Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Fate of Antiquarian Prints

Our English antique butterfly cabinet that doubles as an antiquarian print drawer (click to enlarge)

Yesterday I spent about an hour looking at the hundreds of 19TH century engravings that are contained in out antique butterfly storage cabinet we bought at Terrace Oaks Antique Mall nearly 20 years ago.  The owner of Terrace Oaks at the time, Jo Ann Parker (of the Parker pen dynasty) insisted on us buying this piece of furniture as a storage unit for our antique prints. When we originally bought this piece, the top of the drawers contained old wavy glass with a cheesecloth-like fabric on some of the panes for drying of the specimens.  There were small pieces of butterfly wings in some of the drawers.  We removed the glass from the tops of the drawers and actually used a lot of it when we framed antique images.    Until about a year ago, all of the drawers were filled with hand-colored botanicals, bird prints, architectural and natural history engravings, Harper's Weekly woodblock prints and many other wonderful engravings.  Within the last year we have reduced our print inventory and are planning to consign more in the near future.

Miscellaneous natural history engravings in drawer no. 19 (click to enlarge)

Miscellaneous black and white engravings in drawer no. 20

I still like perusing through our engravings, but at the same time its a little sad.  Most younger people do not decorate with antique engravings like in previous years.  Many of these prints have not seen the light of day in years.  This goes for the buckets of botanical and bird prints that we have in our gallery.  With our energies now turning to the creation and marketing of Susan's art (Philadelphia was better than expected), it is time for someone else to distribute and sell these engravings.  Our next trip to DC will include a stop at Quinn's Auction where a vast majority of our stock will be consigned.  The butterfly cabinet will be converted to a new home for Susan's art, as well as a choice select group of antique engravings.  I will never completely rid myself of antiquarian prints, but I'll be more selective with what I will sell (can't give up a good excuse for a business trip to a print auction).

Bins of 19TH cent. botanicals underneath the table in the Mouse House gallery

Various matted and shrink-wrapped prints on shelves beneath the Gallery table

The gallery will be weened of excess prints in order to make room for Susan's art quilts and mixed-media pieces.  We may also have a clearance sale in April during the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes of our remaining stock, although Susan frowns at the mention of a sale.  I will entertain any offers from anyone wanting to buy my engravings in bulk.  Please come by and see what I have.

As a side note, I just had two browsers (probably mother and daughter) looking at some of my black and white prints.  They were the third group of people that have come to MH to look at prints this year! They were sent by a decorator that we WILL NOT work with.  They were here for 55 minutes for some images for a small powder room!!  They took 6 images home on approval!  I wonder if the "decorator who will not be named" will come over and discuss framing options with Susan!  I bet the images taken out will not be anything like what she envisions; at least she was smart enough to send her clients over.  They could have bought one of the framed Piranesi engravings and be done with their search, but that would have been too easy!  I was polite, and they had no idea that the decorator is not allowed in the house without payment in full before any work is started.  This only confirms one of the reasons why I am going to liquidate my collection!


Wanda said...

Sounds like you have a problem with an unnamed decorator in your area! I know you have always loved your prints but understand that things change and that the old has to eventually go out so that the new can come in. Keep your favorites though. The pictures all look very good. Don't be won't have to be 'bacheloring' it for very much longer!

Susan Lenz said...

I'm glad you were nice and polite! We will have a blast getting rid of these images on the many "business trips" it will require! Love, Your Mousewife!

Wanda said...

What are you doing? Going for a '6 month pause from blogging' record??

Wanda said...

What's up Steve? Trying to go 6 months without posting???