I have started this column so many times. What follows are the beginning sentences of many a thought. Which would you like to hear more about?
…My husband and I spent an afternoon in Japantown in San Francisco recently. I had not explored the low white buildings on Geary and Webster for a few years, and the main business I had come to explore, had moved from one building to another. This meant I passed by much of the retail shops and restaurants from one end to the other. As soon as I entered the store Asakichi, filled with merchandise made in Japan today, a friendly employee said “Hello, how can I help you?” By instinct, I asked if they had vintage soba cups, porcelain blue and white cups traditionally used for sauce to dip soba noodles, but since mid 18th century used as a drinking vessel. He seemed surprised yet pleased and said “Yes, we do.” I feel so lucky to have found these beautiful simple, still inexpensive antiques.
…I’ve spent the last few weeks pondering where is the best market for a Chinese custom made wood bar from the 1940’s that has traveled around the world with the family, now residing outside Sacramento. If you are a fan of The Thin Man, someone is standing mixing a martini at this bar right now. It has inlays of soapstone and coral in the hardwood doors with hinges, made to fold and unfold as a bar was needed.
…This is a long, and not too complicated story of encountering provenance of my own professional history. A friend of mine from many years ago, contacted me regarding a wedding gift she had received 35 years ago, and she wanted to sell. The gift was purchased in 1983 in my showroom, CYNTHIA SHAVER in the Galleria Design Center, a real estate area catering to interior designers south of Market Street in San Francisco The showroom featured Japanese textiles and baskets. I had a special show of the textile collection of Tadashii Morita of Tokyo displayed in my showroom. The child kimono, from this exhibit, was purchased by the then sister-in-law of my friend, a wedding gift for her brother and my friend. The design was of Peach Boy, or Momotaro, with intricate drawings on the lower back, front and sleeves. The kimono was an iwaigi, or a special gown worn at the Shinto shrine at one month old. Usually the grandmother holds the baby on her chest with the long ties sewn mid way down the front opening, hanging down.
… My assistant Susie and I did an onsite inspection of Chinese antique property that had been in the family for two generations, beginning in early 1900’s. The mother was born and raised in China although not of Asian heritage, and brought the property with her when she moved from China to New York in the 1940’s. Doing this job, I learned some Asian art was stored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during World War II, this Chinese watercolor among that group. It was the second time in ten years I had encountered this provenance. If you know about property also stored at The Metropolitan Museum, please share your information with me.