In This Issue

  • ROBOTIQUING: The Future of the Past?
  • Pie Safes of Shenandoah Valley
  • Fort Loudoun in Winchester: Retracing a Lost Chapter in History
  • The Emerson Bromo Seltzer Tower

And much more…

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In My Opinion

John Fiske

It’s a Digital World

John Fiske 

Recently I attended my first live auction for quite a few years. What struck me first was how easy it was to get a seat. There were 21 live bidders on the floor. The auctioneer told us that 40 had registered to bid by phone and more than 500 by the Internet. Auctioneers have to employ many more people than in the “good old days” – there were six people handling the phone bids, and two banks of computer-jockeys on the Internet. I remember (excuse my old man intonation) when there was the auctioneer, a spotter and a handful of runners. And that was it. I remember (here I go again) enjoying the choreography by which the runners could raise a drop-leaf table for all to see, and then flip it upside down and upright again without ever a leaf moving. Now it’s a digital image on a screen, beautifully clear, but not at all dramatic.

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ROBOTIQUING: The Future of the Past?

Kass Hogan

Nearly 40% of jobs currently held by real people in the U.S. could be lost to robots and artificial intelligent systems by 2030. Okay, we might think in our complacency, but that can never happen in the antiques business. We are much too subtle. We’ll never see robots zipping around Brimfield as though it were an Amazon warehouse.

But robots are developing cognitive expertise. They can perform medical diagnoses (in our world: Is it authentic, restored or fake?). They analyze financial data (how much is left in it? What’s my margin and how large is the market?)

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Opening the Door: Safes of the Shenandoah Valley

Jan Fiore

Early settlement patterns influenced the adaptation of many furniture forms to meet the needs of the local environment, becoming unique to specific regions in America. The Shenandoah Valley is home to many different antiques, but perhaps the most unique is the food safe, once found in nearly every home in the Valley. Defined by its distinctive and decorative punched-tin ventilating panels, the food safe, often called a pie safe, was used to store kitchen-related items such as fresh and cured food, baked goods and the dishes they were served on. Common in the nineteenth century, they became less popular when industrialists built large-scale factories that produced less expensive models. By the mid-twentieth century, hand-crafted pie safes were rarely seen, and today, early safes exist mainly in private and museum collections.

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Fort Loudoun in Winchester: Retracing a lost chapter in history

Barbara Miller Beem

There are no cannons, no barracks, no gatehouses, just an antebellum structure. To the casual observer, all that differentiates this house at 419 North Loudoun Street, Winchester, Va., from others in the neighborhood are two signs. For those walking along the uneven sidewalks or navigating the narrow streets, this handsome historic house blends in with all of the others. What makes it significant is that it was built on the site of Fort Loudoun. Otherwise, most of the activity in this corner of town is generated by the extensive renovation of a nearby imposing building, its old spaces being converted into modern condominiums. To the casual eye, there’s not much more to be seen in this corner of the laid-back town, an outlying bedroom community of the nation’s capital.

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The Emerson Bromo Seltzer Tower

Barbara Miller Beem

There was a time when Baltimoreans looked to the sky to know what time it was. And if they were feeling poorly, they would be reminded of an over-the-counter cure for whatever ailed them. The tallest building in the Maryland city until 1924 was the iconic Emerson Bromo Seltzer Tower which today is enjoying a new lease on life. A tour of its clock room reveals the inside story of a man, his company and the building he constructed.

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