Sunday, August 30, 2009


Classes start tomorrow, and I teach Composition 102 which entails research. Having a Library Science degree dovetailing my English degrees provides amazing support for teaching as well as running my shop. For example, a new interest of my in the line of antiques is china...pretties as we call them. I never dealt with china much, but I now have this wonderful cupboard for display, and it just calls for dishes, does it not?

I always try to provide the history of anything I put out, and dishes will get the same treatment. The best source for marks is this Kovel book. There is a volume for marks prior to 1850, but those antiques are not in my price range!
Anyway, this book allows you to match marks to companies and narrow down to dates for those items. For example, these dishes have this mark...

From that mark, I can reference in Kovel's and find the information to co-ordinate with the mark...this is a later mark, but the information photographed better!
More information is easily accessible online these days, and I did find that this company made china for the Third Reich as well. Never know what research will uncover!

Interestingly many of the pretty dishes are from of the more interesting marks on German dishes is this one...
At the end of WWII, Germany was occupied by the US, Britain, and France from 1945-1949, and then the 3 zones became the Federal Republic of Germany(West Germany) while the Soviets controlled East Germany.

Limoge is another company well-known for the "pretties." Their history is a fascinating one, and it warrants a family tree in the Kovel book. Many of these well-known companies have soap opera histories once you start researching them!

So, sometimes a little research uncovers some intriguing history and provides insight into the antique markets. But...pretty dishes can even make KFC look special! Just remember the microwave does not get along with early china!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Road Trip

This week's post was prompted by a spur of the moment road trip. At breakfast on Saturday, 2 rambunctious kitties broke a cherished mug of "S" cup from Anthropologie.

No problem...order one...problem...out of stock until 11/09. So, husband says, call that new store that opened...and-voila`! "S"cups in extremely helpful girl promised to put 2(an heir and a spare as my elf said) aside.

And that is how we found ourselves on the road after my shop closed heading for Marlton, NJ, and the brand new Anthro that opened in a spectacular mall called The Promenade. It was raining or I would have taken pics, but lightning and rain and my camera do not mix! There is a fountain at the entrance, the streets are brick cobblestones...the shops upscale.

But, my focus was Anthropologie. My trip to any Anthropologie is not only just as a consumer but also as a business owner, a busman's holiday as it were...always a little history here...that term comes from 19th century England. The drivers of these horse driven omnibuses were attached to their particular team of horses pulling their carriage through town. During their days off, many of these omnibus drivers would disguise themselves as regular passengers in order to keep a critical eye on the relief drivers and the horses. It is said that the phrase "busman's holiday" arose from this practice of bus drivers spending their downtime riding the buses.

So, I was off to spy under the guise of getting my "S" husband helped since he does love road trips, but he is not an inconspicuous spy! And, then much to my surprise the manager said I could take pictures! Having been chastised at the Anthro in NYC several years ago, I was surprised, but I whipped out the camera!

This is Candace, the Marlton manager. We learned she moved from California to take this position because her family is in New Hope, PA.

For those who are not familiar with this store (its partners are Urban Outfitters, Free People, and a new garden center Terrain), it is truly inspirational. In retail, display is key, and these folks have it down...for example, check these out...

A mini clipboard with a price list that has been typed...yes, typed...see, people dous those old typewriters I blogged about!

A map with some countries cut out and propped on binoculars...

A stash of paper airplanes ready for launch...

A stack of boards becomes a wall...

I believe it is important to pay attention to what is going on in the retail world...and even though I am antique/vintage, I can appreciate Anthro's use of antique/vintage for their props...

One thing that tickled me...might horrify some...was their display of old oil paintings that had been altered...her collar is fabric...the canvas was cut out...same for the others...section of canvas had been replaced with longer will I ignore that dilapidated oil at auction...

I do love their creative spirit...check the contruction lamps hanging here...or, as my husband commented, an electrician's nightmare...
Not to mention big bird made out of papier mache and cut paper...

Of course, there are the usual home decor and clothes but still with the vibes of color and movement and excitement...
all that life should be...

