17 March, 2009

Mystery of the Missing Sconces

Heave, ho, heave, ho...

Pulling new wire through the conduit has become fairly routine. We're all rather horrified at the state of some of the old cloth wire, and the sooner it gets replaced the better.

But we can't leave the old wire laying around for a minute, unless we want it chomped.

We've been coiling it up and putting it outside by the trash, where the tinkers come to collect it long before the garbage man does.

Now, a few weeks ago I mentioned our suspicions that there might once have been sconces above the fireplace.

Well, Ted and Seamus inspected the wall above the fireplace carefully...

Made some test drills...

And BINGO! We found the old electrical boxes.

(Now if only I could find that pesky hairbrush before the camera comes out.)

As before, these electrical boxes were stuffed with newspaper.

Only this time they yielded a precious clue! The Sears advertisement was announcing a sale for Friday, March 13, 1942; sixty-seven years ago to the day. We found it rather funny that we opened up the wall right before Friday the 13th last week.

So, it was less than twenty years after The Box House was built that someone decided to remove the sconces and plaster over the wall. (We had guessed late forties, so we weren't too far off.)

But I think I know what happened to the sconces.

Four of the six bedrooms in The Box House have sconce lights, two in the upstairs unit and two in the downstairs one. Two of those rooms, both upstairs, have rather simple (and rather heavily painted over) candle sconces. One of the bedrooms downstairs has sconces that are plain, and perhaps of more recent vintage. And then there are these in my mom's room (this is one of two):

Of course, with all the white paint slathered on them at the moment they're not looking their best. But the detail on them is of a knight on horseback trampling a dragon. My guess is that it's supposed to represent St. George. Anyway, they match our Medieval-style electric fireplace, original to the house. (Go here to see a video of the fireplace in action.)

I'm hoping there is a way to strip the paint off the sconces without destroying the polychrome finish, but we'll see. If not, I'll just have to repaint them and "antique" them to give the appearance of age.

However, those particular sconces won't be going back above the fireplace. Mom likes them in her room, and they've now been there far longer than they hung in the living room--if the date on the newspaper is a true indicator of when the sconces were removed, then before she was born!

Instead, we found another vintage set of sconces on eBay:

You can't tell from this photo, but the candle bulbs go behind the fancy grill work, which curves around them; they are going to cast amazing shadows on the walls, and I think they complement the shapes in the stained glass windows nicely.

We've pulled new wire through the conduit to replace the old...

...and now we're just waiting for the sconces to arrive!


Just A Girl And Her Craftsman Bungalow said...

I don't know why I'm so scared to buy on Ebay but I just LOVE your sconces. I think I'm going to troll around Ebay to look for sconces-- inspired by your find of course. Great detective work by the way!

Joanne said...

Just do it, Girl! The worst that will happen is that you won't like it and will sell it back online! :-)

Joanne said...

Ted reminded me that the worst that will happen is that you don't like it, but are too apathetic about relisting it, so you'll have a light fixture kicking around the basement that you'll never use and will occasionally get cranky about thinking how you wasted the money.

Seriously, start with something small for the house, and see how it goes. I've been buying things off of eBay for nearly a decade, and I've rarely been disappointed.

Anonymous said...

The sconces really give the room a lot of character. Also, good to be getting rid of that old cloth wiring - it can be very dangerous. I just found your blog, but change as much as possible. The problem is when it begins to get old.

Anonymous said...

Love the St. George sconces, but love Seamus's helping Ted do the inspecting even more.

Hard to believe that HUGE fella is a kitten. Except when he's naughty. ;-)

Karen Anne said...

I buy off ebay. I look for sellers with a good record in terms of feedback, and avoid ones with little feedback.

A seller having a rare negative feedback does not worry me, esp. if someone has overwhelmingly good feedback, and you can often tell from the negative feedback if it is valid. Like amazon feedback, if there is a lot that says the seller is unresponsive, I avoid them like the plague.

Here is a shade I bought recently, cute as a button, no? And the chips at the top, which the seller disclosed, won't be visible when it's in a fixture:

click here for shade photo

Joanne said...

Oh Karen Anne, that is cute. Nice find! What room will you use it in?

Karen Anne said...

I am not 100% sure what room. I have a sort of informal combo living and dining room (currently consisting of a scrap wood floor and "rec room paneling" since I'm in the early remove stuff stage.)

I'm having the 1980s fixture in there replaced with rejuvenation.com's Bryant fixture and will try this shade in it. If it doesn't look right, I have a bunch of shades to try. I seem to collect shades, much to my surprise :-)

It can always go in a bedroom.

Joanne said...

I know how that goes...we're half-joking that we should get another multi unit just so we can keep buying fixtures.