery included in his new Studio allows us to help with a broad range of fine items from the late 17th century to the 1970′s between Whitehall and Studio Design Gallery–and the stores are only a mile apart!

And then it was July 19th and time for my 65th birthday–60 friends and family gathered atop our new building to celebrate.

My son Erik and older grandson Nelson David (Elizabeth's son)


The best little guests!

And also celebrating over 23 years with Paul, my guide through life.

And then 6 days of both teaching and learning during the annual Whitehall Summer Antiques Seminar

Then the new shipment arrived followed by a wonderful fundraiser at the Villa benefitting The Chamber orchestra of the Triangle and finally of to three fall shows and the Fall High Point Market (all featured in prior blogs).

And Halloween

A December sunset from my hotel for the Jacksonville Antiques Show--my 36th straight year!

Exploring a collection to sell this winter!

And finally the beauty of Christmas again!  Another year of exploration, learning, teaching and enjoying all that life has to offer with family and friends.  Happy New Year!  Live it with love and gusto.

High Point Lecture Highlights

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Once again I had the pleasure of speaking at The Antique and Design Center of High Point during Fall Market Week–a talk for which the designers and appraisers all receive Continuing Education Points/Recertification Points, depending of the organization.  This time I explored concepts for discerning value and spent time comparing new products on the market with antique and vintage pieces that I spotted on the floor of the Center.  It was a lot of fun, brought some extra sales to several dealers (some items sold before I gave my talk, so can only say in those cases others agreed with my assessment!).  I thought I would share both a few points from the talk and some comparisons that I discovered.

The Key to Value Comparisons

I am a strong believer in mentally grading everything you encounter on a style quality continuum: good, better and best (and horrid if you want to add a fourth category!).  This is of course a manner of assessment first proposed by Albert Sack in his seminal book on American furniture:  he showed examples of nearly every form and period, grading them into these three categories.  Eventually “masterpiece” was added in one of the final editions–sadly disingenuous in my opinion.  It was a ploy to promote pieces sold by his family firm most of which fit nicely into “best” or “better”.  Anyway it is easy to do with a couple of photo examples.

Rose Canton Punch Bowl

This is a 19th century Rose Canton punch bowl, 16 inches in diameter.  It is of fine quality BUT it is a type of Chinese Export porcelain known as famile rose and it has several relatives in the 19th century which are more valuable.  In Rose Canton there are quadrants of decoration (note how they move out from the center) which are only decorated with birds, butterflies and flowers.  Closely related to this is Rose Medallion–next photo–which also builds on quadrants, but this time they alternate between panels (medallions or reserves are the correct terms) of human figures in various settings and the bird/butterfly/flower motif.  To be classified as Rose Medallion there must be people!  Rose Medallion is a second 19th century category of famille rose (pink family in French). Interestingly, any Chinese porcelain of any period which incorporates any pink (rose) in the decoration has historically been categorized by westerners as “famille rose”.

Rose Medallion Punch Bowl

This is smaller than the first example, yet has the identical value.  It is ALMOST the highest category of value–Rose Mandarin–which has no medallions or quadrants but simply a single, massive figural design.  However this must be categorized as medallion as it has a large central panel surrounded by four large figural panels interspersed with four small bird and butterfly panels.  Compare in these two bowls the Greek Key motif which separates panels–the first quite simple, the second heavily gilded and of superb quality.

While we do not currently have a Rose Mandarin example, it is simple to imagine–simply mentally expand the center of the second bowl to cover the entire interior and that is Rose Mandarin!

Complicating things slightly, I decided to show a pair of huge Rose Medallion platters because they are rare in design and the finest quality of Rose Medallion.  These platters are of a design purchased by President Grant and used as his presidential china in the White house.  Thus these are known as the Grant Pattern of Rose Medallion.

Do you see the remarkable change in these pieces?

One of a PAIR of Grant Pattern platters

I hope you have taken a minute to contemplate this photo and noticed the exceptional design change.

While  panels or medallions radiate from the center, they are unique in that there are six and each is a slice of mellon!  Notice the shape of the medallion and then the stem at the top of the medallion.  Exquisite.  And the medallions are separated by elaborately painted and gilded motifs again of exceptional quality.  Were this a 16″ bowl like the Rose Canton example, it would be at least four to six times more valuable.

Good   Better   Best

Think in such terms and you can value anything from antique to newly made, from porcelain to silver to furniture–every object can be judged by this mental structure.


In a few days I will share some comparisons between new objects and antique/vintage pieces I spotted at market.


