Swat the Fly: Flies Are Dangerous

A local auction house just had one of their semi-annual Country Store auctions. As you would expect from the name, this auction is loaded with vintage and antique merchandise from long defunct small town retailers. NOS (New Old Stock, unsold and unused), displays, advertising, salesmen’s samples and tools. This auction had lots of tools and hardware store items.

This first item is interchangeable jaw pliers. I view things like this as the kind of tools you would find at Brookstone back in the 1980’s when it was the place lawyers and doctors went to buy tools. You can only use one set of jaws at a time and they never worked as well as a dedicated tool. It has its place in the world, I guess.

The overview.

The overview of Koeth’s Interchangeable Tool.

The jaws.

The jaws.

And the instructions.

And the instructions.

Here you have one of the most specialized oils you are likely to come across.

Cream Separator Oil.

Cream Separator Oil.

For this McCormick-Deering Cream Separator. Or one like it.

For this McCormick-Deering Cream Separator. Or one like it.

Need to stuff your sausage?

You can use this. (Chris, behave.)

You can use this. (Chris, behave.)

Need to shear things?

Radialy

Radially?

Or linearly.

Or linearly?

This stretches something…

I'm not sure what but but I bet it hurts.

I’m not sure what but I bet it hurts.

This is a manual seed drill (planter):

For the aerobic farmer.

For the aerobic farmer.

What makes this one more interesting is that is has an adjustment for three different seed spacings. By moving the gear, the you can set what rotation of the wheel drops the next seed thus varying the spacing.

Three settings for different crops.

Three settings for different crops.

This is a variation on the collapsing ruler. Instead of unfolding, it pulls out:

The linear collapsing rule.

The linear collapsing rule.

And finally the inspiration for this post:

The captions says it all. Who wouldn't want one?

The title says it all. Who wouldn’t want one? And only 10¢!

To see all 91 photos, click HERE.

 

I’m Running From My Youth. And You Should Too.

One of my earliest traumatic memories is being mortified by my mother searching for a scratched butterfly chair at the functional equivalent of a Kmart. She enjoyed seeking damaged goods and then indignantly demanding a discount at the register. This tactic worked far too often. This only reinforced the behavior.

The Butterfly chair. The one back then was yellow.

The Butterfly chair. The one back then was yellow with black piping.

This was the first piece of mid-century modern furniture I remember actively disliking. First of many, I might add. And now it’s back. Vintage and reproduction. I just can’t get away from the stuff.

Ironically I was at a local auction preview (mid-century modern) when I read Chris Schwarz’s Lost Art Press blog quoting  George Nakashima on modern furniture. I don’t think he liked it.

Who can forget the stressless chair, this style attributed to Charles & Ray Eames:

This chair is still being made.

This chair is still being made.

Animal prints were big:

Stylish design and attractive fabric.

Stylish design and attractive fabric. Stereo is from the ’80’s.

This is a complete living room set with the kidney-shaped, glass coffee table, animal print floating couch and multi-headed floor lamp:

We never owned a kidney-shaped coffee table.

We never owned a kidney-shaped coffee table.

I was impressed by the back of this furniture. Look at the size of those Masonite® back panels. Each one is a single board. Can you imagine the size of the Masonite® trees they came from? Might be river bottom wood-like material.

The fronts are interesting, too.

The fronts are interesting, too.

If you would like, you can click HERE and see the rest of the collection.

If you must…

If Only I Could Show You the Dovetails…

We live about and hour away from the self-proclaimed Furniture Capital of the World, High Point, NC. This claim is based partially on being what was the major furniture manufacturing center of North Carolina and partially on the twice-yearly furniture market (open to the trade), one of the largest around. Furniture making has moved away (some of it very far away) and Las Vegas is gunning for the furniture market. Yet they soldier on.

In the nearby town of Jamestown (metro High Point?) is the self-proclaimed largest furniture store. (Lots of self-proclamations in North Carolina.) At 1.3 million square feet, who am I to argue? My wife and I tend to view it as 1.3 million square feet of ugly furniture.

Ugly is a bit of a strong word. Not meeting our sense of aesthetics might be a more appropriate way to phrase it. There is some Shaker-esque furniture we almost like. What we have found is that for the money one can buy antiques or have something built by one of the area custom furniture makers. Let’s keep the money local.

There is one piece of furniture there that has continued to impress me (favorably) over the years. But like many things that impress, I have no desire to own it. I’m not sure where I’d put it.

Not your average chest on chest.

Not your average chest on chest.

At 85′, it needs just the right room.

Easy to dust under, though.

Easy to dust under, though.

