Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Why Is It This Way?" - Part One - "Always Small"

"Why Is It This Way?"

Part One

"Always Small"

            Is not... that nice?  They own a splendid array of crud and want me to “look at it” (their words).  They would also like me to “buy it” (their words again but not spoken... to MY face.  But... to each other’s face... it was spoken... I assure).
            That is just splendid crud that they have... a lot of...:
            Yes... crud.
            At this moment... it is a confined lot; a defined lot... of ‘their crud’.  It is a selection of their crud.  They have it kept-up... in an old van (enclosed truck)... this lot... of their crud.  So... I don’t want to have to walk all the way over there in the parking lot to look at a ‘van full’ of their current selection of ...their crud.  That’s right:  I don’t.
            They don’t either for they already know that I ‘won’t buy it’ (the van full of their crud).  Hoping for a ‘one item sale’ is the master plan.  A ‘hope’ for a “WE FOUND” and that object titled by blanket definition (words such as ‘chair’, ‘box’, ‘glass’, ‘painting’... or similar... ilk).  Object title defined crud.  Antiquarian crud?  Barely.  THAT (an antique) is a ‘they say’
            And how would they know?
            1930’s lighting fixtures from a funeral parlor spray painted ‘radiator silver’ (“THE PAINT IS ORIGINAL”).  So are the (electrical) wires... too; “ORIGINAL”.
            The ‘idea’ (commercial notion) is that the “FIXTURES” will be deployed by a decorating firm during one of their “JOBS”.  At a “RETAIL PRICE” they will be ‘deployed’ (sold to) (the... ‘whatever’).  That’s the idea.
            “THEY WERE AT A YARD SALE”.
            “IN BATH” (Maine).
            Oh... is not... THAT a buttress of their qualities?  It is passed to me as being one.
            “Good for you!” I say.  They both just looked a me.  I mean really; that’s what they did.  I mean... I don’t want them (the fixtures):  I am not going to BUY them.  Who... wants those?
            No one that I know.

            Being called on because I am a “YOU KNOW” expert... by old van loads of crud...  That is not even a ‘par for the course’.  They don’t even notice ‘that smell’ when the doors of the van are opened.  THAT is JUST THE SMELL of... “antiques”... I want in my home.  It is the smell of old money?  The smell of... “money”?   The smell of... no money?  The smell of crud.  The smell of old 1930’s funeral parlor lighting fixture crud?  NOW THAT IS A SMELL.
            “Let the bodies hit the floor”.
            As is said.
            No.  Their actual “concern” (their word) is that they have “FOUND” (their word again) a seventeenth century New England wrought iron and wood block mounted ‘lighting device’ (my words) titled, by them... “a rush light”.  Prefixed with “CAN YOU TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT (seventeenth century New England wrought Iron) RUSH LIGHTS”.  (I ‘can’ tell but I ...may... not).
            And... anyway... that quest is finalized by “Oh shit I forgot to BRING IT”.  For real:  I am not making that up.  So I am back to the funeral parlor ‘lighting’ and their van full of crud and ...well... ‘getting rid of them’ (dismissal).  That has to be done.  They just ‘don’t leave’.  REALLY.  “Go away” is not a component of their thought process.

            So they’d already told me about their “rush light” and started to tell me the ...adventure... of them finding “IT”.  I pushed back on that story with “BRING IT NEXT WEEK”.  And we just reviewed what happened with that.  I had prepped a tad for them; I brought Hayward’s COLONIAL LIGHTING book with me to ‘assist’ (show them pictures... of rush lights).  I’ve been using “Hayward’s” since I was... fourteen years old... nearing fifty years.  It is ‘the book’ for those that ‘do know’.  Who cares?  No one.  That is fine for me.  Anyway... I didn’t need it.
            I was, also, going to refer them to an older dealer who was a lighting collector and an ‘in good standing’ member of the ‘Rush Light Club’ of Colonial American lighting collectors AND had sold her large collection of early American lighting “AT SKINNER’S” (Mass. auction business) at least fifteen years ago but she....
            Did not sell the “what she knows” so ... well... I can ‘bank’ on her and her ‘any opinion dear?”... anytime.  I want.  Don’t worry:  She knows what ‘crud’ is too.
            But that was a waste of ‘thought’.
            They forgot to ‘bring’ what they are calling a “rush light”.

