October 18, 2002
Hello from The Land Of Calamities. This would be funny if it weren't true. Last week at 4:30AM a set of bookshelves that covered one entire wall in my office ripped themselves out of the wall, taking a good chunk of it with them, and landed all over the floor. There were books and mangled antique toys everywhere! It seems the shelves had been installed (by an old boyfriend) in 1978, using anchors instead of having been screwed into the wall studs. It is amazing that they stayed up as long as they did. So, I had to get a contractor to come up and plaster all the holes in the walls. Then I painted the entire office (myself! - don't ask. There's still paint in my hair). Then He Who Is The Light Of My Life tried putting the shelves back up there properly. And then we found out why the old boyfriend had installed them with anchors. There are no studs in the walls. This is an exterior wall of a high-rise building. The wallboard is attached to the concrete side of the building. So now we either have to figure out a way to anchor these shelves, or we have to have a custom bookcase built. In the meantime, the entire place is like a Stonehenge made of books. There are great towers of books everywhere, in every room, and one must pick one's way carefully to get to anywhere from anywhere. If you want to get something from the curio cabinet in the living room, you have to walk all the way to the living room windows, and then make a U-turn to get back to where the cabinet is. Getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night is a hazardous thing. And then this monsoon came through town, depositing gallons of water on the living room carpet through the air conditioner sleeve, and the radiator in the living room sprung some sort of leak, depositing even more gallons of water on the carpet. Ah well. The repairmen have departed, shaking their heads and wondering why they don't get hazard pay, and I've finally been able to take the dropcloth off the computer in the only empty room in the place (the office, of course) and type to you.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF REALLY NEAT ADD-ONS
Okay, as long as I'm in "book" mode, think about this: you have a first edition copy of Ian Fleming's 1954 novel, "Live and Let Die". Worth a few bucks, no? Maybe even a few hundred? What if you opened the book and found this handwritten inscription: "To Sir Winston Churchill: From whom I stole some words - Ian Fleming"? Aha! Now you're talking tens of thousands of dollars! Christie's auction house is selling a collection of 350 books owned by one Roger Rechler of Long Island, New York. All are inscribed first editions of 20th century literary classics, including James Joyce's "Ulysses" and Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls". In other words, these books would be desirable even without the inscriptions, but inscribed - well collectors will have to spend some serious money to get them.
YOUTHFUL ANTIQUITIES DEPARTMENT
Mourtala Diop, 51, was arrested recently at his Manhattan apartment, hours before he was to fly home to Senegal. Diop, who has been charged with larceny and forgery, is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. According to police, he bilked at least two collectors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by convincing them they were buying ancient African art pottery from him. In fact, he is alleged to have told them the pottery was more than 2,000 years old. It was actually new, and from parts unknown. Now, of course, they want their money back. Not while he has to come up with $100,000 in bail money....
STUPID AUCTION OF THE WEEK
An Atlanta, Georgia radio station is auctioning off a half-eaten turkey sandwich. And where's the other half of the sandwich? Inside Mariah Carey. DJ Jeff Dauler of Q100 is selling the sandwich, complete with salad, pickle and garnish, and packaged in a "handy deli box". The winning bidder will also receive a plastic knife used by one of Carey's "handlers" in order to inspect it. The sandwich, no longer fit to eat, since it hasn't even been refrigerated, was left over from Carey's visit to the station earlier in the week. Said Dauler, "This sandwich is a collector's item, for the true Mariah memorabilia collector." Or the true moron. Bids so far have topped $200. No accounting for taste, is there?
A SITE YOU CAN'T IG-NOIR: Don't miss IMAGES, a site about film and popular culture. Great articles on everything from Hitchcock films to westerns. Especially interesting: a review of film noir classics. LINK.
DUMB, DUMB, DUMB: This site is hilariously funny, all the more so because this stuff is true. We've all seen it: ridiculous warnings on products, put there to protect the maker from frivolous lawsuits. You know: "don't use the hairdryer while you're asleep" types of warnings. At this site, DUMB WARNINGS, items submitted by visitors are printed for all to see. They'll even pay you $20 if they use your submission. My favorite: the Swedish chainsaw that comes with a warning not to try to stop the blade with your genitals. Vote at the site for your favorites. LINK.
Awright, Accumulators! Time to get the day started. This weekend I'll be speaking at the New England Mini VFCJ Convention in Leominster, Mass. HWITLOML will be doing the driving, as we escape the literary fallout shelter. We certainly intend to hit a few thousand flea markets on the way home. You will, I hope, be enjoying the fall weather (okay, the spring weather for all my Aussie and New Zealander Accumulators). Have a great week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!
© 2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #194
U.S. Library of Congress
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