Fil and I have drastically different hobbies. I have absolutely no interest in going fishing with him—and the few times I have gone, well let’s just say I may have set my hook in things other than fish, and likewise, he would rather do anything other than quilt or look at sewing supplies and projects. One thing we love to do together is go antiquing but it is way more fun in Europe than it was in the States!
When we first moved into our home in January we needed a buffet for more kitchen/dining storage so we set out to find a buffet. We went to a few local shops and when we saw this hutch we changed our plan for a buffet and went for the full thing. How could we not, I mean look at it!
It is an 1880 hunter style oak hutch. Parts have been restored, but we fell in love with the craftsmanship. You just do not find pieces like this in the US, and especially not for what we paid. When the time comes to return home we will be crossing all our fingers that it makes it safely across the Atlantic.
Since that purchase we kind of were in an antique lull. When we explored cities we would try to check out antique shops, but nothing really caught our eyes until September and then EVERYTHING was amazing.
The first find was actually a gift. Fil’s friend found a German treadle sewing machine and when he found out my love of sewing he gave it to me. Hours of research determined that my new Gritzner VG was manufactured around 1945 in Germany which is really amazing given the time. She, I call her Ruth, was stored in her table over the years and was in great shape. She was fully functional when he brought her over so all I needed to do was oil her up to make her shine again and clean off a few rust spots. She came complete with an owner’s manual, spare needles and bobbins, and a drawer full of old notions.
Ruth came to me all locked up without a key so we took the table apart to get her out and cleaned up. I then took the locks around to a locksmith, a sewing machine repair, and 3 antique markets to find the key, and wouldn’t you know it, the last market had a key that worked (that one is for you Christy 😉 ). The key unlocked the two drawers, but didn’t work on the table top. At this point I was mad to get that table unlocked so we bent a wire and picked the lock open. Once we got it open and I removed the lock from the table piece I tested the key and it worked! For whatever reason, the previous owner replaced the wood piece with another but did not match the keyhole up! So bizarre.
I initially wanted to restore the wood, but with the bizarre change to the top of the table, and obvious alterations below I decided to embrace her as an art piece and paint her purple. I mixed 2 Empire Red’s and a Napoleonic Blue from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to create my custom berry blend and am totally in love. Just two nights ago I was up past 2 am painting and then waxing Ruth so she can attract the attention she deserves and stand up to a toddler who likes to work her treadle.
Like I said, I took Ruth’s locks to 3 antique markets. The first was in Metz, France and we had a total blast. I must have tried at least 50 keys and sorted through hundreds more that I knew wouldn’t work with no success. The Metz market was indoors at the Expo center and there was a little of everything. Overall the most common items for Metz were clocks, large metal letters from lighted signs, and military items. We saw a few old Singer sewing machines, which I avoided, but I did buy a really cool poster for my sewing area. Fil bought 3 fishing poles and found out that one of them was actually a great find—a 1920’s English bamboo rod.
Being in France was great. The land is so much different from Germany it really is crazy considering how short the drive was. Also, the bread is to die for! I swear, you have never had bread like real French baguettes. We had plans for that afternoon so we came right back home but we are planning to go to that market again next month and explore the city afterwards.
The next week we went to Tongeren, Belgium for their weekly antique market and were completely blown away. We walked the streets of Tongeren for hours checking out all the great, and affordably priced items on the tables. In addition to looking for the elusive treadle key I was also looking for a rocking horse for Brock. We didn’t buy one but look at how beautiful these are:
Actually, for all the wonderful things we saw we surprisingly only bought one thing… a fishing pole. That being said, we will absolutely go again and enjoy waffles and frites on our Sunday shopping stroll.
The last market we totally found by chance. The autobahn was closed for construction on our return home and we had to detour through a handful of villages, one of which was having a market so we stopped. It was mostly junk outside, but we decided to go in the barn just in case, and that is where we found the key! She asked 1 € for it but I gave her 2 and made a scene with my excitement. She was pretty happy too :).
Who would have thought that a simple key would take us through 3 countries! Seriously though, how lucky are we to have this adventure?
My last purchase was at the Ramstein Bazaar. I wasn’t planning on going but when a friend said how cool it was, I went and had a blast! I took Sara, my German friend with me, and she just loved seeing all the American things. She had her first real lemonade and we shared deep fried Oreos, also a first for her. She loved them both. The bazaar had items from all over Europe. There was Polish pottery, Italian painters, French Lavender products, Swedish sweaters and socks, lots of things from the Netherlands (cheese, carvings, antiques…) and lots of German wine, ceramics, and antiques. I had been looking for a bench for our foyer so we could sit to put our shoes on and I found just the thing at the bazaar. It is a late 1800’s trunk/bench from the Netherlands with original paint. On the top it says in Dutch something like “you can sit if you offer enough” and is painted all over with flowers, birds, and bows. I absolutely love it.
All of our success in September has convinced Fil that we need to go antiquing more! I cannot wait to discover all the treasures waiting for us out there. Happy Autumn!