Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Viva la 'Viva La Cottage'!

One simply can't visit Door County without stopping at Viva La Cottage.  The outside only hints at the delights to be found within.

Owner Angie wasn't there the day we visited, but we caught Carol working hard, (and looking great, as always).

Every time we visit, there's something new to be discovered.  Isn't this chicken nester adorable?

Pretty pansies!

Sweet little vintage treats at every turn...

...and galvanized goodness galore!
Viva la Cottage is easy to find, right on Hwy 57 in Sister Bay, Wisconsin.   Don't forget to pop in the next time you visit Door County!

Now -  fill your coffee cup and follow me on over to Faded Charm for all the delicious inspiration waiting for us at White Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day In Sister Bay

Sister Bay is a small town in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.  CG and I spent a relaxing weekend there and before heading home stopped at the local cemetery for the Memorial Day observation.
We don't have any connection to the area other than vacationing there, but wanted to take a moment to honor America's fallen heroes.
It was the perfect small-town celebration.
The American Legion and VFW units were comprised largely of aging vets.
This gent attended in a wheelchair...
...but stood with assistance to salute when the Navy anthem was played.  Our veterans truly understand the price and value of freedom.
This soldier represented the current generation sacrificing for our nation's freedom.  The crowd responded with a standing ovation.
For sixty-five years this man has played taps here.
...yes sixty-five years..
(he must have started at a very young age!)
 Thanks to those who put together the ceremony at the Sister Bay cemetery; it was a most fitting way to pause and remember the reason for the holiday.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Touched by History - A Soldier's Diary

I'm always on the hunt for old books, ledgers and diaries. I didn't find many at Brimfield this time, but picked up a few along the way.  Back at our hotel one night I discovered that one simple little notebook was actually the diary of a soldier.

"A. H. Leach, Co B 1 Reg Vt. Vol., Chickamauga, July 6, 1898, Ga" 
is the inscription inside the front cover. 

A.H. noted that he was mustered in to service on May 16, 1898 and arrived in Chickamauga on May 23rd.
 There are less than six pages filled with his notes. I didn't take the time to read them that night, but did look at the last page.
The final entry on July 18, 1898:  "...Still sick sick all night..."
I remember remarking casually 'I wonder if he died?'

After arriving home, I read through all the pages. 

He mentioned receiving letters, sending money and pictures home, guarding prisoners...

Tucked in a pocket in the notebook I found railroad receipts for a package that he sent to Sheldon, Vt on July 4th. I can't quite make out his diary entry for that date.

Recently I googled the name A.H. Leach and found a Vermont cemetery record:  "Leach, Adelbert H...25 July 1898 at Chickamauga Battlefield..."  The cause of death wasn't noted so I dug a bit more. (Last year, CG and I visited the Chickamauga National Military Park.  It's a sobering yet beautiful area, best known for it's role in the Civil War.  What I didn't remember was that it played a part in the Spanish-American war as well.)
Here's what I found:
"Thirty years after the war, a camp was established on the old battlefield to train men for the Spanish-American War. The camp was named after Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga”. During the brief time the camp was in operation, disease ran rampant here and men died by the score.... ending with more deaths than the American forces suffered during all of the fighting in Cuba"

I then discovered a heart-breaking account of the conditions that A.H. Leach and his comrades endured at Chickamauga.  "...The First Vermont Volunteers did not see battle but did experience indescribable misery through the Nation's neglect.  I am certain the Regiment would have preferred, yes, welcomed, battle to the suffering, heat, poor water, typhoid fever, dysentery, disgusting food and lack of medical equipment at Chickamauga.  Vivid, undimmed by the years, is my memory of the suffering of the sick, their courageious fights to live, and the despair of those trying to aid them.  All honor to them....who went stoically about their duties, half sick, through that terrible experience. Soldiers true, all of them..."  You can read much more of this account from Vermont in the Spanish American War by clicking here.  
Later in the same text, I found this:
"Pvt. Adelbert H. Leach,. Co. B. Fairfield
Died July 25, 1898, at Division Hospital, Camp Thomas, Ga., of typhoid fever...Age 21."

