Epilogue Blood Farm 4
Stepping away from the fire chief as his large form stretched upward to overview the auction hall I said “I’m going to go LOOK some more”. I did. With purpose. I went to the front of the seating, in front of the seven and began inspecting the group of better yellow ware pottery soon to be sold. Alice had a kitchen full of old yellow ware but most of it was heavy mold cast post Civil War utility wares; bowls, large bowls, mixing bowls, deep plates, etc. including two matching covered “BUTTER” tubs. Separated from these by the auctioneer were six better lots. These collector gems were displayed front and center. I reached out and picked up the obvious best one; a medium size blue seaweed decorated table pitcher of fine make, bold decoration and… perfect condition. It was the logical “best piece”. I kept my body turned slightly toward the seven and …kept a nonchalant eye on them. As I lifted the pitcher two of the women, sitting next to each other and clearly sisters, each made minor involuntary twitches and converted to “watch my every move” facial expressions. I slowly looked the pitcher over completely and set it down. I lifted a similar blue seaweed mocha yellow ware lidded mustard pot, repeated the inspection formula and set that back. Then I lifted a equal seaweed mocha SMALL handled cup. Again inspecting that I discovered, loose in its bottom, a small broken pottery sliver of another …blued seaweed mocha... item, of equal quality to the whole offerings I was reviewing. I rolled that around in my fingers, put it back inside the cup and set that down. Then I picked up the original pitcher again. All the while, as if I was fly fish casting, I kept my nonchalant eye watching the surface of the water (the seven). As I picked up the pitcher for the second time, one of the sisters got up and …struck. Stepping to me as I held the pitcher she directly (and inappropriately by auction hall etiquette) said “Are you going to buy that?”.
I looked up and said “Maybe. Why?”
“OH… well, I just see you handling it and we like it very much”
“It is very nice and is the best of the lot. Perfect too.” I said endeavoring to slowly reel in my cast with pleasant verbiage. “At first these seemed too good to be from the estate. I thought they might be additions. I didn’t remember specifically SEEING them IN the estate. But that was so long ago.”
“You saw the estate?”
“Yes, years ago. Alice Blood, the owner, walked me through”.
“You? Aren’t you’re a dealer. She never sold anything. Never ever.
“Oh yes. I didn’t buy anything or even bother to try. I believe that was why she toured me through the farm. She knew I understood that.”
The woman looked at me with a perplexed expression and said again “Are you going to buy that?”
“Then I won’t” I said. And waited.
After a pause she said “Oh!” and looked down at the pitcher. I handed it to her. She took it and held it before her with both hands. “How much do you think it’s worth?” she continued
“You mean how much will you have to pay here today?”
“Well yes. I guess that’s it”.
“It is it. As high as sixteen hundred but maybe a low of eight hundred”
“Sixteen?” she said looking over her right shoulder at one of the men.
“It’s the best piece, it’s perfect and it’s great. There’s only one more thing that I know about it”.
“Yes. When I first saw it here, it seemed… because it is so good; so fine a specimen… and is English; made in England… you know; 1850-1860… that it might NOT be from the estate. But now, after thinking, I know that this pitcher really, really was Alice’s great, great grandmother’s.
“Really? Know that?”
“Yes. It is probable as to how it got to the farm. The family were coastal sea captain trading merchants… that moved inland around 1800. They were still doing business and traveling to the coast on business through the Civil War at least. They retained their merchant status and contacts. For the family… or just a family member… to be on the coast and have access to the most recent merchant finery of coastal trading is probable. This pitcher would have been acquired on the wharf then and brought back to the farm. The same for these others. The other yellow ware over there; the bowls and all are of greatly inferior quality and were probably acquired from peddler’s wagons right in the farm yard. The family knew the difference. ALICE knew the difference. This pitcher was always protected and treasured by the family. That history, to me, enhances it for THEY cared about it through the family generations just as much as WE DO standing here now.”
“I am a descendent of the family. I am a Blood. So are my sisters.” the woman said gesturing toward those behind her. That’s WHY we are here. We are going to buy our family’s things.
“Buy your things?”
“YES. They should have been ours; ALL of it, by inheritance. But there’s been a dispute of ownership of the farm and we have lost the inheritance. We lost the farm and we even lost all of the things too. Alice SOLD all of it DECADES ago.”
“YES. To some rich woman up there who NOW IS DEAD but STILL OWNS IT”.
“Did Alice know this?”
“NO! Well I mean YES. Sort of. I don’t think she knew it was THIS” the woman said gesturing to the whole auction hall with her hand. “Actually I don’t think she ever thought about it at all”.