The Market

Discover Quirky Art For Inspiration and Delight

Sometimes art jumps out and finds us unexpectedly. I never go to an estate sale or thrift shop intending to  buy art.

Discover Quirky Art

Mass produced and generic pieces comprise most of what we see. Then every so often, we stumble upon something worthwhile. David and I have managed to find a few quirky pieces which are literally hanging around our house. I’m sure some of the art will make it into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery once  wall space clears. See what you think.

Cashmere by Antoinette Letterman

Years ago, my son, Michael, and I came face-to-face with this giant, languid, Himalayan white cat on the wall at our vet’s office. Michael quoted the line Rose purrs to Jack in the movie Titanic: “Draw me like your French girls, Jack.”

We didn’t buy our vet’s picture. Instead, we found another Cashmere in a local shop and eyed her for over 2 years. Originally priced at $1,100, the dealer offered a phenomenal discount the day we bought her. Perhaps because we also bought a couple of pieces of furniture, or perhaps because a 5′ painting of a cat requires commitment, wall space, and a certain sensibility.

Art that inspires

To give you a sense of size, this framed canvas rests on a triple dresser. I added the bowl for perspective, then decided to insert 15-pound Boston, my big boy.

Cashmere’s history is layered. I first found this comment on a thread:

The typical “Letterman” painting is not a painting at all. Most of them were manufactured (using a silkscreen-like process) in the Far East (China or perhaps the Philipines) during the 1970s and sold at JC Penney for a retail price of $150 to $400 dollars.

The original artist was typically a “company man” or woman and therefore not acknowledged. They were contract or salary employees whose work-product became property of the company they worked for.

Their work was copied much like a computer graphics image is used (copied) to create T-shirts using multi-colored passes and a silk-screen pattern.

The “signature” is typically blocked style letters with the lower (horizontal) portion of the L extended under the ‘etter’ part of the word Letterman.

If you’re a collector of “That 70’s Show” paintings.. these might have some nostaligic value. 🙂 but otherwise, they are simply quality (cleanable) oil PRINTS that are hard to find at a reasonable price today.

The canvas is usually medium to good quality and the frames are lower quality (soft) wood and almost always painted and sometimes trimmed with plastic/metallics as well.

For those who may be skeptical.. simply compare two similiar paintings and the evidence will be apparent. Right down to the “simulated” brush-strokes possible with silk-screen technology.

One could stand in the isle of Penney’s and choose paintings of the same image from a choice of different sizes and even different color schemes.

Further research led me to artist Antoinette LettermanShe claims — and I believe her — she met Cashmere in Pennsylvania and painted her for her owners. The artist later moved to Texas and painted a second Cashmere.

Allegedly, Letterman’s image of Cashmere was stolen and reproduced for the mass market. Supporters urge folks to give Antoinette proper attribution. She liquidated her art stock around 2007, so I’m uncertain if she still conducts business.

I have no idea whether we have an original Letterman or a print. Since there are only 2 originals, I’d say that’s a long shot. But either way, we love Cashmere.

Stalking Lioness

I liked this realistic beauty as soon as I saw her but the estate sale had her priced at $300. By day 3 the price dropped by 50%  — still too high. Weeks later, I came across the lioness in another shop at an affordable price. I can’t make out the signature, but doesn’t that frame add to the lioness’ majesty?

Stalking Lioness

Cubist Lute and Bowl of Fruit by Salvador Mestre

David and Michael carried this colorful cubist style art home. The artist, Salvador Mestre, used copper wires to contain the enamel or epoxy paint, creating cloisonné. Alas, my cursory research to date reveals nothing on this 20th century artist.

Salvadore Mestre

Hot Air Balloon

This arrived with the Salvador Mestre piece, but there’s no name. It appears very similar in style with its copper wire and enamel. I can’t verify that it’s by Mestre. I like the warmth of the metal background and the patchwork pattern of the balloon.

