Sunday, November 16, 2014

“Life can only be understood backwards;

but it must be lived forwards.”  
~     Søren Kierkegaard

I am interested in where the antique/vintage world is headed.  As much as I hope for the survival of small shops, I tend to think they are the endangered species of the retail world although there is a revival of thrift shops...and I use that term lightly since many thrift shop prices are higher than many vintage shops and co-ops.  American Express has been running ads supporting the Mom and
Pop shops, and they are offering their card holders extras for using the card in small shops on November 29 (my shop does take American Express so we are participating).

Reading through some recent emails, I was intrigued by Kovel's latest list...

During October 2014, collectors were searching for prices of: 1) Fenton, 2) Coca-Cola, 3) Occupied Japan, 4) Stoves, 5) McCoy, 6) Wedgwood, 7) Bavaria, 8) Depression Glass, 9) Delft, 10) Capo-Di-Monte, 11) Lamps, 12) Pepsi Cola, 13) Hull, 14) Banks, 15) Belleek, 16) Scales, 17) Satsuma, 18) Trunks, 19) Haeger, and 20) Red Wing.

Now as I look at that list, I think some of the items were probably things found in clean-outs as grandparents and parents moved on...literally and figuratively...and how much can I get for this stuff probably reverberating in their minds.  The article went on to talk about banks...this one is a real showstopper of a bank!
Ives Palace bankIt mentioned that this "Palace" bank sold November 7 at a James D. Julia auction in Maine for $18,368. It was made about 1890 by Ives, Blakeslee & Co. of Connecticut. Ives made some of the finest iron mechanical toys and banks, but few still banks. The Palace bank is usually found with a japanned finish. This painted version is in excellent condition and exceptionally rare. Another bank depicting a black fisherman is part of an amazing collection that will be auctioned on November 14 and 15 at Bertoia Auction Co. in New Jersey. The 1880s bank has a pre-sale estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 – it’s one of only two known that have the original fish dangling at the end of the fisherman’s line.

Since the late 1860s fun and fascinating banks have been made to encourage children to save money. While prices for mechanical banks can be thousands of dollars, novice collectors can find still banks for less, even under $100. Look for banks that look like buildings, banks that work like cash registers, banks that advertise products or banks made of tin, glass or pottery. 

Something to look for.  Of course, with the holidays coming, you might not have many leftover coins to fill a bank, but this has given me something new to consider in my buying adventures! And, that is the difference with small shops...we are always on the look-out for something since we don't go to the antique/vintage catalog and order...we are the 21st century explorers...searching for that unique spice to favor our shop or booth in a co-op.

 “I've always had a keen sense of history. My father was an antiques dealer and he used to bring home boxes full of treasures, and each item always had a tale attached.”  
             ~ Sara Sheridan

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"In Flanders Field the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
  Scarce heard amid the guns below.
                                                              John McCrae (1915)  "In Flanders Field"
I remember in 7th grade history having to memorize this poem and then recite it in front of the class.  Everyone had to do it, and we all did, but it was not until Vietnam that war really impacted my thoughts.  My Dad fought in WWII, but he never talked about it.  So, as we consider Veterans Day this week, how nice it would be to think of it as more than a commercial holiday although in America it seems as though we do not celebrate anything without sales...BOGO reigns.
The flag is one of our key symbols, but have you ever thought about the colors.  We know the stars stand for the states, and the stripes for the original colonies, but what about the colors? Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion, says that the most obvious reason for the flag’s colors is that they were simply taken from our mother country’s flag — the Union Jack of England. “Our heritage does come from Great Britain, and that was some of the thought process that went about in coming up with our flag,” Buss says of the American flag’s red, white and blue. “They come from the three colors that the Founding Fathers had served under or had been exposed to.”
Various historians have their thoughts on what the colors of the American Flag stand for. Some would argue that the colors on the American Flag represent philosophical values, with red representing blood, war and courage, blue standing for justice and freedom, and white representing purity.

However, others speculate even further that George Washington had his own interpretation of Old Glory and her colors: stars were taken from the sky, the red was inspired by the British colors, and the white stripes indicate secession from the home country.

“For us veterans, the flag represents why we served,” Buss says. “We were there because the flag represented our freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion.”

And don't get me started on the small numbers of people who vote!  Men and women died for our right to vote, yet few exercise it and still complain about life in America.
Maybe as you are standing in line at that big box store or downloading an app at Macy's, remember those who gave their lives and those who still put their lives on the line for us.

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’” 
                                                                  ~Eve Merriam

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Is the glass half full, or half empty?

