Also up at the sale is this Creil transfer ware tray and 4 matching pot de cremes. I purchased them, along with many other pieces of Creil, my favorite china, at the estate sale of one Mary Meeker Cramer, a Chicago meat packing heiress, whose architect husband Ambrose had been an associate of the great David Adler. The Cramers had just the sort of taste one would expect of associates of David Adler. Stylish. I’d love to see that sale come by again—but enough about the past.
The family antiques business has been going for 45 years, and I have been running it for 25 years now, a temporary gig until I figure out what I want to be when I grow up. We’ve been in business long enough that we are beginning to see things we sold years ago coming back into the marketplace.
I discovered an old friend back on the market this evening as I was surfing the auction news over at the always entertaining Homer’s Odd, Isn’t He. I realized with a frisson that the Weschler’s auction that he was reviewing was the estate of a beloved long time customer of our shop, a founder of the Washington Antiques Show who died last year at 103. She was a marvelous woman who had been a client of the fashionable decorator Mrs. Joseph Weller, who did many of Georgetown’s best houses in the middle of the last century (and was the mother of another well-known decorator, Nancy Pierrepont). The client had a marvelous eye, and the innate knack for placement that was so characteristic of certain ladies of that era. I recognized a few things that I’d sold her, including this wonderful Regency chair with its swoon inducing painting of Turban clad figures sitting in a landscape, I’d chased the chair for awhile. It had been love from the moment I saw that delicious little painting on the back. The eight or nine of you who regularly visit this blog may even remember that I have a slight chair problem. This one had belonged to friends who inherited it from their grandmother, who had owned a grand estate outside Albany (the chair can be seen in a photograph of the music room of that house in an article in Magazine Antiques, December 1967, should anyone care).
I remember the sale well. I had brought the chair into the shop, absolutely delighted with it, and it was immediately spotted by my most tiresome customer, a surgeon’s wife who summered in a nearby town whose collective denizens are considered by most of us in the pretty things business to be collectively the most annoying customers in the area. Funny how different communities can take on different personalities. At any rate, she put the chair on hold, as was her wont. She then called too many times to beg a better price (for the record, the 1987 price was $325.00). I turned a cold heart to her pleas, and she finally agreed to take it, but would not be in for several days to pay for it and pick it up (of course), blah blah blah, etc. Then as was his wont, her husband–like his wife, a pain in the ass (in those gawd awful red trousers with a red gin nose to match)—told her she could absolutely not have the chair. This was a typical transaction for this customer—hold, whine, renege. Consider the foregoing to be the Dilettante’s Dish on How NOT to be a Favored Customer. Then, as this drama was winding to its inevitable tiresome conclusion, the favored customer came in, took one look at the chair, said she must have it, could I please put it in the car right now, and her man would bring the check by this afternoon. And off it went, and the check was delivered by the faithful servant within the hour. And now, here it is, 22 years later, back on the market. Think, the dear lady was 81 when she bought it, still taking joy in the pursuit of beauty. I’m tempted to call Weschler’s and leave a bid…..I’m sentimental that way.
The chair is not the only old item that I recognize going up at auction this week—-a pair of swagged tables from the 30’s, pictured in this post a few days ago, which I sold to another delightful customer a few years ago, are going up at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries this week.