Finding Treasure in an Attic
One week before our big Woodbury Lion's Club Antique Auction, I received a call from fellow Lion and friend, Bud Morgan. His mother in law, Hazel, had a few old things in her attic and they wanted me to take a look at them. I began to explain that the auction was full and that the catalog was already written, when I remembered that Bud, along with Lion's Gary Mitchell and Hal Wylie, had helped me write the catalog. The job took near a week in a 40 storage room that would have made a great wine cellar. Bud, I remembered, had worked until his hands got too numb to write. I told him I'd be right over. For a fellow Lion, we could make room for another "lot" or two in our auction, providing they'd bring some money.
As we climbed the steep stairs in Hazel's fine colonial house, she said something to Bud and her daughter, Shirley, about making sure that they show me the Parcheesi game while we were in the attic. Bud said, "OK," in way sounds polite, but isn't polite at all, because he wasn't really listening. I knew what he was thinking, "Wayne's looking for antiques that will bring big money at the auction, not old games."
The attic was about half-filled with regular attic stuff like Christmas tree ornaments and old files, and half-filled with things that match everyone's idea of what an antique is: an old "Boston" rocking chair, a bowl and pitcher set-used for washing up before indoor plumbing, a Victorian platform rocker, several old tin milk cans, a few trunks. It was a collection of what auctioneers call, "Stuff." Honest antiques that would fetch a hundred or two on the auction block.
I was beginning to explain that the auction was already too full, when I remembered what Hazel said about there being a Parcheesi game in the attic. Old games and toys occasionally bring big money. Moving the flashlight back and forth, I didn't see any toys. I was about to call it quits when a three legged candlestand appeared, set off in a corner like a kid who hadn't done his homework. It looked like cherrywood-the favored wood of old time Connecticut cabinetmakers. The form was pleasing. Typical of local candlestands made around 1810-a square top, over a vase turned standard, supported by three spider like legs. "That's a good candlestand," I said, thinking it would bring several hundred dollars. "Do you think Hazel would want to sell that?"
Bud looked at the stand and winced, like one of the legs was broke or something. "I didn't think you'd be interested in that table," he said. "It has paint or something on it."
I lowered my head, ducking under the roof, and went over to where the candlestand stood. I shined the flashlight down on the top. It was painted with the most beautiful red, white, and blue, "gameboard" top I've ever seen! The paint was dry and crackled. The white had turned pale yellow. The home squares in the corners were worn where game pieces had been set down time and time again over the years.
I carried the rare "folk art" table downstairs and explained that this piece might bring well over a thousand dollars at our auction. Bud and Shirley went into shock. Hazel didn't. Her eyes twinkled. She smiled like the Cheshire cat and said, "I told you there was a Parcheesi board up there!"