GlitzQueen Antique and Vintage Jewelry
All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Ethnic : Native American : Pre 1980 item #1305993
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This spectacular anthropo- zoomorphic jewel is so beautifully crafted that it's probably a museum replica. No flimsy metal here; this is gleaming brass at its thick, sturdy best, weighing in at 89 carats (17.9 grams). Size is an impressive 3.25 inches tall by 1.75 inches wide. The stylized human or animal figure appears to be wearing a sky mask, given these sunray-like details. Hallmarked Colombia, the piece reflects the symbology of that nation's indigenous culture, renowned for exquisite goldsmithing throughout a long period of production (around 2,000 years, while Peru's better-known Incas lasted only one century). The museum of gold in Bogota is said to have the world's largest collection of pre-Hispanic treasures -- including, perhaps, the original of this delightful fellow!

Provenance is a New England estate and probable dating would be 1960s or early 1970s. Jewelry with tribal motifs was tremendously popular in the hippie era and wear appropriate to that age is visible when the light is just right, as a pattern of very fine lines from use and polishing. With apologies to the purists among us, I administered another polishing, myself, since several spots of stubborn tarnish were detracting from its magic. Its shine now is literally dazzling: I had to turn the flash off and shield it from lamplight to photograph anything but glare.

Such great heft and scale make this a piece that could be a real workhorse for holding things together -- like scarves, shawls and capes, plus sarongs in the summertime.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Pre 1960 item #1304805
GlitzQueen History and Art to Wear
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Yes, this certainly does look just like the famous antique Art Nouveau rose ring by Uncas. The minute we get one of those, it's gone -- usually via a waiting list -- so the Clark and Coombs version will probably prove popular, too. It's a great bargain, being a more recent example, so you should probably grab it quickly if it appeals to you. Its design, as you see, is the same enchanting open rose sparkling with marcasite dewdrops and the size is identical, too: a knuckle-covering 1 1/4 inches tall and 3/4 of an inch wide at leaf level.

That the ring isn't by Uncas came as a great surprise to me. I've since learned that these two venerable companies -- dating from 1862 (C&C) and 1911 (Uncas) -- became rivals in the bustling jewelry industry that grew up around Providence, Rhode Island. Some of their product disputes landed in court during the 1950s and this presumably dates from that era, since Uncas evidently won its case regarding the rose motif and C&C production had to end. It looks virtually unworn, though -- a nice bit of luck for the next owner. About pricing, this would cost at least $100 more if it were an antique Art Nouveau piece by Uncas, instead of a vintage Art Nouveau Revival piece by C&C. Present size is about a U.S. 6.75, easily changed since the back of the shank isn't ornamented. Stamps are "Sterling" and the Clark & Coombs logo.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Pre 1980 item #1270236
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While this ring makes a lovely wedding band (and was worn as one), it's ornamental enough to escape the "bridal" category. Imaginatively designed and quite substantial (12.55 ct in total weight), its dome rises high above the finger on crescents of deeply pierced scrollwork, crowned with a demilune of six super-fiery diamonds graduated in size. I especially like the mix of gold colors. There's quite a lot of white gold, since that forms the diamond settings, which balances the yellow gold filigree and makes the ring work beautifully with other jewels of either color.

The gold is 14k and the gems were rated quite favorably by a prominent gemologist, who described them as nearly colorless (G - I), with good proportion, symmetry, polish and clarity (VS, apart from one with a tiny chip he saw under a microscope. Condition of the band is superb to the naked eye; even with a 10X loupe, I can't spot a chip or notice any wear beyond the most minimal. This is easily explained by the fact that it was worn for only 12 years or so, during a second marriage late in life. The half-dozen diamonds are comprised of two each at 3.2 mm, 3.1 mm and 2.9 mm, for a total weight of slightly over 0.64 ct.

This treasure dates from the 1970s and comes from a wonderful Texas estate collection that's been consigned to us. Current size is about a U.S. size 6.5 - 7, but that can be easily altered, since the back of the shank is plain. It's been resized once already, effacing part of the 14K mark.

Oh, and one more thing to think about: An important benefit of choosing older diamonds is that we can be sure they aren't "blood diamonds". Far too many of the newer ones are funding insurgencies and terrorism.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Pre 1900 item #1228576
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So-called "Berlin Iron" jewelry, which was also produced elsewhere, is now rare and highly prized. It's best known for its association wiwth the Prussian War of Liberation against Napoleon (1813-1815), during which iron jewels were crafted for those who donated valuables to the cause. People wore them with pride as tokens of patriotism. In a lamentable number of instances, they served also as mourning jewels.

