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Archive for the ‘Studies of Antiques’ Category

The Sir Thomas Brocklebank, Baronet, Uniform Case

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

One of the most fascinating and handsome of the objects required for military life is the steel case to protect an officer’s uniform, mounted with brass insignia plates of the maker and the owner. The manner of fitting of top over bottom is incredibly tight, impervious to most weather, sloshing water, etc.  Our most recent buying trip to England unearthed a splendid example which we had polished and  had a custom stand created by a highly talented North Carolina metalsmith.  This is the Sir Thomas Brocklebank, Baronet, uniform case:

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The mounts, locks and slides are all brass and the medallions on the newly created stand are as well.

This is the point at which the computer assists research beyond the wildest dreams of the intrepid antiques dealer of today compared to my early years–minutes instead of untold library hours reveal vast amounts of information!

While one is tempted to jump immediately to the owner, a study of the uniform maker is an equally interesting point to begin, as the dates of the company and its locations may help us understand which of the baronets Brocklebank may have owned this case.

The uniform maker–not the case maker–is identifiable by the plaque: H. (Henry) Poole and Company of Saville Row.

According to Wickipedia and the Poole website, Henry Poole & Co is a gentleman’s bespoke tailor now located at №15 Savile Row in London. The acknowledged ‘Founders of Savile Row’ and creators of the Dinner Jacket, the company has remained a family-run business since their establishment in 1806. They opened first in Brunswick Square, in 1806, originally specializing in military tailoring, with particular merit at the time of the Battle of Waterloo.

Henry Poole ran the business from 1846,  when he moved it to 36-39 Savile Row upon the death of his father James,  until his own death in 1876, and was succeeded by cousin Samuel Cundey, whose legacy continued, for five generations, to the present-day owners Angus Cundey and son Simon. In the two centuries, the tailors have enjoyed great success and endured extreme difficulties, but survive to this day as the typification of excellence in bespoke men’s tailoring. The company still holds many Royal Warrants, and services the Lord Chamberlain’s office with court dress, with their livery department  creating uniforms for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The company is also credited with the creation of the Dinner Suit (known in America as a Tuxedo for a Mr. Potter of Tuxedo Park, NY,  who had one made by Poole for his visit to the Prince of Wales at Sandringham House in 1886, for whom the dinner jacket was first designed).

The period at Savile Row under Henry Poole and his successors in the 19th century saw the company showered with royal warrants from England and abroad:

HIM Emperor Napoleon III 1858
HRH The Prince of Wales 1863
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh 1868
HRH The Crown Prince of Prussia 1868
HM Queen Victoria 1869
HM The King of the Beligians 1869
HRH The Crown Prince of Denmark 1869
HRH The Prince of Teck 1870
HRH Prince Christian of Schleswig–Holstein 1870
The Khedive of Egypt 1870
HRH Prince Oscar of Sweden & Norway 1871
HM King Amadeus I of Spain 1871
HRH Prince Louis of Hesse 1871
HRH Crown Prince of Russia 1874
HIM The Emperor Pedro II of Brazil 1874
HIM Tsar Alexander II of Russia 1875
HM The King of Hellenes 1877
HI&RH The Crown Prince of Austria 1878
HM King Umberto I of Italy 1879
HIM Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany
HIM Tsar Alexander III of Russia 1881
HG The Duke of Genoa 1891
HG Friedrich, Grossherzog of Baden 1891
HG The Duke of Aosta 1892
HRH Prince Emanuel of Savoie 1892
HIM The Shah of Persia
HM The King of Denmark 1893
HM King Edward VII 1902
HRH Prince Albrecht of Prussia 1903
HH The Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda 1905
HIM The Shah of Persia 1906
The Khedive of Egypt 1910
HM Queen Alexandra 1911
HRH The Prince of Wales 1922
The Imperial Household of Japan 1923
HM King George V 1928
HM The King of the Bulgarians 1936
HM King George VI 1940
HIM Emperor Haile Selassie 1959
HM Queen Elizabeth II 1976

Sir Thomas Brocklebank was right on target with his choice of uniform maker!  So who was he?

