Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Garth's Will be the Death of Me

I love Garth's Auction. I fangirl it. If they had posters I would put them up all over my workshop and gaze longingly at them during my frequent breaks to warm my hands over my sputtering kerosene heater. And I'll have you know I've been a hardcore fan of Garth's for years now, being a dork, embarrassing myself with enthusiasm for their incredible Americana sales. Somewhere I have a selfie I took posing with one of their catalogs like seven years ago. I tried to scroll back through my twitter pictures to find it, but uhhhhh, there's a lot of selfies on my twitter page apparently, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
            Their latest catalog for their March 18th Country Americana Sale went live on Saturday afternoon and I immediately dove in, oohing and aahing over all the exceptional treasures they've managed to pull together. Because, here's the thing that sets Garth's apart. Garth's gets it. They get what antiques need to be to remain relevant in a modern home. They get that daring colors and bold forms are where it's at. If anyone can attract and enchant a young buying audience, it's Garth's. Their stuff is So. Damn. COOL.
            So here I am, on a sunny but chilly Monday morning, waiting for my workshop to warm up, chomping at the bit to get out there and get working, because the inspiration tanks are at 'Full' once more, thanks to Garth's. (edit- yes I know it's Wednesday evening now. I started writing this Monday, but these word-heavy posts, well they take a couple sessions.)
You can view the entire catalog here - And HERE are my favorites from the sale!
Lot 1
A mid 19th century pine cupboard.
This sale storms out of the gates! This is literally the very first lot, and look at it! Magnificent! It's such a great size, tall and narrow, perfect to add a bit of height and storage to any room. AND THAT COLOR. Killing me! And the superb curve to the apron. It's just incredible. How can something be this beautiful?! 

Lot 3
A New York stoneware crock, second half of the 19th century, by N. Clark Jr. of Athen's NY.
Now I don't usually go in for cobalt embellished stoneware, but this crock is particularly arresting.  The parrot is beyond charming, and so graphic. I love the coloring, that deep blue against that soft hazy gray- I think I might need to mix two new colors to capture it on a piece of furniture. Finally, there's just something so modern about this utilitarian piece, that's withstood the trials of time and use, and is still so joyously engaging. 

Lot 6
A mid 19th century walnut scrub top farm table.
Absolute perfection. That's what this humble unassuming farm table is. It's so flawed and therefore so flawless. There's a funny splay to the legs, and it dips down into the center. It's beautiful. It reminds me of an old walnut stairway handrail at some illustrious ancient public building, where people have run their hands up and down it a million gazillion times, until that piece of wood is polished and smooth as silk, a slick as ice, as hard and deep and rich as ebony. No short term effort could ever replicate that effect. 
It's a thing that time has made so much more beautiful than it ever was new.
Just picture this table in a country kitchen, with big baskets brimming over with flowers strewn across it, fresh from the flea market. This table is essential for the country idyll about which we all daydream.

Lot 8
An early 20th century sheet metal weathervane in old red paint.
Look at this cheeky bastard!! What a charmer!! Dare I say- Such cockiness!! He deserves to be center stage. He demands all your attention. He should be the centerpiece on a long farm table, or preening over the living room mantel. I love him.
I think I have a crush on him. He doesn't care though, he'll never return my texts,
 he's clearly too cool for that. 

Lot 38
A mid 19th century oil on artist board painting of a street scene.
This little painting is a jewel. That's a term my old boss would use when he'd come across something small that packed a big BIG punch. Look at all the character our artist has crammed into this little vignette. It draws you in, it invites you to speculate, to assign it a story. Signed simply "C.W.", it is a mystery and will likely remain a mystery,
but oh it is a fabulous mystery, and a triumph of folk art.
I'd love to see this placed alone over a sofa or a pair of chairs on a wall far too big for it, forcing you to look at it, and it alone, beckoning you to walk right up to it to inspect and admire.

Lot 40
A flame birch Massachusetts Chippendale chest of drawers, late 18th century.
This little Chippendale chest of drawers is all feet and attitude, like it's about to stomp into a room and tell a bawdy joke.
The feet are endearingly clumsy, and the drawer fronts are beautifully figured. This isn't a fancy schmancy brings $200,000 at Christie's type of Chippendale chest, and that's why I love it. This chest of drawers has Character, and gusto, and somehow a sense of humor. It's my top pick of the sale, I would chop my arm off for it, though last I checked, Garth's STILL isn't accepting severed limbs as form of payment. 

