Treasure hunt

There’s about to be a new cultural player in our area. Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers has announced that it will open a regional office in White Plains in May.

The auction house — founded in the 1960s in Bolton, Massachusetts, by Robert “Bob” Skinner, an engineer turned antiques connoisseur and dealer — conducts approximately 75 auctions a year in its galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts. (It has 19 specialty departments in everything from fine art to fine wines and rare spirits, from military memorabilia to antique automobiles.)

While Skinner will retain a presence in Manhattan — where it has had an office for five years — and Coral Gables, Florida, its tristate operations will be run out of Westchester.

“It really comes down to accessibility, to being able to reach our clients in New York City, Westchester and Connecticut,” says Katie Banser-Whittle, Skinner’s regional director and WAG What’s New Again columnist, who will head the office.

Though the internet gives Skinner a global reach, the auction/appraisal world remains a tactile one. The White Plains office will serve as a meeting place for Banser-Whittle, Skinner specialists and clients as well as a springboard for her to travel.

“It gives her the basis to turn on a dime and see collections,” says Marie Keep, Skinner’s senior vice president and managing director.

Though the actual location will not be announced until it’s ready to be occupied, the space will be naturally well lit and versatile, says Banser-Whittle, a Westchester resident. And it will provide a perfect backdrop for auction previews, says Keep, who is founding director of Skinner’s Fine Wines & Rare Spirits Department. Jewelry and spirits are two hot categories now, with antique jewelry and bourbon being particularly collectible, she says.

For those reading this article with one eye on the treasures in their own homes, Banser-Whittle notes that vintage Louis Vuitton trunks also maintain their popularity, as do Plains Indian artifacts. 

“In European Furniture & Decorative Arts,” Banser-Whittle adds, “we have seen some momentum in early furniture (trestle tables, armchairs, mirrors, etc.), with good solid, simple forms that highlight high-quality construction. 

“Like many other departments, it comes down to rarity, especially in the Clocks & Instruments Department. Wristwatches have certainly seen a trend in the positive direction in the vintage stainless steel tool watches. Dive, pilot and automotive pieces are great examples that attract seasoned collectors as well as new collectors. Pieces in these categories can range from a couple hundred dollars for a good Swiss 17 jewel manual-wind or automatic-movement watch from the 1960s to ’70s to six-figure pieces from the same time period. The quintessential names such as Rolex, Omega and Heuer certainly demand the top prices.”

What’s hot “changes constantly,” Keep says. “You have to stay flexible. It’s not only about the category but how to sell it.”

For more, visit skinnerinc.com.

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