The economy in Europe is said to be reviving because of stimulus projects by European governments. If this is true, the line of austerity advocated by the French and the Germans is more flexible than previously thought. The upshot, of course, is that this will affect the economy in the U.S. in a positive fashion as it will limit the risk of a double recession in Europe. News such as this is welcome if it is true, but I find that economists are constantly revising figures and forecasts. What is true today often does not seem to be true tomorrow.

I was in London last weekend and the imminent arrival of the Olympics has put London, speaking of stimulus projects, on a curve to upgrade their public transportation system, a huge task given that the Underground was designed well over a hundred years ago for a much smaller audience. Anyone who has ever taken the Circle Line knows how crowded it is at rush hour, not just the trains but just accessing the platforms. It should be a pickpockets ball in London this summer. Watch your wallets if you go.

It isn’t the economy or the London Olympics that are my major concern. What does concern me is the supply of great furniture that seems to be dwindling away. A very short time ago, twenty years ago or so, there were close to thirty English furniture auctions in London and New York. Now there are none, just aggregations of European and English furniture, which occur about eight times per year. The diminishment in volume is staggering. Where has it all gone?

Traditional furniture, we have been told, is out of fashion. So why isn’t the market flooded with it? When good pieces come onto the market, they are, for the most part, very pricey. Like the European economy, there doesn’t seem to be an answer to this question. And like the London Underground, the diminished access to inventory means that fewer people will be coming into antique shops. It isn’t quite like a Gordian knot, but like the problems confronting the European economy, or even the London Underground, there is a dimension to it that deeply concerns the antiques trade.


Bill Maher wrote an interesting editorial in the NY Times today about how so many people are so easily outraged by just about anything these days. it doesn’t matter which political persuasion someone is, just whether there is a point to be made about the insensitivity of the speaker. It is a game and a really stupid one, in my opinion, not just because the intent of the speaker is, as a rule, ignored, but also because it becomes a game of tag. I mourn the death of the word niggardly as it describes to a tee the mindset of politicians intent on playing this game and not focusing on their job of making government work.

I suppose Mr. Maher is really focusing on humor, or the lack of it, in our society. William Kent, the great 18th century designer and mediocre painter, had one and was not afraid of using it. There are surviving sketches by Kent showing Lord Burlington, one of the most powerful men of the first quarter of the 18th century and Kent’s patron, being peed on by his dog. Kent also had the cheek to include himself in a mural in Kensington Palace. The man saw humor, or humour, all around him. There aren’t too many historical figures you can say that about.

The antiques trade has a gallows humor that few outside of the trade would understand. What gets said about both clients and goods might provoke outrage much like the Goldman Sachs characterization of their clients as muppets. These words are an elision, a kind of shorthand, not intended for anyone but insiders. I might suggest that Goldman, which seems to have a deaf ear to public opinion these days, is a ripe target for censure, but the target is just a little too easy and socking them one just too righteous. Perhaps a better target might be getting outraged by the number of deaths during the Iraq war. That is a real number, not just hurt feelings.


The Spring Show NYC, the second year of which happens this spring from May 2-6, is a life long dream of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America. It is held in the Seventh Regiment Armory between 67th and 68th Streets on Park Avenue. I am often asked why there needs to be yet another fair promoting art or antiques? Aren’t there enough already?

The answer to this question, like many questions, is yes and no. Yes, there are enough shows from the point of view that there are a lot of them and no, there are never enough shows in that if you have the ability to see something at a show, any show at all, that excites you, the show is worthwhile.

This may sound like giving free reign to any and all shows. Some shows seem more like publicity stunts than serious efforts at showing the best of the best. This may be true to some extent. Some shows work harder at finding dealers of a better standard and some shows, no matter how well intentioned, just can’t make it.

I would say that the idea behind every show is to create an exposition that is memorable. It isn’t about the attendance, though the participating dealers care a lot about that, and it isn’t about the charity that might sponsor the event, it is about what you get to see when you enter that show.

One hundred and seventy-one years ago, the Crystal Palace exposition was inaugurated to display the finest of British arts and manufacturing. It was a stunning success. Fairs, shows and expositions have never looked back offering attendees a chance to see amazing things coupled with the ability to learn about them from someone who knows what they are talking about.

This then is the impetus behind every show. Expose the best of the best to people. Make a splash and show off mankind’s craft and artistry. It is surprising how intriguing man’s abilities are when applied to the arts and crafts. I can guarantee that this year’s Spring Show NYC will not disappoint.


Haruki Murakami, the Japanese novelist, is particularly adept at lifting the reader out of both the mental and spatial norms of daily life, although daily life is what it feels like until all of a sudden, it doesn’t. He creates a dimension that is unique and often quite eerie that gives the reader no sound footing. The style is akin to Edward Allen Poeveering to Franz Kafka, Poe-like in its simplicity, Kafka-like in its obscurity. In short, he takes the reader out of their comfort zones to enter a world that is more sentient and to visit places that are uniquely spiritual and often frightening. Inevitably, there is a re-birth of some form.

I would hardly call a piece of 18th century English furniture re-born after a life time of care, but I would say that pieces with patina are in a different dimension from other furniture. I have described patina as the aging of the wood coupled with the aging of the finish. It is also something else–use perhaps, but also abuse, at least in a mild form. It is an irrational aspect of antique furniture best illustrated when two pieces of similar form sell at significantly different price levels. It has happened before and it will happen again. Likewise proportion, a science to some, also has a unique dimension. It isn’t always formulaic to achieve distinction in dimension. Some things are not so easily explained.

American politics have found a new dimension. The Republican candidates are trying to invent a winning formula for this year’s presidential election and are instead, intent on committing suicide. The Republican Party might want to re-think just how they go about things. I am certian that all the candidates want the best for America, but they are coming across as out and out wacky. From Newt’s self-description as “cheerful”, to Santorum’s anti-college rant, to Mitt’s liking the height of Michigan’s trees to Ron Paul’s draconian solution for America (and there is much, much more) it is hard to believe that any of them are capable of the job. They all, however, might qualify for a job in a Murakami novel.