Hot Air Balloon

Boats – Oil Painting by K. Gastarini

An Impressionistic oil painting of boats signed by K. Gastarini offers a yellowing sky and turquoise sail, all reflected in the water. We found this in a bedroom furnished with French Provincial furniture at an estate sale. I think the yellow band on the frame is a bit much, but I enjoy the painting. More research needed on the artist.
Boats oil paintingA closer look:
Boats oil painting detailThis concludes the viewing of a portion of our quirky art collection. Now, we collected these pieces over the last 2 or 3 years with the intention of putting them into our booth. It takes time to acquire, and time for space to become available on our booth’s walls.

But remember, when you’re not looking for art, it will find you.

Ann Marie and David

How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth
Last year I wrote a couple of posts about the White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, often  referred to as White Fine Furniture. Thanks to the attention these posts garnered, I still receive emails and comments from readers asking about the worth of White Fine Furniture pieces that they own, or wish to buy or sell.


While I’m not a licensed appraiser, I strive to provide general information to people who contact me. Knowledge of one’s local market remains key. We live in Jacksonville, FL, and our nearest metropolitan areas are Atlanta to the north, and Miami to the south. Dealers from those locations often stop by Avonlea Antique and Design Gallery and try to negotiate our prices downward.

We brought a high-end chair into our booth, for instance, that we priced for a higher-income household in Jacksonville. The chair just needed the right person to come into Avonlea and fall in love with it. Sadly, things didn’t quite work out the way I planned.

Instead, a non-local dealer made a much lower offer. She explained that she was unwilling to pay the asking price since there was no way she would make money on the resale. While we passed on her initial offer, eventually we settled on a more reasonable amount.

You may face a similar scenario. Consider these options:

  • decline the offer and hope the right client comes in someday, or
  • try to negotiate and complete the sale

Sure, we made a slim profit, but the exercise proved dispiriting. Our chair could — and will — command a higher price in a different market. But our business needs actual sales.

Keep this in mind: that perfect customer with deep pockets and a burning desire for your merchandise may not come along any time soon. What do you do then?

My Advice

Whether buying or selling furniture, a negotiation dance is usually expected. I send an email to readers who ask me about a valuation on specific pieces. Here are excerpts from my typical letter:

First of all, White Fine Furniture is built to last for generations. It’s sturdy and beautiful. You know that it is superior to any furniture made today. The problem is, not many other people understand this about furniture. They tend to buy as inexpensively as possible and replace in a few years.

I haven’t seen photos of your set, but that’s OK because I’m not an appraiser. I can, however, offer my opinion.

Your location is a factor. I live in Jacksonville, FL, between Atlanta and Miami. We have dealers and buyers from those areas come to visit us because we sell cheaper than those metro areas. If you are in a big city, you have more options.

Unusual styles (like Mid-Century Modern) command better prices than traditional styles. I saw a gorgeous White bedroom set at an estate sale that was priced slightly over $2,000. I had to walk away because I didn’t have the money and I knew I wouldn’t make much profit on it.

If you’re in a larger market, check with local antique malls. The procedure used by the antiques gallery where I have a booth is to accept electronic info and photos from community members wishing to sell, and direct this info to a dealer(s) who handles that type of merchandise. From there, it becomes a private negotiation between the dealer and the seller. The dealer wants to acquire the items for the lowest possible price and the seller wants the highest price. We all know that and hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Consignment stores are a possibility but they take a sizable chunk out of the selling price. My understanding is that consignment stores usually reduce the price on your/their pieces each month. Furniture not sold during an agreed period may be picked up by you or donated by them. If you need to get rid of your furniture immediately, however, this is a serious option.

You could place photos and descriptions of your items on Craigslist.

My number one piece of advice — I should have started with this — is to contact a dealer in your area and get info about your market. This refers back to my discussion of Jacksonville vs. Atlanta and Miami.

White Fine Furniture Legacy Lives On

Sometimes people with actual ties to White Furniture Company, aka White Fine Furniture,   contact me. I get very excited when this happens.

