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US Motor Unit Slush-Cast Toy

US Motor Unit Slush-Cast Toy

A cast from the past.

Toys aren't made in a cultural vacuum. They reflect the historic context in which they're created.

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02.17.17

Fooling the Experts – Again

Fooling the Experts – Again

Frans Hals: Banquet of the Officers of the St George Civic Guard Company (1627)

With Frans like These, Who Needs Enemies?

In an earlier blog post, “Honest Mistakes and Audacious Lies,” I quoted a New York Times article about incredible fakes in the world of “period furniture.”  Once again, the professionals in the highest echelons of the art world have found themselves in a pickle.

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02.13.17

Back When Flying was Glamorous

Back When Flying was Glamorous

Image from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

DC-3 Stewardess Cart

The Douglas DC-3 airliner is very dear to my heart. I have loved the design and romance of this plane from my childhood, so you can imagine my excitement when a dear friend called and asked me if I would like to accompany her on the final flight of United Airlines’ retiring DC-3 fleet. The year was 1968. The flight was round-trip between San Francisco and Santa Barbara.  

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02.06.17

Mary Anne, the steam shovel

Mary Anne, the steam shovel

Digging up Childhood Memories

As I've so often said, I'm addicted to industrial equipment romanticized as children’s toys. This glorious steam shovel is yet another example.

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01.30.17

Iznik Pottery

Iznik Pottery

Turkish Delight

On January 3rd the mail brought a fresh batch of consumer lifestyle catalogues to my door.  I am fascinated by trending color palettes and the romantic names that sellers give to their merchandise.

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01.23.17

Dutch Treat

Dutch Treat

Holland’s Hidden Hooch

We were out picking when we saw an entire series of miniature Blue Delft pottery houses, each approximately four inches tall.  From our travels in Holland we knew these houses had to have something to do with Dutch canal architecture. 

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12.19.16

American La France Toy Fire Truck

American La France Toy Fire Truck

An American Toy Icon

Once again we have acquired an iconic American toy in a very unusual fashion.  

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11.23.16

L’Art Nouveau

L’Art Nouveau

Siegfried Bing’s Influence on Bronze Sculpture 

We usually begin our European buying trips in Amsterdam. What a marvelous walking city, full of art, culture, good food, amazing museums, lovely people and surprises.  

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11.14.16

Australian Icon

Australian Icon

An Aboriginal Original

As pickers, we drive a large, gray Sprinter van up and down the Atlantic states. When we pull in to our shop in Brandon, Vermont, everyone in the village – as well as people driving along Route 7 – can see the truck and know we're back with another load.

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11.08.16

Stellar Customer Service

Stellar Customer Service

Above and Beyond

You can never gauge a company's integrity until something goes wrong.  How the business handles a problem tells you everything you need to know about it.

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10.24.16

The Overground Railroad

The Overground Railroad

Iconic Pullman Stepstool

In honor of the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, this blog post is about the little known influence of railroad Pullman porters on hastening the demise of the Jim Crow laws in the South.

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10.17.16

Folk Art of K.G. Worrell, c. 1992

Folk Art of K.G. Worrell, c. 1992

Finding Folk Art

Last fall we visited a town on the Rappahannock River in eastern Virginia; a friend had arranged for us to meet a gentleman there who was said to collect good stuff.

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10.10.16

Kitschy Kitty

Kitschy Kitty

As seen on TV!

Sometimes an object can be so unabashedly, so unselfconsciously, and so deliciously tacky, that its tackiness becomes its most endearing feature. That is the soul of kitsch.

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10.03.16

Burst of Color

Burst of Color

Mauve emerges from the muck

Prior to 1856 all the colors used in everything were derived from plants, minerals or animals.  Back then, your local Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore paint stores would have been terribly uninspiring.

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09.26.16

Garland Red Flyer Toy Fragment

Garland Red Flyer Toy Fragment

Moving in place

This toy fragment is a beautiful example of streamlining -- a design element of the late art deco movement whose curving forms celebrate motion and speed.

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09.19.16

“Hands of an Artist, Heart of a Child”

“Hands of an Artist, Heart of a Child”

An Artist’s Abode

Brandon, the little town in Vermont we call home, is known for its community of artists and has been called “The Art and Soul of Vermont.”

