SA's Only Antiques, Collectables And Decorative Arts Magazine
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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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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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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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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Spode

spode1The Spode company produced high quality ceramic products on the same factory site in Stoke-upon-Trent, North Staffordshire, England since it was established by Josiah Spode I in the late 1700s. Even before Spode arrived, this area was well known as “The Potteries,” one of Britain’s most important districts for the production of porcelain. Josiah Spode I (1733-1797) established his famous pottery manufactory in Stoke-upon-Trent in about 1770 completing the purchase of the factory in 1776. Prior to this he had had two partnerships. In 1778 his son Josiah Spode II (1755-1827), already trained by his father in the manufacture of pottery, opened premises in Fore Street, Cripplegate in the City of London in order to trade in pottery and was highly successful in sales and marketing. It was compulsory to belong to one of the Guilds to operate a business in London at this time. Such was the newness of the pottery trade there was no relevant guild so Josiah II joined the Guild of Spectacle Makers!

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Royal Crown Derby

royalcrownCOMPANY HISTORY
Nottingham Road (Circa 1756-1848) In 1756, three men, John Heath a Derby banker, Andrew Planche a ‘china maker’ and William Duesbury an enameller from Staffordshire, entered into an agreement by which they became “co-partners together as well in the art of making English China as also in buying and selling all sorts of wares belonging to the art of making china”.

John Heath, an Alderman of Derby, was the financier of the venture, contributing £1,000; Andrew Planche the potter, and William Duesbury the artist and motivating force. The factory was established on the Nottingham Road. Derby is located on the River Derwent near Trent. Proximity to the river allowed Duesbury and Planche to easily import and export raw materials as well as export the finished product. Additionally, Derby was known for its prolific silk trade and as a haven for artists. In 1750, the doors of the Chelsea Works factory opened. The factory brought industry to the small town of Derby and helped the town prosper. As the companys figurines and dinnerware became popular throughout Europe, the Chelsea Works began attracting some of the most skilled artists of the day.

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Bureau functionality

Bureau300 years and counting – the bureau is showing no signs of diminishing in popularity. It is proactive, takes up little space and is useful with its pigeonholes, drawers and plenty of cupboards space for books and other treasures. Most are English but you do occasionally see French in woods such as oak, mahogany, pine, walnut, rosewood or kingwood with Rococo features.

SECRET COMPARTMENTS:
Bureaus are renowned for secret compartments. Almost all secret compartments are around the pigeonholes, so check here first. If there are any panels that don’t seem necessary, you will probably find a secret compartment behind them. The most common secret compartments are behind vertical panels either side of a central pigeonhole. They are either arched panels or fashioned as a book spine for added concealment. These can usually just be pushed or pulled out from behind. Another common compartment is the sliding panel on the writing surface, that will reveal a cavity beneath. If your drawer is set lower down than usual it probably has a hidden compartment.

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CAVIAR COLLECTABLES

caviarDating back 250 million years to prehistoric times, the sturgeon has been a part of the Middle Eastern and Eastern Europe diet for the majority of man’s history.

The word “caviar” comes into English from the Italian import in the 16th century & stems from the Persian word for egg. Although the Persian term technically refers to both the sturgeon and the roe, it has come down into English meaning only the egg. Caviar from fish other than the sturgeon usually has an adjective naming such origins, such as “salmon caviar.”

The Persians were early cultivators of caviar from the Caspian and later the Black Seas, believing in the roe’s vague medicinal qualities. Others in the area learned the value; Ancient Greek writers mention caviar, including Aristotle, who said the arrival of the caviar indicated the end of the banquet. Later, it was apparently a staple in Roman parties, well known for their excesses. Caviar seems to have been reserved for use by the upper echelon in both these societies even though it was relatively easily available.

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FORD MUSTANG

fordIn 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang. It was a near-instant success and spawned an entire sector of so-called “pony” cars that aimed to ride on the coattails of the Mustang’s success.

In Mustang: A Complete Guide, published in 1965, Iacocca explained how in one package, Mustang satisfied customers’ need, “. . .for basic transportation and their desire for comfort, style, handling and a choice in performance capabilities.” Since Ford’s goal was profitability, the Mustang body and suspension was a modified Falcon platform to minimize manufacturing costs.

Equipped with a standard six-cylinder engine and manual transmission, ads proclaimed Mustang’s base price started at $2368 f.o.b. Detroit. There were options galore, as the ad copy explained Mustang was designed to be designed by you. First year sales were over 500,000 units.

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TEA TIME - ETIQUETTE AND THE HISTORY OF AFTERNOON TEA

teatimeKing Charles II (1630 - 1685) while in exile, married the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1638–1705). Catherine’s dowry was the largest ever registered in world history. Both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, they brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. Her influence made tea more popular amongst the wealthier classes of society, as whatever the royals did, everyone else wanted to copy. Soon tea mania swept across England, and it became the beverage of choice in English high society, replacing ale as the national drink.