The Brocklebank Baronetcy, of Greenlands in the County of Cumberland and Springwood in the County of Lancaster, is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 22 July 1885 for Thomas Brocklebank. He was a Deputy Lieutenant, High Sheriff and Justice of the Peace for Cumberland. Born Thomas Fisher, he had assumed by Royal license the surname of Brocklebank (which was that of his maternal grandfather) in lieu of Fisher in 1845. His grandson, the third Baronet, was a Director of the Cunard Steamship Company, of the Suez Canal Company and of the Great Western Railway. His eldest son, the fourth Baronet, died unmarried and was succeeded by his younger brother, the fifth Baronet. He was Chairman of Cunard Ltd and Cunard White Star Ltd between 1959 and 1965. As of 2007 the title is held by his son, Sir Aubrey Brocklebank, the sixth Baronet, who succeeded in 1974. He is the Honorary Treasurer of the Standing Council of the Baronetage. [1]

Brocklebank baronets, of Greenlands and Springwood (1885)
Sir Thomas Brocklebank, 1st Baronet (1814–1906)
Sir Thomas Brocklebank, 2nd Baronet (1848–1911)
Sir Aubrey Brocklebank, 3rd Baronet (1873–1929)
Sir Thomas Aubrey Lawies Brocklebank, 4th Baronet (1899–1953)
Sir John Montague Brocklebank, 5th Baronet (1915–1974)
Sir Aubrey Thomas Brocklebank, 6th Baronet (born 1952)

So we have only three possible owners of this uniform case:  the first, second and fourth baronets, all Sir Thomas.  The fourth Sir Thomas would be unlikely as these cases generally predate his lifetime.  So that leaves either the 1st Baronet or the 2nd Baronet.  The first Sir Thomas had many offices that might have required a uniform created for ceremonial and court occasions by Poole.

Both men were, as were all of the family, intimately involved in the management of T. and J. Brocklebank, Ltd–one of the oldest shipbuilding and sea merchant family businesses in English history.  The company eventually became a subsidiary of Cunard according to the National Archives of England, thus bringing the Brocklebank name in English shipping history to 1965 when Sir John retired as Chairman of Cunard.

Alas,  the mystery will probably remained unsolved forever as both the first and second Sir Thomas Brocklebanks may have owned this fine uniform case.  What is not a mystery is the handsome side or console table created from this fascinating bit of English history!

 

 

 

 

 

History Revealed in a Lap Desk for Travel

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Every gentleman and lady of the late 18th to the early 20th century travelled with mounds of luggage, among the pile the essential “lap desk” or “writing box”.  We came back with a great selection and they have just been posted on the website under New Shipments.  One I really want to share with you because the history has slowly been unravelled.

Exterior of c. 1830 Rosewood Staveley Family Lap Desk

Exterior of c. 1830 Rosewood Staveley Family Lap Desk

This by first observation is a c. 1830 rosewood lap desk of exceptional richness with fine brass bindings and escutcheons.  The interior is classic with three hidden drawers, black leather surfaces, etc.  There is also a full length drawer that pulls out of one end.  But what is intriguing always is any inscription on the top inset brass panel:  This one has a Stag’s Head, at gaze, cabossed (in heraldry terms).  Inscriptions are:  God’s Providence Is Our Inheritance  and  “Ut Aspirat Cerves”, roughly “As A Stag Aspire”.  This is shown in the next photo.

Staveley Family Crest

Staveley Family Crest

For those who have used Fairbairn’s Crests you know it seldom leads to one definitive family only for a crest–sometimes fifteen or more share a crest.  In this instance, only the Stravely family has such a crest!  But much more exciting is what still resides inside the lap desk:  one letter, one note in a beautiful Spencerian hand, and a stamp to impress the family crest and a monogram into wax seals for letters, the monogram “TKS”.  The note is a set of instructions given with the desk, or so it appears, leading off:  “To releave the secret drawers etc etc”.  Very useful as the three small ones have an unusually tricky mechanism that would otherwise require hours to unravel!  And I love the word “releave” rather than release, as it is indeed of course pressure that is releaved or released by pressing a certain spot and the trap cover springs out.

