You know the market for Asian antiques is red-hot – which it is – when an auction house that doesn't necessarily specialize in those things dedicates an entire sale to them. That's exactly what the Atlanta Auction Company in Atlanta, Georgia will be doing on Saturday, August 13th, at 11 am Eastern time, with its Chinese Works of Art & Porcelains Auction (about 350 lots). “We normally feature original artwork, fine decorative accessories and other local estate items at our sales, but Asian antiques are where it's at right now,” said Lori Karlson of Atlanta Auction Company.

Items being sold will include the lovely pair of Chinese zitan cabinets shown here that are being sold as one lot. Both are 82 inches tall by 42 inches wide (est. $8,000-$12,000). Also, a large famille rose lidded vase in very good condition (est. $600-$1,200). For those who don't know, zitan is a dense wood (so dense it sinks in water), a member of the rosewood family and with a fine wood grain texture that makes it especially suitable for intricate carving. Famille rose is a porcelain having an opaque, rose-colored enamel decoration. For more, visit



Items from baseball's 1934 'Tour of Japan' will be sold

Baseball may be America's pastime, but the practice of taking the sport to the high seas with the game's best players goes back decades. In 1874, Albert Spalding set up the world's first tour when the Boston Red Stockings and Philadelphia Athletics demonstrated how to play baseball to the English. It didn't make an impression; the Brits were already in love with their own cousin sport to baseball: cricket. However, the outcome was much different with the now-famous 1934 “Tour of Japan,” with its cast of of luminaries such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmy Foxx.

The Japanese were smitten right away – perhaps as much by the larger-than-life players as the game itself – and to this day baseball is played there with much passion. On August 27-28, Heritage Auctions will offer an unprecedented selection of World Baseball Tour memorabilia from 1888-1934, at a Platinum Auction in Dallas, Texas. Items to be sold will include gifts given directly to Babe Ruth by the Japanese government, documents from catcher (and spy) Moe Berg, a Herb Pennock game-worn jersey, souvenirs, autographs, programs and more. Visit


Men are stocking their manly man caves with antique items

Man caves (also known more classically as Gentleman's Club Rooms) are in. A man cave is typically appointed with a big-screen TV, comfortable leather chair, stocked refrigerator and bar. But lately there's been an increasing demand for  beautifully made and unusual décor and antique objects that can elevate the male sanctuary to a whole new level. An example is this gorgeous circa-1830 French billiard table, crafted in opulent rosewood in the Gothic Revival style, with allegorical scenes of France. It's for sale at M. S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, La., for $128,500.

M. S. Rau is also offering a circa-1940 Baker's Pacers coin-op horse-racing machine, made by Baker Novelty & Mfg. of Chicago ($42,500); and a circa-1940 French foosball table with metal players and ashtrays at each corner ($14,500). Jeff Bridgman American Antiques in Dillsburg, Pa., is selling a circa-1920-1940 race horse game wheel by Evans & Company of Chicago ($12,500); and a circa 1850-1880 Pennsylvania backgammon and checkers board ($8,500). M. S. Rau is also selling a 19th century Battle of Issues chess set with 14kt gold players. The price: $1.65 million.


Anyone's guess as to how much these four star rubies will bring

In 1990, in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Jarvis Wayne Messer – a man of modest means but a self-described “rock hound” - made the discovery of a lifetime: four breathtaking, museum-quality star rubies (shown). Typically only found in remote regions of Southeast Asia, star rubies exhibit six emerging rays, forming a star pattern. They are considered 10,000 times rarer than the finest diamonds. Over the centuries, the star ruby has been the stone of choice for the most prestigious of applications, including the centerpiece of royal crowns.

This fall, Guernsey's, the New York-based auction house, will offer Mr. Messer's four star rubies (officially dubbed The Mountain Star Ruby Collection). How much will they bring? Well, to put things in perspective, a star ruby now on display at the National Museum in Washington, D.C. (the “Rosser Reeves Star Ruby”) weighs 138 carats and five of its six rays are perfect (one is broken). Years ago it was appraised at $25 million. The Appalachian Star Ruby, the largest ruby in Mr. Messer's collection, weighs 139 carats and all six rays are intact. 'Nuf said.


Backgrounds in portraits can provide many insights

Look at this portrait of Massachusetts cabinetmaker Tilly Mead, done in 1831 by the artist John Ritto Penniman, when Mead was approximately 36 years old. The portrait speaks to the importance of cabinetmaking as an industry in Worcester County, Mass., in the early decades of the 19th century, but the detailed background is equally compelling. Mead is depicted with a tambour-style desk and a bookcase, possibly one of his own design and construction. But its inclusion is a bit curious, since this type of desk would have been considered out of fashion by 1831.

If Mead did make the desk, it would have been around 1815, when Mead was about 20 years old. That would have been very early in his career, or toward the end of his training, and as such might have been an object of sentimental value so that he chose to have it included in his portrait. There's no telling how much that very desk would fetch today at auction, especially if coupled with the portrait in the same lot. But, for the record, the painting is not for sale. It (and a portrait of Mead's wife, Caroline) were just acquired by Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass.