Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Here is the "Georgian" desk that I mention in my prior post regarding latest auction finds. Buyer Beware is, unfortunately, the rule at Auctions....I have been buying at this particular old and well-established Los Angeles auction house for 20 years (minus a few months) and almost every week.....they know me well! When this desk came to the block it was represented as being a period Georgian double pedestal desk. I was standing too far back and had not previewed the piece (a definite no-no), nevertheless, because the proportions of the desk and especially because of the height and form of the pedestal bases, I bought it. When the desk was delivered and I inspected it carefully, it was obvious that this desk is a good English second half of the 19th c.--not late 18th c. Even the receipt says "George III".  This is a very good looking desk; however, it is not what the auction house represented it to be.
And I am really ticked! Such short-sightedness on the part of a company in the age of instant communication and connections is beyond stupid. The internet has blessed us (for better or for worse) with the ability to make our individual voices heard and COUNT. 
The financial crisis of the past 5 years has brought into high relief the importance of personal and corporate integrity. We are nothing if we do not treasure our personal integrity and word. Those of us in the decorative arts field who have treasured our businesses and our clients, who have clung to our reputations  despite our huge drop in sales, have started to recover.
But when a business fails to support and honor  its customers, the loss of reputation is very difficult to recover. The failure to understand that the seller and the buyer are one is short sighted and will ultimately bring a viable business down.
And with this situation--any action I might take with the auction house, would probably be to my detriment. I will mention it to them, but as politically politely as possible.

On the other hand, I also bought a set of 4 mid-century horseshoe chairs for almost nothing that are really good and in almost perfect condition. I guess I just have to be happy knowing that "you win some and you loose some."
These chairs were designed by Lubberts and Mulder for Tomlinson Furniture in the 1950's. The chairs have had virtually nothing done to them in at least sixty years and they only need a good paste waxing and they are set to go. And they are just my style: Chinese influenced and classic, but mid-century.
Jones is fine and I'm getting better as long as I remember that I can't eat any fat at all. NO CHOCOLATE.

Be well.
Mary & Jones (& Cole)

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Inspiration arrives on quiet wings from so many miraculous (as in God orchestrated) connections. As I was coming home tonight after taking everyone out for sushi and sashimi, Seth Godin was being interviewed on an NPR program. Seth Godin just happens to be one of my motivators and speaks truth to my soul. He was speaking of the transformation of the role of artist from that of a lofty spot to the role of the artist in every one. I fully believe that we humans are called to notice the details of life so that we can conceive of new ways to live and create beauty in our world. He talked about the concept of success and how it is changing from being measured in units sold or profit earned to being conceptualized by how an artist (which is anyone of us) makes a unique and positive impact on those he comes in contact with. Success being not about quantity, but about quality. What is the quality of good that we bring to the world? What is the quality of integrity in our lives or work that has an impact for good on another. Isn't art that one positive word said to another that inspires change or growth in that person's life? Good art has always been considered to be memorable. How memorable would it be if we listened attentively to "the other" and were able to say that one word that freed her to create her life anew. 
That's what my secret designer did for me this week. I'm pretty sure that he is not aware of his positive impact. He is a creative being and I think that he is unconsciously extending his artist's hand into other areas of creation, leaving his ego behind in the process.
Truly great art does involve a loss of ego: for it is only by loosing our false pride can true creation result.

Fortunately Jones doesn't have an arrogant bone in his  body--but he knows he's handsome.

Be well.
Mary & Jones (& Cole)

Thursday, January 24, 2013


In the midst of moving and Christmas and New Years, silly me got sick which is why I haven't been writing my usual posts....The only benefit that I can see is that I have lost a ton of weight (which I needed to do).

Anyway, these two photos below show the mess of my second room before Roberto and I put our heads together to organize things. We are not finished, yet...but the heavy lifting (and brain work) is done.

Now, for what it looks like at this moment:


I just sold these fantastic mid-century klismos dining chairs to one of the most recognized Los Angeles (and National) designers.
He also bought this adorable pair of French Chauffeuse  or slipper chairs.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to have the conformation that this torturous move has been worth the effort. This designer will be back and I'll post more about him in future posts.

Illness has not kept me down when it comes to hunting down finds--although I did miss a couple of weeks of auction sales.
Last week I bought this fantastic mid-20th carrera marble bust. He is not as handsome as I would have liked in a partner, but he is very interesting.

The bust is carved in the antique Roman style and the carrera marble is in excellent condition with appropriate patina.
This week I scored even more treasures, but will post about them once they are delivered....oh, well--just a hint: a period Georgian mahogany pedestal partners desk....and it was a sleeper!!
Thanks for checking back with me.
Jones says "hi"--he has been a great nurse with his head on my feet the entire time I was in bed.

