Known in Spanish colonial times as El Opulento, Peru’s Cerro de Pasco shared with Potosí (now situate in neighboring Bolivia) the credit of being one of the greatest silver producing districts in the world. The area around Pasco had begun producing silver in the late sixteenth century, and by the 1690s three important mineral zones in Peru were in production. While the mineral deposits were of low grade, they were shallow and easily exploitable, so large fortunes were made as a result. However, mining in the New World was carried out in regions that brought numerous engineering and logistical difficulties. Many mines were deep in the ground and flooding and draining were ever-present problems. The mines of Potosí were worked at over 16,000 feet above sea level, high in the mountains creating a different set of problems.
Supplying these remote Andean mines posed logistical problems, since thousands of llamas and mules were required to carry food and provisions, timber, ore and mercury through difficult terrain over trails that were often narrow and precipitous. By the late eighteenth century mining output in many parts of the New World was suffering from the exhaustion of accessible deposits and from financial and technical difficulties incurred in attempting to reach deeper lodes. Political instability in the aftermath of the fall of Napoleon and an increased desire for freedom from Iberian rule in Latin America compounded these problems.
Improved mining technology and methods were “imported” from Europe by the late-eighteenth century and production improved. Today, Peruvian mines produce a significant amount of silver and other metals, with Peru being in the top three countries in the world for silver production.
Early Peruvian silversmiths made large amounts of items, most of which were targeted toward the needs and desires of the Andean peoples. But by the end of the nineteenth century, Peru was solidly on the map for creating beautiful silver items in both the traditional design motifs and the Colonial motifs geared toward the tastes of customers from the Old World.
We recently acquired several old Colonial silver items from Peru. Beautiful frames and mirrors made from thin sheets of silver, hand hammered into geometric and curvilinear repousse designs. We also have some more modern mixed metal items as well.
The Christmas tree has probably been the number one motif in costume jewelry over the years. They can be found made of glittery rhinestones, spectacular Austrian crystals, bright enamels, polished silver, colorful plastics and even fine gemstones. They can be simple or baroque, modern or traditional, whimsical, glitzy or even weird! With so many facets to collecting these holiday statements, it's no wonder that they are such a popular collectible.
The fir or pine tree became a symbol of the Christmas Holidays back in the 16th century in Germany. The tradition was recognized by Martin Luther and eventually spread to the rest of the Christian world in the 18th and 19th centuries. The elaborately decorated Christmas trees of the Victorian times led women, and some men, to adorn themselves in bright jewelry with holiday themes. Victorian and Edwardian holiday jewelry featured cherubs and angels, bells and garlands, and later some trees.
The rise in popularity of costume jewelry in the 1930s made it possible for the average lady to wear bright and beautiful jewels. Christmas tree pins became popular by the 1940s and reached a peak in the '50s and '60s. Every major designer of costume jewelry created a line of Christmas tree pins, pendants, and other jewelry. These were sold in all the department stores and the five-and-dime stores as well. While there was a decline in the popularity of Holiday pins in the 1980s, the Christmas tree pin made a big comeback in the 1990s and can be found pretty much everywhere jewelry is sold today.
Major costume jewelry houses such as Weiss, Eisenberg and Hollycraft participated in the lucrative market. Some others just dabbled in it like Haskell, Carnegie or Chanel. Trifari has made Christmas tree pins for years. Maybe the most famous, and collectible, series of Christmas tree pins were made by Weiss. The Weiss trees came with different numbers of candles and had matching earrings. These are expensive, but having an entire set is the holy grail of Christmas tree collecting.
In recent years, a number of designers are making spectacular, one-of-a-kind tree pins. Wendy Gell's altered art pins, the Schultz's recycled Bakelite creations, and Clarke's whimsical Lucite trees. Lea Stein's celluloid acetate tree pins are a favorite of ours. These command high prices as serious collectors love them. Wish we had some of these!
But, of course, most of us have more modest means and collect pins that are more traditional and less rare. Here at Vintages, we have a nice collection of Christmas Tree pins and other Holiday Jewelry. Most of our pins are available online, but some have not made it to our shopping sites yet. Happy Holidays!
Miniature paintings are wonderful collectibles and decorative art. They are small, so it is easy to display a collection, either on a wall or a shelf. These enamel on copper miniatures would look great on a small easel on a desk or on a table at the entry or in the foyer.
Enameling is the art of fusing glass to metal. The basic procedure for enameling is to apply the enamel to clean metal, and heat the piece either in a kiln or with a torch to a high temperature until the glass enamel melts and fuses to the metal. Enamels come in powdered and liquid forms, but powder is more commonly used because it is easier to apply.
Enamel can be fused to gold, fine silver, copper and steel. The technique is used for all types of articles from jewelry to bowls and dishes to flat surfaces. If the surface of the metal is chased or tooled before the enamel is applied the pattern will show through the enamel -- a technique called guilloche. Cloissone and champleve are techniques where the enamel is placed in hollowed out areas formed by little wires for the former and by carving out sections in the latter. A special technique that suspends the enamel between sections of pierced metal forms is called plique a jour.
The paintings we have here are done using multiple colored enamels and one or more firings to create the image. The effect of any of these is quite stunning.
|Back Row: Slaked Lime boxes; Front Row: Tobacco or Betelnut boxes|
Miniature books are a favorite of ours. This little treasure is not technically a miniature book. Still, this is a nice addition to any book collection. I found this wonderful little book and wanted to share it with you. It is Le Bon Anglais (The Good English), a wonderful small illustrated book with French text celebrating Anglo-French relations after WWI. Published by Chez Devambez, 1918. It contains a dozen brilliant pochoir woodcuts by Guy Arnoux with accompanying text in French by Roger Boutet de Monvel. The notes by Boutet de Monvel consist primarily of affectionate anecdotes and impressions of the First World War British army from a French perspective.
