Monday, May 27, 2013

A Girl Loves a Good Book

It is a cold and damp Memorial Day weekend.  Aren't they always?  I am scouring the house and garage for items that will be part of load that I am taking on Tuesday to a consignment auction. Every antique dealer has stale merchandise--and it is time for my once a year drive to a good auctioneer to unload these treasures.  But I find myself taking a few breaks to read a good book I have started.

Will searching around--I focused on two of our favorite pieces of artwork--and they happen to be oil paintings of women reading.  Lovely women depicted with their noses in a book for one and newspaper for the other.  An unusual subject of repose.  The women are certainly engrossed.

This little painting was purchased several years ago at a very grubby early morning antique fair in Birmingham England.  When I say early--to get to this fair we had to be on a train out of Euston station by 5am.  In the midst of general dreck thrown on tables was this little treasure.  20 pounds or about 30 bucks.  Snatched this baby up without taking a breath.

This lovely gal reading a newspaper will be for sale at Odana Antiques in Madison in a couple of weeks.  I think I will put it for sale.  YES FOR SURE.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birthday in Prague

A great friend sent me a birthday card this year that said she and I have moved into one candle territory.  So right!

Not by design, Dear Husbola and I were going to be in Prague for my birthday this year.  I considered the trip and our favorite city to be plenty of gift for me.  The day turned out to be a dark and chilly Saturday--the best kind in Prague for just poking around

We started with an unexpected antique fair held in the New Town Hall.  We only saw a small brochure--and it turned out to be a very large fair with dealers from all over the Czech Republic exhibiting.  The highlight--an incredible 1800s globe on a metal stand in the shape of Hercules holding the world in his hands--the equivalent of 900 smackers.  Not for the faint of heart.

Then it was time for a coffee.
And cake.  Oh the cake.
The Czechs love their dessert.  And there is this incredible tradition of the Cukrarna.

Although it has changed since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the traditional way of naming your business establishment is just putting the name of what it is on the sign.  Therefore, it's not "Jaroslav's Meats" but just "Meat".  Not "Beth's Antique Boutique" but "Antiques".  So also named are these incredible historical sugar palaces called "Cukrarna".

There is a fabulous Cukrarna on Vodickova Street in Prague--in the city center.  Now--these differ from a cafe as you will see families with children and old people for the one purpose of having dessert and sweets.  This is not the smoky cafe culture.  This is more "Grandma Taking Out Darling Granddaughter for an Ice Cream" kind of a place.  Sort of the "Woolworth's Lunch Counter" art nouveau style.

This was a Cukrarna off the tourist track.  We were sitting amongst locals out for a treat on a gray day in April.  Best Birthday Ever!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Auctions in England Cause Sleepless Nights

Our recent trip to the UK had one of our favorite auction locales on the agenda.

Sorry.  We won't tell you where.  Maybe some of you dealers have been there.  And certainly after this post you will want to go there. 

We found this fabulous place many years ago.  You can get there by train from London and their auctions are weekly.  Now--enough of the hints.  Antiquing in England used to be quite the thing--especially when our airplane tickets were $300 in the off season--and we could stay in a flat for 65 pounds a night.  Not so anymore.

It was a beautiful spring day--and we arrived in plenty of time for previewing. 
Everything looked like we remembered--including the catering wagon out front serving up "bacon rolls" first thing in the morning.  We actually have never had one--but think of a sort of piece of canadian bacon slapped between a hamburger roll called a bap.  That with a cuppa "white" tea and most of the other dealers were ready to bid.

We were looking for 'smalls" this trip--and this auction house is very good for them.  We registered--we are still in their computer.  You do not get a card or a paddle.  If you are successful at bidding--you just shout out your last name and the auctioneer jots it down on his sheet in pen.

Then I saw THEM.
Two matching leather armchairs.  Solid.  Clean.  HEAVY.  Nailheads.  Aged patina.  PERFECT.  The cushions could be recovered in a quirky fabric--we had seen that look so often at the decorative antiques fair in London the day before.  These qualified for the Dear Husbola quote "bid on them till you get them."  That directive is reserved for something we want for our house--and when you know that you do not see an item ever or often.  We also reserve the buying directive for items that are destined to keep us awake at night thinking about them if we do not buy them.

