Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Treasure Hunter

We were able to visit Tom, a good friend and former colleague of Richards in DC. A treasure hunter, Tom's home is loaded from top to bottom with Asian ceramics, pottery, porcelain - jewelry and decorative items.

He handed us a beautiful carved ivory object which on closer inspection revealed carvings of baby boys at play. After challenging us to guess what it was, we discovered that the top could be removed whereupon Tom pulled out about 25 inches of chain and explained that it was a Chinese baby boy measurer. Only for boys.

As we drank tea from his lovely paper thin antique cups and enjoyed dim sum on 19th century Japanese and Chinese plates, he regaled us with stories of his antique hunts, great finds and the current state of the art in Chinese antiques. Apparently the Chinese are now buying up all the antiques in the U. S. because it's presumed they are more likely to be authentic. Prices have been driven sky high because Chinese dealers come in and buy literally everything.

Because I started getting more and more interested in treasure hunting, Tom passed along a few of his  tips: carry a small flashlight, a magnifying glass and a package of handi-wipes. Get there early and if you see something you like, pick it up and carry it around. If you decide later you don't want it, put it back down. He goes to yard sales, estate sales, swap meets. We laughed when he told us that he can tell at a glance if a yard sale is worth stopping at...if it's flat, it's likely to be clothes. If it's pink or blue, probably children's stuff aka closet cleaning.  And here's Tom's advice on finding sales:

Here's a link to the best compilation of nationwide estate sales that I have found  .  It's updated daily, steadily expanding, and extremely useful when planning weekends.  Each listing has photos and most have textual descriptions, and in my experience, the photos usually show about half of what is available.  Still, they will help you get an idea of the "philosophy of the house."

Ivory mysterious object
Chinese baby boy measurer - boys only

1 comment:

  1. That estate sale link is fantastic. There was even one in Fallbrook. Didn't look too good, tho. But a treasure of a link!
    Also one in Carlsbad with loads of photos. Also didn't look too good, tho.
    That baby boy measurer is beautiful. I'd love to see all the rest of his treasures.