Sunday, December 26, 2010

Videos of Shadow and Snow

Happy holidays from the Mouse House. Today, Sunday, December 26, we are having a rare snow event. Below are two videos taken this morning. Whenever it snows in Columbia, I generally take Shadow, out long-haired cat outside just to torture her. Today is no exception. Enjoy the videos. Mouse House is now on Facebook. I will be utilizing this social network to advertise sales and special events in the near future.

Below is a video of Shadow in the snow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If you can't beat them....

I was hoping to post some of my recent pictures from my trip to Plymouth and Cardiff, UK with Susan, but alas, they were lost when our hard drive in our computer blew up on November 6. Luckily for us we had backed up nearly everything else the Monday before because of a strange error message from the computer. Our computer Guru, Ben, told me this was probably a message warning us that the hard drive was bad (that is an understatement!). I thought we were having an electrical fire downstairs without the flames because of that unmistakable smell from the computer. I had just corrected my pictures the day before and erased the camera disk. I had not had a chance to put them on our external hard drive. Oh well... Susan has some nice pictures on her family blog for everyone to see. Since I lost my pictures and videos of the Eddystone Lighthouse, I will not bore you with the many links I found of the song "Eddystone Light". My favorite is the version by The Brother's Four which I have on vinyl, and I sung to Susan, much to her dismay, at the top of the lighthouse. Both of our boys were tortured by me and my love of folk music when they were little.

Last Friday and Saturday Terrace Oaks Antique Mall celebrated their 22ND anniversary. Every year the mall's owner, Camille, waives her commission charge for all sales by dealers during this two day sale and encourages all dealers to have great sales. It is a very generous thing that she does (since she loses income), and the shopping public also likes the great deals that they can get. We sold at least 4 large pictures (including two signed Elizabeth O'Neill Verner reproduction etchings) during the sale at 20% off their original price.

Sales cause a dilemma with our pricing structure. We have always priced our prints and mirrors and framed items at what we want to net. We have never really believed in sales because we always thought the general public would realize that our prices were fair to begin with. Unfortunately the times have changed because it seems that everyone everywhere expects a markdown or discount when one goes shopping. "You should never have to pay full price for anything" seems to be the philosophy of today's shopper. Even Camille has been encouraging dealers to have another sale during the "Black Friday" weekend after Thanksgiving. I know that the best solution is to price up and mark down to give the illusion that the shopper is getting a bargain. This has always been the S.O.P for antique dealers, car salespeople, real estate agents, etc. I just hate to play the game! I will resist as long as I can.

In the meantime, we have framed over 40 coloured antique bird prints from Bree's A History of the Birds of Europe, 1863, in four different moulding styles and are priced at a non-inflated price of $49.00 each. Discounts are available for quantity purchases only! They will be available at Terrace Oaks Mall next weekend and at The Mouse House now. They look great. I will probably be open next Friday and will pay the sales tax on all purchases made at The Mouse House.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Merchandise Reshuffling at Terrace Oaks Mall

One year ago we expanded into an upstairs area at Terrace Oaks Mall. The extra space allowed us to bring more merchandise like framed mirrors, books, vintage linens (a passion for Susan), and other unusual items for sale. Susan has often shopped for anything she could use in her art at the Tuesday night table lot sales at Bill Mishoe's Auction House. For those who do not know about table lot auctions, when you buy a table lot you get EVERYTHING on the table, and it is your responsibility to remove it that night. Generally the prices on these lots are quite inexpensive, but you end up with "stuff" that you don't want. She keeps the best stuff and tries to give away the rest to the "flea market" dealers. It is the best of both worlds (as long as she can get rid of the stuff she does not want; we got rid of our dumpster years ago!) when she can buy "found object" art and sell the other merchandise to pay for the lots. In essence, she pays nothing for her art stuff (at least in theory). This is where Terrace Oaks has benefited. The dealers love to pick through all the unusual stuff we bring to the mall, as well as her extremely reasonably-priced linens.

