Saturday, September 2, 2017

"Take time to reflect on how much you have,

It may not be all that you want but remember someone somewhere is dreaming to have what you have.”  
~Germany Kent

If nothing else connected with you this past week, surely the phrase "Houston, we have a problem" has another layer of meaning.  Do you know though that the phrase that was really spoken, initially by Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, was "Ok, Houston, we've had a problem here" (emphasis added). The erroneous wording was popularized by the 1995 film Apollo 13, a dramatization of the Apollo 13 mission, in which actor Tom Hanks, portraying Mission Commander Jim Lovell, uses the commonly heard phrase which became one of the film's taglines.

That flooding does show you how quickly this stuff we have loses value compared to survival.  That is why I have said if I had to rename my shop, I would call it Just Stuff; however, people still are into stuff.  I had a customer today who said her sister collects "tole trays".
Interestingly, here is something that is labeled incorrectly.  According to my research, "Tole describes French painted tin wares, not American products."  From the French Tole Pente du Lac, tole painting refers to applying paint and lacquer to tin, and it began as a way to prevent common household objects from rusting. Tole refers to decorated tin and iron wares from 1700-1900; but most people also use the term to refer to various painted metalware from the late 19th to mid 20th Century.

The trays we most often associate with tole trace back to Welshman John Hanbury who had a metalware business in the late 1600’s and made tin trays that were very much wanted and sought after. Eventually, he shipped them to the US, and the style was copied by colonial tinsmiths, including Paul Revere. These antique trays had rolled over edges and soldered corners and were very light.

The 1940s and 1950s inspired the American Colonial Revival tradition, and the trays seen today are relics of that time painted by amateur artists using the “one stroke” technique with the paintbrush loaded with several colors at once.  Pierced borders are modeled after the English tradition of tin tea trays.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, American companies like Plymouth, Nashco, and Fine Arts Studio produced trays that were hand painted in assembly line manner. These “studio trays” were beautiful, and painted by accomplished artists.

I read a hint from the daughter of the Plymouth Factory owner, and she said to preserve a tray, use clear spray lacquer paint, spraying a fast light coat with no drips and repeat 2 or 3 times.

So, remember tin, not tole...and pray that Houston's problems will not take a toll on them!

“You only truly possess that which you cannot lose in a shipwreck.”

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"Beauty is

in the eye of the beholder."

Variations of this phrase actually date to the 3rd century scribed in Greek, but the person who is credited with the phrase as we know it is an Irish 19th century romantic fiction novelist, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford.  In an 1878 novel Molly Brown there is that line.

What started me on this thought was either the 5th or 6th article I read about the children and grandchildren of the baby boomers who want nothing to do with the "stuff" decorating their childhood homes, stored in attics and basements.  As baby boomers downsize (do not think of my shop!), what to do?  The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double, from 46 million to over 98 million by 2060, according to a 2016 report by the nonprofit, Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau.   And so, where to send those Hummels, Grandma's fine china, Mom's crystal for special occasions.

I was looking at some art that my friend Nancy was posting from her co-op at Capt Scraps Attic .  Look at this print...
How wonderful for not just a beach home but also a child's room.  If you start a child out early with a touch of old, he or she may have that thought in the memory.  You do not have to overwhelm...just a touch...or how about her...
You do not need to decorate in a total antique motif, but just a touch in a hall or on a lone wall.  I think the collecting mania created addictions.  Just one more rolling pin or Beanie Baby (do not some of you still have containers in the attic!).  Of course, shows like The Hoarders did not help to scare off the younger generations!  

Suppose you do have a shore home...rather than Boardwalk buys, look at some interesting "water" subject art.  Even this group of three would make a nice motif on a wall, and we are not talking Sotheby prices...

Consider what a vintage piece does to ground a room so to speak.  Again, no need to have 40 pieces of art or pottery...perhaps just 3 will give a sense of history and cause someone to pause and look.

As one article directed at baby boomers says,  "Our grown-up children refuse to be defined by their possessions. Isn’t that a good thing? Didn’t we snub our noses during the 60’s at people for being too attached to material possessions? Our children have become independent adults now, making their own decisions and creating their own lifestyle – not copying ours. Isn’t that what we raised them to do?"

So minimalism is not all bad...collecting has become selecting...and there is nothing wrong with that!

