26 March 2013

Stupid Technology & Scared Dogs

New on the website - French magazine
advertisement, Guerlain Perfume,
Disaster struck this week, hence the late Blog.  Technology is a fine thing until it carks it, isn’t it?  One minute I was happily plugging away at the laptop, cataloguing new things to come into the shop and onto the website this week, and the next minute it broke.  No warning, no speccy explosions, no acrid smoke, no data turning lime green and bleeding off the bottom of the page in a dramatic sci-fi You’re Losing All Your Data moment, just blerk, it’s broken.  But ha-ha! yes I am a good gel who does backups, and for the stuff where I was less than a good gel the hard drive was recoverable so my slackness wasn’t punished.  How I hate technology. 

So now I have a spiffy new laptop (white, not my first choice but it was the last of its type available in any store because of the fabo price, so white is now my first choice).  But how I hate Windows 8. 
New on the website - English green Depression
Glass Lidded Storage Container, c1930
OMG why can’t computer geeks get it that normal people like their electronic tools to be user-friendly?  Taking good photos for the website is challenging enough without some stoopid computer system not allowing me to easily crop and fiddle as I wish.  But fortunately, if you know someone who knows someone who also prefers Windows 7, you can get a bunch of that operating system back.  Sort of.  Enough, anyway.  How I hate computer geeks.
Caleb has discovered Mischka's
secret spot on top of the bookcase
and seized it for his own.
Meanwhile, the search for a suitable play date for Caleb continues.  Poh the Little White SomethingorOther came by on Wednesday for their first meeting.  But Caleb was snoozing on the desk when she came scampering in and was startled by her sudden presence.  He immediately jumped off the desk and came for her, snarling with every single big bad Bengal tooth showing. 

Poh backed off to the end of her leash, but Caleb kept advancing with a quite aggressive stiff-legged gait.  But when he reached her and touched noses he realised it was only a nice little mutt and he was happy to play.  He rolled over and showed her his belly, and when that didn’t work he put his head between his front paws and his bum in the air, in a very dog-like gesture of inviting a game.  But Poh was having none of it.  One little snarl had entirely put her off, and she decided on a quick retreat.  But I’ve said it before – never run from Caleb.  So of course he chased her, which really made her run.  Which really made him chase her.  Her owner picked her up for some comforting, and we decided to try again another day.
New on the website - Chinese Shipwreck Salvage
from the Tek Sing, c1822
So Poh came back on Friday.  And this time I made sure Caleb was awake so he saw her at the door.  I carried him so there could be some closely supervised nose touching, and Poh was happy to give him a quick face wash, but when they were put on the floor together she hid behind her owner’s legs and Caleb could not entice her out.  But at least this time she didn’t run. 

Poh came back again on Saturday and her owner said Poh had dragged her in, so that was a good sign.  Unfortunately it was Calypso in the chair on Saturday, and there is no mistaking it when you’re a dog and Calypso tells you to Back Off.  So we’re trying with Caleb again this coming Saturday.  Hopefully it won’t be over before I have time to reach for my camera this time.
New on the website - French Art Deco cocktail
prongs with red bakelite ball tops, c1930
I was told that Thursday’s play date would be a golden retriever who is a sook for cats.  But it turned out to be two big golden retrievers.  Now this was an entirely different experience for Caleb – to have to look up at his play dates, so little chance clutching them in a quick headlock and giving them a judo throw.  He was cautious but inclined to touch noses and engage with the first retriever, while still leaning against my legs for a bit of reassurance, but when the second came to join in he was overwhelmed and fluffed up every single bit of his body.  I’d never seen a cat double the size of their face before, but Caleb managed to double the size of every bit of him.  And yes, every single big bad Bengal tooth was again on show, and the mutts backed off rapidly. 
New on the website - French gilded brass
Cherub & Dragon brooch, c1940
But at least they didn’t run, just backed away.  And because they only whined at him and didn’t run, he then regained his courage and again marched up to the first dog.  But, as with Poh, one little snarl seemed to have put the retriever off so he kept backing up, right out the door.  Caleb isn’t allowed outside on the street, so he had to stop at the front door and that was the end of the encounter. 

