Into Antiques?

On ebay you'll find over 100 categories covering the Medieval and Renaissance periods, through Georgian, Regency and Victorian, to Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Antique Dealers in California

Linda Stamberger

Linda Stamberger, author of "Antiquing In Florida", is a Florida expert and freelance writer of many genres. Visit this site to read her articles - some of which are available for purchase - as is her book.

Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records

Brooks Novelty is an all-vinyl record store. We specialize in: jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, antique slot machines, pin balls, arcade games, neon clocks and signs, rare concert posters, old advertising signs and much more!

The Antique Company

Established in the late 1900's, we occupy a huge corner building with a small garden area that leads to another 1000 sq foot store (called TAC) that contains our Mid Century collection.

Vintage Westclox

Westclox photo identification gallery and history and information of clocks, watches and other timepieces. This site primarily displays American clocks made by Westclox that were made from the early 1900's up to about the 1960's.

Antique Appraisals On-Line

We are one of the country's largest, oldest, most qualified and respected appraisal services. The majority of our appraisals are estate and personal property evaluations for valuation documentation purposes. However, we have evaluated goods and personal property for natural disaster losses (hurricanes), theft, fire, freight and shipping damage after the loss has occurred.

Connoisseur Antiques

Featuring fine antique furniture, Connoisseur Antiques is a Los Angeles Antique Furniture Showroom specializing in antique clocks and mirrors, European and French antiques, Antique Lighting, Chandeliers, Sconces, Armoires and much more.

Liz's Antique Hardware

Antique Hardware is the backbone of our business. We offer a complete selection of door, window and furniture hardware, lighting and accessories circa 1890 to 1970.

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall is the largest antique mall in northern California. We opened our doors in October 1997 with 75 dealers and today we have over 200 of San Francisco's most professional antique specialists.

Ambiance Antiques

Importer of 18th and 19th Century French Antiques

C'est La Vie Antiques

European Antique and Accessories in San Diego, CA.

Lang Antiques

We carry a large selection of fine antique jewelry, antique rings & antique engagement rings. We also have vintage estate jewelry, vintage estate rings & vintage estate engagement rings from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian & Art Deco style periods.

Once in a Blue Moon Online Thrift Store

We are an online thrift store featuring new, used, and unusual items.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Antique Tool Talk: Invention of air brakes helped trains and us - Oroville Mercury-Register

Antique Tool Talk: Invention of air brakes helped trains and us - Oroville Mercury-Register
George Westinghouse was another of those men who invented a long list of items that makes our lives better today.

In the 1860s trains were having many wrecks, and there were many reasons, but a major problem was the braking system did not work well. It was larger in size, but it really was the same brake design used on covered wagons.

In the train's cab was a lever, which when pulled pressed a wooden block against one of the drivers (power wheels). If the wood did not start to burn, it would slow a short train, going slow. It could cause the rear cars to derail, or be crushed into the back of the next car forward.

The only other choice was to reverse the engine. This damaged the drivers as they were now spinning the wrong way, and the size of the train could still result in the rear of the train jumping the track.

They tried adding the lever system to cars along the length of the train, but this required a "brakeman" to be at each lever. There was no system to tell the last brakeman what was going on up front. To work required them all to be applied at an even rate, meaning the system only added to the danger.

All of these troubles kept the trains short and speed slow, even when the locomotive design had made great improvements. If you look at early photos of trains, they will be only be about six to eight cars long.

Going down a grade the only thing that slowed the train was the engine. Keeping the wood brake pressed on the steel wheel would cause them

to overheat, and fail.

Then Westinghouse invented the train air brake system. His brakes worked because of a valve which was operated at one location by the brakeman riding in the locomotive.

His first valve was invented in 1869, and it was better than anything before, but still had problems. The brakes on all cars could not be applied at one time. He made an improved, "automatic air brake" valve in 1872, then the "triple valve" in 1887.

Now, the system has much more details than I've shared here; the issue is space and I'm not sure I could explain the triple valve, and the air pumps, tanks, etc. It made all the brakes along the whole train be applied at the same time, with equal pressure. The rear cars were now under control, by one brake handle in the cab.

His invention allowed trains to now be longer, faster and safer. The larger locomotives added tons, that required this new brake system, and it worked. Soon there were trains a mile long that on level ground could be pulled at 55 mph. The number of engines could increase, and brake as one unit.

George was not finished with the air brake system. His next invention was the size of a wheel barrel, with an air tank, hand valve, and hose. Before the train departed one man could check the air brake system.