The tea itself and the delicate pieces of porcelain for brewing and drinking it were displayed in the closet, and inventories for wealthy households during the 17th and 18th centuries list tea equipage not in kitchens or dining rooms but in these small private closets or boudoirs.

During the 18th century tea gardens became popular. The whole idea of the garden was for ladies and gentlemen to take their tea together outdoors surrounded by entertainers. They attracted everybody including Mozart and Handel. The tea gardens made tea all the more fashionable to drink, plus they were important places for men and women to meet freely.

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KING OF MING

mingDubbed the “King of Ming” – Robert Elisworth, a prominent dealer of modern Chinese paintings, Ming dynasty furniture, archaic jade and other examples of Asian art who helped amplify many of the major Asian collections in the West, died on Aug. 3 in Manhattan. He was 85. He was born in Manhattan on July 13, 1929. His mother was an opera singer & his father a dentist.

Mr. Ellsworth, who never graduated from high school, was interested in China and in antiques from the time he was a boy. As a teenager, he worked in a Manhattan antiques gallery, where he met Alice Boney, then the leading dealer in Asian art in the city. She took him under her wing, and what he learned from her about Chinese porcelain, painting and furniture was the fundament of a career that placed him among the boldest, most prolific and most prescient dealers of Asian art in the country.

Mr. Ellsworth’s clients included major U.S. museums and many important collectors, among them John D. Rockefeller III, whose nearly 300 pieces – including Chinese ceramics, Indian bronzes and Southeast Asian sculptures – were given to the Asia Society after his death in 1978.

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SILVER SPLENDOUR

silverNothing can match a table decked out in silver or silver-plate. So many times I ask people if they know the difference between silver and silver-plate? It is important as a collector to be able to identify the different types of silver and the many hallmarks. American Sterling is simple and to the point whilst British silver has the passant mark signifying silver of a 925 standard. Many silver-plated items have the A1 marking or “quadruple plate” or “EPNS’.

Collecting is often so personal so look at your life and how you live and then choose a style that represents your specific taste. Once you have done this look at the period that reflects your style and then look into the different silver companies and makers. Silver makers over the generations have represented so many diverse eras that I have no doubt that you will find something that suits you and your home perfectly. However, I believe one mustn’t be scared to mix different periods as this adds dimension to a collection. If you decide to collect flat ware it is fun to do a harlequin set that includes many different patterns from different factories. A dining room table set with silver centerpieces and cutlery as well as bon-bon and serving dishes can make for a most lavish dining experience.

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THE WRITTEN WORD

writtenTHE MYSTERY OF THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT - HOLY GRAIL, HEARSAY OR HOAX?

It’s known as the world’s most mysterious manuscript - an illustrated tome that’s baffled experts for centuries. Known as the Voynich Manuscript, although librarians at Yale University’s rare books vault in Connecticut simply refer to it as manuscript MS 408, it is written in bizarre ‘alien’ characters and illustrated with sketches no one can understand. The book’s author is unknown and it has no official title. The manuscript measures 23.5 by 16.2 by 5 centimetres, with hundreds of vellum pages collected into 20 quires - some of which have unusual fold-out shapes making up 240 pages (although from the numbering gaps there could have been up to 272 pages originally). Based on modern analysis, it has been determined that a quill pen and iron gall ink were used for the text and figure outlines. Colored paint was crudely applied to the figures, possibly at a later date.

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Focus on Furniture

furniturefocusFurniture has been around, in some form or another, for centuries. Fashion in furniture has always revolved around the practicality of storage and utility and has changed according to the needs and lifestyles of consumers. In this issue we look at the various types of antique furniture used for storage. Pieces like wardrobes, cabinets and drawers have largely been replaced today by built-in cupboards and fitted dressing rooms but there has been a strong return to featuring a grand armoire as a centrepiece to a room or including a chest of drawers, credenza or chest to add balance and interest to a décor setting.

Wardrobe:
Called an ‘armoire” in French, the wardrobe is a standing storage closet. The earliest form of storing clothes was in a chest – it was with the rise of the nobility who needed chest, cupboards etc for their sumptuous clothes that the wardrobe came into its own and developed to include hanging space, sliding shelves and drawers. Originally made from oak in the 17th Century and referred to by the British as an ‘oakley’, it was later made from American walnut and then evolved in the 19th Century into more elaborate forms made from mahogany and satinwood. Sometimes referred to as a ‘tallboy’, this term, it is believed, came about as the wardrobe’s size was determined by the ‘8 small men’ method – i.e. the average double size wardrobe was made to hold, in its capacity, 8 small men.

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