Sunday, February 28, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: March-ing Into Spring

Where did February go? 

I'm amazed at how quickly the months have gone by lately. Maybe it has to do with cramming a Tucson trip with a visit by The Mama.  She leaves on Thursday, but we've got a number of things to finish up before she goes. 
     Tomato seeds get planted tomorrow. So do greens and peas outside under a cold frame. For the next few weeks, we'll be taking care of bunnies for friends, while they finish up some other commitments. 
     I hope the chickens don't get jealous. 

Write for greeting card companies. (From the Penny Hoarder)

Excavations at an Israeli copper mine site have uncovered 3,000-year-old fabric. Plus, leather, seeds and other interesting bits...

Weird Al Yankovic's take on 'Word Crimes:'  English majors everywhere are cheering!
   (Click on this link, if you're having trouble with the one below.)

Mushy peas and spaghetti: a newspaper look at one of my favorite frugal bloggers, Life After Money.

A 23-year-old from the Ukraine 'becomes' a high-student student. Eventually, he also gets caught. (Take a look at the photo in the link -- does this guy really look 18 to you?)

The Royal Bank of Scotland posts another 2 BILLION pound annual loss. What's even scarier: this is the eighth year in a row for serious losses.

Shelter dogs as ball runners in professional tennis tournaments? Yes, in Brazil.

Have a great week.

Pikes Peak...hopefully the green will be starting soon. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Love At First Bite

If you've hung around here at all, you know I have a thing for Bigfoot

I enjoy collecting reports about Mr. S (Sasquatch, of course), and following his sightings, especially through my part of Colorado.

It may be a week or so after St. Valentine's Day, but lo and behold, I found:

It came with a nice-sized package of Jack Link's beef jerky inside, as a bonus. (Yes, that's an edging of fur you're seeing on the box.)

Awww, Mr. S., I never knew you cared.

Keith, who compared his footprint to Mr. S's last fall, got one...

     So did I. (swoon)

The Mama is a little moony over her new friend. (smirk)

You don't always choose the ones you love...sometimes it just happens.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Is This What the Election's Really Going to Be Like?

Like Marge Simpson, I am beginning to wonder...

(I have to attend the Democratic caucus in our area of Colorado on March 1. Stay tuned for a report.)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy Anniversary

Today has been a celebration of sorts.

My dad died seven years ago, today. 

A big Dutch farmer, he tended to sit in the corner and say very little...but he filled the room.

I miss him so much.

The loss is probably sharper because The Mama is visiting for another week. She spent the day grieving, and trying desperately not to show it. We went to the store and bought a red rose. (Normally she puts it on his grave.)

 We went out to Applebee's for ribs. (Another tradition, apparently.) And she got ninety million phone calls, checking on how she was doing.

Didn't matter. She STILL missed him.

I do, too. Love you, Pa. See you soon.

A quilt from Paducah 2015 that reminded me of my dad...Farmer to the end

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On a better note, thanks in great part to the help of Daughter #2 and Keith, we finally got the stove insert dragged in and set up in the fireplace. Had our first fire last night...and the stove, a Craigslist find, worked beautifully. Even the blower turned on and off like a champ.

The insert still needs some tinkering. The fireplace tiles need to be painted black. I want to black the stove up a bit, and polish its brass. But meanwhile, we'll have many more warm, cosy fires this season.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chicken Humor

just what the Brick would do...

After all, chickens seem to appear and reappear in our lives.

Which is how we like it!

Life Truths

Did nothing go right today for you? Read this story -- 

My mother’s father worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to orphanages in China. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what had happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China!
The Great Depression was at its height and Grandpa had six children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning. He was really upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. “It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration. “I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.”
Months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago.
The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. “But most of all,” he said, “I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses wedged between two blankets.
The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: “Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that.”
The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas. But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.
There are times we want to blame God instead of thanking Him. Perhaps it is something we ought to try more often, “Thank you, God, for not allowing my car to start this morning.” He may have been saving your life from a car accident. “Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me lose my glasses; I’m sure they’ll be put to good use or there is a lesson to be learned.”
Always look for the “perfect mistakes.”
God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:19

(Thanks for sharing, This Daily Headline)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are You Well-Bread?

Bernie Bernie Sandwich?!?

Steven Colbert takes a reporter's misstep and builds on it. (Salami, cheese, sauce...)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: What IS Normal, exactly?

I was preening myself on how quiet and peaceful it was around here...
     Well, forget that. 

