Tradio: Micro Photography

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[audio:http://westchestergold.com/MP3/tradio-05-18-12.mp3|titles=Micro Photography ]

That’s a list of some of the items we buy. We buy all kinds of military items. We buy sports memorabilia. We buy autographs, fountain pens, all kinds of stuff. Usually, at 9:30 or so, we’ll talk about all kinds of stuff. I really never have any idea what I’m going to talk about but this week, just as a hint, we’re going to talk about micro photography which doesn’t sound really all that exciting but it was actually developed back around 1839.

There was a whole industry that evolved from this micro photography. At 9:30, we’ll probably talk about that. The only reason I bring that up is because I happened to buy some pieces this week which jogged my memory about different things I collect. It went in my little showcase.

I walk around the shop in the evening after everyone’s gone. I’ll look at stuff and say, “This is kind of neat.” I’ll play with it, pick it up, and touch it. It’s like any kind of collectibles that I’ve spoken about over the years.

You pick it up, you look at it, you fondle it, you touch it, and it makes you smile. Then by all means, collect that particular item. I see so many people who come in and are real serious investors and collectors. They have some high powered different things.

I look at them. I enjoy looking at it. I enjoy buying and selling those things but a lot of times, people have actually forgotten why they were starting to collect these items. They knew they were buying it as an investment. They knew that in their mind hypothetically, they were going to appreciate and it was some place to park their dollars rather than putting it in a bank and making no money or putting it in a bond and making very little interest, so they buy things and collectibles.

But a lot of times, I’ve sat down. I’ll be buying a collection from them. They’ve had it for years. I go, “What’s your favorite item in your collection?” They go, “I don’t really have a favorite item. I buy this stuff for an investment.” You look at it and it’s sad in a way because if you have all these different items around, if you haven’t really enjoyed them, you haven’t touched them, played with them, looked at them, fondled them, and had them put a smile on your face, to me, it loses a little bit of the excitement, the flair of the collection.

My employees will tell you I’m like a hoarder. I’ll be the first person to admit it. I have so much stuff.

Man:  
I thought I recognized you from one of the early episodes.

Yeah, a real early episode of it, then I was crushed under piles of stuff so you didn’t see it anymore. I’ve started to weed out some of my collections. I have a large collection of pocket watches. I’ve been saving pocket watches. That’s probably one of the first things I was actually dealing in when I opened my store.

I have some extremely rare stuff. I have some really neat stuff. We opened up a store in South Carolina. Over there, my manager called me and said, “I have some guys up here who are big pocket watch collectors. Do you have this, this, and this?” I said, “Yeah, I do have that in my own collection.”

I sat back and reflected on it. When was the last time I picked this particular watch up, fondled it, and played with it? I said, “You know, I guess it’s time to pass some of these items back off to the next generation or to people who are going to do the same thing that I did, look at them, play with them, touch them, and enjoy them.”

So I found that I’m starting to weed my own collection out of some of the really, really nice, better pieces of it but I’ve realized that I don’t have the time to play with them and enjoy them the way I used to so it’s time to not re-gift them but bring them back out so somebody else can enjoy them.

A lot of people out there have inherited jewelry, watches, and things like that from parents or grandparents. They appreciate the stuff. It has fond memories because they remember mom wearing that particular watch or dad wore this wristwatch. I grew up seeing him wearing this watch but it was passed down to them.

The emotion was still there but there’s really not that much attachment to the particular item itself. If you’re in this position and you have items that you think would probably be worth a lot of money, bring them by Westchester Gold and Diamonds. This is the meat on our plate. This is what we really deal in, are better, high end jewelry pieces, collectible stuff.

Even if it’s not a thing that we can really use, I’m always happy to look at it and give people some advice. It might not be for me. A lot of times, I can hook you up with different dealers, friends of mine. I’ll call them, give you their number. You can deal with that person.

I don’t have a problem doing that. I have no money at all tied up in a particular item. People say, “What kind of a commission do you want for it?” “I’m not buying that particular item. That’s not going to be for me but this person will buy that probably. Give them a call. Tell them you stopped in and I told you to call.”