As we celebrate Memorial Day, one of the soldiers I'll be thinking of is a young man I've just 'met' and giving thanks for all who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's About Time

In spite of the fact that I was a bad blogger and got no photos of the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to say thank you to our wonderful buyers. It was great to see so many familiar faces and meet some of you for the first time.  The next market is June 24th - get it on the calendar now!
This year has been crazy busy and Kathy and I have decided to back off the shows a bit - we won't be teaming up for anymore shows that involve overnight travel this year, except for the fabulous Junk Bonanza - of course!  We've both been so busy that it's resulted in no time to devote to decorating our own homes with fab finds. I've been away from home a lot this spring and haven't had time to spend with CG, either.  (We're going to remedy that with a little weekend getaway.)

So while you may not find Gracie's Cottage at quite as many shows this year, we'll still be bringing you our fun and wacky finds.  (Any 'local' shows I add on short notice will show up on my sidebar and on my facebook page.)

I've just re-stocked my space at the Waterloo,(WI), Antiques Mall.  My booth is right at the top of the stairs and it's chock full. I refill it every week with fresh finds.
I've also been busy restocking my etsy shop. and will be adding lots more in the next week.  You'll find some of these fabulous vintage watch dials there, soon.
Are YOU trying to make more time for yourself this summer?  If so, I wish you much success!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brimfield Finds & Answers

Good morning!  Four boxes of my Brimfield treasures all still in route, but I've got a few things to show you, in no particular order. I'll also answer a couple of questions I've had.  If you have a Brimfield question - let me know!
This texture of this Irish linen bookbinder's thread grabbed me.

Gina asked how we managed to avoid getting crushed in the opening crowds.
Our strategy this year was to arrive early and stake a position on the edge of whichever group we were in, preferably next to the road, a garbage can or a fence.  At the opening moment, we hung back for just a few seconds and then went in, again along the edge of the crowd.  We'd head toward the back or outside edge of a field - the crowds disperse quickly throughout a field.
No one will be surprised that I couldn't leave without these.

I'm often asked if you can buy for resale at Brimfield. Yes. You have to work at it, but it can be done. You do need to be careful not to be caught up in the 'wonderfulness' of something unusual. When I'm out purchasing items, there's a continuous ticking in my head - I'm calculating cost, expenses and potential profit.  Don't forget to consider  expenses. (In the case of Brimfield, it's travel, hotels, meals, shipping....)  I know what percentage I need to add to the item cost to find the true cost.  Experienced sellers know this, but I do meet a lot of young people just starting out.
This "Kate Greenaway Almanak for 1925" is not in great condition, but the illustrations are fabulous.

As much as I love you, my fellow dealers, my customers, my merchandise, this IS a business.  When I started, (part-time), in 1996, I decided I would always try to buy 'smart', never, ever use family money for my business, and always pay cash for merchandise.  If I do choose to purchase with a credit card, the balance is paid in full when the bill comes in.  ***This is what works for me - your situation may be different.***  At Brimfield, credit cards are not an option anyway, so be sure to bring plenty of cash.  It would be no fun to be there for a week with no money to spend! 

I love early books, (just for the look, mainly), and didn't find as many as I would have liked.

If you are fortunate enough to be at Brimfield 'just for fun', then have at it!  I can promise you'll enjoy shopping just for yourself!  I didn't initially buy this tote to keep...

...but it will probably stay with me, at least for awhile.  :)
It may end up on my bench with a portion of the sea glass collection I purchased. (Thank you USPS for flat rate boxes!!)

I love the patina and original labels on these old dumbbells.

You knew I'd come home with some letters, right?

There are 10 - 12 pounds of these in various sizes.  The largest are about 1 1/2" tall.

Margaret spotted a box of 12,000 'pearl-head' jewelry pins for me. Yes, 12,000.  You know I like multiples!
And these...
...probably thousands of 'jewels', many still individually wrapped.