He hooked up to the train's air lines, and pulled the brake handle, and then could watch a pressure valve. If it held the pressure, it was safe to go.


California can't get enough of the Chevy Volt as sales surge - Detroit Free Press

Just a few weeks after General Motors curbed production of Volts, Chevrolet dealers in California are scrambling to get the extended-range electric cars on their lots as sales surge because of special state incentives for electric vehicles and West Coast gas still above $4 a gallon.

It's ironic because lower demand, in general, prompted GM to shut down production for five weeks during April and May. GM still plans a three-week shutdown this summer at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

"I've had more people talk to me in the last couple months about the Volt than I have in the last year," said Bill Cumming, general manager of Ron Baker Chevrolet in National City, Calif., a San Diego suburb. "Currently, I have none in stock."

U.S. sales of the Volt remain mediocre at best -- just 1,680 in May. But the car is gaining momentum in California, where hybrid and electric car owners are allowed to use carpool lanes no matter how many people are in the car. Through the first quarter, the Golden State accounted for nearly 23% of all Volt registrations, according to R.L. Polk.

It's more difficult to supply the California market because Volts must have a special low-emissions package for owners to qualify for special state incentives. And the package cannot be added after production.

Considering that GM's market share in California was only 9.3% during that period, compared with 17.4% nationwide, Chevrolet can't miss any opportunity to meet demand in the most populous state. Buyers registered 837 Volts in California in the first quarter. The next-best market was Michigan, at 232 registrations, or 6.28%.

"It is crucial that the Volt performs well there. Volt's success there says that Volt is indeed an environmentally advanced and friendly vehicle," Polk analyst Thomas Libby said in an e-mail. "GM and the other domestics have for years struggled in California; the success of the Volt in California will help GM in its efforts to be viewed as a competitive manufacturer that offers contemporary and competitive products."

The supply and demand issue for GM is complex when selling Volts in California.

For Volts headed to California, GM tweaks the exhaust system to reduce emissions from its gas generator to virtually zero. The low-emissions package qualifies owners to drive solo in special carpool lanes and receive a $1,500 state tax rebate. All Volt owners, regardless of state, qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Starting at about $39,000, the car remains expensive for most consumers. But in California, which has a high concentration of wealthy car buyers, the sticker price isn't as shocking.

Lure of carpool lanes

The carpool lane incentive has been in effect since February. The state has 1,400 miles of carpool lanes that are coveted real estate for commuters grappling with congestion. Some resort to inflatable dolls and mannequins to appear to qualify for the lanes.

GM says the Volt is selling particularly strong in the San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego markets -- areas notorious for intense congestion.

Mike Luner, executive manager of Del Grande Dealer Group's Capitol Chevrolet in San Jose, estimated that carpool lanes were the "primary deciding factor" for nine in 10 Volt buyers.

"Time is the most valuable commodity to these people," Luner said. "Our idea is that we want to take the opportunity to capture them with the Volt but for them to consider the other products that Chevrolet has in the future."

"There is a shortage of Volts for us," said Darryl Holter, CEO of Downtown L.A. Auto Group, whose Felix Chevrolet dealership had sold 29 Volts this year as of May 29. "We'll look to other dealers to see if they have any."

GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said GM was "really just starting" to meet demand for the Volt in California within the last several weeks.

"We sold everything we had out there basically," she said.

Calling on other states

The Volt has been a target of conservative pundits who have tied it to the government's rescue of GM through the 2009 bankruptcy restructuring. GM began engineering the car at least as early as 2007.

Two fires in Volt battery packs on cars that had been crash-tested generated another round of criticism. No Volt owners have experienced a fire in their cars.

When GM backed off its 2012 production targets for the vehicle, the criticism got louder, and CEO Dan Akerson lamented that the car had become a "political football."

But in California, the positive buzz for the Volt seems to be drowning out the criticism.

Some California dealers are so desperate for Volts that they're offering to buy more from dealers in other states.

"They had that shutdown for five weeks, which gave us no inventory," said Steve Krueger, inventory and fleet manager for Courtesy Chevrolet in San Diego. "We were buying them from out of state and selling those."

California dealers said buyers are quicker to embrace new technology, and the Volt's reputation as an environmentally friendly car is gaining traction.

Shaun Del Grande, president of Del Grande Dealer Group in the Bay Area, said Volt supply at Capitol Chevrolet has improved in recent weeks. He said the carpool lane ruling has been a "tremendous" boon to sales.

