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Or, you never know where things will end up.

New post, Old post, Cataloger

New post, Old post, Cataloger

You can learn a lot about a place by visiting its antique and junk shops. Here, where the China Trade was A THING, you can practically fall over Chinese export porcelain (and its imitators) of a variety of types every day. It can become a bad habit. You can become an enabler.


Elsewhere, the objects for sale tell a different story. I’m fond of the haphazard antique malls museum of things world, and while on a tea pot delivery mission to Maryland, went to one in Mount Vernon. It was astonishing.

Mid-century modern furniture, the Arabia Anemone tableware of my childhood, and shelves of geisha dolls, Kabuto, ceramics, and the occasional sword confused me at first until I realized these were probably the jumbled contents of a prior generation of military and civil servants’  homes emptied by their children. The aesthetics were markedly different from what I typically encounter in southeastern New England, where I am accustomed to reading subtle variations between the states I frequent.


Local variations occurred in Vermont as well, though the general flavor was more familiar.

Some things are universal: chaotic piles of partially-identified snapshots can be found anywhere, stacks of pelts and dog-like foxes, not so much. Origins debatable, ethics questionable, the late mammals tempted the tourist trade in St. Johnsbury, where we stopped as we headed south for home.


We influence our landscape more than we credit: from changes in the land wrought by farming to climate change to the differences in what we cast off and what we collect, the visible human influence is undeniable. Material culture can be about place as much as it is about thing.