After hostilities ended, iron jewelry enjoyed a heyday through much of Europe. Thus, it's hard to be certain of Prussian origin, unless an item bears the inscription "Gold gab ich fur Eisen" (meaning “I gave gold for iron”) or a Berlin foundry mark. Wherever it was produced, the pieces were cast in iron from models of silver or brass, then polished and lacquered to a matte black finish -- but, as time went on, the designs became more graceful and naturalistic.

This delightful iron snowflake has the lacy look favored after heavy neo-classical styles had run their course. A very special treasure for the serious collector, the brooch measures about one and a half inches round and is comprised of two layers, artfully domed. Condition is lovely despite its great age and openwork form. Importantly, we've seen no rust even under high magnification. Losses of lacquer are minor, except on the central bead that crowns the dome and adds a pretty bit of silvery sparkle.

At the back, we note a fastening system that's right for the period, including a pinstem that was evidently shortened -- a common and sensible practice because those extra-long pins drew blood after women stopped wearing layers of thick underclothing. The open C clasp has faint markings in two tiny cartouches, which are more than usually significant since few iron jewels are marked, even pieces attributed to major makers. It's a shame we haven't been able to identify these, beyond observing at the end of the second stamp a head in profile followed by the numeral 3.

Without further clues, I can only guess about origin and my guess is France. Provenance is a New England estate. You may be surprised that this brooch is light enough to wear on silk without a moment's worry, given our tendency to think of iron as weighty. That's perfectly true of the garden furniture, but not the jewelry. A good way to tell if something is iron, BTW, is to apply a magnet; even very delicate, lacy pieces will exert mild magnetism.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Pre Victorian : Pre 1900 item #1228199
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This stupendously scaled ring from the Punjab was sold to me as 18th century, but I'm calling it 19th century to be conservative, since I know so little about jewels of this type. From what I've read, it's of a form often called "enamel mosaic" and is traditional to an area that includes parts of modern Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The name comes from a famous town, Multan, which dates back to the time of Alexander the Great or before.

As you see, the look evokes fancy prayer rugs and Paisley shawls and the ring almost covers my finger. It's nearly 2 1/2 inches tall, with every smidgen of surface covered by intricate, hand-crafted metalwork: enameled floral and geometric shapes within the central panel, surrounded by four rows of edging, two of them highly dimensional.

The metal typically used is coin silver, not high grade, and indeed you'd want something sturdy to preserve all this detail. As is inevitable with rustic jewelry of great age, there are enamel losses -- but the abundance that remains makes it difficult to notice what's missing. Also worth mentioning is that the color intensity varies with the light; whether this is due to the nature of the enamels or general wear, I don't know. Too, the shank, although adjustable, is a little bent, so it might be smart to have your jeweler make the first size adjustment for you; s/he can put it back into round at the same time. Current size is about a US 6 -6.5. (We state sizes as a range, because results from different types of measuring equipment can vary up to half a size, as our fingers also do with the time of day and temperature.)

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All Items : Archives : Regional Art : Ancient World : Egyptian : Pre AD 1000 item #1227936
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Indulge your inner Cleopatra with these glamorous mummy bead earrings, fashioned to sway seductively with your every step or sigh. They're 2 1/2 inches long, more than an inch wide and absolutely mesmerizing. Actually, the beads date even before Cleopatra's time. They were made circa 600 - 300 BC, whereas Egypt's last queen was born in 69 BC.

Of faience (powdered quartz, a precursor of glass), the beads capture the blue-green-taupe hues of the sandy Nile. They were selected for color harmony, excellent condition and matching size, then expertly joined to graceful sterling silver findings by a talented artisan whose experience and and loving care are very evident.

Dreaming of the most beautiful mummybead earrings in the world, I began by commissioning a pair of these for my personal collection -- and then decided to offer one more here. No others of this form are anywhere in existence. You and I will be the only ones to have them!