I’ve had lots of people call me up and say, “Steve, I dealt with so-and-so. He was wonderful. He loved the item that I had. He said to say thank you to you. We really appreciated the fact that you helped us sell that particular item.”

We’ve been putting collectors and dealers together for almost 40 years now, around 37 years we’ve been open. If you have items, please bring them by. Let us take a look at them. We’d love to give you offers on them. If it’s not for us, I’d be more than happy to try to hook you up to someone who would be interested in a particular item.

Since no one has been calling us, I’m going to talk a little bit about micro photography. Micro photography is a whole field of photographic type of things. Back in 1839, micro photography was actually developed.

They learned how to take an image and treat a piece of glass so an image was photo sensitive. Using different nitrates, they would expose that glass to the light and the image. It would take a photograph and leave it on a piece of glass.

Well, back in about 1859, somewhere around there, we had a fellow by the name of Rene Dagron. He was French. He was an inventor. He invented the first micro photographic lens. We see these James Bond movies and things. We see these little cameras.

We’re not talking about something like that. We’re talking the precursor to this thing. We’re talking about using a small tube of glass, no more than an eighth of an inch thick. They would attach a small photograph and use pinesap actually, Canadian balsam pinesap as a glue because it was a clear adhesive. It didn’t leave any bubbles or anything like that.

They could actually attach this piece of film to the end of a rod of glass and look through the other end of that glass, and it would act as a lens so you could see the photograph. The problem was you usually had to use a lot of times a microscope to actually see some of these small micro photographs.

At that time, back in the early 1800s, it was expensive to have a microscope. In 1862, there was what we call the Exhibition. It was a huge world’s fair in London. Rene brought his what we call Stanhopes to the Exhibition. The reason we call it Stanhope is because back in I think the early 1800s, somewhere around 1830s, 1840s, this whole process, the Stanhope lens was invented by Charles Stanhope, Earl the Third, out of England.

He developed this lens where you could put this small micro photographic picture on it and you could actually see it. Back in 1862, if you were in the Exhibition, we had Dagron come out and show a Stanhope. A Stanhope is a small object with a lens attached to it or impregnated into it with a photograph on it.

If you can imagine, it’s a little piece of glass, no more than an eighth of an inch thick, an eighth of an inch in diameter. It had a convex lens to it which means the lens is rounded so it rounds out rather than in.

You would look through the top part of that, the round part. It had a flat piece of glass attached to the bottom of it. They would put the photograph, affix that to the inside or the bottom side of that little piece of flat glass.

When you looked through it and held it to the light, there would be a picture on it. You had special cameras that would take these small micro photographic pictures. They would affix them to a piece of glass which would be called a Stanhope lens. Then the Stanhope lens would be imbedded.

They put them in rings, pocket knives, in canes, needle cases, they made charms out of them. Some of the letter openers that were carved out of ivory or bone, they would be imbedded into the handles. Some of the crosses or crucifixes would have little Stanhopes in them that had the Lord’s prayer on them.

You could actually find in my collection I have some small miniature binoculars. I mean, they’re no more than three quarters of an inch high. If you would look in the lenses, they would have different photographs of different landscapes, parks, or just all kinds of different things would be inside these lenses.

In 1862, Dagron put these in London at the big Exhibition. He got honorable mention. This was I’m not going to say it was a slap in the face but it was a slap in the face. This was something that was a revelation. It was new. It was exciting.

Back in the next thing, in 1864, there was another world’s fair. He exhibited at that. He donated one of these Stanhopes to Queen Victoria. It had 450 portraits of people, of famous people on one of these little pieces of micro photographic film. You have to realize this was the size of a pin, a head of a pin.

There were 450 portraits on something that small. With that, he jumped into an entire other dimension. Now he was famous. The queen had some of his Stanhopes. At that time, he opened up his own factory and began producing these Stanhopes.

