Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Hallowe'en & Museum Monday

1790-1800 Gold & Chalcedony Letter Seal 656.2012.30
 Happy Hallowe'en! The children carved their punkins yesterday...can you tell which one is Pip's????...Hers is the one on the left, carved with a 'heart, 2 Bake', and a three tier! 
Befitting the day, today's Museum Monday number I picked~ 656.2012.30, which is one of my favorite letter seals,  and the one I use for all my Hallowe'en correspondence.
 I love early letter seals~ each one shows the character of its once owner, to be sure! This one is by far my favorite, and is of a witch on her broom with a wooden spoon in her hand. The stone is a clear chalcedony set in gold, completely hand carved.  If you have bought a dollye or a padded mirror case or the like from me, and received a letter, it has been sealed with an antique seal from the collection.

 Real sealing wax is different than candle wax~ it doesn't crumble when dry, nor does it have oily paraffin in it that soaks into the paper. I never use the 'fake' sealing wax that is nothing more than a colored hot glue stick. One just needs a few drops to seal a letter, and a stick literally can last me years....and I use them alot!

 The seal is pressed into the hot wax with a short pause.....

And then taken up to reveal the impression....I usually like to use red wax for my letters, but during the Hallowe'en season...only black will do for this witchy ladye!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Museum Monday....late on a Tuesday!

c1859 Daguerreotype Sisters with Baskets  (161.)
This week's Museum Monday number is 161....but instead of my general catalogue, I thought I would share item 161 from the image collection instead....along with a couple early baskets like the ones the girls are holding. This is a 6th plate size and I left it large so you can click on it to really enjoy the details~ not only of their hand painted basket purses, but their matching stripe gowns and paletot jackets. These girls are of an age I refer to inbetween, due to their hairstyles~ not young enough for side/bottle curls or ringlets, but not old enough to draw ones hair back in a bun either~ no~ at this age, girls wore their hair neatly combed back and caught up behind the ears.

Now really study those fabulous basket purses! Each rectangular in shape, with double handles and the girls's on the right looks to have a lid. So many times I study early photographs and think....if I just just see it at a slightly different angle....if she would have held it in the other hand....a little higher...a little lower.....turn it a little bit~ I could see the details I need to see! Heck...there have been times I have thought 'why not just take a picture of the basket...just the basket!' 

I am lucky to have two different examples of the baskets they are holding~ so that, even tho they arent the actual baskets in the photo, they are still of same shape and in color!!

 The first is 698.2013.16, in pretty good shape~ outstanding shape actually as these baskets can get so dry and brittle they break apart easily into a million teensy tiny little pieces (dont ask me how I know...please. just. dont. ask). It also still retains its 2 original handles, which is nothing short of a miracle. Each handle is attached to the basket body by way of a single willow splint that has been drawn thru the upper edge of the basket into a ring shape ~ the weakest part of the entire construction~ and the weight of what was in the baskets broke the rings more often than not. I have several period images & baskets  with make do handles~ strings, rope...ribbons, wire...these baskets were a status symbol in early to mid 19th c America, and were highly prized by their owners. If both handles broke of, the baskets were still used as table baskets for sewing & such.   Looking at this basket you may not think that the lid is missing...but it is~ in my over 300 examples, there is not a single basket without a lid now, that doesn't have remains of original lid latch or I can say without a doubt that all these early painted basket purses were originally sold with lids...and in this case.... not just one lid, this type basket had two!

 This basket , 399.2007.17, is in a bit finer condition with beautiful bright paint, both its handles and one of the two original lids~ yay!

Each lid opened from the center out on a hinge, that way no sneaky hands could snag something from ones basket while walking thru market!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2016

Albuquerque NM. Balloon Week Oct 1-9 2016

  Oh My golly~ what a week!  Last year I went to the Fiesta for just one day during our South West Get Together~ and while it was absolutely magical, it was nothing like this years experience. I was so tired when we got back home... heck, I'm still worn out!  Last year I caught the park & ride but from the Intel lot~ because there is soooooo much traffic during the Fiesta, I didn't want to deal with it~ using the park & ride is super easy~ you buy your ticket on line, hop on the bus at 4 am....yes, 4 AM in the morning.....and it zooms you to the Fiesta and drops you off at the gate...the only drawback was that you HAD to catch the bus back to your parking lot, and the last bus left at just enough time to see all the balloons get off, but not much else!   So the last day of  Balloon Fiesta last year, when registration opened for the RV parks, I bought our tickets for this year(they sell out QUICK!). We parked in VIP West, right up on the field next to the Balloon Museum. 95 bucks a night gets you a spot so close, if you dont want to , you dont even have to get out of your camper to see the balloons~  which is what my husband did and one morning he took a video of one missing our camper by about a foot as it landed in a field right beside us. Also included is a pass for each session of the Fiesta while you are there~ so its a pretty good deal if you ask me! No driving!!! YAY.  They park 'Rally Style'...and as you can see above, its purdy darn close!!

 The Balloon Museum is great~ they go thru the complete history of balloons. There is a 4D movie I didnt much care for, but the children and husband really enjoyed the virtual reality goggles and 3D painting .

 I guess my favorite of the museum was Marie Merton's balloon~ she embroidered it all by hand in 1880.

 Prepare to be WORN OUT! if you go to Fiesta~ it starts early~ shops & food open on 'Main Street' at 4am or earlier~ there is always a laser light show around 5.30ish....after thats finished, the Dawn Patrol takes off

 I love the Dawn Patrol~ its usually about 6 or so balloons that fill & take off at night, while its still dark~ they test the air currents for the rest of the field~ 

 And are absolutely breath taking in the air~ the balloons light up and twinkle like huge fire flies~ its really magical....well worth my teeth chattering from the cold!

 Once the sun comes up tho, it really warms up and the balloons all start coming to life at the same time

 You can get as close to the as you like, and if you have paid around 450.00 per person, could even take a ride in one of the Rainbow Rider Balloons.

 Yes, thats a cow butt~ the Cream Land Dairy Cow to be exact~ its a HUGE balloon!

 Yoda & Darth Vader having a stare down.....

 There were also of really neat special shapes this year~ several were new~ this Dragon looks like she is people surfing as she is filling up

 My favorite at the special shape rodeo was 'Flutter' the butterfly

 They are overwhelming when you look up and there are so many balloons all at once!

 After the last of the Park & Ride buses leaves, Main Street really clears out and there are so many things to enjoy. From the Balloon Museum all the way down the edge of the fields is tent after tent of shops, entertainment and food... you can really spend all day! If you get tired of walking, there are always courtesy shuttles (little golf carts) that can pick you up and take you where you want to go. 

 At the far end of the field NASA had a huge tent set up with cockpits you could get into, thermal cameras, space suits, books~ all sorts of fun hands on things. Beyond the tent, out by the the big white spike sticking up, was the chainsaw carving competition that went on till about 2 I guess each day~ you could watch folks carving away at huge trees and buy what they were carving.....and Oh My Golly.... if that wasnt enough....

Up at the opposite end....had to be over a mile away....was the kids area~ things for them to do, rides~ there were big blow up clear plastic balls that they could get into and zoom around in like hamsters....both on the ground and over water....there was a huge bouncy house thing...some carnival rides, and Josh & Emma had to take the Gyro Ball for a spin...literally~ the LONGEST 5 minutes ever!
We had a great time and I couldn't recommend the Balloon Fiesta more~ tho it is a weather permitting event~ if its too windy for a session, you can use your ticket again at the next one. If you want to go next year, and especially if you want to camp at one of several RV sites~ better get your tickets, now~ they may already be sold out!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Museum Monday

