Sunday, August 31, 2014

"This country will not be a good place for any of us

to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in." ~Theodore Roosevelt
 
Considering this is Labor Day weekend, we tend to forget the American workers and concentrate on squeezing the final hours out of the unofficial end of summer, but I am mindful of the American worker...from the woman who makes my cards and tags...
to a new creative spirit I found who designs journals...
or the creator of soaps and lotions...
as well as my jewelry designer...
...I try to support the American worker or entrepreneur.  Buying from small shops, at flea markets or shows does support American labor.   That is why we need to consider the American who is trying to create, invent, repurpose, and why the small...really mini...business is as crucial as the big companies even though there are few Made in America products out there.  I think people are trying to buy American or at least Fair Trade products, and even Ralph Lauren is retooling a factory in North Carolina.
 
 An American company that has been around for a century is Pyrex®.
  The Pyrex brand has gained popularity with the increased interest in "mid-century" (or as baby boomers know it...our childhood).  Their web site provides this background: "The heat-tempered glass that is the foundation of the Pyrex brand was created years earlier by Corning Glass scientists charged with developing lantern glass for railroads. They needed to tackle a particular problem—the heat of the lantern flame conspired with the cold air of winter to shatter traditional glass. They needed a glass that could handle changes in temperature.
By 1913, the glass was used in a number of industrial applications. But it found its way into the kitchen when Bessie Littleton, wife of a Corning scientist, asked her husband to bring home some glass to use in place of a broken casserole dish. He gave her the sawed-off bottoms of some battery jars.  A cake was baked, an iconic brand was born and, as they say, the rest was history. Pyrex glassware is proudly made in the USA, and has been used by generations of cooks and bakers from coast to coast."
 
Labor Day is more than a vacation Momday...it really represents all who create, invent, work, and, above all, dream.

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, August 24, 2014

“There is a difference between dining and eating.

Dining is an art. When you eat to get most out of your meal, to please the palate, just as well as to satiate the appetite, that, my friend, is dining.” ~ Yuan Mei 
My "show and tell" today illustrates some table items from fine dining-the water or drink pitchers.  How many now just pour from the plastic bottle or the box?  Even commercials show a family at a table with a giant bottle of soda and a bucket of chicken-not sure that really qualifies as dining, but the 21st century has redefined the art of eating...you want fries with that?

So, let us consider my objet d'art of the Victorian table...the pitcher, but first, homage to the Dutch painter Vermeer's "Young Woman with a Water Pitcher"!
The word "pitcher" comes from the 13th century Middle English word picher, which means earthen jug.  It is also linked to the old French word pichier which is the altered version of the word bichier, meaning drinking cup.  The pitcher’s origin goes as far back to the Medieval Latin word bicarium from the Greek word bikos, which meant earthen vessel with compares with Dutch beker, German Becher, and English beaker.
Here a pitcher is a container with a spout used for storing and pouring liquid contents, and it most likely has a handle, which makes pouring easier. A ewer is a vase-shaped pitcher, often decorated, with a base and a flaring spout, though the word is now unusual in informal English describing ordinary domestic vessels. An example of an ewer is the America's Cup given to the winner of the America's Cup sailing regatta match. 

In English speaking countries outside North America, a jug is any container with a handle and a mouth and spout for liquid—American "pitchers" are more likely to be called jugs elsewhere.

Jugs is a word that could cause some issues...telling someone you have some nice jugs...well, you might not want to go there!  Anyway, I have some nice pitchers! 




So, if you want to serve in something other than the can or bottle, stop by...and when it comes to drinking, David Auerbach wrote, "In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Don't grow up too quickly,

lest you forget how much you love the beach.  ~ Michelle Held
There was a time pre i-phones, i-pads, kindles, nooks, etc etc etc when everyone went to the beach to relax and enjoy sun, sand, and ocean.  Now there is probably an app for that!  But, from days gone by...the sand pail or bucket...
The buckets in stock are from the T.Cohn company founded about 1900 by Tobias Cohn. The company made many tin litho toys such as the sand pail.
They also produced the noisemakers that show up around Halloween and New Year's...
The first "playset" type item made by T.Cohn was a doll house in 1948. During the Korean War in the 1950s plastic was in short supply and the Lido Toy Company supplied T.Cohn with many plastic figures for their playset line. The term superior was used as a brand name for the T.Cohn company.

I confess that I had a gas station like this...do not know what brand, but I did love that station and the cars.
The company also produced dollhouses...
 This fort seems to be a big seller on etsy and ebay...
In researching the company, I found they were sued for copying a toy machine gun design and undercutting the price...that is 1949...half a century plus, copying goes on all the time...not to mention price cutting...lots of luck taking someone to court!
I am constantly reminded through one little item...like the sand pail...how much life has changed.  Plastic is the material of choice for sand toys now...heaven forbid a tin dollhouse or fort!  Ever wonder how the baby boomers survived with sharp edges or little plastic cowboys and Indians!
 But, if you want a true beach collectible...we have a couple of the Cohn sand pails...


“No one ever forgets a toy that made him or her supremely happy as a child, even if that toy is replaced by one like it that is much nicer.”  ~ Stephen King - The Eyes of the Dragon     

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"I quite like antiques.

