Antique of the Week
26th- March 4th 2011
Tiffany & Co.
two page story
to page 2
That may have been the shortest time a BIN had been up in the history of
eBay. I hung up from speaking to the seller and just kept refreshing the browser. Within just a minute or two the page reloaded with the BIN....I looked at the screen, checked reality for a second, took a gulp, and hit the buy button....
got this c1890 flask on eBay a couple months back.
It's sterling silver marked Tiffany & Co., and
measures 5 3/4" tall by 3 1/2" wide. The seller
had it poorly listed. As I recall he had it in a silver category
only, no sports section. And he used poor key
words. The word "antique" wasn't in the title.
Had it been, along with the word "football", I may not have been writing this. As I
recall, when I found it, it had five days left, a scare
the twinkies out'a ya starting price, and zero bids.
consulted John Gennantonio for his opinion. He green
lighted it and expressed interest if I didn't try for it.
We concluded it was an incredible find and tried to put
together a game plan how I should proceed. John felt sellers often put high prices on stuff on eBay with
the hope someone will make an offer. That made sense, but
in the end I backed off making an offer and took the
simpler route of asking the seller if he had a BIN (buy it
now/stop the auction price).
enquired about the condition. It
looked really good in the photos he posted, but I was a
little concerned about the definition of the relief work
of the scrimmage scene. It looked a little like it might have been
worn from sliding in and out of a pocket back in the day.
For the kind of money we were talking, I wanted all the
data. That's so typical of some sculpture and relief
pieces like this one; it can be very hard to capture
details in photos. Understanding this can help grasp an
item remotely. Sure
enough, when I finally got it in hand, the photos didn't do it
justice; the definition was much better in person.
Take a look below at how much better it looks in photos I
took after I got it, than the ones the seller took. Be
sure to click on it to enlarge.
to the action...the seller assured me it wasn't worn and I
proceeded on intuition, since I understood the tricky
nuances of eBay photos....figuring and hoping it would
look better in person....a little bit of a gamble, but we
spoke on the phone and seller said I could return if I
satisfied, and he was certain I would be.
did it, with the return privilege I felt I was in the
drivers seat...He had shot me a BIN of only $250.00 over
his opening bid....which was $250.00 lower than John had suggested I offer....and I was thinking if it caught fire
it could go much higher. So I pulled the trigger with the stipulation he post the BIN
on the listing and phone me immediately when it was up. Processing
the sale thru eBay and Paypal gave me recourse in case
anything went wrong, Otherwise I'd have been very
reluctant to send a check to someone I didn't know.
may have been the shortest time a BIN had been up in the
history of eBay. I hung up from speaking to the seller and
just kept refreshing the browser. Within just a minute or
two the page reloaded with the BIN....I
looked at the screen, checked reality for a second, took a
gulp, and hit the buy button....
was a lot of money for this little Mexican boy, but I
felt it was the right move. I've been shaking down the planet for
items like this twenty two plus years and have never seen
another or anything quite like it. To put it in
perspective, It's one of only three 19th century works in
the silver genera done in relief that I know of. I have a
spectacular box by Reed and
Barton with a football scene in relief, same period,
but it's silver plate. The other was a c1891
sterling match safe shaped like a football, also by
Tiffany & Co....And that's it...three relief silver
football pieces known......John shared a mental picture...he jested,
now all you need is a raccoon skin coat and I could see
you with that flask rooting in the stands....
SURE IT'S REAL
got a couple of small dents, one in the cap the other on a
back shoulder area...and there is a little scuffing if you
look very close. Those are all imperfections I actually
prefer though. These days with the way they're making
repro stuff; wear, patina, or what ever you want
to call it is one of the most sure ways of identifying
items as original. Without such authentic wear you have to
be very careful and look very close to make sure it's old.
Especially involving high ticket items. Basically only
advanced collectors like myself, and seasoned specialized
dealers would have the expertise to qualify items as
"from the period original".
to leave our flask story, but while we're on the subject;
if it will benefit anyone. In theory, that's
one of the biggest benefits of buying from an established professional
dealer. I say in theory, as I've heard plenty of stories
of even pro dealers making mistakes for one reason or
another. But that's part of the benefit. If they make a
mistake, you have recourse. Say you buy something from a
reputable dealer and later learn it's not original and
have proof, the dealer will return your money. Notice I
said "reputable" dealer". Plus I should
add, one that is successful enough to absorb a roll back. I personally know of an
instance in which a very old $60,000.00 sports item was
refunded after many years. It took a little persistence by
the buyer/owner, and the dealer didn't just open his safe
and toss him $60,000 wrapped in rubber bands...but
eventually the dealer did the right thing and he got his
money back....with interest...which was only right. Anyway, enough
on the principles of safe buying ...back to our flask...
flask was made by Tiffany & Co., I estimate about
1890. Tiffany and company may well have records that could
supply background info such as the designer, date and
number produced. I contacted them but they
charge $1,000.00 to research items.
The image of the
scrimmage scene is rendered in low relief. Though I
couldn't pinpoint it, almost immediately I recognized the
image from somewhere....initially I was thinking maybe a woodcut illustration out of
an 1890's Harpers Weekly. However, once I got it in hand it
came to me....There is a c1890 chromolithograph print of a
football scrimmage that has a remarkable resemblance to the relief image on the flask.
27 3/4" x 20" lithograph reproduction of 1887 painting titled
"England v Scotland", painted by
William Haysham Overend, and Lionel Percy Smythe,
Photographed on location, 2007 National Sports
Collectors Convention, Booth of Tony Bussineau
print is a story in it's self, Originally it was a
reproduction of a painting of a rugby match titled
"England v Scotland", dated 1887 and
painted jointly by William Haysham Overend, and Lionel
Percy Smythe. Both Overend and Smythe were illustrators
for the Illustrated London News and it's believed the
painting may have been commissioned by that paper. Somehow
the image made it's way to the United States; specifically
the Knapp Lithographic concern in New York city. At that
point I speculate Knapp reworked the illustration to add
the American flag to the background of the scene,
copyrighted it 1893, changed the title from
"England v Scotland" to "FOOT
BALL", and added their name "THE KNAPP
CO. LITH. , N.Y." in the border, see photos above. To
reiterate, this is speculation which would require deeper
research than practical here. Nevertheless, however it
went down; because of the American flag most everyone
thinks for sure it's American.
TO PAGE 2