Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nautical Brass Compasses and Telescopes

Madison Bay Company was founded in 1976 by John Leib as a part-time business while he was teaching high school. He had been collecting historical photographs and his archive grew quickly from five civil war photos to over 15,000 historical images. In 1990 his son Troy joined him in the business, which has expanded to include historical reproductions of Colonial, Civil War, Indian, Western and Nautical items.

Compasses ($14.95 to $34.95) and Boxed Sets ($32.95 to $75.95)

This 14" Telescope ($85.95) fits perfectly into the Brass & Wood Box ($25.95)
At Vintages we have an excellent selection of Madison Bay Company's brass compasses and telescopes. These are perfect gifts for the nautical enthusiast, geographer, cartographer or world traveler. Any desk or bookshelf would look terrific with one of these displayed. But they are more than just for display, as the optics on the telescopes are excellent and the compasses are accurate. Check our selection online or in the shop.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Collection: Vintage Playing Cards

Das Kupferestichspiel des I.M.F. von 1617 (Reproduced 1979) • Courtesy Rod Starling
Playing cards are a popular collectible. The cards, decks and boxes can be pretty fantastic on their own, but these little works of art are one of the ultimate cross-collectibles. Beyond the basic playing card decks, boxes and cards are used for advertising, travel scenes, historical images, world's fair souvenirs, children's games, and more. 
Johann Hieronymus Loschenkohl's 1806 Musical Playing Cards (Reproduced 1981) • Courtesy Rod Starling
Playing cards originated in ancient China and were introduced to Europe as part of the trade with the Orient in the 14th century. The early cards were hand decorated, something that is still done today on special decks. We especially like the decks that have different images on the front of each card. Southern Pacific Railroad issued a number of these showing the sights along the routes it traveled.

While most collectors collect complete decks, there are collectors that zero-in on only jokers, the ace of spades or special backs. Boxes are definitely part of the deal! Look for great graphics, unusual advertising, special games or specialties like fortune telling cards, airplane spotter cards or travel souvenirs.

Here are some of the decks we have at Vintages, including some that are in our online shop.
American President Lines Double/Canasta Deck ($24.95)
Southern Pacific Railroad Souvenir Playing Cards ($69.95)
Chicago 1934 World's Fair Souvenir Deck (Sold)
Mark Hopkins Hotel Double/Canasta Advertising Deck ($24.95)
Advertising Playing Cards ($9.95 to $14.95 each)
Double/Canasta Decks: Seattle Space Needle & Faberge Eggs ($14.95 each)
Komedy Kennedy Kards ($24.95)
Cheer-Up Comedy Cards (Sold)
Looney Tunes ($14.95) • Old Maid ($24.95) • Fortune Telling Cards ($39.95)
Novelty Round Souvenir Card Deck from Lake Tahoe ($14.95)
Coca Cola Aircraft Spotter Cards • We have a different deck available ($69.95)
Collector's Weekly has a very good section on collecting vintage playing cards, including links to articles and collector sites.

Class Announcement: Collecting Vintage Jewelry

We have again partnered with Los Gatos Recreation to offer a class about antiques. This Fall 2012 class will focus on Collecting Vintage Jewelry. It will be held on Tuesday nights, October 9th through November 6th. More information below ... Set aside the dates and plan to join us.

Jewelry from the past continues to be both a hot collectible and a brilliant fashion statement. Modern costume jewelry just does not have the special beauty of pieces from the mid-20th century. Vintage jewels are like miniature works of art, some classic, some flashy and all of it enduring.

The class will cover the history, designs and fashions of jewelry from as early as the Egyptians and up to modern trends. In each class session we will discuss a different time frame, looking into what was behind the designs, who the leading jewelers were and what makes the best “the best.” Classes will also cover topics to help give you an understanding of fashions and materials, as well as a basis to be able to decipher the age and maker of jewelry. We will bring some samples of collectible vintage jewelry into class (you are encouraged to bring in your own examples as well) and we will also view examples of the works of the important designers and artists who have created the masterworks. Each class will end with a chance for all attendees to share their own jewelry collections

Registration for this class will open on August 3rd, so watch for updates on our blog and newsletter, or send us your email and we will send you a notice when registration opens.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vintage Bridal Jewelry and Accessories


Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
A silver sixpence in her shoe

This old Victorian good luck rhyme has been applied to weddings, specifically to the bride, for over a century. Something old connects the bride to her family's past. Something new displays the bride's future happiness. Something borrowed from a happily married family member or dear friend conveys the hope of such happiness being transferred to the newly married couple. Something blue represents purity. And in the last verse, usually forgotten, the sixpence represents financial security and future wealth. 

