Nine Lives is now on Facebook

We took the plunge and decided to build a Facebook page as well.  Please hop over there when you have a minute or two, take a peek, and let us know what you think.

or put in the search field:  Nine Lives Antiques USA

Be gentle please, we are total newbies at this, but we really are looking for constructive feedback on what we can do to make it better.  Same goes for this website as well.


Yes, finally.  Finally I fixed the website!  You see, I updated the theme of our site this past fall to one I thought would work better for us.  Unfortunately it was even worse.  And after i updated it we got really busy in our personal lives and the next thing we knew the holidays were here.  So recently I was able to carve out some time and find a theme that I believe will meet our needs for awhile.  What do you think?


Oronoco Eating and Drinking

Ice Cream

Well, my headline is a little misleading since none of us really drink.  But we do hear that the beer garden at the fire station is the place to have a cold one.

As for eating, we do have some definite favorites.  The “Back Alley Eatery” is our favorite place for lunch.  And we absolutely insist that you try their ‘Cutlabobs’.  It’s seasoned pork on a skewer.  Mm-mm good!  They are lovely people and deserve your patronage.  There is an alley just to the west of the fire station.  Follow it south for about 1/2 block and they are grilling and serving from their garage there.

If you like Greek Gyros, there is a place about 2 blocks south of the fire station on the main drag – it is right next to and also run by the Pannekoeken folks.  Each sandwich is a full meal for a hungry normal person and quite tasty.  To me anyway – the rest of the family isn’t so keen on gyros.

For ice cream, it’s the little booth just south of the fire station on the main North/South road through town – about 20 steps.  Their root beer floats are a god-send these hot afternoons.  They also have a couple different flavors of ice cream sandwiches that are also very good – and big!.  And while you are enjoying your ice cream, if you aren’t coming right over to see us, Big Jim’s glass booth is right there against the wall of the fire station, and you never know what you’ll find there – besides a warm greeting from Big Jim himself  or his wonderful wife Becky!

Oronoco 2015 – It’s HOT one!


WOW is it ever hot this year!  We’ve had hotter individual days, but never this hot for the whole show!  And despite the heat we’ve still had most of our regular friends show up and visit.  We appreciate you so much and love to see your smiling faces.  And if we are able to help you find a forever treasure, all the better.  Our best suggestion to survive as you browse the show this year is to come early – the show opens at 7am – and shop everything that is on asphalt or concrete first thing.  Then move into the shaded and tree-lined areas as it heats up.  Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and rest along the way!!!  The emergency responders are lovely people but we’d rather you meet them as they serve you food and drink in the fire station, as I’m sure they’d prefer it that way too.


2015 Post-Memorial Day Show and Pre-Father’s Day Show

I had to laugh.  I wrote a blog post yesterday during lunch at my day job.  I logged on tonight to type it in.  I happened to look at the ‘most recent’ post.  It too was from this same time period – last year!  And to top it off, half of what I wrote yesterday repeats what I wrote a year ago.  LOL  So instead I will just say that we were happy to see everyone we did in Spirit Lake and look forward to seeing everyone who will come to visit us in Walnut!  And be safe driving to see us.

Michael, Tammy, Lois & Walt

Between Shows

Hi Everyone!

We just wanted to say Thank You to everyone that stopped by our booth in Spirit Lake, IA over the Memorial Day weekend!  We enjoyed visiting with you and catching up.  We also look forward to visiting with everyone that will have a chance to stop by this coming weekend – Father’s Day weekend – in Walnut, IA.  We still have lots of new stuff we found over the winter for y’all to ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ over!  And the weather looks to be nice (so far) for most of the weekend.  So put on your walking shoes and c’mon out!

Michael, Tammy, Lois and Walt


Brimfield, Massachusetts

Brimfield, Massachusetts

Imagine for just a minute…

  • 6 days
  • In Massachusetts
  • Town’s population: 3,339
  • Antique Vendors: 4,800

Doesn’t that sound like heaven?

I’m talking about Brimfield — the largest outdoor antique show in the US!

And after years of talking with vendors about the show and reading about it we finally took the plunge and decided to shop the July 2013 show.

