Life in Old South Central Alabama

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South of Birmingham, Alabama, United States
I am an antique trader in central Alabama....I love old houses... My log home was built in 1817 by my ancestors Benjamin and Hannah Harless Wilson .............. Outside the house are herb gardens and lots of pass-along plants................ No one in Alabama is in a hurry about anything......... Visitors think that the garden needs weeding and the furniture needs polishing....I am a direct descendant of Joseph Towne, whose two sisters Rebecca Towne Nurse and Mary Towne Easty were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 as witches. I am also a direct descendant of Pocahontas and husband John Rolfe.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

From William Lowndes Yancey's Estate

This is a huge piece of furniture from the estate of Alabama Senator William Lowndes Yancey.  He was a planter in Dallas County, Alabama,  served in the Alabama legislature from Coosa County, was a state Senator from Coosa and Autauga Counties,  and was elected to the United States Congress in 1844.

 Before he made his first speech defending the South, Secretary of State John C. Calhoun advised him to hold back a little, but Yancey gave a brilliant and forceful opening address that gave him instant national fame.   He was actually challenged to a duel because of the speech, but the dispute was settled before any shots were fired.

Mr. Yancey served two terms in Congress then came back to Alabama to practice law in Montgomery. ( One old biography said he came back because he needed to "repair his fortune" which is a nice way of saying he was running out of money. ) 

Mr. Yancey's ability to stir up the crowds in his speeches earned him the reputation and nickname of being a "fire eater."   He was the leader of the Alabama delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, where he led a walk out of Southern delegates which split the party and basically guaranteed the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican, as President in 1860.

Jefferson Davis was then elected President of the Confederate States and he offered Mr. Yancey any government position that he might desire.  Mr. Yancey asked to be appointed Minister to Great Britain, and his request was granted.  After a year he returned to Alabama.  He died near Montgomery in the summer of 1863. 

Here is an original photograph I have of William L. Yancey. 

I don't know if this should be called a bureau, a blanket chest, a sort of linen press, or some type of desk for storing important documents and papers, but I I know that the drawers are massive and that it was the property of William L. Yancey and could be the centerpiece of someone's collection. It sat in his home or his law office and has remained in Alabama until this day.  It is offered for sale at Charlie's shop in Clanton.

Best Stove in Alabama

I visited my friend Charlie's shop in Clanton and was taken by this giant piece of Americana, a deluxe wood burning stove that is probably the best and most complete one I've seen in years.  He left it sitting on the roller dolly so it can be loaded, as it takes four strong men to lift it.

As you see, it's called the Home Comfort and I suspect it would bring a lot of comfort on a cold day.  I am sure Tasha could fire this one up and produce some cakes and pies that would inspire complements from anyone in the house.

I already have a cook stove about half this size that I love, or I would be bringing this one home with me.  I think the gray color  ( spelled grey if you are Old South)  would enhance any color scheme.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Dresses for Armand Marseille dolls

I decided that the little Armand Marseille dolls looked rather shabby in their old clothes, so I got on Ebay and found myself a seller  ( Erintay18 ) who knows how to create an outfit that shows what a 100 year old doll can wear with style. 

None of my dolls had their original ensembles, and it appears that doll collecting pros see great value in having them dressed in ratty old clothes, but I don't.  I think that after 100 years a girl deserves a new outfit.

Meanwhile, in a case in the back room,  these little girls must be content with what they have for now. 

These are German dolls made by Armand Marseille ,  Halbig, and Kestner.  Some still need proper new clothing, some need new hair, most need shoes.  They seem content enough as they are.

Their faces are porcelain; their bodies are either kid leather or cloth and stuffed with sawdust.  Erin made the purple dress also.  Another dress she made is on the way from Illinois, so we'll see who needs it the most.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Grand Chair from Selma, Alabama

I found this large chair tucked away on the second floor of a tired-looking old building that serves as an antique shop in Selma, Alabama. 

It  reminds me of a lolling chair, the type Mr. Scrooge sits in as he eats his gruel in front of the little fireplace in his bedroom.  Since I don't have a fireplace in my bedroom, I decided to try it out in the main room of the log cabin. 

I struggled to get the two pink Chippendale chairs upstairs ( sixteen steps)  to a more suitable setting.  Then I removed the televison by rerouting  the cable wires to the back of the house where I have my computer, craft tables, and books, all mixed in with a hodge-podge of old  furniture.

My back room is basically a  sad combination of styles but solving that will have to wait for a better day or a bigger house.

Yet the good news is that now the log room  has taken a giant leap forward to being all primitive. 

My father gathered  a five gallon bucket of walnuts for me last year so I am going to get a fire going and boil them in one of the iron pots outside and dye the curtains I made from dollar store sheets, since I now think that they are too light.  I hope the walnut stain will give them a nice shade of brown.

( Click on the pictures for a much better look! )

The gate leg table under the portrait of Uncle Jonathan is from the 1780's and I raised one side to combat my tendency to line furniture up around the wall.  ( My instinct to line up furniture comes from 34 years of teaching school and lining up the children's desks in rows.)

 I have yet to locate a hunt board, but have that abiding faith that one is waiting for me somewhere.

( Click on the pictures for a much better look! )

 Someone said that when you no longer have wants, needs, or desires, you are out of the game.  

Even better, I read that when your memories of the past outweigh your hopes for the future, you are really out of the game. 

It's a struggle for me sometimes, but as the verse says,  I'm not looking back, but I'm pressing on, toward the prize of the high calling of our God.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mint Julep Cabinet

+Double Click each picture for a better look!

Mint Julep Cabinet just pulled from an old plantation house in Alabama. All original.

Inside is a cellerette for holding the liquor bottles. Under the marble top is an ornately tooled leather pull-out serving tray. I think the style is Empire-Rococo

A bit of the veneer is missing on each side where a gentleman would rest his foot. I like the authenticity of that.

This would probably date 1830s-1840s. Most likely made in New Orleans and purchased either there or in Mobile and brought "up the river" to the Black Belt region of Alabama. It's very heavy even without the marble top.

This is only the third one I have seen since going to my first auction in 1968 as a teenager. One was in Roanoke, Alabama , at the Grandview Auction a couple of years ago. The other was at the Flomaton Auction on the Gulf Coast. It's 39 inches tall and three feet wide at the top.

There are some things ( like pedal sewing machines) that I can buy and sell all day long, but I have learned to recognize that, every so often,  a keeper will come along that needs to live here for a while until the right person comes along.  Knowing the difference is sometimes tricky.

 As I have mentioned before, I don't want to be filmed for Hoarders 1860 ,  ( that's my little joke)  ,  but the reason I buy and sell antiques and collectibles is, like many of you,   buying and selling gives me the ability to upgrade what I keep

Some people have the energy to do that with houses.  They buy , restore, sell, and buy better,  then do it again, until they have worked themselves into a grand place to live.  I never had the patience for that ( many of you did), but I can do it with what goes in the house.

So,  some things I keep, and some things I take to the antique shops that I help to supply.  Of course, if someone makes me an offer I can't refuse, I'll have to let it go, but I'll be sure to take the same money and look for something else spectacular.   Anticipating that will ease the pain of departure!