Friday, 24 May 2013

Souvenir de la Dentist's Maison

(My apologies to my mother for fracturing the name of one of her favorite old garden roses, Souvenir de la Malmaison, but she would understand the sacrifices one must make for a snappy headline.)

Today's story begins when I knew my stay on the Island would be drawing to an end.  I did what any red-blooded lover of gorgeous antique furniture would do: I managed to convince Chumley that now was the time to pillage the spoils of Stamford society and buy their castoffs for cheap from Bateman's Auctions.  As I gingerly learned to bid on pre-approved merchandise we viewed and decided would be useful in a bigger American home, I spied the most wonderful satinwood artcase grand piano.  I bit my lower lip bloody until the urge to bid passed.  A grand piano had been on my wish list since I'd been gifted my grand piano pencil sharpener as a child, complete with lid rest.  Perhaps as many wood shavings were falling out of this 1870's model, but it was a becoming, blonde looker.  Worse yet, it sold for only £150.  I wanted to cry, but a beautiful flame mahogany dining table cushioned the blow.

We were in the States when a whim forced me to look at an email auction newsletter, made ever-so-handy with a search feature that could scour auction houses for elderly grand pianos in need of good homes.  I found one, naively bid live online at 4:30 a.m. CST, and became the proud owner of an 1844 Collard & Collard parlour grand, a slight size up from a baby grand intended for home enjoyment.  It sat in the front parlour of a dentist in Grantham.  Hammer price: £65 plus VAT.  All in, about $120.

I pinched myself, not feeling this kind of joy since I discovered peaches would grow in our English back garden.  All was hunky dory for about a week, until I discovered a little something called CITES... the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species.

Episode two of the grand saga to come...

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