Monday, March 30, 2009

Can you help me identify these ?

Here are the pictures of some bric-a-brac we found at a sale. They just looked pretty and cost just a few dollars each.. and being collectors that we are , we brought them home hoping to figure out eventually what they would have been doing out there.

Item#A: This one is made of brass (pic above). It is a hollow cylinder with a wooden handle to it. This side, displayed in the picture has a copper patina. The other side of the cylindrical shaft is clear brass-not seen in this picture. The base of the shaft has an outward lip. I figured it would be a candle-mold :-) but couldn't find any similar items on the internet. Joe says it could be some sort of nautical piece, judging by the build. So between a candle-mold and the Titanic's periscope, it could be anything under the Sun! What are your thoughts?

Item#B:This pair of forks/picks came with a set of coasters. There were 8 small coasters with a green marble base, a cork top and a green felt lining in the bottom.Then there were 2 slightly bigger coasters, again with a green-marble base and cork top but no felt lining in the bottom. The set had the 2 chrome forks (shown above) with green marble handles. I am wondering what the forks were doing with the coasters? Are they appetizer-picks ? (That's a more plausible explanation than Titanic's periscope above, but still- why would a set of forks be matched with a set of coasters?)

Item#C: This last one (pic above) is made of wood. It has a flip-top for one half. And a handle on one side. There is a slanted groove inside on both sides ; You can see it in the picture on the left. Rough dimensions are 6" long X 4" wide X 2" tall (at the tallest point). Any idea what this is ?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How much would you spend for this ??

Saturday's Lunch (pic above)

I am in love with a hand-painted planter-urn from one of the local stores .. and it costs a 'whopping $40.00' in 2009.. If this was a year back I would have just bought it right off the shelf without questions. But with so much going on around the world and people struggling to make ends meet , I feel wastage is tantamount to crime.
In the meantime , the planter is still beckoning at me. I have already laid out in mind, the perfect place for it in my house the entryway, grouped with the other "use-less" vase that I had got last year( please note that by use-less i just mean non-utilitarian, it still serves the purpose of pleasing my eyes). Now that I mentioned use-less, the practical side takes over. The tug-of-war continues... and we walk out of the store.
On the way, we try to come to a reasonable solution. Lets try and save this $40.00 elsewhere and then we will come back and get it ( if it still there!) . In the least , it would be test on what spending is absolutely necessary and what is not. Suddenly we decide to have lunch at home instead of eating out as planned earlier...We get home and and try to whip up ( heat-up rather) a quick lunch : Joe grilled some chicken sausages & English muffins while I assembled a quick tomato & caper salad, Persian cucumbers and some strawberries for the little-customer. Wonder how much we would have paid for it if we were to eat-out ? Any thoughts ?

The lunch was gobbled up in no time.. As the ad goes: 1 pack of sausages- $2.00, 1 pack of English muffins- $1.50, Fruits and Veggies -$ 4.50 .... time spent together on a lazy saturday "priceless"!
Now, I am not even sure if I will go back to the store to get the urn.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A crazy bowl , a bejewelled bird ..and 30 bottles of paint in a shoebox

Recently I was reading this post from Once Upon a Tea Time and took an instant flight down memory lane...
Joe is known to be the creative guy in the family .. and me, I could hardly draw a straight-line. I had never tried my hand on any arts or crafts till my marriage..and just went on with my notion that "it-is-not-my-thing". However, after we got married and I got here..we were on the lookout for new apartments to rent . After seeing any apartment ( most of them would be empty at the time), Joe would come back home and make me a sketch on how each room would be like , once we furnished it . I was so impressed by his artistry.. also feeling a tad disappointed that I couldn't impress him with anything of that sort.

