Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Researching Your Junk

There she is, watching over my office, a whole wall to herself, and slightly askew. This big (44 by 22 inches), bright orange, Goodwill find is vintage needlepoint artwork, depicting an old timey ship sailing into the sunset, while lonely people wave goodbye from the shoreline. I don't know why, but I love it. Out of all my salvaged scores, I think this is my favorite. It's got a lot of character, it looks great, and it didn't require any fixing up. I got this as a Christmas present to myself while Christmas shopping at thrift stores last December. It was 15 bucks.

A close up view of the needlepoint. Kids, couples, a lonely lady, and even a little dog wave goodbye to the ships on the horizon.
It's neat. You can't deny that. But lately I got to thinking, what is this thing? Where did it come from? And how much is it worth? I usually like to research my finds as soon as I get them. Once, Leslie and I pulled an old brass phone out of the dumpster and found out that, in good condition, they go for $400 bucks. Yeah, kinda makes you think again about dumpster diving, right? But I've been busy, and putting it off, and I never got around to finding anything out about this piece. Well, until today.

I took it down from the wall and looked it over for any clues. I'm an amateur archaeologist, so I don't always know the best way to do this stuff, but I usually have some success by the end of the day. I was looking for a signature, stamp, or something to clue me in to the origin of the piece. As you can see, it's pretty roughed up, and after searching the backing and frame and coming up empty, I was about ready to give up. But just before I did, I spotted it:

Zoom enhance!

Not exactly the best place for your mark, but hindsight is 20/20 I suppose. It's hard to decipher, but I could make out a date (1974) and two words: National and Paragon. To the internet!

After some googling, I found out that Paragon Needlecraft Company, in New York, made craft kits from 1929 all the way into the 80s before having financial troubles and getting bought out. The kits were basically a picture, some instructions, and a whole lotta yarn. You could buy them, then sit on your porch for six weeks and put them together, kind of like a puzzle for people who think that puzzles are too easy. This one is called "Ebbtide," and although it's not produced new anymore, you can still find the kit online.

For...12 dollars. Well, that's a loss of three dollars from what I paid for it, but at least I didn't have to put mine together.