Frank’s Kitsch Collection Arrives at Fox and Finch


Shown above is one third of the cartons of 1940-1960 Asian kitschy figurines stacked in my apartment above the shop. Those that are not vintage were left out to be given away. The ones for the shop are this type:


Now What?

How can I display these in a way which would encourage customers to see that a collection of these would be colorful and fun?


The rainbow display is trendy and modern. The colors of the 40s and 50s were various shades of maroon, Chartreuse, dark green, pink, red, yellow, turquoise, black and white.

Better Homes and Gardens

I like this Chinese boy bookend shown in this person’s collection mixed with natural specimens, a gourd and books. There are bookends in the cartons. I can’t imagine how the braid was never broken.

I am picking up 24 printer trays next week so I can fill a couple of the trays with the three-inch statues.  The plan is to use Velcro Dots to adhere them inside the tray.

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Chinatown, New York City, 1930s

When my friend Frank was a child in the 1930s, his grandfather walked with him through Chinatown in Chicago. It was an exotic place and his  hand was securely held within his grandfather’s larger one. One day, Frank’s grandfather stopped in front of a shop to converse with someone and that placed Frank directly in a shop doorway.  Looking deep within the dark shop, he saw an old Chinese man sitting in the back room. The man wore a long Chinese robe, had a long braid, sprouted long fingernails and was smoking a long pipe. He returned Frank’s stare. So, why did Frank begin to collect Chinese and Japanese figurines? Because they remind him of the feeling  he had that day. It is the memory of being afraid of the old man and yet, not afraid, because his hand was within his grandfather’s hand.

Frank is a Korean War Veteran. After returning home, he signed up again  and spent  years, 140 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. When he came back to Illinois he worked for 30+ years in the railroad yards. This is a man who isn’t afraid of much. His collection reminds me that inside all of us, even the biggest of men, is the child we once were.

No one in Frank’s family wants his collection which is how they came to Fox and Finch. I like them.  I remember seeing them everywhere when I was a child. Stay tuned to see how I decide to display them.


Lucille Ball on the set of I Love Lucy standing with her “Oriental” figurines.

Morning Glory Roof and More from Fox and Finch Antiques



All throughout the summer, things move in and out of the shop at high speed. It is like moving house every week.  Art is my favorite thing, but I’m not crazy about hanging art.  When one piece sells, everything else has to be moved.

Remember my post about my friend, Robert’s, Morning Glory window awning? I think he switched to moon flowers and I haven’t seen how that worked out. However, I can tell you want happened to my cat-run roof of Morning Glories. It turned into a giant chipmunk blind.  The two cats, Emma and Kaiser, can’t go outside until I have the time to cut some of the Morning Glories down. I’ve managed to save the two that Emma caught, one of which lived under the radiator for two days, but that can’t go on. I picked one up that I believe fainted from Emma whacking it on the head and it was so soft. As soon as I got it out of the pen, it high-tailed it away.




I didn’t know that chipmunks love to eat the spent Morning Glory flowers.  So, I won’t plant Morning Glories near the cat-run again. The shade provided is perfect, but I can figure something else out that doesn’t attract chipmunks. Meanwhile, I will need to make sure that Emma and Kaiser didn’t get fleas from my house guest of two days.  I had the front and back doors open for 8 hours a day and that chipmunk would sit on the door threshold and not go out. Finally, I corralled him one night and lead him outside.

The basil remains as a plant and has not miraculously turned into pesto. Darn it.

Side Note: The coffee trick that I’ve read about on line to remove the musty smell from a really cute 1940s suitcase doesn’t work. I put a pound of cheap coffee in the suitcase, put it all in a big bag and left it for six months. I swear it smelled even worse and the next trip the cute suitcase took was to the garbage bin.
A sweet gift from my friend, Catherine. I studied her bouquet and taught myself how to include leaves in garden flower arrangements.
Kaiser spots a chipmunk.

~ Ginene, August, 2016


A Long String Flies High

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By one o’clock yesterday afternoon we had three-quarters of the ground floor of an estate packed into a U-Haul trunk and a van and we were bouncing back down the road toward home. It is a friend’s connection and job, I was hired to fill boxes while he packed the vehicles.  It was hard work under any circumstances but made more so because the previous owner was an antique dealer and artist with a pennant for iron, stone fossils and giant balls of string.
The string is not only visually interesting but more so because the tied together pieces were saved by people before the invention of rubber bands, twist ties, various tapes, Rubbermaid tote bins and other forms of containment.  What would surprised the thrifty savers of yesterday’s string is today’s value of their frugality. Values starting at 300.00 proved that winding string was time well-spent.