Fall High Point To Open

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The International Furniture Market opens in 7 million square feet of buildings this weekend, with soft openings beginning tomorrow in the Antique and Design Center in Historic Market Square.  Our 600 square feet is a spec in the sea, but a most exciting one.  I have had fun setting up some eye catching vignettes!  Here are a few teasers and I will provide much more as the show, lectures and parties begin!

Center View

A Pile of Bamboo!

Flying Chairs

A Stack of Garden Tables and Copper

All Marked as SPAM

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just so you know, all comments sent to this blog are left unopened and marked as spam.


For friends and clients who enjoy following, if you have a question you know how to reach us!  And you know we are ready to help in any way we can!!


David and Elizabeth

Authenticating English and Continental Furniture Seminar

Monday, July 29th, 2013

After the wonderful two days of learning about American glass, glass making and the history of glass development, it was time for Elizabeth and me to teach.  The first course, Authenticating English and Continental Furniture from 1700 to 1840, was two days of class and hands on small group work.  Then I taught a course for one day on the 19th century with the impact of all of the modern mechanical developments on both the “new” and revival styles.  Finally Elizabeth and I taught a one day course as an intensive seminar studying 30 pieces as viewed through our eyes–why we view it as meritorious from style through construction to authentication–particularly fun as we again divided the group, this time in two parts, so that each group heard about all 30 pieces from each of us.

One of the important characteristics of 18th century French furniture is the quality of the gilt bronze mounts.  Here Elizabeth is pointing out the superb mounts on a Louis XVI commode and noting how the parquetry (geometric inlays) relate to the bronze mounts and also noting the fine, thick marble typical of the original marble tops of the 18th and early 19th centuries.  While copies of quality may indeed have fine marble, a thin piece is a dead give-away to replacement or a revival piece.

Elizabeth prepared a set of terrific hand-outs that everyone loved–”cheat sheets” for everything from dating to authenticating clues, including the all important reminders of authenticity.  Great reminders whether shopping for the collectors, buying for the dealers or appraising for the appraisers in the classes.

Here I am discussing a piece made in London of a time almost identical to the French commode Elizabeth was discussing.  The form is more chaste but the veneering brilliant and flamboyant employing satinwood, satin birch, harewood (dyed sycamore). touches of rosewood, etc.  I am also pointing out the fact that every piece of veneer and inlay is shrinking over time, as the woods beneath the veneers have also shrunk.  This leads to everything from substantial cracks to minute cracks as well as gaps between every single piece of the veneers and inlays.  ALL wood shrinks over time, even the tiniest pieces of inlay, so always look for tiny gaps now filled with wax and grunge!

We had a wonderful array of pieces of wood, hardware, and construction examples to share on this first day of lectures–hands-on always are a real help both to understand each point and to not simply lecture with power point photos–a much livelier day!

With these samples we could easily examine one of the two principle methods of joinery from thousands of years BC to the present day–the contrast between mortise and tenon construction (in use by the Egyptians with furniture found in tombs dating to 3,500 BC) and doweled construction in regular use by 1830.  While the chair parts are newly made they are all mortise and tenon construction whereas the ball and claw foot and rail on the right were joined with machine turned dowels.  The importance of this–and the keys to spotting one or the other–cannot be emphasized enough.  And we also examined the evolution of the second essential technique of fine joinery–the dovetail joint (simple, blind, blind mitered, slip).  Again this joinery was in use for thousands of years, then lost from the end of Rome to the mid-17th century when the Dutch claim credit for its discovery (actually re-discovery).  Agin we examined all of the 19th century mechanical substitutes for hand dovetailed joinery.

The history of hardware on an antique as well as the evolution of the styles and making of hardware is also important and again we had lots of pieces to share.

In all of the lectures other tools–hand and mechanical-were examined.  While I obviously cannot share all of it, here are some pieces of wood which show hand plane marks and the lines left by machine planers when they develop little nicks in their blades.  Can you tell which is which?

Here a group looks at some hardware bits with me:

Here students from Oregon, California, Texas, Florida. Connecticut and North Carolina gather around an array of hardware with me.  We were particularly thrilled that this year three new students to our courses were in their mid-20s and just beginning their careers as appraisers!   The opportunity to share information and learning opportunities with folks from around the country is an invaluable part of our annual seminars.

Here are some shots from day two as in groups of three they all explored a variety of pieces in the morning–every group studying every piece–and then joined together as Elizabeth and I explored with them their insights into each piece.

Examining a Scottish William IV Sideboard

Are those Pembroke leaves the right width?

Are the pulls original?

How's the color when the drawer is opened? Looking at oxidation issues.

