Spooky Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

Happy Halloween – Antiques Diva Style! In honor of this spooky holiday, I had to share some ghostly ideas on how you can use antiques and vintage pieces to add a touch of mystique and the macabre to your home. Many items may already be hidden away in your attic or cellar but they also can be found at flea markets throughout the year, (yes, I’m the girl who does Christmas shopping in March at the flea market as I believe in buying for holidays all year long).  With a bit of imagination, antique accessories can create the ideal haunted atmosphere for a Halloween party or just for seasonally witchy décor.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Masks are a Halloween staple, but they don’t just have to be for wearing to a party. Affix masks to vintage photos or antique portraits and you’ll have an inexpensive tongue in cheek easy decoration around the home!

les-fleurs-du-mal-baudelaire-charles-first-edition-first-issue-paris-poulet-malassis-et-de-broise-1858, Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

You know I belive that antique books are a fabulous decorative accessory any time of the year, but during the ghost days of autumn search for books with creepy titles to set out on the coffee table.  The Headless Horseman? Check.  Also pay attention to the covers and bindings—anything having to do with skeletons, spiders and bats make perfectly spooky tabletop or shelf decorations.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Speaking of books, always be on the lookout for natural history books. They are filled with beautiful prints that can be framed. For Halloween, search for scientific illustrations of bats and spiders—how creepy!  And oh my goodness don’t get me talking about taxidermy.  I personally happen to love taxidermy anytime of year (I’m still trying to get my husband to let me buy that ostrich for our living room) but taxidermied birds and rodents could be particularly useful for Halloween décor.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Pewter candelabras are the perfect accessories to use on Halloween. Unlike polished silver, pewter’s dull finish lends itself to a time-worn, earthy look. Let wax drip down for an even more foreboding feel! In fact, candles in general are great for creating fall ambiance. Every once in a while I line my stairwell with votive candles to create ambiance for my husband when he comes home from work.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

For something a bit on the lighter side, fill antique apothecary jars with mini gourds and pumpkins and set them on your sideboard or kitchen counter. You can also use vintage cake stands with pumpkins perched on top to line the dining table as a festive centerpiece.  A trend in recent years has been painting pumpkins black.

jane_howarth-bonne-bouche, Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

No matter how you decide to decorate for Halloween, antiques are positively perfect for creating ambiance.  We’ve been discussing accessories – but even antique furniture in general creates a spooky past lives vibe.  If you want to go all in with Halloween Décor pull out some Neo Gothic or Hunt Style Antiques (those heavily carved pieces with the dead animals) to add splash from the past for your Halloween Decor. I’m loving this Jane Howarth interpretation with pearls of bird guts!!

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

If you’re decorating with antiques this Halloween I’d love to see your décor and more!!  Visit The Antiques Diva & Co’s Facebook page to share your spooky photos of how you do seasonal décor with antiques! And while today’s post is about Halloween – let’s get a headstart on Thanksgiving!!!  Show me how you use antiques in your THANKSGIVING DÉCOR by posting photos on our Antiques Diva Facebook Page and our favorite image wins an Antiques Diva Tote Bag!!!

The Antiques Diva®

Layering Antiques into Your Rooms

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Dear Diva Readers,

Autumn is the perfect time to think about decorating your house. As the days get shorter and cooler, we spend more time at home and that means it’s time to add those warm touches that make your rooms comfy and cozy! And what makes a room more comforting than nostalgic antiques?

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Create a sense of warmth by layering antiques into your rooms. What do I mean by this? Add antique rugs—thick wool rugs that keep warmth under toe are ideal. Or why not layer a few rugs—think sheep skin or reindeer hides placed on top of oriental rugs or worn persian rugs. And don’t be afraid of a bit of wear… rugs that are threadbare in a few spots can be charming!  We’re talking perfectly imperfect is charming!

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Now is also the time to bring out the bric-a-brac that you’ve packed away during the summer when flowers from the garden are filling the coffee table . A bare coffee table can play host to a stack of books topped by a small sculpture and a beautiful bowl filled with potpourri. When you’re at the flea markets, look for items with lots of texture— i.e. small wooden boxes perfect for hiding clutter like remote controls, marble bookends, leather bound books, pretty dishes and small paintings to prop on easels.

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Think about creature comforts as well. Having a nice tea set is always a good idea whether you’re enjoying a hot cup of tea while curled up in your favorite reading chair or sharing tea time with a friend.

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

No matter how you choose to warm your home up this fall season, layering antiques into your decor is a sure-fire way to create a cozy atmosphere that will have you and your loved ones spending quality time in the most important place—home sweet home.

The Antiques Diva®

Sourcing in the Venetian Countryside

Sourcing in the Venetian Countryside

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Dear Diva Readers,

Mamma Mia…..  Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we custom plan each client’s tour route, taking into account their travel time, budget and what type of antiques they are looking to source. This means that sometimes we take them to specialized shops in the cities and other times we schedule their tours around specific flea markets. And still other times we go off the beaten path to warehouses and private residences in the countryside to find the perfect pieces. This is pretty much the case for each of our 8 tour countries, but today I want to talk about Venice—or rather, Veneto!

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Yes, we lead fabulous tours in Venice proper, guiding clients through canals and hidden alleyways to shops which house museum quality pieces. But we also are excited to start offering tours in Veneto! Imagine the experience of our local Diva Guide picking you up from your hotel and whisking you to a small town in the north area of Vicenza where 15th century architecture dots the landscape. In fact, we can recommend a 15th century castle in the area where you can actually stay! Now that’s traveling fit for a Diva!

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

When it comes to sourcing antiques however, we drive you to a 17th century palazzo filled with furniture, objects and art—all for sale. You’re greeted by the owner, a kind man who lives in this historic palazzo and has aptly named it “The Palace of Old Things.” And old things he has! Meander though the grand country house itself, complete with its stone walls, wooden beams and private courtyard, shopping for not only architectural salvage but also antique furniture from Veneto, France and other European countries. If you happen to have something specific that you’re looking for, just tell Francesco and he can find it for you.

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

From 17th century pieces to vintage furniture from the 20th century, you can find restored or unrestored condition. As many of our sources offer two prices (restored or unrestored), the same goes in Veneto. This is a convenient option because it puts the decision in your hands whether you want to do the restoring yourself or have your purchases arrive ready for use.

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour in Veneto or any of our 8 European tour countries— France, Belgium, Italy, England, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands or Denmark— email us at [email protected].

Ciao Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®

Revival of the Salon

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Dear Diva Readers,

My love for antiques got me into this business and being surrounded by like-minded people and sharing this passion with clients, vendors and colleagues is part of what makes my job such a joy.  When I first met Chiara Zanella and Orseola Barozzi Rizzo  – who later became our Antiques Diva Venice Antiquing Guides – they confided, “We want to create a different concept of selling antiques and of antiquing in general; we’d like to bring antiques to a younger target of collectors.  We believe people are beginning to reflect more on what they will buy for their home décor. We all need more personal spaces, reflecting our personalities and taste.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

These two ladies who not only lead our Venetian and Veneto antique buying tours also co-own O & C Antiques.  They are filled with youth and vigor and the kind of energy that makes one think they could singlehandedly stop Venice from sinking.  Explaining to me about their store, they said, “The world today is so connected on the internet.  It sometimes feels people have stopped living real life in lieu of an online life.  We think the future of antiques is in Salons  – real life meetings of the minds.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

At the mention of the word “Salon” my mind immediately races to the salons hosted by Ayn Rand in New York in the 1950’s but I am quickly reminded the would-be Americans such as Rand weren’t the ones who invented the concept.  Orseola explains, “The Salon is an Italian  invention from 16th century Italy when circles formed in the smaller courts with patronesses such as Isabella d’Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga.  Later the movement moved onto 18th century France with some of the last Salons hosted in the 20th century by Marie-Laure de Noailles with guests such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali.”

Chiara continues, “Women were always the center of the life in the Salon and they carried a very important role as regulators. They could select their guests and decide about the subjects of their meetings. Those subjects could be social, literary, or political. They also had the role as mediator by directing the discussion. They were called Salonnières.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

Orseola cries…. “We’re bringing back the Salon.  We host mobile events in our homes.  While we’re in Venice this could be held in any city of the world – gatherings  in private spaces with  sellers, artists and designers combining discussion with antiques, contemporary art and vintage furniture.” During these events Salonieres educate their guests about cultural topics, all the while enjoying antiques, art, music and scintillating conversation meant to enhance the participants’ taste and increase their knowledge. These gatherings consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aug delectare aug prodesse set”).

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

And you, dear diva readers, are invited to the first of their salons…..  Chiara and Orseola have teamed up with their friend Jens Soneryd to organize the first of their Salon style evenings on October 31 in Berlin, Germany.

The theme of this inaugural Salon is “DRAMA”— a word which relates to any aesthetic experience—that through visual art, poetry, music and literature translate intuitions into beauty. The goal is to have these Salon evenings in several different cities throughout the world, almost as an international movable Salon!

The evening will be more the launch of a different way to meet like minded people, giving the chance to make a network in several different cities, between interior designers, antique dealers, designers, artists and collectors. In the frame of a private space that for the occasion, will be used as the visual platform where people can have the experience of distinct elements combined together in the same “exhibition” concept. The meaning of this gathering is also to provide collectors with a different way to look at art, design and antiques, and to make an ideal background for discussion for all guests.

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

For that, the hostesses have selected artworks and photography (by artists based in Berlin, NYC and Warsaw), some objects from a contemporary design store in Berlin, some pieces of O&C Antiques inventory and guests will be delighted by an Opera singer and nice Italian wine.

The entrance to this exciting evening is free (although a donation is encouraged). If you’d like more information on the Salon concept, email us at [email protected]. Whether you’re interested in attending the inaugural Salon or if you wish to come to or host a future Salon, we’d love to hear from you!

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva Shops Guinevere in London

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Dear Diva Readers,

While on tour in London recently, I was very excited to take our client to an iconic London antiques establishment called Guinevere . This store, famous for its showroom displays which are to die for, juxtaposes the old and new, east and west, wild and sober in a way that reflects how the stylish set live now. From the moment you set foot in the door, you know that you are somewhere special where quality is prized above all else.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Co-owner Marc Weaver was kind enough to meet us at the door and take our group on a private tour of their meandering, multilevel store. From small Chinese sculptures and Asian screens to European oil paintings and mid century lighting, everywhere you look vignettes are thoughtfully put together. The buying team at Guinevere scours the globe for the most exquisite pieces, resulting in an interesting mix that’s both inspiring and informing.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,  Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

And their textile collection, which is put together by Heather Weaver, is a go-to source for those in the know. A combination of antique dhurries, French linens, embroidered napkins, tablecloths, and cotton bedspreads from India, the inventory is always coming in the door and flying out.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

The founder was French-born Genevieve Weaver who trained as a hat designer in Paris in the 1950’s. After moving to London, she became intrigued by antiques and opened Guinevere in 1963 in what was then a “not-so-nice” end of Kings Road in Chelsea. It’s funny how time changes things, as today that same area is a very prominent section of the neighborhood.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Her flair for mixing styles and eras has continued with her sons Marc and Kevin who now run the company. Their forward-thinking combinations of antiquities and mid-century modern are unique in the antiques trade where dealers often specialize in one era or style. Their desire to mix things up puts them at the forefront as innovators in this industry rather than trend followers.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Today the company caters to discerning collectors and interior designers from all over the world. Their international following is loyal, consistently coming back for more. And more is something Guinevere always has. Consisting of four adjoining shops and windows on Kings Road, this showroom is constantly evolving. In fact, they were changing some of the windows the day we dropped in. It was such a delight to tour this famous store – a landmark on Kings Road – and hear a bit of its history from Marc himself. Thank You Guinevere for being such gracious hosts on our recent visit!

Consider this shop a Must Visit Antiques Diva London Resource!

Happy shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Fromental

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Dear Diva Readers,

While recently taking a group of top American interior designers on an Antiques Diva tour in conjunction with Nobelinks, we stopped into the Fromental Showroom in London for inspiration and a little fete, Diva style! Known for its gorgeous hand-painted wallpapers, Fromental is a leader in the design industry, using traditional styles and elements but bringing them into the twenty-first century, making luxury wallpapers for the way we live now. Of course, they also produce luxury fabrics, often times adding hand embroidery depending on the client’s needs.

