Friday, February 22, 2013

Dedham Pottery

Dedham pottery is the perfect culmination of the things I love; bunnies, pottery, and Boston history. Did you know that the first blue and white rabbit crackle glaze pieces were actually made in Chelsea? 

 Chelsea Pottery
I know that Chelsea Massachusetts is a town across the river from Boston. But for the record we locals refer to every town with in a fifty mile radius of Boston, as Boston.  Back to Chelsea, the famous potter Hugh Robertson of Chelsea Kermaic Art Works, whom this talented blogger wrote about on Wednesday, started a new endeavor making a line of commercial tableware for the home. While his Dragon’s Blood vases where of huge importance to the Art pottery movement and acclaimed at the San Francisco World’s Fair  and the Paris Expedition, his company wasn’t a commercial success, and closed.

Dedham Pottery Factory Dedham, MA
A year later in 1890 Robertson was propositioned by Boston investors to start a new pottery business. Robertson and his new partners decided to produce a new line of blue and white crackle glaze dishware. In 1891 Robertson opened Chelsea Pottery and started making his now famous rabbit design. These blue and white pieces with the crackle glaze that he discovered years before when trying to reproduce oriental porcelain glazes, was his modern take on oriental blue and white porcelain.  Robertson had married his love of oriental techniques with his investors need for commercial success. Of course Robertson’s new line was very successful. Who could resist blue and white pottery with whimsical designs? Also the Arts and Crafts movement and the popularity of Japanese designs had made oriental and nature based decoration all the rage with the general public.

Baby Chicks Pattern
Robertson’s new endeavor had only one problem, the town of Chelsea is close to the ocean and that great sea air was distressing the crackling process and they had to move.  They found a great site about 15 miles away in the delightfully landlocked town of Dedham, hence changing the name to Dedham Pottery.  The blue and white pottery was a huge commercial success. They did briefly  introduce a green line of Dedham Pottery that was no popular at all. A green Dedham piece is a rare find.

This new success allowed Hugh Robertson to go back to making his dragon’s blood vases as well as continuing his experiments with glazes, making one glaze that had the look of lava. Sadly he died in 1908.

Sold for $1200 at Auction
Hugh’s son William Robertson would take over the Dedham pottery and keep producing their popular rabbits and continued to produce 50 more animal and nature themes including: turkeys, swans, ducks, turtles, butterflies, roses, lilies, azaleas, trees, and rare experimental patterns like the double scottie dog plate pictured on the left. It’s important to know that every piece of Dedham pottery is decorated by hand, not stamped or stenciled, making each piece unique.

Why Rabbits?
The first rabbit design was created by art student Alice Morse and her professor Joseph Lindon Smith of the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. A contest was held to make the first design for the crackled pottery line, and if you can believe it, the pair won the $25 cash prize. That prize calculates in to about $700.00 today.

Elephant Creamer
They also didn't just produce plates they made a full range of dishware and tableware including; plates in four sizes, mugs, bowls, service pieces, pitchers, egg cups, tea cups & saucers, and more. They even made special order custom pieces and sets.

See Maude's Circle Signature
They made their full range of 50+ patterns products with never more than 6 employees at a time. They had people to make the molded pieces, potters to make the thrown pieces, and of course the decorators. The most well know decorator Maude R. Davenport, she was a local girl who started working for Dedham Pottery in 1904 until 1928. She started when she was only 20 years-old, but because of her delicate brush work she quickly became recognized as the most gifted decorator. She signed her work with a tiny circle and her pieces are quite collectible. Her brother Charles came to work there in 1914 and notably designed the elephant pattern.

Owl Pattern
Magnolia Pattern
 William Robertson’s son J. Milton Robertson also worked there. J. Milton Robertson was the 7th generation of the Robertson family to be a potter and after his father William’s death in 1929, he started running Dedham Pottery. Also J. Milton had learned the secret art of making the Dragon’s Blood glaze and continued to make them. Sadly we don't know if the secrets of the famous red glaze died wigth him.

Hugh Robertson had started a Dedham Pottery Museum on site and visitors could see the finest pieces that were made each year. The museum contained one of a kind Dedham Pottery pieces, as well as many experimental pieces prized by the Robertson family. William and J. Milton after him continued to add pieces to the museum each year. 

