Monday, December 08, 2008
Delmer's A Haunt, Still
That's my friend Delmer Wilson.
Those aren't the swallowtail boxes we talked about before. They're a sort of basket, made like the oval boxes, but with a loop handle added. The Shakers called that item a "carrier." Spare of prose, too. It is what it is.
There was Shaker village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. Delmer Wilson lived in Sabbathday, Maine, which isn't too far from there, but I don't know if he ever went there. A carrier made in the Canterbury, New Hampshire Shaker village sold for $117,000.00 this year. Delmer is standing in front of a pile of over a thousand of them, identified as a season's work for him.
I wonder; could I make 117 million dollars worth of furniture this year? Doubtful. Delmer sure looks relaxed doing it. Me, I'm frantic and the kids still need new shoes.
I'm friendly with the nice people over at Marion Antiques here in the town I live in. They don't mind I wander around a lot and only buy trifles. And they don't mind that I make antiques fresh daily, because they understand we're in different but related businesses. Many antique dealers treat me like a leper.
I bought a Shaker box from Marion Antiques recently. The Shakers used to make perfectly round containers, too. they called them "measures." The modern equivalent would be the folded, waxed cardboard bin you put chinese food in, I guess. This one was painted blue originally, I can still see it stuck in the check grains of the wood. The most valuable stuff still has the original paint on it. The Shaker carrier that sold for all that cake is painted a screaming yellow color, and the paint is still intact. People think of Shaker stuff as kind of drab, but it isn't. They painted stuff really vibrant colors, and they didn't use tiger maple by accident.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling seemed kind of drab 'til they cleaned it. Many had become accustomed to thinking of it as drab and wanted it put back the way it was. When reality intrudes on prejudice, reality is often asked to go back to the back of the bus. It won't stay there forever, but foolish people try.
The measure I bought at Marion Antiques wasn't expensive. but I flipped it over, and scratched rudely in the bottom, it said: WILSON 1848.
It's not him; the date's wrong, and Delmer wouldn't have taken so little care in doing anything, even scratching his name on something. Someone that used it for a lunch pail wanted to make it identifiable, or some such; or maybe some former owner is fooling around and it's not that old.
I don't care. When a ghost shows up, you don't ignore him because you don't like the clothes he's wearing.