Monday, January 22, 2018

Booked for Lunch in Wilton

Looking for a great read, something engaging and informative?  Go to “Booked for Lunch” A History Reading Group at the Wilton Historical Society on Jan. 26 from 12:30 -2 p.m. The book to be discussed is Angelic Music: Ben Franklin’s Glass Armonica by Corey Mead.

A jewel of musical history—the story of Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica—including the composers who wrote for it (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, among others); Dr. Mesmer who used it to hypnotize; Marie Antoinette and the women who popularized it; its decline and recent comeback.

Benjamin Franklin is renowned for his landmark inventions, including bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the lightning rod. Yet his own favorite invention—the one he said gave him the “greatest personal satisfaction”—is unknown to the general public. The glass armonica, the first musical instrument invented by an American, was constructed of stacked glass bowls and played by rubbing one’s fingers on the rims. It was so popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Strauss composed for it; Marie Antoinette and numerous monarchs played it; Goethe and Thomas Jefferson praised it; Dr. Franz Mesmer used it for his hypnotizing Mesmerism sessions. Franklin himself played it for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

In Angelic Music, Corey Mead describes how Franklin’s instrument fell out of popular favor, partly due to claims that its haunting sounds could drive musicians out of their minds. Some players fell ill, complaining of nervousness, muscle spasms, and cramps. Audiences were susceptible; a child died during a performance in Germany. Some thought its ethereal tones summoned spirits or had magical powers. It was banned in some places. Yet in recent years, the armonica has enjoyed a revival.

Composers are writing pieces for it in genres ranging from chamber music and opera to electronic and pop music. Now Mead brings this instrument back to the public eye, telling the compelling, fascinating story of its origins.
Participants bring a brown bag lunch, the Society provides a beverage and dessert. There is no charge, but please register for this program. By email: or call 203-762-7257.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies @ Palace Danbury

On January  21 @ 2 p.m. Danbury’s Palace Theatre presents film historian John DiLeo presents AND YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW CLASSIC MOVIES: A Film Journey Through Hollywood and America.

John DiLeo presents a fun, informative and idiosyncratic  history of Hollywood’s Golden Age, while telling a parallel story of America itself. From the Depression to World War II to the Cold War to the sexual revolution, DiLeo presents a vision of just how the movies traveled from 1930 to 1970.

During this multi-media presentation, DiLeo will spotlight film clips from movies featuring Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, James Cagney, Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, and Steve McQueen. After the presentation, he’ll be signing copies of his newest book, Ten Movies At A Time, the companion book to this presentation.
John DiLeo is the author of six books about classic movies: And You Thought You Knew Classic Movies100 Great Film Performances You Should Remember—But Probably Don’tScreen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting RediscoveryTennessee Williams and CompanyHis Essential Screen Actors, Screen Savers II: My Grab Bag of Classic Movies, and Ten Movies at a Time: A 350-Film Journey Through Hollywood and America 1930-1970. John frequently hosts classic film series and conducts film history seminars.
Byrd’s Books will be on hand to assist in the purchase of signed copies of Ten Movies at a Time, DiLeo’s newest celebration of Hollywood. The book will also be available at the bookstore, located at 126 Greenwood Avenue, across from P.T. Barnum Square in Bethel.
For tickets visit the website.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Large Auction planned Jan. 31 by Schwenke Auctioneers

On Wednesday, January 31st  Schwenke Auctioneers will hold its January Fine Estates Auction with an offering of over 400 lots of freshly consigned estate property from estates throughout Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. The auction features property from the estate of Mrs. George S. Franklin, Jr. (New York City and Oyster Bay, NY), and includes a broad selection of Asian decorative arts, American, English and Continental decorative arts, folk art and American country furniture, early English & other sterling silver, jewelry, fine art, miscellaneous decorative arts, and estate oriental rugs.

This auction is a live online sale with absentee and phone bidding, plus live internet bidding on multiple platforms. The auction begins at 6:00 pm on January 31st. Preview times are Sunday, January 28th from noon to 6:00pm; Monday, January 29th, Tuesday January 30th and Wednesday, January 31st from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Preview is also available at other times by appointment. The gallery is closed at 5pm on Wednesday, auction day.

The catalog for the sale is viewable at This sale is live online with absentee and phone bidding available by registering directly with Schwenke Auctioneers. Absentee bidding is available on the firm’s website, and the sale will be broadcast for live real-time internet bidding through Live Auctioneers, Invaluable and Hibid. For additional information please call the auction hall office at 203-266-0323.

