A Victorian Find, Outsider Art and a Death

I’ll admit I’ve been grumpy lately because my neighborhood thrift store—my honey hole—has been “discovered” and it’s super busy every time I go now. (Thanks a lot Yelp!) It’s a small store though and you need to go frequently to find the good stuff. I was there a  few days ago and left empty handed. That happens.

But yesterday I found three things. This one particularly excited me.

I picked it up because of its lovely patina (the color of an old penny with usage dings and dents) and I soon realized this was an old piece. Antique old. Nineteenth century old. Victorian old. One indicator: The kettle has “dove tail” seams on the sides and bottom which was a technique used till about 1900. The dove tailing on this one is irregular which indicates it was hand done.

It also has a maker’s mark of “A & I.” Hmmmm. So far no luck with the name, but oldcopper.org is a great resource for this type of thing.

And it got me thinking about all the hands that have held and used it. How many families have owned it? Or was it passed down in one family? Did great, great, great grandma in England bring it over when she emigrated to the U.S.? Old stuff does this to me. Sends me down rabbit holes of fanciful thinking. And how amazing that I could find it in a thrift store! It is sturdy enough to be used today (and lined in tin), but I would likely use it for decoration on a kitchen shelf.

Sold prices and current listings are all over the place–from $40 to $400. But the $300 to $400 listings are on1stDibs.com which tends toward overinflated prices. I paid $15.09 and will list for $125.

I also picked up a figurine even though I keep saying I am not a figurine person. But it was a quality Royal Doulton porcelain piece and quirky enough to be interesting—Fat Boy from Dickens’ “The Pickwick Papers.” He typically sells for $10 to $40. (I paid $1.59.) Do people buy these? Well, according to Worthpoint data, at least three of these have sold this year on eBay alone.

My third buy is a gift for a friend. So mum’s the word here!

Outsider Art: A Category to Explore

I love buying paintings, both for myself and my store. And while I do buy listed artists, I also don’t hesitate to buy unknown artists too. Student pieces. Those from Sunday painters. Typically I don’t pay much and I don’t list them for much. I think of them in the “cheap and cheerful” category–fun, original pieces of art on a budget.

So a few days ago when I spotted this small amateur painting of a lion’s face by Remi, it was a no-brainer. It showed some skill and had an intriguing subject matter.

Here’s a painting I bought for $4 last year and it quickly sold for $40 plus shipping.

This handsome dog painting was a Craigslist buy for $25. I sold him for $65 plus shipping.

This Copenhagen canal painting by Alex was dated ’76. I loved the moody colors and style of this. Paid $15 at an estate sale, sold for $75 plus shipping.

So no huge profits (typically $30 to $50), still for me it’s worth the effort. I buy smaller paintings that are fairly easy to ship and am open to most styles and subject matters except ubiquitous floral arrangements and generic wood landscapes.

Something to consider selling if you haven’t before!

Death of a Neighbor

A few days ago a large dumpster appeared in front of a neighbor’s house six doors down. Agnes was in her 90s and we wondered if she was finally moving into a nursing home. But no, it turns out she had died a few weeks back. She was frail, but walked our quiet street most days with a nurse companion. She always attended our annual block parties.

But now extended family members are disposing of her belongings. A thankless task to be sure. A few are making it out to the street in a free pile, but sadly others are being smashed up and put in the dumpster. Nice things, according to an upset neighbor. My husband walked by the other day and brought me home a lone tiny liqueur glass etched with slashes and circles. It’s nothing valuable, but I can picture Agnes and her husband Aldo (deceased over 10 years now) using them for Grappa after a meal.

I shall miss her indomitable spirit and generous smile.

Her death also got me thinking about how much stuff we leave behind when we die. Stuff other people have to deal with. It’s a huge, often emotional, job. Twenty years ago I spent four days helping my dad sort and dispose of my mother’s belongings. I was a wreck. And I realized I have a ton more stuff than my mother did. Gosh, do I want to leave this HUGE task for my daughters? I’ve decided to invest in a copy of the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson to help me downsize. After I get the book I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wishing you happy hunting,



  1. Sad that your elder neighbour passed away – it’s in the nature of things but I find that hard when it happens. I was interested in that book as well – I’m also a good candidate for leaving way too much behind, likely to get disposed akin to your neighbour’s belongings.
    Nice finds by the way !! I very much understand your fanciful thinking.
    I also enjoy buying art, whether “proper” or lesser known… I have recently acquired a lot of interesting vintage paintings… God knows when I’ll get around to list them… it’s a pity because it would be great if they went to someone who has the space to actually put them on the wall.
    I’m not sure whether to try them on Chairish – art on Etsy gets “watchers” but we like “buyers” better 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gabriella. Apparently my neighbor was “ready to go.” Still it will be hard not seeing her around.

      Would love to see the art you’re buying! I sold about 5 or 6 paintings on Chairish last year (which is good for me!) but they do take 20% commission (if you have more than 10 items in your store). I negotiated with a buyer on the last painting and in the end was disappointed with my profit…but I did it to myself!

      Just getting ready to buy that Swedish death cleaning book! Will let you know what I think.

      Ta, Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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