Some people call them blessings, while some call them gifts. Whatever you might call them, they are delightful surprises that are sometimes hidden in dust, dirt and grime…or lots and lots of paint. Such was the treasure that came to me several years ago.
My maternal grandfather had passed away so my mom and her two sisters were cleaning out his things. Mother called one day and said something to the effect that she had “saved some things for me”. My first thought was, “Oh dear. Where will I put it? (whatever “it” was!)
Time passed, I kinda forgot about “it” and next thing I knew, I was headed for Texas. When I arrived, first thing Mother did was show me the “it”. What was it? A little tiny wood stand of some sort. And my Grandad had painted it, UT orange…also painting the door shut in the process. I silently thought that it really belonged in a dump somewhere…but then maybe I could do something with it. But then there was all THAT paint…
Once I got it home, I called a friend who agreed to dip strip it. I was certain that the thick layers of orange were going to be tough to remove so Loppy was The Man! I assured him that it might not be worth the time but we’d see what we ended it up with. And even if the stand got ruined somehow, I’d still use it…somewhere. After all, it was Grandad’s!!
Now this friend was an older man…a large man…no, he was giant. Seriously. And you have to just imagine a 300 lb. 6′ 4″ish man literally dancing down my front porch about a week later with the little stripped stand in one hand! It was hilarious. The man was so excited he could hardly contain himself!!
“You won’t believe this! You’ll never guess what this is!!!” An ugly, stripped, orange stand? BTW, no before photo unfortunately.
“THIS is a tobacco stand!” I started to argue but he anticipated my reaction. “NOT a smoking stand but a tobacco stand or humidor. They used to keep tobacco in them!” There was a difference? Ahhh, but there was, as he daintily opened the tiny door with his pinky finger.
The inside cabinet was lined with plates of milk glass!!! Milk glass?!!!
“Yep! Sometimes they were lined with copper, some were lined with tin, some with porcelain. THIS is milk glass!!! But…I broke the door liner when I pried it open.” (Remember that my grandad had painted it shut and knowing him, he had used at least 4 coats of that lovely orange paint!) At this point, I thought he might start crying. He was heartbroken but I assured him that it was OK. Just couldn’t be helped.
He also said it was walnut and, “Lookie at this! (at this point, I’m struggling to keep up!) There’s a brass plate on the underneath side that has a number and Hoboken, NJ!! So we know where it was made!!!!”
His excitement was contagious as he began to tell me exactly how he wanted me to smooth the wood and then stain it and then finish it. I had been refinishing wood for several years at that point but this was special and I was doing it precisely as he suggested.
Mother had no idea when or where her dad had purchased the stand but was pretty sure that he didn’t have it until after my grandmother had died. Putting research together from the internet, the Ferguson Brothers Manufactoring Co. operated from 1898 to 1953 in Hoboken, New Jersey. This stand, most likely, was a Depression era piece.
What a nice little piece it turned out to be! I love the little V-shaped shelf at the bottom, holding a stash of vintage books. A rescued brick from my old high school friend, sits on top of the “humidor”, topped off with a cross from another friend.
I sent Mother a photo of it after its renovation. She promptly called and said she wanted it back. Fat chance! Wasn’t happening! 🙂 The little stand had found its home!