Over the past weekend I examined our sales for the year and discovered some interesting statistics. We do sell a lot of "stuff" and for the most part we have been able to pay "booth rent" and even make a little money. The problem is the word "little". Mirror sales have not been what we hoped for. Sales of framed antique pictures and Audubon birds have been way off since April. This could be a cyclical phenomenon or a change of shopper's buying habits or people just looking for inexpensive wall art for their rooms. As Susan and I discovered at our last visit to the mall (she's known this for awhile), you can find a lot of that at Terrace Oaks Mall. Please note that I am not whining about this, but it is a fact. There is a lot of reproduction framed prints and NEW original art at affordable prices. I know that in the ideal world Camille, the owner, would like to eliminate a great deal of this "new" merchandise, but it is impractical and probably not "cost effective" during this recessionary period. This has created a quandary with our framed merchandise. Here is our solution.

We will still only sell antiquarian and special vintage framed and unframed prints (with the exception of the Audubons) at Terrace Oaks Mall. We will maintain a nice, albeit, a smaller selection of fine larger framed antique images and will introduce more one-of-a-kind antique pieces at great prices. We have not given up on mirrors; instead we (actually Susan who is infinitely better at this than me) are going to rehang the stairwell area and saturate it with more mirrors. We both believe that shoppers do not properly see our mirrors in the upstairs room. This will be a different look on the stairs and we hope a positive one. The walls in the upstairs room will be hung with our Audubon birds. The bookcases, prints, and non-linen related items will remain in this booth.

The upstairs bathroom will be converted into the "linen closet" where all fabric related merchandise will be displayed. Many of the antiquarian prints in the room will either be rehung downstairs or returned to the Mouse House. Additional mirrors will be used to generate more light in this room.

The reshuffling will begin on Friday, October 1. We hope this will become a successful change with our merchandise. At least it will be different, especially the "wall of mirrors" on the landing.
We'll give it a few months and then reevaluate our decision.

Max Stalking and Shadow Hiding

As promised here is another video of Max and Shadow being cats! Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Pictures of Max and Shadow

Here is a picture of Shadow in all her glory sitting in her "unposed" Buddha position. I still laugh every time she sits like this. (click on image to enlarge)

Below are some more pictures of Max, "King of Park Street" and Shadow, our beloved "Buddha" cat. Max is getting bigger everyday and stills tries to play and torment Shadow. He almost plays too hard at times and we have to throw him outside to calm him down. Shadow usually forgets about the harassment within a minute of the abuse. Max is also smart not to mess around with Sissy, our tiny rescue cat, who would claw off his ears if he started something. I have also posted a video for your enjoyment. Another will be posted soon.

Here is a picture of Max sleeping on a bed of vintage textiles and decorative mats. Max is so cute, especially when he chases Shadow around the house. (click on image to enlarge)

The above picture shows Shadow sleeping among the antique prints and Susan's fiber art in our main gallery. (click on image to enlarge)

Below is a cute video of Max. Enjoy.

Here is a picture of Max and Shadow hiding under a vintage dress. I have a video of their escapades and will post it once I figure out why it barfed when I tried to upload it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An overdue post

A photo of Max, our new shop cat (click to enlarge)

The summer has flown by with amazing speed. We are still muddling along through the bad economic climate and making a living. Exciting things are on the horizon for Susan and her art work. Hopefully she is on a plane heading back to SC from a week-long family reunion in Udvari, Hungary with her parents, sister Wanda, and many other old family friends. Her father was born and raised in this city and his family members were deported (along with all the other Hungarian Germans) by the Russians to East Germany after the end of World War II. She has been out of contact with me and her cyber friends for a week and I expect her to report about her trip in detail on her blogs. She has a new website (click here), a show in Florence, SC, and the real big show in Charleston opening in September. All the details can be found on her blogs and website.

The Mouse House also has a new shop cat, Max, "King of Park Street". He is jointly owned by Jerry Finney, our next-door neighbor and defense attorney, and us (although he really lives here and is MINE). Max loves people and trills like a "Tribble" in the classic Star Trek TV show. Max chases "Shadow" around the house but is smart enough to stay away from "Sissy", our rescue cat, who hides during the day and sleeps between Susan and me at night. Sissy lived a miserable 9 months in the wild and was probably tortured by its former owner. She is actually sweet, but is afraid of everything. More and better pictures will be posted later.

