Thursday, April 19, 2018

You love what you love, right?

I'm contemplating my (now) annual upcoming trip to Pennsylvania for the Renninger's Kutztown Extravaganza next week, and already the "rush" of being in my old stomping grounds threatens to overtake me. I'm yearning for breadboards and redware, old dough bowls and trenchers - all the things that speak to my love of primitives that began in my earliest days of antiquing.

If I'm lucky I'll find some Victorian era wire hangers. I've fallen in love with the fabulous look:

Perhaps I'll find another dough bowl to rival the size of what was perhaps the biggest one I've ever had:

And when in Pennsylvania, I'm always looking for vintage carnival shooting gallery targets:

And of course wooden ware, particularly old farm pieces like these:

That ought to give you an idea of what's on my shopping list! Hope I'll come home with a pile of treasures, but I'm thinking I'm going to need a bigger suitcase!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Case for Modern Victorian

From a fascination with natural elements (it was the age of Darwin, you recall), to a passion for detail and excess, the Victorian era had style galore in every aspect of life. With a utensil for every imaginable course and food at dinner, the Victorians knew how to set a table in style!

Marrying their love of nature with their love of eating utensils, we too have an passion for all kinds of pieces, from forks to knives.

pair of serving forks in my etsy shop here
set of 6 boxed knives in my etsy shop here
And let's not forget custard glass - this set of 6 tumblers by Northwood in the Louis XV pattern circa 1890 was a a particularly wonderful find!

charming with little bouquets for a beautiful tablescape! in my etsy shop here
It's lovely to see a revived interest in this period and all its elements. Hope you design your next dinner party with a bit of Victorian style!

We're out and about hunting for new treasures. In the meantime, Bon Apetit! - marilyn

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Off to a good start in 2018

One of the things I enjoy most about antiquing is that you never know what you'll find. One day it's a modernist ceramic wall hanging plate

Avraham Gofer ceramic plate, find it here
and the next it's a terrific piece of folk art like this German bride's box:

in my Ruby Lane shop, here
a delicate modern dove

Gunnar Cyren for Dansk, here

or a Brutalist abstract sculpture

in my Chairish shop, here

The thrill of the hunt, even when it doesn't yield much, is always an adventure, and there's not much I'd rather be doing!

Hope the hunt treats you well! Happy Trails - marilyn

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Angels among us

Here we are at the end of November; another month has flown by, and soon we'll be commenting that another year has flown by.

Perhaps this explains a bit my love of vintage: even in the face of time flying by, some things stay with us. This find from my travels seems particularly appropriate.

Three angel shelf brackets. Gold finish, beautiful patina with a touch of verdigris. No more words needed.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.
Now, more than ever, let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Flea Market 101

I’m headed up to the Renninger’s Extravaganza in Mount Dora, Florida, this week, and I couldn’t be happier! Big outdoor markets are my idea of a GREAT time and I’m always ready to jump in the car and GO!

Renninger's Mount Dora - it really is that big!
Over the years friends have asked if they could come along. Some have loved it and some have found it more than they bargained for. I learned that they would have a better experience if they had some guidance about how to manage a big market. Maybe you’ll find these tips helpful too!

Being “market ready” starts with getting dressed with a long day in mind.
1.       Dress in layers. The day can start out cold and warm up fast. Lightweight layers will help you get through the day.
2.       Comfy, supportive shoes. Can’t stress this enough. You’re running a marathon here!
3.       Wear things with functional, secure pockets. You’re going to want to have your phone and notepad readily accessible. I like cargo pants for this very reason.

1.       Sunscreen and bottled water are essential. Hat and sunglasses also handy.
2.       Hand sanitzer or wipes
3.       Notebook and pen
4.       Phone
5.       Magnifying glass
6.       Use a shopping cart. Whether it’s a luggage kind of thing, a wire shopping cart or a little red pull wagon, it’s handy to have something in which to haul purchases. There are often people who sell carts at the markets but if you can get one beforehand, it will save you from spending valuable shopping time at the market looking for a cart.
7.       A good bag that keeps your cash and wallet secure. I like a cross body bag – easier on the shoulders – with multiple compartments. I keep my cash in a bank envelope, accessible but secured in a zippered or closed compartment.
8.       Power shopping snacks. Nuts, string cheese, granola bar. You can eat them on the go for a little boost!