How nice to find folks still enjoying some of the finest furniture ever produced. I worked at White’s for three summers while I was still in high school. Many of the folks pictured I knew and admired their skill (even at 16 years old I knew a craftsman when I saw one) these men and women took pride in their job. I picked up wood scraps and delivered them to the boiler to be burned for heat and other energy needs.) At times I would stand and watch for 15 minutes at the skill it takes to cut out the scalloped huge table tops, it was amazing to watch these guys handle these huge pieces with ease. The exact measurements used, the quality of wood, the skill to finish the pieces, the packaging for shipment was second to none. White’s also knew the skill it took to put out furniture of this quality and paid their employees a better than average hourly wage. My uncle worked there nearly 50 years, he and many others were able to raise families and put kids through college because of these fair wages. The book [Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory] does give a good look of the factory near the end, but the over 100 years before is the real story of American pride. I so miss the folks I worked with there, but my memory of each one always make me smile.  — Dennis

Recently, I received this comment:

Just a little something to add to this wonderful post. I am a White and my father was the last White president of the factory before it was sold. I grew up with a house full of White furniture and I took it for granted as children do. I was recently telling a friend that I honestly didn’t know until I was an adult that furniture could break! For 46 years I have been used to drawers that always perfectly, smoothly open and solid pieces that never have any problems. I am very thankful to be a part of this legacy. Thank you, Ann Marie, for this wonderful tribute to my family’s heritage.     — Becca

My White Fine Furniture Posts

If you are interested in reading my Number 1 post of all time, head over to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC – Part 1

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory
Andrew inspecting bedpost, photo by Bill Bamberger

Continue on to White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC, Part 2,
How Much is my White Fine Furniture Worth?

check out Clothes Press by White Furniture Company, Mebane, NC,How Much is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

and finish up with Can You Name My White Fine Furniture Collection?

Our Newest White Fine Funiture Acquisition

I began writing this post yesterday and — BOOM — this morning we purchased dining table, 6 chairs, and 2 leaves manufactured by White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC. It needs work, and that’s David’s kingdom — but I love the Mid-Century Modern look of the chairs.
White Fine Furniture
White Fine Furniture logo

Good luck on your next negotiation.

Ann Marie and David

Lenox Jewels Nativity Collection: Create Tradition

We’re excited to share something special that’s went into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery yesterday, this gorgeous Lenox Jewels Nativity Collection. Actually, we’re offering 12 pieces plus crèche. The full Jewels collection consists 32 pieces that Lenox produced between 1993 and 2007.

I found a full-page Bloomingdale’s ad in New York Magazine, dated November 27, 1995. It features only 9 pieces of the ivory-colored china pieces, and we have all of those shown plus more.
Lenox Jewels Nativity
In case you can’t make out the ad’s text, it reads:

Some moments can become part of our lives forever. Loving traditions handed down from generation to generation. Like the Lenox China Jewels Nativity Collection.™ A grouping of ivory fine china figurines to lovingly collect or give piece by piece. Each is beautifully detailed in gold and accented with hand enameling.

We bought this Lenox Jewels Nativity at an estate sale home belonging to a woman who loved to decorate for every holiday. Rooms overflowed with items for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Independence Day, and Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the set we have:

Lenox Jewels Nativity

The Lenox Jewels Nativity Collection is unique because of its enamel jeweling and 24 Karat gold accents, painstakingly applied by hand.

These next photos come from because they show the wonderful artistry in detail:

Lenox Jewels Nativity
Baby Jesus – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Mary – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Joseph – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Angel, Hands Open – retired 1999
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Shepherd Kneeling – retired 1996
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Drummer Boy – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Angel Kneeling – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
King Balthazar – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
King Gaspar – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
King Melchior – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Donkey – retired 2007
Lenox Jewels Nativity
Camel, Kneeling – 1999


























Each figure in our collection is carefully wrapped, and comes with a styrofoam box that sits in a cardboard box. It’s quite compact:

Lenox Jewels Nativity Boxed

One final shot of the Nativity displayed in our booth, although today it’s moving to the front of the store so that guests will see it as soon as they come in the door.
Lenox Jewels Nativity

Thanks for stopping by, we’ve got to fly —

Ann Marie and David


White Musical Church Is Only the Beginning

We’re running as fast as we can to present Christmas decor. This white Musical Church is only the beginning. Instead of hunting down presents, this year we’re trying our best to stock our space with Christmas cheer. Have a look at some unusual holiday decorations in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

White Musical Church

Musical Church

I found this church — it’s big, approximately 16 inches — stashed in the garage at an estate sale. In addition to the usual odds and ends, the company running the sale shoved various damaged and inexpensive items into the garage to free up space inside. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes you can find a diamond in the rough. This little church needed plenty of TLC, but his music box plays Silent Night in the most beautiful tone.

