Mystery Solved, Fab Finds and a Reject

If nothing else, this business is infinitely interesting!! You can learn something new every day and after decades still have things to learn. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do–learn something every day to help me make better and smarter choices.

I’ll be honest, it gets frustrating after hours of research to find myself no further ahead on knowing who made a piece. Such was the case for this little pot.

I found it in a Houston, Texas, Goodwill thrift store years ago when I was visiting my youngest brother who lived there at the time. Every visit we’d eventually pop into this store for a few minutes but I rarely found much. The store lacked both vintage and quality stuff. But on one visit I found this small handmade pot with carved and applied details. I thought it was darn cool and it would fit in my luggage!

The bottom was initialed but gosh darn it I struggled to find out the maker. I spent 90 minutes looking, then stopped and set it aside. Months later I finally added it to a lot with two other pots and listed the group in my Etsy store for $65.

Fast forward and I was contacted by a potential customer who wanted just one piece of the lot. That piece. The Houston piece, which I thought was the best piece of the lot. But that got me thinking–had I done due diligence in researching what I thought was a darn cool piece of pottery? Not really. In the end I deactivated the listing and decided it needed more research.

That was over a year ago. During that year it adorned a bookshelf in our family room. But today, I finally started researching it again and within 15 minutes found the artisan. I realized before I had been searching on the initials PVN, not BVN!

BVN is the mark for Brian VanNostrand, a self-taught potter and philosopher out of West Virginia. His earthy aesthetic is in a word…fabulous.

Love these lidded jars!

He signs his name on his bigger pieces, but those with a smaller base are initialed “BVN.” Most of his pieces sell for over $100. I’ve listed this smaller piece for $54.

If you’re digging his aesthetic like me, please visit Brian’s Etsy store VanNostrand Studio and support his work.

I was perusing eBay the other day and found a charming sterling silver bird brooch encrusted with gemstones. It was stamped NB on the back which the seller didn’t know was the mark for Nicky Butler. His extravagant sterling and gemstone pieces have quite a following. I made an offer (which was accepted) and even though I had paid up for this, I will make a nice profit.

Both the signed pottery vase and the bird brooch were good reminders that the more you know, the better!!

Now my neighborhood thrift store has been tough picking lately–too crowded, too expensive and not enough good stuff. For over nine years it has been my honey hole and that may be ending. (I think I’ve been saying that for years!) That said, I did rather fancy these vintage naive linocuts. They are just the kind of thing I like to sell. They have no signatures (alas, alas), but are original art pieces, framed and matted, and charming.

This one possibly represents an orange or avocado tree.

This one looks like a pastel drawing of a peach or perhaps the view looking down on a plant.

I’ll list these two together for $60.

This purple-clad person has a cool ’70s vibe to me. Man or woman??

Not Picassos but still worth picking up.

Now this handmade pottery candlestick was a FreeCycle find and you gotta love free stuff, but after I picked it up I just wasn’t feeling it!! It was much bigger than I expected, heavy (almost two pounds), crudely made and came encrusted with a ton of red candle wax. (It took me 20 minutes of soaking it in hot water and digging it out to clean this piece.)

Even after cleaning it up, I just didn’t find it appealing and knew it was going to be a hard (really hard) sell. In the past I would have still listed it, but today I am happy to re-donate it. I’ve learned some things just aren’t worth the trouble trying to sell online.

I’ll close for now wishing my U.S. readers a happy and safe Thanksgiving tomorrow.

As always, happy hunting,


P.S. If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas I have quite a few things on sale in my Etsy store.

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