And there we are--4000 miles from home.  Not shipping a container back to the USA.  Not able to buy the chairs.

Yes--we bought several things at the auction we are happy with.

But not the chairs.

Darn jet lag--I am still not sleeping through the night.  I still wake up at odd times--my body is still on London time.  No--wait-- I am still dreaming about THOSE CHAIRS!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The New Sunday at Sandwich, Josie's and French Toast With the Old People

Our summer shows are looming, we have a giant antique space that empties rather fast these days and it's spring--- so Dear Husbola and I find jumping in the truck for buying to be on each week's calendar.

We headed out to the NEW Sunday at Sandwich antiques market to check out the newest buying venue on the northern Illinois scene.  The market is promoted by friends in the business--two couples-who are hard working and veteran antique sellers.  The market is held on the beautiful fairgrounds in Sandwich Illinois.  They are off to a good start as the line before opening was well over 150 people, the weather was chilly but sunny and I saw many smiles from eager dealers ready to get the 2013 selling season off to a good start.  June 9 is the next date-- $5 bucks at the gate--easy parking-- and I saw a wagon selling great looking coffee drinks.

After the market--Dear Husbola needed his usual reward of a hot cup of coffee and a good breakfast.  Fresh air and the hunt for treasure does  stoke our appetite--so we headed to the Star 34 Cafe on the west edge of Sandwich.  Clean and crowded--and crowded with retired folks--we knew it must be good.  Forty-five minutes later--after several cups of coffee and great eggs, (why do scrambled eggs always taste better out?) french toast, and bacon--we were back on the road.  Did I tell you that breakfast was $15.00 plus tip?  Across from a gas station at $3.75????  And the reason we don't live is Sandwich is?????????

We hit the area shops--Old TImers and the Sandwich Antique Mart.  I love the Mart as the dealers really take care in their displays and making the shop fresh each time we are there.  It is a small shop--and a real gem. They have been in business a long time.  They opened early on The New Sunday At Sandwich Day--which was great. The place was packed and had lots of sales going on.

Heading on--next stop--meat market in Elburn.  At $4.30 a gallon--I am consolidating trips these days--makes me nuts to put $100 bucks in my gas tank--so meat it was.  Great place--boneless short ribs and some pork tenderloin.

Then on to Josie's in Maple Park.  Everybody knows Josie.  At the end of a long flag driveway we were rewarded by a a very vintage apple tree in full incredible bloom.  It was so busy there was barely a place to park.  Josie and Sherrie work hard at keeping 6 vintage farm buildings stuffed with vintage treasures.  She is now open 5 days a week--Wednesday through Sunday 12-5.

All photos are of Josie's place.  A good day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Antiqueing in London

Ruins you for life.

I say that with a giant sigh as I look back on the pictures Dear Husbola and I took at the recent Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair at Battersea Park in London in April.

Since 1989, we have travelled to the UK countless times to purchase the odd the quirky the unusual for our own collection and for our clients.  Every month, there are hundreds yes hundreds of antique and vintage buying events throughout the UK--from the small village hall fiars to the large international fabulousness of the recent Battersea Park fair.
This was a six day fair--and we actually attended on the last day of the fair.  The organizers operated a courtesy van from Sloane Square which was about two blocks from our accommodation.  Nothing easier than jumping on a van and being deposited at the front door of the venue.
Even dogs are welcome.
The trend in the really top notch UK fairs these days is "decorative".  I will define that as a statement piece that is ready to plug into your home.  This is not the antiques fair of little "bits and bob" of glassware or treen or charming little widget--this is furniture-paintings-statuary-architectural ready to pop into That Little Corner That Needs a Little Pick Me Up in everyone's home.
Look at this tole clock face.  From a french clock tower. Huge incredible and one of a kind.
What strikes me about a decorative fair is color.  Light-bright-fresh color.  So many of our midwestern antique shows are brown.  All brown.  All tired.  Yesterday's look.
The 100+ dealers at this fair had invested much time and money effort in creating these splashingly good exhibits.  While we were there--on the sixth day mind you--the aisles were full of shoppers--and porters where wheeling out many items in the two hours we spent there.

