SA's Only Antiques, Collectables And Decorative Arts Magazine

ElizabethThe Legend of Elizabeth Taylor

Diamonds were her best friends

As we mourned the death of screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor on March 23 2011, we remember not only the extraordinary life of this talented actress and humanitarian, we are also fascinated by her unmatched jewellery collection. Married eight times, to Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, Richard Burton (again), John Warner and Larry Fortensky, Taylor collected jewellery as prolifically as she collected husbands. In 2003 she published a book titled “My Love Affair with Jewellery” in which she described her passion for jewellery.

“I mean, how many young women get a set of rubies just for doing something wholesome like swimming laps? Or win a diamond ring at Ping-Pong with their husband…? Well, I did, and for all of these memories and the people in my life I feel blessed.”

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Collecting Card Cases

cardcase2In the day of genteel manners and formal introductions, the exchange of calling cards was a social custom that was essential in developing friendships. The custom of carrying calling or visiting cards began in France in the early 1800’s. It quickly spread throughout Europe, and then became vastly popular in the United States, especially the New England area from 1840-1900.

Calling cards were carried primarily by the “well-to-do” ladies who made a point to go calling on friends and family on a specified day of the week or month, depending on their location and proximity to neighbors.

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Simply Ava

ava1Ava Gardner was born on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1922, in Grabtown, North Carolina on a Tabacco farm. She was her parents’ seventh child. When Gardner was 2 years old, she and her family were forced to leave their tobacco farm. 1924, the Gardners, along with two-year-old Ava moved to the “teacherage”---a boarding house for young lady teachers at the local Brogden school. Jonas Gardner labored as the caretaker and Mollie Gardner served as the cook for the residents of the house. The effects of “The Great Depression” eventually forced the closing of the teacherage, in 1935. "As a toddler, she climbed out onto the porch roof and had to be coaxed back into the house with the promise of a bowl of peaches."

The family always struggled financially, a situation that worsened when Gardner’s father died when she was 16. Ava’s mother insisted that Ava continue her education, rather than working to help support the family, so after her graduation from Rock Ridge High School (near Wilson, North Carolina) in 1939 she attended Atlantic Christian College, concentrating on shorthand and typing. Ava’s brother Jack paid her tuition expenses, and she caught a ride each day with a girlfriend who lived nearby.

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Peter Crisp Glass

petercrisp1Crisp has created a niche market for fine art glass tableware that is hand-painted with gold and kiln-fi red in a process based on ancient Egyptian techniques. When he undertook his diploma and postgraduate diploma of visual arts at Sydney College of the Arts from 1978 to 1981, glass art in Australia was “very, very new”.

Glass studies was an experimental subject, so Crisp did his thesis on ancient glassmaking techniques that pre-date the invention of glassblowing. He knew kilns must have been used and, coming from a sheep farming family, decided he could use fencing wire to make his early moulds. Crisp set up a small studio on the family farm in 1982, and years of experimentation followed.

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SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF CARVED FURNITURE

carvedfurn1I was standing in front of the most beautiful cabinet and asked myself the question, ‘What is the meaning of all this carved work? What is the message that the cabinetmaker wanted to convey? This began a search for sources of information which one could find simple meanings to aid in the understanding of the symbols and allegories that was once so widely used.

Traditional symbols form a universal language which is becoming more mysterious as we move further away from the thought patterns of those who produced it. Originally, these symbols – typically, familiar objects standing for something abstract, such as an idea, quality, emotion, value, aspiration, belief, hope or fear – were anything but mysterious. Their intention was to provide an instantly recognizable representation, or mental picture, of a concept.

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Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli1FASHION AND ITALY GO HAND IN HAND. REGARDED AS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT FIGURES IN FASHION BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS – WE BRING YOU THE ICONIC ELSA SCHIAPARELLI.