Musical Church

We used Annie Sloan’s Pure White Chalk Paint to brighten him up, and sprinkled a bag of white ice glitter over his roof, windowsills, steps, and base. David sprayed artificial snow on a couple of new Christmas trees. Gold glitter went on the cross and bell tower.

Musical Church

He’s quite sturdy. I like to think the original builder poured love into his creation. We changed out the red lightbulb to a soft white to shine through the red-glittered windows.

White Ceramic Christmas Tree

I prefer the white ceramic Christmas trees to the green and stay on the lookout for them all year long. David and Michael brought this one home just the other day. I need to purchase a few bulbs to complete the set, but then this beauty is ready to go into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

White Ceramic Christmas Tree
White Ceramic Christmas Tree

 Miniature Christmas House

We still have this realistic house-in-a-box that is back in the booth. Whoever made it paid enormous attention to detail. I’m sure this year it will find a loving home.

Miniature Christmas Scene

Aerial View of Boxed Christmas Scene

Avonlea’s Train Display

This next display isn’t in our booth. David helped create this charming winter scene, complete with train set and trolley, at the front of the Avonlea Antiques. He spent days immersed in this project, and it’s gorgeous. Shoppers find themselves admiring the intricacies of the village built on three-levels as the train cheerily puffs along.

Don’t forget ‘Flip the Switch’ is happening this afternoon at 4pm! The official opening of this year’s Avonleadale, model train and Department 56 village, will be taking place.All Charity donations this year will be going to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
For those of you inquiring, the mountain backdrop was painted by Georgina Kerr, one of Avonlea’s owners.

Posted by Avonlea Antique Mall on Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanks for stopping by,

Ann Marie and David

Blue Bridgewater Sofa and Hurricane Matthew

Blue Bridgewater Sofa and Hurricane Mattheww

We survived Hurricane Matthew and appreciate all the inquiries about our safety. Matthew’s wind and rain swept in immediately after a Nor’easter had saturated the region. Our home  stayed watertight thanks to David and our son Michael’s preparations. Candles, flashlights, canned goods, peanut butter, jelly, bottled water, and juices got us through the first couple days.

Hurricane Matthew

The rest of the city quickly normalized but our neighborhood, with numerous downed oaks, pine trees, and electrical lines, languished 5 days without electricity. Computer connection took longer.

Let me go back to when life was saner, before Hurricane Matthew, and tell you about the Blue Bridgewater Sofa.

Craigslist Find

Michael discovered it on Craigslist and set up a viewing. He and David liked what they saw and bought it.

Blue Bridgewater Sofa

Of course, there was a problem. There’s always a problem. The owner hadn’t liked the sofa’s skirt. He handled that by taking a scissors and snipping the skirt off the sofa’s front and sides. He left the back skirt since no one would see it. I didn’t snap any Before photos.

Use The Warehouse Units!

Our goal for the last few months has been to restore our home to a living space. Toward that end, no furniture intended for sale comes into the house. That’s why we rent 2 warehouse units, and the plan’s been working.

But this sofa didn’t need much work. We’d have to pull out six million staples from the double welting, remove the remnants of the skirt, and staple down the same welting. Surely that job could be done in the house without much fuss or delay.

I forgot about Hofstadter’s Law, attributed to cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979).

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

I don’t remember why the Blue Bridgewater Sofa sat in our living room overlong — that’s lost in  pre-hurricane history — but David finally took the initiative. I recommend having a strong magnet handy when pulling out those six million staples. Off came the welting, threads, and material scraps from the snipping.

