NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for April 2006
Past Times Michele Kuba has been collecting and selling antique and modern Sewing tools and accessories have always been important in the ..that is the question The association of a hare or rabbit (there is a difference) with
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Artisans
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o April Hot Shop: Welcome to Michele's Dolls!
o My Sewing Box by D. Cochrane of Heirloom Linens by D
o Tea Cups and Saucers: to use or not to use...by Cathy Collins
of Footbridge Cove Collectibles
o April Editor's Pick: An Easter Bunny
o Share Past Times with A Friend
APRIL HOT SHOP: WELCOME TO MICHELE'S DOLLS!
collectible dolls for over 25 years. She offers dolls from 1870
to the 1980's. Some of her dolls are from her own collection,
while others are from their original owners or have been in
families for generations. Examples of dolls you'll find in her
shop include a fabulous #4 Ponytail Barbie in "Cruise Stripes"
($300), a wonderful Antique Bisque Adolf Wislizenus "Special"
($595), and a fun Titian "Bubble Cut Barbie" in "Swingin' Easy"
($125), to name just a few.
If there is a particular doll that you are looking for, be sure
to ask Michele about it, as she may be able to help you.
We hope you'll visit Michele's shop: Michele's Antique Dolls .
antique and collectibles market. Women interested in needlework
have long collected items such as thimbles, buttons, and sewing
tables. Now, recent trends have proven that sewing items are
commanding a market of their own. Since the advent of Sylvia
Grove's book "The History of Needlework Tools and Accessories"
in 1966, an extensive interest in these functional, beautiful
and delicate items has developed.
The history of needlework tools is intimately connected with the
needlework itself. Many tools were designed and created for a
specific purpose since all mending and sewing were done by hand.
Sewing was considered to be an important part of a young girl's
education. The stitches she learned while making her sampler
prepared her for the many hours of sewing she would do in the
Plain sewing required utilitarian tools: a thimble, tape
measure, darning egg for socks and gloves, pincushion and
scissors. These tools were usually sturdy and unadorned. Some
were "store-bought" while others like pincushions were often
made at home. Women living in the cities could easily find these
items at their local dry goods store. The principal source of
sewing implements for frontier homemakers was the general store,
often miles away in the closest town.
Pioneer women's needlework was considered to be plain work. It
consisted of creating the necessary family clothing and
household linens. When these items became worn out, they were
mended, or pieces were salvaged to make quilts, rugs and other
clothing. Simple tools sufficed to perform these duties.
Women who had the time to do fancy needlework were in a class
that had more leisure time. Fancy needlework was a parlor or
social pursuit. The finest, most expensive and ornate sewing
tools were used for this purpose. These tools were often
mentioned in personal diaries and wills, indicating their
importance in the everyday lives of these women. These
implements were often made with semi-precious stones embedded in
them. Indeed, sewing tools were considered to be "toys" by the
upper classes and often originated in France and England. They
were made of silver, gold and Dieppe Ivory.
Thimbles are examples of the fine workmanship of treasured
sewing tools. Many thimbles and other sewing implements that
were made of precious metals were received as gifts. Often a
young man presented his lady with a fancy gold or silver thimble
engraved with a name or initials and date. Ornate sewing birds
or needle cases were also fancy tools given to women of the
"genteel class." These items are a treasure to find and command
high prices in the market today.
My own interest in sewing tools has developed because of my love
of and appreciation for hand-done needlework. Some of the
treasured tools in my sewing box include seven mother of pearl
fish thread winders. This school of fish is spectacular! They
are smooth and opalescent with engraved eyes and fins. These
fish are quite rare. Of particular interest are the notch in the
tail and the notch at the mouth. These notches are where the
silk thread would have been wound around the fish.
Thread winders or silk winders (as they were also known) were
used before spools of thread were invented around 1825. They
were usually small, with at least two indentations and as many
as sixteen in which to wind the thread around. They were made of
silver, bone, wood or mother of pearl. They came in interesting
shapes such as stars, snowflakes, and scalloped rounds. Square,
round and rectangular thread winders with indentations were also
used. These portable items were easily slipped into the pocket,
sometimes with the needle attached through the thread for easy
I have amassed a number of beautiful thimbles in one of my
sewing boxes. Most of these are silver and one is silver with a
gold engraved edge. Some of the thimbles are inset with
semi-precious stones in their bands. I even have a Silver Cable
Thimble which is a commemorative thimble celebrating the advent
of the Trans Atlantic Cable. The original thimble was used to
make the final connection of the Atlantic Cable.
Needlework Tool Collections often start with a thimble. It may
have been given as a gift from a close female relative (like a
grandmother) or from a close friend. These items always have
sentimental value and are usually the most favored item in the
collection. The thimble is the quintessential sewing implement
and comes in an unlimited variety of designs and choices. There
are silver, gold, jewel-studded, enameled, ivory, bone,
celluloid, porcelain, engraved, advertising and commemorative
thimbles. A thimble is essential in a sewing collection. A
pretty gold one is a highlight and signifies an advanced
assemblage of tools.
