Monday, September 22, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part Eleven - "Swashbuckling Who"


Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part Eleven

"Swashbuckling Who"



            At this apex...  or would we PREFER it an INTERSECTION... in this conversation between two professional thrift shoppers...:  It is not an intersection we are at.  BUT... we are just PAST an... this... THE... apex.  And... that apex has been divulged:  The secret of the thrift store profiteering has been told... to... you.  So we are PAST a ‘the apex’?  Swashbuckling is what remains of the tale; iota, tactics, poise, position, proper procedure and ...parking.  With the aura of swashbuckling?  That (swashbuckling) is the action that titled this perplexity; Cowboy Down.  That is a thrift store behavior... or two?  That we told of (Part One).  That; this cowboy that downs... is but NOW a swashbuckling.  Or is it... a... swashbuckling WHO?  Who be that swashbuckling? 
Do ponder that I know that there are ...salt... AND... pepper... shakers... as I curse (haunt) an isle of a ‘my little thrift store’.  I... eye... that ponder... do I EYE?  A vulgar spittle is what I see?  As I swashbuckle down isle cowboy I eye and:
Do not gather a reciprocation?
Salt and pepper shakers are so humorous ...when I ... in an isle ...at thrift store... throw all.... ALL... my design WHATEVER at... a ... salt (and pepper).  Do I?
OF COURSE I DO while
YOU are ‘IS not this NICE FUNNY HA, HA IT IS’ and I am ‘17th century are a wood... vessel or Dutch PEWTER or CHINA or English maybe but could be FRENCH from Canada (Quebec) “my mother’s; she ALWAYS SAVED THAT”.  Until she died and that ‘you’ cleaned out ...her ‘ALWAYS SAVED THAT’.
            No... I do not encounter others using a classic design background to judge and jury the CRUD in the isle of the bric-brac at thrift stores.
            No... it is spittle that is most expressed of the ‘need’ to ‘do that’.  I know that SALT was, in the 17th century coastal New England, dispensed at the table in little wooden bowls, primitively (lathe) ‘turned’ from local native hardwoods (a ‘sugar maple tree’) and served using a little carved wood or horn spoon (these are rare to be ‘found with it’; the ‘salt’).  New England salt dispensing design was in DIRECT imitation of the current English or Western European fashion but... but... but, but... “AMERICAN” (Colonial New England).  Spittle back WHO be that WHO swashbuckling WHO by using WHAT density of WIT to be so half-witted that a SWASHBUCKLER is not I (eye) but that THY; their own highway to hell themselves be upon it.




            “Ha, ha and that is funny to me too that.”
            “Well we have told them and now we follow it by affirming from our daily experience that no one is using a design base critique in ‘the thrift stores’.  And that this same dynamic freely... ignores our sage input upon this subject.  In fact it is not ignored but is actually... dismissed.”
            “And then they show you something they bought in a thrift store and think it’s an ‘isn’t this GREAT’.  They say it that way too.  You know:  Like you just said.  Spittle.  From the mouth.”
            “And brain.  But:  We are used to this vulgar treatment?”
            “Of course.  I love it.”
            “Show and tell never stops”.
            “Oh and they think I want to BUY it and are so CLEAR that it’s NOT for sale so much of a TREASURE they have found.”
            “Salt and pepper shakers.  I ask them:  Do you know the design history of them?  ‘NO WHAT’S THAT’.”
            “Ha, ha and there isn’t a book ‘about it’.  NO.  You probably have FIFTEEN books that covers it.”




            “Fifteen little snippets of study AND A MUSEUM VISIT TOO.  To ‘see one’.  And handling one... or two... at one of those ‘expensive’ antiques shows OH NO NOT THAT (Paying admission to attend, inspect, handle and study ‘antiques’ at a ‘show’.  They ARE called ‘antiques shows’?  Yes they are.)  Colonial period wooden ware; tureen ware; American, European... is constantly ‘bric-braced’ at thrift stores.  Colonial Dutch around New York; up the ‘North River’ (Hudson).  Absolutely have to watch out there.  New England; they’d walk right by a maple salt.  Walk right by it.  ‘NO’ they’d say... ‘No design today thank you .  My head’s too full of my own SPITTLE to want (need?) to ‘study art’.
            “I tell ‘em; those who flaunt their education:  Remember all those slides you watched in that intro art history course you took in college?  ...They were about something.  They look at me like I’m an idiot.”
            “And they DO soooo KNOW what they’re doing when it comes to art.”
            “Shouldn’t we say something nice to them?”
            “No.  Why?  They never say anything nice to us.  We’re, like, ‘in the way’.
            “In their way?”