This is a rare picture of Max and Sissy actually sleeping on the same couch upstairs. We were experiencing a pretty sever thunderstorm at the time and I think they had a truce during the storm. They have not sat together since!

On a final note, I am going to break down and finally get a Facebook account. The Mouse House will be going social. I'll let everyone know when Susan creates my account. I might even "twitter"!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Pictures From London

The weather has cleared (no more thunderstorms) and now I'll post some more photographs. One thing I noticed on this trip was how low the Thames River flowed. I don't know if it was because of a lack of rainfall, but it was low. I saw several people searching for artifacts along the river's edge and even a few people sunbathing! (please click on any image to enlarge)

The view in this picture is of Southwark Cathedral, located near the London Bridge underground. It is one of the oldest churches in London. I toured the church but did not take any interior photos. There is an archaeological site nearby that shows an old Roman street and various remains of 12-16Th century ruins. A very cool place.

Entrance to Southwark Cathedral

Above is your basic view of the Thames looking toward London Bridge, taken from the Millenium Bridge.
As I walked along the Thames toward the London Eye, I saw a make-shift skate park. I took a video and is posted below. I wished I spent more time here as there were a few pretty good skaters and some kids just having fun.

I will conclude this post with some pictures from the Portobello Market in Notting Hill. Mathias suggested that I venture out to this market on Saturday morning before the ballet performance. He thought I would like it, and he was right! All the tour books suggest that you arrive early Saturday morning in order to get the best deals in antiques and flea market stuff and to beat the hoards of people who come out to browse. I was not too interested in buying so I arrived later in the morning with the rest of humanity. You could hardly walk down the street because of the crowds, but it was an incredible people watching place and prices on antique prints, maps, etc was actually pretty reasonable. One of the best things about this area were the street performers, ranging from a two-woman portable puppeteer theatre, excellent jazz musicians, a classical quartet, and one special guitar hero jammer (see picture below). I will definitely come back here again; there is something for everybody here.

Portobello Market on Saturday morning (click on image to enlarge)

One of the many interesting and unique Portobello vendors. One of my favorite pictures appearing below is of an antiquarian print dealer. His signage was "special" and his prices were pretty reasonable. The butterfly engravings shown in the picture were approximately 30 pounds each ($47) before bartering; I had the same set of images a few years ago and sold mine for about $20-25 plus framing.

Below is the "guitar hero" player with two fellow jammers. I couldn't resist taking this picture. I have a video but I think this picture is better.

London, April 2010

I love to try to take self-portraits of myself. Most of the time they never come out or are awful. However, even I get lucky sometimes. This is yours truly on the Millenium Bridge which spans the Thames between the Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral. Notice the weather. It never rains when I go to England! I'll be cursed for that statement one day. (click on image to enlarge if you dare!)

I was fortunate enough to be on one of the first Trans-Atlantic planes to arrive in London (April 21) after the flying restrictions were lifted due to the recent and ongoing volcanic eruptions in Iceland. I cashed in my Delta frequent flyer miles for a ticket months ago that corresponded exactly (lucky me) with the time when Mathias and Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) would be performing The Sleeping Beauty at the London Coliseum. A year ago in April, Susan, Linda and I saw Mathias perform in Sylvia at the same venue and we stayed (thanks to Linda and her Marriott points) at the very swanky Marriott County Hall. Mathias was scheduled to dance the principal role of Bluebird twice, and Susan had already seen him perform in Birmingham last month. On the morning of my flight the air space over the UK was still closed, but my flight from Detroit to London Heathrow had not been cancelled. I flew to Detroit not knowing whether I would fly to England or back home to Columbia later that night. Mathias called me at the airport with the good news that UK air space was suppose to open at 10PM GMT. Our flight time was delayed about two hours but we made it over without any problems.

