Sunday, March 27, 2011

“If a woman rebels against high-heeled shoes,

she should take care to do it in a very smart hat.”
~George Bernard Shaw


I have to seek out some smart hats because last fall I dropped a stash of pewter plates on my foot, and I have had to give up the spikes because they put pressure right over the big toe, so, I am returning to my foot roots...the klompen...the clog...although people tend to think the Dutch all wear wooden shoes, it really is the accessory of the farmer or the garden/nursery worker.
If you wear any "clog" styled shoe, you fit the Dutch definition.
The wooden shoe was an easy project since carving woods like willow are abundant in the Netherlands. The wooden shoe worked well since it protected the foot from sharp instruments or moisture.The long association of Dutch with wooden clogs can be traced to the traditional creation myths of ancient Germanic tribes who originally occupied modern Holland. Think Birkenstocks...
The French "clog" - "sabot" has a neat tale...in the 18th and 19th century it was associated with the lower classes. During this period, the years of the Industrial Revolution, the word sabotage gained currency. Allegedly derived from sabot, sabotage described the actions of disgruntled workers who willfully damaged workplace machinery by throwing their sabots into the works. However, according to some accounts, sabot-clad workers were simply considered less productive than others who had switched to leather shoes, roughly equating the term "sabotage" with "inefficiency."

My pickers or at auction seem to look to me to buy the Dutch items because of the shop's name...and I do buy...my favorite is the McCoy Dutch shoe...


The wooden shoe will forever be linked to Dutch decor though. If you think clog, it has a broader appeal. Any way you look at it, my foot will be clogged not heeled...let me go check on some hats now...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Lest I should be old-fashioned,

I'll put a trinket on.
~Emily Dickinson


Because I am adding more jewelry to the store stock, nothing precious, mind you--anyone looking for gold or silver~move on, but I am adding some of the accoutrements that go with jewelry.
Trinket boxes are one of those little accessories. Jewelry boxes of any size were only for the wealthy until the Industrial Revolution enabled a middle class to become consumers (interesting how we may be on a reverse trend these days...but I digress). Trinket is a funny little word, and research shows there is no origin for it, but it was used in the 1500s to label a thing of little value or a small ornament as in jewel or ring...I think I would take a trinket from Tiffany's any day though!
Between 1904 and 1918 the mass production of jewelry boxes began, and Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs of the early 1900s offered jewelry boxes of all sizes and shapes at prices the average family could afford. Jewelry stores started to market the boxes with their jewels.This box is an old Chinese enameled piece...interesting design...Many modern pieces are done in design of animals or other objects. I have been buying the older pieces...these are early Japanese...they modeled their designs after the higher end Bavarian and French boxes...much like China is known for today...copy the better pieces.

Glass was popular during the Depression and WWII when imports from Japan were halted.

In the 50s and 60s, metal alloys were used.
So, if you want a little treasure chest to keep your treasure in, consider one a trinket box...perhaps you can even capture a little bit of a spring day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In our rich consumers' civilization we spin cocoons

around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions.
~Max Lerner
It takes only a second for us to realize how quickly "stuff" can be washed away as we watch the images coming in from Japan. Being in retail, it is my business to sell, but sometimes it pays to take a moment to appreciate all that we do have and not dwell on what we don't have.

There is no doubt Japan will recover...the term tsunami comes from the Japanese, meaning "harbor" (tsu, 津) and "wave" (nami, 波). They have endured mother nature's temperamental days as well as man's. At the end of World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers from 1945-1951, led by the United States along with Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

When they were occupied, their manufacturing process required them to mark it "occupied; however, despite having to do that, they organized Japan's first ever trade union law protecting the rights of workers to form or join a union, to organize and take industrial action. There had been pre-war attempts to do so, but none were successfully passed until the Allied occupation. Fascinating that we allowed and encouraged that--what a difference 50 years can make.

A new Trade Union law was passed on June 1, 1949, which remains in place to the present day. According to Article 1 of the Act, the purpose of the act is to "elevate the status of workers by promoting their being on equal standing with the employer". There's a thought that would create a business tsunami in this country.

But, whenever something like this happens, it always makes me stop and think...and I know looking at a Japanese collectible will remind me of this time...

It also makes one realize how quickly possessions can be swept away...not to mention lives lost...none of us would trade our possessions for those we love in our lives.

Above all, despite the destruction that the people of Japan are facing and considering that they recovered from the world's worst manmade disaster, I do believe they will face Mother Nature with the same resilience. After all, it is Nippon...the land of the rising sun.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Antiques are things one generation buys,

the next generation gets rid of, and the following generation buys at auction at amazing prices.

But, I am not sure the future auction goer will follow that mantra. Change has slowly crept into the antique world...antique being an antique word itself so much so that shop owners are afraid to brand their shops with the term antique...now it is vintage or retro or repurposed or recycled. The days of collecting 100 dolls or 200 glass hats or 300 salt and pepper shakers seem to have faded along with china cabinets and walls of "stuff." Not that minimalists are in, but it seems as if the new generation of collecting wants to see a purpose in an item beyond sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

And, in that es spirit de corp, the company that guided both sellers and buyers in their purchases, Collector Books, will no longer publish price guides. I received a letter announcing this, and it gave me pause...Schroeder's Antique Price Guide is a wealth of information along with suggested prices. I guess the internet has become the source for information...must be an app for that? But, with no "guide", what does that say about prices? And, if no one cares about worth based on research and market values, will it be buyer beware? Ever wonder why antique shop owner are called "dealers"?

But, beyond a book publisher going out of business is the underlying change in the antique/collectible world. It started with ebay years ago, and then, as the internet reproduced sites faster than Peter Rabbit, shops were facing the choice of selling online or closing. I have never sold online...I am not into mail order...I am into people...real live people...not emails and boxes. Many of the small shops like mine closed and dealers went to malls. Now, even malls have lost some of their glamour as TJs/Home Goods & Marshalls have caught on to the look without the cost of antiques. And, for the more upscale look, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Anthropologie will easily fit the decor.

But, I have always believed in researching the items that I offer for sale-it is the librarian in me. I hate going into a antique shop where the tag simply had a price. What justifies that price on that piece? Just because it is old does not mean it is worth money...if that were the case, I am approaching big bucks!

This company provided beautifully printed books. I am getting into vintage jewelry, and last fall I ordered books from them so that I could learn about the pieces. I know there is the mentality...like it, buy it...but with the Chinese being so clever at creating, I want to know what I am buying for resale. So, for example, here is one of the books I purchased.The price guides not only give you an idea of worth but also history.
And, yes, you can probably search online, but I am still attached to paper. Every book this company released had pages and pages of valuable information. At the back of this book is a detailed Appendix with manufacturers.
Kovels'...another price guide company is still in business, but they did not have near the variety that Collector Books had. Behind Kovels' was a husband and wife team, and Ralph Kovel died in 2008; his wife Terry has kept the guide going along with a newsletter, but for how long? So, as the end of the 20th century witnessed the demise of the small antique shops, the 21st century may witness the same for antique business itself. Or, maybe the going green generation will see the value of roaming through small shops, in buying furniture made from real wood, and, above all, in saving the creative spirits of the past. As life affirming and changing as they are, there some things a PC or Blackberry cannot do. Can you hear me now?