            “No. ‘In THE way’ of THEIR art.  They show you a salt and pepper set of, like, ‘made in Japan’ and you go ‘ah...’ and they go ‘I JUST LOVE IT’ and you, like, just bought a French 18th century delft table salt up the china isle WITH THE OLD usage rim chips assuring ‘it’s old’ for fifty cents with ‘AS IS’ emphatically written on the tag too.”
            “At least they (the thrift store) put it out (offered it for sale with a price sticker on it).”
            “Yeah...:  Are they swashbuckling?  Ha, ha.  That’s SOOOO cowboy down of them to do THAT.”
            “You know... we could say that the thrift stores actually know something about design, although a bit innocent... I guess... but... they actually DO put the stuff out, priced.  I mean; fair and square.  They put a seventeenth century New England salt out for fifty cents and do not try to say a THING about doing that.  They just do it.  I mean; no attitude.  It’s only after they do that that the swashbuckling begins.”
            “Walking by great art cheap is swashbuckling?”
            “To hear them tell it is.  I mean... it’s pointed out (that they DID walk by IT).”
            “That what?  AND they found THEIR art?  I just take the salt, buy it real quietly and leave.  So I’m out.  That’s cowboy down.  Right?  Get in, get it, pay, get it out, get away clean.  Right?”
            “Absolutely.”




            “So... swashbuckling WHO... is... swashbuckling WHO.  The thrift shoppers are the swashbucklers?”
            “They’re swashbuckling alright.”
            “So they must be swashbucklers.”
            “Well not ALL of them.  I mean.  The butt blockers (Part Eight)?  I can’t say that.”
            “They want to be.  They would if they could.  And:  It would be what THEY say.  I mean.  If physically they could get into the fray... they wouldn’t use a design critique either.  They’d be ‘WHAT’S THAT SHUT-UP’ too.”
            “Well... ah...
            “Sorry to say it but.. I can’t cut ‘em slack.  You know it’s true.  The whole rig of the other shoppers is headed to swashbuckle all the time.  I mean:  NO ONE is using design and they actually get pissed when they find out the ‘you do’ (‘you what?’).




            “It’s our little magic wand that’s casting little magic spells that turn rubbish into MONEY.”
            “First the spell turns the rubbish into art.  So many items I ‘find’ are told to my face to ‘cannot believe’ it is ‘that’ (art).  We must, as we speak here, keep art FIRST.”
            Well... they are grubbing along before me; grubbing....  Their dirty sausages of fingers poking, prying, sorting, shifting... rubbish.  A mound of rubbish.  Isn’t that what a GOOD thrift store is?  Ha, ha.  Meanwhile I but touch my wand here or there.  I spell it; art.  They’re looking for money.”
            “And there is the swashbuckler!”
            “Money.  Of course.”




            “Now you would be... never so low as THAT would you?  NO!”
            “Well... I COULD be and then be THEM.  But art comes before money.  Trumps all money.  If I was the money then I, I believe, would be but a slut.  An isle whore.  Ha, ha.  Now THAT is ART.  I art not MONEY.  Art is first.  Money tumbles along after.  Do I say I like MONEY and art.  NO.  I like art.  The collections are of ART, not money.  No one counts money in art... unless they are vividly crass.
            “Vividly crass is swashbuckling?  Hunting for money in a thrift shop is... vividly crass?  From our vantage it certainly is.  It also has the foundation flaw of assuring that if money comes for one BEFORE art... one will have trouble finding EITHER in a thrift store.”
            “That’s sweet of you to say”.
            “Well I’m not an art slut like you!”




