A few years back I worked at an antique store and, it was because of my employment there, that I learned a little more about furniture that I had previously cared to know. Where I would have once simply liked a piece of furniture because I liked the way it looked, suddenly I could tell the difference between mid-century modern and Art Deco. Biedermeier and Queen Anne were some of the names I learned, along with the phrases “outsider art” and “primitive.”
According to eHow.com, “Primitive” furniture items are crudely made pieces used in place of popular furniture of the era until such time as a better piece could be purchased. Since the pieces were only meant to be temporary, they were expendable. It is for this reason that they are a rare find today and, as a result, much more valuable to collectors.
The antique store was full of such pieces, some of it authentic, while other pieces were newer but made to look primitive. (A dead giveaway to spotting fakes is the presence of paint: because real primitives were considered temporary and to be thrown away as soon as something better came along, painting them was considered a waste of paint.)
Regardless of provenance, everything in the antique store was ridiculously expensive.
It was around this same time that Tim and I decided that we needed to buy a china cabinet or hutch for our dining room. Thanks (mostly) to Tim’s mom, we had acquired quite the collection that was in need of proper storage, pieces too nice to relegate to a closed kitchen cabinet. There was a vast collection of stemware, martini glasses, white wine glasses, red wine glasses, brandy snifters, aperitif glasses and demitasse; there were two types of dessert cups my grandmother’s china, water goblets and a set of silver that had belonged to Tim’s grandmother, along with various serving dishes. In short, we needed a cabinet.
But, because everything in the antique store was so over-priced, we decided that we would have to find our cabinet elsewhere. Employee discount or not, there was no way our budget would allow for what my employer was asking for even the ugliest china cabinet, so we spent our weekends searching other shops, flea markets and even dumpster-diving in alleyways.
It was at the store of a local retailer, tucked away in their crowded and damp basement, that we found what we were looking for, a rough wooden hutch with double doors, a drawer, with storage underneath. I saw it and immediately knew that it would work. For one thing, it almost perfectly matched our dining room table, a definite plus that I hadn’t even dreamed that I could hope for. Almost immediately, however, I saw some bad signs. First, there was no price tag on it and it was full of crap, scraps of paper, tools and odds and end pieces from other broken items in the store. To me this indicated “Not for Sale,” even though there was no such sign affixed. There were missing glass panes and handles missing as well, flaws which could be easily remedied but, to make matters worse, on one side the lower, outside panel support was completely missing, which caused both the wood just above as well as the wood on the back of the hutch to sag. In my mind there was no way we could make it work. Tim, on the other hand, saw a diamond in the rough and went to inquire about a price, insisting to me that it was a genuine “primitive.”
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After a year’s delay the sequel to Midnight Whispers is finally in the able hands of my editor, Greg and, while I know this is going to hurt, I’m excited to see things moving!
I just finished editing the galley for my upcoming book (Not Quite) Out to Pasture, due out this winter from Walrus Publishing. It’s always a thrill to see a manuscript, something that I’ve only seen on the screen of my laptop, typeset and ready to go to press! Now if I can convince Bold Strokes to move forward with the sequel to Midnight Whispers my new year will be off to a great start!