Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Genius begins great works;

labor alone finishes them."
~Joseph Joubert

Labor Day weekend...and for us here in a tourist area, it is the cherry on the summer sundae.  Many of the businesses in a resort are run by individuals or families, and, as we celebrate Labor Day, we rarely think about the "labor" that goes into making the area work.  From the young students who work at Uncle Bill's Pancake House to the Boardwalk retailers, rental cleaning crews, and beach life guards, there is plenty of labor going into making people's vacations work.

So, on the Labor Day, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a small local business. Judy Wietsma and her husband are the creative spirits behind A Second Look, a interior design business. Their work is available in Booth 18 at The West End Garage in Cape May, NJ, and Judy also does interior design.  
All the furniture in their Booth is hand-painted and hand-waxed with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint products.  According to Judy, the pieces are sanded until the finish feels like granite and then hand waxed for durability.  She painted 50 pieces of vintage furniture for The Carroll Villa Hotel on Jackson Street in Cape May along with all their fireplaces! 

Judy also collects vintage tea pots and coffee pots.  Judy's husband is a retired electrician and transforms them into lamps.  Each lamp has a polished nickel pull chain...easy on and off...and a decorative and interesting hand painted base.  Top it off with a new shade and a creative finial, and you have not only a lamp but also a work of won't find that in a big box shop!

You can see more of Judy's work on her Facebook page at A Second Look Interior Design.   Her web page has information about her design theories as well as a gallery of transformed furniture and her work as an interior designer.  She has painted display pieces for The Cape May Honey Farm Store in Stone Harbor and Beach Bling, Etc in Cape May.  

Judy specializes in staging a home for sale, and she works for several developers and real estate companies in the Cape May, New Jersey area.  You can contact her at or 609-903-0727.
Keep in mind the small business or those who labor in ways we tend to overlook.  To quote a famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci:
         "God sells us all things at the price of labor."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"You need to let the little things

 that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” 
                                                                           ~Andy Warhol

I have been sorting through a variety of merchandise that has been bagged, boxed, and bundled.  In a bag of odds and ends, I found this little make-up container.
I think it is a blush container...I could not find any information on the company though.  I love the little applicator.  When you look at small things like this, you realize how much attention to detail existed in the past.

 When I flipped the little box over, I saw this.
I had never seen one of these stamps before, and so off to research.  It seems the Civil War expenses sent the Federal government to issue the Revenue Act of 1862.  It created ways raise revenue as well as forming the Department of Internal Revenue. (I guess now we just let war debt grow hoping it will suddenly vanish into thin air.)

Anyway, every document was taxed...deeds, insurance policies, telegrams, stock certificates.  Some luxuries were also taxed including playing cards, liquor, matches, and perfume.  Revenue stamps were put on these items to prove the tax was paid, but the cash coming in was not enough so Congress passed a new tax in 1864 (see...there was a time when Congress actually did something!).
This tax was on "photographs, ambrotypes (photo on glass), daguerreotypes or any other sun-pictures."   Photographers were required to affix a properly denominated revenue stamp on the back of the image and cancel it by initialing and dating it in pen. There was not a special stamp created for photography, thus you will see stamps on images for Bank Checks, Playing Cards, Certificates, Bill of Lading, etc. These were accepted by the Federal Government as long as the denomination was appropriate.

The photography companies organized against the stamps since it appeared they were being overtaxed, and in 1866 Congress repealed their tax but kept cotton, tobacco, and alcohol under the proprietary tax laws.   It took until 1922 for the perfume and cosmetic taxes to be repealed, so this little blush container has to be pre-1922.  But those little stamps caused Congress to respond.  Maybe we need to bring back tax stamps!
                         Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.
                                                          ~Vernor Vinge

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Isn't it amazing

how much stuff we get done the day before vacation?
~Zig Ziglar
The final weeks of my "summer vacation" are in sight.  Those of us who live in resort areas have the advantage to have the "staycation." Every evening when I head to the beach for my nightly walk, I look at the visitors, and think, you have to go home at the end of the your vacation...I live here.

Summer vacation is American.  It is not as common in Europe, South America, and Asia to take 3 months off.  Ireland, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, and Russia do take the 3 months, but Australia, Britain, The Netherlands, Canada, and Germany take six to eight weeks.  American schools are in session for 180 days, but the Japanese schools are open 250 days.

Many think our summers off were to allow the children to help on farms, but crops were planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.  So, why have June, July, and August become the 
"hit the road" months?
Thank the rich people who lived in the 19th century!  Summer has always been a travel time, and they wanted their children to be able to go without having to worry about school.  Also, during this time and into the early 20th century, people believed the brain was a muscle, and it was important not to strain it (you know I could comment here, but I will restrain myself).