This old beauty is a wax seal...

...letter 'R'.

That's all for today!  There are more pics to come, but I'll probably just post them on my facebook page as time allows.  Have yourselves a wonderful Tuesday.

Don't forget the Elkhorn Antique Market in Elkhorn, Wisconsin this Sunday, 7-3.  We'll be in the Small Animal Building, Space 29!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brimfield - Random Thoughts

What a great time Margaret and I had roaming the fields of Brimfield, Massachusetts last week!   Brimfield is a tiny town with a two-lane highway running  through it.  On either side of the highway are 21 fields which fill with about 6000 dealers three times a year.  Different fields open on different days.  The show officially starts on Tuesday, but upon arrival Monday afternoon we learned that there was great early shopping to be done in some areas.  Here you'll see random photos, most taken on the last day - the first sunny day we had. I'll share some finds in another post.  Monday thru Thursday we encountered rain.  Never exceedingly heavy, but the fields were muddy.  Comfort always trumps fashion at Brimfield, and with layers and rain gear, we were not deterred by the weather.
We made it for the opening of all the best fields.  Shows open anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
We were up between 4:00 and 5:30 every day to get into Brimfield to get in line early and to have good parking. (We made multiple trips back to our van each day to drop off purchases.)  Lines stretch for what seems like miles just before an opening.
The line for the J&J show on Friday is the most genteel.  Everyone is polite.  In some of the fields it's a mad rush and we learned how to get in quickly without getting caught up in that, (after a horrible experience last year!)
Brimfield this year was a nice  mix of vintage and antiques.  We saw far more industrial items than we did last year.
Japanese buyers were plentiful.  Most often we saw them purchasing clothing and industrial items.
Pricing varies widely at Brimfield.  Some dealers had high-end show prices. If we stopped at a booth and saw only three digit numbers on the tags, we moved on.  There's plenty to be found at reasonable prices.
Styles are mixed.  One of the most frustrating things about Brimfield is that a large portion of the dealers do not tag their items at all.  With crowded booths, waiting to get the attention of the seller to ask a price can be very frustrating.
We didn't see a lot of common 'brown' furniture.  (You'll note that this booth had no one even looking at the merchandise.)  Most furnishings we saw being purchased were primitives or cool industrial pieces.
There were only a handful of dealers featuring white or Annie Sloan colors. Those booths did not appear to be very busy either. The farmhouse primitives with original finish seem to be more in demand at Brimfield.  (I think the Midwest may tire of white soon; we're always a bit behind the curve - but I reserve the right to be wrong!)
Because we flew in, we were limited to purchases of small items.  I think it would be terribly frustrating to be on the hunt for larger pieces at Brimfield.  Buying teams from Ralph Lauren, J Crew and others swoop in and grab the best items so fast that it makes your head spin. 'Sold' tags are slapped on big piles of stuff and off they go.
Old advertising is plentiful.  I loved this sign.
Displays are random...tables filled as things come out of the box.  You can't overlook a table like that; there can be treasures among the trivial.
At $1000, this little beauty was still available on Friday.
There were things on my list that I did not find, but in the end I shipped 200 lbs. of wonderful goodies and can't wait for all of my boxes to arrive this week.  My biggest regret was not meeting some of my Aussie buyers, Mike & Lizzie of Hobohemia.  Because I stooooopidly did not check my FB page for a couple of days, I missed connecting with them.  :(
Here's Margaret, as we were taking our last load of the week to Fed-Ex.  (A mini-van rental is essential if you plan to purchase much!)
Another Brimfield essential - stamina.  We walked 4 - 7 miles each day and then had to haul all of our finds into our hotel, pack 'em up and back out to Fed-Ex.  There are few places to rest at Brimfield;  it's difficult to find an empty table to sit down for a quick lunch.  Margaret was a perfect shopping partner; we work at that same pace and have different tastes so were not competing for the same items.  Can't wait to do it all again next year!