Blue Bridgewater Sofa Upholstery Tools

We removed the back skirt — it’s a lovely fabric —

Blue Bridgewater Sofa skirt

and re-stapled the double welting:

Blue Bridgewater Sofa

Hurricane Coming

We knew the hurricane would hit on a Friday. That gave us Wednesday and Thursday to stock up at grocery and hardware stores. David, bizarrely, insisted the sofa be placed in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery that Wednesday morning. We needed the living room freed up, he explained. He loaded up the sofa and headed to Avonlea. There, he saw the workers frantically preparing for the hurricane — which we needed to be doing.

Preparing for Matthew

David and I headed to the grocery store and searched for a parking space, and then for a shopping cart. Customers mobbed Publix but we tried to share a jovial spirit. I’m grateful to the dedicated employees who revved at a much higher intensity than normal.

Our street, a cul-de-sac, slopes down to the creek. A severe storm sends water rushing downhill from higher ground. Although we’re one house away from the creek, our neighbor’s house fronts on it. We anticipated water coming from various directions:

  • rushing downhill toward the creek
  • pouring down from the heavens
  • rising from the creek.

All of that occurred, but the creek water didn’t reach any homes. High Tide occurred earlier in the day or things could have been dicier.

Thursday Michael joined our preparations. He used a mattock to dig a trench to catch the water flowing downhill and force it toward the storm drain. Similarly, he and David attached a gutter with downspout to shift the rainwater away from the low side of the house. Our side door has a propensity to leak during severe storms.

They caulked around the door frame and bottom of the door, just to be sure. Not wanting to take any risks, David ran a bead of caulking along the bottom edge of the garage door as well. It all worked brilliantly. No water in our furniture-laden garage, which serves as our “on deck” for wooden pieces awaiting immediate attention.

Blue Bridgewater Sofa

Meanwhile, the blue sofa sat in our booth, looking sensational.

Blue Bridgewater Sofa

I researched sofa styles and discovered she is Bridgewater design:

Casual and comfortable define a bridgewater sofa design.  The arms are slightly rolled to the side and are lower than the sofa back.

While the bridgewater design fits in most room designs, it’s seldom going to be the stand-out feature of the room.

If you want traditional and reasonably comfortable in a sofa, consider the bridgewater style. It’s still a staple sofa style today… but it’s not nearly as popular as it once was.

Avonlea Antiques closed for 2 days and reopened to sunshine. Our Blue Bridgewater Sofa sold a week-and-a-half after David placed her in the booth.

Stay tuned for our next sofa project!

Ann Marie and David

We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest.


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Wooden Column Gets Weather Worn Look

This weathered wooden column underwent a rather strange transformation. I first came across it at an estate sale — and didn’t buy it. Several weeks later I eyed it at a charity sale and grabbed it.

As soon as we loaded it into our SUV I set my plan into motion. The neglected piece needed cleaning, repairs and new paint to match my vision, but I’m pleased with how it turned out. The column is sturdier and better suited to the out-of-doors and still maintains its weather worn look. Here’s a Before shot:Wooden Ionic Column

Her original weathered look was not cosmetic. By the looks of it, a previous owner probably kept her on a screened-in porch and used it her a plant stand. Keeping the column within reach of the rain may have benefited the plants, but it certainly didn’t help the column’s appearance. Her weather worn look was real.

To make matters worse, the woodworker who made this baby decided to leave messy grout lines that cracked after time and exposure took their toll. David cleaned all that up and made repairs. Good job, David! Another Before Paint shot:
Wooden Ionic column

I wanted to paint her with my preferred brand, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Since new owners may put her back on a porch, I wouldn’t use Clear Wax.