"We're seeing new customers at Chevrolet that we've never seen before," he said.

Contact Nathan Bomey: 313-223-4743 or


California Gay-Marriage Case on Path to Supreme Court - Wall Street Journal

SAN FRANCISCO—The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday declined to rehear arguments over California's ban on gay marriage, which the court invalidated in February, sending the case on a trajectory to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday declined to rehear arguments over California's ban on gay marriage, sending the case on a trajectory to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justin Scheck has details on The News Hub. Photo: Getty Images.

The decision came after proponents of Proposition 8—the 2008 California voter initiative banning gay marriage—asked that the February decision by a three-judge panel be reviewed by a larger panel of 11 judges.

To be heard by the larger panel, a majority of the court's 25 active judges would have to vote to rehear the case. The motion failed to get a majority, the decision said.

Andy Pugno, a lawyer for the group supporting Prop 8, said the ruling "essentially clears the way to where we ultimately knew this was going, which is the U.S. Supreme Court."

In a conference call, David Boies, a lawyer for the pro-gay-marriage plaintiffs opposing Prop 8, said Tuesday's decision "affirms what we've said from the beginning, that marriage is a fundamental right."

Ted Olson, a lawyer for Prop 8 opponents, said the Supreme Court is likely to decide in October whether to hear the case, and if it does, it will probably issue a decision by June 2013.

Legal Patchwork

See where each state stands on the same-sex marriage issue.

Three Ninth Circuit judges dissented from the ruling Tuesday, citing a remark by President Barack Obama in his recent support of gay marriage that he would like to see the discussion over gay marriage continue "in a respectful way."

"Our court has silenced any such respectful conversation," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the dissenters.

The Ninth Circuit struck down Prop 8 in February, finding it violated the U.S. Constitution by withdrawing from gays and lesbians a right that they previously enjoyed.

The case heads to the Supreme Court at a time when public opinion on gay marriage is shifting. An analysis of polls by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that in 2004, 60% of Americans opposed letting gay and lesbian couples marry, and 31% supported gay marriage. This year, the poll shows, 47% of Americans support gay marriage, and 43% oppose it.

Tuesday's decision comes after a federal appeals court in Boston last week ruled the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, likely sending that case to the Supreme Court as well.

Write to Justin Scheck at


California gay marriage ban nears US Supreme Court - BBC News

Backers of California's same-sex marriage ban say they will appeal to US Supreme Court, opening up the chance of a binding ruling on the issue.

The move comes after a US federal appeal court declined to reconsider its earlier decision striking down the ban.

Gay marriage supporters also welcomed the news.

Last week, another appeal court declared unconstitutional part of a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage.

The timing of both cases means it is possible they will be heard together at the Supreme Court, although new cases are not likely to be heard until October.

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the ban's sponsors, said they would "promptly file our appeal to the nation's highest court".

"Our case has entered the final chapter," said Chad Griffin, president of American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is funding the effort to overturn the ban.

Same-sex marriages were briefly legal in California before a statewide referendum in 2008, known as Proposition 8.

The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that California's "Prop 8" ban discriminated against gays and lesbians by removing an existing right, but limited its decision to California.

Backers had appealed to have their case heard in a wider panel in the appeals court, but were denied.

Same-sex marriage is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, but has been expressly banned in many other states.


California's Proposition 8 case headed to U.S. Supreme Court - San Jose Mercury News

The three-year legal showdown over California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a brief order Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a ruling earlier this year that struck down Proposition 8, finding the 2008 law unconstitutional because it stripped gay and lesbian couples of the right to marry. The appeals court denied a request from Proposition 8 backers to rehear the case with a special 11-judge panel.

Same-sex couples will not be allowed to marry during the 90 days Proposition 8 supporters have to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Andy Pugno, general counsel for, the

measure's sponsors, vowed to "promptly" file the petition, saying they look forward to a "positve outcome" in the Supreme Court.

As a result, it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether to revive California's ban on same-sex nuptials and in the process jump headlong into the national debate over the issue. The development comes less than a week after a federal appeals court in Boston found the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage rights unconstitutional, heightening the prospect the Supreme Court may be forced to consider both state and federal gay marriage restrictions next term.

Proposition 8 supporters would file their request for the Supreme Court to hear the case in the coming months, giving the justices

the opportunity to decide whether to take it or let the 9th Circuit decision stand when they return in the fall. If the justices take up the legal battle, they would be expected to hear arguments early next year and rule by June 2013.

