Sunday, January 27, 2013

“When I have a little money,

 I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” ~Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Books...talk about things that are clinging to life in this tech world.  The start of the semester has me thinking along this line.   How many bookstores have had to close their doors...both small shops and large corporate stores...even libraries are facing the demise of the printed word.  I recently read about a library going digital...you check out a Kindle!  As a paper person, I have mixed feelings.  I love books...I have degrees in Library Science and English...a no-brainer as they say!  Maybe the "i" creatures will allow more reading?  I can see it for novels, but somehow the wonderful picture/photo books...aka coffee table books...just don't seem to have the same flair on a Kindle Fire or Nook!

Research is being done on this topic.  According to “E-book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines,”  the study did find that the percentage of American adults who read e-books increased over the past year, while the percentage that read printed books fell, but the changes are modest. E-book readers rose from 16 percent to 23 percent, while printed book readers declined from 72 percent to 67 percent."

So, books are not dead yet!
And that brings me to today's feature...bookends!  The French call bookends appui-livres or books' support.  That makes sense...why isn't one part of the bookend a book-start?  Bookends were not around until the Renaissance.  During the medieval times, mainly monasteries had books, and they were chained to the study carrels because they were valuable assets.  (Always fascinating to note that human nature does not change!)
 
As books were produced in greater quantities, their numbers on the shelves became a dangerous gravity scenario.  Pull the one large book out, and an avalanche could occur burying the reader or readers nearby.  Enter the bookend...and a decorative accent to the book shelf.
 
Most collectible vintage or antique bookends fall into one of four categories: iron, spelter (alloy of zinc and lead...pot metal), solid bronze, and bronze-clad — other pairs were produced in alabaster, marble, onyx, gypsum, glass, pottery, and hardwood. Side note~there is an album from 1968 called “Bookends” produced in vinyl by Simon and Garfunkel-just in case you were looking for Mrs. Robinson!
Bookends are in most shops...sometimes you can overlook them because you may be looking at the books, or, as I have commented so often, today's buyers sometimes work on another level.  If they have a Kindle or a Nook, they are not thinking bookends. 
 
I leave you with words by an author whose books are probably on many devices...Stephen King...“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”  


Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Education is what remains

after one has forgotten what was has learned in school."   ~Albert Einstein

Our Spring Semester starts this week, and I am back to teaching.  Hopefully, I can give my students some things that will help them unlike Einstein...of course, Einsteins progress with or without assistance!

It does amaze me that the classroom has not really changed much.  Teacher's desk...students' chairs...but, for those who went to traditional schools, we all have memories of sitting in desks of various designs depending on our age.  The school desk was not a permanent fixture until the late 1800's. It took a woman to figure out that students crammed on benches with slates in their laps did not make for the best educational environment--little did she know that a century later they would sit on chairs with laptops and i-pads!  Progress?

In 1889, Anna Breadin received a patent for the design that we identify today as old-fashioned school desk, but Sidney School Furniture Company in Ohio was the main manufacturer.  According to my research, "The Sidney School Furniture Company, located in Sidney, Ohio, began manufacturing the popular 'Fashion' school desk in 1881. Advertising for the desk claimed, 'No desk in the market is made with more care, nor of better materials than the ‘Fashion,’ and none has met with a more popular reception, or gives better satisfaction. The desk featured a Patent T-head, which eliminated screws and bolts by joining the wood of the top, back, and seat to the legs, which were made of cast iron." 

There are a number of school desks around today that were built by the Sidney School Furniture factory. It is easy to determine which are the Sidney desks because the words "Fashion" and Sidney were molded into the wrought iron which comprises the leg portions of the desks. There is also a number from 1 to 6 which denotes the size of the child for which it was intended.

This style enabled school rooms to line up students, and it also gave students a place to store their books and supplies.  They were fastened to the floor, and they came in different sizes and in doubles.  I remember in 7th grade sitting in a double desk...that was in 1960...so interestingly these were not retired quickly.  That style also had a variation where the top lifted up, but that was not popular since the top would drop and break arms.

However, as teaching methods changed, and students were given freedom, the attached rows were retired, and the new individual desk came into existence.  This old 1930s desk has a neat look...still has an inkwell though!
Then, as plastics became the new style, wood desks were relegated to the basements or landfills.  I am sure many had a variation of the style below...a similar style still exists in my 21st century college classroom.

Many antique shops and co-ops have a 19th century desk or two floating around the inventory. I have a tiny one...they make unique end tables or nightstands...you may have to create a leveler for the legs since some do have a slant.  I also have a larger one from a Connecticut manufacturer with the intricate cash iron sides. 








And, as in the previous posts, I have urged getting out and seeing instead of sitting so I end with this...

"A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world."
~John le Carre

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Our admiration of the antique

is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week I talked about the virtual antique and buying world, suggesting that one should get out to see the real world.  Periodically I have done a show and tell of area shops, and my feature today is
in Salem, New Jersey.   Updated frequently, the web site provides eye candy also.  Owned by Mike and Suzanne Cooke, this is an old feed mill that they have restored and filled with treasures that you see on the pages of Country Living.  This is old school antiques not Chinese look-a-likes!  Furniture is made of real wood not pressed sawdust! 
 

So, today I take you through Royal Port...a random photo tour of a shop that not only makes one appreciate antique but also makes you realize how neat "old" can be!  So, have a seat and let's roll through some sites at Royal Port! And, if you were there, you could have coffee or tea and a little goodie to help you enjoy your visit.
 
There are the myths of what do I do with this "old" stuff...check out some of these displays...truly "natural"...and timeless...these items have survived over a hundred years.  Look around your recent purchases from the "maxxinista" buying...what will be in someone's house in 2113?



 
Along with the mini displays set up around this 2 story treasure box are architectural pieces and parts. 
 
 
 

These doors, for example, are going to be reborn on a house that Sandy tried to destroy...
 
I have said many times that antique dealers were really the first recyclers.  Check out this little table and chair set...sold, by the way...it is timeless...but imagine all the meals eaten here, the conversations....
So much in today's world is hit and run...we used to say take time to smell the flowers, but today few people even see the flowers unless it is on their Pinterest site!
 
 Some more views from the shop...

These are interesting stars...these are cast iron wall ties (anchors) from a Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, building where Revolutionary War uniforms were made.


The history behind pieces is always fun to know, but sometimes things just speak for themselves.
 
 
 
 


 
And even more treasures...









 
Out back "picker's field" is always filled with surprises...Mike has been cleaning it up over the past year, and, in the spring, I know Suzanne will be adding some floral interest also. 

 Here are the owners~Mike and Suzanne...Mike was rushing out, but I caught him! 



Looking at them reminds me of this quote from Gandhi~ "Happiness is when you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."  At this shop, you know happiness surrounds these keepers of the past.