But David had other ideas. He pushed for water-based latex paint because he wanted only one coat on her. ASCP would probably need 3 coats. A trip to Ace Hardware for paint led to acquiring samples of Valspar. We settled on a white primer and “State of Mind,” a brownish gray color to help age her up.
Valspar State of Mind

I slapped on the white primer as rainclouds began to churn overhead. “It’s going to rain,” David called out. I decided if I didn’t acknowledge him, the storm would pass us by.
Wooden ionic column

I didn’t completely cover her with paint because I wanted her to look weathered — similar to how we found her. Ironic, isn’t it? Our intervention simply made her sturdier and cleaner.  Anyway, I finished before a drop fell and lugged her into the kitchen.
Wooden Ionic column

A chip brush helped with my dry-brush technique. I just dipped the ends of the brush into the paint and off loaded the excess on some cardboard. Then I randomly created a weathered look — just like she started with. Alas, no photos of this step.

A plant could easily sit on this girl, but we already had a plaster pineapple in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. The kicker is that this pineapple sat upon the column at the original estate sale. We bought the pineapple and left the column. I reintroduced them, and don’t they make a lovely couple?
Pineapple on Wooden Column

I priced them individually so the new owner can have a choice: pineapple or plant. Either way, this column is ready for more action.
Plaster Pineapple on Wooden Column

 Visit our Facebook page to see our latest projects and finds: Iris Abbey Furniture
Ann Marie and David

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Embracing Change

Clothes Press by White Furniture Company, Mebane, NC

Since we got into the furniture business, we’re always learning something new. Take one of our recent acquisitions. We thought we bought an armoire but our furniture expert corrected that misperception.

It’s a clothes press, he said. Armoires contain a bar to hang clothing, but a clothes press has drawers into which you place your freshly ironed clothes or linens.
Clothes Press White Furniture Co.

A gorgeous piece, it boasts the White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC mark. We searched for an identical piece on the web but didn’t find a match. If you want to read more about my crush on White Furniture, try White Furniture Co. of Mebane, NC – Part 1 and Part 2.
White furniture label

This is a heavy beast — solid, functional, beautiful. Thankfully it includes casters.
White Furniture Company Clothes Press
Clothes Press White Furniture Co.
I love the raised, faceted, carved medallions on the front doors, but I can’t claim to have had much involvement with this project. David rode point.
White Furniture Company Clothes Press

He explains about cleaning those medallions here:

We initially thought the brass hardware was profoundly tarnished. Each of the knobs, door and drawer pulls sported a white covering. We tried to polish the brass with lemon juice and salt, but the tenacious white substance remained.

It occurred to David that perhaps the brass hardware had been treated at the factory with a lacquer spray for brass. He used laquer thinner to soak pieces in a small bowl for a few minutes. Next, he rubbed the brass with a rough-weave cloth and a brass wire bristle brush to scrub away the deteriorated lacquer finish.

Eureka! The white milky substance turned out to be lacquer that had allowed moisture to penetrate and cause a chemical breakdown. The result was the layer of opaque white over most of the surfaces. David eliminated the crud and brought back the warmth of the brass hardware.

The cloudy top coat pictured below is indicative of all hardware:
White Furniture Company Clothes Press

He worked hard cleaning the hardware:
White Furniture Company Clothes Press

It’s obvious that David, with all his devotion to this piece, loves her and wants to keep her. For the moment, though, she stands in Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery. 
Clothes Press

Ann Marie and David

Wondering about the resale value of White Fine Furniture? Read How Much Is My White Fine Furniture Worth?

Can You Name My White Fine Furniture Collection?

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5 Reasons Why People Like Smalls

Antique dealers and vintage vendors use the word smalls to describe items that can charm customers. They may evoke emotions of pleasure or nostalgia or excitement. Here are 5 characteristics of smalls:

  1. Not too large. They tend to be portable.
  2. Not too pricey. Think of a small as an impulse buy. It’s something you didn’t plan to purchase but decide it’s too good to pass up. Let me make an important distinction here: an original Fabergé egg, for instance, although small in size, is not a small because of its exorbitant price. The price of smalls depends on where you shop. Our smalls generally range from $10 to $150.
  3. Lots of character. Not every small appeals to all people. You decide if it fits your personality and home. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  4. User friendlySmalls are fun. They can be quirky, stunning, colorful, dull, useful, impractical, hard or soft. Or any combination.
  5. Collectible. Some people collect specific smalls — jewelry, World War II medals, bottles, baskets, dishes, or action figures, to name a few. The beauty of smalls is that they can add to a collection or stand alone as a unique item.

