Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Collecting Candlestands

In the 1850's the humble candlestand could be found nearly everywhere in the American home. They were eventually used to hold everything from wine glasses to teapots, in addition to candlesticks. Their small scale design and light weight made moving them from room to room an easy task.

In the 17th century (1600's), early models were made of wood or wrought iron. France is credited with inventing the candlestand and they were sometimes referred to as Torcheres. At first the tops of candlestands were stationary, but as they grew in popularity they were made with tilting tops. This made them easier to fit closely against the wall when not in use.

The 18th century models typically stood three to four feet tall, and had a flat, round top on a three-legged base. At first, there was room for only one or two candllesticks. Gradually more elaborate models came into use. By 1750, examples with deep shell carving, five-claw feet, and gilding (the application of gold leaf) were made. The legendary cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale felt that candlestands, like picture frames, should showcase the skill of carving and not the cabinetmaking.

In 1760, the book The Society of Upholster's Household Furniture in Genteel Taste, is said to have inspired craftsmen in Williamsburg, Va., who later provided candlestands for the George Washington home in Mount Vernon. From the 1770's into the early 1800's, striking candlestands were made in the upper Connecticut River Valley. These stands were often made of cherry and tiger maple. One such stand from the 1790's was crafted with a cherry hexagonal-shaped top crested by an inlaid compass of walnut.

By 1820, several versions of the tilt-top candlestand were being made in New England, New York, Philadelphia, and the Carolinas. Tops were seen in oval, rectangular, and octagonal shapes in addition to the traditional round shape. Some stands had double-ended drawers which were accessible from two sides. These drawers were just the right size for candle storage. Cherry and mahogany were the most popular choices of wood at this time, but candlestands could be had in maple, pine, and other regionally available woods.

By the 1830's, the Shaker communities accepted the 'worldly' candlestand as worthy for use in their households, and they gradually modified the Federal style to suit their simpler tastes. Whether Federal, Chippendale, or Shaker, there are antique candlestands to suit every taste available on the market today. Those with smaller budgets can acquire an early 20th century reproduction - at that time still made with skill and great attention to detail. You may check out our early 20th century candlestands here.

~ Evelyn

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

OT: A few days ago I found out my friend Bob Swanson had died at the age of 52. Bob was a co-founder of Genentec and was responsible for making lives better for perhaps millions of people.
The synthesis of human insulin, human growth hormone, and a drug that restores blood flow after heart attacks were just a few of the many successes for which his company was responsible. He was named one of the 1000 important figures of the millennium, as the "entrepreneur who launched the biotechnology revolution." *

I met Bob at Miami Springs Junior High. We were in the same mechanical drawing class. He was one of the "brains" of the ninth grade Class of '61. But more than that, he was a warm and gentle, soft spoken guy. If you looked up the word 'nice' in the dictionary, Bob's picture would be there.

In high school we drifted apart as he pursued science and I pursued art, but we were able to come together as members of the German Honor Society. He came to my home for the annual party in 1965. After that, we spoke after school several times while I waited for the bus. He was friendly and caring, always.

Three years later, Bob was home for the summer from MIT and he gave me a call. That was the last I heard from my friend. At the age of 27 he had his now-historic meeting with Dr. Herbert Boyer, his future business partner. At the same age, I had a life-altering experience, too. I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time and my eyes were opened by the majesty of it all. I wanted to paint and photograph, which I considered noble, and Bob wanted to take genetic engineering to the marketplace and help millions of people. I think Bob won the toss on that one.

Eight years ago, my friend succumbed to brain cancer. He had changed the lives of countless numbers of people for the better, and the irony that he was unable to help himself is overwhelming.

~ Evelyn

* Book, 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium, authors Agnes Hooper Gottlieb, Henry Gottlieb, Barbara Bowers and Brent Bowers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Collecting Decanters

Have you considered collecting antique decanters? Decanters, jugs, and carafes are not only practical, but sometimes very inexpensive. You can find them at auctions, yard sales, and estate sales for under $50. The least expensive are pressed & cut crystal (no color) decanters from the Victorian period.

Carafes and jugs have been with us since ancient times, but decanters arrived on the scene in the 15th century. The term 'decanter' was first used in England in the early 1700's. In the 1830's, decanters with matching wine glasses were introduced.