Mathias on the Millenium Bridge. Note the weather. This picture was taken the next day after my self-portrait. I could not have asked for better weather the whole week I was in England. I think it only rained for 20 minutes one night. (click to enlarge)

I met Mathias late Wed. morning at the Coliseum stage door to obtain my ticket for the performance that night, and then caught a train to my hotel in southeast London. The Bexleyheath Marriott, where I stayed for 5 days (on my Marriott points for free!), is located within a 15 minute walk or bus ride from the Bexleyheath train station which in turn is about 35-40 minutes from London Charing Cross Station. This station is within an easy 5 minute walk to the Coliseum. It could not have been more convenient. If you are not in a hurry, one can easily stay in the suburbs and save lots of money in hotels. Normal rates at this pretty nice Marriott (has full sauna, steam room, indoor pool, health club, etc) were 50 pounds/night cheaper than staying in London. The award nights also require significantly less points than the London Marriotts. In addition, for 7.50 Pounds you can purchase an off peak day pass that lets you have unlimited bus, underground, and train travel all over Greater London. You only have to start your trip after 9:30AM. On the weekend the passes are good anytime which is important as you probably should go to the fabulous markets (like Portobello) early. Trains run till midnight and they even have an all-night bus service to this area (although I don't think I ever want to be that adventurous in my old age!). I was able to see and do everything I wanted to do in London and the train ride back to the hotel were relaxing after all the walking I did. I would definitely do something like this again if (when) I return to London. Below are a few pictures that I took on this trip. By the way, Mathias was wonderful as Bluebird.

Here is a view of the Borough Market, one of the oldest markets in London. It was not too crowded that day (the busy day is Friday). The food was incredible and the views of the vendors were excellent.

Here is a view of St Paul's Cathedral taken from the Millenium Bridge.

We are having some weather issues here in Columbia. I will add more pictures and talk about more adventures in London later.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Books moving to Terrace Oaks Mall

Our participation in the South Carolina book festival at the Carolina Coliseum proved to successful and enjoyable. The move-in and move-out was easy, and the events hosted by the book festival staff were excellent. Our first venture with the book festival in 2008 occurred within one week of Alex's departure from our home, and thus the event was filled with depression and sadness. Susan kept her mind and hands occupied by wrapping rusty nails with thread, much to the amusement of the visitors to our booth. These nails have found their place in several art installation and pieces and have been accepted into a number of national juried art shows. Pictures of her nails and related art pieces can be found on her blog. By the way she wrapped more nails this time (cool rusty square-head nails purchased at Bill Mishoe's auction) and generated the same curious looks from bystanders and book dealers alike.

The main difference between the book festival two years ago and the last one (excluding the emotional trauma) was the merchandise that I brought. Two years ago I only brought antiquarian prints and Susan's altered books. This time I actually brought books and only a few antiquarian prints, as well as many nice 19Th century plate books from my collection. Susan was one of the featured artists at the festival and again brought new altered books. Since she let people touch and examine them, they became a hit at the festival. Most of the books were on gardening, music and art; these books had been purchased from shelf-lot book auctions in Falls Church, VA at great prices. Accordingly my prices were very reasonable, and I sold enough to nearly break even for the weekend. I probably could have sold more if I made it more obvious that most of the books were priced as low as $1.00. These sales also have justified my trips to the DC area, and I am looking forward to upcoming shelf-lot auctions as great deals can be found. I also sold several nice plate books at the show and several more after the show, and thus the show actually became financially successful. I have noted in my last post of the books that sold and if anyone is interested in the others, just let me know.

Beginning next Thursday I will be bringing to Terrace Oaks Mall in Charleston all remaining books that did not sell (plate books, however, will remain in Columbia). I hope that they sell so I can continue to shop and buy bargain books. Please check the out the next time you are in Charleston.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some book offerings at the SC Book Festival

The South Carolina Book Festival opens on February 27 and continues on Sunday, February 28. Book festival hours are 9AM-5:30PM on Saturday and 11:30-5 on Sunday. There is NO CHARGE for admission. I am planning to bring a selection of art and gardening books priced from $1.00-$40.00, and some of my antiquarian prints . I am also bringing a nice selection of fine 19Th cent. plate books. Some of the titles that will be included in the sale are listed below. Please come and visit me that weekend. Click here for the latest information on the book festival.