“Priceless things matter not for their value, but because they offer us an enduring reminder of stability and permanence.”  
~Barbara Bradford, Power of a Woman

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Woodworking minus

 patience equals firewood.
~Author unknown

As I make my way through the shop, I stop periodically and reflect on how much our culture has changed.  I uncovered a folding rack dated 1872.  I could not get it to focus well, but it is stamped into the back of one of the pieces.
Now someone made this, not a machine, and then stamped the patent date into the back.

It has the white ceramic tips...and when you think of the design, it is clever.  It would ship easily and be flexible to fit into any space.

Again...wood...look at the frame on this mirror...
And a shelf from the Victorian era..
I have been talking about the changes in retail, and these changes do get magnified when you look at products from previous generations.

I love carved objects also.  Who will be the carvers of the 21st century?  Who will put the phone down lone enough to pick up a carving tool although I did see a magazine devoted to carving --Woodcarving Illustrated.  The web site is interesting, and it appears that a woman is Woodcarver of the Year, but the carvers featured are baby boomers.

I have this sweet owl standing on a open book...
Then there are the European souvenirs...

The one shoe has Brest France Aug 1944 carved into it.  When I looked that up, I found out it was a major battle.  For the history buffs, "the Americans, along with the FFI, had to attack and destroy over 75 strong points in the city. It was slow and time consuming work. By the time of Germany’s surrender on September 18th, the Americans had lost 10,000 killed and wounded. Brest was destroyed – including its harbor. Rather than risk the same at Lorient and St. Nazaire, the Americans simply surrounded the ports for the rest of the war and kept the Germans where they were. Their surrender came at the end of the war. The need for the port facilities in Brittany became redundant when Antwerp was captured in November."

It rather interesting that someone took the time to carve that date into the shoe.  Of course, the florals are nicer since they do not require one to think beyond the carving.  The little jewel box would be a neat gift package for a gift card or a small treasure...think outside and inside the box!

So, just a little insight into some of the treasures you might not even think about in this Instagram/Pinterest world where you really cannot appreciate the nuances of the items when they are flat on a screen.  And in our mass produced society digital age, this is an interesting thought from Elbert Hubbard who lived during the Industrial Revolution...
“One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Dad says there are more than

three thousand letters in the Japanese alphabet, which could pose a problem. There are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and I get into enough trouble with them as it is.”
~ Rin Chupeco,
The Girl from the Well   

I walk the Avalon beach every morning, and the other day I noticed some small squares in the sand, and, thinking they were mini tiles, I picked them up.  I did not notice until I brushed the sand off of them that they were old scrabble tiles, and I did not realize what they spelled until I pulled them out of my pocket today.  Of course, I have to wonder how they stayed together, so to speak, in the tides, but I just thought, what a wonderful find.  It does not take much to make my morning out there!  I am already overwhelmed by the sky and sea.
This got me thinking about simple letters.  I watch grown people in the shop going through a box of block letters.
Trying to spell out that special just need the right...
Of course, today words are morphing into letters...U know?
This did get me thinking about letters and words, and Scrabble came to my mind.  I never knew the history of Scrabble, but it dates to the 1930s and an unemployed architect, a victim of the Depression.

Alfred Butts studied games, and he realized word games had no scoring motif.  "Attempting to combine the thrill of chance and skill, Butts entwined the elements of anagrams and the classic crossword puzzle into a scoring word game first called LEXIKO. This was then refined during the early 1930s and 1940s to become CRISS CROSS WORDS. It’s been suggested that he also drew on a story he’d read as a child, Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Gold-Bug", in which a pirate’s treasured map is decoded by matching symbols to letters based on how often they appear in the English language. Either way, the upshot was to limit the role of chance and allow knowledge and strategy to play a part, resulting in a blend that’s crucial to Scrabble’s enduring popularity."

Butts studied the front page of The New York Times to make his calculations for the letter distribution in the game. This skilled, cryptographic analysis of our language formed the basis of the original tile distribution, which has remained constant through almost three generations and billions of games.

His guinea pig was his wife Nina who, in a twist that would seem scandalous today, had been his schoolteacher growing up. Was it her fault that Butts always claimed to be a terrible speller? Invariably, Mrs Butts beat him at his own game, reportedly once playing the word ‘quixotic’ across two triple-word scores, notching up close to 300 points in a single turn.

Nevertheless, established game manufacturers unanimously slammed the door on Butts' invention. It was only when Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, that the concept became a commercial reality.

Together they refined the rules and design and then, most importantly, came up with the name SCRABBLE - a word defined as 'to grasp, collect, or hold on to something'; and a word that truly captured the essence of this remarkable concept. And so the SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game was trademarked in 1948.