There are a wide variety of shapes, which changed over the years. In all countries, shape and decoration followed the prevailing shapes of the period: neoclassic and Georgian, for example. Some are barrel-shaped, cut with flutes to imitate hoops and staves. Others are tapered, or square, or are 'shaft and globe' (bulbous with long necks). The claret jugs have graceful looped handles and lipped mouths. Then there are ship's decanters, made with wide bases to add stability at sea.

The more expensive decanters are made of colored glass, and/or mounted with silver. In Germany and Bohemia, enameled designs were used. In Ireland, decanters were deeply cut and engraved. In the early nineteenth century, in America and England, the strawberry diamond pattern was very popular. In the 1830's, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Co., known for it's lacy pattern glass, turned out decanters in several blown mold patterns.

In the 1870's, elaborate cut glass became the fashion. In America, the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 inspired patriotic motifs and symbols. Around 1900, the popularity of colorful art glass extended to decanters and wine goblets. The Art Nouveau period, 1890-1915, produced designs in silver deposit on colored glass. Decanters became status symbols when they sported silver mountings from Gorham or Tiffany.

Reproductions are out there, but a little research will go a long way. Pressed diamond and strawberry decanters have been reproduced; the originals have a gray cast. Repros of the early three-ring English decanters exist, as well as cranberry and cut glass color-overlay.

The Daisy & Button spirit decanters shown are available in our web store: Hourglass Antiques at eCrater

~ Evelyn

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Items at Hourglass Antiques!

We've added vintage magazine ads including 1964 automobiles (Cadillac, Lincoln, Pontiac Bonneville, Chrysler, Thunderbird), 1963 Volkswagon Beetle, and 1970 Jaguar. Also, you'll find a nice Jerry Lewis & Wembley ties ad, Camel cigarettes, and MOD sportswear from 1970. One full-page full-color ad we have for Lee denim (men's jacket & flared pants) was actually featured as a poster in the motion picture "The Ice Storm", set in 1973, as Tobey Maguire stands waiting for a train.

Advertising: New Items

Also new to the site are many non-fiction books, including SUPERSTARS of BASEBALL by Bob Broeg, CAMERA and LENS, by Ansel Adams, A HOUSEWIVES' GUIDE to ANTIQUES, First Edition, 1959, and 100 YEARS of the U. S. OPEN, 1995.

Non-Fiction: New Items

After your visit, give us your feedback! Thanks for reading. . .

~ Evelyn

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Collecting Children's Classic Books

What is the allure for a children's book collector? For some it's the superb illustrations, for others, the well-written stories. Adults may continue to reflect with sentiment, affection, and even awe on the books they read as children. When they were read to us, we would ask Mom or Grandpa to "please read it again".

A best bet for the collector is the classic stories - the one's we have all heard of, and hopefully have already read. Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by John Tenniel, was first published in 1865. Shortly after it was printed it was withdrawn by the author because he was disappointed with the quality of the printing. Only a few copies kept by Carroll escaped the fate of the rest, which were destroyed. The copies still remaining today are considered extremely rare.

Another story well-known to children is Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit (1893). The author created all the drawings, which continue to enchant today. Many children learned to read with the stories of Peter Rabbit and developed a kinship with Mopsy, Flopsy, and Cotton-Tail.

Kate Greenaway was a shy and often ill child with a talent for drawing. She started her career designing Christmas cards and Valentines. Her self-illustrated stories evoked fragments of childhood memories - rural England, pretty gardens, and frolicking children in idyllic settings. The Victorians loved her works, as we do today. Her first picture book, Under the Window (1878), was an immediate success not only in England, but in the rest of Europe as well.

Few stories are more popular than A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). These books were illustrated by Ernest Shepard, whose black and white drawings helped make the stories a success. Shepard also illustrated Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, created in 1908 as bedtime stories for Grahame's son. This masterpiece introduced us to conceited Toad, sympathetic Water Rat, shy Badger, and other small animals residing along a riverbank.

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1911), Kidnapped (1913), and Robinson Crusoe (1920) were all first illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. The illustrations in these books created a demand that delighted Scribner's, the publisher. Wyeth also illustrated The Boy's King Arthur (1917) and Robin Hood (1917) with colorful, life-like paintings. All of these titles are eagerly sought after today.

Children's illustrated books is such a rewarding field of collecting, so rich in scope - it could be daunting for a beginner. My suggestion would be, start with a book you knew and loved as a child and build from there. And don't just lock your newly found treasures away. Read them to your children, or your grandchildren. Hopefully, they'll be asking you to "please read it again".

~ Evelyn