Daily Post: Antique Antics or what Grandad brought home

What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.

Bridal vase

I was going to say Mr. Swiss, but I do not own him, he is not a thing and there are only a few years between us. Actually he is more fit than I am, goes for long country walks, plays drums and otherwise always seems to be very fit and energetic.

I then remembered my paternal grandad, he was always good for a few old things and on my journeys over the years home to London, I was often given objects to take back with me, keeping it all in the family. Unfortunately there were no original Turner paintings or Roman remains discovered when bulding in London. In our garden there were only remnants of the coal shed and an old bomb shell my other grandfather once brought home as a souvenir from the arms factory where he worked during the Second World War. Fortune stayed away from our family. Aunt Lil did tell me that my great great grandfather was a rich wine merchant and owned a lot of property but the deeds were burnt in a fire. I discovered he was not a wine merchant, was very rich, and unfortunately was a distant relation descended from the Huguenot part of the family, and we were not in line for inheritance. There was no fire and no deeds. His many children probably go it all.

Let us return to paternal grandfather Henry Relf. If he brought anything home it was usually probably stolen goods, although he would not know it of course. He often visited auctions hoping to find a bargain and at the beginning of the nineteenth century he would buy leather bound history books. I even had them once transported to Switzerland from England. They were too heavy to put in the luggage and I would have had to charter a Lear jet probably to ship them over. At the time I was working in export, and through a few connections, I organised the transport by truck and they were delivered to where I was working. Afterwards I packed them in the boot of my car and brought them home where they now occupy two shelves of a book case in our hobby cellar. After checking the value on Internet I discovered I did not have a priceless book treasure so they are still in the cellar.

Henry Relf was supposed to have a nose for interesting objects, although most of the time he did not know what he had bought. He once spent a night in an English prison around 1930, but it seemed it was due to an argument he had with a man that insulted my grandmother that developed into a fight, although there again the truth is somewhat doubtful. Alcohol might have been was probably involved, but it usually was where Granddad Henry Relf was concerned.

So to get down to the details, the above picture is a painted blue glass object and the pride of my family.

“Dad, what is it?” I asked

“I don’t know” said dad “but it might be worth a lot of money, so take it with you.”

I scanned Internet and found nothing. Eventually there was one of those travelling antique exhibitions in our local town. I took the plunge and described it to one of the antique guys.

“Probably a bride’s vase” was the answer. I asked for an explanation and I got one, although I had a feeling that the guy found this not so interesting, as blue glass with white dots was not exactly Ming dynasty.

It seems that in the good old days the bride would arrive at the bridal banquet clutching her flowers that she was holding in the church. There was a danger that they would wilt, perhaps even die through thirst and so the bride’s vase would appear on the table. It would be filled with water and the flowers put in the vase until the wedding meal was finished. My dad said that object is probably more than one hundred years old as when grandad Relf bought it at the auction it was deemed to be old. Who knows? Grandad Relf did not really have such an exact memory and as the stories are carried down in my family, they become more exaggerated. I decided to try it out, but it was not watertight and I had a puddle on the table.

I do not usually hide my antiques – you never know. This vase is now sitting on our highly polished black cabinet in the living room waiting for a visitor to exclaim:

“Where did you get that. It is worth a fortune.”

Antique Antics or What Grandad Brought Home

Daily Prompt: Memories for Sale

On a weekend road trip, far away from home, you stumble upon a garage sale in a neighborhood you’re passing through. Astonished, you find an object among the belongings for sale that you recognize. Tell us about it.

Photographers, share an image that says MEMORY.

Life was boring in the city on a hot sultry day. Rain had been scarce, it was high summer and Julie and Jack had one of those local holidays.

“Let’s go somewhere”. Julie wanted to get out into the country, away from the bustle and heat of the city.

“Any suggestions?” was the answer from Jack.

“Give me the newspaper. Perhaps I might find something. Yessss, that’s it. Let’s visit the castle where my grandmother grew up. I heard it has been completely renovated and is now open to the public. They have beautiful gardens and at the moment it is the annual antique fair. Perhaps I might find something useful.”

“You mean like the long lost family jewels” was a sarcastic answer from Julie’s husband.