Power shopping! Not even injury interferes!
However you need to prepare yourself for this, it’s the reality of big outdoor markets, and there’s no getting around it! 

1.       Write down all your purchases – item and price
2.       Write down everything you need to go back and pick up and WHERE IT IS
3.       Write down things you want to go back and look at again and WHERE THEY ARE

1.       Know your shopping style. If you are an “on the fly” shopper and you’re going with a friend likes to look at every little thing, don’t be afraid to say “Let’s meet up at noon at the car” so neither one of you is hindered.
2.       Plan to spend the day, and plan your shopping accordingly. For example, for my first walk through a market I generally “walk and scan”, stopping to shop when I see a booth that has an overall look or items that interest me. Things that are a definite “yes” I buy on the spot. Things I’m considering I’ll make note of to come back to. On my second walk through I’ll look more closely at things in many booths.
3.       Use your phone to look things up. If you’re not sure if something’s worth the price, or if it’s common or rare, or if it’s just not “right”, you can often find a reference online (search by images). Be polite and don’t do this while in someone’s booth, taking up valuable space for others who are shopping.
4.       Unsure whether or not to buy something? Ask yourself “Will I be sorry if I come back to get it and it’s gone?”. I find this really helpful, and the answer can be crystal clear sometimes!
5.       TAKE A BREAK. Go find the “food court”, sit down, drink some water, eat a little something and REVIEW YOUR PURCHASES. When you’re “power shopping” it can feel like you’ve bought A LOT and SPENT ALL YOUR MONEY. Taking a break and reviewing your purchases tells you what you’ve bought and how much you’ve spent. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way – after leaving a market thinking I’d bought and spent a lot when actually I could have stayed and bought more. Reviewing your list also helps you decide whether to run back and get something on the “go back for” list, to keep it on for later or to cross it off.
6.       Figure out the market’s layout and walk it strategically – by rows and sections so you’ll know what you’ve covered and what you haven’t.
7.       Don’t let your collection rule your buying decisions. Just because you collect cat figurines doesn’t mean you need to buy every one you see. When in doubt, pass.

I’ve gotten to know dealers over the years and my “favorites” are always the first ones I go to. Many are happy to interact with you and are often able to provide information about things you’re interested in. Getting off on the right foot lays the groundwork for a good relationship.
1.       Negotiating is fine, insulting not so much. Ask for discounts nicely. “Can you do any better on this?”, “Is this your best price?”, “If I buy more than one item can you offer me a discount?”. If you want to just make an offer, as in “Would you take $X for this?”, don’t make a really low offer; it gets things off on the wrong foot.
2.       Sometimes dealers will tell you to “make a pile” if you’re looking at more than one thing. This is fine with items that are priced but if things are not priced I ask them to give me an idea of what they’re asking; no sense making a pile of items that I think are $20 each and they think are $100 each.
3.       If you’ve bought a big item, the dealer is often willing to put it aside for you to come back for it; no reason to lug it around, as long as it’s convenient to come back.
4.       Be mindful of the traffic in a booth. If there are a lot of people shopping and trying to look at things, taking a selfie or talking on the phone is preventing commerce from taking place. Step outside the booth so others can shop.
5.       If you plan to return to the market again and you like a particular dealer’s items, ask if they’ll be back next time and in the same spot.  They might give you a card, give you their social media link or a phone number so you can find out where they’ll be set up next time.

So that’s my Crash Course in Flea Marketing #101. Now I’m out the door. Look for lots of new goodies coming to my shops soon!! 

Happy Trails! – Marilyn

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Does a Chip Matter?

