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OBJECTS OF DESIRE: The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them Hardcover – January 18, 1994

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is such an interesting--at times even exciting--look at the American antiques trade that it's unfortunate the material is presented in such a convoluted style. Freund, a freelance writer, relates so much trivia that he frequently goes off track, as, for example, when he takes paragraphs to tell us that one dealer once met an antiques "picker" whose father was a newspaper editor. Yet the book is otherwise notable, for Freund accurately reads the pulse of the trade, appreciates the love of "things" that causes many dealers and collectors to be forever on the prowl. Here he focuses on the annual Americana Week in Manhattan--in this instance, 1991--which opens with the Winter Antiques Show and includes events at auction galleries. He tracks three masterpieces of 18th-century American furniture--a sofa table, which fetched $75,000 at Sotheby's; a card table, auctioned also at Sotheby's for $950,000; and a blanket chest, priced at $250,000, which failed to sell at the Winter Antiques Show. He traces the provenance of each piece and introduces us to such major dealers as Harold Sack and to the first-rank auctioneers and collectors. The book will enthrall those for whom patina is all.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This book tells the story of three art objects: a pine blanket chest made for a farmer in the 1750s, a rare Chippendale card table, and an inlaid sofa table from the Federal period. The author's discussion of the provenance of these highly prized pieces and of what happened to them when they came up for sale at Manhattan's annual "Americana Week" (an event of such importance that all major auction houses schedule their largest sales of American furniture at this time) makes for fascinating reading. However, instead of providing useful features like illustrations and indexing, the author focuses on gossip about art patrons' skirt lengths and the choice of hors d'oeuvres served at gallery openings. In addition, the book's story line moves back and forth between the present day and the 18th century, and the result is both maddening and confusing. Useful only in comprehensive art collections.
- Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (January 18, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679421572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679421573
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By drdebs on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Now that it's summer and the Antiques Roadshow is in reruns, loyal viewers might need a change of pace. This is the perfect book to take along with you to the Brimfield Flea Market, or on vacation (with the requisite antique shop stops, of course). Why? Because this book gives you the inside scoop on many of your favorite appraisers on the Roadshow, and gives you a great insight into the behind-the-podium world of antiques dealers.
Some of the best bits have to do with the Keno brothers, Leslie and Leigh. They began their career in the antiques trade at age 7 (!) when they started selling stoneware they dug up around their house. At age 13 they went to Brimfield, where Leigh had a hizzy fit after a stoneware jug he asked the dealer to hold for him was sold. You can also find out more about Barbara Deisroth (you know, the lady who never, ever, pays attention to a Tiffany signature). Other Roadshow Regulars appear as well, and you will never be able to look at any of the appraisers in the same way again.
If you like the Roadshow and antiquing, you will enjoy this book a great deal. Highly recommended for summertime (or any time!) reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you have difficulty understanding why anyone would pay big bucks for antiques, read this book. You will live through the fascinating saga of three pieces of furniture from day one to their day on the auction block. Each piece comes alive as you become intimately involved in their history. You will be enriched by an appreciation for provenance that you did not have before. And, you have gained respect for those collectors, auctioneers and craftsmen that combine their efforts to make the desire for inanimate objects a very real thing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paula Weglarz on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
What an interesting and thorough insight into Americana Week in NY! One gets not only the insight into the furniture that is exhibited, but the quirks of the collectors, dealers, and the furniture makers themselves.
Though I'm familiar with a few of the furniture pieces mentioned in this book, the lack of photographs inhibits the less informed.
This book is excellent for anyone who collects furniture or desires to collect furniture, or who just has a passion for antiques!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is delightful--I've bought 7 copies over the years for friends and family. With its readable style, brilliant characterizations of the eccentric people involved and its nonfiction "plot," it SHOULD have been the next MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. I suppose its relative lack of success is due to factors in the industry, but it's certainly through no fault of the book's. I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone, even persons uninterested in antiques--for, while it IS about antiques, it's mostly (as the subtitle suggests) about PEOPLE.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the finest examples of "Creative Nonfiction" to appear in recent years. It is both engaging and informative, and will be a source of enjoyment to anyone who appreciates antique funiture, American history, a good narrative or, preferably, all three.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pam Niedermayer on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good read, which I enjoyed as a woodworker/furniture maker rather than an antique collector/dealer. What befuddles in the extreme is why there was no photo of the Willing card table, I'd have loved to see the carving, as well as the rest of it. So I have to go to the library and dig up a couple of magazine articles (from the New York Times Magazine 1/16/94, for example) just to see it.
Pam
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By a reader on November 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Even if you're not already interested in American antiques, if you enjoy excellent nonfiction writing, try this book. Unlike so many contemporary writers of nonfiction, Freund does not focus this book on himself but on a subject--the world of American antiques. By telling the stories of three different objects, the craftsmen who made them, and the collectors who owned them, Freund brings his readers into a quirky, fascinating world, where the desire for objects shapes people's lives. And if you have any interest in nonfiction writing, this book will give you lessons in the craft from a master writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne on September 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew I would like the book simply by its title and the intriguing cover photo. I turned pages quickly and enjoyed his thorough research. I loved how he speculated on the life various pieces of furniture may have had and enjoyed the characters he interviewed who bought and sold great furniture. Their personalities were portrayed vividly. Most enjoyable and surprising was to learn how exciting auctions can be. In addition to being a very pleasant read, I feel more knowledgeable about walking into antique shops and looking around. The book affirmed my interest, research and pleasure in antiquing. Great read!
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