Monday, September 26, 2016


I love what I do--the hunt, the gifts (God dropping finds in my lap to provide my daily bread), interacting with trades people, learning something every day--and my wonderful clients.
But I think I am developing a small problem: I do not have an extra inch of space in the shop. I am firmly committed to the principle of not having inventory in storage, but it looks like I may be headed in that direction. Or--I can stop this buying problem. 
I haven't decided in which direction to go, but this amazing recamier/daybed will not fit--not even if I stand it on end.
Of course, the two main issues are (1) I love the hunt; (2) You have to buy when you find a great item because you know it won't wait for you to come back or to have made space for it.
So I put that decision off for another day last Thursday and bought that amazing French Directoire Style Recamier (daybed); so now I have four recamiers!!??
The price point on this piece was just too good to pass on.
Here are a couple of detail photos

The upholstery, although vintage, is in near mint condition--and just look at the quality of the workmanship and the yards and yards and yards of (most probably) Scalamandre silk braid.......just too good to let it go.
I also found (and bought) a very rare form of French Faux Bamboo Secretaire a Abattant (secretary).

I managed to squeeze in this piece with 0 inches to spare. And I already have two requests for more information and one person put it on hold. Which means that if I had gone passive, deciding that I didn't have enough space and that I shouldn't buy it, I would have lost a great most things in life: there are no perfect solutions.

We are frying here in Southern California. I now live within 3 miles of the beach and it usually never goes above 85*; but right now the temperature is reading 102* with humidity at about 10%--those desert winds are rolling in.
I'm watching the debate tonight and praying for our girl.

Blessings for the week.
Mary, Jones & Cole

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Yesterday, Roberto and I really hustled. There was so much heavy lifting (not for my body) and organizing that I thought we would never finish. 
I love being able to sell on the various internet venues--1stdibs is really the best for my type of inventory--but in case you haven't tried it, selling on a website requires that you take and post excellent photos. Front-on shots, side shots, detail shots, underside shots, etc. To take all of these photos, all of the furniture pieces need to be moved. And not just moved: everything on top or displayed on the furniture needs to relocated to just the right spot. All this moving needs a strong (hopefully tall) body===that does not describe my particular body. So taking photos is a slow process without Roberto who actually thinks for me. Yesterday we were in the groove working as one. All of the photos got taken, the needy pieces of furniture were restored or waxed and we (Roberto) redid the back wall and another vignette featuring one of the 18th c. Tuscan consoles and a gorgeous Marbro alabaster lamp.

Not too shabby if I do say so. I am so grateful for Roberto-we have worked together for 7 great years.

Mary & Jones & Cole

Monday, September 19, 2016


Today was "........."(I don't say where I buy) Quarterly Fine Arts Auction. Darren and I went bright and early. I usually skip the Quarterly Auction and stick with Thursdays, but thought that there might be a few things that I could bring home.
......But today was just not my day! Another dealer that I know was bidding against me on just about everything and I do not get into ego-based bidding wars. And besides, there is always more.......
I thought I would post about a couple of lots that drew exceptional interest and exceedingly high prices.
First a little background

I reserved seats for us and Darren and I were seated in the middle of the third row (my favorite spot); so our view was great. I'll introduce you to some of the guys that have become my true friends after going to auction almost every Thursday for 24 years. On the far left (and half-hidden) is Robert II, next is Miguel who is the floor manager and organizes the positioning of the items on the floor and is in charge of the team. Miguel looks chubby, but he is one solid mass of muscle and stands over 6 feet tall. Miguel can pick up just about anything--never get on the wrong side of Miguel. Bobby is holding the painting that is being auctioned (more on this particular painting later) and then there is Steve--another gentle giant. Steve and I joke around a lot.
Now back to lot items. First up:

This is a very unusual gold and rock crystal necklace by the famous American expatriate, William Spratling who, in the 1940's and 50's, resurrected Mexico's silver industry and turned Taxco into the creative silver capital of Mexico. His silver pieces are widely known and are collected by all the elite silver connoisseurs. Spratling was not well-known for his gold pieces, but they are highly desirable. This beautiful piece came from the Estate of Millard Sheets, a well-listed Plein Aire California artist. The necklace was estimated to sell for between $8,000 and $12,000. I think the bid opened at $2000 and shot beyond the $12,000 high estimate is less than a minute. On and On and On and On the bidding went with the energy rising with every bid. The winning bid was $132,500 or 11 times its high estimate. And remember on top of the bid amount is the buyer's premium of 10%, bringing the total amount to $147,500.....and then (if it was a retail buyer), an additional sales tax amount of 9% for a grand total of $160,750. I'm pretty sure that this was an auction record for any Spratling work.
Next Up

This 15" x 25" painting by Czech artist Vaclava Spala may appear inconsequential, but it sold for $67,500 (plus 10% lot fee) or about 5 times its high estimate. That's a lot of spare change, although I did love the work--post impressionists paintings are some of my favorites.  

There was an update on Kiki's post surgery recovery--she is looking so much more perky, but she's still in ICU. Please continue to pray for this little one, as her recovery will be an up hill journey.

And finally,

This pretty 19th c. Chinese Coromandel screen did not receive a single bid today. I think I'll call Don, the owner of the auction house, to see if I can buy the screen tomorrow. It's not super big--measuring 43"h x 86"w. Wish me luck.

