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.
November 29th, 2013
Some of my favorite pieces of jewelry are pendants with agates, amber, jade or other natural stones in silver work frames. Nature provides beautiful materials in a multitude of colors and patterns. These can be carved and polished to suit. Whenever I travel, I head for the nearest museum to see ancient and historic jewelry.
Worked quartz, jade, jasper and other stones are some of the earliest evidence of the artistic abilities of man. They adorned artifacts of wealth and royalty and were used for trading.
For me, this is part of the attraction. Wearing a beautiful silver and agate pendant is a also connection to the past.
November 21st, 2013
Fashion has a way of recycling itself. Hoop earrings have been worn since early days of human history, originating in Asia and the Middle East.
Classic hoop earrings of the 1940s to 1960s are popular again today. And why not? They can be made as screw-on, clip-on, or on posts. They can hug the ear or dangle dramatically. Many are very lightweight and comfortable to wear.
Now that we are into the holidays, add a new pair of vintage earrings to your party fashions!
September 6th, 2013
Disposable tissues (read Kleenex) are a part of the American lifestyle today. Not so in years past or even today in other parts of the world. Today we are very conscious of the spread of germs and anyhow, who wants to clean used hankies?
Just a couple of years ago, my husband and I were cruising the Mediterranean and I got an awful cold. We ran out of little travel tissue packs and started the search for more – or any size tissues! None on the ship, none in the local pharmacia. A couple of Spanish ports later we did find “disposable handkerchiefs” in a Moroccan store.
As a girl in the 1950s, I had many hankies. A young lady always carried one on two. My mother had what seemed to be hundreds. Most had appliques, cut-work, lace trim, lace insets, needle work, monogram, and/or other decoration from simple to elaborate. The hankie had to co-ordinate with the outfit!
My father had dozens of large, fine-linen handkerchiefs. Much more useful.
Today, cloth handkerchiefs are still used sparingly. In the US today, brides usually have a traditional highly decorated hankie for fashion only. Most brides will also carry a travel pack of disposables!
August 28th, 2013
This piece of history is a beautiful box of sterling silver with a little drawer. The repousse top has a scene of an estate house with garden and trees. Elaborate scroll work makes a frame for the scene and also forms the outline of the box itself.
But, even more interesting, are the hallmarks. English hallmarks of this period were very specific as to the maker, date, and place of origin.
The “W.C.”, of course, is the maker, William Comyns & Sons. William Comyns worked his entire life (1859-1885) as a silversmith in the West End of London. His sons joined him and continued the business. They were well-known for die-stamped scenes and this is one of them. He manufactured goods for export to America as well as for Londoners. He was known to ship items to Shreve and Co in San Francisco. As this piece was purchased in northern California, it is the likely route. Read more here
The next symbol, the lion, indicates the purity of the silver. In this case .925 sterling. Next is the city mark for London, the leopard’s head which has been used since 1822.
The last symbol is the date mark. From 1696 to 1935, the alphabetical date mark changed each May cycling through from “a” to “u”, skipping “j”. The cartouche which contained the letter and the letter style itself changed with each iteration of the alphabet.
So, this box was made by a family company of silversmiths in the West End of London between May 1899 and May 1900. It was transported to San Francisco and sold at Shreve & Co. Perhaps it even survived the 1906 earthquake!
August 12th, 2013
Seeing all the ads for back to school clothing reminded me of the 50′s fashions for high school and college. Girls wore woolen pleated skirts with sweater sets. A twin set is usually a fine gauge short sleeve or sleeveless sweater worn with a matching cardigan. But typically the cardigan was worn over the shoulders and kept in place with the never-before-or-since sweater guard. Twin sets have made a comeback. Will the sweater guard be far behind?
July 20th, 2013
On the US East Coast, we have an ongoing heat wave so I am inside all day long. And I think of the phrase “dog days of summer”. In ancient times, it was called this because of the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, in the summer. Today, it usually means late July and early August although there are many interpretations. Whatever the details, it is the hot, hot days of summer as we are now experiencing here. And speaking of dogs…
This dog charm necklace has 11 dogs accented with faux pearls and are on a fancy link chain.
One of our old photos shows a farm house, man and woman, and the dog. It is inscribed to Olla Morgan who was born about 1870 in Burlingame, Kansas. We have a couple of her autograph books and some other pictures.
If you want to feel cooler, maybe this plush dog from How the Grinch Stole Christmas will help.
Whatever you do this season, stay cool!
May 23rd, 2013
After a chilly and wet March and April here, suddenly it became warm and the flowers started blooming all over! I take a lot of flower pictures (ask my family). And flowers are a common decorative element on clothes, jewelry, table linens, vases, dinnerware…just about anything. So just for fun, here I have matched up my photos with items in our store. Happy Spring!
May 8th, 2013
First mentioned in 1911, National Postcard Week (NPCW) has had an on-again-off-again history. This year it is May 5th to 11th. In recent years much of the activity involves postcard swapping between collectors.
Previous posts to this blog have touched on the history and collectibility of postcards. So today I’ll just post a few of my favorite non-Holiday postals. Happy NPCW!
See also Jan 23rd, Oct 26th, Nov 26th, Apr 2nd.