Category Archives: Art & Artifacts

On Being Fierce, Part 5: Finding Treasure

In 2005 I began paying serious attention to Jim’s collections. I opened an eBay store and liberated over 1900 closet creatures back to the wild. Then I started inventorying stuff either for big sales (mostly, a book collection and a … Continue reading

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On Being Fierce, Part 4: Opening Shop

Selling the Civil War cover collection was a boost. Did we have other moribund collections we could liberate for cash? This thought process reminded me that (1) collectibles are not necessarily very liquid. A stash of cash is for a … Continue reading

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On Being Fierce, Part 3: Moving the Pretty Envelopes

Memo to self: being fierce needs plumage. New glasses. Platinum hair. Check. Check. Throw in a facial and a new tube of lipstick. Check. Next. If we’re going to buy a “staycation” house, we’re going to want to spend money … Continue reading

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Today’s Amulet: Kazakh Ring

Some days I look around and something jumps out and adopts me for a week or so. “Me, me, me! Tell me my story.” Today it is this big ring that I bought in 1992 in Peshawar, Pakistan. The dome … Continue reading

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China: Romancing the Turquoise

If you’re a collector, you know that the process can be like young love: there is a symbolic meeting of the eyes and… you gotta have it. Sometimes this reunion with the unmet friend is facilitated by a matchmaker–a savvy … Continue reading

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Africa: Minkisi, Power Objects of the Kongo People

Our living room is a hodge-podge of “knick-knacks” from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We treat the crowd of objects as if we were hosting a cocktail party. Every so often, we move our “guests” around to liven up the … Continue reading

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Stray Things: Art Deco Stamp Moistener

Over the course of dark winter, things creep out of their hiding places, like fairies, to keep us company. My spring ritual is to shoo them all back to their places, to commune with their knick-knack brethren and to not … Continue reading

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What Possessed You to Buy That Thing???

For one of my writing projects, I’m trying to delve into the mind of the collector. Collectors of old things are almost never portrayed in a positive light. They are cultural criminals, like Nazis art thieves. Or they are bloated … Continue reading

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What Spirit Gives Things Their Life?

Is there a lifeforce that inhabits THINGS? I don’t mean the voice of consumer crap that calls out to us, “Buy me!” I mean the subtle spirit of old things and hand-made things — that magical quality of an artifact … Continue reading

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Digging the Dog Tooth Beads

I bought this strand of “beads” in 1997 at the Sapto Hudoyo gallery in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Yogya was smaller and more old-fashioned than Jakarta, which thrilled me. I had been reading┬áThe Year of Living Dangerously┬ásince we’d arrived. The story takes … Continue reading

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