Saturday, May 11, 2013

Their Likeness Taken

On my recent trip southwards, we were able to fit in some antique-ing. Most of the places we stopped in were very much on the beaten path, and shops frequented by tourists, which usually means that the prices were a little high. There were lots of beautiful things to ogle, not a lot that fit in the budget. This was probably for the best, as our rental car was really tiny and things could have gotten pretty cramped pretty quickly.

I did find three tintypes, and brought them home with me, and wanted to share them!

First up is this lovely lady, still in the original pasteboard holder. The back has a note written on it, identifying it as "grandmother". Her dress is very much in style with the very early 1850s (perhaps even as early as the late 1840s - that era is a little bit past my knowledge base so I am not as certain). It's a little blurry and dark, but she has a lovely collar and a pretty brooch.

Proof that even then, children had a hard time holding still for the camera! This kiddo moved while the picture was being exposed and is thus captured for posterity. In the 19th century, little boys wore dresses identical to little girls until they were potty trained. In period images, you can often tell boys and girls apart by the part in their hair - boys' hair is usually parted on the side, girls' hair is usually parted in the center. I am taking a wild stab in the dark by saying this is a boy, as I think I can see a side part and definitely do not see a center part. So I've taken to thinking of this child as a boy - what do you think?

A few details: his little bootees are lovely and he is wearing some really cute striped stockings! It is really hard to put a date on this one (children's clothes are also not a forte of mine), and he may be a little past the 1860s, but I just adore this one so I took it home with me.

This image is my favorite of the whole group. There is no telling the relationship between these two girls - sisters? Cousins? School friends? Either way, they are obviously dear to each other. They are holding hands (and holding them in a really weird way - anyone have any idea why??) and their fashionable jackets are identical. They also appear to be wearing the jackets over dresses, instead of wearing them as part of a three-piece ensemble, which is not unusual but seems to be less common. Also interestingly, they are wearing what appear to be lace mitts on their hands, but have taken the mitts off of their clasped hands. Again, anyone have any insight?

I plan to get some bigger versions of some of the details in this image - they are both wearing some really cool jewelry, and the girl on the left has what appears to be a decorated hairnet. Probably the best thing about this image is the depth and clarity of it - looking at the actual tintype, it is an eerie sensation of looking back into the past, seeing them exactly as they were when they sat down to "have their image struck".

Monday, May 6, 2013

Millinery Monday: The Smell of Old Lace

I never intended to have a "Millinery Monday" theme, but that is just the way things have worked out the past couple weeks. I just had to show off my latest acquisition:

It's an original bonnet veil! Bonnet veils were the 19th century version of sunglasses, cutting down on glare and providing a bit of shading for the eyes while also keeping a physical barrier between a lady and strangers while she was abroad. This one is a spotted silk netting ground with an edging of chantilly lace. It measures about 30 inches wide at the top edge, and 16 inches long at its apex. I don't know if you have ever handled antique silk lace - it has a stiff hand and is as light as a spiderweb. It also has a lovely smell, like talc powder, usually because it was saved in some little old lady's closet or bureau, and it exudes grace from another time.

Obviously, it has been well-loved in its lifetime...

The border is coming separated from the ground in a couple places, and there are some obvious repairs to the ground from its previous owners. That's not so shocking when you consider that this veil is likely around 150 years old! I don't know about you, but I think she looks pretty good for her age (yes, I personify my antiques, and this one is clearly a girl). The border can be repaired with some fine sewing thread and some careful needlework.

Here is the main reason I am excited I snagged up this beauty - and for the even prettier price of $13. This bonnet veil was being advertised as doll clothes. In fact, the  seller was advertising it as a "cutter" item - meaning vintage linens and laces that can be cut up for doll clothes. Cut. Up. For. Doll. Clothes. If you can, imagine the look of horror on my face. I didn't so much snag up this great deal, but I saved it in the name of history

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with vintage and antique textiles. Heck, it's common with ALL antiques in today's DIY world. Beautiful wooden furniture with lovely patina is painted lime green with zebra stripes (yes, this is an example from real life). Antique transferware is smashed and turned into mosaic architectural pieces. And you know what? It is the right of any person who owns an item to determine its use, and if that use is doll clothes, then so be it. It is equally dangerous to think that we can save every little thing in the name of history. That way lies an episode of Hoarders. Things are used up, they become tattered and torn, and at a certain point they are no longer worth saving. Lace becomes moth-eaten. Buildings suffer from fires and water and time.

But, I have saved this one small, beautiful thing that can be cherished for years to come. And hopefully, whoever is next in line to own this little beauty will be able to enjoy the smell of antique lace, too.

What about you? Do you have anything you have saved from an untimely demise? What do you think is worth saving - and is the DIY movement ruining antiques or giving them a new life?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: How To Make the Papillote Curls from Yesterday's Post

(Okay, just a few words, because I'm Irish and I've kissed the Blarney Stone so I can't NOT say something - these have changed my historical hairdressing forever. They are incredibly easy, they stay in forever without hairspray, and they look just darling in a whole bunch of different styles. Janet Stephens is officially my hero.)