Saturday, January 31, 2015

Goodbye January, Hello February!

I'm not sure I'll ever understand what all the hoopla surrounding the month of January is about, but I'm certainly glad to see it come to an end this year. My sister posted one of those snarky cards on Facebook that pretty much sums it up: "January is like the Monday of the months". True. For me, it's been about nothing much more than undoing, taxes, and a virus - all very Monday-like topics.
Undoing was all about Christmas decor, of course. I spent so much time and effort on cleaning up my basement last summer, I actually resented putting boxes of things accumulated back into the basement after the holidays: unsold items for the antique mall spaces, a new, artificial tree (the old one's still there too), and a few other, new items. Apart from scaling things back both at home and the booth spaces, I've just let the starkness that is January take its cold grip on most decor themes.

Undoing is also the theme in a step closer to full retirement, as I've been working on year-end tax paperwork. There are plenty of i's to dot and t's to cross on each of the local, state and federal levels. I've been a Turbo Tax user for more than 15 years, and this year the software giant (Intuit) decided to trick users into having to upgrade software by eliminating key forms out of both the personal and corporate software packages in order to turn a fast buck. Not good, Intuit, not good, and I am NOT a happy customer.

Mid-January arrived and I got hit with a virus - not the Flu A or B, according to the swab test - just one of those, "you have to let it run its course" kinds of strains with aches, chills and a wicked cough. So much for getting anything productive started for the rest of the month. I've been a sloth ever since the first day it hit me. Three days later Mr. P had it. It's totally gross, especially when in the car together, windows rolled up, and we're both coughing.

Lest you think I'm nothing but sour on January, there were/are a few noteworthy celebrations in the month, including my former mother-in-law's 90th birthday. My daughters (her granddaughters) managed to pull off the sweetest surprise birthday party for her at her church. It was complete with a DJ playing big band tunes (and Granny danced!), lots of good food, and fellowship with old friends and family. Granny had just gotten over pneumonia prior to her big day. Here I was worried about her health, and I got sick two days after the party.
Mr. P's birthday is near the end of January. We've postponed the celebrating until one day early in February, though. That suits me just fine - February is much more worth celebrating, in my honest opinion.
I hope you've survived January - catching up on some good reads, staying well, and enjoying a little sunshine.
I have read every magazine in my backlog since September, along with a few books, have watched specials, sports and even started a new series or two on television (and I don't much care for sitting and watching TV). I am so ready for some motivation, and I have high expectations for February to deliver the key to that motivation.
What's your MO for getting through the month of January? Jumping into projects or just chillin'? Are you escaping the winter doldrums?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Tiny Collection - Miniature Books

In a recent post of mine, about midway through the photos, you may have caught a glimpse of yet another of my collections:  miniature books.
Miniature book titled, "Carletta"
This collection started out innocently enough. I remember spotting what became my first miniature book purchase at Springfield (OH), several years ago. I was mesmerized, and after purchasing it, I had a lightbulb moment. I knew this was a subject for which Mr. P. has a passion (books, not necessarily miniatures), and it could possibly be the spark to light the fire of my love of antiquing in him. He could join me in "the hunt". Wrong. Fire extinguished.

Nonetheless, I had the one book, and I never really intended it to become another collection. Sound familiar? Until my neighbor had a yard sale with a friend, who was selling a lot of miniature books, I had no intention of buying more miniature books. But this guy's father had once owned a book store in England, collected them, and the son was selling a few. I negotiated a wonderful deal on the lot and, so, my collection of miniature books was born. These tomes can cost thousands, though none of mine were that pricey. If you're lucky enough to find them, I've seen prices averaging between $25-$100 a piece.
According to this article, "Lilliputian Library: 4500 Miniature Books Form Huge Collection", miniature books are, technically, no more than 100mm (3.9 inches) in height, width or thickness. However, according to The Miniature Book Society's website, the size is no larger than 3x3 inches by US standards. The earliest known miniatures in print date to 1475, and each contains legible print, just like full-size books.