Given a little time I think the retrievers might be good play dates for Caleb.  At least he can’t immediately flatten these dogs, and it was funny to watch his reaction to meeting something a whole lot bigger than him.  He totally lived up to his name (Hebrew for Bold), even when he was unsure and a bit afraid.  He’s never met a person or animal that was mean or aggressive towards him - not counting that idiot a few Blogs ago who said he would shoot him if he could - and isn’t that a nice way to encounter the world?
New on the website - and my favourite
piece of glass in the shop right now -
French glass vase, c1900
In actual shop news, I have outdone myself this week and put heaps of new things on the website.  We continue to find lots of interesting things in our garage from previous trips, so being forced to go hunting to find new stock is turning out to be an excellent exercise – long overdue.  And how lucky are we to not be stuck in the middle of a coldest-March-in-50-years blizzard in the UK right now?  All in all, I’m glad we’ve kept to the 2013 Plan, even though I do still secretly hanker for a little bit of Paris.
Meanwhile, the contract has been signed, the deposit has been paid, and work is starting on the new part of our house on Thursday.  I told the builder to cut his hair and make himself look pretty – perhaps a few beads and braids in his beard would be nice – because he’s going to feature in future Blogs. 

A random photo of Mischka because she hasn't featured for a while and this is a nice shot.
She and Caleb have become very close lately, which is amazing considering how she
hated him with every fibre of her fur when he first arrived.

18 March 2013

Fake Tahitian Princes, Lunch at Christies & What Not To Do At Auctions

New on the website - a good selection of vintage
Japanese kimono silks & Indian sari silks.
This piece is Japanese shibori silk, c1940.
Every dot was tied by hand before the
fabric was dyed.

It’s a happy day when we try something new in the shop and it turns out to be successful.  Finally I finished cataloguing the vintage Japanese Kimono and Indian Sari silks and put them in the shop, and there hasn’t been a day since when we haven’t sold textiles.  This week I have also put a selection onto the website, so we’ll see how a wider audience responds to them.

We have also commenced the excavation of the garage, to find stock from previous trips that for some reason hasn’t yet made it into the shop, and wow we’re finding great things!  This week I’ve put a couple of really old French shop bells out – and I can’t tell you how hard these are to come by.  It seems strange because back in the day every shop would have had a bell over the door, but try finding them these days. 
Antique French shop's bell.  Incredibly hard
to find and finally in the shop.  These
ones could also be used as servants'
bells in large homes.

Every time I’ve seen antique French shop bells for sale in the past I’ve always arrived second and so missed out, but a few trips ago I was the first person to spot a couple of them as they came out at the Montsoreau Puce, so hurrah success at last!  But then they’ve sat in the garage ever since, for reasons that escape me (except for chronic disorganisation, but I know you aren’t so rude as to mention that).  But anyway they’re out now, with plenty more good things to come.

Calypso just loves wrapping herself up in
towels, and the wetter they are the better.
This week we had a chap visit the shop who used to work at Christies in London.  He immediately zeroed in on my Arts & Crafts pewter candlesticks, and knew exactly what he was looking at without reading the description tag.  Arts & Crafts design is seriously hard to come by in Australia, and so many people don’t recognize it, but I very much like the style.  And chatting with him reminded me that we have a lovely Arts & Crafts oak table in storage, which I will trot out quite soon because it will look very stylish in the shop’s front window. 
She knows she's not supposed to pull down
towels and burrow into them,
so when detected a quick retreat is in order.
The Christies man had met Captain Hatcher, the person who salvaged the Chinese shipwreck Tek Sing, from which I have a few pieces in the shop.  He told me that Christies once had an important - read: fabulously rich - client who they wanted to impress, so they invited him to lunch in the Christies Directors’ Board Room and served it entirely on pieces salvaged from the Tek Sing.  He said it looked suitably impressive, but washing up afterwards was tedious because it took a cast of thousands to carefully clean each piece, with the sinks thickly lined with towels and threats of instant death to anyone who damaged a piece.  I will photograph our Tek Sing pieces over the next week (and our other Ca Mau Cargo shipwreck pieces), with a view to putting them on the Antiquities page of the website soon.  And in the meantime, if you're seriously, fabulously, gobsmackingly rich and like to buy nice old things, just let Christies know and they'll put on a fine lunch for you.
But when all else fails, brazen it out and
assure everyone that you're allowed to be there.
I was chatting with another visitor to the shop this week (lots of chatting this week) who had attended an auction in Brisbane which was selling the seized goods from a fraudster who had pretended to be a Tahitian prince.  As you do.  He apparently stole millions of dollars from a Government Department, and spent it all on a lavish lifestyle and what appeared to be the most hideous household goods.  I told her I had seen a short segment about the auction on the television news, and asked if everything was as appalling as it appeared to be on TV.  And yes, apparently it was just as bad as I had thought.  Money does not buy taste, and the auctioneers apparently thought there would be minimal interest because this guy’s stuff was so dang urgly.