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Keeping in mind that the owner is the former creative director of de Gournay, the Fromental look is informed by historical patterns, but isn’t married to them. They’ve taken these classic patterns and injected new life into them by playing with color and scale. Think classic chinoiserie in a monochromatic color story. And traditional isn’t the only look you’ll find at Fromental. Bold patterns playing off of the current London fashion scenes liven up the show room. And what I love is that whether traditional or modern, Fromental’s wallpapers make a lovely backdrop for antiques!

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

All of Fromental’s products are made to order, making it the perfect choice if you’re looking for something custom. Color, composition and technique can all be modified to fit each client’s needs. Isn’t that a luxurious experience?! Imagine ordering a customized wallpaper to use as a backdrop for a stunning antique console table. Divine! See for yourself—here are some photos from our lovely evening at the Fromental Showroom. Thanks to the staff for being such welcoming hosts and thanks again for that gorgeous dinner next door!

The Antiques Diva®

Colefax & Fowler

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Dear Diva Readers,

While in London on an Antiques Diva & Co tour with a journalist recently, we stopped into Colefax & Fowler for a private tour of the showroom and a look at some of the archives from this prestigious decorating firm. While it was a treat to see some of the original design boards used by the firm for high-end international clients, it was also interesting to meander through the rooms of the shop, which once had a life as a town house.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Each room of the rambling building is decorated with the company’s highly sought after wallpapers. But a pleasant surprise is that the rooms are also sprinkled with some of the firm’s bespoke pieces and antiques they offer for sale. From antique chest of drawers and sofas to mirrors and engravings, the hand-selected pieces are displayed in thoughtful groupings as if Sibyl Colefax or John Fowler had arranged them.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Yet the rooms are not exactly 1940’s English Country style— as one thinks of Nancy Lancaster’s interiors. Instead they are decorated in what you might call “updated traditional”, with perhaps a bit less decorative items. In other words, every surface on every table isn’t filled with objects! Nevertheless, these rooms exude comfortable, relaxed elegance just as they once did when John and Nancy worked in them.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

What I love about the Colefax & Fowler showroom is that it proves that antiques CAN be used in a modern way. You don’t have to choose just one end of the spectrum—chintz and tchotchkes or sleek and minimal. You can decorate a space with traditional principles but in an updated fresh way, still using classic antiques of course! And for me, that’s the way of the future.

Toma Clark Haines, Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva®

Nancy Lancaster’s Yellow Room

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Dear Diva Readers,

Nancy-Lancaster-sitting-room-main, Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

While the majority of my time spent on tour with clients is jotting from antiques warehouse to flea markets to by-appointment-only antique stores helping our clients source the right pieces, sometimes we get special requests from press clients. We recently took an American journalist on an Antiques Diva & Co experience in London and one of our stops was the historic showroom of distinguished designers Colfax & Fowler.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre, Toma Clark haines, Andrew Joseph,

With a special appointment, we were guided around the first 2 floors of the showroom by archivist, Barrie McIntyre. What a treat it was to meander from room to room having Barrie tell poignant stories about the decor of each space, highlighting the names of wallpaper patterns and fabric collections. After passing through a small corridor on the second floor (or the first floor as it would be known in the UK, since the ground level floors are typically known as floor zero), we came to a beautiful, high-ceilinged drawing room radiating an egg-yolk yellow from the walls and curtains in the afternoon light. Yes, we had completed our pilgrimage to Nancy Lancaster’s iconic “Yellow Room.”

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre, Toma Clark Haines

To give you a little history, Nancy Lancaster purchased Sybil Colfax’s decorating business and, as a result, inherited business partner John Fowler. The two were described by Nancy’s aunt, Lady Astor, as “the most unhappy unmarried couple in England.” What a duo they must have been! Their business, however, consisted of an inventiveness which was well received after the second World War.

In 1957, Nancy decided to live above the shop on Avery Row in London. Together, she and John transformed the private quarters into a sort of stage set for their designs. In a way, I suppose, they were able to show clients how a home decorated by them would feel. Once the drawing room was painted a rich color of yellow and the baseboards given a faux marble paint treatment, it was filled with an eclectic mix of 18th, 19th and 20th century English and continental furniture, mirrors, paintings, china and other decorative objects. The result was a space that was both grand and comfortable all at once. This room became and still remains one of the most renowned rooms in London.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Fast forward to our lovely afternoon spent there with Barrie who has a knack for telling stories and making these characters come to life. He pulled out a box containing stacks of samples and room boards that were put together for some of the firms most distinguished clients. We were treated to seeing the original fringe and wallpaper that was designed for clients such as Bunny Melon, Mrs. J.F. Kennedy and Baroness Pauling de Rothschild. Can you imagine!?

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Before leaving this inspiring room, we were able to sneak a peek behind a set of double doors at the far end of the room, which hide a small kitchen. The Yellow Drawing Room also boasts gorgeous views of the picturesque courtyard below, which beckons one to come down and enjoy a nice cup of tea.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

I cannot be more grateful to Colfax & Fowler and Barrie for allowing us a glimpse into the life of one of the 20th century’s top decorating talents. I’ve come away with inspiration and a greater appreciation for thoughtful design.

The Antiques Diva®

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show

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Dear Diva Readers,

I am so thrilled to be attending the 26th Annual Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show hosted by The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) in New York on Thursday October 16! While the show itself promises to be a feast for the eyes with many of the world’s most prominent art and antiques dealers bringing pieces, the Preview Party will kick off the weekend with over 1,000 guests enjoying a night of glamour, culture and philanthropy. Now if that isn’t a Diva-style party, I don’t know what is!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Stars of the design world, including Editor-in-Chief of ELLE DECOR, Michael Boodro, will gather at the Park Avenue Armory in New York to get a first look at art, furniture and rare books, jewelry and glass being offered by sixty-five high profile dealers. Before opening to the public, serious antiques connoisseurs and collectors on the guest list to the party have a chance to peruse the show and sip champagne— how glamorous!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Now it’s not all about glitz and glam that night. The Preview Party is a wonderful way to raise funds for The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, a volunteer-led organization within MSK dedicated to promoting the well-being of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing public education on the early prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

If this sounds like the kind of event you’d be interested in attending, contact Elizabeth Howard at The Society by phoning 212.639.7972 or emailing her at [email protected] for ticket information. And if you’re at the party, please find me and say hello! It will be a fabulous night of culture, philanthropy, and of course, antiques!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

A few of the things I’m interested in seeing first hand at the show include the  Maison Jansen Unique Bibliothèque – Corner Bookcase and the Vittoria Limited Edition Contemporary Chair presented by Maison Gerard Ltd.

See you soon in New York!

The Antiques Diva®

Battersea Decorative Fair Autumn 2014

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Dear Diva Readers,

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

It seems like my travel schedule has been insane lately! Between taking private and trade clients on tours, international speaking engagements and press trips, it’s been a whirlwind! But one of the perks of my job is being able to attend some of the best antiques fairs in the world. This week I had the privilege of taking a journalist from America on an Antiques Diva & Co tour of London which was perfect because it was in conjunction with The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Fair opened on September 30 and we were privileged to get a handful of Press passes which allowed us to enter the fair before the public. Being able to meet with dealers and see the inventory before it flies out the door is always a thrill. And being one of the top antique fairs, there are trays of champagne being passed, which fits perfectly with the Antiques Diva experience! As people line up outside to enter the fair, they are also served glasses of champagne… now that’s the kind of line I wouldn’t mind  waiting in!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

Of course there is so much to see at this fair— styles range from French and English antique furniture to tabletop to mid century modern. And what I love about the Battersea Decorative Fair is that not only is there something for everyone’s taste, there is also a range of price points. If you want serious antiques, you can find them. But you also can find very decorative pieces that won’t cost you a fortune and may even fit in your suitcase!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

However, there are definitely serious shoppers at this renowned fair. Famous actors,  international socialites and philanthropists all frequent Battersea. In fact, just a few days after we were there, Oprah Winfrey dropped by to peruse the stalls. Nothing like bumping elbows with celebrities while sipping champagne and shopping for antiques!!!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

All in all I’d say that this is certainly a “do not miss” event. More than just shopping, The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park is an experience. And my team at The Antiques Diva & Co feels so privileged to count several dealers at the 2014 fair as friends and favorite sources that our clients consistently have access to. Sometimes it’s surreal to think that we have the same sources as celebrities and royalty…but the truth is, we do!

If you’d like information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at [email protected].

Happy Shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Decorating with Antique Books

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Dear Diva Readers,

While I love to shop (and take clients on shopping tours), I also love to decorate! I think a great way to add personality and a sense of history to any space is by using antique books in your decor. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also are practical—you can actually READ them! When my husband started collecting first editions he made a promise to himself that he would always read the books regardless of how many zeroes were included in the price tag.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Now whether you’re placing antique books on shelves or using them as art in themselves, I’ve got a few easy ways that you can incorporate antique books into your home.

Of course if you have built-in shelves or even just a bookcase, books are the perfect way to fill these spaces. You can mix up the colors or color block them in groups of green bindings, red bindings, etc for more of a statement. I recently had the opportunity to visit Ashley Hicks – son of designer David Hicks – at his home in the English countryside and was able to sneak a picture of his famous father’s red office fitted with gorgeous antique red leather books.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Make sure you intersperse some books that are stacked horizontally so you can sit a small object d’art on top of them. This is a great way to show off a special piece.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If you come across antique books that aren’t in the best shape, consider bundling them together with twine and sitting them on a table. It’s a cost effective and fun way of displaying tired books almost as sculpture. You could also remove the bindings and just use the monochromatic pages lined up on a shelf as a modern take on the classic library. In Designer David Hicks’ personal bedroom at his house, The Grove, his books are all white toned and rumor has it that when the famous designer had insomnia he would wash the spines of his books keeping them shelves spic and span in lieu of counting sheep!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If your table lamps are sitting just a bit too low, perch them atop a stack of antique books.   In David Hicks’ office I loved his specially designed “library lamp”  in which the shade is cut in half in an updated modern version of the Italian shades to shine light on the books behind it.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The principle of using books as risers can apply to any object you’re wanting to elevate. Place a beautiful bowl on top of a stack of books or sit a sculpture on top of the stack. It will make the object seem more important, as if on a pedestal of its own!  In my own secretaire in my living room at home in Berlin I’ve stacked a giant inkwell on the shelf.  These books were a gift from an English friend – which reminds me – antique and vintage books make great presents! You can be really creative in picking books that have to do with your friends interests, travel plans, or even use their name in the title.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Regardless of how you use antique books, they are sure to add personality to your space. Books tell people about your interests and they create dimension in interiors. While my husband collects first editions from Parisian expat writers in the 1930’s – I collect interior design books – both vintage books such as David Hicks as well as current day books from friends such as Ronda Carmen’s book Designers at Home to Judith Miller’s latest tome.  On my reading list at the moment is Susanna Salk’s Decorate Fearlessly.  We’re traveling together in Italy this week doing some stylish shopping at Mercanteinfiera and I’m excited to get to spend time IRL with a favorite author shopping by her side!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Whether an antique or vintage book – a brand new book from a favorite designer – I want to know what are you reading?

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Photo Credit: Laila McCubbin Jones

Top Flea Markets in France

Top Flea Markets in France

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Dear Diva Readers,

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

While there are several flea markets throughout France, each offering something unique and specializing in different types of antiques, it’s easy for me to choose the TOP TWO flea markets in France!  Without a doubt the top 2 flea markets in France are the Paris Flea Market and L’isle sur la Sorgue in Provence.  Here you can find absolutely anything and everything French & chic from antique furniture – chest of drawers, Bergers and Fauteuils oh my – to art de la table and art for your walls, impossibly gorgeous kitchenalia and divine vintage frocks and jewels. The more important question is, what won’t you find?

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

But to choose a 3rd favorite flea market in France?  Oh la la… I fear that’s almost impossible! Of course I’ve spent many a morning wandering the stalls at the Porte de Vanves in Paris. It’s ideal for smalls.  But I fear if I mention Porte de Vanves I’m only focusing on Paris… and there is a whole nation out there ready and waiting for Diva Readers to shop. Villeneuve Les Avignon is one of my favorite Provence markets tucked away under the shadow of the town’s chateau and Allées Jules Guesde, in central Toulouse has a plethora of perfectly polished collectables.  Carpentras is worthy of a hit as well.  And buyers looking for a day trip out of Paris are sure to enjoy the amazing prices on inventory at the Orleans market in the Loire Valley!

