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 October 2005
Past Times As you might have guessed, Antique Beak specializes in vintage & A white pottery body decorated with a stamped design of flowers My first two pieces of painted porcelain jewelry were treasures If you have been smitten with fashions of the 1940's, then you Do you enjoy receiving Past Times every month? Do you know
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Artisans
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o October HOT SHOP: Welcome To Antique Beak!
o Spatterware by M.S. Cooperson of Embellish
o Hand Painted Porcelain Jewelry Victorian Treasures by Suzan
Miller of Suzan's Treasures
o Buying Vintage Clothing and Sewing Patterns on Ruby Lane by
Toinette of Toinette's Vintage Clothing
o Share Past Times with A Friend
OCTOBER HOT SHOP: WELCOME TO ANTIQUE BEAK!
collectible Parrot and Wild Bird items. In their shop you'll
find such amazing items as a wonderful Beswick Rosebreasted
Cockatoo Figurine ($275), a fabulous 1940's Bird Figural Perfume
Dresser Set ($89) and a 1980's Franklin Porcelain Great
Black-backed Gull ($135).
They have another buying trip coming up soon, with a trek to the
hills of Arkansas and Missouri. They have also come across some
great Parrot & Cockatoo ornaments this year, look for them in
their shop the first week of November.
We invite you to visit Antique Beak .
or shapes. Part of the design may be hand painted or there may
be bands of stippled color that create a rainbow effect. On
closer inspection you notice that the stamped design is unevenly
spaced and a bit blurry, there are color smudges or a smeared
design. You wonder if the piece has been decorated by a child.
What you are looking at is spatterware or spongeware, which ever
you choose to call it.
First it is necessary to clear up the confusion over the name.
According to Henry Kelly and Arnold and Dorothy Kowalsky,
authors of the book Spongeware 1835-1935, "The word spatterware
became associated with spongeware in the U.S.A. and this somehow
stuck." So, if you are shopping in the U.S. it most likely will
be referred to as spatterware, and pieces in the U.K will
probably be classified as spongeware. But we are all talking
about the same thing.
As for its history, spatterware/spongeware had humble
beginnings. In the 19th Century, potteries in Glasgow, Scotland
began producing a utilitarian ware for consumers of limited
means. The earthenware bodies were of low quality and the
decoration was done by unskilled workers. The pieces were
successful and soon production spread to Staffordshire, England,
to other countries in Europe, and eventually to the U.S.. The
pieces were rarely marked, as they were not the best work of the
companies that produced them. Most of the goods were produced
for export, with the U.S. being one of the biggest markets. The
pottery was most popular in the Mid Atlantic region of the
country, particularly with the Pennsylvania Germans.
Spatterware/spongware was decorated using one or a combination
of four methods:
*Hand painting or brushstroke decoration was done by the most
skilled of the unskilled.
*Spattering was the application of color by blowing a powder
onto the body using a pipe. This was expensive and required
skill. So the look was achieved by patting on the color with an
*Dabbing was applying color and pattern using an ordinary
*Stick spatter or sponge printing involved stamping a pattern
using a piece of cut sponge on a stick.
The most common colors were blue, red and various shades of
green. In Scotland purple and brown became popular. Yellow, pink
and other shades were introduced, but were not as popular. Black
also became a common color.
The simple pottery that resulted from these methods remained
popular for over 100 years. Today many collectors consider the
pieces folk art. What was originally produced as inexpensive
wares now can command high prices. Pieces start at about $100
and go up. Pook and Pook, an auction house in Downingtown, PA.,
had a record breaking sale in April 2003, when they sold off a
collection of spatterware for over $1 million. In one of their
upcoming auctions they feature a red and green spatter plate in
the clover pattern estimated at $2000-$4000, and a purple and
black rainbow spatter waste bowl is estimated at $1200-$1400.
The next time you happen to come across a piece of spatterware,
take the time to study and appreciate it. The imperfections in
the decoration are part of its charm. You can see the individual
brushstrokes that went into creating each flower and leaf. The
smudge of color reminds you that a human hand created that piece
over 150 years ago. And it has survived all these years because
someone thought it special enough to take care of it.