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09.12.16

Meiji Period Bronze Elephant

Meiji Period Bronze Elephant

Pivoting Pachyderm

On August the 23rd, 2011 at 1:51 p.m., I was standing in the lobby of our design studio when our 25-pound, bronze Meiji-period elephant sculpture began rocking forward and back as if it had come alive.  And indeed it had: at that exact moment a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck outside Washington, DC and rocked our elephant in Virginia Beach.

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09.05.16

Small Spaces

Small Spaces

Distinction Magazine, February 16, 2014

We were very fortunate, after nearly ten years of struggle, to develop and build the first mixed-use building for our interior design studio and antiques shop in Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District.

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08.29.16

Santa Fe Place Apartments

Santa Fe Place Apartments

Apartment Finance Today, March 2007

Even though this article was published in March 2007 we are posting it today because the color palette and the site-specific design principles are as fresh now as they were then.

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08.22.16

Auction Antics

Auction Antics

When you’re at an auction, it’s wise to be on your best behavior – and to bring your checkbook.

We attend a good many auctions and the first thing you learn is you must pay at the end of the auction for the total amount of your winning bids plus the house percentage.  House percentages vary, so be cautious.

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08.15.16

Organ Transplant

Organ Transplant

Music to your eyes.

Last spring our plumber’s wife called to ask if we had any interest in hundreds of old organ pipes she had rescued from a landfill in Orwell, VT.

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08.08.16

Primitive Folk Art Rag Dolls

Primitive Folk Art Rag Dolls

Honest Mistakes and Audacious Lies

As I stated in my blog post of July 11, 2016, we are not antique dealers. Yes, we acquire antiques and objects from Europe, Canada and the Americas, but unlike many antique dealers we rarely offer any claims of an object’s pedigree.

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08.01.16

Prairie Wind Power

Prairie Wind Power

Salesman’s Sample c. 1950 (?)

Anyone who grew up in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Texas, or New Mexico was never far from a windmill.  Without them there could not have been much settlement of the arid high plains.

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07.25.16

Red Folk Art Caboose

Red Folk Art Caboose

This is another example of a World War II era toy.

It was made entirely by hand with very little metal; the body of the caboose is constructed from a cheese box. It is not a fragment but complete, with wood wheels and metal guardrails on both platforms. (I wrote about these in my earlier “Buddy L Fire Truck Fragment” entry.)

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07.18.16

The Proof is in the Provenance

The Proof is in the Provenance

As you read our blog posts please keep in mind that we are neophyte, junkyard boys, if you will, and not antique or fine art appraisers.

We purchase with our eye. If an object has presence, value and appropriate scale we purchase it, even if we don’t necessarily know what it is. In fact, it’s not uncommon for customers to fill us in about pieces we have on the floor: what something was used for or what it’s called. The learning never ends.

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07.11.16

Getting a Round

Getting a Round

Sphere Enigma

Once again I’m beginning a blog that starts in one place and moves much like Mark Twain’s miner in Nevada who never finished a story because one thing reminded him of another so he kept starting a new story in the middle of the last story.  So here we go:

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07.04.16

Silver Plate Urns, Pan American Expo Buffalo, NY 1904

Silver Plate Urns, Pan American Expo Buffalo, NY 1904

Disclosure:  I am addicted to urns.  Sterling, silver plate, iron, whatever!

We have them from 3” to 48”, antique and vintage.  (New iron urns are virtually all from China and not on my picking list.  Does that mean we don’t have any urns from China?  No, probably not; it can be very difficult to determine country of origin, not to mention the age, of a rusted/painted iron urn.)

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06.27.16

Distinction Article: “It Takes Vision to Create a ViBe” Summer 2016

Distinction Article: “It Takes Vision to Create a ViBe” Summer 2016

Mural by Troy Summerell, OnieTonie

An article about the birth of the new ViBe Creative District where we have our interior design practice, Details, and antiques shop, Found Objects

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, the summer issue of Distinction magazine was released.  Distinction is a magazine of “culture, dining & style” that’s sold in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Virginia area.  The issue contained a wonderful, enthusiastic article about Virginia Beach’s ViBe Creative District, a new and excitingly artsy area blossoming out of a formerly blighted neighborhood.

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06.20.16

San Francisco Ficus, c 1900

San Francisco Ficus, c 1900

A beautiful San Francisco ficus planted between 1890 and 1910.