Arnoux created a pair of companion volumes in the same style: Nos Freres d'Amerique and Carnet d'un Permissionnaire. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have all three?
Miniature books are defined as those books that are three inches or smaller in height and width, although slightly larger dimensions are collected by some aficionados of the genre. There are numerous large collections in libraries and museums in the USA. The University of Indiana's Lilly Library has an online exhibit: 4000 Years of Miniature Books. It features a small part of the library's 16,000 miniature book collection! The Miniature Book Society even has an ongoing competition for judging new miniature book creations.
Here at Vintages, we have a small, but very nice, selection of miniature books. While our current inventory includes primarily prayer books and calendars at this time, we have had (and continue to seek) miniatures of other subjects. Here is a link to our online offering of books.
Cameos and intaglios have been around for centuries ... back into the times of the Greeks and Romans, and even earlier to Biblical times. They were very popular during the end of the 18th and throughout the 19th century, and were coveted souvenirs of travellers to Italy in the late-1800 and into the early-1900s.
The images on cameos from early times were of mythical gods and mythological scenes. Kings, warriors and people of stature commissioned cameos in their likeness. Over time, the mythical images of specific gods and goddesses gave way to anonymous legendary characters, and later to artistic renditions of anonymous beautiful ladies, powerful warriors and bacchanalian scenes.
Early cameos were made primarily from hard stones and sardonyx. Today these cameos are rare and highly collected. Most of the cameos on the market today are carved on shells from the Mediterranean Sea by Italian artists, with a small fraction of 20th century cameos made from hard stones, lava or ivory. While some steps in producing cameos and coral jewelry have been taken over by machines in the 20th century, the carving is still done in the slow and painstaking way it was thousands of years ago. Another 20th century innovation in cameos is the molded plastic and glass cameos. While some are truly artistic and beautiful, most are cheap imitations of the sardonyx and shell cameos of the past.
The center of 20th century cameo art is Torre del Greco, Italy, a coastal city near Naples.Deborah Blumenthal, who writes for The New York Times Magazine, described a visit to the little village where these cameos are made: The quiet winding streets of Torre del Greco are lined with modest-looking multilevel homes. There are few sights or sounds of industry. Yet tucked away from view in home workrooms, basements and well-secured workshops, the residents of this small town, overlooking the Bay of Naples between Naples and Sorrento, are busily at work. Torre del Greco is the world's center for the carving of fine coral and cameos.
The Giovanni Apa company has been creating cameos and coral jewelry since 1848. The family run company offers a wide selection of the finest hand carved cameos and gorgeous corals produced by skilled craftsmen in Torre del Greco, and is considered the world leader in cameos. The gorgeous, carved shell cameo shown here is from Giovanni Apa. The detail is exceptional, from the wisps of hair to the sultry eyes to the pearl drop earrings and the delicate pearl necklace. This cameo is bezel set in an 18K yellow gold oval frame and has both a pin on the back and pendant bale. It is in excellent condition and includes its original box. Simply beautiful.
This is a gorgeous crystal brooch in the shape of a guitar with strings! The piece is loaded with brilliant unfoiled crystals in clear, blue and pink tones. The frame is brass and the strings are twisted brass wires. The brooch is unmarked but shows all the style and workmanship typical of a 1940s Hobe Brothers piece.
The Hobe et Cie jewelry company (also referred to as Hobe Brothers) was founded in Paris in 1887. Jacques Hobe's son, William Hobe, started working in the theatrical costume business in the 1920s in New York and drew the attention of Florence Ziegfield. In the mid-‐1920s William Hobe began creating costumes and jewelry for the Ziegfield Follies on Broadway. The business grew from there into the upscale retail department stores in the '30s. In the 1960s William's sons Robert and Donald took over the business, which is run today by his grandson James.
In its long history, Hobe always was focused on unique designs and high quality. They maintained their upscale image, keeping prices and distribution on the high-‐end. Hobe jewelry exhibits a certain diversity and flair seldomly matched in the jewelry of today. Almost all of the Hobe jewelry introduced prior to 1970 was designed by members of the Hobe family. For more on Hobe click here and here.
Fulper Pottery made a series of beautiful and colorful powder jars in the 1920s. They varied from whimsical to demur, but all were lovely ladies. This art deco lady is wearing an oriental-influenced yellow hat and is holding a decorative floral fan. She shows a distinct Japanese influence, typical of art in the deco period.
The Fulper Pottery began way back in the early 1800s, making utilitarian wares in Flemington, New Jersey. At that time it was known as Hill Pottery, after founder Samuel Hill. The Fulper family did not get involved in the firm until Abram Fulper purchased the company in 1860. It continued to make stoneware items until the introduction of the Vasekraft line of art pottery in 1909. Martin Stangl joined William Fulper II, Abram's grandson, at the company in 1910.
During the 1920s, Fulper Pottery Company was owned and controlled by three men: William Fulper II, George K. Large and Martin Stangl. Following William Fulper’s untimely death in 1928, his widow Etta continued in his place, and maintained a controlling interest in the company until the mid-1940s. Martin Stangl was the creative leader in the company and in 1955 took over the company, renaming it Stangl Pottery Company.
While the Fulper/Stangl Pottery made some interesting pieces in the 1940s and later, the best pieces were from the 1910s through 1930s, when art pottery dominated the line. By the 1940s dinnerware was Fulper's primary product, joined in the fifties by figurines produced by Stangl. These powder jars from the 1920s, are among Fulpers most colorful art pottery items and remain highly collectible today.