Lot 43
Three peaseware containers, Ohio 2nd half of the 19th century
So I know you think I'm a bottomless font of antiques knowledge (HAHAHAHA), but there are limits. For example, I had no idea what peaseware is, in fact, I didn't even know it existed until I read through this Garth's catalog. So when I saw this darling set of graduated turned wooden urns that all but glow with patinated luster, I headed straight to google. And OF COURSE, the helpful article that came up first was written by my dear friend Amelia Jeffers, of Garth's Auction.
She tells it far better than I can sum, and it's nice a brief- so read the article here 
I love that these have a Connecticut connection. They'd be sooooo yummy lined up on a dining room sideboard, or on an open shelf in a country kitchen!!

Lot 46
Late 18th century Chippendale blanket chest
SURFACE. That's what we're here for. And don't get me wrong, those big bracket feet are sweet as hell, but UGH, this surface is so great. The softest, sweetest old dry red paint you'll ever see. It's like the ember glow of a dying fire.
Clearly perfect for the foot of a bed, or under the eaves, or in a hallway, or anywhere. 
You could put this beauty anywhere, just don't put it in a corner.
nobody puts baby in a corner. 
*you can kick me out now, that's absolutely the worst joke I've ever made*

Lot 77
A deliciously petite mahogany veneer over pine secretary- New England 1835-1860
I know I already said I have a top pick for the sale, but this is also my top pick for the sale. Both.
I'll take one of each, please garçon.
I love EVERYTHING about this secretary, so let's start at the top and work our way down. That oversized molding across the top is spectacular, the crotch mahogany figuring of the top doors, again, spectacular. The three wee little drawers just above the interior desk portion- spectacular. THE GLASS KNOBS, the figuring of the drawer fronts- spectacular.
 and finally, oh my dear sweet Nellie, THOSE FEET.
I love classical furniture. It's my favorite. And I think that's a very well informed favorite because you have no idea how much furniture I look at every single hour of every single day. Mountains of furniture, enough furniture to fill the Marianas Trench four times over.
This is simply the sweetest, most precocious piece of furniture I've ever laid eyes upon. It's a doll, it practically has ringlets. This is the Shirley Temple of desks. I want to tap dance with it. 

Lot 140
Whimsical ink on paper sketch of a cat mid 19th century, inscribed "Billy"
Truth be told- I'm not much of a cat person. I was entirely a cat person until I got two border collies, and then I realized cat's really aren't much fun, or maybe it's that nothing is as fun as two border collies. They are very very fun.
That doesn't mean I hate cats, I just could take or leave them.
That being said, I am wholly a fan of people who love their pets so much that they feel a compulsive need to draw them.
I absolutely get that, and it's wonderful. And I'm happy for Billy (I'm going to assume that's the cat's name), that he was so loved. Billy was probably a good boy, though doesn't he look cross and sassy in this drawing. OR maybe Billy was a complete jerk, cross and sassy, and his owner was all like, "You know what Billy, I'm through with your shit, I'm going to capture your insolent sulking visage precisely so that in a hundred and seventy years people will be like- Billy was possibly not a good cat!"
Either way. Isn't this just a superb little drawing. Would make such a great gift.

Lot 146
Two American Mallard decoys, dated 1900 and 1901 and signed "FWT Peoria"
Funny story about duck decoys. Before I painted furniture full time for a living, I worked for one of the best antiques firms in the country. Bizarrely, it's ten minutes from our house, in a gorgeous antique meeting house in a quiet little town. The business handled the great stuff, really really top shelf, take your breath away, examples of early American antiques. We regularly sold pieces that were worth as much as my house- usually incredible pieces of 18th century furniture, but the highest price item we handled while I worked there was *drum roll* a duck decoy.
My boss purchased it at auction during antiques week in January in New York on behalf of a client.
If memory serves, that damn decoy was $740,000.
Just. WHAT.
That blew my mind then. It still blows my mind. I just had to take an extra big sip of wine to calm my blown mind.
These ducks are worth a bit less than that one, apparently- but don't ask me how or why, because I like these two way WAAAAAAY better. I've never cared about decoys before at all, but goodness these fellas are handsome as all get out.
They're estimated to bring $500-$800 together, so that's not out of the realm of possibility for me.
They'd look so dandy "paddling" across a long narrow shelf. 

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