Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not Another Fluffy TV Show !

Mean While Back at the Store: 

Just a bit of ranting. I found out today, from a favorite podcast, that the Scripps Netwoks, owners of such channels like HGTV, Food Network &Travel Channel among others. They are planning a new antique show with Paul Brown. Paul was the well known host of Auction Kings. Don't get me wrong I like Paul and Auction Kings when it was on. This new show,called Endless Yard Sale, is to travel up and down taking in the Highway 127 Yard Sale. People who live on 127 will love that. Take that as you want. This Endless Yard Sale is so NOT what this industry or the public needs. Please not another helter skelter, antiquers for hire, random, fluffy show. This type of show does nothing to help the business or educate the public. Dear Scripps folks there are people out there that need help. They are looking into the barrel. The barrel in this case, is a man who's having to disperse his grandmothers estate, its a woman who's dealing with downsizing her elderly father's 4 bedroom house, its a young married couple who don't know what to buy for their home and WHY. For all of these, so called popular shows, people are still ignorant over values, markets, the antiques economy, the change in tastes and trends and I won't even mention not encouraging scholarship for antiques, collectibles and decorative arts. People will blindly stare at more either common or "planted" rare items with no idea as to why these things are common OR rare. While their problems go untended or they make serious mistakes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Spirit and Grace of Reading

Just The Way It Is: 

 I talked about this the other day on the radio show. I wanted to take some time and really delve into this subject. Now, bear with me as I kind of get out on a limb.   

I have so many people to ask me, "Jerry, What should I read?" Now, some are asking me to suggest to them what is a good or informative read in their favorite category.  Many, really mean, WHAT SHOULD I READ! TELL ME I HAVE NO IDEA!"  Now, there are no stupid questions, but there silly questions.  My response to them is, "What do you like?" I mean its the same thing as me going up to someone and saying, " What do I like to eat?"  I promise you that anything you have an interest in, from cooking to camping, mysteries to space  travel,  needlepoint and  nuclear powered  ships or famous dogs, there is a book or something with the printed word out there for you to read.  Pick something. 

I've said over and over that there is nothing any more personal that reading.  Its more personal than the clothing you wear, the art you hang on the wall, the jewelry you wear on your fingers, wrists or neck. Reading is right up there auditory abilities, these will play into each other soon.  Yes, reading is that important.  Now, lets get this out of the way. 

Never let anyone tell you what to read or that what you're reading is wrong. Suggestions are fine, but to childe you or to be rude to you for what you're reading is wrong.  As I book dealer, I don't care what you read. You can read  the ancient classics, physics, medical textbooks or you can read harlequin romance novels, comics or cereal boxes.  I don't care what you read, just that you read!  Now onto the reason that I think that reading is so personal. Reading is personal as it actually gets into your head.  I mean you see a word and its letters. You know from your earliest schooling that  C- A - T spells Cat and you know what a cat is.  You're brain is actually registering that these marks mean CAT. Yes, you can look at your ring and  think of the store you bought it in, the town you were in, the people you were with and on and on. But reading is like exercise for your brain.  Then you speed that up and you branch out into sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters and you're taking it all into your noggin.  You retain more information when you read.  You apply your new found knowledge to your life.  Now, if you really want to retain and remember, read it out loud.  You remember more of what you read when you read it out loud to yourself. In a way, you're getting it right into your brain with your own eyes and voice.   That's why I think that its so personal and private.  Here's the cool part.  In some secret part in you head you keep that information,forever. You may never use it again. It may be clouded in sickness or disease. But, its there. You never take it off. You never sell it or store it in the basement. Its always there.  READ for the process not for the content.  Now, understand I want you to grow and expand and read many things not just comics  or the fluffy stuff.  However, you've got to start somewhere.  Reading is one of the most important things that you can do during your day.  Hopefully, you're read this. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

That's a Good Question: 

 Personal Effect Goblets December 2014 AM

Sterling silver goblets
Question: Dear J, I wanted to ask you about my sterling goblets. My father who worked at a manufacturing company in Georgia received these from his co-workers upon his retirement. He had worked at the same plant since he was a teenager. He retired in1958. He's been gone for many years and I think of him often. I know that I'm crazy but I enjoy setting a pretty table for several holidays. I always use these goblets. They have no damage or initials written on them. Should I have them added on my insurance? I don't know the mark on the bottom, its a cross with a crown. Were they made for a church? Thanks for taking the time to look at these.

Answer: You have a great set of eight sterling goblets. I remember working at Graves Jewelers, here on Main Street, and polishing the few goblets that we had in stock in the late 1980's. I loved the way that they felt and reflected the light. I don't think that you're crazy at all for setting a fine table. If you have nice things you should use them. People should take more care in a the environment that they eat. Ahhh... the 1950's, what a hey-day for sterling silver. Seems that every bride had a set of sterling flatware,sterling goblets were on tables and the julep cups and bread trays used as trophy prizes at county fairs were all made of sterling. The Hunt Brothers, and their quest for domination in the world of silver, changed all of that forever. No longer were table and gift wares made in sterling. It was far too expensive and other materials were used. Today, its even worse, with silver plate and pewter taking second stage to aluminum and other metals that don't require polishing. Those days are gone forever and we should just let them go. But nothing is like the cool, classic beauty of sterling silver.

When your father received these nice gifts, they likely retailed for about $10.00 - $15.00 each. Today, at a nice antiques show, these should be priced at $175.00 each. If they had been monogrammed that would have been less. I'm surprised that they didn't have the date or some other message on them. For your set of eight goblets that would be about $1,400.00 for the set. Yes, you should have them listed on your homeowners insurance policy. You'll need to have a written appraisal for this to be added to your policy. Check with your insurance agent. The mark you see on the bottom is not for a church, its for a company called Manchester Silver Company. Manchester Silver Co. was founded in 1887 by William H. Manchester. William was a descended from a family of silversmiths. Manchester was famous for the slogan, “If its Manchester, its sterling.” In time the company became Baker-Manchester, and as is often the case, the company was merged, absorbed and liquidated into several other silver and metal manufacturers several times, until it just ceased to exist in the 1960's. Based on this mark, it could be possible that these were purchased at an antiques store or were “old” stock when they were gifted to your father. Either way, they are beautiful goblets and a very nice gift. Keep them polished and use them often and think of your Dad when you lay out your table for Christmas. Thanks for sharing them.   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On The Road:

The group is ready. 

Examining a beautiful piece of enameled glass.

Looking at a French or German porcelain basket.