            These are the same people who don’t (do not) ‘think’ (feel) the “antiques business” is “doing very well”.  The people with the funeral parlor lighting fixtures and the their van full of... smelly... crud.  These people.  Not me.
            Really... right?  And what if they did actually find something (a ‘good’)... a preferably ‘great’ “antique” (old New England object)?  There is ‘no justice’ so that... does happen.  I always have to be on the lookout.
            This whole is getting encumbered?  Actually the words are ‘top heavy’; this is getting top heavy?  It is a could ‘tip over’?  But... an encumbered mess... of old crud... it is not.  Even when it tips over.  For... ‘a lot’ (very often)... it does that (tip over) ‘a lot’
            These days.  Why is it this way?


            Because it has always been that way.... with ‘antiques’.  Most always all promoted ‘it’s antique’ are crud that their owners think (feel) are antiques that are, at the least, “good”.. “antiques”.  Really.  From my very first moments as an antiquarian buff and dealer; student and commercial broker... I... spent the whole time plucking the good and great from absolute astonishing detritus heaps of
            Crud.  That was before they’d invented ‘vans full of crud’ ‘for sale’ in ‘parking lots’.  It was just heaps of crud everywhere and my understood being ‘it IS this way’ and I am the student – broker who... pluck... from this ‘astonishing detritus heaps’.
            What fun I HAD... and still HAVE.  Nothing has changed.  Even the unknowing idiots are ... the same.  The ...STUFF... is the same; ‘good stuff’ found midst ‘bad stuff’ (crud).  THE SAME.  I find as much if not more ‘than ever’.  I am ‘group hugged’ by more ‘idiots’ than ever:  Well intentioned, impassioned, boisterous, enthusiastic, bubbling, giddy... ‘idiots’.  VERY FINE FOLK... until an ‘antiques’ is the issue.  Then... it falls flat on the face.

            The funeral parlor ‘lighting fixtures’ are ‘installed’ as evening event lighting on a “DECK” attached to a “HOME” that “OVERLOOKS”
            “THE WATER”.  Does anyone know they are funeral parlor lighting?  No.  They are like a ‘ship in a storm’ painting:  “Oh look at THAT!”.  Yes... it is a painting of a sinking ship.
            There is a lot more to art than that... and most of it, including sinking ship paintings... is crud.  If one collects well... one will have a very modest... pile of crud.
But the big piles of crud are absolutely ALL still here.  No ‘thrown out’ at the town dump.  No.  I am around dozens who hunt town dumps and show me... endless pieces of crud they found there and... plan to and DO “sell”.  Sell crud?

            I do.  All the time.  I enjoy watching your wallet empty upon a “THAT” of  my crud.  I sell ‘THINGS” to “PEOPLE” who should know better ALL THE TIME.  It is easy to do.  The number of people who ‘don’t know’ (anything about antiques) or, more often, THINK THEY KNOW, greatly out numbers a ‘knowing’ person.  These days.  And...:  It has ALWAYS been that way.  It has not changed.  This last includes people showing me crud that they bought and think is not crud (often described as “GREAT”).  The funeral parlor lighting fixtures are “GREAT”.  They were great at the town dump, in the picker’s truck, on the table at the yard sale (professional yard sales?  Absolutely these days), in the ‘dealer’s van’, in the ‘salvage dealer’s’ ‘warehouse’, in the “I CAN DO SOMETHING WITH THOSE” decorator’s... decoration.  And on the final bill for ‘all that’ (including ‘installation’).  Crud.

            “They offer a hint” is the way the actual light from the lighting fixtures was described to me when I was ‘shown’; a decorator dealer ‘showing off’... them... to me.
            “It’s soft.” I said of the actual light.
            “Yes it is soft.  That’s a very good word for it.  I’ll have to remember that.”
            I sent in a bill?  Should have.  But I don’t care.  I mean... it is just stupid.
            But it sold.  Too.
            Crud sells.  That is why there is so much of it around for sale.  It is, I am confidently told, ‘more difficult’ to sell the crud for a ‘good price’ these days; “it’s not the same”.  “It” is the market for crud.  “People aren’t buying”.  Crud?  Well yes... they are not buying crud for as ‘much money’ as in the past.  But it is not the crud market.  It is the
            Amount of crud... and it’s (crud) ‘for sale’.  It is “all” for sale.  It is not at the town dump.  Even... town dumps run crud stores for themselves... these days.  Okay and stating again; the ‘why is it this way’ crud market is... glutted with endless giant mounds of crud for sale.  The micro group of things called ‘antiques’ is still there; right there... where it has been the whole time I have ‘been doing this’ (antiques dealing).  As I stated, this is the very small ‘I know’ market.  It has always been very small; the market of “I know” antiques.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Coming and Going. Of Design. - Part Two

The Coming and Going.

