Friday, October 2, 2015



            I was standing in conversation with another antiques dealer one morning when a third antiquarian, a collector, joined us.  Conversation continued and this collector introduced the subject of ‘keeping’.  She turned this antiquarian gun barrel on my dealer friend:  “Do you KEEP anything?” she asked.
            He replied “Yes; of course”.
            “What do you keep?” she asked.
            “I keep... what I haven’t sold yet.” He replied.

            From that I learned about my own ‘keeping’.  I am, I discovered, always “keeping things” I find simply because they haven’t sold yet.  It has proven to be a most redundant explanation of the old things I have around.  They have not sold yet and I am keeping them.  Collecting from this vantage is very easy and I enjoy it.  Of course I don’t want to become one of those awful hoarders but fortunately the old things seem to sell off just well enough along that I do not have that happen.  I do not want be a hoarder.  I am, though, a keeper.  That I am.

            The other morning I stopped by a thrift store.  I was out rambling so I happened to ramble by.  I went in and rambled around.  “Oh” she said (the woman in charge) “All the GLASSWARE is HALF PRICE today”.
            “Thank you.” I said and rambled away to the back of the church basement’s catacomb of old rooms filled with this and that, bric and brac and their iota... too.  That’s beside the abundance of women’s and men’s clothes.  And, of course, shoes.  They had a remarkable number of shoes.  “They are keeping those?” I thought.  No:  They were all for sale at “one dollar a pair today only”.  “But they do seem to be keeping them, don’t they”.  They did seem to almost have enough shoes for a hoard.  I passed by the opportunity for shoes and rambled away.

            At the back wall of the back room was a folding table with the “GLASSWARE HALF PRICE” on it.  My eye rambled over the offering.  I didn’t even scan.  Just rambled.  Of course you know what that means.  Whenever I ramble; just ramble, in the antiquarian trade, I find something.  And that is what happened here.  What could I be bothered with on an old folding table covered with old “GLASSWARE HALF PRICE”?

            Well it wasn’t a bother at all.  No.  I snapped it up; an old piece of glassware.  Didn’t I just reach my hand right past the person next to me and snap that up?  No I did not for there was absolutely no other person around anywhere even near this table of glassware.   No one saw me snap anything up at all.  I just carried my treasure away.  Up front I went... to pay.

            “That will be fifty cents today.  Glassware is HALF PRICE today”.  I was out fifty cents and outside the church basement, carrying a plastic shopping bag with my glassware treasure.  It was poorly wrapped in old newspaper from an old suburban shopper throwaway.  No one has any real old newspapers any more.  Have you noticed that?  It’s the computers you know.  The only people who have real old newspapers are hoarders.  And they’ve saved theirs for years.

            When I got out to my car I had to unlock the hatchback to put my glassware in.  I took it out of the bag first.  And unwrapped it from the newspaper.  I liked what I saw in the late morning light on the hillside road with the church across the street and two oak trees fluttering their leaves in the breeze above me.  I liked what I saw so much I decided to take the poor old thing up to the front with me so I could look at it as I drove home.  I picked the one dollar price tag off with my thumb nail.  I only paid fifty cent.
            Up front I put the vase; that’s what it is, a vase***.  I put it on my sweater.  I started out wearing the sweater but it warmed up so I took it off.  The vase nested in the sweater beside me.  I could see it.  While I drove along.

*** It is a Pillar-Molded “bar ware” or “riverboat glass” eight rib blown clear flint glass table vase with a hand formed glass disk wafer supporting a pedestal base made in the Pittsburgh, PA region (“Midwestern”) between 1840 and 1860, possibly earlier.  In one’s mind picture a riverboat’s dining room with each table having a vase like this upon it.  Also understand that, too, these vases were used, one at a time, in settler’s log cabins on the western frontier AND were exported ‘east’ to be sold and used in New England homes.  Too.

            It is chipped you know.  I mean; I knew.  Just a little old chip on the very top rim edge.  I could feel it easier than I could see it.  It’s been there forever.  And it’s not as bad as the bruise down at the bottom of the vase cup.  That’s an old bruise too.  It’s been there forever.  Someone a long time ago must have knocked the vase on something when they were washing it.  Probably they didn’t even notice they’d done that; bruised the vase cup.  No one can see it.  You can’t see it unless you really look.  Or know to look.  That’s how I saw it when I first picked it up.  I know to look.