I like things that are old and the history they bring with them. I would rather fly to Morocco on an $800 ticket and buy a chair for $300 than spend $1,100 on one at Pottery Barn." 
                   ~Walton Goggins
Our opening quotation today comes from a 40 something actor and filmmaker, and I think the idea is probably more the exception than the rule in today's millennial consumer market.  So many people from other areas of the country have mentioned that small shops like mine have closed, and it is possible that the brick and mortar - like the newspaper...yes, real paper - may be headed the way of the landline and the milkman.  But, E-commerce continues to lure shoppers...at least shoppers who have money or credit!  BUT!  For those who still like to roam and see things in person instead of "pinteresting" themselves to the I-pad, let us consider some pottery.  If you have been in my shop, you know that McCoy is a favorite of mine, but there is another McCoy partner...Brush Pottery.
The Brush Pottery Company was founded in Zanesville, Ohio,in 1906, by George Brush, and its early history is closely tied to a better-known name in pottery, McCoy. The first Brush Pottery lasted only a few years until it burned down, and George Brush went to work for the J. W. McCoy Pottery Co. In 1911, the two companies merged and became the Brush-McCoy pottery, and soon after, J.W.'s son Nelson McCoy founded his own pottery as well. After J.W.'s death, Nelson McCoy continued to be involved in the Brush-McCoy pottery until he resigned in 1918. The Brush-McCoy Pottery Co. was in existence for only 14 years.  On December 9, 1925, it became the Brush Pottery Co.  The “McCoy” name was dropped and the pottery became known as Brush Pottery, but McCoy went on to develop its own history. Brush did survive until 1982, but like so many American companies, it obviously could not survive in the Chinese dominated retail world.
 
In researching Brush, I found some interesting designs...like built in frogs in the console bowls - this one is in the shop
...and in Warman's guide, pictures show actual "frog" frogs in bowls! 
The older pottery does have the look of the early McCoy pieces.
The company made many figural and animal planters, and not all marked, but a distinctive feature is that Brush planters and vases often rest on two unglazed feet.

So, if you are out and about and see a piece marked Brush or unglazed feet (and they are not yours), you now know a little about that company.
 
“Buy what you don’t have yet, or what you really want, which can be mixed with what you already own. Buy only because something excites you, not just for the simple act of shopping.” 
                    ~Karl Lagerfeld.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Not everything worth keeping

has to be useful.”  ~Cynthia Lord in  Rules 

The key was last week's item, and I am starting with the key again...
 
I saw this listed on Amazon for $14.97!  And it ties into today's show and tell.  I love little boxes...these are mini treasure chests from the past. 
The mini that you probably see more than others is the Lane chest.   Sometimes a little box like this more than words on a page symbolizes how much lifestyles have changed. 
The little chests date to 1925. Five years later, the firm's sales manager converted these miniatures into a great promotional idea: the company invited young women about to graduate from high school to pick up a free miniature chest at their local furniture store. By 1984 more than 15 million prospective Lane customers had received these promotional gifts.  It is hard to read even in person, but under the Lane logo is: Mainville Furniture Company - RD 3-  Rt 44 Bloomsburg PA (and, yes, I looked the store up...still in business!)
Edward Hudson Lane (1891–1973) founded the company in Altavista, Campbell County, Virginia, in 1912, at a junction of the Virginian and Southern railways, which allowed for easy transportation of materials to and finished products from the factory. After struggling through the first few years, Lane's fortunes received a boost during World War I when the company won a federal government contract to produce pine ammunition boxes. To meet wartime demands, Lane introduced an efficient assembly system at its factory. When the plant reconverted to the peacetime production of cedar chests, workers and management were able to adopt some of the mass production methods they had learned during the war emergency. Reaching new heights of production and prosperity in the 1920s, Lane began to advertise its products nationally.
These advertisements sought to equate the ideal of domesticity with a Lane "Hope Chest," in which a young woman stored clothing or home furnishings in anticipation of marriage. This was summed up in the company's tag line: "The gift that starts the home."

Lane advertisements reached a high point during World War II, persuading thousands of GIs leaving for overseas to purchase a Lane Hope Chest for the sweethearts they were leaving behind. Ads combined romantic images of men in uniform and their fiancees with patriotic slogans and the well-known face of national spokeswoman, and symbol of all things American, Shirley Temple.
In the 1950s Lane added a number of new product lines to its repertoire, including television cabinets manufactured for General Electric and occasional tables. These were followed in the 1960s and 1970s by new lines of bedroom furniture and recliners.

In 1987 Interco Corporation purchased the Lane Company in a hostile takeover. After Interco's successor, Furniture Brands International, filed for bankruptcy in 1992, the Lane facility in Altavista became one of the company's divisions slated for transfer abroad. The last Lane cedar chest to be manufactured in the United States rolled off the production line in the summer of 2001, and the plant closed for good, but the "Lane" company seems to still exist...from their web site..."Lane Furniture Industries is owned by Furniture Brands International which also owns other well known brand name companies... Broyhill, Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and Maitland Smith."  They also come up under the umbrella of the Heritage Home Group, but it really is hard to decipher what is made where.
 
For those who have the old large Lane chests--or if you are a reseller, there is a serious concern about the old style latches on all “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987, and they  need to be replaced. Chests can be identified by the brand name “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” located inside the cedar chest.  These chests are often handed down through families or purchased second-hand.  I saw this while I was researching for the article, and I thought it was important enough to copy and paste here.
From the recall site, "Consumers should immediately remove the latch from Lane/Virginia Maid cedar chests and contact Lane to receive new replacement hardware. This new hardware is easy to install by consumers in their homes and does not automatically latch shut. For certain chests made between 1912 and 1940, consumers will receive hardware that does not latch. For chests made from 1940 to present, consumers will receive hardware that does not automatically latch when closed and requires a person outside the chest to latch and lock the lid. If you own a similar hope chest or cedar chest that is not part of the recall, disable or remove the latch/lock.  Contact Lane toll-free at (800) 327-6944, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, or access their web site at http://www.lanefurniture.com/ to order the free replacement hardware. Consumers should have the chest's serial and style numbers, which are branded on the outside bottom or back of the chest, available when contacting Lane."

Even though Henri Cartier-Bresson is talking about the camera, I think this works for little treasure boxes also...“The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box.”