Dust and soot hang in the air -- the Brick and Keith are putting in a fireplace insert. Daughter #2 has been hanging around, as well, talking animatedly with The Mama, who is visiting here through late next week. (Daughter is now sacked out on the floor, exhausted, with her head on dog Karma...whose tail is wagging. Must be a good dream.) 
     Dogs are wandering everywhere. Packages and piles are all over the place. Daughter #1 heads here tomorrow. Chaos ensues.
     And it's just starting to snow.  

Two stolen masterpieces disappear for more than four decades -- because they were hanging on the wall of an Italian factory worker who purchased them at auction.

Thirteen living room design trends for 2016 -- and whether you should follow them or not. (From Emily Henderson)

Bigfoot in fabric?!? Yup...and put in 'Sasquatch' in the search area when you check out this fabric. There are several others. (From Spoonflower)

Bigfoot walking painted

Five ways to avoid the winter blues. (From Red and Honey) Or try this:

100 funny jokes from very funny comedians.

The world was supposed to end on Valentines' Day 2016. Remember the 'psychic' in Ghostbusters 2?

All I can say is... Bummer.

"The father of all Ponzi schemes will cause the mother of all meltdowns."  From the Financial Samurai -- God help us if he's right.

Someone who "clawed his way out of poverty into success." Some helpful tips here...but a lot of residual anger, too. Don't miss the readers' comments -- they're just as fascinating.

Eleven murals to chase away those winter blues...including this one from Ellie Cashman. (LInk's in the article. Thanks, Apartment Therapy)

Eleven ways to entertain yourself for free. (From Simple Dollar.) And if you liked that:

Eleven fun things to do that actually earn money while you do them.

Free campsites around the country -- park your tent or RV for no cost.

How to get rid of gophers. (I wonder if this works for mice?)

Have a great week -- and stay out of the way of them thar gophers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hiding Nothing

I promised to tell you more about why the recent Schorsch Collection auction featured two reindeer hides "together with a large sundry of scraps of leather." They went for a fancy price, too. ($5,250, versus their pre-auction estimate of $1500-2500.)

Well, here's the scoop.

    They were recovered from a shipwreck! 

Die Frau Metta Catherina (or "Mrs. Metta Catherina," often shortened to Frau Metta or Catherina) a Danish brigantine (two-masted)  ship,  sank in a winter storm Dec. 10, 1786. She was carrying a cargo of hemp, plus bundles of reindeer hides from St. Petersburg in Finland. (The Sotheby's people mistakenly identified it as Russian. Hey, I made the same mistake initially, too.  Update: Some sources continue to link the reference to Russia -- what IS clear is that the "Russia leather" process described here did indeed originate in St. Petersburg, Russia.) 
     The Catherina "struck Drake's Island and was blown toward Mount Edgecumbe before sinking in the darkness somewhere under Raven's cliffs on the Cornish side of Plymouth Sound." Her crew were rescued, but the ship and its cargo were soon buried under the mud -- and forgotten.

In 1973, divers from the British sub Aqua Club were looking for the HMS Harwich, which had foundered in 1691 in Battery Buoy, the deepwater channel between Drake's Island and Cornwall. Instead, they found a ship's bell -- yes, the Catherina. "Further underwater investigation revealed part of the rigging and then the cargo -- bundles of hides on the seafloor, remarkably preserved after two hundred years immersion in black mud."

A hide from the Frau Metta -- read more about its display here.

Why is this important? 

Because the mud and time did something wonderful to those reindeer hides. Not only were they preserved in excellent condition -- their color, texture and wearability makes them sought after for leather goods -- especially very expensive watch bands. "The colour varies from a rich claret to a lighter sienna and most of the hides have a crossed hatched grain embossed by hand. the same diced grain known as "Russia" leather, famous for its ability to keep both water and insects at bay.

The hides in situ on the ocean floor

Which meant a bonanza of rare leather hides underwater, just waiting for some treasure hunter to dig them up.

Eventually, the ownership of the ship's cargo was determined to be Prince Charles, honorary president of the British Sub Aqua Club...and the current Duke of Cornwall. He generously waived his rights to the leather, on the condition that some of the hides be sold to help fund further excavation of the wreck.

These hides turn up now and again on the market -- and go for big bucks when they do. It's not often that beautiful, durable leather combines with age and historic interest. But the Russia leather hides from Die Frau Metta Catherina do it with ease.

Don't You Feel Like Doing This Some Time?

Harley the Chocolate Lab takes a mud bath. (Charley would love doing this, if he could get away with it.) 

