Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

We have such a mild winter here in the San Francisco Bay Area compared to folks up in New England or the Great Lakes area (or anywhere that has real snow, for that matter!)  Oh, we do get some snow here, but it is well-behaved, staying in the mountains where it belongs.  Never-the-less, it is always wonderful to see the first real signs of spring -- the bright green of fresh grass on the hills, the yellow flowers of oxalis and wild mustard in the meadows, the pinks and whites of the flowers blooming on the plum trees that are naturalized remnants of the plum orchards that once covered the Valley of Heart's Delight.

We travel through the scenic Los Gatos foothills to get to Vintages every day the shop is open.  Driving aside the Guadalupe Creek and through Shannon Valley is a great way to brighten up our mornings.  I snapped these photos one day last week while it was raining a gentle drizzle, making the greens greener, the flowers sparkle and the turkeys take refuge under a tree.

The blue vinca flowers contrasts so beautifully with the lush green of the vines near the creek.

While the moss on the trunk of an old oak tree stands out so green against the the gray bark.

The stars of the exhibition are the flowering trees.  Just love 'em!

This tree swing, hanging alone from a branch, is just waiting for someone to relax and take in the natural beauty of the meadow.

The area is still quite natural, and even though it is populated (somewhat sparsely by Silicon Valley standards) with old ranches and contemporary estates, wild animals are still in evidence.  In addition to the wild turkeys, we regularly see hawks perched on tree branches and turkey vultures soaring above.  The local deer seem undeterred by humans and predators alike, while bobcats and mountain lions, foxes and coyotes can be seen on occasion.  The few local ranches along our route keep goats and horses -- I love the horses!
Spring has Sprung at Vintages too.  More on that in a later post.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shop Online with Vintages

We are happy to announce that we now have a new online shopping venue!  For a few years we have offered antiques and some contemporary items online at our site on  We now have a second Vintages shopping site where we will list crafting items, handmade jewelry, artisan created products and such.  It will take some time to build up the inventory, but it is up and running now.  Check it out ... let us know what you think.

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Artful Journey in Los Gatos

Cindy O'Leary organizes these wonderful artist retreats in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains above the Town of Los Gatos.   Her tag line for these events tells the story:

An Artful Journey!  Mixed Media Workshops & Retreats: Awaken your senses ... nourish your soul ... replenish your spirit ... learn.share.connect.  

We first discovered An Artful Journey last summer, when a number of the attendees -- who come from all over the world -- stopped into Vintages and showed us their creations.  The first retreat of 2010 was this past weekend, and during the last week we have seen a multitude of enthusiastic ladies in town, using their free time to shop with us and explore what we have to offer.  They all sing the praises of the workshops and instructors.  The energy and creativity of these ladies just fills the shop when they visit ... and they all seem to be having so much fun!

The next Journey Retreat is in July.  Visit Cindy's An Artful Journey website for details.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Victorian Forks

The Victorians must have been fussy people.  They had a penchant for gadgets, a tool for each and every task from putting on shoes to eating an olive.  Just look at the array of objects that comprised a well-set table at the turn of the last century.  Multitudes of dishes and bowls, serving pieces and individual utensils, each in its proper place and used at the proper time for the proper task!

The typical upper-class dinner table was set with seven to nine or more pieces of silver flatware and individual serving pieces.  In her marvelous book, Antiques for the Table, author Sheila Cheefetz and photographer Joshua Greene present some beautiful prose and images of elegant formal table settings.  She describes a full service of Chantilly silverware from Gorham as having more than 100 different shapes (including) a cheese knife, a lemon fork, sugar tongs, butter knife, baby-food pusher, oyster fork, another butter knife, an ice-cream fork, a napkin marker, and a strawberry fork ... (and) olive fork.  Which one do you use first?

We recently put together this little collection of Victorian and Edwardian silver forks.  These include pickle forks, butter and cocktail picks, and lovely berry forks.  These are available for purchase online.