Mary & Jones (& Cole)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sang de Boeuf--Chinese Monochrome Porcelain (Oxblood)

You can just catch a glimpse of two examples of Chinese Sang de Beouf Monochrome vases sitting on the English Regency breakfast table. I bought these two pieces at least 9 years ago for not very much--they were sleepers and perhaps no one paying attention (eyes were blinded?). The piece on the left has a large old (at least 100 year old restoration) rim repair. But it was the beauty of the form, the interior crackle celadon glaze together with the flambe sang de boeuf that made me fall in love with it. And since it was for me, not for resale, the damage was of little concern. The second vase (on right) I bought around the same time--I loved the size and foo dog handles--I also bought it for me; so I didn't really check out its age or details (I also popped off one of the handles on the way home--I kept the handle). These two 15" sang de boeuf vases have sat on top my tall etageres for about 8 years gathering dust.
Last week while Roberto was unpacking and putting "stuff" away, a Chinese gentleman came in and wanted a price on the late 19th c. Famille Verte Vase (the one that was a lamp....see post of 11/11/12 "Updates++serendipity). So I told Roberto the pricing and said that I would be right there. My Chinese gentleman said "fine" and bought it. (This never happens with Chinese buyers and I have been selling Chinese porcelains for over 15 years--I have to spend ages haggling over just $50--$25.)
When we had completed the sale, I asked the gentleman if he were interested in Sang de Boeuf and his eyes lit up. So we agreed that I would send him photos of my pieces.  
After I had studied and photographed the pieces, I realized that these two vases were better than I had thought........




The first two photos show different angles and exposures--when assessing Chinese porcelains, the quality of the glaze is very important. The glaze must be deep and translucent. The third photo shows the foot of the piece which will almost always reveal the age of the porcelain (be careful: the new fakes are so good that it takes an expert to discern the difference). This foot is clearly 18th c. and the crazed pale celadon glaze is confirmation. The foot rim must show minor chips/wear and must be powdery smooth to the touch, an effect of centuries of being moved across a surface.
Finally, the details of any damage or restoration must be shown in a good close-up shot.



Here is the second of the two 15" vases. This one (with the missing handle that I popped off) is definitely not 18th c. The quality of the glaze on this piece is excellent. The foot rim is more shallow and the potting is not at the same level as the 18th c. example. But the foot rim does reveal age and quality. The internal deep Sang de Boeuf glazing is a sign of quality. The repositioning of the handle is a minor fault when assessing value.



This last example is definitely not 18th c. It is most probably early 20th c. Republic Period. BUT THIS GUY IS HUGE--25" and impressive. The glaze is good--deep and translucent but the foot rim reveals its age--without the newer mark it could be 19th c., if you were simply looking at the rim. But the mark is definitely 20th c.  As you can see, there is damage to the rim.(Jones is helping with the photography)

THE QUEST BEGINS. Where to find a price point comparison. My Internet search revealed that I needed some one with considerable more knowledge than I. My first resource was Steve McIntrye--a long time dealer friend who has specialized in Chinese porcelains for several years. And thank goodness I did. After a bit of research Steve got back to me with estimates that he considered to be at the quite low end of the market.....and in the thousands even considering the damages.

My Chinese gentleman (he sent the photos off to specialists in China) met me on Monday in the new shop and bought the 19th c. example. I do need to get the handle repositioned, but that is not a problem. He is putting off the purchase of the 18th c. piece (and it is a bit pricey), but I think that he will also purchase that puppy.

I am so grateful to Steve for his quick appraisal and to the nudge that told me to investigate things a little further. Will I miss these vases sitting pretty on my etageres? Maybe for about 1 minute as there is always more and everything in life is a blessing.

Have a wonderful adventurous week.

Mary & Jones (Cole loved the snow)

I think that I will keep the large vase for a while....
My gentleman might just buy it if I put it before him. You just never know.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Things were moving very slowly, but once Roberto and I put our heads in gear everything started coming together.  This is what we started with on Wednesday afternoon:
And this is what we ended up with 2.5 hours later:
Not bad, I'll have to take it apart to paint, but simply could not wait another instant to get things shaped up.

And here are some of the Fortuny Pillows...

Now, I have another room, another 400+ sq.ft that we are arranging next week....I hope this time it is a less arduous journey.

Have a wonderful week.

Mary and Jones (& Cole)

Saturday, January 5, 2013


My gorgeous and amazing daughter just sent me this photo of 1/2 of the clan on the slopes. She and Josh have all boys and James, older son, has all girls. That little purple beauty is James' oldest, Lauren. James, Grace and Kaia (4) and Mia (2) went sledding ....
Ethan (second from right) is a committed skate boarder and has been snow boarding since he was 6 or 7; Blake (can't believe that he is a freshman in HIGH SCHOOL--I was a young grand mother) is a great boarder also. Sam loves to fly down the slopes on skis and this is Lauren's first time out. She's a little jock; I'm assuming that within the first hour, she had mastered the baby slopes.