It's been quiet at the Brick house. The Mama has done several small jobs for us, and seems mostly content to putter and read. (And ask questions. LOTS of questions, usually spaced 4 or 5 min. apart, so you've gone back to whatever you were doing before that.)

I have a batch of appraisals on my plate, and the Brick is finishing up some computer work. Nice just to be together, listening to the Beatles and George Strait while we type. (Elvis too, for the Mama.)

Colorado's wild chinook winds have been banging around the house for days. Yesterday they almost ripped away the huge IKEA sign that overhangs the highway in Denver.

The Powers That Be promptly shut I-25 down, stranding hundreds of commuters. Last night when we came home around 9 p.m., the highway further north must have finally opened -- a long string of  headlights were barely crawling down the road, heading south. Poor people.

Didn't the IKEA people realize we get these winds every year? 

It's peaceful now...but who knows for how long. We'll enjoy it while we can.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Life With Chickens: An Update

Life goes on at the Brick chicken ranch. 

Fortunately, our winter so far has been pretty mild -- freezing nights are common, and we've had lots of snow. But we've only had a handful of below-zero temps. The chickens have a heat lamp in their coop, and they rustle up a surprising amount of warmth just by snuggling. Feathers make good insulation.
     We also have a light to ensure that they get at least 12-14 hours of light. Keeps them laying regularly. So far, we're averaging about a dozen eggs daily. Wonderful, considering the older hens aren't doing much but eating.

Our neighbors bring down mice caught in their rabbit feed bins. We have some too, hunkered under the pallet the water trough sits on. Every once in a while, the Brick will move the pallet and shoot water down into the mice nests. Mice take off everywhere -- and the chickens chase them like crazy.

Fresh protein on the run is the perfect snack. Kind of like this:

Here's an 2015 shot of the chickens, having breakfast. The Brick, clever man that he is, rigged up a pipe holder to keep the feeder upright and slightly off the ground.

Here's a photo taken before we put in the chickenyard down the hill -- so I could actually have a blade of grass or two and some perennials that weren't chewed and/or dug to bits in our backyard. (Our entire backyard has a chain link fence running around it -- which also forms the back two sides of the chickenyard.) 
   Charley, who normally hates birds of any kind, doesn't seem to realize that his charges are avian, too.

Here's a more recent shot of the back edge of the chickenyard -- with Castle Rock in the background. 

And the infamous 'library table:' a secondhand table the Brick enclosed with wire. We used it for temporary housing for quite a while. When the chickenyard was finished, I persuaded the Brick to use it as an extension on one side of the fence. "They'll never use it," he scoffed. 
Well, it's their favorite place to View the World.

Maybe they're having conferences in there. Or spy sessions. 
Or trading mouse recipes.

It's a good time of year to renovate, update...and decide what to do next, chicken-wise.
 A few decisions really paid off this past year:

*The door that automatically opens and closes itself was a brilliant purchase -- even though it was about $250. We don't have to race home to get the door closed before dark...or get up early to let them out, either. In fact, we can easily go somewhere overnight, without having to pay someone to come over. (Now, if all the chickens would uniformly make it into the coop before the door closes a second time...)

*The 'cherry egger' chicks lived up to their billing. The feedstore girl told me that this breed were more reliable egg-layers in the winter. Well, they are. (Now, if they weren't stupid enough to get their heads stuck under the coop, or show more gumption against the bossy Rhode Island Reds...)

*The flock is doing great. Extra veggies (from our dumpster-diving neighbors) and scavenged pumpkins, along with a pound of venison or a can of mackerel a week, are helping keep everyone reasonably healthy. (I plan to grow extra greens for them this summer, plus squash and pumpkins for winter use.) We've only lost a few chickens -- and those were to old age.

*Our neighbors are still okay with it, too. We're careful not to bring in any roosters, keep the coop clean (and the yard reasonably smell-free)...and hand out a free dozen eggs every once in a while. That helps.

*We can sell every egg we want to. If any of our regular customers stepped aside, we still have a long list of people who want our eggs. That helps pay for feed and a little extra. (Like the automatic door.) And we still have all the eggs we can use.

*We're in good company. More people are housing chickens nowadays, including one of our Denver Broncos, Von Miller. (Maybe that's why he was the MVP in the Superbowl!)

This spring, for the first time in four years, I won't order a fresh batch of chicks. We are planning to put our house on the market, after some needed renovations -- and I'm not sure where we'll settle next. (One of the possible options has us buying an RV and traveling for a while. Not a good scenario for chicken ranching.) 

Would we do it again, though? 
You bet.