Here in the antiques biz we come across a lot of great things on the hunt. Things that are old, that have been used as intended for decades, even a century or so. They've lived full lives, they've gone through many hands, and we happen upon them in their current state. And that state sometimes includes a chip or two, or a crack, or a repair. And it's the age old question for collectors and sellers: Does a Chip Matter?

Here's how I feel about that. Yes and No. Glad we got that settled. Honestly, that is my answer: Sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. And it's closely related to my philosophy of both collecting and buying: Have I Ever or Will I Ever FIND ANOTHER ONE? That's the real question.

When I come upon something that I've rarely or never seen before (and I've seen a lot) and it has damage, I weigh the damage against the desirability or "rarity" of the piece. I use quotation marks around "rarity" because something may not be necessarily rare, but the odds of me finding another is marginal at best. A great and not-often-found piece with damage, particularly not immediately visible damage, is worth taking the plunge, to my thinking.

Case(s) in point:

Two fantastic pieces: a vintage black & white porcelain oversize canister made for use in France by a late 19th / early 20th century Dutch pottery company; and a mid century decanter designed by Roger Capron in his Vallauris (France) studio for Saks 5th Avenue. Where do I begin to talk about how fantastic these two pieces are? And as it happens, the canister was from the personal collection of a former antiques dealer and there were 3 of them (!!happy dance!!) and the decanter had a mate - Gin - just as fabulous. Who could walk away from these?

Turns out, not me, in spite of the fact that all the pieces in both collections had some kind of damage. This canister has a crack on the bottom (in the pattern of a peace sign!) which has created a circular interior crack. Doesn't effect the overall look or the stability but it's there. The other canisters had similar damage.

The decanter has a chip to the lip at the back; the other decanter has chips at the base.

When I weigh the damage against the likelihood of finding another one of any of these pieces, the decision is clear: Get Them. The fact that the damage isn't visible when simply admiring any of them as they sit makes the decision easy. A large chip at the front, a considerable crack down the middle - those would result in me walking away, even at the risk of never seeing one again.

In this case, the decision would be the same whether I was buying for my personal collection or if I was buying to sell. Even on things a little less rare, I could overlook a chip if buying for myself. And that is the standard of measure for the collector when buying a piece: Is the damage the kind that I can live with? Will I get just as much pleasure out of owning this as owning a "perfect" piece? That's a question we have to decide individually on a case by case basis.

For me, I can only hope to look half this good after being around for 100 years! The canisters and decanters are available here in my Chairish shop.

Happy hunting everyone - Peace Out - marilyn

Saturday, October 28, 2017

the turkey platter that wasn't

Life in the antiques biz is never boring. And often it isn't even what you're expecting. An estate sale you've been saving for for weeks turns up only a couple of things. A shop or booth or show where you've always found things, on some days yields nothing. Truth be told, hunting for good items can sometimes be a little challenging, and on those days its hard not to get discouraged.

One of the best lessons I learned a while back is the value of being flexible, of being open to letting go of what you thought you wanted and embracing the things that find you. It's a lesson that pops up regularly, and it often causes me to change my focus just slightly so that instead of coming home with the ordinary I come home with something a little more special.

This week the lesson took the form of the turkey platter that wasn't. It started with a bunch of shaggy brown sunflowers I bought, that were just crying out to be in a photo vignette. So I headed out looking for a vintage turkey platter because, well, that's what you do at this time of year. One estate sale and a couple of shops later, I came upon a mid century platter by Shafford China from the Primitive Collection line. The image of a horse, almost prancing, in an almost cave-drawing motif was unexpected, fresh and modern. And, needless to say, it looks great with those sunflowers.

mid century platter, available here in my etsy shop
 By the way, there's now a page on the blog with links that takes you directly to each of my online shops: Etsy, Chairish and Ruby Lane, each a little different in its offerings but with the same quality vintage finds we're known for.

Hope to see you there soon! Peace out - marilyn