Even though America is a relatively young country, M.S. Rau Antiques is celebrating its centennial as one of the country's oldest and largest, family-owned antique dealers. Third generation owner Bill Rau is at the helm of this renowned gallery which occupies three floors covering 35,000 sq.ft. and is organized according to categories such as sterling silver, music boxes, furniture, globes, estate jewelry and stained glass, with more than one, museum-quality item in each category. Collectors, curators and curious tourists are drawn to its sprawling galleries located in the historic French Quarter. American history experts and memorabilia collectors who stroll through the galleries will be delighted to discover a unique selection of significant historical items that fit in with the Fourth of July.
Much smaller than the original flag made by Betsy Ross, which hangs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., collectors and flag wavers alike will appreciate this truly unique example of an American flag which is cleverly camouflaged inside a cane. This patriotic collectible holds a 48-star American flag within its ebonized shaft. This lovely antique cane is topped by a silver knob handle, and terminates in a removable brass ferrule from which the Stars and Stripes is unfurled (circa 1915; $1,885)
The precursor to the modern, high tech digital scale was undoubtedly this life size Talking Scale designed by Moore Talking Scale Company in Boston in 1902. When you consider that diet food and fitness clubs really didn't exist back then, you have to give this "talking" scale some serious consideration. Who knew stepping on a scale could be this much fun, or this upsetting? In order to get weighed, a brave person would insert a nickel, step on the scale, pull the lever and actually hear their weight spoken out loud via a phonograph mechanism inside the scale that would rotate the record to the track corresponding to the user's weight and play it. The mechanism, known as an "annunciator," was invented by George Albert Moore and patented in the United States in 1902. Due to the conspicuous nature in which this scale indicated the user's weight, few were ever made, making this particular example an exceptional rarity. This nostalgic machine is crafted of cast iron with enameling on the directions and sound vents and top sign ($34,500).
For fans of summertime leisure games played in the backyard, this set of lawn balls is in perfect condition and was a gift to Herbert Hoover by the American Lawn Bowling Association in 1931. As President of the United States from 1929 to 1933, Hoover was more widely known as a mining engineer an effective administrator, but one of his favorite leisurely activities was lawn bowling, a pastime which he enjoyed several times a week. This historic, one-of-a-kind boxed set of lawn bowls was crafted by J. Jaques & Sons of London. Plaques on the bottom of each ball display the initials "H.H." and the numerals "1, 2, 3 and 4," respectively. Each ball also features the Jaques stamp etched on the bottom and "Herbert Hoover" is embossed on the cover of the leather box ($32,850).
These are only a few of the exceptional and unique antiques and collectibles that are available at M.S. Rau Antiques. For a closer look at the entire inventory, visit www.rauantiques.com.