Of Design.

Part Two

            It is easy, once denoted, to practice, polish, perform and ‘Piccadilly’ (the English influence upon old New England design) domestic waste paper basket design... in the old New England home and
            Its imitators.
            Once one is ...sensible... about that (waste paper basket design):  Just look around, after entering the home, for their waste paper baskets and one will...  “ahhhh....” “see them”.  Or not.
            Or what.
            Or “those?”
            And, of course... “oh no”.
Do I care if you toss your nose drip soaked Kleenex into a ‘that’?
            I do denote the ‘that’ and do, there after, ‘carry on’.  I do not have to ‘remain calm’ for... “WHY?” would I become excited or panicked over ‘obviously bad taste’ in waste paper baskets?  Those sign posts assure me that it is, simply, ‘worse from there’.  When I am in a home, usually upon the “look around” “please” ritual, I notice if the waste paper basket ‘is’ a ‘something’ AND ‘has it been emptied?’.  Yes... that is a touchy spot.  I won’t go there.  It is your job to ‘do that’.  I just look around.
            So if the waste paper baskets ‘are something’ from a design perspective, I do notice and consider this trail sign to suggest this ‘are something’ waste baskets... are something... to a bigger door of many other ‘THINGS’ ‘in there (the home) being an ‘are something... too.   A...
            Yes... that.  Two crafts will follow with you after this (waste paper basket design awakening) essay.  You will notice waste paper baskets and their design.  You will do something about yours.  Both are ‘not very hard’.

            Waste paper baskets are ‘household furniture’.  There are two kinds (design formulas) of waste paper baskets.  There are the waste paper baskets designed and made to be waste paper baskets.  And there are the ‘conversions’.  A conversion is an object that had an original usage... and intended usage... that caused it, due to its design, to be high jacked to become a waste paper basket because it
            “WORKS GREAT” for that... usually accompanied by a
            “LOOKS GREAT” design (aesthetic) denotation ... too.
            Both sorts are fine.  It is a design quality thing from there on.  “Good taste”.
            So what is ‘good waste paper basket taste’ in the old New England home; the ‘those homes’... the old white houses on the village’s upper main street?  Yes... those homes.  These are the ‘those homes’ that are the beacon light of old New England Wasp decorum.  So what is?
Well.... just getting in the door to ‘see’ is a stumbling block for most.  They ‘don’t let people in’.  And I know that.  So, boys, if your showing up in camo cargo shorts, trail sandals and a pair of sunglasses hung at the neck of your ‘includes girth’ sized Polo Shirt...  For girls:  Do not put the sunglasses in the hair.  Okay?

            This is touchy.  I am talking about sighting old New England home waste paper baskets in their natural setting.  It is a lot harder to do than one might ‘figure’.  And I love it when YOU ‘figure’.  Usually you doing that does NOT include ‘waste paper basket’ ANYTHING.  You know what I mean:  The ‘you know’ when you ‘go figure’.
            So there now.  And I usually discern the two kinds.  The more carefully and costly the manufactured waste paper basket, the ‘easier to’ discern.  Usually they are subdued and bright, clean and crisp but ‘toned down’.  No glare, no shine, no refraction. Usually a decoration of standard and subtle New England theme.  Or subtle... natural... New England. 
An example of the first is... a quality made...  painted deep red... deep oval heavy metal of deep standard form with, for example, a toned down (faded) “old” (faux) “(Clipper Ship) print” ...and only that print, ‘mounted down’ to the front side.  ‘Mounted down’ is different from ‘glued down’.  ‘Glued down’ looks like a ‘glued down’.  “Mounted down” is an ‘at time of manufacture’ mounting down of the decorative print.  Old New England homes do not decorate with glue gun crafting.  No they do not.  They “bought it that way”; their waste paper baskets.  I am not speaking of ‘crafted’ waste paper baskets.  I seek ‘bought it that way’ waste paper baskets.  GOOD ONES.

