An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press


Monday, August 31, 2009

Melrose Park Collectible Collection

East meets west and goes to the circus in this Melrose Park condominium.

We begin with the three stages of geisha-hood. I think that's a cocktail umbrella that the littlest one is carrying.

On one side of this buffet men toil in the rice paddies.

While on the other side women dressed in their far-East finery look on and laugh.

This would be a peaceful-looking scene...

... if not for the howling multi-colored coyote on the left.

From north to south, Eskimos to Mexicans are represented here.

This Indian maiden clearly enjoys her life on the reservation. "Thank you," she seems to be saying, "for taking our land and bringing us smallpox."

This little one seems less than thrilled about her future of poverty and alcoholism.

Both belong to this set of American Indian plates from the Hamilton Collection. Each originally retailed for $24.99. I think that's what you call red man's revenge.

Time to send in the clowns.

The only thing that would have made these two more perfect is if salt came out one side of their heads and pepper from the other.

Now there's some sad things known to man...

... but there ain't too much sadder than...

... the art of a clown.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Deerfield Pagoda

A little theme goes a long way in home decorating. Case in point, this condominium in Deerfield, chockablock with Chinese touches.

We begin in the dining room, with Chinese poppies in the middle of the table.

And Chinese-themed chairs gathered around it.

And Chinese-themed sideboards on either side of it.

Even this looks like a lounge you might find at the Taipei airport.

(And yes, of course, there was Christmas stuff. Made even more festive by its display against that carpeting. Still, it was virtually untouched by buyers. Once again estate sale companies: Throw this stuff away.)

The sofa was Chinese. (Or at least the upholstery was. I know it's hard to tell in this photo, but trust me.)

The artwork was Chinese.

Yes, even the wallpaper was Chinese.

But it didn't stop there. Oh, no.

There were little Chinese chests.

Pictures of Chinese sunsets.

And "Chinese" fixtures for the bathroom -- though it's a mystery why these were never installed. They might have been gifts. Someone may have figured, "So-and-so is obviously nuts for Chinese stuff, so these will be perfect for her," but ended up striking out anyway.

Let's take a looky-loo upstairs.

Adorable stuffed animals -- no doubt made in China.

And in the master suite, a bed fit for the emperor of China himself.

Finally, I found this on the wall of the living room. I don't know what it is, but the smart money says it's a Chinese character. Maybe for "goodbye."

You know what's really funny about this place? An hour later we had to go back.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sauganash Under Wraps

A generous reader named Cathy turned me on to this sale. "Plastic-covered furniture!" her email promised, so I had to check it out. Oddly enough, the place was virtually empty by the time I arrived. Except for the plastic-covered furniture.

Apologies for this photo's quality. These two sales workers were eagle-eyed and seemed intent on staying put -- neither of them on the plastic-covered couch, however. I had to snap this pic on the sly. Despite that, you can see that the sofa on the right has been kept safely under plastic for its entire life, and is as fresh as the day it had left the factory.

Another pic, worse than the first. Judging from the guy on the right's body language, he might have been wondering if something was up.

A little TV room off the formal living area, with two green chairs, also sealed for their protection.

At only $45 each, it's a pity these weren't more attractive, because they, too, were spotless bargains. You have to admire not only the workmanship that goes into making those custom plastic covers -- such tight fits! so cleverly constructed! -- but the dedication required to keep them on for so many years. You'd think eventually someone would get tired of peeling themselves off the sofa and chairs, say"To hell with it" and just sit on the upholstery. But no.

Yes, there was a basement, but aside from a trophy, a shadeless lamp and few other odds and ends...

... it was practically empty.

Even the hangers were empty.

There was this one room in the back with a few things left in it for the intrepid estate saler.

Among them was this pile of Daley/Pucinski rubber jar openers. Someone either worked for the ward, or did an awful lot of very small favors for the alderman. Note that these are still in their plastic wrappers and also in excellent condition.

There was a second floor, all of it wood-paneled. And when I say wood-paneled, I don't mean that particle-board stuff that lined the walls of your parent's rumpus room.


Or that appeared in this series of smarmy but brilliant Calvin Klein Jeans ads from 1994. (By the way, I think that's a very young Bijoux Phillips appearing at the 2:00 mark.)

No. This was real wood beadboard, everywhere you looked. I've been running into quite a bit of it lately.

Here's another room featuring the stuff, along with some forgotten Christmas things.

A tip to estate sale organizers everywhere: Just throw this stuff away. No one wants it. Plus, there's almost nothing sadder than cast-off Christmas decorations. Or the tears of a clown.

Odd construction touch: This is the door from the stairs to the second floor. I don't know why that window is in there, unless it was to keep from opening the door and accidentally knocking someone off the stairs who was on their way up -- in which case, why not just remove the door?

Wave goodbye to that Santa on top of the chest of drawers, because we're out of here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Albany Park Underground Bar

If you knew the right people, if you knew the secret knock and that evening's password, maybe you could get into the speakeasy in the basement of this house.

The living room certainly wasn't giving anything away -- but then, that's the scam. From the outside, you can't tell anything's going on inside.

I'm going to imagine that the club was presided over by a very brassy old broad -- we'll call her "Lorraine" -- and that this is what she wore on nights when the club was open.

This was found nearby. Apparently, whenever a sequin or bead worked its way loose, Lorraine was handy enough with a needle and thread to make the repair herself. Why no one hadn't already snatched this up I can't say. After all, it came with all the buttons.

Here's the basement, where all the action took place. Not very lively or inviting, I'll admit. But all the makings are here.

The bathroom nearby had been updated for the comfort of Lorraine's patrons. I hope no peeping toms ever discovered those glass block windows.

Bar #1 was just to the right, and looks like it might have specialized in tropical-themed drinks. Let's start counting bar stools, okay? One and two.

Bar #2 was at the back, and this is where I like to imagine Lorraine slinging drinks and sass to a gathering of regulars.

Everything she needed for a busy night was right here. Plenty of glassware and ashtrays. A wine rack for her rotating selection of cheap reds. A basket for snacks. And green tape for when things got rowdy.

This is a room on the other side of the bar. That oven is almost as old as Lorraine, and came in handy when folks requested some of her famous garlic bread and pizza rolls. Time to count bar stools again. That group on the right makes six.

Let's take a closer look at that oven.

She's an old girl who just kept right on a cookin' -- kind of like Lorraine. What's that sign on top?

Where could this sign have been posted? Your guess is as good as mine. If the music was that loud, it might have been somewhere on the other side of town.

Thus ends our tour of Lorraine's Place.

Oh, wait. Four more bar stools sitting out in front, for a grand total of ten.

Apparently, it was a very exclusive place.
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