Sunday, February 27, 2011

Norma Dice Wire Wrapped Pendants

We have the privilege to be one of only two retail stores that offer the jewelry creations of this amazing artist from Capitola, a beach community near Los Gatos. These are one-of-a-kind pendants made by Norma Dice. Norma and her late husband spent many years searching for treasures of the earth. When in her mid-seventies, Norma taught herself to make jewelry from those treasures. Today at the age of 88, Norma continues to make beautiful jewelry. To quote her: There is a whole lot of love that goes into each piece of jewelry. I like to look at it for a little while then pass it on. We are proud to offer several of her pieces here at Vintages.

The  Peas-in-a-Pod pendants are created by using an appropriate fragment of an abalone shell and wire-wrapping several freshwater pearls into it. Each is unique, as the design and arrangement are dictated by the shape and size of the piece of abalone.

Gemstones and shells are wire-wrapped to show off both the gem, stone or shell, as well as the intricate pattern of the wire.
Peas-in-a-pod pendants ($69.00 each)
Gemstone, shell and coral pendants ($65 to $89 each)

We had quite a few mother-of-pearl gaming tokens dating the mid- to early-1900s from Hong Kong. These are all unique in and of themselves, as each has a patterned etched or carved into it. Norma wire-wrapped several of these for us and the results are dramatic. These are great pendants.
Wire-wrapped MOP gaming chips ($79 to $89 each)
Wire-wrapped gaming chip ($79); MOP gaming chip ($10)
MOP gaming chips ($10 top; $15 bottom)

Many of her pieces are available at our online store. More can be found in our shop in Los Gatos.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Collection: Silver Souvenir Spoons

Trinkets. Tchachkies. Tourist stuff. Memories. Special moments. Something to collect ... Souvenir spoons are all of that. They are ubiquitous. Every tourist attraction, commemorative event or fund raiser seems to have one to offer. Most today are cheap, stamped pieces with little craftsmanship or intrinsic value. But that was not always the case. In centuries past, silver objects (trophies, presentation bowls and platters, etc.) were given as a token to memorialize important events and celebrate special occasions. Spoons were the silver gift given when a baby was born.
A variety of silver & pewter souvenir spoons.
By the mid-1800s, the gilded age, the larger objects were too cumbersome for travelers to foreign lands, so smaller items were substituted. Spoons became the memento of choice. These were often elaborate, handcrafted spoons, made in limited quantities. As mass production of metals became the norm, so too was the mass production of souvenir spoons. Although silver plated spoons were available, the souvenir spoons of the late-1800s and early-, mid-1900s are normally sterling silver.

Selection of 19th Century Silver Souvenir Spoons
Here in America, collectors seem to be most interested in spoons from American sites and events. But there are wonderful souvenirs from all over the world that are wonderful. Collections vary from topical themes and regional souvenirs, or just select spoon makers, to collections that are all-encompassing. Many people want these spoons as mementos of trips they took or events that they attended.
New York Souvenir Spoons (Photo Courtesy JenX)
Spoons range in size from the tiny salt spoons to full-sized dinner spoons. The most common size is the demi-tasse or coffee spoons. Specialized spoons, such as tea caddies, spoons with enamel and bright cut bowls or moving parts, add interest to any collection.
Enamel Shield and Bowl

Enamel Souvenir Spoons (Photo courtesy eCharmony)
Bright Cut Bowls on Sterling Silver Spoons
There is a wonderful website, sponsored by the Spoon Club of Southern California, with over 4000 spoons pictured, thousands of links and about 500 different exhibits. This virtual museum is the largest repository of silver and collectible spoon information on the web.

Here's a sample of the many silver souvenir spoons we have at Vintages. A few are available online, but these are primarily available in the shop. Contact us if you have a want list.
Atlantic City and Venice Beach

Canadian Souvenir Spoons

Spoons from European Countries

Fancy Handle Spoons • Very Collectible

French Souvenir Spoons

Spoons from Our 50th State • Hawaii

Italian Souvenir Spoons

Souvenirs from the California Missions

The San Francisco Golden Gate ... before the bridge

United States Ships: USS Olympia and USS Maine

Doorknobs and Knockers

When we were last in Paris ... too long ago ... I was drawn to the many majestic door handles and doorknobs on the large street side doors and gates of the Parisien buildings. I snapped a couple of photos, intending to take more, but never did. It's easy to get distracted in Paris. Then yesterday I came across this blog post by Grant K. Gibson, a San Francisco interior designer, of door knockers he saw in Italy.  I just had to share this gallery with you.
Knock knock ... a photo gallery by Grant K. Gibson

And here's the two door handles from Paris. Maybe I need to take more. What do you think?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Miniature Books

I have been fascinated by miniature books -- the tiny works of printing art that have been around for a long time. Beginning in the medieval times there were miniature books handwritten by monks for royal patrons. These were mostly prayer or devotional texts which could be handily carried in a pocket or purse. After the invention of the printing press, miniature books were a way for a printer to show his skill. Probably the most common texts are bibles or prayer books and calendars. Miniaturizations of other books like Shakespeare's plays, children's story books, books with pictures and such, are harder to find and more highly prized by collectors.
Curiosities of the Tower of London, Vol. I. London: Printed for Tho. Boreman, 1741. (Photo courtesy of Lilly Library)

Book of Hours, Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1440 (Photo courtesy of Lilly Library)
Miniature books are defined as those books that are three inches or smaller in height and width, although slightly larger dimensions are collected by some aficionados of the genre.  There are numerous large collections in libraries and museums in the USA. The University of Indiana's Lilly Library has an online exhibit: 4000 Years of Miniature Books. It features a small part of the library's 16,000 miniature book collection! The Miniature Book Society even has an ongoing competition for judging new miniature book creations.