            Enhanced decorative messaging... stepping up from these old New England home classics... are the preferred old money statement of ‘natural’ waste paper baskets; ...old... baskets made of natural New England materials.  For example... ‘made of Birch Bark’.  Preferred are the ‘old’ (1880-1930) ‘souvenir’ type handmade tacked and sewn, sweet grass rim wrapped, all bark bottom and woven sweet grass handled... waste paper baskets.  They are the ‘ones brought back from summer’... at cottage or camp... ‘on the lake’ or ‘in the (White) Mountains’.  “By Uncle Harry’s second wife (“THEY BOTH DRANK”) when they ‘stayed here’ after (the first world) war.  Faint ‘wood burned’ inscriptions stating, for example “Franconia Notch Woodstock N.H.” are a plus... especially if dated, say, ‘1909’.  That the basket has actually been used (lightly) in the home for... ONE HUNDRED YEARS... needs to be understood too.  IF you ‘can find one for sale’ “IT” will be ‘surprisingly expensive.  Either ‘play’ (get your wallet out) or
            ‘Go away’

            Good ones are NOT easy to find.  But they absolutely send the right message.  There are some very expensive birch bark waste paper baskets.  Very expensive.  For very rich people.  But I do not want to touch that right now.*** 

*** :  Being very short:  The most desired birch bark New England / Maine waste paper baskets are those handmade, hand decorated and hand signed by Tomah Joseph, a Passamaquoddy artist associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Campobello.  They are the number one. They must be signed and dated. They must be perfect (condition).  Hard ...very hard to ‘see’... even ‘in museums’.  Scarce and expensive in the market.  They are a ‘ten thousand dollar waste paper basket’.  Don’t worry, you will know when your are ‘around one’.  If there is one in use in a home you are visiting... “queue”. 

            What is an example of an acceptable conversion?  Well... commonly, one finds ‘old kegs’ (antique small barrels) used (“converted”).  Popular and findable.  Most prefer the refinished ‘go anywhere’ but the New England antiques collector cult seeks ‘original paint’ and ‘original surface’.  These get expensive.  Not ‘very expensive’.  Just ‘expensive’.  The ‘an old refinished’ surface is the easiest (and most affordable) to find.  Subtle, classic and ‘easy to understand’, these nestle in ‘anywhere’.  I cannot find enough of them.  Usually twenty-five, forty-five, sixty-five... dollars... and rising.  If you find one and like it... buy it.  They ‘don’t grow back’ (turn up).  Don’t get too picky:  It is just a waste paper basket.

            At the start of today’s chapther I stated ‘its imitators’.  There is a new grouping of design... crashers.  Smitten with the discernment of waste paper baskets, the household design furniture object... and the need climb the domestic ladder of ‘old New England’ merged with an aura of ‘old money’... more and more sightings of cheesy ‘new’ waste paper baskets posing as ‘old New England’ waste paper baskets... are, well... “about” and “foisted” from... well... faux old New England Homes.  I know the difference.  It is simple.  Old ones... are real ones... and they are hard to “GET”, “FIND” and “BUY”.  New ones... posing as old ones... do not show the home and its decorator ‘best’.  Got it?  Ok then... again:  If it is phony, it shows that (its phony design) to the people who know and ...those are the ones you least want... “noticing that”.  Just buy the expensive old waste paper baskets, put them appropriately in the home and shut-up.  That is the way it has always been done.   Costly, I understand.  Perhaps checking grandmother’s home for her old waste paper baskets may ease this.

            The bigger point of this essay is that I have tried to convey the suggestion that one actively apply an observant design based awareness to ...everything... and, too, that design observation to ‘all’ as a galaxy of unity... too.  Starting with squirt guns and waste paper basket I have... merely suggested... and now hint at... that denotation of design is not only appropriate for an antiquarian eye but is absolutely needed to be applied to absolutely every object one encounters or chooses to encounter.  I, for example, “LIVE” within design and its observation.  I ‘never leave’.  But:
Yes; there is an on and off switch that you... may... use.  It is okay to take ‘time off’ with your ‘art eye’ and go to a proverbial beach in dirty flip flops and a cheap folding chair.  Just understand that ‘the real ones’ (old New England Wasp decorum) ‘don’t do that’... ever.  Polishing your apple eye for old New England design... is the eternity.  If it is not ‘you’... then ‘don’t.  No one will miss you.