Selection of Fine plate books to be offered:

Sartain’s Union Magazine of Literature and Art, Vol. VII, July-Dec. 1850. Includes second known publication of The Poetic Principles by Edgar Allen Poe. All plates intact. Cover nearly detached. $65.00

The Naturalist’s Library. Vol 9. Pigeons by John Selby. 30 hand-colored plates by E. Lear, complete. $165.00

The Naturalist’s Library. Vol 24. Pouched Animals. 1855. 34 hand-colored plates, complete. $165.00

The Naturalist’s Library. Mammalia (Dogs). 1839. 33 hand-colored plates, complete. $165.00

William Daniell. Interesting Selections from Animated Nature. 2 Vols. London. Ca 1810. With aquatint engravings of animals and fauna, small to moderate foxing on plates.Original boards, front cover of vol.1 becoming detached. SCARCE in complete two volume set. $925.00

Friendship’s Offering. London. 1834. 12 steel engravings, complete. $35.00

Peterson’s Magazine. Various volumes bound together. 1865-66. Numerous woodblock and steel engravings. $70.00

The Ladies’ Repository. Vol. 26. 1866. 17

steel engravings, 9 portrait steel engravings. $75.00

SOLD The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore. 2 vols. New York. 1851. 37 steel engravings, binding of vol. 1 loose. $75.00

Jones’ Views of the Seats, Mansions, Castles, etc. in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. London, Ca 1810. Frontispiece and 39 full-page engraved plates (later colored). $200.00

SOLD The National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh. 1910. 50 photogravures. No. 41 of only 350 published. $60.00

Picturesque Russia and Greece. Boston. Estes and Laurant. 1886. Numerous woodblock engravings. $40.00

Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book. Vol. XXXV, July-Dec. 1847. Numerous steel engravings and hand-colored fashion plates. $70.00

Swiss Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil. The Religious Tract Society, Ca. 1880’s. Numerous woodblock engravings, 2 chromolithographs. $45.00

The World of Science, Art, and Industry Illustrated from Examples in the New York Exhibition, 1853-54. New York. Putnam. 1854. 500 woodblock engravings throughout book and 1 early chromolithograph. $150.00

Tallis’s History and Description of The Crystal Palace and the Exhibition of the World’s Industry in 1851. 3 Vols in 2, ex lib. Approximately 140 steel engravings, some foxing to plates. Binding worn, front spine of vol 2 chipped. $175.00

William Beattie. Switzerland Illustrated. 1838, Vol. 1 only. 57 steel engravings by William Bartlett. Most plates fine with minor foxing. Binding worn, front cover nearly detached. $165.00

SOLD P.T. Sandhurst and James Stothert. The Masterpieces of European Art.

Philidelphia. Gebbie & Barrie, Ca. 1886. 101 steel engravings, plates clean with no foxing. Fine copy. $350.00

Owen Jones. The Grammar of Ornament. London. Bernard Quaritch. 1868. 112 chromolithographic plates, all fine with strong colors. Cover scuffed and discolored, binding tight. $350.00

James de Kay. Zoology of New York, Fish and Reptiles. Albany. 1842. Ex lib, plate volume. 79 B&W lithographs of snakes, fish, turtles, frogs, etc. $150.00

The Keepsake Annual. New York. ND (ca 1840’s). 11 plates. $40.00

The Odd-Fellows Offering for 1848. New York. Edward Walker. 11 steel engravings. $40.00

The Memories of Home, an Illustrated Annual. New York. 1860. 8 steel engravings. $40.00

The Snow Flake. 1846. Philidelphia. E. Ferrett & Co.. 10 steel engravings. $40.00

The White Veil, a Bridal Gift. Philidelphia. E.H. Butler. 1854. 11 plates. $45.00

