Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Hot July

brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers."
- Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse

A little footnote to this week's quote~Sara Coleridge (1802-1852) was an English author and translator. She was the fourth child and only daughter of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his wife Sarah Fricker. In 1834, she published her Pretty Lessons in Verse for Good Children which were originally written for her own children but became very popular. We definitely need the cooling showers in August...apricots...why not?
And gillyflowers...which look a lot like carnations to me!

Anyway, July has been hot, and maybe August will give us a break, but who knows? I have been rearranging in the shop, and, as I moved things around today, I was thinking about a former student's current Psych paper on hoarders. This week she asked for volunteers to complete a survey (needless to say, I was proud...I had her in my Comp 102 class where I teach research), but I volunteered to answer her questionnaire.

One question gave me pause as I was resetting displays...
"When do you think a person stops becoming a collector and becomes a hoarder?" I have never watched the TV show Hoarders so I went to the web site to check it out where I found previews of their new season which included:
A doll enthusiast whose hobby has gotten out of control – she has tens of thousands of dolls that fill nearly every room in her house.

A man who has a collection of hundreds of mannequins modeled after him, as well as buckets of his actual hair.

A memorabilia collector whose massive stash of games, action figures, books and novelties has made it impossible to move through his home.An automobile lover who is facing $20 million in fines for littering his property with hundreds of junked cars.

So, here I am in my shop with a stash of glass frogs (flower holders) - the shelf is full of them!
How about chicken dishes? I cannot resist them! But, how cute are they for serving chicken or egg salad?Or shelves of McCoy...I am a I a hoarder enabler? I buy McCoy pottery whenever I see it...but it is for the I a "closet" hoarder?

Sometimes I get a theme in my mind, and I buy things in that dogs...I am a cat person, but these "dog" days of summer are getting to me!When I first started in the business, I was annoyed by the term antique "dealer" which implied wheeling-dealing. I did not want to do that. I wanted to put a fair price on something and move on. Anyone who thinks that they get a "deal", think again...people indeed mark up to mark down. Now, though, with this hoarder craze, we are dealers...we deal in things which, to some people, are no different than drugs. Maybe cheaper...although not always...

I did come to some discoveries. Many of the new buyers into the antique/vintage market want things they can use, not simply value. I am not talking aout high end...these are not the folks calling in at Sotheby's bidding on Monets, but the days of 400 Hummels in a china cabinet are rare. Maybe a few on a mantle...

So, if you sell or if you buy, are you a collector or a hoarder? Is it all in the usefulness of the items? Or, is it in the design? If I arrange 50 flower frogs in a unique way, am I creative, not hoarding? Something to think about as you enjoy a cool shower, an apricot, and a gillyweed!

“Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.” ~ Walter Benjamin

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In summer,

the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams

It is actually singing at the top of its lungs here in the east...a million choruses of Martha & the Vandellas' Heat Wave!

But, life goes on...and I am constantly unwrapping a stash of bird vases and wall pockets. Some colorful pottery birds from Royal Copley and Czechoslovakia (before it was split).
Royal Copley was made by Spaulding China in Sebring, Ohio in 1942. The research shows that "they sold assortments of birds, vases, figurines, and wall pockets and named the assortments with fancy names like Regal Assortment, Essex Assortment, Lennox Assortment, and Crown Assortment. Department stores loved this marketing tool and bought and sold thousands of these assortments. The Spaulding Company used the slogan 'Gift Shop Merchandise at Chain Store Prices'." I chuckled at the last line...chain store prices...what goes around... They became the second largest producer of art-ware pottery in the United States. After the end of World War II, due to the re-emergence of imports, sales at the Spaulding declined. In 1957, Morris Feinberg, the President and Owner of Spaulding retired. Another company, China Craft filled the remaining orders and contracts for the next two years. However, production of Spaulding China ceased with the retirement of Feinberg. So many companies seemed to have closed when the owner died, but, in a way it is bittersweet because it is more human than the corporate megatrons we have today.

The Czechoslovakian birds are difficult to track to a specific factory. It reflects the shattered history of that area. In November 1918, at the end of World War I, the Paris Peace committee created a new country with the Bohemia, Moravia & Austrian Silesia sections of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a northern strip of Hungary. The committee named the new country Czecho-Slovak Republic, with a hyphen. In 1920, Ruthenia was made a part of Czechoslovakia. Most of the people in the new country were the Czechs (Bohemians) and Slovaks, thus the name Czecho-Slovakia. However, there were great differences between their cultural and religious traditions. The country's pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair has the spelling Czechoslovak and CZECHO-SLOVAKIA. At times, you will see the German spelling with a "w" instead of a "v," Czecho-Slowakia, or an "e" at the end instead of an "a," Czecho-Slovakie. Another spelling is Tehechoslovacia. During Hitler's Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, the country was part of Germany; therefore, some Bohemian porcelain states Germany as the country of origin.