In my English Victorian Rosewood Sewing Box, I have a few
examples of emeries. There are strawberry and tomato shaped
emeries and a strawberry one with a silver handle. These little
implements resemble pincushions, but they are quite heavy since
they are filled with emery. Emery powder is a durable product
that fills an emery cushion aid which is used to preserve
needles from rust and to polish and re-sharpen them. Passing the
needle backward and forward in the cushion performs this
In my fitted sewing box are mother of pearl thread reels. Nearly
all fitted needlework boxes had some form of reel. My reels have
mother of pearl tops and bottoms with designs on the tops and
metal shanks for holding spools of thread. By the 1840's, most
fitted needlework boxes had matching sets of reels. Thread was
often wound directly onto the shank, but the major function of
the reel was to enclose the spool of thread. The top or base of
the reel unscrewed and the spool of thread dropped over the
The contents of my needlework boxes are but a few of the items
that are available for collecting. There are as many different
kinds of collectors as there are tools. Personally, I have a
penchant for pretty, sweet, Victorian items. I also have a
fondness for items with animals on them.
As an antique dealer, I have only seen women collect sewing
tools, never men. All ages of women are interested in these
items. Most of the women I have met who collect sewing
implements are passionate about them. When I have shown my
collection at Museums, the women I see also have a great
interest in lace and linens. Most of the linens at Heirloom
Linens By D are hand made using sewing tools that have been
mentioned in this article. The tools and the needlework of times
gone by will always fascinate us because we can appreciate the
hours of work that have been spent using the tools to embellish
linens to beautify a home.
We invite you to visit D's shop: Heirloom Linens By D.
CATHY COLLINS OF FOOTBRIDGE COVE COLLECTIBLES
They are delicate and fragile, yet with the proper care your
collection of tea cups and saucers can, and will, last for
generations! Should you use your pieces for display purposes
only? Now, some may disagree with us here, but we firmly say
"no". As far as we're concerned...... there is no question at
Use them regularly, enjoy the feel of the delicate porcelain,
the beauty of the colorful floral pattern, and the taste of the
rich steeped tea that makes the tea cup and saucer complete.
What makes these fragile and delicate pieces of porcelain or
bone china the collectibles that they are? Why are tea cups and
saucers fascinating to both young and old alike? For little
ones playing with their first tea set, it is more than likely
the association with being an adult. After all, every little
girl and boy can't wait to be grown up. Then you have the teen
set, they may sit with friends and chat over a pot of tea, I
know my daughter does. Unless of course they are coffee
drinkers. Yes, teens and their peers are drinking coffee these
days, sitting in a local Starbucks, hard to believe, but true.
The world is so different from just a decade or two ago...yet the
bone china, porcelain, the stoneware, it remains...in tact for
decades! The unchanging nature of collectibles, in this case tea
cups and saucers, is another way to glimpse into, and appreciate
"days of olde".
Most engaged couples carefully select their china pattern with
thought and care. The often lengthy discussions between the
couple: the structure of pieces, colors and individual patterns.
So incredibly important at the moment....long before children,
finances and mortgages become part of their daily routine. For
years theses delicate pieces sit in a cabinet to be used for
Holidays and other Special Occasions.
At what point, if any, does the tea cup and saucer become a part
of your everyday use? A matter of conscious choice and desire is
what will determine this.
In our family, we skipped right by the long term use of
children's tea sets and used the fine china to have tea parties
when the children were 4, 5, & 6 years of age. Pinky out, tea
biscuits on the side....and faux sophisticated conversation
proved to be a combined lesson in good manners, and an hour of
fun - all in one.
After a trip to Ireland years ago, our tastes in tea changed. We
had to have the right type of tea....Barry's Gold is preferred
in our home. A separate pot for steeping and the delicate set-up
for afternoon tea. As the years go by and the children grow,
some of us moms and/or dad's working from home decide to take
our mid-afternoon break to spend ‘quality' - in our own home -
‘tea time' with our children. During this short respite...the
children will fill us in on their day at school; we become
rejuvenated by their stories, whilst drinking from our teacup of
choice that day. Wonderful. Peaceful. These are blissful moments
that are meant to be treasured.
Then we consider the senior demographic...the folks brought up
with fine bone china tea cups and saucers displayed as ‘showcase
pieces' in their family homes. For years these cups and saucers
may have gone unused. However, as they are removed from the
display case now, rinsed, and placed at a setting, you smile
because you remember where this particular piece came from. The
loved one, or dear friend who gave it to you. It doesn't take
much to make this a special part of your daily routine. It all
starts with one tea cup and saucer.