The letter has an address:

Miss Stravely

Old Slenningford Hall

Ripon,    Yorks  (Yorkshire)

Here are the notes and the stamp:


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And here the blessings of the modern age come to the fore.  I began to research the family history of the Straveleys, of Old Slenningford Hall, and of Ripon, Yorkshire.  Looking for family history c. 1830 I discovered that Thomas Kitchingman Straveley, born in 1791, was the head of the family at this time–the initials under the family crest are his.  (The family held lands of modest value and a handsome Hall as their seat dating to the 1500′s, so not of the landed aristocracy, the family was a highly reputable Yorkshire family.  of immense importance to our mystery is that Thomas was elected to the First Reformed Parliament, December 11, 1832.

In many ways this was the most important political change in England since Magna Carta and The Glorious Revolution. It doubled the voters of England and gave power to the newly industrialized cities.  Here is a short history from Wickipedia:

The 1832 Reform Act was the most controversial of the electoral reform acts passed by the Parliament. The Act reapportioned Parliament in a way fairer to the cities of the old industrial north, which had experienced tremendous growth. The Act also did away with most of the “rotten” and “pocket” boroughs such as Old Sarum, which with only seven voters (all controlled by the local squire) was still sending two members to Parliament. This act not only re-apportioned representation in Parliament, thus making that body more accurately represent the citizens of the country, but also gave the power of voting to those lower in the social and economic scale, for the act extended the right to vote to any man owning a household worth £10, adding 217,000 voters to an electorate of 435,000. As many as one man in five (though by some estimates still only one in seven) now had the right to vote.

For many conservatives, this effect of the bill, which allowed the middle classes to share power with the upper classes, was revolutionary. Some historians argue that this transfer of power achieved in England what the French Revolution achieved eventually in France. The agitation preceding and following the first Reform Act (which Dickens observed at first hand as a shorthand Parliamentary reporter) made many people consider fundamental issues of society and politics.

The novel Middlemarch, by Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) is set in the 1830s and mentions the struggle over the Reform Bills, though not as a major topic. Eliot’s Felix Holt, the Radical, set in 1832, is a novel explicitly about the Great Reform Act.

This was made by one of London’s finest box makers–it is labeled by him–in business precisely during this period.  Could it be that the lovely hand reporting the secret drawers information was a gift of Thomas’ wife Mary Claridge (married in 1820) to her husband for use in his new and important official work as a Member of Parliament?  While we can spin romance–such a joy of this business–we do know definitively now who owned this box, who made this box, who inherited the box–the Miss Straveley letter is 1928 so it was revered in the family for at least 100 years.  How in 2014 it slipped from family hands is a mystery–has it in fact been floating through other families?  If so, why keep the stamp?  Most interesting is the family is still wealthy, has a modern seat and its old hall, and has been a great benefactor of the church, our Thomas having built the 1840 Church of St. Mary The Virgin near Ripon in another village on the family’s lands.

While this ends our mystery, read on if you love history as I have included various historical snippets pertaining to both the owner of the box and the family’s continuing history:

October 9th (1891).

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, North Stainley, near Ripon, re-opened for divine worship by the Lord Bishop of Ripon. The portion of the church forming the present nave, previous to the alterations now completed, was a plain and unpretending structure with a flat plastered ceiling, a simple parallelogram, 36 feet by 24 feet, erected by the late Mr. Staveley in 1840. The additions to the church, as now existing, comprise a chancel 24 feet by 17 feet, vestry 13 feet by 8 feet, organ chamber and south porch 9 feet by 6 feet. The style adopted by the architect is simple work after the Decorated or Second Pointed of the 14th century. To obtain dignity to the chancel and preserve the general outline of the church, the architect has carried the ridge at the same level as the old nave. The stone work forming the original east window has been transferred to the west gable of the nave, which formerly was a blank, cold wall.