David Boies, one of the lawyers for same-sex couples, predicted the Supreme Court would "take one or both of the cases," a reference to the Proposition 8 case and last week's ruling out of Boston. Boies and Theodore Olson, former U.S. Solicitor General during the Bush administration, filed the challenge to Proposition 8 case on behalf of two couples seeking the right to marry.

Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, a Berkeley couple in the case, said Tuesday they are ready for their fight to reach the high court. They said they hoped to have the case resolved by the time their twin sons graduated high school, and now it appears the outcome may coincide with their graduation next year.

"For me, it feels like it's the decision that launches the case out of California to the national stage," Perry told Bay Area News Group shortly after the 9th Circuit released its order.

The 9th Circuit was widely expected to turn down the request to rehear the case. A majority of the court's 25 full-time judges must vote to rehear the case with an 11-judge panel, but the court is now dominated by Democratic appointees who were considered less inclined to reconsider the ruling.

Three conservative judges, Diarmuid O'Scannlain, Carlos Bea and Jay Bybee, dissented, saying they would rehear the case. Judge N. Randy Smith, who dissented from February's three-judge ruling, also would have reheard the case, but did not sign on to O'Scannlain's dissent.

In the earlier 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit invalidated Proposition 8, saying it stripped away the legal right to marry without any social or legal justification other than bias against gays and lesbians. The decision upheld former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over an unprecedented trial in early 2010 and later declared the law unconstitutional.

Legal experts, however, have noted that the 9th Circuit decision was crafted as narrowly as possible, avoiding a finding that there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to wed. Instead, the 9th Circuit ruling could be limited to California's unique circumstances -- voters taking away the right to marry established in the spring of 2008, when the California Supreme Court struck down the state's previous laws outlawing same-sex marriage.

The state Supreme Court decision allowed more than 18,000 gay and lesbian couples to marry before voters approved Proposition 8 in November 2008, and those marriages remain intact. 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt stressed that point to say the state cannot create separate, unequal classes of relationships without violating the constitution.

Reinhardt and Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, who joined in the decision, reiterated the point in Tuesday's brief order, saying "we held only that under the particular circumstances relating to California's Proposition 8, that measure was invalid.

"We did not resolve the fundamental question that both sides asked us to: whether the Constitution prohibits the states from banning same-sex marriage," the two judges said Tuesday. "That question may be decided in the near future, but if so, it should be in some other case, at some other time."

While the 9th Circuit did not specifically establish a broader fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry that might apply to other states, legal experts say the Proposition 8 case could still pose that question for the Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit relied heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court's 1996 ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, striking down a Colorado law that stripped gays and lesbians of protection against discrimination.

Kennedy is considered a crucial swing vote on the gay marriage question now propelling toward the nation's high court. Olson said he would argue in the "broadest possible way" when the case reaches the Supreme Court that same-sex couples should have the equal right to marry.

The Proposition 8 case is on about the same track as the federal case decided last week in Boston, which involved a ruling striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The 9th Circuit is expected to hear a similar DOMA case in the fall.

The Supreme Court could avoid the larger constitutional questions in the Proposition 8 case. There is a lingering legal question over whether Proposition 8 supporters have a legal right to even press the appeal and defend the law when the state's top elected leaders, Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, refuse to do so. The 9th Circuit said it would abide by a California Supreme Court ruling last year allowing the measure's proponents to defend the law, but the U.S. Supreme Court could take a different view on whether they have legal standing in the federal courts to press the appeal on the state's behalf.

Gay rights advocates, while hoping for a broader ruling on same-sex marriage rights, have said they would raise that argument because they want to establish gay marriage rights in California.

The Obama administration has not taken a position in the Proposition 8 case, but has refused to defend the federal ban and deemed it unconstitutional. President Barack Obama recently announced his public support for gay and lesbian couples marriage rights.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at


California Voters U-turn on Bullet Train - Car Rentals

California High Speed TrainsAccording to a new poll, California voters are doing a u-turn on the $68.4 billion high speed rail project they had initially approved funding for. Ambitious plans for a fast track link between Los Angeles and San Francisco at speeds of up to 220mph, making journeys just over two-and-a-half hours, were favoured by 53% of voters in a 2008 ballot. The voters approved the state to raise $10 million in bonds, while the state was also able to get $3.5 billion in stimulus money from the federal government.

