February 17, 2009 | At Peter Pap's booth at the Greenwich Antiques Show in Connecticut, a woman is examining an enormous Mahal carpet with an unusual green ground that has been attracting passersby all morning. Looking down, the woman asks, "How much is it?" Pap replies, with a courtly nod, "fifty-four thousand dollars."
Peter Pap is recognizable to followers of Antiques Roadshow as the expert from San Francisco with the scholarly refinement of a private school headmaster. He has graying hair, a beard of a very short nap, and watchful eyes redoubled by owlish glasses. As the woman toes the binding of the Mahal, he leans forward, anticipating what is coming next. "And how old are you saying?" the woman asks.
"It is," he replies, "late nineteenth century." After the woman drifts away, Pap looks in exasperation at his booth's walls. "Did you hear the implication? ‘How old are you saying?' The interaction starts out with two strikes against you."
The woman's suggestion-that antique rugs are never as old or worth as much as their sellers maintain-is something that Pap has long wanted to put to rest. Every category of the antiques industry has its scandals, but what brings Pap close to despair is his sense that some parts of the rug trade have lived up to the public's perception.
February 2, 2009 | Blogs, it is sometimes alleged, trace their ancestry back to the early 1700s, to the brawling, gossipy, partisan broadsheet newspapers that spread-virally, you might say-through Britain's newfangled coffeehouses. Anyone trying to prove the link by means of a few strands of common DNA might look into a four-year-old blog by Clinton Howell, the American dealer in English furniture of the broadsheet era. "One should not speak ill of the dead," Howell began a post last spring, before doing just that, blasting the recently departed Thomas Devenish for, among other sins, once outbidding Howell on a tripod table that Howell told him he had put incontrovertible dibs on. In an earlier series of posts, he disparaged a pair of mid-1700s demilune inlaid consoles, sold at auction for a handsome price, so unsparingly that a friend finally called to remind him that the buyer had feelings.
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All