Things come and go all the time. My business is buying and selling vintage items. I buy junk and sell antiques I like to say. But they are all treasures one way or another.
As my business savvy and collection has grown I’ve come to see that I should only buy things that I think I can sell, but wouldn’t mind being stuck with if they didn’t find new homes. That philosophy keeps me from buying a lot of stuff that piles up totally unwanted in my garage. But it also gives me the opportunity to tell myself that I can buy this, that and the other because if it doesn’t sell I’ll just keep it for myself! In the basement.
The basement is filling up pretty quickly, so I pack my retail shops more tightly with wonders of the world… Hopefully I’ll sell something.
Most of the stuff is intended to pass quickly through my hands. Buy it, sell it. Fast. There are some things that I buy to keep. Maybe for a long time, or maybe just for a little while. Until I find something similar, but better, to replace them. But rarely do I get attached to anything.
So I was really surprised to find myself getting nostalgic and even misty eyed about selling a couple of wooden tables. But these were very special tables for me. Because in the truest sense, they were tables I had bought as real junk, restored lovingly, and was now selling as great treasures.
Mid Century Modern is my big thing and an iconic item in that design scheme is the Lane Acclaim Table. Lane is the manufacturer and Acclaim is the line. There are many variations, but the common thread is the black capped feet, the pencil legs, and the combination of light and dark colored wood that’s often dovetailed together. If you’re a fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And how gorgeous they are.
I’ve had a number of them come into my world. Round ones, two tiered ones. Step back multi-levels. Side tables and coffee tables. Usually I get hem in pretty good shape, spruce them up a little and turn them around to another owner. But these were different.
I’d never seen the surfboard coffee table before so I was giddy when I saw this one. A yard sale. It looked horrible. It had thick blobs of paint spilled on it and stains from wet glasses sitting on it. And it was covered in dirt. Looked more like kindling that a table. But through all the crap I saw the beauty and I bought it. And carried it half a mile to my car to take home.
Over the next couple of months I cleaned off the dust and dirt, and scraped off the paint, and then broke out my sander and scoured every single inch of it to bring out the original wood colors and smooth it to it’s like new state. I repainted the foot caps black after taping off the legs. Glossy, like the original. And then instead of putting on a coat of polyurethane, I applied several coats of tongue oil. It is so beautiful!
I saw another table, this one a side table, in an antique shop. It was in rough shape but I saw big potential. It went through the same restoration process as the coffee table and it too was gorgeous. I decide to keep the two tables for my family room. Fab!
And then I saw a third one. It was a perfect match for the other side table. How cool to have a three piece set! Coffee table and a side table for each end of the sofa. It too went through the whole process, with the same incredible result.
They looked beautiful in the family room. Soooo MCM! Love it! And for several years they were the focal points of my family room. Then one day I saw another set of MCM tables…
Coffee table and one side table. These were a little more modern looking than the Lane style. They too were wooden with the pencil legs, but they also had tile inlaid in strategic spots. I bought them at an auction with the intention of sprucing them up and turning them around, back into the marketplace. Into the basement they went.
As it turns out, I decided that these new tables were actually more in line with my personal taste than that lovingly restored Lane Acclaim trio. And so, the Lanes went up for sale. Another wooden table. Or two or three. But just a table.
So I thought. When I got a real buyer and the date of the sale closing approached, I found myself reminiscing about the history of these tables. At least my history with them. And perhaps for the first time in my antiques dealer career I was saddened by the prospect of actually parting with them. Turns out I do have a heart.
In the end, they are just pieces of wood. But wood has a soul and through my very hands on restoration of these gems I have connected with that soul. I’ve been fortunate to have found them and to have loved them, and I feel good about restoring them to their original glory. To have revived their soul. And now its time to let someone else enjoy them. I’m going to make the buyer promise to love them.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?