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in ProvenceTop flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

brocante market Isle de la Sorgue

So the next time you’re planning a trip to France, just know that there is a plethora of flea markets just waiting for you! If this seems overwhelming, we’re here to help. For more information on booking a French flea market tour, email us at [email protected]. We’d be happy to custom plan an antiques buying tour to suit your needs and your budget.

Bonne shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Belgian Boot Scrapers

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Dear Diva Readers,

While taking a client on tour in Belgium recently, my American colleague Andrew Skipper was walking with me to the car in Antwerp when he asked, “What is that, a mouse entrance?!” pointing to the left of the base of a doorway to a townhouse.

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

Having been to Belgium more times than I can count, I have gotten used to the small arched niches at the base of entrances that line the streets of European cities. While they may look like little mouse entrances, they serve quite a different purpose!

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

These ground-level cut outs are actually boot scrapers, used by visitors to clean the mud off their shoes before entering the house. They’ve been around since the 18th century and are almost like a pre-curser to the modern door-mat. Like any functional piece of architecture, many of these iron pieces are highly decorative, complementing the overall design of the building they are attached to.

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

Of course they served an important purpose in daily European life before streets were covered with bricks and asphalt. Can you imaging the amount of mud that would be tracked into the house after walking home on a dirt road? During the 19th century, it became socially acceptable for the upper class to walk along dirt footpaths rather than strictly riding in their horse-drawn carriages. It is during this time that the boot scraper became highly decorative and a necessity for every house in urban areas.

The next time you’re in an urban city in Europe, particularly Belgium, take notice of these tiny remnants of days gone by. I always find it fascinating that we sometimes overlook the things that we pass by on a daily basis!

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva at Fall Market NYC

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Dear Diva Readers,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva Speaking Engagement, D&D Building, New York City, Eco-Elegant Interiors, Fall Market, Trudy Dujardin, Le Cuona Showroom, Kerry Howard

Making your home “green” has never been so chic.  Join me Wednesday, October 15 at 2pm at Fall Market at the D&D Bldg in NYC to learn how to create an eco-elegant interior.

Along with LEED accredited professional, designer and author Trudy Dujardin, I’ll be discussing how to achieve green spaces and the ways in which antiques can play a roll.  This event is moderated by Atlanta-based designer and Bravo’s “Top Design” star Kerry Howard.

A book signing of Trudy’s latest book, “Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior,”  published by Pointed Leaf Press, and light snacks and refreshments will follow at the de Le Cuona showroom at the D&D Bldg.

See you in New York!
The Antiques Diva®

Paul Jones Pop-up Shop at Spencer Swaffer

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Dear Diva Readers,

Recently on an Antiques Diva Tour, renowned antiques dealer Spencer Swaffer played host to a group of Designers on an an Antiques Diva / Nobelinks Design Tour in the UK.

Spencer Swaffer, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques

The role of host is a well-known role for Spencer and his wife Freya.  Spencer continues his hospitality hosting this month a pop-up shop as part of a mentoring program offered through Antiques Young Guns.

As part of the Antiques Young Guns awards earlier this year a young Welsh dealer named Paul Alexander Jones won a coveted spot to open a small pop-up shop within Swaffer’s store for the next ten days (cleverly in conjunction with Battersea Decorative Fair which is less than a two hour drive from Swaffer’s store).

image001

Much of the stock offered by Jones does not appear online so venturing to the pop-up gives would-be clients a glimpse into an exclusive inventory of antiques. Hailing from a very rural North Wales town, Jones offers ‘country’ style pieces- think richly glazed potter, beautifully figured timbers and charming, naive folk art. Paul confided he’s bringing some warm Welsh tapestry blankets to sell—perfect timing if you ask me, as Autumn is upon us!

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

As I’m constantly combing over Europe for the best antiques dealers, whether that be quality of pieces or best prices, I’m always thrilled when new talent developed in the antiques field. Having opened his shop in July 2012, Paul Jones is sure to learn a lot about the antiques trade while being mentored by sage Spencer Swaffer. I’m excited to hear more from Paul and see how networking with other established dealers enhances his business!

If you’ll be in the Arundel area over the next week, stop by and say hello to Paul and Spencer. Tell them The Antiques Diva sent you!

Happy shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Guten Tag Oktoberfest

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Dear Diva Readers,

Prost! Cue the clinking of beer steins…. Tomorrow is the official beginning of Oktoberfest in Munich! What better way to commemorate the… er… beer season than to talk about antique beer steins?

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

German beer steins tend to be made of stoneware or earthenware but you’ll also find them in pewter, porcelain, silver and glass. Mentally when I think of beer steins I envision a buxom, dirndle-clad frauen carrying handfuls of steins artfully in front of her…. These steins you see in the Beer Halls of Munich tend to be open at the top.  But when shopping the market you’ll find some donning pewter lids which has an added benefit of keeping the flies out of the beer when drinking alfresco in a beer garden!  But originally these lids were implemented as a caution against spreading disease such as the bubonic plague.

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

You find steins in half liter and full liter sizes (a friend told me the half liter is for girls and the full stein for the boys).  It is thought that the original area of beer stein production is Kannenbäckerland in the Westerwald region in Germany. Potters have been making beer steins in this area for centuries.

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of beer steins is their décor.  Often nostalgic in nature they typically depict scenes from Germany or, more specifically, Bavaria and often have historical significance. There may be battle scenes on a Regimental stein and in this case, check to see if there is a rank and last name of the original owner. Whether they are simply painted on or carved as a relief, the scenes are usually detailed and elaborate.

5200087499_german stein 009

While the first German beer steins were made as early as the 14th century, antique Oktoberfest German beer steins were first produced in the early 18th century when the first beer drinking party was held. If you can find one of these beautifully rustic steins, snatch it up and enjoy a cold beer as the Germans do! And if you’re like me – and NOT a beer drinker (yes, this is practically blasephemy to confess as I live in Germany) – you can always order a Radler:  half beer- half lemonade.

Prost!

The Antiques Diva®

P1030342

My husband enjoying a beer in Munich!

Italian Fashion

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Dear Diva Readers,

Milan’s Fashion Week begins tomorrow and I’ve got Italian fashion on my mind (somehow when I wrote this I sang it to the tune of “Georgia on My Mind”). Any time we have clients take Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, they inevitably comment on how chic the women look and how impeccably put together the men are. There’s just something about the Italian STYLE.  My mouth wants to speak their language, eat their food, and devour their fashion.

Fashion  Italy     1960   Cesare Guidi, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Fashion Italy 1960, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

But did you know that prior to the 1950’s Italy was not known for its high fashion style? Most of the world was still taking fashion cues from Paris. It wasn’t until February of 1951 that Italian businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini decided not to export fashion creations but rather to hold a multi-designer fashion show right in Florence. The first of many, his show was quite a success and Italy began to be known as a force in the fashion world. Of course most of the Italian fashion designers at that time were still modeling their designs after those in Paris, but they were able to produce them and sell them at a lower cost. This targeted approach proved to be successful and appealed to the American clientele.

Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Fashion Italy 1962, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Creation by the Mirsa Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

By the 1960’s Gucci grabbed the attention of high-profile American women such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Italian label’s “GG” monogram became synonymous with elite ladies in the United States and all over the globe. To this day, vintage Gucci handbags are highly sought after (and mamma mia, I’ve got to tell you the vintage fashion room at Mercanteinfiera has the most wonderful collection of these for sale) . Of course this same decade also saw the beginning of Valentino’s influential career. Dressing the social elite both in Italy and abroad in sculptural evening gowns and seductively chic and sexy cocktail dresses became a big business for Italian designers.

Fashion Italy 1960, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Creation by Eleanora Garnett Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion  Creation by the Fabiani Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

By the 1970’s and 80’s, fashion designers in Milan started catering to the masses by making ready-to-wear pieces, making Italian fashion accessible and helping Milan to become known as a European fashion capital.  The attention to style, detail and quality has kept this city as a powerhouse in the world of fashion.

Next time you’re in Italy, try and pick up a piece of vintage Italian fashion.  Imagine yourself in La Dolce Diva (er I mean Vita) or Roman Holiday. Whether you’re buying a handbag, gorgeous pair of shoes, or perhaps even a stunning dress, you’ll own a slice of Italy – Diva Style!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Florence

Ciao Bella,

The Antiques Diva®

Vogue Magazine Covers

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Dear Diva Readers,

If you know me at all, you know I love all things glamorous!  This includes gorgeous antiques, classic interiors, decadent food, bubbly champagne and, of course, chic fashion.  The September issue of Vogue is traditionally the biggest, most important issue of the year, often being 800+ pages of pure unadulterated bliss.

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

Just like with Hermes scarves being used as art as well as fashion…I don’t just recommend reading Vogue magazine – I recommend decorating with them!  Frame Vogue magazine covers to make fashionable art perfect for your inner diva.  Of course you can purchase them already framed, but for me that takes all the fun out of it!! I like to dig through piles of vintage magazines at the Puce de Paris and then frame them myself!

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

When you frame vintage Vogue magazine covers with a wide white mat, they become works of art in themselves. Hang them gallery style for a curated look. Line a hallway with row after row of framed covers hung just a couple of inches apart and you’ll have transformed a pass-through into an interesting archive of fashion throughout the decades. For a more eclectic feel, hand them at random, interspersing other artwork of different mediums and sizes with them.

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

I love what designer Charlotte Moss did in her powder room at her winter house. She framed vintage Vogue covers from the winter months and hung them over a beautiful green striped wallpaper, proving that these often mod-looking covers can fit into a very traditional setting as well.

However you choose to inject these iconic images into your home, have fun with it! By surrounding yourself with these beautiful Vogue covers, you’ll always be fashionable!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

6 Must Haves for Antique Collectors

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’ve asked one of my favorite designers, Eric Ross, to share what he feels are the MOST important vintage or antique pieces you MUST have in your home if you consider yourself an antiquarian!

If Eric Ross isn’t already on your radar then you’ll be delighted to meet this full service residential interior designer who is famous for the homes he’s doing in the Greater Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, Tennessee area! This boy is designing a whole new south – traditional with a twist! I simply adore Eric and his gorgeous wife Ruthann!

Toma Clark Haines and Eric Ross Design Bloggers Conference, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Meeting Eric Ross at the Design Bloggers Conference in March 2014

While I’m certain Eric could talk for ages and pages about what each antique collector must haves, he’s promised to be brief!  But if these tidbits whet your appetite for more details, just head over to Eric’s blog to read more of what collectors shouldn’t live without – and follow his 6 part series.

GUEST BLOG:
Designer Eric Ross’ 6 Must Have Antiques Include:

 1. Chairs

Chairs are like friends – you need a few good ones. A few examples of my favorite styles are:

The Slipper chair.  I find this style very comfortable as it allows ones arms and hands to fall naturally into the lap without worrying about the arms of the chair being the wrong height for someone’s body.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Eric also has a small obsession with tiny chairs

A Bergère chair, THE classic French armchair, is considered masculine because it has solid arms.  The feminine version, a Fauteuil, has space under the armrest open to allow room for a lady’s skirts.

2. Dishes

Whether they’re displayed on a table, in a bookcase, or on a wall, the glint of the polish creates an interesting play with light in a room.  Colorful dishes help enhance a room’s color scheme, but don’t forget about plain white. The milky-white of cream-ware also takes on the hue of what’s around it.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

The best thing about dishes is that they are a beautiful and inexpensive decoration.  Don’t have the budget for art?  Break out your grandma’s china and hang it.

3. Rugs

Rug rule #1: Spare no expense! Spend the most you can afford. If you spend the least you can afford you’ll end up with a glorified bath mat. Shudder!

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Rug rule #2: Always go with wool! A good rug is a workhorse.  If you’re spending money on a high quality antique you have to remember that this rug has been traipsed on for over 100 years… and still looks good! Twenty years in your home isn’t going to kill it.

4. Pillows

You really can’t have too many pillows in a room.  And, they’re an inexpensive way to add pizzazz to a hum-drum sofa or chair.

