Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Ought To Clean Up Pretty Well

I've spent most of the last few weeks enjoying visits from family, another wedding, and lots of nice summer weather, but I've still managed to get out some... And any time you can get out and rummage through New England, the nation's attic, there are always interesting things to find.

For example, a real-photo post card of the start of a motorcycle race, but not just any motorcycle race, this was the start of the 1946 National Championship Road Race, the first National Championship held after a hiatus during WWII, in Gilford, NH. Gilford doesn't ring a bell? Think Laconia... Gilford is just up the road, and after 88 years Laconia, in June, still means only one thing-- motorcycles.


 Or how about what looks like a giant-sized piece of Tramp Art? It's about 30 inches in diameter and 40 inches tall... As near as we can tell, and it's just an educated guess, this is a Bee Skep built from strips of wooden lath. Not familiar with the term "skep"? Think "a man-made hollow tree". The bees have easy entry and exit, ample ventilation, and protection from rain. Inside the structure there are rods to support a foundation frame and the bees take it from there. Not built with any notion other than utility, if we approach it as sculpture it's folk art in its purest form.

And something we can relate more easily to while on the subject of art, a watercolor painting of a twelve-man jazz band, unsigned, which I find really surprising because it's so well executed. Imagine my surprise to stumble on this here in rural New England. It belongs in New Orleans.

And something else I shouldn't expect to find in New England save that they came from the estate of a long-deceased antiques dealer, two brass plates, 19th century, from the Near East. I'm no authority, but the engraving on these plates is so much more delicate and intricate than any we see nowadays that I'm certain the note attached to them was correct. I only wish it had gone into more detail about where they might have been made. (Don't forget that you can click on any of these images to enlarge them.)

Another pair of orphans or runaways are these candle holders from Sweden. Fully marked, they were designed by Ivar Alenius Bjork in the 1930s and manufactured by Ystad Metall.

More brass, this time an ash tray. Yes, an ash tray. Clearly marked Park-It-Safe, your cigarette was held in the space between the fingers. One set of fingers was even spaced more widely to accommodate your cigar! This same design was later manufactured from aluminum, turning it into a very Fifties product, but this one apparently was the first generation. About three inches in diameter, I had no idea what it was when I picked it up... maybe a coaster, or a very small crown?

More metal, this time cast iron... A Wagner Ware No. 1508 Loaf or Baking Pan. This is a scarce piece of cast iron cookware and I'll have to have it cleaned up, but it should attract some attention both at shows (Brimfield is coming) and on eBay.

Finally getting around to what may turn out to be the best find (and also the title piece of this post)... Even though badly water stained, this ought to clean up pretty well. At least I hope so, because it appears to be an original lithograph on linen, in an Imperial Folio size, from “Le Jardin Potages,” published by Vilmorin, the illustrious Paris seed company, annually, one each year, by  from 1850 to 1884. This one is No.28 (1877). These posters were later gathered and published as Album Vilmorin, now very rare, so rare that I cannot be certain whether or not it was published in a smaller format (of which I have seen examples for sale) or both large and small formats, late in the 19th century, and then in a facsimile edition late in the 20th century, in itself scarce and very collectible. 

Although it too could be called an orphan or runaway, I guess what this tells us is that New England really is the nation's attic and that we should never be surprised by what turns up here.

And one last thing from the last few weeks, almost a postscript...

This is a tin boiling pot, complete with its original cover. Used to quickly heat water on the kitchen wood stove, then carried outside to the wash pot, it's a fine example of a country antique still in excellent condition. It's also an example of the bread and butter of this business up until ten or so years ago. And it's the only "country antique" that I found and came home with-- an illustration of where this business has been, and where it's going.