As you know, we have a lot of crappy old stuff here at the Farm.*
Years & years ago, before I began collecting
crappy old books in earnest, I collected crappy old chairs. One of my greatest finds was at a yard sale in New Bern, North Carolina– a set of four caned chairs. The cane was broken on more than one, and they were going for the gawdawful price of $100– that’s $25/chair!– well more than I had ever paid for a crappy old chair, but I bought them.
They have lived in the dining room in New Bern, in various corners of other towns in NC, in the sunroom in Cincy (is there such a thing as a “sun”room in Cincy?) and now they are in the corner of the living room, here on the Farm, busted cane & all.
From time to time over the years, I’ve devoted 30 minutes or so and 1/4 can of Scott’s Liquid Gold at a single setting to caring for them. They seem none the worse for wear.
What caught my attention at the time– more than 20 years ago– and what (in part) made them worth $100, was the stamp on the underside:
Some dude in New Bern made these chairs. That’s cool.
|Suter, John, furniture, 63 Middle|
I dare you to tell me that’s not cool. From the
Business Directory of the City of New Berne, N.C.: To Which is Added Historical and Statistical Matter of Interest (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton, 1893), 91 p.
One of New Bern’s earlier city directories, this volume includes detailed information about the city’s businesses and citizens. With the absence of the 1890 federal census, this book constitutes the largest printed listing of the residents of New Bern for that period.
And now, after all these years of faithful service– of late holding piles of “Cotton Farming” and assorted pillows– it might be time to re-cane these chairs so they can fulfill their proper function.
If chairs could talk.
*What I really need to do is represent all of this
crappy old stuff in two-dimensional space: one axis for crappy (vs not crappy), one for old (vs new). Tada! Four quadrants– each with its own space. Every crappy old item belongs in some part of one of those four quadrants. For the politically minded– think about the space defined by social conservative/liberal issues on one axis plotted against economic free market/planned issues on the other. (See this recent post about a book published in 1975 to understand the dilemma with respect to crappy semi-old books.)