It depends on whether you're pouring, or drinking."

      ~Bill Cosby

That applies to an antique-translated into whether you're buying or selling.  I thought it was interesting to read this comment in Kovel's recent collector newsletter ..."Cut glass offered at a Michigan auction sold for high and higher prices. A green-cut-to-clear punch bowl with 12 cups and a ladle sold for $132,000. The bowl is 14 inches in diameter and was made by Dorflinger in the Montrose pattern. Other cut glass pieces sold well over estimate: $39,000 for a Turkish-style coffee pot in the Harvard pattern and $20,400 for a clear Hawkes punch bowl and cups in the Queens pattern."  Now, based on 10 or so years ago, those prices are not outlandish.
Many years ago at auction the "cut to clear" was a phrase heard often and prices were strong, but then that look was no longer in vogue.  Maybe "pretties" are coming back, or maybe it is just a holiday buzz.  Still that is a reasonable price for a set like that.

Based on my research, cut glass can be traced to 1,500 B.C in Egypt, where vessels of varying sizes were decorated by cuts made by what is believed to have been metal drills. Artifacts dating to the sixth century B.C. indicate that the Romans, Assyrians and Babylonians all had mastered the art of decoration by cutting. Ever so slowly glass cutting moved to Constantinople and on to Venice.  By the end of the sixteenth century it was in Prague, and Czech glass still reigns supreme.

Apparently the art did not spread to the British Isles until the early part of the eighteenth century.

Although glass making was the first industry to be established in America at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1608, no glass is known to have been cut in the New World until at least 160 years later. Henry William Stiegel, an immigrant from Cologne, Germany, founded the American Flint Glass Manufactory in Manheim, Pennsylvania, and it was there in about 1771 that the first cut glass was produced in America.
For the next sixty years the "Early Period" of American cut glass, our wares were virtually indistinguishable from English, Irish and continental patterns, and little wonder, for most of the cutters originally came to this new country from Europe. About 1830, which historians label the beginning of the "Middle Period," American ingenuity began to influence the industry, and a national style began to develop. This came into full flower about the time our country was preparing to celebrate her hundredth birthday and what is now termed the "Brilliant Period" began. From about 1876 until the advent of World War 1, American cut glass craftsmen excelled all others worldwide, and produced examples of the cut glass art that may never again be equaled.
The outbreak of World War I dealt the final blow to brilliant cut glass. Lead oxide – an essential ingredient in glass made for cutting was needed for more urgent uses, and by the time the war ended, the few factories that had managed to survive used their resources to produce less costly glass. Thus ended an era of Yankee ingenuity never to return because American ingenuity seems to go with cheap.
Cut leaded crystal (or cut glass) has three distinguishing characteristics: a bell-like ring when gently tapped with the finger, a clarity and brilliance unmatched by pressed or molded imitations, and weight noticeably greater than the same sized piece made of unleaded glass. America's Brilliant cut glass is appropriately named, for that is literally what it is. The cutting is brilliant because it is sharp and deep, reflecting light from highly polished surfaces. It is deep because it was made from leaded crystal that was beautiful in its clarity even though thick enough to be cut in high relief.

So, if you would like a touch of elegance, check out cut glass.  It is reasonably priced these days, and it really would make a statement on a holiday table.

A fine glass vase goes from treasure to trash, the moment it is broken. Fortunately, something else happens to you and me. Pick up your pieces. Then, help me gather mine.” 
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration


Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Odors have a power of persuasion

stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will."  ~ Peter Suskind

With the winter season about take over much of the area, not to mention the flu and other medical issues, we might want to take a look at history and aromatherapy.  Candles smell better on a winter day.  Cinnamon and ginger work better under 50 degrees.  There is something about 90 degrees and the pumpkin spice smell that does not work for me (no offense, Florida!)

Both men and women wore scented bags in ancient Chinese dynasties.  Although men did move away from wearing the bags, they did use them as ornaments and to absorb sweat, repel insects, and ward off evil spirits.  By the 17th-19th centuries, China created scented sachets for love tokens.
Medieval times saw the sack...sachet...become a plague-bag.  They were worn around the neck or dangled from the waist.  People thought they would provide protection against parasites and miasmata (bad air).  These contained a mix of sweet powders - from balsam families...calamus, benzoin, storax, galingale(ginger), cloves, herbs and flowers.

Queen Isabella of Spain used fragrant sachets a dried roses, carnations, orris and calamus roots, along with powdered coriander seeds to scent her dresses.  Wonder if she gave one to Columbus to tuck into his suitcase as he boarded his ship? 

