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 façade 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.