Some scientists say that we're in a new geological age, called the Anthropocene, where humans have an unprecedented impact on the Earth. There is a nary a place on the planet that has not been altered by our species. Our impact is, basically, everywhere. This was the subject of a recent TED talk that was on in the background while I was leafing through some new prints. You can get the gist of the TED talk here if you are interested in this subject.
Next day, I was listening to WNYC (again..yes, I listen to it all day long while I'm working) and a guest was speaking about taking geological samples in the Chicxulub crater of the meteor that, most likely, ended the long age of the dinosaurs. I have, in stock, some really beautiful and large German chromolithographs of the Dinosaur Age.
After the dinosaur extinction we had fossils of them and then the science of Paleontology.
We also have Geology and Earth Science. I've got some great 1960s classroom charts.
If you are in the market for some more refined geology, I have some beautiful prints of rocks, minerals and gems. Printed in Germany in the 1880s, these are some of the best examples of stone chromolithography that I have seen. The colors and details are absolutely amazing. These will be sold matted and ready to frame.
I also unearthed (no pun intended) some lovely old prints from the 1850s on the paleontology of New York State. These are serene, earthy and organic. They would look terrific in a modern setting, even though they are "as old as the hills". It's kind of neat to think about what the ground beneath our feet is composed of.
Last, but not least, in this same vein, I recently picked up some great maps of the United States with meteorological, agricultural and geological subject matter. They were published in the 1920s by the US Department of Agriculture. They are quite large and colorful.
As the World Turns....
It's that time of the year again- back to school. Yesterday, as I sat in a high school parent orientation, I had plenty of time to contemplate time flowing by. So many Septembers have gone by since my kids started elementary school. Anyway, enough reminiscing. I wanted to share one of my favorite collections: antique school atlases and geography primers. I might be one of the only people on the planet collecting these.
In general, I'm able to pick up very, very old examples of school atlases or geography primers (I have one dating back to 1819) for quite reasonable prices at auction. Many are made by highly esteemed map makers- such as Augustus Mitchell- whose larger atlases can fetch very high prices. I recently acquired a 1st edition of McNally's System of Geography from the 1840s. This company went on to become Rand McNally and to produce millions of school maps and atlases.
It occurs to me that the value of these books is relatively low, because they have limited value as "breakers." Larger atlases are often more valuable because of the sum of their parts- with each map being sold individually. Larger atlases also tend to "break" as they are too heavy for their bindings to remain tight over time, while little school atlases often remain intact.
I find the school atlases charming- especially when the students who used them left notes, or personalized them.
School atlases often have fascinating and complex scientific subject matter as well as out-dated and ridiculous notions of race. Sometimes the diagrams and engravings are as interesting as the maps.
The intermediate atlases often incorporate more complex topics such as meteorology, natural history and botany. Some of the maps can be quite colorful and unusual.
Come in to the shop to have a closer look at these fascinating books. We have many available for sale and for browsing. Enjoy the last bit of summer and good wishes to all the returning scholars.
As summer churns on and the heat cranks up, a cool walk in the woods beckons. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to find a shady grove in the city. Luckily, we have a few in my neighboring Prospect Park. Better yet if you can get yourself far out of a city and fully into nature.
An interesting, and no longer popular pastime, is collecting and preserving wild botanical specimens. It's funny...these days everyone is running around collecting Pokemon rather than meadow rue.
On my recent road trip to the Midwest I found a fantastic collection of antique herbariums as well as a homemade press for specimens.These will be available in the shop. Contact us for availability and pricing.
A few years back I came across an antique painted metal box with a shoulder strap. I bought and sold it without really knowing what it was. In my recent research into botanical specimens, I discovered that it is called a vasculum. Victorian examples can be quite beautiful- lithographed on tin or tole-painted.
Pressed botanical specimens are lovely to decorate with. They fit nicely into a modern rustic style. Below are a few pretty tableau culled from design*sponge and other online sources.
Happy Independence Day to All! Windsor Place Antiques will be closed on July 3rd & July 4th for some r & r. I'm hitting the road after the Brooklyn Flea today on a meandering drive to see friends in Chicago. I've got ambitious plans to visit several auctions and fleas in Ohio and Indiana.
I've been plotting my route with this lovely map from my shop. For years I have been hearing about markets in Rogers, Ohio and auctions in Shipshewana, Indiana. The stuff of legend....I'll report back.
I can't think about Indiana without thinking of John Mellencamp. I grew up during the '80s, played guitar and loved the song "Little Pink Houses"...still do.
This is just a little aside, but, I posted some photos this week of a great collection of vintage instrument strings that I have. They're probably more appropriate for decor than for stringing your banjo, uke, mandoline or guitar.
Contact me if you're interested in these- I have LOTS more. Below are some of my personal collection of vintage instruments.
June is always the month when I start whining about how busy I am. No time to stop and smell the roses (which, appropriately, are blooming away in my yard) and no time to finish all the projects I've started. School's winding down and summer's calling. I've got some exciting picking trips planned and so much to take care of before I can hit the road.
I recently became familiar with the book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. In the book, Adams makes some obvious but insightful distinctions between simplifiers (who, well, make simple plans) and optimizers (who are always trying to squeeze one more thing in to their brilliant plans, but have to accept a higher level of stress in exchange).
Adams decribes himself and his wife as follows:
“In about an hour, the optimizer in the family will return home from whatever she is optimizing and potentially introduce several changes to my plan. If the changes work, our evening will be even better than I imagined, or perhaps more productive. That’s great! But the changes will also introduce new opportunities for things to go wrong. This balance works well for Shelly because she has nerves of steel. I’m more like a squirrel that wandered into a monster-truck rally. I don’t have the constitution to optimize.”
