at the Auction: The Tale of Two Sales

The Americana Collection of William K Dupont was successful at Sothebys and hit it out of the ballpark in Manheim, Pa too! A testament to a great collector.

A well rounded and judicious collector is a joy and a Godsend. They rarely take into account the cost of an item but covet an item for what it brings to the collection as a whole. And good thing, because intact a collection is more than the sum of its parts.

A wonderful example of this was the collection of William K Dupont at his home Rocky Hill. He specialized in the area around his home and was an expert on all things Delaware Valley – from ironwork to documents. He lived and breathed his collecting and was admired by the auctioneers and dealers that helped him amass this extraordinary grouping of everyday Pennsylvania living -two generations of Philip Bradleys, Joe Kindig, Skip Chalfant, Jim Kilvington, Vernon Gunnion, and a few others who were able to buy directly from local families or were victorious at local sales.

A short film done by Sotheby’s to promote their auction gives us a rare look inside.

Over the course of decades, William K. du Pont carefully amassed one of the greatest private collections of Americana ever assembled. The definition of a true connoisseur, Mr. du Pont was a devoted scholar who sought to preserve artifacts from early American history, from candlesticks and keyholes to elaborate cabinets and bookcases. In this video, Mr. du Pont’s friends, relatives and colleagues explore what made him and his collection so exemplary.

To see the importance that Sothebys places on the collection is praise enough but our story only gets better from here. As auction houses often do- they stagger a collection. Sotheby’s came in and took what they considered the “best” lots. The line-and-berry furniture and the Sulphur inlay all went to the New York showrooms. But Mr Dupont had collected everything that an 18thC house would use. And the more utilitarian and less glamorous objects were now available for a third, local auction. John Hess in Manheim got the nod and I suspect it was the ride of a lifetime for him. Nestled in the Pennsylvania countryside across the street from Roots Market and Amish small animal auctions- Mr Hess weekly runs through a plethora of country estate sales. Gates, baskets, dishes and the occasional buggy. So much that from time to time, a gem comes up and I imagine that Rocky Hill might well have had a few of these.

So after Sothebys has its sale on Jan 22. Mr Hess offered up the items deemed less likely to achieve success in New York City.

Looking over the auction I warned my husband and partner that the prices would be high because at one hour before the start, a pair of 18th C andirons that I wanted had not advanced past $15.00. I knew that noone was going to bid before the auction actually opened. And then it was as though we were all standing in the starting gate and bell sounded.

As items are lined up on your screen 5 to a row and they begin to close every few seconds- you begin to see the numbers. You quickly scan down the list to see the items that you have marked to “watch”. $20 dollars and hour ago is now 800- 825-840-900..The numbers were moving so fast you were mesmerized- which also means that you just missed items closing quickly at the top of the page.

In New York, things had been dignified and at a pace you could absorb the importance of the collection. This Delft plate estimated to sell for 1500 dollars- sold for 27,720 dollars plus the fee.

Back in Manheim, this group of household iron- a horse bit and some snow catchers- was at $1350 plus the fee when I had to go back to what we were actually bidding on.

Interestingly, many of the items featured in the Sotheby’s video did not go to New York and were sold locally here where they had been made and collected. But why the prices?

Because a great collection is just that. Mr Dupont who was knowledgeable and experienced had already put his stamp on the items.

Harold Sack, who began to deal with du Pont in the 1960s, told a story about du Pont in his 1986 memoir American Treasure Hunt. Sack noted du Pont’s “instinctive flair for antiques…strengthened…with a continuous and serious study of objects, photos and textbooks as well as conferences with leading dealers.” Bill du Pont proved the thoroughness of his self-education. After Sack sold him a New England high chest with fan-carved drawers in its upper and lower sections, du Pont called and told him he had determined that the upper fan-carved drawer was not original. Harold dispatched his brothers Albert and Robert to Delaware to confirm du Pont’s suspicions, and they said du Pont was right. As luck would have it, Robert Sack knew the cabinetmaker that did work for the New York dealer Sack had bought the chest from, confronted the craftsman, and threatened court action until he produced the original uncarved drawer, which Sack sent down to Delaware. (Cited from:

In Manheim, the people who had restored the items, or had once owned them- had a chance to collect part of the collection. So Sale 3 of the collection had as much anticipation and excitement and energy as Sale 1.

For me, I had stopped bidding at other auctions in order to have the resources to buy as much as I could at this one. I was hoping that it would be a normal Amish country auction. In the end I had to let go of any hope of owning the 18th C Delft tile dog or the petit point picture fragment of a squirrel as there would have been nothing left. Instead I planted my feet and refused to lose on a carved wood walnut plaque of a dog named Tug.

We got lucky on a few items, had to fight for a few more that will need some restoration but will someday be proud additions to our home and store.

You will note that while there are some some extremely fine and rare antiques that we may not always see in the marketplace, the majority of items in these sales are things that with the proper gloves and wellies we might find on our own. The best way to learn outside of being an apprentice, is to study auction catalogs both for their accuracy and faults. Estimated prices vs realized prices. and so then: the hunt is on… the auction.

To see the collection at Sotheby’s and the results:

To see the last sale at John Hess and results:–du-pont/

at the Auction: Bidding and Buying with the pros.

People ask me all the time, ” where do you get your things”? “Where did you find this?” 80% of the time the answer would be “at the auction”. Although we get calls every day from wonderful people who want to sell something…it is my least favorite way to collect. When I know another person, I cannot help but root for them to get their best price- so I cant be both the appraiser of value and the buyer because as the buyer, I have to buy at the correct price or forfeit profit. As a matter of fact, the need to be a cunning buyer has never been so important or as difficult. So I can buy at auction, having never met the seller and try to get the best price possible. And more importantly, I must remind myself to walk away when the sale is not going my way.

The area in which I live is rich with every kind of auction establishment from the finest to the basement clean out; from the super honest to the shady. There is a rich assortment to choose from…in the fine auction houses, you look for the very best or the overlooked and in the others, you peer around looking for the unusual, the piece of a collection and again the overlooked.

I have Two auction rules that have never failed me.

  1. Research everything before you go. . Know what its worth and what it is worth to you.
  2. Bid for yourself and never against someone else. ( although its totally tempting)

Be secure knowing the point at which you will be happy with your purchase and don’t assume that because someone else is still bidding that you know why. You never know why someone else sees value that you dont.

I attended an auction once in a warehouse with my good friend David Bell with whom I have most of my great auction stories. He had identified the rattan furniture in the back of the auction gallery as having come from Mar a Lago. OMG in a warehouse sale! Then he found a piece of art that was in a box lot and worth thousands of dollars. We had not previewed the auction and now we are in a panic. We had no idea what was in any of the boxes being sold quickly. And we decide that we have to bid on everything.

No one was bidding against us on anything. And we were running boxes to the car as fast as we could. Then we finally got to a good size box, full of pottery with an exceptionally ugly purple covered urn. ” It has to be somebody famous”, says David who does have one of the best instincts in the design world. I think it looks like a cookie jar, he thinks we have found something- because for the first time all day- people are bidding against us. I become ruthless, bid bid bid! And I win.