The new east gable to the chancel is lighted by a three-light window, with a similar one on the south side. Under the east window, inside, some plain stone panelling is placed, which forms a reredos with altar shell. The altar itself has been lengthened and raised. In the south wall of the chancel are double sedilia with credence and piscina. The new roof over the chancel is constructed of pitch pine, left clean with principal trusses, the intermediate spans being panelled throughout. The stalls and boys’ desks are of oak, and the floor is covered with rich tile paving. A chancel arch, with low stone screen separates the nave from the chancel, and the altar is raised five steps above the nave floor line. The flat ceiling has been removed from the nave, and pierced panelling inserted in the four trusses to the roof, whilst the soffits of rafters are all panelled in clean pitch pine to accord with chancel. The chancel is built over the Staveley vault now closed, and the monument to the late Mr. Staveley now stands against the south wall of the nave. Great and reverent care was taken of the few bodies disturbed by the work, and the whole work was carried out by faculty after the Chancellor had held a special court at the church. The entire cost of the chancel has been borne by Miss Staveley and Miss Lee, of Old Sleningford Hall, as a memorial to Mrs. Staveley, of Old Sleningford Hall, who died in 1881.

FURTHER RESEARCH

Public Displays of Staveley Arms  (I was unable to transfer the photos of the arms in the stained glass windows, but it is pretty much self explanatory–to investigate further, just Google Straveley Coat of Arms, Thomas Kitchingman Straveley, etc)

Ripon, Yorkshire: The ‘Staveley’ window shown at left in Ripon Cathedral displays the arms of Sampson Staveley (1605-81 – Stainley line) and Thomas Kitchingman ‘Staveley’ (Hutchinson), (1780-1860) in adjoining panes.

Hunmanby, Yorkshire: There is certainly an heraldic shield (stags heads caboshed etc.) on the alabaster monument in Hunmanby church to the Staveley family of William and Rosamunda Staveley (b. 1705) of Bridlington, though it is not totally clear if this was part of the original memorial or later restoration. There is also one on a memorial in Pocklington Church to the memory of Walter Staveley (1701-1797) and his wife Alice (1710-1773) of the Bridlington line. This tablet was erected by their wealthy ‘grocer’ nephew, Walter of Beverley, but I was intrigued to find (on personal visitation!) that the stags heads shown are not caboshed but ‘couped’ (side on and cut of at the bottom of the neck). The background is argent, the lozenges and chevron sable and the stags heads are ‘or’ which is the blazon of the original North Stainley arms although the stags head device is of course different. However I have concern that this use of arms and the Irish motto (Fidelis ad Urnam) was perhaps erroneous as there is no record at all of the Bridlington family of this era ever having had a grant of arms except their illegal use by them in the 17th c. They may well have been misled later by the Irish connections in the 18th Century as to their lineage! Or yet again there just maybe more here to this story than is readily apparent at the moment. My only real conclusion over heraldic links generally is that they tend to confuse rather than clarify things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ship Has Landed

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

A ship has landed in Norfolk, our container brought down to Chapel Hill and we have unloaded it!  The shop is simply brimming with great new finds from France and England.

For a first view, check out the Whitehall Facebook Page

OR

Like whitehallantiques on Instagram where I have posted many new arrivals with tidbits of information!

 

Elizabeth is putting up new photos as she prepares the catalogue of the new arrivals, and this next week will see constant additions to our website–visit New Arrivals to go straight to these exciting pieces.

