Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Nice Garden Book-

We're going to offer our Foggygates readers book special today, a nice early 19th century French gardening manual, just in time for Spring!
[Audot, Louise Eustache]. Figures pour l'Almanach du Bon Jardinier... Paris; Audot: ca.1817.

A charming gardening manual by a prolific and popular French horticultural author. Audot's manual, first published ca. 1813, went through several editions and offered the serious gardener complete nuts and bolts advice and diagrams for such advanced operations as cross-pollination, grafting and air-layering and espaliering trees. The plates include details of the leaves, flowers and sexual systems of various types of fruits and flowers, as well as examples of tools, shovels, rakes, scythes, pruners, barrows, and also several plans for greenhouses and cold frames. The plates are delicately engraved and very attractive.

Hardcover. 4.5"x7.25", 56 pages plus 27 copper engraved plates; bound in the (probably) original or at least contemporaneous blue boards, quite rubbed and scuffed now, with the top portion of the spine lacking; lacks front and rear blank endpapers, scattered offsetting from the plates; two plates with very minor attempts at hand-coloring, a bit of spotting and toning here and there; very minor wormhole in the gutter margin of several pages; institutional stamp, but not actually ex-institutional -one of our longtime customers donated some books to a college, and this got put in the box by mistake and stamped; he then retrieved it, and we eventually bought it from him). Overall internally a very nice copy in period boards.

We have this listed at $350.00, but if any Foggygates reader would like it for $250, we would be glad to sell it to you today.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Wheels go round and round...

Well, the Books on Ceramics catalog finally was dispatched to Dave the Printer this afternoon, only two and a half weeks late. It's a nice catalog though... of course you'll hear plenty more about it as we get closer to mailing, but let's do a little preview- highlights include a rare 1908 book of inscriptions on antique drug jars; the earliest English-language book on tiles; a copy of an early catalog of ancient pottery owned by a ceramicist who reproduced the ancient forms as garden pots; an intriguing 1901 study of the hazards of the work of Staffordshire potters; the 18th century catalog of terra cotta lamps described by later experts as “one of the greatest assemblages of fakes ever assembled”; bound collections of Adelaide Alsop Robineau’s two periodical publications; an 1873 book on Bristol ceramics praised by Solon as “a model of what a perfect monograph might be expected to be”; and an early and scarce trade catalog of Low Art tiles.

and (as I am wont to say) much more... let us know if you would like a copy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Silly Sunday


"Squawks" are problem listings that pilots generally leave for maintenance crews to fix before the next flight. Here are some squawks submitted by US Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews.


(P) Left inside main tire almost needs replacement
(S) Almost replaced left inside main tire

(P) Test flight OK, except autoland very rough
(S) Autoland not installed on this aircraft

(P) #2 Propeller seeping prop fluid
(S) #2 Propeller seepage normal - #1 #3 and #4 propellers lack normal seepage

(P) Something loose in cockpit
(S) Something tightened in cockpit

(P) Evidence of leak on right main landing gear
(S) Evidence removed

(P) DME volume unbelievably loud
(S) Volume set to more believable level

(P) Dead bugs on windshield
(S) Live bugs on order

(P) Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 foot-per-minute descent
(S) Cannot reproduce problem on ground

(P) IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) inoperative
(S) IFF always inoperative in OFF mode

(P) Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick
(S) That's what they're there for

(P) Number three engine missing
(S) Engine found on right wing after brief search

(P) Aircraft handles funny
(S) Aircraft warned to straighten up, "fly right" and be serious

(P) Target Radar hums
(S) Reprogrammed Target Radar with the lyrics

Friday, February 24, 2006

The greatest American Furniture sale ever held...

In the opening decades of the 20th century Philadelphia was home to a man whose name has become legend among collectors of American furniture. Howard Reifsnyder was a wealthy Philadelphia wool merchant whose taste turned to the antiquarian. He collected books, oriental ceramics & rugs, and American colonial furniture and arts. He did all this at a time, in a place, and with an enthusiasm and knowledge, which made it possible for him to assemble one of the finest collections of American colonial furniture ever made.

