Natalie Curley is one of the rare breed doing the heavy lifting for collectors. All these objects have to come from somewhere, and the folks who find, save, protect, share and sell them to others are how I connect with the past. Natalie is a little like me…she has to own an object to understand it, and that unending search to learn is what keeps her going. Anyone can sell an object, that's what Craig's list is for. But it takes a special person to find it, figure it out, treat it with respect and pass it along at a very small mark up to other collectors. I own things with Natalie M. Curley provenance and so do many others. It's time to share a favorite source. I asked Ms. Curley to discuss a few of her finds with us and to explain what gets her up in the morning. Ms. Curley has a splendid website, sells on eBay, restores and frames objects and hits the road early to find great stuff. See what Natalie has available at CURLEY'S ANTIQUES and on her eBay listings. Stay up to date with Natalie's travels on her Facebook page.
Because Ms. Curley's interests are wide, we are posting two versions of this piece. One here, the other on Vintage Sleaze the Blog.
"Prior to the hipster “heritage,” and crafty “repurposing” revolutions born of reality television so many years ago, the only context the public really had for the artifacts of their collective history not stored in struggling museums seen only on childhood school trips were the legions of condescending retirees smelling vaguely of lilac and rambling about “book values” running prissy but dusty antique shops in vacation towns. I rightly cannot fault y’all for not finding those very accessible or worthy of your precious free weekend hours. But for folks like me, weirdos ooking for points of connection in an uncomfortable world, the very idea of “forgotten” makes our hearts race and we think you’re crazy to resist! An abandoned parking lot or the field of an underutilized historic landmark in need of the funding, completely uncatalogued piles of every single thing ever possibly made by man or machine before this very day with no answers and not many hints, likely beginning an hour before dawn and potentially slogging through mud or 90 degrees, sounds better than sex! Its a never ending number of too crazy to be imagined stories, lives lived, lost achievements, personalities and insights all silenced by the years and the graves just waiting to wake up and chat. The age and construction of a thing, the society that produced it, the intent (folk art is ALL intent) of the maker, the make-do necessity of the materials used, how its aged and how its been damaged all tell the story. I can become aware of things I never imagined and with the context I piece together, so can the new owner. In the process, we all learn something about ourselves. Theres nothing better than that discovery and I’ve made ALL my professional choices in this life so that I can afford to run away to this circus every-day."
Handmade and electrified by the same tiny hobby light bulbs any early train set would use, but a mystery past that. The imagination runs wild, part of some odd religious revival or stage play? Carnival prop or weird advertising? No idea, but its all patina and sculpture now!
1920s Post Toasties General Grocery Store Advertising Work Apron
The early 20thc American economy was not only moving rural to city, self reliant to national, but was unknowingly writing the rules of a modern global economy at the time. Like so many of our most insightful antiques, who would expect this apron to survive nearly 100 years? It dates to pretty much the moment when BRANDS made family owned General Stores into competitive groceries, first launching invasive campaigns into our collective conscious. The lucky laborer to wear this one got to wear a sign on his chest and advertise the day’s specials!
1919 Ruth Law Aviatrix Vintage Pilot Plane Barnstormer Antique Photo Pitch Card
Real historically relevancy is a rare treat, here is Ruth Law (Oliver) identified “Apollo Fair Mrs Oliver (married) on her frame stunt flier, August 8 1919” on reverse. Law bought her first Curtiss plane from Orville Wright in 1912 and in the next decade worked as a commercial pilot, dropped “baseballs” (grapefruits) from planes to Dodger catchers, set many flight records before being denied entry into WWI combat when we entered the War in 1917. Her passionate article “Let Women Fly” became canon for even decades later aviatrix.
Disturbing Wonderful 19thc Victorian Nursery Rhyme Playing Cards
Antique paper should not be. It was only ever advertising, marketing or toys made cheaply and treated poorly. The quality of construction and carefully crafted graphics make so much of it timeless, when its lucky enough to survive the trash bin for a century. Much of it becomes unique by default and theres no research to be done, and such is the case here. These might have been made by a popular Victorian printing company McLoughlin Brothers, responsible for so many of our classic fairytale and nursery rhyme images, or maybe not.
Depression Era Make Do Feed Sack Window Screen Folk Art Bee Keepers Hat
Handmade things are usually born of necessity, but the art is in the spirit of survival and joy. There is nothing new in the reuse of feed sacks during the Depression and Dust Bowl years, it was so common that Feed companies started to print patterns on the fabric for their customers. What shows spunk is taking a bit of window screen (itself a commodity at the time) and having sewn it loosely to two pieces of old feed sack charge into a beehive to get the family a little treat or sell the honey. That’s something, and that makes me smile.