March 23rd, 2014
Books made of paper are going out of fashion. E-books are inexpensive and convenient. So books are history, right?
But those books are also full of History. There are countless books not available in electronic format including old books, reference books, histories, sciences, art, etc. And early editions of familiar books are interesting. They show us how things have changed (or not!) Have card games changed since 1924?
Those books are also History themselves. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with movable type in about 1450 which gave many more people access to books.
But they were still rare and valuable until modern times. To avoid marring the pages with oils from their fingers, Victorians used page turners made of bone or wood. Imagine the family sitting in the parlor and the oldest daughter standing at a lectern reading and turning the pages carefully.
When I was a girl, book marks were popular to keep your place until the next time – much better than turning down the page corners!
February 24th, 2014
If you ever go to an Antique and Collectibles Show, you may see a wood wall-mounted display rack for collectible spoons. If you ever go to a Souvenir Shop while on vacation, you probably will see these decorative spoons related to your location. They are usually small, even smaller than demitasse spoons. They are often decorated with enamels, paints, rhinestones, and sometimes have little charms (tags) attached.
But collectible spoons are also little spoons turned into brooches or pins. Either spoons in a regular silver pattern or those specially made to be pins can be found.
Spoon rests are related items that are interesting for the collector (not to mention useful in the kitchen). Spoon rest souvenirs are also available for sale in shops.
If you look back a hundred years, you’ll find silver or fine porcelain spoons rests on the Victorian table.
February 15th, 2014
Most modern tableware and even decorative porcelain pieces are factory machine decorated. Designs are applied by machine transfer or robotic painting.Then glaze is applied and the piece fired. There are advantages to this method. Each piece is identical and that makes for a pretty table setting. Also, it is more economical.
Traditional methods of decoration include the manual transfer process. We visited such a factory in Gien, France. The unglazed porcelain pieces (usually whiteware) have transfers applied by hand. Many times highlights are added with brush and paint, especially gold rims. Then the pieces are glazed and fired.
Of course, painting by hand with brush and paint gives the most individual results although most painters are quite skilled at reproducing the same image.
A lot of information can be found in the marks on the bottom of the piece. The whiteware pattern number may be pressed into the pottery. After decorating, the name of the factory may be added before glazing (underglaze mark). After the glaze, there may be an overglaze mark for the secondary seller like a store. Finally, the painter may add their own mark, usually initials and frequently in gold.
Society or royal ladies who spent their time sewing, playing music, or learning societal arts, also decorated porcelain pieces. The plate below is by Thomas-Sevres of Bavaria and decorated with pink cabbage roses and green leaves. It also has gold trim. Over the original decoration, it has been embellished with a geometric pattern in black, gold, and green. No doubt a rainy afternoon pasttime!
February 4th, 2014
A compote is loosely described as a piece of bowl-shaped glass, pottery, or metal on a stem and foot. Sometimes with a lid but not usually. And it is used to serve, obviously, fruit compote for dessert.
However, the variations are endless – color, material, size, use, etc. Smaller look-a-likes would be sherbets or candy dishes. Large pieces probably were made for centerpiece displays on the formal dining table or sideboard.
Many compotes match glassware sets especially patterned glass. Some are simple and utilitarian others elaborate and whimsical and anything in between.
Fruit compotes (the dessert) were very popular in the 1800s and early 1900s. They could be made from fresh or dried fruit and were naturally sweet. So it was convenient and did not require expensive additional sugar. Queen Victoria herself enjoyed fruit compote in champagne.
Compotes still make a lovely ending for a meal on ice cream or topping for breakfast pancakes!
January 22nd, 2014
Art Deco is a term that is used for a wide variety of styles – sometimes it fits, sometimes not. Browsing the web can enlighten and inform…and confuse. Generally, Art Deco refers to the early 20th century movement to “modernize” and put the days of Queen Victoria behind. Think flappers, jazz, the Charleston, assembly line production.
