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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fabulous Antique Photo Album

I recently acquired this wonderful antique photo album from a consignment shop. I had seen it previously on several occasions, but it was a little on the expensive side, and so I passed it by, though not without longing.
 I have a collection of cabinet cards, many of which date from the 1880s until the early 1900s, and an old photo album was something I hoped to acquire at some point to put some of my favorite cabinet cards in for display.
Surprisingly, these are often hard to come by and are usually in really poor condition, with pages missing and loose and the bindings torn. More often than not when I find these they have no photos in them, although sometimes there are. The ones that are in good condition can be quite expensive and they appear to be highly collectible. I finally caved in and bought it, since I just couldn't pass it up. It is in fairly decent condition, and even though it has no photos in it, the pages are all in good condition and the binding intact.

The album is on a stand, and still has it's pretty clasp. On the front is a small circular mirror centered in an anchor. The anchor is often mistaken for having a Naval or seafaring connotation. The dealer who owned this piece must have thought so too, for it was marked as a "nautical" album, however, to the Victorians, and to many Christians from the first century and onwards, the anchor meant something else entirely.
 The anchor is a symbol of hope. Because of the great importance of an anchor in navigation, it was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. Early Christians adopted the anchor as a symbol of  hope in future existence. The hope spoken of is not earthly hope, but heavenly hope and consequently relates to the hope of salvation. The Epistle of the Hebrews (Hebrews 6: 19-20) was the first time the idea of hope was connected to the anchor; "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil...". The symbol of an anchor appeared in catacombs and tombs as far back as the second and third centuries. It was popular again during the 19th century, particularly with the sentimental Victorians, and was a motif often used on gravestones and mausoleums. If you have ever wandered in any old cemetery, you might have seen the anchor carved on some stones.

In many old photographs from funerals during the Victorian period, there is often a floral arrangement that is made to look like an anchor present at the service. Sometimes it would be photographed with other floral arrangements, sometimes it would be photographed as part of a display that included a portrait of the deceased. It was not uncommon, or unusual, for photographs to be taken of funerals and floral arrangements, or the deceased themselves laid out in their coffin, surrounded by all the flowers.

To many modern eyes, the assumption would be made that the person must have been associated with sailing, or the Navy, or the sea, but this is not the case. Certainly it would have been a popular motif for someone who had been involved in the seafaring life, or coastal towns, but the anchor ,as a symbol, was not limited to just those who were. And, as evidenced by this photo album, it seemed to have been used as a motif on other things as well, besides at funerals and cemeteries; anything that might be associated with remembrance, it seems.

When the clasp is undone, it folds down like so, revealing another mirror behind it. You can also see how vivid the colors of the velvet was originally.

When it is unfolded like this, now the album itself can be opened.
The pages are quite pretty, and though there is some wrinkling and slight foxing on some pages, they are all still intact, none of them loose; all attached to the fabric binding.

 A couple of the pages had small tears at the bottom of the photo frame, where there is a slot to insert the photos into, and some of them had been taped, but I just slit the tape using an Exact-O knife.
                            Then I proceeded to add some of my old cabinet cards into it!

I filled up the whole album, except for the last two pages, which had smaller frames for photos that would be about the size of calling cards. I don't have any that size, so I left them empty.

Did I also mention that the original owner's name is written in pencil on the inside front cover? "Romman Ulbrich" it says in typical 19th century script.  Additionally, there is also a music box on the backside of the stand, tucked into a small, pocket-like box. It's very rusty, but we did get it to work, since the key was still in the back!
I've tried to date this photo album, but it's quite difficult. The fabric covered albums like these were popular for a long period of time during the Victorian Era, and even into the early 1900s. The style of the album and the vivid, bright, almost garish, red-pink color of the velvet fabric seems more like 1880s or 1890s to me, but at this point I'm only guessing.

It certainly makes a statement, and currently occupies a small table in our parlour, on prominent display.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Where did the Summer Go?

It's hard to believe that it's already mid-August and that soon it will be Fall!

Where did the summer go??

Oh yes, I remember now.....my summer was spent watering, watering, watering. Or sweltering in horrible heat!

I didn't really have many nice yard/ garden pictures to share this year because of the awful heat and drought we had, not to mention the landscaping project that destroyed a big part of our yard!

I had hoped to do a small outdoor tablescape this summer; now that the weather seems to have cooled down and it's much more pleasant, perhaps I can still do one before Fall.

About three weeks ago the new grass was starting to fill in, finally....

It's been growing so slowly because of the unusual heat, despite my daily watering.

My pink Tall Phlox is doing well, despite the heat and dryness............

This is how everything looks now, a couple of weeks later, after the weather cooled down and we got some rain:
Side yard:

Back yard:

Front yard:

Of course, there's lots of weeds in with the grass; it's just how it goes. Weeds are opportunistic and will germinate wherever and however they can.  Erik is not happy about the weeds ( he REALLY hates weeds) but we have to wait until Fall and the grass goes dormant before our lawn service can come and treat the new grass with weed killer. If they do it now, the new grass will die.

Recently, I also found two of these antique pressed-back wooden chairs. They have spool-style spindles and what look like Colonial Ball finials. They were a steal at $40. They were marked as having " honey-dipper" finials, but I don't think that's correct. I just love press-back chairs!

 I actually bought these two for our kitchen, but they also look pretty on the porch and can be easily brought out for extra seating on the porch if we need more chairs!

Press back, or pressed back, chairs became very popular in the late 1800s with the development of steel die stamps that were mounted on rollers, which were then passed over a finished chair crest rail under immense pressure. The die stamp had sharp edges and resulted in pressing a design into the wood quickly and efficiently. It was much cheaper than having hand-carving done by a cabinet-maker, and also allowed for fast production. In the new era of purchasing goods by catalog, it allowed the new wealthier Americans to buy decorated furniture that looked "hand-carved" without having to pay a hefty price, or wait weeks to have it carved by hand.
There were both "shallow cut" and "deep cut" designs. The shallow cut design required only a single pass of the die stamp and therefore were the most in-expensive. A deep cut design required multiple passes, and might also include some hand chasing, which made the "deep cut" the more expensive option.

I have a fondness for old wooden chairs and I was quite delighted to find this pair for my breakfast table!

Thanks for stopping by!