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Strands : Pre 1980 item #1227239
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Any gal with a green thumb (or a taste for healthy produce) will adore this necklace. It's dripping with fruit and vegetable charms: a bounty that includes carrots, pea pods, eggplant, cherries, mushrooms, peppers and more. The charms vary in size, up to an inch long. Some are of glass, some are artfully enameled and some are jeweled -- and vivid crystal drops add extra spice all around. The fancy-link chain is delicious, in itself.

This beauty is like new and definitely a high-quality piece. The prior owner recalls paying about $90 for it some 40 years ago, when that was serious money. Now that it qualifies as vintage, its value is bound to keep rising.

To complete a garden-fresh look, you might wish to consider our vintage fruit tart earrings or the fruit basket pair. Either would look fantastic with this necklace, and we can work out special pricing if you want more than one item.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Retro : Pre 1950 item #1226998
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Increasingly coveted and valuable as they approach "antique" status, World War II sweetheart jewels are particularly touching pieces of history. This one was made even more special by its owner's great care. If she wore it at all, it was rarely, and she stored it in its original presentation box covered in heavy burgundy velvet with four military stripes of gold leaf. The black velvet interior still bears its oval "Sterling Silver" sticker.

The bracelet has seven charms, spelling out MY SWEET and the word is finished with a heart. Letters are half an inch tall and the heart measures 5/8 by 5/8 inch. These hang from a sturdy chain 7 1/2 inches long, with a spring ring closure. Being about 70 years old (to date from 1942-1945, when the U.S. was at war), this wonderful vintage bracelet is barely short of antique by American 75-year standards. Its provenance is a Midwestern estate

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All Items : Archives : Decorative Art : Textiles : Apparel : Pre 1920 item #1191823
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Our superb lace collar from the late 19th or very early 20th century is detailed in back just as on the front. Each element of the lace - flowers, grapes, leaves and so forth - was stitched by hand onto fine, soft netting that's a beautiful color match. I'm not expert enough about textiles to be sure the lace elements are also hand-crafted, but it's certainly possible, given the design quality of the piece and the loving care it's been given.

Acquired at a major antiques fair in Newmarket, near Cambridge in England, the collar is more than 17" wide at the bottom of the front. About 23" long from front corner to back corner, it gives you almost a FOOT of gorgeous lace on each side of your shoulders. Its ecru color is actually paler, more toward a creamy off-white, than you see here, the photo being slightly darkened to reveal more detail.

A fine hook and thread eye remain at the bottom of the back and another thread eye a few inches above indicates one hook is missing, easily replaced. I've found no other flaws.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Ethnic : Native American : Pre 1970 item #1163906
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This is one of the prettiest old turquoise rings I've ever seen and, having lived in New Mexico for many years, I've seen a lot of them. At 3/4" tall and 1/2" wide, the ring's face just about covers a knuckle, but it doesn't feel heavy and cumbersome, and its shape attractively elongates the finger, since part of the face rests below it. Adding more feminine flattery are the graceful curves of its fan shape, formed by four turquoise teardrops in silver bezels, and the daintiness of the shank.

Such a narrow band is, of course, subject to developing a bit of waviness over time. Any good jeweler can quickly smooth that out if it bothers you, but I enjoy it as evidence of age. Also attesting to age are the greening of the stones and the rich, dark patina among them. The lack of markings is also significant. I gave the back and shank a light polish to search for marks and found none. That the ring is Native American and crafted from silver, probably sterling grade, can't reasonably be argued, so the absence of hallmarks strongly suggests it was made no later than the 1960s. (The stamp that now guarantees Native American craftsmanship was introduced early in the 1970s.) The ring may be even older, because silver quality marks have been customarily used since the 1930s.

Size is now in the US 5.5 to 6 range, easily altered up or down, and provenance is a Pennsylvania estate.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Scandinavian : Pre 1930 item #1163799
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This charming little treasure has led me on quite a chase. It struck me initially as a Scottish “luckenbooth” brooch from the early 19th century, and I could easily have let the issue lie right there – EXCEPT for its tantalizing row of hallmarks obscured by heavy tarnish. Normally, I defer to the purists among us and leave things in as-found condition, but in this case my curiosity got the best of me.

Lo and behold, those hallmarks told an entirely different story once they were restored to legibility! The brooch isn’t Scottish at all, but Scandinavian – crafted in Sweden and at least 100 years younger than suggested by its style, size and details of fabrication (T-hinge, open C clasp and thick, elongated pinstem).