I could not wait to get home and find out who the artist behind this pottery lot was. I clutched the box and stood in line to pay. The young man behind me in line, who was terribly reserved- said quietly, “congratulations! I really wanted to win that”. I immediately saw him as an art gallery owner from New York. Then he says, ” You must have loved her too”. He immediately morphs back to just nice guy from Bethesda. “What? Who?” Well it was his high school art teacher. She had passed away and he had come to her estate sale. I just handed him the box- paid the bill and David and I sat in silence all the way home. Still I owned that rattan furniture from Mar a Lago, pre Trump in its iconic green fern fabric for many years.

An antique dealer bidding for themselves might be willing to spend a $100 on an item, to finish a collection: they might go to $150- bidding to sell, no more than $50 and buying for someone else- it could be anything. So its best to keep your own counsel- educate yourself and be willing to walk away.

A. Great things can be found anywhere ! Never judge an auction house by its location. The 1000’s of variables that put an item into that room on that day for sale- are at work in every auction scenario. You may get a glass of champagne at one auction and bad coffee at another- it does not change the item. Look everywhere and explore all the auctions in your area on line. Use your gut to tell you who you feel comfortable buying from. Or find a dealer you like to advise you. Most of us are happy to help.

B. Always Look, Feel and Measure. Dont buy anything important that you have not touched. 50% of auction houses cannot take a decent photo and the other 50% give Lord Snowdon a run for his money. I always pray that the photo is bad and the item is good. I am NEVER right. My rule: if you are spending good, hard earned money- treat it that way. Do the work.

C. Caveat Emptor Its not Laziness that makes descriptions faulty. Auction Houses have to make a living too. Each House does it a little differently. One might think that a lengthy description and multiple photos is the best way to inform buyers while another attempts to lure you in to a preview with a single photo and barely any info. And while it would seem better to do the first, that requires a skilled staff and hundreds of hours of pre auction work. Whatever their reasons- you are responsible for what you buy.

Part ll: Lets go to the Auction!

We have previewed the lots, taken our own photos, figured out why we LOVE the item, done the research and now its time to secure that item….

We can bid LIVE and in many places these days, we can bid ON LINE.

Familiarize yourself with the fees to bid. Some auctions have a 10% fee for bidding on top of your bid and some can go as high as 30%. Some auction houses have their own auction bidding services and some use third party sites like, and some use both and often the fee structure is different. You may pay 30% on Liveauctioneer and 25% on the Auction’s own site. As if it wasn’t complicated enough! I frequent auctions whose fees do not exceed 20%. I think that is where I am comfortable. That does not say I wont pony up for the right things.

Placing a bid in the auction room. You will register. Get a number and hold it up when you wish to bid. The auctioneer will find you. Keep in mind that you do not need to be in the middle of more than 2 people bidding. Be patient you need only to be the last bid.

Placing a bid by phone You will register, and request that they call you when your lot is up for bid. The House may not be able to accommodate you but if they can, be sure to be a serious bidder because this is a staff intensive allowance.

Placing a bid online or live in the House. By becoming a regular part of auctions in your area, you can request to be notified when items that you collect are coming up

Placing an Absentee Bid. I honestly do not recommend this. Each auctioneer treats them differently. To one it is a safety net and he spends the bidding time trying to top you and another might use it as the starting off point. In any case, you are not helping yourself. Some auctions are not set up on line and you may either stand through an entire sale to get what you want or leave a bid and hope you are treated well. And under no circumstance are you to say, “just buy it for me”. I left a warehouse auction to get a sandwich and left those 5 words on a note to the auctioneer for a duck decoy I thought would make a wonderful doorstop. When I came back with my $4.00 sandwich, I had a $5500 duck.

No more needs to be said.

Buy what you love, be confident in your taste and and you’ll always have a great time…. at the auction.

Painting From Bethesda Home Sold at Auction for $687,125

An 18th-century Grand Canal painting, which was found in a local home, fetched $687,125. (Photo By Brian Searby — Sloans & Kenyon)

An 18th-century unsigned oil painting of the Grand Canal in Venice, estimated at a modest $6,000 to $8,000, sold for $687,125 Sunday afternoon at Sloans & Kenyon auction house in Chevy Chase. It is believed to be the most expensive painting ever sold at a Washington area auction.

Thirteen phone bidders competed against live bidders in the gallery for this work from the “school of” the 18th-century artist Giovanni Antonio Canaletto.

The auction company had received the piece from a Bethesda woman who has requested anonymity. The painting had been in the family since 1881, when her grandmother brought it back from Europe. The grandmother had embarked on what was known in the day as a “Grand Tour,” an excursion designed to expose the traveler to enlightenment, adventure, art and culture.

Grand tourists, as the travelers were known, would typically return with artwork they acquired on the journey, which was considered an essential ritual for entry into British high society. “They didn’t send postcards or bring back T-shirts,” said Ellen Garrity, communications director at Sloans & Kenyon. “They brought back paintings. The Washington Post

Setting The Table in 2022


Whether your career is riding on preparing the perfect meal or you are just invited over to a friend’s house ….everyone needs to know the ground rules.  I admit to a constant state of frustration every time  I set the table.  The rules of etiquette are based on “no surprises” and “no embarrassments”.  Rules for dining create a more relaxed atmosphere if  you know the basics.

My mother thought that these ways were “old fashioned” and didn’t think the knowledge would ever come in handy. Mothers of today- do not follow her example.  We need all the information we can get.  AND things are more enjoyable if you understand them.  The correct glass, the correct fork may seem stuffy but when faced with the opportunity in life to eat with a King, a President, a gourmand or your boss….it’s better to know your salad fork from your soup spoon.

There are two schools of thought about setting a table and many times it is done a bit differently in Continental Europe than in America.  If you are an American, set the table as Thomas Jefferson did.  And if you happen to be entertaining the French President – even more reason to set it our way. 

If you are missing pieces, don’t sweat it.  But whatever you do, do not put something on the table just because you have it.  At the end of dinner, everything must be off the table.


The proper way to fold a napkin is as it is shown in the drawing.  Take this into account when monogramming linen.  However, you can do a fancier folding of the napkin or drape it accross the place plate if there is no soup course.  I am a big fan of napkin rings.  Love them!  They can be used for a buffet and they can be used for a semi- formal dinner.  Stick with the diagram for a formal dinner. 

HINT: the proper way to pick up a napkin is from the far left corner which allows you to spread the napkin in your lap with little effort.  This comes from the days when the attendant would pull out your seat and place your napkin for you.

Service Plate

This is for formal dinners unless you have help serving.  The service plate is not used and therefor  must be removed and replaced by the dinner plate.  This can be awkward unless done by either a waiter or by you and a designated friend who effortlessly gluides into the job seemingly without asking.

If you have a soup course, you should use a service plate- you can get by with an underplate (dinner plate) if you need to.  I mean who is paying that much attention?.

Formal Table Setting Etiquette Tip

After the soup course is complete and the bowls are cleared, a salad plate will take the soup bowl’s position. Traditionally, a charger holds the spot for the dinner plate, and is removed after the salad course so the place is never bare. If you do not want to clear the table after the soup course and bring out dinner plates, you can place a dinner plate on top of the charger.

HINT: Service plates can always do double duty as terrific Buffet plates.  I always find that dinner plates are too small and awkward.  If someone is going to sit in my living room and eat,  I want them to have a 26″ napkin and a large enough plate that they can balance it easily.

Soup Bowl

Wide and flat for warm, tall and compact for cold.  Yes, you can use what you’ve got.

Bread and Butter Plate and Knife

The butter knife can be from a different service.  It is not proper to use your dinner knife.  Eliminate bread and butter if you can’t do this correctly.  Noone will notice.