Years ago when I wandered into the Anthro in Soho, I was smitten...and then 2 years ago, I met my elf...she had been affiliated with them in their early days...and, I will stick my neck out here(this is behind the check out at the counter)
and say that finding this store influenced my shop from that day. I love their essence...I get rejuvenated by a stroll through one of these stores, and, with the help of my elf, try to give people the same thrill when they come to my shop.

And so, there you have the saga of the broken mug and our Saturday night road trip to Marlton, NJ and Anthropologie!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Does anybody know what time it is?

Depending on your age, you might remember the Chicago song...
Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I cant imagine why

I do not think a day goes by where someone you talk to does not bemoan not having enough time. Now, you have to wonder in this new age with all the labor saving devices why no one seems to have no time...perhaps this box has something to do with it...I know I can easily fritter away the hours playing skip to my lou through web sites...and then there is Facebook and their silly quizzes and Farkle and Pet is a new age...

Anyway, I do not deal in clocks in my knowledge of them is like this empty clock case...and, if you remember, one of the key components to being an antique dealer is knowledge. So, when I do not know, I step away from the item. But, I do have 2 clocks in the shop...actually travel alarms...which is odd since when you travel, why do you need to be tied to time...anyway...sweet little things...nothing fancy.

Of course, a little history here...Peter Henlein, a German locksmith from Nuremberg created the first portable clock. He replaced the heavy weights with springs, and called them "Nuremberg Eggs". Although they slowed down as the mainspring unwound, they were popular among wealthy individuals due to their size and the fact that they could be put on a shelf or table instead of hanging from the wall. According to my research, they were the first portable timepieces, but they only had an hour hand, minute hands did not appear until 1670, and there was no glass protection. Glass over the face of the watch did not come about until the 17th century. Still, Henlein's advances in design were precursors to truly accurate timekeeping.

My first little clock is a real gem...really...this little traveling alarm clock has turquoise rhinestones around the face. Based on some for sale online, it seems to be from the 1930s era...
My other little find in pure 60s...I think I had a similar one in college...
and speaking of that time...check out this pendant I got in an auction lot...which goes to show you that time may pass, but things take longer to change!

I love the inscription above...Beverly Hills mothers in that was an interesting group!

Anyway...hope you enjoyed your time here...and as Will Rogers said, "Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save."

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Daily, people type away...blogging, texting, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (remember when being a "twit" was not a good thing...maybe that is why "tweet" came on board)...but, even so, as an article in this morning's Times commented, there is "something magical about a life less posted." Yet, here I am...posting!

And it is about the very item that makes this all possible...the keyboard...also know as a typewriter! One of the earlier machines looks like a pincushion.

The first successful typewriter was the Sholes & Glidden from 1874, but it was marketed successfully by Remington(yes, the gun people...see First Amendment followed by Second Amendment!)The original Type Writer was heavily decorated with colorful decals and gold paint. A foot treadle was provided for the carriage return.

William Jenne, the Remington engineer who set up the typewriter factory had been transferred from Remington's sewing machine division.

The name "QWERTY" for our typewriter keyboard comes from the first six letters in the top alphabet row (the one just below the numbers). It is also called the "Universal" keyboard for rather obvious reasons. It was the work of inventor C. L. Sholes, who put together the prototypes of the first commercial typewriter in a Milwaukee machine shop back in the 1860's.

For years, popular writers have accused Sholes of deliberately arranging his keyboard to slow down fast typists who would otherwise jam up his sluggish machine. In fact, his motives were just the opposite.

When Sholes built his first model in 1868, the keys were arranged alphabetically in two rows, but it jammed when someone tried to type with it. Sholes was able to figure out a way around the problem simply by rearranging the letters. Looking inside his early machine, we can see how he did it.

The first typewriter had its letters on the end of rods called "typebars." The typebars hung in a circle. The roller which held the paper sat over this circle, and when a key was pressed, a typebar would swing up to hit the paper from underneath. If two typebars were near each other in the circle, they would tend to clash into each other when typed in succession. So, Sholes figured he had to take the most common letter pairs such as "TH" and make sure their typebars hung at safe distances.