Many people confuse it with Art Nouveau which was an earlier style (late 1800s) and featured lots of curves and asymmetry. Or even just use the term to attract readers. Some items labeled “Art Deco” on the web have nothing to do with either style.
Intricate designs were replaced with cleaner, more symmetrical ones. Colors came back into popularity. The Downton Abbey TV series shows this transition in an English peer’s household after WWI. Geometric designs reminiscent of architecture, flowers, feathers, and exotic animals were common.
My mother was a teenager in these transitional years and convinced her mother to throw out their heavy horsehair furniture and bisque knick-knacks! Modern Times!
January 10th, 2014
I inherited some King’s Crown wine glasses that belonged to my maternal grandmother. My mother related that in the early 20th century (when these would have been purchased) they would have been used especially at holidays and for company. I also received a large punchbowl, matching tray, and cups. However, I was most fascinated by the small wine glasses.
This glassware traveled with me as my family grew and we moved to various cities. On the way, my husband and I began to collect glass, especially the King’s Crown pattern. I posted on this topic last March but now we have some additional interesting pieces.
My grandmother’s were colorless but King’s Crown was made in many colors including opaque milk glass – some whole pieces and some flashed. Flashed means that color was stained on the glass, usually just part of the piece. We have silver flashed, ruby flashed, and gold flashed pieces in our personal collection.
The pieces were made by pouring hot glass into molds (Early American Presses Glass). Quality control was minimal and many pieces contain air bubbles or other imperfections as well as twisted mold marks. Some molds had 2 parts, some 3 and some 4. This is easily seen on the finished piece as the were not polished off.
King’s Crown is not the only name for this pattern. It is also called Thumbprint or Excelsior. It was made by virtually every producer at the time, most notably Indiana Glass and Tiffin Glass. And for every use from tiny cordial glasses to punchbowls and from sherbets to compotes with lids.
January 1st, 2014
Hoping you have a fantastic New Year with family and friends!
December 16th, 2013
Beautiful glassware adds elegance to your holiday table setting. These are crystal Baccarat Rhine wine goblets in the “Perfection” pattern. The bowls are deep green and the stem clear.
Baccarat has been making crystal pieces for the Kings and Queens of France and other heads of state since the late 1700′s. They have won many awards for their high quality crystal ware.
In May 2010, my husband and I visited the small Baccarat museum in Paris and were awed by the beauty of the pieces on display.
Baccarat crystal is sparkling clear to the eye and wonderfully smooth to the touch. A beautiful table setting elevates the enjoyment of food and wine shared with family and friends.
December 10th, 2013
In my last post, I talked about tea drinking. On these cold, winter days, a cup of tea warms the body and spirit. But this blog is mostly about the collector. Cups and saucers and teapots can be collected, of course, but there are many possibilities.
Red Rose Tea was established in 1894 in New Brunswick, Canada. In the 1950s through the 1970s the put little collectible cards in the box. The series included nature, dinosaurs, transportation, space, and the Arctic.
Cups, mugs, and spoons can be decorated to commemorate an event, place, person, almost anything. This mug commemorates the 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
For Christmas, we have a little Santa teapot!
December 4th, 2013
Recent cold, damp days have encouraged me to fire up the electric kettle and have a nice, hot cuppa. Tea cures the chills, gives relief to head colds, and generally makes a body feel better. Nearly all my family members enjoy tea – all the way down to the 3-year-old granddaughter. Yesterday she asked repeatedly, “More sugar, please?”, for her Earl Grey.
Tea, of course, has been consumed for millenia for these same reasons as well as for social interactions. In addition to standard black and green teas, today we enjoy flavored teas, herb teas, and specialty (read expensive) teas. I have some of all of these in my pantry for choices.
Watching BBC mysteries makes me realize just how ingrained the social aspect of tea is in Britain. And it’s a lovely tradition. The teapot, sugar, creamer, and cups appear in the parlor on a tray. Hopefully with biscuits or cake.