It apparently dates from 1928, old enough to be antique by American 75-year standards, but it’s of a form consciously preserved without change for hundreds of years, in the same tradition as folkloric costumes. Again as with costumes (and worn with them on special occasions), these crowned heart jewels show minor differences from region to region and somewhat greater variations from nation to nation; for instance, the Norwegian version typically features filigree and the Scottish variation usually lacks dangling drops and may feature two hearts intertwined.

How Scotland got involved in all of this is simply a matter of geography becoming history, as it tends to do. Being just a short sail away in Viking days, much of Scotland fell under Norse rule and colonization created a Norse-Gael culture which is still reflected in many names and customs. As I was reminded by my research, the last Norse-held territory wasn’t ceded until the time of James III of Scotland, who married a Norwegian princess in 1468. Funnily enough, crowned heart brooches were soon (if not already) being sold as love tokens from lockable booths (so-called luckenbooths), located along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from the 15th century until 1817.

That said, you’ll acquire a wonderful conversation piece, if you acquire this brooch which looks so utterly Georgian and Scottish but isn’t. Size is 1 ¾ inches by ¾, but it seems bigger, being sturdily built, with a nice heft to it, and extremely eye-catching due to the drops that dance with every motion.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Period : Pre 1970 item #1161534
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In a season when rings with animal motifs are the trendiest bling around, what fun to find that design in a historic jewel that will hold its value beyond the present and gain value as time goes on!

This ring with its pair of graceful swans is an enchanter, built up in shades of blue enamel with silver wirework on a domed band. We know it's from a Pennsylvania estate, but chronologically, it's one of those marvelous mysteries we run across now and then.

Whereas the design first suggests the late 1960s aesthetic -- hippie neo-Romanticism to the max -- the hallmark introduces a big question mark. The ring isn't stamped "925" (as was typical after the mid-1930s) or "Sterling" (as was seen earlier). Instead, it simply reads "Silver" -- suggesting not only a somewhat less than sterling grade but an early dating. Thus, the ring may be decades older than it seems. It isn't unlike some pieces produced in the early 30s, when Disney-esque figural jewelry was popular -- and it could be even older, an Arts & Crafts piece.

Certainly it has some age -- however much -- but most importantly it's absolutely stunning and, being adjustable, it can be worn by anyone on nearly any finger. Condition is great, with only a couple of little enamel flaws that appear to be original, not damage.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Costume : Unsigned : Pre 1980 item #1161532
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Definitively from the late 1960s or early 1970s, this delightful vintage bracelet has seen little or no use. Its condition, as you see, is remarkable. The pretty blue and lilac enamelwork is practically pristine and the brushed silvertone interior still shines like the Dickens. This is a quality piece with nice heft and it seems wider than an inch because of being domed.

The bracelet clamps on with sturdy spring action and will fit virtually any wrist, Provenance is a West Coast estate. Sadly, the message is as timely now as it was more than 40 years ago.

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All Items : Archives : Collectibles : Nostalgia : Pre 1960 item #1115631
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Like many people, I've had second thoughts about furs. I wouldn't personally buy, sell or wear new ones (despite defending the rights of those who do). Where I part company with the anti-fur purists is when it comes to vintage pieces. Making good use of them strikes me as both ethical and sensible.

That said, you really can't beat a luxurious fur accent for Retro chic in chilly weather. An excellent example is this mid-century mink collar. About 26 inches long and a lavish 4 inches wide, it remains in lovely condition, ready to adorn any high-necked dress or sweater. The lining could stand a little restitching, which I'll leave to you, since I'm clumsy with a needle.

If you agree that it's wasteful not to use and enjoy fur pieces created long ago, search for "fur" to see the mink hat and fox collar that are also available now.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Arts and Crafts : Pre 1910 item #1113588
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This spectacular antique ring features a beautifully translucent large cabochon of dendritic agate -- the type with dark inclusions resembling ice crystal, also called mocha stone. It's collet-set in a sleek Arts & Crafts mounting of sterling silver that will please either a gentleman or a lady who favors bold forms. The ring's face is large, but not overpowering (not quite 3/4" tall)and stylized decorations on each side show the slight variations that demonstrate hand-craftsmanship.

These so-called "fancy" agates were highly prized in Late Victorian and Edwardian times. They suited the taste for unusual gems that we see in both Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts jewelry, along with their emphasis on artistic design and meticulous workmanship. The new ideal was for everything to be special and unique in some ways, as opposed to the mass-produced goods of the Industrial Revolution. Ultimately this worthy movement died of its own good taste. The insistence on ultra-fine fabrication priced most people out of the market.

