I had already concluded that I wanted one Arts and Crafts era mantel in quartersawn oak, and I was prepared to strip multiple layers of paint off of one given that stained mantels in good condition are over $1000. The second mantel I was picturing would be smaller and simpler, a paint grade specimen that would suit the bedroom.
To that end, I had to jump on the deal I found on eBay. An individual less than two hours away was selling two original mantels for a steal. And, you guessed it, one was a stained, quartersawn oak Arts and Crafts mantel and the other was a chippy white Victorian/Edwardian piece. A breathless, last minute bid and a whirlwind trip 100 miles north with my everloving husband resulted in these two beauties stored in the shop at the farmhouse!
If we don't get to buy the farmhouse, I can clean these puppies up and resell for at least twice (maybe three) times what I paid. Even Jeff was swayed to take the risk by that return!