Sunday, February 23, 2014


Roberto and I are making slow but steady progress (I think)--time will tell.

But on to my favorite part of the week--Auction Day Thursday. A couple of weeks ago I had spied a little period (18th c.) Provencal fruitwood Louis XVI Secretaire a Abattant in the "good" section of the auction and thought that I had no chance of getting her at a reasonable price point.
French pieces (aside from tables and certain case pieces) in a plain wood finish are simply not selling very well; but I could see a lot of potential in this little girl. Well, much to my surprise when I previewed the auction on Wednesday, there she was sitting pretty and all by herself in the cheaper seats. On close inspection, I could see that she had previously suffered poorly executed restorations,  had wood worm damage that needed attention and had one leg that needed immediate intensive care. She had lost the little three drawers inside her drop front.......but she retained her original key!!! In other words, this little girl was badly in need of a lot of TLC.

And here she is looking fabulous amidst my chaos. I hate to modify period 18th c. pieces, but with this girl, I have decided to restore her and then lacquer the outside in high gloss black and the interior in an ivory lacquer.
Flavio picked her up today. I love working with craftsmen who know more than I do and enable my creative instincts. Flavio has spent 30 years working for the best Los Angeles antiques dealers and has restored countless period pieces. Denis (mover) forgot to leave her key; so I can't show the inside of the abattant; but Flavio (who even has keys that will fit this future beauty) will fabricate new little drawers using old wood; he will carefully protect the newer leather insert (this restoration was top notch and would be very very expensive for me to do) on the drop front and then he will carefully spray the interior in a high gloss ivory lacquer. For the case section, Flavio will first treat the wood worm--which I think is dead, but just to make sure--then restore the damaged sections of wood. He will properly restore the damaged back leg and generally go over the entire piece to prep her for the 12 to 15 coats of black lacquer. Additionally, Flavio has the gilt brass escutcheons that she has lost and will obtain the four brass sabots for her feet.
In the 18th century black lacquer was frequently applied to high end pieces. But provencal pieces, such as my girl, would be left plain. Because lacquering was an 18th c. finish option, I do not feel quite so guilty about modifying her. The other reason, of course, is that I want her to sell.  When she comes back from her spa days in a few weeks, she will go directly to The Collection and hopefully out the door to her new home ASAP. I'll post photos of this little girl when she gets home.
And, next up (with a horrible photo) is this unusual (for the US market) Butler's Tea Cart

I think this cart dates to the early 20th c.--look at the detail of the hinges-- and is in mint condition. It has a folding towel rack to one side and a drawer to the other. THE PERFECT EAST COAST BAR. Just look at all the space on the bottom shelf for bottles, etc. And a drawer to store all of the bar stuff that usually just sits on the top looking messy. Plus, it's got those killer fold down sides. This cart is not the usual California item, but will probably go back East to Connecticut or New York. Sorry about the dust.

Jones says "hi"--he's getting his hair done next week; I had mine done today (much better, thank you).
Hopefully, it is starting to warm up a bit back East--and we are scheduled for a bit of rain.

Be well,
Mary & Jones (& Cole)

Update: I bought another Explorer--this one is a dark gray----I think that we'll get along just fine.


  1. Mary I can't wait to see the Secretaire in black lacquer!
    As always you have a great eye for treasures!
    The Arts by Karena

    1. Hi Karena. Yep, she will look pretty spiffy.