In my research, a Mr. Henry Curtis is mentioned as someone in the early 1900s who advocated for more play time for children as well as having them spend summer with their families.  He also supported Boy and Girl Scouts for summer entertainment.

There was sympathy for students in those schools where air conditioning did not exist; just like today, you will hear of school closings in the early June heat waves.  The summer was also a time for teachers to get more training.  One funny item I found was a little sexist.   In rural areas, summer classes were taught by young women and teenaged girls.  The male teachers taught in the fall and winter.

So, whatever your summer brought, I hope it brought you some relief from the daily routine, remember:
It's all emotion. But there's nothing wrong with emotion. When we are in love, we are not rational; we are emotional. When we are on vacation, we are not rational; we are emotional.
                                      ~Frank Luntz

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"All life is an experiment.

The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think retail is a giant experiment these days.  Do we point and click or go brick and mortar?  Every shop is an experiment.  Will the inventory sell?  It is like putting chemicals in a test tube, shaking, and hoping they do not explode but create a pleasant odor or color.  The younger generations do shop differently though because they have been raised with their i-phones and Amazon prime.  Shopping may look like an experiment in buying to them!
And speaking of experiments, I ended up with a box of test tubes art auction.  A simple little glass container, but who designed it?  
The creator was a French nobleman, Antoine Lavoisier.  Lavoisier was a powerful member of a number of aristocratic councils and an administrator of the Ferme Générale. The Ferme générale was one of the most hated components of the Ancien Régime because of the profits it took at the expense of the state, the secrecy of the terms of its contracts, and the violence of its armed agents.  All of these political and economic activities enabled him to fund his scientific research.  I cannot imagine politicians using their campaign funds to work on scientific research.
Lavoisier also recognized and named oxygen in 1778 having discovered its role in combustion, and he added hydrogen in 1783.  He helped design the metric system and wrote the first extensive list of elements.  Something else that has impacted many women in the 21st century, he predicted the existence of silicon in 1787.  
In our 3 R mentality: reuse, recycle, repurpose, I offer some ideas...
Single serve cocoa...
 test tube hot cocoa
or Hot Cocoa wands...
test tube hot cocoa
Party favors...Halloween ones here...
test tube halloween party favors
I have bed springs!
I am sure you could search Pinterest also.  From toilet paper rolls to soda bottles, you can overload on the 3 Rs!  But, in case you want to be a little creative with a test tube, I have a stash.  

Oh, a little trivia about using test tubes...the first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in 1978.  Robert Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. With egg donation and IVF, women who are past their reproductive years or menopause can still become pregnant. Adriana Iliescu held the record as the oldest woman to give birth using IVF and donated egg, when she gave birth in 2004 at the age of 66, a record passed in 2006.  So, just in case you are thinking about it...
"Experimentation is the least arrogant method of gaining knowledge. The experimenter humbly asks a question of nature." ~  Isaac Asimov 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"History is not the past,

but a map of the past drawn from a particular point of view to be useful to the modern traveler.
                                        ~Henry Glassie

I am always fascinated by the history behind the items that show up in the vintage/antique world and how they blend or echo the modern world.
Frankoma Pottery has an interesting story.   It was originally known as The Frank Potteries when John Frank opened shop in 1933. (and you thought only Trump named everything after himself!) Frank was a ceramics professor at the University of Oklahoma. The factory opened in Ada, Oklahoma, then moved to Sapulpa, Oklahoma in 1938.  Shortly after the move, the factory burned down (it is amazing how many factories go up in smoke!).  When Frank rebuilt, he renamed the company Frankoma using the last three letters from Oklahoma.
The clay in Ada was a light cream color, and it was used until 1953 when the company switched to a red burning clay from Sapulpa. The firm made dinnerware, utilitarian and decorative kitchenwares, figurines, flowerpots, and limited edition and commemorative pieces. Important dinnerware lines include Lazybones, Mayan-Aztec, Oklahoma Plainsman, Wagon Wheel, and Westwind.
The dinnerware made prior to 2000 contained lead, but after 2000 the US government banned leaded glazes in dinnerware (just USA made not imports).  The current Frankoma website states that the dinnerware is safe "as long as it is in good condition with no chips or crazing."
Frank operated the pottery with his wife until his death in 1973.  Their daughter inherited the business, but a fire in 1983 once again destroyed the factory.  It was rebuilt and operating by 1984. She attempted to maintain the pottery, but she was forced to sell it off in 1991 after declaring bankruptcy in 1990.  I am sure Chinese imports impacted that, and various owners actually tried to make it work for several years, but in 2011 a thousand pieces of pottery, showroom fixtures, and equipment were sold.