Butterfly Pattern
J. Milton also made the important addition in 1938 of a complete Dedham Pottery catalog. This booklet has become very collectible today and sells for $50-80 dollars.  In 1943 sales were down, the country was involved in World War II and J. Milton Robertson  closed the Dedhan Pottery and joined the Navy as a commander.   I did find some references to him in later years being an authority on Dedham pottery but I don't know what happened to him.

Rare Beehive Print
Dedham Pottery was closed such a sad day for an important part of Boston and pottery history. An article published in 1943 written by By Braset Marteau says that “Visitors to Boston have usually included a trip to the Dedham Pottery on their "must" list. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts included this as one of its conducted tours for students of the ceramic arts.”  What was worse than the factory being closed the hundreds of important pieces in the museum and thousands of pieces in the factory were liquidated at Gimbel Brother’s Art Department. Cab you imagine a Dedham Pottery blow out sale? Marteau continues ”Here lucky collectors may acquire a piece of this wonderful ware for as little as one dollar or as much as a few hundred dollars”.  

One of those “few hundred dollar” dragon’s blood vases would sell for $5000-8000 today. Those bargain  one dollar pieces of Dedham Pottery will most likely sell for $100-200 dollars today, such a small price to pay for an important piece of Boston history. 
Rare Lobster Pattern

Buying Dedham Pottery
Always look for marks on the back of the plates.
1892-1895: C.P.U.S. (Chelsea Pottery U.S.) impressed inside a clover leaf.
1896-1928: Square blue stamp with DEDHAM POTTERY printed over a rabbit; impressed foreshortened rabbit beneath.
1929-1943: REGISTERED added under standard Dedham Pottery stamp; two impressed foreshortened rabbits beneath.
Dedham Pottery Reproductions

Two Massachusetts companies are presently producing replicas of earlier forms. Each of these retro replica versions is clearly and properly marked to avoid any collector confusion with the pre-1943 antiques. Also, the Dedham Historical Society, which owns the rights to the original Dedham Pottery trademark, has reissued a limited-edition lion plate with a new variation in the original mark to permanently distinguish it from the originals. 

Rare Green & Blue Sold for $8100.00

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chelsea & Dedham Pottery

Chelsea Keramic Art Works

Chelsea Keramic Pitcher 1870
This is a post about the most important Art potters that you have never heard of. I had never heard of the Robertson family before I started my homework for this post.  I will start with the Robertson's Patriarch, James Roberson. He was a Scottish born potter who came to America in 1853 to find a better life.  Once in America he continued to try and live his American dream working as a potter in different companies. First in NJ and then in Massachusetts where he finally settled with his family in Boston. During this same time he was raising three sons; Hugh, Alexander, George and training them all as potters.  
Early Red Ware from  the
 Chelsea Keramic Art Works

In 1866 James's son Alexander opened his own pottery company in Chelsea, a small city right across the river from Boston. Soon his younger brother Hugh started working with him. The brothers were making a red clay pottery called  Redware. Eventually in 1872, James retired and joined his sons at the pottery and they became the Chelsea Keramic Art Works.

4 Chelsea Keramic Art Works Pieces Made
 by Hugh Robertson

 This is the quick version. The Roberston family started making red ware without glaze and that looked like ancient Greek pots. Early pot pictured above. Thankfully the public disliked this style as much as I do and they stopped making it in 1878 and by 1880 everything had changed. 
Dragon Blood Vase
Sold for $6000 in 2004.
The brief version is that around this time James, the dad had passed away, Alexander moved away, and Hugh was experimenting with pottery glazes. Hugh had seen the Korean exhibits in the Philadelphia Exhibition and the Chinese vases with their deep red color called "Dragon's Blood" and the blue and white Ming vases with their crackled glaze.   He became obsessed with recreating these rare glazes. In fact the reason why you hardly ever see true bright red pottery is because hardly any potters can make red. In the 1880's no one on the continent could make anything closes than light reddish rose. When I say Hugh became obsessed with finding the secret formula for deep red glaze. I am talking working like a crazed mad scientist for over 10 years hours and hours a day trying to find the secret of these glazes.  

Finally his diligence paid off and he had success and made a few true red Dragon's blood vases that he felt were god enough. He also made a lot of experimental shades of red in many different textures. He also discovered how to make yellows, green, blue greens, all kinds of color combinations and a crackle glaze that would make him a huge commercial success later with Dedham Pottery. 

