August 12, 2009

Object Lessons: Two Books.

One of the books I stuffed into my bag on Sunday at the Book Thing was Objects of Desire: The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them, by Thatcher Freund. This book is the story of three pieces of furniture that were shown at the 1991 Winter Antiques Show in New York.
He traces the history of these three pieces from the time they were made in the 1700s and 1800s, through to the show. Once piece is a blanket chest, one is a card table and the third is a sofa table. Each piece is treated biographically and is a lesson in the history of the United States in its early years, as well as the evolution of furniture making in our country.
The one disappointment is the total lack of pictures - there are cover pictures of two of the items, but not a third. I would have loved to see detailed photographs.
That wasn't the case in Leigh and Leslie Keno's book, which came to me via Coterie who was visiting Baltimore a few weeks ago. It's called Hidden Treasures, Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture. Like Objects of Desire, The Keno's book also details the ins and outs of acquiring a special piece of American furniture and is filled with hundreds of photographs.However, it is a very personal book and talks about how the twins became interested in antiques during their childhood. It's also a behind-the-scenes look at the world of high end antiques, both at the Winter Antiques Show and at Sotheby's.
The twins take turns writing, often describing the same event from their different persectives, one as a dealer and the other as an auctioneer. The book is filled with pictures of the items they are talking about, so you get a good feel for the details of a piece.
All in all, both books were great reads and a good education!


  1. Oh I love the Keno guys! They are the best. I would love to read of their childhood and background for their unbelievable expertise.

  2. Both of the books are great. The writing is picture painting so it will be a great read. la

  3. The Keno bros are pretty fascinating; their book sounds like a fun read. I'll have to look for it. Thanks Meg!

  4. Both books sound really interesting!
    I love the idea of Freund writing the history of each piece.

    And it's always interesting reading about how siblings or twins see the same event (I am a twin).


  5. I knew about the Keno books but that Freund book sounds super interesting.
    Thanks for the recommendation.
    PS- I just got a note from the Baltimore Show organizers (because I'm a dealer) that their show is sold-out...promises to be a good one, I hope you can cover it! First weekend in September.

  6. I read the Kenos book and thoroughly enjoyed it = esp. about their childhood and how they collected the hinges and things they found just buried in the yard. incredible. they are wonderful!

  7. Objects of Desires one of my favorite books ever and whenever I can I give it as a gift to those of my ilk who can't help their devotion to inanimate objects.


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