The Brits kicked it up a notch with sachets filled with hops.  Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer although hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.  George III and Prince Albert used the Pulvinar Humuli - hop pillows - prescribed by the doctors when sleeping meds did not work.

The sachet pillow still has some therapeutic uses...lavender sachets will calm...sachets with dried moth-repellent herbs like wormwood, southernwood, costmary, lavender, pennyroyal, lemon verbena rosemary, rue, sage and tansy are called "moth bags."

We have beautiful sachet pillows for gift-giving...from an American company-Votivo...these make unique gifts for "Secret Santa"  or hostess gifts.  Memorable tuck-in for a package that is traveling across the miles.  Always nice to open a box and have a wonderful scent waft through the air.  Let the holiday aromatherapy begin!


“We are all human, and our senses are quicker to prompt us than our reason. Every man gives off a scent, and that scent tells you how to act before your head does.”
          ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, October 19, 2014

“Everyone that steps on to the ladder of success

must have hope. Without it, no one is able to reach the top.”  
                                    ~Ellen J Barrier

This week in my Composition 101 class we have been reading essays in a chapter titled "Generation Recession."  These college freshmen have quite a challenge ahead of them climbing that ladder of success.  Out here in the decorative world though, it is all about ladders and repurpose.  One Pinterest page has 155 "pins" about repurposing ladders!  Holding up the Christmas tree is creative...I had a picky Persian cat who was able to bring down the tree one year all by herself.  This idea might have come in handy!
 The night stand has a nice urban feel...
 A collage of ideas...
 A plethora of climbers outside!
But, we have a round of some nice ones for whatever pin suits your personality.  The green one is extra heavy, but I love the ladders with a history of work "engraved" on them.  Of course, you can always repaint!
Never sure that the smallest one is for since I hate to admit it, but I would climb on a chair first!
Then there are the tall ones...and those do give me pause...this one in the shop reaches to the rafters...but it is good for display! 
A ladder is depicted in a Mesolithic rock painting that is at least 10,000 years old, depicted in the Spider Caves in Valencia, Spain.
The painting depicts using a ladder to reach a wild honeybee nest to harvest honey. The ladder is depicted as long and flexible, possibly made out of some kind of grass.
The step ladder is perhaps the most popular model. In an important development, in January 1862, an American named John H. Balsley received the first patent in the US for this type of ladder. The step ladder is so named because the rungs are set in a stepped rather than a runged configuration. Before the patent, the step ladder was not foldable, but Balsey’s model was designed with hinges at the top that allowed users to fold the ladder for easy storage. Also called an A-frame, the step ladder is now used all over the world.
From a UK site, some information about sizing ladders for "real" use... it can be difficult to determine the correct height for a ladder because the entire length of a ladder cannot be used safely. So, you need to consider what’s called the usable height of the ladder. When using a straight or extension ladder, avoid standing on any of the top three rungs. This rule effectively eliminates two to three feet of height, so buy accordingly. An extension ladder needs three to five feet of overlap between the sections to ensure safe use. When using an extension ladder to reach a roof, it’s important that it extends three feet above the surface. In addition, remember that a straight or extension ladder must be leaned, and this reduces the ladder’s usable height. 
 “Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure that it is leaning against the right building.” ~ Stephen Covey 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Instead of buying local,

go a step further and buy personal." ~Jeff Haden

That opening line in a business article caught my attention.  We are at the Jersey shore, and now that the summer season is an instagram memory, folks are stopping by to say goodbye as they close up cottages, houses, condos for the winter.  Being in a tourist area, we do get a summer seasonal benefit, and, as Richard Moe commented in another article: “When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.”

But, there are people who live in this area -- or in any small town America -- year round, where we shop, where we eat and have fun -- all of that makes our communities home.  This time of year brings the craft shows, the artisans' open houses, the street autumn days...and chilly November weekends are perfect for exploring the small shops or shows in your neighborhoods.  The big boxes are always there with stuff on shelves.  Why not explore the "small" boxes?

With the holiday season soon to become a whirling dervish, studies have found that for each $1 spent at a local business, 45 cents is reinvested locally. Many of the people who set up at local shows or have small shops or booths in co-ops try more to please and work harder than the CEOs of the Walmarts or the Targets of the world.  Sure, we love the 24/7 convenience, but what about stopping at a local florist for a display for the holiday table.
We got a new car the other day, and, because I have been going to this dealer for years, it was nice to be a known customer not merely a dollar sign.  I got a big hug from the Service Manager who had not been there the last time I had service, but he was working, and it was good to see him.  It is a bit of the Cheers mentality - where everyone knows your name--the buy personal as well as local!

