What a week for the eastern U.S.! Started with a 5.8 earthquake in central Virginia felt, apparently, everywhere and ended with hurricane Irene. The earthquake was a very different experience…everyone I’ve spoken to locally said that while it was happening they had not a clue WHAT was happening! For myself, I barely knew anything unusual was going on…no big booming sound or moving walls or shaking glassware, just an almost imperceptible ‘jelly’ feeling in the floorboards of the house/shop. And Irene was just a much needed rainy day in the Shenandoah Valley. Not that I’m complaining!
The week did end on a sad note. A longtime friend and fellow local antique dealer passed away unexpectedly. Roy Bernard was a quiet, kind man who loved buying & selling antique guns, his daily walks in the woods, fishing in Alaska, and helping anyone who needed help. He will be sorely missed by his friends and his community.
I headed into the weekend looking forward to attending a local auction that actually had a few real ANTIQUES featured, when I suddenly wasn’t able to hear out of my left ear! Heeding my own advice to myself about going to the Dr., I headed on over to Doc’s & learned I had a good old fashioned ear infection…the kind they used to poke tubes into in the ‘old days.’ Armed with a few modern medicines I was sorta ready to enjoy some auction entertainment on Saturday, although I continued to feel like I was living under water & in dire need of one of those turn of the century ‘hearing horns’. So, to set the stage: the local auctioneer had stumbled upon a FIND when poking through a potential customer’s house recently: a painted and decorated miniature blanket box attributed to the Stirewalt group (Google that!) out of New Market, VA…which is just down the road a bit. These decorated boxes are highly coveted by local collectors of folk art and this one was a beauty! Great as found condition, & it had been in the same local family beyond forever, all those things the Road Show folks look for… The crowd had assembled, most of whom had come to ‘see the show’ when the box sold. The potential buyers were lined up along the back wall, from one side of the room to the other, some in deep conversation with each other, some on cell phones (potential client?), others, myself included, were excitedly talking about the box (‘the feet are too big’, ‘the paint too shiny’, ‘it’s absolutely just right’, ‘don’t you remember the last one? years ago’, ‘what do you think it will sell for?’….etc etc). At 10 am on the dot the crowd quieted & the auctioneer told the story of the box, and the family provenance. And then, they were off!!! And three minutes later they were finished & the box had sold for $25,000…to a good home (not mine!) here in the Valley. A good way to start a Saturday, watching a show full of drama & intrigue, with a happy ending after all is said & done. & I didn’t miss a thing, because these new-fangled modern auctioneers use LOUD speakers!! I didn’t walk away completely empty handed from the sale, found a great ‘what’s-it’ that I finally figured out was a cord or clothesline winder…see it on my website! I figure it’s a steal @ $45!!
FINALLY feeling human again! The last few weeks have had me dragging with what was probably the flu followed by pneumonia…should have gone to the Dr, but you know how that goes! Everyday I felt like I was getting better, except the days dragged into weeks. But, all is well now. Just in time for record setting hot weather! The shop is air conditioned, I actually have added inventory over these past few weeks, AND I’m no longer a flu-bug machine!!! Stop by & say hi
Back in May a local TV station contacted me regarding an idea I had proposed when they were filming me for a bit they did on our local Woodstock Museum in January of this year. Rt 11, which is Main Street in just about every little town north & south of here, was once referred to as “Antique Alley” because of the abundance of antique shops along its way. It’s now getting harder & harder to find true antique shops, most having morphed into gift shops with a few antiques & collectibles tossed into the mix. I told the reporter that there were still a few shops scattered along “Antique Alley” & she might want to do a piece on the treasures that are still out there. Well, she took me up on it & it was aired locally on TV3 Winchester and also posted for a short time on their website. One of the videographers has now posted it on YouTube. So, if you missed it the first time, here it is! Enjoy
It’s been a poignant month of May. Our dear old gal dog, Emma, passed on early in the month at the hardy age of 16 1/2…a nice long life for our beautiful chocolate lab / golden retriever accidental mix! All those years ago we traded an 1850’s blanket box for what we thought was a chocolate lab…then the hair began to grow, and GROW! We got our blanket box back & were told to ‘keep the dog, she’s just a mutt.’ I’ll tell you what, she should have been a breed unto her own!! Intelligent, albeit a tad high strung early in her life, loving & loyal, all the things you look for in a pup. She’s sorely missed.