Around this time we got a flier about the various classes offered by the city.. and ever-so-enthusiastically I enrolled myself for a class on "Ceramic Painting". Being the,sweetest guy that he can be, Joe wanted to go with me for the class an we ended up taking the class together. While the rest of us were trying to negotiate the basic techniques of painting bamboo shoots or flowers, Joe was busy trying to impress the teacher with his "brush-less painting"( he would just put a blob of paint on the tile and then jut keep tilting it till it made a design). Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of those ..I would have loved to share it here.
Anyway.. the end of the story is that.. I finally learned a craft. I was so thrilled .. I was painting on everything i could lay my hands on.. tiles, cups, plates any glazed surface at home was subject to my artistic explorations :)
This is a a crazy-bowl I painted.It was a little bit more difficult than I had imagined because of the curved surface; you can see that some of the paint has puddled in the center.

Below, is one of our better creations. It is the depiction of a Byzantine bird on a 12"X12" floor tile. It took almost an entire day for both of us to do this ..from making the stencil to adding the multiple layers of paint. The copper tones border is actually layers and layers of thinned down paint applied and dried using a hair-dryer to get the smooth eggshell effect.The inspiration picture is from one of the tile decorating books. We are yet to figure out a way to showcase this .. if you have any suggestions please feel free to comment.

A little bit on the paint used: We have used Pebeo 150 , a non-toxic water-based paint for all the ceramic and glass painting. After the paint is dried, you just set it in the oven for 30 min in 300F and the artwork stays permanent on the surface.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mayell Pie/Cake Server

An older find which we dug up sometime last year, is the above Silver plated Pie or Cake Server. It's not easy to find one that just fits so well into the palm of your hand while you are navigating the delicate layers of a cake or torte. We have a couple of other newer cake servers that available now like Wilton and Godinger, but none does the job as well as this timeless beauty!

The maker is MAYELL, a lesser known British Company, and we could find just very few pieces on the web from this maker, and almost no reference on the history of the company. However, the inscriptions on the back clearly depict silver coating on Zinc. (EP on Zinc). Has a few minor scratches, but we've polished it to a shine using Weiman Silver polish.

Monday, March 16, 2009

LaMode Illustree Fashion Plates with Applique

This was one of the great finds during last weekend. The detailed dress-work on the maidens was done on an actual page from La Mode Illustree (one of the most famous French fashion magazines from the 1880's). The dress-work is actually newer-1930's-or early 40's as judged by the. Both are set in silk/satin shadow boxes of exceptional quality, but have wear and tear over the years.

Weekend Treasures - Furniture

Above, Vistaprint Glass mats sitting on a low coffee table that in our minds can be used for seating as well. The style seems unmistakeably art-deco. Though we are really not art-deco fans, some pieces come by that are hard to resist. The wood is solid (has 2 tones of wood- one of which looks like Teak and the other like Mahogany). The top is green leather pasted on the wood top, with gilded-stamped lines decorating in a diagonal pattern.
There is no maker's stamp on the peice of furniture, so there is a good chance that it could have been custom-made. The joints are in outstanding shape for a piece that looks like it has travelled atleast 50-60 years. The art deco movement was in the 1920's, but this could have been a peice that was modelled later based on that style.
This photo actually doesn't do much justice to this piece so we'll try and post a better snap later.

A classic American kid size rocking chair. Distressed white finish. Good size for even grown-ups to squeeze on. The back and seat are caned. This one was in fairly good condition, though the right side of the structure needs some minor restoration work. Below: Junior has already claimed rights to it!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weekend Treasures !

Last weekend, we went treasure-hunting. With the onset of spring, folks have started venturing out again. Couldn't think of anything better to do, than fishing out some bric-a-brac and spending some "quality time" restoring them to their days of gone-by elegance.

A word of caution: What you are seeing here as gleaming white china, silverware and furniture did not look so when we got it. Many were coated with layers of dirt, and dust, or oxidation, and required several backbreaking hours of labor to get them in this condition, since most of these were already in very fragile condition and required several rounds of hand washing.
Even more grueling was the countless digging-hours spent with our toddler who had absolutely no pleasure in antique hunting. (and who was all the more upset when we did not buy him the $100 vintage toy car that he spotted!)
Disclaimer: So attempt salvaging pleasures at your own risk. :) It's rewarding, and greatly frustrating at the same. If giving up your entire weekend (including grocery shopping) doesn't sound like that great an idea to you, then please do not attempt this. Happy Blogging- Joe & Aswathy.