Pillows are also a great way to recycle fabrics that have moved past their prime in other areas: Needlepoint or tapestry that has frayed at the edges of a chair can be given new life on a pillow. I’ve also seen beautiful vintage tea towels featuring hand embroidery put to good use by adding a little vintage touch in children’s bedrooms.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

So, don’t be afraid to re-purpose Grandma’s needlepoint into a lovely pillow that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

 5. Chinoiserie

The term “Chinoiserie” covers anything with a Far-Eastern or Oriental theme.  From faux bamboo furniture, through hand-painted wallpaper panels, inlaid screens, lotus blossom art, ginger jars (swoon) and willow pattern plates, statues, pagoda shapes, caramondel screens… the list goes on and on. And, so does my passion for this style! I have several Pinterest boards set up as altars at which I worship. If you ever get the chance check it out.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

For people who don’t want a lot of it, consider adding just one small foo dog, or blue and white bud vase. From a small accent to a whole wall, Eastern flavor adds just the right amount of spice to your décor.

6:  Books

Antique books are a wonderful and inexpensive way to decorate.  They don’t have to be old and they don’t even (all) have to be pretty… they just need to be placed well.

Placement is key because it can easily look like you don’t pick up after yourself.

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On shelves, mixed in with your favorite photos, art and collectibles, books give the eye a place to rest. A couple of books under a small ornament raises it into the middle of the shelf, displaying it more effectively; and a section of vertically stacked books distances one area from the next, making your shelves look well thought out rather than filed under “Boring!”

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Coffee table books are a MUST.  Clients of mine have flinched at the idea of spending $75 on a beautiful volume, but if you compare that with the $500 you might spend on a good vintage box, books are definitely an inexpensive accessory.

So whether you are starting a collection or just adding to, take an inventory of your treasures to see if you need to start out on a new hunt.

Don’t forget to check out Eric’s blog for more great design advice!

The Antiques Diva®

Fascinated with Fascinators

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Dear Diva Readers,

The month of September is known for a few things— cooler temperatures, shorter days, and, of course, Fashion Week!!! With the London Fashion Week beginning today and running through the 17th of September 2014, I thought I’d pay a little homage on the blog to a quintessentially English tradition in fashion—the fascinator!

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

19th C hats, English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

The history of the fascinator goes back to Marie Antoinette who made it fashionable to decorate ones head with ostrich feathers and jewels.  Essentially, a fascinator is a small ornamental headpiece worn by ladies that fits on the head via a headband or small comb.  Typically garnished with feathers, beads, lace or other lightweight trimming, the purpose of the fascinator is not to shield one from the sun (like a hat would) but rather to compliment the hairdo as an ornamental accessory.

PrincessBeatrice, English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

Fascinators really came on my radar while watching the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  You’ll recall Princess Beatrice of York caused a sensation with her fascinator!  (Incidentally she then used that publicity to auction her fascinator for charity, selling it for 99,000 Euros!!)

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I’ve a penchant for extravagant hats so ever since fascinators have came on my radar I’ve been hooked, seeing them the perfect accessory for glamming up a special fete! I’d buy Beatrice’s butterfly fascinator in a heart beat!  (By the way, the photo above of me mid-giggle was taken at a friend’s casual New Years Eve party in their home!)

In London, these lovely hair pieces really entered into the millinery scene in force during the 1970’s but the term ‘fascinator’ has been around for centuries.  In the 17th century, a fascinator was simply a lacy veil, but as fashions evolved in the upper class, their head pieces began to become taller and more elaborate. By the 18th century, British women were dressing their hair with all sorts of frills such as feathers, ribbons and jewels. Clearly I was born in the wrong era… I look good in feathers!!  Headdresses were meant to reflect one’s mood by strategically placing various items on your hat or attached to your hair-piece. Anything from feathers to fruit could be used. Even elaborate miniature gardens could be placed on the head to show status and wealth.

During the 19th century, hair accessories become simpler, as the lower classes were able to afford different fashion accessories. Less expensive items are used to adorn the head such as shells and ribbons.

In the mid 1800’s we began to see a fashion for miniature hats being placed on top of women’s heads. A return to unique style and more embellishments begins during the Edwardian era with entire stuffed birds being affixed to the hair! Of course when WWI  broke out, fashions became much simpler.  But in the 1930’s simple cocktail hats became in vogue. It is during this time period that we see the influence of the modern day fascinator—small hats or pieces of lace with feathers and beads attached.

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By the 1980’s we see the likes of Princess Diana wearing fascinators which put them back into fashion. About a decade later, Sarah Jessica Parker dons these chic accessories on the hit show “Sex in the City.”

Throughout the centuries, fashions come and go but certain elements always remain if only popping up again with a slight twist. A fascinator is one of those classic pieces that I don’t see disappearing any time soon! Why not try one out in honor of London Fashion Week?!

Cheers,
The Antiques Diva®

Avignon Antiques Fairs Trade Exclusive

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Dear Diva Readers,

Antiques Diva Provence Tours

Extra, extra read all about it… If you’re an Antiques Dealer wanting to start buying antiques abroad in France this secret, To The Trade Only Antiques Fairs in Provence happens to be one of the best addresses to do so!  On the arm of your Diva Guide, a native-speaking French antiques courier,  you’ll gain access to a slew of bottom dollar, er make that euro,  priced French antiques, vintage, and more whilst rubbing shoulders with some of the top dealers around the world.  I must confess I like the fair for the people watching as much as I do for the shopping as it’s a veritable who’s who of antiquing.

Antiques Diva Provence tours

Shopping these trade fairs is NOT for the faint of heart.  You need to queue before the fair opens and the doors open for the event at 8am on the nose!  Elbows fly as dealers push and shove to get first dibs on buying antiques in Provence.  It’s a mad house and one that I personally don’t brave without French reinforcements – but it is some of the most exciting antiquing in France!   Don’t worry about getting the goods home, we’ll liaise you with international shippers ready to pack and carry!

Antiques Diva Provence

Antiques Diva Provence Tours

But I’m sooo sorry – if you’re a mere shopping mortal and not an antiques dealer or interior designer this fair is not the fair for you!! It’s reserved only for professional traders on presentation of your pre-approved trade card.

This is the tour for antique dealers who want to source antiques abroad stocking their store with the best French antiques and vintage finds. Our Guide picks you up at your hotel and takes you to this trade only fair where you’ll buy wholesale antiques in Europe, giving you access to the best priced French antiques, vintage and more. This trade fair is for serious buyers and is available only through pre-registration. Plan on queuing early before the fair opens. Let your Antiques Guide clear the way as she translates and negotiates on your behalf. This is a fast and furious antiques fair and can be overwhelming. As always, we’ll liaise you with a preferred shipper.

Below are the remaining 2014 dates for the Avignon Trade Fair:

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Monday 27 October 2014

Monday 1 December 2014

The fair will be releasing 2015 dates this Fall.  If you would like us to email you the 2015 dates upon receipt, please let me know at [email protected] and I’ll ensure you receive this vital information on antiquing in Provence!

Want to learn more about how you shop like the pros?  Email [email protected]

The Antiques Diva ®

The Antiques Diva Belgian Experience

The Antiques Diva Belgian Experience

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Dear Diva Readers,

When I take clients on tour, my goal is to maximize their time and give them the most bang for their buck so to speak. If a person is flying across the ocean to source antiques, chances are they want to utilize their time and resources to the best of their ability and that’s where we come in.  Not only do we custom plan a shopping route according to each client’s needs, but we also translate and negotiate on their behalf. We typically start the day pretty early in order to arrive at each appointment on time, which means that while on tour, fatigue can set in and quick meals on the go are usually a must to allow more shopping time!

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Lunch at Mulino – an Antiek Café on the French/Belgian border

However it’s not all work and no play. Our relationships with our trusted dealers and sources allow us to offer clients the best shopping experience possible—Diva style!  Last week I was leading a tour in Belgium where the antique dealers seem to be the most hospitable in Europe.  On our first day, just about the time when we needed to refuel, a favorite antiques dealer we were visiting met us at the door with a bottle of Champagne. How thoughtful! He and his wife then offered to make us a gorgeous lunch consisting of croque monsieur and fresh cherry tomatoes. This little bit of down time allowed the client and I a few moments to go over the morning’s purchases and discuss items that she was considering. After our lunch break, we were refreshed and ready to hit the road for our next appointment! (and a few more purchases were made in the store after refueled with lunch and some bubbly).

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Anne-Marie of Antiques Histoire in Tongeren opening a bottle of champagne for Diva clients

The second day on tour, we stopped into another favorite dealer around lunch time. She too had a bottle of Champagne at the ready and after toasting to a successful buying trip, we enjoyed a beautiful spread of ham & cheese sandwiches that she had prepared. To finish, she offered us apple cake, made with locally grown apples. How decadent!

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

It’s the kindness and thoughtfulness of antiques dealers whom we know and trust that help make The Antiques Diva Buying Tours what they are. When you come on one of our tours, it’s all about introducing you to the best dealers in Europe and building lasting relationships so that we can help you source antiques for years to come. More than just shopping, The Antiques Diva & Co gives you a glimpse into the European lifestyle—and what’s better than a little champagne while you work?  My husband always jokes, “Do you really work? I’m only seeing photos of you drinking champagne!!” Our client filled her container in 2 days  – so that’s proof positive that shopping with The Antiques Diva® is more than just fun, but when shopping for antiques does it ever really feel like work?!

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Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

Best Finds at Paris Flea Markets

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Dear Diva Readers,

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Paris Antiques Diva Buying Guides – Katie, Danielle, Toma, Jennifer and Debbie

At The Antiques Diva & Co, one of our most popular tours is our Paris Tour. Of course there are many reasons for this— the beautiful architecture, the romance, the food, the history, and, of course, the antiques! From Les Puce to other smaller flea markets that are held throughout the year, Paris offers an extremely vast inventory of antique and vintage pieces. With so many options to choose from, it can be a daunting task to know what to buy (albeit a daunting task I’d gladly take up any day of the week!!!). That’s where my Diva Guides and I come in! I’ve asked each of our Paris Diva Guides to share their top picks for the best finds in Paris Flea Markets.

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Danielle says that anything Art Nouveau is a great find at the Paris Flea Market. She often spots crystal and glass pieces including Baccarat, and porcelain Saint-Louis dining sets. She also says that classic French 18th and 19th century furniture is a great buy right now as prices are very low. But she warns that while there are some stunning French mid-century modern pieces available, be prepared to pay a bit more money for them.

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Diva Guide Debbie advises that if you’re looking for items you can pack and take home with you, artwork and linens are smart things to shop for. If you’re planning to ship a container overseas, armoires are a steal right now. Often times the bigger the piece, the better the price so keep that in mind. She also says that Paris flea markets offer beautiful lighting options.

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As a lover of vintage Chanel and high-fashion brands, Diva Guide Jennifer is always finding the best vintage Chanel jewelry and little French pieces that can be made into jewelry. She also comes across vintage Louis Vuitton trunks and vintage Hermès scarves. Beyond vintage fashion, Jennifer also suggests keeping an eye out for Pastis water pitchers, antique seltzer bottles (what a perfect piece for the home bar!), vintage fabrics and vintage posters or prints.

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Dive Guide Katie thinks that the best thing about the Paris flea market is that it is just so eclectic and you can find absolutely everything there. She also says that meeting specialists and people so incredibly passionate about what they’re selling is a huge benefit of shopping Paris flea markets.

As for me, I think the best Paris flea market finds are crystal-laden chandeliers. Bedside tables, Taxidermy & Horns, Vintage postcards, gorgeous French linens, not to forget canapés, fauteuils and seats of all shapes and styles!

If you’d like to take an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour of the Paris Flea Markets email us at [email protected].

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes – Paris

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Dear Diva Readers,

Oh la la…  Traveling to Paris next week? While site-seeing in the city of light, we’re inviting you to take time to shop at a special antiques fair set up along my favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre III. Held September 10-21, 2014 the ambiance for Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes couldn’t be more perfect for a high-end antiques fair!

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes, Paris Antiques Market, Buying French Antiques in Paris, Pont Alexandre III

The antiques fair takes place on this Beaux-Arts style bridge in the light cast by the Art Nouveau cherub and nymph clad lamps. The style of the bridge reflects that of the nearby Grand Palais.  Both the Palais and the pont were inaugurated in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle World’s Fair.  At the antiques fair you’ll find treasures from this period and beyond!

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes, Paris Antiques Market, Buying French Antiques in Paris, Pont Alexandre III

Enjoy with our compliments an invitation to attend the antiques fair for free  – just print this invite and bring with you to enter for some seriously diva-style shopping!

