I’m very busy with charitable contribution appraisals. I learned about Chinese Qipao or cheongsam. A Chinese qipao, is a dress with a stiff Mandarin collar, snug fitting, closing from right shoulder to under left arm with snaps. Formal qipao are longer. The important value characteristic, other than custom made, was the number of snaps used for the over the bodice closure. Sometimes there were eight, the highest I found, or simply a zipper, one size fits all with no snaps. The donation also included matching embroidered shoes with high heels. The black silk shoes with a flying crane on each heel and the multi-colored peony flower on the cream silk heels were custom made also. The red silk shoes, more subtle, had same color stitching on the toe, heel and side of the shoe. Quality elements were custom made and technique of decoration. Value elements were number of snaps, technique of decoration and extra tailoring. I worked with the conservator at the Institution receiving the gift, doing a virtual examination for one hour. She was an expert as to construction method and that skill gave me such invaluable insight and allowed me to perform my job to produce a credible result.
Presently I’m working on a charitable contribution of Japanese propaganda textiles. Japanese textiles I know well, but propaganda designs I never saw during the twenty-five years, 1977-2002, I traveled back and forth to Japan as a textile dealer. In early 2000 I purchased locally a boy’s kimono with toy tanks, the rising sun flag and a map of Ethiopia written in katagana. I approached the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco to donate and the concern was the topic was too sensitive to accept the donation. I then gifted to the deYoung Museum without concern. The museum now holds a substantial collection of Japanese propaganda textiles gifted in 2015. It is important to realize how taste, or the national political atmosphere, can affect the habits of an institution or a collector. This genre also led me down a rabbit hole of Russian propaganda textiles during the same time period, 1930’s – 1945.
I attend a zoom presentation every week. The change in virtual offerings has been an exploding platform. For months I missed many scheduled zoom meetings, fortunately not with my clients but for classes and symposiums. The material out there virtually, is overwhelming, Now, I too, can talk with someone minutes away by car or hours away by plane. My estate business has grown because I can examine virtually. I can help trustees or the heirs of property, often as a starting place with scope of work stated before beginning. My ‘office appointments’ have become virtual and geographically expanded around the country. I enjoy this expansion.