Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A mid Week Funny

Just The Way It Is: 

A goofy acting guy comes in the store. He points to a book I have on laying on a blanket box. 

Man: Boy, that's what I like to read.  I love that stuff.

I look up and over and notice that he's pointing at a copy of Gideon's Sword. 

Man: You ever read this?

Me: Yes and  I love Gideon.  To be honest I've never read one, but I listened to the whole run, on CD in my van. I have to say that Gideon Crew is my favorite next to the Bourne series.  I mean that Gideon is like a sober Archer.  Really an entertaining story.   And I go on and on over the merits of this cool outer edge character. 

So, this man starts this kind of sing-song type chant. 

Man:  NUMBER 17, NUMBER 17, NUMBER 17! 

Me: Number 17? They've not written that many books? 

Man:  No man, Number 17!  Number 17 is Abe Lincoln. 17th president.  He's my hero. 

Me:  Yeah, but what's that got to do with Gideon's Sword? 

Man:  Abe wrote it?  Him and Fred Douglas.  My favorites. 

He points the authors names at the top of the book, names highlighted in gold, by the way. 

Me:  Hmmm that book is written by  LINCOLN Childs and  DOUGLAS Preston.  President Lincoln and certainly Frederick Douglas had nothing to do with it.  It was written more than a century and a half after they both had died?

Man:  Yeah, I'm all in to that history shit.  

 I'm not sure what he was into but it wan't history.  Or the books of Childs & Preston. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sipper Spoons

Personal Effects 

Question: Dear Jerry, I've have these in my family for many years. I've never really been sure what they were used for. There are 6 of them and they are long with a tiny bowl and the stem is hollow. They are sterling but I can't read the mark. There were purchased here in Harrodsburg for a wedding gift for my husbands mother. I think that she was married in the early 1900's. The box says Wiseman Jewelers. Thanks for taking the time to look at this. I enjoy your articles.

A collection of sterling sipper spoons
Answer: These are great reminders from an era long since gone by, but it doesn't have to be gone. You can easily use these spoons today. You have a great set of lemonade sipper spoons. Now, some people will argue that these are soda spoons, and in a way, they would also be right. The handle of the spoon is the straw and are long and slender with an opening right on the back of the bowl. They were long so as to reach to the bottom of glass. Some people would put ice cream or sherbet in their lemonade. Using these spoons you could partake of bit of creamy ice cream or sip the beverage its floating in. Some hosts would add some seltzer water or ginger ale to the lemonade and that is where the soda part comes in. Regardless of what you call them, they are beautiful. Sipper spoons make me think of wide front porches, wicker rockers and the tinkle of ice in a tall, cool drink. They are marked sterling and the makers maker is Webster. Webster was a well-known silver manufacture that was founded by George K. Webster in 1869. His company lasted until the 1930's, when it was purchased by Frank W. Smith Company. Reed & Barton owns the Smith company today. Were never meant to match a service of flatware. But there are examples of sipper spoons that match flat ware sets. These are usually really popular patterns. Though these spoons are very plain they will blend in with any other silver that was being used. These are The date of your mother-in-laws nuptials is right on target for these spoons. Again, it was the work of the Victorians and Edwardian folks that encouraged such tools and equipment. Lemons are an ancient fruit, dating back thousands of years. They have been used in food and drinks for many centuries. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that sweetened lemonade was considered stylish. Your spoons were only one part of the table. There could have been a fine hand painted lemonade set with pitcher, handled lemonade cups and maybe even cookie trays. The Roaring 1920's and the modern 1930's brought the sipper spoon to an end. I love the fact that you have a local jewelers box with them. That adds to their appeal, but not the value too much. I warn you, they can be a booger to clean. If you keep your eyes open, you can find long pipe cleaners, that you can run through the straw to clean them of sticky fruit, soda and silver polish. Your pretty set of sipper spoons with a local box would in a good antiques store be priced at about $75.00. Get them out and use them this summer. Thank you for sharing them.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Radio Days:

Just So You Know: 

 Did you know that I also have a radio show?  Yep, I sure do and amazingly enough its called  Personal Effects: The radio Show. I'd like to invite each and everyone of your to listen in as I and several guest hosts explore topic related to antiques, collectibles, decorative arts and books.  It airs on WHBN AM 1420 every Saturday at 10:10 right after the AP news.  Say you can't be around a radio at that time?  You can stream it live from your computer. Just go to and click on the red rooster.  Right now Jan Jennemann and I have a great time continuing our series on color.  Black is going to air this coming Saturday.  Come on listen in you might learn something.

This is as shot in the small studio back we I did all the shows live. 

Handle With Care

 Just the way it is: 

Touch, its your first education in this antiques business.  I started working on my education when I was just a little toddler. Though, I don't remember it, my Grandmother Richter often said that, as she held me in her lap, that with much passion, I would try to reach my foot out to knock off a beautiful Nippon bowl she had on a display. The family often laughs over this still.  But I don't think that I was trying to destroy it.  I think I wanted to touch it.  As I grew up, I did touch it, in secret, as its moving would have been frowned upon. Far beyond the toddler stage, I would reach out and touch its heavy, embossed gold edges. I would gently rub my finger tip over the pink and yellow roses painted in the bowls bottom.   I think that that was the start of my education and how important that touch is to this business.  I was encouraged to touch things.  Carefully so as not to break them AND to ask first if I could touch items.  I can remember the thrill of touching pieces of  Fenton glass. The velvety satin glass that was showcased and spotlighted at Brits Department store in Danville. 