Hugh Robertson's best pieces are a pair of small vases named the Twin Stars of Chelsea that are now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They have a deep cherry red color similar to the piece bellow. See the glossy rainbow finish? The even glaze coverage and even color? Hugh was able to make a little more then 10 vases with met his expectations of what true dragon's blood should look like. That's like one vase per year of blood, sweat and tears. I hope that it was all worth it. True art pottery collectors will say, yes. 

Excellent Dragon Blood Color

If you are thinking of buying a piece Look for the initials "CKAW' stamped on the bottom. You can buy a good piece of non red piece of Chelsea Keramic Art Works pottery for $100-$400.00. A Dark brown-red pieces can be bought for $600-$1,200. The true dragon's blood pieces are very rare and very pricey.

These are historical pieces that changed the art pottery world and they need to be appreciated. Sadly the prices aren't terribly high because the CKAW pieces are not traditional what I would call attractive  or pretty. Some of them look like dried lava, or like something your kid painted in preschool. Proving once again that their is more to art pottery than it's aesthetic beauty. On the other hand it's the pretty red ones that sell the most.

On Friday we'll leave red behind and be all tangled up in white and blue. With Dedham Pottery.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rookwood Amazing Glazing

Rookwood  Glazes

Rookwood Vase by Kataro Shirayamadani

If you read my last blog you are now an expert in the history of the Rookwood Pottery company. OK so you know enough to hold your own on the subject at a cocktail party. If you want to be able to recognize a fair Rockwood price at an antique store you need to know about the glazes. If you want to buy a major bargain at an estate sale you need to know about the first and most important glazes.

OK were you paying attention in my last blog I told you that the first pieces made from Rookwood had no name, but were commonly referred to as what?           

A) Cincinnati Wedgwood              
B) Cincinnati Limoges     
C) Cincinnati Meissen

Of course you got that right, my attractive smart reader. If you aren’t sure then please read the fascinating post before this one...we’ll wait. 

Standard Glaze

Standard Glaze

                                      The most desirable Rookwood Pottery  
Standard-Green-M.A. Daly 1900
Add caption

glaze is simply named Standard. Not the most inventive name, for their most popular glaze and the style most copied over the years. The Standard glaze line is dark; the base color is mostly in brown, sometimes green. The background color usually starts dark and then gradually lightens with a yellow shiny over glaze. Each Standard piece when held in the light should look like its’ outside during sunset. The background color should look like its’ dissolving. Kind of like when you pour a bottle of Black & Tan into a glass. Each Standard piece should also have excellent high quality decorations; the key to Rookwood Pottery’s auction value is the artist and the quality of the painting. The better the painted image the most important and valuable the piece. Some of the most valuable Standard glaze pieces are portraits of Native American’s. Most notably the pillow pot pictured upper right painted by Matthew A. Daly in 1900 and in 2004 sold for $65,000 at auction. 

 Lydia’s Opinion

While I appreciate the Standard glaze line and understand why the pieces are important I don’t just don’t like them. The color combination just reminds me of my most hated vintage item ever Brown Drip Ware. I am not picking on any particular brand Hull, Haeger, Marcrest, McCoy, Pfaltzgraff, I can’t stand all your brown drip styles equally. I don’t know why but seeing sad brown pottery, ceramics, and stoneware with ring around the collar just makes me sad. I can’t even stand seeing brown drip bean pots and I am from Boston.

I know in my mind that aesthetically there is a big difference between handmade expertly decorated and glazed Rookwood Standard and mass produced Hull pottery. However my eyes like what they like.  


Mahogany by Laura Fry 1885
1897 M.A. Daly
The Mahogany line is better for me. I have another confession to make; I also hate Black and Tan beer. I am a red wine lover and an enthusiast for the color red in general.  Rookwood’s Mahogany line is made with red clay, without an under glaze and a yellow glossy glaze. The overall look is much like more pleasing to me. I prefer to see the clay’s natural beauty and the slight yellow tint makes the pieces come alive with an inner warm light. As far as value goes the most known artists always bring the most at auction. Recently this Mahogany vase decorated with lilies by Matthew A. Daly sold at auction for $2,500.00. Sadly prices are down on art pottery these days. Also some glazes are more desirable than others. I love the simplicity of Mahogany, but the market seems to like the multi layered  experimental techniques of more complex glazes.

Tiger Eye and Goldstone

Tiger Eye- Albert Robert, Valentien 1900
Close up of  vase on lower left
Gold Stone's flecks 
  Gold Stone Albert Valentien 1884
Tiger Eye and Goldstone are  desirable glaze lines for collectors. Listen up those of you who enjoy all that sparkles and shines. With their Tiger Eye line Rookwood used the same red clay but overlaid their newest experimental glaze, “Crystalline”.  Crystalline glaze actually contains all the seed materials needed to grow crystals and during a special cooling and firing procedure grows actual crystals structures in the glaze.  How cool is that? The result of these crystals structures is an organic gold foil pattern that looks like it’s under glass. The effect is like that of the tiger eye stone.  Collectors pay top dollar for Tiger Eye glazed pieces the "Swimming Fish" vase on the  above left  has an auction estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Gold Stone 
The Goldstone line used their other experimental glaze, “Aventurine”. Aventurine glaze is also a science experiment of sorts with a complex heating and cooling procedure. The end result is a fine sparkling metallic see close up of glaze on above right. See the effect like tiny pieces of glitter put into the glaze?  Below right I found a Gold Stone vase with an auction estimate of $2000-$3000. However the vase was described as Tiger Eye. I found that with these early glazes their is a lot of confusion. I found all of the early glazes; Standard, Mahogany, Tiger Eye and Gold Stone all labeled incorrectly.  Remember that just because an item is in a fancy antique store or brand name auction people make mistakes. You are not going to be one of those people.

Limoges: 1880-1884 Clear glaze over under (slip) painting. Check date on bottom.
Standard: 1884-1909 Yellowish glaze over brown or green ( black and tan dissolving) background.
Mahogany: 1884-1900 natural red clay background yellowish tinted glaze.
Tiger Eye: 1884-1909 Crystalline glaze, like gold foil under glass.
Gold Stone: 1884-1900 Aventurine Glaze, like tiny specks of glitter (see sample).

Check the bottom! Always check the date. None of these glazes were used after 1900 or 1909. If you see a Rookwood Tiger Eye vase dated 1945 in a fancy antique store you  know it's labeled wrong. You are now an early Rookwood Pottery super star!

I don’t have time to go into all of the different glazes invented by those brave folks at Rookwood pottery.  My favorites Rookwood glazes are Iris, Sea Green, Poppies, and Vellum check them out if you have time. But this isn’t about me it’s about the scientific geniuses, gifted potters, and superb artists of Rookwood pottery. Their innovation and skill made them one of the most celebrated Art Pottery companies of the twentieth century.

If you want to make a good buy check the piece out. Never buy a cracked or chipped piece. You are looking for even glaze, pretty form, most importantly you want beautiful decorations, perhaps even an important artist. All of the pieces are singed by the artists. Most Rookwood pottery books will have a list of artists and glazes with dates. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a piece make sure you research as you know the description may be wrong.  Most important of all buy a piece that you think is beautiful.

Rookwood's Claim to Fame!  

In 2008 a piece of Rookwood Pottery painted by  Kataro Shirayamadani pictured at the top of this post sold at auction for $350,000.00, the most ever paid for a piece of art pottery.

No one has guessed why it's called Rookwood 

 I'm not telling unless you guess.

Sea Green by John Dee Wareham 1898

Friday, February 15, 2013

Okay, today is Rookwood Pottery. 

No not rock wood. The pottery maker is pronounced, Rook- like the castle piece in chess that can only travel in a straight line, and wood-like my boss is going to bang his head on wood if I mispronounce Rookwood again. 

Rookwood Limoges 1882 -MLN
The Rookwood Pottery Company was founded by society lady, Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-a) Longwood Nichols in November of 1880 in an old school in Cincinnati Ohio. Maria’s technique of painting decorations under the glaze or if you want to impress your friends the official term for her technique was “under glaze slip decoration”. This technique was invented in Limoges France and is pretty simple, the potter mixing clay with water and adding oxides (color pigments used in glaze) then use as paint on unfired pottery. The challenge is finding talented artists and potters who can combine their individual expertise and produce high quality finished pieces.  

Maria and her staff of artisans successfully produced a fine art pottery that was one of only a hand full of pottery brands that was put in the same class as French Limoges.  In fact the first years of production people referred to Rookwood pottery as Cincinnati Faience (Faience is just a fancy word for glazed earthenware) or more commonly as Cincinnati Limoges.
Limoges Tea Cup-Jean Pouyat 1890

Do you know what French Limoges is? (Pronounces Li-mo-oj) Hand painted china made in Limoges France. I am sure that your mom or grandma had Limoges in her china cabinet and you were never allowed to touch it?

