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Archive for June, 2010

Luckily, some things never change…

June 23rd, 2010 | posted by James Gillis

Even though this was long before I began working at Rau, it’s always a pleasure hearing stories like these, and knowing that forty five years can go by and the customers have stayed with us. It’s a true testament to the store and the high quality items that Rau is known for. I received this email from a longtime customer yesterday and wanted to share it. Thanks for your letter Jeffrey and all the years of your loyalty!

“Rau is and has been one of my favorite haunts and places of purchase. My first purchase was in 1964 when I was in New Orleans with my parents for a vacation. We went to the race track and I won the daily double. My Father was horrified and mentioned to my Mother that he thought they had made a dreadful mistake taking me to the races. But, I showed them; with my winnings I took them out on the town for a wonderful evening, then with the rest of the money went to Rau and purchased a beautiful carnelian seal ring, which I still wear to this day. Last time I was in New Orleans, in May of ’08, I once again, returned to Rau. It was just as wonderful as I have remembered it. It is so comforting to realize there are still retailers in this world that are willing to keep up their great reputation and fine offering and service. Hope time and opportunity will allow me to return to New Orleans soon and will look forward to meeting and seeing you in person.”

Many thanks,

Jeffrey P. Angwin-

Bothell, Washington

Little Pistols, Big Bang

June 18th, 2010 | posted by James Gillis

As a former US Marine, I’m always excited when we get in antique weaponry at the gallery. Not only is the craftsmanship both internally and externally impressive, it shows how  quickly and stealthily “disagreements” could be resolved in those days. My how I yearn for those days! This striking set of Pocket Percussion Pistols that just came in is particularly impressive. Don’t let the small size fool you, the business end of these weapons delivered a big punch. The muzzles are rifled, giving an accurate and lethal edge to these palm size genteel weapons. These weapons are as innovative as they are lethal.

Each pistol bears the Belgian proof mark and the number “328.”

They call to mind the era of gentlemanly disputes. The handsome ivory grips and precise engraving distinguish this pair of Belgian percussion pocket pistols from the city of Liège. Each pistol is crafted of beautifully engraved Damascus steel, including the pommel cap, and features a side hammer design with a pop-out trigger. When the hammer is pulled back, the trigger “pops” from the secreted underside of the pistol and retracts back into the gun upon firing, making it easy to carry and draw at a moments notice. The pistols are positioned in their original, velvet-lined quarter-sawn oak fitted case, which houses a powder flask, bullet mold and caps.

When I hold it in my hand, you can hardly even see I’m holding a gun. The “success” of this set is in its’ slyness! It’s a remarkable collection piece either as the cornerstone or spectacular addition to an already prominent firearms collection.

Pistol: 5 1/8” length
Caliber: 9mm
Barrel: 2” length

Hard Work in the Big Easy

June 16th, 2010 | posted by Bill Rau

If you’re not “from these parts” but you’ve experienced the French Quarter, chances are it was a jam packed good time with music, food, entertainment, and many forms of art. The Quarter always appears unending, alive and boisterous, and working at our gallery in the center of it all has offered insight into just what it takes to make this place what it is:  enthusiastic, romantic, loud, old, new, magical, matchless–You name it.  I’ve learned it happens in the early morning hours, just as the Quarter is waking.

At about 8:13 am Monday through Friday, I take a right onto Carondelet Street and begin the drive into downtown. Only at this time, it’s as though the Quarter is just waking up. I’ve concluded that it sleeps one hour a night, from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, and after 7:30 it’s snoozing the alarm clock until around 8:15. Most corners there stands a man, hosing the party from last night off of the sidewalk. In front of a hotel or a restaurant, he’s always wearing an apron and typically wears black striped pants. There is history on his face. It’s almost something you’d like to photograph, if it was a serious hobby of yours, but you’d feel pretty ridiculous photographing these men. It’s a type of moment that doesn’t quite translate in conversation, you just savor it when you see it. Rarely, I think, do most people ever get to.

This band plays just outside our doors almost every day, rain or shine...

It goes further than that. The Royal Street bands are staking their territory for the day. The wait staff at any given restaurant is having one last cigarette before shift 1. The street performers are painting themselves silver. The signs are flipping from “Sorry we’re closed” to “Come In We’re Open!” and the whole thing is unfolding, corner by corner, slowly becoming alive again.

Rau Antiques’ location here in the heart of the Quarter is almost just as important as our inventory inside. Since beginning to work in this area, I’ve discovered the distinct preparedness that goes on every day– both here in the gallery and the Quarter itself (before the crowds trickle in.) I see now there is just as much business in partying as there is in business. To work in heart of the Quarter on Royal Street is a real gift.  Fresh pralines, vibrant music, the weight-gaining food, the 200 proof drinks, the tiny paper shop, the Piano Bar (if you haven’t been, go); it all takes good ol’ fashioned labor. It’s tradition that started with work, ends with work, and in the meantime contributes to the whole cacophony of business and play that defines the Quarter. To say ‘there isn’t anything like it’ is redundant, so I’ll just end it here.