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December 2018 - Issue Seven
December 18, 2018 is USA National Re-Gifting day. Your personal stuff-whisper discloses RE-GIFTING protocol, along with ideas for foisting away last holiday’s seasons DOGS, in this issue. Before you send out invitations to your White Elephant Exchange/Yankee Swap/Bad Santa/Ugly Sweater party, read the cautionary tales below.

Also in this newsletter are four great recent articles, authored in response to “what’s it worth, Elizabeth?”
  • The Gift of a Warrior's Kabuto
  • Cuckoo for cuckoo clocks
  • The Kitschy Lady Lamp
  • The Great Ansonia Clock Company

If you have questions about your household items or evaluation questions, you may contact me at

Amusing tales from clients about the perils of re-gifting:

My Winner: Claudine writes me that her dad, an avid golfer, liked certain balls, tees, and clubs - and no others. Yet his family, for years, had gifted him all manner of golfing gear. Dad had a locked closet in the garage filed with sealed boxes of such golfing stuff. Claudine and her sister had enough one year; they found the key, re-wrapped all the sports gear (about 200 boxes), and stuck them under the tree for Dad. Dad didn't clue up until he unwrapped the fifth re-gifted box on Christmas morning.

My Second Place Choice: Joey writes that his mom, Mrs. Jones, helped him out with a new girlfriend’s gift with a $500 gift card given to Mrs. Jones a year previously from an expensive, trendy Montecito boutique. The styles were much too young for Mrs. Jones, she explained, but perhaps perfect for her son’s new flame. When the new flame purchased $500 of fashion, the clerk said, ‘Happy Holidays, Mrs. Jones!’ - Mom’s name was in the computer system. The girlfriend, overjoyed, took this as a proposal of marriage and rushed to the son’s office to accept.

Third Place: This is a personal story of my great-uncle who one Christmas gave each of us four siblings a hamster, a wheel in a cage, and pellets. By New Year’s Eve, each of the hamsters gave birth to a litter of 10-12 babies EACH. Combined, we now had about 50 hamsters. The eternal re-gift.

Fourth Place: Larry writes that one holiday season, he gave a valuable string of pearls to his longtime girlfriend, who dumped him right after Christmas. (She had the class to return the pearls.) Larry, undaunted, gave the pearls to his new girlfriend next Christmas. She dumped him New Year’s Eve. Larry hocked the pearls.

Honorable Mention: Jackie writes that her sister is a constant re-gifter. Last year Jackie received an opened bottle of perfume. The year before, a much-washed T-Shirt. The year before, “kiddy” style, dress-up jewelry. Not the least, all the gifts were wrapped in paper from the year before that her sister had ironed.

A Typical Santa Barbara Problem: All of us are friendly with an artist. We often are gifted an original painting. Oftentimes, our décor is wrong for the gift. One client of mine tells her artist friend that her painting is at the framers, but it has been ‘at the framers’ now for 2 years…

And many of us deal with Depression era babies, who were re-gifters before the phrase was coined in the Seinfeld episode “Labelmaker.” My grandmother liked to give fruitcake from the church bazaar, not too bad, except it dated from the year before….

We know what we should not give: monogrammed objects, gift with last year’s cards INSIDE the box, used beauty items, handmade stuff, GPS navigation systems, CD’s, and Bluerays, but what CAN we re-gift without impunity? Should You Be Honest?

If you have a re-gifting party, it’s all out in the open. Here’s the protocol for one such party:
  • Wrap things beautifully
  • Draw numbers
  • The Lowest Number Selects a Gift First
  • The Recipient can hold or grab another gift from another guest
  • After everyone has grabbed back and forth, the lowest number can have the pick of the lot.

December 18 is USA National Re-Gifting Day, and here are the rules:
  • Re-Gift if you Really Think They’ll Like IT
  • Take off the OLD TAGS, and REWRAP the gift
  • Don’t Re-gift objects from an ancestor, or a special person you’ll later regret; don’t re-gift heirlooms
  • Remember the Six Degrees of Separation rule: if you can count six friends in the same circle, do not give within that circle if you do not want to be found out
  • Do not give expired or obsolete objects unless it’s a joke
  • Remember that the way the mind works, you’ll forget WHO gave you something, but the SAME person who gave will be the first person you’ll consider for THAT object.
Happy Re-Gifting Day December 18
Read some of my latest articles...

The Gift of a Warrior's Kabuto

J sends me a family gift, a helmet, given to her husband when he was on big business for a small Korean start-up in the 1980’s. Today, that start-up is a multibillion-dollar Korean enterprise. Asian business-people are known to show respect with meaningful gifts to compatriots, and this particular gift is filled with metaphor.

Hats, headgear, helmets of all kinds Asian denote rank. For example, a gat is a traditional wide brimmed hat worn with traditional hanbok (clothing) during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). Lower officials wore a Jegwan of gold cloth, or if in mourning, a white cloth. Government officials wore a Samo with extended earflaps.