Time Traveling Interior Design – Robert Anderson and Sedge Meadow Antiques

Hidden away in the tiny town of Alden, Illinois, is my favorite antique shop,  Sedge Meadow Antiques. I have  wanted to write a post about my friend Robert Anderson’s building  for some time. Finally,  he asked  me if I would like to come over and photograph his place to create a small time capsule of his project. This project, this work of art, this creation.  It took more than a decade to complete. Though Robert says it still isn’t quite finished. Robert will do something as interesting in the future. But, for now, this building is going on the market.

Most of the antique components of the building were brought in and installed after the electrical, utilities, and plumbing were updated to today’s standard. From city and county, Robert found the architectural elements during a 30 year career as an antique dealer.

The exterior hasn’t changed since the 19th century when the building was, I think, the general store and the interior looks like it is original. That is the art. That is the magic of this place. It is like stepping into another age with all the modern components that make it comfortable and convenient.

Robert’s Apartment Above the Shop

In the entire universe this is my favorite ceiling.




A view into one of the baths illustrates the workmanship that went into creating it with its knock-your-socks-off cabinets. I particularly like the piece of tin from a pie safe hangin in the window. No need for a curtain when the light comes in through all the air vents pierced through the tin.




Dining Room and Living Room

Behind one of the French doors, the wainscoting deserves a longer look.


 A peek inside one of the three or four bedrooms.  People raised large families in the upstairs of these buildings.


Visualize how cozy this room looks in the glow of three oil lamps on the coffee table. I hope I’m there some night when the electricity goes out. One of the things that Robert does so well is meld styles from many decades together in a way that makes them seem at home together.  It is the way a house would be if families stayed in the same spot for generations.


The apartment wooden floor came from  a tobacco barn. I love the worn part from the chair leg at Robert’s desk.  Did you notice the laptop? It is covered with an interesting textile.





Beautiful 19th Century decorative curtain rod knobs kept the drapes from slipping off the poles. Shown in the above three photographs, people who admire the craftsmanship and design that went into making something that was functional is what this love affair with antiques is all about.




The living room wool carpet is circa 1930.


The Porch


An antique velveteen elephant is now more folk art than toy.





And everywhere there are original framed pieces of art.




Now to the back of the building, past the tenant’s downstairs apartment…


Robert’s downstairs back tenant is  an artist.


Robert’s friend and ground level tenant has created a magical garden outside her back doors. I knew I would like this woman before I met her after viewing the joie de vivre held within her small garden and hearing the birds sing inside her apartment.


Near the barn, a Victorian planter rests.


Robert’s folk art wooden cats climb the barn wall.

 A glimpse into Robert’s shop….



The packing crate walls in one of the rooms are original to the building. Probably put up to keep the building warmer; 100+ years later, we admire them for their cheerful, warm color and make-do attitude.


Customers, who let their gaze linger for a moment, notice that each piece was carefully selected with appreciation for its beauty and craftsmanship.


This cupboard boasts of six spice drawers. Perfection!



Patina, Patina, Patina






A handmade iron exterior lantern holder with pulley to raise and lower now hoists a bird-cage.Street Lamps

This European photograph shows how the bracket was probably used. The lanterns in the photo were probably converted from gas to electric. I think the one in Robert’s shop was lowered and lit by the lamplighter each evening. Robert would know if kerosene or some other fuel was used with this lantern.


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A fabulous 1920s original pastel drawing.


Perhaps someone who worked for the circus in nearby Wisconsin made this for a lucky child.


Everything is art when viewed with the discerning eye.

Happy Days,

Ginene Nagel

Fox and Finch Antiques

Parade of Art

The antiques and vintage things in the shop come from Midwestern auctions and from people who inherit things and come into the shop to sell them. I always ask about the people who owned them. I record their names, where they lived and sometimes I am given a photograph of the person which I pass on to the new owner. There are many different types of art in the shop and this month I have the pieces included here.  I show customers (and children) how to tell the difference between a lithograph, etchings, engravings, etc. with the help of a jeweler’s loupe. It opens up an entire new world to people.

