Thursday, December 21, 2006


The Image of Santa Claus: A Meeting of Minds and Myth

By Silas Finch

The evolution of the image of Santa Claus may be a somewhat off topic for an antiquing web-zine dedicated to antiques but collectors of antique images, books, and prints will hopefully find the information illuminating and of substantial value in enjoying their hobby. However, the real reason for writing this article is that I simply love Christmas and get a special kick out of Santa.

There is much debate about the evolution of Santa and for the purpose of this article I going to focus not on the development of Santa himself from St. Nicholas but instead on the development of his image and iconic behaviors.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006


Patent Medicine and Antique Bottles

By Silas Finch

During the 1800s the sell of so-called patent medicines reached its hey day. They had existed for centuries, for example "Anderson's Pills" were first made in England in the 1630s; the recipe was allegedly learned in Venice by a Scot who claimed to be physician to King Charles I. However, due to a number of factors related to the Industrial Revolution including improved methods of mass production, crushing urban poverty, and vile sanitation cheap wonder cures captured the imagination and hard earned dollars of the Victorian.

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Monday, November 06, 2006


A Brief History of Spode China

By Silas Finch

The world of 18th century English porcelain was a small one. Due to the necessity of soil with just the right mixture of elements in the making of porcelain factories have always been closely bound by geography. The strident apprenticeship system that dominated all trades in England at the time combined with physical proximity to ensure that everyone in the porcelain trade knew everyone else.

Thomas Whieldon, a famous china maker in his own right, was both a one-time partner of the great Josiah Wedgwood and oversaw the apprenticeship of Josiah Spode, founder of Spode-Copeland China. (Incidentally, it seems that more than geography and apprenticeship bound 18th century potters together, every other one is named Josiah.)

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Monday, October 16, 2006


Examining the Carcass: Cabinet Frames and Runners

By Silas Finch

When considering purchasing a heavily worn chest of drawers, cabinet, or cupboard, or when contemplating the ramifications of having given in to the impulse of buying a piece that might be beyond your skills to repair there are a number of factors to take into consideration. Some damage may look appalling but be simple to repair while other nearly invisible flaws may prove a catastrophe.

The first thing to do with any box-based furniture is to remove all the drawers and check the piece for stability. While a dealer may not be crazy about you stacking all the drawers from a bureau on the floor of their shop if the choice is between that and a no-sale they will most likely acquiesce. In many cases taking the drawers out of a chest of drawers will reveal the main structure, called the carcass, of the piece is unstable and in need of repair.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Antique Weather Vanes

By Silas Finch

Weather vanes have become something of a darling among antique and folk-art collectors in recent years. It is easy to see why. They are beautiful pieces of Americana. The intricacy and workmanship applied to an object no one will ever see up close is art for its own sake. They surprise us when we see them near by. They are bigger than they seem when seen from afar. Weather vanes have the romance of rural life and a practicality that make utensils so attractive to many collectors.

Athens, the birthplace of much of western culture, was also the probable home of the weather vane. The earliest recorded weather vane exists in a description written at the time, which said it was constructed of bronze and depicted a merman-like deity, the god Triton. It was huge by weather vane standards at approximately 6 feet in length. During the Roman era weather vanes topped most expensive homes and were usually religious in theme.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006


Antique Milliner's Dolls

By Silas Finch

Before there were fashion magazines there were milliner’s model dolls. From about 1820 to almost 1870 it was common practice for dress designers to make dolls that wore the latest fashions that were then displayed by dressmakers.

Very little manufacturer information exists regarding the making of these dolls. It is unclear who made them or where. In fact anything approaching exact dating of the time of manufacture is based on the hairstyles of the models. However given the number of them that still survive there must have been plenty of them constructed.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Depression Glass

By Silas Finch

A corner of the American Collecting Mania Hall of Fame must be preserved for Depression Era glassware. Few trends in collecting have enjoyed the massive of popularity of the glassware made for the American market from the beginning of the Great Depression and the start of World War II. At a time of much uncertainty, Depression Glass made a symbol of domestic security remain within the shortening economic grip of American homemakers.

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