Really had a great time at the Boyle County library last night. For all the wet and nasty weather, there was a good group of folks out. There is thing better than an small intimate crowd. I love it when I don't have to use a microphone.  I was just up close and personal with these folks.  There were some interesting things that were brought for me to examine. I have to say that everything that was brought into the hall was of nice to great quality.  I've here to tell you, that one lady had an amazing eye for picking up good things.  She kept saying, "I like to go junking."  Well her junking skills were excellent.  I have to say that I've never had, so many people, call me the next day, thanking and saying such good things over me. I really makes one feel good when they have this type of honest praise. I very much appreciated it.   They really enjoyed themselves. I knew they were when the library was closing up and the announcement was made, " You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  No they really didn't say that but I knew that those couple of hours flew by.  What a sweet bunch. I hope they do it again. Thanks to 
Mary Ashby for being my official photographer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:

 I've not had one this funny in a while.  Christmas & gas bills always brings them out. Remember high school chemistry, folks.  

A man comes in the store with a box

(me) Hi, Can I help you? 

(man) Yeah, I want to sell these candlesticks here.

(me) Well, lets see them. 

He takes out 3 or 4 pair of modern brass candlesticks. 

(me) I'm sorry, I can't use them. They're too new for me.  Pretty but they won't sell. 

(man) But these are special! 

(me) Oh, how so? 

(man) Well my great great grandfather in the 1800's owned a brass mine. And there were made from brass taken from that mine.  They're made by hand from a famous craftsman. 

(me).  Sorry but that can't be.  Brass can't be mined. 

(man) WHY THE HELL NOT!  He owned a mine and this is from there. 

(me) Brass is an alloy. 

(man) What's that? 

(me) An alloy is a mixture of metals. Its created by man.  In this case its copper and zinc.  Copper and zinc make brass. 

(man)  So they not old?  

(me) No, I'm sorry. They might be from the 1950's or there about, but they aren't really very old.  I'm not sure about the craftsman part either, as all of them are machine made. 

(man) Well, let me ask you this...  

He glances around like someone might over hear him.  

(man)  Who made the copper and zinc??

(me)  God, I'd say. 

Nodding his head with eyes closed. 

(man)  That's what I thought.  Thank you. 

 And off he went.  So I guess, that he went off to speak with God over the fabrication of brass.   

Its always something. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Just The Way It Is: 

The Sanctity of Wood

Sanctity: The state or act of being holy, sacred or saintly. 

 Examples of the rare Koa wood. 
 The question of wood and its finishes has for decades been a hot bed for conversations.  Nothing will cause a mild mannered person to roll eyes and gnash teeth over the altering, replacing or restoration of a finish.  Today's decorating trends only add tender to the fire. 

1. The dealer: "Yes, this is the original finish. You'll note the long white streak on the side? Its been proven to be fecal matter from the Carolina Parakeet. The last known, wild citing of the this bird, was in 1910. So that dates it to at least that time.  Couple this with established history and its construction techniques and we think that it will date to the 1840's.  You could wipe it off but why would you?? Its part of the history. "

2.  The decorator:  "Dark wood is so out of style.  Its weighs down a room and just causes it to be transported to the 1970's.  No one in my field would allow a dark piece of furniture in a room.  It simply isn't done. Yes, of course, I know that this is a Koa wood, but its dark and so sad.   It really would "pop" if it were painted lime green.  It'll be fine sweetie darling, I know the best paint experts." 

3. The collector:  "Its and old finish, certainly it is.  But I want to see that beautiful wood grain.  I know that its poplar wood and that it has a grain painted finish. But, I want to see that wood.  Furniture is all about wood and pristine condition.  I want it to look like it just come from the craftsman's shop.  Yeah, go ahead and strip it off so that wood can shine again."

 Three wildly exaggerated scenes, or are they? I've been to many a show that had old bird poop on a piece of furniture.   I've also seem incredible pieces of wood painted with a modern paint. Sadly, I've seen my fair share of old or original finishes scrubbed or belt sanded into oblivion. The following is my opinion and you should always consult an expert first before you make decision that changes a finish. 

A cruddy, old finish is currently in vogue right now.  And rightly so.  An original finish is like a fine wine, once drunk, its gone. There is no refilling that bottle. If you find that you simply can't live with a cruddy finish, then you should find a piece of furniture that you can live with.  Some will say that if a finish clouds a woods grain then it has out lived it purpose.  I disagree.  I think that its simply another layer of patina. Honestly, I have seen furniture that needs to be gently cleaned.  Come on folks, its poop... in your living room. On the flip side, a piece that is 150 or 200 years old, should not look like its show room new.  I can understand removing a modern finish in favor of an period finish.  But to replace an old finish with a modern poly finish is just wrong and is insulting to an antique piece.  Wood, like silver or metal should have a worn, soft glow to it. It should show those tiny scratches, mars, dings and spots where hands have rubbed and burnished a finish down to the bare wood. This can't be duplicated. ANY sandpaper will destroy glowing feel. Move the piece on to another collector, if you must restore the life force out of a piece of furniture. 

Paint.  We're talking about applying modern paint to an old piece here.  First off, NO fine antique, let a lone a masterpiece or a rare wood should ever be painted. Shop around until you find what you need with out committing this travesty.  However,  this opens the field up for the painting of modern reproductions, reproductions that are from the 1930's to the modern days.  EXCEPT for the really fine AND highly collectible manufacturers like Kittinger, Hendendron, Drexel and pieces made for the historic foundations like Williamsburg or Old Sturbridge Village, or the coveted mid century makers like Wright, Nakashima, Eames, Gershun and several others. Probably 90% of common, mass produced, machine made, Victorian furniture could be painted. Its a personal preference on this one. Check with an expert first. At least Google it!   You know, I see this all the time, in the magazines, a walnut Victorian ladies chair painted  white or hot pink with a funky upholstery and placed in a little girls room.  People will say to me, "Jerry, aren't you horrified??" No, not really, this type of furniture brings, little money in todays market. Some pieces actually look good, great in fact. Besides, I'd rather see it painted and used rather than sent to the junk heap. Paint can always be stripped and if sealed with a light spit coat it will come off easier.  This paint topic is hotly debated and I'm sure I'll catch hell for it either way.  But, it is very, very personal. Remember the adage, First do no harm.    


