QUESTION: While visiting Renninger’s Market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, I encountered a dealer selling two paintings by Antonio Romano. He is asking $350.00 each. Romano used the back of old framed prints and photographs as his canvas and returned his finished work to the period frame.
The first is a side-profile, bust portrait of an Indian. The second is an “early” American map with a powder horn attached. The seller knew Romano and considered him a friend. I have several questions: (1) is $350.00 a fair price, (2) should I buy one or both if I decide to buy, and (3) what is your prediction about the long-term value of Romano’s work? – BN, Yellow House, PA, Email Question
ANSWER: Until I received your email, I had never heard of Antonio Romano, proof once again that one cannot know everything. An internet search provided the following information about Romano.
$350.00 is a “high” price, especially because the seller has a high perceived value based upon his friendship with Romano. Try some bargaining. In the end, the “best” price is one that pleases the seller and buyer.
I do not see any long-term investment opportunity in Romano’s work. Like so many artists of his type, he is a passing fancy. His art may be include in the collections of some minor museums but most certainly not the MET in New York.
QUESTION: I recently purchased a plaster millinery mannequin head of a young woman. The bottom has a paper label that reads: “Art Original by PACINI SCULPTURETTE.” There is a map of Italy in a vertical box separating “by” and “PACINI.” There is paint loss at the bottom of the neck.
I cannot find anything about Pacini in terms of age or value. Can you help? – W & T M, Grand Rapids, MI, Email Question.
ANSWER: First, you do not have a millinery mannequin, albeit it could be put to that use if a person so desired. You have a 1950s decorative sculpture that was meant to be displayed as a work of art. This sculpture is in the tradition of 1950s female bust portraits of women, many of which were females of African, Asian, or Polynesian descent. The goal was a statuette in the image of the “ideal” woman.
QUESTION: I recently purchased two gargoyles at a local flea market for $20.00 each. The Chinese-style dogs are made of white plaster and painted blue. One weighs 14 pounds and the other 13 pounds. I do not know anything about them. – BC, West Plains, MO, Email Question
ANSWER: A gargoyle is a grotesque carved animal or human figure projecting from the gutter of a building. It is used as a spout to allow rain water to run off a roof and clear the side wall. You do not own a pair of gargoyles.
You do own a pair of reproduction Chinese Foo Dogs designed to be used as garden, gate, or porch ornaments. The value of the examples you purchased is purely decorative. They have no collectible value nor will they in the long term.
You paid a fair price. These Foo Dogs would retail in a garden shop or Big Box store between $35.00 and $50.00 each.
QUESTION: While cleaning out a house, a friend found a set of the 12 folios that comprise an illustrated history of Reading, Pennsylvania. The folios were published by H. R. Page & Co. in 1891. Each part consists of 20 pages featuring pictures of buildings with text. In 1897, the parts were consolidated into a single volume.
I paid $100.00 for the set. The local historical society has a copy of the bound volume. I have not encountered hard bound or loose copies of the folios in my search for the title. What are your thoughts? – JY, Reading, PA, Email Question
ANSWER: The secondary market for period regional histories is soft, even when copies are scarce. There are two primary reasons. First, many of these volumes have been reprinted.
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