Bonne Antiquing!
The Antiques Diva® 

(seen below on Pont Alexandre III in a photo with my husband – taken in 2007)

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Antique Tea Sets

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Dear Diva Readers,

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Enjoying tea with others is a tradition that has been around for centuries – whether ladies gathering for a gossip, husbands and wives recapping at the end of the day or formal rituals worthy of the royal family. The tea time ritual transcends geographical boarders, but I fear has become a forgotten art.  Tea time is the perfect way to reconnect with friends, family and colleagues. And tea sets have been an important part of culture in many parts of the world for centuries. We recently had a client on an England antiques buying tour seeking to source hundreds of antique tea cups and pots for her wedding rental company which got me thinking a bit about the history of the tea set.

Hans Dynasty Vintage tea sets, Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva,

Having their debut in China during the Han Dynasty around 206 B.C., tea sets were much different than what we typically think of today in the Western world. At this time and in the Chinese culture, tea was primarily used for medicinal purposes rather than as a social repose and it was typically served out of small bowls rather than cups. By the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) teapots began to be made out of iron ore. Because these were porous, each teapot was used for a specific type of tea. This time period also gave birth to the first ceramic teapots.

Eventually as explorers discovered the Orient this Eastern tradition was adopted by the West and, over the centuries, has been modified to suit certain cultures. As an American when I think about tea parties I immediately imagine a children’s tea party complete with dolls and stuffed animals or English royals sipping Earl Gray whilst wearing over-the-top hats and fascinators.  In both of my imaginings – regardless of scenario – whether high or low –  the one thing that is constant is the gorgeous tea set from which everything is served.

silver-tea-set-by-oidiot-paris-c-1880, Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Silver Tea Set French

In the seventieth century, the upper class in France began drinking tea from silver tea services. Having the tea sets made in silver allowed families not to have to match porcelain tea services to their china patterns. Tea sets typically consisted of a teapot, coffee pot, waste bowl, sugar bowl, creamer and a tea caddy. Sometimes a matching silver tray completed the set but it was not a requirement.

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During Victorian times, English tea sets were made of bone china. As everything from this period was intricate and elaborate, patterns were detailed and sets could consist of quite a few pieces. Cups and saucers as well as plates and serving pieces could be purchased to match tea sets.

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Porcelain tea sets

Today, much like the client we had recently who was sourcing to stock her wedding supply store, I personally love to mix and match my tea sets, repurposing pieces to suit my needs.

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, vintage tea sets

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva,

I take a silver tray and layer it high with cucumber sandwiches and I fill my antique ceramic tea pots with bouquets of tight budded roses.

The Antiques Diva®

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines

Labor Day Diva Style

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Dear Diva Readers,

As an American who has lived in Europe for more than 14 years, I say why not celebrate both European AND American holidays?! I’m all about a party regardless of which side of the pond I happen to be celebrating.  With Labor Day being tomorrow, I am reminiscing over Labor Day weekends past and also thinking about how we can celebrate in general. This weekend tends to be Summer’s last hurrah – so why not say good-bye to summer with a party— Diva style!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

On this day off work, relax with friends and family outdoors while you enjoy the fruits of your labor because the nice weather won’t be lasting much longer! As a lover of all things antique…and all things luxurious… I like to actually use my “good stuff!”  My crystal and silver get a really good work out.  And while I love throwing fancy parties such as this roof-top fete I threw when we lived in Amsterdam, entertaining diva style doesn’t mean that things have to be fussy or high maintenance, but rather that the atmosphere should feel special.

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Since I am constantly shopping flea markets and antiques stores all over Europe (and America and Asia when I am there), I tend to pick up little tabletop accessories and serving pieces that catch my eye. Rather than save these fun finds for special occasions only, I prefer to use them frequently.  All my china is the everyday china regardless of price.

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For a Labor Day party, it’s all about relaxing in style so why not serve easy snacks (you could even do potato chips, dips and hummus) in beautiful antique crystal serving bowls or set out on silver trays? Trust me there’s nothing like eating a classic potato chip out of a sterling silver bowl – it elevates the taste to gourmand when your eye sees style! The Antiques Diva lifestyle is all about taking something common and elevating it.  Live everyday with gracious style. While you’re upping the style factor, why not sit out bottles of wine in a beautiful antique ice bucket? Garnish your glasses with strawberries or rasperries.  Better yet – buy a bottle or two of champagne for a fete.  Nothing makes it feel like a party faster than a bottle of bubbly.  When entertaining this is an way to make guests feel special without going to a lot of trouble.

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Utilize your treasures and create a unique environment for your guests. Think outside the box and try to incorporate your antiques into your Labor Day fete. There’s nothing better than sitting in the sun with loved ones while you enjoy each other’s company and…the good things in life.

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Happy Labor Day,

The Antiques Diva®

Venetian Glass Chandeliers

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Dear Diva Readers,

Venetian glass has long been a highly sought after commodity, adding artistic touches to interiors not only to Italian residences but also all over the world. Perhaps one of the best known and most appreciated products made of Venetian glass is the chandelier. These intricately detailed pieces seem to float when hanging and they create an atmosphere of fantasy, whimsy and grandeur all at once.

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Many clients that take an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in Italy will stop and stare when they first see these marvelous creations. They’re mesmerizing! The skill of Venetian craftsmen leaves you speechless when you think about each tiny piece being made by hand!

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Sometime around the year 1700, Venetian glassmakers began making chandeliers from Murano glass. Murano glass comes from the island of Murano in Venice and had been used to make lovely items for centuries before this. Being known as the most beautiful and pure glass in the world, Murano glass would be molded and sculpted into flirtatious forms often incorporating flowers, vines and leaves. Glassmakers also used various shades of colored glass to enhance these chandeliers and make them look even more like bouquets of flowers.

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Whether transparent or colored, many Venetian glass chandeliers have arms covered with blown glass. This requires tedious attention and many hours to craft each small piece by hand to seamlessly fit together. While these chandeliers are still crafted in Venice, purchasing an antique is most certainly a good investment that not only retains but gains in value. Often these antique chandeliers come with provenance, having previously hung in palazzos, theaters and other important historical buildings. On our Venetian tours we’re able to visit palazzo’s where you can buy chandeliers straight from the palazzo’s frescoed ceiling…. In essence it’s magic. Diva Style.

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If you would like more information on our Antiques Diva Buying Tours or Buying Services, email us at [email protected] We’d love to help you source the perfect antique Venetian glass chandelier!

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The Antiques Diva in Venice with Venetian Diva Guide Orseola

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva®

Ham and Antiques Special Tour

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Dear Diva Readers,

The smell of ham is in the air… The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham is back again this September 26 to October 5 2014 in the Parisian suburbs!!! Do you need glasses? Did you read that right? A Ham & Antiques FAIR!?!!?

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Yep… it’s one of the biggest fall traditions in France! And as we all know – in France everything is based on tradition (key the music for Fiddler on the Roof  ). While at first I thought the odd combo of selling pork and antiques was a marketing ploy to get reluctant husbands to go brocanting, the fair’s origins date back to the Moyen Age. Today over 800 vendors from toute la France bring a gorgeous assortment of antiques to one locale… and how the fair got its start is based on… TRADITION.

special offer i heart ham

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In the Middle Ages, during Holy Week, pork butchers came to Paris selling their products. One year an enterprising butcher decided that he wanted to “bring home more bacon” so he started selling not only braised ham but the equipment for making it as well! The other vendors caught on to the idea and started bringing more items, focusing on specialties from their region, namely furniture, pottery and antiques. Before they knew it, a festival celebrating both the flea market and ham was born. You have the opportunity to celebrate one of the most beloved French flea market (and gourmand) traditions in the country on the arm of your local diva guides. Book a 2 day tour – one day at the Ham Fair and another at the Paris flea market – between September 25 and October 5, 2014 and save 200 Euro by mentioning discount code JAMBON!

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Green Man

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Dear Diva Readers,

As my Diva Guides and I shop all over Europe, we see a few consistent themes in antiques that span various countries and time periods – one recurring face that’s seen all over the antique world is the mythological “Green Man” which appears as sculpture, in drawings or as a representation on certain furniture pieces.

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The Green Man is usually depicted as a human-like face surrounded by or incorporating leaves, branches and vines. On rare occasions you may see a Green Woman or a Green Lion, but it is most often a male face and sometimes there is a body as well, also made of vegetation. Some representations will have a head completely covered in leaves while others depict a man’s head simply spewing vegetation from its mouth. Still others will have a more stylized head made up of vegetation such as leaves as eyebrows and vines as a beard.

green-man-winchelsea-east-sussex

In some cultures the Green Man is thought to be a symbol of rebirth, nodding to the cycle of growth each spring. Other cultures view the Green Man as a deity, being lord over vegetation. Either way, he is a figure that has remained constant in several different cultures throughout the ages.

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The Green Man can be spotted in architecture from all over the world. Sometimes he is incorporated into a plaster ceiling while other times he is cast in brass and made into a door knocker. From secular buildings to religious places, the Green Man is a decorative element that crosses lines of class and religion. While it may seem strange that this “deity like” symbol would be seen in Christian churches, one must realize that early missionaries would sometimes incorporate local gods into architecture so they wouldn’t alienate new converts.

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Regardless of the origins, the Green Man is most definitely still a familiar symbol in antiques and architecture. The next time you’re out and about, try to spot one of these leafy faces!

Happy Hunting!

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Tapestries

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Dear Diva Readers,

Because we offer Antique Buying Tours for tourists as well as trade professionals, many of our clients are interior designers or antique store owners who want to stock their stores. Having these trade clients on tour allows us to have a glimpse into what styles are trendy now and what pieces remain classic in the world of interior decorating.  Tapestries are among the classic pieces since they have been around for centuries and continue to be used in homes across the world.

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Tapestries weren’t originally just decorative items. People of the ancient world would hang large textiles on their walls to keep the cold air out of their homes. As with most utilitarian aspects of the home, people began adding decorative elements to tapestries and eventually they became works of art in and of themselves. The weaving process became more intricate and certain weavers would create their own trademarks that they became known for. In fact, one way to identify the manufacturer of a tapestry is to look at its border. Different weavers would use unique border styles sort of as a signature to their tapestries.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Countries like Italy, England Belgium and France became specialists in this art form, offering wealthy clients custom designed tapestries, perhaps depicting important people or commemorating important events. As with anything, tapestries were a way to show status and wealth. In Paris, high-class clients would have gold threads incorporated into their tapestries.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

By the 16th century, the jacquard loom was developed in Flanders which made tapestries more accessible to the masses. However the skill of hand weavers cannot be matched and therefore the older and more intricate tapestries are often harder to find and more expensive.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

If you’re looking to purchase an antique tapestry, here are a few things to look for— see if there is a border on the tapestry. Often times the border is the first part of the tapestry to be destroyed, cut or deteriorate. Also observe the coloring—has the dye faded? Are the colors rich? Another thing to look at is the subject matter. Usually older tapestries depict Roman scenes while later tapestries incorporate hunts and other activities the noble class would have partaken in. Also ask the dealer if they know any history about the tapestry. Finding out where it came from and who owned it will not only be interesting but may lead to a discovery of an important historic provenance.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

If you would like us to help you source an antique tapestry or if you’d like to take one of our Antique Buying Tours, email us at [email protected].  We’d love to share our knowledge with you!

The Antiques Diva®

Edd in the Clouds

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Dear Diva Readers,

In July I wrote about attending the Antiques Young Guns Awards Ceremony in London.  That night I had the pleasure of meeting Edd Thomas, the mastermind  who choreographs the antiques collection at Edd In The Clouds where he focuses on antique and vintage furniture that suit the modern home.  He looks for pieces that have a real story to tell where possible. Most of Edd’s pieces date to the decorative art period of the 1850s-1950s including important designers and retailers.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

Edd Thomas of ‘Edd in the Clouds’, winner of a Lorfords showcase prize during the Antiques Young Guns Awards with AYG co-founders Mark Hill and George Johnson

Edd explains, “There is nothing better than finding an unloved item from the dusty corner of one persons home and putting it pride of place in someone elses.”