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mean While Back at The Store:

There is something to be said about having a store pet. Small dogs and large non-threatening dogs are the most common canine.  Who doesn't love the thoughts of a lab curled up under a table or sprawled on a couch. They typically, welcome a pet or a "Helloooo there boy!  How are you pretty guy?" They will spring to life, like a key wound toy soldier, and pant or cock a head with the look of "HEY you want to play or rub my belly?"  Cats are the most common pet in residence. I guess that this stems from the fact that, cats are self preservers.  They make it seem proper and right that YOU, serve them and not the other way around.  They seem to blend in. They make themselves become part of the atmosphere, a fixture of the culture and place.   Well, for many years,  I had a store cat. Antiquea was her name.  Great name for an antiques store cat.  I'm not sure that she liked it or not. But, she would answer to it.  That is amazing, as any cat owner or cat slave knows.  Everything about this cat was amazing and different.  I saw her for the first time near my back porch, looking for something to eat.  All I said to her was, " Hey kitty cat, what are you doin'?" Evidently, that was translated into cat speak for, "Come here and live and I'll feed you." That's what happened,  she came and I fed her.  All I had was a can of Hormel potted meat and she ate it with delight.  Come to think of it, potted meat and cat food do look a lot alike.  My God, she was thin!  In her healthy days, I fattened her up some, but she never did become a fat cat. It must have been her hard scrap life that kept her thin and agile. She curled up on a towel I had laid out and this became her home for the next 15 odd years. Proper cat bedding and toys quickly followed, but she never much cared for them.  Antiquea preferred to hunker down in the section where I kept large paper bags at the front counter. I worried that she would be cold in winter, until I reached my hand in and found it toasty warm from her own body heat. I however, was often cold, and still am.  

It seems hard to believe that yesterday marked the 6 year anniversary, since Antiquea last left the store. I knew that the time was quickly approaching.  A major holiday, a holiday weekend  and promises of another holiday would prolong her suffering.  I choose this time, so that things would be quiet in the closed store, after the deed was completed. I looked back, a few days ago, at photos of her during her last weeks with me. Shockingly, I found that she had nearly reverted to her former skinney, starved looked.  But I knew that there was one difference, she had been loved, and become a character in the store. Never to be replaced. Though she was independent, she had changed from that of a street cat, a stray feline, to that of a minor Main Street star and legend. 

Antiquea loved to be on the front counter.  It made it easier for folks to pet her. 
What a treasure she was to have in the store. I didn't choose her, she picked me. That little cat was responsible for more sales than you can imagine. I think that, as a thank you to me, she endured years of her eyes being almost poked out. Sometimes by kids, just being kids and more often than not, by adults who, " Didn't think she was real?".  Would you go up to a statue and poke its eyes, even if you knew it was a statue or figurine?   I wouldn't think so.  She was carried, packed, toted, talked to, kissed, loved on and once was placed in a baby stroller with A BABY!  I'll never forget the elegant, older woman, who rolled around on the floor playing with her. Her expensive skirt riding up around her thighs.  She cried real tears, when I wouldn't sell her. Her husband had to almost drag her away. I think that she might have had serious metal issues. People loved to give her treats and cans of her favorite foods.  The servant of said cat, received nothing.  Honestly, I did make sales because of her. So in a way she did pay for her keep.  

There are times that I think I still catch a glimpse of her. You know its funny... I still have her litter box set up and her food dish is under the counter. People still ask about her and more than one sent a sympathy card when she died. I secretly chuckle when folks say that they just saw her last year when they were in town to see Mom and Dad. I guess they don't visit Mom and Dad as much as they should. 

And NO there will not be another store cat in the future. I'm not being cruel or denying myself or another animal joy... I raised her, cared for her, befriended her and had her put to sleep and I'm done with that job. I know that there are other animals out there that need help, care and love, but it won't be from me. I'll be more than happy to give an animal food or donate food to an animal shelter.  But I'm done with my stint as a cat slave.   Dr. Ellis and I were never sure, but we always thought she was about 20 she died. I'll always miss you little girl. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

 That's a Good Question:
Personal Effects Tasha Tudor Books October 2014

Question: Dear Jerry, I love love love Tasha Tudor. I've collected her books, prints and everything I can lay hands. I enjoy her attempts to travel back in time to the 1820's with her clothing and home. I have a couple of her books that are signed. I bought them new and I'm not sure if they have any value aside from whats I paid. I have Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts and The Private World of Tasha Tudor. Both have the dust wrappers, are marked 1st edition and are spotless inside and out. Both are signed but the crafts book is double signed and upside down. Why? Has her death increased their value? Keep the articles coming. I save them. Thanks and kindest regards.

Cover of Tasha's beautiful Heirloom Crafts. 
Answer: I too, enjoy the lifestyle of Tasha Tudor. Though some say that she was living in a bubble of her own fantasy. I think that's harsh. If you can afford to do it, if its what you want and no one is harmed over it, live in the 1820's if you want. However, the world that Tasha created and the one she illustrated are somewhat different from the true life she led. Tasha Tudor was an American author and illustrator. Known for her illustrations of quaint 19th century farm / country life, featuring bonnet topped kids, New England styled homes and long lost customs and traditions. Born as Starling Burgess, in Boston, Massachusetts, in August of 1918. She, while still a child, was re-named Natasha, which was later shortened to Tasha. Following the first of two divorces, she legally adopted her mother's maiden name, Tudor. Tasha and her first husband had four children. Her second marriage was very brief. Tasha died on June 2008, at age 92, in Marlboro,Vermont. The bulk of her two million dollar estate was left to her oldest son Seth and her grandson Winslow. The remaining children were disinherited, due to what was called “their estrangement from their mother.” Though, it was cited that the other children were gifted millions of dollars, in the form of her original art work, during her lifetime. So see it wasn't all tea and cakes and ices.

Tasha Tudor's autograph
Tasha's first book, Pumpkin Moonshine was published in 1938. A mint condition first edition of this title will fetch upwards of $2000.00. More than one hundred other titles, either illustrated or illustrated and written by Tasha culminated her career. Tasha received many awards and honors in her career, including two Caldecott Awards and a Regina Medal. There was several ground breaking exhibits of Tasha's work and collections at such places as The Norman Rockwell Museum,the Henry Ford Museum and Colonial Williamsburg. Her writings, manuscripts and original art work are in collections all over the world.

Tasha is most well known for her children's books and that is where some serious value is. I wish that you'd told me what children's book you have. The two, lets call them “lifestyle books”, that you have are very collectible and beautiful. The addition of signatures is even more desirous. She'll not be signing anymore. The reason for the double upside down signature? Likely, it was during a mob packed book signing and someone just handed her the same book twice, upside down. A double signature does not add nor detract from it's value. I looked online and found that these two titles were being offered for up to $390.00. Realistically, I'd say that in a good book store environment that they would be priced between $75.00 to $100.00 each. You've done pretty well, as you probably paid $25.00 for them when new. Thanks for sharing them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:

Phone rings

(me) J. Sampson Antiques...... How can I help you? 

(woman) Do you sell silver polish?

(me) Yes, I sell Maas and Pine Ola.  Both are really excellent. 

(woman ) Does it take off brown stains?

(me) Brown stains?  What kind of brown stains?

(woman) I don't know?  I've used everything I can lay hands on to clean it. All kinds of silver polish, never dull, semichorme,  I even used some real soft steel wool and comet. I was real careful. 

(woman) Its a real old silver tray. 

(me) How old and what do the brown stains look like?

(woman) Oh, its really old maybe 100 or 200 years old.  You know its funny when I clean it  its a really light pink and then it turns a dark brown in a few days. 

I sighhhh

(me)  Your tray is silver plate and you've scrubbed off the silver plate. You've taken it down to the copper base.  Its copper you see not brown. 

(woman) Really?? That's good isn't it? 

(me) Well, it was but now its ruined. AND you've likely scratched it so much that it couldn't be replated without buffing it down to a nub. 

(woman) THANKS A LOT!  I've ruined my tray.  And I thought I was trying to do something to help it look better. 

(me) Well, you could keep polishing it until it was all copper.

(woman) thanks for talking to me. 

(me) Thanks for calling. 

It likely was a nice older tray not worth much, silver or copper.  Be careful when you clean! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just the way It Is:

 I just had to share this here. These large fresh and saltwater pearls are going to become more and more rare as our climate changes.  Already the angel skin coral is endangered from the pollution.  This will break records for pearls. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Querulous Quandaries: 

 This happened several years ago but it still makes me laugh. 

I go on a short walk for my lunch hour and I come back.  

(man) How much are these magazines marked $1.00?

(me)  I'd say a dollar.  

(man) Hmmm,

Then he says. 

(man) If I buy three of them will you let me have them for $4.00?

(me)  Yep, I sure will. 

 No, he didn't buy anything. He said as he walked out the door that he just wanted to get some ideas on how to price things for a yard sale. I hope that he does better with the retail aspect than he did with the wholesale.

 I should have kept walking this afternoon. lol.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Just the Way It Is:

As I call Atmos Energy to have my gas turned back on, after the furnaces have had their warm weather slumber. I have to think of the different ways that people perceive winter.  Remember, as a kid you begged, pleaded and prayed for snow?  As an adult you begged, pleaded and prayed NOT to have snow.  I fall into the latter group.  My days of being a kid have long since passed. It does not excite me anymore. Some people are manic about Christmas and all the details it involves. I love the reason and rarely the season.  Some people will actually say that they love snow and bad weather and like to get out in it.  I think those people will lie about other things too.  Here's the rub.  Winter, for about 95% of the antique and collectibles sellers out there, sucks. There are just fewer, much fewer, people out and they have other things on their minds.

Those that are out there are, and are perhaps, playing in it, are buying groceries or other essential things.  They are not looking to add to their book or antiques collections.  An old book, tea pot or pyrex bowl is not always at the top of the list.  I know, I know. When I first went into business I had visions of large comfortable chairs scattered in front of a fireplace, Pendleton throws tossed about,  stacks of books and men with beards and pipes and women with rosy cheeks and sexy boots, gathered around discussing art, Kentucky history and obscure cultural titles of little known books. While I, in my dapper plaid tie, wrap their parcels with brown paper and string. Hot chocolate is poured from various kettles and the music was jazzy and sultry.  As you can imagine, snow circled around outside and piled up in the windows. A good snowy day in the book and antiques trade.

Christmas window at the store from 2008
WRONG!  That scene doesn't not exist. I guess it would if you were independently wealthy or had a wealthy spouse. Maybe, if you lived in a warmer clime and your winter was really your summer. In reality, winter is usually hard and long.  The threat of  high gas bills looms large. The worry of property taxes is burdensome.  And some days, you have just a few customers, and they mistakenly come in looking for candles or plastic Easter rabbits to decorate their tables with. No, they are not interested in your German  paper mache rabbit candy containers. Mainly because they are $200.00 each and they can buy the rabbit they want at Marshalls for $12.00. They tell you this, as they stand holding the door open, as if you're Macy's.

Christmas isn't the same, in this trade, as it is in others.  People will come from Target and say to me, "Boy, they were wild!  I'll bet you're hopping all over the place."  Hopping yes, to jump over the water puddles that sneak in with the ice dam on the roof.  Lets face it, people want electronics and gift cards for electronics.  Not the stuff I sell. Now, I do have a loyal clutch of folks that buy antique gifts for the holidays.  But they're buying them for OTHERS that want that kind of thing. Can you imagine the horror of a twelve year old getting a set of the Leather Stocking Tales for Christmas? Hmmm I think I would have liked that gift myself.

Now, its not all doom and gloom, there are bright spots
.  I've survived twenty two winters, though I'm surprised when spring comes.  There are still some people that manage to come in. Perhaps, I should dig out one of my plaid ties. They might be looking for, hoping for, the very dream scene I described earlier. My tie and some brown paper is the least I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just The Way It Is:

I spent a lot of time Saturday and most of last Friday evening a few weeks ago, enjoying the whirlwind estate auction of a friend. She was well known and much loved and her memory will live on for many years.  Let it be said that she was a ... shopper. A classy way of saying that she had hoarding tendencies.  She was not a picky shopper either. She enjoyed a high end shop as well as a  yard sale. Though she had good taste and enjoyed the finer things, it was tempered with the frugality of a woman who had worked hard all her life for her habits and she remembered the times in her youth and those in her family, the times when the platter was meager and the closets were spare. It was remarked several times, that if she had been at her own auction, she would have relished the thought of buying back her own items.  Now, in my business, I encounter many hoarders.  The vast majority of them are in effect, miserable. They use their purchases to insulate themselves from others and the world.  They use it as a way to always have more than they could use or even want, to protect themselves, protection to the point of strangulation. 

This lady was a rare treat. She was woman who was the exact opposite of a miserable hoarder.  She loved and enjoyed every item that she bought.  Often items would be bought with the thought as a gift for a friend or loved one. I often enjoyed waiting on her as she bought pieces of jewelry for her stylish collection. She concentrated on every detail, What would she wear it with? Was it a good color? Were the stones clear and pretty? She came from a long family line with many nieces, nephews and cousins and an even greater number of friends.  She would gather toys and games for family members, who had long since out grown such needs or desires.  She would simply remark that someone, one day would use and enjoy them.  She enjoyed the things that she hid, poked and stored away. I know that she not only enjoyed buying these things, but she enjoyed  buying them from and thereby helping small merchants.  I was one of those merchants for many years.  Without knowing it, she would pay for one of my dealers booth rent for the month and on more than one occasion, she paid my late water bill or bought groceries for my table. All with her purchases that she collected.