Around 2006 we received a visit to our studio from a gentleman from Ohio asking if we would give our assessment of a home he was purchasing in an Oceanfront neighborhood in Virginia Beach called Croatan. 

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06.13.16

Intro to Distinction Video on Vibe The Creative District

Intro to Distinction Video on Vibe The Creative District

Mural by Troy Summerell, OnieTonie

I would like to begin this post by thanking the folks at Distinction magazine for their fine work on the article, “It Takes Vision to Create a ViBe.”

I would especially like to thank Mike Hixenbaugh, Eric Lusher, Hyunsoo Léo Kim and EJ Toudt for all the care they took to present the ViBe Creative District to our neighbors.

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05.30.16

Folk Art Toy Steamroller

Folk Art Toy Steamroller

A recurring theme in our blog posts is our love of folk art and particularly folk art toys. 

This is an especially captivating steamroller we acquired from the private collection of a true Renaissance man, antique collector, photographer and painter: Durwood Zedd.

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05.23.16

Tobacco Baskets

Tobacco Baskets

As long as we’ve been collecting found objects I’ve been captivated by tobacco baskets. 

What, you might ask, are these? They are usually 36-inch square, oak, slatted baskets used for transporting tobacco from the drying sheds to the tobacco market. They were in common use until about 1980; some folks have told me this type of basket is still used in Maryland tobacco markets.

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05.16.16

Wind and Water

Wind and Water

Brent and I were in Atlanta for the Scott Antique Market.  

In those days you could get there on Wednesday morning and watch the outside dealers unpack and set up to get the best stuff*, and did we find some great stuff: a large round Empire table with a zinc top; half the blades of an eight-foot windmill (placed in a commission in Parker, Colorado); a complete four-foot windmill that we had powder coated a deep tomato red and placed in the same Colorado commission.  (Do ya think I have an issue with tilting at windmills? Duh!)  Which brings me inexplicably to the Brazilian water jars.

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05.09.16

Tiny Tailoring

Tiny Tailoring

We found this little gem (about 7-inches tall) on the Northern Neck of Virginia.

I cannot imagine it was mass produced, but who can say?  Every detail is painstakingly executed like a finely tailored garment. I imagine it might have been a student project for a fine arts program. 

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05.01.16

Welder’s Cart

Welder’s Cart

Sometimes the greatest found objects hide in plain sight, and the greatest artwork isn’t the painting…but the frame. 

This cart is a perfect example. It was found at auction by our observant friends George and Christi in Smithfield, VA.  

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04.18.16

Buddy L Wood Toy Fire Truck Fragment, c. 1942 4.5” tall x 13” long

Buddy L Wood Toy Fire Truck Fragment, c. 1942 4.5” tall x 13” long

Buddy L fire truck fragment

Another Disclosure: I am addicted to folk art toys, stamped metal trucks and woodtrucks. Oh yes, and did I mention planes, trains and boats? Addicted to these, too.

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04.11.16

Attention to Details

Attention to Details

We are very pleased to have been featured in Distinction magazine.

An article featuring the design work we did for one of our clients in Virginia Beach

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04.04.16

Antique French Terra Cotta Tiles

Antique French Terra Cotta Tiles

Perfect plinths for your pampered plants and objects.

Our quest to provide antique building materials for a private residence in the States took us to France. Prior to the trip we’d spent weeks researching stone and acquiring dozens of samples. We decided on a reclaimed stone called Pierre de Bourgogne, from a reclamation yard near Aix-en-Provence.

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03.28.16

Pop Pu Yi meets Kitschy Chairman Mao

Pop Pu Yi meets Kitschy Chairman Mao

We were in Los Angles for an Urban Land Institute meeting and found ourselves in Chinatown.

We were fascinated by the pop art portrait of Henry Pu Yi, the last of the Manchu Emperors, by the French artist Fabienne Jouvin.  We purchased the three colorways.

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03.21.16

Julia Child’s Dining Chairs

Julia Child’s Dining Chairs

Julia and Paul Child's Dining Chairs with provenance.

The story of how we acquired Julia and Paul Child’s dining tables and four chairs begins with a 1907 Steinway, Model M piano.

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03.07.16

Welcome to our new website

Welcome to our new website

I am proud to say:  "Welcome." 

Recently, I completed my contribution to our new website; I know the incredible team at Cranium 21 is pleased I finally did it.  This means we can now share what we hope is an inspirational event.

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01.11.16
Found Objects Ltd.