Nippon bowl.
I never passed up the opportunity to touch, feel, hear and even smell an item. We'll cover using your other senses with antiques in some future blog posts. You have to, you can't just rely on static sight in measuring up an antique.  Oddly, I have many people who come into the store and just stare and look. My first response is "Feel free to handle anything you want."  Its always been strange that you see dealers post signs in their stores that say,  "Touching is fun but break it you buy it", I think that is just negative. You know legally, you really don't have a leg to stand on anyway, as accidents happen. Besides, if its that fragile, expensive and precious in needs to be behind glass.  Now, granted some people are naturally clumsy and they, as adults, should know their limits.  There are also children who have issues with being destructive with things. In my opinion, some of this stems from the parents lack of regard for property, theirs or others.  But any child old enough to handle an Iphone can begin to touch and handle antiques.  Touch will give you a lesson, far beyond that of a book or magazine.  Now granted, I don't think that you need to hand a seven year old a $8,000.00 piece of Tiffany glass
. But maybe they could touch it as you hold it or touch it as it sits on a shelf. My grandmothers nippon bowl sits in a cabinet in the living room today. I treasure it and though I'm very gentle and reverent with it, I touch it and handle it and think of her. People who are taught not to touch are often preordained not to buy or collect.    

Monday, March 2, 2015

Just The Way It Is: 

You know I always have dashed hopes when it comes to the store and winter time. When I first really began to hang around the book and antiques trade, I subjected myself to one of my favorite bookish winter experiences.  I can remember it well, The Book Emporium on Main Street. It was operated by a good friend of mine, Ruth Cubert and I was drawn instantly to her and this marvelous little store she had. The winter time seemed to be such a cozy time.  Though the books were mostly paper backs, they were stocked pillar to post, with little sections to sit and read in. I dreamed that one day my own store would be this way.  The snow would dance outside and hot chocolate would be served from steaming mugs.  That old man with his roasted chestnut cart would peddle his way up and down the street selling scalding, hot chestnuts in pink stripped paper bags.  Then the.... wait a minute!!! What the hell!  Those things never happened. Sorry, I must have slunk off into one of my Rockwell moments.  I mean the Book Emporium was a great place, but Ruth HATED winter, and the store often went shuttered for weeks, due to bad weather.  It was cold outside. It was slick in spots. Even the very air we breathed was grey, damp and unfriendly.  Winter is rough on a small business.  Rougher still in a small town that depends on tourists to keep the doors open. 

Fast forward twenty some odd years and I'm still dreaming those dreams. Every year I become more and more disappointed with the cold reality of winter on Main Street.  Like my friend Ruth, I hate winter.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and all its special meanings and the warmth of friendship and glad tidings. Its after the holidays that winter bites the hardest.  I always wanted to schedule book readings or book clubs in January, to entice those snow bound citizens, to come in and warm themselves by the fire.   Well, that was part of the problem. There was no fire.  In fact, there was little heat.  I can remember in those early days, that an expensive heating bill would be, maybe,  $200.00 and the store would be toasty warm.  Today, you would call that a pilot light bill.  Lets make this theory,  Old un-insulated building + sky rocketing natural gas bills +  ancient heating elements + a desire for heat you can actually feel =  A couple months worth of  mortgages, at the least.   Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have good old reliable furnaces. Lets face it, tanks that they are, they ain't going to win no "green" awards.  But when I really examine things, its basically me and the die hard book lovers and antiques scouts that will be in there anyway. For my stock and trade, people just don't come out like they do for summer seasons.  Besides the more modern customer is one who will exclaim when they come in, " OH MY GOD!  Its freezing in here. How do you stand this?  I just can't look any more."  Yeah, there's that word again, LOOK.  Suzy Saturday here, is used to pounding those hard floors at Fayette Mall or other more tony antique venues.  Looking is about all she's up for.  Amazingly, I've had some really great winter sales over the years.  Sales from dealers, dyed in the wool collectors, history buffs, book hoarders, in other words, people who are used to standing at cold winter auctions or poking through old antiques stores.  We be a tough breed, unlike the Suzy Saturdays of today. But we are growing older and our flock thins every year.  And I'm left chilly waiting for a spring that never seems to come fast enough.  So its between a rock and a hard place that I rest for now.  No eco friendly furnaces blowing constant streams of  hot  air out of their iron lungs, no fireplace of crackling logs, no pots of hot chocolate and no Suzy Saturday to come browse and maybe buy a thing or two as she listens to someone read from a vintage novel. Worse yet, there are fewer and fewer of the old soldiers who don't care what the conditions are, they want their stuff!  Its the clash between the Browser (maybe we'll buy if you entertain me enough) v/s The  Old Collector / dealer who just doesn't care and muck through it anyway. Spring can't come soon enough for me.