Is what she did right or justified?  No, I'm afraid not.  It was thoughtless and selfish.  Its a problem. Just like someone who drinks too much or someone who is terrified of dogs or someone who bites their nails. They can't help it. They need help and guidance. Just like a heroin junkie needs help and tough love.  They need help in helping establish a collection or household.  Most importantly, they need help in devising a way to dispose of a "collection" when the sun draws low in the sky. It was a strain to her daughter and the many family members it took to sort, clean organize and dispose of her items. Though I'm sure that there were moments of fond recollection and laughter, there were also, an equal number of stressful moments, with the question of " Why did she have so much stuff?" echoing around the room. The happy collector doesn't think of such things.  They think that, "Oh they will be happy to see that I have a set of flatware for everyone in the family." or " They won't have to buy bath towels for years, after I'm gone."  See they still are loving and caring for the people left behind.  Its just that not everyone shares the same giddy feeling over flatware or bath towels.  

 But here is the difference and the key feature.  Yes, it was stressful for her family left behind, to clean up this collection. BUT, at least she enjoyed every moment of her shopping.  This would have been a real tragic situation, if she had gone without food or sanitary living conditions for her things.    If she had lost her family, friends, church or community, all in an effort to gather around her items that would have been damaged or destroyed by their very hoarding traits. Many hoarders give up much for their collections.

I'm glad she had what she had, including all ten or twelve electric coffee pots.   However, I'm really happy that you enjoyed what you did and why you did it.  The way I see it, if you have to eat ice cream, buy what you like, eat all of it and ENJOY IT! However, next time around you might ask for some help if you stock pile too much. .  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Querulous Quandaries: 

 I guess the only thing I can say is that the object must meet the period.  A quirky story and I don't think she ever really did understand.  Her grandmother wouldn't have known what it was either. lol

(me) Hi, Can I help you?

(woman) Yes, I'm looking for something. 

(me) What are you looking for? 

(woman)  I need a butter dish.  I real old one.  At least from the 1900's or earlier.

(me) Ahhh. You know you're the second or third person to ask for a butter dish this week.  Afraid that I don't have one of them, but what kind did you want? 

At this point I'm just making conversation and will direct her somewhere else.   

(woman)  Well I want an old one. 

(me) Well,what kind did you want? 

Then she looks at me kind of funny and in a  really pissy way says... 

(woman) HELLOOO... A... B-U-T-T-E-R dish.

(me)  HELLOOO...  What kind of B U T T E R dish did you want?  A round one for a cake of butter, one for a stick, one for a block of butter?  Did you want one made of metal, pottery, glass or porcelain?   

(woman) Well, I don't know, but I'll know it when I see it.  I want an old one that will hold a tub of Country Crock. One that will look pretty on the table. 

(me)  Well, you won't find an antique butter dish for a butter spread.  Maybe a crock with a lid but not a traditional butter dish.

(woman) I don't see why not! 

She got real pissy at this point. 

(me) Butter in a tub isn't gong to date to the 1900's or earlier. 

(woman) Well I can't see why not!  I mean butter dates back to the bible. 

(me) Yes, it does ( in a way)  but that's REAL butter and not a factory manufactured product like Country Crock.

(woman)  I just don't think you know what I'm talking about when I say butter dish.

(me) I guess I don't. Thanks for coming in. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mean While Back at The Store: 

 The opening of one of the lectures.
Boy, what a great Thursday and Friday I had.  The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) finally came to Kentucky. We've waited a long time too. They had a whirlwind series of lectures, field trips and socials scheduled for this weekend.  A close friend and I went down to check it all out.  I was happy to see that on Thursday, the meet and greet, that there were about 65 - 75 people in attendance. However, I was shocked that there were like 145 to come to the lecture and seminars.  That made me feel great.  For so long Kentucky and and Kentucky decorative arts had been pushed aside, stuck off in a corner.  In fact, we were called the " back country." I guess that that's a nice way of saying, there was nothing here of any scholarly merit.  How wrong they were and they've been wrong for a long time.  Kentucky since its very earliest days has been a breeding and receiving ground for amazing decorative arts, furniture, silver, textiles and of course, pottery.  All praise and acclaim had been denied to us. Why?  Was it because we were considered a frontier region? Or was it because we were segregated by the golden southern coast by a range of mountains and a different economy?  Perhaps, it was because we weren't romanticized as a "moonlight and magnolia" south. Which ever way, those days are over.  Well, we scholars, dealers, appraisers  and historian knew it wasn't true all along, but now its officially over, with this all important visit from MESDA.  In Kentucky, since the 1920's there has been a dedicated band of collectors and dealers,who made great efforts to enlarge the concepts of what decorative arts were, in several fields, in the early days of Kentucky.

The crowd coming in early

I can't stress scholarship enough.   Be it for your hometown or your favorite collection.  There is room out there for more and more discovery.  Explore, discover and SHARE all that you can.  If we don't stress scholarship and if we don't share what we discover future generations will loose out.  I can't say enough about how empowering and exciting it was to see, not only scholars sharing about Kentucky arts, but people from OTHER states, actually interested in what we had to say and show off.  Don't delay.  I guarantee that there is something in your area that needs more scholarship on.  Someone in the future needs your help.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mean While Back At The Store: 

 Reworking the store for the fall season.  Thanks to Sandy Collins an Cheryl Barton for taking the bull by the horns.  The small mantel is circa 1830 with an old white paint with an original green under that. Priced at $450.00.  The screen in the front is Japanese and is circa 1900 and is BONE.  Its priced at $300.00 with some losses.  Contact me for any other questions you might have about other items in this photo.  I'll post more store images up later. 
Fireplace in the front of the store. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Querulous Quandaries: 

This was a past experience but it still makes me smile. 

An older man came into the store today and asked me if to look at some photos on his camera, of furniture he was selling. He fumbled badly with it, but managed to pull up a few images before his gnarled fingers hit a button and sent it veering to another screen.

(me) " Would you like me to help you?" 
Modern technology 

(man) " No I think, I can get it." 

Still he scrolled through several screens for several minutes. Suddenly he said,

(man) "Look at that table! That's something else ain't it?" 

(me) "Yes, it is. Its mine.", I said. 

He looked at my funny.

(man) "Son, that depends on what you want to pay me for it before you called it yours."

 I laughed 

(me)  "No, IT is mine. See its setting over there. You have your camera on video." 

We both had a laugh over that one. No, I didn't buy any of his furniture.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy Customers are the Object:

Gene & Nancy D. of Boise,  Idaho
This sweet couple is Gene & Nancy D. of Boise, Idaho. Its this type of customer that I turn that key in the door for everyday. A great joy to wait on and good customers to boot. They loved loved Harrodsburg and all it had. 

