Madison-Bouckville: The Ones That Got Away

Well, you can’t buy everything (although this never seemed quite right to me). Here are some things that caught our eye but remained on the field.

Great old cabinet with original surface and wild shaped apron.

Great old cabinet with original surface and wild shaped apron.

This old cabinet caught my eye with a vengeance. The surface is the original red paint with no later restoration – just the way we like it for country furniture. The minor damage  (one missing knob, scattered spots) were no deterrent. Look at the shape of the skirt and the boards on the left and right of the top – this is Country Empire if I ever saw it. I’m kicking myself for leaving it behind, but my budget was tight so it will find a place with another collector.

Massive wood bowl sitting on a painted wood settee.

Massive wood bowl sitting on a painted wood settee.

Another temptation: the painted decoration on this settee looked good from across the aisle so I took a close look. I found that there were two levels of decoration. The earliest was rather elaborate scrollwork, foliage and heraldic animals executed in thin lines of pyrography (wood-burning). The black paint was added later, then painted over with the bright enamels that roughly follow the first design. The original pyrography probably was done when the settee was made, in the mid-nineteenth century. The enamels were added to “improve” the settee around 1900. I was tempted to take the settee to my studio and remove the bright colors and black to expose the pyrography. Wiser heads (Iliana) prevailed, however, so it stayed behind and my list of uncompleted projects did not increase by one. It is a long list.

I liked the bowl as well – I always like large old bowls for the kitchen. But this one was just too big to make sense for us.

Two examples of the many sets of stenciled chairs I saw on the field.

Two examples of the many sets of stenciled chairs I saw on the field.

There were several good sets of stenciled chairs on the field on Saturday. Generally mid to late 19th century, good looking and sturdy, and averaging about $150 per chair. A practical solution for someone furnishing their home, and not a bad addition to a dealer’s inventory. I saw a pair of really good windsor chairs with red paint and little yellow dash-and-cross designs on the backs, but by the time I called Iliana and went back to check them out they were gone. In like 45 seconds! You have to move fast, even in 90 degree heat.

Adirondack style table with bark covering on the top.

Adirondack style table with bark covering on the top.

Iliana spotted this Adirondack style bark table. We liked it for its size – a good sofa or window table – and for the surface. The legs are sections of branches with the original bark, which is common for Adirondack furniture. The top was unusual: a generous board covered with bark that had been flattened and glued on. This treatment continued on the edges and ends. Some areas were loose, and there was a slightly over-shiny varnish added, but these could have been corrected easily in the studio. Iliana wasn’t buying “on spec”, though, so it stayed where it was.

Bamboo etagere with maple shelves, and an Old Hickory rocker.

Bamboo etagere with maple shelves, and an Old Hickory rocker.

Speaking of bark, there were some nice examples of Old Hickory furniture scattered around the field. Some had old paint, while others (like the rocker shown) were unpainted. Most needed light repair but generally the prices were reasonable. It was hard to find good Old Hickory a few years ago so I always give a second look when I see it – particularly the early pieces or the less common shapes like settees.

I also saw lots of bamboo furniture. These pieces are almost cliché, so you want to find the ones with interesting variations. I like the squiggly bands on the bamboo in this example. Others I saw had Japanesque brass caps, beehive-turned wood finials, and feet made of the root of the bamboo (it makes a nice knob-like end).

Both the Old Hickory and the bamboo pieces seemed functional and well-priced. Under $200, a little oil soap and wax, and you have a useful piece with character. Iliana and I passed, but no doubt a good home was found by all.

Massive aluminum bass.

Massive aluminum bass.

Finally, I was blinded by the morning sun reflecting off this big aluminum bass. The perfect accompaniment to a National Steel guitar?

Next time: what we bought.

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