Above picture is from 1938.

P and I have taken on a project that many have labeled as crazy. This c. 1920's Spanish Revival was a foreclosure that had been vacant for about 2 years. This blog is my attempt to document our renovations of what was once a grand old house. Maybe someday it will be again. Someday.

26 February 2011

Trash or Treasure? Answer: Treasure

I put one of the Strobl tiles on Ebay just to see what would happen.  It sold for $20.50.  Not quite the $275.00 that I've seen, but I also didn't try hard.  There were several people watching the auction and I had quite a few inquiries.  When I get more time, I'm going to put a little more into research and see if I can do even better.  The good news is I have alot of them, so even at $20 a pop, it's not too bad!

$20.50 tile

11 February 2011

Trash or Treasure?

Strobl tile rescued from the trash

Strobl name on back of tile    

P and I have thought since the first time we saw our house that somebody really loved tile and not in a good way.  It turns out that what we thought of as a bad use of random tile turns out to be a bad use of random tile including some Strobl art tile manufactured somewhere between 1910-1920 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  While that probably means nothing to you (or me, until the internet- thanks Al), it turns out that some Strobl tiles are actually valuable.  The one pictured above was where the search began.  While at the dump unloading yet another 3,000 lbs load of trash (we're up to ~25k lbs so far), I saw this tile in the trailer.  I noticed it was in one piece so I picked it up.  Then I noticed it had a name on the back.  When I got home I looked it up and this is what I found...

 This is picture two of the same tiles that I found in the trash.  They sold in 2008 (2 tiles in frame) for $275.00!  Now I know that doesn't mean they are worth that now, but I have ALOT of them.  I took down at least 10 just like these today from the master bathroom. 

Of course with this new information, our demo methods have changed dramatically.  Unfortunately, we've lost some of the tiles in the demo before we knew what we had, but we are being much more careful from this point on.  With that being said, we are still not able to save all tiles because of the way they are attached.  I've worked the last two days with a diamond blade on a side-wheel grinder and have managed to save many more tiles than with our previous sledge hammer method. It is dusty, loud, and labor intensive work to save these tiles, but it is worth it whether or not they have a high dollar value.  I'm enjoying saving these handcrafted pieces of art.
Me with the grinder in a dust cloud (master bath)

So I know I said that the bad use of random tile was prolific and it was, but now I have a greater appreciation for the actual tiles.  Not saying that now I think they look good in their present configuration, just that I have a greater appreciation for what they are as individual pieces. Our plans now are to frame some of the tiles as artwork and maybe use some of the broken pieces to make a tile mosaic in the fountain.  And of course, if there is a market, sell some to finance this project.

Master Bath treasures

Work on the demo of the master bath is ongoing.  Tiles are coming off the walls and walls are coming down.  We've also made some interesting and helpful discoveries.  When removing the wall between the original bathroom and the closet, we found some old newspapers and burlap bags wrapped around the water pipes for the sink!  The newspaper was a portion of the Birmingham News from April 1, 1926 and April 6, 1926.  It included the sports section and the classified section.  Some parts were not readable and in bad condition due to the fact that they had been wadded up and stuck in the wall for the last 85 years.  Some parts were in surprisingly good condition.  I hope to get some pictures of them soon.  The best part of the paper is that is helps us date the house.  There are alot of discrepancies with the date of the house.  The tax records say c. 1935, but our neighbor says that she heard 1913 from some research done by the previous owners.  We now know that c. 1926 is a possibility too.  Much more research is in my future, but finding buried treasure makes all the physical work fun. 

When removing the wall behind the toilet, we found some more newspapers!  This one was a paper from Jackson, MS c. 1926.  I haven't gone through it yet, but it appears to be in good condition and actually has a Birmingham mailing label on it.  More research....

The two burlap bags were in almost perfect condition.  They appear to be the bags that the original interior plaster came in.  They are printed with the words "USG Co."  I think it stands for U.S. Gypsum Company (still in existence), maker of plaster and now drywall.