The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

Mark Lawson Antiques announces the discovery of a rare and important American Revolutionary War Document

The American Crisis by Thomas Paine, a Rare & Important Document from the American Revolution
The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

Upstate New York antiques specialist, Mark Lawson of Mark Lawson Antiques Inc. has identified a recently found original publication by American patriot Thomas Paine. The rare bound pamphlet of three essays was rescued from the dumpster by a local family cleaning out their late father’s estate. The bound group of 3 essays titled The American Crisis was published by Thomas Paine on December 19, 1776 in Philadelphia. The first essay, which begins with the words “These are the times that try men’s souls…”, so moved American Revolutionary War general and later American president George Washington that he had it read to the assembled continental army on December 23, 1776. At that time the American Revolution was faltering, suffering repeated defeats by the British Armed Forces. It was also winter and the army was cold and hungry. The service contracts of many of the Revolutionary soldiers were about to expire on December 31 and soldiers were demoralized, many planning on returning home for a long awaited rest. The inspirational reading of these essays to those soldiers on that day in 1776 is acknowledged as the turning point of the American Revolution.

An important American document, rescued from this unprepossessing box.
An important American document, rescued from this unprepossessing box.

This important original document, of which few other examples are known to have survived, is scheduled for sale at auction in New York in November 2014 with a $120,000-$180,000 estimate. There is expected strong interest from institutions and advanced collectors across the United States.

Mark Lawson Antiques has been the local underwriter for WMHT TV-17 broadcasting Antiques Roadshow since 1997. Mark Lawson specializes in the evaluation and purchase of fine antique decorative objects, estate jewelry, rare coins, currency, and exceptional collectibles. He meets with clients for purchase evaluations by appointment at his two offices in Saratoga Springs and Colonie. 518-587-8787,


This exciting find was covered by both ABC News 10 and Fox News 23. Watch the news clips below or read the full articles at their websites.



NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Capital Region People to Watch: Mark Lawson

As published in Capital Region Living Magazine (Albany, NY), March 2013

Capital Region People to Watch – March 2013

By Vikki Moran

The mere mention of Mark Lawson’s name in the local antique community can start a conversation about evaluations and professionalism in the marketplace and Lawson is an expert at both.

Soft-spoken and extremely knowledgeable, Lawson loves where life has taken him. He has embraced the changes in the antiquity industry and rolls with them to keep his business vibrant after many years.

Where Lawson is now is a far cry from where he started. Much to his parents’ dismay, he left RPI where he was working on his PHD in Materials Engineering for a short-term leave, but never returned. Unmarried and carefree like most at that age, he followed his weekend passion of collecting, which led to his first antique business – Mark Lawson Antiques.

The business was thriving and money was being made by Lawson and many others until a little four letter word became mainstream…eBay. Changing gears: Life after eBay “When eBay started, many antique stores went out,” he said. His lovely shop, that many of us still remember on Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs saw a 50 percent drop in sales; he needed to change gears, but thankfully not careers.

He loved and still loves downtown Saratoga, but the store front no longer made sense, so he closed it and started the evaluation business that he has today.

The climate for collectable and antique mania was catching on with the popularity of the PBS show, “Antiques Roadhouse” and subsuqent cable spin-offs like “American Pickers”, “Pawn Stars” and “Storage Wars”.

Lawson, a sponsor of the local WMHT airings, said he has gained much from the ground-breaking production and points out that the world has changed along with the marketplace for collectibles, art and precious metals. He explained that it is different and even a bit sad at times. It has, in his opinion, become a marketplace driven by economic necessity.

“There is a cultural shift away from history and family heritage,” he said. “People are selling family heirlooms often to settle debts and pay for funerals in some cases. Family estates are the marketplace for items now. The estate contents of loved ones are evaluated, then sold and this is what is driving the current marketplace.”

Funding the Chills and Thrills: Touching History

With a love of history and a desire to see each item go into the right set of hands, Lawson still gets a thrill from seeing historic items. The value may not always be there, but that doesn’t matter. The excitement he feels from the recognition of the item’s touch and point in history is icing on the professional cake for Lawson.

One such instance began many years ago when Admiral Perry was given an honor from a local volunteer fire department. Admiral Perry reciprocated with ivory tusks from a Walrus associated with his explorations to the volunteer fire department. Enter Mark Lawson for an evaluation years later. Holding that item in his hands and knowing its’ connection to Admiral Perry delights him. It is what he treasures most from his business.

Lawson loves “exceptional” pieces (which are in the eye of the beholder). Yes, he needs to sell with a profit, but the pieces that he is drawn to continue to be the pieces that evokes something in us.

“Art either excites you or not; it could be the form, the craftsmanship or the artist or maker. It will not tie you down to any period or genre. You can find many things, but it is the quality that lives on.”

I also got the distinct impression that Lawson loves the ever-changing scene that he walks into each day; the new and unique treasure hunts and evaluations are certainly a rush for him, as much as the investigations and arrangements of sales.

