No Tattoo Flash at WAS

Are you a man (or woman) of wealth and taste? If so, the Winter Antiques Show at the 67th Armory is a nice place to go. 

Highbrow. Not rat rod, hot rod, industrial artifacts, lowbrow, carnival or 60's underground items here.  Asking about tattoo art would surely get you whisked away by security and sidewalked. This is the big time and the big dollar. 
Weathervanes are probably the closest things to just stuff. We like weathervanes. Picasso said about rooster weathervanes, "...cocks have always been seen but never as well as in American weather vanes."  
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and her friends started this collecting trend back in the 1940's or sometime. They were probably bored with Chippendale furniture and pewter and wanted something fun to collect. Looked on upon as barnyard junk back then, a horse and rider weathervane sold for over a million a few years ago. Then the market crashed. At many shows we would see the same figures with the same worse-for-wear price tags year after year. 

All the dealers say the market's coming back, but what are they going to say? When asked what to look for in these items, Patrick Bell at Olde Hope Antiques, said the surface of the figure is key. Hopefully it has turned a vertigreed green like the Statue of Liberty. Is it beautiful and weathered from 100 years of the elements? Jeffrey Tillou of Litchfield, CT said no way, the form comes first. The rarity and beauty of the general shape is what is important. Both these guys had great vanes, pleasant to talk with and knowledgeable.

They all believe the market is good for first time or the impulse buyer. They say there will always be die hards filling in gaps in a collection with something like a squirrel vane. This is a very rare shape. Farmers hated the varmints who would wreck havoc on crops. Very few would gold plate and celebrate them by putting them up to swing with breeze above the barn.  

Mr. Bell has one at $180,000. It looks right. He's been dealing for 35 years so it probably is correct. This form has always been suspect though. Somebody found the original carved hardwood form and pounded out a few sheets of copper around it, doused 'em with chemicals and let them cure for a few years in the rain and snow. People try everything from urine to buttermilk. But if you sit and look at any antique for awhile you can kind of tell. Something is not right. Even though you want it to be right. According to the WAS press release "Every object exhibited at the Show is vetted for quality and authenticity." Fakes are tossed out before the public's invited in. Which is good as even Sotheby's can get burned. They sold a squirrel a few years ago that turned out to be a clever fake.
Some pigs in David Schorsch's booth. 

Here's Mr. Tillou holding a Punch cigar store figure. It's really cool.  Back in the day it was hooked up to a steam making apparatus so it would blow a bunch of smoke-steam out of the cigar. It's worth over $100k now. 

This is a great show and should be seen. Even if you don't have tens of thousands to spend.  Here you can go to school to see what's the best of it's kind. Learn what to look for in case something pops up at the local flea market. Grab it, then try and figure out if it's fake or not. 
As in the case of Ms. Rockefeller and her folk art discovery of weathervanes back in the day, it's even more fun is trying to figure out what's next and new in the collecting field.   
And you will be left with the bus fare home.
The Winter Antiques Show runs through Feb. 1 at the Park Avenue Armory, Park Avenue at 67th Street;