            “And I’ve BEEN ONE for so many years now!  I’m not even slightly tired of being one.  No one bothers me.  NO ONE.
            “Yes.  That is the funniest.  In and out (of the thrift stores) we go; art sluts.  No one ever notices.  And I always pay in correct change (Part Three).  Yes... remember the real rules.  Right?”
            “That is the procedure; the silent travel.  Nothing is there.  There is no ripple on the surface.  No light breeze at a window.  The art (and antiques) is gone.”
            “What’s left?  The dirty sausage fingers?”
            “ON THE CLOTHES.  I mean REALLY.  Ugh; yuck.  Do you have to touch it!  ‘I have to SEE’ they say.  Then LOOK... don’t TOUCH.”
            “You like that; them touching.”
            “I do not.  That’s the worse part.  It’s not TOUCH anyway.  It’s maul.”
            “But you’re not buying that stuff.  You’re not interested.  Actually... YOU ARE INTERESTED.  I forget your infatuations ... with your fellows.”
            “Fellow sluts.  They can’t even do that; be thrift store SLUT.  I mean...  If I said they were sluts they be offended.  I think it’s a compliment these days; to be a thrift store slut.  Even if you’re a crummy one.  Ha, ha.”
            “We have told them.  Now.  Haven’t we.”
            “They won’t like it.”
            “Who cares.  It’s the truth.  Also... it explains the crowds in the (thrift) stores.”
            “It DOES do that!”







Friday, September 19, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part Ten - "Museum Service Too"


Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part Ten

"Museum Service Too"



            “We’ve broken through now; through the confusion ...and delusion... of buying rare antiques for pittance at thrift stores?  The reader missed it?   It’s pretty clear:  We, the professional, have knowledge of... the (positive) design merits... of objects... for sale in thrift stores.  A ‘you don’t’ is our common thrift store encounter.  That means ‘walk right by it’.  ‘It’ is a true (and preferably rare) antique... priced ...for pittance.  MY... our... COMMON day is absolved by, eventually, thrift store after thrift store, discerning a ‘day payer’ (includes gas and lunch at restaurant) find.  We never know what design medium and design form it will appear as.  There is, in denoting the broad... VERY BROAD... realms of design... too many... to predict or pre-suppose.  It is, as we have tried to demonstrate... simply sitting there... on a shelf of bric-brac (‘crud’) ‘for sale’.  Our ‘eye’ whisks over all... plucking each ‘good one’ from the shelves for pittance in seconds.  And then we leave.”
            “Might as well give them up to a sad truth too.  While your at it.”
            “Sad truth?”
            “Oh... you know; the... HOW should I call them... fairly.”
            “Call who?  And what’s ‘fairly’?’




            “Well... they’re there, buying.  You know who I mean.  Mr. and Ms Smart-Ass.  The NEW world order (of buying ‘antiques’ in ‘thrift stores’).”
            “You mean the sort-ta-like SF (Part Four) but ‘claim (to be) pro’, semi-pro,  MISTER Pro or Mrs. Grab-Art?”
            “Your always generous (with your labels).”
            “Mrs. Art Pro.  How about Mr. DEALER.  Mr. Cell Phone Look-up?  Ms. Grub the Stuff.  Mrs. WATCH YOU?  Yeah, yeah.  I really like Mr. and Mrs. I’m-Taking-a-Second Look at All the Crap I Grabbed Because Now I’m Not Sure About It (being a great art find I can sell on the internet).
            “Yes... they are VERY cute.”
            “You always, like, want to TALK to those people.  Like... that’s soooo weird.”
            “It’s not weird.  It’s moth and flame.  I mean... they ARE THERE with a battle plan.  And they totally don’t get it (art, design).  They think it’s THEM; THEY KNOW and they WILL tell you about it.  Like:  ‘I’m a DECORATOR’.  Really?  Well... I clean out cat litter boxes.  That’s why I’M here.  I mean really; it’s FUNNY.
            “But sad behind that.  You know; ‘throwing at it’.  They’re throwing everything at it they got and, like:  HEY BEEN TO A MUSEUM RECENTLY DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT TO ME.”
            “Right.”




