Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Restocking the Gift Closet

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Roehm, A Passion for Blue and White
Spending time in the country? For gardeners and entertainers, it's hard to
have too many vases
It's summer, which means more invitations, entertaining and house guests. And those who giveth, receiveith...in theory, anyway. Want to ensure your return? Bring along a thoughtful gift.

...as this shot of Bunny Williams's vase collection from An Affair with a House will attest.
The keyword there, in case you missed it, was thoughtful. Scented candles are lovely and all, and a bottle of wine can be quite divine, but sometimes it pays to bring something a bit more unique. Auctions are a wonderful way to achieve this aim. The key, of course, is a little advance planning. My suggestion is this: throughout the year, when you see something appealing and reasonably priced, bid away and then stash those wins in an out-of-the-way closet. Unexpected birthdays, last minute invites...you'll be just like a Boy Scout: always prepared. 

In case you're a bit behind on this front, there are a few things coming up at auction that should help you restock the larder, as it were. First up, we have a great sale at the Conestoga Auction Company in Manheim, Pennsylvania on July 15th that features dozens of lots of Blenko glass.

Vintage Blenko glass fish vase, at Conestoga on July 15th, estimate $50-100.
Blenko glass has been produced in Milton, West Virginia since 1893. In my opinion, it's hard not to have a soft spot for it--or maybe that's just because I remember this fish vase, above, on my grandmother's table with a few blossoms floating in its belly. A variation of this vase is still produced by them today, available here for $180, or you can bid on this vintage one, estimate, $50-100. Two other lots from this auction appear below, and there are many other good choices in the catalog.

Twice as nice. Two Blenko vases (estimate  $50-100) equal two great presents.

Compotes look great with fruit, flowers, vintage ornaments, etc. Blenko compote,
at auction on July 15th, estimate $50-100.
Vases are a great choice because, as the shot of Bunny Williams's shelves up top  seem to attest, it's hard for gardeners to ever have enough of them. Wedgwood Jasperware is always well received, and looks great every season of the year. 

Pair of Wedgwood Jasperware vases, at Hutter, New York on July 16th, estimate $80-125.

This pretty spatterware ewer could be used for flowers or iced tea.
Spatterware ewer, at Leslie Hindman in Chicago on July 27th, estimate $60-80.

Three lovely gifts at Leslie Hindman on July 27th, estimate $100-200.
Don't forget the mixed lots. Three lovely vases make three special gifts, above, and faience can be very festive, below, both at Leslie Hindman in Chicago on July 27th. 

Lot of four faience vases, in Chicago on July 27th, estimate $80-120.
For more urban dwellers, or possibly the more urbane, consider Italian glass. Interior designer Mary McDonald collects vintage Murano and uses it for jewelry, a great addition to her dressing room, below.

Collection of vintage Murano glass, above and below,
courtesy of Mary McDonald: Interiors: The Allure of Style

This pair would do the trick nicely.

Pair of Italian glass bowls. Up for bidding on July 27th, estimate $150-250.
...as would these vintage ash trays. Perfect for holding your lip balm and other what-nots beside the bed too.
Mid-century ash trays, in PA on July 15th, estimate $30-100.

And finally, for the person who has everything, I offer up the following motley assortment of possibilities, including some kitsch. Because, after all, the first thing you want your host to do is smile!

Mid-century whiskey pump with six shot glasses,
at Conestoga on July 15th, estimate, $30-100.

It's not a UFO...it's an antique wooden cricket cage. At Leslie Hindman on
July 28th, estimate $100-200.
American scrimshaw tortoise shell, at auction in
Chicago on July 27th, estimate $80-120.
A pair of Italian ceramic parrots, at Leslie Hindman on July 27th,
estimate $80-120.

Stock up now for your Florida visits! At Conestoga on July 15th, estimate $30-100.


  1. I have some Blenko, and I love that fish!!

  2. I do too. He's (she's?) so happy looking!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I love this idea! I was wondering, how do you get involved with auctions in your area? What should you look for if you're just starting out and do you have any tips?