The Ladies’ Repository. 1876.13 steel engravings. $40.00

Sowerby’s English Botany. Ed. by Boswell Syme. Vol 4. London. George Bell & Sons. 1902. 192 color plates, all fine. $350.00

SOLD English Art in 1884. Ed. by Henry Blackburn. 1895. 10 full page steel engravings. $50.00

SOLD Gems of Design From The Crystal Palace. London. ND (Ca. 1850’s). Plate Vol. Sm Folio. 204 steel engravings on 117 pages. Moderate foxing on most plates. $175.00

Charles Wilson. Picturesque Palestine, Sinah & Egypt. 2 vols. New York. D

Appleton & Co. 1883. Sm. Folio. 42 steel engravings, numerous woodblock

engravings in text. 1st Am. Edition. Covers scuffed, tight binding. $325.00

Sir Richard Colt Hoare. The Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin Through Wales. 2 vols. 1806. 32 plates in Vol. 1, 27 in vol.2, missing large folding map. $175.00

The Art Journal. London and New York.Virtue. 1849-50 and 1852-1868. 19 vols. Sm. Folio. Approx. 657 full page steel engravings of all genre' of painting and sculpture of the era. Almost all plates are fine. Bingings tight but several volumes have worn or cracked leather. Text filled with thousands of woodblock engravings. An incredible insight into the art world of the British Empire during the Victorian Era. Offered as a set. $1800.00

SOLD The Art Journal. 1867. London. Virtue & Co. Sm. Folio. 29 steel engravings and numerous woodblock engravings in text. $110.00

SOLD The Art Journal for 1878. New York. D Appleton & Co. Ex lib. 36 steel engravings, all clean, numerous woodblock engravings in text. $125.00

SOLD The Art Journal for 1879. New York. D Appleton & Co. Ex lib. 36 steel engravings, all clean, numerous woodblock engravings in text. $125.00

SOLD The Art Journal for 1880. New York. D Appleton & Co. Ex lib. 36 steel engravings, all clean, numerous woodblock engravings in text. $125.00

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mouse House in Book Festival

Happy New Year to all. I am proud to report that I am participating in the South Carolina Book festival to be held at the Carolina Convention Center on February 27-28, 2010. Click here for a link that covers all the events that will be occurring that weekend. One of the new ventures to this show is the inclusion of artists for the event, and Susan is one of the participating artists. We did the show two years ago and brought only antiquarian prints and her altered books. For the upcoming show I plan to bring more antiquarian prints, but more importantly, I am going to showcase some of my plate books that I have collected over the years. I am also planning to bring really cool art books and whatever else I can find around the Mouse House for sale. I will provide more details later.

As an antiquarian print dealer I am often frowned upon by other booksellers because I sell prints that have originally have been extracted from old books. I would be lying (along with almost every other antiquarian bookseller) if I said that I have not gutted an old book for its art plates. The sad truth about plate books is that generally you can make more money selling the plates as framed art for home decor than selling the book itself. A notable exception are pre-20TH century atlases which command premium money if all the maps are still intact in the book. Book rebinding is expensive and has to figure in the equation when trying to decide to save or gut a book for the plates. I can, however, honestly say that a vast majority of my antiquarian prints have been purchased at auctions in print lots where someone else has already raped and pillaged the books.

Another sad truth about plate books is the simple fact that old copper and steel engravings, both colored and uncolored, are often wonderful examples of art that remain unseen in a closed book. I have a twenty-three volume collection of The Art Journal, published between 1849-1880 with fabulous steel engravings of the art of the era. I have no need to "break" these books for the plates because I already have a nice collection of similar plates for sale; however I know that if I sell them to someone else, this person can acquire a really nice print collection for decoration and framing. At one of the last book shows I did years ago in Durham, NC, I sold a nice Ca 1880 art book with uncolored steel engravings to a book dealer who told me, upfront, that he was going to send it to his hand-colorist for breaking and coloring. Such is the business of selling old art books with wonderful plates. I am actually excited about bringing these books to show and sell since they generally sit in my closet unseen by anyone but me. If I sell any and they are gutted, so be it. I hope the people that end up with the art in these books enjoy the images as much as I have.