You'd better! 

Problem Solved!

Sometimes KISS means a bit more than just 'Keep it simple, Stupid.'

From Mobile Toones via Facebook --

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday Stuff (er, Wednesday) On the Way to Other Stuff: Tucson

We spent last week with Daughter #2 and her partner in Tucson, Arizona, touring their many rock and jewelry shows. Wonderful exhibits, wonderful pieces...Angel and Keith bought a ton of stuff. (You can see items as she posts them on Phenomenal Gems on Etsy.)
      I bought some inventory for Brickworks, too. We saw many interesting pieces. But trudging around in dry heat can take it out of you. (Although spending time with friends Joline and Neil was a pleasure. They are still the most welcoming people on the planet.) 
     We got home a little after 1 a.m. Monday morning, and have been recovering ever since. Usually we adjust right back quick to the altitude -- but not this time. I feel exhausted...and the Brick is having the same problem.
    To make life even more interesting, the Mama flew in for a 2+ week visit this morning at 7:30 a.m. (The Brick went to get her while I vacuumed frantically.)
    Let's put it this way: we are NOT morning people. 

This week's list is a brief one, but next week will be better. It is nice to be home. 

Ever wonder what the players are talking about, out there on the field?

Superbowl 50, mic'ed up (Part 1)


Superbowl 50, mic'ed up (Part 2)


Worst financial mistake ever? Buying a house! (From Budgets Are Sexy) And if you enjoyed that:

'My Worst Buyer's Remorse' -- a big list to learn from. I was surprised at how often the list included houses...and bicycles.  (Thanks to Len Penzo)

Forty side hustles for extra cash. (From Making Sense of Cents)

Hope you're having a great week, so far.

Herkimer crystals from last year's Tucson gig -- even better stuff was found this year! 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Two More Great Ones Gone

Blanche Young died recently.

This gracious lady wrote a number of books on quiltmaking, including The Lone Star Quilt Handbook...which finally helped me understand (and accomplish) the intricacies of diamond piecing. She taught on the national circuit, and was an influence on the quilting world for many years.

Blanche Boberg Young was born on April 14, 1919 in Draper, Utah and passed away January 2, 2016 in Corona, California at the age of 96. She was predeceased by her parents John and Mattie Boberg, siblings Lowell Boberg, Afton Parr, LaRue Dignan and husband Dallas F. Young.
Blanche was an internationally-known quiltmaker and the author of ten books on quiltmaking. She traveled and taught at quilt guilds and conferences across the country and in Europe and Japan.
She is survived by her seven children: Brian Young of LaVerkin, Utah; Suzanne Elliott (Bill) of Corona, California; Lynette Bingham (Jim) of Hurricane, Utah; Helen Frost (Tom) of Tucson, Arizona; Corey Young of Hurricane, Utah; Dalene Young of Helena, Missouri; and Paul Young (Cindy) of Lake Elsinore, California; 24 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. - See more at:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
To my surprise (and sadness), I also learned recently that an old friend, Shirley McElderry, died back in the fall of 2015. Shirley wasn't as well-known in the general quilting field...but she was a star among those of us who studied quilt history and practiced quilt restoration.

     I met her first at Quilt Restoration Society conferences, back when I was an editor at Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. Eventually, I taught a restoration class with her: she was the first co-teacher I'd ever worked with who didn't feel the need to disagree. If I had a new technique or made a different suggestion on tackling a problem, she was fine with that -- even if she did it differently. (And she would express that -- which I had no problem with!)
     I remember some late nights, Shirley with that lovely whiskey voice of hers, explaining some new method she'd tried...or just blabbing about anything.
     I loved her dearly for many years. She was an influence in other lives, too.

Somehow, as we both got busy, and QRS became less national, we lost touch. It's been some time since I talked to her last -- I'd wondered what she was up to, and planned to contact her. Now it's too late.

OTTUMWA, IOWA – Shirley J. McElderry, 80, of 3655 91st Ave., died at 6 p.m. September 23, 2015, at Hospice House.
She was born March 18, 1935, in Ottumwa to Bennett and Edna Minor Granby. She married Richard Renfrew March 26, 1951. He preceded her in death September 6, 1967. She married Stan McElderry December 12, 1976.
Shirley was an L.P.N., having worked at the Van Buren County Hospital, Ottumwa Hospital and for the Southeast Iowa Blood Bank. She also did upholstery work and repaired antique quilts.
Surviving are her husband, Stan; a son, Don (Sue) Renfrew of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; two daughters, Deena Foust of Des Moines and Deb (Dale) Dampier of Crawfordville, Florida; four stepsons, Ray McElderry of Pleasant Hill, Brad McElderry of Ottumwa, Ken McElderry of Conroe, Texas, and Leslie McElderry of Moravia; seven grandchildren, Richard and Matthew Jones, Rick, George, Jack, Andie and Tom Renfrew; and one great-granddaughter.
She was preceded in death by her parents and a stepfather, Guy DeBurn. Her body has been cremated.

 But I am a better person -- and definitely a better quilt restorer -- for having known her. 
     Thank you, friend.
Shirley McElderry
The Shirley I knew had lovely white hair...and a no-nonsense manner

Lessons Learned from the Schorsch auction - January 2016 at Sotheby's

Remember the Schorsch Americana auction, some weeks ago at Sotheby's? 
    I thought you might enjoy another look at what was there, what sold well (and what didn't)...
        and some of the lessons I learned. 

First on the docket:
     If this auction, and succeeding auctions this year at Sotheby's, are any indication:
                 Furniture no longer is the reigning king.
 Especially older furniture...and especially if it's large. Like this lovely piece:


Estimate 30,000 - 50,000 USD

Beautiful finish...    It sold for $12,000 -- considerably under pre-sale estimates.

This one was supposed to be one of the big stars of the show. Experts were confidently predicting that it would bring much more than its pre-sale estimates.


Estimate 150,000 - 250,000 USD
 It sold for $150,000 -- barely its lowest estimate.
*Furniture -- what can I say. This uniformly did badly. An "exceptional" Chippendale block-front chest of drawers (Lot #714) sold for $75,000 -- but it was valued at double or triple that amount. Even the Chippendale highboy so fussed about (Lot #697 -- experts said it was worth a million dollars...or much, much more) barely hit the high end of the pre-auction estimate: $970,000. Any time the words 'important,' 'exceptional' or 'rare' were used, the sale amount did a little better -- but not always. Very early era furniture (think Pilgrim time period), especially those in excellent condition, or unusually-decorated pieces held their own, or even did quite well.
     One exception to this: Lot #851, a 'very rare' Pilgrim era (c.1685) turned spindle 'Great' chair -- way under its estimate. It was from Israel Sack...did that affect the price? Lot #853, also from Sack's firm, also sold for much less than its low estimate. Restoration work? (The seats were replaced.) Condition? Or maybe the chairs were uncomfortable to sit in...I'm pretty sure, though, that the Schorshes lost a good bit of their original investments in these pieces.

One odd question: why did Israel Sack, nor his sons, NOT collect the same Americana antiques they were known for authenticating -- and selling? (They said it was because they didn't want to compete with their clients...but I still don't understand.)

* * * * * * * * * * *

Bedcoverings, quilts and other bed-related textiles were not a big deal -- and their prices reflected that general lack of interest. Which is sad...there were some beautiful pieces up for the gavel. Like this Jacquard-style coverlet:

Only one in the auction -- and it sold for around $2000. About what I figured.  (Lot #794)

Samplers and other smaller textile pieces did much better. (More on this in a bit.)

*There was a lot of Staffordshire ware in the auction. If you're looking to collect Staffordshire, ensure your investment by collecting pieces that are well-made, with strong decorative value, good provenances, and excellent condition. The agateware teapots sold at higher prices. (Look in the Lot #340s range for examples of these.) Some of the lead-glazed pieces did well -- some didn't. Ditto for the salt-glazed figures. (Which I mostly thought were kind of goofy-looking. Ah well.)

 Or just choose a squirrel design. (The Schorsch's piece went for $5000, considerably more than its pre-auction estimate.) As the auctioneer pointed out, "Everybody loves a squirrel."

*I learned more about 'posset jugs.' Fuddling cups, too...though neither type sold that well.

*Delftware sales were so-so. Some pieces did okay, but nothing spectacular. This surprised me a little, considering blue-and-white's popularity in home dec.

*Toby jugs did not do well at all. They're apparently not in fashion right now. (Don't worry -- they're too decorative not to make a return appearance. They'll be back.)

*Stay away from the chandeliers. They did NOT sell well. Case in point: Lot #408, a six-light German piece, late 19th century, valued at $3000-5000. It sold for $250.

*Same for mirrors. If they were extremely old, they 'sort of' sold. Otherwise, forget it. Lot #471, a Charles II beadwork mirror, was the rare exception -- it went for $25,000, considerably more than its $3000-5000 estimate.