These miniature books are not to be confused with the Little Leather Corporation's library books of the early part of the 20th Century, which became mainstays in the everyday home where reading the classics (or at least giving the appearance of such) was a sign of enlightened, cultural status. These books measure approximately 4x3 1/8 inches. These books were widely popular among soldiers during WWI, carried as a way of feeling connected to home. Country Living wrote a little blurb on the books in 2014, as a valuable collectible to seek out during their fall fair, stating you should expect to pay up to $30 a piece. They can be bought for approximately $5 each (if you're lucky), and they're still fairly common to find.
Little Leather Library Books (green, plus two red)
Of personal interest among my miniatures are a few with inscriptions, which appeal to me for their age, their penmanship and their history, more so than the book's appearance or content. The book featured in the leading photo of this post, "Carletta", is inscribed inside with the name and date, Mary H. Dougall, 1857, in beautifully scripted penmanship.
Another book, one of three miniature dictionaries in my collection (boasting of 18,000 words), is a "Souvenir of 1934 Century of Progress Chicago" - the World's Fair - which was held there.
Inside the souvenir dictionary is written, "Ferd & Stella Worlds Fair 1934". This little book was acquired, among several of Stella's personal articles, from a friend who knew her personally.
The really cool thing about this little book is I also have a few other items, unrelated acquisitions, that are from the Chicago World's Fair that comprise yet ANOTHER collection, a cross-collectible, if you will (another day, another time).

Still another of my little books, "The Daily Companion", a prayer book, appears to have been originally printed and owned in 1916, yet gifted to a special someone in 1945, as the message inside notes: "From Uncle Frank to Kathy Aug. 1945". This book has a celluloid cover on it (not in the best shape, but not diseased either), with the image of St. Anthony on the front cover.
The cognac colored leather-covered book seen in the group photo above, titled "Gray's Elegy", is a second edition, printed in London and New York in 1905 (MDCCCCV in Roman Numerals, as written in antiquated style before modern rules would have it MCMV).
Interestingly, there are other available titles in this particular series noted inside the back pages:
The Queen says, - "Absolutely delightful little books." and "The prettiest little thumb-nail edition imaginable."
I suppose I'll count myself among the culturally enlightened with my tome titles, albeit in a small, small way, and continue displaying my humble little collection of little books on my little table for the time being.
These antique books are not commonly found, so if you see them and you're interested, you ought to snag them, especially if the asking price is right for you. I don't seek them out, but if I stumble across one (or more), and the price is right, I'll spring. It's been several years since that's happened. Hallmark and many other companies mass-produce miniature books even today, if you want to speculate on future hot collectibles, but don't say I encouraged you.
I have tear out pages from an interesting article in Traditional Home magazine from September 2006 (pre-Pinterest days) on this subject, featuring David H. Wice, a noted miniature book collector at the time. He said he collected them "for the print, the font, the binding, the content, and how it's presented", and that they are collected as mementos of his intellectual life vs. as artifacts.

Is this type of collection something you've seen before? Do you have any miniature books? Does this collection interest you? What do you find particularly interesting among this collection?

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Panoply Winter Booth Themes: Tea Time, Love, Luck

We've been at it again in our booth spaces, trying to beat the winter doldrums and refresh our spaces, simultaneously.
Pennsylvania House secretary with original, convex glass panels, matching chair
We understand January is hot tea month, and so we're running with it as a theme in our booth spaces. We've filled our latest large furniture addition (the secretary pictured), and we've rearranged shelves nearby. We've brought out any and all teacups and saucers, as well as teapots and pitchers, to give our customers the opportunity to cozy up with some vintage pieces for their collections. While purple and pink glasswares complement the soft tones of the florals, traces of red and green glassware remain, with thoughts of Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day in the months to come.
Bavarian chocolate service, Noritake demitasse, and pink depression glass among the shelves
Whether it's tea, hot chocolate, espresso or any other warm beverage preferred being sipped from a delicate cup, we're ready. We're blooming throughout our displays, with everything from roses (symbolizing love)...

Antique, framed  rose water color stands behind 3-pc crystal / brass cherub centerpiece set
Limoges and Bavarian pieces showcase roses and courtly figurals forget me nots (signifying remember me, in my memory)....
Nippon porcelain tabletop accessories with forget me nots violets (modesty, faithfulness) and pansies (loving thoughts)....
Vintage, open handled tidbit plate and mustache mug 
Porcelain tea strainers with violets; Occupied Japan cup and saucer, hand-blown glass pitcher and bowl
Cup and saucer, trinket boxes with pansies, forget me nots 
English cream and sugar set with violets
We're thinking token thoughts of warmth, of love, of the hope of spring's delicate awakenings.
We're even encouraging the little ones to join in the tea time fun.
Vintage child's tea set, single service Asian pottery tea set and teapot 
We hope you're enjoying the quiet respite that winter brings, and taking time for yourself, as well as time shared with loved ones. Little tokens such as these pictured from our current booth displays are just a few suggestions of inexpensive ways to take the winter doldrums away between now and the first day of spring.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

You May Be a Flapper Girl If.....

