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OBJECTS OF DESIRE by Thatcher Freund

OBJECTS OF DESIRE

The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them

By Thatcher Freund

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42157-2
Publisher: Pantheon

 Vividly well-written love story about antiques, those who collect them, and those who sell them, as debut author Freund follows the adventures of three major pieces of furniture from their crafting centuries ago to their present-day sale in the Manhattan antiques market. Freund devises an exciting framework for his tale, introducing us to the three objects one piece at a time, then to each antique's present owner, then to the sales people at Sotheby's and elsewhere who are handling each piece, then to the former owners of each piece--all of this building up to the big auction at book's end. Most richly done is the coverage of who made what when, passages that soak us in the handicrafts of the Colonies. There's a pine blanket-chest with false drawers, still coated with its original robin's-egg blue paint, made for a Connecticut farmer in 1750 or so--an object so utterly plain and unadorned in the Queen Anne style that the reader (and visitors to the Winter Antiques Show where it's being exhibited) can hardly believe anyone will pay the present owner's $250,000 asking price. Then there's a fabulous Chippendale card table, decorated by a genius for carving vines and leaves that seemingly turn in the wind and catch raindrops, a piece made in 1759 for a Philadelphia millionaire and whose breath-of- life carving Freund describes as fondly as Pygmalion might describe Galatea's hip. Will it go for a million? The inlaid sofa table from the Federal period, which has passed through the fond hands of many millionaires--$100,000? Connoisseurship that floods the reader's cells like fine brandy and Havanas. The passages about the lost time recaptured in each piece sing.