Treasure Hunting in the Caribbean
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit Grenada, otherwise known as "The Spice Island." Although Grenada gained (regained?) independence in 1974, a history of plantations and periods of French and English colonization convinced me that I should carve out some time for an antique hunt.
During visits to spice markets, rain forests (Mona Monkeys!) and some truly memorable restaurants, I asked for shopping advice but no one seemed able to make any recommendations. I was a little disappointed but reminded myself that I was in a tropical paradise while the Charles River near my home in Boston was quickly freezing solid.
I happened upon a tiny museum and found some lovely distractions for the afternoon. Feeling inspired by many curiosities ranging from an enormous marble bathtub that descended through the Bonaparte family to a pair of diminutive cobalt blue glass bottles used as fire extinguishers, I decided to try my luck one more time. I asked the gentleman at the front desk if he knew of any antique stores or dealers on the island, to which he replied, "maybe." I literally held my breath.
I left the museum with a name and phone number. Within hours, my husband and I drove up into the mountains to visit the mystery man's home, and what a home it was...
It was really more of an estate, an extant hold-over from the plantocracy class filled with an assortment of furnishings in native mahogany and other exotic woods complimented by many silver and ceramic objects; essentially the personal collection of an amateur archeologist and life-long antique dealer. I learned that the owner was one of the museums largest supporters, donating the cobalt blue glass fire extinguishers that captivated me earlier in the day. He invited me to look around and see of there was anything in his personal collection that might be of interest.
We shared ice-cold rum sorrel while he regaled us with stories about his efforts in Grenadian historic preservation, his years as a dealer, and his family's experience with the American invasion of the island in in 1980s. All the while I looked through cabinets and display cases filled with a lifetime of collecting. I chose a few objects and we came to terms quickly, ending one of the most memorable antique hunts of my career. There is really a special connection between people who love objects and sometimes, the harder you have to hunt for these people and objects, the more satisfying the results.
So, what did I purchase? Grape shears from Mappin & Webb, a pair of cut glass and silver open salts by H.J. Cooper & Co. Ltd., of Birmingham, a Churchill crown dish in sterling silver by Roberts & Dore of London, a silver Thistle pickle fork by Adie & Lovekin Ltd., and an English Victorian scent bottle in cranberry glass topped with a silver lid hallmarked by the Miller Bros. I am keeping the scent bottle :)
In other news, I was asked to write the feature article for an upcoming issue of The New England Antiques Journal. It was finished and accepted last week so please take a look when it comes out in March. Here are a few early images from the piece:
All in all, not a bad start to the year!