Monday, August 3

American Life Through Catalogs

For the past several weeks I have been reviewing many vintage booklets, catalogs, pamphlets and books in my personal library.  My how they accumulate over the years.  I remember several estate attics with corners stuffed with so many wonderful old catalogs that the floor boards creaked when I hauled them all downstairs!  

These were a staple in American homes in 20th century.  I remember being a teen in the 60s and spending wonderful time going through the pages of mom's JCPenny's and the Sears catalogs.  It was common to have a Spring Summer and then a Fall Winter editions,  What a great way to learn new trends and color schemes for the season.   Two of my favorites, The Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs, are so jam packed with goodies I dare say there isn't a thing you couldn't find in them!  

Sears home shopping catalogSears Spring Summer catalog

 Literally everything from the kitchen sink to the corners of the garage!  I marvel at how much time and money it had to take to produce aa 800 to 1200 page volume twice a year.  And every season - they change.

By 1990, with the ease and excitement of online shopping from the home computer, the catalog excitement surely faced it's demise.   Looking at these volumes now, there is a new appreciation for the story they tell. Perhaps the most striking idea came to me that these are complete encyclopedia's of mainstream American middle class households and life.   Going through a large mail order catalog shows every nuance of color, pattern, artistic style, materials used to name a few. When you start to string together year after year of these editions, it is easy to see the changes most homes and family members moved through.  These massive volumes are great resources for dating collectibles!

1970s colors and prints

home furnishings

With the current trend of megga online shopping stores, I doubt we will see these types of books published again.  I guess that's why I love my vintage treasures.  They really are a stroll down memory lane ... even when the power is off! 

Sunday, November 24

The Ackermann's Repository Fashion Plates

The pursuit of vintage clothing always leads to publications of the period.  To have original cataloges and books available to gaze upon is .... priceless!   My library is large and I always enjoy going to each period as I need them.  I have been fortunate to enjoy this particular collection of 5 Ackermann's Repository of Arts fashion plates for many years.  

 All are for sale thru the Etsy shop!  International shoppers please inquire for reserved order.

What a fascinating publication it was!  Ackermann's Repository of Arts hand colored fashion plates were taken from an original copy of The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions, and Politics, a monthly periodical published from 1809 to 1829 in London, England. (Each plate has 2 holes on the side where binding cord went through.)   It was a very thick publication and an invaluable resource into early 1800s Regency England.  The Repository's publisher, Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), became well known for his hand-colored engravings of women's fashions and furniture.  By the end of its run, Ackermann had published almost 1,500 plates in The Repository.

The last issue of the original Repository was published in December 1828.  The magazine that took its place, starting in the new year, was titled The Repository of Fashion and focused solely on fashion.  It was illustrated with a number of hand-colored and black-and-white plates. The last known issue of this new periodical was in September 1829.

See examples or original Ackermann’s Repositories:

Friday, November 2

1891 and Today

Woman Suffrage Leaflet Published Monthly at the Office of the Woman's Journal, Boston Mass.

"Women and The State" is the title of the speech given by Hon. George F Hoar at a convention in Amherst Mass on Sept 24, 1891.

The paragraph that follows seems to capture the feeling today as more and more American female citizens are running for public office.

Now the debate between the advocates of woman suffrage and its opponents is, to my mind, but a contest between two theories of the function of the State.  If the State is to do nothing or to do little but to raise and discipline armies, to build jails and to establish police courts, the less woman has to do with it the better for her, and the better for the State, except, as I shall show presently, that even here the State must largely depend upon her for the instrumentalities which are to diminish the evil of war and less its horrors.   If on the other hand, it is so to use its forces as to put an end to these things; if education, justice, science, art, charity, the promotion of commerce and manufacture, the healing of diseases, the promoting everywhere increased reverence for the individual soul, be a function to which its great forces are to be devoted in the future, then it is indispensable that woman should have in its management her full and equal share.

VOTE - like your country depends on it!

Wednesday, May 10

"What's in your ...closet..?"

I love the commercials that Samuel Jackson does for the credit card company where he always ends with "What's in your wallet?"   I often think of that phrase when it comes to antiquing:  what's in your closet?

A lot of "experts" would like you to think that what's in your closet is unnecessary junk and the stuff needs to get thrown out.   While there is certainly a small train of thought for that idea, perhaps the better phrase would be to give it some new energy and get it flowing!  That's what the world of working in antiques has taught me most:  keep the flow going.

As a student of metaphysical teachings, I've come to learn that the larger picture can be endless.  When the door closes and we clam up, the energy stagnates and ceases.   It's not the "stuff" in that closet that's causing the blockage.  Rather, it is one's perception of that stuff.  What has or has not happened to their own personal energy flow determines how an object is perceived.   A keystone can be misinterpreted and become a burden instead.  

I love working with small bits of "things" because each little thing has a huge story behind it.  One of my favorite examples is a piece of lace.  You can approach it as technical construction and what the object is or you can feel the hands that wrapped those threads together to create something.   What was her day like that day?  Did she live in simple abode or lushness?  Was this a labor of love or a gift to give? A necessary need that could only be fulfilled by making it?  Was it a simple act of creating just for pleasure?  Made by machine?  Where was the factory?  Who operated it?  What was the town like?

All through the years since the lace was created, how did it eventually wind up in the closet or cedar chest now?  Who passed it along?  Why did they save this particular piece?  What was their life like?

Tickling your fancy with questions from the heart can give new life to the plainest of the plain.  The process opens the curious mind and energy flows forth again.  It is a powerful cycle.  Whatever is in that quiet closet, before you think about tossing it away be sure to give it a curious thought.   You might be surprised at the riches that flow forth in all their many forms.