And I think the hardware has been replaced. I don't think it's original.

And I think the hardware has been replaced. I don’t believe it’s original.

That’s the second largest claw and ball foot I’ve ever seen (with apologies to Buck Henry and Mel Brooks (extra credit if you get the reference)):

It's bigger than it looks.

It’s bigger than it looks.

Can you imagine Mary May (or Chuck Bender) out there with a chainsaw carving this one.

Of course, the drawers are all dovetailed. I would love to show you but their JLG lift was unavailable.

You can read an article about it HERE.

Somewhere in High Point is the 42′, world’s largest (freestanding) dresser. When I find it, I’ll let you know.

 

Oh, The Unicorn Link…

I was just sitting here wondering why nobody had viewed the second set of pictures from The Cloisters. The one with all seven of the Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries. Then it occurred to me, I never posted the link. Oops.

One of the unviewed unicorn tapestries.

One of the unviewed unicorn tapestries. There are six more.

To see the second set, click HERE.

There Be Unicorns

Well, at the The Cloisters in New York. And they are The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, a series of seven tapestries dating from 1495 to 1505. THIS is a link to the Met’s Online Collections page.

Not furniture but still nice.

Not furniture but still nice.

As we all know, unicorn hunting was entirely too efficient in that now they are effectively extinct.

Even with this knowledge, it is an opportunity to see all seven tapestries in one room. They are quite impressive.

They have a small collection of medieval fashion footwear:

What your shoes aren't hinged?

What, your shoes aren’t hinged?

A few architectural models:

Not to scale.

Not to scale.

An odd statue of a gentleman with well developed legs and short shorts:

Boots are very fashion-forward.

Boots are very fashion-forward.

And yet more furniture:

Borderline ordinary.

Borderline ordinary.

And much, much more. As I wrote last week, The Cloisters is a part of Metropolitan Museum of Art housed in building that is an amalgam of five medieval abbeys. It contains the Met’s collection of European medieval art. Next time you get to New York, make an effort to head uptown and visit The Cloisters. I promise you it is well worth the effort.

If They Can Do It, So Can I.

The They are Chris Schwarz and Jeff Burks. The It they keep going is coming up with interesting and historical woodworking related images. If you read Mr. Schwarz’s Lost Art Press Blog, you have seen many of their finds.

Now I have found my own. I didn’t find it as much as stumble across it. At the Cloisters. It is the Annunciation Triptych or the Mérode Altarpiece.

Annunciation referring to  announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus.

Annunciation referring to announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God.

This triptych (three paneled painting) is from the workshop of Robert Campin (1427 to 1432) in what is now Belgium. It is a superb work of art but the panel that is of interest to us here is the right panel.

A simple carpenter's shop.

A simple carpenter’s shop.

This image portrays Joseph, betrothed to the Virgin Mary, working in his shop. There are many interesting details in this painting. Starting at the top:

An interesting detail.

One way to hold the windows open.

Moving down, we see:

Many things to see here.

Many things to see here.

Joseph is using a brace and spoon bit to drill holes in a board. In the back is another spoon bit with holder. A small hammer, fishtail chisel, nail pulling pliers, a small bowl, forged nails and a knife I don’t recognize. His workbench seems to be made from two boards pith up. Legs are wedged through tenons.

The device on the bench is a mousetrap that seems to be imbued with all sorts of religious meanings that I will allow you to discover on your own. The Devil is involved.

And then looking at the floor:

Dangerous leaving tools on the floor.

Dangerous leaving tools on the floor.

There is a saw sitting on a small plank stool with wedged legs. There is a small ax/hatchet stored in a log. The floor seems to be nailed down. Interesting based on what nails must have cost back then. I can’t tell if he has odd shoes or his foot is resting on a device or fixture of some sort. Any theories entertained.

One more reason to visit The Cloisters.

Follow-Up on the Blessing Bishop

In yesterday’s action packed blog cleverly titled The Met You Haven’t Met, I show a picture of the Blessing Bishop and speculated as to why he was hollowed.

He's just a shell of his former self.

He’s just a shell of his former self.

Looking around the web some more, I came up with a possible explanation. In Italian Medieval Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters  by Lisbeth Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Jack Soultanian, it is suggested that is might have been included as part of a framing structure. Probably an altarpiece with painted wings showing episodes from the life of St. Nicholas, to whom the church from which the sculpture came was dedicated.

Since I am on the road and didn’t have my copy with me, I found the book at Google Books.

Well, that’s one explanation. I like it.