Now if you know anything about me — I like to be prepared. So:

  • Do we know how to get there?    Check.
  • Do we have a place to stay?    Check.
  • Do we have a list of items we need to purchase?    Check.
  • Do we have a magnifying glass, a tape measure and a black light?    Check.
  • Do we have tubs and wrap?    Check.
  • Do we have cash, checks and our tax ID number?   Check.
  • Do we have good walking shoes and sun screen?    Check.
  • Do we have a plan on how to walk and shop a 4,800 vendor show?    Not a clue!

Think about it. 4,800 vendors.  How do you shop a show with that many vendors?  Where do you start?  And how do you make decisions when just down the road there may be a better deal or a fantastic piece?

We spent a lot of time on the Internet trying to understand how the show works and trying to identify vendors that carry our specialties.  Got to tell you — don’t bother.  The Internet was NOT helpful.  So what do you need to know before you take off for Brimfield?



Typical 1-Day Booth

Typical 1-Day Booth

Prior to Brimfield all of the shows that I have attended work the same way.  The vendors are expected to be open for the entire show.  So you would assume that since Brimfield is a six day show that the vendors would be set up for all six days.  That is NOT how it works.  In reality Brimfield consists of 21 individual shows that all happen to be in the same small town during the “same” time period. Each of the 21 shows are set up in a “field”.   The field owner sets the schedule for their show.   Some shows last six days. Some shows last just a matter of hours.   So the first thing you need to know is what are the days and hours for each field.

Fields that are six day shows will be open all of the time.  So you can visit them at your leisure.  The one-day shows are another story.  If you want to shop these shows don’t dawdle.  We found that many vendors closed up shop within 3 hours of opening!


Waiting in line for the field to open

Waiting in line for the field to open

Are you a fan of Black Friday shopping?  If so you are going to LOVE the one-day fields at Brimfield.  This is how it works.

  • The one-day fields are fenced.
  • It costs $5 per person to get into these fields.
  • You’ll need to get to the field about 20 minutes prior to the opening.
  • Have exact change ready and in hand.
  • If you’ve never been there before you won’t know where your kind of vendors are.  You’ll have less competition if you head to the back of the field and work it from back-to-front.
  • Be prepared to fight for a spot in front of a table to look at what a vendor has to offer. Other shoppers will not make space for you.
  • If you are interested in something keep it in hand. If it is on a table it is fair game.

Even if you don’t enjoy the rush and craziness of Black Friday the one day shows are worth it.  We found our best pieces and prices at these shows.


michael at brimfield

Best Price?

Transactions at Brimfield are not relationship based.  The vendors that we met didn’t want to talk about the history of the piece or who made it.   They prefer to deal with re-sellers versus collectors.   And for them it’s a commodities exchange.   So don’t expect a lot of conversation beyond best price.   And remember this is the east coast.  You shouldn’t  expect a “Midwest Nice” experience.  The vendors don’t intend to be rude — it’s simply a time issue.   They want to sell as much as possible in as little time as possible.


Most vendors will take a check if you have a re-sale number.  If you don’t have a tax number bring cash.  To be honest we thought that was strange until we learned that the vendors did not want to file sales tax for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.   Hmmm.   Unlike Iowa and Minnesota I guess they don’t pay sales tax on any of their transactions.


Back Road to Brimfield

Back Road to Brimfield

Don’t take the main road off the highway into Brimfield.  You’ll triple your commute time.  There are back roads that will take you directly into the center of Brimfield.  Take the back roads and park in the center of town.  You’ll save a few bucks by parking at either end of town — but trust me the $2.00 difference is not worth it at the end of a long antiquing day!


You don’t need to be there from sun up to sun down.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we shopped from 8am to 2pm.   If we go again we’ll probably skip the weekend.


If we were to drive directly to Brimfield from Iowa it would take more than 21 hours to get there.  So was it worth it?

Well I will admit that Michael and I had a gas.  We antiqued all the way out there and back.  We took the time to visit family.  We shopped till we dropped.  And we found some beautiful pieces — not only in Brimfield but in Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana as well.   Will we go again?   We certainly hope so.   And if you have the chance to go — send us an email.  We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.  Brimfield can be daunting — but the experience is definitely worth it!