Water Glass

Best to use a low stem to keep the water cold.  Since people drink so much water these days, you can use a highball glass if it is of the same service.

HINT:  Always pick up a glass by the stem.

White Wine

Red Wine

A lot of time is spent on the proper glass for red wine these days. But rarely do people have more than one kind of red wine glass in their service.  If you do have more than one type and  plan on serving different varietals during the meal, then set the glaases in order of their serving from left to right so that a  person is not reaching over a glass to reach a glass.

Fish Fork

Dinner Fork

Salad Fork

Service Knife

HINT:  If you are serving a meat that requires a steak knife and you do not have these in your service,  present them with the main course. 

Fish Knife

This is another item that people do not always have in their swrvice.  Simply do not serve a fish with bones or that requires cutting.  Most fish courses are tender enough for a fork.

Soup Spoon

Here, I differ with the rules.  For a formal dinner, yes.  But for a fancy lunch or semi-formal dinner; I love to put my big soup spoons at the top of the service plate.  If you do this, you should forgo the dessert spoon or cake fork – you would present them with the dessert.

Dessert Spoon and /or Cake Fork

Basic everyday

Just remember, the rules make sense and they are there so that everyone has an equal shot at picking the correct fork.


21 West 52nd Street

Steeped in rumour, the 35 jockeys lining the ‘21’ entrance are one of Manhattan’s most iconic sights. They point back to the former restaurant’s rich equestrian history.

There are many stories circulating around the frequently-photographed jockey statues at ‘21. Some say they represent real riders. Others contend that they have a link to New York’s The Jockey Club, a private organization founded in 1894. Yet more argue they’re just idle decoration. The truth is far more interesting.

It all began with Delaware native J. Blan van Urk. A true ‘regular’. He had his own private table and the distinction of having a ’21’ dessert named in his honour. Sometime during the ’30s, van Urk donated the first jockey to his haunt as a token of his appreciation. A ’21’ tradition was born.

Over the years, some of America’s most famous breeders and owners have followed in van Urk’s footsteps. They include patrons from the Vanderbilt, Mellon and Ogden Mills Phipps families, as well as the Galbreath clan, owners of Darby Dan Farms. Today, many of the brightly painted figures represent the country’s most prominent stables.

In addition, there is a jockey dedicated to Secretariat, the greatest racehorse of all time. Two jockeys are also posted inside of ’21’s front door—a tribute, and a welcome to equestrians and racing enthusiasts everywhere.

The jockeys are unusual and you will not find their exact likenesses elsewhere. They were made by White Oak Foundry in Bacova, Virginia. The White Oak Foundry owned by Malcom Hirsch was known for cast iron jockeys and supplied the 21 Club in New York as well as many famous stables in Kentucky. In my book, this is the most collectable jockey. It is not even required to have original paint. I have often wanted a restaurant where I planted a jockey out front painted with that year’s Maryland Cup winner’s colors.

The 21 Club in NYC was opened in 1929 by cousins Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns. They built the restaurant’s reputation on simple good food, a great bar and wine cellar. They were famous for their hamburger but for me it was the chicken hash! The Maitre’d remembered you if you had been there before and the owners relished in the successes of their patrons – many of whom dabbled in the horses.

Jack and Charlie came up with “gifts” and trinkets to give out to their famous patrons. Years later these could be purchased as well- be it a lamp, or scarf or an ashtray- all prominently displaying the iconic jockey.

The Jockey Club in Washington DC was such a blatant copy of the New York restaurant that Jack Kreindler went to see it for himself. He could not have been nicer about it proclaiming it the most sincerest form of flattery and presenting the owner’s daughter with a lovely 21 Club charm that I wear to this day.

Last year, I thought I recognized the familiar jaunty stance of a jockey coming up for sale in Lancaster, Pa. He was pretty rusty but I recognized it and he is now at GoreDean at the Forge and on Chairish.

We have also found some other treasures this year

Bookends, the pair 1800

Bottle Opener $150
Decanter Tag $100

But the greatest treasure is the memory of this truly iconic restaurant with its warm hosts and great food. Jack and Charlie made a place you wanted to be. You could understand the menu, the cocktails were mild and the atmosphere was always chummy.

Plus+ when in New York City, if you eat after midnight….its hash. Whether it was Mortimers or the 21- you would order hash and champagne and as the Village Voice said, “it might be the only thing you remember about that night!”

Chicken Hash Club 21

Pomegranate Cider “21”

Chicken Hash “21” Club

 toasted bounty of hefty poached chicken cubes on a bed of wild rice and spinach

Original 21 Club Chicken Hash (from Molly O’Neill)

Bechamel Sauce

2 c milk
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t white pepper
salt to taste
dash of tabasco
dash of Worcestershire


½ c light cream
¼ c dry sherry
2 c diced cooked chicken breast
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 300º
Make the became sauce by scalding the milk, then melt the butter and adding the flour, cooking for a moment. Then add the milk slowly, stirring all the while. Cook about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the tabasco and Worcestershire. Cover and place in oven for 1½ hours till thick and fluffy.

Strain. You should have 1 cup.

Whisk the sauce with cream and heat. At low heat, add the chicken and sherry and warm about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks. Be careful not to heat too high for the yolks will curdle. Serve with wild rice and spinach.

10 Designers Share Their Cozy Paint Picks

Designers embrace the boldness of dark, saturated paint colors like it’s an easy peasy plunge, but for the rest of us some guarantees of gorgeousness can be invaluable. To buck up all those dreaming of cozy, statement-making walls with gravitas for days, we asked ten interior designers at the top of their game to share the dark paint colors they love to use. From deep blues to warm browns, discover your new roster of pro-approved paint colors.

Designer: Cece Barfield Thompson
Paint Pick: “Right now my favorite is “Day’s End” by Benjamin Moore.”
Designer: Eche Martinez
Paint Pick: “For bolder rooms (as an unrepentant blue addict), I have a special place in my heart for Farrow and Ball’s “Drawing Room Blue” (253).”
Designer: Sarah Wittenbraker
Paint Pick: “My current favorite is Benjamin Moore’s Lafayette Green.”
Designer: Caitlin Murray
Paint Pick: “River Blue by Benjamin Moore.”
Designer: Ashley Whittaker
Paint Pick: “Farrow & Ball’s Bancha green in a high-gloss lacquer finish is perfection. Though neutral, the color offers a bit of uniqueness and quirk, while still being completely versatile and calming.”
Designer: Shelley Johnstone
Paint Pick: “My favorite color is Benjamin Moore 2107-10: Chocolate Candy Brown. I have used this color for my home office for over 20 years. Of course, it’s lacquered. It swaddles the senses with its depth and rich, earthy warmth.”
Designer: Pierce & Ward
Paint Pick: “Retreat by Sherwin Williams. Paint colors can be tricky, and this one works in any space no matter the lighting.”
Designer: Rachel Halvorson
Paint Pick: “Currently my favorite is Farrow and Ball’s “Studio Green.” It’s so romantic.”
Designer: Young Hu
Paint Pick: Blue Muscari from Benjamin Moore’s Century collection is a new favorite. This deep blue is transporting.”
Designer: Matthew Carter
Paint Pick: “My favorite paint color is dark brown. Specifically, Fine Paints of Europe E25-30 and Benjamin Moore’s Classic Brown.”