FACT FILE:
• Born in Rome on 10th September 1890. Elsa led a refined life with a certain amount of luxury provided by her parents’ wealth and high social status. She believed, however, that this luxury was stifling to her art and creativity and so she removed herself from the “lap of luxury” as quickly as possible.
• En route to London, Schiaparelli was invited to a ball in Paris. Having no ballgown, she bought some dark blue fabric, wrapped it around herself and pinned it in place.
• She couldn’t sew and she didn’t sketch, yet Elsa Schiaparelli stormed Paris fashion in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Art Deco Jewellery

artdeco1The Art Deco period is one of the most popular and enduring design periods in jewellery’s history. The style reflected the flamboyant and playful attitudes of the era and gave birth to forms and motifs that continue to live on today.

Some consumers seek out authentic vintage and antique pieces from 1920 to 1935 for collections, and others purchase contemporary fashion jewellery featuring Art Deco styles simply because they like the patterns and looks.

Art Deco had strong roots in France, and while the name is thought to have been taken from L’Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderne in Paris in 1925, the phrase was not commonly ascribed to the aesthetic until 1968, when English art historian Bevis Hillier wrote his definitive “Art Deco of the 20s and 30s.”

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TOY MANIA

toymania3Toy collecting as with any collection boils down to your taste. People collect vintage & antique toys for a variety of different reasons. Some people like the reminder of their childhood days. Others admire the quality that was once a hallmark of toy manufacturing. Then there are those who appreciate the way history was depicted in children’s playthings.

Vintage transportation toys - those airplanes, trains, automobiles, ships, spacecraft - are the stuff of nostalgia. Cast iron, plastic, pressed-steel, die-cast, tin, wood - molded and shaped into those objects defining movement and transport - are the materials that can evoke memories of younger times when you pretended to captain the Tootsietoy ocean liner, race the Bluebird across the salt flats, campaign the toy soldier, engineer the Lionel through mountain tunnels, or pilot that Steelcraft Lockheed across the Atlantic. Remember your favorite Matchbox vehicle, or Tri-Ang battleship, or Hubley ladder truck, or Marx Jalopy? Everyone had their favorite toys.

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Christofle Silver

christofle2Internationally renowned designers and artists work with Christofle. Some of these pieces are exhibited in the world’s most prestigious museums. In a way they have succeeded in expressing their creative talent through the unparalleled knowledge of Master Silversmiths.

Some of these artists include: Italian Architect Gio Ponti, Danish designer Christian Fjerdingstad, American artists Michele Oka Doner, Dutch designer Richard Hutten, and more recently, French designer Martin Szekely.

Christofle is a name associated with style, elegance and highly collectable silver. It’s also the name to a six generation, family-owned business. The French Silversmith has a rich cultural history and is probably the most well known in the world - creating high quality tableware as well as porcelain, crystal and linens.

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Automobilia Mascots

carmascot3

Some people go to car events and take lots of pictures of the cars on display; others seem less interested in the actual cars but contort themselves up and down, or side to side, in order to take a picture of a car mascot. But back in the 1920s and ‘30s, it was not the famous badges of these revered cars which the powerful and rich of France wanted to display, it was the actual cars themselves!

According to the author of A History of Cars written for youth, the first “hood ornament” was a sun-crested falcon (to bring good luck) mounted on Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s chariot.

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The Chinese Charm

chinesecharm18th century porcelain

PORCELAIN WAS A RELATIVELY UNKNOWN COMMODITY IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE. EXAMPLES OF BOTH CHINESE AND JAPANESE PORCELAIN COULD BE FOUND IN ROYAL AND ARISTOCRATIC COLLECTIONS, BUT BECAUSE OF THEIR COST, THESE OBJECTS WERE AVAILABLE ONLY TO THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF SOCIETY. DEVELOPMENT OF CERAMICS WIN CHINA

An unprecedented growth appeared in the Chinese industry during the period from the sixth to the ninth century, a phenomenon that can be traced to several factors including the development of high-fired stoneware, the discovery of porcelain, and the growing importance of drinking tea.

