Books

Discover Mid-America – March 2011

French Eighteenth-Century Porcelain at the Wadsworth Atheneum

by Linda Roth and Clare LeCorbeiller
Reviewed by Robert Reed
(Antique and Collectible News Service)

A breath-taking collection of 18th century porcelain has inspired and indeed invoked a new book that is equally breath taking.

French Eighteenth-Century Porcelain at the Wadsworth Atheneum is comprised of the amazing porcelain collection once acquired and owned by J. Pierpont Morgan. Upon Morgan’s death in 1917, following his wishes, it was given to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

The result is a masterpiece of viewing and reading.

There are more than 300 full-color and black and white illustrations of the treasured pieces plus an additional 400 thumbnail illustrations of individual marks.

All of the legendary French makers are represented among the sparkling pieces, including Saint-Cloud, Chantilly, Villeroy-Mennecy, Vincennes, and Sevres.

The entries in this catalog-style volume have been grouped by factory and then by function. For ease of access, the entries for Vincennes and Sevres porcelain are divided into subheadings of model, function, commentary and condition.

An introduction essay recounts the role played by Morgan as the acquirer of the porcelain and other French decorative arts starting early in the 20th century. This quality book also includes a glossary of terms and techniques, and a very extensive index.

French Eighteenth-Century Porcelain at the Wadsworth Atheneum by Linda Roth and Clare LeCorbeiller, hardcover, illustrated, 416 pages, is $150. The book is distributed for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art by University Press of New England.


Exotic Skin and Crocodile Handbags

by Victoria Stowe
Reviewed by Robert Reed
(Antique and Collectible News Service)

Alligator and crocodile handbags, once were elegant. Now they are both elegant and highly collectible.

The latest proof is the volume Exotic Skin and Crocodile Handbags by Victoria Stowe. Hundreds of such vintage handbags made of that material make a notable collection and consequently a notable book.

This volume offers more than 500 beautiful examples of memorable exotic skin handbags from the author’s extensive collection.

Stowe’s newly released volume is about to become timeless on its own. It includes just about all of the impressive and important makers of such handbags, such as Coblentz, Deitsch, Dofan, Evans, Gucci, Hermes, Judith Leiber, Koret, Lederer de Paris, Lesco, Lucille de Paris, Mark Cross, Martin Van Schaak, Nettie Rosenstein, Palizzio, Rendl Original, Harry Rosenfeld, Bellstone, Manon, Finesse, Prestige, Sterling, USA, and Vassar.

A chapter on ‘history to wear’ features handbags from the Victorian 19th century through the youthful 1960s.

The volume also provides tips on how to find quality, collectible alligator handbags, how to determine age, and how to evaluate condition and value. Moreover, there is a section of the book devoted to values.

The author points out that much of today’s values are determined by condition, time of production, craftsmanship, maker and color.

Values in the book’s price table, based on many factors, generally range from a few hundred dollars to $1,500 or more.

Exotic Skin Alligator & Crocodile Handbags by Victoria Stowe, hardcover, color illustrated with index, 272 pages, is $49.99 plus shipping from Schiffer Publishing, www.schifferbooks.com.