On Wednesday, though I'm usually closed, I happened to see a couple looking into my darkened windows.  I came up to them and asked if they'd like to come in. A a treat. Both were from England. Not just England but from Stratford-upon-Avon. But they also had a book store!  I quickly felt insecure.  I was but to rest as they loved the store.  The husband I had a great 30 minute conversation about business.  He remarked that England was also becoming a "motor" country, instead of walking, as town folk has for centuries.  This couple was very interested in Wal-mart and other big box retailers.  Such things were only available in large cities, but in the states they were everywhere.  They also said that in the last 10 years nearly 80% of the smaller mom and pop  book stores had closed in their region.  Fascinating to talk to and I regret that I didn't have my camera on hand to photograph this couple. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just The Way It Is

You always hear this when non-dealers talk about antiques, "That's in a circular file.", they'll say. What they mean is that this item will come back into fashion. Yeah, sure it will, I'm positive that it will. That's one that I've heard for a long time. I've found that people often say that, when they have rooms full of the items that no one wants anymore. They try to justify what they bought or inherited. Once upon a time, I would have believed that saying. However, I think that there are just some things that just won't be back or they'll be so cheap that they'll be considered fodder,  I mean its there now.  This is a short list and this is just my personal opinion. I've give myself a little cushion here, because its my blog.  In all categories, there are the stellar examples. Pieces that are mega rare, choice, valuable and will always, kind of, be desired.  In this little list, I'm honing in on the middle of the road pieces.  Where most of us live.  I'll add to and revise this list in the future.  Like everything, it has the possibility to change.

1. Victorian Furniture:  OK, here goes. Most of it is ugly, fussy and not too well made. People just don't go for it, be it period or the  1950's reproduction stuff. There is still a need for usable pieces, but even that has a lot of short comings. The key is small
Victorian Bedroom Set
but not delicate. Massive pieces really go waiting for homes. Yes, as the years go by, you'll see more and more of it come on to the market.Go to an auction and you'll see what I mean. Face it, its uncomfortable.  People want things that they can use.  However, it currently is hot to "alter" these pieces with paint or decorative finishes or other more drastic alterations.  Look at it this way.  I'd rather see a common piece of Victorian furniture painted hot pink than to have it in the bottom of a junk pile in a dump.  You can strip paint, but rot and breakage are another matter.

Traditional Dining Room Furnishings
2.  Traditional Furnishings: What's almost impossible to sell?  Dining, bed and living room suites or sets, wing back chairs and camel back sofas. There is still a thin market that want these things, it grows smaller every year.  However, there is still some hope.  You'll more likely to see a dining room breakfront in a hallway and a dresser in a mud room.  But the days of mom's matchy - matchy sets is over.  People are more prone to
break up a set and use it in other ways. People just aren't into the formal lifestyle.  Which leads us to...

3.  Large sets of "pretty" porcelain and crystal services.  People rarely set down at a dining room table anymore. Why would they want massive sets of china?  You'll do well to snag a plastic bottle of water, nevermind wine and cordial glasses.  Middle of the road stuff sits on shelves.  BUT, anything that is tea related.  I mean people, women and men, are obsessed with the drinking of tea.  Teapots, tea tiles, cracker jars, cups and saucers, can and do fly off of shelves.  I call it the Downton Abbey Effect, or DAE for sho
Pretty China
I tell people all the time, "USE IT." If it breaks it breaks,  Hell, put it in the dish washer if you want. Do avoid products containing bleach and lower that temperature, if you can.  OK, microwaves and platinum & gold trims are simply not going to work, so don't do that.

I'll leave you with these three and add a few more later.  Hope that these get you to thinking.  And don't feel bad if you love these things.  That' my dear readers is what this business is all about.  Using, enjoying and collecting the things YOU like not a family member or a decorator.

Until next time.

Monday, October 13, 2014

That's a Good Question:

Personal Effects Love Disarmed Feb 2014

Question: Hi J., These belonged to my Mom and we have no idea where they came from. They were found in the sideboard in a felt bag. I have a set of 12 all identical. Are they worth much. I took them to a metal scraper and they offered me $400.00 for the set of 12. But I wanted to ask you first. If they were valuable I'd keep them for the kids. Should I insure them? Love the radio show and the newspaper column. Keep it up. Thanks.

As an act of disclosure, I did do an appraisal for this gentleman on this property and gained his permission to print this in the paper. Names and other personal information was redacted from the original email, for my readers here.

Answer: What a treasure to find! You have a set of twelve large dinner forks, and the pattern is the highly coveted, Love Disarmed by Reed and Barton Silversmiths. Silver doesn't get anymore detailed,storied or sexy than Love Disarmed. Its at the zenith of the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau was an art movement characterized by flowing lines and a riot of patterns and symbolic meanings, circa 1880 – 1915. A set of twelve dinner forks are very good to find. Its a good thing you you sought help in determining value before you sent these pieces to the smelters pot. That would be tragic. Save the scrapers for damaged beyond repair jewelry and and thin sterling from the 1950's. A common set of average dinner forks, would range something in this neighborhood, but a pattern of this quality, won't live in this neighborhood.

Love Disarmed
I want you to look carefully at the workmanship of these pieces. You'll see that there is a central womanly figure, some call her Venus or Diana, the goddess of love and beauty. She's got a little cupid, the god of love, tucked up under one arm. One of her hands holds his little bow. Her other arm is over her head and behind her back, holding, and hidden in the folds of her flowing gown, are what many speculate are Cupid's arrows of love. She's not going to be taken aback by the advances of this small, but powerful god. If you remember your mythology, anyone pierced by one of Cupid's arrow will fall head over heels in love with the next person they see. All of this and a bevy of poppy flowers. The poppy leaves and blooms that surround Cupid have for centuries been a symbol of sleep, the poppies that appear in the Love Disarmed pattern seem to suggest that Venus / Dianna used the drowsy qualities of the poppy to induce sleep then and steal Cupid’s bow and most of his arrows. The details are amazing. There are some reproductions, from the 1980's up til modern times. But you can tell from the razor sharp details, details that are lost on recast pieces, that your forks will date to the early 1900's.

I did a little online research and I found many examples across the board, price wise. A replacement value, a value in which you would have to go out into the marketplace and purchase these forks, would be to the tune of about $300.00.... each! So that would make your recent find have an insurance valuation of about $3000.00+ for the set. Get them out from time to time and use them and think of your Mom! Its OK to polish them but not too much. Use a good polish and a soft rag and never a silver / metal dip. You want to leave the dark patina in the nooks and crannies, that makes the details stand out. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing them with us.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dr. Freud's Sofa
Just The Way It Is:

You know being in this antique, book and appraisal business is like conducting a therapy session. " Now, just relax and tell me how you feel at this."   I learned a long time ago that some people just want to talk.  They want to recall old happy memories and they have little, if any, interest in selling an item or having it valued.  They just want to talk.  I like that, but I have to know when to draw the line.  I mean some people will think nothing of blowing a few hours of my afternoon. With no possibility of any monetary compensation or contacts established for me. That's not helpful for me to buy groceries. Some days I have time for talk and some I don't.