I have fall décor from a neighbor...not a Chinese factory... I know the person who made these signs...

So, just think about buying local...Walmart's fiscal profit was 128.08 BILLION...there are many folks out there in small shops and co-ops or who are doing seasonal craft shows who would be grateful for $128.08 period!

"When you buy something made by a person, there is something special there, and you do feel it.  The consciousness with which a thing is made is often more important than the things itself."
         ~J. Donald Walters

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles...

 if the result is twins. ~Chinese Proverb

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Grace Harlowe book series, and I realized, after bringing in some more of these types of books, that I never really knew who the Bobbsey twins were.  For some reason, I had never read these, and I do not remember the series in my children's lit courses either.  So, here is the scoop on this series.
Once again, the author is a pseudonym.  Laura Lee Hope never existed.  The first was written in 1904 by Edward Stratemeyer - the purveyor of so many of these book series.  He then turned it over to ghost writers with outlines.  In researching him, I found that he did write The Rover Boys under the pseudonym of Arthur M. Winfield. There were 30 volumes, written between 1899 and 1926. The Bobbsey Twins series was next and is the oldest "surviving" series, extending to 72 volumes, written between 1904 and 1979. Tom Swift, attributed to Victor Appleton, began in 1910, and there were 40 volumes before the series ended in 1941. (There was also a Tom Swift, Jr. series.) The Hardy Boys (85 volumes from 1927 to 1985) and Nancy Drew (78 volumes from 1930 to 1985) are the other best-known Stratemeyer books.

Original writers included both men and women: Lilian Garis and Howard Garis, Elizabeth Ward, and Harriet Adams, Andrew Svenson wrote from 1904-1948, and then June Dunn, Grace Grote, and Nancy Axelrad were writers from 1953-1972.

From another source, the family is described as living in the "eastern city" of Lakeport, which is clearly in the Northeast because it snows a lot there, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey is a prosperous lumber merchant. Mrs. Bobbsey is a housewife. Bert and Nan are the older twins, and Flossie and Freddie are the younger set.  They also had a "Negro" cook and critics label them "upper middle class."

The books are never impacted by current was good in Lakeport!  The Bobbseys never age. Bert and Nan in the first book (1904) are about 8 years old and Freddie and Flossie are about 4. According to some summaries I read, the first few books are written in "real time," which is to say that the action of one follows immediately after its predecessor. The Bobbsey Twins takes place during a school year, The Bobbsey Twins in the Country concerns the first half of the summer vacation, and that vacation concludes in The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore, then The Bobbsey Twins at School. During those books the Bobbsey twins aged normally. Stratemeyer must have realized that his twins were soon going to be too old for the books, for suddenly they stopped aging. Over the years Bert and Nan grew to be twelve and Flossie and Freddie became 6, but with all the years that went by, the family never grew older."  (Maybe we should all be Bobbseys! )
Maybe this winter you might want to pick up one of these old books just for giggles and grins...
as C.S. Lewis wrote, 
 “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"You like potato and I like potahto,

You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let's call the whole thing off!
 ~Ira/George Gershwin

I brought in a stash of jadeite or jadite or jade-ite!  That is what made me think of the old song with the potato/potahto lyrics.  Same goes for collectibles and collectables.  For awhile, I was calling jadeite "Martha green" because Martha Stewart had launched it into everyday use and even had it reproduced in 1999 (based on today's labels that is probably now listed as vintage!).
Like Kleenex, jadite is a generic term for green opaque glass and was produced by a variety of companies although Fire King's "jade-ite" is what most people think of when they hear that word.

This is a "jadite" Scottie dog ink blotter from  Houze Glass.  They called the color "jadine".
Here is a little information on them..."Houze made utilitarian glass products for many years in mostly during the first half of the 20th Century. Some of its early odd lines were gear shift balls and glass eyes for taxidermists.

During the 20s and 30s, the company made some spectacular lamps for national stores such as Woolworth. Their most famous trademark is Houzex which was often in the base of their lamps. Other products involving the color 'Coralex' was unique to the company,  a transparent, satin opaque pink glass. Other colors in this type of glass were baby blue, opal blue, moonstone, nile green, jadine, canary and veined onyx."
Jade green milk glass, or “jadite” has been made since the beginning of the twentieth century, but the word itself was coined by the Jeannette Glass Company in the 1930′s. McKee Glass, a contemporary of Jeannette, called their opaque green “Skokie Green.” The Fenton, and New Martinsville companies made a similar color they called Jade Green. Akro Agate’s version was Apple Green.