FAQ’s What is a Christmas Cracker?

and what to do with it…when you find it at your table….

The Party Favor, an oil painting by American artist Norman Rockwell

Christmas crackers are festive table decorations that make a snapping sound when pulled open, and often contain a small gift and a joke. They are part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Commonwealth countries such as Australia (where they are sometimes known as bon-bons), Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

A cracker consists of a segmented cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper with a prize in the middle, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled apart by two people, each holding an outer chamber, causing the cracker to split unevenly and leaving one person holding the central chamber and prize. The split is accompanied by a mild bang or snapping sound produced by the effect of friction on a shock-sensitive, chemically impregnated card strip (similar to that used in a cap gun). One chemical used for the friction strip is silver fulminate. Because of that, they are banned on airplanes.

Crackers are traditionally pulled during Christmas dinner or at Christmas parties by two people. One version of the cracker ritual holds that the person who ends up with the larger end of cracker earns the right to keep the contents of the cardboard tube. Sometimes, each participant retains ownership of their own cracker and keeps its contents regardless of the outcome.

Tom Smith

Tradition tells of how Tom Smith (1823–1869) of London invented crackers in 1847. He created the crackers as a development of his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). As sales of bon-bons slumped, Smith began to come up with new promotional ideas. His first tactic was to insert love messages into the wrappers of the sweets (similar to fortune cookies).

Smith added the “crackle” element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. The size of the paper wrapper had to be increased to incorporate the banger mechanism, and the sweet itself was eventually dropped, to be replaced by a trinket: fans, jewellery and other substantial items. The new product was initially marketed as the Cosaque (French for Cossack), but the onomatopoeic “cracker” soon became the commonly used name, as rival varieties came on the market.

The other elements of the modern cracker—the gifts, paper hats and varied designs—were all introduced by Tom Smith’s son, Walter Smith, to differentiate his product from the rival cracker manufacturers which had suddenly sprung up.

FAQ’s: What is the difference between Hay and Straw?

and which can I use in my garden…

Hay Rides are actually Straw Rides

“We better make hay while the sun shines.” 

When we talk about “making hay”, we are really talking about making something that an animal can eat. Hay is usually gathered up into bales, and stored for the animals to eat during the winter when the grass is not growing. In many parts of the world, farmers depend on hay to feed their cattle, sheep, or horses during the long winter period. In periods of drought, hay can also be used to feed animals when normal grazing is not enough. Many farmers specialize in growing hay that they sell to other farmers in their region.

We want hay to come from plants that are good and healthy for animals to eat. This could mean nutritious grasses like ryegrass or bermudagrass or from legumes like clover or alfalfa. Hay will often be a mixture of plants that can make it more nutritious. Growers need to be careful to not include plants that are poisonous. Hay is typically produced on perennial crops and often on land that may not be suitable for grain production. As such, it provides a valuable use for lands that would not be productive for other things.

The biggest difference between the production of hay and straw is that hay is typically harvested before the plants make seed and are just growing leaves. These leaves are packed full of nutrients and easy for an animal to digest compared to the low-quality stems left behind as straw. Those nutritious leaves are also more sensitive to the environment and can become moldy or damaged if they are rained on after harvest. So, the way growers store their hay is very important.

This is how we gather Hay at Pipe Creek Farm

Straw refers to the plant material that is left over after grains like wheat and barley are harvested. The stems left behind become straw. Most of the nutrition of grain crops lies in the grain. The stalks that are remaining – the straw – are generally very low in quality and not suitable to feed animals.

Straw can be used as bedding for animals, as stuffing for a mattress, and can be used to make things like a basket or a straw hat. Recently, straw has been used as a fuel source for bioenergy. There are also some handy uses of straw around the house, such as a mulch to prevent erosion when seeding your lawn or placed around strawberry plants to prevent the fruit from laying on the soil. Straw has also become popular as a building material. The walls of houses or buildings can be insulated with bales of straw – a natural product that is relatively cheap to use!! And, of course, straw is a very popular decoration for the front porch during the fall season.

Straw is usually dry looking but very decorative

Why would that make a difference to us in the garden? The problem lies with hay. Hay often is made up of a combination of different plants growing in a field or meadow.

You never know what plant combination you’ll get in a random bale of hay. More often than not they contain weeds that you can inadvertently introduce to your property.  I’ve seen such tenacious perennial weeds like thistle come into a garden as a result of their seeds hiding inside a bale of hay.

Straw on the other hand, is much better for use as a garden mulch. Since wheat and other grain crops are so competitive in a field, they suppress the growth of many weeds. Farmers also will control weeds one way or another to ensure the highest yields they can get of valuable grain. That results in straw with no or very little weed contamination. Sometimes you’ll see “spoiled hay” that may be high quality hay that was left outside in the weather and began to get moldy making it unacceptable as a livestock feed.  That said: I use hay- mainly because we have it handy! Many a hay bale rolls into the garden….

A Man Bought a Drawing for $30 at an Estate Sale…

It May Be an Authentic Dürer Worth $50 Million

A man in Massachusetts attended a routine estate sale four years ago, where a small drawing of a woman and child caught his eye. At the bottom was one of art history’s most recognizable monograms: “A.D.”

On a lark, he bought it for $30. At the very least, it was “a wonderfully rendered piece of old art, which justified purchasing it,” he recalled.

As it turns out, the drawing is very likely worth much more—maybe up to $50 million. At least that’s what Agnews Gallery in London is asking for the piece, believing that the “A.D.” behind the artwork is indeed German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer.

The gallery has good reason to think it’s an original drawing by Dürer. After analysis, Christof Metzger, head curator at the Albertina Museum in Vienna and a leading authority on the artist, declared the work to be genuine. Metzger has even included it in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the Old Master. Giulia Bartrum, a former curator of German Prints and Drawings at The British Museum, also believes the drawing is authentic and has organized an exhibition around it on view at Agnews now.

Both experts suspect the work was created around 1503 as a preliminary study for Dürer’s well-known watercolor, The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals, which was finished roughly three years later. (The painting is now in the collection of the Albertina.)

For the consigner, who wishes to remain anonymous, getting to this point of recognition—and the payday that may come with it—has not been easy. After he acquired the artwork in 2017, he brought it to several experts for authentication or potential sale, only to be denied in each instance, according to Agnews.

It wasn’t until the owner was connected by chance to Clifford Schorer, a Boston-based collector, that the artwork was seriously considered. Schorer brought the drawing to Agnews—where he’s a shareholder—who in turn took it to Metzger and other experts. A paper restorer, for instance, confirmed the age of the material, and located Dürer’s signature Trident and Ring watermark.

More was learned about the provenance of the piece, too. An architect who lived outside of Boston had inherited the drawing as a family heirloom, and it was likely purchased in Paris by his grandfather in 1919. The architect died in 2012. 

The gallery has not set a specific price for the piece, called The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bank, according to the Art Newspaper, but Schorer suspects it could go for as much as $50 million. 

According to a spokesperson for Agnews, the gallery has a “standard consignment agreement” with the owner of the drawing, and will be “compensated for the three to four years of research” required to authenticate it. 

Taylor Dafoe

FAQ Why are Barns Red?

There are three reasons we see so many red American barns. It’s traditional, it’s practical and the color looks good.

Although a main reason to paint wooden buildings is for appearances, paint also protects the wood so it lasts longer.