Not surprisingly, when it comes to stuff, I am also trying to squeeze one more thing in. More is better for those of us with a restless eye. Here are some interiors that exemplify maximalist decorating, that I particularly enjoy- mostly culled from Design Sponge and The Selby blogs.
I am also drawn to individual objects with a whole lot going on. I've been putting together some new Etsy listings and was noticing how some of the maps, in particular, are quite busy in their designs. The antique French maps, below, from the 1880s, are just brimming with cartouches, vignettes, hand-coloring and extremely ornate fonts. The cartographers got a little carried away...love it!
I am taking my show on the road next week. I'll be selling at the vast Brimfield Antiques Show in Brimfield, MA from Tuesday May 10th through Saturday May 14th (inventory and weather-permitting).
I'll be set up at the centrally located Brimfield Barn.
I will also be selling these cute, original pictorial maps of the show.
I'm bringing some great and rare items to the show- including advertising, hand-colored maps & prints, signs & apothecary.
Our Brooklyn shop will be open, but NOT on Thursday May 12th.
I've got games on the brain lately....and on the walls of my shop.
I have always LOVED game boards- the catchy graphics, wit and art. I often find them in broken boxes and missing many of their playing pieces. Among my favorites from my collection (seen hanging above) is the very large four-part "Uncle Sam's Mail" from 1893.
Apparently, I am not the only one that appreciates this category of ephemera. There is a current exhibit at The Grolier Club in Manhattan called "The Royal Game of The Goose: Four Hundred Years of Printed Board Games". I plan on making the trip this spring to see it before it leaves on May 14th. Here are some images from the exhibit.
After reading about the Grolier Club's exhibit, I realized an interesting connection. Several years ago, I bought a collection of unused old game board prints from Paris. The game maker was the Saussine Company. The second example above (from the exhibit) was also from this company. I have several examples of these game prints for sale from the early, early 1900s. They are just the unmounted, unused chromolithographic prints- suitable for framing. Inquire for pricing and availability. The graphics are pretty spectacular on these.
As far as decorating with these beauties goes, it couldn't be easier to just hang the mounted boards up with some large bull-nosed clips across the folds in the boards. I snapped some photos of a few framed boards for sale at the West Elm Marketplace in DUMBO. These were behind glass and rather pricey but it was fun to see them appreciated.
Others have done some great decorating with vintage game boards. They can suit many different styles and eras as they reflect the times in which they were made. Some folks hang the colorful box tops too. Go nuts!
Slogging through February can be tough- even in a milder winter such as this one. I'd been feeling rather uninspired and groggy this month. Fortunately, my friend Aya Nihei, brought me a copy of her recently published book A to Z: Encyclopedia of Ephemera and Paper from New York. It was like a ray of sunshine cutting through the drear.
Back in the fall, Aya spent many hours in my shop sifting through my (embarrassingly huge) collection of ephemera- asking questions and sorting it into categories. It was fascinating to see what pieces interested her and what she ultimately chose for her project.
Aya, an avid flea marketer, foodie and connoisseur of Brooklyn, is from Japan. She writes books and a blog (Best of Brooklyn) about New York for the Japanese market. She has been coming to my booth at the Brooklyn Flea for years now. Before this book, she put together one on vintage and commercial glass (i.e. mason jars)- finding many in my booth. She brings her finds back to Japan and holds a pop-up shop to sell them and to promote her books.
Last fall, when she e-mailed me about her latest project, she had a list of types of paper and ephemera that she was looking for and wondered if I had any of these items. My reply was "How much time do you have? Because I pretty much have it all". So, over several days, I pulled out bin after bin of labels, targets, pamphlets, postcards, matchbooks, etc....
The coolest thing about the experience was that I fell in love all over again with all of my paper. It is so much fun to see it all beautifully arranged and cataloged in Aya's lovely book.
While the book was made for the Japanese market, you can purchase it in NYC at the Kinokuniya book store in Bryant Park. You can buy many other fun things at Kinokuniya. It is one of my favorite places to buy gifts. My daughter has a vast collection of impossibly cute Japanese puzzle erasers. So, there you have a bit of cultural exchange.
I've been giving a lot of thought, these days, to marketing and social media. While I love, the visual feast that is Instagram, I'm still quite old-fashioned, with a weakness for paper and ink. Victorian trade cards (state of the art business marketing tools back in the day) are one of my favorite categories of ephemera- the graphics, wit and vivid colors are captivating. I have some amazing examples in my collection.
That said, don't neglect to follow my Instagram account for daily posts and first dibs on new merchandise. You can now purchase items (any items with a listed price) directly...pretty nifty...almost as cool as...trade cards?
Trade cards originated in England in the 1700s with tradesmen advertising their wares. But the advent of lithography in the 1870s made it possible to mass-produce them in color, leading to a golden age from 1876 to the early 1900s when halftone printed newspaper and magazine ads became more economical.
Trade cards typically had a picture on one side and an ad on the other. Some of my personal favorites were produced by the Soapine soap company of RI. Their cards were so clever and charming- especially the reoccurring theme of washing the whale with the caption "Soapine DID IT". Adorable.
For more on Soapine and their trade cards, you can read this article Whale Washing by the Ephemera Society.
Still other companies produced lavishly illustrated pamphlets as a premium to their customers, such as Chase and Sanborn's lovely North American Birds.
Or the cute Seven Barks health tonic- the cover is pictured below, but the booklet also contained entertaining stories.