Dealing is far more than just work for Edd and he is a proud member of the Antiques Young Guns movement, a passionate group of young people working in the Antiques industry.  Part of the awards ceremony in July was pairing Antiques Young Guns with trade legends for a mentorship program.  Edd Thomas was paired with Marc Allum of The Antiques Roadshow.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

After the party we went for dinner with a group of Antique Young Gun friends and Edd was telling me about a recent purchase he’d acquired for his store –  a 10 seat Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table which is one of the original tables from the opening of the Natural History Museum in London.  I love pieces with provenance.  When I buy antiques I’m looking for a story – for romance – for adventure!  I was hooked and immediately began asking questions.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

Edd explains, “The Gothic style dining table seats 10 comfortably.  Constructed in solid Cuban mahogany it has aged beautifully.  With its 6 legs and very solid top, the piece dates to 1880-1881 and would have been used to display larger animals in either the main hall or one of the side wings of the museum.”  Indeed early photos of the museum show a very similar example with a giant stuffed crocodile on top!

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

The Natural History Museum, designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse, remains one of the jewels of London. As with most civil projects the original costs of the building spiraled out of control. However, as Edd explains, “despite this the Treasury were still willing in Dec 1877 to sign off a substantial furnishing cost of £177,000 understanding the importance of the tables and show cases to the visitor experience. While Waterhouse designed some of the cases and benches himself, the majority of the furnishings were designed by Sir John Taylor  who was senior surveyor at the office of works and a joint designer of the British Museum. The detailing on the legs of this table is a common one found on other items throughout the museum even today and the table was most likely a designed by Taylor. It was most certainly constructed by the firm of W.Cubitt and Co.”

With changing needs this example was finally sold off by the Museum in 2005 to the previous owner and a quick tour around the museum today shows only one or two similar tables (but far smaller) still exist, making this almost unique. It comes with a letter of sale from the museum as well as relevant research Edd has collected from their archives.

Offered in good condition with great original patination to the top, this table is an opportunity to buy a piece of British history with a  story to tell!  Measuring  235cm long x 140cm wide x 77cm high – it’s priced £3700.

Contact Antiques Young Gun Edd Thomas of  Edd in the Clouds for more details.

Until Next Time,
The Antiques Diva®

French Cafe Chairs

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Dear Diva Readers,

Most often when clients come on an Antiques Diva Tour, they’re looking to purchase a piece of Europe and take it home with them. What’s wonderful about Europe is that each country has distinct historical styles and specific furniture pieces they are known for. In France, one of the quintessential pieces people think of when they imagine Paris is the French café chair.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Anyone who has strolled the streets of Paris (or done so vicariously while watching a movie set in this romantic city) has seen row upon row of cafe chairs and tables, beckoning tourists and locals alike to sit and enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant.  I’ve whiled many a morning at Les Deux Magots and nearly 10 years ago when Les Deux Magots was doing a renovation I was able to buy some chairs direct from the famous café, commemorating our 5 years living around the corner from this landmark institution.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment, Terrace Furniture

I brought my Les Deux Magots café chairs with me when I moved from Paris to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Berlin where I currently call ma maison.  These chairs add a French flair to any seating area and are a great way to “bring Paris home”!

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

What I love about café chairs is that they work in so many situations. When used in a modern kitchen, they bring a sense of history and savoir flaire without being old fashioned. Use them on a front porch for effortless European style. Or do what I’ve done and use them on a terrace for casual outdoor dining that instantly transports you to another time and place.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

With a plethora of designs and colors, you can surely find a style to fit your taste. From classic and clean to whimsical and vibrant, the French bistro chair is the perfect piece to add into a space –  and being made of rattan, they’re durable! This makes them family and pet friendly, not to mention usable for outdoor rooms (thought I will note I keep mine in good condition by storing them in the covered area of my terrace when not in use).

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment

Where would you use these classic French chairs? Indoors, outdoors, in the kitchen, on a deck?

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Special Group Tour in London for Designers

Special Group Tour in London for Designers

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’m delighted to announce that I’m teaming up with Steve Nobel, design industry sage and adviser, who links people, places and ideas through his consulting business Nobelinks for a special group tour in London this fall.   In addition to working privately with interior designers, Steve is renowned for taking exclusive groups of interior designers to destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and – coming this September – London. Through exploring design abroad with like-minded professionals, designers are given the opportunity to explore first hand and sharpen their overall strategic outlook.

Nobelinks, Steve Nobel, Design Trust, Antiques Diva, London, English Antiques, London Design Festival, DECOREX, FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor, Design Strategy

For this upcoming British invasion partnering Nobel’s group with The Antiques Diva & Co was a natural connection.  The AD&CO takes people to places and introduces them to people they would not have access to on their own.  As a company, our mission is to make European antiques accessible, helping to navigate the international waters of buying overseas and introducing clients not only to antiques vendors but also to international shippers and to European life in general.  On our antique buying tours we lend our experience and long-term relationships to our clients, making introductions to off-the-beaten path antique dealers and giving designers inside access that usually takes decades to achieve. My business is based on relationships as we build a bridge between North America and Europe.

Meanwhile Steve Nobel explains, “The real benefit for the participants in my Nobelinks groups is the people; collegiality is based on trusted relationships. We give interior designers the opportunity to make not only professional connections, but, perhaps more importantly, to make personal connections. Profound connections are made in our groups that are life changing for our designers.” Past participants in these ventures include Mark Cutler, Sherry Hayslip, Skip Sroka, Wendi Young and many others.

Nobelinks, Steve Nobel, Design Trust, Antiques Diva, London, English Antiques, London Design Festival, DECOREX, FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor, Design Strategy

With the help of The Antiques Diva & Co, Nobelink’s Design Trust will delve deeply into design during the top industry events in the UK this fall, traveling abroad September 19 – 23, 2014 during the International London Design Festival, DECOREX and FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor. Going further afield into the English countryside, this intimate group tour will help designers curate resources from British town and country, visiting country houses, historic castles and some of the top decorative antiques dealers in the Cotswolds and Sussex. Designers will learn how buying antiques abroad can increase their profit margin while also giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace.

For more information email [email protected]

Cheers Mate!
The Antiques Diva®

Secret Compartments in Desks

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Dear Diva Readers,

As a continuation of our Back to School with The Antiques Diva series this month, I want to talk about something that sparks the imagination; something that brings out the inner child in all of us! I’m talking about secret compartments! What child, at some point or another, hasn’t dreamed of finding a hidden compartment in an armoire? Even as adults we enjoy reading mysteries where a secret letter is found in a hidden drawer.  Well these secret compartments are not just found in fictitious tales. For centuries, antique furniture pieces have possessed drawers with false bottoms and secret panels that were used to hold money, ancestral jewelry or legal documents.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

These compartments were often so well hidden that anyone who didn’t have knowledge of them would never know they existed. This was to keep thieves or snoops at bay. Today, antique collectors may find a hidden compartment in a desk or secretary that they didn’t even know was there!

And some pieces of furniture have not one, but several secret hiding places. Some spots may only be large enough to hold a letter, while other compartments are larger. The most typical place for a hidden compartment on a desk is in the central interior section. There is typically a small door flanked by two pilasters, and this entire section may be removed to reveal a hiding place behind. One also must inspect each pilaster, as there may be tiny hiding places behind them, only big enough to store a few folded pieces of paper currency.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

False bottoms and moveable boards are another trick cabinet makers would use. Some sliding boards can only be moved by using the fingernail or a thin knife to nudge or lift them gently, revealing shallow hiding places. Some cabinet makers also utilized wooden springs which, if pressed at the right place, would release a hinge and open to a secret compartment.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

The lesson here is that whether you’re shopping for an antique desk or already own one, make sure that you give it a good look-over and run your fingers over various surfaces to feel for seems or indents. You never know where a secret compartment might be hiding, and what might be hidden in it!

The Antiques Diva®

Shopping in Chiang Mai

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’m delighted that my friend Carla of CF Michaels is Guest Blogging again today giving a few tips on shopping in Chiang Mai. I’m currently in Thailand on vacation and her travel shopping tips have been invaluable for me so it’s a pleasure to share her tips with you. Carla is an American who has lived around the world from Berlin to Bangkok and wherever she goes she seeks out chicness to sell in her online global boutique.

carla stopler in thailand

When I told Carla I was traveling to Chiang Main in Northern Thailand she dipped into her little black book to share her tips! She writes: “If you travel all the way to Thailand you really shouldn’t miss the Northern city of Chiang Mai, an inexpensive hour flight from Bangkok. Traditional handicrafts and works from extraordinary local artisans encircle the city. Independent vintage and antique shops dot the landscape. Side-of-the-road vendors are overflowing in architectural remnants and furniture. Day and night bazaars sell it all alongside live music and endless food venues.

carla in chiang mai

You can hire a taxi/driver for the day at a very reasonable rate, right from the airport – they’re waiting for you and know just where to take you, but being specific about what you are interested in will help you make the best of your time.

new-car-1024x480 chiang mai

 

chiang mai

Perhaps the best place to go is the San Kampaeng District – Hwy 106 – also known as the Handicraft Highway. Famous for silk and umbrella factories there is literally shopping at every corner! Although you literally could fly from Bangkok in the morning, shop all day, and return on an evening flight, if you have the time, lodging choices are top-notch… My favorite place to stay is the Four Seasons Chiang Mai which is out of town a bit but worth the additional taxi ride!

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Shopper’s Tips – Learning the local lingo!

Certain words are pronounced differently in Thailand based on your gender.

For example:

Sa-wat-dee-kah = Hello (Females)

Sa-wat-dee-kop = Hello (Males)

Kop khun kah = Thank You (Females)

Kop khun kop = Thank You (Males)

More importantly, and same for both:

Tao rai = How much is it?

Paeng = Expensive!

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Buddhas … Reverence for Buddha is a defining aspect of Thai culture. In an effort to safeguard historical and spiritual treasures there are specific laws regulating their export out of Thailand. It is important to know that any Buddha image over 12cm (5 in) cannot be taken out of the country without approval from the Fine Arts Department / Ministry of Culture. Shop owners should have legitimate pieces tagged and can provide or assist with certificates.

chiang mai shopping

Discount… While many vendors do not speak English, they all know and use the word “DISCOUNT.” Be reasonable, but feel free to use it too indiscriminately – everything is negotiable.

Morning Price… Thai merchants believe a sale before noon will bring them good luck & good fortune for the day, so they almost always will offer you a “Morning Price.” If they don’t, be sure to ask for it.

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Attitude … Thais are extremely friendly, gracious and hospitable and like for you to be happy. However they don’t respond well to loud, aggressive, impatient behavior – having an attitude will get you nowhere. There’s a reason it’s called The Land of Smiles. So smile, a lot!

On that note – Cheese!
The Antiques Diva® & FriendsCF MICHAELS GLOBAL BOUTIQUE

 

Antique Oyster Sticks

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Dear Diva Readers,

Part of the fun of taking clients on tour is that so many of them have such creative minds!My Diva Guides and I love to see what attracts each client’s eye and hear what they plan to do with their purchases. Recently on tour, a client purchased antique French oyster sticks. You may not be familiar with these, so I wanted to share a bit of history on them and also show you some ways they can be repurposed!

Originally these wooden oyster sticks were used by oyster farmers in the South of France to raise oysters. Exposure to the elements gave the sticks a rustic weathered patina while the spots where the oysters would attach gave the sticks several indentions.

Today, this once strictly utilitarian item can be repurposed in many decorative ways! Simply standing them up on iron mounts elevates them as sculptural elements in a modern space.

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Or have them made into lamps for a beach house.

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How about creating a unique mirror?

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Or use them as a fresh take on a classically shaped chandelier.

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Simply hung on a wall, they act as 3D art pieces.

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Who would have thought that something so simple as oyster sticks could be used in so many ways? I’d love for you to share with me what other ways you could see them being used! Leave me a comment!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Back To School With The Antiques Diva: The History of Desks

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Dear Diva Readers,

As part of our “Back to School with The Antiques Diva” series this month, I wanted to give you a little background on a piece of furniture that all students use— the desk! This once strictly utilitarian object has transformed over the centuries to become not only functional, but also a beautiful addition to any home.

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Long before the printing press was invented, anyone who wanted to have a written record of anything—be it a story, a legal document, or a personal letter—had to sit down and hand write it. Imagine if you wanted 50 copies of something! They all had to be hand copied! This required plenty of surface space as well as various slots to hold writing tools. Because many manuscripts were large and heavy, most desks or writing tables of this early period were large and hefty.

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As time progressed and carpenters honed their skills, desks began to take on a bit more of a decorative feel. Drawers with dividers in them were added to writing tables with room for inkwells, blotters and feather pens. Desks of the Renaissance period began to have more delicate features as opposed to the massive desks of previous generations.