            “So we should say that your pretty much all American; American design.  That’s what you are buying.  Mostly.  I mean... you buy around (outside of her fields of expertise) pretty good.  But Americana is you.”
            “I stick to that.  I like it.  I find it.  I find a lot more than I’d ever expect.”
            “So you are, we must understand, all over the board (very inclusive of design forms) of American design.  That includes, like, World War II and Pop Culture but is deep in the early periods (17th-19th century American decorative arts).  It’s dolls and books and china plates and rugs and frames and rings and buttons and eye glasses and... like... NUTS”.  But American.  Mostly.”
            “I do European.  And Pacific rim.  I mean.  I can’t fail mostly.”
            “But it’s Americana; like... AMERICANA wristwatches.”
            “Right.  I see it (use her art-design trained eye)”.
            “Then you goof on the guy buying a painting that sucks.”
            “Well... I have to.  I mean... it’s just that he’s staring at it...:  THAT means it sucks and HE thinks it’s (him staring at it) making it GOOD.  If a thrift shop painting doesn’t make it in, like, TWO seconds and from twenty feet away then, I promise, in the art world (her art and design discerning eye) IT SUCKS.  So, like, I can’t resist watching them.  I mean:  ‘HE’S GONNA BUY IT YUCK’.”





            “Didn’t we start with paintings?”
            “Yeah; Flat Rate (Part One ).  He’s CLASSIC.  He’s, like, out there right now trying to find a painting.”
            “And you’ve told him; someone has to HAVE a good painting before a thrift store can have a good one for sale cheap.  Most people do NOT have a good painting.  Most paintings suck so... therefore... most painting in thrift stores suck.  So you don’t need to stare at them trying to decide if they are good.  They are not.”
            “Most art in thrift shops is no good.  That’s because most of the art people (the general populace) have is no good.  We’re looking for a very singular item; good art.  Decorative arts.  Good design.  If you don’t know what that is your gonna screw yourself as soon as you start buying (paying real dollars) for what you think is good.  It’s probably not good.  It’s probably actually BAD.  You’ve (the reader) been told.




            “After that it’s, for us, like, wild card.  I mean:  Remember when we said about not touching the stuff.  Like... that’s real.  We don’t touch the stuff in thrift stores.  I mean... yuck.  All I ever do is the ‘that one’.  Then I’m gone.  Your more social about it.  But, your WAY more hands off than anyone else around.”
            “I’m... I keep it clean.  But your like... crazy.  With a point.”
            “And the point is what?”
            “Well... design.  No need to touch unless it’s a ‘go’ of good design.  Then just take it to check out.”
            “I like to think of it as courteous on my part; I’m, like, LEAVING IT (the rest of it) undisturbed for, well, THEM to...  Hey, who cares.”
            “I don’t think you can be stopped or beaten.  Really.   You especially.  You bring so much with your eye.  It doesn’t matter that your that good.  It’s actually that the others (in the thrift stores) are THAT BAD.  That’s why I can succeed.  You know:  I’m not competing with someone like you.  Dealers like you aren’t in the thrift stores.  That’s why I have a chance.  Like we said:  Most of it is just sitting there on the shelf for sale.