Brunot rented a small, red, abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut. Along with some friends, they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters on wooden tiles one at a time. Only later were boards, boxes, and tiles made elsewhere and sent to the factory for assembly and shipping. In 1949 they made 2,400 sets and lost $450. 

Then in the early 1950s, the president of MACY'S discovered the game while on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year, the SCRABBLE game was a 'must-have' hit, to the point that SCRABBLE games were being rationed to stores around the country!
From 1952 through 1989, the game went through several owners, and it finally was purchased by Hasbro on 1986.  The 1950s games were marketed by Selchow & Righter.  Then in 1986 the company was bought by Coleco.  When Coleco went under, Hasbro, owner of Milton Bradley, bought Scrabble and Parcheesi.

There is a National Scrabble Day!
So, now you know those scrambled letters went through a lot to get to game night...and now to your ipad or iPhone!  But...pre digital Scrabble...

Everyone must know by now that the aim of Scrabble is to gain the moral high ground, the loser being the first player to slam the board shut and upset all the letters over the floor.
Craig Brown

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Anybody can buy.

 It takes an artist to shop.”
Jennifer Finney

Every now and then, you know I have to vent about being in business.  I read several articles this week about the demise of shopping malls, iconic stores, and consumer buying.  All in all, it felt like the phrase I sometimes use...stick a fork in is done.  Has shopping been so "Amazoned" that we are losing another cultural motif?  I have had my shop 26 years now, and I confess that I am a little overdone myself.  This is an excerpt from one of the articles about the death of malls..."the grandmothers and goths, the flirting teens, the mall walkers and mall rats. They're all online now, face-to-screen, interacting in ways impersonal and impulsive. It's a different sort of marketplace, unsurpassed in its efficiency and with its own code and culture, but without the skylights, the sweet smells, the splashing fountains, the ethereal Muzak--all of which are still around, but you have to look hard to know it."

That got me thinking about what is missed when you just look at the flat screen...and many times the smartphone index card sized screen.  You cannot appreciate the colors or the shapes of vintage pottery.  A fellow dealer who visits every summer always brings me a tote of some wonderful pottery from out her way in the Midwest.  Consider this piece of Abingdon Pottery, a pottery that was established in 1908 by Raymond E. Bidwell as the Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company. It started making art pottery in 1934 and stopped production of art pottery in 1950. Abingdon Pottery was known for its plumbing fixtures and its dense, white vitreous china, resistant to hairline cracks and chips, yet here is a wonderfully shaped vase in this coral color that seems so soothing.  Now, here it does look nice but to feel the cool porcelain on a warm day and see the shape up close and personal...a different experience.
Or consider a Royal Copley vase with the coral blended with the now popular gray and a touch of white.  Royal Copley china was made by the Spaulding China Company of Sebring, Ohio, from 1939 to 1960.  Just the colors alone attract the eye...
I am wondering if the younger generation is losing touch not just figuratively with life.  Another article on smartphones and the younger generation quoted a 13 year old...“We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

So, as I put out vintage pottery, I wonder what the vintage shops will be like in another 26 years.

There has been all the chatter about making America great again...what about the shops that are preserving what was great in American arts and crafts and supporting those artists who are creating even as we speak?  What about the shopkeepers who are still searching, cleaning, displaying for your pleasure?  We agonize over cheap Chinese labor, and then we expect these shopkeepers and artisans, the protectors of our past and the creators of our future, to work for pennies also.  

So, if you love to shop and not just point and click, step away from the screen and head out into the wilderness of stuff!

     "If you wait until you have enough money to decorate and make your home your own, it will never happen.  If you wait until you can afford to buy everything new, you are missing the point.
It is the old, the new, the hand-me-down, the collected, the worn (but loved) things in your home that make it your own."
  Stacy Risenmay

Saturday, July 29, 2017

"If a picture paints a thousand words,

 then a let a picture inspire a thousand words.”
 ~Nicholas Boyd Crutchley

Found some framed photographs in my reorganizing because I always buy the orphan photos, and it made me think of someone in 100 years...what will they have?  Photos on some phones?  I am sure there are those who still print out photos, but how many have them framed and mounted those pictures behind glass and on walls?  It is the old good intentions until life continues to wash up on your shore!