After the great success of the traditional Limoges technique the Rookwood pottery company decided to invent new techniques that could help them stand out from the competition. They invented their now famous pottery lines; Standard, Tiger Eye, Mahogany, and Gold Stone. The addition of these new lines defined them as a top brand of Art Pottery in the US. Then they put their new pieces in direct completion with the best pottery in the world at the 1889 Paris Exposition. Did they win? OUI BIEN!  Rookwood earns a gold medal and becomes an international force in the Art Pottery world.

Rookwood expended from their old school house to a larger facility and continued to introduce more line and new glazes. They continued to make each piece by hand with high quality decorations keeping with Maria’s vision of having each piece be a unique high quality work of art. The company was very successful until the great depression and in 1941 even filed for Bankruptcy. Each piece made after 1886 is marked with a multi-flamed RP stamp and roman numerals to give the date and the initials of the artist who painted it. The company did get sold a few times and officially closed in 1967. By the time they closed their doors there was Rookwood pottery in museums and important art collections all over the world.

The doors stayed closed for almost 40 years until 2004 when thanks to a passionate conservator a new Rookwood pottery company would reopen again. Check them out.
If you want to know more about the actual pottery lines I am breaking it down tomorrow.    

After researching and reading all about Rookwood I still have one burning question. Do you?

Why was it called Rookwood Pottery and not Longwood or Nichols Pottery? Guess the answer in a 
comment and the winner will get a big shout out!

Dixie Terminal Building in Cincinnati OH,
Rookwood pottery facade 121  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Groovy Grueby

Arts and Crafts Pottery Lydia oh Lydia Style:

The sum up: The term “Arts & Crafts” refers to the addition of decorative arts like furniture and pottery being recognized as fine art alongside traditional fine arts like painting and sculpting. For the first time ever as early as the mid 1800’s people are starting to appreciate daring crafts people who are creating experimenting pieces of furniture and pottery. I am talking seriously crazy stuff completely opposite of the popular styles of the time. I will tell you more about that in a later post today this week is all about art pottery. 

Hello friends, this week I am learning about art pottery for our upcoming auction. I need to figure out the differences between a $10,000.00 Grueby piece versus a $300 Weller piece. Today I am going to focus on Grueby.

William Henry Grueby (1867-1925)

Now pay attention this is a potter’s novella. To tell the story of Grueby we have to start our story in 1872 when lil’ William was 5-years-old, we’ll get back to him in a little while. Right now we’re learning about the Robertson family; Dad: James and sons: Hugh, Alexander, and George who were a family of potters from Chelsea Massachusetts, they formed Chelsea Keramic Art Works. Eventually Hugh started make an experimental pottery glazes trying to achieve a dark blood red color. By 1884 his dad passed away and his brothers left.

George Robinson started working for John Gardener Low and his father John Low at the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works. George brought the formulas for all his brother Hugh’s experimental glazes. Nice back stabbing brother. Worse the tile works was also in Chelsea. However Karma is a witch and now we meet up again with Henry Grueby who was hired to work at the J. & J.G Low Art Tile Works in 1880 at the tender age of 13. At the age of 23 Grueby has learned the glaze formulas from George Robinson and enough about making art pottery vessels that he leaves to start his own firm in 1890.

His first firm merges with another firm and doesn’t work out yadda yadda yadda. In 1894 he starts what is to become the famous Grueby Faience Company. (Geek alertFaience” is defined as  the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body )This new company was the perfect combination for success, with Hugh Roberson’s glazes, stolen by brother George, and again  by Grueby, on tiles and then on pottery vessels designed by George Pentiss Kendrick (a noted architect and potter), under Grueby’s direction and backed by wealthy business partners, The Grueby Faience Company would prove to be the most important Art’s and Craft pottery in American history.
Grueby continued to experiment with Robinson’s glaze formulas and made beautiful brown, yellow, blue, and of course green. Grueby pottery is most known for their beautiful matte green glazes. You know that green. Go to any gardening store and they will have pots, urns, and planters in that dark green color that was made famous by Grueby. Worst part is that back in his day the Greuby green was all the rage but hardly anyone of modest means could afford his pottery. Many companies started mass producing their own versions of his designs. Yes they were crappy mass produced molded pieces, but people could afford them. Sadly his great success ultimately caused the Grueby Faience Company’s financial demise and in closed in 1909.

