Readers’ Letters: Probate column is offensive; Bravo for Bok; Fakes still fake years later

This article was originally published in Antique Trader
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‘Probate’ column is offensive and off base

I could not believe this article as I read it! If the management of Antique Trader agrees with him, then I guess this is not the magazine I thought it was. [Tap the probate system to win the competition for great antiques]

It came across, to me, as “take advantage” … “get them when they’re down and vulnerable.” They need cash, job is overwhelming, “don’t have a clue,” so tell them you can make their job easier!

The family members are “suckers” … right?

To me, Jordan came across as nothing more than just plain greedy!
Is this what antique dealers are all about?

Really?

— K.M. White, via email

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Fakes still fake years later

Twenty-five years ago, I traded some movie material and cash for an Abraham Lincoln legal brief; total investment: $1,000. “It’s 100 percent genuine,” my dealer friend repeated to me and my family.

Ten years ago, I decided to sell it and I sent a color Xerox copy to a leading autograph dealer. I promptly received a postcard stating my brief didn’t fit on the clients’ want list. He didn’t even make an offer for it. I continued to believe I was the proud owner of the Lincoln brief.

Last week (May 2012) I again sent a copy to another leading autograph dealer offering it for sale. Prior to sending the letter, I read an in-depth article about the noted Lincoln brief forger, Joseph Cosey. My concern increased as I awaited the dealer’s reply.

Within a week, I received a postcard with almost identical wording as the previous dealer. I telephoned the dealer and promptly asked him if my Lincoln brief was genuine or a Joseph Cosey forged brief. He paused and said it’s a Cosey forged brief worth $300 to $500; he offered me $300 for it and I declined. He told me he doesn’t tell sellers if the item is a forgery because they may believe it’s genuine and think he is attempting to lie to them and get a genuine item for a much cheaper price. During our telephone conversation I said by not stating it’s a forgery it deprived the owner of the opportunity to use that information to seek a refund from the original seller or seek legal action.

When I telephoned the dealer who sold the item to me, I was advised he died two months ago.

“To Tell the Truth” was a popular TV show some years ago, and the truth could prove very valuable to the collector.

— Talbert Kanigher, Burbank, Calif.

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Affordable books reveal Bok color, black and white artworks

I enjoyed Mary Manion’s article on Hannes Bok.

An inexpensive cross-section of Bok’s work is reproduced in “A Hannes Bok Treasury” [ISBN 978-0887331589] and “Hannes Bok Showcase” [ISBN 978-1885611055] from Underwood-Miller and Charles F. Miller publishers, respectively.

Edited by Stephen D. Korshak, both books include examples of both Bok’s color and black-and-white work. “A Treasury” includes Ray Bradbury’s remembrance of the author. The “Showcase” book has a forward by Frederik Pohl, who hired Bok while Pohl was a 19-year-old pulp editor and Bok a new kid in the Big Apple fresh off the truck from Seattle.

— Martin A. Stever, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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Hands-on-history will help inspire interest in antiques

Regarding “Polishing Perception”: If you truly want to excite the interest in antiques in the young, why is it not being taught in history classes in school?

How better to learn about history than to actually see and touch the weapons, tools, dishes, clothes and household items, etc., that were in common use and that had actually been touched and used by human hands hundreds of years ago?

I hated history in school, but I love it now because I can see and touch actual items my great, great, great grandmother handled on a daily basis in her time, as well as a plow my great, great, great grandfather used to make a living and provide for his family!

I can even quote dates and eras that I never even tried to learn in school! I hope you will write about this.

Thank you for listening.

— Lou Oliva, via email to Arsenal of the Alleghenys

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Lack of security shocks university library patron

Several years ago, I was in the historic section of a city I’ll leave unnamed in case the place I’m writing about is still as vulnerable as it was during my visit.

A well-bestowed university had a magnificent rare medical book collection with numerous antique instruments and such interspersed. It was in an old two-story building, with the librarian stationed at a desk by the front door. I was the only other person there at the time.

As a book dealer and collector, I was awestruck at the quality and quantity [of the collection]. As a former New Yorker who was first robbed at the tender age of seven of a new fishing rod I received for my birthday, I was horrified at the lack of any security.
I brought this up with the librarian, and suggested that as a minimum they install surveillance cameras, or at least decoy ones, and  require visitors to leave outerwear, bags, carrying cases and anything else something could be concealed in at the desk.
She explained that all that would be difficult, owing to concerns about privacy, liability and what not.

I had a bag with several books I’d purchased at a local shop; I pointed it out to her, said what it was, and how easy it would have been to slip one of theirs in. I would have gladly taken my books out, but she said it wasn’t necessary.

How many polite thieves have used affability for nefarious ends?  I left with a plea for her to at least bring up the issue with the powers that be. I haven’t been back there since, but I do hope that my suggestions were at least partially implemented.

— Peter Tafuri, Fleetville, Pa.

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