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From about 1700 onward, desks could also be referred to as bureaus. These were sloped desks with drawers below and were often used by civil servants and scribes to copy legal documents. As societal class structures were an important part of life at that time, nobility and the upper class desired a different desk style to write their own personal letters on. This is where the secretary desk came in. Secretaries have a tall hutch atop the desk portion with a lid that can be lowered into a writing surface. The upper cabinet often holds books and other writing accouterment.

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Of course as professions became more precise, the desk evolved. Architects needed larger, angled surfaces to create plans, and these desks became what we refer to today as the drafting table. Professional office workers required dividers and pigeon holes to stay organized.

By the 1800’s, the pedestal desk became the standard type of desk in England and America. It still holds a very popular status today! You can find pedestal desks being used by anyone from an office assistant to the President of the United States. I suppose the idea of class-distinction from the 1700’s no longer applies. Talk about full-circle!

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Like any piece of furniture, desks have evolved with the lifestyle and needs of humans. The great thing about antique desks is that many of them that were made before the Industrial Age were hand crafted and are of excellent quality, making them good investments. Now, I think it’s time for some more homework!

Happy learning,

The Antiques Diva®

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

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Dear Diva Readers,

While staying at the Mandarin Oriental I was reminded of the simplicity of gracious and elegant living. Each day during our stay in Bangkok a new variety of fresh fruit was left daily in our hotel room – today these are Mandarin Oranges. How easy to replicate this at home with guests staying Chez Diva! These small touches – however simple – make the experience of staying either in a fine hotel or with a friend in their guest room more indulgent. What do you do to make your guest room at your home more inviting?

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Warm regards,

The Antiques Diva®

Antiquing in Bangkok

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Dear Diva Readers,

This August for summer holiday I’m leaving Europe behind and heading to Asia! And since I was traveling abroad in Thailand I sought out advice from one of the most savvy people I know asking Carla Stopler CEO of the E-commerce boutique CF Michaels to guest blog! Carla’s guest blog proves the New York Times commentary correct, “To travel across Bangkok is to see several worlds at once…infused with the Thai village traditions of hospitality and graciousness.”

Guest Blog – Antiquing in Bangkok by CF Michaels E Boutique

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I’m always at risk of wandering madly off topic when I first attempt to set the stage and sum up the vibe of living in Southeast Asia. The cultural landscape here colors everything you do in such a distinct way that I always feel compelled – it almost seems essential. Fortunately for all of us I have no problem staying on point when the point is shopping, and the scene here is like no other. It stands to reason that ancient cultures have a lot of interesting things hanging around, and from high-end showrooms to street markets to back-alley shops and village crossroads, Thailand is rich with treasures and curiosities.

bangkok 2nd photo insert after sentence from high-end showrooms to street markets to back-alley shops and village crossroads, Thailand is rich with treasures and curiosities.

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Antique and vintage venues are peppered throughout this urban sprawl. But without doubt the most internationally recognized shopping spot in Bangkok, with the largest mix of new, vintage, antique and everything including the sink, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

bangkok4 Chatuchak Weekend Market

By most accounts this market encompasses nearly 35 acres, with 27 sections and 15,000+ vendors selling items in roughly 11 categories. You can find everything from framed formaldehyde insects to jewelry to crystal chandeliers, wrapping paper to vintage clothes, aromatherapy and gongs, dishes and glasses and cutlery to Buddhas and wooden boats, doorknobs and oil paintings to baskets and antique chests, to, well, live pythons. To say it’s an assault on the senses is selling it short. More importantly, it’s a marvelous place to see a true cross-section of daily Thai culture – a must for the global shopping bucket list.

(Design industry icons Vicente Wolf and John Robshaw are fans – I’m always on the lookout.)

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Shopper’s Tip: Chatuchuk is officially open on Saturdays and Sundays, but most shops in the market are open for business by 10 – 11:00am on Fridays. You’ll have about 50% less crowd to navigate through. Additionally, you can find gems hidden in nooks and crannies on most any soi surrounding the market (“soi” is the Thai word for “street”).

bangkok 7 insert after shoppers tip and explanation on soi

A significant amount of the antique furniture you find on the market in Bangkok actually comes from 18th-19th century China, as well as Myanmar (Burma), Tibet and occasionally India. What they do brilliantly here is repurposing – the piece as a whole may be relatively new construction, but most if not all of the typically teak parts are old.

Teak has been a protected national resource in Thailand for about 25 years and harvesting is prohibited. Trees that produce the resin used to make lacquer are also indigenous to SE Asia, so you see it widely used in the refinishing process.

bangkok 8 insert after teak explation

But here’s an important note to keep in mind when antiquing in Thailand: This is a massive international tourist market, and coupled with the on-going, ever-growing interest in the traditional styles and cultural and spiritual symbols of the Far East, it’s also the land of extraordinary reproductions in both quantity and quality. Authenticity can be a tricky area.

An antiques dealer here shared with me a tip that made identifying a particular piece of furniture seem far less intimidating. He said if you have a table made from a very large, single slab of wood, no visible joiners, common sense tells us it had to have been cut from a very large tree. And we of course know, the larger the tree, the older the tree. I filed that one away…

All that said, legitimate pieces are plentiful here, but if you’re a stickler for provenance and pedigree, if you don’t speak the language, and if you’re not an expert in identifying the real deal, your best bet is to shop the higher-end showrooms where you can communicate with informed dealers.

CF Michael’s Bangkok Antiquing Recommendations include:

OP Place

River City Antiques and Auction House

Silom Galleria

These three resources in particular are multi-story complexes housing vendors specializing in Southeast Asian antiquities and Asian art, sculpture, furniture, porcelains and ceramics, jewelry, textiles, carpets and more. In addition to their reserve of collectibles, a couple fun notes:

OP Place happens to hold court next door to the uber luxurious Mandarin Oriental, Thailand’s oldest hotel, which happens to be home to the most luscious cocktail in the world, the Thai Noon – having one on the riverside terrace is a cool way to beat the Thai heat!

The Mandarin and OP Place, as well as River City Antiques, are also perched on the edge of the Chao Praya River and can be accessed by boat, taking the whole shopping experience up a notch.

And Silom Galleria shares the street with various antique and collectibles shops and other shopping stops, as well as numerous custom tailors and reams of Thai silk (here I could rapidly spiral off topic).

Another trusted resource showcasing a beautifully curated collection of antique Tibetan and Chinese furniture, art and décor is Amantee. Formerly located outside the city in traditional Thai-style houses surrounded by a lush Zen garden, their new location sits in Bangkok proper. A couple things are particularly lovely about Amantee: 1) the owner, who loves to talk antiques and chat about origin and history, 2) its French café and bakery – nothing like a fresh baguette and fine wine to elevate a shopping day.

BIG thanks to The Antiques Diva for the opportunity to share a small snapshot of our current side of the globe! You can find more design and travel, where to follow us, and our E-commerce boutique at www.cfmichaels.com. All images CFMichaels.

Pop kan mai – See You Later!

Carla @ CF Michaels for The Antiques Diva & Co

Sourcing Bath Fixture Salvage

Sourcing Bath Fixture Salvage

1 Comment

Dear Diva Readers,

When taking clients on antique buying tours of Europe, my Diva Guides and I see all sorts of architectural salvage. It’s one of the hottest requests we have right now. In the countryside we come across yards and warehouses filled with antique bathtubs, sinks, and other bathroom fixtures that are usually priced very decently. But when buying architectural salvage that you plan to use (i.e. a bathtub), you want to make sure you’re getting something that is functional as well as beautiful.

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I am all about repurposing and incorporating antiques into remodel or new construction projects. I think antiques add a comfort and warmth to any space with their rich patina. However when it comes to bathroom fixtures, you want to ask lots of questions—to the dealer AND to your plumber and contractor. Make sure that your plumber is aware that you want to use antique pieces such as sinks, tubs and faucets. If they’re not comfortable working with old fixtures, you may want to find someone who is. Secondly, ask the dealer if the pieces you’re interested in have been refurbished for modern use. This is critical as vintage plumbing is often incompatible with today’s systems. You also want to look for any damage such as cracks. Of course a bit of wear is desired and a nice patina is a plus, but if you see actual cracks in stone, enamel or ceramic, you could run into major damage down the line.

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The good news is that most specialist dealers will be able to fix these problems or connect you with a trusted person who can. Of course, this also means that that really great deal you got on the tub may very well cost a whole lot more! But it’s better to know exactly what you’re getting into before making your purchases. It’s just important to weigh your options. Most vintage fittings are better quality than new ones however there are other factors like budget, timeline and functionality that you must keep in mind.

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Lastly, when shopping for antique bathroom fixtures, take a measuring tape and your room/plan measurements. You’ll also want to be sure that your floors ( and ceilings for 2nd story bathrooms) are strong enough to hold a fixture you buy. Cast iron tubs are heavy, especially when filled with water so make sure there is enough support to hold them.

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All in all, sourcing architectural salvage and incorporating it into your current home should be a fun process. With a trusted dealer, a skilled plumber, and a good vision, the possibilities are endless!

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If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Architectural Salvage Buying Tour in one of our 8 tour countries – France, Belgium, England, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden, email [email protected]

The Antiques Diva®

Not Your Grandmother’s Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

While on tour recently in Milan, clients spotted this lovely vignette at one of our favorite sources. One thing is for sure: There’s nothing stuffy or old-fashioned about these antique and vintage pieces! I love when we find examples of antiques that read young, hip, and oh so fabulous!

Roberta

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Confessions of a Shoe Diva

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Dear Diva Readers,

O ver at the Daily Basics I’m coming out of the closet sharing hints and tips on diva-worthy closet décor as part of my ongoing Real Life Decorating series where I tell where I personally antique shop for items in my home, telling what I paid and where I bought the items, giving readers real access to sources (and prices) internationally! My most recent post comes out of… or perhaps goes into the closet sharing inexpensive budget friendly ways to kit your closet as well as explains why I treat the closet like any other room in the house. Plus, I share what I like to call Antiques Diva Tenents… bits of wisdom such as “You Will Never Make a Bad Buy If Buy What You Love” and “The older you get the better you look in the mottled glass of aged mercury!”

Closet

Visit The Daily Basics to read the article in full!

The Antiques Diva®

Guide to Flea Markets in Tuscany

Guide to Flea Markets in Tuscany

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Dear Diva Readers,

F lea markets reflect the colour, character and culture of a country.  They tell a story about its people and places, their toils and travels and they are the best places to pick up fun and inexpensive souvenirs and gifts to take home or unique and statement pieces if you are decorating.   Often with such great prices as a dealer you can take that gamble on something special that is a real show stopper for your vetrina… and be the talk of the town.

Locally-based Italian Antiques Diva Guide Susan Pennington shares her advice on Where to Flea Market in Italy - enjoy!.

Arezzo
… the biggest and one of the best known flea markets in Italy, dealers rise at the crack of dawn to travel from far and wide to tout their wares and you need to be quick to steal their treasures.   Held on the first weekend of the month,  there are over 500 stalls selling everything  from serious antiques to fun collectibles; the weird and the wonderful make it practically impossible to leave Italys best flea market empty handed.

Italy

Lucca
… this flea market is a labyrinth to explore, meandering through the beautiful and elegant piazzas of the city.   On the third weekend of the month, come rain or shine, you’ll find the monthly antiques flea market with over 250 stalls to peruse.   The surrounding area is filled with grand and elegant villas and this market has that same atmosphere…  calm and reposed, quality not quantity is the key;  from delicately embroidered cuffs and collars to monogrammed linens and centre pieces,  fine crystal chandeliers to gilded mirrors and garden statuary.

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Firenze Fortezza
…  set in the park of the imposing 16th century Medici fortress in Florence, and surprisingly less trafficked than you would expect,  you’ll find most of the shoppers are Italian.   Although small this flea market is a treasure trove for collectables;  ceramics, mid century table ware, artwork and religious artefacts.    Third weekend of the month.   Combine it with wither Lucca or Siena for a full day of flea marketing!

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Siena
small & intimate, the flea market takes place on the third Sunday of the month in the old market square under the shadows of the towering town hall.   Most of the dealers are local, some have stores or warehouses to visit too, on appointment.   There is a great stall of mid century furniture and vintage clothing.   Look out for agricultural pieces for repurposing or simply decorating, glass and ironwork.