But WHY? You cry. I know simple green urns. Go figure.

Because they are important and special. I’ll tell you why.

All Grueby pottery was made by hand and only in harmony with itself. This means that the clay should be used in their most natural intended shape, not in the fussy ornate ways in fashion of the time. Look at the popular leaf designs. Do you see how each leaf was made by hand and applied on? Each flower and each line is made by hand with the purpose of creating harmony and natural beauty.

Also the mixing of glazes and subtle decorations should only enhance the natural shape of the pot. That’s why the shapes at first look may seem kind of plain.

Look closely.

Do you see the matte green glaze? 
Look closer. See how the glaze is thicker in places?
See how the differing amounts of glaze forms an organic texture on the piece?  
See the variation of color in each piece?  
See the under glaze peaking out in spots?
Some pieces have crackled glaze, some have a sort of alligator skin? 

These are all meant to harmonize with the form and decoration to create a natural synchronicity between the pottery and the pottery.  Almost like the potter becomes one with the clay and is solely there to aid the clay in taking its ideal shape. The same idea with the glazing they would put on the glaze and let it naturally melt down the piece. Because who is man to dictate to nature?

I think it’s cool. Since the pots were all made by hand and the different mixing and glaze applying techniques were always yielding different effects on each piece that makes each Grueby pot is its own unique piece of fine art.

That’s why Tiffany Studios ask Greuby to make the bases for their early lamps, until they hired away one of his potters. The novella continues.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Estate of Mind

Cleaning out estates was my thing and I was crowned the queen of standard household antiques. Overwhelmed people came to me when they needed to unburden their troubles a whole house at a time.  As queen I would reign over Hummells, grandma’s Limoges, and Aunt Mary’s costume jewelry collection, rooms filled with forgotten objects needing a new kingdom to call their own.  I would raise them all up, organize them, and plan their relocation. Some would go up for sale on Craig’s List, some EBAY, some at an estate sale, the rest traveled to the thrift store. In the end my people were relieved to have an empty house and a pocket full of cash, I was happy to help people and to have given so many objects new life. I loved my job. The only drawback was that clearing out a whole house worth of stuff is time consuming for one person, even if she is a queen. I did hire a handful of helpers, but paying them a real wage brought my profits per house way down. At times this queen got paid like a pauper. Also with two children, both in elementary school, one with special needs, I didn’t have the luxury of spending 60+ hours working away from home every week.  I knew that I loved working; helping people, and giving new life to vintage items. I also knew that I needed a change.

Around the same I went with my mother in law to an appraisal event. I didn’t want to go, but it was Mother’s Day and I didn’t want her to go alone. The event was with this guy who used to be on Antiques Road Show and he would appraise 2 items per person. I brought two Asian pieces because I had no idea about Asian art, they could be Chin dynasty or the Christmas Tree Shop they were from an estate I was working on and just needed to get some information. My Mother in Law brought a vase that she was sure was worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

My Mother in Law is kind of OCD so we went to the event 1.5 hours early and the venue wasn’t even open yet. I was bored and started greeting other people as they trickled in.  I also started appraising their items. Once the event began this grumpy looking guy came in with ice blue eyes and a furrowed brow. He basically told all of the sweet old ladies that most of their beloved heirlooms were crap and that they should sell them now because the next generation doesn’t want them. He was not what I expected.

As he stared appraising items the people kept pointing at me and saying. “That’s what she said”. He kept smirking and looking over at me almost amused. After a few appraisals he stared asking me my opinion. We started joking back and forth and I saw that under that crumugeon fa├žade he was actually a nice guy. He even joked that I should come work for his auction house. After having her expensive vase appraised for about a hundred dollars, my Mother in Law did not share my views and started heckling him. Well heckling the way a well bred lady heckles. She started loudly disagreeing with his other appraisals. I became more and more uncomfortable and started to make for the door when he stopped me dead in my tracks. He said, “Wait don’t leave! I need to talk to you.”

My Mother in Law had enough and got up in a big huff and headed for the door. She turned and motioned for me to follow, but I told her that I was staying. I stayed and I went to work for him the following month.