What’s Up With All the Americana?

Dean Batson Blog, Uncategorized

In the business of antiques and collectibles, we often see strange trends, and I’m not talking about what’s hot and what’s not. I am talking about the trend of similar things I’ve never, or have rarely seen before, all coming out of the woodwork at the same time.

It’s like people from the same region, of the same age and into the same things have all passed or decided to sell their collectibles at the same time. This month’s anomaly has been one of my favorites: Americana.

Americana covers a broad spectrum, but generally, those treasures relate to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of Americana items. It may be a folk-art painting, a period print of furniture, an old naive drawing, automotive memorabilia, an unusual kitchen tool, a candlestick telephone, carnival ride, circus poster and so on. These items may evoke a sense of Patriotism or nostalgia.

Over the past three months, I have seen a wave of what I call Maine Antique Digest Quality Americana Antiques. Things I generally have not seen since my days in Pennsylvania. Estates with 19th Century Carousel Horses, New England Carved Duck Decoys, Soda Jerk Fountains, Apothecary Cabinets and a favorite of mine, Automatons. All have that Late 19th, Early 20th Century East Coast feel with a hint of Norman Rockwell thrown in. It never ceases to amaze me how the Valley has so many of these treasures, but this has been quite a run.

I’ve been hoarding it all for an Americana Show in October that will be something the valley has not seen in sometime. I really think the time is right for a lot of these rare treasures as it beckons back to a simpler time, and they visually tell a story and rekindle fond memories. It’s like a living Pinterest piece in your house. And these things are getting harder and harder to find.

Records have been set recently as those in the know are fighting over these goodies at auctions all over the country. More importantly, here locally a Brigadier General’s Civil War Era Sword brought in $55,000 at our auction in Scottsdale. An unknown artist’s painting of the USS Quaker City American Steamship saw over $19,000 in bids. An 1880s Presidential Autographed Fundraiser Quilt hammered down for $3,250. An original Abraham Lincoln Carte-de-viste Photograph sold for $5,000.

And just wait until the world sees what the Valley has been hiding all these years. Period slot machines, pre-prohibition beer advertisements, pinball machines, old movie posters, iconic guitars, you name it. I love when my East Coast friends say, “There are no antiques in Arizona.” Boy are they wrong.

Josh Levine owns J. Levine Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale. Contact: josh@jlevines.com or @jlevines1 on Twitter.