Never would I have imagined that we would receive such an overwhelmingly positive response for our Fourth Annual Favorite Finds contest. We received so many wonderful submissions that we’re seriously exploring the possibility of publishing a follow-up edition to last year’s popular book, “Fantastic Finds” (Krause Publications, 2011), which was a compilation of Favorite Finds contest entries from 2009, 2010 and many from Favorite Finds 2011.
You’ll find that this year’s submissions range from finding long-lost heirloom jewelry to uncovering gold jewelry tucked away in an auction box lot. In one case, a valuable American art pottery vase was discovered in the rafters of an old garage.
One thing is for sure: It was no easy task for our panel of judges to select finalists and winners; with each passing year, more astounding stories are shared, making our decisions more difficult.
In recognition of the wonderful stories submitted, each of our 10 finalists, including the winner and runner-up, will receive a copy of “The Business of Antiques” (Krause Publications, 2012) by Wayne Jordan.
As always, you don’t have to wait to send your entries for the 2013 Favorite Finds contest. Mail your entries to Antique Trader Favorite Finds 2013, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54945, fax to 715-445-4087 or email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please make sure you put “Favorite Finds 2013” in the subject line.
Also, feel free to share who you think should have won – and why.
We sincerely thank each and every one of you who took the time to enter our fourth annual contest. It was a genuine pleasure reading all of the entries.
Winner William Klimon of Herndon, Va., will receive a $500 auction credit at Heritage Auction Galleries to a qualifying auction, as defined by Heritage Auctions.
As our runner-up, Chris Potts of Prairie Village, Kan., will receive a one-year subscription to Antique Trader magazine, courtesy of F+W Media, as well as a 10-volume reference library courtesy of Krause Publications. (If Chris is already a subscriber, he will receive a one-year extension on his existing subscription.)
Don’t forget, everyone who entered will receive a free keepsake edition of this Nov. 14 edition. (If you are a subscriber, you will receive an additional copy in the mail.) Non-subscribers will soon be able to purchase a download from krausebooks.com for just $2.99.
The Winning Entry: Books have their own fates: A heavenly gift
In February 2002, I was browsing at one of my favorite thrift stores, a store very close to my home in northern Virginia. The shop, since closed, was well kept and always had a nice selection of books. I had found many a treasure on its shelves, including a rare copy of Henry M. Reed’s “Decorated Furniture of the Mahantongo Valley” (1987). But that day in February, I found a more personal treasure.
That day I spotted a book that I always grab whenever I see a copy: Rev. Robert W. Greene, M.M., “Calvary in China” (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1953). I had known Fr. Greene through my grandfather, George Schmeltzer, who was friends with Fr. Greene until my grandfather’s death in 1975.
Fr. Greene was a Maryknoll missionary in southern China from 1937 to 1952. In his early years there, he built parishes and healthcare facilities; during World War II, he provided aid to the many refugees fleeing the Japanese invasion. During the last several years of his time in China, when the Communists reached his village, he was, in succession, placed under suspicion and under house arrest, imprisoned, tortured, tried and sentenced to death. In 1952, his sentence was commuted to permanent expulsion from the newly established People’s Republic of China. After his return to the United States, he wrote about his experiences, first for Life magazine and then in his memoir, “Calvary in China,” which was a best-seller and was in print up through the 1970s. It was during that time that Fr. Greene and my grandfather met and became friends. In the early 1990s, Fr. Greene was sneaked into mainland China and parishioners from his missions came thousands of miles from all over China to see him. Fr. Greene was stationed in Cincinnati for many years, until his move to a Maryknoll retirement home in upstate New York. He died there on September 11, 2003.
So I was happy to find another copy of “Calvary in China.” I checked the book’s copyright page for edition information (it was a later printing). I then noticed that the book was signed by Fr. Greene (on the verso of the half-title) and inscribed with “Best wishes” to “Yvonne” at the top of the page. At the bottom of that page, in a different hand, was this note: “gift – George Schmeltzer” – my grandfather!
I later learned that “Yvonne” was Yvonne Loranger, a friend of my grandparents. Mrs. Loranger spent most of her life in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where she passed away at the age of 102 in 2008. It seems certain that my grandfather had Fr. Greene sign the book for Mrs. Loranger. What is completely unknown is how the book made its way from southern Massachusetts to northern Virginia, from private hands to the shelves of a thrift shop, where the one person who might be looking for it and who could understand its provenance would find it. Habent sua fata libelli, as the Latin aphorism goes – books have their own fates.
The book has now entered my permanent collection, and I hope that my children will keep it as well. When I see the book on my shelves, I think about the handwritten note inside: “gift – George Schmeltzer.” At the time, my grandfather had been dead for more than a quarter-century. I can tell you that it is quite an experience to receive a gift like that!
— William M. Klimon