Estate Sale of the Week: Good Spirits


At an estate sale, when you are looking through the personal effects of a recently deceased person, it’s easy to feel like her spirit is close at hand. If the owner of this Russian Hill Victorian is around and trying to convey a message, it’s one of joy.

The tiny, gray house at 852 Green Street, the site of a treasure-trove like estate sale this weekend, is filled with evidence of a life well and happily lived.

Walk up a flight of steep entry steps and through the goldenrod-hued front door and you are greeted by bright yellow walls adorned by framed needlepoint canvases depicting some of Henri Matisse’s most exuberant works.

The figures seem to fairly dance down the narrow passageway, leading to a black-and-white walled room decorated with a geometric-print rug, turned wooden candlesticks, Tiffany-style lampshades and a wicker rhino—a curious mix of antique and midcentury items, to say the least.

Through the large windows, there’s a jaw-dropping view of Alcatraz. And, if you linger a moment, you’ll hear the deep, clear tones of a nearby church’s chimes. It’s easy to get lost in the moment and imagine a woman sitting in the wingback chair by the fire, stitching contentedly.

But the former homeowner didn’t spend all of her days at home. One of the only concrete facts the professionals at Quality First Estate Sales can tell you about her is that she was mountain climber, a female pioneer in the sport. The excellent framed photos over the fireplace tell a tale of snow-encrusted peaks conquered.

And, judging by the great sets of china available at the sale, she apparently loved to entertain. You’ll find some beautiful old items, including a wonderful service of gold-embellished Minton. In addition to the fine dining pieces, there is some great utility cookware, including good Le Creuset pieces.

I’m only guessing, but the mix of aforementioned vintage and modern pieces leads me to think the life of the homeowner spanned many eras, and it’s possible she embraced each one. An example: The red-ceilinged living room (many of the bright colors appear to have been borrowed from the needlepoints) holds an antique Chippendale-style dining chair, while what would have been the dining room contains an amazing midcentury chair that appears to be inspired by a Knoll Platner chair. Knoll or not, it has great lines.

On a wall near the antique chair hangs a pair of sketches. They show an older woman with a bob haircut and a wide smile. Her bangs are tousled and one side of her shirt collar is tucked into her sweater while the other is out, but she doesn’t seem to care. She’s looking ahead, possibly to the next adventure.

The sale continues tomorrow and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Quality First also has a sale at 31 Parnassus St., featuring a mixed bag of antiques (including two 1890s pump organs).

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