*Or cooking utensils or fireplace equipment, in general. This trend, by the way, was evident in succeeding auctions at Sotheby's, too. Pre-sale estimates were way overblown.

*If you're going to invest in brass and pewter, particularly candlesticks and cooking utensils, study up first. Many did 'okay,' but a few were especially bad. The exceptions: 18th century English pewter tankards -- but even they weren't selling for huge bucks.

*You might be better off going to silver, instead. These pieces generally held their value, based on the pre-auction estimates. The silver tankards, which I followed more closely (probably because of this), kept to the higher end of the pre-auction price spectrum...provided they had some provenance, both on the maker and the owner.
    Silver serving pieces held their own, as did (surprisingly, at least to me) silverware.

*Whaling-related and whalebone items, including ship's models, ships in a bottle, etc. were not that big a draw. (Scrimshaw and shellwork were the big exception -- some of these sold quite well, the group of walking-sticks -- Lot #960 -- that went for more than $10,5000, including premium -- far more than their original estimate of $1200-1500.)
       I'd thought they would, in the New England area. But then again, we just saw In the Heart of the Sea.
     The ship paintings did much better, especially if they were Chinese-painted.

*Husband-and-wife colonial portrait pairs generally did not do that well. They were selling for thousands of dollars...but nowhere near their pre-auction estimates. (Was this the appraiser's slipup?) A few exceptions depended on the painter or subject matter, like Ralph Earl's paintings of a couple (Lot #691.) They were valued at $25,000-50,000 -- but sold for $274,000. Well-deserved, too.
     The Schorsches obviously were fond of this subject matter....they owned a number of pairs.
     I'm fond of it, too. Maybe now's the time to invest?

George Washington tiebacks. These did way better than buttons or shoe buckles.

*Miniature portraits, with a few exceptions, did quite well.

*Oriental rugs held their own -- or in some cases, did very well. At least these could be in use while you're collecting them.

*Metal garden sculptures did well. (These people had EVERYTHING. Really.)

*Most anything connected to George Washington did GREAT.  Even the copperprinted cotton display piece and handkerchiefs (Lots #1002-1004) sold for higher prices than I've seen them go for. (Granted, these were in excellent condition.) There were exceptions, like #1018's group of (paper) objects connected to Washington's death -- these didn't sell well at all.

*Paper drawings and prints (think frakturs, lettered hymns, etc., as well as prints, like the Boston Massacre) did 'okay.' But not that great, unless they were really unusual.

A nice 'sheepish' sampler...

*Needlework pictures easily held their own -- or more. There were a few exceptions, mostly in the embroidered family pictures, but basically embroideries, stumpwork, beading and such held their value -- or much more. Want to invest in this? Look for excellent condition and workmanship -- and if possible, somebody famous as the subject matter. Like George Washington. Who also had an effect on the sales of...

*Mourning pictures. Some of these sold very well (especially if they were mourning Washington) -- most had mediocre results. (And this was the collection of a family known for establishing a 'mourning museum' in an old cemetery.) In general, though, there seemed to be less interest in this area than in past years. Maybe sobbing isn't in vogue?!?
    But mourning-related jewelry is -- it sold quite well. One of the most expensive pieces was, naturally, connected to Washington -- a pin (Lot #1048 - see text below) that held a lock of his hair -- it sold for nearly $50,000, more than quadruple its pre-auction estimate. (I really am starting to feel sorry for the poor man; he must have been pestered to death with requests for letting himself be painted, his hair, etc etc.) Take a look at Lot #1049 -- a Washington mourning ring -- also with hair -- in a spiffy labeled red box. Estimated at $8000-12,000, it went for $30,000. Very cool.

Enclosing six strands of hair stated to be George Washington's, in a chased gold surround, apparently unmarked. Together with envelope and paper packet: "Gen Washington's hair from Bettie G Webb / Given to her by Mr. Hamilton, to whom it was left by his mother, to whom it was sent by Lady Washington."
Length 1 5/8 in.

I fell in love with a little Delft blue-and-white washbasin, Lot #713, valued at $300-500. (It sold for $125.) I had fun calling up The Mama: "Why didn't you buy that piece for me?!"

A Gentleman's court wig and stand (Lot #776)  (sold for $1250).

Reindeer hides went for big bucks -- but they were also extremely rare Russian-tanned hides salvaged from an old shipwreck. (I hope to tell you more about this in the future. UPDATE: I did! Go here for a more complete report.)

Shoe buckles...really?!?  They did 'okay'...or worse. (Lots #798 and #799 are representative.)

