Monday, July 21, 2014

Can't Come to Dinner ...

Some messages in letters and postcards are just too precious. Look at this one from 1946!

Dear Aunt Ruby,

Can't be able to come Sun. Someone informed me I would have to cook a dinner.

Love Alice

I guess Alice really did not like to cook!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ephemera - Old Paper, Photos and Stuff

Old paper is great stuff. It's ephemera ... ephemeral ... it was not meant to last ... but when it does it is wonderful stuff! It has history ... texture ... warm colors from gentle aging.

We are always finding photo collections, old documents and letters, postal covers, labels and wallpaper. Some of it goes into our mixed media projects, most ends up in our shop for our customers. Now and then we find items that we repatriate with long lost relatives.

Old Ledgers ... sold as complete books and as individual pages. Great for everything from wrapping gifts to collages to mixed media art.
We just got these in ... customs' documents for seeds sent from Argentina to a researcher at University of California's botany department. The stamps are on both sides. ($15 each, while they last, as we only have five available.)
Love bird prints. These here are from a 1950s Audubon portfolio. We have others available. (Most are $18 each.)
Old letters make for interesting reading, if you like ... but these are treasures for their beautiful penmanship and aged paper. (Starting at a few dollars each.)
19th century and early 20th century French bottle labels ... direct from Paris. We do have others available as well. (Prices vary.)
Old mortgage and other documents from the late-1800s and early 1900s. (Typically $10 to $25 each.)
Old probate letters from New England in the late-1800s and early 1900s. (Typically $6 to $10 each.)
1920s shoe manufacturer receipts from France. (Typically $4.50 to $9 each.)
We have hundreds of old photos, as well as scrapbooks and photo albums from the 1870s through the middle 1900s.
Wallpaper is available both as individual large sample sheets ($4.50 each) and in packages of ten 8x10 sheets ($12.95 per package). Available online.
Vintage Wine labels are available in packages of ten ($5.95 per package) and special ones sold individually (From $5 each) Available online.
We recently acquired a large collection of letters from USA WW2 military personnel. Most of these were censored by the military and are stamped or marked as such. (Starting at $4 each)
Some of our ephemera is available through our online sites. Click on one of the links below to see what is listed at this time.

Vintages Antiques online.
Pretty Ribbons on Etsy.
Vintages Online Shop.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Precious Little Book from 1820

One reason I love old ephemera, is that now and then I find true treasures. A while back, we found this marvelous little book … Plants Quadrupeds Birds. It is fully done by hand … all the text is hand printed in watercolor ink and it contains six ink and watercolor illustrations as well.

This little book is written and illustrated by Robert Clement Sconce (1787-1846). It is signed simply “Sconce” on the inside of the front cover and was written to Sally from her Papa. Sally is Sarah Susanna “Sally” Sconce Bunbury (1816-1897), who later compiled, annotated and edited the work Life and Letters of Robert Clement Sconce (1861). Numerous passages in that book have Robert Clement Sconce discussing, in letters to his daughter Sally, his drawing and sketching using watercolors.

The book begins:

Does dear Sally know that while she has been amusing herself gathering Plants, and learning their names, she has been learning Botany? And when she picks a Flower to pieces and Papa shews her the Calyx, Petals, Staminae, and Pistils, what is it Sally learns? Why Botany!

Little Children do not often learn such things, but as dear Sally is very able to learn them, and as she has great pleasure in learning, Papa is very glad to teach her.

He goes on to cover all sorts of details of life in the garden. Beautiful descriptions of plants and flowers. Tales of foxes and wrens. Stories about creatures and critters. It is simply a beautifully written and illustrated book for children … and adults as well.

The patience of Sconce demonstrated in handwriting this book, with nary a flaw, is remarkable. That trait is also shown in how he “talks” to his daughter throughout the book. Sconce, while born and raised in England, spent most of his adult life in the Mediterranean on the British controlled island of Malta. He held numerous positions in the British Admiralty that afforded him time and space to dabble in botany and art. Although he was never wealthy, he and his family lived well and circulated in upper class English society.

His artistic talents were inherited by some of his children … Robert Knox Sconce (1818-1852), who was a minister and author; Herbert Sconce (1833-1867), who was in the British foreign service in Assam, India, and a superb watercolorist; and his daughter Sally, whose watercolors (now in museums in Australia, where she lived as an adult) document her family's travel and life experiences. Alas, other than the little illustrations in this book, I have not been able to locate any of the works of Robert Clement Sconce.

Book Testimony of Antiquity written by Robert Knox Sconce in 1848

Watercolor Painting by Sally Sconce Bunbury 1841 Back of Our House Darebin Creek W. Melbourne

Watercolor Arial Map of 1864 Seebsagur Tank Assam India by Herbert Sconce

The Plants Quadrupeds Birds book is 174 years old and it was read many times … but it now has condition issues. The pages, text and images are in very good condition, but the covers are detached and the binding is loose. It is currently with a conservator for restoration, rebinding and stabilization. I cannot wait to get this back. I love it.

Book as originally found
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