            “Ok... I want to do a design flirt here; give an example of how WE see things using design.  I’m not gonna be too detailed.  YOU (the reader) can fill out the details with your own STUDY of design.  What I want is to try and show is how WE ‘see’.”
            “This is in the thrift stores?”
            “Well... our SEE in the thrift stores but this is about ‘see’ with ‘design’ soooo thrift stores, I guess, just happen to be the room we’re in.  Not at first though:  First comes design.
            “Design, here, first, in this example, is design of furniture; furniture design and designs.  As furniture emerges as design form (meaning that first there was no furniture and then it began to ‘appear’ in western civilization) a FORM of furniture appeared that was a table to serve tea on; a tea table.  That’s, like, at the earliest ... 1720’s peaking as a design form in the 1760’s and declining by 1800.  It ‘declined’; began to disappear as a design form of furniture, when people ....stopped drinking tea and started drinking coffee.  ‘Tea tables’ lingered as a furniture design form but... coffee drinking came along and pushed tea drinking to the side and... people drank coffee in a different way than they drank tea; men as business beverage-at-hand and women as a parlor beverage (a ‘parlor’ was a new design form of room-in-a-house.  Tea tables... actually... disappeared.  And for a while... during the century of the parlor... coffee was served... there (in the parlor)... from a side table.  BUT the parlor changed as a room design... to become a more family inclusive AND expansive room slowly titled ‘the living room’ and there... in this new room design setting appeared a new furniture design form FOR service in that room... the ‘coffee table’.  That is... a NEW design form ‘appeared’ and... is still hanging around in the living room (that, too, the living room, is still hanging around as design form).  The coffee table is still an active... design form of furniture.  For the record, the coffee table IS a design form that people are ‘choosey’ about... as opposed to ‘other furniture’ in their ‘living room’.  That means that ‘people’ actually make personal art choices about ‘their’ coffee table.  That... ah... shows... off... their ‘taste’ (knowledge of art).  Yes it does.
“Understand the premise?  Design forms appear and disappear in... design history.




            “Jumping to the modern shopping paradise of the thrift store... YEAH they have all kinds of coffee tables to choose from and NEVER (? Ha, ha) ‘turn up’ an unnoticed 18th century TEA table in there...:  Would one know one if one... walked by it?  But... more stunning to the current design eye is... denoting that thrift stores are the vanguard of design-gone-bad-so-dumped-by-owner...:  The ...American... design... form of the ‘home entertainment unit’; the monster that used to hold ‘THE TV” before ‘flat screen’... IS in the process of ...disappearing... as an American design form... by being ‘try to sell them’ at ...a thrift store near you RIGHT NOW.  YES one may using their art and design eye to NOTICE that the back forty of the Salvation Army is FULL of a VANISHING AMERICAN DESIGN FORM... right now (2014).
            “THAT... process... of (furniture design and) usage in civilization... appearing and ...disappearing design forms IS what the design based vision of “STUFF” is “SEE”.  That’s what WE SEE in a thrift store; design in flux.  In this case too... it is... disappearing AMERICAN design.  Home entertainment units WILL ‘disappear’ and become a ‘rare form’ of ‘American furniture’.  The soft lesson here is that thrift stores ARE on the vanguard of ‘design’ ‘changes’.  Didn’t realize that thrift stores have a ‘museum service’ too?  They do; they are telling the design / art eye ‘what’s going on out there’. 







Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part Nine - "Fourteen Feet Away"


Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shopper

Part Nine

"Fourteen Feet Away"



            “Well... we’ve SET-stage pretty well.  Haven’t we.  (with the previous discussion – Part Eight)  Yep.   Soooo... the story...:  WE... ARE AT... a large box store scale thrift store and... she (my wife) meets me at the head of the metal isle (things [rummage is a better word] made of metal for sale) carrying a sprig creamer.  Ok so right there that’s an antique.  First off it’s priced ninety-nine cents ($.99) but, OR of GREATER IMPORTANCE in this discussion is the WHAT it is.  Now I... and her (my wife) don’t ever even discuss that... this is a perfectly formed classic poise English Victorian breakfast table... or tea service... cream pitcher... mold cast of earthenware clay with modest decorative relief cast cartouche within the casting ...and that this little pitcher is, aside from the should-be-there ‘appropriate’ light age toning to the ...clear glazed... cast clay form... in perfect condition with the... classic and modest hand painted in polychrome colors... ‘sprig’ decoration on it with this pleasingly found in its traditional ...understated... embellishment...:  Yep.