Asian Items Offered
Mrs. George S. Franklin, Jr. (New York City and Oyster Bay, NY) is from one of the great collecting families in America. She was a granddaughter of Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, and a niece of two well-known collectors, daughters of Nelson Aldrich, namely Lucy Aldrich, a notable collector of porcelain and Asian/Chinese art and antiquities, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, a co-founder of MOMA whose collection also formed the basis of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.  Many of the Asian items and ceramics in the collection are from these two ladies.

Her husband, George S. Franklin, Jr., traveled widely during his tenure as Executive Director of the Council on Foreign Relations in NYC, and in the process pursued his own interest in collecting, particularly Asian and Georgian antiquities.  Franklin’s mother and her family were instrumental in the founding of Bennington College, which was built on the grounds of their family home in Vermont. Other family ancestors include Austin Corbin, developer of Coney Island and the LIRR, and Trenor W. Park, a Vermont statesman, businessman and philanthropist. Park’s family home, the Park-McCullough House in Bennington VT, is now on the National Register and open to the public. 

Several fine Asian lots are being offered, including a Chinese Export famille rose and grisaille porcelain circular dish from the Lee of Coton Hall service, circa 1735. This service is considered the finest armorial service ever ordered by an English family. The border shows early scenes of London viewed from the south bank of the Thames with London Bridge at the right and the dome of St. Paul's visible on the left, alternating with panels of Canton seen from the Pearl River with the city walls to one side and the Dutch folly fort to the other, both in soft grisaille. The arms are those of Lee quartering Astley, circa 1735, and an example is illustrated in Howard/Ayers "Masterpieces of Chinese Export Porcelain" and represented in the collections of the State Department, Victoria & Albert, The Metropolitan Museum, Winterthur and The Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University. The motto, "Virtus vera est nobilitas" translates to “Virtue is the True Nobility”.  A dish from this service is also illustrated on the cover of "Oriental Export Market Porcelain" by Geoffrey A. Goddon. Literature: David Sanctuary Howard, "Chinese Armorial Porcelain" vol. 1, page 329.

Furniture -Queen Anne, Georgian, American and More

Many lots of early English Queen Anne and Georgian furniture are beings sold, many of very high quality although in estate condition having been in storage for many years. The top lots include a fine Queen Anne double dome top walnut and walnut veneer secretary; two George III mahogany butler secretaries, one with elaborate inlays; a rare Continental chinoiserie decorated pitch pediment secretary with slant lid and bracket feet; a rare Queen Anne figured walnut two part high chest; several period stands and tables; two sets of period George III dining chairs; a Regency two pedestal figured mahogany dining table; a fine pair of inlaid George III knife boxes; a rare W&TM Bardin "New British Terrestrial Globe" circa 1820, with cartouche dedication to Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society. The 18" globe is mounted on a mahogany stand with turned standard and tripod base, and is in estate condition with considerable losses, cracking, wear, tears and discoloration as found, measuring 40" high, 28" diameter; and a rare pair of Chippendale carved mahogany side chairs in the French taste, with open carved splats and cabriole front legs, measuring 36 3/4" high, 24" wide, 20" deep.

Many lots of English and Continental decorations are selling on January 31st. Among the featured lots are a Louis XVI painted three piece parlor suite; a pair of carved and gilded floral and foliate wall hangings; several pairs of carved and gilt wall brackets including a pair of 18th century French painted wall brackets; several early Continental carved Santos figures; and a rare decorated Continental miniature bow front chest.

American furniture included in the sale ranges from a New York federal pembroke table to Philadelphia card table, Philadelphia Sheraton chest, and a Philadelphia carved Sheraton four post bed. American folk art items include a large portrait “Boy With Hoop”, oil on canvas signed, dated lower right "S. Perrett Pinxit 1855?" According to the Dictionary of Artists in America (Yale Univ. Press, 1957), there were Perretts working as engravers in Newark, NJ 1860 and after. The painting measures 40 3/4" high, 32 1/4" wide. Other folk art portraits include a portrait of a young girl; folk art portrait of a man; and a folk art portrait of a red haired gentleman.


A fine selection of Native American and Mexican sterling silver jewelry, including several Navajo silver cuffs, a Zuni carved fetish necklace, several Mexican sterling bracelets, and a vintage Zuni silver and turquoise squash blossom necklace will be offered. Native American decorations and rugs are also selling, including a very fine Northwest Coast lidded basket; a vintage Navajo silver and leather medicine bag; a Santa Clara Severa Tafoya collaborative avanyu pot; a large vintage Mexican Chimayo rug; a Navajo woven diamond pattern rug; and a vintage Navajo runner.