Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garage Sale Report - May 23, 2009

Why would I buy this? Well, I thought it was a no-brainer. At a garage sale, on a major thoroughfare, at the end of the day, lots of people had passed by and decided it wasn't worth it.

There are original antiques. Then, there are period reproductions. And finally, modern recreations. For example, consider the Stickley settle. All the wood is quartersawn oak and it looks as good from the back as it does from the front. As its popularity grew, others started making high quality reproductions with the same perfect tiger stripe oak. Then, somebody decided they could sell it for half the price if they did a version with lesser secondary woods where they were not visible. Then a shrewd, but unimaginative, individual decided they could halve the price again if it was all lesser wood and, instead of traditional joinery, the piece was screwed together. Let's put a pin here and call it 'end era reproduction.'

As the original was terrifically expensive, reducing the price by 75% put it into the hands of lots more people. But, at the same time, if your great grandparents had bought an original Stickley settle, you would still own it. And it would be worth a fortune.

Eventually you end up with this. Funny thing is, it is probably more comfortable than the original Stickley. Well, for six months until the arm breaks off.

So, why would I buy an end era reproduction of a "mission-style" dry sink? It is falling apart and made of plywood. The low end quality and missing pieces would never justify an economical or sensible repair. Could my man Caleb restore this piece of furniture to perfect? Of course! He repairs Nakashima, restored the cabinets in a Lautner house and creates extraordinary furniture of his own design! But, it would be squandering his time and talent. So, again, why would I buy this?

As a source of raw materials. That marble top weighs 50 pounds. The 5 Minton Hollins English Arts and Crafts thistle tiles are perfect. Dusty, but without a chip or scratch. Occasionally I will find one nice tile but I never find five perfect matching tiles. Imagine those over a sink or fireplace.
And an exquisite brass towel rod. Elegant as can be, it would disappear in a kitchen, never calling attention to itself, but you would know how perfect it was every day.

Look beyond what is there.