Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I FOUND ANOTHER ONE...... This is the third period Secretaire a Abattant that I've had in the past year. This time I didn't have a day free to preview my Thursday auction, which puts me outside my comfort zone. However, I have been practicing staying connected and in the flow; so I set my anxiety aside and just went for it-- I ascribe to Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" premises--but just didn't have the courage to go there......Silly me. 
This gorgeous 18th c. Transitional Louis XVI Secretaire a Abattant had a few losses to its marquetry, but its main and huge problem is that the top drawer and the fall front were locked and the key had disappeared in some misadventure during its 250 years of life. But of course, I had my secret weapon in reserve: R-O-B-E-R-T-O!!!! Roberto had opened my previous Abattant (a Louis XV) and had even been able to unlatch the side bars on that lock. So I brought this guy home at an alarmingly low price--it was so low that I thought the piece must be 19th c. or even 20th c. But no--it's true 1760-70 Transitional Louis XVI.
Roberto was so nasty. He made me wait until he had finished restoring the marquetry (visible bandaids) before he started checking to see if any of his or my spare 18th c. keys would fit the lock......EUREKA. He had it on the third or fourth try.

Look at that beautiful interior with its inlaid drawer fronts and figured mahogany. I really think that this boy was not used much as the leather appears to be original and the drawers and mahogany interior have not be refinished and they are almost mint. The lock is very large with a double locking bar--unusual. Needless to say, I started jumping up and down (the hip is doing really well).
Here are a few detail photos

There are a few restoration details that couldn't be completed today: the bronzes need to be buffed and the veneer and marquetry restorations need to be completed (sanding, in-painting, etc.). Once Roberto has polished the Abattant, it will really shine.

Thanks for letting me brag a bit....I found a couple of other treasures, but they will have to wait for another post.

Have a super week.

Mary & Jones & Cole

Monday, October 19, 2015


I'm back.

After not bidding on the "17th c." writing table from last week I spent several days thinking about him; on Monday when I went to pay & pick up at "My Auction" I was in for a huge surprise. I inspected (paying much closer attention) my little (assumed to be 17th c.) writing table.
Originally, I simply inspected the front side with the drawer that retained its very old lock

And the beautifully carved side supports with their gothic mask feet.

Those unusual mask carved feet really had my brain working as I thought that these types of carvings dated to the Gothic period.........
I had not paid attention to the front frieze carving.

When I studied the carved frieze on the front of the table, I realized that it was a Gothic depiction of the Annunciation with the Angel Gabriel speaking to Mary (on the right). The form and carving style are definitely Gothic. And those mask feet are.....pure Gothic. The surface appears to be very old (perhaps the top is a old replacement). I think that this guy most probably dates to the mid-16th c. (1550). I'm not an expert; so I do need to get an expert's opinion. I'm beginning to think that The Getty may be the most appropriate place to start. Dealing with museums can be (more than) a bit of a pain.......oh well, we'll see what turns up this week. OH!! That reminds me.......while the table is on its side in the Explorer, I need to take photos of the underside. When studying a piece, many times the underside reveals more of the piece's identity than the top surface.

On another note.........I took Jones to the DOG PARK (the most important place in Jones' life) today and it's quite a very long drive. The forecost was 0% chance of rain. By the time we got to Fullerton it was raining cats and dogs; so Jones and I had a nice 50 mins. of car bonding time. And my old boy (can't believe he is now 9!) didn't get any exercise. I never thought that I would complain about rain this year.....but geeeeeeeeez.

Best wishes for a fantastic week!

Mary & Jones & Cole

Thursday, October 8, 2015


This beautiful chunk of metal was hiding behind a mirror when I previewed "my" auction yesterday and I simply didn't see it. But today, something told me to look behind the mirror and there he was.

The deep natural patina on this table would be impossible to fake/replicate. I know there are many who would disparage the condition; for me, in today's design aesthetic, this unusual table is perfection. I believe that it is either a small pastry table (perhaps a butcher's display table?) that dates to the second half of the 19th c. I know that I've spoken previously about the differences in current forged iron and antique forged iron--antique iron was much more malleable and could be shaped in more intricate detail without cracking under the stress of forging. It also has a softer (more matte) surface adding depth and character to the piece. Of course, with a deep patina like this guy, you don't appreciate the intrinsic qualities of the iron used.
I debated whether to purchase the 17th c. Italian writing table. I sat beside him. I told him that I loved him and then had to apologize.......I decided not to buy the table. And I am really proud of myself for paying close attention and listening. The energy of this guy was not what I want to bring into the shop at this point in time. I want a certain lightness, so that a conversation can take place between disparate elements without one overwhelming another.  The Italian writing table didn't sell; so maybe next week I will feel differently......
I did kinda step a little outside my comfort zone today.......