It doesn’t sound like a lot by our standards but he was producing as many as 12,000 items a day. He had 150 employees. This was huge. Believe it or not, this industry extended all the way into 1977 before they finally closed that factory.

Some of the things you’ll find in the Stanhopes were the Lord’s prayer. That was always a big one. Famous places, Niagara Falls was always big. They would have world’s fairs pictured, famous people.

One of the things that they did, and these were actually in the handles of knives, they had what they call bathing beauties. It would be women in bathing suits. You’re talking this was done in mid to late 1890s so they certainly weren’t real risqué.

Man:  
They look like dresses these days.

Most of those, the pictures were taken in Cuba because it was harder to find people who would sit there. The models would take pictures of bathing beauties. There was a whole series of these put actually in knife handles. You’d hold the knife handle up to the light and look at it.

Another famous personality that was in a Stanhope was Augustus Busch from Busch Beer. Augie was pretty smart. He was a real advertising genius. In 1838, he started with advertising knives for Busch Beer.

They were distributed mainly to the higher executives in their company but then they realized the common man is the guy who actually carries a pocketknife. What better way to get the name for Busch Beer out there than give him pocketknives as an advertising thing?

When they would look at the advertising on the handle of the knife as well, then they would turn it around and have that little peephole. They’d hold it up to the light, and there was Augie Busch’s fixed picture right there imbedded into the handle of the Busch knife. There are probably 75 different varieties of that particular knife.

As long as we’re talking about collectibles, the Busch knives are collectible. They’re very desirable. Any kind of advertising items is an entire other field of collectibles. This is stuff that people gobble up. There are always collectors for it.

The Stanhopes really add a lot of character to that type of thing. Sometimes, I’ll have people come and they’ll sell gold to us. A lot of times, on these charm bracelets, there will be a church or something like that. I’ll go, “Oh, this is a nice Stanhope.”

People go, “What? That’s a church.” “That’s a church charm but it’s also a Stanhope.” I’ll pick it up, knock that off the charm bracelet for them, hold it up to the light so they can look through it, and a lot of times, it will be either a picture of a larger church, sometimes the Eiffel Tower, or a lot of times, it’s the Lord’s prayer.

It’s funny how many people will go, “Oh well, I didn’t know you could do that with it,” so they turn around and keep the charm. It’s amazing how many people who I’ve shown stuff like that to, or they’ll bring in a letter opener and I’ve bought a bunch of things from them, and I’ll go, “Oh, this is a neat Stanhope.”

They say, “What do you mean?” I’ll hold it up to the light. They’ll look through it. Again, sometimes, it will be advertising. Sometimes it will be, usually it will be something in Europe, a scene in Europe because the factory was in France. A lot of this stuff was developed in Europe.

I’ve had people say, “I’m going to keep that if you don’t mind.” If I’ve probably looked at 200 or 300 Stanhopes over the years, I had three different people who I showed their Stanhope to them and they’ve become very big collectors.

One was a fellow who had inherited a bunch of stuff. When I showed it to him, he’s fairly affluent. This was something that really meant nothing to him until he realized what I showed him what a Stanhope. He’s become a really, really important collector in the country as far as Stanhopes go.

Every time he’ll find something new or really cool looking, he’ll bring it by the stop, “Steve, you know, you started me in this darn thing. I hate this work but I love you because it gives me something to do with myself. I travel around the country looking for these things.” He recently showed me a cane that was carved after the Civil War. Imbedded into the handle is a Stanhope with a picture of Civil War soldiers in it.

It’s very cool. It’s pretty unusual, very unusual actually. He was all excited, like a little kid when he brought that in and showed it to me. I was probably like a little kid because we two were in my office just looking at that and talking about some of the newer stuff that he had just found.

This is a collecting field that a lot of people aren’t aware of. If you’d like to see a Stanhope, I’ve got some I’m sure lying around my office that I would be happy to show you so you understand what I’m talking about or if you happen to find a piece that has a little clear dot in it, it could be a knife, a letter opener, a ring. They actually put them in rings, in the sides of rings.