            “THAT conversation between us is ‘unnecessary’ for we both already know-what-it-is... well more than I just described it... on to the further ABYSMAL state of this ‘old china’ in... BOTH... the general populace AND the antiquarian populace culture connect of... being... NOT ‘popular in the market’ meaning ‘sprig’ ‘china’ has lost it’s (cash value) collecting allure... mostly because ‘no body’ ‘knows what it is’ ‘anymore’
            “So what and that’s never stopped the antiquarian I 1...  and the ...eye... of my wife either so this... in fact... little gem... without words... is EMBRACED as ‘a good find’ and onto the NEXT antique-on-its-journey (Part Seven ) WE go... with her carefully carrying the little pitcher.  My wife ‘dumps’ (abandons and leaves for I to ‘do’ [search]) this metal isle and goes to the next isle. I... scanning down one side from a poise at the upper center of the opposite side encounter, half way down, visual blockage of my view by a woman poking at something on a shelf.  Beyond her, toward a full fourteen feet to end corner of the isle, a classic ‘big butt blockage’ is in progress with an older ‘let herself go’ (Part Eight) woman physically having rolled her upper torso on to the kiddy seat section of a shopping cart for support... the cart IS holding her ‘up’... with this cart blocking (‘jammed into’) the far corner region of the metal isle shelves.  SOOOO... I am, ah... stymied... in that direction.



            “The first... center-of-isle woman... moves off UP the isle as I scan DOWN the isle.  She vanishes and I... embrace... the... big butt – cart supported – flotilla mass as I rapidly scan the newly opened shelf space on down to... VERY QUICKLY (two seconds)... the blocking flotilla mass... to “NO-YES-NO!” see an ‘it’; a true good rare antique... on an upper shelf... front and center... before (and therefore ‘within’ the blocking flotilla) the FACE of the blocking woman... “SHE’S STARING AT IT?”.  No.
            “In fact ...no... no... no, no.  I have, now suddenly, oodles of time (seconds) to, ah... is it really ‘get to it’ (reach out and grab the antiques).  I mean... I KNOW what it is.  I KNOW.  And I am fourteen feet away.  I know that it is priced at ZERO value.  I KNOW.  I...am looking at the woman’s butt?  Her cart.  Her pitched upper body upon the cart... NOT MOVING with her dim-wittedly viewing the this far corner of the metal isle BEYOND the end of her wedge-in-the-corner cart... I...
            “Have complete control of myself; she WILL MOVE (come back to life) eventually and I stand in my position.  I stand there... looking at ‘it’; the good antique priced too-too low fourteen feet away ‘over there’ past her ...butt.



            “My wife appears at the other head of the isle; where she’d gone off to.  I, seeing her, drop my vigil upon the antique, acknowledge her and... gesture for her to come.  She does.  ‘Watch this’ I say just as the flotilla breaks position at the corner and I step into her voiding space; space... a void... and I hand... my hand goes out and up and through the space to the shelf to PLUCK it as she (my wife) TOO DOES SEE THIS ‘it’ TOO.”
            “Oh my God.” I hear behind me.  Yes and as I turn her hand takes it (grabs?) to affirm what we already know is an early New England pewter whale oil lamp...:



            “Is it signed?” and the bottom of the lamp is, mid isle, scanned to “YES”
            “WHAT?”
            “Putnam” (James Putnam Malden MA 1835-1850).
            “After these five seconds that includes the notice of the three-ninety-nine ($3.99) price stickers.... we continue looking for ‘more’ ‘antiques’.  And do not find anymore ‘that day’.




            “OK so we as the baron and baroness of thrift store antiques... leave and lunch and the rest of the day and yeah, yeah, yeah because WHAT ELSE went into that ‘find’ beside maneuvering around a... big butt.  YES there was more and so... much more that the word “FIND” is best considered ‘denoted’ or... even... ‘noticed’.  I mean... it WAS just sitting there at the end of... ITS... journey (Part Seven, again) to the thrift store.  WE were the ‘notice given’ it?  Only us?”
            “I would have known.”
            “Yes but you weren’t coming across the parking lot towards us flaunting it.”
            “Yes, yes.... I know that.  You were there.  And your so right about this.  You really did nothing.  THE LAMP was on the journey.  You just happened by.”
            “And noticed it.”
            “And noticed it.”



            “THERE is the whole pivot point.  The store was FULL of shoppers with no one noticing either the sprig ware or the pewter lamp.  Just simply no one knowing.  You would have known.”
            “Easy (both the creamer and the lamp); not a second thought.”
            “But who else?  The salad bar woman? (Part Eight)  SF? (Part Four).  We... really are ... on our own.  I’ll review the lamp; the ANTIQUE heritage of the lamp.  You pop in with anything.”
            “Ok.”