Jean Romano, a graduate from the Art Institute of Chicago, watched her plans for a commercial design career dissolve when WWII began. Shown above are two of her design ideas from 1939. The first and second photographs show some of her 3D kits for making shadow pictures.  (Just double-click the image if you would like to see them close up.) The photograph to the right is of an advertising idea that Jean wanted to pitch to Ivory Soap. The prototype shows a bathtub toy duck that rode a floating bar of Ivory Soap.

The accomplished artist, William Thompson, began his career sweeping the studio floors of William Henry Chandlers studio. One of the stellar moments in the shop was when I met  his niece. I think he was America’s greatest pastel artist.

Paul Krause painted church murals in the late 1800s. I easily found his grandson, a Milwaukee realtor. Paintings like this one would be presented to a church board as a sample of his work. The tiny details are mind-boggling.




I recently won this oil painting at an auction. It is larger than the section I am showing. It has a lot of tobacco smoke on its surface.  It is so yellow now that I can’t read the signature. Someone has already spent a sizable amount to have the painting relined. See the back? Do you see the age on the second lining? It will be interesting to see if the sky is blue. I love this painting.  I think it dates to the time when people let their cattle run loose and then had to go find them.

Karl Priebe Artist Handpainted Post Cards Vintage

Hand-painted post cards mailed to an art benefactor by the artist Karl Priebe, one of the Six Magic Realists School of Art centralized in Wisconsin between 1920-1945. He drew an image and then had the image printed on postcards. The glossy surface of the postcards were wonderful to float watercolors upon. Karl used these for travel correspondence. He was quite a traveler and spent many vacations painting and drawing animals and birds at local zoos.

Sometimes, someone comes in whose family is part of an American dynasty. One of the Goes family autographed the back of my old  “Found” print, originally painted by Albert Schenck. The Goes family ancestors created many of  famous original prints we see hanging in shops and homes today. Goes Lithography Company has been in business since 1879. They created chomo-lithograph posters for Buffalo Bill, the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair to name just a few of their many accomplishments. They sell prints of some of their famous posters and I am sure they are of the best quality.


History Goes Publishing Chicago Delevan
Goes Lithographing Company


So many lives, so many people, so much to do, so little time. Some roll through life in the comfort of routine and quiet dignity, some striving for but never reaching their dream, some reaching it but finding that it didn’t bring what they hoped, and always the love, the making do, the family, the fights, the love and always coming back to the love. All telling the story of the American people, your family, my family, there is no difference. We all belong in the family of man.

Last week, I had the most delightful surprise when three people found the shop through this blog. Melissa, from the Comfy Home blog came in the shop and I was so delighted to meet this warm and personable new friend and surprised to learn that her husband works in Northbrook.  Northbrook is my hometown.

TheIMG_4262.CR2 next week, sisters Linda and Carol stopped in while they were on a day trip. They were having the kind of fun only sisters by blood or bond can have and we laughed a lot.

Later that day, I noticed this fabulous woman and her big chunky bracelets. She must be an artist.

All new friends united over shared interests and a love for this old stuff, the things that tell the stories of the American people, our great big family.

Thanks for stopping by today.


December at Fox and Finch Antiques


I put the exterior Christmas decorations together this year with garage sale ornaments, wreaths and garland. Plus, a lot of hot glue sticks and burnt fingers.


Every year, I make a wreath with vintage ornaments found over the summer. I was really lucky this year and found a large vintage flocked wreath to use.


My sister, Cindy, gave me two of these large snowmen. She is very creative and decorates the post office window in the tiny town where she works as post mistress. Sometimes she give me things she has used in the past.


I used found vintage planters again this year to make Christmas decorations  for people’s desks at work.


A rare 1855 school-house map.

Do you see the chair on the right side of the dresser? It was ignored all summer, until I had it recovered. I had a set of three Eastlake chairs upholstered in the same linen fabric but in red rather than blue. People say there is no market for Victorian chairs, but the set (one large and two small chairs) sold as soon as I put them in the shop. I quickly took a photograph of one of them as the people were carrying them out.


What I really, really, really want for Christmas….


Merry Christmas One and All!


Halloween Night Sky


I took this photograph the other night as I was admiring a quarter moon through the tree branches. Something went wrong because instead of a quarter moon, the camera registered this. My neighbor walked by and I pointed to the sky and said, “A quarter moon in a ten-cent town.” quoting a line from the Emmy Lou Harris  song Easy From Now On. He laughed and walked on. Sometimes a mistake yields a delightful surprise.