During the 1700s and early 1800s, barns on family farms in the Northeast U.S. were typically covered with thick vertical boards. When they were left unpainted, the boards would slowly weather to a brownish-gray color.

But after the mid-1800s, to improve the efficiency of their barns by reducing drafts to help keep their animals more comfortable in winter, many farmers tightened up their barns by having wooden clapboards horizontally nailed on the outside barn walls. These clapboards were sawed quite thin, so painting them provided needed protection and dressed up the appearance of the barns.

In the 1800s it was common for people to make their own paints by mixing pigments with linseed oil made from flax seeds and other ingredients. Pigments are dry materials that add color. They were available in various hues, but the tint we see so often on older American barns was called Venetian red.

According to the 1884 edition of “Everybody’s Paint Book,” by F.B. Gardner, Venetian red was “suitable for any common work, or for brickwork and outbuildings.” This red pigment penetrated well into wooden barn boards and resisted fading when exposed to sunlight, so it could age gracefully for generations.

But as people found similar iron oxide deposits in many other places, “Venetian red” became a generic term for light red pigments that did not have any purplish tinge. By the 1920s, such “earth pigments” used to make red paints were being dug in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, California, Iowa and Vermont.

By the late 1800s, in addition to red, it became fashionable to paint barns with other color schemes, especially those designed to complement the architectural styles and finishes of owners’ houses. These included various hues of yellows, greens and browns. Also, white paint commonly was applied to barns and houses.

But red paint remained popular on many farms because it was the most affordable. In 1922 the Sears, Roebuck catalogue offered red barn paint for just $1.43 per gallon, while other colors of house paints sold for at least $2.25 per gallon – nearly twice as much

Today, many modern barns don’t resemble classic versions. Very large barns that hold hundreds of cows or pigs look more like hangars or warehouses, and may be built of metal. But the tradition of painting smaller barns red continues – so strongly that the U.S. Postal Service now celebrates them on postage stamps.

by Thomas Durant Visser, Professor of Historic Preservation, University of Vermont.

Wooden bird that once sold at auction for $100 belonged to Anne Boleyn

Written byHannah Ryan, CNNKatharina Krebs, CNNLondon

When antique dealer Paul Fitzsimmons bought an ornate wooden bird from an auction for £75 ($101) in 2019, he knew that it must have been associated with a member of the royal family — but he just didn’t know who.So he put on his detective goggles, eventually coming to the conclusion that its original owner was Anne Boleyn — the Tudor queen who was beheaded by Henry VIII of England. Now, the rare artifact is believed to be worth around £200,000 ($269,900).Fitzsimmons, from Devon, in southwest, England, is now planning to gift the 16th century falcon to Hampton Court Palace — where the wooden bird would have likely adorned Boleyn’s private quarters — on a long-term loan. He said he was delighted to make the discovery after matching the bird to a Hampton Court Palace drawing that depicted the same piece. An analysis of the bird against the drawing confirmed his hunch.

“It is really quite an incredible find because Anne Boleyn is probably the most famous woman of all time,” Fitzsimmons told CNN. “And Henry VIII did his utmost best to completely obliterate every trace of her. All her emblems were removed from the palace, and nothing survived,” he said, adding: “This is really quite spectacular because it is in perfect condition and it has got all its original gilding, all its original paint.”The notorious Henry VIII famously split from the Catholic Church to divorce his first wife, Catherine, in order to marry Boleyn in 1533. The move led to the creation of a separate Church of England. But three years later, he accused Boleyn of adultery, incest and conspiracy — and ordered her death.

A 19th-century painting depicting the Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn’s first meeting.

Fitzsimmons said that while the staggering value of the Boleyn bird is notable, the most important thing to him is making sure that it “gets back to the right location where it should be.””It really has to go back to Hampton Court Palace,” Fitzsimmons said of Henry VIII’s favorite residence. “It does carry a huge value. But it’s not about the value,” he added.Historian Tracy Borman, chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages Hampton Court Palace, told CNN that she is also excited about the discovery of Boleyn’s wooden falcon.”This discovery is hugely significant. Artifacts relating to Anne Boleyn are incredibly rare, thanks to the fact that Henry VIII wanted all traces of her removed from his palaces after her execution in 1536,” Borman said.

Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England’s Henry VIII

Borman explained that the bird is “very similar to others carved for the Great Hall at Hampton Court in preparation for Anne becoming queen and was likely part of the decorative scheme. The carving is very fine and restoration work has uncovered the beautiful gilding which suggests it was a high status item.”She added that the bird was “likely saved by a supporter of Anne,” saying that it is “wonderful that it has survived for almost 500 years, right up to the present day.”A prayer book inscribed by Mary, Queen of Scots is expected to sell for up to $434,000

Borman also pointed out that the discovery is bound to excite Boleyn’s notable fanbase.”Of all Henry’s wives, Anne Boleyn has by far the largest following so this find is likely to attract a huge amount of interest,” Borman said.Borman’s forthcoming book “Crown & Sceptre” will offer a comprehensive history of the British monarchy. She said she is “delighted” that she found out about this surviving artifact of Boleyn’s life in time to include it in the book.

Christie’s Guide to Collecting Chinese Pottery

Christies has managed to use such phenomenally rare pieces and astronomical prices that it might put off most people. But these Rules are as honest and useful that they would apply if you were scouring a local flea market in search of a treasure. I especially agree with Number 3- Buy what you love. In all things antique and decorative- if you have a talent for collecting; your gut leads you to as many treasures as an advanced degree.

I however, am not blessed in this regard and I offer up the following story to prove it.

I found a Blue and White Yen Yen Vase in the closet of my aunt. I asked her what I should do with it in her new apt and she said she thought it was awkward and not worth anything- Please take it away! So I had the “not worth very much” in my head and never applied the Rules below- ever- not even when I opened an antique store in Washington, DC. I did not look at it when I took it to my farm on the Northern Neck or to my home in Roland Park where I used it as a doorstop/umbrella stand. I only looked at it sparsely when a dog hit it coming in the house and sent it sprawling across the floor. I said exactly to my husband what was said to me “its not worth very much- take it away” and into the store it went.

Luckily we are lazy dealers and it was never priced or photographed. I only slightly noticed when my husband mentioned that a very nice Chinese gentleman said he would like the price. Spider had told him that he wasn’t even sure it was for sale. But something went off in my brain and I asked my husband, “how long did he look at it? ” For quite awhile he said and then I got on line and the first thing I saw was that the Baltimore Antiques Show was in town. 2 + 2 and I was in the car the next day and driving to Freemans Auction. Freeman’s suggested that it was worth 1500.00 and they would stick it in the next auction. I told Spider that if the man came back, he could contact Freemans.

Now I am a fan of Freemans. But the auction catalog arrived and my vase was not even pictured. And had what I would say was a rushed description. No photos at all- not the vase not the underside- nothing. And the auction was in 2 days. I called and did my part to get a do-over by placing a Reserve- which could not possibly be met with no photography.

The buyer paid $19,800. Enough said!!

Lessons Learned: Don’t let anyone else tell you what something is worth- figure it out yourself. Don’t be lazy when putting things up for sale and apparently don’t ask me or my husband anything.

