Category Archives: Decorative Collectibles

7 Reasons Why People Collect Antiques

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As a fan of PBS’Antique Roadshow, I often find myself pondering what prompted a person to collect the item they are showcasing in the first place.  In the popular show, you get to see a huge variety of collectibles from furniture, to quilts, to decorative collectibles, to fine art, musical instruments and  paper collections.  The show hosts often asks the collector how they came about acquiring the item and the individual stories often vary.  But other than the occasional person, who basically fell into acquiring the collectible by accident (as an heirloom or gift), most of the guests loved and sought after what they collected.  So after a little soul searching, I put together a list of positive reasons why people collect.

  1. Money and Investment or Creating Family Heirlooms – You enjoy finding and collecting items that you want to leave as part of your inheritance or to make a statement of who you were to future heirs. Usually your collection, will have a dual purpose of not only pleasing you aesthetically but actually have an inherent monetary value that is established by antique experts and similar professionals.  Most collectors in this category collect fine art, furniture, vintage fine jewelry and other similar items.
  2. Collect for Sentimental Value or Nostalgia – Fond memories of the past or your childhood, inspire you to collect those objects that promoted your happiness and the process of collecting these items inspires these positive feelings.  Many collections can remind you of close relationships with loved ones or admired mentors  and the influence that these people had in developing your personal taste and style.
  3. Personal Hobby – The time and attention you put in researching, finding, purchasing, cleaning or restoring your collectibles and then displaying your collection, relaxes and or energizes you.  Engaging in your hobby makes the cares of life seem distant and provides you with a sense of accomplishment and restored energy.
  4. Personal Aesthetics – Your sense of style draws you to the aesthetics or beauty and rarity of the items you collect. Most avid collectors enjoy finding unique ways to display their personal collections throughout their homes.
  5. Enjoys the “thrill of the hunt” of finding rare items – One of the best parts about collecting is the thrill of the hunt.  The expectation of finding a treasure is a big motivator for the collector.  Many collections have been built by  carefully combing through boxes and tables at a yard sale or flea market, a sudden find at an auction, going through listings in the local paper or online (Craigslist…anyone?), or even an unexpected find at a store.  And when you find that item, it’s an awesome feeling!  This is especially true if you have been conducting a search for a long time or if the item is rare.  Acquiring the item or desired collectible, has less of a thrill for this type of collector than the thrill of searching for and finding it.
  6. Enjoys the restoration of antiques and collectibles – Not all collectors restore their collectibles, but many develop skill sets that bring added beauty and value to the items they collect.  These collectors enjoy the process so much and with added practice become so good at it, that they soon find themselves giving away their collectibles to grateful recipients and/or selling the items they restore.
  7. Feeling of Community/Social  – Over time, many collectors have individual and highly specialized knowledge about the items that they collect, that they find themselves joining or participating in groups that collect similar items.  And what should be surprising about that?  Many collectors enjoy the conversation regarding a similar collectible, the praise they get for the items they might have collected, and the additional knowledge and expertise they gather  from engaging in discussions with those who have broader collections of similar items.

So there is my wrap up of what I believe are the reasons why people like to collect.  While this blog post doesn’t address all of the reasons why people collect, I think it gives a broad idea of what motivates many collectors and the underlying reason common to most collectors is that they enjoy it immensely.  What motivated you to begin collecting?

Limoges Porcelain Boxes: 5 Tips to Consider Before You Purchase


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When most people mention Limoges porcelain trinket boxes, they usually realize you are talking about high quality, upscale, and imported pricey porcelain that will be treasured for generations.  But in spite of its expense, this type of porcelain is worth its hefty price as it has retained its value since they began producing porcelain trinket boxes from this region in the 1700s.  The current trinket or pill boxes were thought to have originated from the snuff boxes of the aristocratic Frenchmen of the late 1700s.

It was the  discovery of Kaolin clay near Limoges France in the 1700’s that  created a new industry in France — hard paste porcelain. (Which up to that time was a highly secret manufacturing process and hard paste porcelain was only being manufactured in  China .)