And how many people get professional portraits done?  Periodically I do see photographers and families on the beach posing for the summer vacation photos.  I have a former student who is a professional photographer...No Filter Photography...always happy to feature a young entrepreneur!
But I look at these antique photos and try to imagine who they are, what they did, and why they are lost in the auction world or flea market world.  I am always drawn to photographs...maybe it is a English professor in me who blends pictures and words.
Sometimes the back provides some clues or information.  This photo showed it cost $1.20 to frame and the deposit was 25 cents!  Who were these men?
 Many times you will see the backs of old framed works have been cut open.  There is always the chance that there is something of value sealed in that frame whose secrets died with its owner perhaps. 

A collector who spent $4 at a Pennsylvania flea market for a painting because he liked the frame found himself the possessor of a first printing of the Declaration of Independence. It brought $2,420,000 at a Sotheby's auction.  David N. Redden, head of the book and manuscript department at Sotheby's in Manhattan described the document, found behind the painting when the collector took the frame apart, as an "unspeakably fresh copy" of the declaration. "The fact that it has been in the backing of the frame preserved it," he said. Of the 24 copies known to survive, only 3 are in private hands, he added.

Portable wooden frames as we recognize them today come from 12th-century Europe. At first they were sculpted from the same piece of wood that backed the paintings they surrounded, but eventually it became clear that building a frame separately would be cheaper and more efficient. Soon, furniture craftsmen were attaching mitered wooden strips to artworks after they were complete.  The growing number of amateur photographers in the mid-19th century also created a boom in homemade frames.

In the United States, the first picture frames were made from simple pieces of wood made like generic wall moldings, known today as the Early American Empire style. Eventually, American framers developed their own motifs based on the country’s growing agricultural prowess, incorporating imagery of tobacco leaves, corn, and wheat, in contrast to older European motifs such as acanthus leaves.
 That wooden back is on the photo below.  An interesting mix...2 men...5 women...and not a clue as to who is who...mother...father...maybe daughter and son-in-law or son and daughter-in-law.  They always look so selfie smiles on these folks!
 The women below present another puzzle...who are they?  What did they do?
The next time you see some antique photos, either loose or framed, imagine the story behind those faces!  Maybe even adopt them and make them part of your own family.  Years ago a customer bought some framed photos of women whose outfits and expressions she loved.  She hung them in a hallway, and at Thanksgiving that year various relatives talked about the women as though they really had been in the family!  So, they were claimed!

“Photographs are a bridge to the past. Black and white reminders of the way things used to be. Links to those who are no longer with us. Priceless treasures.”
~Jim Starlin

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Here's looking

at you, kid!
   Rick in Casablanca

Image result for heres looking at you scene
Based on my reading, this phrase was actually repeated 4 times in the movie.  The phrase sans "kid" actually dates back to the late 1800s as a toast before the script writers of Casablanca made it famous in 1942.  One of the sources was from a story in Ballou's Monthly Mahgazine [sic] (May 1884):
            "Ah," said the colonel, as he threw out a chew of tobacco, and took the bottle. "Here's looking at you."
            "Drink hearty," the young man replied, and taking the bottle he held it up, and added, "Here's to the hair of your head."

What got me on this was a stash of head vases I just unpacked.  They are all looking at something!
 For some reason, these are so 50s!  Actually they were produced by florist companies to hold the bouquets they sold. Their small openings helped to maximize sales by limiting the number of blossoms each container held.  There is method in retail madness no matter what decade!  

Initially the head vases were made in American studios.  Betty Lou Nichols, Ceramic Arts Studio, and Dorothy Copley were among the early manufacturers.  According to a collector site, "Nichols’ distinctive vases often showcase ladies with intricately curled hair and fabric ruffles along with pouting lips and her signature three-dimensional black eyelashes, all in hard ceramic."

Then came World War II and the ceramics industry was part of our attempt to help Japan when we occupied the country.  We go off on Made in China, but we forget the Japanese companies that eventually buried our American ceramic factories.  Enesco, Lefton, Napco. and Ucagco went into production with cheaper products.  Soon Japanese head vases were in vogue...even a Japanese lady...which is a little interesting considering the war, but it seems that people moved on much quicker than today's folks.
There are over 10,000 styles with ones modeled after Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, and Jackie Kennedy more in demand by collectors.  I like the "winker"...
Then there are the regular 50s girls...
This one looks like she is thinking...not tonight, I have a headache...
There a couple can see size next to the larger one...


I have seen mention of conventions in some of the articles, but no recent information on that.  Again, the idea of collecting is slowly fading from the culture...I know curating is a current term, but that does not mean one buys every item in that field.  These could be used for make-up brushes or even flowers as originally intended...even air heads the real world...
"Remember, having a good head on our shoulders is not just for decoration purposes."
~ Sunday Adelaja