Saturday, 25 February 2012

Happy Days

This year is one of important anniversaries for Mr N and I - two significant birthdays, best forgotten, our 25th wedding anniversary...


...and, last but not least, this month Mr N celebrates his 30th year in the antiques trade.The other day I came across some of the diaries he occasionally kept during those years and he has kindly consented to let me share a few  extracts:

19th June 1999(Saturday)
Went to York racecourse Car Boot Sale. As I was walking round I heard N calling "Come and look at some cups I've spotted. I don't suppose they are anything very good." I went with her and discovered they were still on the stall. At first I first thought they were a pair of 18th century Worcester cups priced at £10 for the two. They turned out to be Chaffer's Liverpool and are probably worth several hundred pounds. We were lucky to get a second chance to buy them.

When we got home N could not resist watching Prince Edward's wedding on TV. My only observation was that Miss Sophie Rhys Jones was a perfect blend of the late Princess Diana and the late Jill Dando, so recently departed, which was a little disconcerting.


                                        24th June 1999 (Thursday)
We went to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds to see a small exhibition of 16th century boxwood rosary beads, each the size of a satsuma, deeply and exquisitely carved with religious scenes and inscriptions.

The method for viewing the pieces was interestingly contrived: each bead was placed inside a glass case with a hinged wooden lid and before every case was a kneeling-stool so that one had to adopt a position of prayer or devotion while admiring the skillful work of the sculptor through a magnifying glass, thus making a connection (in theory) with the original purpose of the object.
My enjoyment of the exhibition was somewhat marred by the fact that in our search for this exhibition, through the labyrinthine sculpture galleries, we came across a bronze plaque by David D'Anger which was remarkably similar to one I used to have (a profile of John Flaxman) and which Christie's had assured me was a late cast of very little value. Unfortunately we sold the thing last year. N believes that cognitive therapy might help me cope with such disappointments.

                                          3rd July 1999(Saturday)
According to Nostradamus the world will end tomorrow, so this could be my last diary entry, unless of course the world ends in the evening, by which time I will have already written another.
We went to York Racecourse car boot sale in overcast, sultry weather and I bought another interesting ceramic item: an early 19th century jug commemorating William the Third and the Orange Order, a worthwhile buy, I suspect.

In the afternoon, went for a walk with F to the Boroughbridge canal. Looked enviously at boats, then we climbed onto the lock gates at Milby. ("Mum would have a cow if she could see what we're doing" said F.)
                                         4th July 1999 (Sunday)
Slight feeling of anti-climax today as the world appears not to have come to an end, but there is still time...

                                          6th July 1999 (Tuesday)
I was sitting outside in the garden, lateish yesterday, reading "The Loom of Youth" by Alec Waugh, when our neighbour A strolled up and we had an interesting, if brief, conversation about literature.
"I don't see the point", said A, "of reading about anything that's not real." He went on to demolish The Great Bard: "When I was at school, the English teacher told the class to interpret a passage of Shakespeare. I said 'If Shakespeare's as good as he's cracked up to be, why do we need to interpret him?'"
His teacher had no answer to that, and indeed, neither did I.


                                         5th August 1999 (Thursday)
We attended the giant antiques fair at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire today. A very hot day and my buying performance was abysmal - one silver-plated spoon-warmer in the form of a boat. N bought a large collection of worthwhile antiques - despite the heat she calmly battled on while I went back to the car in search of tea and shade. She has more phlegm than a consumptive Bronte sister. And that's not to mention her pith!


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mr N and I sometimes wish we had a time machine. I suspect Mr N dreams of being 18 again, but mostly we would simply like to see how life was lived in familiar places, long ago. Despite his worries about being attacked by an angry suffragette and the likelihood of contracting TB, Mr N and I decided to wander around our local streets and imagine we'd travelled back in time...
                    This helpful chap pointed us in the right direction.

  Some parts have hardly changed at all except for the invasion of horseless  
  carriages, already under way in the early 1900s.

  In other parts of the town there are markedly fewer people on the streets  
  than there were a hundred years ago. Sadly no horse fairs and no markets are  
  held here now.

   In the days when drovers sometimes herded 2000 cattle a day 
   through its streets, this little town had 22 inns. There is a fraction of this
   number now, but the oldest, the 13th century Black Bull Inn, still welcomes 
   weary time travellers.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Love Feast

Yesterday, at an antiques fair in Halifax, Mr. N called me over to see his latest find. "I love it! Can I keep it?" I exclaimed when I saw the simple white pottery antique loving cup, emblazoned with a seemingly very un-Victorian inscription.