The 1800 original molds, the Frankoma name, and the real estate were not included in the sale.  In 2012 the factory was sold to a non-pottery manufacturer, and then the molds and trademark went to an LLC called FPC.  There is limited production of these mugs...
Their website indicates they will be internet based, and they are in the Tulsa area, but they are shipping out of Houston, Texas.  Former Frankoma employees are involved, and they are trying to expand, but for now they are offering mainly political mugs online or at selected antique malls in Oklahoma and Texas.

At least we have to give the owners credit for trying to stay in the USA!  But, when companies go out of business or change style, prices do change, and this anonymous quote fits well in the antique/vintage world:
          "Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"If wishes were horses,

beggars would ride."
 ~James Kelly

This proverb actually dates to Kelly's Scottish Proverbs, Collected and Arranged in 1721.  I remember hearing it all the time when I was young if I would wish for anything!  I think wishes are many of you have wished upon a star?  Like Pinocchio...When you wish upon a star / Makes no difference who you are / Anything your heart desires / Will come to you...

So, wishing is today's theme and the wishing well planters that were popular in the late 1940s and 1950s.  Here is a different McCoy is the horse for the beggar!
Then, this is the well-known wishing well planter from McCoy...

I do like the theme planters...this is not a well...but a mill...still there is a color palette that makes them compatible.
But, the wishing well actually has a historic origin.  Before indoor plumbing, water filters, and "Brita", underground streams provided clear fresh water.

The Celts and Germanic people thought these streams and springs had healing powers, but they could be guarded by unfriendly spirits.  If a water source was found, the landowner or community would erect a wood or stone structure around the source with a roof to keep debris out of the water.  Some had a statue or carving nearby for protection from bad spirits.  I imagine the well was a gathering place like the office water cooler.

The belief that a wish spoken over the water asking for a blessing from the spirits would come true.

Silver or copper coins were tossed to the spirits for good luck or help....see even the spirits wanted cash!  Actually the coins helped.  Copper and silver had chemicals that neutralized harmful bacteria, including those that caused the sulfur "rotten-egg" smell.

A well in Northumberland, England, dedicated to Covetina, the Celic goddess of wells and springs, had 16,000 coins of different eras of the Roman Empire.  The coins were comparable to nickels and dimes not bigger denominations.

Another well in Oxford, England, had pieces of clothing not coins.  The Well of Pen Rhys was supposed to have healing powers so people tossed buttons, pins, and clothing that might carry disease into the well.
The most popular place for tossing money and wishing is probably the Trevi Fountain in Rome which was built as the ending point of an aquaduct called Virgo, the goddess who would guide soldiers to water when they were thirsty and tired.  Tossing a coin in or taking a drink from the fountain was supposed to guarantee good health.  Now, if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain means one day you will return to Rome.
                     "Three coins in the fountain
                      Through the ripples how they shine
                         Just one wish will be granted
                         Just one heart will wear a valentine
                        Make it mine!
                           Make it mine!
                                Make it mine!"

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Got an issue,

get a tissue." 
     ~Jeff Rich

Do you know that Kleenex tissues were developed because women initially were not happy with Kotex, the personal hygiene product that Kimberly-Clark developed?  In the early 1920s, the company had "creped wadding" leftover from WWI surgical dressings, and, even though Kotex eventually was marketed well, the company decided they had to do something with all of the creped wadding or cellucotton as it was known later on.

The company needed to find other ways to use the creped wadding (I love that label). Changing the ingredient blends and using different pulps, scientists were able to make a softer crepe, and, from this, the idea of Kleenex® facial tissue was born.      

According to Kleenex, the creative team decided to market the tissues for cleansing since cosmetics were starting to sell well.  It seems that women had a "cold cream towel" that hung in 1920s bathrooms.  That would account for all the plain cotton towels that show up in estate sales. 
Kleenex did not become the tissue for colds and allergies until the 1930s.  One of the administrators did not like the idea, but he finally committed a small amount of ad space to use Kleenex as a handkerchief.   In 1930s, the slogan "Don't Put a Cold in Your Pocket" ushered in the tissue as a disposable handkerchief.
The original Kleenex trademark application was filed in the class of Medical, Beauty, & Agricultural Services by Cellucotton Products Company of Neenah, Wisconsin in July, 1924. The description provided was for "ABSORBENT PADS OR SHEETS FOR REMOVING COLD CREAM."

