RINKER ON COLLECTIBLES —
Copyright © Harry Rinker, LLC 2017
Forgotten Giants - Part IVForgotten Giants is about our roots, those pioneers whose contributions laid the foundation of the antiques and collectibles business. These individuals blazed the trail and shaped the course of this fascinating hobby turned industry. The goal of the series is to resurrect these pioneers from obscurity and return them to their rightful place of honor by introducing them to contemporary appraisers, auctioneers, collectors, dealers, and others.
The initial columns will focus on the authors of reference books that were instrumental in establishing and defining major collecting categories and tradecraft philosophy. The following individuals have been honored: Part I -- Henry J. Kauffman and George Michael; Part II – Marion T. Hartung and Richard (Dick) Bueschel; and Part III – Richard O’Brien and William Roy “Bill” Heacock. As the series progresses, individuals from other aspects of the trade, such as editors and dealers, also will be honored.
[Author’s Aside: I had the privilege of knowing many of these individuals. Some served as my mentors. When appropriate, I will share my personal remembrances.]
Christie Romero found me. While attending the 1998 American Booksellers Association Convention in Anaheim, California, Christie Romero spent over half a day trying to cross paths with me. She checked in at the Warman Publishing booth several times. Each time she was told I was in one of the autograph lines trying to add to my “I stood there and watched the author sign it” book collection. Christie read some of my first “Rinker on Collectibles” columns and was familiar with my work as editor for “Warman’s Antiques and Their Prices” and the first edition of “Warman’s Antiques and Collectibles.” She also was aware I was recruiting authors for the Warman’s Encyclopedia of Antiques and Collectibles and was determined to convince me that she was the person to write the book on jewelry. Christie finally found me. She authored the first through the third editions of “Warman’s Jewelry.” The text she wrote introducing each chapter remains one of the finest introductions to jewelry history ever written. The jewelry timeline she developed for the third edition was published in pamphlet form. Her wish, alas unfulfilled, was to develop this into a book.
In the course of our working together, Christie became a close, personal friend. She billed herself as a jewelry historian and researcher. Add educator to the list. She assembled an impressive jewelry library and built a personal jewelry collection, albeit more to use as examples when she taught than as an investment. This being said, Christie loved to wear jewelry as well.
Most importantly Christie shared her knowledge. She was a passionate educator. Christie taught at the Northwest Gemological Institute in Bellevue, Washington, the Gemology Department at Santiago Canyon College in Orange County, California, and was an instructor in jewelry history for the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. She was a frequent lecturer at Jewelry Camp, now The Antique Jewelry Symposium. She traveled the country lecturing at institutions such as Hofstra University and the Department of Fashion Design & Merchandising. Christie taught five jewelry seminars and one master class seminar for my Institute for the Study of Antiques and Collectibles.
Christie helped establish the West Coast chapter of the National Society of Jewelry Historians and was an active member in the American Society of Jewelry Historians, the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts, the Society of Jewellery Historians (U.K.), and the Costume Society of America. In the mid-2000s, Christie established The Center 4 Jewelry Studies for the “dissemination of information on the history, identification, and marketing of antique, period, and vintage jewelry.” Although its website still is active, activity is minimal and little new information has been added since her death. Christie was extremely proud of her appearance on the “Antiques Roadshow.”
Christie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. Her struggle with the disease was documented through an extensive series of email. She died on September 5, 2009, at age 63.
I had the privilege of visiting with Jimmie and Christie Romeo at their Pasadena Arts and Crafts bungalow on several occasions. During those visits and the visits Christie spent at my home, we talked and talked and talked and talked. I was her mentor at the beginning. She was my heroine and idol at the end.
During the 1990s and 2000s, Christie impacted everyone in the antique and collectibles jewelry trade in one or multiple ways. For those of us who still remember her, Christie remains alive within us. Unfortunately, the number is diminishing. A new generation of jewelry collectors and historians has arisen that had no contact with Christie. My sense of sadness is overwhelming. Christie was a Giant in her field.