Like other pioneering collectors of his day, Reifsnyder prowled the countryside buying up the Colonial and Federal-era artiftacts that fine art and antiques dealers scorned. His main hunting grounds- "Pennsylvania-Dutch" country, eastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia allowed him access to furniture that was from the finest traditons of American cabinetmaking. And he bought and bought and bought...

The Magazine Antiques called him an " a vital and endearing personality" and Reifsnyder was generous with his knowledge and his antiques- his home was always open to the student, scholar and connoisseur, and he lent his treasures freely to museums, with the consequence that by the time he died his collection was known and envied throughout Americana collecting circles. By the time the collection was packed up and shipped to the American Art Association in New York for auction, the collecting world was waiting with baited breath, envious eyes, and open wallets.

For four days in April, 1929, collectors battled each other in the halls of the American Art Association as Major Parke knocked down lot after lot for staggering prices. A reporter for International Studio described the crowd as full of "connoisseurs of practically unlimited means or agents with unlimited reserves”, and claimed that such a battle of collectors “will probably never be duplicated in an American salesroom”, as Hearst and Garvan and Du Pont and other prominent collectors beat each other senseless with their paddles. The height was reached by the Van Pelt family highboy which was coveted by both Hearst and Du Pont, with Du Pont (using the name H.F. Winthrop) finally winning for a record-setting $44,000.

As Towner sums it all up in ‘The Elegant Auctioneers’-

It took the explosive Howard Reifsnyder sale of April, 1929 to broadcast the fact that a highboy made in colonial Philadelphia could be worth as much as a ‘secretaire a abattant’ made for Marie Antoinette... In the giddy antique market of that Spring the Reifsnyder doings were a revelation, the repercussions wide and long-lasting. Native works of skilled craftsmen gained immeasurable prestige, and to this day, the auction is considered historic in the chronicles of collecting events. Forthwith, in the 1929 spender’s gambol, colonial highboys became the quarry of the house-proud and the stylish. Authentic pieces were called priceless, their value multiplied; and the AAA was credited, if not with the discovery of America, at least with its multitudinous exploitation”.

Speaking of auctions... we have a new printed catalog of auction catalogs available, please ask us to send you a copy, or you can browse it on our website.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

John Spargo

If you were a Progressive labor reformer and union organizer, author of an influential and muckraking study on the scandal of child labor in mines, but for medical reasons you had to move from New York to Vermont and find a more genteel activity for a time, what would you do?

Well, if you were John Spargo [1876-1966] you’d start collecting Bennington Pottery and write a definitive study of the two 19th century Bennington potteries and their wares.

Born in Cornwall, England, Spargo earned his early living cutting granite while he took extension course at Oxford and Cambridge. He became a union organizer, and when he moved to New York in 1901, he became a leader of the American Socialist Party. He resigned from the Party during the First World War because of its antiwar policy, and then formed the American Alliance for Labor and Democracy with Samuel Gompers.

A prolific writer, his most influential book was “The Bitter Cry of the Children”, a 1906 expose of the scandalous use of child labor in coal mining. After World War I Spargo’s politics continued to evolve, and he later became an advocate of free-market capitalism.

He moved to Vermont for health reasons in 1909, and he naturally became interested in early Vermont history and industry. This led to a study of the history and wares of the Bennington potteries. In 1926 he wrote his magnum opus on the Bennington potteries, "The Potters and Potteries of Bennington". He relates in the preface that “many of my personal friends have been surprised to find me interested in ‘old cracked teapots and dishes”, but that he had always been intrigued by antique china, and that the hobby of china collecting has a long and storied history, having been practiced by George Washington, Samuel Johnson, and Horace Walpole. Further, as an adopted Vermonter who quickly grew to love the state and its heritage, his “interest in the history of the pottery industry at Bennington was part and parcel of my interest in the history of the foundation of the Commonwealth itself”.

Well, there you are. No further explanations needed.

