Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Silk, Lace, Vintage Prada... What else could a girl ask for?

Fabulous Edwardian Lace Dress c. 1910- Mint Condition $225  SOLD
 As many of you know, in September of 2011, I combined shops with Kate Fine of The Hope Chest.  We now have a lovely spot in a historic building in the heart of Kensington Antique Row.  Kate specializes in vintage linens, clothing, hats, purses and all sorts of feminine antiquities.  I thought I would share some of her latest fabulous finds and let you meander through her collection. 
Detail of collar

Detail of Sleeve
Circa 1920 Wedding Dress in Pristine Condition $175
Closeup of Top
Back View of Dress- Really Spectacular!
Vintage c. 1970 Prada Shoes with Embroidered Detail $225  SOLD

Antique Crochet Buttons on Original Card-$20 each
Czech Plateau Frame c. 1920- $45

Closeup of Beautiful Work on Frame

 Now of course, these are MY personal favorites -- You never know what you will find!

 On a side note, wanted to spot light a fellow blogger and antiquer, Liz Mathews.  Liz just did a post on my shop and took the most FABULOUS pictures... I am so honored that she chose my shop to write about!  Visit Liz's blog as well as her 2 Etsy boutiques - Liz Mathews' Vintage Treasures and The French Poste.  You won't be disappointed!

Also, I plan on doing a future post on theft in antique stores.  I've been doing some interviews as well as research so hopefully I'll be able to give an informed overview of this serious topic.  I was "inspired" to focus on this due to the overwhelming problem of theft I've had in the last two months.  Over 6 items have been stolen!  If you have a chance, leave a comment concerning your thoughts on this subject.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For the Birds

As an antiques dealer, I run across many things... both interesting and mundane.  The really special things stick with me though, either because I take them home or price them too high:)  Moreover, most of the items I keep tend to be small and dainty for a little cabinet I have or books for reading and/or collecting.  
On this particular note, I come to a new acquisition.  For now, it's in the shop.  I'm hard pressed to find space for it at Abode de Newton (my house).  The lovely Terry (a trusted local "picker"-more on what that is later) found this special "set"... A 1796 edition of Pindar's Works.  Who was Pindar?  Who really cares?**  It's the binding that make these two orphaned books unique!   Gilt, leather, patina... Yes, they have these things.  But the bird stamping is what I fell in love with.  Two birds eating cherries from a bowl.  Simply wonderful!
Such an extraordinary binding make these books a fabulous piece of history.  Sadly, they've been separated from their brothers and sisters making them incomplete sets.  The bane of a booksellers existence- That and silverfish. But I'm just happy these beauties have survived over 200 years.  And the best part is the text is lively and interesting!  And at $22 each, they won't be here for much longer...

**OK- For those that are curious, I googled him and not much came up.  Once again, let's focus on what's important- The birds!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Steel" My Heart: A Love Affair with Cut Steel Buttons

Circa 1777 Cartoon advertising the brilliance of cut steel buttons

Flicker of candlelight, sparkling “diamonds” on your jacket…
What *"toy"* do I spy?

 Some Interesting Facts Concerning Cut Steel Buttons

-By the last quarter of the 18th century, cut steel became an alternative (albeit expensive) to diamonds and its substitutes, marcasite and paste.
    Fabulous assortment of cut steel buttons with pictorial interest
-The French begin their love affair with faceted steel not only for this monetary reason but also for patriotic pride.  King Louis XV asked the nobility and upper classes to give their jewels to the state to help fund the Seven Years War.  
Backs of cut steel pictorials
-Originally, cut steels had 15 facets.  By the late 19th c. this had been reduced to 5 facets.  A rule of thumb: the finer and older the piece the more facets the stud will have.  Also, true cut steel buttons have rivets showing on the underside.  Beware of stamped imitations!

-"Toys" is the antiquated term for "small steel goods such as scissors, razors, sword hilts, knives, cane tops, buckles, buttons, and jewelry".  

-Even though most European countries jumped on the cut steel band wagon, early on, its mecca was Birmingham, England; into the 19th and 20th centuries, however, France was the acknowledged forerunner. 
  • Image of cut steels, the far right example having a blue tint which was especially popular in the Victorian era. 
    -Take heed: Keep these glittering beauties dry!  Extremely prone to rust.  Even the moisture from your hands can cause this decay.  Cleaning products that remove rust also damage the shine thus buttons will never retain their original luster.
             -Use a magnet to identify true steel buttons.
Clear image of cut steel back showing rivets
     Japanned cut steel accented button
  • Overall picture of steel grouping - Some of these are in multiple sections and rivets can't be viewed unless taken apart.
    Additional image of steel buttons- Specifically note the 2nd from the left- it's a stamped rather than cut.  The far right button also appears to be stamped.
    Hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about these dainty bits and baubles!  
On a collecting note, I made a quick visit to the Gaithersburg Antique Show.  I was rather unimpressed initially but then found some really fun dealers.  I spent (over) my allotted budget and had a swell time!  I'm especially excited about some vintage & antique religious pieces as well as sets of fabulous black glass faux fabric buttons.  I'll take some shots of the new merchandise soon...
Sources for the Cut Steel Research:  
  • Button Button Identification and Price Guide by Peggy Ann Osborne
  • Buttons by Diana Epstein and Millicent Safro
  • The Big Book of Buttons 2nd edition by Elizabeth Hughes and Marion Kester
  • Morning Glory Antiques:  www.morninggloryantiques.com/collectVictSteel
18th c. Advertisement via Lang Antiques
All other images are via Flotsam and Jetsam

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vignette: Portrait of a Tiny Little Antique Shop


any small, pleasing picture or view.
Window scene featuring 19th c. dancing shoes, French wedding pin cushion and c. 1850 Provencal quilt ; Shoes- SOLD, Umbrella-SOLD

Lovely tabletop "story" featuring an Art Nouveau mirror, a Gibson girl sketch, amber bottles, and early 20th century handwritten menus; Sketch- SOLD

While I'm researching Victorian cut steel buttons for a near future posting, I wanted to share some pictures of the shop.  I did all new displays (which now need revamping!- ah- such is the life of a smalls dealer) and thought some of the "vignettes" turned out beautifully. I hope you enjoy these brief glimpses into the past... And join us in the present for some fabulous antiquing~!

1920s inspired arrangement with celluloid flapper doll, peach feather fan, and Art Deco perfume bottles

Antique children's display with Steiff bear, early Lotto game, and German fairytale book