FROM A COLLECTOR IN CALIFORNIA
May 14th 2017
I was asked to explain the rationale and journey that the piece in question (18th Century Carved Wood Ship Chandler) had and how easy a decision it was for me to purchase and have it fully restored. First, I am an avid collector of anything having to deal with the tobacco trade and advertisement especially carved pieces from the 18th and 19th Century.
This fascination I believe is hard wired in my DNA as my family owned a large tobacco farm in Kentucky. I now have four 19th Century Cigar Store Indians, three Virginians that are the predecessor of the "American Cigar Store Indians" and numerous Turk's that are an off-shoot of the traditional advertising medium.
Tony Cardona has had a hand in almost all of these treasures transforming them without ruining the historic significance and maintained the age in the piece. This is vital as you can significantly affect the value by over painting or restoring a piece. Tony is an excellent source of information and he will stop you before you push a piece past the point of no return, a point where it will be detrimental to the piece's value and appeal.
It is that same logic that stopped me from taking an early and rare 19th Century Carousel Animal (Pelican) and having it completely painted over thus ruining the piece and destroying the value!
The 18th century "Chandler" was a complete mess, but hidden in it was a diamond just waiting to come out. Before I had even bid on the piece I had requested numerous pictures from all angles so that we could ascertain if we wanted to purchase it? I sent the pictures to Tony and asked him if this was a good piece and if it was being properly represented as a lot of Auctions Houses don't get it correct. I also asked if I won the auction what it would cost to restore it properly and if the piece would hold that cost going forward. After a lot of deliberation, Tony assured me that the piece was a wise investment and gave me many particular reasons to back up his thought process. To the adverse he has often told me to walk away from pieces even though that means he looses a potential job as they were poor examples or were outright copies and fakes. With a renewed vigor I set off to win the piece at the price point that Tony and I had discussed as one can often bid a piece past a logical barrier in the heat of the moment. Once I had won, the real work began and I had the piece sent directly to Tony from the auction house in Florida.
Tony is a great restorer but this piece had me worried as there were so many things wrong with it. The right arm was held on with an old lead patch, the base was barely intact, there was a chunk missing out of the hat and feather in that hat and the tobacco roll on the left side had a large crack that we were not aware of.
Through all of that Tony was able to take this piece from trash to treasure and it is now in my permanent collection! It is a shining example of what can be done given the time, the vision to recognize what an item can be, not what it presently is !
In retrospect I paid a lot less for the "Chandler" and won this item as most buyers were afraid of the piece and all the work it would take to make it right.
I had an ace up my sleeve and that "Ace" was Tony Cardona and his skill and perseverance to make a piece a star in your collection.
Barnaby H. Beck-CFO
HLW Workspace Solutions, Inc. (California)