The Appraiser’s Diary: The Old Poodle and the Old Painting

ej1Guest Article by Eron Johnson

I have been in the antique business since I was a teenager. I have discovered that you find yourself attracted to many old things that may not seem of interest but some things just call out for a second look. I have discovered many rare and valuable pieces by stopping to see the detail, look at the patina, and wonder what the story of it is.

Recently, when clearing a local estate, I found a painting in the basement. It was grayish tones, a Southern American painting of a river in a swamp, complete with Spanish moss with people on a small boat floating down the river. It’s not a beautiful painting, but it told a story that looked intriguing to me. I remembered somewhere seeing images like that and thought I had better do some research because it was appealing to a narrow niche in Americana collecting.

We all have a niche interest that we didn’t know we had. I have several, some of which include early American hickory splint baskets. I recently gathered them into one place and discovered that I had acquired ten of them somehow. As I remember, some of them were gifts over the years and some of them I found while looking for other things.

ej2How does this relate to an old dog you might ask? A few months back, my friend Rachel Hoffman adopted Murray, the Toothless Poodle which you can read about in the November edition of this paper. I had complimented her on giving this 11-year-old rather helpless creature a second life and thought that it was a wonderful gift to both of them. Late Christmas Eve, while minding my own business at my antique store, I was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come who said, “Here’s your Poodle!” as she handed me a frightened looking, disheveled, miniature 11-year-old miniature poodle. This would not have been the first choice as a Holiday surprise. However, I shortly realized that I did have a niche that could be filled with another old survivor with a clear case of patina.

In instinct in the quality of this surprise, the acquisition has been true. “Arty” is a great member of my family and has quickly become a popular staff member at Eron Johnson Antiques.

Oh, and about that painting I mentioned earlier, my intuition was to send it to a Southern market so we consigned it with Brunk Auction and it sold this weekend for $56,000.00. I am glad I followed my intuition on both relics. “Arty” seems to know that he’s been given a second chance, just as forgotten bits of our history just need to be presented in the right light. I guess there is a niche somewhere for everyone and everything to fill, and the old poodle and the painting have something in common – unrecognized value.
ej3If you would like to meet Arty or adopt a wayward antique, come see us at Eron Johnson Antiques at 389 South Lipan in Denver. If you’re hankering for an old poodle or some other creature with patina, check with your local animal shelter – the old ones are always on sale, and in my opinion, some of the best.
You can visit Arty, Eron, and all the staff at EJA during normal business hours at 389 South Lipan Street, 80223 in Denver, Colorado. Visit online:

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