Germantown blankets used Pennsylvania yarn

Germantown blankets This Navajo rug/weaving Germantown blanket is in excellent condition after some professional restoration. It is estimated to bring $15,000-$30,000. (photo courtesy Allard Auctions)

Is there anything quite as visually arresting as a Navajo rug or a Germantown blanket? These Native American eye dazzler textiles were produced by the Navajo people of the Four Corners area of the United States (comprising the southwestern corner of Colorado, the southeastern corner of Utah, the northeastern corner of Arizona and the northwestern corner of New Mexico). They were originally utilitarian blankets for use as cloaks, dresses, saddle blankets and similar purposes. But by the end of the 19th century, weavers were making them for tourism and export.

The piece shown here is a Navajo rug/weaving Germantown blanket made around 1890 and measuring 56 inches by 91 inches. It will be sold as part of Allard Auctions' Best of Santa Fe event, slated for August 12th-14th in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it's expected to bring $15,000-$30,000. The four-ply aniline dyed yarn used to produce the blanket was made in Germantown, Pennsylvania, hence the name Germantown blanket. The yarn came into vogue starting around the 1880s, with the arrival of the railroad trains. For more info, visit


Original comic artwork for Swamp Thing #1 up for bid

Original comic artwork

The original cover art for Swamp Thing #1 (DC Comics, 1972), by the legendary illustrator Bernie Wrightson, will be sold to the highest bidder at Heritage Auctions' Comics & Comic Art Auction planned for August 4-6 in Dallas, Texas. The artwork is expected to sell for at least $150,000. It marks the first appearance of the half-man, half-plant version of Alec Holland, a character that has a special place in DC Comics canon. This “First Startling Issue” was crafted in ink over graphite on Bristol board and measures 10 inches by 15 inches. It is artist-signed.

Early in his career, Bernie Wrightson earned a reputation as a talented editorial cartoonist at the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Soon afterward, he was offered a job by DC Comics and in 1969 his first professional work was published in House of Mystery #179. Other examples of Wrightson's work in the auction will include wraparound original cover art for DC Special Series #2 (1977); original story art for page 3 of Swamp Thing #5; creepy original cover art for Twisted Tales #2 (1983); and original cover art for Horror & Fantasy #9. For more info, visit


Filming is underway on a Nakashima documentary

Filming is underway A documentary about the life and work of George Nakashima, titled Collecting George Nakashima, will premiere October 2017 in New York and New Jersey. (photo courtesy Rago Auctions)

Filming has begun on a documentary titled Collecting George Nakashima, about the American-born woodworker, architect and furniture maker of Japanese descent who was one of the leading innovators of 20th century furniture design and a father of the American craft. The film is being produced in conjunction with Collecting Design: History Collections courses offered at the New York School of Interior design by Danielle Ohad, with support from Rago Auctions in Lambertville, N.J., a market leader in the sales of Mr. Nakashima's fabulous creations.

George Nakashima (1905-1990) was born in Spokane, Washington. After earning a master's degree in architecture from M.I.T. in 1931, he sold his car and purchased a round-the-world tramp steamship ticket. He went to France, North Africa and Japan, living the life of a bohemian until he went to work for Antonin Raymond in Japan, an American architect who had collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the Imperial Hotel in Japan. Nakashima toured Japan extensively, studying the subtleties of Japanese architecture and design, which influenced his later work.



Samplers were snapshots of colonial American life

Samplers were snapshots Mary Shillaber worked in silk threads on a linen background to make her sampler, circa 1776. It shows the alphabet, numbers, a quote, figures, birds and flowers. (photo courtesy Skinner, Inc.)

A sampler is a piece of embroidery produced as a demonstration of skill in needlework. It's from the Latin word “exemplum,” which means an example. The earliest known sampler is a “spot” sampler, one that shows randomly scattered motifs, from the Nazca culture in Peru, made 200-300 BC. It was worked in a cotton and wool pattern darning on a woven cotton ground and showed 74 figures of birds, plants and mythological beings. Fast forward to colonial America, and the sampler shown here. It was done around 1776 by young Mary Shillaber (age 14) of Danvers, Mass.

Many young American girls at the time worked in cross stitch to produce their samplers, usually as school exercises.  Design styles were influenced by Berlin woolwork, which was popular worldwide. These samplers were stitched more to demonstrate knowledge than to preserve skill. The stitching was believed to be a sign of virtue, achievement and industry. Girls were taught the art form at a young age. Samplers are highly collectible today. Mary's sampler will be in Skinner's Aug. 14-15 Americana sale, where it's expected to fetch $10,000-$15,000. Visit


The history of leopard print from somebody who knows

The history of leopard print Jo Weldon will speak on leopard print as a signifier in popular culture and its meaning as sifted through the lenses of entertainment, social change and feminism. (photo courtesy Rago Arts)

Leopard print is an apex fashion statement and a print design of choice for many collectors of vintage couture. And why not? The leopard is an apex predator: powerful, adaptable and challenging to domesticate. On Tuesday evening at 6 pm in Lambertville, New Jersey, Jo Weldon (shown, in a slinky leopard print dress) will speak on leopard print as a signifier in popular culture and its meaning as sifted through the lenses of entertainment, social change and feminism, at Rago Arts & Auction Center. The talk will be preceded by a wine and cheese reception, at 5 pm.

Jo Weldon, incidentally, is a veteran burlesque performer, the founder of the New York School of Burlesque and the author of The Burlesque Handbook (with a foreword by Margaret Cho). Jo and her team of instructors have choreographed dance routines for Christina Aguilera, Gossip Girl, What Not to Wear, Love and Hip Hop, The Real Housewives of New York and dozens of new shows. She worked full-time as a stripper immediately following high school, then joined the world of theatrical burlesque in New York City in 1997. For info, visit