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A Well-Hosted Visit To The Monthly Alameda Antiques Fair

A while back, the blogger from Chronica Domus (she prefers to remain anonymous) invited me to join her at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. This past Sunday, I did just that.


The event is held every month in a very large open space on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay.


Chronica always attends the fair with her best friend. They welcomed their new companion with grace, including me as though we’d known each other for years. Having a best friend of my own, being so familiar with the bond, it was a pleasure to coast in the wake of their shared traditions and language.

Ostensibly, I was looking for a table like this one, from my grandmother’s house.


Chronica explained to me that it’s Federal style, but I don’t yet know if it’s a 20th century reproduction or the real thing. Either way, I’d like to find a twin for my guest-bedroom-in-progress.

As it turned out, no such tables, but I didn’t mind. I came home with a different souvenir, a Japanese porcelain bowl painted in Hong Kong for $6. eBay tells me Hong Kong-painted porcelain became so popular in the 60s that they had to import white basics from Japan for local companies to decorate and sell.

Later we ran into a spoon-sized silver Tiffany shovel for $40, so fun for a gardener, but one token seemed enough for the day so I kept only the memory. eBay tells me now it would have been a a steal.

Ah well, another time.

More than stuff, however, I brought home a better understanding of my own methods of thought. It’s never too late to know yourself. Just look at these images.






I’ve always been good at seeing big patterns quickly, deriving general principles from a limited set of data. Extrapolating the theme from the details. This antiqueing business requires the reverse, spotting that one detail you need in and among already-themed items.

As we age, we’re urged to take up bridge, or puzzles, to keep our brains hopping. I’d rather figure out how to find the one perfect lamp in a throng.


When I left, Chronica gave me a bag of lemons from her tree. I owe her my clean cutting boards.


And more. As my mom says, “A simple thank you will suffice.” But we’ll add some hypertext and images because it’s 2015, and because you too, if you’re in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, might want to stop by the Faire. (Shall we forgive them that final “E,” in the spirit of always looking past first impressions? Yes, I think so.)


1-6,10: LPC
7-9: Chronica Domus


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58 Responses

  1. Those ribbons! So pretty, and I probably would have come home with the lot. (I like to wrap gifts with real ribbon.) All the images are so pretty!

  2. And where is Japanese bowl?
    I like ribbons for gifts,too! And lemons ….!
    You have to come here and make fortune back home with those telephones,I think here are some still in houses :-),attics, or on our fairs!

  3. We had the green phone, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. What a fun time for you and Ms CD

  4. Oh, I haven’t been to the Alameda fair in years! It’s so large, I always get a bit overwhelmed, but fun, too. I’ve got to get over there, maybe next month if the weather cooperates… I’ve heard the food trucks have gotten really good there, too. Love the views from the old air base across the bay.

    1. @Kristina, The views were exceptional and the food trucks looked awesome. Next time I’m sticking around for lunch. I petered out before CD and her friend were done, but it was beyond helpful to slipstream them.

  5. Oh, what a fun day that was! Thanks for being such a good sport while wading though the masses of “stuff” in search of a prize. Ah, that Tiffany shovel, I just knew it was a bargain.

    We shall find that table for you, one of these days for sure.

    1. @Chronica Domus, I trust you and your expertise, and I look forward to the Great Table Hunt Of 2015-2016:). Thank you again. So glad to have been introduced to you and your wonderful blog.

  6. I love this, the room for discovery, the delights small and large, the range of styles and era. This is the kind of shopping I like best, what my own mother would call “poking”.

    1. @CBP, I disagree–that table has Federal period (1790-1810) inspired brasses, but that’s about it. The carving on the legs isn’t characteristic of that time period. Also, the wood is not characteristic of the period, nor is the imbalance between the simplicity of the drawer fronts and the heavy carving on the legs. Further, the “side table” or “nightstand” weren’t common furniture forms during that period. Additionally, it is common for furniture during that time to have locks, which this does not.

    2. @CBP,

      “Further, the ‘side table’ or ‘nightstand’ weren’t common furniture forms during that period.”

      Those terms are modern, but the term “work table” is common in the Federal period, and Lisa’s table is commonly known as a work table. Usually a lady [upstairs or downstairs] kept her work [sewing, tatting, embridery] in those drawers, then she pulled her chair alongside the table and took up her handwork.

      I had the best search results from “antique Sheraton work table” in the search field. Got even better when I added “on casters” – still enjoying the hunt!

  7. I’d love to go to this fair. I refuse to play along with the E, but admire you for doing so. Is CD Martha Stewart? Their tastes are so, so similar. As in the beautiful furnishings of Martha’s homes, not the sh…crap she peddles at Home Depot and Macy’s. I have a friend who I antique with often and it’s not something all friends can share. There is a balance that must be achieved of walking together, walking apart, and consistent speed while doing so. How wonderful you’ve made this connection. One time my best friend and I were on a day trip with another friend of her’s. About three hours in, the third party asks “did you two grow up in a cult or something?”
    Will keep my eye out for the table. We have a huge inventory of antique furniture here in Ohio. Much was made here. Much more was made in neighboring Pennsylvania.

    1. @Stephen Andrew, Oh boy, I’d LOVE it if you kept an eye out. And the ability to walk AND talk together might be what defines a good relationship, as I think about what you said:).

  8. Hello Lisa, I never knew that souvenirs were limited to only one–perhaps that explains my rate of acquisition. Your grandmother’s table is definitely a treasure. I never accumulated much good furniture because of not owning a house, and now there are quite a few pieces I regret having passed up.

  9. I couldn’t figure out how to reply to Stephen Andrew!!

    YES!!! You win!!! It is quite valuable!!! Worth more than the whole lot put together!!


    Yes, actually, we do belong to a cult!!! So funny!!!

  10. I have long tended to be much better at seeing big patterns and not so good at isolating that one perfect piece hidden in plain sight. I too have been thinking I could use practice in focusing and winnowing.

  11. I love the sign with the phones! We had one like the black one, growing up. I remember my mother showing our son how to use a rotary phone.

    Regarding your table, you should go to Antiques Roadshow if it’s in your area, and they’ll tell you what’s what.

  12. Lisa, there is nothing like blog friends finally getting together for an adventure!! This day sounds like perfect fun! I feel so fortunate to know so many great ladies!

    The Arts by Karena

  13. Lisa this looks like fun. I love a good hunt for treasures. Been meaning to make it up there. I would have bought one of those rotary phones. My kids want to know how they work. Can you believe it? I think your bowl is lovely! Kim

  14. My parents have a couple of those alabaster urn lamps. Funny, I never thought of them as valuable, more like old people lamps…..I wonder where they came from.

    I could cry that you didn’t buy that little shovel! Go back next weekend!

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