Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

February 15, 2014

Mason to talk art, antiques in age of Twitter

THOMASVILLE — Lark Mason has a plate brimming with occupations. He is a widely-sought lecturer, auction house owner, author, translator, antiques appraiser, adjunct NYU professor, independent curator, president and founder of, and has appeared for the last 18 years on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. He is a leading authority on Chinese art, antiquities and furniture.

Mason will deliver a lecture, “Art, Culture and Antiques in the Age of Twitter,” at the Thomasville Antiques Show at 2  p.m., on Friday, where he will sign copies of his book, Asian Arts: Including the Arts of Islam, and works he translated from Mandarin Chinese, Wang Shixiang’s Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, and Classic Chinese Furniture of the Qing Dynasty, by Tian Jiaqing.

Beginning his career as a generalist in American and European antiquities, Mason opened his first antiques shop in Cookville, Tenn. He acquired degrees in English and business, but always harbored a desire to buy and sell antiques. He later discovered Chinese art while attending Sotheby’s Works of Art program in London, and after six years as a general appraiser, made his way into Sotheby’s Chinese art department, where he remained for nearly two decades.

During his time at Sotheby’s he appraised collections for the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. As senior vice-president in the Chinese works of art department and director of online auctions at Sotheby’s, Mason worked tirelessly to raise the bar for the conservation and restoration of Chinese furniture. He left Sotheby’s in 2003 to found his own auction house and online auction platform. Lark Mason Associates and iGavel Auctions have both flourished since.

iGavel allows dealers to expose their clients’ antiques to international markets via the internet in a way never previously possible, which at the same time has allowed for the broadening of the middle market for antiques. iGavel works with regional associates across the country to facilitate the process of authenticating, transporting, and auctioning antiques at a minimal cost to the buyer and seller.   

Mason also has the distinction of having delivered the highest appraisal to any lot appearing on Antiques Roadshow in the show’s history to date. In an episode that aired in July 2011, shot in Tulsa, Okla., a man appeared with five oriental cups carved from rhinoceros horn. The man had purchased the cups in England and America over a period of years at a total expenditure of around $5,000. On a trip to England, he told Mason, he spent practically all of the money he’d brought with him to purchase one of the cups, and that after the purchase, his trip became a frugal one. Mason noted some of the characteristics of the cups, said they were likely late-17th to early-18th century, and then told the man they were worth between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Tickets to “Art, Culture and Antiques in the Age of Twitter” are $45 and may be purchased at Ticket prices include the lecture and admission to the antiques show. In addition to the lecture, Mason will also be on hand to evaluate personal items throughout the appraisal sections of the show.

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