Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"What is all the fuss about trading cards?”

I couldn't see it until we started researching the large and varied collection of sports trading cards we have in the current auction.  Then I (reluctant fan, just ask my husband) was hooked.  We hope you will be too.

It is more than just the card, it’s the stats, the competition between teams, the memories, and the players of course.  Just picking up that special card can transform you back to the time you were at the stadium with your Dad. Together, you actually saw one of those recorded home runs happen.  The crack of the bat! The roar of the crowd! What a thrill!

Cards are traded for more that just their memories.  To value a card, check out this site. Most values are based on age and low circulation. After 1988, there were endless companies making numerous cards, and some made multiple sets. While some individual cards still have good value like Ken Griffey Jr. (Upper Deck rookie), cards of today’s stars can have value, and sometimes you just have to wait. Some cards are valued based on condition, if it is centered properly and if the corners are sharp (not fuzzy).  eBay can determine value. For our baseball cards, see items 7, 35, 39 and 69. 

Baseball cards have been made and collected since the late 1870's. Companies used the popularity of baseball players to sell their products. Nearly all baseball cards have some form of advertising. Some cards were given away for free. In the early 20th Century some cards were sold in packs of cigarettes or candy. In the 1950s-70s Topps sold their cards with a stick of gum. We have cards in our auction that still have their gum. Cards have promoted the sale of nearly everything from cheese to underwear to dog food to beer.

Today's cards include other sports and are popular enough that they are sold alone or together with photographs of the athlete.  In our auction, we have the National Football League represented in items 8, 9, 14, 63 and more. The National Hockey League represented in these items. And the National Basketball Association cards can be found in item 27.

Once purchased, cards need to be protected if you want to preserve value.  There are many cute ideas on the web to decorate using your cards.  Otherwise, do what we did as kids, open the packs and trade them with your friends.  Fair warning, my little nephews will be bidding on this auction, they know these cards would make great stocking stuffers.

Enjoy your sport and enjoy your cards,

Happy Bidding,


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Founding Fathers and Suffragettes

“Where have all the women gone?”  Reading an American history textbook can seem like half the population must have disappeared!  All-girls’ Catholic high schools tend to be proponents of women in leadership (I should know since I went to two in two different orders)--but what about those history books?  So many scholastic history and science books tend to be largely devoid of mentioning women leaders (I mean, after all, the Founding Fathers were Fathers).  So you can imagine how exuberant I was in 12th grade when I read in my history book about Pittsburgh’s own Mary Cassatt!  Not only an American, but a woman, had breached the exalted halls of French impressionism!  Impressive feat for the 1800s!  

At 15, Cassatt began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  At 22, she moved to Paris; since women were forbidden from attending the great French art school, the École des Beaux-Arts, Cassatt determinedly studied on her own under one of the school’s teachers.  Daily, she went to the Louvre Museum and copied paintings of the old masters.  After only two years in Paris, one of her paintings was selected to be shown in the exclusive Paris Salon exhibit.  After returning home to Pennsylvania, her work attracted the attention of the Archbishop of Pittsburgh, who commissioned her to paint in Italy, and off she was again to Europe.  

In 1877, Edgar Degas (famous for his paintings of dancers) invited Cassatt to join an unconventional group of French artists, the Impressionists. “I accepted with joy,” Cassatt stated.  She was one of a handful of women, and the only American, to exhibit with the Impressionists.  

The Parisian Impressionist exhibit of 1879 was the most successful of the Impressionists’ exhibits to-date; however, the critics were still so hard on the Impressionists.  The Revue des Deux Mondes wrote, "Mr. Degas and Ms. Cassatt are, nevertheless, the only artists who distinguish themselves."  Although journalists accused Cassatt's realistic style of being too accurate to be flattering, the journalists were harsher on Claude Monet, who desperately needed money.  Kindly, Cassatt used her earnings from the Exhibit to purchase a work by Degas and one by Monet.  Could the Monet she purchased be one of those in Item 10, which includes lovely water lilies and the boats at the Grenouillere resort and spa?
 Item 10

In 1880, Mary Cassatt painted, Le Thé, The Tea (Item 8).  In 1890, Japanese masters exhibited in Paris and influenced her style; Cassatt loved the simplicity of the Japanese art and their use of color.  Towards the end of her life, fighting the blindness which disabled much of her artistic abilities, Cassatt actively campaigned for women’s suffrage.  What a hero for women!
 Item 8

A contemporary of Cassatt and Monet, Jacques “James” Tissot also was influenced by Japanese art.  He often included Japanese objects and costumes in his pictures.  In fact, a Degas portrait of Tissot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York shows Tissot with a Japanese screen hanging on the wall.  This aypToday.com auction also features a Tissot print; a few years after Monet painted the Genouillere rowboats in Item 10,
 Item 10
Tissot painted "The Return from the Boating Trip” in Item 6.  Notice the fine detail of the woman’s clothing--his parents worked in the fashion industry.  Raised in the port town of Nantes, Tissot also frequently painted shipping vessels and boats.
 With his interests in coastal art, he would have loved Item 74, whose peaceful white lighthouses are surrounded by flowers and beautiful blue skies.

For the music lover, there is Item 106, "Lyrical Wonder" by Ray Clearwater, a set which features piano keys and stringed instruments in wavy style and colorful tones.  Sounds like a duet between Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jefferson!

I visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, ten years ago, and I realized that our third President wasn’t only a down-to-earth, hero of the American people; he was also an expansive genius.  To be in the home he designed is to step into the shoes of a most remarkable man and to come closer to realizing how diverse his genius actually was.  I don’t think his mind ever stopped; he was always analyzing something, improving something else, and his house shows this myriad of interests.  Most know him as a visionary leader and appreciate that he had a specialized political intelligence.  However, his intelligence was much broader; he was not a political “nerd” with singular interests.  Really, he had an incredible general intelligence spanning interests as diverse as architecture, music, scientific invention, and religion.  He was a practicing lawyer and played the violin for entertainment (with Mrs. Jefferson on the piano).  He spoke five languages and lived in Paris as a diplomat.  An avid reader, he had so many books (over 6,000) that they served to replace the Library of Congress, which had been destroyed in the War of 1812.  

It was Jefferson’s books which taught him much of what he knew.  “I cannot live without books,” he wrote in a letter to John Adams.  During his nineteen-day trip to France to relieve Benjamin Franklin as Minister to France, Jefferson taught himself Spanish.  In Virginia in Jefferson’s day, there were no architecture schools so Jefferson taught himself architecture.  It is remarkable that a self-taught architect could design the masterpieces that are Monticello and the University of Virginia.  Sitting on a hill, Monticello is Italian for “Little Mountain,” and I am proud that aypToday.com can offer you a charming drawing of Monticello which you can hang in your own home to remember this stunning piece of history and architecture (see Item 39).

What great art!  From our Founding Fathers like Jefferson to the suffragettes like Mary Cassatt, the art in this aypToday auction features some masters!

Happy Bidding!