 

Happy hunting and feel free to call the shop (919-942-3179) or email us with questions:  whchnc@aol.com or dlindquist@nc.rr.com

The Best Georgian (and American) Construction

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

linen press
This is a fascinating study of a Mid-Georgian linen press, c. 1765.  It is also the story of how this lovely business works, because this handsome piece has come home to us to sell again after 15 years or so in a Raleigh home followed by a few months in storage as it fails to fit the owner’s new home.  Here it sits a bit forlorn in a storage unit!  Yet nothing is more thrilling than seeing an old friend again,  especially of a quality too seldom seen today in the United Kingdom.

This piece exhibits the finest craftsmanship of the period, as you will soon see.  It could only have been created in London or Edinburgh (or in America by a London or Edinburgh trained cabinetmaker such as Anthony Hay of Williamsburg, Virginia).  The pierced bracket feet are bold and powerful–precisely what such a piece demands.  The form of pierced bracket feet is rare in any British furniture, a hallmark of the finest London and Edinburgh workshops.  By the way, the feet and sides of the piece are solid timbers–Cuban mahogany of great density.

bracket foot

 

The crown molding is equally fine, displaying several rows of solid mahogany to create the desired effect of boldness and depth.  The Greek Key–known also as the Walls of Troy–is a particularly fine molding accented by the flat molding above and the incurved moldings below, pushing the Greek Key forward visually.

crown molding

 

interior

 

The upper doors open to reveal a well fitted interior with the usual sliding trays greatly enhanced in utility by being adjustable every few inches–again a very costly addition to the normally placed trays which fit one position only (there are three adjustable trays).  Additionally, small drawers are included–another expensive add-on to the original purchase price!  Antiques were bought like we once bought cars–the basic stripped down model was listed and then every improvement was listed with an additional cost.

One extra beautiful detail is the right door latch.  Normally small sliding latches are inset inside the edge of the door with small pins sliding into a hole top and bottom to secure the door, then the left door would close and be latched with a key.  This piece has an expansive and fine gilt brass large inset slide on the backside of the top of the door–far more stable and secure.

door slide

 

As fine as the finished, visible parts are, the invisible parts are more interesting and truly indicative of brilliant craftsmanship.  Let’s explore some of the fine points beginning at the top!

top edge

Gazing down on the top of the upper section, the molding construction is clearly separated from the carcass construction which displays the pine (deal top) of secondary wood united to the side of solid mahogany by unusually fine dovetails.  Normally these are wide and somewhat sloppy–after all they are unseen.  In this press the dovetails are fine and precise, a demand on both the time and skill of the maker.  The lighter colored strip next to the side is the core of the crown molding–always made of a secondary wood such as deal, Scots pine (or in America pine of various types or poplar). The back is nailed to the inset sides and we will explore it momentarily.  The outer dark strip is the mahogany on the outside of the crown molding–the part we see.  Wood of quality was costly, so the mahogany was only used on the outer part of the molding glued to the triangular inner core, best seen in this next photo:

crown2

You will also notice here how the back joins the top and sides–the crown moldings extend like the solid mahogany sides to hide the inset back in this case of paneled construction.  These photos show where the panels come together in the center of the back creating a field of four floating panels virtually guaranteed to never shrink enough to leave a gap for dirt to enter the piece.  The top edge is also shown on the back panel where you can see the through mortise and tenon construction of this back.  The inexpensive way was to simply nail boards closely together on the back or have two panels only on the back of any piece where the back would be seen when the doors were opened.  The use of four panels again shows both the finest in construction and the value placed on fine workmanship by the customer–he knew he was purchasing the very finest possible work.  Even the bottom of this press has paneled back construction–again a great rarity as no one would see this back.  The purpose was a tight seal that would last for generations.  And it has!  No gaps for dirt from 1765 to 2014!  Note also expensive oak has been used for the back, not inexpensive deal )pine)–the oak shrinks far less with no knots to pop out.  That too cost the buyer extra.

back top center

This superb level of craftsmanship is associated with Anglo-American cabinetmaking, especially work from London and Edinburgh with occasionally similar work in English market towns and cathedral cities.  In America we find it in pieces made by immigrants from those centers of great craftsmanship.

