The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James Grievo – Provenance-Pook May 2012

An early 19th century painted pine New Jersey wall cupboard having two flat paneled doors

p4A ItemID E8961117
A bow-back Pennsylvania Windsor high chair in green paint, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1790

p4A ItemID E8959471
A paint-decorated pine stand having a single drawer and square tapered legs, Pennsylvania, circa 1830

p4A ItemID E8959143
A Shaker ladderback side chair with arched slats and taped seat, New England, mid 19th century

p4A ItemID E8959137

The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. James Grievo, Stockon, New Jersey

It all started around 1971. Just home from college and having a difficult time finding a job, I started going to house tag sales where I would find small interesting things to sell to antique dealers. It was something I really enjoyed doing, and 1 was amazed I was making real money for the first time. I soon realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

I began traveling to local auctions where I became friendly with a man named Joe Bazata. For several years we bought and sold together. I gained a great amount of knowledge from Joe about redware and slipware Pennsylvania pottery, and it was that knowledge that helped launch my wonderful collection.

In the summer of 1972, I made my first big antique trip to Brimfield, Massachusetts, to what was then only Gordon Reid’s Market. I was absolutely in awe of all the dealers and great merchandise available there. I will always remember this little guy running up and down the aisles with a knapsack strapped (0 his back. Sticking out of this sack was a long stick with something hanging off of the end of it, swinging back and forth. I tracked him down, introduced myself, and asked about the strange contraption he was toting around. He replied that it was a Betty Lamp. I wondered what the hell a Betty Lamp was. And that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Frank Gaglio, my most loyal and dear friend who has always been there for me through the good times and the bad.

Brimfield, though, was just the beginning of my travels. Over the years I continued to buy many wonderful objects in Brimfield, but knew I had to expand my search to find other amazing things. Through my journeys, my real passion, a love of weathervanes, started. I began buying and selling them in the early 70′s. To me, there was something so wonderful about the surface of a weathervane. It always amazed me that these utilitarian objects withstood the extreme and relentless pounding of their environment year after year. Every weathervane tells a different story of how time and location impacted its appearance. Weathering from the top to the bottom, some present a crusty surface while others are simply an untouched weathered surface that takes at least seventy-five years to create. As with anything you look at, when you study a good surface, it speaks for itself. As years went by, I tried to purchase objects that were very special to me in some way. Maybe it was the vibrant colors or the way it was carved that called to me. Sometimes it was just a great untouched surface on a piece of furniture. I always tried to buy the very best I could afford to buy, and sometimes way more than I could afford to buy, which reminds me of a story.

One Saturday I traveled to county sale outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a local farm house. When I arrived, all the items were in the back yard. I walked around but did not see anything I wanted to buy. Just then, I saw two men carrying a yellow drysink from the house. When I saw it up close, I knew I had to own it. I patiently waited all day, and finally they put it up. I was nervous, but I was sure I could buy it for around seven hundred dollars. Drysinks at the time were selling for around two hundred and fifty dollars. The bidding began and stopped around three hundred. I started bidding against a farmer standing in the back of the sale. We went back and forth: $1,200, $1,500, $1,800. I had waited all day, so I didn’t want to stop. Finally, at $2,250, he backed off and I bought it. Caught up in the pursuit of this sink, I completely lost track of reality. I didn’t even know if I had that much money in my checking account. Afterwards, the farmer came up to me, congratulated me on the drysink and introduced himself. I didn’t know who he was, but I was glad I grabbed the piece from him. On my way home I stopped at my good friend Dick Machmer’s house to say hello. He asked what I bought, and I showed him the drysink. He asked who bid me up so high. I replied, “a farmer named Bill Koch.” Dick said he had never known someone to outbid Bill. Well, I had done that. And that was how I started a friendship with Bill and got the drysink that is in this sale.

On another Saturday morning, I was driving around in Bernardsville, New Jersey, looking for garage sales. There was a sign out at the end of a long driveway that read “SALE TODAY”. I drove down and saw this early stone farmhouse and out in front of the house I spotted this wonderful green two-door cupboard with a white piece of paper taped to it that said “$50.00″. I bought it immediately and then thought to myself, how in the world am I going to get this 5′ wide 6′ high cupboard home when I’m driving a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle?

I found some rope in the barn and began lacing the cupboard to the roof of the car. The entire time I was thinking this was like a grade school science project where you had an egg and you had to throw it off a roof without it breaking. Only I was trying to tie a flat cupboard on a round egg. Down the highway 1 went, stopping every ten minutes as the cupboard slid left and right and then forward so I couldn’t see where I was going. But I made it home safe and the cupboard made it to this sale. As with many of the objects I bought throughout the years, there are many wonderful and memorable stories.

All through the 80′s and 90′s, I pursued the business of antiques with relentless passion and extreme diligence. In 1990, I bought Secret Meadow Farm and sold my redware pottery collection to my very dear friend and collector, a gentleman in every sense of the word, Paul Flack. These forty years flew by and I was very fortunate through the years (0 be able (0 go out and find, with the support of my wife, several very special pieces. In search of things every day, I traveled over 40,000 miles a year in search of the best I could afford to buy. Every day there was a destination, but it was not the destination that was important to me, it was the journey, a 1,600,000 mile journey. Even though I was able to amass great treasures on my adventures, it was truly the journey itself that was priceless because it gave me the opportunity to meet wonderful people and build lasting friendships. I know I wouldn’t be where I am or have what I have without my friends and colleagues, and it was my daily treks for treasures that led me to them. It will continue to be a remarkable journey, but now my priorities have changed, and I am at a point in my life where I would like to simplify a little bit, help my children out more, and do some different things. I will always stay in the business, but not in the same way I have these past forty years. Still, I will always have my wonderful memories and friendships.

As the years go by, our lives change and so do our priorities, I have had some good things occur as well as some bad. It’s these times that make you realize what’s important, like your loved ones and the friendships you’ve made. I have to mention David Wheatcroft a brilliant man and one of my best customers. Whatever he bought and sold, we always would see with the same eye. And there is Fred Giampietro, who I’ve known forever, and I always in my eye sold him
wonderful things. He has always been way ahead of everybody else. Sam Herrup, my good friend, is the most dedicated and honest dealer I know. My good friends Susan and Sy Rappaport were the ones who introduced me to Susan and Jerry Lauren, two people with impeccable taste. James and Nancy Glazer need to be mentioned. The Glazers are two of the most gracious people anybody could possibly know. And last but not least, I can’t forget my dear friends Helen and Scudder Smith who never miss covering a great auction or show. The antique business would not be the same without them. I mention these friends because they all have had some impact on my career throughout the years. There are way more I would like to mention, but I would have to go on for an eternity.

How many people wake up every morning excited to go to work? Well, for the past four decades I have. The career path that I stumbled upon not only provided enough for me to support my family, but it also presented me with opportunities to see beautiful and wonderful objects, to appreciate extraordinary craftsmanship, and to revive the souls of artists forgotten long ago. The path that I chose gave me the chance to build lasting friendships with individuals who shared my passion for collecting antiques. I spent years building a collection of pieces that spoke to me, and now I would like to share these pieces with the world again.

It is with great sadness and great pleasure that I turn over my things to my good friends Ron and Debbie Pook to sell at auction without reserves.

Have fun, Jim


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