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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for November 2005
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o The Joy of Collectible Costume Jewelry by Mona Hair of
Mona's Jewelry Armoire
o Collecting Early American Pattern Glass by Carolyn Martin
of Carolyn's Timeless Treasures
o Heirloom Linens by D Cochrane of Heirloom Linens By D
o November EDITOR'S PICK: Jacobean Oak Gateleg Table
o Share Past Times with A Friend
THE JOY OF COLLECTIBLE COSTUME JEWELRY BY MONA
HAIR OF MONA'S JEWELRY ARMOIRE
Lately the collectible costume jewelry that has been selling
best in my boutique is from the 1960's through the 1980's
period. It is high end designer style with fine craftsmanship
that imitates fine jewelry with beautiful hand set crystal,
imported art glass stones, and art quality settings being
attributes. Whether these pieces are marked by the maker or not,
they are indeed selling. Also notable is that abstract design
work with beautiful enamels and architecturals of a Frank Lloyd
Wright style are quickly finding their way into personal
Why this style of jewelry is popular right now, I cannot say.
The preferences of collectors are constantly changing! This
might be attributed to the fact that collectors are more
sophisticated than ever before. With the growing number of
reference publications that have arrived on the market,
collectors have more history, current values, and published
documentation of origin than has ever been available. A
diminishing supply of jewelry created by some of the more
vintage designers may also be a factor.
The most important source of information regarding collectible
vintage jewelry has been, and always will be reference
publications. A book on collectible costume jewelry that is
thoroughly researched by a reliable author or authoress is
imperative for successful collecting and/or investing. I
personally feel that these three books belong in every
1. Published by House of Collectibles of the Crown Publishing
Group, New York, New York: OFFICIAL Price Guide to Costume
Jewelry by Harrice Simons Miller
2. Published by Dorling Kindersley Limited: Costume Jewelry
The Complete Visual Reference and Price Guide by Judith Miller
3. Published by Schroeder Publishing Co. Inc,: Costume
Jewelry A Practical Handbook and Value Guide by Fred Rezazadeh
These three publications should provide you with enough
information to get you well on your way to educated collecting.
Undisclosed damage, alterations, and reproductions are all
pitfalls of collecting. There is an ethic involved in
restoration of costume jewelry. Simple stone replacement is
generally acceptable, if the original stone has drastically
deteriorated or is missing. Please note that this involves
matching the size, color, and facet style of the original stone.
Just any old rhinestone or crystal will not suffice. A seller
should reveal any restoration that has been made. Skilled
restoration does not detract from the value of a piece and is in
fact viewed as historical preservation. Keeping a collectible
piece of jewelry as close to its original condition as possible
is necessary for it to retain its value. Serious collectors
consider major repairs such as re-enameling, adding or deleting
certain parts, and replating metal as unacceptable. Collectors
put potential acquisitions under a loupe or magnifying glass to
closely examine the condition of a piece before adding it to
their collection. A good collector wants to know as much about
the piece of jewelry as possible, embracing that acquisition as
a friend. Acquisition is extremely personal. When making a first
purchase with a seller, be sure to ask lots of questions before
taking out your wallet. Purchasing an inexpensive item as a
trial run is a very sound practice before indulging in a much
finer piece of work. Expect good service, exceptional packing,
and timely delivery.
Vintage collectible jewelry, most often, is used jewelry.
Inquire if the piece has been cleaned or not. If it has been
cleaned, attempt to determine by what method. Again, ask
questions! A safe and simple method of cleaning is suggested in
Fred Rezazdehs' book, where he mixes a cup of water with a
teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. With a Q-tip, dampen the tip
very slightly and carefully rub to clean each piece while
holding it upside down. This method keeps moisture from seeping
into the backs of rhinestones, causing rust and oxidation
formation that damages foiled stones and settings. The dry end
of the Q-tip may be used to remove any excess dampness.
Tweezers, needles, toothpicks, very soft tooth brushes, and a
dental pick are most often used to dislodge and remove foreign
particles. These instruments are wielded with a very light
touch. Leave on a fresh dry towel, face down, for a few hours
to insure that the jewelry is completely dry prior to storage.
The rule of the day is this: If you don't know how to clean it,
then don't. Find an experienced person to do this for you.
Improperly cleaned jewelry may not show damage for many months,
but eventually the deed will rear its ugly head as the piece you
treasure succumbs to the ravages of a poor cleaning, exhibiting
many unexpected problems. To find jewelry in new condition is
not necessarily unbelievable, but some sign of usage is normally
expected. A piece found in mint or near mint condition is a
cause for celebration!
In closing I would like to touch on one other aspect of
collecting. Within the Harrice Miller publication, there are
chapters near the end of her book covering the 90's and "The New
Millennium". These chapters capture the movement forward of some
known designers of importance. There also is an enlightening
and forward-thinking inclusion of some very fine artists of
wearable art that are creating what is already considered to be
collectible costume jewelry! Those chapters add zing to the
excitement of acquiring and cherishing costume jewelry. Whether
the item you are considering for purchase is inexpensive or
pricey, I recommend that admiration of the composition and joy
of ownership should steer your decision regarding acquisition!