Right now we are awash in smalls thanks to a few successful weeks at estate sales. We’re trying to be better about taking photos as items arrive at our home — our son Michael is responsible for all these — and then again in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.

This leather-covered carry case, for starters, looks intriguing. With its leather-covered handle and initials, W.J.F, what could it be?
Vintage portable cocktail case
A party in a box! Michael thoughtfully inserted the almost-empty-bottle of tequila for the photo shoot. The Mid-Century Modern fabric is wildly mod — and there’s an unopened box of cards.
Portable Cocktail Case

Handmade sweetgrass baskets, coiled in the Low Country near Charleston, SC, incorporate  techniques brought by West African slaves in the 17th century. Genuine sweetgrass baskets are prized for their intricate artwork. Would this find be valuable? Nope. Imported Asian knockoffs are sold even in Charleston’s tourist shops. The expert I checked with claims the hanging loop is a dead giveaway that it isn’t original. Yet the pattern and weave are interesting and would warm any home’s decor.
Sweetgrass Basket Repro

Here’s another piece that shouts Mid-Century Modern, made by Viking Glass Company (1944 – 1987). On a practical level, it’s a candle holder. On an aesthetic level, it’s orange flower power.
MCM Viking Glass Candleholder

These seahorse glass containers are useful, pleasing to the eye and probably contemporary. They’re perfect for a coastal home.
Seahorse Glass Containers

This is a double bell: the large outer one . . .
Brass Bell with Bell Clapper
. . . and the smaller one inside that serves as a clapper. Who doesn’t love bells?
Brass Bell with Bell Clapper Inside View

Here’s metal wall art in the shape of a lifesaver, with nautical flags aflutter. Since we live in Florida, I’m hoping this will be a popular item.
Nautical Flag Metal Wreath

Speaking of nautical flags, they served as an international code system for ships signaling each other or for ship-to-shore signals. Each flag has a special meaning, for instance:

  • A: Alpha – diver down; keep clear
  • B: Bravo – carrying dangerous cargo
  • C: Charlie – yes
  • D: Delta – keep clear
  • E: Echo – altering course to starboard

This sign, with its 3-D flags, offers historical content in a fun way:
Flag Language Sign

A 1984 handmade bowl from Hawaii came with documentation, which is pretty rare. Its shape reminds me of a tropical flower.
Makai Art Village Bowl 1984

I fell in love with this rectangular Chinese teapot and — Bonus! — we discovered an authentication paper after we returned home. We had to work to get that folded paper out of the tiny lid opening. The teapot was purchased in Kyoto, Japan, in 1986. The document claims it is over 100 years old. We’ll have to verify authenticity with our Asian expert.
Chinese antique teapot with koi

An acrylic bottle holder: it could be mid-century or new. It will look fine among the MCM items in our booth.
Acrylic bottle holder

Józefina Glass Works in Poland, started in 1980, makes handmade glass. Obviously the company didn’t exist in during the Mid-Century Modern era, but this large vase certainly looks like it could be part of that time period. To my eye, it also looks like swirls of chocolate and caramel syrup.
Józefina glass vase Poland

This poster was printed for a Picasso exhibit at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, 1982-83. We’ll have to reframe it, but that’s doable at our house. It’s not an antique, but it is rare and out-of-print.
Picasso Poster Mexico exhibit

Thanks for visiting. We’d love to hear about your favorite smalls — and where you discovered them. You can also find us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie & David

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Rearranging Our Booth

Two things prompted the immediate action of rearranging our booth: the sale of a large china cabinet and Spring! Even though the temperature has dropped the last couple of days, I know it’s coming.

Because of the scarcity of storage space at our house, we originally instituted a no-sofa policy. Over time we relaxed the rule. Come to think of it, the weak leak seems to be our son. First he acquired a rattan Rumpus Room, then later a fabulous Heywood-Wakefield living room set.