Christie’s Collecting guide:

10 things you need to know about Chinese ceramics

What new collectors need to know about palettes, glazes, reign marks and more, plus why it pays to handle as many pieces as possible 

1 Handle as many pieces as possible

A teadust-glazed hu-form vase, Qianlong incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 13¾ in (34.9 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate $100,000-150,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A teadust-glazed hu-form vase, Qianlong incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 13¾ in (34.9 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

Chinese potters have copied Chinese ceramics for hundreds of years, both out of reverence for an earlier period and to fool buyers — so beware. There is no quicker way to learn than to handle as many pieces as possible. Large numbers of Chinese ceramics are offered around the world at reputable auction houses, which, unlike museums, allow potential buyers to handle them, so make the most of the opportunity. This creates an understanding of the weight of a piece and the quality of the painting — of how a ceramic should feel in the hand.

2 Ask questions

A very rare blue and white dish, Yongle period (1403-1425). 13¾ in (34.8 cm) diam. Sold for $637,500 in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s in New York

Building the knowledge needed to authenticate Chinese ceramics can take many years. Reading reference books can give structure to the field, but pick specialists’ brains and ask as many questions as possible. There is nothing that a specialist with a little time on their hands likes more than to talk about their subject.

3 Buy what you love

Do not necessarily think of buying for investment. If you buy what you like, you will never be disappointed. Try to buy the best quality example your budget will allow.

A very rare yellow and green-enameled ‘dragon’ vase, Jiaqing incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1796-1820). Estimate $150,000-250,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A very rare yellow and green-enameled ‘dragon’ vase, Jiaqing incised six-character seal mark and of the period (1796-1820). Estimate: $150,000-250,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

4 Familiarize yourself with different palettes and glazes

Palettes and glazes evolved over the centuries. For example, the wucai (literally ‘five-colour’) palette was used in the Wanli period (1573-1619) and led to the famille verte palette, which was introduced in the 17th century and the Kangxi period (1662-1722). This was a palette of green, predominantly, plus blue, red, yellow and black. The famille rose palette was added to the ceramic painter’s repertoire in the 1720s and featured a prominent rose colour; the enamels were opaque and there was a wider repertoire of colours. In the 18th century, there were many technical advances, and glazes such as copper-red and flambé were introduced.

A rare and unusual Doucai moon flask, 18th century. 12¼ in (31.2 cm) high, hardwood stand. Estimate $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A rare and unusual Doucai moon flask, 18th century. 12¼ in (31.2 cm) high, hardwood stand. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

5 Learn about the differences in glazes across kiln sites

Ceramics were made all over China and the kilns in the north and south produced different types of wares and glazes. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), for example, beautiful celadon-glazed ceramics were produced in the Longquan area of southwest Zhejiang province, and also by the Yaozhou kilns in the northern Shaanxi province. The celadon glazes differed between these two kilns, with the Longquan glaze often giving a warmer, bluish-green tone, compared with the Yaozhou glazes that were more olive.

Jun wares from the Song dynasty were produced with beautiful lavender glazes, often highlighted by abstract purple splashes. The Dehua kilns specialised in ceramics with white and cream glazes. In the late Ming dynasty in the 17th century, Dehua wares were creamy in tone, but by the 19th century, these had became more ivory and white. Also during the Ming dynasty, the kilns at Jingdezhen in the south of China produced most of the blue and white ceramics.

6 Look underneath

A rare underglaze-blue and enamel-decorated dish, Zhengde-Jiajing period (1506-1566). 7 in (17.7 cm) diam. Sold for $81,250 on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s New York 

The way the base of a vessel was cut, finished and glazed changed from one dynasty to the next, which can help enormously in the dating and authenticating process — especially as forgers don’t always get it right. They may not have an original example to copy, relying instead on photographs in auction catalogues or books, and these don’t always include images of the base.

7 Recognize changes in blue decoration

This decorative element changed a lot over the centuries. A characteristic of 15th-century blue and white porcelain, for example, was the so-called ‘heaped and piled effect’, in which the cobalt-blue underglaze was concentrated in certain areas, bubbling through the surface of the glaze and turning a deep blue-black. This inadvertently gave texture, energy and shading to the design and was highly admired in the 18th century. 

Chinese potters subsequently mastered the technique of firing blue and white wares to achieve a more even cobalt-blue tone. But the tone varied from one dynasty to the next. During the Wanli period (1573-1619), for example, blue and white wares often had a greyish-blue tone, while in the Jiajing period (1522-1566), the tone was almost purplish-blue.

8 Pay attention to shapes and proportions

The shape of ceramics also evolved. Song dynasty ceramics, for example, were often inspired by nature and foliate in form. Chinese ceramics are also well known for their beautiful proportions. A vase or bowl that looks out of proportion is an indication that a neck or mouth has been ground down.

A flambé -glazed ‘pomegranate’ vase, Qianlong six-character incised seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 7 78 in (20 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

A flambé -glazed ‘pomegranate’ vase, Qianlong six-character incised seal mark and of the period (1736-1795). 7 7/8 in (20 cm) high, Japanese wood box. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. Offered in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 23-24 September at Christie’s in New York

9 Consider the condition

What makes the condition of a ceramic acceptable or otherwise depends on whether or not it is Imperial-quality and when it was made. For example, on a non-Imperial porcelain vessel made in the 17th century — such as a Kraak ware charger — you would expect to see some kiln grit or kiln dust on the base and perhaps a firing flaw that would have occurred in the kiln. Both would be acceptable. 

However, you would not expect to find these kind of flaws on an 18th-century Imperial mark and period ceramic, because the firing techniques would have been refined. Fifteen years ago, only mint-condition mark and period ceramics would have been considered acceptable. Now, however, collectors will consider ceramics that have been broken and restored, or which have hairline cracks.

10 Familiarise yourself with marks

Reign marks state the dynasty and the name of the emperor for which an item was made, and were used on all ceramics made for the emperor and his imperial household. Do not rely on a reign mark to establish the age of a piece, however. Marks were often copied and can be apocryphal.

A pair of rare gilt-decorated coral-ground ‘dragon’ dishes, Yongzheng yuan nian jianzhi marks, corresponding to 1723, in underglaze blue within double circles and of the period. 7⅞ in (20 cm) diameters, softwood stands. Sold for $43,750 in Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 25 September 2020 at Christie’s in New York

A useful reference book is The Handbook of Marks on Chinese Ceramics, Gerald Davison, London, 1994. Reign marks should be studied alongside the many different variations of hallmarks, auspicious marks, potters’ marks and symbols that you find on the bases of Chinese porcelain throughout the ages.



It’s hard to explain what attracts the human eye to one shape or form over another. It’s a matter of scale, proportions, symmetry and of course color. Chinese potters throughout history have been more influential than any other culture in setting the standards by which nearly all vases are viewed. Today, it’s nearly impossible to buy a table vase that doesn’t owe it’s shape in some degree to an original Chinese form.

Antique Chinese vases have over the centuries been produced in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Some forms were based on prototypes originally carved in jade or cast in bronze. Their constant evolution throughout history, always adapting but never losing their stylistic roots from their earliest days is a testimony to their timeless designs.

Jade Congs came originally in a great variety of sizes and are frequently found in Liangzhu tombs, sometimes arranged in a circle around the body. Their original meaning and function remain unknown. 

