Weekend Finds: Drexel, Vera—Jubilee!

I’ve been hungry for garage sale season for awhile and I’m happy to report that, for me anyway, it seems to be off to a great start. We’re not at the point where there’s hundreds of sales to choose from yet, but I managed to find some great stuff in the few there were. My weekend actually started with a Craigslist find. As I was perusing for garage sale listings and finding few, I jumped categories and scrolled and scrolled looking for anything exciting. I found something. Something fantastic. Something that was locked in a store that wouldn’t open until the next day at 10 am. I’ll get back to what that was in a moment, but since it was a sleepless, anticipation-filled night, I awoke early and decided to squeeze in a church sale before stalking down my find.


It was a good call. Right off the bat I scored this little walnut office credenza. The top is a little unusual, spreading over the cabinet like wings, but I thought it might make a great media cabinet or a bar. I also grabbed this interesting chair.


Though cool, this purchase underscores the importance of carefully looking things over. In a dark parking garage this appeared to be an amazing chair with great leather and fabric upholstery, needing only some new foam underneath. I also thought it had some great detailing on the back legs. Detailing that looked a little differently in the daylight.


Pipe clamps. That’s a new one. There’s obviously a reason this was $5. I fought my initial instinct to lob it into the nearest dumpster and decided to wait until I cooled off to reassess. Its fate remains undecided. Fortunately I found this $2 print of Paul Klee’s Senecio with great mid-century framing to cheer me up.


With mixed success, I decided to go see if could bag my prize game. So what was it I was so excited about? Buried in a nearly month-old post that was simply titled “Walnut table” was this pretty amazing table:


The tiny photograph and lack of description wouldn’t give much away to the casual Craigslist shopper, but when I examined the curve of the drop leaf and the simplicity of the leg I knew it was a Drexel Declaration drop-leaf dining table—for only $65! I waited in my car for the door to unlock and I swooped! To my surprise, it was still there and in great shape. Sold!

IMG_4840I love Drexel Declaration pieces for their striking simplicity and high level of craft, as you can see here in the gorgeous book-matched walnut veneer top. I was pleased to learn this came with an enormous 22-inch leaf.

IMG_4833Unfortunately the leaf has not spent any time in the table and is about 20 shades darker than the rest of the table. I plan to refinish the entire thing and bring the color back to the original in the process. Still, a solid win! I wouldn’t have had to have found a single other thing to be happy but the weekend surprised me with a few other great pieces.


The next day I hit a flea market and found this slatted bench. It’s not a designer piece, but it’s certainly a looker. My favorite part about it is the top slides and expands.

IMG_4844There was also some great lampage to be had.


My favorite is the brass and walnut lamp.  It’s modern and classic at the same time. I also found a little gem of a desk lamp with a great 1950’s brass grille. Everything was a spaceship back then and I love it.

IMG_4854Between all the sales, I manage to rack up some great smalls including this artsy grouping.

IMG_4857Pottery, teak serving trays, a block-printed table runner from Fiji, a spider candle holder—all great, but pale in comparison to those wooden tiki bookends from the Philippines.

IMG_4887It seemed like everywhere I went this weekend I found amazing Vera Neumann scarves. The bold shapes and colors of the silk and acetate scarves appeals to the graphic designer in me. Each one is really a piece of art. Vera produced scarves for decades beginning in the late 1940s. As Angela mentioned in an earlier post about her scarves, the size of the Vera signature and the appearance of the ladybug mark are useful tools in dating the scarves. The scarf with black and gray circles is from the early 1960s with the Vera and ladybug about the same size. The green and gold leaf-patterned scarf is from the late 1960s evidenced by the increasing size of the Vera signature. The other two scarves are from the early to mid 1970s when the ladybug disappeared and the Vera mark became gradually larger and larger.

IMG_4883But even with all these great things, there was one little find that made my whole weekend, perhaps even my month. I’ve been searching for this for 15 years:

IMG_4875This six-inch orange metal sign has eluded me for ages. Why, you ask, would anybody be actively searching for this? Because when I was in high school I bought a hot chocolate machine at an auction of items from my hometown drugstore. I was obsessed with soda fountain items at the time and this dispenser was one of the few things at that auction that were within my financial grasp. It was missing the sign that wagged back and forth on the top and I knew I’d probably never find one. But I didn’t care. It was a piece of history from I place I knew and I had to have it. When I saw this locked in a case at an antique shop, the 16-year-old in me was jumping up and down for joy. Some moments are just worth waiting for.

IMG_4878It’s things like this that remind me why I sift through Craigslist ads, stand for hours at auctions, get up at 5 am on Saturday mornings to drive all over, dig through boxes, attics and basements. No matter how complex the puzzle you’re putting together is, the pieces really are out there. They’re all out there somewhere just waiting to be found.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Wow! All beautiful things. Great to learn about the Vera signatures but most of all, amazing find on your chocolate sign! Thanks for sharing your story.

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