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Friday, July 9, 2010

Thank you to all those who have expressed concern.....

This has been a rough year so far and while my intentions were good, real life has gotten in the way, with the blog and other concerns having to be put on hold while some more pressing issues are resolved.  I very much enjoyed the very short time of posting here and will start back up on a regular basis as soon as possible.  And again, thanks so much for the encouraging emails!

Take care,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

German Neoclassical Silver Swan Open Salt

                                                                                                                                             My Mom has collected open salts for years, limited to crystal, silver, and swan-form in any material - and being a researching fool, I've cataloged her entire collection.  This wonderfully detailed Beidermeier/Empire-style piece, just 2⅜" tall and 2¼" wide, has a trio of swans rising from the base to support a delicately pierced band with a blown glass liner.  It bears a "13." lothige mark indicating .812½ fineness silver, and a "P.B&C." maker's mark, used 1814-50 by Peter Bruckmann & Co. of Heilbronn, Germany.

Georg Peter Bruckmann took over his father's silversmith business in 1805, he was instrumental in the development of Germany's silver industry, a prolific manufacturer of quality silver and the first to produce machine-made flatware on large scale.  The firm's name was changed to Bruckmann & Söhne after his death in 1850, grandsons Peter and Ernst Bruckmann continued the company's quality production after taking over from their father in 1887, the firm passed out of family hands in 1968, following Peter's son Dietrich's death, and was out of business by 1973.

Here's a short article by Karl Kemp, author of The World of Biedermeier (2001)

Search for Biedermeier

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vintage Nettie Rosenstein Pavé Rhinestone Set

                                                                                                                                       Every once in a while I run into costume jewelry so big and sparkly that I turn into that little girl happily watching Mom get dressed up to go out - like this stunning circa 1950s set of brooch and earrings by famed mid-20th century fashion designer Nettie Rosenstein (1890-1980). The large three-dimensional flower is covered in glittering pavé-set rhinestones set in silver-tone metal, the brooch is a little over 2" across, the petal shape clip earrings measure approx. 1⅛" x ¾".  Typical of Rosenstein's designs, it's beautifully constructed and well-designed, with the tiny crystals still bright decades later.

Born is Austria, Nettie Rosencrans emigrated to the U.S. as a child, later marrying ladies underwear manufacturer Saul Rosenstein in 1913.  Soon after her marriage, she started designing and making dresses in her home, by the 1920s she was very successful, her designs (including the classic "little black dress") were highly regarded and very popular despite being in the upper price range of ready-to-wear.  Here's Nettie's biography in the Jewish Women's Archive.

Morning Glory Collects page shows a wonderful selection of the imaginative Rosenstein jewelry.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Souvenir Spoon Sunday ~ Washington Monument

                                                                                                                                               This is one of my favorite spoon designs, designed by Robert Leding of Leding & Moore, Washington, D.C.; U.S. Design Patent #20,339 was issued on Nov. 18, 1890.  The patent application describes it as, "...a representation of the Washington Monument, forming the main ornamentation of the spoon-handle, and surrounded by a wreath or garland entwined along the monument, and a representation of the United States Capitol building, occupying the center of the bowl.".  It was a very popular souvenir, offered in tea, orange and coffee sizes, and was also available all gilt or just the bowl (a light gold-wash remains on this one).

The Washington Monument, a marble obelisk towering 555' 5⅛" high and weighing 81,120 tons, was completed in 1884 after decades of planning and construction; a four-year renovation was completed in 2000.  The monument, with its long reflecting pool is an awe-inspiring sight - and who can forget the scene with Forrest Gump and Jenny reuniting there?  Images of the obelisk are still a popular souvenir, the 1901 advertisement below shows the spoon along with some other Washington, D.C. novelty items.


Here's A View on Cities page on The Washington Monument.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ølbolle - Norwegian Ale Bowls with Rosemaling

                                                                                                                                           Years ago, I picked up these two late 19th-mid 20th century Norwegian dragon-style kjenge or ale bowls (ølbolle), the older pieces were usually made with horse heads, as well as similar bird form pieces called ale hens (ølhøne).  This size was intended for use as drinking cups, and often floated in larger ale bowls until used by the men to dip out their beer, they were usually used for weddings and other important ceremonies or gatherings.The blue one measures approximately 9" long, with a 4" wide bowl, and the red one is 10½" long (including tongue), 3¾" wide bowl.  They're often decorated with traditional Norwegian floral painting (rosemaling), but also left unpainted to show the intricate carving.  These two pieces were most likely made as souvenir items and one of them still retains its old paper label. 

