What Art ad Antiques should you collect right now that will increase in value in the future?

As an Art and Antiques Appraiser, Dealer and Collector, I am frequently asked by my Clients, “What should I collect right now that will increase in value in the future”? Although very few of us can afford to invest in Faberge Eggs, Rembrandts or Van Goghs, there are many fine pieces for sale on the International Market that are currently undervalued and available to those of more modest means.

The first thing that I would recommend is 18th and Early 19th Century English, French and American Furniture. It is currently out of fashion amongst the young, hip and trendy yuppies, who dismiss it as “boring brown furniture” and who prefer to fill their Lofts and Apartments with overpriced modern leather, chrome and glass which will be worthless in 20 years. This means that 18th and Early 19th Century Furniture can now be bought for a mere fraction of it’s true value and unlike the modern tat that is now in fashion, it will actually appreciate in value over the years to come. A few smart young people in London, Paris, New York and L.A. are now beginning to realize this and expect prices to start rising as these new Collectors begin to enter the market.

There are also recent signs of a new and fast-growing trend for 18th Century and Early 19th Century English, French, Chinese and Japanese Porcelain, especially Blue and White Porcelain and Imari, which are suddenly showing up in all the fashionable Interior Design magazines. Right now they can be bought in Auctions, Estate Sales and Flea Markets for literally pennies on the dollar, but as more new Collectors develop an appreciation for these undervalued bargains the prices are going to rise dramatically. With the recent rise of China and India as new power-players in the global word economy and the overnight creation of a whole new entrepreneurial class of rich Chinese and Indian billionaires and millionaires, demand for Asian Art and Antiques is steadily rising. I particularly recommend 18th Century Chinese Export Armorial Porcelain and anything with an Imperial provenance, as well Mughal and East India Company Portrait Miniatures, Agra Rugs and 18th Century Anglo-Indian Ivory Furniture and Boxes, which are still relatively inexpensive, but which can be expected to command very high prices in the future due to increased demand.

I have also recently noticed a sudden dramatic spike in prices at Auction for 18th and Early 19th Century English Silver and Old Sheffield Plate. Georgian and Regency Silver, particularly by the Bateman family and Paul Storr, is suddenly starting to come back into fashion and recent prices for Old Sheffield Plate at Auction, especially anything by Matthew Boulton, has been fetching prices that are double or even triple their reserves. The time to start collecting is now.

Mystery of 18th Century Watercolour of Unknown Plantation in Jamaica Solved

In 2006 the Yale Center for British Art at Yale University, with money from the Paul Mellon Fund, purchased an 18th Century Watercolour of an unknown Sugar Plantation in the Island of Jamaica from the firm of Abbott & Holder in London. The Watercolour was unsigned and the Artist unknown, but in the upper left-hand corner of the painting was a graphite inscription, “Mona, Liguanea”. This was obviously a reference to Mona Estate , a Sugar Plantation located on the Liguanea Plain in St. Andrew, Jamaica. Despite this Scholars at Yale University came to the astounding, although completely erroneous conclusion, that the Sugar Plantation depicted in the Watercolour was actually Halse Hall Estate in Clarendon. Although they offered no explanation or proof for this assertion, these same Scholars from Yale University boldly included a copy of the Watercolour, which they had mistakenly identified as Halse Hall Estate, in their book “Art and Emancipation in Jamaica” published in 2007. If only those Scholars had reached out to me, I could have revealed to them the true identity of the Sugar Plantation in the Watercolour and also identified for them the Artist who painted it. The fact is I recognised the Watercolour as soon as I saw it, because I have  in my Collection an Early 19th Century Black & White Engraving of the same view obviously copies from the original Watercolour. The Engraving is of Hall-Head Estate, St. Thomas-in-the-East, Jamaica and is by C. J. Kennion and dated 1816. It is an exact  copy of the 18th Century Watercolour, which was actually painted about 1790 by his father, Edward Kennion. The senior Mr. Kennion had formerly been a Sugar Planter in Jamaica, where his family had owned three large Sugar Plantations, Hall-Head Estate, Mona Estate and Holland Estate. The Early 19th Century Engraving of Hall-Head Estate St. Thomas-on-the East, Jamaica was published in The Colonial Journal, Volume I, Issues 1 -2, in September, 1816, with the following description:

HALL-HEAD Sugar Plantation, the property of John Hall, Esq. of Liverpool, is situate in the parish of St. Thomas in the East, in the island of Jamaica.In the year 1760, the Hall-head Estate, together with the Holland and Mona Estates, were in the possession of the late John Kennion, Esq. also of the vicinity of Liverpool. Mr. Kennion, in his life-time, sold the Holland Estate to Simon Taylor, Esq. for the sum of one hundred and nine thousand pounds. The Mona Estate is at present the property of — Milner, Esq. The Hall-head Estate, which supplies the present view, was bequeathed by Mr. Kennion to his cousins, John and — Hall, Esquires, the former of whom has since purchased his brother’s share.

