Friday, October 11, 2013

Just Listed: Sometimes It's All About the Story

Just listed on Etsy:

Sometimes it's more about the story than the item and in this case, it's ALL about the story. But before I get there, let me give you some specifics:

This is a Harker Pottery pitcher with a delightful floral design. The flowers look like Irises to me in the colors of orange and purple. It measures about 7 1/2" tall at the top handle by 8" wide.

There are plenty of issues:

The top handle has broken off and has been glued back together minus a chip. Speaking of chips, there is one on the lid that has been repainted to try and cover and one chip on the pour lip of the pitcher. There are also some flea bites and a bit of paint loss. You'll also notice some crazing, which is relatively common for older pottery pieces.

So what makes this extra special?

I attended an estate auction a few weeks back in central Missouri. The former owner was an antique dealer but had already consolidated her antiques and was now consolidating her estate. She had moved into the rest home and had two rooms, which she was very excited about. 

When I first arrived an older gentleman asked if I knew Ruth. I told him I didn't which made him launch into the sweetest description of Ruth. Oh, everyone just loves Ruth. She was born and raised in this small central Missouri town. She could strike up a conversation with anyone and there was never a shortage of people who had something nice to say about her. Infact, he pointed out, she was standing a few tables down and I should go up and say hello.

I looked over and she was in a deep conversation with a few other people. She stood maybe 4 feet 8" tall bent over. Her bald head was covered by a black crocheted hat and she was stylishly dressed in black pants, a grey sweater with a matching grey scarf. She held on to her cane for dear life, but she sure didn't look like life slowed her down. She was happy and smiling and giggling like a young girl and that, in and of itself, made me smile.

Later as I was looking at another table she ambled up to me and asked, "Do you like my things, honey?" I smiled and told her she had very good taste. She nodded her head and smiled, "This is JUST my household! Can you believe it? I've had fun with everything, but now it's time to pass it along."

As the auction started the auctioneer gave a long speech about Ruth and then asked her if there was anything she would like to tell the crowd and she yelled, "Turn it all into money!" Everyone, including me, laughed. And money she received. The auction went very well for her.

At one point, I overheard several people talking about this pitcher. "It was Ruth's mother's and she remembered her using this pitcher every day for orange juice." When it went up for auction I purchased it quickly. As I walked away to put it carefully in packaging, a few people smiled and said, "Oh, I'm so happy you bought her mother's old orange juice pitcher." When I was putting it away I found the note tucked inside that reads, "This was my mother's and she made orange juice in it with a small can of frozen juice."

Near the end of the auction I was talking with someone who said that Ruth tucked notes in several of her items that were up at auction as a surprise to the new owner. I was happy I bought one of those items and I hope that by passing it along, you will enjoy the pitcher and the story, too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Happy Family

Back a couple weeks ago, when I was at the cottage in the midst of painting at Delavan Cottage, I pulled out one of the wall cabinets in the kitchen.  This is a perfect example of the Missouri Ozarks' make-do projects:

Upon closer examination:

Do you see the bottom? In the center it says "Happy" and what's left of "Family."

I smiled.  Indeed, this cottage is now being loved by a very happy family.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dollar, Dollar, Do I Hear a Dollar?

Instead of shopping at garage and estate sales, I'm an auction junkie, you might say.  While I'm not even close to the hoarders you see on American Pickers, I do like the hunt and for me auctions are the ticket, especially estate auctions in which every article of clothing sits out in the yard next to an air popcorn popper, the lawnmower and a dryer.  But intermingled with every day items are very personal vintage items that meant something to the previous owner but has no meaning whatsoever to the heirs or the executor.

Through these items, one can easily piece a life together.  Sometimes the seller is still living like at the auction I attended last Friday.  The auction was held in a large 4-H building on the fairgrounds and it was chock full of glassware up the wazoo, housewares and delightful vintage pieces.  As I perused around the tables an older gentleman asked me if I knew Ruth.  "No," I replied.  "Oh, Ruth is the most wonderful person you'll ever meet!  She was born here and has lived here her entire life.  Everyone loves her.  In fact, if you look down this row you'll see her.  She's the one with the cane and the black hat.  She talks to everyone, so you should meet her."  And then he walked away.