You’re not sure, you’re going, “I don’t know why they would put a piece of glass into an item.” Turn it around, pick it up, and look at it. You’ll find one part will be bubbled out and one piece will be flat. Look at the bubbled out part. If you look at the flat part, you won’t see that photograph. You need the magnification to do it.

Flip it in the other direction. Look at the curved piece of glass. Hold that up to the light, and look in there. If you see some sort of a portrait or something like that, that is called a Stanhope. They’re collectible. I like them. Lots of other people collect them.

If you have any you would like to sell, I would appreciate you bringing them buy Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re in the Bear Plaza behind ABC Liquors. With that, we’re going to take a quick break and return to Tradio.

Another thing I will talk about that’s going on at our sale right now, I just got a package of new jewelry in that one of my suppliers said, “Steve, I want you to see our new line.” We had talked about enhanced colored diamonds a few weeks ago. The stuff that he sent me is really cool.

I have green diamonds, green and white diamond jewelry, I have blue and white jewelry. We always have that in stock. But I have red diamonds, I have orange diamonds, I have pink diamonds. A lot of stuff, they’re in pendants, they’re in rings. There’s a beautiful heart pendant, really, really cool with cognac color and white diamonds, some knockout stuff.

If you like colored diamond jewelry, you probably want to stop by while we’re having this sale. We don’t mark our stuff up so we can mark it back down. You could have come in a month ago and seen a piece of jewelry out there.

This week, that same piece of jewelry is 20 to 30% less money, haven’t changed the price a bit, haven’t marked it up but we have so much merchandise that it’s time for a sale and May is the month that we do it.

I heard a lot of different commercials going on for Mother’s Day in May. I listened to them and I listened to them. I know a lot of the store owners. I don’t care where you go. You can come in our store. You’re not going to see the same stuff day in and day out.

We always have different merchandise. We always have a lot of unique design stuff. We have a lot of large items. People don’t really realize that you don’t have to go to Tiffany’s. You don’t have to go to New York to find big, important, unusual gemstone pieces. Stop in at Westchester Gold and Diamonds. I think you’ll be very, very surprised at the merchandise that you’ll see there.

Our inventory is very extensive. I may even put myself on a limb here. I’m going to tell you right now that nobody has a larger diamond inventory than us from Port Charlotte, North Port, Desotto County.

Man:  
You have warehouses full.

I have warehouses full of stuff, not diamonds but I have warehouses full of stuff. If you don’t see it out front in our showcases, ask because there is just so much merchandise. Our store blew away in Hurricane Charlie. We had 17 more showcases than what I have in this store.

We have that merchandise in the safes, in the back. If you don’t see what you like, you can ask us. We can either order it, we can find it, we can make it.

I just had some people come in. They had seen some wedding bands that somebody out in Colorado does. They were actually pretty cool. They looked like mountains and the sky coming down. They were open work where the diamonds are all set into the white gold part. We made these.

They gave us a picture. We scanned the picture. It was carved out of wax. It’s casted in white gold and yellow gold. We put it together. We do all the diamond work. We finish it all back out. From the original designer, they were $2000 to $3000 per ring. From us, they were $1000 a ring.

If you see something and you say, “I just don’t want to pay that crazy money because it’s a special designer piece.” We can usually copy a lot of that stuff. We’re not going to put that designer name on it, no. We don’t go that far but we can certainly duplicate pretty much any design that you can come up for us.

It’s important for some people to say, “I bought this from Harry Winston. This is a Winston piece. This is a Charles Krypell piece.” That’s wonderful. These are all great designers. The type of diamonds that they use are spectacular. They are exceptional quality.

But you know what? They’re not privy to just that exceptional quality diamond. If that’s what you want, if I don’t have it in stock, I can order whatever quality diamond you would like to have and we can build that piece of merchandise with whatever quality diamond you want.

A lot of times, people will say, “I saw this piece. It was x amount of dollars. I just don’t want to spend that kind of money but I’d like it to look pretty close to that.” I’ll say to them, “We can cut corners a little bit. We can use a little bit lower quality diamond. First of all, you’re not going to be paying the designer price for it but we can custom make that for you or we can duplicate that design.”