New on the website - a rare cover
from La Vie Parisienne.  You normally
only see this image as a reproduction
This one is real, baby.
But guess what happened?  And this is one of the reasons why we don’t do our shopping in England in the summer:  believe it or not, it often rains during the English summer, and that drives people inside.  Including into auction houses.  And people who don’t normally bid at auctions can get entirely carried away in what can be a quite competitive environment, and start bidding silly amounts.  And once that happens all the dealers just go off to have a long lunch somewhere because it means the auction is over for us for the day.  We can’t compete with cashed up tourists who are prepared to spend somewhat more than something is actually worth. 

New on the website - French Art
Deco drop rhinestone necklace
And this is precisely what happened with the fake Tahitian prince’s hideous household effects.  Bidding went through the roof for almost everything, much to the delight of the auctioneers.  I saw a man interviewed on TV who had just spent almost $1000 on something that appeared to be an exceptionally ugly easel, but he didn’t even know what he’d just bought.  Who can afford to spend a thousand bucks on something when they have no idea what it is?  I need to meet that man.
More bus tourists visited again on Friday, but this time we had Caleb lying in wait for them.  He is not as experienced as Calypso in striking an appropriate pose for photographers, but out of the literally dozens of photos taken of him some of them were really lovely.  Yet again it was Speed Shopping for the bus tourists, but they left with a nice selection of items.
New on the website - an original
image from La Vie Parisienne.

And in breaking news, we appear to have organised another play date friend for Caleb.  Poh the Little White SomethingorOther (some sort of terrier, I think) is smaller than Polly the Poodle but more stocky.  She is reportedly a sweet and friendly little mutt, and hopefully she will prove to be a robust wrestling opponent.  She’s coming by next Wednesday for the first meeting.  I’ll take photos if I'm not too busy rescuing the dog.

11 March 2013

Thwow Him to The Floorw*

New on the website - a rare original
cover from La Vie Parisienne
featuring a mermaid
It’s been another soggy week on the so-called Sunshine Coast, but finally the nights up on the mountain stronghold are starting to get a little chilly, and I much prefer to snuggle down than to slowly sweat to death of a night. But notwithstanding the bad weather sales in the shop were still excellent, so yet again we can’t complain. 
We had a bus tour visit us on Friday, and boy can those bus tourists shop fast!  A large crowd descended upon the shop, but it was all done and dusted within about 15 minutes.  No leisurely browsing for this lot, nosiree, just point and buy.  Calypso was a bit overwhelmed by all the sudden and considerable attention, to the point that I let her have my chair to escape all the patting and prodding.  We’re having another bus tour visit us this coming Friday, and I think I’ll have Caleb on duty instead.  Nothing phases Caleb – he’ll lick them all to death.

Calypso was much admired by the Bus Tourists.

Polly the Poodle came by for her occasional Saturday morning play date with Caleb this week, but things didn’t go so smoothly this time.  Caleb was thrilled to see her, and leapt off my desk to run to the door to greet her.  And she was glad to see him, and gave his ears a good washing.  But it was all downhill from there.  Caleb now feels comfortable enough with Polly to play with her the way he plays with Klaatu.  So that involved jumping on her back, slipping forward to grab her around the throat, judo-throwing her to the floor and then sitting on her, triumphant. 
Klaatu is considerably more robust than Polly the Poodle.
New on the website -
Art Deco girl with an admirer
Klaatu is always up for a bit of rough-housing and clobbers Caleb right back, which quickly descends into full-blown Wrestlemania, but once they’ve exhausted each other they curl up together for a snooze. But Polly didn’t get that she was meant to (try to) turn the tables on Caleb, and she didn’t want to play any more. She yelped and tried to run out the door, and only being on her leash stopped her short. But never run from Caleb, it just brings out the predator in him, so he immediately chased her and only being on his leash stopped his hot pursuit. Caleb really was just playing and no claws were involved, but poor Polly was shaking and needed to be picked up and given lots of comfort. I think we need to increase the size of Caleb’s play dates. If anyone has dog which is largish but very friendly to cats you’re welcome to visit the shop for a Saturday morning play date. But not too large – it is an antiques shop, afterall.
New on the website - American Matisse
Red Enamel on Copper Necklace
(Matisse is one of my favourite brands)
*And by-the-way, Python fans will have noticed that yet again I hark back to Monty Python for this week’s Blog title – so it really would be good if any mutt visiting for a Saturday morning throw down is called Roger (okay, Wodger).
But other things besides moggie play dates did occur in the shop this week, you know.  Sales again included lots of jewellery and French magazine covers and images, but also Roman, Medieval and Elizabethan antiquities, Art Deco glass and the vintage kimono and sari silks have turned out to be a bit of a hit.  I will try to create a textiles page for the website in the next week, so they can be seen more widely.