I usually am not drawn to "frou-frou" highly decorated pieces (give me neoclassical), but this little 19th c. Venetian Secretaire had been flirting with me for two weeks. She is not a beauty. She's been greatly loved. Her form is just a bit off: who ever heard of putting "cubbies" where the middle drawer should be and those cubbies appear to be the original design. But there is just something about this little girl. Once again, it's the rich, original, untouched surface. The patina is deep. And, to my eyes, gorgeous. (Are you nodding your head Loi?)
Here are a couple of additional shots

Don't you adore those exaggerated Venetian feet? The strong Venetian turquoise? and it's tiny size? 
I'm not going to touch the surfaces of these unique pieces. Roberto will clean them lightly and maybe apply a bit of hard paste wax to the iron, but that's it.
Thanks for listening to me rant about my passions. Have a wonderful Fall week-end: It will be 101* in Pasadena this Saturday and I will be jealously thinking of you East Coasters.

Be well---

Mary & Jones & Cole


I want this little table sooooooooooooo badly. And it will be going to the block late in the day; so I plan to be there. It is not the type of furniture that is selling, but I simply cannot resist very old pieces of soulful furniture.
Here are a couple more quick shots:

Just look at those gorgeous feet, the thickness of the oak and it even has its original lock (but no key). Now look at the label.........

Yep, completely mislabeled. This little puppy is an original 17th c. writing desk---not even a hint of revival about it. Even the original patina and surface is intact.

I'm going to make a valiant attempt to snag this little gem. 
Wish me luck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Have a super week-end. Jones is getting his hair cut--Mr. Shaggy dog needs to be shaped up.

Mary & Jones & Cole

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Exactly one month plus one day post surgery.......and guess what I accomplished??? I went shopping (without help) at COSTCO!! Now we all know how enormous Costco warehouses are---AND I MADE IT THROUGH (and only forgot a couple of items). Now that is progress. I am so grateful to my surgeon that my hip surgery went so incredibly well, to my daughter for watching over me and to everyone who helped me at shop. I still have sciatica in the leg with the new hip, but it is gradually getting better.........I'm supposed to alternate ice and heating pad most of the time and I'm simply a terrible patient.

Did anyone take a look at the cover of October's House Beautiful? My antique Chinese bamboo arm chairs are right there ON THE COVER.......well, one just like mine, as I would never paint those beauties. And Nate Berkus (new hero) is on the cover of Architectural Digest. What I am noticing as I peruse (actually, it's more like study) the shelter/design magazines is that a true mix of high vs. low; polished vs. rustic; modern vs. period furniture; abstract vs. representational art is finally coming forward as the next predominant design aesthetic. I have always gravitated towards this design concept--there is so much movement to rooms with this aesthetic: they are usually happy, youthful, and creatively inspiring. I do think that when creating this type of interior it is important to combine elements that balance one another---similar scale, QUALITY, appropriateness....... otherwise, your room could look like a simple hodgepodge jumbled together--and that is not the intent at all. When in doubt, study how the French create the perfect mix.
As I blogged about in June, I made the decision to buy (for the most part) what was calling my name loudly and clearly; to focus on acquiring inventory with soul and a bit out of the ordinary.
And this is how this is working out: Basically, the unique, funky, soulful objects are selling. The items that I over-thought before acquiring are taking longer....note to self: don't think.
These are some of the items that have sold in the past few weeks since I made my decision to go for soulful items:

I finally have clarity........and a changed heart: Chairish has been a superb venue for selling on-line. One Kings Lane--has been sluggish, at best.
The other key is a grateful heart--so hard to focus on gratitude when life is giving you lemons and you simply do not feel like making lemonaide...

Wishing everyone a glorious Fall. You East Coasters please stay inside and safe and dry this week-end. It looks like parched California is going to get some rain also!!

I just purchased CARRIER & CO.'S new book--it is fantastic--the perfect mix.

Be well.

Mary & Jones & Cole