Some conversations can be amazing.  For instance when someone is telling about local history. Technology is great, but nothing beats having a first hand account from someone who was there. Or if someone shares information about a piece of pottery, furniture or silver. I learned some great  things just listening to people talk about genealogy and that stuff that Mim & Pops had in the barn.

 I group this antique talk in the same category, as people talking about the weather or their health.  Nothing will  energize a person like talking about a grandmothers quilt or dads pipe or the bowl that Nana made pudding in.  Some people will tend to dwell too much on the past and it bogs them down.   The past is a great place but you don't want to stay there too long.  Its like a scene, in that movie, The Blue Bird with Shirley Temple.  She travels to this land where her grandparents are  still alive and the old house is still there and the oven is filled with cookies.  Soon, they grow tired of the treats and they discover that its harder and harder to leave and explore some other special land. Finally they break free and the day becomes night and the grandparents sleep again.  I always wondered, "What if the grandparents wanted to be young?",  but I guess this was Miss Temple's remembering of the past and her grands. We can become tired of the same old things after a while.

You know one popular thing that many people concentrate on, when they talk about their property?   What they lost. I've heard that so many, many times just over and over.   I mean really was it worth it loosing your sister in a fight over the picture your mother bought at a yard sale forty years ago? Damn, go out and buy another print and hang it up.  Or better yet hang it up with YOUR sister and talk about the great time you had in finding one just like Mom's.

Many times  I have people come in and just talk non stop. I mean the ask me for help, but they talk so much that I never get to tell them about it.


I often wonder if they really wanted information anyway.

 I think that enough rambling for today.  So, in a nut shell,  talk about your things, but don't harp on sad time or the past too much.  And at times close your mouth and open your ears to hear someone else talk about your property.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:

 A woman comes in the store the other day.

(me) let me know if I can help you.

woman looks around

(woman) You sure got a lot of books here.

(me) Yes, its a book store

(woman) Can I ask you something?

(me) Sure.

(woman) What is this?

(me)  Its a book plate See it had their name on it. People used to put them in their books  So a book could be returned to them. Its more classy than just having your signature scribbled on a page.

(woman) So, is this book stolen?

(me) No, I bought it.

(woman) But it belongs to someone else?

(me) Wellll, once it did.

(woman)  Aren't you going to return it?  I mean they'll want their book back, won't they  It still has their name in it.

(me) No, They won't care.  They're dead

(woman) Ohhh.  When did they die?

(me) I'm not sure but I'd say 70 or 80 years ago.

(woman) Well I swear.  That's kind of sad.

I don't think that she understood the concept of book plates, estate items or even death for that matter. Always something funny going on in the store.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just The Way It Is: 

"They don't make antiques anymore." I've heard that for just about all my life.  That is absolutely not true. They make antiques everyday. I don't mean fakes, forgeries and fantasies either, but real antiques. Remember an antique is just a thing with a date stuck on it.  Lets explore what the word ANTIQUE means. There are two schools of thought on this.  I'm putting this into layman's terms for clarity.


1.  An object that is at least one hundred years old.

2. An object that was manufactured before the industrial revolution.  (scholars really hang on this one)

The first term is the most commonly found and used term. The time period of the second term is thought to be as early as 1760 to just prior to the end of 1840.  Its just when more and more machines and faster manufacturing techniques were pushing hand work out of the picture. This term really decreases the field to items that are about 174 years old.

Lets throw in a few other terms too.

An item that was manufactured fifty years ago or less.

An item that was manufactured more than fifty but less than one hundred years ago.


 An item in the style of an earlier period by be an original or a reproduction. Most commonly, this term is implied to things that are from the 1940's - the 1980's.  In my book, these are just "collectible" items.  The dates for this term will change as items become older and are moved into other categories.  One day things from 2000 will be deemed "retro."

A view of the St. James Art Fair
So, you see a tea pot made in 1900 is 114 years old. A punch bowl made in 1910 is 104 years old and a chest of drawers made in 1920 is 94 years old, almost an antique. Does that put things into perspective?Antique is just an age NOT a sign of quality.  Junk made one hundred or two hundred years ago is still, what?  Junk.  Antique or age is NOT a sign of quality.

Now, we've got terms out of the way.

I think that people should say, Antiques of the future more often. I witnessed this first hand last Sunday.  I and a few friends went to the St. James Art Fair, in Louisville, Kentucky.  For those not familiar with it, St. James is one of  the most prestigious outdoor art fairs in the country. It celebrated its 57th anniversary this year and the crowds are massive. Vendors from all over the country, vie for a coveted booth. Stalls in the heart of the fair are something that many artists wait for many, many years for.  Even if awarded a space,still they may be eliminated, when their items undergo a strict jury process.  Yes, its that tough.

I stood there in the center of St. James, a magnificent Victorian neighborhood, the largest in the USA, I might add.  I looked around at the vendors selling everything from fine arts, hooked rugs, pottery, jewelry, furniture, glassware and on an on.  I though, "Here are the future antiques." These are the things that MIGHT in one hundred or one hundred and fifty years be sold at Sotheby's or Christies, or the equal for that time. Does that mean that everything sold at St. James will be worth a lot of money in the future?  No, of course not.  But it does stand to reason that with good quality, good materials and well known artisans, that it stands a better shot of being worth more in the future, than a piece sold at Wal-mart today.  Remember, we've also got to add in the factors of economy, supply & demand, taste & trends and just the general march of time. Buy what you love, buy something, when you can, direct from the master who made it. It will enrich your life.  Hey, look at this way, your grandmother thought that her milk glass collection would send her grand kids to college.  Look what happened with that. On the flip side, Van Gogh traded paintings to pay bar tabs and to buy paint.  Just as speculation, I'd opt to purchase good quality antiques or good quality artistic wares and hope for the best.  If it comes to pass that it is worth more than what I paid for it, Hooray!  If not then I still had something in my life I liked and enjoyed. Likely I won't be here to see either outcome.      

Friday, October 3, 2014

That's a Good Question: 

A yellow ware jelly mold of a rabbit

Personal Effects Rabbit Mold 2014

Question: My new grand daughter in law found this in the cabinet the other day. I've not used it since my kids were little. I told her was the Easter bunny mold. My mother many years ago would make those jello salads in it. Some were sweet and some were savory. It used to be a big deal. All of us kids would be so excited to see what kind and color it was that year. Once it was a dessert and was chocolate. This must have been 70 years ago. How old is this piece? Does it have any value? It does have some nicks on the rim. Its heavy pottery. All the best and thank you.