05 March 2013

Beautiful fabrics, expensive antiques & lots of rain

New on the website - French Art Deco
ceramic vase
We are so over the wet season, now.  Thank goodness Eumundi doesn’t flood, as so many other towns do, and at home we’re always safe and sound in the mountain stronghold.  If we start flooding at 200m above sea level the rest of you are in big trouble.  We had hoped for some fine weather so we could tidy the place up in preparation for the bank’s valuer visiting.  But of course he gave us less than 24 hours notice, and of course we weren’t ready.  The place hasn’t had a decent mow for ages because it’s been too wet, and the house is full of stock boxes that we’re still unpacking.  Plus it’s a framing workshop right now because we’ve sold so many pictures lately that some urgent framing was necessary.  All in all, not the best presentation for the bank dude. 

New on the website -
Amber glass butterfly tray
But we want to do something the bank doesn’t readily approve of – which is to borrow significantly less than they want us to borrow, and initially build to lock-up and then project manage the rest ourselves as we put together the funds to undertake different stages.  And doing something they regard as unorthodox requires Official Inspections, apparently.  I swear, it’s harder to borrow less than to borrow more!  But anyway, it’s done now so hopefully we can give the nod to the builder in the next little while.  And you all thought this would never happen.  Yea of little faith.

New on the website - Huntley & Palmer
vintage tin, Prunis design
Notwithstanding the bad weather, it’s again been an excellent week in the shop.  The copper wall is looking very sad and depleted, so I really must jolly Doug along to get some more cleaned up for me.  Jewellery is moving consistently, as it always does, but this week it’s also been French enamelware, Art Deco glass and some textiles.  Naturally, almost every thing I photographed for inclusion on the website this week has already sold in the shop, so I’ve had to drag the camera back out and try again.  We have no shortage of good stock to display, but I do wonder how all the customers know to buy the things I have just finished photographing for the website.  I find glass to be particularly hard to photograph effectively (in case you hadn’t noticed) but I shall make a concerted effort this week.
Artemis has been teaching Caleb the finer
points of stalking magpies.
Our enclosed verandah means that all birds
are safe, and the magpies know it and take
every opportunity to taunt the Gang. 
And the Gang loves it.
But while waiting for the copper and long lost stock from the shipping container to be unpacked, Doug dug out a big box of vintage kimono and sari fabrics that I packed away a few years ago.  They’re really lovely, mostly silk but also cotton and some silk/cotton blends, so I’ve spent a few days cataloguing some of it, ironing it and presenting it for sale.  I haven’t offered vintage textiles before other than the French linen we bring back from each buying trip, so we’ll see how it goes.
Four out of five moggies agree -
Magpies would make a Fine Lunch.
Meanwhile, we set off to look at the local antiques Fair on the weekend, probably the biggest in the region.  Yet again, I proved to be the world’s worst photojournalist by forgetting to bring my camera with me.  But there was nothing of note to photograph anyway.  This Fair is a fraction of the size of the big English and French Antiques Fairs, and yet it is so, so much more expensive.  Fancy having to go to Europe to find prices cheaper than Nambour!  By way of comparison, I have an amber glass plate in my shop that features fishes in the centre, and I have $22 on it.  At the Nambour Fair I saw the same plate for $82!  Get out. 
If only you could get to them!
As usual, Caleb breaks cover early and ruins
the stalk for everyone.
I always come away from that Fair very cranky at their prices, and now I’m starting to feel withdrawal about not going to Europe and attending some decent Fairs with decent prices, which normally we would be doing in the next few weeks.  I know it was part of the plan for 2013, but objectively planning for something and then actually doing it turns out to be harder than I was expecting.  I want to go to France!  But I also want to build the next bit of my house, so that wins.  Presuming that the bank will let us borrow a little rather than a lot, that is.
New in the shop, and soon on the website - vintage Japanese Kimono silk.
I'm very pleased with the beautiful textiles we are now offering, and we have a lot because
I've been buying them for years but not selling them until now,
so fingers crossed that they prove to be popular.