This treasure, discovered so close to St Valentine's Day, would be the perfect addition to our modest collection of 19th century mugs, some of which are tokens of Mr. N's affection for me (I think).

Of course a Lovefeast was not quite the wild, hippy-ish event it's name evokes. This mug was once a souvenir of a Nonconformist religious gathering where a simple meal was shared in a celebration of brotherly love. Primitive Methodists and Moravians both enjoyed this sociable act of worship. 

        Such loving cups bearing the word  "Lovefeast" are quite hard to find.

                                   "Praise The Lord" is more usual.

     Mr N. agreed that I should keep it and I accepted with great pleasure...

                  's definitely NOT transferable.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

We finished off a bumper week of antiques activity (before the snow set in) with a visit to a smaller event, a Rose and Brown Vintage Fair at the Victoria Hall in the very vintage village of Saltaire , near Bradford. This model village now has three thriving shops full of old treasures as well as regular fairs (see the link above for details).

The venue is a splendid stone edifice flanked by a massive pair of lions...
                    ..."Where's the wardrobe?" quipped Mr N!

Saltaire village was founded in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry and a great philanthropist, though he disapproved of his workers drinking beer and hated to see lines of clean washing spoiling the stone symmetry of his neat terraces. Rumour has it that such offending eyesores were regularly cut down by his agent.

Salts Mill has been visited once before on this blog, but is always an unmissable treat if you are in Saltaire. The ground floor is a treasure trove of arts-related books and materials, displayed in a huge hall full of paintings, prints and colourful Burmantofts pottery. The piped music is unique; it makes you want to linger! Yesterday we were treated to Vaughan Williams followed by an unknown Francoise Hardy-esque French folk singer. 

A table shaped like an artist's palette, laden with colourful sketch pads.

There is a second large bookshop upstairs, and other attractions including a shop full of exclusive homewares, designer jewellery and Salts Diner.Last but not least we visited the Carlton Fine Art & Antiques Centre, now on the second floor of the Mill. Not only does this emporium cater for connoisseurs of the rare and early, but it is also a repository of nostalgic memorabilia, furniture and clothing.
I found the perfect summer hat here, just right for my alter-ego, Miss Marple.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Since looking closely at my recent purchase I've been pondering Original Sin! In 1900 was it rare to think of small children as innocent beings?

My antique frame is decorated with a motley collection of dolls, moulded in gesso, and it contains a print depicting a small girl diligently mending her doll's clothes beside a poem, Mending Day by Burges Johnson, a minor American humourist, poet and writer of limericks. So far, so sweet...
                                              is the poem. Mending Day.

How quickly children's clothes will rip and tear
Each time I put off mending till so late,
I re'lize that a family of eight
Can give a loving mother lots of care.
If more get born I really do declare
I'll put 'em into bed and make 'em wait.
My brother hopes to learn to operate,
But there is not a child that I would spare.

He's borrowed three that he pertends are dead.
But I won't even think of such a thin'
And yet at mending time I've often said
I almost wished-though p'raps it is a sin-
That God has sent some paper dolls instead
Whose clothes are only painted on their skin.

The little girl's brother sounds too cold-hearted for our modern sensibilities, and even she is so care-worn that she's tempted to hand a few  "children" over to him, for his surgical experiments!
Perhaps I can find a finely worked piece of darning or patching to replace this disconcerting verse.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Time to get moving!

Last week the antiques world woke up after the Christmas hiatus and Mr N had to polish up the old jalopy, sharpish. 


Once more we were raring to go! All over the country antiques were being unpacked again - at WetherbyDoncasterLincoln and Newark. They sound like stops on a tedious train journey south, unless you are in the know or is it "in the loop"?

As usual my aim was to sniff out some needlework and some objects full of charm, with a bit of history thrown in.

                        Hmm...Brentford Nylons, circa 1970...not quite my style.

It was a real treat to enter this emporium of all things vintage, mostly textiles, and to meet one of the lovely proprietors, BusyLizzie, AKA The Washerwoman, organiser of Vintage Fairs and tireless gatherer of antique clothing and household decorations, all for sale and attracting much attention here at Newark Showground. 

Smaller pieces & embroideries were quite hard to find this week, but we arrived home from our gallivanting with a modest collection.

I loved the "Mending Day" picture frame, though when I took a closer look, it seemed a little sinister. No time to ponder that now...