Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bakery Fire ...

I just had to pass on this little newspaper article from 1894. It's about a bakery fire in New York City and the response from the policeman when asked about it ... and the added comment about a fire in San Francisco which is just as quote worthy.

ER ... that's all folks ...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bronze Opium Weights from Southeast Asia

A Variety of Antique Bird Opium Weights
We recently found a fascinating little bronze bird. In researching it we learned about "opium weights." Opium weight? Why were special weights used for measuring opium? Well here is the story ... in short form ... as told by Sylvia Fraser-Lu in Arts of Asia magazine (January/February 1982 Issue): 

They are referred to as "opium" weights. The term immediately conjures up visions of dingy secluded rooms off dark winding alleys, where frail trans-parent Orientals with glazed unseeing eyes lie lethargically on platform beds puffing intermittently at long clay pipes packed with a wad of opium which has been carefully measured using one of these weights. It is indeed tempting to contemplate that a notorious substance such as opium, the reliever of pain on the one hand and the cause of untold suffering to many on the other, should have its own distinctive and special set of weights and measures.

This, alas, seems to be but a myth. The term "opium" weight for these measures was probably coined by a foreigner with a vivid imagination and a fascination for the forbidden.

While some of the mountain tribes of the Burma, Laos and Thailand used the smallest sizes for weighing opium, these weights were actually made for everyday use, including all sorts of commerce, and were used on scales to weigh all sorts of foods, raw materials and metals. The weights were graded by a measure of ticals … one tical equals 10-12 grams … and have been found in weights from 1/50 tical to tens of ticals.
Hintha Bird Weight Set in Graduated Sizes
Most common antique opium weights are made of bronze in the form of a Hintha (bird or chicken) or Brahmani (duck). There are also more rare weights in different shapes as lions or other animals. The earliest Hintha weights found are thought to date from around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These early ones  are set on a pumpkin-shaped base. When the British occupied Burma in 1885, they introduced round and flat iron weights and from that time officially no more bronze weights were cast.
Early Antique Animal Form Opium Weights
(See the discussion of "Opium Weights" on The Eclectic Museum website for more details on weights; or this brief history of opium curiously titled The Plant of Joy.)

So back to our little bird. It turns out to be a 19th century bronze 16 tical Hintha opium weight. Pretty cool. This is now on our antique sales site priced at $69.00.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Victorian Slide Chain Necklaces ... to Wear or Collect

Slide chain necklaces were originally worn by Victorian women as a way to carry their pocket watches or glasses (lorgnettes). These chains, which are generally quite long, came in solid gold, gold-filled and occasionally silver. Victorians were known for mixing form and function in jewelry, so slide chains were very versatile and worn in a number of ways. To keep the length under control, the end piece can be tucked into a pocket or clipped onto a belt or sash. The slide can be used to adjust the length slightly. 

These are some Victorian ladies wearing long chains in the 1880s or so. (Photos from our store inventory of Victorian Cartes d'Visite and tintypes.)

Slide chains had a brief resurgence in the mid-1900s. Today bib or festoon necklaces are quite popular. The chain can be worn doubled up and clipped in the center to create a festoon style look. A pendant can be added to the clip. Another simple way to wear your slide chain is to double it up, adjusting the length of the loops to give a layered look.

When the craze for these long chains diminished at the turn of the century many slides were gathered and worn as bracelets or shorter watch chains. It’s a nice look … old but new.

Bracelet made from Vintage Slides (not in stock)
Slide chains in their various incarnations have been a popular jewelry collectible for many years and the popularity remains today.

Above is a Slide Choker ... a variant because it is a short necklace. 14K Gold, Swiss Enamel with a Gold-filled Chain $695.00

These are some of the Gold-Filled Slide Chains ... 36" to 50" Chains ... all $95.00 each

Mid-century Slide Necklace Lavaliere ... 14K Gold ... $155.00

This is another variant ... a Watch Chain with a Slide for Men ... Gold-Filled ... $95.00

Still another variant where the slide is on a bracelet. (not in stock)
Most of these are available on our Antique Site. All are available in our Los Gatos Shop.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hand-felted Merino Wool Scarves - Gorgeous and Individual

We received a shipment of some new scarves that are absolutely and wonderfully unique and individual. Each of these hand-felted scarves stands alone as a one-of-a-kind work of art. The scarves are felted with 100% Merino wool in beautiful colors and designs. Even with scarves from the same design style, the final product is still individual and unique … the result of each one being hand-crafted … so you can find a scarf that speaks to your own personal style. Check out our collection ... available in our Los Gatos shop. Affordably priced at $49.95 each.

Spiral Scarves in a few Colors
White Spiral Scarf
Funky in Turquoise Scarf
Red Winter Flower Scarf
Window Pane Scarf

Friday, August 19, 2016

Celebrate World Photo Day Aug 19th 2016

Those who have followed us through the years know how we love old ephemera ... and photographs are more than a story ... they capture feelings, smiles, frowns, tragedy, love, special moments and more ...

Well today, August 19th, has been declared World Photo Day. Why World Photo Day?

World Photo Day is an international photography event on August 19th that celebrates the passion for photography in our communities. In a world where millions of pictures are uploaded every minute, World Photo Day is inspiring thousands of photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose: To share their world with the world. From everyday life to incredible landscapes, our global gallery is an evolving mosaic of images captured by photographers of all skills levels living in a diverse range of countries and cultures. No matter who you are, where you are or what equipment and skills you have, World Photo Day can help open your eyes to the possibilities of photography and enable you show the world as you see it.(From the WorldPhotoDay.com website)

Here are some of the photography images we have shared on this blog over the years --- some are available in our shop where we have a large selection of vintage photographs. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

2017 Calendars are IN Stock

JUST IN! Our new selection of 2017 Desk and Wall Calendars. Again, these feature vintage images and are in bright colors on premium cardstock paper. The images are fantastic and are great for framing, mixed media art, scrapbooking and card making ... once the year is done of course. Get 'em while you can ... we always sell-out! Desk calendars are $12.95 each and the wall calendars are $21.95 each.

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