Lots of times, you’ll find what we call a semi mount. A semi mount would be a ring with lots of little diamonds on it or side stones on it. Your center stone would go in the middle of that mounting. That’s what we call semi mounting.

You may have inherited a diamond that’s really special to you. It might have been your mom’s, your grandmother’s, but it might be a little bit off color. It might have a little yellow tinge to it. Any of the mountings that you’ve looked at to put it in, the diamonds in the semi mount are very, very white.

It makes your diamond look really terrible because it makes it look even yellower with that contrast. What we can do is duplicate that semi mount for you, use a diamond that’s a little bit lower in color in the semi mount so that there’s not so much of a difference in color or contrast between your center diamond and the diamonds that are in the semi mount.

Rather than making your diamond look worse, it’s actually going to make it look better because it’s going to have a little bit of contrast, not quite as much but it’s still going to be the center of attention in that semi mount.

If you’re battling something like that, a problem like that, come in and see us. Bring your diamond in. Let’s take a look at it. We’ll sit down with you. If we don’t have a mounting, we can sketch it out for you, build it from scratch.

Or if you have a picture of one that you would love to have and just couldn’t afford it, bring it in. We can duplicate that. Again, we can make it if the one you saw was in platinum and we can’t get the platinum, we’ll make it in white gold.

If the diamonds were just unbelievably great diamonds, and you’re not worried about the quality of the diamonds, they don’t have to be that great, we can go with a little bit lower quality of diamond. I had one of my customers in town. They were in Colorado. They say an eternity band, a diamond eternity band. It was marked $15,000. They turned around and the storekeeper said, “I can sell this to you for $8,500.”

It sounded like a great deal. They picked up the phone and called me from Colorado and said, “Hey Steve, I’m looking at such and such bands, this quality diamond, this much carat weight. What do you think I should be able to buy that for?”

“I should be able to build that band for you for $4000.” “$4000, are you sure?” “Yeah.” “I need it for a birthday present.” “Let me know when. You have to tell me the size. I can get the thing done in two weeks.”

He got back into town, and showed me. I went through some catalogs and showed him a picture of it. He said, “Yes, this is exactly what I want.” Actually, I called a buddy of mine up who manufactures this type of a ring. The ring cost me $3200. I added my 15% on to him.

He ended up buying the ring for under $4000, saving himself $4500, or actually saving himself $11,000 if he had turned around and bought it at the ridiculous marked up price that he saw it at originally.

At Westchester Gold and Diamonds, we’re about saving you money. Yes, we have to make a profit so we can stay in business for another 37 years, but I’ll never see it. I won’t be here. I’m pretty sure of that one but we’ve been saving people money for a lot of years. We’ve been getting people the type of merchandise they’ve loved to have for a lot of years.

The whole thing is we make it easy. Come in, tell us what you need. If we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you. We’ll go out of our way to try to have it for you. I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold. I’m promising you, you won’t be sorry if you drive over and see us.

It’s a great store. We pride ourselves on having friendly staff and trying to cater to whatever your needs might be.

[commercial break 44:27-46:09]

While we were on break, Kenny was asking me a question about a sword that he had. I guess one of your friends was cleaning out a house or something?

Kenny:
Yeah.

That’s a Prussian officer sword, German officer sword.

Kenny:
I thought it was German.

We look at the handle. You have this eagle head on the handle. That was on a lot of the German stuff. You saw some of that on American and some of the other countries but with the hand grip on here, the way it’s made, that tells me that it’s a typical German, and the shape of the blade as well, and just the guard itself, the way it’s made out of brass.

Usually, these will have some sort of marking on the blade up here by the hilt. This one doesn’t have anything on it. It’s probably about 1870s, 1880s. That’s the little blood groove in it. They were more for a dress sword but the blood grove was put in.

Kenny:
Explain the blood groove once again.