Although they were popular in France, these collectible boxes were not popular in the United States because no means of exporting to the American market had been attempted.  At the time it took traveling to Europe to find and buy the pieces. In the 1960’s,  porcelain importer Charles Martine contributed to the awareness and popularity of the Limoges boxes we see now.

A collector should expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 per piece.  Since prices and reputable vendors vary, the following tips should help you in your hunt for these desirable collectibles.

  1. When trying to set a value on a piece, looking at the quality of the hand painted decoration can be more important than valuing its age or when it was produced.  Keep in mind high quality hand painting adds more value than the work of an unskilled porcelain painter.
  2. Unlike other porcelain pieces, there are fewer reproductions of Limoges porcelain and therefore, a collector can shop with more confidence that the trinket box he or she is buying is likely to be authentic. It wouldn’t hurt however to invest in a few collector books to get as much information about the different styles and designs available during different time periods.  Armed with this information a collector or shopper is more likely to select what he or she wants, pay closer to its estimated value  and to be satisfied with this expensive purchase.
  3. Understand that Limoges does not come from a specific company or corporation by the name of Limoges, Inc.; but is a city and region in France.  Therefore, porcelain that comes from this region can be defined as Limoges porcelain according to French law.  As a result, this beautiful , delicate porcelain was produced by a number of factories in France from the late 1700s until around 1930 when ornate design styles changed to more basic and simple designs.
  4.  Keep an eye out for the words Peint Main or Décor Main which means the trinket box has been “painted by hand” and check and see if the artist painted his or her initials on the box.  Boxes that are marked Rehausse Main are a combination of a decal transfer and hand painted details.  A decal transfer is a specialized design decal that is applied on the porcelain and permanently bonds with the porcelain during the firing process.
  5. Although many companies over the years have manufactured Limoges boxes there are a few which actually own their own Limoges companies and are known as high quality importers and manufacturers. The company names that are associated with exclusive Limoges designs and high quality porcelain are Artoria Limoges, Chamart Exclusives Inc. and Chanille to name a few.

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Image Credit

Photo courtesy of Antique Helper

Vintage Circus Collectibles – Collectibles Worthy of A Smile

vintage french clown

Clown figurines  and other vintage circus collectibles are a popular collecting area for many antique and vintage collectors.  Here’s a little history on the origin of clowns…Clowns have always been a part of many cultures, and the art of clowning has existed for many centuries.  Although clowns in the past, were usually found in the courts of kings and queens ( I imagine everybody needed a laugh from the important matters of state that were part of daily court life) clowns can be traced as far back as the courts of Pharoah.  A pygmy clown performed as a jester in the court of Pharaoh Dadkeri-Assi during Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty about 2500 B.C.  and court jesters have performed in China since 1818 B.C.

Continue reading Vintage Circus Collectibles – Collectibles Worthy of A Smile

Cleaning Tips for Your Porcelain Figurines or Dinnerware

vintage,  porcelain figurines

Vintage porcelain china and vintage porcelain figurines are beautiful and delicate decorative items and are a pleasure to own; but,  they do require delicate care and protection from harsh sunlight and the potential of being chipped, cracked or broken.

One of your first concerns after you acquire a few pieces of porcelain is where you are going to store all these pretty items.  Usually, you want to show off or display your porcelain figurines; however, you’ll need to find an area where little children (don’t you just love them) or pets can’t topple over your lovely collectibles.

Storing Your Porcelain

The best storage area for porcelain china or similar porcelain figurines is often referred to as a china cabinet.  This is usually a cabinet with interior shelves and glass panes so you can display your fine collectibles.  Some of these china cabinets are made with wooden details that provide small wood rails or guards that will prevent the slippage of the porcelain figurine or dinnerware.  When it comes to  porcelain collectibles, you should make an effort to keep these figurines or china out of direct sunlight. The exposure to direct sunlight over an extended period of time can fade the coloring or design details of the figurine or dinner plates.

Cleaning Your Porcelain

As for a porcelain figurine, keep it dusted with a soft bristled (preferably natural hair) paintbrush which can remove the dust and grit from crevices in the figurine that you would not be able to reach with another tool.  Another good trick is to use a can of compressed air to blow away the dust and grit.  Hobby shops have triangular shaped q-tips that are also good for this use, they are also available on Ebay.  Try to avoid over handling the porcelain figurine so that you can reduce the risk of chipping or breaking it.