This long handled Verona pickle fork was made by Blackinton and Co. (now part of Towle Silver Co.) around 1905.  The grape clusters on the handle (both front and back) are wonderful.

There are a couple of superbly handcrafted forks (one marked Argentina) with neat little figural finials.  The pick with the well is complete with bucket, and the berry fork with the little warrior is marvelous.

These two little hand-crafted beauties are both picks, probably for hors d'oeuvres.  The handles are decorated and pierced with geometrical shapes.

Lunt Silversmiths of New England have been producing silver items for over a century.  This butter pick, with the twisted tine, is in the Mount Vernon pattern (from around 1905) back when the company was known as Rogers, Lunt and Bowlen Co.

This pickle or cocktail fork is a silver-plated (actually EPNS or electro-plated nickle silver) little  gem from Th. Marthinsen of Norway.  The pattern is Wild Rose, and while not terribly old, it is typical of the ubiquitous cocktail fork that still is in use today.

Frank Whiting created this delicate pattern, Damascus, back in 1894.  This is a three-tined berry fork.

These two lemon forks make one ask: Why?  It's hard to conceive a reason for a special utensil just to pick up a lemon!

My absolute favorite in this collection, are these two strawberry forks from Tiffany and Co.  These were made a century ago when the craftsmanship and design of Tiffany products were at their peak.  There is a wonderful little article about strawberry forks on the blog: The Five O'Clock Teaspoon.  How elegant.  How luscious.  How decadent!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day!

From Us to You, here is a gallery of some cute vintage Valentine cards from our collection.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Old Paper

Now and then we have someone in the shop looking at our vintage paper who asks: "What do people do with this?"  Here's one beautiful example.  Marti Somers is a local artist with an international reputation for her colorful yet subdued art.  She set up Studio Believe in nearby San Carlos in 2001. 

Marti loves old paper -- brown around the edges, a character defining stain here or there, maybe some writing on it, maybe not.  Recently Marti picked up a number of old French chaussure (shoe) receipts from Vintages.  These receipts have superb graphics, precise handwriting, a stamp or two, and that  characteristic age.  Here are two of her encaustic paintings that feature these receipts embedded into the background.

At Vintages we stock a large variety of vintage paper, from letters and documents to wallpaper and wine labels.  Old French documents have been one of our favorites.  We have old letters, official documents, receipts, books and maps, all in French.

American documents from a century ago are available also, in a similar array of choices.  These include some interesting old letters from the Charles H. Crocker estate and 19th century mortgages from the mid-Atlantic area.  Collect these, embed them in paintings, glue them into a collage or turn them into cards or tags.

Old books, ledgers, autograph books and sheet music give a wide variety of sizes and textures to work with.  The larger pages make great wrapping paper for small gifts.  These also supply an interesting background to scrapbook pages, shadowbox art, small jewelry items or decoupaged trays.

We have a nice selection of mid-century popular magazines, as well as several copies of Godey's, Harper's Bazaar and Delineator from the late-1800s.  These provide endless images for all kinds of craft and art work.

On the more colorful side, we have vintage wallpaper -- in packaged selections of 8x10 sheets to full-sized sample pages --, die-cuts and Dresden, wine labels from the 1980s and a variety of labels and tags from the early 1900s.  The possibilities abound with these treasures.

Maps are another great paper-craft resource.  We have a number of vintage guide books with fold-out maps, map pages from old atlases, and more.  One beautiful antique map we have is a 1796 German Charte von America with gorgeous colors printed and hand-colored on thick, wonderful paper.

We are always drawn to old childrens' books.   The images and stories are always so innocent and recall days when life was simpler.  As we grow older it is important to remember those days.

Here's one of my absolute favorite paper items.  It is a letter written in the late-1990s.   The letter starts with "My Dear Sweetheart ..." The lover enclosed a dried flower, which was a custom back then, that  flower has left its image forever in the old paper, not just once, but twice.  How symbolic of the tender feelings between a loving couple.
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