   1785 Lady's Shoes with Rare cutout vamps, 516.2010.12
 This week's Museum Monday number is 516!  Unlike many other collections, Museum & private, who focus on objects in pristine condition, I have many pieces here that are anything but nice condition~ some arent even whole, but fragments of a larger 'thing'.  If an object is rare and unique, such as this pair of 18th c shoes, condition is no factor for my decision to add it to the collection or not. The second I saw these, my heart literally skipped a beat! The cut out vamps.....Oh... my..... golly....the cutout vamps!
  This pair of Lady's shoes were elaborate and wild when they were first made~ the cutting edge of fashion~ their owner would have been considered an 'elite'. Shape of the toe, vamp and heel sets them firmly in the 1780s. Construction is amazingly fine and since they are in such tattered condition, this allows for a look at details that would otherwise be hidden.  One shoe retains its original 'pom' or rosette.... and while the other's is sadly missing, it gives us a great look at the shoe's construction underneath of it.
 The pointed leather vamps have been elaborately cut away in a number of heart shaped designs~ each segment then backed in, what was at the time, a bright pink silk.  The silk is stitched to the vamp round the edges of the cutouts in a contrasting color, making the stitching both utilitarian and decorative.

 The top of the vamp has a small hole cut in the leather to easily secure the throat decoration, in our case, the fancy silk corded poms, or rosettes.   Now faded to a dull rosey cream color, the silk only reveals its bright original color deep under seams and in stitching channels.
 With pom missing we can also examine the silk binding over the top of the silk throats

  Kid covered Louis heels are 2" tall~ this squatty shape is a transitional one common in the 1780 time period
 Silk ribbon would have originally covered all seams, including this center back seam. The amount of hand stitching , and the perfection in each and every stitch, never ceases to amaze me.  The patterned black leather of the shoe upper can also be appreciated here.

 The pom, or rosette is made up of several layers of silks~ first a flat ribbon at the bottom, next to the shoe, then a layer of flat filament silks, black silk cord and finally a center of the same silk cord but in pink. Looking deep within the pom we can see it was once a beautiful, rosy pink color, that has nearly all faded away over time. 

 These shoes, in their colorful original condition would have been stunning~ black patterned leather uppers with rich pink and black poms, pink stitching over pink satin cutouts on the vamps, and pink gimp fringing all round the foot. w.o.w.

 This gimp travels the length of the opening for the foot~ while it has unraveled for the most part, it is still attached to the shoe all way around

  They are just as fabulous from the sole view, as from the top~ here we can admire the tiny stitches connecting the kid covered wood Louis heel to the leather sole.

 The channel cut in the leather soles of the heels can easily be seen, with some of the stitching showing

A look from the bottom ~ one piece, straight last, pointy toes (with a slight spring upwards), very narrow throats that are quite short before transitioning to the heel. The 'holes' at the tips and middle of the soles are last marks~ note the decorative glazing of the throats of the soles. This is a perfect example of pride in craftsmanship.

Shoes are fully lined in white kid with unmarked linen footbeds.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Museum Monday

19th c Chemisette 44.1998.28
 This week's Museum Monday number is 44, a mid 19th c short chemise, or chemisette.  It is one of a pair, and while the cut is rather plain, the workmanship is anything but.
 Construction wise, the chemise is a short 23" from neck to hem, and cut in just two pieces, a front and back. There is a seam down each side with a narrow  1/16th inch entredeux  insertion. Both shoulder tops are open with button hole/ loupe closures. Material is a butter soft muslin, and by muslin, I mean in earlier terms when muslin was a sheer finely woven cotton one could see thru.
 What is so fabulous about this undergarment, is the fine stitching~ every tiny stitch done by hand~ from the elaborate cutwork, the Russia Braid applications, closures, to side seam insertions.
 The shoulder fastenings consist of three loupes on the front side, and three corresponding button holes on the back side. Our Ladye would have used a set of 6 studs (3 each shoulder)  for closing. Studs were very popular in the 1860s,  one could have a nice set of buttons and interchange them with what ever they were wearing at the time.
 Inside view
 Neckline~ what first caught my eye was the Russia braid and how it has been applied on its edge, instead of flat.
 The hem has a different cut work design, but same braid applique.
This is the inside showing the backside of the insertion~ the weensiest and perfectly rolled seams I have ever seen. 