The maker in the present instance, Clark & Coombs of Providence, R.I., is a perfect illustration of that. Established in 1862, C & C had a national reputation for gold and silver rings by the early 20th century and tried to carry on without further mechanization, but was unable to compete effectively. Although the firm still exists, it was taken over by new management and modernized for greater output after World War II.

It's wonderful when we find an example of their exquisite early creations. Most likely this ring dates from between 1890 and 1910. While the basic shape of the setting was used through much of the 19th century, the very clean lines of its ornamentation anticipate Art Deco, which began to evolve around the turn of the century. Its interior bears a "Sterling" hallmark and the C&C stamp used until 1915 (two Cs in triangles around a stylized ampersand tilting right).

Based on all these facts, it really isn't stretching a point to say that this ring has historical importance. It's also distinguished by being in near-mint condition, despite great age. Provenance is a Pacific Northwest estate and the current size, about a U.S. 8 - 8.5, can be easily altered, since the back of the shank is plain.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau : Pre 1910 item #1113311
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The gracefully stylized heart form of this lovely stickpin, with its slight asymmetry, dates it firmly to the Art Nouveau era -- and it's almost certain to be a Victorian jewel, since it isn't marked but tests as 10k gold. (Hallmarks weren't mandated in the U.S. until the Edwardian era.)

The almandine-shaped stone of rich purple is gorgeously faceted and appears to be genuine amethyst. After a century, glass would be abraded, whereas the gem shows hardly any wear, even under high magnification. As the stone's setting is open at the back, we know the color is natural, without foil enhancement.

Length of the pin is 2 1/4 inches and the heart measures about 5/8 inch by half an inch. Condition, as you see, is lovely in every way. Even the stock shows no waviness, which is quite rare. Provenance of this treasure is a Midwestern estate.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Silver : Victorian : Pre 1910 item #1109825
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Very finely crafted with ornate ends and edges, this antique bar pin is of sterling silver (unmarked but tested), set with sparkling amethyst, peridot and diamond pastes. That it's sterling is quite remarkable for a Suffragette item; typically these are either totally costume or top end, made of gold and gems.

Complementing the beautiful metalwork, the stones here are excellent pretenders, especially the 16 fancy-cut amethysts channel-set in groups of four. Every stone appears original. Another nod to unusual quality is the early safety lever fitted on the C clasp. This is a type that dates from the 19th century, as is the hinge with its slight sideways wobble. The pinstem, originally elongated, was snipped to a less hazardous length at some time, as is common with brooches this old. Either Late Victorian or Edwardian, it reached us from a Florida estate. Likeliest dating would be 1900-1910.

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All Items : Archives : Estate Jewelry : Strands : Pre 1920 item #1080618
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When you see green, white and violet together on historic jewelry, this unusual color combination usually signifies that the piece was owned by a member of the Suffragette movement. To them, the first letters of these colors stood for Give Women (the) Vote.

Here that message resounds in a beautiful rope-like necklace, lovingly woven of white, violet and green beads -- hundreds or perhaps thousands of them. At 38 inches long, it doesn't need a clasp. The necklace drapes beautifully and, despite its thickness, is very light and comfortable to wear. The beads look like celluloid, but may be some other early plastic.

Woven necklaces of this type were popular from Late Victorian through Edwardian times and into the early years of the Art Deco era. Ours comes from an Illinois estate in wonderful condition. It can't have been worn much -- probably because it was made very shortly before the vote was granted and then tucked away as a memento. I expect it was created between 1910 and 1920, possibly by its original owner or as a gift for her from a friend or family member. Ladies of this era were highly skilled at handicrafts and publications offered them lots of ideas and instructions. We recently sold a necklace of the very same pattern but only 28 inches in length, which reinforces the notion that this design may have appeared in a popular magazine.

All Suffragette jewelry has been rocketing in price since the 2004 TV movie "Iron Jawed Angels" revealed what the gals went through (arrests, hunger strikes and beatings). Wearing Suffragette jewels is a great way to show your pride and appreciation and, now that the genre has been rediscovered, they have serious investment value, too.

There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping (with an equivalent discount on international delivery) and gift-wrap is always free when desired. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!