Internal and external political and economic conditions had a major effect on the stability of the factories. The factories went broke and changed hands frequently, as well as merging with one another. The factories were renamed and made changes to their marks often. The founders, financiers, decorators, and others seemed to wander from one company to another. Still they produced some amazing pieces of pottery...these birds are examples of their fine work. I also have a wonderful flower frog in the shape of birds. This one is from US zone Western Germany. Again a mark that represents an historical earmark. This mark dates to 1945-1949.
Then, there are the unmarked pieces of pottery...the orphans in a land where people want to know who made many factories did not realize Antique Roadshow would be crucial in the future. This little planter is one of those sweet unmarked treasures.In my 20 years in the antique business, I have never been taken by a name. Interestingly, the values of things have dropped as the economy dipped, so it really does not matter. If you love it, and if you have a use for it, buy it.

Thanks for flying in!

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”
~William Blake

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ah, summer, what power you have

to make us suffer and like it. ~Russell Baker

It appears we are looking at another heat wave in the coming week...but, alas, summer...and nothing like a cool drink to soothe that heat, right? A couple of old bottles I got at the flea market have an interesting history to them. One bottle is from a Camden, NJ, bottling company that appears to still be in business according to my research. Looks as though they are distributors...found a link on Facebook although it does not appear to be very inviting.

I am always fascinated more by the history of the company as much as the bottle although the bottle design does have its own story as well.

This neat bottle is from a Staten Island, NY brewery-Rubsam Hormann. I found an archived article from The New York Times detailing a fire that destroyed the brewery in 1878. It gave the address as "on Cannl-street, Stapleton, Staten Island." It said the furniture was imported from Europe, but, because the firemen threw it out the doors and windows, that it was badly damaged! They obviously rebuilt because it was still being operated in the 1960s by the Piels Brothers company.

Another bottle was labeled "Italian Balm"--way before Jersey Shore too!The Campana Company, Illinois, was incorporated in 1927. Its first product was Italian Balm, a hand lotion. The formula was purchased from a Dr. Campana, hence the company name. The Campana Factory had to change the name of its popular lotion to Campana Balm after World War II due to growing anti-Italian sentiment (because of Mussolini, for those not familiar with history). The Campana Company was sold to the Purex Corporation of California, which itself was later bought by the Dow Chemical Company in the 1960s. Dow relocated the workers and shut down Campana operations (and you thought outsourcing was a new thing?).

Then there is a Zanol bottle.I found that they had a factory in Cincinnati in the early 1900s. They sold home remedies, cosmetics and home specialties through dealers direct to the home--sounds like the old door-to-door sales.

This one was for "consumption" - ha! welcome to the 21st century...we consume with the best of them!
But, bottles like this make me think of the future...what will someone in 2081 have to look at from our times? Since we do recycle, that is a good thing...but I guess times are changing...Bob Dylan was right..."You better start swimming or sink like a stone, cause the times they are a-changing."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My candle burns at both ends

It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "A Few Figs from Thistles", 1920

Had one of those weeks where life was a little hectic, and it made me think of this phrase...but, then I did get in a wonderful new candle line let's talk about candles burning.

From my research on candles, Egyptians were using candles with wicks in 3,000 B.C., but the ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle before that time by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax. The resulting candles were used to light their homes, to aid travelers at night, and in religious ceremonies. It is funny how so many things we take for granted were invented thousands of years ago.Historians have found evidence that many other early civilizations developed wicked candles using waxes made from plants and insects. Early Chinese candles were molded in paper tubes, using rolled rice paper for the wick, and wax from an indigenous insect that was combined with seeds. In Japan, candles were made of wax extracted from tree nuts, while in India, candle wax was made by boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree.

Candles played an important role in early religious ceremonies. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights which centers on the lighting of candles, dates back to 165 B.C. There are several Biblical references to candles, and the Emperor Constantine is reported to have called for the use of candles during an Easter service in the 4th century. Most early Western cultures relied primarily on candles rendered from animal fat (tallow). A major improvement came in the Middle Ages, when beeswax candles were introduced in Europe. Unlike animal-based tallow, beeswax burned pure and cleanly, without producing a smoky flame. It also emitted a pleasant sweet smell rather than the foul, acrid odor of tallow. Beeswax candles were widely used for church ceremonies, but because they were expensive, few individuals other than the wealthy could afford to burn them in the home. Colonial women offered America's first contribution to candlemaking, when they discovered that boiling the berries of bayberry bushes produced a sweet-smelling wax that burned cleanly. However, extracting the wax from the bayberries was extremely tedious. As a result, the popularity of bayberry candles soon diminished.