When we talk about a blood groove, when we see a sword, it’s a long piece of steel. Some of your earlier swords, they were fencing types of things. The blades were actually almost square, triangular. They were for fencing type of things.

If it went it, it came out real easy. Later on, the blades became flat and they were actually used for defense and for cutting people. What we see a lot of times on that blade, you’ll see a little grove in there, a little indented area.

This was actually a blood groove so when it would go in and they pulled it out, the blood would actually go down and drip through this little indented area on the sword so it would come off a little quicker than just leaving blood all over the place, so the blades wouldn’t rust out as quick. That’s what we’re talking about.

A lot of times, on the samurai swords, they didn’t put any kind of a groove but this was a different type of a blade. They would take the steel and fold it over and over and over again. This was all done by hand. It would be folded hundreds of times and pounded with hammers, heated, and finished off by a master swordsman.

The reason they would fold it so many times would be to give it more and more strength. They were able to put a much finer and sharper blade on these samurai swords. They didn’t really use a blood groove because when they went through, a real swordsman could turn around and just hack somebody to death with this thing.

Because of the finish on the blade, the blood didn’t penetrate into it. It didn’t stay on the surface so you didn’t get any kind of rusting or corrosion on it. This was just a little tidbit of information about swords. We may talk about that one Friday when I’m in here because there are a lot of different types of swords.

That’s another thing that we do buy over at Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We buy military items. If you have any of that stuff, we’re always interested in taking a look at it, whether it’s a commemorative sword that may have been presented to someone special.

You may find that it’s engraved on the scabbard. The scabbard is the outside portion that the sword actually goes into. Lots of times, these scabbards were leather and deteriorated over the years. The value, if you have a sword with a scabbard is probably almost twice what it is without the scabbard. The scabbard is a very important piece to go with that. It completes it as a collectible for someone.

If you have military swords, Civil War swords, or just some stuff that you’ve inherited and you have no idea what the heck it is, and you could care less about it, it was on the wall, and you don’t want any swords on your wall, you could live without that, you can bring those by Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re happy to look at that stuff.

Any kinds of metals, we do buy military metals as well. Any kinds of memorabilia type of stuff, I hate to say this, I don’t know if I really want to see one come in but mortar shells and things like this a lot of times.

There is lots of stuff that people have inherited from war pieces that they could care less about. You know what? There are people who collect that stuff. If you have things like that, the old badges, the old leather flight jackets believe it or not could be worth a lot of money, anywhere from $100 on up in good condition.

The more patches they have on them, that all adds value to it as well. We’re always interested in taking a look at stuff like that. Paintings, we get a lot of paintings lately, a lot of artwork. I got to be the one that tells people when they’re bringing it in, “This isn’t a painting. This is a litho. It’s a photographic process where they’ve copied a painting.”

People will say, “How the heck do you know that?” The easiest thing to do, if you have what you believe is a painting, go out there and get a loop, which is what we’ve talked about. That’s a magnifying device. If you need to buy a loop, we have ten power loops at the shop that you could buy. They’re like five bucks.

If you’re a garage sale-r, it’s always good to have one of those because if your arms starts to get a little short over the years and the eyes start to fail you a little bit, that loop comes in real handy. Take that loop and look at the picture that you’re not sure whether it’s a painting or a lithograph.

If you see lots of little dots of color, then that’s going to tell you that it’s a lithograph. It’s a photographic process. It is not an original painting. I constantly have people come in with what they believe are original paintings and they’re just not. I have to be the one to crush their dreams and hopes, and tell them, “No, you won’t be retiring this week. This is not a Mona Lisa here, I’m sorry, you don’t have it. This is something else.”

The thing you have to realize with any collectible, you’ve got it, you’ve enjoyed it. That’s the important thing. Whether it’s going to be worth a lot of money or not, how collectible is it anymore? How desirable is it anymore? Are there still people who want that particular item?

If it’s just something that’s not selling right now, especially on artwork, there is so much of it out there, so much available that there’s just not a real great secondary market for it. That’s what you have to always consider. I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold and Diamonds saying we hope that we’ll talk to you next week.

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