In 1983, our home town launched a campaign called "Do the Charleston" (West Virginia), coinciding with the opening of our first indoor shopping mall. Below is the image on the iconic t-shirt that was printed and available (I still have mine and no, that's not a really a bad framing job, other than my efforts of doctoring up a photo of a wrinkled t-shirt).
I was a performing member of the Charleston Ballet at the time, and our Belgian-born director created a ballet in tribute to the campaign titled, "The Flappers" and followed with one titled "Images", as a tribute to Erte, the Russian-born French artist and designer of the Art Deco era. Both were so much fun! From campy and vampy to flirty and short-skirty, we danced to the music of the era, and pulled out all the stops with period accessories: long beads, beaded bags, cigarette holders, garters, cloches, feathered headbands, boas and gloves.
THAT is when the bug bit me! I could relate to the Flapper girl, and all the history associated with the new-found independence women were claiming of that era. I grew up in the 1970s, not a far reach in how women were striving for new-found freedom, some 50 years after their Flapper feathers were first being ruffled.

Apart from all the ideology of the era and the analogies between the women of the 1920s and 1970s, the fashion really resonates with me also, even today. It's a big part of the "smalls" we like to showcase in our antique booth spaces, too, whether it's hats, gloves, handbags, prints, or other period accessories. Flapper fashion is also where my heart lies in collecting. It's part of why I call myself a Flapper Girl.
Whether you're a casual admirer and observer of the Flapper era through movies like "The Great Gatsby", or shows such as "Boardwalk Empire" or "Downton Abbey", here's a list of ten things you may want to consider to determine whether or not you may be a Flapper Girl, too.

You may be a Flapper Girl if......
  1. You have one or more ladies, all decked out, in your decor, with bobbed hairstyles.
  2. You have one or more ladies, all decked out, "au naturel", in your decor, with bobbed hairstyles. Think Josephine Baker.
  3. You have more than your share of beaded and mesh handbags and wristlets, either on display or at the ready for use on special occasions
  4. You have an authentic outfit (or two or three more) from that period (certainly the "Roaring Twenties", but could also include attire from the decade before and/or after the 1920s) in your wardrobe or decor. And, you may have the boyish figure that could -  and would - wear those outfits. You may also prefer very short or bobbed hair as opposed to long hair and updos.
  5. You love jazz music, and you love to dance free-style, and/or you know how to do "the Charleston" (photo source unknown). Or once did. ;)
  6. You have a little "nipper" bottle or other period essentials (bobby pins, coin purse, garters, hankies and jewelry) that could be inconspicuously tucked away, so only your innocent side have the accessories to inconspicuously tuck those essentials into. ;)
  7. You may be a Flapper Girl if your fashion icon is Coco Chanel, and you have one or more books related in your personal library. Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel wasn't afraid to break the tradition of women wearing big hats (even though she started out as a milliner of those big hats), corsets and tight dresses in order to create loose-fitting (sometimes of men's wear) sports clothes, and the famous little black dress.  She was also the queen of mixing low-end jewelry (costume) with high-end pieces received as gifts from her long line of suitors.
  8. have more of those "au naturel" women to anchor those Chanel tomes on the shelves.
  9. You may be a Flapper Girl if you have one or more LBD (little black dress) in your wardrobe, for which Coco is credited as having made iconic.
  10. And, you may be a Flapper Girl if any of these images made your heart go pitter patter or skip a little beat.  If so, here's a book I found to be entertaining and on point with much of the history of the Flapper. Charlotte Moss recommended this as "bathtub reading" in a magazine (which I can't recall now) years ago.
So, are you a Flapper Girl?  What resonates most with you of that era? If not that era, which one from the past makes your heart sing and why?

Postscript:  A special thanks to Christina Paul of Penny Wise blog, for leaving a comment, telling about a fabulous series on Netflix, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Oh my goodness! I tuned in for the first episode of two seasons of this Australian drama series, and I am in love!  The series showcases all of what constitutes the Flapper era, all in good taste. The clothes are so spectacular, the lead character is strong, and the historical references seem accurate. I look forward to a marathon of many more episodes. Thank you, Christina!

