When you are born a twin, the first lesson you learn is about sharing. Be it a toy, a blanket, or time with your parents.
As young flea market attendees, the Keno brothers had already found their direction. Born into the antiques world, they shared a passion for discovering.
When they were teens they went to flea markets with their parents and at each stop, Leigh & Leslie Keno, filled with adrenaline, would pile out of the car and begin the hunt for hidden treasures.
"My brother and I would separate from them and scan the territory for sleepers, a trade term for undervalued merchandise. If we spotted one, he and I might hold a hasty huddle in a corner to strategize, then approach the proprietor and try to strike a deal."
Particularly with the early pieces that they loved, issues of quality, age, and condition called for seat-of-the-pants judgments.
Every flea market seemed like a new frontier because there was so little information available, other than a handful of guides & books on collectibles. So in 1969, they started an antique diary!
"We resolved to record and research in the greatest detail the many objects we admired and sought."
Today, because of their love for antiques, they are thrilled to share their life-long lust for antiquing and related learning in Hidden Treasures. I just loved this book and believe me when I say, it will inspire you to take a second look at your own neglected family heirlooms and dust-covered relics.
In Hidden Treasures, the Keno brothers describe more than a dozen of their most fascinating treasure hunts and extraordinary discoveries.
Along with their experience and expertise, they share their love and appreciation of fine craftsmanship and beauty.
They take you behind the scenes of the world of antiques, revealing the secrets of their trade.
From a pair of rare 18th century chairs found in a chicken coop...
to the stunning Appleton secretary bookcase uncovered in Paris...
Whether you’re an ardent collector or a budding furniture admirer, this book will not only leave you with a smile; you'll be a bit wiser when it comes to spotting masterpiece furniture on your own antiquing adventures.
Today, the Keno brothers are considered foremost experts on antiques.
Leigh & Leslie Keno, journal entry, August 6th, 1969
"Throughout our lives, Leigh and I have taken great pleasure in our shared passion for American furniture and decorative arts. Our love of objects is so much a part of our makeup, our very souls, that I truly cannot remember a time when we were not hunting for and learning about things."
Leigh Keno currently owns and operates Keno Auctions. He formerly held the position of Vice President in the appraisal department at Christie's.
Leslie Keno is Senior Vice President and Senior Specialist of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Sotheby's in New York. He has been published in the American Ceramic Circle and has contributed to the Sotheby's Guide to American Furniture and Sotheby's Encyclopedia of Furniture.
Together they are currently Editors at Large for Traditional Home magazine for which they write a monthly column. As appraisers on the PBS Emmy nominated hit, Antiques Road show, they have become celebrities beyond the refined world of art and Americana. In 2005, the President awarded both Leigh and Leslie with the National Humanities Medal. They both enjoy spending their free time with their families, fly-fishing and racing vintage racecars.
Photos and information courtesy Hidden treasures, Traditional Home
A little side note....
My grandmother taught me how to size up an antique from across the room. Anyone with a good eye could do that many years ago before furniture makers mastered the art of "antique reproductions."
I too first became familiar with the Keno brothers on The Antiques Roadshow. Funny story that I just remembered. One evening I was watching the show and it was live & local in Phoenix. They were interviewing a man who had brought in some old thing, might have been a humidor. Suddenly I realized that it was my pediatrician from when I was younger, Dr. Schmidt. He and his family were also good friends as I went to school with his kids. Anyway I called my mom and she called his wife & asked...did you know that Jim is on tv talking to an appraiser? Turns out the nervous, sheepish grin on his face was because he had snuck the antique out of the house. Not sure how that story ended but he did appear willing to sell...