The late Mr. Edward Kennion, from whose sketch the drawing for the engraving has been made by Mr. C. J. Kennion, his son, and who, by a commission, dated 11th April, 1769 was appointed an aid-de-camp to Sir William Trelawney, then Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island, superintended, for some years, the estate of his relative, Mr. John Kennion. Mr. Kennion, in addition to a general taste for drawing, indulged in a peculiar attention to the faithful representation of trees, specimens of which talent he has introduced into the landscape before.

The tree on the left of the picture is the common Cocoa or Cocoa-nut tree, the Coccos of Linnaeus, and Palma Indica of Ray. The Cocoa is planted in most of the tropical parts of America, both for its beauty and productions. It prefers low situations, often grows to a great height, and bears all its foliage at the top, like the rest of the palm kind. The nut, or rather the shell, contains, while young, only a sweetish water; but this liquid, as maturity advances, deposits a gelatinous crust on the sides of the shell, which gradually hardens with age, until it acquires the strong concreted texture with which it is commonly seen in Europe. In its watery state, it is esteemed one of the greatest dainties of the countries of which it is a native. When more advanced, the kernel is very nourishing, and will supply the place of almonds, in milk and emulsions.

The tree on the right of the picture is the Banana-tree, a species of Plantane (Musa caudice maculata, Slo. Cat. 192.) This tree is cultivated in all the sugar-colonies, though with less industry than the common plantane, because its fruit, which, however, is said to destroy worms in children, is less generally relished. The fruit of the common plantane supplies a principal part of the sustenance of the negroes and poorer white persons. It is generally eaten at its full growth, but before it is ripe, and commonly peeled and roasted, and thus served at table, or distributed among the negroes. Many white persons prefer it to anything else of the bread kind, especially while young and tender. The negroes generally boil it with saltfish, beef, or crabs, &c. and find them a hearty wholesome food. As the fruit ripens, it becomes soft and sweetish, and is then generally made into tarts, or sliced and fried with butter, and thus served up in plates.

If only those Yale Scholars had come to me. As a Collector and Dealer in 18th and Early 19th Century Jamaican Colonial Prints, and as an Authority on the Subject, I could have saved them a lot of time, trouble and embarrassment. Perhaps next time.

Joseph Batholomew Kidd (1808-1889) – Scottish Landscape Painter

View of a Country Residence near Kingston, Jamaica. From a Lithograph by Joseph Bartholomew Kidd, London, 1838. Collection: Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins.

Joseph Bartholomew Kidd (1808-1889), Scottish Landscape Painter. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he was educated by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston. He was one Preview post of the original founders of the Scottish Academy of Art in 1826, where he regularly exhibited his oil paintings of Scottish landscapes for many years afterwards.

Kidd became a close friend of John James Audubon and in the early 1830s he translated many of Audubon’s drawings of American Birds into oil paintings. These oil paintings of American Birds by Joseph Bartholomew Kidd are extremely rare and command very high prices whenever they come up for Auction and several of them are in major Museums in the United States including the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

In 1835 Joseph Bartholomew Kidd went out to Jamaica, where one of his brothers, Thomas Patrick Kidd, was a Merchant with stores in Falmouth and Stewart Town, Trelawny. While visiting his brother in Falmouth, Kidd held an Exhibition of his Scottish landscapes and it was such a resounding success that he immediately received numerous commissions to paint Portraits of the local Planters and Views of their Sugar Plantations.

A number of Early 19th Century Portraits in various Great Houses in Jamaica are thought to have possibly been painted by J. B. Kidd, but so far none have been found that bear his signature. A Pair of Early 19th Century Oil Portraits of the Hon. Thomas Ashmeade II, Custos of St. Ann, and his wife, Frances nee Lawrence Hilton, painted in 1836, have been attributed to J. B. Kidd. They were my Mother’s Great-Great-Great-Grandparents and both Portraits are still in my Private Collection.

Original oil paintings of Jamaican towns, plantations, landscapes and scenes by J. B. Kidd are incredibly rare. Only four are still known to exist. Two of them are of Sugar Plantations, Weston Favel Estate in Trelawny and possibly Bellefield Estate in St. James and both are in the Private Collection of Wallace Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica. A third painting, also of a Sugar Plantation, Good Hope Estate in Trelawny, is in the Private Collection of Tony and Sheila Hart at Good Hope Great House in Trelawny. The fourth, a painting of Retirement Penn, St. Ann, a cattle and pimento estate in the St. Ann Highlands, is in a Private Collection in Jamaica.

Kidd’s early success in Trelawny, Jamaica encouraged him to continue painting Landscapes of the Island. He fell in love with the Jamaican landscape and in 1836 he began travelling throughout the Island painting views of the various Towns and Plantations. Kidd then decided to publish many of these Oil Paintings as Lithographs and in 1837 he embarked upon an ambitious plan to publish 50 Views of Jamaica in a Folio for Collectors.