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Little Decor Changes for Every Season

I love clipping and pinning inspiration ideas for my racing mind, and if you follow my blog (thank you!), you may also want to join my activity on Hometalk (click here, or the Hometalk button on my blog sidebar).

I just finished curating a board of 28 little decor changes with a big impact on Hometalk, and I invite you to explore some of those inspiring ideas by simply clicking on the collage image below. Once you're on the Hometalk link, you will see the board has each original source / creator of all the individual posts clipped there.  

Although it's labeled as 28, I expect I'll be clipping more and more to the original board, as I follow many bloggers - on their sites, their Hometalk pages, and other social media. I used past posts in my best efforts to encompass a good variety of seasonal and holiday touches. I also tried to keep it simple, so that no detailed level of skill (or money) is required. However, there are a few with some more advanced DIY skills included for those up for the challenge!

Here's an image of the board I just curated on little decor changes with a big impact:
28 little decor changes with big impact
Once you're at the linked page above, you can just click on the "FOLLOW" button below my photo, and you'll be following all of my activity on Hometalk, including ideas I've shared, along with those of others I'm following.  Or, you can choose to just follow the particular boards you're interested in, or start your own!

I have found Hometalk to be a very user-friendly way to not only clip ideas to boards, much like Pinterest, but to be able to engage with others through comments, messages, and even through posting questions, similar to Facebook. When you post an idea or question, the member community of both pros and amateurs jump right in, and help you find answers to your everyday home and garden dilemmas, and give you immediate feedback on projects you're sharing.  

Many thanks to those who are following me and supporting me, both here and on Hometalk.  We all help each other in blogland, and that makes for some great conversation and friendships, both virtual and real! Thanks, too, to the folks at Hometalk for inviting me to share others' talents!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Have You Measured Your Bustline Lately?

Not that bustline, silly. Oh, how the English language can deceive with its double meaning of words! I'm talking about your bustline collection.

I seem to have quite the gathering of busts in my decor, especially if you include full statuary in that category. Would you like to see my bustline...collection? Allow me to introduce you to those among my collection...

By the way, every single one of these have no particular pedigree, though a few have sentimental backstories from whom or how they were acquired. All are either vintage or antique, acquired from estate sales, auctions, antique stores and/or shows over the years.
"Atala", Art Nouveau Native American heroine in French novel by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand
Alexander Backer (NY) boy & girl busts (after Houdon). MoMA "Seated Dancer" (foreground)

A. Moreau's, "Harp Girl"
Three Graces salt statue (unmarked)
Art Deco gals, repurposed (L, unmarked, R, Petite Choses, USA)
Little violinist lamp (unmarked)
Seated fairy, reading (unmarked)
Capodimonte girl, boy (pictured with quarter for size perspective)
Made in France - girl (my fave), boy (after Houdon). As a matter of perspective, the books pictured are miniatures.
Oops! - real (mannequin) busts, upcycled & adorned with antique & vintage articles
Rousseau's peasant girl, boy lamps
Boulton's Chief Quanah Parker, Comanche
Juan Clara's "Girl Standing on Stool" (amidst a few Hummels)
The next two are currently in storage for now.
Terra cotta bust of young girl, unmarked
Marwal, "Marguerite" peasant girl
Here's one I actually sold (below). This little girl was so heavy, she bruised me every time I would move her around the house (solid alabaster).
Alabaster girl, unmarked
Have I mentioned my statuary in the garden? I wrote a post titled, "Collected Cast of Garden Characters" last year on them.  I may or may not have collected one or more since then, I cannot lie.

I've always bought busts and statuary simply for their personal appeal. I can certainly see a theme in my selection, now that I put them together in one post. I gravitate toward child-like or putto characters, and French, for the most part.  I also love the graceful lines of dancer-like figures.  I thought for the longest time the Native American Comanche figure was a stand alone choice, which goes well with my Indian Summer in the Sunroom. However, I just recently discovered the spelter "Atala" bust that looked like an Art Nouveau woman with a scarf or veil on her head is actually a Native American heroine, as envisioned by the novel penned by Frenchman Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand in 1801 (credited with being the founder of Romanticism in French literature). 

Is statuary something you include in your decor?  If so, how do you lean in your choices? How's your bustline - flat, or well-endowed? Do tell!

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