            When I was driving along I said “Oh I can probably put fifty dollars on it.”  Then I said “Well maybe not”.  “Well what about forty-FIVE?”  THAT sounded more reasonable.  But really.  It’s quite a rare piece of old glass.  Really.  If it weren’t for the chip and bruise... oh it would be quite good:  Two hundred fifty.  OH and IF it were AMBER (colored glass) I’d make a little fortune.  They are known in cobalt blue too.  Those are worth a SMALL fortune.  This one I found is clear glass.  That’s the way they usually are.  And to find one; even a clear one.  It never happens.  So I was very pleased with myself.  As I drove along.

            I already knew it (the vase) is in ‘Innes’.  I knew it when I saw it on the table.  It was just all down hill from there.  It was sitting there and I knew exactly what it was I was finding.  Right there with no one else around.

            I know the (photographic illustration) plates in ‘Innes’.  There’s an amber one pictured in color too.  “BEST FORM” he says about that one.  Of course it’s the color too.  My vase; its FORM, is a little tight.  Just a little narrow.  Nothing anyone would know... unless they know.  That’s how I know.  Because I DO know.  But I never say anything.  They wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.  Unless they know; really know.  And that’s a whole different thing.  Then.  Of course it is.  I mean:  How WOULD you know.
            But they do know and they will be the ones who buy this; my vase.  This vase; that’s it for them.  You know:  Most people just have a vase.  “For flowers”.  They don’t know anything about their vase.  Or any vase.  If someone knows about this vase then they probably know about vases.  And care what kind of vase they use.  I know because I do.  It’s funny.  This vase is one of the best vases I’ve ever found.  Or offered for sale.  And no one knows that.

            I have other vases.  And they ARE good ones.  But this one:  This one is text book.  Eight rib molded pulled vertical and then the rim snipped and fire polished at the top.  Applied heavy disk pedestal base.  This vase NEVER tipped over.  Big raw glass pontil on the bottom (from holding the vase top in the furnace for the fire polish finish).  Wonderful base wear.  The vase was used FOREVER.  Not that anyone would KNOW THAT.

            It’s really pretty vile isn’t it.  It’s kicking around at a church basement thrift store.  After all of that.  By 1850 it was hand made and on a table with flowers in it.  Maybe I’ll put Purple Asters in it.  When I get home.  I said that day.  Yes:  I remember saying that.  And that isn’t funny either.  That’s real New England; doing that.  You can see it can’t you?  Just looking at the vase teaches you its qualities.  It’s very fine to the eye.  Purple Asters are fine to the eye too.  In my old New England home, the vase is exactly right.  So are the Asters.  When in their season.

I didn’t do that.  I just looked it (the vase) all over and put it out for sale.  I’ve kept it ever since.  Oh it’s for sale.  But no one has asked.  I’ve had if for sale for... let’s see... four days now.  So far it hasn’t sold and I’ve kept it.  It’s a keeper!  Isn’t that funny?

            It’s not funny is it.  No.  I rescued it.  I saved its life.  You know that they do there (the thrift store) with the old glassware that doesn’t sell?  They recycle it.  They put it all in cardboard boxes out on the street curb.  A man stops a big truck and gets out and throws all the glass into a big open steel box.  Everything breaks.  That’s how the old glassware ends.  Unless someone like me rambles by in the nick of time.

            Don’t worry:  I don’t mind keeping this vase.  I’ll tell people I’m stuck with it.  That’s right.  That’s exactly what I’ll say.  They don’t know what I’m talking about.  The best I can expect is one of them will tell me it’s “pretty”.  “Yes it is pretty isn’t it”.
            “I don’t know what I’d do with it.”
            “Why don’t you put flowers in it.”
            “I don’t have any flowers”
            “Well snip some from the DITCH out on the road in front of your house.  That’s what your great-great grandmother did.  She actually enjoyed the flower choices changing with the season.  That’s why the vase is so worn.  Back then they actually used flower vases.”

            But I don’t have to apologize for the old vase do I.  It knows.   And I know it knows.  And some of them who come by know too.  Not that I ever point these things out to anyone.  No:  If you don’t know then you don’t know.  And then there is bad taste.  Of course.  That can become a problem.  “Pittsburgh Glass.  I didn’t even know they MADE glass in PITTSBURGH.”  Yes that’s really what you want to be heard saying?  What if you packed up all the old glassware in your grandmother’s home and gave it to the thrift store.  Wouldn’t THAT be especially YOU:  Giving away a glass vase that was one of the very first glass vases ever made in America that had been used by every generation of your family until you... well... that is rather sad.
            Isn’t it.

            And then you say I’m a hoarder?  Keeping this ‘old thing’.  Poor old thing.  Aren’t you dear; a dear old thing that I’m keeping.  “No one is going to buy you” I told the vase.  “But your safe with me.  You’re my ‘keeper’.”

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