We invite you to visit M.S Cooperson's shop: Embellish .
TREASURES BY SUZAN MILLER OF SUZAN'S TREASURES
from my great grandmother's jewelry box. One, a large oval
brooch with a bouquet of roses, was carefully wrapped in tissue
with a note "from Nettie, April 1887". The second was a pendant
with a diminutive scene, so delicate that it might have been
painted with an eyelash. Barely the size of my thumbnail, it
had palm trees and a tiny boat sailing into a tropical sunset.
I later identified this as a work by Olive Commons.
China painting reached its peak of popularity in the late
1800's. Talented artists, most of them women, created gorgeous
dinnerware, tea sets, vases and other ornamental objects. It
was a fashionable hobby for genteel ladies, and a socially
acceptable way for educated middle class women to earn an
income. Porcelain bisque pieces, called blanks, came from
Europe by ship. A wide selection of blanks were sold, from
vases and tea sets to the little porcelain plaques used for
jewelry. The plaques came in many shapes, including ovals,
circles, bars, hearts, crescents and horseshoes.
China painting lessons and china clubs were very fashionable.
Amateur artists, many quite gifted, typically painted jewelry
or small decorative items. Pins and brooches were often made as
gifts, and used the "Language of Flowers" to convey special
messages. For example, pink roses symbolized perfect happiness,
daisies meant innocence and ivy signified fidelity and
friendship. A brooch with tiny blue forget-me-nots might be
given as a going away present. When the gift was for a man, the
painted plaques were used to decorate book covers, boxes and
walking sticks. Today, a small collection of unset pieces looks
lovely framed or on display.
Artists adapted patterns from books or created their own
designs. An outline was drawn with a special pencil,
translucent china paints were painstakingly applied and the
pieces were fired in a kiln. One or two coats gave a delicate
ethereal look, and deeper colors required several applications.
The paint was a different color than the fired result, so skill
and experience were necessary. Pieces were painted and fired
many times before the artist achieved the desired result.
Highlights were added with thicker enamels, and tiny dots,
called "jewelling", could be applied to simulate precious
stones, such as turquoise. Gold paint was added last and fired
at a lower temperature. Settings were simple – a brass backing
with a c-clasp or a simple gold or silver bezel enhanced the
beauty of the painting without detracting from the design.
Transfer portraits, similar to decals, were also used. These
designs were usually tinted by hand and embellished with a hand
painted border. Transfer portraits can be distinguished from
hand painted designs under magnification. A transfer will
appear as individual dots, whereas a painted piece will be
smooth or have brush strokes. If you find a portrait or
landscape that is hand painted, consider yourself very
Early pieces were realistic flowers, romantic bouquets,
portrait pieces and initials. After 1910, geometric designs,
flapper pins and tropical motifs, such as water lilies, came
into fashion. Opalescent glazes and silver designs, called
platinum ware, were used in the 1920's. By 1935 or so, very
little hand painted jewelry was being produced.
Olive Commons was one of most accomplished American porcelain
artists. Her best known works of art are miniature tropical
Florida scenes, called ‘Cameonas'. They became so popular that
she soon had a small workshop, which was active until the
1920's. Signed Olive Commons pieces today sell for hundreds of
dollars and have been featured in several museum exhibits on
Beautiful painted porcelain jewelry may be found for as little
as $15 or as much as $500. It is generally considered
undervalued, so now is a great time to start a collection. One
should look for pieces that are in good condition and well
painted. While chips, cracks and damage to the painting will
decrease the value, wear to the gold trim is very common, and a
moderate amount is acceptable.
I'm often asked about stamped numbers on the reverse. These
numbers are manufacturers marks for the size or shape of the
porcelain blank, not dates. Signatures and initials are rarely
found, and unless the artist is known, do not affect the value.
Larger pieces (over 2") and rare shapes, such as crescents and
horseshoes, command higher prices, as do pieces with enamel
highlighting, gold trim or jewelling. Unusual flowers, such as
lilies, violets or pansies, are sought after, but some
collectors search only for favorite flowers. It's fun to
compare your piece to the "language of flowers" to see if there
is a special hidden message! Portrait pieces, even transfers,
are highly desirable, as are pieces with unusual subjects, such
as birds or landscape scenes.