Monday, October 03, 2016

Museum Monday!

1834 Cope Letter  725.2013.43
 Todays Museum Monday is lucky number 725.   I am a sentimental person, cant help it. I find emotional and sentimental values to be greater than money. This is how I am, and a big part probably of why I own the Lady's Repository Museum.  My entire life I have been witness to people passing away, and the families they have left not caring anything for what they have left~ a person dies,  their family comes out of the woodwork and throws the entire house to the dump. They throw everything~ not even pausing to see  or care what is inside. This is nearly unbearable for me. When a person passes away, not just their body & spirit is gone...but that of all they knew~ their memories, their family knowledge, their life just gone.  Material things, clothing...this is a special link to our past that yes, does have great importance! Clothing can literally show us how a person lived~ their social status in the community, their financial status, clothing can give us a little peek into a certain place and time in history. We can learn what goods were available to people at what place and time, learn how things were manufactured, learn how people lived from day to day. We can even tell if the wearer had foot problems by examining the soles of the shoes they wore.  So where am I going with all this? What does it have to do with a letter?  ....
This letter is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Things get saved, they are important to the people who lived with them, they are important reminders , relics, if you will, of people they loves~ something  to physically hold on to after the person is gone....generations pass and stories are no longer known because they didnt get written down...children are not taught their own family history, and suddenly....we have a passing and there is no one to save anything...or no one who wants to save anything. Send it to the dump so we can sell the house....or sell the house to an auction company to piece it out. At least with the latter, things can be saved! This letter , in this case, found some way....some how~ it knew where it needed to be, to come back 'home'...for alone, it is just a letter from Mary Ann to Eliza....with first names within in no particular context....but together with the rest of its family belongings we can put faces and objects and names and dates all together fr a bigger grander picture! Its not just a letter to be sold for the blasted post mark!!!!

  I have, over the past 30+ years, come to know a great deal of auctioneers and antique dealers, pickers and collectors that keep their eyes open for me. I hunt and hunt, scour and dig for things.....but even still, things find me too. I happened to buy a pair of shoes on eBay one year...and seller said, 'well they came from a big trunk we saved off of a truck going to the dump...if you want the rest, Id sell it to you as a lot' Needless to say, I bought the entire lot sight unseen, which turned out to be my Wistar Family trunk(s). Not only clothing, but books and photographs!  So fast forward 7 months past that date....I am sifting thru the dribble on eBay, and up pops a letter....Mary Ann Cope it says. Oh my golly! Mary Ann Cope.....I recognize the name as it was stenciled on so many of the pieces in the Wistar Family trunk.  Seller did not include any of the text, and was selling for the postage mark,  West Chester, Aug 6, 1834. 

  I am still amazed to have found this letter~ a wonderful glimpse into the daily life of Mary Ann Cope. She was born 11 Jan, 1803, and the letter is to her sister, Elizabeth. Its beautifully written, and I have sat and transcribed it for you to read, if you would like~

 I love how early letters had no separate envelope~ the paper written on, then  folded and sealed, all with no envelope.

