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  • 22 Jan 2015
    Being a dealer at the Denver Brass Armadillo and an avid collector, I recently had the opportunity to visit Tucson, Arizona. Naturally I wanted to check out a few of the antique shops there. Making the rounds of several shops, it was only natural to notice the subtle, and not so subtle, differences between the Denver Brass Armadillo and the shops in Tucson. While none of the Tucson shops are as large as the Brass, several shops are centrally located to one another and that helps cut down on driving from one to the next as well as finding parking. However, parking is an issue as there are very, very limited spaces available. Many of the shops appear to be sole owner/dealer shops or shops with a very limited number of dealers. I visited four so called “antique malls” of which the largest had approximately 30,000 square feet and a reported 200 dealers. The others were quite a bit smaller.   None approached the size of the Denver Brass Armadillo.   While the Tucson shops have ample inventory of glassware, dishes, jewelry, Native American and Western memorabilia, and other smaller collectibles and antiques, the supply and selection of antique furniture was very limited with almost no Victorian or Early American pieces. Most furniture was Southwest design or mid-Twentieth Century style. The limited furniture antiques may be explained by the fact most of the shops have only limited floor space and there just isn’t space for furniture. All of the shops have some locked display cases similar to the Brass, but gaining access to a case is not as convenient as the Brass’s individually locked cases. To inspect and closely examine an item in a case in the Tucson shops, it is necessary to go to the front counter and request a staff member to unlock the case. This is very inconvenient and time consuming, not only for the shopper, but also for the shop’s staff. On several occasions I had to wait 5 or more minutes before someone could locate a key to the case and come and unlock a specific case. Looking for antique dolls? There is a doll museum at Christine’s Antiques which houses hundreds of dolls. It’s quite impressive with dolls of all designs, ages, compositions, size, and value. If you are a doll collector, or just have an interest in dolls, it is worth a trip to Christine’s Antiques on Speedway Boulevard in Tucson. If you have the opportunity to visit Tucson, be sure to check out the antiques. You will definitely meet some really nice and friendly folks!!!
    3063 Posted by Betty Jean Shearin
  • 18 Jun 2015
    Madame Alexander Dolls – Shelf Sitters? ?   Many of us Baby Boomers remember the gorgeous Madame Alexander Dolls as our Christmas Wish doll, or as a “shelf sitter” if we were lucky enough to have one. The impeccably designed and beautifully dressed dolls were always so stylishly clothed and were the envy of every little girl, and many women too. Madame Beatrice Alexander was born in Brooklyn, NY on March 9, 1985 to Russian immigrants. Her father had a “doll hospital” repair shop where Beatrice played with many dolls waiting to be mended, and she soon developed a deep love of dolls and their costumes.  This love of dolls led her to start her own doll company at age 28.   The popularity of her dolls grew into the Madame Alexander Doll Company which is still headquartered in New York City and still produces fabulous dolls today. Madame Alexander has always created dolls of the highest quality which display the utmost attention to the smallest details. This was true from the beginning and continues through to today. The dolls’ costumes are impeccable and are designed to the latest clothing styles, whether the doll represents the Colonial times, the Roaring Twenties, or the 2015’s latest fashion trend. Madame Alexander dolls introduced many firsts in the doll industry including dolls in a series, such as the First Ladies Inaugural Gown dolls, Holiday Occasions dolls, Women of History dolls, and International dolls series. Dolls having “sleep eyes” that opened and closed were also a Madame Alexander first. While the price of Madame Alexander dolls can be in the thousands of dollars, many can be purchased for fifty dollar or less. Even dolls in “like-new” condition can be bought for under thirty dollars at antique and collector stores.   The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Denver typically has a selection of Madame Alexander dolls for sale at very reasonable prices. Whether you are still awaiting your “Christmas Wish” doll or just have a fancy for beautiful dolls, the next time you are in the Brass Armadillo, look for Madame Alexander dolls - You may just have your Christmas wish come true!  
    1958 Posted by Betty Jean Shearin
  • 06 Nov 2015
     Moorcroft Pottery – What a find!!! Last week at the Denver Brass Armadillo, I spent about 45 minutes just browsing through the store and found a piece of Moorcroft art pottery.  It’s an incredibly beautiful vase, near mint condition, and it was quite inexpensive.  What a find! Moorcroft vases, lamps, ginger jars, etc. can be expensive as it’s a very labor-intensive creation process.  The story of Moorcroft pottery and the intricate, detailed workmanship that go into creating each piece is truly an amazing art form.  Moorcroft Pottery has been in business since 1897 and that one fact sets them apart from other pottery businesses.  It all began with William Moorcroft being employed as a designer for a Staffordshire pottery manufacturer.  His famous process is called “tubelining” and is much the same process used today.  William Moorcroft submitted a piece of his art pottery at the World's Fair in 1904 and won a Gold Medal with a pottery called “Florian Ware”.  In 1913, Moorcroft opened his own business in Stoke-on-Trent, England. With much recognition and success, he was appointed as Potter to Her Majesty the Queen in 1928. What an incredible honor that must have been!  Moorcroft Pottery creates beautiful masterpieces for art pottery lovers all over the world. Each year, Christie’s Auction House dedicates an entire sale just to Moorcroft pottery.  Many Moorcroft pieces are permanently shown in national museums as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum in the England. I won’t go into the details involved in creating this type of pottery but you can see a wonderful demonstration for yourself by going to this website: http://www.moorcroft.com/Site/Making/ .  The video is hosted by Eric Knowles, a well-known TV antiques expert on BBC.  Several books have been written including “Behind the Glaze” by Neil Swindells which covers William Moorcroft’s life story and his work.  Keep your eyes out and you may just find a piece like I did or some other wonderful find.  The Brass Armadillo never fails to amaze me with the variety of antiques and collectibles. You just never know what you’re going to find!   
    1951 Posted by Betty Jean Shearin
  • 03 Oct 2015
    Over the last 100 years or so, there have been many glass manufacturers making a multitude of glass items.  There were glass items made to serve a particular purpose and for daily use in the home.  Then there were the pieces considered to be “art glass”.  Satin Glass falls into that category.  Satin Glass was first made as a decorative pressed glass in the 1880’s in England, and subsequently produced in the United States by Hobbs, Brockunier & Company of Wheeling, WV; Mount Washington Glass Works of New Bedford, MA, and the New England Glass Company of East Cambridge, MA.  Today, Satin Glass pieces are usually made by individual glass blowers or private glass makers.  Satin Glass is easily recognized as it has an opaque, dull matte finish, thus resembling satin linens and hence the name Satin Glass. The “satin” finish is a result of the glass being treated with hydrofluoric acid or some other abrasive acid. Some pieces have decorative surface patterns which are produced when tints are added during the glass molding process.  To obtain the desired coloration, each piece is typically tinted with a pastel color with blue being the most common color.  Satin Glass that contains pink, blue and yellow striations is usually referred to as rainbow Satin Glass.  My first purchase of Satin Glass was at the Brass Armadillo about 15 years ago.  Below is a picture of my first Satin Glass purchase.  I think you will find Satin Glass as beautiful and desirable as any other type or style of decorative glass.  I sure do. Take a look around the Brass Armadillo.  You will find quite a variety of this wonderful work of art. One final note, Satin Glass requires rather delicate handling as any other piece of art.                                                                                           
    1588 Posted by Betty Jean Shearin
Antiques - Collectibles 1,054 views Mar 30, 2015
Sun Catchers