The form came back into fashion in ceramics during the Song (960–1279) to Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) and then again during the Qianlong Period (1736-1795) and became particularly popular during the 19th C. as a porcelain form


The earliest examples were produced during the Tang dynasty (618-907)  were used as wine vessels. By the Song dynasty (960-1279) their use had evolved into being used to display plum blossoms, hence the name they are known by today “Meiping”. The word literally translates into “plum vase”.  The Song to Yuan examples were done in Cizhou, Yaozhou, celadons and Qingbai wares. During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)  they were produced primarily in blue and white and on rare occasions in underglaze red. During the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) the ranges produced expanded immensely, including blue and white, langyao, flambe glazes, sancai, famille verte and famille rose decorations.  Among the millions of porcelains produced over the centuries antique Chinese vases in the Meiping shape remains one of the most popular forms. 


Yuhuchunping vases were first produced during the Tang dynasty (618-907) and were made to hold holy water. By the Song dynasty  (960-1279) the form had become a popular type of wine vessel.  During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) the shape became more refined as well as being decorated with both underglaze blue and red. This tradition continued into the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and into the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).  Today they are often referred to as “Pear Shaped vases”. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties the form was further adapted by the addition of handles and spouts for wine.


The Huluping derived its shape originally from the actual double gourd plant during the Song dynasty at the Longquan kilns. Double gourds are thought to have magical medicinal healing properties and were believed to absorb “negative energy” known as KI. They are also symbols of fertility.  The first dated examples were produced at the Souther Song Longquan kilns. They can be found in every palette of colors imaginable. Including Tea Dust, black, Famille Verte, Wucai, Sancai, Flambe etc.  During the Kangx period in particular, numerous triple gourd examples were made as well. 


GU vases also known as “Beaker” or “Flaring” vases have their roots in the early bronze age during the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600-256 BC).  It’s original purpose was as a wine drinking vessel. The first porcelain examples are thought to have been during the Yuan dynasty.  The form became particularly popular during the middle of the 17th C. right through the Qianlong period.  Most often decorated with celadon glazes, underglaze blue and with overglaze enamels in Wucai, Famille Verte and Famille Rose. Flambe examples also come onto the market once in a while.  This particular shape can be found in a variety of other antique Chinese vases with slight variations in style. 


The Garlic mouth or garlic head vases were first produced in bronze during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). The form is that of a  pear shaped vase with a garlic head shaped into the top at the mouth.


 Moon Flask or Pilgrim Flasks were first produced during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) based on Middle-Easter vessels produced in silver and gold brought to China by traders. The bodies are of circular flattened form is fitted with a narrow cylindrical neck with flanking applied handles linking the neck and body. Typically the early Ming examples are decorated in underglaze blue and later periods enamels were also used. On very rare occasions they were also produced in underglaze red.  The earliest examples made during the Ming dynasty had a swollen area on the neck and are generally referred to a “Pilgrim Flasks”.  Today “moon flasks” are still extremely popular among collectors of antique Chinese vases. 


First developed during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), these are notable for their heavily rounded bulbous bodies and long straight necks.  During the Qing dynasty particularly in through the Qianlong period these became court favorites and were made using a wide variety of decorations.  Among the wide range of antique Chinese vases this particular form is among the most enduring. 


A shape developed during the very end of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and into the earliest days of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Most recognized as a development of the “Transitional Period” .  The literal translation for Xiangtuiping is “Elephant foot” vase.  The term Tongping refers to “sleeve vase” or are referred to using the Dutch word “Rolwagen”, a term that evolved when they were first brought to Holland in the 17th C. The form noted for its brief waisted neck and relatively straight vertical sides. 


The name, Liuyeping, is derived from the vase’s slender profile, which resembles a willow leaf. The shape originated in the Kangxi Reign (1662–1722 AD) during the Qing dynasty, and is often found in a peach-bloom glaze.


The term Bangchuiping translates literally from Chinese to “Wooden Club”. A name derived from this vases form of a cylindrical body with flat shoulders with a cylindrical flanged neck.  French Asian art historians coined the term Rouleau due to it’s roll-form body. The shape was developed during the Kangxi period (1661 – 1722.). Most often this form is decorated with underglaze blue, Famille verte and with the two combined.  Minochromes in cobalt blue and Famille Noire examples also exist.  Among antique Chinese vases of the Kangxi period, Rouleau examples are among the most sought from the Kangxi period.  Numerous convincing later copies can be found on the market as well. 


The form, most commonly known as Yen-Yen vases is derived from the earlier GU shape originating as a bronze form during the Shang dynasty. The began being made during the Kangxi (1662-1722) and are often used in garniture sets coupled with tall covered jars. They were produced in Famille Verte, Famille Noire, cobalt blue and mirror black.  During the Yongzheng and Qianlong period few in this form seem to have been made but came back into fashion during the 19th C.  Yen-Yen’s are among the most recognizable of all antique Chinese vases associated with the Kangxi period, be careful when buying some very good copies are now on the market.


The form, most commonly known as “Mallet vases” is characterized by the bell form and long narrow circular neck. The most well know examples were made during the Kangxi period (1662-1721) During the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods very few in this form seem to have been made and fewer were made during the 19th C.  The majority of these fine and rare antique Chinese vases were done with underglaze red decorations. 


The vase’s recognizable characteristic is that it is a lobed vase – in other words it has a lobed/sectioned mouth and most often has lines running down the vase, splitting it into panels or sections.

Many thanks to Peter Combs to whom I refer constantly.

Collecting Wrought Iron Furniture

One of our stores, Parterre garden Shop in Phoenix, Maryland specializes in vintage wrought iron furniture and garden ornaments. This year Parterre has shipped all over the country and the desire for these pieces seems strong. Buying these unique items for the store has required a great deal of tire rubber and fast food but the assembled collection is pretty strong and can be found on or on Chairish.

The following is the best article on why to buy collectable vintage furniture. Below that is a list of what is considered to be the styles and names to collect.

Wrought-iron beauty from a more stylish age

  • By Bob Wyss Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

When Linda and Louie Saltus of Westfield, Mass., went looking for the perfect outdoor furniture for their brick patio, they visited everything from specialty shops to big discount stores.

They found what they wanted at a flea market.

“I wanted something fanciful, that would last,” explains Linda. “Look at this table; they just don’t make them like this anymore.”

She was pointing to a 60-year-old wrought-iron table with a glass top and six metal chairs. The set was built by John B. Salterini, who emigrated from Italy and from 1928 to 1953 made quality outdoor furniture.

“Salterini made pieces for the millionaires,” says Joni Lima, who, along with partner Joseph Spaider, runs Iron Renaissance in Damariscotta, Maine.

“The 1920s to the 1940s was when the absolutely best furniture was made,” says Mr. Lima. “It is far better than what you can find today.”

There are still some extremely talented individual craftsmen making great pieces, says Barbara Israel, author of “Antique Garden Ornament.” But she agrees that today’s mass-market metal furniture isn’t the same quality as that of an earlier era.

“What makes them so appealing is that the designs are gentler and more lyrical,” says Ms. Israel, who also owns Barbara Israel Garden Antiques in Katonah, N.Y.

American wrought-iron furniture of the first half of the 20th century was a product of craftsmen – many of them immigrants – in the New York area and portions of the Midwest.

Wrought iron is lighter than cast iron and more pliable, making it easier to wrap into a variety of fanciful designs. Many chairs and tables of that era feature metal acorns, intricate fern leaves, and grape vines, and have legs and arms that wrap into scrolls and cylindrical designs. There are even chairs or chaise longues that rise up in the back to create little roofs to shade one’s head. The designs resemble all of the popular styles of the day, from Art Deco to GothicRevival.