 A quick google of Elizabeth's address gives us a map of her home in 1834~

She lived just a couple blocks from Betsy Ross....The liberty Bell and Independence Hall~  
Here is her letter, in its entirety~ (note that the sleeves Mary Ann is missing, I think.... I may just have)
                                                                                                                                                                     West Goshen, 8 mo 6th 1834
                                                                                                                                                                                               4th day morning

 I was beginning to get the fidgets, my dear Lizzy, very considerably because no tidings from home had 
reached me, when yesterday afternoon thy very interesting letter was handed to me by our kind cousin
Gerard who rode over to Westchester purposely for it. Abby Ann having told me that such a document
was lying in the post office there for me. One of the boys here went to the post office on the 7th day, but
the mail had not come in and he came back letterless, greatly to my dissapointment for I felt almost certain
thee would have written to me by that time. However it was all the more welcome for the delay and it seemed to me that I had never received a more satisfactory communication from thee~ thy wordscouthian scraps were admirable~ the descriptions seemed as if they might have been penned for the very persons to whome thee applied them, and this peculiarity of the poet is a proof that they were drawn from nature and actual observation~ "the Excursion" would be an agreeable book to have in this part of the world for there is so much of the imagery taken from the scenery of the wild hills among which the author was so fond of roaming, that I think I should  enjoy it more here than when reading it in the artificial region of a great city~ 

 Caroline & Edward dined here on 2nd day and I was determined if the thing seemed at all practicable to find out something about Emma's arrangements, for they have been so wonderously quiet on the subject , that it has been difficult to discover how they intended to proceed in the affair~ wether they proposed having the usual train of bridesmaids & groomsmen, or thought of dispensing alltogether with such superflous personages~ I asked therefore in the most straight forward manner what they expected to do, and received for answer that they talked of passing meeting on the 20th. of this month, and that thyself & Elizabeth Smith were to be bridesmaids.  Abbey Ann declining the office because she felt as if she would rather not have any conspicuous past in the concern~ the next question was respecting the groomsmen, &, as I have all along expected, Caleb & Wm Collins are to hold  that distinguished office~ "the interesting William" is to take charge of thee my Dear, and our cousin is to devote  himself to the fair Elizabeth~  what a pity that the dark eyed youth is in part mortgaged to the little damsel at Long Branch~ thee would have had such a fair opportunity of excersizing thy captivating powers if it had not been for this untoward circumstance, upon a subject altogether worthy of them in every respect~  

 Caroline expressed much surprise to hear that Abbey Ann did not wish to be bridesmaid and seemed as if she could not imagine any cause for her want of inclination~ but it appeared to me very easy to account for it, from her known aversion to mingling much in company, which she would be almost obliged to do holding that station~ particularly as Charles's relations are so numerous and Emma will of coarse visit them all~ Caroline also told me that it was to be a small wedding and only one cousin from each family was to be invited~ so tell Lydia her expectations must vanish into "thin air" for she certainly will not be favored and I must dismiss the faint hope which entertained of receiving a gilt edged note requesting the favour of my company~ if she can bear the disappointment with as much resignation as I do it will not have a killing effect, for I care naught about it whatever,  as weddings never  gave me much pleasure being generally so stiff that very little enjoyment is to be found  at them~ the only one  I ever actually enjoyed was Marmaduke's and that was really pleasant with one exception which was the extreme heat of the weather.

  Yesterday, 3rd day, Abbey Ann her sister & myself spent at Gerards & there at a suitable oppertunity, I made some enquiries of Abbey on the same subject~ so thee sees I am resolved to make myself as fully aquainted as possible with all the particulars, and received much the same information which I had allready heard from E &C~ only that Abbey Ann told me she had not positively declined the office which Emma wished her to fill,  but it was her decided choice to do so, though she was willing to submitt her own will to what they preffered, with one reservation, that if she did serve she would not have Dr. B Coates to wait upon her~ on this she was positive for she could not submit to the idea of having any one so dissagreeable to her as he is, on such a familiar footing, and  as Charles Yarnall thought he must select on of his cousins & he was the only one near his age, she seemed to think  they would conclude to have but two bridesmaids & that would settle all difficulties~   Now I do hope that Emma has not told thee any of all this, as I have made so many words upon the occasion,  and above all things do not say any thing to her about my revelations to thee, for she appears to be so peculiarly tender upon the subject, that I should not like to her know that I had made any remarks upon it, for we often at such times give great offence without the smallest intention of doing. perhaps on this account it would be better not to let any one out of our house see this scribble, for we cannot be too careful upon such subjects~ I was really  grieved to hear of cousin Mary Curtis's death, which was totally an unexpected event, for she seemed likely to live on in a green old age for many years to come,judging from her tranquil temper and general good health, but we can not doubt that the change is a blessed one for her, tho so grievous to her sorrowing friends~ 