Still in the midst of scoping out items I wanted to bid on, suddenly Ruth wobbled carefully over to me and said in her sweet, shaky voice, "Do you like all my stuff?"  We began to talk and she mentioned that she was an antique dealer and she already had a sale just full of her antiques she collected over the years but this sale was "just" her household items.  "Oh, I've had my fun with these things but it's time to pass them on.  I've moved to the retirement center, you know, and I have two rooms there!  Two!"  She then chuckled.  "So honey, enjoy my auction."  And with that, she wobbled away to talk with others she knew.  Always with a smile.  There certainly wasn't a shortage of people who wanted to give Ruth a hug.  

Ruth is a collector with a kind spirit.

Her auction went quite well in the beginning.  The glassware went incredibly high and I was happy for Ruth.  I sat that part of the auction out because there was no room for profit, but before the auction started, the auctioneer asked Ruth what she would like to tell the bidders and she said, "Turn it all into money!" and that's exactly what was happening.  

She shared her story and thus the items I bid and won mean something and I will be able to pass the stories on to the new owners who buy from me. But sometimes it's the items, themselves, that talk like this suitcase from a Nebraska farm auction:

Or this blouse from a Missouri farm auction:

How about this photo album from a northern Missouri farm auction:

Or this quilt I purchased from an antique store in Kansas City and researched the family name and found lost long relatives that I returned the quilt to:

And finally this trunk from a northeast Kansas farm auction:

The items the auctioneer hands in the air aren't just things, they are pieces of someone's life.  That is never lost on me and while at times I get frustrated that some of the things I'd like to buy go way too high for me, I'm always thankful the seller is getting some worth out of the items.  But something happened Sunday that really bugged me and I'm very surprised I feel this way.

This auction was being held because the lady passed away.  Her house was up for auction as well as her entire household of items.  She collected antiques and had quite a collection of top-notch glassware and furniture and lots of it.  I was in heaven when I was looking everything over.  As the auction started, prices were in an expected range but as time went on, things were going so cheap. For example, an 1800's iron bed including the rails, headboard and footboard with a brand new, high-end mattress set sold for $25. Can you imagine?  And the auctioneers were getting frustrated so they just started adding more and more just to get an opening bid. I picked up a few deals but after awhile I felt badly, it was so cheap.  The final straw was when the glassware was being auctioned.  Depression glass, jadeite and beautiful pieces were not getting bids and sometimes there was so much glassware put together for a bid that I felt guilty even raising my hand, though others didn't feel the same way. I'm talking 20 pieces of glassware or more for a bid of $1.

It was the first time I really felt sad about how low things were going and before the auction ended, I left.  I did well and have quite a few things ready to list on Etsy, but I could have bought so much more!  But instead of looking at the Depression glass and thinking wow, this is a great deal, I was seeing the woman who carefully hunted each piece out, paid a good price and came home to lovingly display it among her collection.  And I felt like if I bought the pieces at the low prices offered, I was taking away the value she put on her collection. That I was looking out only for me and not taking into account the meaning and history behind each piece.  

At one point I heard one of the family members say, "We should just let everyone go and pick up what they want for free!  If it was up to me, I would have shut down this auction a long time ago."  I had to agree. 

I'm not in the antique/vintage business just to make a buck.  If that were the case, I'd sell clothing on eBay.  No, I'm in the business because I truly enjoy the stories, the history and the experience.  I feel that it's not just someone's used stuff up for auction, but it's the passing down of heirlooms from generation to generation.

And that deserves more than $1.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up

Two auctions this weekend equated into 2 great loads of vintage goodness that will be listed in my Etsy shop in the next few weeks.  Now that's something to look forward to!

Yesterday's auction was in central Missouri's countryside.  Here's where I parked:

During the auction, a few guys grabbed their fishing poles and fished.  :)  Picturesque, eh?

Here's a preview of a few treasures from yesterday:

I have quite a few thoughts about the last two auctions that will require an entirely new blog post.  Coming soon!  Hope your weekend was equally as lovely.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Good Day at the Auction

I was a tad worried that the Buick Encore would be a tight fit for my auction finds after trading in the Chevy Equinox.  It came down to the Encore or the Toyota FJ.  The Encore won because it has OnStar, but it wins in my book because look at this:

See that teeny-tiny hatchback trunk area?  It just won't work for us, I told my husband at the car lot.

But oh it does:

I took off the hatchback cover and stored it in the front seat and suddenly, I'm driving a station wagon!  It was a good day at the auction!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September Auctions

I was heading home from the cottage 2 weeks ago for the day to get some errands run.  Our little lake neighborhood is at least 15 minutes from anything, so it's a bit of a drive for most.  At the next road from the cottage, there was an auction sign pointing towards the gravel road!  Wow!  What?  An auction so close to the cottage?

