What will you bid?: Chinese Furniture Auction Feb 9th
By Michael Bongiorni
We completed the auction on Feb 9th, and wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the production of the auction, and an especially debt of gratitude to the Fillmore Street staff, who made it an incredible success. We’d also like to thank and acknowledge the people who bid on these items, congratulations! and thanks for your support of Goodwill service and programs.
In the months since I got the call from an anonymous donor revealing a breathtaking gift to Goodwill of six pieces of Chinese furniture, I wondered what secrets this donation would reveal. We asked our readers to help us learn the history of these pieces, and many referred us to venerable auction houses for assistance. One even suggested we take the pieces onto Antiques Roadshow. Would our investigation yield museum-quality rarities or merely beautiful reproductions?
On the day we photographed the pieces in the back room of our Fillmore Street store, I had an encounter that would give me hope that we had something truly valuable on our hands. An elderly Chinese-American woman poked her head through the open door from the store to see what was going on. Seeing the Chinese Wedding Basket brought a knowing smile and a flood of memories. She proceeded to tell me a story.
Coming to San Francisco in 1904 as a 15-year-old in an arranged marriage, her grandmother had arrived carrying her most valuable possessions on the voyage from Jiangsu Provence in a single basket. When the earthquake hit San Francisco in April, 1906 she escaped from her Chinatown quarters with her life and the same basket, filled with whatever she could grab on short notice. She never saw her husband again.
Her family has kept the basket ever since, and when one of her descendants is married, they fill the basket with wedding cakes, peanut candies, two bottles of brandy, and a lucky number of oranges. Her grandmother’s basket, this woman said, looked almost exactly like the one we were photographing. It was the real thing.
Knowledge is revealed. From within Goodwill!
What about the other five pieces? We learned a bit about them through online research and from talking with friends and acquaintances. Our greatest source of knowledge, we were proud to discover, came from right within our ranks. Rosalie Babineaux, a product expert on fine china on our e-commerce staff, turned out to have discerning and well-practiced eye for antique furniture as well.
Click into the images of each of the six pieces to learn what Rosalie has discovered, and feel free to view them in the window of our Fillmore store (1669 Fillmore St., San Francisco) until February 9th. On that evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, they will be auctioned off at the highest bidder in an unusual live/digital experience.
Click on the photos below to see details on each piece.
Care to bid right now? Interested parties may place a confidential absentee bid prior to February 9th by emailing KSchilling@sfgoodwill.org. On February 9th, text bids will also be accepted at 415.658.1776. Readers can also place bids immediately and on the evening of February 9th using the comments section for each piece. At the auction, all bids - text, absentee, online, and live – will be aggregated in real time, with the crowd following along on the big screen.
Someone will go home with an incredible Chinese antique or two, while the proceeds from the auction will fund the local job training programs and human services of Goodwill. I hope you can join us for this night of fun and fund raising for a great cause.