Friday, July 30, 2010

My Best Find Ever??

I have been on the hunt for TREASURE forever. It started with alley crawls with my best friend pulling our coaster wagons at about 8 years old. It continues with every auction and thrift store visit. Maybe I'll find 60 more Ansel Adams negatives at the next garage sale.

Did you hear about them? A guy bought 60 glass photographic negatives at a yard sale for $45. (Hell, I bought 3 flats of glass negatives at an auction last winter). Anyway he has been working to authenticate them for the past ten years. They had the BIG press conference earlier this week. The experts, including FBI handwriting analysts and a Yosemite Park historian, have concluded they they are the work of Ansel Adams. They are estimated to be worth as much as $200 million. Now that is the big treasure find.

I am happy to find something is worth what I paid for it. A profit is great. $200,000,000 is like finding three Van Gogh's (at $15 each). Oh my!

My best find, maybe, came from a very unusual place. I have this double sided porcelain BSA bicycle agency sign. I have been researching it for a couple of years and my correspondent in England and I are pretty certain that it is one of two known in existence. It ain't a $200 million item, but it may be a $10 thousand deal. I'm very happy with it.

The real story isn't the value of the sign, its how I came to own it. I was in Moscow in 2001. Headed home from a visit to the Russian interior. I looked out the window of our hotel and asked what the carnival area across the road was. It turned out that it was Russia's largest antique flea market. Oh Boy!!!!

My 13 year old interpreter and I flew across the street. We found a bunch of neat things. I have 1890's architectural drawings, glass magic lantern slides advertising Lenin, WWI photographs, 1900 transferware china plates from one of the royal potteries in St. Petersburg and other things. We sorted through piles that each of the sellers had set out on blankets.

My interpreter quickly grasped the process. He would ask and immediately reject the price without even consulting me. He would tell them to not to try that kind of price, just because I was an American, he was a Russian and wasn't going to take their crap. It was stunning. I just watched and nodded. Then about 3/4 of the way through I would let out a sentence or two in Russian. (The only Russian that I know) and watch the seller's jaw drop because now he thinks that I have understood everything that was being said.

We then encountered the BSA sign. The seller said that he found it in the wall of an old building that they were remodelling. We looked it over and damn it was old. England and Russia had significant trade relations prior to the Russian Revolution. Almost nothing after 1917. The sign was for a shop selling English bicycles in Moscow before 1917. I wanted it.

My interpreter/negotiator took over. How much? $200. Too much, its just a piece of rusty iron. Back and forth, da, da, nyet, nyet. I'm just nodding and looking thoughtful. He takes me to the side and says we're at $50. We should walk away and he'll come after us for $30. I said no, let's just buy it. He gave me his "crazy American" look, and we made the deal.

I brought it home in my carry-on luggage. (This was before 9/11). It is a very good treasure and it has the best provenance ever.

Mr. Flannery

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to the Furniture

I have been fully engaged in doing my real job this past week, culminating with two very intense days at a location 100 miles from home/office. I waddled home last night after 14 hours. I got a BIG greeting from Babe. He was very happy to see me (and to get outside before his bladder burst). I got cold shoulders from Gracie and the visiting cats. They are, after all, cats. And I got to bed after dropping my tie and suit at various places between the door and my bedroom.

Today the sun is shining and furniture awaits me. I have things to destroy, things to repair and things to paint. I'll fire up the flux capacitor and flee

Back to the Furniture !!

Mr. Flannery

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Round 2 Was Uglier

The hail and strong winds of the afternoon were followed by Round 2 just before dark. The power flickered and my computers and TVs stopped and restarted twice. Then NO POWER. Even though I live on the northern end of tornado alley, all the local power lines are buried so outages are rare. In this case, even I was able to diagnose the problem. A limb had fallen, striking my storage tent and leaving a branch draped over the primary power lines (something like 20K volts) to the entire subdivision.

I called Wright-Hennepin Cooperative to report the problem. All the circuits were busy. I called and called and called again. I called the toll free number, I called the local number, I called the long distance office number. All the circuits were busy. Finally, almost an hour later, I made it through to the ANSWERING MACHINE! I pressed 1, I pressed 2, I clearly stated my 10 digit phone number. And then I had the privilege of leaving a message if I knew why the power was out. I mentioned that the f------n tree laying across the lines may be a problem. Then, after receiving their "sincere appreciation" for my call, I was disconnected.

Two hours later I called again. I pressed 1, I pressed 2, I clearly stated my 10 digit phone number and was greeted with a message that the problem had already been reported. I was told that I could check progress on restoration of power on the Internet. Sure I'll check the Internet, without any power. IDIOTS!!!! I'll just fire up my gas operated computer and router. BAHHH!!

The trucks finally showed up. The guy levered his cherry picker to the branch and pulled it off, dropping it solidly on my storage building. They folded the arm, pulled up the outriggers and headed for their next problem. (I am sure that I will be able to note their progress on the Internet).

It looks like I am going to see what kind of Good Neighbor State Farm really is. I have hail damage to roofs and my truck and I have damage to my storage building and the inventory inside.