Spargo would become the Director-Curator of the Bennington Historical Museum and write several other books on ceramics, including “Early American Pottery and China”, and “The A.B.C. of Bennington Pottery Wares”, as well as books on Vermont’s covered bridges, the Bennington Battle Monument, and Anthony Haswell, the Revolutionary printer and balladeer. Although he wrote many years ago, Spargo was a careful and skilled researcher thoroughly involved in his work, and his books remain important references.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How America's greatest auction house was launched

Our new "Going Once... Going Twice..." catalog of antique auction catalogs is in the mail, and available for viewing on our website. If you'd like a printed copy, please let us know.

One of the catalogs featured was Parke-Bernet's Catalog #1, and there's a story to go with it...

Wall Street millionaire Jay F. Carlisle and his wife, Mary (Pinkerton) Carlisle, daughter of the founder of the famous detective firm, collected English and French furniture, sporting art, Flemish tapestries, silver, glass, oriental rugs & art, Georgian silver, Staffordshire and other porcelains. Their home, 'Rosemary', was, according to Harry Havemeyer in “Along the Great South Bay”- “one of the showplaces of the East and was decorated with the very finest antique furnishings in the most tasteful way."

Wesley Towner, in “The Elegant Auctioneers”, says that Jay Carlisle “had many friends, belonged to many clubs...his pallbearers included Walter P. Chrysler and other notables. The furnishings at ‘Rosemary’ -the snuff boxes and ivory miniatures, the sporting prints and tinkling wine glasses- had an aura all their own”.

The Carlisles died within a short time of each other and in early 1938 their estate needed to be sold, which was a good thing for Hiram Parke and Otto Bernet. Just a short time before they had, with about 40 loyal employees, walked out of the American Art Association-Anderson Galleries after a power struggle with its owners, and set up on their own in borrowed rooms. Mortgaging homes and life insurance policies, borrowing from former clients and fellow dealers and throwing in their life savings, the small group needed a magnificent event for their first sale-

It was clear”, Towner relates, “that Providence had dispatched the Carlisle’s for Parke’s convenience, and just in the nick of time. Hyam went out to Islip with three teams of cataloguers. Stenographers worked double shifts, driven by the exigencies of the cause. Photographers took pictures by day and developed them by night, for the house was jammed with small objects -rare Staffordshire, the bronze cowboys of Frederic Remington, a singing bird fashioned out of silver. The mere numbering and sorting were prodigious labors, for there were, when all counted, four thousand items. And yet, somehow, the entire catalogue was turned out in a week, and without an error.”

Nine thousand people previewed the sale, and the day of the auction the 400 seats in the hall were filled an hour before bidding began. The sale was, needless to say, a roaring success, and the auction firm Parke-Bernet was launched.

Back at 'Rosemary', once the auction was over and the contents dispersed, the house itself was torn down a few months later. The venerable American Art Association-Anderson Galleries, bereft of Major Parke and Otto Bernet, survived a few months longer than that, but not many. Parke-Bernet would go on to become America's premier auction house for decades, until its eventual "partnering" with, and final sale to, Sotheby's.

Finders Keepers? Not so fast...

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Italian government have come to an agreement for the return to Italy of the Euphronios krater, a 6th century BC Greek vase which is regarded as one of the finest of its type known. The krater will be returned along with other pottery and a hoard of 3rd century Hellenistic silver, all of which were illegaly exported from Italy. In return the Met will recieve some other antiquities on long-term loan.

The agreement highlights the ongoing disputes between many museums and the "countries of origin" of some of their art treasures about who owns them. Back in the 19th century many museums displayed expert copies of famous (or not so famous) antiquities and artifacts which, although not useful to scholars, allowed the public and art enthusiasts to see decent copies of great art they would not otherwise have been able to see at all. Mayhaps that was a better idea than we give it credit for...

Meanwhile, over in Hungary, the Hungarian government has agreed to pay the Russian government $400,000 in "storage fees" for a group of 134 rare books which Russian troops looted from a Hungarian library at the close of WWII and which are now being returned to the Hungarians. Huh. Usually when you "borrow" books from the library and don't return them for 50 years you're the one who owes a fine, not the library...

Monday, February 20, 2006

How George Washington's Candlesticks Killed G.D. Smith

On this President's Day we turn to the tale of a pair of "George Washington's" candlesticks which killed a leading rare book dealer.

