Strolling Around Savannah

Back in 1996, the Mint Museum in Charlotte published a book entitled “Southern Arts and Crafts: 1890-1940.”

It was a very short book.

I was reminded why this past weekend when Leigh Ann and I drove down to Savannah, Georgia for weekend of good seafood, wine, shopping and, of course, some antiquing.

Three out of the four were great.

Savannah is a fantastic, easy to walk, and fun to explore historic Southern seacoast city of around 130,000 people, nearly all of whom own a dog. And judging by the number of water bowls outside the shops and galleries, we tourists are encouraged to bring our pets to Savannah as well.

But not ours. Politely put, Daisy and Jasper do not play well with others. In fact, they got uninvited to our local doggie daycare, so when we both are gone, they stay home and guard the compound. Which they do quite well….

But back to Savannah. Being an historic city, and most certainly one I would recommend for anyone to explore, it has no shortage of antiques shops. But when your local residents — and, perhaps, a good number of your weekend tourists — live in and are restoring homes that were designed and constructed before most of our Arts and Crafts notables were even born, well, you can’t expect the dealers to stock what no one is looking for.

So for us, the antiquing was a bit frustrating. Around Asheville I can expect to find examples of Arts and Crafts on a daily basis – from a Gustav Stickley sideboard in the Tobacco Barn, and the thrift shop, two-door oak bookcase I wrote about last week, to an assortment of both North Carolina and national art pottery. Even a little consignment shop three miles from where I live has a Gustav Stickley sewing rocker for sale.

But not Savannah. There you will find some of the finest examples of Federal and Victorian furniture, glassware, lighting and textiles, and more than a few “sold” tags hanging from them, but you’ll be lucky to even see any mass-produced Roseville or Weller pottery from the twenties and thirties. Nevertheless, we had fun looking, and I was determined to keep looking until I found something Arts and Crafts I could bring home, not that I needed anything in particular.

And as I looked, I reminded myself of something I have often repeated: “The only person who doesn’t find anything is the one who quit looking.” Finally, nearly hidden beneath a stack of Nancy Drew mysteries, I found my prize of the weekend – a sliding bookrack with a hand-tooled leather insert at either end, most likely made in a manual arts workshop around 1910-1920.

And, yes, it barely justified the $35 price tag, but it made me happy — and that has to count for something.

Sometime this week I’ll gently clean off a few decades of dirt, protect it with a coat of paste wax, and put it on top of my row of file cabinets – along with three other Arts and Crafts bookracks.

(I never said I needed it.)

Until next Monday,

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