A 1901 travel book on Norway discusses wood-carvings and shows some examples, including an ale bowl:

There's an absolutely gorgeous antique large ale bowl at the Erikson Gallery.  There are also a number of carvers working in the traditional styles, I'm particularly drawn to the work of Howard Sherpe of Westby, WI (click on link at lower left of page to see more of his work), and of the Norsk Wood Works in Barronett, WI - and check out the family's beautiful Norwegian Fjord Horses (starting 17 pics down are details of a wonderful carved sleigh).  Rosemaling is also done by many artists, Rhoda Fritsch of Aurora, IL has a great website with her work, and information on the different regional styles.

Search Books for Norwegian Wood Carving
Search Books for Rosemaling

Friday, March 26, 2010

Victorian Bristol Glass Vase ~ Lily of the Valley

                                                                                                                                              Lily of the Valley is my birth-flower and I've always loved the delicate fragrant blossoms, draping gracefully from amongst the wide tapering leaves.  They don't really grow down here in the Sunshine State, so I have a collection of items adorned with their image - silver, china, jewelry, and several vases including this Victorian era decorated glass piece, a type usually called Bristol glass.  The earlier, 18th century enamel decorated glass made in Bristol, England was of a much finer quality than most of these fairly common mid to late 19th century glassware pieces, frequently found with nature-inspired designs, and they're usually not even British, but more often produced in Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), other European countries, or the U.S.  This 7¼" tall vase, mold-blown white glass, with a rough pontil mark, has hand painted enamel leaves on a warm beige background, the blossoms were masked off (as in watercolor painting), leaving them depicted in the crisp white of the glass base, faint thin gold lines circle the rim and base.

Here's a slide-show from Country Living magazine on Victorian Bristol Glass, and an article from the Antiques Digest of the Old and Sold website on Bristol Glass.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gilt Brass Art Nouveau Smoking Lady Ash Tray

                                                                                                                                               This early 20th century ashtray is interesting, literally a "tray", it's actually better suited for holding jewelry or other small objects than any form of burning leaves.  Most early ash trays didn't have a groove for the cigarette or cigar to rest in, and some were quite lovely, often not even recognized now as smoking accessories.  However, the bas-relief of the stylishly chapeaued lady, her cigarette's undulating floral-enhanced ring of smoke circling her head, clearly shows the purpose of this piece.  Unmarked and made of very heavy cast brass with remnants of the original gilding, it measures about 7½" x 6".

Similar Art Nouveau period ash trays were also made of bronze, pewter and silver.  The German firm WMF (Württembergische MetallwarenFabrik) produced a bit more delicately featured smoking lady in silverplated pewter, also offering the same design without the cigarette as a card tray; and American manufacturer Unger Bros. made a line of sterling silver ash trays (1904 catalog page below).

Collectors Weekly article on Antique and Vintage Ashtrays

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Norwegian Silver Viking Ship Open Salt

                                                                                                                                               I've been collecting silver for years, and have had an interest in Scandinavian history since early childhood, perhaps triggered by the Danish part of my heritage.  As a souvenir spoon collector, I have many featuring Vikings, their ships, etc. - and also a collection of silver, pewter and celluloid open salts in the form of tiny longboats/longships, most with matching salt spoons.  The one featured today is an early 20th century piece by Marius Hammer (1847-1927), beautifully crafted of .830 fineness silver, it's a less realistic shape than many of the Viking Ship salts, but more practical with its shallow wide body, still retaining a light gold-wash and its original clear glass liner.  The tiny fierce dragon heads with their ribbed rings have wonderful detail, and the simple gold-washed ball-twist spoon has a bowl formed from a 1911 10 Ore coin.  The same design salt (missing the rings and liner) is shown in Heacock & Johnson's 5,000 Open Salts, #4261.

The Marius Hammer workshop in Bergen, Norway opened in 1871, with production of quality pieces until 1930, the marks used were a conjoined hammer/M, "MH", or "M.HAMMER".  Here's a great website, The Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks:

This is a 1904 ad for Hammer, noting his specialties and achievements, the 1811 start of the family firm (by Søren Hammer), and the endorsement of King Edward VII.

5,000 Open Salts: A Collector's Guide by Heacock & Johnson is usually considered the salt collector's "Bible" and invaluable for research; The Open Salt Compendium by Jzyk & Robertson is a luscious volume, filled with color photographs of beautiful and often uncommon salts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wedgwood Jasper Ware Pitcher in Sage Green

In my late teens, Mom had a pair of Sage Green Wedgwood jasperware earrings that I admired, so she had them converted to pierced and gave them to me - so sweet!  Not really a huge fan of the more common blue jasper, but I loved the soft green, it reminded me of the velvety underside of leaves, and so I started collecting it.  Wedgwood jasperware is made from a dense, unglazed stoneware with a matte surface, usually decorated with white classical motifs that were cast in separate molds and applied to the base before firing.  This is a #24 - 6¼" tall jug or pitcher, dating from between 1891 and 1908; it's a "dip" or "dipped" piece, referring to having a layer of one of the various colors of jasper over a white body rather than the body being "solid" colored jasper.