The California high speed rail project calls for about 300 miles of track to be added south from the middle of Central Valley over the next ten years and laid to reach the northern outskirts of Los Angeles. Construction on this part of the plan is due to start later in the year. Then a northern link from the Central Valley to San Francicso won’t be finished until 2028. With the funds the state has raised for the project, it’s still short $54.9 billion of what it needs to complete this construction. This has raised fears that the state won’t be able to get the funds needed to finish the later parts of the network, thus it would only be left with a rail line that links minor cities and farming communities.

With these concerns and how the project has been handled, a new poll shows that California voters have turned against the project. Three-fifths of voters polled oppose the bullet train and would stop public borrowing if they were given the chance to vote on it again. Nearly seven out of ten said that they would never or rarely every use the train if it eventually runs between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Out of those polled, not one voter said they would use the high speed rail more than once a week, while just 33% said they would prefer the train over a one-hour aircraft journey or seven-hour road journey. The $123 each way ticket, which is an estimate, is said to deter many as well. Politicians in the state have until August 31 to give final approval to an initial 130-mile portion of track in the Central Valley at a cost of $6 billion, and they are expected to do just that.

California governor Jerry Brown has praised the project as a way to create jobs, and the unions are supporting him. He has personally committed to getting a high speed rail link built since the 1970s. However, he is trying to persuade voters to spend billions on a train while proposing tax increases and austere cuts to public spending at the same time. This includes a 5% paycut for state staff to deal with a deficit in the budget that has grown to $16 billion.

Other supporters say the state’s economy will recover in the long run and the money left over will be from private investors, fees from its own cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the federal government. They believe the high speed rail link will be vital to the economic future of the airline. However, critics say the funding will dry up and California will be left with an orphan track. Assembly Budget Committee vice chairman Jim Nielsen opposes the project, calling it an idea that worsens the more details are released about it. On top of this, the Legislative Analyst’s Office described the funding plan as speculative and vague.



California's Push for More Moderate Candidates Totally Backfires - Rolling Stone

In 2010, California voters approved an overhaul of the state's primary system in an attempt to bring more moderates into the state's political races. But when the votes are tallied from today's primary election, the GOP candidate chosen to go up against Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the fall could turn out to be none other than Orly Taitz, queen of the birther movement and nobody's idea of a moderate. It's safe to say this isn't what the voters had in mind.

Under the 2010 reforms California shifted to a system where candidates from both parties face off and the two with the most votes advance to the general election. In theory, you could wind up with two Republicans – or two Democrats – taking the top two spots and going on to compete in the fall. Today, though, Feinstein will come out top. The big question is, who will come in second?

Now, it's quite possible that a totally legitimate moderate Republican will emerge as the Republican candidate (there are a few – just a few – in the 23-person, 14-Republican field). But the extremely limited polling on the race shows that there's also the jokes-on-them likelihood that Taitz, running as a Republican, could take the #2 spot behind Feinstein. None of the other 23 potential candidates, Taitz included, polled higher than 2 percent in April, but Taitz leads the pack, probably on name recognition alone. Also a possibility: that the Republicans don't get a candidate in there at all.

Establishment Republicans didn't really put up a candidate this year to challenge Feinstein, a powerful incumbent with a considerable war chest. Nor did any self-funded 1%-er come forward like last cycle (when Carly Fiorina ran for Senate against Barbara Boxer, and Meg Whitman ran for Governor against Jerry Brown, in both cases unsuccessfully, as it turned out). So instead, Republicans have the likes of Taitz and others like right-wing "Surfing" Rabbi Nachum Shifren to choose from.

Taitz says that her platform is not only about proving the president is not an American (though her numerous unsuccessful lawsuits over the years indicate otherwise), but you can practically hear the gleeful laughter coming from the Feinstein campaign. "If [Republicans] think the embarrassment over Donald Trump is bad, having the woman who brought all these lawsuits would be even worse," Bill Carrick, Feinstein's chief campaign adviser, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

As Chris Thompson wrote here yesterday, since the 90s the Republican party in California has been basically self-destructing. "Two decades of immigration and changing demographics have steadily eroded the Republican base in the Golden State," Thompson wrote. "But rather than adapt to this new reality, the state party lurched deep into the far-right swamplands of American politics. As the state grew more socially liberal, the last of the Republicans doubled down on conservatism, and sank into irrelevancy."

If things go Taitz's way tonight, you can bet this won't change anytime soon.


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