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February 24, 2005



That's an awesome voicemail message!

Bill Tozier

Two words come to mind to aid you in your desire for more sturdy furnishings, without undue financial outlay or slavish acceptance of modernity: dead people.

Estate auctions are wonderful things. Anybody who pays attention to the lives and lifestyles of the past for a living should find a weekend (or better financially, weekday) spent at an estate auction a tax-deductible expense! Admittedly, the most important virtue to don in this case is patience; you should learn to enjoy the event for the spectacle, for the mysteries of human desire it uncovers (both among the bidders, who will feverishly bid up the most ridiculous junk, while ignoring and allowing you to obtain the most amazing treasures), and for the books. Do not neglect the books.

As we all know, old dead people were the only ones who read, not the chintzy sort of live people one gets these days.

That said, I would never encourage bibliomania where it seems so dangerously out of control. (We maintain an off-site storage facility with an extra 3000 volumes of overflow....)

So look carefully at your local newspaper. Visit a nearby antiques mall (not store, but mall or co-op), and ask them for a list of auctioneers or a newspaper. Go to one or two auctions with no expectation of purchase, and better yet a very small amount of money, just to learn the experience so that you do not get caught up in the moment and spend too much money and end up disappointing yourself. Do not ever attend a sale described as a "book auction"; rather, look for those that mention many pieces of furniture, many "smalls", many pieces of "paper goods and ephemera", and maybe "several boxes books", or "photos; albums; magazines; old books;jewelry;..."

Oh, wait, we were talking about furniture, right? Well... that too. The quality of furniture bought by the recently deceased, especially the well-to-do, is amazing. You know how they say, "Things aren't as good nowadays"? They're right.

I'm serious. There is no better way to upgrade quickly and elegantly than to buy wholesale, after all. You will be bidding, if you're lucky, against dealers -- if you're buying for yourself, you don't need a margin. You'll pay less than you would for new.

And it'll be better stuff.

Avoid estate sales; they are too inefficient, and can smell a sucker a mile away. Auctions. Really. Try it.

Bill Tozier

Sorry -- unfinished clause [due to tequila use]:

"the bidders (&c &c), and also the deceased themselves, who will astound you with what they managed to squirrel away, and leave you trying to fathom why."


I want to phone you up just so I can hear the message...


our sofa, vintage graduate school, has cat scratches even though we don't have cats. it was free though, and it is very comfortable.

we're looking at mattresses...

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