Posts Tagged ‘collecting’

All that was left of my grandmother’s teacups were an odd few. One-by-one each of her teacup and saucer sets had been adopted and taken home by relatives. Of the thirteen grandchildren, twelve of them being girls, I lived the farthest away. If not the very last one to choose, I was close to being one of the last ones to make my selection. As my eyes surveyed the shelf of the remaining teacups and saucers, I spied an elegant porcelain teacup sitting off to the side. Of the few teacups that I could have chosen, I was drawn to the imperfect one.

No saucer accompanied the eggshell-thin teacup, but it was still pretty enough with its softly painted flowers in full bloom and it’s dainty little pedestal. My mom remembered that at one time there was a matching saucer to the teacup, but thought it must have broken over the years. She asked if I was sure about my selection, since there were complete sets to choose from, but I said yes, I was sure.

I took the teacup home and stared at it. What in the world made me choose this one? It was very unlike me, a middle child who tried so hard to be perfect, to pick out something “defective.” I cherished the teacup, but felt sad for its incompleteness. I realize now it was the part of me that had hope – hope that I could find a matching saucer. Somewhere in this world was a cup-less saucer waiting to be reunited with its cup! So began my quest. As my husband and I browsed through antique stores, he would always find me in the back corners searching through stacks of odds and ends saucers. Then when eBay came into being, I scoured the offerings to see if there was a match. Finally I gave up.

Although I gave up actively searching for a matching saucer for my teacup, I did not give up hope. I had, however, reconciled myself to the fact, that if I never found the saucer, I would still be happy with the delicate porcelain reminder of my grandmother.

One day when I was visiting my parents, my mom pulled out a brown paper bag. She knew of my quest. “I found this in some of grandma’s stuff,” she said to me as she handed me the bag. I opened it slowly. Having grown up during the Great Depression, my grandmother threw away nothing. After she passed away and the family was going through her possessions, we found a bundle of pantyhose packages tied together neatly with string. Attached to the string was a note scrawled in my grandmother’s tiny, Parkinson’s-affected handwriting, “crotch too short.” As I gazed at the contents in the little brown bag, I thanked my grandmother for being the pack-rat she was. For inside the bag was the saucer I had spent years searching for – she had kept the saucer all those years even though it was broken into four pieces!

After my husband lovingly glued the pieces back together, I put my grandmother’s teacup and saucer in a glass curio case along with all my other teacup and saucer sets. As it turns out, in my search for the missing saucer, I never went home empty-handed. I managed to accumulate quite a nice teacup collection of my own to pass down to my grandchildren. So thanks, Grandma, for saving the dainty teacup, even though it had a broken saucer, and thanks for saving the broken bits of saucer, too. We never gave up hope, did we?

Read Full Post »

“I’m looking for the other side of this earring, if anyone’s seen it,” a woman said as she sorted through stuff at a recent peddler’s fair. A small swarm of women hunched over tables and dug through tangled piles of new and used jewelry in hopes of finding treasures at $1.00 a piece. Camaraderie developed amongst the women as they called out their requests and admired one another’s finds, but behind their backs a few onlookers shook their heads in disbelief. Obviously, to some people this stuff was trash, but to others it was treasure.

All truth be told, I, too, am attracted to tables of treasure and peddler’s fairs. My husband and I have fun perusing the tables as we stroll through the booths and take trips down memory lane. The crafter-decorator-creative recycler in me has a difficult time ignoring some of the purchasing opportunities, but basically, as much as I enjoy the “thrill of the hunt,” I most enjoy the open air history lessons.

Bits of history, in all shapes and forms, are on display at peddler’s fairs. If you want to learn something about the history of toys, kitchen goods, garden equipment, furniture, tools, advertising, and just about anything else, a peddler’s fair is a good place to start. Whether you eavesdrop on conversations or converse with vendors yourself, there is much information to be learned. For the most part, vendors are very knowledgeable about their ware and some, when asked, will tell interesting stories about their pieces. As I look at items I wonder: How old is this? Where did it come from? Who made it? What is it made out of? How was it used? As I work my way through booths, I make mental notes about what I’ve seen, what I’ve learned, and the relative value of items.

Because old things have back stories that new things do not, I became a collector of random old things. It isn’t a regular addiction, but every now and then something special calls out to me, such as an old wooden Chinese cookie mold or a silver spoon engraved with my husband’s initials. I once thought everyone revered old things, but I learned otherwise when I bought an antique quilt several decades ago. A pretty hand-stitched quilt, made from old flour sacks had caught my eye during a trip. It was extra special because it had been “signed” by the woman who constructed it. I wondered about this woman and the story behind this quilt. Later, when I mentioned my prize purchase to my sister, she said, “Ewww, it belonged to a dead person!” That was the first time I realized that antiques and possessions formerly owned by other people were not considered treasures by everyone.

My home is  warm, homey, inviting, and cluttered. The people in my home are not the only occupants who have stories to tell. In every room there’s some found object that tells a story. Even though I’m attracted to the clean look of minimalist, contemporary-styled homes, I could never be happy in one. After all, where would I put all my treasures?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: