Epilogue Blood Farm 11
Paying too much and/or “getting nothing” does not an antiquarian dealer’s living… make. Lying awake noting decades of professional and personal involvement in two estates harboring three old women and one cuckoo sea captain who all die only to have their affairs taken over by a lawyer with an iron financial grip on everything including the estate “rubbish” AND recognizing that… this includes me only if I pay… and preferably pay… even more. To wind up in a rural Maine farm yard with a handyman fire chief who… purloins the antique cars from these estates and announces to the auction hall he’s “buying” this or that… assures I am wasting my time and money… should I actually spend any of that latter.
After repeatedly dressing myself down with these FACTS… I still obsessed over the whole of the two estates by including the irrational notion I would “find the tea table”, micro reading of auction listings endeavoring to identify “it’s from Blood Farm”, gossip mongering of ANY mention of ANY iota related to these estates among the local trade, driving futility north to “SEE” (preview) only to drive futility home… in the dark “with nothing” and vigilantly patrolling the better coastal antique shops hoping to find a “that came from the Blood Farm sale” RELIC to …stand before in a dream trance shock. Two options divine. They are …not rewarded for one’s efforts… or are rewarded.
The sudden occurrence of the latter… and the absoluteness of that occurrence… nearly… “finally ends” this tale. Continuing my preview vigilance of driving “futility north” I …after over two years… went robotically up, down and around the Uncle’s auction hall’s selection of “TONIGHT’S AUCTION” rubbish only to come upon, half way down a back hall wall table and half in the dark, a flat cardboard tray made from a cardboard box holding… an “of the period” (1810-1815) and completely original untouched and undisturbed New England patent timepiece (a “banjo clock”). I looked down on the clock in the tray box. The bottom glass was old, real and cracked at one corner. The center glass was old, real, perfect and said “PATENT” at the bottom. The decorative brass for the sides of the case… were loose in the box under the clock. The face was old, real and undisturbed as were the clock hands. An old brass eagle top finial was loose in the tray box too. I stared. I stared harder without changing my “I wandered here” slouched inspecting position. I moved on, with racing thoughts, to the front of the hall. I stood before another table of rubbish and had an internal staff meeting.
My mind raced: “That’s the banjo clock from Blood Farm. There WAS one in there. I SAW it but I DIDN’T LOOK at it. It was on a wall. Hanging. Downstairs. WHERE?. WHY DIDN’T I LOOK AT IT! It has to be. HOW COULD THESE IDIOTS GET A REAL BANJO CLOCK. They don’t even know what one IS! OH MY GOD IT’S THE REAL BLOOD FARM BANJO CLOCK WHAT AM I GOING TO DO! DO SOMETHNG YOU IDIOT”. My response was to slowly circle the auction hall and come back before the tray boxed clock. I stared at it assuring myself “IT IS REAL”. I reached down and slightly lifted the case bottom. It was VERY heavy meaning… “IT HAS THE WEIGHT” my mind screamed. I paused. I did not look around. I carefully opened the bottom door of painted glass within its fragile wood frame. “IT’S REAL” came another metal scream. There was a small and crumpled paper bag in the bottom right inner corner. I picked that out. THE REAL CLOCK KEY WAS UNDER THAT. “GREAT” my mind screamed. The bag had something in it. I opened it and took out a small handful of … old newspaper clipping about “banjo clocks” that were wrapped around eleven business cards of old …Boston and north… coastal antiques dealers… each carrying a hand written note of … how much that dealer would… PAY FOR THE CLOCK. “ALICE” my mind screamed. There is was right in my hand Alice’s very careful and methodically saved paper trail about hers and ANYONE’S interest in the clock beginning with her mother’s era and an offer of “$300” in “1929” from a “Beacon Street” dealer onward to a final $2500 from a well known, respected and DEAD coastal Maine dealer in “1965”. “REAL” my mind screamed. “ALICE” it screamed. “BLOOD FARM” it screamed. I acted.
I floated slowly away from the “tray lot” of the “old broken clock”. I floated around the hall watching. NO ONE …AT ALL… “looked at it”. NO ONE. I continued to act. I found a fellow “have known a very long time” coastal woman dealer who attends “ALL OF HIS” sales and:
“Are you staying for the sale?”
“Would you bid a lot for me”
“The broken clock. On the table in the back” I said gesturing to the back hall dimness. She looked back there. “I’ll pay you ten percent. Start it at $150.”
“Show me.” she said.
We went back to the tray box with the clock on the table, stood before it for a half minute and walked back up front. “Sure” she said. “I hope they put it up early. I don’t want to wait all night.”
“Make ‘em put it up.” I said. “If it goes over fifteen hundred I’ll take over.”
“Fifteen hundred? For that?”
“You’ll get your commission.”
“What is it?”
“An old clock” I said. What is it really? It is a perfect undisturbed “WILLARD’S PATENT” New England banjo clock “timepiece” “UNTOUCHED” and descending in its single owner family estate known as Blood Farm from the DAY THEY BROUGHT it to the farm until THE DAY one of the clean out crew… what?
The day one of the clean out crew took it off the wall, discovered it was very fragile and VERY heavy so… quickly set it down and most probably completely wrapped it in an old towel or blanket after never inspecting it and, eventually, carefully took it to “A TRUCK”. That truck was evidently an Uncle’s truck that went to the auction barn where it was removed and “stored” after not being opened or inspected and… remained that way for TWO YEARS at least until chanced upon in the still towel wrapped barn stored state to be unwrapped, “looked at” by …people who wouldn’t know a real banjo clock from ANYTHING. Then it was… “tray lot boxed” “for sale” and put “out on a table” to be “SOLD” in “TONIGHT’S AUCTION”. To me.
It was. It was “put up” by my agent about an hour in. The auctioneer offered it for fifty dollars. No one bid. He was about to pass it (not sell it due to no interest) when my agent bid the fifty dollars. He sold it to her. The clock was brought to her in her chair. I waited five minutes then approached her, handed her sixty dollars in cash, picked up the tray lot holding the clock, walked out of the hall, put the clock in the passenger’s seat of my truck and drove home. The next morning I took the clock out of the tray, reattached the brass, put the finial on its top and hung it up on the office wall. “It looks like it should be in a museum” my wife said.