I do not do well without my computers and TVs. I could not even get to sleep without the TVs clattering. I even went to the top of the hill behind my house to see the repairs. I then came home and fired up the computers, the satellite receivers and the TVs. I then turned off the computers and TVs in the office and fell sound asleep to the drone of the TVs in the bedroom.

Mr. Flannery

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hail to Us All

The weather took an ugly turn here on the tundra today. Temperatures were 90*+ with high humidity. The perfect cooker for wild weather. Tornado watches, hail warnings, severe weather warnings, lake wind advisories, the tracker bar on the bottom of the TV screen was blazing away. I have the 2nd computer fired up on the weather radar screen for the MSP region.

There is a bright red spot in the center of the screen. Under the cross hair in the middle of the red spot is Flannery Bay.

The hail was smashing into the deck. Strong enough to break a light bulb sitting on the table.

And the hail stones were striking the lake with bomb like splashes.

Mr. Flannery

Friday, July 16, 2010

Homemade Steampunk

I bought a couple of homemade floor lamps at a recent auction. I saw them in a line of stuff from the barn and knew that I had to have them. They are so Steampunk in style that they are a must for my winter pump organ project.

The bases are poured concrete, each must weigh 40 pounds. The lamps are head lights from a circa 1920 vehicle. The poles are the best. They are steel grain augers. At about three feet the center 3/4 inch diameter steel pole has been cut off and the lamps are allowed to adjust on the the springy part of the auger.

I'm sure that the maker used them as work lamps in the garage. He probably would be surprised that they are going to end up featured in my house.

The lamps need new sockets and wiring. They are going to shine at my house.

Mr. Flannery

P.S. Check out Steampunk on Google. ( Its the name of the style that I've been flirting with for years. Victorian industrial meets digital. A very Jules Verne kind of feel. What would a PC look like if it was made in 1890 rather than 1990?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Office v 3.1

Its still a work in progress, but the new Command Center version of my office is close to completion. I have another HDTV to hang above the one on the left side of my desk, a 3rd old TV to place in the wire racks on the right and a small flat screen monitor to connect to computer #2.

And of course the desk surface needs to be shoveled off.

The two upper monitors are mounted on adjustable arms that I attached to the uprights on the wire racks.

Of course Gracie is still the queen regardless of which version of the office I am working on.

Mr. Flannery

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Arnold Friberg Dead at 96

One of my favorite artists died on July 1, 2010. Arnold Friberg, the son of Scandinavian immigrants, was a prolific illustrator and artist who's best known Prayer at Valley Forge is a national treasure. He also painted religious works, Old West scenes and my favorite, more than 200 works concerning the R.C.M.P., the Mounties.

Friberg was so revered by the Mounties that he was one of the few outsiders to be named an Honorary Mountie. His body was carried from the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City in a horse drawn hearse. It was escorted by a unit of R.C.M.P.

I have this print on the wall of my house. It was on the wall of my previous home too. I can see the Asiniboine Indian in the Hudson Bay blanket coat whenever I see such a blanket at an auction.

Washington at Valley Forge is the ultimate testament to God's place in America. Arnold Friberg made visualization of this concept available to all of us. God Bless you and Thank you Mr. Friberg.

Mr. Flannery

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Selling Has Started at Gypsy Lea's

Its the second Thursday of the month so things are jumping in Sauk Rapids. Our neighbor, Lillian's, which I don't understand but the women love, has been going gangbusters in the space next to Gypsy Lea's.

And our great junk has been flying out of the shop today.

This is a Hogerific chandelier that you may remember from a location overlooking Flannery Bay.

This is my favorite table. Mike made it with the antique Douglas fir from the Northern Pacific box car and the luscious legs from an 1880's box dulcimer.

A great banded newel post.

This hog organ stool sold about 20 minutes after I took this photo.

My primitive shelves and another set of lockers. Only 4-5 more units to go.

We all hope to see you in Sauk Rapids sometime this weekend.

Mr. Flannery

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A HOT 4th of July Auction

I went to an auction in the weekend heat. It was 96* and humid, which is a major heat wave for those of us on the tundra. And I am beginning to think that there never was a recession in the auction business. The prices achieved were often greater than we can charge at our retail establishments.

The auctioneers were selling.

The racks were filled with glassware, and tableware and dinnerware. And some where the hell did that come from too.

I liked this outboard motor shipping crate, but at $145 it was way above my price point.

A no big deal pink chair, for $70.

I liked these cupboards. They were even in range. I was the underbidder to another dealer on both items. I was more put off by the thought of loading in the heat than the price.

My mother wouldn't let me put it in my house, but at $475, that wasn't much of a problem.

I did buy some great books for almost nothing, including a 5 box, 100 volume set of leather bound books for $2. A 4 piece set of vintage leather bound luggage. And a resin mold of the interior chambers of an ant hill or termite nest. So I have books to process, leather to treat with saddlesoap and then conditioner and a pair of brightly painted vintage rockers (one red and the second yellow). I got home, emptied the truck before the rain and then showered to cool down to only about 89*.

Mr. Flannery

UPDATE: One of the boxes in the $2 lot of books contained a 3 volume set of out-of-print genealogy books. They just sold for $149 on eBay. YIPPIE!!