Because the sides and drawer fronts are solid timbers, we have attributed this piece to Edinburgh.  London preferred veneered drawer fronts and veneered door panels, often on a lower quality mahogany base.

Kakiemon by Chantilly by Samson!!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

On our recent trip to France buying for the shop I could not resist documenting this perfect example of the great faker Edme Samson’s work.  Kakiemon is a mid-17th-18th century Japanese porcelain of great decorative restraint on a white ground. While popular forever from the great kilns of Arita, Kakiemon was surpassed in popularity by Imari, Kutani and other more gaudy colors in the 15th and 19th centuries.

Kakiemon was one of the most popular porcelains brought to Europe and as the burgeoning factories producing first soft paste and then hard paste porcelain, Kakiemon was copied throughout Europe.  Meissen and the other princely factories of Germany and Chantilly and several other royal French factories produced great imitations.  This was the period of approximately 1730-50.

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Beginning in the 1840′s the Chantilly factory produced elegant Kakiemon in a soft paste milky color but hard paste tocopy the Chantilly!  This example similar to period pieces of the Regence and Louis XV reigns has bronze dore mounts but when further investigated we find the marks of the Samson factory.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The mark of interest is a pair of entwined s’s for the Samson factory.  Sadly the making of a lamp sometime in the 20th century destroyed another mark.

While we know that the vast majority of Samson production was misrepresented by unscrupulous 19th and early 20th century antiques dealers and auction houses throughout Europe and America, this mark is an honest one and clearly used by Samson to proclaim their work.  A fascinating article in 1892 by the famous author/antiques student Sarah Cooler Hewitt documents in gory details for page after page the shenanigans of the House of Samson.  The basement had storage bins with orders for antiques from all of the most prominent antiques shops and auction houses in the world–just waiting for them all to be made and shipped!  Four floors covering a city block had hundreds of craftsmen working creating every conceivable type of porcelain, bronze, lacquer, enamel, etc. that one could imagine.  And she described how aging was accomplished by rubbing, chipping, acid treatments, and other chicanery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayr Mount Fundraiser!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

This Thursday from 4-7 pm Elizabeth and I will be joined by Leland Little and Doug Lay to conduct an “Antiques Road Show” at Ayr Mount Plantation in Hillsborough, NC.  For $50.00 receive a tour of this great house and collection, attend mini lectures throughout the afternoon, sip wine and enjoy nibbles and OF COURSE, have your mystery antique appraised by the experts!  This is a great opportunity for a delightful early evening on the lawn and in the grandest house of the Federal Period in our area.

Elizabeth and I have conducted two all day seminars on Federal Furniture using the collections of Ayr Mount which range fro original furnishings to the superb collection built by Richard Jenrette.  I will conduct several mini lectures on the collection, turning pieces upside down and inside out to share the story that each tells from original construction through 200 years of use.

Visit the website and then join in the fun!

classicalamericanhomes.org/ayr-mount

Delights from New Shipment

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Elizabeth is busy posting wonderful photos of many of the new arrivals.  Here I am sharing only one photo per piece, but the website has plenty of detail shots!  And there are many many new pieces to peruse!

William IV reading/writing table

William IV, c.1830, mahogany reading/writing table to raise and bring over a bed or chair with adjustable reading surfaces. Reeded edges and carved rondels along aprons. Fine gun barrel shaft pedestal with onion fluting and carved base, turned tapered support leg with ring carving, over lower molded surface, raised on carved bun feet. A rare example!  Ideally suited for invalid dining as well–the height fully adjustable.

Perhaps nothing speaks to the warmth of the English country cottage or below stairs in a manor house than the charm of a dresser with base (the rack and base completely original)–and with myriad forms, an unusual one is a particular joy.

