“It’s Got Two Shopmarks!”
When I first moved to North Carolina in 1985, I mailed a postcard to more than a hundred antiques shops in our four-state area, showing a flat-arm L. & J.G. Stickley Morris chair and letting them know I was a serious collector of Arts and Crafts furniture.
One of them turned out to be Crazy Eddie, an antiques dealer who had this amazing network of pickers bringing him the widest assortment of antiques I had ever seen. Once he realized the popularity of Arts and Crafts, Eddie bought for each of his pickers a reprint of the Stickley, Limbert, and Roycroft sales catalogs — with his name and phone number written on the inside cover.
But if you wanted to work with Eddie, you had to realize that for every piece you might get, you were going to have to take a dozen or so calls about the other stuff. Eddie, you see, understood shopmarks, but if there was no shopmark, then he only knew one thing — your phone number.
And if you weren’t home, he didn’t wait for a return call. He simply went to the next name and number on his list of Arts and Crafts buyers.
Being new to the Mid-Atlantic region, many times I patiently listened as Eddie described his most recent discovery of a beat-up, refinished, poorly-designed Arts and Crafts knock-off.
To Eddie, if it was brown and pegged, he bought it.
One prominent dealer, growing tired of Eddie’s weekly phone calls for help in identifying yet another piece of beat-up, generic furniture, finally asked him:
“Eddie, do you have my business card?”
“Well, go get it.”
Eddie laid down the phone and retrieved the dealer’s business card from his desk.
“Ok. Got it!”
“Eddie, here’s what I want you to do,” came the reply. “Tear it up — and never call me again.”
Eddie loved shopmarks so much that once he called me ecstatic over a Gustav Stickley tall back, spindle rocking chair. “It’s got two shopmarks!” he shouted into the phone.
Knowing Eddie would immediately call someone else, I bought the rocker sight unseen, then drove over a few weeks later to pick it up.
“Eddie,” I implored, “You didn’t mention that its missing two spindles, and every joint has a nail driven through it.”
“So what?” he replied. “It’s got two shopmarks!”
Until next Monday,
Don’t live your life by shopmarks.