International Cellucotton Products Company officially assigned trademark interest and good will of the business to Kimberly-Clark Corporation on September 30, 1955. Kimberly-Clark Corporation of Neenah, Wisconsin is the current registered owner of the Kleenex trademark.

For many, Kleenex is not necessarily a brand name but a generic label for any facial tissue. Many dictionaries define it as such also.  Before the boxes became "decorator",  the box was fairly plain, and so in the 1950s home decor movement, the tissue boxes you now see in vintage shops, thrift stores, and flea markets made tissues easy to access. 

These are two I found...pure 50s plastic...and a tole painted one also...

Both have holes in the back so they can be hung on the bathroom can see the holes on this one...
Now, you know a little history of that tissue that you leave in your jean pocket when you do laundry!

"If there is no God, who pops up the next Kleenex?"
          Arthur Hoppe

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"A woman who doesn't wear perfume

has no future.  
                                                                          ~Coco Chanel

"Evening in Paris" is a phrase that, for many, connects to a perfume although I would gladly spend an evening in Paris with or without perfume!  There are certain products though that are iconic in this vintage world...and Evening in Paris perfume is one such product.  From this week's finds...
 Ernest Beaux of Bourjois Paris developed the scent in 1928, and it became an instant success in the US.   In 1929 it was marketed in Paris as Soir de Paris,   It was the favorite fragrance of World War II, and it was a worn by women worldwide.  Mais Oui  ("But yes!") was another perfume from the same company. 
Evening in Paris was attractively packaged in gift boxes, some in the shape of stars, sailor's hats or a crescent moon. These special gift sets were often for sale around Christmas, Mother's Day and Easter.

The set I have in the shop has the silver wrapping below so it was probably a gift set.
It is possible to find the various novelties for the perfume made up of blue marbled Bakelite, white plastic or light green plastic. You might come across the horseshoes, a clam shell, a hotel door, a shoe, the grandfather clock, an owl or very rarely the Eiffel Tower or the Marble Arch presentations from the 1950s.

During the 1940s, there were wartime presentations and all packaging bears the following statement: "This is a temporary Victory package. The contents are unchanged."

Chanel now owns Bourjois, and Evening in Paris was reformulated in 1992 by Chanel's leading perfumers. The result was a sweet, smooth, creamy, slightly wood based fragrance known as "The Most Popular Fragrance in the World."  The newly formulated perfume is still for sale today.

The bottles were sold from the 1920s-1960s, and their bottles changed very little, but their labels can tell us a great deal about when they were produced. The majority of bottles are cobalt blue glass, but there were also clear glass and gilded glass examples to be found.

My research uncovered the history of the various bottles and packaging.

Silver triangle labels on cobalt bottles:
During the 1920s to the 1940s, most of the labels were triangular shaped. The 1920s and 1930s saw bottles with frosted glass stoppers, these generally had cork ends. The 1940s bottle had metal and cork stoppers. (see pic on the right)

Silver curved label on cobalt glass:
In the 1930s, the bottle appeared with this curved label; later on in the 1950s, gold labels appeared on clear, gilded and cobalt bottles.

Silver rectangle labels on cobalt bottles:
During the 1940s, silver rectangular labels were used as well as silvery metal screw caps. There was also an instance of thin silver labels across the bottom front of the bottle, noting Evening in Paris in script. (see pics 1 and 2)

Gold labels on cobalt or clear glass:
These began appearing in the late 1940s-early 1950s. (see pic 3)

Gilded glass bottles:
Bottles with a gilded or silvery  finish first appeared in the late 1940s, and continued into the 1950s.

Round silver labels on cobalt glass:
These rounded silver labels appear on cobalt "Mae West" shaped bottles of the 1950's. These bottles have blue plastic caps. (see pic 4)

V shaped silver labels on cobalt glass:
These v-shaped labels started appearing in the 1960s, easy to date because of the zip code found on labels. (see pic 5)

Gold screw caps:
Date your bottle to after late 1940s and into the 1950s.

Bullet shaped cobalt purse flacons:
First appearing in the 1920s, they continued to be added to gift sets well into the 1950s. Older examples have black Bakelite caps and tassels.
(see pic 6)

Now you can see how much history is inside a bottle of Evening in Paris!

“Perfume is magic. It’s mystery. We recreate the smell of a flower. Of wood. Of grass. We capture the essence of life. Liquefy it. We store memories. We make dreams,” he told her once. “What we do is a wonder, an art, and we have a responsibility to do it well.”