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Antique Markets From the Time of Cincinnatus to Present Cincinnati

Stuart Holman in his home, 2011 PHOTO EMILY WIETHORN

Antiques represent a remarkable journey to a previous era of society and reflect our past. Since ancient times, people have always being interested in collecting and exchanging goods and commodities. Auctions of arts, military trophies and real estate in the Roman Empire made a fortune for many soldiers, merchants and debt collectors, and served as a magnificent tool in political relations. Church and monarchies – the main treasurers and collectors of Medieval Europe, patronized arts to support their positions in the society and assured their glory and authority.

The fascinating power of art was further facilitated by auction houses which intended not only to trade but also preserve and perpetuate arts. Stockholm’s Auction House, founded in 1674 in Sweden, is the oldest auction house in the world, and has been used by royal clients to fulfill their needs in selling and acquiring art objects. Vienna’s Dorotheum, founded in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I, embodies a part of Austrian history and arts. With the sale of the library of Sir John Stanley in 1744, bookseller Samuel Baker and Sotheby’s founder started the remarkable development of an art and antique market in London. Shortly thereafter, another of today’s art trading giants was born in England. In 1766 James Christie conducted his first sales in London. Christie’s and Sotheby’s soon established a reputation as two leading auction houses in London. The Kunsthaus Lempertz, the oldest auction house in Germany, spread its roots in 1802, when its predecessor the Antiquarian Book Shop held important auctions of rare books and art works. Paris, Mecca of art and culture, home of numerous galleries and auction houses, keeps rich traditions in collecting arts and is well known for the Hôtel Drouot – the largest auction house in Paris, inaugurated on 1852 – which hosts most of city’s 70 auction firms. The United States came to the art trade market relatively late – only a few auction houses existed in New York City in the middle of the 20th century. Today, New York is the leading venue in impressionism, modern and contemporary arts and its acknowledged elite art platform has the highest revenues in sales of great antiquities and art objects.

Fortunate geographic location and economic climate create positive conditions for regional art and antique markets in Cincinnati. Known in the 19th century as a city of German craftsman traditions, wealth, historic architecture and as a publishing center, Cincinnati today is home of a remarkable collection of fine arts and antiques. Nationally recognized Main Auction Galleries, Cowan’s Auction and Treadway Gallery and numerous small family businesses have been building individual and institutional art collections in Cincinnati.

Stuart Holman – auctioneer and appraiser, has been specializing in Rookwood pottery, sterling silver, fine paintings and furniture for over 16 years in the Cincinnati area and has conducted over 160 auctions of personal property and real estate. “Cincinnati has a wonderful communality in the antique market because there is a lot of generosity in this business here between people,” says Holman…

Please read full article in Winter issue