The Met You Haven’t Met

If you are at all like me, no trip to New York is complete without spending half a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The $25 admission means you really don’t want to treat this as a fly by. More importantly, in the American Wing they host a fabulous collection of American furniture in galleries and period rooms. Regular readers have already seen some of the overflow collection in a previous blog, Gallery 774 – Luce Center Visible Storage. My wife tells me that they also have paintings, ceramics, textiles, Asian, African and Egyptian art, armor as well as the Costume Institute. I believe I remember seeing some of this while looking for the men’s room.

What you may not know is that there is another branch of the Met in Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan. There you will find The Cloisters, a building that contains the Met’s extensive collection of 12th to 15th century European Medieval art, architecture and artifacts. The building itself was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. from 1934 to 1939 using parts from five European abbeys that were disassembled and shipped to New York. For more information, check the Wikipedia article HERE.

The first thing to see is the building itself:

Just your typical medieval museum.

Just your typical medieval museum.

They have lots of carved wooden statuary. This is Blessing Bishop (Saint Nicholas of Bari), 1350 to 1375, probably made in Umbria, Italy of poplar:

Just over 73" tall, a really big saint.

Just over 73″ tall, a really big saint.

And he’s not all there:

He's just a shell of his former self.

He’s just a shell of his former self.

Aside from that which is obviously broken off, he has been hollowed out. I am curious as to why. Was it to control shrinkage and movement? Done during conservation? Just the custom of the area? I just don’t know. Any reasonable theories will be entertained.

FYI, European poplar is not the same wood as American yellow poplar. American yellow poplar is actually tulipwood (Liriodendron tulipifera). True American poplars are aspen and cottonwood. I am only sharing this because the blog looked a bit short.

And there is furniture:

Not from IKEA.

Not from IKEA.

hence the name of the blog.

Admission to The Cloisters will also cover admission to the main building and vice versa. To get there by subway, take the A train to 190th Street. Exit and it’s a short walk along Margaret Corbin Drive.

You now have no reason not to go. Unless it’s the whole getting to New York thing.

To see the first set of pictures from The Cloisters, click HERE.

And Yet More From the Archives.

I got a lot of furniture pictures. It seems I’ve forgotten or chosen to ignore all the pictures I took before I started the blog. I had been taking pictures for some time before Chris Schwarz badgered me into starting the blog. Before the blog I had been sharing them with a small group. I would say select, but that’s not entirely true. It was only select in the sense that I didn’t know that many furniture types.

This set goes back to September 26th of 2013. It consists of furniture from the high-end antiques shop and high-end auction house. What a day it must have been.

All sorts of furniture. Tall stuff:

Big chest on chest.

Big chest on chest.

Tall armoire.

Tall armoire.

But, wait! There's more.

But, wait! There’s more.

Small things, in this case, tea caddies:

Here's one.

Here’s one.

And another.

And a less rectangular one.

Some interesting pieces:

Press or armoire?

Press or armoire?

An ordinary slant front desk.

An ordinary slant front desk.

With a highly decorated gallery.

With a highly decorated gallery.

Is it a pie safe?

Is it a pie safe?

A side view says yes.

A side view says yes.

Does this dressing table make my legs look fat?

Does this dressing table make my legs look fat?

And some fancy pieces:

A big china.

A big china.

Tasteful veneer, banding and stringing.

Tasteful veneer, banding and stringing.

Click HERE to see the other 108 pictures.

And enjoy.

You’ve Seen the Dovetails, Now Meet the Furniture

While looking through posted sets, I was confused to see this one set in which some photos were viewed 500 times and others were virtually unviewed. Then it occurred to me that the viewed pictures are all dovetail pictures that were in the first or second set of dovetail pictures I posted. I never got around to posting pictures of the furniture from which the dovetails originated. This post aims to fix that.

This set is from an auction in Wilson, NC back in August of 2013. It was an above average auction with more secretaries than I am used to seeing in one place.

Here are some interesting pieces I would like to share. Like this chest on chest:

A tall chest on chest.

A tall chest on chest.

What makes it more interesting is the two different styles of carvings. This on the top:

Very stylized.

Very stylized.

And this on the bottom:

A more traditional carving.

A more traditional carving.

Looking at the chest now I think this is a married piece, two chests that came together later in life.

Then there is this unique corner cabinet with unique hinges:

Round top doors and...

Round top doors and…

stylized "frog leg" hinges.

stylized “frog leg” hinges.

And this simple little… hall rack?

It's so interesting. Sort of.

It’s so interesting. Sort of.

With interesting details.

With interesting details.

A box with great inlay atop:

IMG_6123

Nicely done.

Nicely done.

And lots of secretaries:

One of many.

One of many.

Click HERE to see the entire large set of auction pictures.

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