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Monday, March 31, 2014


Yep it's that time of year again. Myself, I do not go to many yard sales, not a morning person. If I happen to wake up earlier than normal and have enough time before opening the store I will consider checking out a few. I have found a few good things to buy that I can resell but usually not enough to account for the gas used.
Many people do love to go and find lots of goodies at a bargain as far as everyday type items that are wanted or needed. The good worthwhile stuff (Antiques/Collectibles) are usually priced a little high for resell, and I have found many items even priced higher than true retail. Having said that, there are a few, and I mean very few, that find that once in a lifetime deal.
Here are some photos and stories to showcase those few lucky individuals that have found the once in a lifetime treasure.

A British businessman bought five pieces of art for $5 at a garage sale in Las Vegas. It turns out that the yard sale was thrown by a man whose aunt had been a care taker for Andy Warhol, and this signed drawing was probably completed by Andy Warhol when he was only 10 years old. The sketch is worth upwards of $2 Million. 

This huge folk art jug in the Pennsylvania / Ohio style was acquired at a Shriner's yard sale for less than $50. It's marked with roman numerals to indicate it's capacity -- 20 gallons! It's from the 19th-century and has a current appraised value of $100K-$150K.

This 18th century mahogany card table was snagged at a garage sale for $25 and sold at a Sotheby's auction 30 years later for $541,500. It was one of only six intricate tables made by legendary Boston furniture makers John Seymour and Son.

A man bought two boxes at a garage sale for $45 after bickering the seller down from $70. He kept them under his pool table for several years before opening them up to find he had acquired 65 glass plate negatives from Ansel Adams' early days of nature photography. The collection of mostly Yosemite photos is worth $200 Million.

This record was snagged from the bottom of a heap of vinyls for only 75 cents at a Manhattan flea market in 2002. It turned out to be an in-studio acetate made during Velvet Underground's first recording session. The lucky finder put it on eBay and ended up fetching $155,401 for this rare 12-inch LP. Now that's what we call super groovy.

This beautiful antique mirror was purchased at a yard sale in New Mexico for only $2. It's an intricate piece made by Tiffany Studios in 1905 with an original Tiffany's glass inset and an appraised value of $25,000. What a find!

A retired truck driver bought this abstract painting for $5 (down from a listing price of $7) from a thrift shop in San Bernardino, California in the early 1990s. It turns out it could be a real Jackson Pollock piece with a value of nearly $50 Million. The owner more recently inspired and starred in a documentary about the painting called "Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock".

When an Ohio woman bought this sparkly piece at a yard sale for $5, she thought it was costume jewelry. She later had the pendant appraised and found out it's worth nearly $10,000. 

This might be the best return on a $3 garage sale investment... ever. This 5-inch bowl that a family bought back in 2007 was appraised by Sotheby's at $200K-$300K, but a London dealer ended up buying the 1000 year old bowl for $2.225 Million. It's one of only two known pieces of it's same design and size made by the Northern Song Dynasty. The other bowl is displayed in the British Museum's collection.
WELL maybe I should reconsider the wee hours of mornings and hit the trail a running.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Springerle Cookies

The first day of spring and what do I think of, the tools used for making springerle cookies. These cookies are a favorite for making at Christmas time. So why do I think on this on the first day of spring? Well, no logical reason other than I just added some of these tools to the inventory and decided to share some history and photos of such.

Springerle are molded cookies with often intricate pictures. They are popular around Christmas and other holidays. Most often flavored with anise(licorice), sometimes with lemon.
Some history;  No one can pinpoint the exact historical origins of Springerle so here is what we do know.

Anise Cookies North of the Alps

Anisgebäck (anise - flavored baked goods) are hundreds of years old. "Aniskringel" were one of the early sacrificial foods after anise became available north of the Alps . Anise itself was prized as a spice and a medicine and grown in cloister gardens. This links anise to "Bildergebäck" or baked goods with pictures, which have been around even longer than Christianity. Church hosts (the bread the church gives out at communion) were a type of "Bildergebäck" in monasteries where Springerle possibly developed.


Springerle became popular in the 16th century, when white sugar became affordable due to European sugar plantations in the New World. The models were made from clay or stone and were already used for hundreds of years for decorating Lebkuchen, marzipan and objects such as beeswax candles and a type of salt dough decoration.

The name, Springerle possibly stems from the way the cookies rise in the oven - to spring is to jump, the same as in English.

"Änisbrötli" (Anise cookies) or "Springerle" have been baked in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Alsace ever since, with the molds most often cut from pear wood.

In the late 16th ceentury the molds were often self-portraits or portraits of royalty. City and family coat's-of-arms were also popular. Also biblical scenes became popular, Christmas scenes especially. These scenes were often round and surrounded by a wreath of leaves. This was again divided into four parts by flowers, a grid of some sort, or pomegranates. This created panels for telling a story.
The period was a time where picture cookies and molds really expanded. To own beautiful models meant that a family could present their guests with beautiful baked goods, which may have helped their community standing. Competition developed whereby the families in a neighborhood tried to have the best cookies and molds.

This one-upmanship drifted over to governmental offices. Guild officers and administrative officials commissioned wooden molds for anise cookies, in order to properly represent their office or country. These models were highly decorated and had many details.

Other subjects were richly dressed women with fans and headdresses, cavalry officers in full regalia and pairs of lovers. Everyday events were also being depicted: woman with a spinning wheel, woman with her hens, maid with basket, hunter with game, animals and flowers. Some of these models were meant only to be fun and stylish.

Love motifs became popular: hearts, lovers, wedding coaches, babies in swaddling, fecundity symbols. They were given as presents to godparents and fathers.

1800s through Modern Era Motifs
Meanwhile, Springerle were baked year-round for every feast. Accordingly, molds were carved to show all kinds of events. The late Barock, known as Rokoko (ca. 1715-1789), was a time where a lot of decoration on every surface seemed to occur. More intricate molds were created, with rounded corners and graceful lines. The molds became smaller and daintier. Lovebirds, garlands of flowers and cupids also stem from this era.

During the Biedermeier period (ca, 1800 - 1850), household happiness became a theme. Simple and dainty motifs, friendship, love and naïveté were used. Because more people were using them, uncomplicated molds and less expensive production methods were needed. The molds depicting several motifs at once were created, with a simple frame as a guide for cutting. Manual laborers were also depicted.

Around 1849, new technology was used as inspiration. Steam engines and ships, and hot air balloons were popular motifs. But soon after, the handwork production of the cookies started to lag behind industrially produced sweets and chocolate products. It wasn't until the 1970s and the first plastic molds that Springerle made a comeback. Many of these molds are perfectly formed reproductions of the old, pear wood models.
Photos are Springerle Boards and Rolling Pins we currently have available.

Link for Springerle Cookie recipe: