Out of the Attic
Inventing Antiques in Twentieth-Century New England
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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List of Illustrations
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While my own collection of antiques is sparse, writing this book has provided me with other kinds of treasures: the friendships, exchange of ideas, and fellowship of academic work. I would like to single out those who read and commented on parts of the manuscript in its many different forms and guises, including Tom Denenberg, Rob Emlen,...
Introduction - Inventing Antiques
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When the architect Charles F. McKim redesigned the White House in 1902, he outfitted it with a mixture of revival furniture, inspired by early American and French Empire styles. But in 1925 First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge challenged McKim’s design. While McKim believed it was enough to reference the past with modern furniture manufactured...
Chapter 1 - Priceless and Price: The Antiquing of New England
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In an archive in Delaware sit two inventory lists from a New Haven antique dealer named O. C. Hill. The first, dated 1902, is a handwritten list of each object in the shop and its estimated value. The descriptions are exceptionally brief. Entries such as “highboy,” “tall clock,” or “mahogany table” are the norm, but when Hill found it necessary to elaborate, the information he added took the form of specific associations.
Chapter 2 - The Jewish Dealer: Antiques, Acculturation, and Aesthetics
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Israel Sack arrived at Ellis Island in 1903. He was barely twenty years old at the time, but his life was already marked by a willingness to reinvent tradition. Born to a fairly prosperous Jewish family in Kovno, Russia (now Kaunas, Lithuania), he studied the Bible and the Talmud and prepared to become a merchant like his father. But he also grew...
Chapter 3 - Jessie Barker Gardner and George Gardner: Making a Collection Permanent
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George Gardner and his wife, Jessie Barker Gardner, were early twentieth-century antique collectors in Providence, Rhode Island. George was a surgeon, Jessie the descendent of an old New England family. The pair spent their adult lives in a middle-class neighborhood of Providence. They knew the famous Pendleton collection of American decorative...
Chapter 4 - Highboys and High Culture: Adopting an American Aesthetic in Deerfield, Massachusetts
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In 1959 Henry Flynt, a New York lawyer and antique collector, wrote the editor of the Saturday Evening Post about an antique collecting and historic preservation project he was conducting in the small town of Deerfield, Massachusetts. “As a reader of your valued publication I deeply appreciate your stalwart efforts to stem the tide of softness in our...
Chapter 5 - Exhibiting the Ordinary: History Making at the Smithsonian
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In a 1951 New York Times article, Israel Sack warned potential collectors against buying so-called country antiques, pieces made by early American craftsmen who, because of their rural origins, lacked the design sophistication of their more cosmopolitan urban counterparts. “You can’t judge a country by its backwoods,” he was quoted as say-...
Epilogue: The End of the Antique?
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On January 31, 2002, the antique firm of Israel Sack, Inc., closed its doors. After Israel Sack died in May 1959, his sons, Harold, Albert, and Robert, had continued the family tradition, joined by Albert’s son Donald in 1968. Certainly the decision to close the firm was influenced by the brothers’ advancing age. (The oldest brother, Harold, had died in...
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Index and About the Author
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 31 illus.
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: A volume in the series Public History in Historical Perspective