Maddy is about 13 and is constantly being stalked by Mini Beast--Jones is her protector. This morning she decided to help with computer chores...she fits perfectly on the keyboard.
I've been fighting some sort of bug all week and have been surrounded by the beasties--they are convinced that they are great nurses.....perhaps?
I meant to take photos of new place, but forgot. Things are looking better. Once I had Roberto (my second brain) on the same wave length we shaped it up pretty fast. Now on to the second room.........

Have a wonderful winter week-end. Surrounded by those you love.

Mary and Jones (Cole is snow boarding)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


 Examples of brass nesting tables from 1stdibs.com

"A quest is an adventurous (arduous) journey taken by the protagonist of the story. The protagonist usually meets with and overcomes a series of obstacles, returning in the end with the benefits of knowledge and experience."  Definition from about.com.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a set of French c. 1970's brass and glass nesting tables identical to these examples that I found on 1stdibs.com. My set is in even more pristine condition, with the exception of the center finial on the smallest table...it became separated from my table somewhere during it's 40 years of life.

After many many years in this crazy business, you would think that I would instinctively know that the QUEST to find a replacement pineapple finial would not be an easy one--but no: fools (or antique furniture addicts) rush in where wise men fear to tread!

The first source that I went to was the very famous New York metal fabricator (I will not mention company name). Their catalog showed the perfect finial for my little table and in the quality required. I love this finial: beautiful detailing and proportions, hand chased and polished........so I called New York for a trade price: $148.00 plus $25.00 shipping. Well, since I would like to have a bit of profit on these gorgeous tables, the  Fabulous New York Supplier with the perfect finial was a no-go.

I did find these two pineapple finials that were not any where near the quality of the Fabulous New York Supplier, and they were not the right size.....

I continued my quest (arduous journey)....I discovered brass pineapple finials for curtain rods (many diameters), towels racks, hinge finials (very skinny), tiny lamp finials, stair tread rod finials....and many more. But not a single appropriate solid brass pineapple finial for under $148.00 plus $25.00 shipping.

So of course, my natural reaction was to start kicking myself: you silly girl, you  spent a fortune on those tables and now you will have to spend a second fortune to replace the finial.  After I calmed down, my mind started clicking again and I remembered that Carlos who makes the fittings for my custom lamps also casts brass and bronze....Carlos will cast my pineapple finial for $45.00 and NO shipping charge. I think that I'm back in business. The finial will take about 2-3 weeks to fabricate, but it is definitely worth the wait.

This type of quest is just one of the reasons that antiques and decorative arts dealers have to charge what we charge. To acquire the knowledge to know how to restore or fabricate an item and then to have established relationships with the craftsmen who are able to do the work is time consuming and the experience required is expensive--before we arrive at the perfect restorer or fabricator, there are many failures and lessons learned the hard way.
I'll post photos of my perfect finial when I take the table to Carlos for the fitting.

Jones is good....a little bit in the bad boy corner, as he has been a bit hyper at work and needs an attitude adjustment. (Threatening to take him home usually works)

Mary and Jones (& Cole) 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I am a faithful reader of Seth's Blog. Today's post is one that I'm going to keep foremost during 2013. I'm quoting a few lines, but you can read the entire post at  sethgodin.typepad.com.

    "....Are you more trusted? More skilled? More
     connected to people who care about your work?
     How many people would miss your work if you
     stopped contributing it?

     New Year's resolutions rarely work, because good
     intentions don't often survive a collision with
     reality. But an inventory is a helpful tool, a way to
     keep track of what you're building. Drip by drip....."

Seth usually blogs about small business related topics. But I extend his blogs to my personal growth. I think that we are called to be positive forces in this world, called to leave a positive imprint.
I'm late with taking inventory today (I ate something that I shouldn't have and am suffering the consequences)---but tonight I'm taking personal, as well as my small business inventory. To me "drip by 
drip" is a rephrasing of step by step. One positive action, thought, contribution leads to another. The small step approach to growth means sustained measured growth with roots that grow deep and will weather passing storms. (And all storms, by their nature, do pass)

I'm not too sure what my inventory will reveal, but now is the time to find out and adjust for new roots and resulting sprouts.  I think that 2013 is going to be a fantastic year for all of us in the design field--but everything is constantly (and has always been) in a state of flux. I only know that to be prepared for the future I must become more pliable and open to what is presented: bending with the flow so that I can reap the benefits. THIS IS NOT AN EASY TASK...BUT SO WORTH THE QUEST.

I took Jones back to the Park for the first time since his ACL incident--boy is he a happy guy. Hopefully, no more messes (there is one waiting for me right now).

Wishing all of us the best in 2013!!!!!!!

Mary and Jones (&Cole)