Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Funny Antiques Story

In another life, I was an antiques dealer.

We used to have a booth at a few shows during the year and also had a space in a couple of antique malls. We specialized in furniture, although I liked to include all kinds of other things.

At one show in particular, the territory was rich in nice pickings. We would load our booth up on Thursday, get up early on Fridays and Saturdays, make the rounds of garage sales and then reprice what we found to fill out our booth. One time, I scored a beautiful cut-glass pitcher and a darling pair of hand stitched linen child's drawers and bonnet, ca 1900.

Many times at these shows, we would see this one dealer who also had furniture. He specialized in French pieces. He would go to Paris a couple times a year, fill up a sea van and sell at exclusive shows.

I always enjoyed talking to him. He was a real Southern gentleman, hailing from Georgia and had the most beautiful, soft southern accent.

In one conversation we had about moving cumbersome pieces, he recounted this story:

He had a wonderful French Porter's chair similar to this one from the blog, My French Country Home (excellent blog, by the way).

These chairs have a tall, hooded back because Porters, who were like doormen or night watchmen/reception or lobby attendants would sit in the entrances of clubs, residences and apartment buildings and attend the doors, help residents with packages, etc. Many of these huge old buildings had lofty, drafty entrances. So the Porter's Chair was invented to keep the cold drafts away.

An extensive write-up can be found at


My friend had owned a beautiful, old upholstered chair that was quite tall. Just tall enough to make it a real pain to move, load, unload, store, whathaveyou.

He had had it 'way too long, too. And he was very anxious to sell it and be rid of all the trouble of moving it to shows and back again. (Just like me and rocking chairs--they never seem to fit in the van, get tangled up and are cranky to carry.)

So he had this beautiful thing at a show and one woman seemed very interested. My friend was equally interested in selling it. They discussed the price and he gave her a good quote. She pondered. He was sure he had it sold.

Then she said, "Let me go find my friend and ask her to look at it."

His heart sank. We all know the minute a customer says that, it's the Kiss of Death. The friend/sister/husband/dog takes one look and says, "What on earth do you want with that thing?"

They never say, "It's PERFECT! Buy Two!"

Sure enough, the friend came over, gave it the stink-eye, and said, "Oh, Lucille, if God wants you to have a chair like that, you'll find one at a garage sale."

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