Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beat it! Not really...you can read it!

Although our temperatures have spiked into the 80s and even 90s inland this last week in April, spring cleaning is still on the agenda for many…or not…but I have always been fascinated by various household items if not cleaning. This is a copy of my well-used Housekeeping Collectible book.

There is a history to spring cleaning...one is based in Persian tradition where the practice of "khooneh tekouni" which literally means "shaking the house" is done just before the new year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture.

The ancient Jewish practice (a full 700 years before Persian culture emerged) of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover is still practiced by observant Jews. I liked the next historical tidbit...in 19th century America by March, one could open the windows and the spring winds would carry off the dust!

It is hard to imagine dealing with rugs without the vacuum cleaner, but wall to wall carpet was not common until the early 20th century. Carpet applied to table and wall coverings since carpets were not commonly used on the floor in European interiors until the 18th century. The term "carpet" derives from Armenian "karpet" (կարպետ), "kar" meaning a "knot" or "stitch". We use carpet interchangeably with the term "rug". The hand-knotted pile carpet probably originated in Caucasus between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. Cilician Armenia, which had intensive trade relations with Venice and brought carpets to Europe, where they were primarily hung on walls or used on tables.

The rug beater flourished in America from the Civil War through World War I. Made of wood, rattan, cane, wicker, spring steel or coiled wire, they can be quite decorative, but imagine the frustration you would release as you whacked that carpet…whump…whump…whump…I imagine many housewives felt so much better after beating the carpets and did not need Zoloft or Paxil or Scotch and soda!


Here are 2 rattan beaters currently in the shop. I really got a chuckle out of my hotel rug…and, no, I did not take it from there!!!


This wire beater comes complete with the supplier’s name…it is always wonderful to have the history as part of any vintage item.

The Industrial Revolution spawned the invention of the vacuum cleaner. With factory soot and dirt everywhere, you could beat your rugs all day and still not have them clean.

A patent was issued for a cleaner in 1860, but there are names that are familiar to the 21st century even though their milestones in cleaning go back over a century in some cases: Bissell - 1876, Hoover - 1908, Eureka - 1909, and Oreck – 1978. James Dyson built 5000 prototypes before he perfected his Dual Cyclone machine in 1993, and in 2002 Helen Greiner and her colleagues at iRobot introduce Roomba the robot vacuum cleaner. (Have to chuckle…a woman invented that robot cleaner…you go, girl!).

So, at least we can look at rug beaters as decorative accents unless you want to, as Michael Jackson sang, "beat it…no one wants to be defeated"…and not by dust!

Or...be a true American...open your windows and wait for some strong winds!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

EAPG


In today’s world of letters for words…LOL…OMG…KWIM…the antique world has EAPG…nothing cute about the letters…although I am pondering…but it is actually stands for Early American Pressed Glass…in a way, the Cinderella to the Cut Glass sisters…pressed glass was popular in from 1850 to 1910.

Pattern Glass is also a name for pressed, and the number of patterns made range from 1000 to 3000…truly an identification nightmare. The guides try to illustrate patterns, and there are some common ones, but, for the most part…take a guess, or as I say, like it, buy it, use it, enjoy it...who cares what its official name is.

Although we have romantic notions about the Victorian women,
the average housewife lived through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the infamous Westward Ho!, and did not have modern conveniences such as running water and electricity. The wealthy as usual celebrated life with blown glass and imported china, not to mention servants, but the average housewife could afford the pressed or pattern glass and have sets that might include 20 to 30 different pieces, from glasses to spooners, and cake stands to comports...she too could have the look...and isn't that what it is still about today?

From the experts on EAPG, some interesting points about using and caring for pressed glass. Like most antique glass and china, do not put in the microwave. The dishwasher can cause the glass to get cloudy…or sick as the glass collectors call it…over time.

Do not store alcohol in the decanters for more than a few hours, or it can cloud the glass also. Spooners, goblets, and celeries can be used but only for a few hours.

Do not display in a window for more than short periods of time. In the winter, a piece in a south exposure can crack and shatter as the temperature plunges at night. Exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause a purple cast, and the collectors feel these pieces are worthless despite the fascination with the purple glass.

This is a muffineer.
They were used in the Victorian era for sprinkling powdered sugar on muffins, scones. and breakfast goodies. It was totally caked with powder, and that brings me to cleaning these antique glass finds. Victorian lye soap was very harsh on pattern glass, but there are ways to clean it. A scoop of dishwasher powder and a couple tablespoons of salt can soak the remnants off. Use a toothbrush to clean out the crevices, and, if that does not totally work, toothpaste on that toothbrush can help also. Sometimes a pot with some denture tablets can do wonders also.

So, the next time you see a simple piece of clear glass with a design on it, remember its history...it may not be a fine blown piece of glass or a cut Waterford crystal vase, but its history is humble and simple...and isn't that rewarding in itself?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My friends are my estate...

said poet Emily Dickinson, and, as one who is in the business of selling estate items...antique, vintage...every now and then a special moment comes along that has nothing to do with stuff...and everything to do with friends...
Being in a seasonal resort, we do not see our customers all the time...but, when the daffodils bloom, so do they. The skies turn blue, the sun begins to warm up the sands, and trees come into bloom, and "they" return to the shore...or "down the shore" as the Philadelphia dialect describes it.

The group below has been coming to my shop for 14 years...I am going into my 18th year...so you know they are special...twice a year, spring and fall, they come. Only one visit was missed in the sequence with graduations, weddings, events.

They have now dubbed themselves "The Travelettes." But that just caught my attention, and I grabbed my camera and decided to feature them this week.
They usually stop in to see what is new as well as purchase some little treasures for a secret friend game that they play. Called "Essence," it features drawing a name out of a bag, and then they shop for a small priced item that represents that person's "essence." They go through maneuvers in the shop so that I can get things into bags without the other person seeing it...fun...and how wonderful to have neat little treasures to build on the friendship ride.

So, to "The Travelettes" of Yardley, Pennsylvania, I appreciate your business...your support...and to all my customers who brighten my door as the season begins...

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
~Marcel Proust