George IV Dresser

A highly desirable George IV, c.1830, English dresser. The oak has mellowed to a beautiful, rich honey color. Well molded crown surmounts the triple shelf top with various old hooks for cooking utensils and drinking vessels, shaped support straps over the lower section with three drawers over a pair cupboards flanking the central open cove display area with concave shelf. The whole raised on well shaped bracket feet (the center being double brackets). 68 5/8″ w., 17 1/8″ d., 86 3/8″ h

Another delight for the eye is the elegantly faded cherry in this buffet.

Normandy Buffet

An early 19th century buffet of cherry wood from Normandy with poplar secondary wood. Classical urn carving centers the shaped apron with oak leaves and acorns. The 2 molded and escargot carved drawers flanking a sunburst carved medallion. The rosette carved and molded paneled doors flaning a stop fluted frieze. The whole raised on original turned feet typical of the period. Original steel hings & hardware. Rear feet tipped. 24 3/8″ d., 54 7/8″ w., 39 3/4″ h.

Perhaps the most unusual piece in this shipment is this Seage from Picardy–they seem to be unique to the region.  The lower slatted shelf is now displayed with bottles of wine.

Seage from Picardy

A country French seage from Picardy, c.1830, of cherry wood – a rare form. The modified, flat cabriole legs typical of the region. Molded cabinet doors with charming, simple floral carving. Large central drawer with brass pulls over the open two-part mid-section. The lower part apparently for wine bottles and the upper for glassware. The top with rail for displaying faience plates. 74 1/2″ w., 17″ d., 38 1/2″ h.

ENJOY!

 

 

Theta Antiques Show–Houston, Texas

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Long considered one of the top three charity antiques shows in America, the Theta Show with an amazing and enthusiastic staff and volunteers made 2013 another exciting year.  The range of periods and objects is exceptional with museums and collectors carefully shopping the floor.  Once again Gary Sergeant had one of the most diverse collections of simply superb pieces and his fine black Chinoiserie bureau bookcase and many other objects disappeared as the show progressed.  It would be silly to try to name who had what–connect to the Theta website for a full dealer list and links to their websites.  But I thought it would be fun to share some of the pieces that caught my eye.

In the Iliad booth from New York City (www.iliadny.com), specialists in the ideal match of Biedermeir and Art Deco (the former is the design basis of the latter) was this columnar desk:

Every piece in the booth was selected with remarkable care and an eye to brilliant design, as one more view demonstrates:

Lisa Sherwood of Macon, Georgia (sherwoodantiques@bellsouth.net) quickly sold this charming little country French Directoire influenced hanging cabinet for the display of prized possessions–the entwined rings for the shelf guards was between exceptional and unique!

As I noted Gary Sergeant (Gary@Gsergeant.com) had an outstanding booth and he is a dealer I greatly admire for his consummate good taste, lack of airs, and genuine friendliness. Here are some highlights with his own descriptions.

This table got my mental prize for the most fascinating piece in the entire show!

In the booth of William Cook of London (www.williamcookantiques.com)–filled as always with fine pieces–was this marvelous desk with multiple adaptable uses from architecture to simply standing and writing or perhaps using a clerk’s stool.

Don’t fail to notice the cunning pair of dummy boards to the left of the desk.  While their uses remain controversial–shrouded in mystery!–their charm is indisputable.  (Did they appear from outside the house to be people standing guard or were they decorations in front of the hearth in summer?)

Also in Billy Cook’s booth was this exceptional miniature:

This view into Sissy McAlister’s booth (Nashville, TN–mmcaantiques@comcast.net) shows a wonderful array of dog paintings, as well as Sissy’s signature wall arrangements creating myriad nooks and crannies to explore in a very confined space–no one does this look better!

The champion garden dealers of Chicago, Finnegan Galleries (www.finnegangallery.com), planted their amazing pair of twin beds!  Again, my photos and a description in their own words.

The beds.

Footboard detail shot.

