everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
There is something about this time of the year in the colder climate areas that brings the feeling of country to decorating...the smell of the wood burning fires, the leaves floating around, the soft gray skies overhead...
I have noticed that some of the big companies like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware are getting into the "old school" country decorating...
So, I thought I would feature a couple old country collectibles...items that tend to fit with winter better than summer...a touch of pewter...a little copper lustre...
Antique pewter is 85-99% tin, with the remainder consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth and lead. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. In early America, colonists only had the pewter they brought with them since there were no tin mines, but, as Americans are known to want to be "upscale," silver eventually replaced pewter. Most people think of tin cans when they hear the word tin and that makes them think "Cheap". Tin cans were in fact made from iron that was dipped in tin to prevent rusting. Today's "Tin foil" is actually made of aluminum!
Pewter gained an audience during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco period. Pewter pieces like clocks, inkwells, candlesticks for example are highly sought after. Collectors find prices starting $500 for some pieces, depending on maker's mark and condition.
Antique marked pewter is generally worth double that of unmarked antique pewter. Values for antique pewter can be confusing because there were so many different types of items made from pewter, from so many different makers and regions. Collectors understand the criteria of the pewter they collect. They may choose only plates or tankards, for example. Pewter is still being made in America, and lead is no longer part of the alloy.
Copper lustre in its varied forms of decoration was made in Staffordshire and other English potteries from about 1800 to 1860. Some of it is marked with either an impressed name or letter; much of it bears no mark. Dating to ancient Persia, lustre glazes were applied to pottery in Mesopotamia in the 9th century; the potters in England managed to duplicate the technique with Wedgwood being the company to perfect the style. The base under the glaze is a good earthenware...similar to ironstone in many cases.Very dilute amounts of powdered gold or platinum were dissolved in aqua regia and added to spirits of tar for platinum and a mixture of turpentine, flowers of sulfur and linseed oil for gold. The mixture was applied to the glazed ware and fired in an enameling kiln, depositing a thin film of platinum or gold. Platinum produced the appearance of solid silver and was employed for the middle class in shapes identical to those uses for silver tea services, ca. 1810-1840. Depending on the concentration of gold in the lustring compound and the under slip on which it was applied, a range of colours could be achieved, from pale rose and lavender, to copper and gold.
"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadow less like silence, listening
To silence."- Thomas Hood, Ode: Autumn, 1827