Layers, in this essay, are not about egg laying poultry production.
Layers, in this essay, are not about the clothing worn in Maine during the winters.
Layers, in this essay, are about the ‘things’ (“the stuff”) in old houses and the role the
Layers of that “the stuff” play in my interest in pursuing an active excavation within the ‘things’ found in the layers of the stuff within an old house. And: How I make very rapid intuitive decisions about the state of the layers and their potential to harbor “good” antiques and rare books.
Layers is about the behind my eyes walk through of what I see when I
To begin with, I am looking for layers. Once I see them (sense them), I look at them “very hard”. I am told. Of course I never let on that I am doing
I don’t even ever tell anyone at all about layers.
And very few people ever figure that out
That pretty much leaves me alone... in an old house... looking at the layers.
“If you don’t know... you don’t know” with this including the what... you... don’t know.
Yes: There is that much of a bottom drag on all this that the mire of that usually wins. ‘Winning’ is that the ‘the stuff’ in the ‘the layers’ is protected and preserved for the ‘few people ever figure that out’ give up, cease actions and... go away. Presuming I have been “let in”... I then am ‘left alone’ with the layers and... well...
That is that.
What does that mean? It means that the next time any ‘few people’ go into the old house it is empty; it has been ‘cleaned out’. I did that. I don’t talk about that. I just do it. I take away everything including all the layers. I take away every... thing. That is what I do.
I have to take away every thing so I may be sure that all ‘the stuff’ in the layers of household contents is... “complete”. For example, I do not want to have you suddenly latching on to, and keeping (taking out of the estate contents), your grandmother’s teaspoon that she
Administered her medicines to her self in addition to stirring her tea with it for
; SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS.
It is MY SPOON NOW; part of the LAYERS.
I BOUGHT and OWN IT
IN SHORT... I want it all; all ‘the stuff’ and all the layers, complete. Nothing is left out or left behind.
Of course there are stupid people meddling with this by, well, “wanting”... stupid things. A good example is a “FAMILY” “PAINTING”. The house contents “HAS ONE”; an ‘old’ ‘oil’ painting and it is too... an “I WANT”.
“Yes. Okay. Here we go.”
I say that and finalize with “Take it: It is all yours.” Delighted, they scurry away clutching the “PAINTING”... too. Occasionally I am asked “what do I think” of the “PAINTING”. For these sorts of paintings I do not have to think and... carefully sidestep what I actually ...feel... about the “PAINTING”. No reason to spoil such fun. Right?
What am I conveying here exactly? I am assuring that ...in most all cases... old “PAINTINGS” found in old New England layered home contents are of little merit or value. The big feature is that they are “FREE” when found in an estate so... continue the heritage of the painting as being ‘good’ because it
Allows folks who have never owned a painting... who would never buy a painting (Yankee Wasp characteristic)... who know nothing about “PAINTINGS”... have barely ever looked at a “PAINTING” and... etcetera.... to ‘smug up’ about a truly crummy ‘thing’ that they found in the bedroom of long dead great-uncle George. “WHERE” (what, how, why) “DID HE GET THAT!”
Great Uncle George was a quasi trash picker later examination of his layer reveals. But I never say anything about that fine old cheapskate Yankee bugaboo. I, too, certainly do not stop the purloinment of the old painting “within the estate” (private family distribution). A problem with this last is that the purloin does not have an ‘appraised value’. I ‘don’t do those things’ (appraisals) I say when queried. And... they DO ‘love’ “IT” (that painting) still: “It is valuable”. What ever that means.
Turning from an example of stupid people meddling and ‘wanting’ to the actual layer-e (a plural), I advise from the get-go that that is where one should ‘seek’ layers. Most all of those layer-e... who were any good at it... are
But look for “fondly remembered family” trails and you’ll start to notice, for example, old but recent photographs of the short past generation’s grand old bitch matron who ‘rode herd’ over the house, the family, the things, the stuff and... their layers. Spot that woman and you are way ahead of great-uncle-George (Dartmouth 1928)’s old painting that I assure the Matron dismissed too.
Now I with her, eye to eye including she KNEW what I KNOW... lets me tie off with clothes line rope “HER” “DESK”. That is, I tie the whole Grand Old Bitch Matron’s desk up like it’s a crate full of “stuff” packed by the “FAMILY” in its drawers and... never looked at...: If the Matron was alive she would spend TWO WEEKS showing me EACH iota in the drawers ‘from her family’ but... as it is I am the best game in town so her ghost lets me tie it off and carry it out... unchallenged. Yes and that cubby is full of ‘all about the family’ including great uncle George at Dartmouth in twenty-eight. She, bless her ghost soul, gives me the maelstrom center of her layer whole. It proves to be the skeleton key to ALL the home’s layers.
Traveling from crummy old painting to tied off desk holding the family’s preserved archive... are one sensing the meaning of layers? Who is doing better at this? Once I locate and purloin the master vault box I simply pile the rest of all of the layers “in there” on top of this golden treasure chest and... I don’t, once I remove all the layers undisturbed and intact... have to touch them for years... should I choose. “Storage” is a big feature of my antiquarian dealer side. And of course... am I in some sort of hurry doing this?
That (hurry) is too... a fatal mistake. Not in a hurry allows one to absorb the layers better (mentally and physically). Six layers are like reading a six volume family history (as if they are old books in dust jackets). I enjoy studying the souls of the layers for... as long as their intrigue lasts... preferring them with a strong “dash”, that they are characters and too... “did something”.
May I review?
Layers are a multitude of ‘things’ (“the stuff”) that make them up. They are not ‘a thing’ or single things or great things or fine things. No. They are not an actual old painting. But they are part of a layer’s painting. They are the gathered material residue of old dead souls; the stuff they ‘left behind’. They are little things in abundance that ‘don’t matter at all’ until noticed that they are part of a layer. Perhaps even a very notable layer... that is surrounded by other related layers of related layer-e dead souls. It (layers) do become quite rich and reaching “very fast”... should one learn to look. For example the OLD SHAVING equipment for eight different men of a time passage of one hundred and ten years... Each shaver was young, then old, then dead ‘in there’; in THEIR layers. The shaving equipage is “worthless” without the association; its role in the layer. The layer is worthless without its soul. The soul is found in “the stuff”. The more stuff in a layer... It (an estate and its layers) may become vivid beyond words and last for decades. By 1969 I had become familiar with and knowing of layered estates. In 1973 I acquired my first full bore layers estate that “lasted for decades”. There are still bits, pieces and smidgens of that one around to this day.
“You may not want to wipe the old pigeon dung off the chair when you get one (a layered estate)” an old dealer advised me early.