Wishing you the best in collecting! ---------Mona
We invite you to visit Mona's shop: Mona's Jewelry Armoire .
COLLECTING EARLY AMERICAN PATTERN GLASS BY
CAROLYN MARTIN OF CAROLYN'S TIMELESS TREASURES
There is nothing more fascinating to me than Early American
Pattern Glass. My personal collection began with my great
grandmother's cake stand which has been handed down in the
family. The first auction that I ever attended started me down
the road to collecting Early American Pattern Glass. I had
purchased a piece of glass that I could not identify in my
standard reference books on Depression glass and more
contemporary glass. I happened to pick up a book on Early
American Pattern Glass (not that I knew what that was!) and
found my mystery piece pictured there with a name and some
history about its production. Paging further through the book, I
found my great grandmother's cake stand and found it had a name,
Button Band, and was produced by Ripley Glass Co in Ohio in the
late 1880's. From then on, I have been on a quest to surround
the cake stand with the rest of the pieces of the extended
service in this pattern...thus the genesis of my own obsession.
Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG) is glass made in the United
States between the years of 1820 and 1915. Later patterns are
readily found and plentiful for the beginning collector.
Studying this glass provides a vignette into the history of the
Industrial Revolution in the United States. The glass industry
in the United States had its roots in Massachusetts and later
spread westward into the Ohio River Valley. Before 1820, glass
items were blown. With the development of a method of using a
plunger to press molten glass into molds, it became possible to
not only mass produce items, but to press intricate patterns
onto the surface of the glass. The designs pressed into the
glass were meant to emulate the more elegant cut glass of the
period. This new process made it possible for most families to
have decorative glassware for the table for everyday use.
The basic unit of Early American Pattern Glass is the table set
consisting of a sugar bowl, creamer, spoon holder (spooner), and
a butter dish. The Victorian table was complicated and there
were serving pieces for every kind of food that might be set out
for a meal. The basic table set is the standard for a pattern,
however many patterns were produced in extended sets that
included cake salvers and baskets, many different sizes of
compotes, berry sets, relish or pickle dishes, celery vases,
mustard pots, goblets, wine glasses, egg cups, cruets, open
salts and shakers, condiment sets, cake baskets, butter pats,
several sizes of pitchers, sherbets, mugs, cups, bread trays and
Most patterns were made in clear glass, but some patterns were
also produced in colored glass, particularly amber, blue and
green. Some of the crystal patterns were also decorated with
colored stains with ruby, pink, amber, lavender and green stains
being the most common. Gold wash decorations were also a common
embellishment for both clear and colored glass items. While many
other glass forms were pressed during this period, the
collectible Early American Pattern Glass must have as its basic
element the 4-piece table set.
There are more than 1,500 known EAPG patterns. Within the myriad
of patterns, there is surely something to appeal to everyone.
There are very simple patterns (Homestead, Dakota), patterns
which are complicated and mimic cut glass (Wiltec, Plutec,
Toltec, Whirligig), patterns which showcase animals (Monkey,
Jumbo, Deer and Pine Tree), people (Actress), scenery (Canadian,
Little River), gods and goddesses from mythology (Minerva) and
even Biblical motifs (Rebecca at the Well). As exotic places
became accessible to wealthy travelers, patterns were produced
that used motifs from ancient Egypt (Egyptian) and the mystique
of the Orient (Japanese). The glass houses of the East and
Midwest often did not keep good records of their patterns and
production and many of the records that were kept have long
since been destroyed in fires that were a common hazard of the
glass-making industry. An example of such an elusive pattern is
the pattern Jersey Lily named for the famous singer and actress
Lily Langtry. Until just a few years ago, while the pattern was
alluded to in trade journals of the period, no one knew what the
pattern looked like. Glass historians made educated guesses, but
until an original Riverside Glass Company catalog surfaced
showing the line of Jersey Lily ware in all of its forms, the
identity of the real pattern was unknown.
Some people choose to collect whole patterns while others prefer
to collect just a single piece of the set, for example goblets
or creamers. The earliest glass of this period was flint glass
which is brilliantly clear, heavy and resonant. The glass will
"ring" with an extended bell tone when tapped with a finger or
even set down on a table. Some collectors focus only on the
earliest (and rarest) flint patterns. Around the time of the
Civil War, when lead was used to make ammunition for the war
effort, the glass formulations were changed and the lead was
replaced with soda lime to produce a non-flint glass that lacks
the bell quality of flint glass and was less expensive to
produce. There are some early patterns of Early American Pattern
Glass that were produced in both flint and non-flint glass
because the patterns were in production before the Civil War and
continued to be produced after the war. The post-Civil War
non-flint patterns are more plentiful and easier to obtain.
