It’s not often you find oil paintings with such a well-defined and readable signature, but the one on this triptych we have in our booth at Fargo Antiques and Repurposed Market is clearly LETTERMAN, stylized with extended letters to evoke modernity and motion.

And, not only is the name so readable, the signature readily identifies a variety of other works from this artist, all large, geometric paintings, all with the same readily-identifiable signature.

Don’t try to find “Letterman”, though: this isn’t an artist’s signature, it’s the name of a line of high-end decorator art sold in department stores, particularly JC Penney’s, during the 1970s, sourced and distributed by Artmaster Studios of California. A few are attributed to an Antoinette Letterman but I believe these are misattribution to the wrong “Letterman”; Antoinette’s signature looks less like a logo and more like a human signature from the examples I can find.

The paintings, all done with quality higher than the usual starving artist works you find prescribed by interior designers, appear to be unique, even if there are similarities in styles. Paintings range from very geometric to realistic photos of animals. They mostly share a common palette, primarily browns and yellows and neutral colors.

Unlike a lot of decorator art, the unique and stylized art produced under the Letterman logo demand a high price today. Collectors recognize the uniqueness of the style, and are willing to pay high prices for these rare works of art.


This afternoon KFGO’s Bob Harris contacted me to get ten minutes of Dakota Death Trip Hallowe’en tales — listen to it here — in which I talked about:

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So, I’m just hanging around the house, checking the internet on my phone, and I see a headline from the Fargo Forum:  “Pushing Tin: Fargo History Found In Early Garages“. Of course, I know exactly what they’re talking about — one of my favorite things is the Rusk Auto House, a product of the Fargo Cornice and Ornament Co, designed to solve the problem, “the automobile has just been invented, now where do we keep it?”    Of course, I was curious to see what sort of interesting info John Lamb of the Forum found for his article, and to my surprise many of the facts come from a source that is, well, ME.


A couple places in the article they quote my quirky history website, The Infomercantile, as the source for some of the interesting tidbits about the cost and origins of the little tin house.   I even appreciate that he credits me with the price of the Auto-House, when in fact I credit The Forum as the source of the price originally.  The most interesting thing to me is, while I thought I’d found most of the Rusk Auto-Houses in Fargo…the one in this article is new to me. It’s nice to be recognized as having useful information to the world, but even more exciting is to find something new I hadn’t seen before.

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It’s less than a month until the next Elkhorn flea market rolls around.  We’re planning on renting a booth and selling our wares there in the September 30th event, but if you’re in eastern Wisconsin on the 12th of August you should stop at Elkhorn and see what’s shaking.  The photo above comes from a recent newspaper article about the flea market, including an interview with Nona.  She runs the sale with her husband, Skip, who runs a antique shop in Hales Corners that Wifey and I frequent from time to time.  The pictures don’t do the sale justice — it’s a lot more than nutcrackers and dolls, and more high-end antiques than rummage-sale stuff.

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