If the figurine has any spot or stain, make sure you use a soft cloth that has been submerged into a mild detergent and warm water, and dab at the stain or spot rather than using a scrubbing motion.  If you are trying to clean the stain within a teacup or saucer, I have heard that the product Efferdent (the product used to clean false teeth) will do a good job of lifting any stains within the teacup or saucer without any scrubbing action.  And it’s not surprising, since industrial porcelain is used by dentists to make false teeth.  Make sure you follow the package directions for the exact amounts you should use.

As mentioned earlier, it’s usually a good idea to keep your porcelain collectibles or china stored behind glass, this way you won’t have to dust them as often and handling them less will reduce the potential of chips or breakage on the actual figurine.

porcelain figurine, girl

Try to avoid submerging your porcelain figurine in water.  However, if you have a stain that can only be removed by placing the figurine in water, make sure that you don’t submerge it for more than a few seconds.  This works well for porcelain that has a high gloss finish, but you must be even more cautious with porcelain that has a matte finish such as bisque porcelain.  A common example of bisque porcelain figurines, are the Precious Moments figurines made by Enesco.

Of course if you are washing porcelain china, now that’s a different matter, you will have to submerge the china dinnerware in soapy water.  And hand washing is especially advisable if your porcelain china dinnerware has any delicate painted gold or silver details. In order to preserve the lovely finish, avoid harsh detergents and scratchy scrubbers for your porcelain china dishware.  Be sure that you place rubber mats in the sink or soft towels nearby to prevent any jolting movement or sudden drop of a teacup or plate and thus potential chips or knicks to your china.

Keeping these tips in mind, should give you years of enjoying fine porcelain china dinnerware or your beautiful and decorative porcelain figurines. These will be treasured porcelain items that you can pass down as a family heirloom to be loved and used by future generations.

Glassware: The Clear View on Glassware Artisans

Once you get a peek into the world of glassware artisans, it’s almost amazing to watch the combination of skill and artistry that comes with the age old techniques that are still used to make art glass and glassware today.  Who better than the Corning Glassware Museum to give a demonstration of the skills and techniques used to create blown glass and art glass.

Not too bad a product, when you realize that glass is largely made from sand (or rather silica).  According to Wikipedia…

“The history of creating glass can be traced back to 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia.[1] The term glass developed in the late Roman Empire. It was in the Roman glassmaking center at Trier, now in modern Germany, that the late-Latin term glesum originated, probably from a Germanic word for a transparent, lustrous substance”

All I can say, that meals, and the beverages we consume, at meals are made more elegant and beautiful with the addition of glassware. And what other objects can be made from glass?  Objects made out of glass include not only traditional objects such as vessels (bowls, vases, bottles, and other containers), paperweights, marbles, beads, but an endless range of sculpture and installation art as well.

Art Pottery: An Artisan at Work

Through the power of modern day tools such as Youtube, the centuries old techniques and work  that this artisan (potter) demonstrates in this video becomes a powerful testimony to the skills and techniques passed down through generations and utilized in order to create a modern example of an ancient Greek vase.

It’s techniques similar to these which have contributed to some of the most well known American collectible potteries such as Rookwood, Napco, Lefton, etc.

In modern times, we tend to take for granted all the manufacturing processes that are involved in making the pottery and ceramic items we use everyday.  Perhaps watching this video  will allow you to see just what goes into making all the ceramic ware that is used in our daily life, such as dishes, cups, mugs and saucers in a new light.

Before modern day manufacturing techniques, this was the only way a household could obtain dishware or decorative items for their homes.

Ceramic Terms

I have  included a few ceramic terms that are pertinent to this video:

Fabric :  the clay body or paste of a ceramic.

Leather Hard:  The stage in which unfired pottery is no longer in a plastic or wet state, and can be handled without distortion to the form.

Paste:   The clays and other materials that constitute the body of a vessel.

Press Molded: A vessel or vessel element ( such as a handle or spout) which is formed by pushing wet clay over a mold.

Slip:   A liquid mixture of clay and water applied to vessel surfaces.

Throwing:  The manufacture of pottery by  hand on a wheel.