A trick skeleton in a coffin, carved from whalebone (the skeleton, at least) #958 -- 600-800 pre-estimate, sold for $5000, including buyer's premium! (Another skeleton-in-coffin piece, Lot #1015, did equally well.)

and one of the goofiest sale of all -- the "silver-mounted" sewing ball.

I've hardly mentioned the Staffordshire pieces, considering how many were in the auction. (And I'm not even including the pearlware and other ceramics.) Don't take my word for it -- go see for yourself! The final inventory and sales, including descriptions and condition reports is still up on the Internet -- who knows how long it will stay there.

Go here -- quick -- to see the full sales results. It will take a while to scroll down through everything -- but it will be worth it.  (You can also see several posts with examples in the January part ofis blog -- including needlework caskets, samplers and more. Scroll down to find them.)

The final total:  $10,262,129. My guess would be that includes buyer's premiums, which were healthy.   Sotheby's staff were bragging that the sale would bring in at least $10 million.

     On the other hand, they couldn't have known that a blizzard was going to hit New York City this week, either. At least one expert said to my group that the "blizzard effect" was nonexistent -- anyone in the world could bid, if they had a phone or access to a computer. And he was right, in that respect. But I read elsewhere that the snow and cold had a definite impact on preview events. And if you're going to spend this kind of money on antiques... well, you're going to make sure they're worth it. In detail. I do think that the blizzard was a contributing factor, even though both Sotheby and its competitor, Christie's, have been taking financial hits, especially in the past year. 

Interesting. Very interesting.

A very early print of the Boston Massacre, hand-tinted, I'd guess -- went for $1000

Lessons Learned From the Schorsch Auction - The Practical Stuff (Part II)

I've done a lot of thinking about the Schorsch Auction at Sotheby's. After hours spent studying these pieces, analyzing details and comparing results, I came to the following conclusions -- 

especially about collecting antiques.

American School 18th century
Inscribed and dated: Eva Margaratha Sigelin/Sep 1761, further dated Pinxit Ano 1763.
oil on canvas
36 in. by 24 1/2 in.
CIRCA 1763

pre-auction estimate:  $15,000-30,000.... she sold for $55,000 to an absentee bidder.
Note  the unusual embroidered crewel dress!

Size doesn't count. Not for assigning value, that is. Smaller pieces could sell for just as much -- or more.

Provenance does.

Condition may well be affected by age. (Many of the oldest, most fragile pieces had repairs and restoration. Of course...or they wouldn't have survived so long.)

Look for the the child's cap and ancient shoes below. (They all did well.)

Buy the best you can afford.

Look for the Really Old Stuff.

Buy what you love. But...

Don't expect your kids to value what you did. The Schorsches had their rooms photographed, with certain items proudly pointed out. Obviously, they valued those pieces more than others.
     And what was put up for auction? Those same 'important' pieces. Obviously, they weren't as meaningful to the kids and grandkids.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mourning At the Schorsch Auction at Sotheby's

Thought you'd enjoy some of the mourning-related items from the recent Schorsch estate auction at Sotheby's. 
     This couple really enjoyed this genre -- in fact, they had a 'mourning museum' in a cemetery for some years! Their taste was interesting AND eclectic. Sometimes buyers agreed with them -- sometimes they didn't. 

Poor Old Lord Nelson did terrible; apparently he's not missed much, anymore. His tribute (Lot #815) barely cleared $500, including buyer's premium. (And the auctioneer really had to work to get that.)

This piece did better.

At Lot #747, it sold for $38,000.


Estimate 8,000 - 12,000 USD
Signed S. Folwell / Philada Pinxt.
16 in. by 20 1/4 in.
But prices could vary all over. Though nearly all the George Washington-related items did well, this piece, Lot #744, only sold for  $3500. Poor baby.


Estimate 4,000 - 6,000 USD
A tomb inset with printed reserves inscribed, THY LOSS EVER SHALL WE MOURN and SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF THE ILLUSTRIOUS WASHINGTON, stamped American eagle grasping an olive vine in its talons, the whole within an eglomisé border inscribed: AMERICA AT THE TOMB OF WASHINGTON.
21 1/2 in. by 25 1/4 in.

Makes you want to weep, doesn't it...

Embroidered Pictures at the Schorsch Auction - Sotheby's

Why am I continuing to bring up the Schorsch auction at Sotheby's? 

Because it was one of your very few chances in recent years to take a long and detailed look at decorative antiques. Mostly American (also called "Americana"), but some other pieces thrown in. Even the American pieces, like these embroidered pictures, show some European influence -- particularly that of Britain. 
    In general considering their size and condition, these sold well. Mostly.