Many collectors look for pieces that can be worn, and a
professionally done clasp repair does not decrease the value.
The brass backings are often tarnished, but I do not advise
trying to polish them. It will not increase the value and may
damage the painting. If cleaning is required, use a soft
slightly damp cloth, and avoid rubbing, especially in areas with
gold or raised designs.
My advice to the new collector is to buy pieces you love. You
may find yourself drawn to lush roses or to portraits of
idealized Victorian beauties. Each piece of painted porcelain
china jewelry is a unique piece of art expressing the ideals of
the era in which it was made. I think of Nettie or Violet or
Maude, carefully adding the shading on the last tiny leaf or
rose petal a century ago and wonder if they dreamed their little
jewels would still be loved a century later.
We invite you to visit Suzan's shop, Suzans Treasures .
RUBY LANE BY TOINETTE OF TOINETTE'S VINTAGE
have discovered an area of collecting that has an ever growing
field of buyers who wear their collection everyday. Women AND
men have found that vintage styles and fabrics are a delightful
way to add pleasure to everyday life. Here is a bit of history
about vintage sizing and some tips to get the right fit when
buying vintage clothing and sewing patterns on Ruby Lane.
Sizing for mass produced clothing for men was addressed during
the Civil War due to the need for thousands of uniforms. Sizing
for women's clothing was not addressed until the 1930s when a
study was done by the National Bureau of Home Economics. The
results were not modified and altered until 1958! Then a
STANDARD was published and accepted by the industry. This was a
voluntary standard, but competition in the apparel industry
forced most manufactures and pattern companies to use the
measurements we know today. Unfortunately, this standard is now
being almost completely ignored by many design houses and
A competent Internet seller should give you the MOST basic
measurements of a garment they have listed. The way to measure
a garment is to lay it flat and take the measurements straight
across at the bust, waist, hip, across the upper back from
shoulder seam to shoulder seam. Measuring from center back to
hem will give the length. Women's sleeve lengths are measured
from shoulder seam to cuff. Men's sleeve length is taken from
center back of the shoulder seam to the cuff. Measuring the
inseam from crotch to hem gives you a pant leg length. Seems
simple enough and it is. when you use the following hints.
FIRST: Measure a SIMILAR garment to the one being offered for
sale that fits you well Compare them to the measurements offered
by your Ruby Lane shop owner. Don't use your actual body
measurements, or you will have a VERY tight fit.
SECOND: When I say SIMILAR garment, I mean the item should be of
similar style, fabric and cut to the one being offered. Ruby
Lane shop owners will be responsive to any questions you have.
THIRD: If you are of unusual size or height, then have your
vintage clothing made especially for you! NOW is the time
actual measurements are important. Use them for buying vintage
patterns. Remember, sewing patterns were standardized circa
1958, so a size 12 sewing pattern from 1940 was cut for a bust
size 30! Knowing the SIZE printed on a vintage pattern is of no
help to you. Ask your seller for the actual measurements on any
pre-1958 patterns you wish to purchase, if they are not already
In a worldwide market, it is necessary to be able to covert
measurements from inches to metric, in order to accommodate
folks outside the USA. Customers can find sizing references by
doing an Internet search using the key words ONLINE CONVERSIONS
- CLOTHING CONVERSIONS. Ruby Lane shop owners should have these
conversions at their finger tips to assist in questions from
I have been selling vintage clothing to discriminating customers
for over 30 years. Anyone who cares enough to make their
wardrobe distinct, and exclusive will invest some time in their
online shopping. Find your favorite era and indulge yourself in
a collection you will enjoy on a daily basis for years to come.
We invite you to visit Toinette's shop: Toinette's Vintage
Clothing and Jewelry .
others who would enjoy receiving it? We invite you forward this
issue on to others. Happy reading!
As you might have guessed, Antique Beak specializes in vintage &
A white pottery body decorated with a stamped design of flowers
My first two pieces of painted porcelain jewelry were treasures
If you have been smitten with fashions of the 1940's, then you
Do you enjoy receiving Past Times every month? Do you know
Subscribe Now to our Newsletters
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