Grounded to Capital Region: Family

While Lawson is called far and wide for his expertise, make no mistake, this man whom we have grown to love seeing on television talking about evaluations, gold and silver, is a man firmly planted in the Capital Region. He is “grounded” by his family; dinners and weekends with his wife Annette and three children. They are his foundation.

I invited Lawson to my home to watch him work. Ironically, I am not a person with antiques, only family heirlooms that hold memories for me. He walked around with his assistant, Andrea Devit, and keenly spotted a crude vase sitting on my china cabinet He took it down and quickly devoured it. That vase with leftover marbles that held my (gasp) holly branches turned out to be Pre-Columbian and worth quite a bit.

Commitment to Mentoring

Lawson’s business has grown and now consists of four employees. He hires from a pool of people whose careers are on the museum track and generally have been Fine Arts majors. His employees get real life experience on value (generally missing from their studies) and then continue on to earn their Master’s and Doctorates.

Mark Lawson Antiques now has two locations: Saratoga and Colonie. He and his team split their time doing evaluations by appointment. They also do roadshow-type events throughout the area. He modestly admits to being very surprised by his notoriety, but I seriously doubt others are surprised after meeting him.

Giulio Clovio, "The Last Judgment", 16th Century Renaissance Painting

Small Painting Is Huge Find: Appraisal Request Leads to Discovery of Renaissance Master’s Long-Unseen Work

As reported in the Times Union (Albany, NY), December 6, 2006:

By Leigh Hornbeck
Staff Writer
(c) 2006 Times-Union

SARATOGA SPRINGS – It could have been a scene right out of the television’s “Antiques Roadshow” a sweet old lady nervously placed a painting under the stern gaze of an appraiser and waits for his verdict.

The small depiction of Christ, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist seemed too bright to be authentic. If it was real, the ornately framed work under antique dealer Mark Lawson’s gaze was over 480 years old.

“I was hesitant because it looked so good,” said Lawson, who met the owner of the painting at his Maple Avenue offices in Saratoga Springs. Lawson knew as he looked at the painting in July 2005 that the natural dyes and pigments could outlast modern materials. Even a centuries-old painting could look new.

And authentic it was. A year after Lawson examined Giulio Clovio’s “The Last Judgment,” the Renaissance painting authenticated by Sotheby’s in London was sold by the auction house for $84,155.

Lawson said the elderly original owner of the painting lives in the Adirondacks, but he declined to identify her to protect her anonymity. The woman was paid $60,000 after commissions were taken out of the purchase price. Lawson, 47, made antiques his hobby as a child and has worked as an appraiser for 15 years. His finds include a Rozenberg Art Nouveau eggshell porcelain tea service that sold for more than $42,000. He also handled a Gibson Les Paul guitar wrecked on stage by Jimi Hendrix.

Gregory Rubenstein, the head of Old Master paintings at Sotheby’s, said the painting was a fascinating find. “It turns out that Clovio was born in Croatia, and there aren’t many famous 16th-century artists for whom you can say that,” Rubenstein wrote in in an e-mail.

Lawson turned to the experts at Sotheby’s, first in New York City and then in London, for help authenticating the piece. He traveled to the city carrying the painting with him and high-resolution photographs were made there and sent to London.

“There are experts in master works of art and specialists within that specialty,” Lawson said.

One of the first tests was to compare the painting to another one of Clovio’s paintings, of the same Biblical image, on display at the New York City Public Library, Lawson said he hoped to find close, but not identical comparisons. If the figures–Christ flanked by the kneeling Madonna and St. John the Baptist with four angels playing trumpets–were painted in the exact same way, it was likely a copy. If they were similar, the work was more likely to be authentic.

According to Rubenstein, when word spread in the art world the previously unknown painting had surfaced, it drew the attention of the Croatian Ministry of Culture. Before the auction, the Croatian ambassador came to Sotheby’s to see the painting and representatives of the government were the successful bidders at the auction.

“There was a huge amount of coverage in the Croatian press, and the work was even taken to the national parliament and formally presented there,” Rubenstein wrote.

According to an inscription on the frame, which Lawson estimates was made in the early 1900s, the painting came from the collection of Scotland’s Earl of Lindsay and had previously been presented to Pope Clement VII upon his ascension to the papal throne in 1523.

While Sotheby’s authenticated the painting as one of Clovio’s, possibly created with a partner, the auction house could not substantiate the inscription. The history of the piece is also veiled in mystery and questions abound. It’s unknown how the miniature painting made its way from the Vatican to Scotland and then to the U.S. Collectors also wonder in what places the painting has hung over the past five centuries.

Lawson said the seller knew very little about the painting and found it in storage.

“These investigations are like police work,” he said. “The most commonsense answer is usually the correct one. Someone probably bought it at an auction somewhere along the line and then the family forgot about it.”