Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ooo Antique Lace!

It was nearing four o'clock and a lot of the stalls were packing up. We were just about to go into the Earl of Lonsdale for a snack and a drink when I spotted lace. Lots of lace. Just hanging out, unassuming, next to the union jack key chains. 

I nearly had a heart attack as I got closer.

There was just so much of it, and all in such amazing condition. Some were so, so old! There were scads of victorian lace, a surprisingly large amount of 18th century lace and even a fair few going back to the 16th and 17th centuries. I asked where they acquire it and the man said his mother goes to lots of estate sales and fairs in small towns.

There were so many examples that one could be picky. I found quite a few with no brown spots and barely any holes. To the casual eye, they look almost new. I bought mostly 18th century bobbin lace, though looking back, I should have picked up some mid-19th century lace to trim my new 1860's bonnet. Damn. 

So take a browse. I have listed them with the labels that were put on by the owner. I haven't really had a chance to go and check my lace books to see if she was 100% accurate, but I'm going on good faith she knows what's up. Needless to say, they are all hand worked. Enjoy!

Collar and cuffs.
The whitework is finished but they have
never been cut out. The selvage has pencil
marks indicating it is from a professional
workshop in France. The work is
absolutely meticulous!

This picture and the one below show the backside.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two 18th Century Etui Cases

The day we went to Portobello was very damp with on and off showers. When the weather was decent we browsed the stalls along the street. When showers started, we would venture into the little shopping arcades. The streets were so crowded it made umbrellas hopeless.

One of the arcades - blue awnings (I don't remember the name) - had a basement. We went down to explore. 

It was kind of too warm and uncomfortably close. I almost went back up. Lucky I didn't or I would have missed seeing these two lovelies.

The shop owner was kind enough to let me take pictures. I would have loved to buy them but they were thousands of pounds, and my husband was giving me this look like, really Caroline? I can dream right?

This brown case was my favorite. The seller explained to me that it was 1770's toroiseshell with inlaid silver. The green leaves are apparently some very interesting material, but slap me, I can't recall what he said they were.

I thought it was so charming! I love the little swags and stars and squiggly bits.

The case opened and closed perfectly and still had ALL the inner bits (clockwise): scissors, needle case, pencil with silver back end, pocket knife (or perhaps "pen knife", for sharpening your pencil or quills), file and two ivory sheets on a hinge. 

My experience (and common sense) tells me that one rights on the ivory papers with the pencil. I have seen many, many examples of this, all the way up to the Victorian era, where ladies would have ivory papers in a book on their chatelaine. However, the seller had a more gristly explanation. He said they would use the thin ivory sheets to slice the skin for blood letting. Forgive me, I don't mean to be contrary, but wouldn't it make sense to use the knife?...

This second etui dates from the 1760's. The seller said the green is sharkskin and the chinoiserie design is gold. It too has the same implements inside. Below, you can see a better illustration of the ivory sheets. This etui had a particularly lovely little scissors with gold handles. Sorry for the finger shadows :)

Even though I wasn't able to come home with them, I'm thrilled for the photos to study. I am such an experience whore, too. I love to know that I have now experienced holding and touching these and now I will always know what it feels like. It is so fascinating to have the same memory as someone who lived two hundred years ago, who used one of these when they were new - the weight of it in my hand (by the way, they're quite heavy! Almost like an iphone, to compare), the click as it opens, using my nails to pry the little pen knife open. So amazing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Three 1862 Fashion Plates from "Le Monde Elegant"

These very pretty fashion plates were one of my souvenirs from Portobello Market. I found them at a little antique book seller's stall. I was kind of sad to see they had been removed from a book, but another part of me was very excited I got to buy them :)

The three plates are from "Le Monde Elegant," which I have never before heard of, but I am assuming it's along the lines of "La Mode Illustree" or some similar publication. They are hand colored and the color is still wonderfully vibrant, though the paper has browned a little with age.

They were the last three fashion plates this seller had, which was very lucky for me since I am currently looking into 1860's fall fashion. Meant for me! These three are from October and November, so they're perfect.

I will soon be doing up a Civil War ensemble for an event in October. This is great to have such relevant examples!

What great trimming on this purple dress.

And I love this button front!

Maybe I will look into making some
great outerwear too. The black coat
is so stylish!