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.” 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"If you have a garden

and a library, you havc everything you need."

Even though summer officially starts June 21, the Fourth of July marks the true summer opening, but, whenever, flower, herb, and veggie gardens command attention.  With that in mind, I turn to the watering can.   Below in an illustration from The Compleat Florist written by Louis Liger in 1706.

Liger (1658–1717) was a French agronomist and prolific writer on flora and fauna.
The name ‘Watering Can’ first appeared in 1692 when Lord Timothy George of Cornwall wrote about watering cans in his diary.  Before that and after 1580 when it first appeared, the term ‘Watering Pot’ was used according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  Pots had holes in the bottom at first before the idea of a spout was invented some 50 to 100 years later.  Early cans were made in copper and then in 1850 iron, brass and zinc cans appeared.

The watering can we know today was the design by John Haws, a civil servant for Queen Victoria.

His hobby was growing vanilla plants, and he found the watering can hard to maneuver.  The style of the time had a handle that arched from the front to the back of the can making it hard to balance while watering plants on higher shelves.
When Haws retired, he realizes the Victorian gardening revolution demanded hand watering.  The wealthy upper class were erecting glass greenhouses throughout England, and greenhouse cultivation demanded better watering techniques.  So, in 1885, he was issued the first patent on a watering can.  

His patent claimed:  “This new invention forms a Watering Pot that is much easier to carry, and at the same time being much cleaner, and more adapted for use than any put before the public.”  According to my research, "the key innovation his Haws design was the addition of a second handle. The previous French design had just one large front to back handle. However, Haws design had a “carrying” handle on top and a “tipping” handle on the back of the can to allow a more even distribution of water and his design also called for a spout located at the bottom of the watering can to allow for easier watering of plants on high shelves."
The Haws watering can is still popular today although Michael Deas got a later patent by replacing the top mounted handle created by Haws and mounting a single round handle at the back for ease of pouring. The slight improvement took off and is still a popular design that is seen today.   By the way, the cap on the spout is called a "rose".

So now when you see a watering "pot", check the handle!

“Plants want to grow; they are on your side as long as you are reasonably sensible.” 
~Anne Wareham

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Do what you can,

with what you have, where you are."
       ~Teddy Roosevelt

If you have ever watched one of the sites that monitors population growth like World Population Clock, you will see the number clicking way over 7 billion by the seconds.   That is quite a crowd to put on our 196.9 million square  miles which is why the current wave of "repurposing" is such a plus for the planet.  The complete phrase is recycle, repurpose, reuse, and, when you think of it, those of us who deal in reselling have been doing this for many centuries.

Antique collecting dates to the 16th century in England and Europe.  The 18th century brought advances in art and in archaeology, and public and private collecting began in earnest.   In the United States, old books, manuscripts, possessions owned by famous people (see the more we think we have advanced, the truth creeps in!), as well as classical antiquities.

State historical societies encouraged preserving colonial history and those artifacts.  In the late 1850s Mount Vernon was restored and became one of the country's first "house" museums.

Then in 1876 the Centennial Exposition probably created the first antique show where household articles like pewterware and furniture were displayed in reconstructed colonial rooms.
The 20th century was the collectors' time. From paintings, books, and furniture to stoneware, stamps, and quilts, the world of "recycle" took off.  Now, there was the issue of "antique".  The 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act defined antiques as "artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830."  There are still what I call "old school" collectors around, but I am not Christie's nor Sotheby's, and I believe the antique/vintage seller was...and still is...the best recycler in the 21st century.

With the concept of recycle, repurpose, reuse in mind, let me introduce you to a new friend who has specialized in those words...Juliana of The Faux Chateau.  For personal reasons, she has relocated to New Jersey from Virginia, but her web site shows her expertise in faux finishing.  She can give new life to everything from walls to concrete statues.  I have the good fortune to have her working with me on recycling clothing and, in this new partnership, giving jackets new life.

Even though I have her using her artistic talents on for hand painted silk you can contact her for personal faux finishing work as can click this for her Facebook page link.

These jackets are currently in the shop...and I have added accents from our inventory to make statement displays...

This is a neat piece...accents on the color and a neat ruffle around the bottom...

This one has a fun message on the back...
This is the front...
I love the idea of reusing the old to create new, and you know I love supporting local talent.  Whether it is reworking a clothing idea or designing a wall mural...Juliana is a welcome addition to the talented artists in the area and across the USA.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."  
      ~Thomas Merton

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"Someday I will find my Prince

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Be curious always!

For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it. 
    ~Sudie Back

If you read this blog, you know my curiosity sets me off, and this week it was this 5 pound vintage can of Vaseline that got me thinking.

I must say that I will never look at Vaseline jelly in the same way anymore.  Some oddities that it is used for:  coat the feet of fending machines to keep pests out; rub in chickens to prevent frostbite; coat everything from baby's bottoms to lips, and manage out-of-control hair.

The name Vaseline comes from the German word for water-wasser- and the Greek word for oil-elaion—though I never thought German and Greek mixed (if you follow the world economy that is even more true today!).  The -ine was added to make it sound scientific.
We have a 22 year old British chemist to thank for this pure jelly.  Robert Chesebrough was using sperm whale oil to make kerosene but wanted to explore other petroleum products.  He was in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1859 to study the oil fields there, and he noticed the workers using a residue from the oil drilling to help heal cuts and bruises.  The workers called it rod wax since it had to be removed periodically from the oil rig pumps.  He took samples to his Brooklyn lab, and, after 5 years, patented a process that involves a triple-purification seal.  It still is made that way, filtered, distilled, and de-aerated to remove air bubbles.
Chesebrough continued working on the product and opened a factory in Brooklyn, NY in 1870.

Then, he traveled around New York by horse and buggy demonstrating his product.  Now, this part of the tale is the ultimate ad...he would burn his skin with acid or open flame, and the he would spread the clear jelly on the wounds all the while showing past burns that has healed.
In 1872 Chesebrough rebranded the Wonder Jelly as Vaseline, and by 1874 Vaseline Jelly was being purchased at the rate of 1400 jars a day.

In the 1880s, the iconic blue label became the trademark.
Since Chesebrough was a British citizen, Queen Victoria knighted him in 1883 and admitted to loving the jelly for her dry skin.  By the early 1900s, he had factories in Perth Amboy, NJ, Europe, Canada, and Africa.
In 1909, Commander Peary took a jar to the North Pole, and both World War I and World War II soldiers used it to treats wounds and burns.

Chesebrough came down with a bout of pleurisy and had himself drenched top to toe with Vaseline, and he soon recovered. Shortly before his death in 1933 at 96 (average life expectancy then was 61), he revealed that he’d been eating a spoonful a day for several years.
In 1955 Chesebrough Manufacturing merged with Pond's Extract, and they still exist as Chesebrough-Ponds, Inc. but under the Unilever umbrella since 1987.

According to the web site, in 2005, it was determined that every 39 seconds a tub of Vaseline sold somewhere.  So, it seems Sir Chesebrough turned a rather strange petroleum by-product into a worldwide sensation.  Still remember...
               "Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."
                                                  ~Samuel Ullman