31 May
Posted in: Geekery
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Couched in Historical Terms?

This post otherwise entitled, “Did we make the best yard saling find we’ve made in our lives? Or are we going to slowly descend into a spiral of depression, all from a blue sofa?”

Obviously, take this post with a boulder of salt, as Nick and I need to keep reminding ourselves. But we are absolutely giddy at having scored, in our minds, possibly the ultimate yard saling find ever, at least short of a Declaration of Independance in the back of a thrift-store frame. (The real answer is probably not really that dramatic…I love the sofa, regardless. But, as you’ll soon see, it could be very complicated!)

Take a look at this sofa.

Benji looks like I feel about this blue sofa that screams 'Anthropologie.'

Benji looks like I feel about this blue sofa that screams 'Anthropologie.'

The worst case scenario is that this is just a reproduction sofa that I happen to love and it’s made of real wood (I think walnut). The downside is that we paid $450 for it (which is less than a new sofa, but more than we’ve paid for any other furniture item in our lives since we always buy second hand or from outlets) and it doesn’t fit through the bedroom door, which is where I was really hoping it would go. Not sooo bad, but not the deal of the century, if this is the case.

The best case scenario is that…wait for it…it’s an authentic Louis XV Corbeille Sofa which was owned by LBJ and Lady Bird. It’s remote that either of those things would be true, but crazier things have happened. Just not to us. 😉 So we’ll see!

Click on the picture for a much better view of the details.

Click on the picture for a much better view of the details.

Here’s the story of how we came to have it.

Saturday, we were (of course) yard saling. There were a ton sales, being Memorial Day weekend and by 11 o’clock, we were about to turn and head home when Nick pointed out we still had two sales left on our list. I said, “Sure, why not…let’s hit ’em up,” and we pulled up to where we expected the next sale to be. I have to say expected because we couldn’t actually get past the security gate (typically, people having a sale in a gated community will leave the door open that morning…but I digrees). The neighborhood was a very nice one (hence the reason we put it on our long list) but we almost drove off when we noticed a few people walking up the hill next to the fence, where apparently some construction on a new mansion had left a path through the secure fence right to the huge, new home having the sale. It was a moving sale, but a reverse moving sale (they were moving in and had too many things to fit in their new gigantic house).

When we walked up, I immediately noticed the sofa, though there were several antique ones in their four-car garage, along with a ton of linens, baby stuff, etc. I went over to the sofa and immediately ran my hand across the blue upholstery while checking out the cool carvings on the wood. I even sat on it. I loved it! I gave Nick the “look” and he smiled and came over to check it out, too…he knows that look! Since there wasn’t a price sticker, I elected Nick to ask the lady how much it was (I was already too emotionally invested). She told him $500 and we started to confer…finally, he offered $400 back and she said she’d have to call her husband (who had bought the sofa and had it reupholstered before they married) but she couldn’t reach him. So, she met us halfway at $450, we shook hands, and that’s when she told us, “You know, that sofa is from LBJ’s house.”

“Really?” I said, incredulously (I couldn’t help my tone…I was not buying it.) “Yes,” she said, nodding her head forcefully. We had to run to an ATM for the rest of the money but we got back quickly and by then her husband had returned. He filled us in on his side of the story…

Apparently (this is all according to him, of course), about twenty years ago he went to an estate sale on the East side of Austin. He used to do it all the time to pick up antiques but this one he almost skipped because the house was pretty ramshackle. Still, he had no where to be, so he thought, “Oh, why not check it out?” He went inside the small house and found the sofa, which was beautiful but had green upholstery that was apparently just shredded and made the sofa look pretty shabby. He asked the lady running the sale about it and she said that it was a gift from LBJ to her mother and told him that her mother had been LBJ and Lady Bird’s maid at their Austin home for close to 30 years and they had given the sofa to her as a gift when she retired. He believed the story, bought the sofa and took it to be reupholstered. He spent about $2,700 on the sofa, between buying it and getting it redone (this I believe, because the reupholstering job was terrific…they used a wonderful fabric and did each of the cushions individually, with zippers, which means they can all be flipped if needed or dry cleaned).

Nick and I aren’t sure if we believe the story, but we obviously want to. (We are almost sure that at the very least, the sofa is a genuine antique, though we need to verify it through an appraisal…you, of course, are right to be more skeptical if you choose.) There are many possibilities re: the LBJ bit. One is that the lady holding the sale lied, and the guy believed it (which means he told the truth, but it still was a lie). The second is that he himself lied…though Nick and I are inclined to rule this out because the family was obviously very wealthy and didn’t tell us the story until after we had already happily agreed to buy the sofa. The third possibility is that the sofa was a gift from Lady Bird to the maid but the sofa belonged to her, not LBJ (she outlived him by quite a long time). The final possibility is that no one lied, and it’s actually a sofa from the Johnsons, the President who signed the historic Civil Rights Act and got the Voting Rights Act passed. How kick-ass would that be?!?

What do you think?

Couched in hope,

Sassy G.

So, what do you think?