OH, to be in England now that April ’s there
And whoever wakes in England sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough        5
In England—now!  
 Robert Browning





Thursday, May 9, 2013

Czech Cubism, Say What????

Art movements can be a blur to me.

Isn't art meant to be pleasing and pastoral and calm and generally relaxing to the viewer?

Not so in Prague where Dear Husbola and I recently returned from an incredible trip filled with architectural eye candy, good coffee, rousing history and fabulous art.

Cubism is one of those art movements that needs to be viewed up close--books and art history course slides do not catch it.

The city of Prague is a baroque masterpiece--and then comes the jarring BANG of cubism and it is a beautiful marriage.

Cubism is an early 20th century avant garde art movement in direct response to the flowery organic nature of the art nouveau.  It arrived in Prague in about 1910.  It screams "Look at me I am different!"
It may sound very trite--"Prague is a living museum" and that completely sells short its vibrant citzens and the vitality of the people we have come to enjoy after many visits.  Czech cubism is alive in furniture, buildings, art and even coffee shops.
We have previously told you about our favorite Cafe Orient--a total cubist gem that was just a few blocks from the Hotel Paris where we stayed for most of this visit.
We visited the spectacular GASK Art Museum in Kutna Hora. This new museum opened in May 2010 in a renovated former Jesuit college building.  We were rattling around in this fabulous bright space almost by ourselves.  The aubergine colored walls were a fabulous backdrop to the art throughout.  
The Prague Museum of Modern Art is in the old communist era Trade Palace.  25 years ago it held tractors and combines and agricultural fairs.  Now it hold spectacular Czech art and this cubist furniture.  Angles that jar you--but you can't help but look at its beauty.  LOVE IT!
The impressionists are fine.  But Czech cubism is memorably unsettling.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Million Words

The beloved and storied Wayne Castle is a sad old girl right now.

Circumstances find it now owned by a bank and up for sale.  A sad story for a house with a storied past.

Built by by the Dunham family in the late 19thC, it has been the beacon and exclamation point in Wayne Illinois since the day it was built.

Several families have had dreams of restoring the castle to its original splendor and creating a one of a kind family home.  Dreams take alot of money.  Dear Husbola and I know.  Just ask us what our contractor wanted to charge us for wooden switch plates for our new addition.

Now the property is listed with a real estate company.  It can be yours for a cool One Million Eight Hundred Thousand.  Add another Several Million--and it can be a Beautiful Old Girl again.

Buy it and then contact us.  We'll pop for the new switchplates.

Friday, May 3, 2013

We're Back!

And I bet you did not even know we were away.

Dear Husbola and I decided to take a trip "Across the Pond" to two of our favorite cities--Prague and London.

Not for antiquing mind you. Well--may be little bit of antiquing.   For sightseeing-good coffee in cafes--walking around with just a light jacket--looking for that good blood orange marmalade we like-poking through Hatchard's bookstore that is like no other we have seen--rumbling on a train to our favorite secret UK auction destination--spending a day with two men who have renovated a castle and now serve gourmet lunches--  shopping in a favorite grocery store to stock up on the quirky things we like and drinking good wine and really good beer--being called Madame and not really minding it--and poking in little museums and gardens that have treasure we do not have back home.

Our Prague portion involved a week with the incredible Harriet Landseer who shows you the Prague of Rudolf II (think Queen Elizabeth I Czech style) and Charles lV, Cubist art, art nouveau like we have never seen it, Alphonse Mucha and the incredible Czech cuisine.  And beer.  And wine.  all good.  Our traveling companions were particularly good this trip--congenial folks who liked to laugh--even when learning that to get to the incredible  gold leaf chapel at the top of a castle you had 400+ steps.

We love home.  We REALLY love home.  We did not miss our daffodils.  Dear Husbola's bees are buzzing happily.  We are getting ready for our active show selling season.  But it certainly is nice to escape for awhile--to remember that America is  not the center of the universe.  And to appreciate home.

No More Concrete or Cast Iron Please

Dear One  and I spend many good hours wandering around looking for quirky things to sell.  There is nothing that makes a dealer smile more t...