The Stoke-on-Trent/ website is a great resource for English pottery, with an informative page on Jasper WareJosiah Wedgwood Marks, and Dating Wedgwood.  Another website has a Color and Date Guide to Wedgwood Jasper, and the Ceramics Today site has an interesting article on The Life of Josiah Wedgwood and his wares.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Snusdosa - Swedish Birch Bark Snuff Box

                                                                                                                                               I love boxes, all kinds of boxes, small, large, fancy, simple, old, new, silver, wood - all holding some sort of special appeal.  There is just something so pleasing about their usefulness as containers for some possible treasure; and who can resist opening up a closed box?  This one is a late 19th - early 20th century Swedish snuff box (snusdosa), measuring aproximately 3⅜" wide and 2⅜" tall.  Made of thin layers of birch bark wrapped around a wooden base, attached with tiny wooden pegs, it is charmingly decorated with rows of little stamped designs, the central band having flowers accented with red and green paint, as is the heart-decorated joinery.  A pokerwork phrase circling the edge translates to, "When the stomach has had its food the nose shall have its reward" (Thanks, Tua!), the wooden lid is decorated with a red and green pokerwork heart motif and has a folded leather pull tab.

An 1899 newspaper article mentions that Swedish handicrafts became more readily available  here in the U.S. after the 1893 Columbian Exposition.  The writer notes that most of the wooden wares, often decorated with paint and pyrography, were crafted by self sufficient Swedish women, it also mentions the use of quaint mottos and the popularity of the heart motif.

Here are a couple more birch bark snusdosas, this one in the Upplands Museum: Digital Museum, and the other at the Nordic Museum: Nordiska Museet

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's Souvenir Spoon Sunday! ~ Florida Alligators

Woohoo!!!  Okay, maybe it's not all that exciting.....but since I have a few hundred of the darn things floating around the house, have decided that Sunday posts will be devoted to souvenir spoons.  For me, they hold interest not only in their often beautifully done designs, but also in the history of their subjects.

I travelled around a lot as a kid, moving to the Orlando area a month before Disney World opened in 1971, it's the closest thing to a hometown I have.  When we moved here it was a small town, we could ride our horses down roads that are now busy highways, spring would bring the overwhelming scent of orange blossoms from vast acres of groves, wildlife was abundant and the pace was fairly slow and easy - very different now.  The tourist industry has been big business in Florida since the late 19th century, due in large part to Henry Flagler bringing railways to the state and promoting his luxury hotels, the boom was in full bloom by the 1890s, just in time for the souvenir spoon craze.  The local alligators were a popular subject, the first spoon below, with its detailed (front & back)  figural handle, was made by Paye & Baker in early 1900s, the one with the alligator chomping down on the gilt orange leaf bowl was made by Alvin in the 1890s, and the perky little 'gator was made by Dominick & Haff for Jacksonville-based jeweler Greenleaf & Crosby, who held the patent rights to the design (1892 Patent D21560).

Jacksonville was probably the busiest tourist destination in the early days, and the alligator was a particularly popular souvenir of the city.  In addition to being able to take live babies home (poor things!), they were stuffed, or dissected to sell their body parts separately in various forms.  Less cruel options like the sterling spoons above, jewelry, decorated china, photographs, etc., and the work of anonymous carvers, who decorated, among other things, canes, pipes, corkscrews, letter openers, and spoons like the ladle below, with mother of pearl bowl and orange wood handle.

There are a couple of short articles that appeared in Antiques & Art Around Florida magazine, Florida Alligator Carvings, and Florida Souvenirs 1890 to 1930.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Art Nouveau Dragonfly Watch Pin

Well here's the first post on my new blog, thought long and hard about which piece should launch this site, finally deciding that the dragonfly pin used as my avatar would be the right choice.  Bought at an antique show in early '80s, this lovely piece from the first few years of the 20th century, made by Newark, NJ manufacturer Riker Brothers, launched my dragonfly collection.  Crafted of 14 karat gold, it's highlighted with enamel wings in soft shades of blue and green, the eyes are demantoid garnets, a diamond and ruby on the body.  It's a watch pin, with a hook on the back to hold a small ladies pocket watch, though it can also be worn quite nicely by itself.

A version of this pin in different colors is shown on page 109 in The Glitter & The Gold, Fashioning America's Jewelry, edited by Ulysses Dietz, a great book showing all types of jewelry and related items from the late 19th and early 20th century, by numerous Newark, New Jersey jewelry manufacturers, with some interesting insight into the jewelry-making industry.  The book can be found at the Newark Museum Shop as well as Amazon and other booksellers.

William Riker (1822-98) opened his first shop in 1846 as Riker & Tay, operating under several incarnations until he and son Cortlandt left the firm in 1892, leaving brothers William Jr. and Joseph to rename the company as Riker Bros.