If you love eccentricities of all types from early children’s pottery to fine Vienna cold painted bronzes with a heavy dose of Black Forrest, then Leatherwood–the lead booth to the show–is your favorite spot!  Moe’s booth is simply amazing and this photo does not do it justice, so check their website! (www.leatherwoodantiques.com)

Obviously you have from this only a taste of the Theta Show–and I “forgot” to show you my favorite booth–Whitehall!  So come back this weekend for that experience–it is fun to see how dramatically it changed from the opening to the close (as in lots of sales!)

Buying Antiques Makes “Cents”

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Not only do antique and vintage pieces make “sense” because of the better quality of construction and their green impact on the environment, they make “cents” because their value is enduring and they always cost less than the comparable new item!  A few days ago I started exploring some of this on this blog and now I want to continue that exploration with you.

The attractive new box of bone trimmed shagreen (sharkskin) in this article in Veranda notes what a delightful piece this is a 2,100.  Now unfortunately I could not immediately find the same box as an antique but I can assure you that once you buy this box and take it home it will be a miracle if you can sell it for 400.00!  And I did find a similar sized tea caddy of equally great rarity–curled and gilded paper–from the late 18th century.  And it was priced at 1,200!  Here it is:

Perhaps the most fascinating article was on the utility and beauty of console tables being made today–priced from 1,001 to 17,000.  So I spent fifteen minutes on the floor of the Antique and Design Center and see what I found after you look at the new ones. Read the info carefully–the thousand dollar very stylish piece is pine or particle board covered with grass cloth and lacquered!

And next is a striking vintage lacquered wood two drawer console table for $450.00–yes, 450 not 4,500!

And a very clever and stylish PAIR  are next.

This pair was created by the dealer from a pair of 1920′s twin leather covered, brass studded headboards with wrought iron bases created of vintage and modern pieces!  The price?  $2,900 the pair!

Come by the shop or our booth at a show and let us share with you information about the value of antiques today!

Antique and Vintage Overwhelm the New

Monday, November 4th, 2013

From design to quality of craftsmanship to price, almost all new items come up so very short!

During the Antique and Design Market Seminars I was speaking to the issue of why designers should steep themselves and their clients in the pleasures of antique and vintage furniture and decorative accessories.  Much of my talk was inspired by a perusal of several major shelter magazines the week before at the Birmingham Antiques and Design Show.  I was simply floored by the pricing displayed in promoting various new items.  Here are a few of the comparisons I found!

A page in Veranda, a gorgeous shelter magazine

In Veranda there was a section on the latest in design from France–fully sourced and priced for most items.  Let’s start in the lower right corner with the reproduction bonnetiere called a painted cabinet for $6,895.  How it is made is not totally clear, but I did scan their website and let’s just say not impressive.  Compare this to two larger painted examples I found on the show floor–a Swedish example for under 5,000 and a piece from Normandy for 1,800, both in painted surfaces on pine.

Swedish neo-classical armoire

The paint is certainly restored on this handsome piece but is architectural and simply dynamite design.  It is early 19th century and useful for myriad purposes from storage to clothes to sound systems.

Buffet a deux corps from Normandy (Caux region)

This charming cauchois painted pine piece dates to about 1830.  The dealer had offered it for 2,400 for several markets with no action so he chalk painted it for this show and repriced at 1,800–sold on day one!  The reason it had not sold were the missing pieces–still missing if you look carefully–which stood out like sore thumbs in natural pine (it had been stripped many years ago).  Also the color was not good.  Now it has sold for less than a third of the reproduction!

Homme debout

In our own shop is this splendid piece the same size as the reproduction from France yet read this description!

A country French homme debout of burl ash, ash & cherry wood. Early 19th century. A rare form. The upper & lower doors well carved with fabulous burl wood panels, centered by 2 drawers with burl insets, and with line inlaid diamond shaped panels of burl at the top and on the shaped apron. Original steel hinges, escutcheons & handles. Well developed escargot feet. Molded crown. 80 7/8″ h., 38″-43″ w., 22 1/2″-25 1/4″ d. $4,800

I FOUND MORE FUN COMPARISONS–WATCH OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.