In early 1917 a man named William Lanier Washington showed up at the doors of Mitchell Kennerly's Anderson Galleries, a leading New York auction firm. A “direct descendant of two of George Washington’s brothers”, William Lanier Washington arrived with cartloads of Washington-family memorabilia at an opportune time.

The craze for all things Colonial-related was reaching new heights, and in the first auction of this material, held in April, 1917, he offered many interesting and rare Washington busts, portraits, mourning items and other Washington-related memorabilia. He also offered personal relics, including George Washington’s shoe and sword buckles, wine glasses, snuff boxes, coat buttons, pants, a pair of Sheffield candlesticks from Washington’s Mt. Vernon desk, and many more items.

These relics were eagerly snapped up by the preeminent collectors of the day, including William Randolph Hearst and G.D. Smith, the man who single-handedly helped Henry Huntington assemble the famous Huntington Library and one of the greatest American book dealers of all time.

All seemed well until William Lanier Washington showed up at the Anderson Galleries with yet another cartload of Washington relics, at which point Mitchell Kennerly had the sense to send him packing. Not to be so easily discouraged, William simply switched venues and took his “relics” to the American Art Association, through which he held another sale in February, 1920.

He also sold his offerings door-to-door, and it was this which brought about the premature demise of G.D. Smith. On March 4th, 1920, William Lanier Washington arrived at Smith’s door, attempting to sell him yet another set of Sheffield candlesticks used by George Washington on his desk at Mt. Vernon. Smith, who had already bought “the” pair at the 1917 auction (lot 27), questioned just how many candlesticks George Washington kept on his desk, got into a heated argument with Washington, and dropped dead on the spot.

Thus ended the career of one of America’s greatest booksellers. William Lanier Washington would hold one more Washington-relic sale at the AAA, in February, 1922, which finally seemed to exhaust his supply. He died in 1933, but the legacy of his auctions, which contained at least some authentic memorabilia, and a whole lot else, continues on through the auction catalogs and an interesting tale.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Silly Sunday

with apologies to all my engineering & managing friends...

Engineers vs. Management-

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 6 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."

The woman below responded, "You must be in management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Walls too

We uncovered a stone wall here at Foggygates last summer. It runs along the back of the yard and then into the woods, and was completely overgrown with brush and brambles. Amy spent a few days whacking them out (a job she took altogether too much joy in) and there it was -our own stone wall, something we didn't even know we owned!

Help me walk
along our wall,
mossy bronze and cracked
with years of age and
mortar tacked up, into Fall
we gaze, red chestnut hues
blaze alongside
Winter's blues;
outside my window,
flake on flake
drift by in silver jubilee,
come and take some tea
with me, and help me walk
along our wall
as Winter gives
its' frozen all
with Spring lurking,
unseen, unheard,
bidden by a single
bird, singing
on our wall.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Knock, Knock...

It's always interesting where you end up when you go looking for something on the web. I was doing some background research on John Spargo, the author of several noted books on Bennington pottery, and I ended up on the site of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America. Their website has many resources for folks who need to find authentic hardware for their home, or who want to take their doorknob "thing" one step further...

How did I end up there? Well, it seems that Bennington may or may not have made doorknobs in the 1850s, or they probably did, but since they look a lot like the ceramic knobs being made in other US manufactories at the time, it's almost impossible to tell what was made where.

We had a bit of a doorknob issue here at Foggygates last summer, when we tried to replace a few and found that the ones the previous owners had installed were imported from Europe at great expense... I'd just as soon replace them with authentic Victorian knobs at some point. I fact, I have a few boxes of old marble and brass knobs that I've been lugging around for ten years or more, waiting for the right house to install them in. There is an issue of making the old hardware fit the new doors, so it's a project for another day, because getting stuck in a room with a knob that just twirls around on you is not all that fun. Probably the Doorknob Collectors have some info about that...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tall Tales from the Library...