This one, Lot #765, went for $1250.

Lot #767, shown below, sold for  $750.  Both pictures' pre-estimates valued considerably more than that. Didn't matter -- all the items at this auction sold for what they'd bring. No reserve.

This piece, Lot #769, a mourning picture to the memory of George Washington, went for $10,000.


Other mourning pieces about George did well -- but ironically, some prints, paintings and such connected with him while alive didn't always sell that well.

Moral of the story: Buy George - but make sure he's dead to get the best price.

This one did okay -- but it was stitched after his death.  Lot #827, it sold for $16,000.


Estimate 10,000 - 20,000 USD

Even a handful of George Washington curtain tiebacks before it went for $4,000.

The Schorsches had several children -- perhaps that's why they appreciated these family pictures so much.

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: How 'Bout Dem Broncos

We're finally letting out a big sigh of relief this morning.

Coloradoans and Broncos fans everywhere collectively held their breath until the last minute of the Superbowl. (Final score: Denver 24, Carolina 10.) True to form this season, the Broncs went out and did their job. Over and over and over again. Particularly the defense. 
     Cam Newton showed his admiration by a sulky interview that made him look like a spoiled brat. (One pundit excused him by saying he could hear Harris expounding on the Broncos' victory -- and after all, who would want to listen to that behind you, while you were talking out front. Uh huh. Sure.)
     I am amazed at all the media types who are now announcing how wonderful the Broncos are, how they knew it all the time, etc etc. Months went by this season, without our boys being able to get a fair shake...let alone any respect.
    Well, now they've got plenty.

Back in Internet-land:

Helping someone who's had a miscarriage. Spoken by someone who just went through this heartrending experience. (From Red and Honey) And building on this...

Struggling with grief -- and infertility. Another struggling post by someone who knows what it feels like. (From I Pick Up Pennies)

What blue-eyed people have in common. Yes, I am one.

A fire-scrumble. Intriguing... from Scrumble-Art. (Yes, there's more at this blog.)

The lives and lies of a con man. Who's currently in the slammer, but trying to bluff his way out...again. (Apparently he's very, very good at it.)

Was the man sucked out of a plane in Somalia really a suicide bomber whose scheme backfired?   Investigators are saying so.

The woman who got her dog back after TEN YEARS. The ex had told her it was dead. (From Life with Dogs)

A very interesting discussion of John Giduck's claimed military service and experience. Is he what he says he is...or is this a case of Stolen Valor? You decide.

A Botswanan prince and a young British clerk...and the marriage which endured, in spite of all odds. (Their story is coming out as a movie soon.)

Sneaky ways to save pennies. Keep reading this forum, and those pennies will add up to dollars.
    (This was the second thread on the subject -- here's the first thread, if you're enjoying it. What's even more important: learning from it.)

Updates on ten viral stories. The male kangaroo cradling his dying mate? He may well have been the one to kill her. Also included -- more on the guy who found the ambergris, mentioned in this post. Only it wasn't... (from Listverse)

Repatriating human remains -- museums aren't doing this as quickly as they would have us believe. In keeping with that, did you know that people used to throw:

Mummy unwrapping parties -- the lowdown.

A secret motor found inside the frame of a bicycle -- and its rider was competing in the World Championships in Belgium. It's all a horrible mistake, the 19-year-old says. The bike was a friend's, given her by mistake. Her bike looks just like the doctored one. (Uh huh. Look at the comments about that in this post.)

Update a thrift shop painting by adding something to it -- an intriguing diy from Country Living. (Just make sure it's not worth a bazillion dollars first.) Speaking of:

A whole blog dedicated to weird thriftshop finds. Page after page, year after year. I only wish she was still contributing to it. And if you enjoyed that...

A BUNCH of thrift shop makeovers that are really clever. Like a teacup bird feeder. (From DIY Inspired)

Eleven ways to make money -- without doing anything.

The ISIS bombmaker who's happy to rig up 'suicide vests' for others, but would never put one on himself.
    “I never thought of killing myself, I am not convinced to kill myself,” he said. “Actually I would leave or escape if they gave me this order. I wouldn’t explode myself. That is another level of faith."

And, in honor of the Superbowl:

25 examples of Peyton Manning's super-competitive nature. Not that we didn't know this already...

Have a great week. We are, here in Colorado. GO BRONCOS!

They Did It!

The Denver Broncos -- 

        Super Bowl Champions.  

All right, guys!  You got it...because you worked for it.