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Plating up in style

plating1Holidays and celebrations will soon be the order of the day. Our grans & moms always had special serving dishes – reserved for holidays, important events or glorious Sunday lunches. If you are lucky enough some fabulous platters, dinner & flatware have been passed down to you from other generations. Using these pieces for those special occasions, make them even more special. Our family had a beautiful set of china my grandfather brought back from Japan while he was in the Marines. Often stories were told about these travels & times while we had a gastronomic feast. Some people collect different pieces of dinnerware or flatware and it makes it just as special as these pieces are taken out and it feels wonderful to see bits of the world all over the table. It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that many beautiful traditions of old have slowly been discarded in the name of convenience. There was a time when a well to do family would never eat off anything but the best plates.

Whatever your collection or occasion – learn to appreciate not only the food next time you sit down for a meal but the history & craftsmanship of the porcelain plate, the silver flatware and other cutlery on your table.

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Meissen Porcelain

Meissen vaseSecrecy. Deceit. Imprisonment. The stuff of spy thrillers and international intrigue. True. But they are also words that can be used to describe the early discovery and development of porcelain in Europe.

These beautiful and delicate icons that adorn our homes were once the objects of ferocious competition and the precious prizes coveted by kings. Today, avid collectors share the passion for porcelain and are no less voracious in their appetite for rare and beautiful examples.

The name Meissen is synonymous with handcrafted porcelain of exceptional quality. This porcelain, known as “white gold” in Germany, has captivated people for centuries. Today Meissen Porcelain Manufactory is famous around the world for its luxury tableware, limited art works and craftsmanship of the highest quality. Besides its popular tableware, the company produces limited art editions, interior design concepts, ornaments, jewellery and products to create your own individual world for living. Traditional as well as modern, partly contemporary, aesthetics find new expression in Meissen Porcelain.

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Christmas Collectables

christmas1Almost anyone who grew up celebrating Christmas has nostalgic memories of an ornament that decorated their childhood tree, whether a glass ball, a handmade ornament, or the family angel unveiled each year to crown the evergreen.

Collecting Christmas decorations is one of the most popular forms of collecting, with numerous sub-categories that include antique, new and handcrafted pieces.

These treasured items include: Santa figures from the 1800s, the most prized ones are from Germany, and are dressed in an unusual colour with robes of mohair or fur; blown glass German, Czechoslovakian and Polish ornaments can date as far back as the mid-1800’s and include musical instruments, flowers, animals, children, grapes, snowmen and stars - and United States manufacturers were making ornaments as early as the 1870s.

The most desirable and valuable pieces of Christmas memorabilia were made in Germany during the early 20th century. These were generally made from composition or papier mâché, and then painted by hand. Clothes and accessories are similarly handmade. Makers’ names do not generally appear: most pieces are simply marked ‘Germany’.

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ELIZABETH TAYLOR'S - EYE FOR COLLECTING

ElizabethVANGOGH“When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer - I haven’t had tomorrow.” Elizabeth Taylor


Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away in 2011, may have been blessed with the most amazing violet eyes that bewitched her fans, but those amazing eyes also served her well in giving her a unique eye for quality and design when col- lecting priceless items. The auction, held in New York in December 2011, of some of her best pieces had the collecting world out in force and, as expected, record prices were realized. This legend of our lifetime not only left a legacy as an exceptional actress and activist for AIDS but a legacy of exceptional collectables that could match Cleopatra’s!

 

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Baccarat

Baccarat1With an exceptional collection of archives (65,000 molds and 200,000 drawings dating from the firm’s creation), Baccarat is, more than ever, a symbol of exception, of perfection, distinguished by icons fashioned from breath and exalted by fire.

1764: King Louis XV authorizes the Bishop of Metz, Louis de Montmorency-Laval, to establish a glassworks in the village of Baccarat situated in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River.

In 1775 it was named the “Sainte-Anne glassworks.” Over the years, Baccarat has produced just about every form of art glass and glassware imaginable. It may be most famous for its ornate paperweights, but it has also designed crystal and glass vases, perfume bottles, chandeliers, boxes, and other decorative objects. Baccarat transmits its unique expertise through technical innovations and stylistic, daring and exceptional partnerships with elite craftsmen (glassblowers, glasscutter, engravers) to transcend its excellence, becoming a major international luxury label, a symbol of French art de vivre.