 Cousin Amy [sen?] is improving daily and I have now become so accustomed to her altered aspect that she does not look so very different from her former self as she did at first sight~she sends her love to you all and says she will be glad to see Mother and Lydia & appears quite gratified that the former intends coming to see her~ I wish I could give as  favorable an account of her daughter, who will, I am very fearful become a confirmed invalid, though her elastic  mind enables her to bear up under a weight of bodily ailments which would sink me to the lowest point of depression.  thee knows I have long thought her ayspeptic, but it seems now as if her symptoms were assuming the form of liver complaint very decidedly, and the pain in her side became so distressing a few days since, that she  requested the Dr to call and tell her what she had better do to releive it~ he came accordingly & I had the honor  of an introduction to his lordship, who whatever may be his qualifications as a physician, will certainly never make a great figure in the world, judging from the outward merely, for he is a little insignificant looking man, extremely shy & rather awkward in his manners, owing to that circumstance~ but they speak of him in the highest terms & say he is rapidly rising to eminance in his neighborhood, his judgement being highly asteemed & his conduct very correct~ he enquired very minutely into Amy's condition & on leaving gave her a box of 'blue pills' to take and
ordered a large warm plaster to be laid on her right side~ she is very cheerful generally, but complains of almost  constant uneasiness & is obliged to lie down several times through the day.~  I have had serious thoughts of  returning home pretty soon for I was afraid she might exert herself injuriously because of my being here, but she  will not listen to any thing of the kind and charges me not to tell you that she was worse than she really was~ their  girl is a strong able bodied excellent domestic and appears to get through their work with great ease, so that Amy has not much to do, and she does not attempt any thing that requires much excersion~ Eliza Ann has turned out admirably~ I should like thee to tell Uncle Thomas what a good girl she is~ he wa so much interested in her forlorn & friendless condition that he cannot help being pleased to hear that she conducts herself so well respectful in her  manners, attentive to her duties & cousin Amy says she has never heard an unbecomming word out of her mouth, so that it seems that she might be a great comfort to them~Amy's health was much injured by her close confinement to her mother's room last winter, anxiety of mind with great fatigue, for she was her only nurse & her mother says a most faithful one day & night {  } have shattered her constitution seriously & I am afraid it will belong before she  recovers from their evil influence~ occasionally her ancient sprightliness breaks out & she seems almost like she used
to be but generally she is graven than I ever knew her and seems quite staid & settled~ please give my love to all at home & to Aunty Cooper~ has thee seen any where in our territories the sleeves of my nightgowns which I have very unaccountably left behind me~ I thought I had put them up with the rest of the work but when I came to  unroll it, they were missing and no trace of them discernable. They might have been wrapped up in the linen or laid in the closet. Could thee please look for them and send them out by Mother & Lydia~ do write to me every  week my dear for I get to feeling very uncomfortable if I do not know how you all are every few days~ I was surprised to find thee had such a time about the box~ thee is perfectly welcome to any or all of my scraps if they are to my [ ] & use them just as if they were my own~ I am glad that my dear Father is as well as usual and also to hear such good news from Alfred~

                                                 affectionately my sister Mary Ann Cope

 To: Eliza C. Cope
          186 Arch St.

   Up margin of 1st page:
  did thee see a little scrap of lead pencil writing which I put inside of my last letter after it was sealed~ Eliza Ann is so fond of her brother & so ancious to hear from him, that I thought it a pity, Lydia should not try to bring her a  letter from him as our Mary knows where he lives & it would be so easy for her to ask him to write~