Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 276/365 Necessary Distractions

My mother is the daughter of a sharecropper. She grew up in the heart of Appalachian poverty, stuffing newspaper into the walls to keep in the woodstove heat, and wearing dresses out of flour sacks. With that upbringing, she had no real understanding or interest in antiques or "old stuff".

So, it was a friend of hers that took me to my first auction forty-one years ago when I was fourteen (I'll wait while you do the math). I fell in love with the entire idea of owning pieces of history and started buying everything from American Primitive and antique cameras to vintage jewelry and 1930s chinaware.

Eventually my 930 pieces of Blue Ridge dinnerware (plus Ebay) saw us through nine months of unemployment.And I started selling off storage bins full of collectibles. Twelve years later, I'm still selling,on both Ebay and Amazon, and I'm still buying.

As of a couple months ago, I moved into selling in bricks-and-mortar antique malls, opening my first booth. My partner created the name Three Graces, and the inventory comes from both of us. She's the doll collector (I tore the heads off my Barbie's), and I'm the china and assorted memorabilia person. Only a couple vintage books made it here -I prefer to keep those online.

Then last weekend, I opened a second booth, about 30 miles away (and across a couple mountains, so it's further than it sounds). This was the opening set-up with everything that fit into the van and a trailer. That's an unused 1950s Lane cedar chest in a fruitwood finish, complete with the original promotional paper that came with it.

The tablecloths laying the cedar chest were hand-crocheted by my mother, out of fishing net, while she sat on the shores of Lake Bangwelu in Zambia in the early 1970's. Are you asking "how can you sell those"? We have others. She spent a *lot* of time on the shore at Lake Bangwelu, and Lake Tangiyika, and the Zambezi River, waiting for my dad to finish with his students. Hours of tablecloths...

The other side of the booth is retro 1949's and 1950's: boomerang tables, metal and ceramic lamps, rattan Eames style chair, and some 1980's Mickey. And lamps - I love vintage lamps. I have them all over my house: some 1950's, some 1940's, some 1930's. The lamps on the mantle are 1940's, the ones on the end tables are 1959 (I grew up with them - they were the first "new" lamps my mom and dad could afford to buy). All are newly re-wired, courtesy of my daughter,
who, hearing me say "oh, it needs new wiring" , stepped up and said "I'll figure it out." She nows re-wires all my lamps for me.

Within 24 hours two large pieces had sold and so we had to round up another vanload and fill the empty spots (this is a good problem). They are difficult to see but to the left and right of the fireplace mantle sit solid oak colonades, each with it's own original oak column. We actually found these in the attic of our previous home in Minnesota, removed by original owner when they remodeled at the outbreak of World War II and became a boarding house for war brides. I had always hoped to put them back in their original places, but then the house was purchased by the college next door. They had no interest in restoration, so we brought the colonades and columns with us.

Eventually I'll run out of corners and storage areas to pull stock from, but it'll probably be awhile. Meanwhile, there's a couple estate sales tomorrow that I'm checking out....wish me luck.


  1. Love the photos and the items in your booths. My mother grew up much the same way - only in north Alabama. My Dad was from a family that had been wealthy and had many, many fine pieces and my mother totally embraced the heirlooms and antiques.

    I love visiting antique malls and seeing things like I grew up with.

    Good luck on both your booths.

  2. What are you asking for the boomerang coffee table and end tables? Please, feel free to answer back at
    Thank you,

  3. The boomerang table and matching end tables sold shortly after posting - $135 for the set.