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Coco Chanel

cocoOfficial records show that her mother, Eugénie, gave birth to Gabrielle on 19 August 1883 in the poorhouse in Saumur, a market town on the river Loire.
Eugénie (known as Jeanne) was 20, Chanel’s father Henri-Albert (known as Albert) was 28, and listed as a merchant, on Gabrielle’s birth certificate. They were not yet married but already had one daughter, Julia, born less than a year previously.

Chanel was born into poverty and was taught to sew by the Catholic nuns who raised her from the age of twelve. Gabrielle Bonheur, a nun in the hospice where Chanel was born, was made her godmother, and so, according to Chanel, ‘I was baptised Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel’. Gabrielle she stayed throughout her childhood - Coco was a creation that came later - although she invented a story that is revealing in its untruths: ‘My father used to call me “Little Coco” until something better should come along,’ she told Marcel Haedrich (editor-in-chief of Marie- Claire). ‘He didn’t like [the name] “Gabrielle” at all; it hadn’t been his choice.’ At times Gabrielle declared Coco to be an ‘awful’ name; and yet she was proud of its recognition throughout the world, evidence of her indisputable presence.

As a young woman, singing cabaret, making dresses, she was possessed of an unusual, extreme confidence - a quality that, no doubt, was key to the success she later enjoyed and the triumphs she celebrated over competitors. As she confided to her friend Paul Morand, the shortstory writer, “Arrogance is in everything I do. It is in my gestures, the harshness of my voice, in the glow of my gaze, in my sinewy, tormented face.”

Indeed, Chanel came of age as a designer during the Great War, and during this period of economic contraction her pared-down sensibility and use of economical fabrics seem to distill not just what women wanted but what they needed. She tossed out the over embellishment of Belle Époque fashion that stifled the body. Gone were corsets, too. Chanel and the women who wore her work reveled in its chic simplicity. She was the first to borrow from the boys, a concept that continues to be modern today.

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The sweet sound of music

music1If you next visit an antiques fair, market or auction and stumble upon a rectangular-shaped box with a miniature automaton singing bird concealed below usually an oval lid you are one of the few collectors to hold an Antique Singing bird box or Tabatiere as the French called them. Music boxes seem so charming, yet their precise mechanisms, some of which were crafted hundreds of years ago, deliver a perfect pitch melody and are some of the most collectible objects available today.

For over 225 years of uninterrupted fabrication, this small work of art has captivated generations of people of all paths and walks of life, since Kings and aristocrats to bourgeoises, middleclass people, etc. This technological marvel is often praised as a vivid memory, a tribute to the long-dead geniuses who made this objet de vertu a reality. Many feel particularly fascinated by its purely mechanical operating intricate movement, without any electronic component. Others prefer the cases’ artistic and aesthetic values with a wide variety of designs to collect.

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VERMEIL

VERMEIL“IT WAS DOUBTFUL WHETHER THE ART OF THE SILVERSMITH HAS EVER PRODUCED ANYTHING MORE MAGNIFICENT” this was most fitting for a catalogue description of the Vermeil Demidoff Service which exhibited at the Louvre in 1819. The service was made for a Russian count, Nikolai Demidoff the Parisian firm. Gold vermeil, which is pronounced “vehr-may,” is sterling silver plated with gold. It really is a fancy name for Silver gilt. The initial process originated in France around 1750. This technique called for fire gilding. Jewellery makers applied mercury and gold to the silver and exposed the metal to extreme heat. The heat caused the mercury to vaporize and the layer of gold to adhere to the silver. However, the mercury vapours caused many artisans to become blind. France made this process illegal in the 1800s.

George IV of England and Napoleon I were enthusiastic patrons and splendid objects of Vermeil graced mantels, boudoirs and dining tables during the mid 19th Century. Elaborate detail , grand proportion and quality of silver suited the magnificence of the period and reflected in the craftsmanship of these pieces.

