At our house we are at the age where we talk a lot about getting rid of our stuff. Nothing makes us happier that sorting through clothes or kitchenware or junk in the garage and finding new homes for it. More difficult is getting rid of our treasures. I use that term very loosely. I don’t have anything in my china cabinets that is worth very much, but when I think about getting rid of any of it, I get the chills.
Take my birds, for instance. Forty years ago, I started collecting bird salt and pepper shakers. Jim was in college, just home from serving in Vietnam, and we would follow my antique shopping parents as they traveled around Michigan looking for treasures. They didn’t have a shop yet, but I remember very clearly as a young girl our tiny bungalow in Dearborn having two giant walnut dining room sets in it, or several oak pedestal tables while my father refinished the tops. I think the obsession with collecting hit me then. I’m not sure if my dad found buyers for the furniture, but the inventory came in and exited regularly so he could bring more in.
When we went on these Sunday flea-marketing trips, certain items popped out at me. In time, I realized I was attracted to three things. Books, birds and majolica. I had no idea that a book person finds it almost impossible to get rid of their books. No one tells you this! So beware before you buy a book. Especially an old book. They are the worst. So to get back to my story, in our quest to get rid of stuff, I started looking at my china cabinets to see if there was anything in there I could take to Happicats for my sister to sell for me. I spied the top shelf of the secretary hutch where my bird collection marches along together. My husband was standing next to me scratching his beard.
“I like your birds,” he said. “I don’t think you should get rid of them.” Well that took care of it. It was all the validation I needed. The birds stay. It makes me sad when I see big collections of salt and pepper shakers at flea markets because I know some old grandmother probably died and her family didn’t want them.
I’ve sold things in the past and regret it now. In the 1980’s I decided to purge my majolica collection of anything that didn’t grab me. The only problem was that it just wasn’t grabbing me at that moment. After it was gone, I went through a mourning period. I kept telling myself that I could buy more if I missed it that much.
The point of all this is I still drag stuff home in spite of our quest to be rid of stuff. Three times a year I go with my friend, Betty to Porter’s Haywagon Sale here in Allegan County, Michigan. It’s a phenomenal sale held each of the three holiday weekends in the summer. We say we aren’t getting much, and then something will happen and we bring a truckload of stuff home. I brought a box of stuff home from Happicats last week. My husband said, “I thought we weren’t going to bring anymore stuff in the house.” Oh well!
I’m really in trouble now because Liz has several fabulous pieces of Opalescent Hobnail Glass in the shop. (Note the three pictures above.) I’ve seen milk glass hobnail, but the opalescent was something new. (I forgot I have a piece of turquoise, the little toothpick jar below.) I went right to it, like a homing pigeon. Hobnail glass is a type of Depression glass. Fenton Glass, Westmoreland, Duncan Miller and Anchor Hocking made hobnail. With the exception of Hobbs Brockunier, it’s not rare or very expensive, so it’s something that would be fun to collect. It comes in all kinds of pieces. Westmoreland made perfume bottles of hobnail. Fenton made all the decorative pieces we associate with Fenton; handled baskets, covered dishes, small holders, vases. Anchor Hocking Moonstone comes in every imaginable candy dish, creamers, candle holders; you name it.I think they might even have dishes and goblets.
So out of nowhere, to add to the hoard, um not hoard, I mean collection, I am in love with opalescent glass, white stoneware, transfer-ware, Michigan birch bark souvenirs…..