I mentioned that I have been down to the wonderful antique flea market, Todd Farm in Rowley, MA a couple of Sundays this summer. Todd Farm hosts hundreds of dealers every Sunday from April through November, and is a great place to buy and sell – I have done both on a few visits this season.
On one recent trip, I set up my tent and a couple of tables of the various items culled from my mother’s collections – mostly her buttons and sewing collectibles. It is fun to sell at these types of markets. While selling I have the chance to meet great people who are truly excited to see and purchase the items my mother so lovingly collected for years. For my mom, it is a thrill for her to know that her things are going to people who share her passion and of course for her to pick up some extra cash.
While selling, it is fun to meet the vendors set up nearby and share the experience and occasionally buy from each other. This one particular day, the vendor next to me had a large framed print of a military battle that kept catching my eye. At one point the vendor came over to see what I had for sale, and she had her eye on a couple of things. When we talked about a price, I said I would be interested in trading for the print – so that is what we did.
I took the print and leaned it up against the front of my tent. I figured if someone came and wanted to buy it for more than I put up for it I would let it go. The funniest thing happened – that print caught the attention of several buyers, most of whom were able to identify it. It turns out it was a depiction of a famous British battle – Rorke’s Drift – during the Zulu wars.
I had some great conversations with many of the interested parties, some of whom just wanted to talk about it, others who made offers that were too low for me.
One particular older gentleman identified it as “The Defence of Rorke’s Drift” by Alphonse Marie de Neuville, and took my email address to send me more information on it when he got home – which he did. Apparantly the original hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
About The Defence of Rorke’s Drift 1879 by Alphonse de Neuville: “The so-called Zulu War came at the moment of greatest British imperial presence in South Africa. Though understood differently today, in 1879 – the year of the event depicted in de Neuville’s famous canvas – the violent exchange was seen in terms of Britain’s rightful defence of its own colonial prestige. Rorke’s Drift was a small outpost on the banks of the Buffalo River in Natal Province. A large Zulu force, having slaughtered around 900 troops and native levies at nearby Isandlhwana, set upon the eighty soldiers of the Warwickshire Regiment stationed at Rorke’s Drift. The defenders managed to hold off their attackers, usually characterised as an undisciplined horde, in a bloody hand-to-hand battle of Boys’ Own proportions. The subsequent awarding of eleven Victoria Crosses confirmed the heroic dimension of the skirmish, though it hardly explains the interest of a Parisian Salon painter in this quintessentially English subject. De Neuville based his pre-cinematic version of events on military reports and survivors’ accounts.”
After several offers, someone did meet my price and I sold it at a nice little profit. A couple of people who made offers earlier circled back when they decided what I was asking was a fair price and were disappointed I sold it.
What I learned was you can learn a lot from the people you meet at antique sales – and of course, if you see something you like, buy it when you have the chance, as it may not be there when you go back.