We were unable to determine the era of this fine dutch ashtray. It has a stamp "HOLLAND". Estimate 1940-50's sterling silver plated. The picture depicts seven men who look like soldiers (since they are wearing swords) at a tavern. A dog is in the foreground.

Set of six coasters. Paper on Cork. Looks like more recent (60's-70's?). All are line drawings of various historic buildings in Boston. The pieces came wrapped in a case marked Vistaprint, Made in Britain. The artist, whose signature is below each drawing bears the name of "Guy Magnus". Looks like a lesser known artist, and the only trace we could find is of an Auction record on, which sold 8 Guy Magnus, pen and ink drawings of town scenes. We are guessing that these could have been the originals of the images shown on these coasters- since these are also drawings of town scenes in Boston, but only 6 of them.
After a whole afternoon of searching for the history of this basket- ranging from Corporate Logo Evolution of Sears, and countless bassinets and baskets, we estimate this to be a 1920's-30's era doll accessory. Little girls played with the popular "Honeysuckle" Brand of buggies- of which the above basket was a part of. It has the label "Sears, Roebuck & Co"- now known as SEARS. It also says "Honeysuckle" Brand on the inside. The basket is amazingly sturdy, and in great condition for a piece clocking 80-90 years! Please give a hearty welcome to our new laundry basket.

The above is a Lithograph of a series known as Herring's fox hunting scenes. "Breaking Cover" is the title of this litho. The original is a mid 1800's painting-Painted by J. F. Herring Sr. ( 1795 - 1865), and several engraved reproductions were made in later years. (This one could be 1950's or 60's based on the condition). It came in a solid wood gilded frame, with glass, in good condition and with no foxing (age related brown spots that we see on old paper and documents) on the litho.

We are using the above creamer-like cup for storing salt within easy access, with a tiny little spoon to go with it. There is no make or mark on this one, but we picked it up because we really liked it. Sometime you just have to go with your heart.

A single plate from one of Joe's favorite China manufacturers- Mottahedeh. The white is actually pale gray in daylight. Early Chinese porcelains had a definite gray-blue cast, which is called gray body. Mottahedeh makes many Chinese reproductions and gray body is often used. (Actually this one was manufactured for Mottahedeh by an Portugese company called Vista Alegre).
This one's a rare gem! Need to do some more research on what period this piece belongs to, so at this point we really dont know. (More on Mottahedeh at

2 Vintage Noritake Mini-cups with "Ear of Corn/wheat" pattern. (By the way, Ear of Wheat/Corn has been a symbol of prosperity in many cultures and ceremonies). Still around as a fine china leader, Nortitake (of Japan) has been making Fine Bone China since 1904 (We got hooked onto Noritake even since we got our first full china set 2 years ago). The pair above is from around 1954.

We got 4 pieces of very delicate vintage white porcelain. These have a large(wide) mouth that makes it very easy to sip tea or coffee, and have a border of green leaves and very dainty white flowers with an aged platinum trim. The bottom is stamped with a black crown - the insignia of St. Regis Fine China , a Japanese porcelain manufacturer of yore. The cup is aprox 5 inches including handle x approx 2 inches.

Antique Brass Tray- Solid Brass, oval tray that has brass railings on the side (looks like bamboo-railings). Havent seen one like this before. It's heavy, but can serve 10-12 large cups easily (8 with saucers!). We've been looking for a tray that can hold a lot of stuff because often we find smaller cute ones, but they are not practical even when we are serving for 4 people.

The saucer that's sitting in the tray was a single odd piece that we got. The image is that of a Victorian era couple in a garden. The manufacturer is Harker Pottery Co. that has been around since the 1840's till as recent as 1970 when they closed down. The logo behind seems to be from somewhere around 1940-1950, and says 22Kt. Gold. (Dont worry, its not worth as much as solid gold. Many ceramic manufacturers use a very thin etching of gold to coat the prints on their fine ceramic ware).