After struggling valiantly to take back our house from an ever-growing furniture collection, and largely succeeding, the tide began to turn. A few Craigslist scores and couple estate sale finds had the rooms filling up once again. When Michael came to us with a photo of the sofa he found, we put our foot down. No more sofas!

We went to the sale anyway. This is what we brought home: a surprisingly handsome Mid-Century Modern yellow sofa. I set aside my personal feelings once we saw it in person. My mother introduced a MCM sofa very much like this one, only a deep turquoise. She switched  out a massive, beloved sofa that robbed my childhood of an improvised trampoline/bounce house.

This sofa’s in great shape considering its age. The strong lines catch the eye and the light airy color are ideal for pushing us into Spring:
MCM sofa

All the large pieces are now in place in our booth. After playing around with arrangements, we introduced the yellow sofa into the Heywood-Wakefield furniture living room vignette. This new configuration necessitated shifting every piece.
MCM living room

Check out the 3 pillows on the yellow sofa. That’s artwork by British artist Natalie Rymer. I carried them back from England last autumn. Her colors are so perfect for Florida. Here’s another view of the cosy scene:
Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture

We added our hand painted French Bombé next to the yellow sofa, even though it isn’t MCM. While both pieces are different styles, they work surprisingly well together.
Hand painted French Bombe

A pre-Columbian figure and a MCM cornucopia of fruit sit on the Heywood-Wakefield side table:
Heywood-Wakefield side table

On the other side of the room we’re attempting to create a dining experience with the White Furniture Co. of Mebane table and 6 chairs but it looks a bit jammed up right now. Since it’s been here a while, it might be time to rotate out. Close by is the Empire Revival library table that David refinished and I painted. It will make a beautiful homework table, television stand, or desk in a study.
White Furniture Co. dining room table
antique mall vendor space
We still have lots of smaller pieces to bring in. A couple that did make it are this elegant bowl made in Norway . . .
Norwegian Bowl
and a cylindrical pottery vase that’s more decorative than utilitarian — but I like its organic quality.
Cylindrical pottery vase
So, that’s where we are with rearranging our booth for now. Thanks for stopping by. If you enjoyed what you read, please share us with your friends.

Update: I posted this on a Friday and by Sunday one happy customer had purchased all the Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture and another, the yellow sofa. We’re all thrilled.

Ann Marie and David

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Hand Painted French Provincial Bombé

Here’s our newest hand painted French Provincial bombé:
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

I don’t find much French Provincial furniture at estate sales, but this little guy grabbed my attention. We’ve handled so much Mid-Century Modern furniture lately — which we don’t usually paint — that I welcomed this piece.

Hand-painted bombe nightstand
Boston and Starbuck Appraising the Bombé

He doesn’t have a stellar pedigree but he’s so cute! His original look was faux leather with gold filigree.

Bombe handle
Bombe’s Handle

Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue — I had some, so it went down as the base coat.

French Provincial Bombe
First Coat of Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and Old White

Once that dried I mixed different tones of Duck Egg and Old White and set to work. I wanted to create an Old World patina using light and shadow. This process is always a judgment call, in that I work on a section until I’m satisfied with the mix of tones. I wait for that section to dry and adjust as needed.

Hand-painted French Provincial bombé

I finished up by dry brushing touches of Old White and French Linen and then Clear Waxed. He still needed something, so I lightly distressed to add interest and texture.

Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand-painted French Provincial Bombe
Hand painted French Provincial Bombe

Here’s something I learned: there’s a bombe (pronounced BOM) dessert and a bombé (with the accent, it’s pronounced bom-BEY) piece of furniture. That means you may place the bombe (BOM) on the bombé (bom-BEY), like this:

Bombe on Bombe
Sources: Bombe on Bombé

Or the bombé (bom-BEY) on the bombe (BOM), like this:

Bombé on Bombe
Sources: Bombé on Bombe




For another example of my layering technique, check out this Empire Revival library table.

Thanks for stopping by. We’re also on Facebook and Pinterest.

Ann Marie and David

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