            “So... I first knew what an American pewter whale oil lamp was, like... in the late sixties.  I know I had (bought and sold) my first Putnam (maker) lamp when I was in high school.  They were, like, sixty-five bucks then.  Tops.  This one is, well... four hundred tops these days.  This is a good one; great condition, great burner.  Anyway... when I say ‘knew what’; that’s the big thing here.  First off... I’ve never STOPPED ‘knowing what’ AND using that knowledge.  Since the sixties.  Same for you, right?”
            “Absolutely.  I’m always ready to go on signed American (pewter).”
            “Did you read a book?”



            “Reference books... well... sort of.  Again, I have some (on pewter and American pewter) and I looked at the pictures.”
            “Never read the book?”
            “Well....”
            “Poked at it (the text)?”
            “Ok... leave me alone.”
            “So... like... these lamps you learned about mostly through seeing them and handling them on your antiques show circuit?”
            “That’s fair.  Probably.  That’s where I first probably handled them.”
            “Is it studied them?”
            “Well....”
            “Right.  So... your ‘hands on’.  So what’s that actually mean?  It means your, like, a silhouette buyer; you recognize the design form from your self education; you know, generally, that this (a pewter lamp) CAN BE a good signed American maker pewter lamp when you, like, SEE ONE forty feet away.”
            “Forty feet... maybe not.”
            “Want to bet.  I bet you know the form at forty feet.  UP CLOSE... I’ll beat you out on the details.  That’s the commercial details AND the design details.  I know I’ve studied this more that you; actually read the books.  (Plural).  AND have handled... pretty much as many of them (pewter whale oil lamps) as I could.  I DO love the form (the pewter whale oil lighting shape, especially ‘American’).”
            “I would have grabbed it.”



            “Of course.  It’s just that you wouldn’t have a price on it for, like, six WEEKS of ‘research’ that includes, like... asking ME what I ‘think it’s worth’.”
            “WELL... “
            “It’s low rent (behaving like that as a dealer).”
            “Well...”
            “Look:  I know in the five seconds EXACTLY where that lamp is in the WHOLE HISTORY of the design form so, like, four hundred; it’s ready to go (is for sale).”
            “Four hundred?  Really?
            “Sure.  What are you gonna do?  Beat me down?”
            “Well... that’s a LITTLE high for me.
            “Yeah but LOOK, Ms. Push Comes to Shove:  I’m, like, I EARNED THAT.  I mean, I’m in a God damn BOX STORE full of people who don’t even know what a DESIGN FORM is let alone what a signed New England pewter whale oil lamp is.  That’s, like... just didn’t HAPPEN.  I get paid for that.  YOU can go find YOUR OWN pewter lamp.  You know:  Have a nice day.”
            “Right, right.  It is fair.  I guess.  I mean:  You bought the books.  And read them.”
            “Like... I bet I’ve spent four hundred just on pewter reference books period (alone).  And while we’re at it; what’s the last museum pewter show you... attended?”
            “Oh come on.”
            “Me?  Brandywine (Chadds Ford , PA).  How about five years ago.  Maybe six.”
            “Yeah....  That too.  It is fair.  You made yourself there (at the thrift store).  It’s not like it just happened .  You aren’t just wandering by.”
            “There we go:  From fourteen feet and butt block:  ALL MINE.”




            “So... how do you book that (use reference books to discern the lamp)?”
            “I didn’t touch a book.”
            “Yeah... but... what books would you?  My books aren’t clear on just lamps.”
            “Right.  I like that.  Have to feel around in design huh.  Like... let’s see... there’s PEWTER design... and LIGHTING... DESIGN... and LAMP design... and WHALE OIL LAMP design... and whale oil.  You know HERE (on the thrift store lamp) that’s actually a camphene burner; a ‘fluid lamp’.  Camphene was early kerosene.  It pushed whale oil out of the way.  They ran out of whales too.  Anyway; that’s, like, DETAILS.  Got to do DESIGN first.  Huh.”
            “So what books?”






