Sunday, July 12, 2015

How We Accidentally Became Collectors of African Art... in NH

While hitting the consignment shop circuit over the Fourth of July weekend, we stopped in a little place in Chichester, NH. Most of the consigned pieces were the dusty traditional/colonial/Victorian type genre that make L's skin itch. However, in the back of the store was a collection of museum-quality African and Central American art, at very reasonable prices.

L and D "cherry-picked " our favorite piece, then realized it was part of a set. Not wanting to breakup the set, we bought both:

On our way out of the store, one of the stores owners told us a fascinating story about how the pieces ended up in the shop. (We have no idea if the story is true, but if it is, L might push for some estate law reform.) According to the store employee, someone died intestate, after spending years in a nursing home. The person had no relatives, but a household of belongings in various storage units. Allegedly, the lawyer overseeing the estate hired a few kids to cart everything to the dump. The kids, hired by the hour and nearing the end of their shift, refused to stop loading their truck so that the someone else could check its contents. The story got a bit murky here, somehow involving Craigslist. At some point, the consignor acquired the items and brought them to Chichester. The store employee told us that some collectors of African art had been in to see the pieces and were expected back to pickup some up. We were told that the two statues we bought were the two most important pieces, that we had a "good eye," and that they dated to the 1930s or 1940s. D and I just happened to get there first.

As soon as D and L put the two statues they bought in our family room, we realized we wanted more. We went back to the shop as soon as it opened the next day and bought two more wooden statues. (The tall one is D's birthday gift to L.) It took a bit of convincing for L to agree to buy the one with the grass skirt, because it looked too much like the Tiki guy in the old 1970s Karen Black TV movie "Trilogy of Terror."

While we didn't take the entire collection, we hope the former owner would be happy that some of the pieces went to a home that appreciates them and will take good care of them.

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