Vase and Joni Mitchell photo it appears in are for sale on eBay

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

Joni Mitchell fans with some cash burning in their pockets may want to check out an eBay listing put up by the singer’s first husband, former Detroiter Chuck Mitchell.

Up for sale until Sept. 26 is an ornate, red and gold 19th century Austrian vase, reputedly by J & L Lobmeyr, as well as a black and white 1966 snapshot of a pensive Joni standing in front of a pine-paneled wall, a mantel and the vase. The vase has a crack, it’s noted.

Starting bid: $3,000. Folk singer Chuck confirms, “It’s my listing.”

The snapshot was taken of Joni at Christmastime 1966, in front of the fieldstone fireplace at her in-laws’, Scott and Mary Mitchell’s, house on Tienken Road in Rochester.

Chuck’s description continues: “On the mantel piece to Joni’s left is the Persian enameled glass pitcher attributed to the Viennese glassmakers J&L Lobmeyr, circa 1880. To her right is the lamp that Scott used to light the deck of his Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorder when he recorded Joni singing her earliest songs — ‘Daisy Summer Piper,’ ‘I Won’t Cry,’ ‘Moon in the Mirror,’ ‘Song to a Seagull,’ among others. The Mitchell house is gone, torn down long ago. Scott is gone, too. Now the lamp lights my audio equipment, where I’m working on those tapes. The Persian pitcher is on my mantelpiece. It is cracked, has been for at least 50 years. I still need the lamp. The pitcher needs a new home. It comes with the photo: the original photo, not a copy. — Chuck Mitchell.”

The singer points out in the listing that he’s selling the original snapshot, but retains ownership of the image.

Chuck was born in New York, but grew up in the house on Tienken when the area just north of downtown Rochester was largely farmland. He and Joni were married in June 1965 on the front lawn of his parents’ house, with members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing.

The two lived in an apartment at the Verona, on Ferry Street in Detroit’s Wayne State area, the “tenement castle” Mitchell sang about in “I Had a King.” They were regulars on the Detroit folk circuit, including the Chessmate. The Mitchells divorced in 1968, just as Joni’s career was taking off.

Chuck lives in Iowa now, but returned to Michigan last week for his Rochester High School 60th reunion. He also returns to Michigan occasionally for folk gigs, including a yearly event in support of the Detroit nonprofit FOCUS Hope.