Somehow I let April 1st slip by without mentioning that the shop celebrated its 25th anniversary on that day! Twenty-five years ago I was a young thing with a toddler in tow as I scoured the other local shops & auctions for wonderful things with which to stock the shop. The years have brought me many great ‘antique’ finds & friends. I wouldn’t change a thing! Thanks to all you wonderful folks for sticking with me as I grew from a callow collector into a wiser, but still learning, antique dealer! Here’s to another 25!!!
The first few months of this year have been especially exciting in the museum world (my other ‘job’), beginning with a first ever collaboration between our little hometown Woodstock Museum & the much much larger Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) in Winchester. Our museum loaned MSV artifacts for an exhibit on Woodstock photographer Hugh Morrison, Jr, which will be on display through July 3rd, 2011. In exchange, today MSV delivered to the Woodstock Museum a wonderful 1890’s hand carved wooden carousel horse, said to have been made just southwest of town by James Sheetz. This merry-go-round stallion wears an eye-poppin’ paint job from the 1980’s that makes you want to jump on & RIDE! So, wouldn’t you know, what does my Pennsylvania picker bring me? An 1880’s rocking horse!! It’s the continuing saga of life’s little coincidences I’m learning to expect & enjoy. Take a peek at the websites for the two museums: www.shenandoahmuseum.org & www.woodstockmuseumva.org. Then take a look at my rocking horse: www.springhollowantiques.com
Postscript: April 7th continued to be a day of horse tradin’…the rocking horse sold soon after I posted this blog. Yee-haw!
A miniature circa 1940-50’s log cabin has recently been added to my shop inventory & is featured on my website. It occurred to me that log cabins and homes have been a sporadic theme in my time here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We came to the Valley in the late 1970’s, buying a few acres on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The original 2 story log house anchored the remaining acreage of the subdivided farm. Some close friends then decided to build a hand-hewn log home on the river, they live there still. Soon after they finished building their home I joined the board of the Woodstock Museum, which had just completed restoring an early log house. In the course of the years of living in Woodstock I have seen at least 3 log structures demolished in the downtown area. The latest demolition sparked tremendous controversy & the quick revamping of demolition permit procedures. But, I can still look out my front door, north & south, and see two log homes still standing – testament to the men and women who settled along the Valley Pike, now known as Rt. 11, or Main Street in most of the towns strung along its way. Spring has sprung in the Valley of Virginia. Come visit & see the log homes, large & very, very small!
This was a major pottery weekend! From one place & another I’ve amassed 10 pieces of mostly signed local stoneware. There is one redware double handled vase that I actually sold back in 2006…it’s attributed to Jacob Medinger of Montgomery Township (now County), PA. Medinger was the last of the true PA German potters of the 19th century. His vases are very distinctive with their urn shape, ribbed strap handles & coggle decoration on the shoulder. The local stoneware includes pieces signed by Solomon Bell (including a 2nd maker’s mark), W.H.Lehew, J.M.Hickerson, & S.H.Sonner, all of Strasburg, VA. There is also a wonderful ovoid high collar crock with cobalt blue tulips ringing the shoulder. This piece was likely from Maryland or Pennsylvania, although it is reminiscent of Keister, Strasburg, VA. A photo of the entire collection is on my website’s home page, and a few pieces have been posted on the “Smalls” page. Take a peek at the plethora of pottery!
Another Saturday, another auction! Spent the early morning at a small local sale, but someone else wanted the banded yellow ware butter crock with its lid more than I did, unfortunately. There’s absolutely something to be said for going into a nice shop & knowing up front the price, and on top ‘o that, being able to leisurely ponder whether or not to buy that wonderful thing…unless, of course, someone else is ready to pounce when you step away! The only thing I took away from the auction today was homemade red velvet cake…mmmm