A Colonial potty, a kangaroo paw, and a carousel jester

Curious objects at auction

Lot 1: Shithole Chair

Image: Photograph courtesy of James D. Julia Auctioneers, Fairfield, Maine, USA.

 Too soon? Nonetheless, this is a rare, early eighteenth-century potty, and it is headed to auction in Maine on February 9. The New England-made settle form chair contains a hole in the seat to accommodate the passage of human waste and, to that end, it shows “age appropriate minor wear,” but it also retains its original red paint.

A bid of $2,500 will likely win it. Then pop a slop-jar under it, and voila!, you’re in business.

Lot 2: Gimme Paw

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams.

A monkey’s paw, a rabbit’s foot: these are your more pedestrian amputated animal appendages. What we have here is much fancier. Not only is it an exotic kangaroo paw, but it is mounted into a silver lighter. It’s the kind of object that screams “Empire,” and indeed it was made in Australia around 1910 but has since found its way to Mother Britannia where it will be offered during a “Gentleman’s Library Sale” on February 14 for about $1,100.

Crafted for just that occasion when a dame walks into a drawing room, or a leather-lined library, if it please, and requires masculine assistance with her cigarette. As one does.


Lot 3: Surely You Jest

Image: Courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery.

“Jesters do oft prove prophets,” or so the Bard himself once wrote. This collectible carousel jester head is unlikely to prophesize much—and if it does, run like hell and/or seek medical advice—but its beatific face is oddly endearing. Could be it resembles your Nana. (It’s the impeccably shaped eyebrows.) Or, being a carousel jester, it makes you wistful for your childhood. Sigh.

More like Nana’s childhood. This jester was made in the early twentieth century by the G. A. Dentzel Carousel Company, whose finely carved merry-go-rounds were shipped all over the United States. Some are still spinning; while others were long ago broken up and sold to collectors. This one hails from such a collection in Lafayette, California, not far from where it will be auctioned in Oakland on January 21. Its auction estimate is $800-1,200.



Rebecca Rego Barry is the author of Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places.