I immediately did a quick u-turn and headed over to the auction which was located at a house that included a barn.  It sits high on a hill pretty much in the woods by itself on an acre and a half of land.  The house had been closed up since 2008 when the last owner passed away.  I was beside myself and decided to stay for the day.

Am I glad I did!  I purchased a few primitives for sale and many things for us to keep.  I also toured the house, which was still in its' great 1950's state.  The house was for sale, so it was opened to us onlookers.

Here are a few interior pictures:

See the swan on the bath/shower door?  The entire bathroom was done in this shiny tile.  Very retro, indeed.

This was the front bedroom.  The living room and bedroom all had the wonderful wagon wheel lights. Each bedroom was a different color.  It was so interesting to walk through.

I picked up a few treasures for sale including this handmade doll chair:

I waited nearly the entire auction to bid on the chair.  I just love its primitive, chippy paint appearance.  A few items ended up at Delavan Cottage like these crocks, the heavy metal stool and 2 quilts:

Because the auction was pretty much in the boondocks, I paid $8 total for all the crocks.  The stool was $3.  The quilt on the left was $5 and the one on the right was $1.  I was tickled!

Last Sunday I drove down to southern Missouri for a farm auction at a century-old farmhouse.  It was a truly enjoyable day.  The farmhouse and 80 acres are currently under a silent auction to sell, so the house was open to walk through.

I posted on facebook:  Sunday's auction was at a family farm outside Golden City, Missouri. The farmhouse was at least 100 years old. There were boxes upon boxes of family pictures at the auction. Souvenirs from New York and other places in the country were there, as well. I drew some information about the family just by going through remnants that were headed up for sale. When I went inside the house, it was the first time in which every single square inch had the same wallpaper both upstairs in down. And it had wall-to-wall carpeting, even over all the thresholds. There were flowers inside the cabinets, too. But what I liked best was the view out of her kitchen window. It made sense to me. Bunny Hall was a cheerful soul. She led an interesting life that put her back at the family farm for a time before moving to Sarcoxie. At the end of her life, the family possessions as well as the farm and 80 acres are being dispersed. This was one of those auctions I felt privileged to attend. You can read about Bunny at the link below. 

Everything I purchased, but for one item, is heading down to Delavan Cottage like a wood quilt rack for $3 and a few pottery pieces.  The one item I purchased to sell is this neat picture in a tin oval frame titled, "Jesus in the Temple.

The chair as well as the picture are both listed on Etsy along with several new listings!  I have several new items to list in the next week and I'm going to be busy this weekend with 2 auctions.  One on Friday and another Saturday.

So check the Etsy shop for new treasures!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Delavan Cottage: The First Two Weeks

I've been painting and going to auctions and antiquing.  Oh my, it's been fun!  Want to see what I've been up to?

I painted the main living/kitchen area of Delavan Cottage, our guest cottage at the lake.

It was slow going since I was painting over wallpaper.  It is textured and very adhered to the wall, so painting it was the best idea.  I used Benjamin Moore's Palladian Blue paint.

So, so glad to see that green go!

We're going to put up dentil crown moulding and baseboards, as well, so that's why I didn't paint to the top or bottom.

I have started to paint the kitchen cabinetry with Pale Lemon paint by Glidden, but paint-matched it to Behr Premium-Plus.  I must say, after using Benjamin Moore, Behr's paint just isn't close to the quality. But I marched forward with 2 gallons of paint:

All the cabinets will be coated with 3 coats of Martha Stewart's Glitter Paint in Icecap. That's pretty much where I ended.  The top cabinet and pull-away cabinets have all been painted.  The sink cabinet and pantry are still to go.  I've been busy!

In between the painting, I have hit up a few antique shops.  Here are a few of my finds for the cottage:

I wanted a farm table to seat 6 and after shopping at new furniture stores and seeing prices at $895 and up, we found this table for $60 and with the table and all 6 mis-matched chairs, it was $168.  Yay!

The large canvas painting was just $15!  It looks great as the mantle focal point.  I'm finally home from nearly 2 weeks at the cottage.  I'll be back down in a bit to continue the process but it's time to focus on making money instead of spending it!  The auction circuit has been great and I'll blog about that next time!