As a boy, young Stuart grew up dirt poor, in a poor country town. The local library had only a few hundred books, and it was a good five-mile walk from his farmhouse, but whenever he could, young Stuart made the dusty hike into town. He spent every free moment sitting beside the dirty window in the library's single oak chair, reading mysteries, and novels, and history... and when he finished these he even devoured the gardening and cook books.

All young Stuart could dream about as he was growing up was owning a bookstore, but dreams, like life, sometimes take unexpected twists. Stuart never did own that bookstore, although he went on to a string of successful careers, and was, by most any standards, a success. But still the dream remained.

Sometimes at night, in the middle of a deep sleep, it would return to him.

He would suddenly find himself standing at the bottom of a long ladder that went up and up and up, and he would start climbing that ladder, and it grew darker and darker around him, until all he could see were the worn wooden rungs in front of his face. Still he would keep climbing, hand over hand, his feet growing numb with the step-up, step-up, on and on and on. But then he reached the top, and climbed through a trap door, and suddenly he was in a room filled with books, and he could see a doorway at the end of the room, and beyond it was another room filled with books, and beyond it yet another.

And there were all sorts of books, big and little, softcovers and hardcovers, old books and new books, books on history, and novels, and science and cookbooks and big leather-bound books, and books with colored plates, and books about travels to far-off lands, and just books and books and books and books...

...and then he would wake up, and find himself sitting still in the darkness of his big house, sounds of the night city moving by outside, his wife sleeping quietly beside him, and a sudden feeling of complete desperation would quickly run through him. But just as suddenly he would push it away, and remind himself of how good his life was, even with all the job-related hassles, without that far off, long-ago, little boy's dream of owning a bookstore...

Being President of the United States was not, after all, so bad a job.

It wasn't as good as owning a bookstore, though...

Monday, February 13, 2006

The First Day of Spring

Yes, Boston got two feet of snow yesterday, and New York got its 2nd highest snowfall ever from one storm, but today is the first day of Spring. How, you ask, could that be? Well, today the truck carrying the Boston Red Sox Spring Training equipment pulled out from Fenway Park and headed for Florida.

Yes, later on pitchers and catchers will report, and there will be the first Spring Training game, and then Opening Day, and so on, but Today was the start of Spring for Red Sox fans. My Grandpa Cole was a Red Sox fan, and passed the gene on to me. He and my grandmother had season tickets to Spring Training every year back when Spring Training wasn’t cool. They had cable tv at their summer house in New Hampshire back when nobody had even heard of cable, but that was the only way to get the weekend Red Sox games on tv. I bought my first copy of the book “Yaz” at age 6 and was listening to games on my radio by age 7.

A year and a half ago, the week after the Sox won “It All” for the first time since 1918, our family took a morning off to raise a toast at my grandfather’s grave-

Left to right: yours truly, my mother Betty, her sister Pat, her brother Bill, Pat’s son (my cousin) Matt, and Pat’s husband Charlie.

So, I’m not sure what all this has to do with anything, but amidst the snow and cold, the relentless journey towards Spring has really started, and I can hear my Grandfather complaining about Red Sox pitching even before they have thrown a ball. To celebrate, we will extend the sale we are having on Books about Sports and Pastimes through the rest of the week. Take 25% off, and remember to tell us you saw it here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Not Leonardo??

An Italian art historian in Milan is casting doubt on the identity of one of art history's most famous faces. The red chalk drawing long assumed to be a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci is probably nothing more than a study for one of the apostles in 'The Last Supper' according to Professor Pietro Marani, who has written several books on Leonardo. Among the professor's strongest arguments- the drawing has been dated to a time when Leonardo was about 48, and one has to agree that this is not the face of your typical 48-year old, unless the poor man had been spending waaaay too much time sunbathing on those nice Italian beaches.

It's a big day for Art History buffs- word from Egypt is that a new tomb has been found in the Valley of the Kings, the first new tomb opened there since Howard Carter excavated King Tutankhamun in 1922. The tomb, which has only been partially opened, apparently contains five mummies in wooden sarcophagi and coloured funeral masks, from the 18th dynasty.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Winter Olympics, Book Sales & Blizzards

The Winter Olympic games get underway tonight in Turin, Italy. There are very few places with snow on the ground I'd like to be at this time of year, but Italy is one of them. Best of luck to all the athletes. To celebrate the start of the games we will offer a 25% discount this weekend on any book listed on our Books on Sports & Pastimes pages. As usual, please mention that you saw that special price here in order to be sure we give you the discount.