This massive Folio Book was grandly titled “Illustrations of West Indian Scenery, in a Series of Views comprising the Principal Towns, Public Buildings, Estates and most Picturesque Scenery of the Island of Jamaica”. It was published in Sections of 5 Lithographs at a time between 1837 and 1843. The large Hand-Coloured Lithographs of Jamaica were unaccompanied by any descriptive text, but they immediately became sought after by Collectors in Jamaica who framed them and displayed them on the walls of their Town Houses and Plantation Houses. These Kidd Prints of Jamaica are also rare and they are still much sought after by Dealers and Collectors today. I have several Early 19th Century Kidd Prints in my Private Collection.

Joseph Bartholomew Kidd left Jamaica and returned home to Scotland in 1843. He never visited Jamaica again although he remained in close contact with his family still on the Island. Kidd spent the rest of his life as a Landscape and Portrait Painter in Scotland and England. He died at Greenwich, near London, England, in 1889.

James Hakewill (1778-1843) – English Architect and Painter

View of Bryan Castle Great House, Trelawny, Jamaica. From an Aquatint by James Hakewill, London, 1825. Collection: Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins.

James Hakewill (1778-1843), English Architect and Landscape Painter. Born in London, England. Trained as an Architect and Exhibited at the Royal Academy. Best known for his Illustrated Books of Topographical Views. In 1813 he published “Views in the Neighborhood of Windsor” which included a number of views of Stately Homes in the area near Windsor Castle. These were hand-colored Aquatints based on his own original Watercolors.

From 1816 to 1817 Hakewill traveled in Italy on the Grand Tour and on his return to England he published “A Picturesque Tour of Italy”, a collection of Aquatints of Classical Sites in Italy again based on his  own original Watercolors. Some of his Watercolors were finished by his friend, the famous English Painter J. M. W. Turner.

Of the 200 Watercolors that James Hakewill painted in Jamaica between 1820 and 1821, only 21 of these Watercolors were later published as Aquatints in his book, “A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica”, which was printed in London, England in 1825. This Hakewill Book and especially the 21 Hakewill Aquatints of Jamaica that it contains are also rare and much sought after by both Dealers and Collectors. I am fortunate enough to have 14 of the 21 Hakewill Aquatints of Jamaica in my own Private Collection.

James Hakewill published several other books on Architecture after his return to England in 1821. He also designed and built a number of Country Houses in Cheshire, England, and he was amongst the Architects who competed to design the new Houses of Parliament in London in 1836. Hakewill was busy working on a forthcoming book on Views of the Castles on the Rhine River in Germany, when he died suddenly in London in 1843.

Jamaican Colonial Planters Chairs

An exceptionally fine Early 19th Century Jamaican Colonial Planter’s Chair. Jamaican Mahogany, inlaid with Rosewood, and Leather. c.1830. Private Collection.

This style of Chair was first made in the City of Campeche in the Yucatan Province of Mexico in the 16th Century during the Spanish Colonial era and were originally known as Campeche Chairs. They became very popular with the Spanish Creole Aristocracy in Mexico and were often found amongst the Mexican Colonial antique furniture on the old Haciendas, where they were also knows as Butaca Chairs. In the 18th Century Spanish Colonists introduced the Campeche Chair also known as the Butaca Chair to Louisiana where they became extremely popular amongst the French Creole Aristocracy who called them Boutac Chairs and introduced them into their Plantation Houses in the Bayous and along the Mississippi River. The Leather-Seated Chars, made from Ox-Hide or Mule-Hide stretched on a Mahogany wood frame, was found ideal for lounging in a Tropical Climate and unlike upholstered furniture it was free from insects. These Campeche Chairs in Louisiana were discovered by the Americans during the Late 18th Century and President Thomas Jefferson even ordered a pair for his Plantation at Monticello in Virginia. This style of Chair was also introduced to Jamaica from Mexico during the 18th Century, probably via Cuba, and until very recently they were known in Jamaica as Spanish Chairs. It was only during the 1970s that people first began calling them Planters Chairs, because they had always been popular with British Planters on the Plantations in Jamaica. Once only found in the old Plantation Great Houses in Jamaica, today they are extremely rare and very sought after by both Dealers and Collectors.

Spode China – The Peacock Pattern

An Early 19th Century Spode China Platter in the Peacock Pattern, Number 2118. Stoke-on-Trent, England, c.1820. Collection: Brett Ashmeade-Hawkins.

This exquisite Oriental Design was based on a unique Chinese Export Porcelain Dinner Service, originally made in Canton, China in the 18th Century for the King of Portugal. When King Joao VI and the Portuguese.Royal Family fled into exile in Brazil following Napoleon’s invasion of Portugal in 1807, they took the Royal Dinner Service with them. Unfortunately a number of pieces were broken during the long Voyage from Portugal to Brazil. Rather than order replacement pieces all the way from China, which would have taken as much as two or three years, King Joao VI specially commissioned the firm of Spode in Stoke on Trent, England to copy and replace the broken items. Spode agreed on the condition that they would later be allowed to reproduce the Pattern for their own customers and in 1813 the Peacock Pattern was first sold by Spode at their shop in London. It soon became one of Spode’s most fashionable and sought after Patterns during the Regency Period in England and has remained popular amongst the English Gentry to this day.