The smile says it is right! Natalie coming up for air after a crawl under!

Is the table talking yet? It does--they all talk!

Every piece shared the story of it’s creation and it’s history over several hundred years of use.  It is so much fun to “hear” their stories revealed by oxidation patterns, patination, sharp edges of little repairs, and so much more.

Everyone left excited for next year–some wanted to pre-register as we will be bringing in a brilliant teacher on prints and paintings from Texas, Brenda Simonson-Mohle while Elizabeth and I will teach a two day wood identification course.  As soon as the third course is selected (or third and fourth if we do two one day seminars like this year) we will be letting you know the details!

2013 Whitehall Antiques Seminar

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The first two days of the 33rd annual Whitehall Antiques Seminar were wonderful–eight lectures by the charming and fascinating Jane Shadel Spillman, recently retired curator of American Glass at the great Corning Museum, America’s preeminent museum on the study of glass from around the world.  From 3,500 BC to the 1920′s, Jane swept us on a fact filled study of the history of glass making with a major emphasis on glass of the past three centuries and particularly the American experience.  Not surprising for the author of fifteen major books and over 100 major articles on glass in America!

Here she is examining a study piece comparing the history of handle attachment on blown glass pitchers.  Did you realize that about 1870 a shift occurred from first attaching the handle at the top of the piece to first attaching it at the lowest point for the handle?  The starting point for attaching the molten glass handle is the largest point on the handle and the ending is the smallest point.  Prior to 1870 this gave all handles a slightly less elegant and well proportioned appearance.  Here is Jane with two examples–a clear ewer from about 1820 and a deep purple example from the 1880′s.

And here are the two pitchers to compare.

Having the strongest point lower on the body gives the sense of a far more durable and safe to handle product as well as a more graceful profile.

We also learned that America accounts for one of the two most important inventions in glassmaking–and the Romans the other.  About 100 BC the Romans invented the blowpipe which transformed glassmaking–speed, size and range of products increased instantly and exponentially.  Two American firms working simultaneously (and contentiously) account for the next great advance–pressed glass.  Again speed of production increased exponentially–and again the market for glass spread beyond the wealthy.

The blow pipe took glass from the ruling few to the wealthy where it remained for 2,000 years until America in the 19th century made glass available to the middle and working classes!  These c. 1825 glass pressing machines also transformed who could make glass.  To blow glass was an art that required 7 years of apprenticeship.  To press glass took six months of training!  One of the inventors at the time said he could take a man right from the fields and make him a competent glass presser in six months–and he could earn far more than in the fields.

This next photo is a lesson I can only describe.  Simultaneous with glass for the masses all sorts of fine glass was made.  In America from the 1880′s to World War I, what we call brilliant cut glass was one of the rages.  Both the large and small bowls in this photo are Brilliant Period American Cut Glass.  However there were two ways of making the blanks–the clear lead glass bowls and other popular forms of every type.  While only about five factories made the blanks, hundreds did the cutting of the blanks.  Either the blanks were hand blown or mold blown.  To tell the difference, slowly run your hand across the middle of the bowl, up the inside of a cream jug or pitcher, and so forth–if it is incredibly smooth it was HAND BLOWN.  If you feel undulations, it was made in a mold!  Usually the finest cutting is found on the hand blown pieces, as they were of course a more costly product to acquire for cutting.

The smaller of these two has far crisper cutting even though both are of the same time period and both are hand cut.  When you run your hand through the larger you feel gentle undulations.

Now go play with your own cut glass and see what type of original blanks your collection includes.

Visit Elizabeth in Grosse Pointe

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Today and tomorrow Elizabeth is setting up our rather intriguing booth at  the Christ Church, Grosse Pointe Antiques Show–it is the entire enclosed cloister along the sanctuary.  She has planned a really fun and spectacular space!

The following weekend she will be in Winnetka, Illinois for the Summer Antiques Show–with a flight home for some family and shop time in between the shows!

Please make plans to see her in one of these wonderful mid-western towns–both are lovely places to explore as well as shop the shows!

Details follow!!!!!!!



American Society of Appraisers Interview

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Since the earliest years of my antiques businesses,  I have been deeply involved with the American Society of Appraisers, one of the three leading appraisal societies in America devoted to professionalism in the business of appraising.  I am pleased to include here a connection to an interview/member profile which is being published this week and next week on all of ASA’s various social media.

I hope you will read and enjoy it.  Also please follow the links to learn more about ASA and the important contributions to professionalism made by ASA originally, then joined by ISA and finally in recent years by a transformed AAA.