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Patek Philippe

Perfection in time

PatekPhilippeSwiss watch-making has produced some impressive brands but none so iconic as the Patek Philippe name. This is largely due to the fact that, unlike other brands that have been absorbed into larger conglomerates or have dived into the world of commercialism, Patek Philippe remains an independent company that jealously guards its intellectual property. Its most exclusive watches are often never displayed in stores but go directly to those discerning collectors who line up to own one of the most valuable watches on earth. Although most of Patek Philippe watches were produced in the first half of the 20th Century, their style remains classic, traditional and almost conservative but always desirable and above all valuable. According to a Blogto Watch, when it comes to high-end timepiece auction prices, Patek Philippe leads the pack easily dominating all other watch-makers in regard to achieving regular, record-setting prices. Although some of their most valuable timepieces, which include both pocket and wrist watches, have been produced in the modern era, the watches that fetch high prices at auction are the extremely rare, often unique pieces made for special collectors. A Blogto Watch put together some of the more valuable and rarest Patek Philippe watches in terms of price:-

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Perfume Pleasures

perfumeLas Vegas, NV – The International Perfume Bottle Association (IPBA) celebrated a successful 25 years at their convention in Las Vegas, NV, in early May. One of the highlights of the convention was a fabulous perfume bottle auction with celebrity, Nicholas Dawes, from Antique Roadshow, as auctioneer. While many perfume bottles from known perfumers and glass makers such as René Lalique and Julian Viard went for thousands of dollars, one novelty perfume presentation of unknown origin generated active bidding and brought the gavel down at a stunning $9,600.

This perfume presentation was a miniature wooden Victrola cabinet housing an assortment of Czech manufactured commercial bottles. Among some of the items included in the auction was a beautiful Art Nouveau pendant scent bottle previously owned by the daughter of a Schiaparelli model and a Prince Matchabelli Wind Song factice given as a prize in 1958 and is only one of two in the world. This year’s auction realized a fantastic $340,000. The IPBA hosts the longest running specialty auction of perfume bottles in the world at their annual convention.

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Amber Liquid Sunshine

amberAmber is a wonderful bounty of nature. Some people say there is magic in it. What we do know is that many millions of years ago, conifers oozed resin from their bark - this fossilized resin in trees which were growing in northern Europe 50 million years ago is what produced Amber as we know it. Specific climatic conditions along the Baltic Sea coast resulted in 90% of the world’s Amber reserves being concentrated there. If some creature, small reptile or amphibious happened to be trapped in the sticky goo at the time, it became fossilized too.

Amber comes in many varieties characterized by different degrees of transparency and colour. The internal structure and colour of Amber varieties is subject to change dependent on air, humidity and light levels and other weathering processes. Amber appears naturally in over 350 colours: from white to green, red, yellow, light beige, blue Amber. Blue and green Amber is found only in the Dominican Republic. This blue colour is only seen in reflected light, in transmitted light it will show a more common Amber colour (such as yellow, orange, red).

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BOHEMIAN BEAUTY

bohemian2In all of its myriad forms be it tableware, containers, drinking glasses or vases – in architecture and design – glass represents and major achievement in the history of technical development.

Crystal commands the eye and holds a world of promise. The most elegant pieces are still today blown and worked by hand as in the past. It has taken tens of years of experience and much investment to produce crystal with the purity of Bohemian Crystal. The degree of brilliance, which makes crystal such a precious material, is extremely important.

Quality lead crystal and perfect hand cut – these are attributes that characterize this sparkling beauty created for the first time in the 1930’S. Conception of the richly cut lead Bohemian crystal has remained un-equalled and the decors have kept their attractiveness to the present.

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Audrey Hepburn

audreyActress Audrey Hepburn, star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, remains one of Hollywood’s greatest style icons and one of the world’s most successful actresses.

Recognized as a film & fashion icon, Hepburn was active during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Ranked by the American Film Institute as the 3rd greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema.

The British actress was born 4th May 1929 in Brussels. Hepburn spent her childhood between Belgium, England and the Netherlands.

Her Mother was Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch aristocrat & the daughter of Baron Aarnoud van Heemsta. Her parents divorced when she was 9 years old.

In 1937, Ella and Audrey moved to Kent, South East England, where Hepburn was educated at a tiny independent school in Elham, run by two sisters known as “The Mesdemoiselles Smith”; the school was attended by about 14 children.

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