Here at Vintages, we have a small, but very nice, selection of miniature books. While our current inventory includes primarily prayer books and calendars at this time, we have had (and continue to seek) miniatures of other subjects. Here are a few photos and a link to our online offering of books.
Miniature French calendars - 1907, 1923 & 1924 ($28 - $36 each)

Miniature prayer books dated 1885 to 1907 ($36 - $45 each)

The star of our current collection is this beautiful Book of Common Prayer that has a calf's leather spine, ivory covers, silver trim and gilt edged pages. The silver is hallmarked Richard Smith, London, 1903. There is a wonderful inscription inside: Hilda from M. Creed 1905.
Miniature Book of Common Prayer 1903 ($195)

Inscription: Hilda from M. Creed 1905.

Another favorite is this tiny 1907 calendar, with leather covers and gilt lettering. This is a superb miniature advertising piece: With the Compliments of Brentano's - 37 Avenue de l'Opera, Paris. This bookstore in Paris, which offers a large selection of English language books, has been at this location near l'Opera Garnier for over 113 years! (After a brief closure last summer, the store has re-opened this month.)
Miniature Brentano's 1907 Advertising Calendar ($36)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Old Photographs & Ephemera

We just redid the display in our front window and it looks great ... so I thought I would share it with you. We are highlighting our collection of old photographs, as well as other ephemera. The 19th century Wollensak antique bellows 4x5 camera in the center is a great find.
Wollensak 4x5 Bellows Camera ($295)
Our collection of old photographs includes tintypes, cartes de visite (CDV), cabinet cards, portraits, family photos, professional portraits and news photos.

This frame is filled with old pages from books that were too beat up to save. Susan stapled them onto a bulletin board inside this old frame. The project is simple, but elegant.  The array of old papers makes a great backdrop for photos or prints and would look great as an accent wallpaper as well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Napa Valley Sculptures • Bistro Don Giovanni

Susan treated me to a day up in Napa Valley for Valentine's Day. It was a wet and gray day, but that has never stopped us from enjoying our adventures. Napa Valley is not just for wine lovers - and we do love our wine. The vineyards are beautiful at all times of the year. The area also has some interesting shopping, including  antique and specialty stores, especially in Yountville and St. Helena. In fact the Dean & Delucca store in St. Helena alone is worth the trip.

But we always enjoy having lunch at Bistro Don Giovanni, just off Highway 29 outside of Napa town. Not only is the food delicious, but the ambiance is a feast for the eyes as well. The Tuscan style restaurant is cozy. The diner is welcomed with a large, over-the-top floral arrangement near the entry and bar. Inside there are a number of smaller sculptures, including an over-sized light bulb above one of the corner tables. But grab yourself a table near the window, or outside on the patio if weather permits, and enjoy the back garden area with its soaring acrobatic sculpture above the fountain. There is also a wonderful, whimsical wine drinker sculpted from metal rods in front of the restaurant, and an 8-foot tall lever corkscrew greeting you at the entrance to the dining room.

Bistro Don Giovanni is located at 4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558 (707) 224-3300

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Create Your Own Paris Theatre

Paris is more than a beautiful city ... it is also wonderful theatre! Yes. Walk down any street and just take in everything that is going on. People, flowers, buildings, hustle and bustle everywhere. So too are quiet gardens, spacious parks, tiny plazas and sidewalk cafes. Just like a three act play, only in real life.
l'Opera de Paris Garnier
But Paris has wonderful theatres, too. The classic Opera de Paris Garnier, the equally classic Palais Royal, the ebulliant can-can theatre of the Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge, the theatre of marrionettes in the Luxembourg Gardens, or the impromptu stages set up in parks, on sidewalks and along the banks of the Seine.
Ballet of India at l'Opera de Paris Garnier
The Theatre at the Palais Royal
The famous Moulin Rouge as captured by Toulouse Lautrec
Marionettes at the Luxembourg Gardens
You can create your own personal Paris Theatre starting with these luscious linen framed curtains, opera ladies dressed in haute couture and this simple framed Paris sign. Throw in your own artistic touches and, voila', your own Paris Theatre.
The Linen Frame is a great theatre backdrop for the opera ladies.
Opera Ladies are $21.95 each
Linen Framed Prints are $28.95 each
Paris Prints are $27.95 each
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