June has been the traditional month for weddings. In fact, the month of June is named after the Roman Goddess of marriage, Juno. The tradition has remained for a couple of millenia. In fact, summer is the most favored time for weddings, so June does usher in the "wedding season." So for all the Summer Brides out there Vintages offers some wonderful jewelry and accessories ... some old, some new and even some that are blue.
We have one of the largest selections of vintage Bride & Groom Wedding Cake Toppers
Diamond and precious gem engagement rings, wedding rings and wedding bands

We have this Victorian wax flower bridal wreath in the shop ($75, one of a kind)
This turn of the last century bride is wearing a wax flower wreath as a tiara.

While we do have fine jewel necklaces, earrings and bracelets, sometimes the appropriate choice is a gorgeous vintage piece set with brilliant crystal rhinestones
Individually hand decorated hand bags are a perfect accessory (from $155 to $195 each)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cages and Houses for the Birds

The latest Country Living (June 2012) had this feature on Cute Coops. As they put it: For the birds? Hardly. These decorative cages make perfect perches for plants, books, and more. We agree. Vintages has carried bird cages and bird houses for years. We love them ... maybe because we love birds. We look for nice decorative and usable cages and houses. Here's our current selection

Selection of birdhouses and garden goodies. Birdhouse on stand ($84.95 each)
Beachy-style birdhouses made from recycled wood slats ($39.95 each) • Wire birds ($15.95 each
Miniature bird in hanging birdcage ($9.95 each)
Vintage birdcage - one-of-a-kind ($165.00) • Metal shore birds ($64.95 & $84.95 - one each available)
Large wire bird cage on stand with removable bottom ($695.00 - one available)
Bird cage style cloche with pot & saucer ($36.95 each)
Colorful hand crafted birdhouses ($45.95 to $53.95 each) • Miniature birdhouses ($14.95 each)

Monday, May 21, 2012

True Dog Stories • Etchings by Diana Thorne

I found this beat up little book True Dog Stories, written by Albert Payson Terhune and illustrated with fantastic etchings by Diana Thorne. The book is aimed at children and is filled with short stories about real adventures of real dogs.  But the stars of the book, in my opinion, are the fifteen black-and-white etchings by Diana Thorne. These prints capture not just the details of several breeds of dogs, but seem to get into their emotions, revealing their character as well as their beauty.
Albert Payson Terhune's True Dog Stories with etchings by Diana Thorne, published in 1936













Diana Thorne was born Ann Woursell on October 7, 1895 in Odessa, Russia. She emigrated from Russia and Germany due to persecution in those countries, and eventually arrived in New York in 1920. She is well-known for her canine etchings, but did illustrate and publish books in a variety of genre, produced illustrations for magazine covers, as well as executing artwork in a number of mediums.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Vintage Sewing: Cases, Kits, Pincushions, etc.

The SFO Museum just launched a new exhibit in Terminal 3 at the airport. Entitled, Threading the Needle: Sewing in the Machine Age, it explores the world of sewing after the advent of the mechanical sewing machine. 
Toy sewing machines from the exhibit
For approximately 20,000 years, hand sewing with needles and thread made from various materials remained unchanged. When the sewing machine was first introduced to American homes in the 1850s, it was heralded as a laborsaving device that would transform the domestic lives of women everywhere ... The popular and influential Godey's Lady's Book soon coined the sewing machine "the queen of inventions" and declared that every family in the United States should own one.

Sewing tools and accessories are wonderful collectibles. Not only are there myriads of styles and combinations of sewing trinkets around, but people who sew are the ultimate crafters, making and modifying tools to suit their needs.
Porcelain pincushion dolls, or half-dolls, that are used on pincushions, vanity jars and powder puffs

A small variety of our pincushions

Sewing tools and trinkets
For years we have collected vintage sewing items for the shop. We have a variety of pincushions, needle cases, sewing kits, thimbles and accessories.
Novelty figural pincushions (Metal canoe $69; German silver plate elephant $59; Small elephants made of sterling silver in England $125 each - blue & red)

A variety of leather sewing kits & cases from the early 1900s are available ($49 to $89 each)
Recent additions include a couple of 19th century Victorian sewing boxes. One is a beautifully made combination traveling writing desk and sewing kit, the other a wonderful box to hold sewing threads, with a mirror and drawer as well.
19th C Victorian Coromandel Writing Lap Desk/Sewing Box ($1295)

19th C Victorian Mahogany Sewing Box ($275)
These are great gifts for sewing collectors, Victorian antique afficianados and lovers of trinkets. Come on in to check these out ... or visit our antique selling site online.
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