Limoges Dresser Box

Limoges Dresser Box

Intaglio Master Salt

Intaglio Master Salt

Flysfor Heart Vase

Flysfor Heart Vase


Hello Friends, Family and Customers!  You do know that Customers are just Friends we haven’t had the opportunity to talk to enough yet right?  🙂  I was meandering about the Internet recently looking for more information about Moriage – you know, the really cool porcelain made by Geishas in Japan with hand tinted, hand rolled and hand applied beautiful designs?  Well, I ran across a really cool site!

Common Geisha

Common Geisha


You know how many of the dragonware (a subset of moriage) cups have images impressed in the bottom of them that you can see if you hold them up to the light?  Well, this lady named Helen in the UK has been nice enough to put together a site with all the lithopanes she’s been able to find and has them named as well.  The site is .


Serene Geisha

Serene Geisha

So now all of you out there that have cups with lithopanes need to go to this site and identify what you have – then come tell us!  Yes, this includes you guys with the nudes too.  Fess up!  lol  Up until now we’ve just been classifying them as geishas and nudes.  Now we can all specifically identify them!  And if by chance you have one that she doesn’t have, by all means, please take a picture of it and email it to her.  And you know what else?  She has pictures of lithopanes from other countries as well.  I have to admit, I had no idea that other countries did lithopanes too.  See, we all keep learning as we go!  Now to go figure out what we have….

Smiling Geishas

Smiling Geishas



Life is Short — Eat Dessert First!

EAPG cake stands

I turned 50 this year. Yep – half a century old. And instead of worrying about “getting old” I decided to celebrate with a “Life is Short, Eat Dessert First” party!

We hired a bartender to make ice cream drinks. We had 3 chocolate fountains with a gazillion items to dip including strawberries, marshmallows and homemade potato chips. And we topped it all off with a ton of finger desserts including cake balls, mini cheesecakes, brownies, dessert bars and cookies. Of course, I didn’t even think about setting the food out until it arrived…

Ah – Salvers to the rescue!

So what’s a salver? Salver came from the Latin word salvare’ which means “to save.” And in Europe during the 17th century a salva tray – filled with samples of the food that was going to be served – was given to the “taster” before the King took his first bite.

The popular name for a salver is cake stand. And although cake stands were first mentioned in 1620 – in the United States they were manufactured around 1770 when prosperous families began serving extravagant dessert courses that often included a pyramid of footed cake stands filled with candied fruits, nuts, puddings, cakes and tarts.

Cake Stand Pyramid

English author Hannah Glasse describes an example in her 1760s recipe book, The Compleat Confectioner:

“In the middle a high pyramid of one salver above another, the bottom one large, the next smaller, the top one less; these salvers are to be fill’d with all kinds of wet and dry sweet-meats in glass, baskets or little plates, colour’d jellies, creams, & biscuits, crisp’d almonds and little knickknacks, and bottles of flowers prettily intermix’d, the little top salver must have large preserv’d fruit in it.”

Now – I admit I had not read Hannah’s book before my party. Nor was I trying to re-create a 1770 dinner party (I’m not THAT old!). I just wanted to find a way to put out all of my desserts AND make the table look nice. And since I had recently purchased a collection of cake plates – thank heavens – all I had to do was unwrap them, wash them and set the table.

Now I’m hooked. I LOVE cake stands! And I’m searching for them on all of my antiquing trips. So far most of the cake stands I’ve been able to find are round – but I’ve found a few that are square, hexagonal and even octagonal. And I’ve even snagged a purple slag cake stand and two Vaseline salvers.

Square Milk Glass Cake Stands

Green Depression Glass Cake Stands

Ceramic Ruffled Cake Stand

You can pick up most EAPG and Depression glass cake stands for less less than $100. If you run across colored glass cake stands however, like sapphire blue (1870 and 1910) or Vaseline (1850 – 1940) you can see prices that range from $250 – $500.

But don’t think for a moment  that cake stands are only for cake – just ask Martha Stewart.   She suggests that you can use them as
centerpieces, candelabras or even flower stands.

Hmmm.  A functional — usable antique.  Imagine that!