Elephant here, snake there – animals just about everywhere
  • Washtubs stand in for planter & summer cooler
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    Auction Finds

    A creepy snake planter

    Looking at it, I wouldn’t have guessed that the metal sculpture was a planter. It reminded me of the Greek goddess Medusa, but this piece had only three snakes emanating from its top. I had ignored it as I made my rounds at the auction house because I hate snakes.

    It was Decorative Arts day at one of my auction houses, and the planter was among the high-end items that usually sell for high-end prices – too many phone bidders with money. Sometimes, some unusual items come up. The snake piece was one of them.

    The auction sheet identified it as a planter. Three thin writhing snakes curled from its bottom, all looking at each other, ready to strike. Their tails formed the base. I was sitting in on the Decorative Arts portion of the auction (after buying items from the less-expensive sale) when the planter came up. I remarked about it to my auction buddy Janet, never expecting much of a bidding war over it.  

    Who’d want the thing?

    I cannot imagine what anyone would do with it. Sure, it’d make a great conversation piece on the patio. As for me, I’m terrified of snakes and don’t even want metal ones in my home. I grew up in a rural area and saw them often; they went in one direction and I went in the other. Too dangerous. Too slimy. Too sneaky. I have this vision of them slithering up to me quietly, without warning, and attacking (Too many sci-fi movies, I guess, because in reality, I recall them retreating rather than coming toward me.).

    Most of us have a fear of snakes, and there’s a name for it: ophidiophobia. It’s sometimes called herpetophobia, which is actually the fear of reptiles. Some anthropologists believe the fear is programmed into us – an evolutionary thing – and that it’s not a bad phobia. This keen sense of snakes and what they could do may have helped keep our earliest ancestors alive (in their encounters with snakes, at least). 

    The most famous snake-hater was none other than the character Indiana Jones.

    There are actually some people out there who do not fear snakes, but actually like them, love them and have them as pets. I even found a program in my Google search that teaches you how to appreciate snakes. I found that some of them call themselves herpers (derived from the word herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles). 

    As for the planter at the auction, the bidding climbed past $100 to $200. Then way past $200. It sold for a whopping $550. For snakes? I looked incredulously at Janet.

    Even in this bad economy, some people just have too much money to waste.

    Here’s what the bidder got:


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