This type of wrought-iron furniture is often called an antique, although traditionalists might quibble because that label is usually reserved for something at least 100 years old. One has to look a little bit harder for this older outdoor furniture, and one also has to be wary. There are many cheap reproductions to be found, many of which come from Mexico or Asia. For quality and authenticity, proponents tout such names as Woodard, Florentine Craftsmen, Molla, and Leinfelder.

Israel says she sometimes regrets mentioning the Leinfelder firm in her book because it has become increasingly more difficult to find its work.

Based in LaCroix, Wis., the company began as a blacksmith shop that made large objects for customers. “But on slow days they would make this beautiful, whimsically designed furniture that they would sell through a New York retailer,” says Israel.

Another Midwest manufacturer of wrought-iron furniture was Woodard Inc. of Owosso, Mich., which is still in business. Lyman E. Woodard began the business in 1866, making wood products from window sashes to pine caskets. His son, Lee, branched into metal furniture in 1933. It was a risky move, especially during the Depression, but Woodard priced his products lower than many other metal craftsmen, aiming for a broader market.

In New York, Salterini specialized in the high end. Besides the traditional tables and chairs, the firm made several exotic pieces, including a double chaise longue with large metal wheels and elaborate wrought-iron spokes. In the back, metal braces swept up in an arching pattern to hold a large shade canopy. According to an old catalog, Salterini also sold benches, with pillows, including a sturdy rounded version that could seat six.


molla seashell outdoor furniture
 Ebay member eames14

Molla began in England in the late 1800s but moved to the East Coast to produce neoclassical cast aluminum and magnesium metal furniture that was saltwater resistant—suitable for the estates in Newport, Rhode Island, and beach houses on Cape Cod. Midcentury pieces featured Alumaloy frames that were advertised as being resistant to pitting and rusting—major issues with metal furniture kept outside. Metal finishes included special names like Pompeian, Old Pewter, Mediterranean Blue, Iridescent Green, Venetian Blue, Venetian Green, and Yellow.

What we collect

Molla began in England in the late 1800s but moved to the East Coast to produce neoclassical cast aluminum and magnesium metal furniture that was saltwater resistant—suitable for the estates in Newport, Rhode Island, and beach houses on Cape Cod. Midcentury pieces featured Alumaloy frames that were advertised as being resistant to pitting and rusting—major issues with metal furniture kept outside. Metal finishes included special names like Pompeian, Old Pewter, Mediterranean Blue, Iridescent Green, Venetian Blue, Venetian Green, and Yellow.

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Brighton
  • Diana the Huntress
  • Double chaise lounge
  • Greek key
  • Marina
  • Nassau
  • Neoclassical
  • Seahorse and Shell (pictured, photo courtesy of eBay member eames14)
  • Zodiac table

Location: Owosso, Michigan
Era: 1930s
Founders: Lee Woodard began making handcrafted metal furniture in the 1930s. His three sons, Joe, Lyman and Russell, built the company to become a leader in outdoor furnishings.

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Andalusion
  • Chantilly Rose
  • Chateau Lorraine
  • Daisy Bouquet
  • Grapevine
  • Mayfield
  • Pacific
  • Pinecrest
  • Sculptura
  • Spun fiberglass
  • Trianon
  • Tulip-shaped aluminum

Location: New York City
Era: 1928 to 1953
Founder: John B. Salterini, who emigrated from Italy

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Notable Lines and Products:

  • Banana Leaf
  • Cheerio 
  • Clamshell by Italian architect/designer Maurizio Tempestini
  • Cubist
  • Della Robbia
  • Dogwood
  • French Provincial
  • Ivy
  • Laurel Leaf
  • Lily Pad 
  • Magnolia
  • Montego
  • Mt. Vernon
  • Palm Springs
  • Park Avenue
  • Peacock
  • Rambler: Vines, leaves and berries; art nouveau inspired
  • Ribbon by Maurizio Tempestini
  • Riviera by Maurizio Tempestini
  • Rose Leaf
  • Roslyn
  • Sea Island
  • Verdigre
  • Willow

Note: Salterini collaborated with Italian Architect Maurizio Tempestini and these designs are highly collectable as well as a collaboration with Russell Woodard.

You can check out our finds at our Parterre Garden Shop at 13801 Jarrettsville Pike in Phoenix, Md or on Chairish

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

These maple oatmeal cookies are the best recipe we’ve found. And with a few swaps are healthy enough for breakfast!

Makes 24 Cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 sticks
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole white wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats not the quick cooking kind
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In your stand mixer, whisk butter and maple syrup on medium speed until creamy. It might look a little weird for a second but it will come together. Add eggs and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
  3. In a second bowl, combine whole white wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix until uniform. Slowly pour into the butter mixture, mixing on low until combined.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, or using a rubber spatula, add oats and additional add-ins (if using); fold into the dough until combined.
  5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.
  6. Cool for a minute on cookie sheets so they don’t fall apart when you move them. Then move to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container. You can also freeze these cookies- just double bag and Enjoy!
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup

Pure, sweet maple syrup meets smoky, woody bourbon to create a multi-layered taste that will make your mouth water. Just one drop, and you’ll see what we mean.

Sustainable goodness

Runamok Maple knows good maple syrup depends on healthy trees. So they treat the land they work on gently by protecting the soil and encouraging biodiversity while making as little impact as possible.

Try our Runamok Syrups

Chicken a la King

Classic Chicken a la King is rich and creamy and made from scratch. This easy dinner recipe is great served over rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits!


  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup heavy creamy
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chopped drained pimientos
  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken


  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in flour and stir until there are no more specks of flour left. Pour in chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • For a richer sauce: in a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks with heavy cream. Working quickly, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Immediately pour this mixture back into the saucepan, whisking the entire time. Cook 2 minutes more.
  • Stir in frozen peas, drained pimientos, and cooked chicken and let heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve hot over cooked rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits.

Rigatoni With Sausage and Bell Peppers


Ingredient Checklist

  • 1 (16-ounce) box rigatoni pasta
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage 
  • ½ medium-size red onion, chopped 
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chicken broth 
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • Step 1Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  • Step 2Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.
  • Step 3Sauté onion and bell peppers in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in sausage, cooked pasta, chicken broth, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Transfer to a serving dish, and top evenly with basil and cheese. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato and Sage Tian

Layers of thinly sliced sweet potatoes are baked in a sage-infused cream for this tian, which is a French term for both the style of casserole  as well as the shallow earthenware dish it is traditionally baked in. Simple and satisfying, this side dish pairs will pair just as well with a Thanksgiving turkey as it will with a holiday ham. 


Ingredient Checklist

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, plus 7 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cups half-and-half
  • 32 fresh sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, such as Jewel, Garnet, or Beauregard, unpeeled
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush butter evenly over bottom and sides of a 9-by-12-inch oval baking dish, 8-by-10-inch rectangular baking dish, or other shallow 2-to-2 1/2-quart dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese evenly over butter; season with ground pepper.
  • Step 2Combine half-and-half, 20 sage leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a large saucepan; season with 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, discarding solids; season to taste.
  • Step 3Meanwhile, slice sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Snugly arrange slices vertically in prepared baking dish. Tuck remaining 12 sage leaves between potatoes; carefully pour half-and-half mixture over top. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly drizzle with oil.
  • Step 4Roast until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 55 to 65 minutes. (If top is browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.