How old do you have to be to recognize the name of Dorothy Hammond? Dorothy Hammond (1924-2014) is a forgotten antiques and collectibles trade pioneer. Her Giant status is based on the work she did as a columnist and author, especially her work in documenting antiques and collectibles reproductions (exact copies), copycats (stylistic copies), fantasies (forms, shapes, patterns that never existed historically), and fakes. While I had the privilege of talking with her on several occasions, I never met her. She was an integral part of my life because her book “Confusing Collectibles” was and is almost always in easy reach.
Dorothy Hammond (nee Martin) was a graduate of Maryville State Teachers College with a degree in home economics. She married Robert Byron Hammond, a bank executive, on September 1, 1944.
Dorothy wrote “Antique Wise,” an antiques and collectibles column, for Columbia Features from 1967 to 1980, at which time she became an associate editor for “Colonial Home Magazine,” part of the Hearst empire.
Building on the work done by Ruth Webb Lee in identifying antique reproductions and copycats, especially in American pattern and other glass types, Dorothy Hammond published the first edition of “Confusing Collectibles” in 1969. The book was published by Mid-America Book Company in Leon, Iowa, and printed by Wallace-Homestead in Des Moines. Wallace-Homestead published the later revised editions. “Confusing Collectibles” is comprised of 1950s and 1960s catalog pages from antique and collectibles manufacturers and wholesalers that were duplicating period antique items or creating “new” pieces similar in appearance to period pieces. Period pieces were pictured to illustrate the differences. Like Webb, Hammond’s principal focus was on glass. However, the book also contained chapters on pottery and porcelain, lamps, furniture, cast iron banks and toys, and metalware and woodenware. Almost 50 years have passed since the publication of the first edition of “Confusing Collectibles.” Many of the objects pictured are more than 60 years old. When young collectors encounter these objects today, few have the ability to distinguish between reproductions and copycats and period objects.
When I teach the authenticating course at my Institute for the Study of Antiques and Collectibles, I encourage students to acquire a copy of “Confusing Collectibles,” put it in the bathroom, and read it. I do this because it will scare the ____ out of anyone who follows my advice. “Confusing Collectibles” still is available from several booksellers on Amazon.com for under $10.00, shipping included. It is the cheapest education available in the antiques and collectibles trade.
Other early Hammond titles include: “Collectible Advertising Mementoes of Times Past” (1973); “Mustache Cups: Their History and Marks” (1972); “Guide to Paper Americana”; and, “Price Guide to Country Antiques and American Primitives” (1975).
When asked to identify general antiques and collectibles price guides, titles such as Antique Trader, Kovels’, Schroeder’s, and Warman’s are mentioned. Hammond’s name belongs on this list. Starting in the late 1970s, she edited the “Pictorial Price Guide to American Antiques,” a compilation of objects sold by some of the leading American auction houses. The title continued under a variety of publishers and titles until 2009. “Antiques at Auction in America” was the title of the final book in the series.
Dorothy Hammond led a quiet life. I spoke with one of her children while researching this column. He had no idea of the impact his mother had on the trade. I suspect the same is true of many children who do not understand the accomplishments and impact of a parent.
Each Forgotten Giants “Rinker on Collectibles” column focuses on two individuals. The next column will discuss the impact of Ruth Webb Lee and Albert Christian Revi.
Is there someone you would like to nominate for My Forgotten Giants series? I also welcome any personal remembrances you wish to share about your interaction with one of the Forgotten Giants about whom I have written. Email your recommendations and observations to email@example.com.
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Selected letters will be answered in this column. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Point Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You also can e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered.
You can listen and participate in WHATCHA GOT?, Harry’s antiques and collectibles radio call-in show, on Sunday mornings between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM Eastern Time. If you cannot find it on a station in your area, WHATCHA GOT? streams live on the Internet at www.gcnlive.com.