He did this using a study of letter-pair frequency prepared by educator Amos Densmore, brother of James Densmore, who was Sholes' chief financial backer. The QWERTY keyboard itself was determined by the existing mechanical linkages of the typebars inside the machine to the keys on the outside. Sholes' solution did not eliminate the problem completely, but it was greatly reduced.

Those of us who are older (ahem...vintage?), will remember taking typing classes and the phrases..."Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country"...or“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” I found 2 explanations...Sholes suuposedly used the latter to demonstrate to some people in a telegraph office, and another was that a typing teacher created the former since it fit 70 spaces with the period and could test speed and accuracy. Initially, all typing was done with hunt and peck...those of you who do that...I know you are out there...are simply classical typists!!

I do like the new jewelry being created with old typewriter keys although I am sure purists cringe at the rape of the key...but, other than the romantic shelf sitting ability of that typewriter, is it not better to have it repurposed into something useful such as...
So, as you type away remember...
“There's a statistical theory that if you gave a million monkeys typewriters and set them to work, they'd eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. Thanks to the Internet, we now know this isn't true.” (Ian Hart)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

“Life is like a piano...

what you get out of it depends on how you play it.”
When I was little, we lived with my Grandparents, and they had a small upright piano in the living room that fascinated me. I always wanted to learn to play, but my mother, who had been forced into music lessons, did not want to have anything to do with anything musical. I tried to learn on my own, but the notes simply looked like stick figures with big feet with some waving flags. The piano bench held pages of tunes on paper, and I am still fascinated by sheet music despite its still being piano stick people!
So, the stack of sheet music caught my eye. I still cannot read music, but I love to look at the graphics, and I am always intrigued by the titles. They always seem to be stories waiting to be written.

Music manuscripts were originally done by hand with the Catholic monks and priests transcribing liturgical music. The mid-15th century brought music printing into existence. You can imagine the logistical problems of lining up the notes and musical decorations! The father of modern music printing was Ottaviano Petrucci who flourished to a twenty-year monopoly of printed music in Venice during the 16th century. (Each week I have to pause to reflect on how things really do not change!)Petrucci used a triple-impression method of printing music. The first impression was the staff lines, the second the words, and the third the notes, making it time-consuming and expensive.
By 1520, an Englishman, John Rastell, had developed a one stage process, and Queen Elizabeth I gave him the monopoly. Henry VIII created The licensing Act of 1662 requiring the printer of every item to print on it a certificate of the licensor, stating that it contained no writing "contrary to the Christian faith, or the doctrine or discipline of the church of England against the state and government of the realm, or contrary to good life or good manners, or otherwise". Can you say "tax?"

But, this does bring us to the copyright laws that have impacted our new Ipod and Kindle worlds. Our Congress passed federal copyright laws in 1789, but they did not include music. Eventually international copyright laws were adopted.

In the 19th century the music industry was dominated by sheet music publishers. It is said that after the American Civil War, over 25,000 new pianos a year were sold and by 1887 over 500,000 youths were studying piano. Clearly, with so many homes having pianos, the demand for sheet music was tremendous. In fact, sales in the millions for sheet music was not unheard of and according to some sources, by 1910, sales of sheet music had reached thirty million copies per year!

In the United States, New York City-based publishers and composers dominating the industry were known as "Tin Pan Alley". (The constant erratic piano playing heard along that stretch sounded like tin pans banging together.)

"Song pluggers" were pianists and singers who made their living demonstrating songs to promote sales of sheet music. George Gershwin was one of the more famous pluggers. Most music stores had song pluggers on staff. Other pluggers were employed by the publishers to travel and familiarize the public with their new publications. Of course, you also have the artists who illustrated these tidbits of tunes.

In the early 20th century the phonograph and recorded music grew greatly in importance. When the radio gained status in 1920s, sheet music publishers lost their markets, and the record industry eventually replaced the sheet music publishers as the music industry's largest force.

Although sheet music has been replaced by computerized song lyrics and downloads, perhaps the "song pluggers" still exist for as President Harry S. Truman said,

“My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.”