Answer: You have a nice yellow ware gelatin mold. You're right, gelatin dishes were a huge deal on the dining room table. In fact, centuries ago, gelatine dishes had to be made from beef bones and pig skin. It was considered a status symbol, as it was very time consuming, to cook down all of those animal parts. The invention of Knox gelatine in the early 1900's changed everything. Now, suddenly, every household could have a giggling, sparkling treat on the table. The mold you show me is from the earlier period, dating to the 1860's – 1870's, maybe, a little earlier.

Yellow ware is a yellow to buff colored clay that was utilized in the kitchen for centuries. You'll find many, many examples in the market place. You'll find dinner plates, mixing bowls, pitchers, butter dishes and on and on. Almost everything was made in yellow ware. Think of it as the Tupperware of the nineteenth century. There were, at one time, dozens of factories that churned out yellow ware pieces. Its hard to tell who made yours. By the shape, it could even be European. The condition will affect its value. Some leeway has to be given. These things were used frequently and often roughly. Just consider how it was un-molded. It was turned upside down and shook or wrapped in hot towels or thumped on the edges with a spoon, all in an effort to get it to gently plop on a serving platter. Slippery hands make for chips and damage. Collectors will still love it and display it proudly in a home.

In regards to molds, its all about the subject of the mold. At the top of the heap are subjects like elephants, asparagus stalks and dogs. Towards the bottom, are subjects like geometric shapes. Your mold is going to fall in the upper middle of the line up. I have one just like it, here in the store. Those subjects in the upper category are going to be priced for $400. 00 - $500.00 and up! This is a nice one with a full figure and they are always desirable, though not terribly expensive. I did some research and found that one like yours in this condition will be priced in a store for $50.00 - $100.00. You should get it out and use it and let your grandchildren see something that laugh with excitement. Could make some great memories. Thank you for sharing it with us.     

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Just the Way It is:

You know its funny. A person will despise an object, until you offer them money for it.  Then they just LOVE it. Sometimes they want hundreds for a piece and you wouldn't pick it up off the street for free.

Another day at the store:

You know people hide things at the store. Well they do at mine anyway. Perhaps its because of the fact that its an antiques and book store or maybe because its a cool and somewhat mysterious place.  Mostly its books that are hidden.  I guess they plan on coming back and they don't want that $4.00 book to be gone when they get back.  I kind of understand that, hell I've done it.  But more often, they never come back. Thereby, I don't get the sale from some other customer. Books, and I have a lot of them, are one thing.  Its the other things that I get puzzled over. You know, if you'd just ask me, I'll gladly hold back an item for a day or so.   I will not do what one gent requested, who asked me to hold a Maxfield Parrish print for him until next year, AND this was in the spring.  Yeah that was funny, but back to hiding things.

I've found plates, cups and saucers, figurines, letter openers and other smalls tucked away.  I think that some people have other motives, motives that are, shall we say, not  honest.  When they do come back, I think they expect a "five finger discount."Some hidden objects I love / hate to find are   drawer pulls, decanter stoppers, furniture keys and once, when I carried music CD's and tapes, a whole little collection of someone's favorite titles. These types of things that are hidden or that later disappear, are terribly expensive to loose or replace. Keys and eye glasses are another thing that gets left behind.  But as a rule they only last for the day, then someone comes racing in or crawls in with a hang dog look on their faces, asking for mislaid keys or eye wear.

Now, here is the nasty list.  I find lots of used tissues dropped behind books and stuffed into planters.  Once I found an unused but open condom in a vase. What were they planning?  Lots of cigarette butts. Being I have a lot of paper that is scary!  I assume that the actual consumption of said smoke took place in the bathroom.   But if dad or grandma can't kick the habit, even though everyone thinks they did, why not flush it or damp it and put in the trash can.  Damn, don't just grind it out and toss it into some paper.  I once found a syringe under a chest of drawers.  Its little cap was on but it had been used.  I assume that it was from a diabetic person, but the thoughts of it being stuck in a stranger was, shall we say, creepy.

Years and years ago I was a drop center for a young couple. She would leave a note in a book, way back in the book rooms. I just happened to find it one afternoon in a book of, you guessed it, poetry.  Later he would come and pick it up and leave one in its place. I never could figure out who it was.  But it was very Romeo and Juliet like wasn't it?  I guess that it didn't work out as the letters stopped coming. I never bothered the letters when I saw them and enjoyed reading them. They were gushy and sweet, with the flavor of innocent youth. Hey, they were left in my store, so I felt I could do what I wanted!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Querulous Quandaries:  
A section of the scandalous Black Studies unit.

 This happened years and years ago and really wasn't a question, instead it was one of worst, confusing and most ill placed dressing downs I'd ever received.

Door opens and a man, whom I've never seen before enters.

(me) Hi, let me know if you have any questions.
(man) Thank you. I'm browsing for now.

He makes his way about half way  through the store, before briskly walking back towards the front.  He stops in front of the counter where I'm at. 

(man)  I just wanted you to know that I will not shop here and I'll never be back.
(me) Sir, what's wrong? Can I help? 

By this time I can notice that he's gone pale and is starting to shake.  I mean he is furious.

(man)  I will not condone the poor treatment and flagrant disregard for humans and their race and culture! 

Well I'm shocked and puzzled at this point. 

(me) If I've done something wrong, tell me and I'll try to fix it. I'm kind of lost here.  
(man) How can you attempt to fix what I've seen what I've discovered to be the true nature of this store and its owner!
(me)  What is it that I've done!  (I'm getting mad myself.)

I'll pause here to state that book dealers and libraries so something strange... strange as in we put books into categories.  You know World War II, Poetry,  Religions, Classics and the like. 

(man) I see on that wall! That you have chosen to single out and segregate books on Africans and African Americans! And I will not condone nor accept it! 

I was almost dumb founded and speechless.

(me) That is a category. I have many black people who come in asking for the Black Studies section.  I keep it up front, as many of those titles are either fragile or are expensive.  AND if I had enough books on... China, I would keep them in their own categories too.   I in no way shape or form would single out or exclude any culture or nationality. It is a category and I'm sorry if you're upset BUT you are wrong!
(man) Its too late for covering up!  I see your heart and your intentions.  Good day! 

As he went out the door  I had to shout and ask him...
(me) Do you think its wrong that I have Kentucky in a separate section too!  lol.

 Boy, when I think back on all the people I've had come into the store I can't help but laugh or cry.