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May 07, 1988 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-05-07

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want to buy 1930's fringed lamp-
shades, that's up to them."
The Kovels, who now work with
a staff of 12, have written 44 books
resource guides, actually, with
titles like Dictionary Of Marks
Pottery & Porcelain (their first,
published in 1953 and now in its
40th printing), Kovels' Know Your
Antiques and Know Your Col-
lectibles, and Kovels' Antiques &
Collectibles Price List (an annual
best-seller that currently records
prices for more than 50,000 items).
Other guides cover specific topics
like American silver, American art
pottery, bottles, country furniture
and figurines, to name a few. Near-
ly two million copies of the Kovels'
books have been sold.
In addition, the Kovels' "Know
Your Antiques" syndicated column
is published in some 150 news-
papers. They appear as guests on
numerous television shows, as well
as hosting their own series,
"Kovels On Collecting," which airs
nationally on Public Broadcasting
stations. Their series is partly film-
ed in a complete, old fashioned
country store which the Kovels,
eclectic collectors themselves,
have set up in the basement of
their Shaker Heights, Ohio home.
Married for 37 years and the
parents of a grown son and
daughter, the couple have the rap-
port that comes from a close, long-
time relationship. One magazine
article commented on their "off-
beat sense of humor" which gives
them a "Burns & Allen" quality. In-
deed, one starts a sentence, and
the other finishes it. They laugh,
they joke. They are friendly and ac-
cessible, shlepping from city to ci-
ty for a day of television and press
interviews to plug the 20th edition
of their Antiques & Collectibles
Price List.
The Kovels are Jewish. In fact,
Ralph remarks proudly, "Terry's
grandfather was the first Jewish
baker in Cleveland, Ohio." He
himself hails from New York state,
and his family came to America in
the 1850s.
They married in 1950: she, a
Wellesley College graduate and

TERRY AND Ralph Kovel,
opposite page, started
collecting antiques when they
were newlyweds. "We'd go to
auctions and be the youngest
people there," says Terry. "My
father couldn't understand why
anyone would buy 'old' furniture
if they could afford new."
Updated annually (right) is their
Antiques & Collectibles Price
List. Photo by Alyssa Gabbay.


hat are the next hot
collectibles? Here's
what Ralph and Ter-
ry Kovel picked,
along with their comments.
(The items are not listed in order
of importance.)
1) 1950's furniture and ac-
Furniture by Eames and Her-
man Miller. Blenko glass. Orre-
fors and Kosta, "the first of the
modern glass." Sets of dishes
by designer Russel Wright.
Mexican silver serving pieces,
from (and signed) Taxco. Chase
chrome silverware from the
1930s to 1950s.
2) period furniture
Mission furniture, although
"now very high priced."
American Empire furniture, "the
American version of Biede-
meister; still not expensive but
very big and klutzy."
3) old clothes
"Who would ever figure that
old clothes would be worth the
money they're selling for now?"
4) an important designer's
"Big now are architects
designing objects, like lamps
and tables, and the objects
aren't expensive."
5) American art pottery
Vases and dishes made by
"obscure potters" between
1877 and 1930. One such pot-
ter the Kovels collect is George
Ohr. "Pottery will continue to in-
crease in price."


6) regional paintings
From the late 19th century to
1950; "for example, paintings
by Baltimore artists." But buy
only "listed artists — people
whose names were recognized
in the shows and exhibits of the
time. Every city has its school of
artists and the best will survive."
7) black and white prints
17th, 18th and 19th century
black and white prints
lithographs, etchings, engrav-
ings. "Decorators aren't using
them now so they're selling by
the yard." However, "you really
have to know what you are do-
ing because it's an area in
which it is easy to be fooled."
8) female painters
"They're becoming better
known. Or, if you are so in-
clined, Jewish paintings. But
you really have to study the
market. You must study and go
to exhibits so you become your
own expert" in choosing
9) old lace
Finely made and in good
condition. "It sells for 20 times
as much in Europe as here."

What not to collect? Here's
what the Kovels picked as hav-
ing had their heydays and now
coming "down, down in price."
1) Hummel pieces
2) Royal Doulton
3) carnival glass
4) bottles



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