Maybe it's the stainless steel tea kettle and solid colored
earthen or stoneware. It doesn't matter where you are, from what
background, or your age. Tea cups and saucers are made to be
admired - and used- on a regular basis. From the finest of
Japanese Porcelain, French Limoges, English Bone China, and
American China...there are literally hundreds, if not thousands,
of styles and patterns to choose from. There are numerous books
written on the subject, or try a "google" search on the history
of tea cups and saucers and you'll find a number of writings on
that subject as well.
Or it may be a selection chosen by you and your soon-to-be
spouse. Perhaps it is from a vintage collection - maybe your
parents, or an antique pattern from your grandparents. Someone,
somewhere, for some reason.... took great care with these pieces
so they could become part of a family's history, a collector's
history, or an individual's preference for their afternoon tea
time. At Footbridge Cove, we believe there is something
especially nice about a collection to call your own. Go ahead
and combine that antique set from your grandmother and display
it as the ‘art' that it really is. Use the vintage wares from
your parents on holidays, and at the same time... start your very
own collection - one to call your own. This collection will
become a partial thumbprint of your life story - a mosaic of
patterns to express your own style, used to enhance the joys of
your daily life. Be it as simple as collecting different colors
of similar patterns or those with one common denominator: the
tea cups may be footed, the saucers scalloped or perhaps varying
makers from the same country. How incredibly wonderful, your
eclectic mix, which speaks chapters about your life and your
style. Yes, it's history for the next generation.
To start your tea time collection we would recommend you browse
the shops here at Ruby Lane or take in some local garage sales &
flea markets. Just find one tea cup and saucer you love. You
don't have to know anything about it, other than that it appeals
to you and it's priced appropriately for your budget.
At Footbridge Cove we make every effort to price our items below
book, or retail, value. We provide background information with
each listing. We'd love for you to consider us your ‘personal
shopper'. We'll do the leg work for you... and there are no
surprises when doing business at Footbridge Cove, if there are
flaws we describe them and we provide several zoom photos of
each item. We know you can't feel the texture and the fragility
so we give you all the details.
The single most important thought we can pass along regarding
tea cups and saucers is that you don't have to spend much, but
make sure the set you purchase to use regularly, has no crazing,
chips or cracks. This will enhance the value, and longevity of
However..... if you happen to come across a piece you love, but it
is chipped or has a hairline crack, by all means, negotiate a
low and fair price, and buy it for yourself. Contradictory
perhaps, but read on....use this imperfect tea cup and saucer to
collect loose change, keys. How about tiny soaps in the
bathroom, potpourri's, lipsticks, cotton swabs. The multitude of
potential uses is endless.
This pastime of collecting tea cup and saucers is a lot of fun,
can be an investment, or just reveal your own personal style.
Though the best part....is the feeling you get from the time you
turn off the kettle until your last sip of tea. That peaceful,
serene feeling; belonging to you and only you, for that brief
moment, in your hectic day.
At Footbridge Cove Vintage Collectibles on Ruby Lane, we
appreciate beauty and know it comes in all shapes and sizes. And
we spend hundreds of hours researching information about our
collection, so we may offer our items to you with background
information and personal (provenance) when available.
We hope you'll stop by today and browse our shop. We have just
begun listing our tea cup and saucers, with many, many more to
come. Please Note: Should you find a tea cup and saucer set you
are interested in while browsing our shop; just mention this
article with your purchase order & you will receive
complimentary, insured shipping on your entire order. Well,
it is almost 3pm; the school bus will be here soon. The kettle
has been turned on, the tea cup and saucers are in place....now I
await the recap of my children's day at school. The moment I
treasure most each day.
Our favorite saying by Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady:
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour
dedicated to the ceremony of afternoon tea."
We invite you to visit Cathy's Shop:Footbridge Cove.
Spring and decorative eggs is suggested by some to travel back
into history at least as far as Eostre or Eastre, the pagan
goddess of dawn, spring and rebirth. The earthly symbol for
Eastre is supposed to have become the hare after she changed a
bird into a bunny to amuse a child. This bunny changeling
apparently had the ability to lay colorful eggs, a talent which
presumably added greatly to the amusement factor and also 'laid'
the groundwork for a happy childhood holiday that has persisted
in related forms down to modern times.
Today, the habit for celebrating the 'Easter' holiday in most
locales will often entail the purchase of either a live or
chocolate rabbit (except in Australia, where buying chocolate
Bilbies is encouraged, to help protect that nation's endangered
Rather than possibly sabotaging a sensible diet, or ending up
with a pet that quickly becomes a nuisance in the backyard
garden, we thought a fine rabbit-related item in a Ruby Lane
shop would be some 'eye candy' to consider for holiday
festivities, instead. To this end, a fine figural rabbit item
was selected to make its appearance in this month's feature.
But another, and then another, soon materialized. As everyone
knows, somehow bunnies always manage to multiply:
Fitz Simon Antiques
Michele Kuba has been collecting and selling antique and modern
Sewing tools and accessories have always been important in the
..that is the question
The association of a hare or rabbit (there is a difference) with
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