A full decade later, Anchor-Hocking’s heat proof jade green was named “Jade-ite”. The "Jadeite Fire King" brand was first produced by the United States glassware firm Anchor Hocking in the 1940s.
Most of Anchor Hocking's output of Jadeite was between 1945 and 1975.  A durable product in a fashionable color, it became the most popular product made by Anchor Hocking
I have a good selection of the jade-ite restaurant dishes in dinner and luncheon plates as well as the "Jane-Ray" - the household version of jade-ite.  Some bowls are still available, but I do have collectors who snatched up some of the rarer pieces.  The restaurant ware was produced from 1950 to 1956.  It was marketed for Mass Feeding Establishments, but it was sold in the five and dime stores.  The thick lipped coffee cups were called "cheater mugs" because the restaurants saved about an ounce of coffee even though cup looked "large".

These dishes cannot be treated like modern glass.  Fire-King glass was developed before microwave ovens were available for domestic use, and none of the earlier pieces are marked “Microwave Safe.” Some Anchor-Hocking patterns not marketed as Fire-King are indeed made of the same “heat proof” borosilicate low expansion glass.
The modern dishwashing soaps will reduce the "lustre" on the plates.  It actually removes a thin layer of glass over time.  When you see faded-looking pieces, you know they were done in the dishwasher.   It is hard to remember that restaurants actually had people washing dishes which is why this restaurant ware still looks "new".

To date your Fire King, here is a chart that I found online...

1942 - 45 FIRE-KING in block letters
Mid to late 1940's OVEN Fire-King WARE MADE IN U.S.A. ("Fire-King" is written in script lettering)
1951-1960 ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN Fire-King WARE MADE IN U.S.A. ("Fire-King" is written in script 
1960 - late 1960's ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN Fire-King DINNERWARE MADE IN U.S.A. ("Fire-King" is
      written in script lettering)
late 1960's- early 1970's ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN Fire-King OVEN-PROOF MADE IN U.S.A. ("Fire-King" is     written in script lettering)
Mid To Late 1970's ANCHOR HOCKING OVEN Fire-King Suburbia OVEN-PROOF MADE IN U.S.A. ("Fire-
     King" is written in script lettering)

So if I go for scallops and you go for lobsters,
So all right no contest we'll order lobster
For we know we need each other so we
Better call the calling off off,

Let's call the whole thing off.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"My sheets are monogrammed, so is my silverware

 and pretty much everything else I own. My rule is, if it's not moving, monogram it."

                      ~Reese Witherspoon

I have always loved the vintage/antique monogrammed items.  It made it personal; you knew someone had owned that. 
The definition of a monogram is "sign of identity", and that really was its original label personal property.  Ancient Greek and Roman rulers monogrammed their coins as way of identifying a region as a transition was made from bartering to a monetary system for trade. 

Nobility monogrammed everything from weapons to banners to household items.  In the Middle Ages, artisans used their monograms to sign their work.  Victorian aristocracy used the monogram to display their high rank in society.  Monarchs have always had monograms...

Early monograms only consisted of two initials, and the three initials did not gain favor until the 18th century.  In doing this research, I found that the wealthy took to monogramming in the 19th century, marking books, cigarette cases, lighters, the silver, the towels in the bath, the bottles in a cellar and the shirts in the closet—things small enough to steal—but eventually the monogram became
a matter of pride.
The shirt monogram began in grand households or colleges where many shirts
were laundered together—the elegant ancestor of today’s laundry mark. Now the
monogram isn’t there for the laundry but for the ego. It used to be said that the
proper place for the monogram is over the heart. Flashier dressers have long
favored the shirt cuff, as it will be noted in a handshake, at the card table, lighting
a lady’s cigar. 

There is also "Monogram Etiquette"!   The most common format is three letter representing the first, last, and middle names. (That causes some problems for those of us with double last names...or the Irish/Scots and their Os and Mc/Macs).  But, the last name initial goes in the center and is larger type.   Married monograms include the wife's first name, the married last name, and then the husband's first name.

Of course, in retail, monograms are also well known...          
But what started me on this research was the celluloid set pictured above that I found last week...this defies the etiquette rules since it only has one initial. Was it a young woman? Why only an R? And despite the fact that it appears never to have been used, why did the R fade on the comb? The mysteries of the antique world! So, next time you see monogrammed clothes or other items, think about the person to whom these things belonged...and don't worry if the initials are not yours...we don't have to have "selfies" all the time! 

  "The monogram is an elegant way to make your mark. It’s your name boiled down to the essence, executed with graphic artistry."  ~ Glenn O'Brien