the first fair of the season

by Sharon Santoni
As we arrived at the fair yesterday it was tipping down with rain  … for the first fair of the season, UGH!
I was  about to drive away when I saw a little hand painted sign, nailed to a telegraph pole “in case of rain, brocante in the village hall”   …. how could I resist?!

I am sorry to say that I took no pictures yesterday, too wet and too gloomy for that, but here is how it went ….

It turns out that the – very very small – fair was organised by the village church to raise funds for a family whose house caught fire in January.  There was nothing very good on sale, but obviously for such a good cause, I was keen to find something to purchase.
Having walked around and around the large cold room several times, with only a pot of jam to show for it!  I finally spotted a couple, late arrivals, carrying in boxes and suitcases that looked very heavy – my interest was sparked, and since I had nothing better to do,  I offered to give them a hand unloading the car.

They were very friendly and chatty.  Once we finally had their car emptied, and they had told me their life story ! :), they began to apologise that they probably wouldn’t have anything that could interest me ….

We set up their trestle tables, and started opening those suitcases.  It’s true that there wasn’t very much to tempt me, and I was beginning to sorely regret having left my warm bed so early to come to this tiny fair, but – just as I was about to bid them goodbye – the lady said “oh wait, I nearly forgot …  I do have some very old sheets, nothing fancy, but the fabric is good” …..

The sheets she got out of a big canvas bag were  in those beautiful soft shades of the very old homespun linen that I love so much.  The lady was right; there was nothing fancy about them, just strong, heavy sheets, some of which bear her grandparents’ intials M+D –  a certain Madeline and Dorian ……

And right at the bottom of the  bag were these old portraits.  Possible watercolours, maybe pen and ink,  I’m really not sure.  Any ideas?….

So home I came with a bag full of old linen sheets, you can imagine the groans from the family …”not more sheets!!”  – they just don’t get it!

Besides the fact that the fabric is so beautiful, I also feel downright privileged to be the custodian of sheets like these.  Nobody makes them any more.

Plus one of the sheets is stained in the centre so I have no qualms in cutting into the fabric and using it to cover those beds I told you about!

I am taking this lucky find as a good omen for the brocante season ahead!  For those of you who have already booked for the group tours or for individual shopping trips with me, we are going to have such fun finding treasure like these!
If you are still thinking about the group tours, there are three places left on the April tour and more on the September tour.  If you have already received the information, but have questions, don’t hesitate to send me a mail, I am happy to explain any details.[blank]


thefarmfiles February 4, 2013 - 5:02 pm

Sounds like a charming fair. I can't wait to see the bed makeover.

Splenderosa February 4, 2013 - 5:05 pm

Oh, those beds…you are doing exactly the right thing. I have a chair still covered in it's original fabric & you have inspired me to change it. We've had it for 20 years, it just sits in my bathroom, never used. And, if I change the fabric it will be able to come out into the living areas and be adored. xx's

Lorrie February 4, 2013 - 5:26 pm

Your kindness in helping the couple, and persistence in staying, paid off in the end. Looking forward to seeing the bed makeover! I love those red monograms.

Sophia Home February 4, 2013 - 5:28 pm

These gorgeous sheets will be stunning to cover the beds Sharon. It is hard to believe that the woman at the fair could bare to part with a family heirloom such as this? Glad the first fair was inspiring!

Julie February 4, 2013 - 6:06 pm

What beautiful linen, and I particularly love the portrait top right.

Terra February 4, 2013 - 6:38 pm

How good you found the bed linens to delight you and to help the family. That top right portrait is charming.

Laurie February 4, 2013 - 6:48 pm

Wow! What a lovely treasure and so unexpected.

Reply February 4, 2013 - 7:56 pm

So lovely!

Laura @ 52 FLEA February 4, 2013 - 8:04 pm

I always have good luck at church sales…must be divine intervention! Your linens are wonderful! 🙂

Barbara Lilian February 4, 2013 - 8:26 pm

Your early start on a cold & wet Sunday morning certainly paid off for the linen alone & then those paintings !! they look very interesting. I'm sure the bed-linen will be just the thing for your bed head re-upholstering. That will keep you busy.

vicki archer February 4, 2013 - 8:41 pm

Why is it that our families don't understand our sheet fascination…?? 😉

Alicia February 4, 2013 - 8:46 pm


Roxane February 4, 2013 - 9:06 pm

Ahhh, I would have bought those illustrations in a heartbeat!

Sheree February 4, 2013 - 10:13 pm

I'm so glad you found something to help the family. It's cool to know the names the initials stand for. I like the large portrait, too. What an interesting life you lead.

I was hoping you would choose a soft neutral for the bed so I like your choice.

lissajane February 4, 2013 - 10:53 pm

what stunning linen. Don't worry there many other families in the world that moan when a certain person comes home with lovelies from a collectables fair. Mine is one of them. But what can you do. Right!

The Centric Home February 5, 2013 - 12:42 am

Those are our initials! So funny to see them on someone's things! Will they be up for sale?

Alison February 5, 2013 - 2:03 am

Oh, I cannot imagine how that old linen must feel. Not being able to afford linen like that I have resorted to making my own linen pillow cases with new linen. Love the colors I get to play with, but I wash a ton so I can get that softness sooner. I would love a set of sheets.

La Brocanteuse February 5, 2013 - 2:19 am

love your linen finds of course! and looking forward to see the finished beds. everytime I return from a buying trip, I say, ok now that is enough for now…and as the months goes by, I can feel the urge to be back in France…hunting for finds. you are so blessed- but you know that! love to you Colette xx

Alison @ BaysideVintage February 5, 2013 - 9:55 am

My 6 year old often moans "not more old stuff!" when I come home from a trip to a market.. but then never wants me to sell any of it! Just goes to show what you may find if you are patient. Look forward to hearing more about your visits to brocante fairs. Alison

A passage to Tangier February 5, 2013 - 1:08 pm

I love this story. It reminds me of the sheer boiling-point excitement I always feel when I near a village brocante or major fair at the thought of one great find no matter how small or large.

Jayne February 5, 2013 - 1:43 pm

What a star find! And it's lovely you know the history behind those sheets. 🙂

Nantucket Daffodil February 5, 2013 - 2:48 pm

Charming finds. We get it!….even when the family does not!

Amy February 5, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Wonderful finds! Patience pays off. I completely understand the fascination with linens. Can't wait to see the bed re-do.

Corinne February 5, 2013 - 3:45 pm

Quelles jolies trouvailles pour une si jolie cause…Bravo…
Douce semaine,

april February 5, 2013 - 4:04 pm

The portraits are beautiful! I would have been delighted just to have found them. 🙂

Virginia February 5, 2013 - 5:39 pm

Those are my friend's initials and she loves pretty linens. Le sigh….

Naperville Now February 5, 2013 - 6:04 pm

I'm curious — did the sellers ask what your plans for the sheets were? And did you purchase the art as well?

peggy braswell February 5, 2013 - 6:31 pm

When I am on the search, I get a feeling of excitement in my whole being. Adore the linen sheets with the monograms + the art. How kind you are to help them unload + see, A reward for your kindness!

Karen (Back Road Journal) February 6, 2013 - 1:17 am

Oh what lovely treasures the sheets are. Fabric like that just isn't made any more. I'm sure that the sellers would be pleased with how they will be used.

Colleen Taylor February 6, 2013 - 6:35 am

I love your stories Sharon. This was a charming one. I do love the linens, the weaves, everything about the texture. The large painting I'm thinking is an oil due to the softness of the pigments from what I can tell. The other two might be pen and ink but I'm also thinking some sort of color pencils, maybe a combination, just not sure. All in all, great finds.

Katey February 7, 2013 - 3:03 pm

Oh I love this. How special to find a treasure at last. I love anything with initials as I think about the people who once owned them. (especially) sheets.

l o v e l y t h i n g s February 20, 2013 - 10:48 pm

what a treasure…my daughters initials are MD, madeline diamond…how I would love to find something like this!


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