Cuckoo for cuckoo clocks

SL sends me an adorable Back Forest Clock, acquired on a German tourist trip. When SL purchased this little iconic Chalet Clock in 1960, what began in the 17th century as a cottage industry in Germany had become the mass produced hallmark, the horological symbol of Northern Europe. It's because of the ubiquity of Cuckoo Clocks that SL’s clock isn't worth much. But the idea of a mechanized clock with a singing bird sounding its little song in the dark German Forests of the 17th century is fascinating.

SL’s is a “farm” or “chalet” clock, most associated with Switzerland, in the shape of an alpine house complete with water wheel, little windows, and that distinctive sliding snow-style roof line. Yes, the tiptop of SL’s clock has that little cuckoo door, and that little cuckoo is attached to a little bellows that play the distinctive major or minor third of the bird’s call. I've also seen the door of such a clock to open to a rotating wheel of dancing bears, or an angel with a trumpet.

The Kitschy Lady Lamp

At an estate sale about 20 years ago in Santa Barbara SS’s husband found himself drawn to a little waif with big eyes and great body. And he bought her. She is a chalkware midcentury lamp, about 20” tall: the figure is a young Renaissance troubadour in a brocade short coat and gold pantaloons. She is shod in curled toed boots. Her short-cropped hair frames am impish face with fashionably full pale pink pouty lips. She has a come-hither look in her exotic tilted eyes. She stands holding a pole topped by a glass light globe.

This lamp represents a huge fad which came and went in the early 1950’s, because of a unique combination of art and kitsch. And the fad was based in the conservative 1950’s in a desire for the highly exotic, combined with a sex- charged female form, executed in oil on canvas, or oil on velvet. Not what your mom was allowed to look like in the 1950’s, but exotic and showing some flesh. (Exotic, as in the expression ‘exotic’ dancer.)

The Great Ansonia Clock Company

JF sends me a ceramic framed clock from his grandfather’s house. What's the history of this flouncy, candy-box colored mantle clock?

Henry J. Davies of Brooklyn, a clockmaker and designer, joined an established clock-making firm in the 1870’s. Connecticut-based Ansonia originally began as a brass metal machine-tooling supplier. Davies invented a ceramic ornate shell covering the workings of a brass mechanical clock. This style took off. Most mantles in the 1880’s sported such a clock with pride.
Arts & Antiques Radio Show

By the way, did you know Elizabeth has a Radio Show on KZSB AM 1290 LIVE at 10 am Friday mornings? The show re-airs 8 pm Saturday nights and 11 am Sundays. She covers Arts and Antiques for Santa Barbara.
Upcoming appearances by Elizabeth Stewart
January 16
Santa Barbara Historical Society lecture:
The Creative Disaster: Downsizing in Advance

January 23
UCSB Emeriti Road Show, private event

January 28
Friendship Force, Santa Barbara No Thanks Mom lecture

February 6

Senior Congress XIV Looking Ahead: Plan While You Can, St Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, Westlake Village
Read Elizabeth's twice-weekly blogs on Facebook, hear her radio shows on her website, and view amazing finds on Instagram.
All photos by Flandricka House Photography
Both of Elizabeth's books are available at Chaucers and Tecolate in Santa Barbara
or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and Apple.

Elizabeth's latest book, NO THANKS MOM, is available at Chaucers and Tecolate in Santa Barbara, and online through most online bookstores. Available in print and ebook formats.

An excellent guide on what to do with all of your stuff. A great gift for family and friends, especially those reaching a certain age where divesting of family heirlooms becomes a task.

A wake-up call that may inspire retirees to spend their kids’ inheritances...Certified appraiser Stewart (Collect Value Divest, 2016) doles out advice for baby boomers whose adult children reject their family heirlooms.Kirkus Reviews

A concise guide for parents of millennials, "No Thanks Mom" offers sage advice on what to do with those objects 'saved' but not welcomed by the next generation.
Midwest Book Review


Stewart’s guide to collecting is entertaining and informative, making it ideal for anyone who wants to understand the objects that surround them. Impeccably organized and edited, and thoughtful in its presentation, Stewart’s guide to collecting is also an informative and entertaining read that will benefit and enhance anyone’s quest to buy, sell, or simply understand the objects they live with.
Foreword Reviews, 5-star review recipient and a finalist for Book of the Year, Foreword INDIES awards

Highly entertaining and instructive; destined to become a collector’s best friend... A debut guide provides advice for both serious and casual collectors. — Kirkus Reviews

"With over thirty years of experience, Stewart has a vast trove to draw upon in order to educate, inspire, instruct, and entertain readers. Collect Value Divest is filled with beautiful, color images of the works discussed..."  —  Gently Read Lit
Copyright © 2018 Elizabeth Appraisals, All rights reserved.

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