Thanks for following along with me in the twists and turns of this crazy business.
Mary & Jones & Cole

Friday, September 16, 2016


Yesterday, while at auction, I spied this beautiful sculptural composition. The stunning graining of the black walnut, the treatment of the wood itself--with awe and respect--in addition to the detailed composition and workmanship told me that this was an important piece by a very competent artist. The piece reminds me of George Nakashima: the composition, the free edge, the respect for the wood, the beautiful carved detailing and finish. As I waited for the sculpture to come to the block, I went on an abbreviated search to see what I could discover about Doug Ayers. And surprisingly, I could not uncovered very much except auction results and the fact that he lives in Mendocino County, California. For me, his creations are works of enduring beauty. From very small sculpted amorphous forms to larger scale pieces like the one I wanted to acquire yesterday. I thought that if I were very lucky, I could purchase the sculpture---it was not to be. The bidding very rapidly ran right past my stopping point to more than double what I was ready to spend. But the great part is that I learned to love another artist and art form--what could be better.
Here are a couple of detail shots of the sculpture.

We are having the most glorious end of summer days--even some crisp evenings. And highs in the upper 70s in Pasadena when it usually is in the high 80s or 90s at this time of year. Thank You.

Our family friends, Mark and Kristin's 4 year old little girl had brain surgery yesterday for severe epilepsy caused by meningitis. She's doing well, but prayers are needed as Kiki will have a recovery span similar to our Mia's. We are so fortunate to have CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County), one of the top ten pediatric brain centers, close by. Thank you to all of Kiki's caregivers of the past 18 months and thank you for the care you will be giving her, and the entire family, as they journey through her recovery.


Mary, Jones & Cole 

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I have followed the blog "Have Some Decorum" for many years, regretfully not from the beginning, but at least since 2010. Ellie O'Connell became like a sister, a tireless cheer leader, my daily laugh or cry reading her wonderful, quirky posts about her life in France with her husband David and daughter Gracie.
Ellie had ALS. But she didn't let it define her life, which she continued to live to its fullest. Ellie wrote 2 books, almost daily blog posts and then she opened a delightful on-line store. Ellie's warmth and courage were astounding; she strengthened all of us who loved her and "Have Some Decorum".
Ellie miraculously returned home to Santa Barbara around the 1st of August and published her last post about 3 weeks later---and it was (as usual) a super post with many details about her trip home and plans for the future.
Ellie's beautiful daughter Gracie (who we all grew to know and love) posted Have Some Decorum's last post yesterday. 
Ellie, I will miss you every day. Thank you for your constant inspiration to be myself, to let go of the small stuff, to be passionate about my children, to be passionate about my metier and above all, to live my life authentically.

Love always,

Thursday, September 8, 2016


I fell in love with this little landscape--it measures a mere 7.5"w x 5.25"h. I love impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Before 2008, I sold many impressionist and post paintings, but the bottom fell out of that lower middle market with the recession. I think that I'm seeing a resurgence, and I'm going to attempt to prove it with this and other fine smaller painting. This painting is signed at lower left (see photo). On the back there is an inscription that reads "The Collection of Charles Laughton and Eva Lancaster"--not too shabby a provenance in Los Angeles.

so if anyone can decipher the signature, please let me know what you have figured out.
To balance out the traditional classical art piece, I bought this guy

This is an acrylic painting with the detail picked out in high relief. It's fun and my daughter really loves it, but she not getting it this time.

Marcos came on Tuesday to give me an estimate to repair the tip of the obelisk. He took one look at the smaller pair of obelisks and said: the border and base are not marble; they are TORTOISE.  I would never buy anything with new tortoise inlay, but 40 year old tortoise inlay I can manage. Not only that, I raised the price of those puppies by over $2000........I'm a very lucky girl. I had thought that the outlining looked a bit like tortoise, but really didn't think it could be due to cost to manufacturer.....I guess that I was wrong.
We have had the most glorious weather: mid-70s and low humidity with cooler nights. (September is usually a scorcher) Even the fires have not been so bad this year--I hope this continues through the end of October and then (hopefully) on to the rainy season and we need lots of rain. Prayer time.

Have a wonderful end of the week.
Mary & Jones & Cole.

Monday, September 5, 2016


I fell in head-over-heels in love with this English Silver plated wine bucket last Thursday. The rams heads combined with the beautiful casting and hand chasing make this Victorian silver piece a stand out. Here are a couple of detail photos.

I used to sell quite a bit of old silver, but have slipped away from it as it has been slightly out of fashion. This bucket is inspiring me to maybe bring in some great silver pieces. That ram is so handsome.

I was able to bring home some nice pieces on Thursday--I didn't get very attached to anything before the auction; so it was easy to be available for what presented itself. Here are a couple of sleepers that I love.
The Chinese Coromandel panel is wonderful. The antique coromandel panel is set within a newer frame--I'm thinking of turning it into a coffee table--I think chinoiserie is making a come-back. The gilt scene is beautifully detailed and the lacquer itself has acquired just the right amount of patina.

Next up is a William IV (c. 1830-35) Canterbury in Rosewood. The front of the canterbury is well carved with scrolling decorations and it has the rare design with all of the separations incorporating handles into their frames. Roberto won't have to do anything much to it--just a bit of wax as the finish and the small brass casters are in very good condition.

I bought two pairs of these tessellated marble and brass inlaid obelisks. These guys usually go for a lot of money at auction; so I must have been the only one that was paying attention. One pair is a large 25" tall; the second pair is 20". The second pair suffered a bit of barely visible damage to one point, but I think it is still good. Although I didn't know it when I bought the obelisks, they were made by Maitland-Smith in the late 70s or early 80s which is a huge especially when you go to sell a branded piece.


This beautiful hand printed cotton panel is an unfinished obi-- a truly stand alone artistic textile. I'm debating weather to turn the length into pillows or to display as is. 
I'll be posting additional Thursday treasures.
Have a wonderful week.
Mary, Jones & Cole