The beginning collector can learn about Early American Pattern
Glass in a variety of settings. There are excellent general
reference books for the identification of patterns and some
history of glassmaking in the U.S. The Early American Pattern
Glass Society welcomes collectors into their organization and
publishes an excellent quarterly newsletter with articles
devoted to patterns and areas of collecting. The internet has
several excellent websites where a novice can see both authentic
and reproduction glass side by side. I have a variety of these
resources listed in the "Favorite Links" area of my shop. You
are welcome to visit my shop to check the links as you need
them. Once bitten by the EAPG bug, it can become extremely
We invite you to visit Carolyn's shop, Carolyn's Timeless
HEIRLOOM LINENS BY D COCHRANE OF HEIRLOOM LINENS
In today's market, fine linen and lace are hot collectibles.
Whether looking in country, Victorian, or cottage decorating
magazines, it's the linens that set the tone of the rooms. A
vintage look is achieved in a kitchen with striped tea towels,
bright, colorful tablecloths and funky napkins. In the living
room, an Arts and Crafts theme is complemented with silk
embroidered centerpieces, runners, piano scarves and pillows. A
Victorian mood is easily put together with fine white work,
white runners with cutwork and lace edgings and fanciful
doilies. The common "thread" in all of these wonderful textiles
is of course, linen!
Linen is made from either hemp or flax and can be soft or
coarse, heavy or fine, white or brown. The fabric made from flax
is of superior quality and is softer and more durable. Egypt is
generally credited with the earliest weaving of flax into linen
but the widespread use of household linens emerged with the
Greeks and the Romans.
Linen has special qualities that make it a wonderful
collectible. The best linen, made from flax, not only has a
wonderful visual effect, but also has tactile features. The
French philosopher Michel Serres wrote: " Prior to form, prior
to color or hue, the material must be touched." Fine quality
linen is cool to the touch and often can be distinguished from
cotton by this coolness, so if you are unsure of the fabric, try
touching it to your face. In addition, fine quality linen is
soft, smooth and satiny. Visually, this softness is seen in the
way it drapes; it falls like satin. It may be difficult for a
new collector to distinguish the quality of linen especially
when buying on the web. Look for words such as "high quality",
"fine linen", "high thread count" and "durable" in the
description of the fabric. Although an experienced and trusted
seller will describe all of the features, it is also important
to look at close-up pictures. The best linen is tightly woven
and dense and you can see that the fibers are close together.
Poorer quality linen made from hemp or overused linen is thin or
worn and looks almost transparent when held to the light.
A reputable seller will describe the piece in detail so it helps
to be familiar with some common linen terms: Irish linen is fine
quality with a high thread count making it very durable. It
makes great tea towels because of its absorbency and durability.
Madeira is fine linen with hand-done cutwork and embroidery.
Huck or huckaback is a textured linen that is "nubby" and is
often used in vintage hand towels. Damask linen presents an
optical illusion as threads carried across the surface produce a
silky pattern that contrasts with the background weave. In
extremely fine damask, a satiny pattern appears on a satiny
background. Damask cloth can be made of cotton, a cotton-linen
blend or a cotton-synthetic blend, but it is the pure linen
damask that is the most desirable.
Linens can help you achieve the desired 'look' for your home,
are affordable, practical and can be passed down as treasured
heirlooms. Fine linen with breathtaking lace and cutwork
embellishment is a classic textile - but that is the "material"
of future articles.
We invite you to visit D's shop: Heirloom Linens By D .
NOVEMBER EDITOR'S PICK: JACOBEAN OAK GATELEG TABLE
This is the first of a new monthly article we'll be including in
Past Times which showcases one incredible item you'll currently
find on Ruby Lane, along with some thoughts on it:
Jacobean Oak Gateleg Table: Fit For A Family Gathering
In Medieval times a family would generally have gathered on
benches or stools at a trestle table, if they sat at a table at
all. Chairs were deemed a symbol of position and if a family
owned one, it would have been reserved for the master of the
house. Trestles and benches gave way over time to folding
tables. Table styles like the gate leg, the tilt-top and the
drop leaf were practical because they could be folded and moved
out of the way when not in use. Eventually these gave way to
the design of tables that we are familiar with today, that of a
piece of furniture intended to remain solidly in place at the
center of a 'dining room.'
What could a seventeenth century table tell us about the many
families it has served over the centuries? Regardless of the
era or the country, having a platform around which to gather
one's family has always meant owning a nexus of comfort, joy and
strength. A dining table has never truly been for meals only.
Through the passing years we will all sit at a table, whether
antique or modern, to joke with friends, to discuss family
issues, to study, or, late at night, to write letters to far
away sons and daughters (OK, these days, maybe emails). The
truly fortunate among us will always have the opportunity to sit
around a table, as a family, to share both food and laughter
with one another, and be grateful.
OK, from looking at the date (ca. 1690), we can't claim that it
held the very first Thanksgiving turkey (1621), yet this table
is a wonderful example of one fit for a seventheenth... or
twenty-first-century family gathering: Antiques by P. Gerard
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