“Ok, just because grandmother was born in a castle, you don’t have to get jealous. The family were just farm labourers but they have a few ancestors in the local grave yard.”

“No Julie I am not going on one of your graveyard tours. I don’t mind going out to the country, get some fresh air, and sit under a nice shady tree somewhere in the gardens of the castle, but I am definitely not looking for long lost relatives in the local cemetery.”

Eventually Jack and Julie climbed into the car and departed for the country. After a drive of two hours they eventually arrived at the castle. Jack headed for the gardens, seeing a nice bench under a tree in the shade, but this was not Julie’s idea of a day in the country.

“Jack I did not drive this far to sit under a tree. I can do that at home. The antique market is in full swing and I want to see if there are any bargains.”

“But Julie….”

“No, buts. You can sit under your tree sniffing rose scent after we have finished with the market.”

Actually Jack was not sniffing anything, just recovering from the long drive and was thinking about heading for the restaurant for a nice cool beer. When Julie had decided to do something it was done, so he walked behind her, similar to the sheep that follow the shepherd.

“There are some nice ornaments on this stand” said Jack, giving himself a push to show some enthusiasm.

“Yes, and look Jack, I HAVE FOUND IT AT LAST.”

Everyone looked around towards Julie and Jack was a little embarrassed.

“You don’t have to shout, I can hear you perfectly well. What have you found at last?”

“The second tiger.”

“Huh”

“I have one just like this and grandma always said it belonged to a pair, but the other one went missing. Granddad said he dropped it and it broke, but granddad never did like those tigers. He always said they would follow him with their eyes and would glow in the dark sometimes. Grandmother said he was just being superstitious. One day there was only one tiger there, the other had disappeared. It was rumoured that granddad sold it to an antique dealer, but who knows. Now I have found the second tiger to match the one I have at home.”

“But we don’t have one at home” answered Jack.

“Of course we do, it’s in the attic. Cannot put one tiger on its own on display: but now I have the second.”

“How much does this cost?” Julie asked the saleslady.

“Fifty pounds” was the answer.

“How much?” said Jack in a rather shocked loud voice. Everyone looked in their direction again, but Julie knew what she wanted.

“Can I pay by credit card” she asked.

“No problem” and Julie determined to buy her second tiger, paid with her card.

The lady that sold it to her gave Julie a strange look, so Jack thought, but the sky was beginning to darken and it looked like a storm was brewing.

“I think we should start making our way home” and Jack moved towards the car.

Julie went with him, clutching her newly found tiger to make sure it would not get wet. The rain was now falling in large drops, and a bolt of lightening lit up the sky. They arrived at the car and Jack started the engine. He pulled out of the car park and they were on their way.

“Jack, you are driving too fast”, but Jack put his foot down on the accelerator and picked up some more speed.

“Jack, slow down, we are not in a race.”

“There was no reply from Jack, he just drove faster, raindrops bouncing off the car, thunder crashing around them lightning illuminating the road ahead. One bolt of lightning struck a tree lining the road, but Jack did not stop. Julie was becoming worried. She glanced over to Jack and his face had a mad expression. She was frightened; it was as if he was possessed by something. The parcel containing her tiger was also acting strange, she could hardly hold it. It seemed to have developed a life of its own. Suddenly the packing tore, the tiger jumped out and was on the floor of the car. At least it seemed to Julie that it had jumped, but she put it down to the storm, rain and speed they were travelling. It was then that Julie fainted.

Eventually they arrived home and Julie felt herself being shaken.

“Wake up Julie, you fell asleep in the car.”

“Oh, I suppose I did. I had a strange dream. What are those scratches you have on your hand? They look like cat scratches.”

“I must have scratched myself on the thorns on the roses in the gardens of the castle. No problem. Now we are at home. You can now fetch your second tiger from the attic and we can put them both together as a table decoration. Eventually the two tigers were placed on the table side by side.

The next morning they found the tigers facing each other on the table

“Strange” thought Julie, “I was sure they were next to each other.” She soon noticed that no matter how she placed them they faced each other the next time she looked. Eventually she returned them both to the attic. It was the bright glow that they had during the evening that disturbed her, especially at midnight when they began to roar.