The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century brought the first major change in candlemaking since the Middle Ages, when spermaceti -- a wax obtained by crystallizing sperm whale oil -- became available in quantity. Like beeswax, the spermaceti wax did not elicit a repugnant odor when burned, and produced a significantly brighter light. It also was harder than either tallow or beeswax, so it wouldn't soften or bend in the summer heat. Historians note that the first "standard candles" were made from spermaceti wax.

Numerous manufacturing improvements were made over the decades, and the 1990s witnessed an unprecedented surge in the popularity of candles, and for the first time in more than a century, new types of candle waxes were being developed. In the U.S., agricultural chemists began to develop soybean wax, a softer and slower burning wax than paraffin. On the other side of the globe, efforts were underway to develop palm wax for use in candles.

There are many independent candle makers in the US now, but I have always carried Greenleaf, and now I have their upscale sister, Votivo. They are made in South Carolina.
From their press, they note that since its inception in 1994, "Votivo has built a reputation for its quality fragrances and distinctive packaging. At the heart of every Votivo candle is a unique fragrance meticulously formulated and layered to reflect depth, richness, and complexity. As one of the very first domestically made luxury candle lines, Votivo passionately pursues excellence in the art of candle making."

I have concentrated on their travel tins since we are a tourist area, but I like these tins because you can easily extinguish by popping the lid on the candle.The scents are amazing. One I was skeptical about because of its name...Bright Leaf Tobacco...but here is their description..."centered around cured tobacco leaves and rooted with Tonka, Vanilla and Patchouli notes that add strength to the familiarity of an Amber and Lavender top for a unique twist on an American Classic." It turned out to be an appealing scent.

Their best seller is Red Currant...the description is as yummy as the candle...A savory blend of tart red currants and golden fruit glaze ladled over coarsely ground vanilla bean ice cream and served along side of raspberry filled sugar cookies.I have also brought in a couple of the fragrance mist flavors also. They also have a wonderful lasting scent.

I still have Greenleaf...and they have new scents also...

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

So, hopefully, my new line can give you some pleasantly scented happiness!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

“As Mankind becomes more liberal,

they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”
~ George Washington

Wonder what George would think these days? I have been thinking of trends in our country...I am sure every reader of this blog is dealing with the economy...but the famous words on the plaque for the Statue of Liberty proclaims...

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We don't want any tired let alone poor based on some of the commentary in the press these days, but this quote comes from Emma Lazarus' sonnet, "New Colossus," which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits. The poem did not receive much recognition and was quite forgotten after the auction.

In the early 1900s and after Lazarus' death, one of her friends began a campaign to memorialize Lazarus and her New Colossus sonnet. The effort was a success, and a plaque with the poem's text was mounted inside the pedestal of the statute.

I have a collection of Statue of Liberty souvenirs and a few others!The term souvenir, like our Statue of Liberty is from the French meaning for a remembrance. It is mass produced "stuff", but I like that the definition says that "the object itself has no real significance other than the psychological connection the possessor has with the object as a symbol of past experience. Without the owner's input, the object's meaning is invisible and cannot be articulated." So much for getting money for those shot glasses, Wilbur!

But, let's consider Miss Liberty---she is 151 ft. from the base to the torch. With the pedestal and foundation included in the measurement, the full height is 305 ft. She sits atop the 65 ft. tall foundation fashioned in the shape of an eleven-point star and an 89 ft. stone pedestal. Her feet are 25 ft long, making her a US women's shoe size 879. She also has a 35 ft. waist, and her face is more than 8 ft. tall. Her right arm, which holds the ever-lit torch, measures 42 ft. Her nose is 4 ft. 6"!

The crown has seven points, representing the seven seas and seven continents. Each individual ray of the crown weighs about 150 pounds and measures up to 9 ft. The total weight of the Statue of Liberty is 450,000 pounds (225 tons). The copper alone weighs around 100 U.S. tons and is 3/32 of an inch thick—a little less than the thickness of two pennies. It was hammered by hand into plates, which are attached to the interior iron frame.

There are 354 steps inside the statue from the pedestal to the crown.

The Statue was closed after the September 11 attacks, but, even though she was in sight of the Towers, she was not hit which, if one thinks of it, is interesting.
She was reopened in 2004, but the security is tight.
So, today and tomorrow as the fireworks go off, think about those who sailed into that NY Harbor....I know my grandparents are on Ellis Island manifests...think of those who still come here for things we take for granted...owning a business, food galore, and souvenirs!
If you did not realize the famous Statue of Liberty lines were from a sonnet, here is the complete sonnet.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"