            “Well... for pewter, I just skip ‘em all to go to Montgomery (A HISTORY OF AMERICAN PEWTER, Winterthur, NY, 1973).  He was the king of antiques at Yale then.  The book breaks open pewter as a full fledge design form.  He has some lamps in it (pictured).  It’s the best introductive survey to the DESIGN FORM.  If you READ IT.”
            “Your so nice when you help someone.”
            “I told ‘em the truth.  Bring that book with you in your mind... AND ALL of the OTHER pewter books you READ after that... HEY:  Maybe you’ll FIND something.
            “What else (for books).”
            “I...myself, jump right way back to (Arthur H.) Hayward COLONIAL LIGHTING”.  That’s, like, 1927.  But it’s all over the place in (modern) paper back (editions).  Always beat up.  I use a hardcover first (first edition).”
            “Your so....”
            “HEY:  It’s a real book.  That’s actually the improved second (edition).  I’ve used it my whole (antique dealer) life.  Have some quality in your life.  What is yours; beat-up paper, right?”
            “I don’t think I ever even SEEN it in hardcover.”
            “I work with idiots.”
            “So... that book just covers a little on pewter lamps.”





            “Yeah, like, one plate with text.  So what.  The book covers ALL American lighting.  The DESIGN of American lighting.  I mean; I know this (lighting design) totally COLD including being able to tell AMERICAN DESIGN from, like, the rest of the world’s old lighting.  Got to be able to do that THESE DAYS.  Lot of, ah... ‘imports’ in the market.”
            “Right.”
            “And at the thrift stores”.
            “Yep.  There’s a lot of crummy old lighting out there for sale.”
            “So... the big plus here is our knowledge of design.  Again.  Design for pewter.  Design for sprig ware.  Design for the stupid little whiskey taster (Part Seven).  Huh?  Bet they (the reader) didn’t even know there IS design for ‘whiskey tasters’.  Ok so...  I’ll say it:  I really like being into (knowing about) different design forms and knowing those design forms really.... really... well.  And...knowing other people don’t.
            “You’ve scalped them at the thrift store before you start.”



            “So let’s get THAT right.  But first, come on:  Do you know what the BEST marked (old) New England pewter whale oil lamp is?  Here you go... FOR FREE:  Marked ‘Brook Farm’ (Montgomery pg. 218) and made by Thoreau”.
            “Really!”
            “Well... not actually by Thoreau.  Ephraim Capen (1844-45) at Brook Farm.  New England Transcendentalist pewter really.  Go look it up.  I’ve never found one.  But I will.  Ha, ha.  Ok:   Back to design and thrift stores.... Yeah: bugs you don’t it.  You wouldn’t even know it.  You’d be going ‘what’s this it says ‘Brook Farm’ on the bottom what’s a brook farm?’  Find a pair of those at a thrift store.” (Notice the very short active production date 1844-45; how many did Capen make?  How many did he actually sell? How many, therefore, ‘survive’?  They are rare, particularly a ‘perfect pair’."








1 Do I have to yell at the reader in a footnote to establish ‘sprig ware’?  Is its antiquarian object status THAT vanquished?  OLD New England and MY grandmother and HER grandmother before clutched ‘sprig’ and treasured ‘sprig’ and ‘showed’ sprig as ‘antique china’ and... I grew up that way.  What that understanding was (and is) is that I, the antiquarian, could find the finest Colonial era English earthenware teapot and... wander home with it to proudly display it only to have it silently dismissed as ‘not being as nice as my grandmother’s own (sprig ware) teapot’.  The emphasis is on the word ‘silently’.  Appreciation of ‘sprig ware’ in old New England was and STILL IS... a ‘rock of Gibraltar’...silence.  Therefore... this purloined creamer... although commercially ‘a nothing’ IS, in fact, a DEEP DARK TREASURE from ‘old New England’.  The pure strain of old New England (high Victorian farm property front parlor) eloquence is found in ‘sprig ware’... is what I am saying?  Yes it is.  And what more... could it mean?  It means that ...if here at the thrift store is us finding the sprig ware THAT then LOOK AROUND for MORE ‘antiques’.