Part of the fun of finding a treasure at the thrift store is learning a little more about it. There’s a thrill to searching for an artist’s signature or a maker’s mark, and it’s so fun to put together a story for how an item came to be at a thrift store in Eugene, Oregon or Anchorage, Alaska – or wherever you may be. We’re excited to share the second installment of our series ‘Tracing a Lineage.’ If you missed it, you can check out the first one here.
Mera and the Mystery of the Hidden Fire
Lately my thrift store forays have been few and far between, and when I do get to pop in to my favorite spots it’s because I’ve found myself with an extra ten minutes before I need to pick Opal up from preschool. On such a recent trip, as I traversed the aisles with a lightening pace and the metronomic hips of a speed walker, a glint of brass caught my eye. Amidst the dust and ’80s dingy tri-pillowed couches sat a pretty three-legged stool:
The stool looks small and delicate, but weighs a hefty 13 pounds. On the bottom it says “NADER” and “Made in Iran.” A quick google search told me that Nader is a factory in Tehran, but not much else.
All three legs unscrew, and around the perimeter of the stool are sickle shaped holes. Turns out the stool is a foot warmer; apparently hot coals were placed into the main chamber through the leg holes, and the stool would get nice and toasty.
Although I don’t know much about its provenance and nothing about its trajectory from Iran to a thrift store in Anchorage, I’m glad to have this lovely stool. I love its verdigris patina and, as a person who sleeps with at least one hot-water bottle every night, I like to think that I am particularly suited to appreciate its function and form.
Katie and the Tale of the Foppish Prince
I met my prince at the end of an unassuming driveway in the golden morning hours of a slow Saturday. His presence heralded a garage sale just up the drive, but I was too enamored of his neon stockings and the twee way he pointed his beribboned foot to look at much else. The price to bring him home? A mere $3 – and the monetary equivalent of about $3,000 in skeptical looks from Cameron.
There’s nothing in this photo for scale, so you may not be able to really feel the towering majesty of the electric-hued prince. At over four feet tall, by my quick calculations, he cost a mere 0.001 cents per square inch, but would have been a bargain at any price.
I came home sure I had something plundered from the bedchamber of a 16th century French castle. My hopes were dashed when I noticed the modern printing on the back of the tapestry, but at least it provided ample clues for my sleuthing.
This tapestry is actually called ‘Depart pour la Chasse,’ or ‘Leaving for the Hunt.’ It’s not an antique — SEG de Paris is a well-known needlepoint company that still operates today. For anywhere between $792 and $1,592, depending on whether you choose wool or silk thread, you can buy a kit to make your own prince (or falconer, as they prefer to call him)!
The kits include a much more subdued palette, trending toward traditional rusts and murky greens (the hot pink that drew me to my own prince is sadly lacking).
See? More traditional and, in my opinion, leagues less lovely. It makes me happy to think of someone carefully assembling their custom neon palette and then painstakingly stitching this enormous tapestry. I’m not sure yet where the prince will end up – I would love to include him in an upholstery project, but I’m still looking for the right one.
So there’s the tale of our two treasures: fire for your feet and fire for your heart. Have you found any thrifted flames lately?
Oh I love your two treasures so much! Being a two hot water bottle a night person, I think warm coals under one’s feet while watching The White Queen would be just right. And oh that prince of a fellow – I can hardly wait to see him in place – what an astounding find – needlepoint kit or no – that’s lots of stitches!
I loved the stool for its looks, but when I discovered its function I knew it was meant to be! Thanks, Katy!
Love researching people and finds….how engaging to read about both of your pieces and as fall slips toward winter imagine the warming properties of both, the lovely stool from Iran and the young prince so colorfully, bedecked and beribboned, radiant warmth of a different kind.
Thank you, sweetest Susan. We have tipped toward winter here, so radiant warmth, both visual and climatic, is definitely in order!
My favorite posts. Great fun, Katie & Mera! I’m always wondering about my finds, too. Have to say I love the color artistry of the tapestry you found, the bold pinks, purples and blues. Just love it. And $3? Steal!
Thanks dear Val! I wish I knew who made the tapestry – the hours and hours they must have spent! Even though I know it’s not an antique, in my mind I still picture it being stitched within stone castle walls, next to a cozy hearth. xo
The prince is the best find. I have managed to find 2 small tapestry pieces in thrift stores over the years but nothing as outstanding as this. I love them for the time and energy that went into them, that someone spent so much time choosing their pattern, happily pondering their colour choices (especially the person who chose to substitute shocking pink for rust. good work there), and labouring over their stitching.
Shocking pink is always a good substitute for rust 🙂 Thanks Sally–I wish you happy needlepoint hunting!
Treasures, indeed! So much fun to wonder what paths these items have followed. I could use a couple of those foot warmers about now. And I look forward to seeing the prince incorporated into a future project!
Thanks Michelle! I’m so envious of Mera’s find – What I wouldn’t give to be toasting my tootsies on that stool right now!
Congrats to you both on these treasures. My recent find: a rosewood Danish MCM chair for $5 (an Erik Buch #49 chair, as I learned from a craigslist post offering a set). Just had it re-covered in remnants from an older upholstery project. Even my “we don’t need more furniture!” spouse approves. What keeps me thrifting is the treasure hunt aspect.
Gorgeous find, Gillianne! Chairs are more than just furniture – they’re also tables, cat beds, tv trays, footrests, art, and so much more. That’s what I tell myself (and Cameron), anyway. No way would I have left the one you found behind!
So right about the versatility, and yup–inevitably–our cat promptly staked it out as a new snooze zone.
both fantastic fun finds. i never research my finds…maybe i should start! love these stories.