Glass

Daily Prompt: Memories for Sale

Grandmother’s Chamber Pots

Jean grew up with the chamber pot. Her family had them in different sizes, shapes and colours. The outside toilet was a bit dangerous to visit when the evenings began to get darker at 7 o’clock. She had to find her way down the stairs, exit through the door to arrive in the garden where the toilet was. Even taking her teddy bear with her for company did not help. She was at the age where she needed someone with her for moral support, and she just hoped that there were no encounters with spiders on the way.

The toilet itself was really unique. Probably Queen Victoria of England would have been proud to have owned one. The house was built in 1884 according to a stone plaque on the wall at the end of the street, and the toilet was still the original edition. The toilet tank was quite high up, fixed on the wall. Hanging from the tank was a chain, and Jean’s mother would always warn her to pull the chain after she was finished. This resulted in a flush of water down the pan of the toilet. The toilet seat was not exactly a seat. There were planks of wood fitted together which surrounded the toilet pan. The house was old, had withstood two world wars but nothing had been modernised. Jean often heard her mother mention that if the house had been destroyed in the war, they would now be living in something more modern. This was puzzling for a child to understand. If things were destroyed in the war, then people were killed.

Now and again there was perhaps a problem with the working parts of the toilet. That was when Jean’s father would stand on a ladder to see what was happening inside the flushing tank. She learned that the most important part of the mechanism was the ballcock. This word fascinated Jean, although she had no idea what it actually was. Her father was not a plumber, but somehow it seemed to her that all men at that time knew how such a gadget worked. He always managed to fix it.

The door was also wooden, and had a space below and above. Jean always locked the door when she was inside; after all you never knew if someone else wanted to enter. There was no key to the door. It was one of those old metal sliding locks, but it served its purpose. She never felt alone in the toilet, there was always a spider family living there. Not the small editions, but those that Jean would call daddy-longlegs. They were not poisonous, had a neat little round body suspended on their wiry legs and usually sat in the corner or on the wall. Jean always kept a wary eye on their movements.

When Jean’s grandmother passed away, there was suddenly a new collection of chamber pots in the house which were distributed beneath various beds. Jean remembered that a common name for the chamber pot in her part of London was the “goesunder”. It was clear to Jean that this was because it “goes under” the bed.

Grandmother’s chamber pots were really a great surprise. The ones that Jean’s parents had were just plain white china, resembling a giant soup bowl, but with a handle. From the visits she had made to her grandmother’s house, she knew that everything had its place. There were neat little ornaments sitting on the cupboards which her mother would never buy. Money was there to buy food and clothing and not for such ornaments was her mother’s way of thinking.

Grandmother’s chamber pots had flowers painted on them and the china was moulded with various shapes on the surface. As time went on Jean grew up and made her way in the world. Her father had already died and one day the news came that her mother had also passed away.

She attended the funeral and afterwards had to deal with the house. It was a rented house so she arranged for the furniture to be taken away. She was sorting through various items belonging to her parents, photos of day’s gone bye showing herself as a child in the garden of the house with her parents. She had a little laugh when she saw that the famous toilet always seemed to be in the background of photos in the garden.

It was then that she remembered the collection of grandmother’s chamber pots. Where could they be? She searched and found them in an old cupboard that was used for “things that might be useful” as her mother would always say. They were all there, even the one with the beautiful blue flowers and ornate carvings on the china. As a child she had not examined the chamber pot so closely, but now as an adult she found it to be a beautiful piece of work.

The house was cleared and she kept the chamber pots and took them home with her.

“How did it go Jean” asked her husband.

“I managed to get everything disposed of. I just thought I would keep these as a memory” she answered.

“Show me Jean, that is a beautiful piece of work. Did you see the name at the bottom of the pot. It is a genuine Wedgewood.”

“You mean it might be valuable.”

“Jean I am convinced that it is valuable. I will show it to a colleague of mine who is specialised in this sort of thing.”

The chamber pot was examined by her husband’s friend, who owned an antique shop and she was informed that it could easily be sold for quite a lot of money. This was a pleasant surprise for Jean. She decided that the memories of the day’s gone bye in her the little house where she grew up were more valuable than a chamber pot and she decided not to sell. It now has a place of honour on the drawing room table. Of course she gave it a thorough wash before putting it there.