Our "Going Once... Going Twice..." catalog of auction catalogs was sent to Dave the Printer late this afternoon. "Books on Ceramics" is on schedule, but the schedule has been moved up a week, so that won't be mailed until the end of the month.

We're scheduled to get a blizzard this weekend- well, the eastern part of Massachusetts is anyway. We are supposed to get heavy snow, high winds and low visibility tomorrow night and Sunday, so tomorrow morning we will have some fun and take part in that time-honored pre-storm New England tradition- Panic Last-Minute Shopping. I don't really need anything... but it just doesn't seem like a Real Winter Storm without the ritual.

Come swing me now
as trumpets blare
into the chill night's frosty air,
filled with shiny silver spits,
as gauze of breath comes
from our lips,
the lowry motion of our hips
swing to the beat, oblivious
of our tired,
frozen feet.

Then come and sit awhile with me
under the black-boned maple tree,
under the proud black canopy
of January sky.

Come sit and watch
as stars fly by that velvet
January sky,
a swarm of Winter fireflies
not yet entombed
in some glass jar;

come watch the waltzing
of the stars.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What we do when not reading

On one of the bookseller email lists this morning there was a discussion about what tv shows booksellers watch. That got me thinking not only about what I watch, but about how it relates to books I have read...

The Office. If you enjoy reading Evelyn Waugh for his subtle but deadly satire then you will enjoy The Office. It is well written and superbly cast. It's like a chapter of Waugh a week, but brought up to date and set in a modern corporate office. Great fun.

My Name is Earl. A wonderfully quirky show, which reminds me a bit of a Vladimir Voinovich novel, and which definitely draws on the influence of Magnus Mills' "The Restraint of Beasts" and "All Quiet on the Orient Express".

Project Runway. Good [fill in the name of your favorite trash novelist here]-type fun.

Desperate Housewives. The televisual equivalent of reading 'People' magazine, and fun for the same reasons.

Arrested Development. What do you get when you combine elements of Fernando Arrabal's "The Compass Stone", William Monahan's "Lighthouse", Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One", along with a pinch of Edgar Allan Poe, and make a television series out of it? That's right- something quirky, confusing and brilliant which very few people care to watch.

Boston Red Sox - anyone who follows their seasons on tv often finds themselves descending into something resembling a Kafka novel along about mid-August/early September.

Oops, gotta go. The Simpsons in on...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Piles of books...

A busy few days- we are trying to stay ahead of the catalog deadlines, and doing fairly well so far. "Auctions" is ready to go to Dave The Printer as soon as I can get a decent copy from my computer printer... I see a fast trip to Staples in my future. Our "Winter" catalog is out, and although sales are brisk there is still plenty of good stuff left -the catalog has 300 books in it. This one is not on the website, so if you want a copy and have not received one, let us know and we will send one out!

Piles of books everywhere. Went to a book auction last night and brought home a few more piles. That certainly helps the situation. My friend, bookseller Henry P. bought me a glass of white wine at the bar in the hotel where they hold the auction, then we went back and I proceeded to buy three more piles. Henry is evil...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Thar's Gold in Them Hills

Piles of books here, piles of books there, piles of books everywhere! I have a poem about that somewhere around here...it's probably buried in a pile of papers. One of my projects for this year is to make a serious dent in the "other" material, the books not related to our specialties of antiques and art, that tend to accumulate. Our first little dent in the pile is a stack of 5 books related to the 1849 Gold Rush. You can see a description of them by clicking this link, and since you are a loyal Foggygates reader, pay no attention to the $100 price tag; just mention you saw them here and your price is $75.00, postage-paid in the U.S.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Silly Sunday

The sun is out, we're getting ready for the SooperDooperBowl tonight, and it seemed a good moment to go searching through the old files for some silly email humor. I'm not sure who sent this to me originally, but it still makes me chuckle.

