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A Brief History of the Lane Cedar Chest

Remember seeing that old cedar chest in Grandma’s house when you were growing up.  Well aside from being a functional piece of antique furniture, chests have a rich history from earliest times as storage containers.  Some of the earliest chests have their history with the amazing pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt, where they were used to store golden treasures as well as the documents of the time.  In modern times however, one of the largest and best known manufacturer of cedar chests was the Lane Furniture Company.

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Dumb Mikey Cooks a Turkey

One year, Mikey’s mom came to his house for the traditional Thanksgiving feast.  Knowing how dumb Mikey is, his mother decided to play a trick on him.  She told him she needed something from the store and off Mikey went.  While he was gone, his mom took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, inserted a Cornish hen into the turkey, and then re-stuffed it.  Later, when it was time for dinner, she asked Mikey to pull the turkey out of the oven and carve it. 

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Antique Weathervane Sets Auction Record Price

In the August 24, 2006 NOVA-Antiques Newsletter we reported about the continuing thefts of antique weathervanes.  The recent sale at Sotheby’s of a rare weathervane further explains why thieves have a penchant for these magnificent works of art.

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Jerry Lauren of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. and his wife Susan recently paid $5.8 million for a rare molded copper Indian Chief weathervane, setting a record for the sale of an American folk art piece.  The weathervane originally adorned the roof of a farmhouse in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  The farmhouse was owned by Henry Ford descendent, Josephine Ford.

The weathervane, which measured over 5’ tall, was produced by J.L. Mott Ironworks Company (circa 1900), which also produced the iron for the Capitol Building dome in Washington, DC.  Jerry Lauren after the auction was quoted as saying, “This piece is more than a weathervane; it’s a beautiful work of art.”

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Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, New York City

Collectors, dealers, bargain hunters, tourist and artists all come together every weekend for the Hell’s Kitchen Antiques and Collectibles flea market in New York City.  This market which features everything from Victorian Era to Art Deco decorative arts as well as retro vintage collectibles from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.  From this flea market you can take a shuttle for $1 to The Annex Antiques Fair and Flea Market on Sixth Avenue, where you can rub shoulders with celebrities that in the past have included David Duchovny, Barbara Streisand and David Bowie.  For more information on this flea market, please visit their website at, www.annexantiques.com

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Dumb Mikey, always wanting to please him mommy was anxious and excited to be able to do this.  He pulled the turkey out of the oven and removed the stuffing.  Next, he reached in and to his surprise pulled out the smaller bird.  His mother looked at him and exclaimed, “Mikey, you’ve cooked a pregnant bird!”  Mikey was mortified and started to sob . . . never realizing that turkeys don’t get pregnant . . . they lay eggs.

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Newsletter 04-20-2006
Newsletter 03-23-2006
Newsletter 03-02-2006
Newsletter 02-02-2006
Newsletter 05-25-2006
Newsletter 06-15-2006
Newsletter 06-29-2006
Newsletter 07-13-2006
Newsletter 07-27-2006
Newsletter 08-24-2006
Newsletter 08-10-2006
Newsletter 09-14-2006
Newsletter 09-28-2006
Newsletter 10-12-2006
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Netsuke – Japanese Art Sculptures

Japanese artists starting in the 17th century cleverly invented the miniature sculptures known as netsuke to serve a very practical function. Traditional Japanese garments - robes called kosode and kimono - had no pockets. Men who wore them needed a place to keep personal belongings such as pipes, tobacco, money, seals, or medicines.

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Edward Hudson Lane first founded the company in Altavista, Virginia in 1912.  However, the Lanes were unsure of what success they would have selling chests, so they originally named their company The Standard Red Cedar Chest Company. Situated on a junction served by the Virginian and Southern Railways made it easy for the cedar chests, and later other furniture, produced by lane to be sold in many more cities and places outside of Virginia.  It is interesting to note that although they had contracted with the federal government to produce pine ammunition boxes in their infancy, the height of their cedar chest days came during World War II.

In the 1920’s, Lane, whose tag line had been, “The gift that starts the home,” began advertising their cedar chests as “Hope Chests,” where young ladies could stockpile clothing and small furnishings in anticipation of a future marriage.  Many of the advertisements at the time featured soldiers with their betrothed and other patriotic gestures.  Later, Lane became known for and is still known for their quality furnishings and accent pieces.  Mr. Lane passed away in 1973 and the last cedar chest to roll off their production line was manufactured in 2001.

The elegant solution was to place such objects in containers (called sagemono) hung by cords from the robes' sash (obi). The containers might take the form of a pouch or a small woven basket, but the most popular were beautifully crafted boxes (inro), which were held shut by ojime, sliding beads on cords. Whatever the form of the container, the fastener that secured its cord at the top of the sash was a carved, button-like toggle called a netsuke.

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Such objects, often of great artistic merit, have a long history reflecting important aspects of Japanese folklore and life. Netsuke production was most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. Today, the art lives on and carvers, a few of whose modern works command high prices ($10,000 to $100,000, or more), are in the UK, Europe, the USA, Japan and elsewhere. Prices at auctions in the USA for collectible netsuke typically range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Inexpensive molded, faithful reproductions are available in museum shops and elsewhere for $30, or less.