A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Vitrine

A few weeks ago, I was at the auction all by myself--a first. I had been salivating over this particular sale for about three weeks; some of the items were on preview and they were particularly fine. One thing I knew I wanted to bid on was a pair of barrister bookcases. Those are the stackable units with the glass doors that flip up. Perfect for my library; I don't know if it's the age of the house, proximity to the train tracks, the highway, or what, but I've got particularly grimy dust in this place like I've had in no other. I love the idea of putting my books (and everything else) behind doors, preferably glass ones so they can be seen without getting too dirty.

Nobody wanted to go to this particular auction, though. At the last minute I decided I didn't need permission or company, and took off alone. The sale was everything I had hoped for, and more. One consigner had stuff from her grandmother's Fifth-Avenue apartment, like the bronze cheval mirror I was coveting (but couldn't lift even the corner of). The mirror went for too much, though, as did the bookcases. I contented myself with a flow blue bowl....I've loved flow blue since I can remember, but never owned any. This auction had a whole tableful of gorgeous flow blue china: to-die-for tureens, with covers intact, platters, sets of plates, and so forth, but this single soup bowl was the only item that didn't go over my budget. Between satisfying my curiosity over the pricey items and acquiring the blue bowl, I was a happy girl.

And then the vitrine came up on the block. A huge, ornate, gilded what-not with shelves and doors and beveled mirrors and cabriole legs and little carved cornices everywhere. I had seen it before the auction started, but not paid any attention to it. Then the auctioneer said, "Isn't this gorgeous? It's the kind of piece you would find in one of those Newport mansions!" A wave of auction fever swept over me and I started to bid. At a point, I said $325 and nobody said $350. It was mine.

For those who have never had auction fever, let me explain. There's a zoned-out have-to-have frenzied period where you bid and bid, frequently followed by a "what the hell have I just done?" moment right after the auctioneeer asks to see your paddle so he can write down your number and hold you to your bid. That's the moment I had. How was I going to get this thing home? What did I have to put in it? And how would it look with my sedate Sheraton and Hepplewhite pieces?

The first question was answered pretty quickly. Two of my neighbors were there and had just bought pieces so monstrous that they were contracting the auction house to deliver them. The bulked-up delivery dudes didn't want any extra money to go around the corner with my relatively dinky case. Serendipity! Two days later, the delivery dudes had a nice tip, the neighbors had a token of my appreciation, and the vitrine was installed in my front parlor.

I think it looks great. It's in very good condition, and it's real gilt, not just gold paint. I have no end of tchotchkes to stick in it, so no problem there. The loveseats, Pembroke tables, and even the mahogany breakfronts have been very accomodating. Similar items online are being offered for many thousands of dollars. I think I got a deal!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

reel guilt

10:09 PM  

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