Sun Catchers – West Virginia Crackle Glass

 

Many of us born in the 1930’s to mid-1950’s era remember every kitchen window (and many parlor windows) had at least one piece of crackle glass which caught the sun’s rays and refracted and reflected the rays into a gorgeous array of color; thus the term “Sun Catchers.” Although the origin of crackle glass remains unknown, American crackle glass was abundantly produced in factories along the Ohio River, primarily on the West Virginia side, from the 1930’s until the late 1970’s, and West Virginia became known as “Glass Country” with over 400 glass factories in operation during the earlier years.  Some of the more well-known crackle glass manufacturers were Pilgrim Glass, Blenko Glass, Hamon Glass, Viking Glass, Williamsburg Glass, Rainbow Glass, Fenton Glass, Kanawha Glass, Cambridge Glass, and Westmorland Glass, among many others. Unfortunately, all have ceased production of crackle glass and most are now out of business entirely.

Crackle glass is made by plunging red-hot newly produced glass objects into cold water and then reforming or re-blowing the glass object. This resulted in the glass appearing to have multiple fractures and “cracks” while the surface remained relatively smooth to the touch. Many times when the glass was plunged into the cold water, the glass shattered into many pieces, thus the failure rate was high and crackle glass objects were somewhat pricy for the time period. But the sheer beauty of crackle glass in a rainbow of colors made it extremely popular with the American public.

Although no longer produced in the United States (except for specialty individual glass blowers), many examples of crackle glass can be found in antique, re-sale, and collector shops. Crackle glass comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and forms. There are crackle glass figurines, decanters, cruets, beverage glasses, pitchers, vases, and mugs. In other words, just about anything made of glass can be found in crackle glass. Today, many crackle glass items are inexpensive and usually not much more than non-crackle glass items of similar design. The dealer booths and cases at the Denver Brass Armadillo have a good selection of crackle glass items as well as crackle glass guide books for sale. Next time you are at the Brass Armadillo, look for crackle glass and buy an inexpensive piece. Take it home and place it in a window; you’ll be amazed at the breath-taking beauty of the sun shining thought the glass! Chances are, you will go back and get additional crackle glass pieces.



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