Computer Haiku

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Web site you seek
Can not be located but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Aborted effort:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

With searching comes loss
And the presence of absence:
?My Novel? not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao until
You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Planning Ahead? What a concept.

A drippy, grey Friday at Foggygates as we begin to finish preparations for our new "Going Once... Going Twice..." catalog of auction catalogs. We have a somewhat unusual situation next week, with two different catalogs (auctions and Ceramics - Glass) due at the printer on the same day, although since they are different sizes they will not come back at the same time. Since the dual-deadline holds the promise for much commotion and muddle along about the middle of next week, I decided to try to plan ahead a bit and get at least one of the two catalogs done, in draft form anyway, early. Pre-planning- an intriguing and odd concept. I'll let you all know how it turns out.

One of my favorite views here at Foggygates is out the windows of the Morning Room, which look across the corner of the woods and fields. In the evening as the sun goes down behind them the trees are silhouetted by the fading light, especially in the winter, when the leaves are down.

The silver setting sun hugs close
among the maples, grey-boned ghosts
march row on row, across the ground. Come night, alas,
they’re not yet bound as birds
that sing, against their trees
as night glides in against the day.

The grey of maples,
marked with scars,
shining in among the stars,
as splinters echo
through the night;
the grey and yellow
splinters bare
against the chill
night's frosty air,
which wraps our knees
against our coats,
we huddle close, our
breath makes ghosts,
the starlight beckons,
a timeless hymn
sung by the free
uncaring void which
a flaming spark
to light our
ghostly breaths
in grey.

sit with me
'till break of day.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Flowery Quilts -A Special Offer

We just got a really nice book in from one of our remainder suppliers-

A Flowering of Quilts. edited by Patricia Cox Crews. Lincoln; University of Nebraska Press: 2001. This is a beautifully illustrated book which features 53 19th century floral appliqué quilts from the collection of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska. There are chintz appliqué quilts, album quilts, pieced quilts, crazy quilts, and more. The text explores the background and history of the patterns, as well as the influence of gardens and flowers on women in 19th century America. A beautifully produced, colorfully illustrated, interestingly informative quilt book. Hardcover. 8.5”x10.5”, 147 pages, 53 color plates and some b/w illustrations, dj; bibliography. New. [95030].

It hasn't gone into our catalog yet; they literally just arrived yesterday. It was published at $35; if any of our blog readers can use one, we'll offer them right now for $10, plus shipping ($5).

Combine a copy with any other books from our Textiles Page and we'll ship all of them for free! But please remember to mention that you saw that offer here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Huh? This is all a little unclear...

Fascinating ending to a local art theft story in today's Boston Globe, but I'm still a little fuzzy on the reasoning of one of the players...

Back in 1978, seven paintings, including a Cezanne, were stolen from a Stockbridge home. One thing that made the case news at the time was how careless the owners had been. The paintings had been left on the walls inside the unlocked, un-alarmed house while the owners went on vacation. Now I'm not one to be paranoid, but there's "easygoing" and then there's "stupid"...

The thief, we learned this past weekend, was the local man who had always been the prime suspect in the case. After stealing them he had taken them to his lawyer, who advised him that fencing the stolen artwork in Florida would just get him into bigger trouble if he got caught. So far, so good. The lawyer says that the thief then left the paintings in the lawyer's attic without his knowledge, and he did not find them until a year later, when his client was shot dead over another matter.

At that point the lawyer decided to return the paintings in order to collect the reward from the insurance company, but found out that the paintings had not been insured (see note above re: "stupid"). He then moved them to Switzerland, formed a dummy corporation and spent twenty years trying to either sell them or ransom them back to the original owners. The Cezanne was finally returned, on condition that the owner sign a contract giving the dummy corporation title to the other stolen paintings. "Title" in hand, the lawyer then attempted to sell the paintings through a major auction house, but the sale was blocked by the owners. The lawyer is now considering suing the owner for "breach of contract".

Now I'm not a lawyer, but excuse me a moment while I go look up the word "extortion" in my dictionary...

Moral of the story- I keep looking for one. It's an odd world.