How much do you revere coffee?
July 10, 2008
ASPEN ” Aspen might have welcomed Bill Clinton for the Aspen Ideas Festival, but this week it hosts Paul Revere.
Or at least his coffee pot.
This weekend, more than 40 national and international exhibitors will display and sell their collections at the base of Aspen Highlands for the Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair.
Among the wares is a silver coffee pot made by Paul Revere circa 1775. Although perhaps best known to history for his patriotic “midnight ride” during the American Revolutionary War, Paul Revere was first and foremost a silversmith, according to the Paul Revere Memorial Association.
The pot is one of only three “armorial” (meaning it has a coat of arms on it) coffee pots made by Revere before the American Revolution. The other two are housed in the collections of the Williamstown Art Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
The coffee pot is selling for slightly more than $1.8 million.
For those not interested in a Revolutionary coffee pot, there are also just-barely-legal, turn-of-the century slot machines.
Local antique purveyor Michael Daniels is offering several of the machines, including a “double mix” slot machine that combines two slot machines into one (for $225,000). Caille began making the machines in 1906, when gaming establishments were suddenly required to pay taxes according to the number of slot machines they owned, said Michael’s son Jonathan Daniels.
Until sometime in the 1970s or 80s (the Daniels couldn’t agree on the exact year) it was illegal to own the antique machines, since they were technically agents of vice. It is still illegal to own antique gaming machines in seven states, Colorado not among them. Because the machines could not be legally sold for many years, there are still very few on the market, said Michael.
This weekend’s show also plays host to a Monet painting titled “Pine Trees at Varengeville,” a Renoir cast bronze sculpture and even a painting by Winston Churchill, usually better known for his statesmanship than his artistic talent.
And for those who’ve always envied the participants on “Antiques Roadshow,” appraiser Todd Peenstra is offering free consultations for that “one thing” he says everyone has.
While being responsible for $60 million in antiques under one roof for five days might make anyone nervous, organizer Fetzer ” owner of Aspen’s Fetzer Antiques ” says he’s more worried about bears than thieves.
One year, an antiques dealer from New Orleans left pralines in his booth, and a bear almost tore the tent apart trying to get to them, he said.
Bears aren’t the only Aspen-specific concern for antiques dealers: the dry air also causes a headache for some. Janice Critchett, who moved her ivory pieces from Palm Beach, Fla. to Aspen, has to hide cups of water in her display case to keep the ivory from drying out.
Still, while this might be Aspen’s first pre-Revolutionary coffee pot, the town might be the perfect venue for an antiques show, since it is certainly no stranger to strange and wonderful sale items.
Last December, the By Nature Gallery in Aspen offered the 100-pound fossilized skull of a Tarbosaurus bataar, a Mongolian relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, for $425,000.
In 1999, owners of the memorabilia shop Stars bought two of Eric Clapton’s guitars in order to sell them to their Aspen customers.
And while the silver dog caller being auctioned on eBay in February, 2000 ” for $60,000 ” wasn’t being marketed exclusively to Aspenites, it is a piece of Aspen history. The collar was made for a dog named “Bruiser” who survived for 33 snowy days in Conundrum Gulch after an avalanche killed his owner and four other miners.
The Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair runs Thursday through Sunday at Aspen Highlands Village. Admission is free.