Hutton Loots Cransmore
James Hutton was in our yard with a station wagon full of antiques he’d just purchased from Helen Cransmore. We were his …second choice destination. His first choice was “The Gallery”; his italic enunciation. This …center of the upscale Maine coastal tourist destination village “antiques, fine art and decorations” The Gallery… is his current preferred “round one”. It is a simple formula for a Maine antiques picker: “THEY”… move to Maine (the upscale coastal Maine) to “retire” to “open”… “The Gallery” with THEIR …sourced from away so therefore inexhaustible cash-on-barrel-head “we …need… stock” disclaimer that means to all Maine pickers “come at me boys”. Which they do.
Within a month and a side street away the in-the-village picker fought thinning out takes place. The Gallery’s owner’s preferences for objects, humans, tastes, prices, presentations and …the ability of that picker who reads between the lines of their antiques and financial utterances the best (“let me see your tax return and I will tell you how much you can afford spend on this.”)… winnows the pickers selling their picks down to one or two. This takes place ESPECIALLY if it is a The Gallery category venture. The picker’s dream is for …inexhaustible year round “buying”. This never works out. They (a The Gallery type venture) always run out of money. And close.
BUT: “Maybe three… maybe six… years” (summers). Hutton HUNTS for these coastal Maine venture start-ups. They can be a very fine pay check “while they last”.
The reason he was in our yard with his fresh bought loaded station wagon is because…: When he arrived (unannounced as always and this is STADARD PICKER PEDDLING POLICY) (“they buy better”)… Mr. and Mrs. The Gallery were outside the building with a head-of-the-village hard hat wearing town pickup truck driving flashing yellow roof light on and clip board holding …man… consulting with them about the very large and fresh spray painted graffiti new to the side wall of …The Gallery. “NOT GOOD” for “selling” to them and Hutton… drove away unnoticed. “The town will make them fix that and pay for it” and “It’s a GALLERY; they (the local kids) are gonna tag it” and “It’s costing ME money” were his three summary sentences.
WE are second because WE used to peddle OUR loaded station wagon the same way for decades. We don’t have to anymore. Hutton, knowing this also knows it means “we buy” and possibly “will buy all of it”. This last, when dickering, is not mentioned until …last.
Hutton was concise about the Cransmore purchase. After hearing of and seeing Peggy’s charger purchase, an object he originally sold Helen a quarter century before, he waited a few days and then went to see Helen unannounced. She greeted him, they chatted antiques as usual… ever getting closer to the charger sale. Then they crossed that bridge and… moved to “your really going to sell?”
“I don’t see much choice” from Helen.
“Well let me see what you have.” followed by a “NO, no, not THAT. Just start around the edges” from Hutton.
Once assured that James was not “after” for example… the William & Mary blanket chest that Helen bought three decades ago on a whim after lunch in Newburyport and that now resides in the knock-the-antiquarian-socks-off front hall of the home… greetings to all… in its original surface and hardware… Helen readily was moved “downstairs to the guest rooms” (an actual seven room apartment suite looking on to “the terrace”) where no guest has stayed in twenty years at least so the whole space has been filled with “things that I bought”. Hutton knew well to head for this …personal storage vault housing things from “around the edges”.
The photographs included with this post and next post show the gist of the station wagon load. The basement rooms hold quality, selective purchasing, perfect condition and… all over the board “things” … stored away … for decades. Hutton “got in” and “bought”. He bought carefully and well; not too much, not too pushy, not too good but with a …”good” mixed in too and… “all over the board” TOO. He paid. He left. Everyone is happy. HE will “come back soon”. Homes… like this… with… collections… accumulations… four plus decades old AND WITH FAMILY THINGS TOO… do NOT come to market often. Hutton understands this exactly and will very carefully mine this rich surface deposit. He knows too that we will not bother him; that it is “his call”. THAT counts for a lot too. We will “see” a lot (all?) he buys AND “may be called in if needed”. This one (this estate sale) could go on for ten years… and has the “stuff” to do this.
The pack basket had a crumpled but never worn Brooks Brother’s shirt in its bottom. “That’s mine!” I said.
“It is not YOURS” said Hutton as he unwrapped two small blue glass “salts” from an old sock.