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Greve in Chianti

… this flea market is one of the best kept secrets.  This little Tuscan village three or four times a year (April, May, September and October)  fills its piazza to the brim with wonderful treasures pulled down from the attics.    We’ve found signed paintings, and antique hand painted Florentine pottery amongst other things for next to nothing!

One final word of advice… curate your style, stay focused, be decisive, stick with a budget… but above all have fun!

La Dolce Diva – Susan
The Antiques Diva® & Co

Picture Perfect Pochoir

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Dear Diva Readers,

I was recently in Chicago to speak at The Randolph Street Antique Market and of course that meant that I was able to shop the vendors as well!  Because I am constantly shopping flea markets all over the world, I get excited when I see items that are unfamiliar to me. These are moments that I can learn from dealers and expand my knowledge of antiques. While perusing the Randolph Street Antique Market, I spotted a stall filled with lovely framed pictures of lovely ladies from the early 20th century. While admiring these beauties, the dealer approached me and shared more information— and that is what I want to share with you today!

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

It turns out that these illustrations are called pochoir.  In French, pochoir means “to stencil.” While I’ve seen these pieces frequently in France I had no clue this is what they were called!  This technique was introduced to commercial publishing in France in the late 1800’s and was developed into an exquisite art form. The artist would use a plethora of tools; anywhere from 20 to 250 stencils along with numerous paint colors, each requiring their own brush or sponge to be applied.

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Pochoir was most popular from 1910 to 1930 in Paris, being featured in luxury magazines such as la Vie Heureuse and Gazette du Bon Ton. These publications appealed to the upper class, providing high fashion plates and articles on all aspects of life for the elite. The paper used to print these magazines was of the utmost quality allowing the prints to be detailed and beautiful. In fact, many of of the prints were enhanced with genuine gold and silver to give them an ultra-luxe feel. Because these magazines weren’t printed for the masses, great expense was made and much time was taken to create the ultimate in print publications.

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

The most famous fashion illustrators of the time, including George Barbier, Leon Bakst and Pierre Brissard, would draw the pochoirs of the most talented fashion designers such as Paul Poiret, Jean Patou and Vionnet.

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

Pochoir, Randolph Street Market Chicago, French Stencil Technique, Antiques Diva

Readers would thumb through a pochoir-illustrated book and immediately be struck by the effects of lush, vibrant colors and bold geometric shapes. Bright oils and watercolors seem to come alive on the page in an almost three-dimensional experience. 90 years later, these elegant drawings still hold their appeal as works of art. Much thanks to Suzanne Snow of Susie’s for educating me on these wonderful pieces!

The Antiques Diva®

Back to School with The Antiques Diva®

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Dear Diva Readers,

It’s August 1st and that means it’s time to start thinking about “Back to School.” Rather than dreading this inevitable time of year, why not celebrate it with me here on the blog?!  Every student, child or adult, needs a good desk to study from, and so today we’re going to learn about a very important antique desk: The Resolute Desk which resides in the Oval Office of The White House in America.

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While this desk has been used by several United States Presidents, its history actually began across the pond in England. This stately desk was commissioned by Queen Victoria as a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. The wood used to make the desk were originally from timbers of an abandoned British ship called the HMS Resolute. The ship was discovered by an American vessel and returned to the British Queen as a token of goodwill.

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Queen Victoria had William Evenden craft several desks from these timbers, including a writing table for herself. The name of the desk which she had made for the United States President is derived from the name of the ship from whence the wood came. The desk has been used by many presidents, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had the desk fitted for a modesty panel carved with the presidential seal to cover the kneehole to prevent people from seeing his leg braces. However he never lived to see the modification completed.

Resolute Desk, Oval Office furniture, White House antiques, HMS Resolute, FDRs Desk, Jackie Kennedy, JFK and John Jr, Antique Desks

Resolute desk, Oval Office furniture, White House antiques, HMS Resolute, FDRs desk, JFK and John Jr, Antique desks

Nevertheless, President Truman had the modesty panel installed when he took office in 1945. Prior to 1961, the Resolute Desk roamed about The White House until First Lady Jackie Kennedy decided to move the desk into the Oval Office and it still resides in this room today. In fact, the desk was made famous by a photograph of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, sitting at the desk while his son, John Jr., peeking through the kneehole panel.

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The history of The Resolute Desk just goes to show why antiques are such an interesting part of our lives. Whether it’s the desk in the Oval Office or a desk in your home office, the fascinating story of each antique piece links us to the past while serving us in the present!

The Antiques Diva®

Shipping Antiques with Consolidations

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Dear Diva Readers,

We’re continuing our series on Shipping Antiques From Overseas. In the past week we’ve discussed various options for shipping antiques.  Yesterday we discussed how much it costs to fill a container with antiques – but what if you’re not planning to buy enough antiques to fill a container? How then do you get them home?  No worries mate, it’s still smooth sailing!

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If you only want to buy a few pieces of furniture on your Antiques Diva European Buying Tour and haven’t bought enough to fill a container you can still ship your purchases home.  You have the option to either Air Freight your purchases home or to share a container with someone else.  This latter option is called groupage or a consolidation – meaning your items are “consolidated” in a container with other peoples goods – or “grouped” with others goods.

While the least expensive way to ship will always be a container (i.e., the more you ship the lower cost per cubic meter) both Air Freight and Consolidations/Groupages are good options.   Air Freight is faster but it tends to be a bit more expensive.  That said, however, it’s not always prohibitively so – make sure to ask your international shipper comparison rates so you can make an educated decision.

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When you do a Consolidation or Groupage your purchases are sent with a container already going to your nearest port – this tends to take longer (can take several months) but is more cost effective than air freight and if your purchases are not time sensitive can be a cost-cutting way of shipping a few items of antiques internationally.

You pay a fee per cubic foot for the space used in the container.  But remember:  if you’re buying a chest of drawers, you’re not just buying the shipping space around the chest of drawers but you’re also buying the available space INSIDE the chest…so fill those drawers with smalls because it’s “free”!  You’re being charged for the air inside the drawers so you might as well fill them up!  Maximize every space and get the most bang for your buck!

The Antiques Diva®

How Much Does It Cost to Fill a Container with Antiques?

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Dear Diva Readers,

While we don’t do international shipping ourselves here at The Antiques Diva & Co we do liaise our clients on antique buying tours with international shippers to help them get their purchases home sweet home across the pond.  As such we get asked A LOT of questions about how it works to ship antiques internationally.  In general when queries come my way I direct them to the experts – making introductions to shippers we know and trust and have worked with long-term.

Perhaps the most popular questions after “Which international shippers do you recommend?” and “How much does it cost to ship a container?” is “How much does it cost to fill a container full of antiques?”  The answer to this question lies in the answer to the question, “How many antiques fit in a shipping container?”

How Much Does It Cost to Fill a Container with Antiques, Filling a container, Shipping antiques from Europe, Antiques Diva Tours, Antiques Diva Buying Services, 20 ft container

If you visualize a 20 foot container…it can hold approximately 40 medium size pieces of furniture.  Then to determine the cost of filling a shipping container with antiques you need to determine how much you are going to spend on average per item.  Chest of drawers could range anywhere from 100 Euro to 10,000 Euro depending on the age, quality, provencance, etc of the items you’re buying.  Buying 1950’s pieces cost a lot less that pieces from the 1750’s!

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If you determine an amount that you feel comfortable with as an average item of purchase and multiply that number times 40 you’ll have a rough ball park figure on “How much it costs to fill a shipping container with antiques?”  Obviously you’re not going to be buying 40 chest of drawers so this isn’t an exact science but it leads you down the path to determining what your budget should be for buying overseas.

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Clients come to me with budgets ranging from 20,000 Euros to 100,000 Euros, saying this is the amount they have to fill their 20 foot container.  On average, serious buyers – Antique Dealers – seeking to fill their container with decorative vintage and antique pieces – the type that you see in all the magazines, chic and stylish, with a degree of age on them but not necessarily uber high-end – come to me with a budget of approx. 40,000 Euro knowing they may spend less or they may spend more depending upon the price point of the items they fall in love with.  The client I was just with found a slew of cocktail tables at 50 Euro each – this brought her average purchase down exponentially and she managed to save a significant amount of money off her anticipated budget.  However…cocktail tables weren’t on her buying list.  Sometimes in order to get the best deal you have to be open to what’s on the market when you’re seeking to buy.  The client will be able to retail those cocktail tables for about $600 USD each – so she is getting a heck of a profit on them!

How Much Does It Cost to Fill a Container with Antiques, Filling a container, Shipping antiques from Europe, Antiques Diva Tours, Antiques Diva Buying Services,

When shipping remember it’s better to overbuy and overfill your container than underbuy – the less you buy the more it costs per item in the container.  The best way to save money shipping is to squeeze as many items into the container as possible! And remember – shippers use every square inch! If you have a chest of drawers you can easily pack those drawers full of smalls so there is no wasted space!

Net, net – there is no easy answer on how much it costs to fill a container – but if you use this as a guideline for shipping antiques you’ll have a starting point in determining your budget for buying antiques overseas.

Happy Shipping,
The Antiques Diva®
(Hmmm…. today perhaps you might want to call me The Shipping Diva!)

Antiquing is Match-Making

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Dear Diva Readers,

Today our Antiques Diva Guide in Provence is sharing her thoughts on what her job leading buying tours really means.  Enjoy!

Caren writes:
Antiquing is a noble profession, a bit like match-making. For what could be nobler than to introduce two entities that were made for each other? I’m talking about match-making the past with the future: the bringing together long-forgotten treasures belonging to a past era with the hosts of special people, that set out every weekend to hunt for antiques- crazy for the vintage charm of pre-loved objects of art from another age. These people are exceptional. They can appreciate the value and history of pre-loved treasures. Their thumbs start twitching and they get excited when they see items with gilded patinas and irregular scratches. And in turn, the pieces from eras gone by are waiting, anticipating…sometimes restored but always lonely and forgotten.

Antiques Diva Provence Tours, Sourcing antiques in Provence, Diva Guide Caren, French Antiques, L’isle sir la Sorgue, Flea markets in Provence

For these items, there is now the hope for a new life. And it comes in the form of the recycling treasure-lovers. These are the people, the connoisseurs, who admire distressed furniture, rusty light-fittings, old paint buckets and rutted cutting boards. They can see the value of the history of a piece of furniture; they appreciate the significance and will treasure these objects, proud to have them in their care.

For many, the hunt is the fun, and where better to start than in the village of L’isle sir la Sorgue, a small town lying on the Sorgue River, between Avignon and Apt in Provence, France.

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In the 12th century, L’isle sur la Sorgue was a small fishing village where the houses were built on stilts above a marsh. Later, in the 18th century, huge water wheels churned the water on the canals, creating power for the silk and paper industries. Today, the waters flow down two main channels in town, and many shops have their back-doors opening over the water, creating shady and pleasant nooks and crannies to explore.

Known also as the Venice of Provence, the town is a delightful destination for anyone interested in antiquing, decorative arts, brocante markets or gastronomy. It is here that you will find more than 300 antique outlets and flea markets in the old mills and weaving factories: a huge selection of antiques and decorative arts and sellers who cater to all tastes.

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A wander through the village will uncover an astonishing range of antiques, suitable for all budgets. This is the perfect spot to find a treasure for your home. It’s like being in a museum but better, as you are allowed to touch and handle all of the art pieces on show.Whether you are looking for something small to display on a side-board or considering remodeling your entire house, this is the place to be.

Choose a perfect 18th century iron gate, formerly part of a French chateau, or a stone chimney piece. Or perhaps you’d prefer a grand marble stair case or a 19th century mirror that once adorned the entrance foyer of an art deco theatre, reflecting the images of opera-goers as they added their finishing touches.

If these items are too large, why not hunt for something smaller? Like kids on a treasure hunt, it’s a joy to rummage through the layers of history, looking for the piece that says, “Take me home!” From egg baskets to light-fixtures and antique iron watering cans, L’isle sur la Sorgue has it all.

Antiques Diva Provence Tours, Sourcing antiques in Provence, Diva Guide Caren, French Antiques, L’isle sir la Sorgue, Flea markets in Provence

During the week, the antique dealers comb the country-side, often driving huge distances to estate sales on the other side of the country. House clearances are holy grails for dealers. If successful, they return to their workshops where they may spend many painstaking hours reupholstering a chair, repairing a door or examining various points of workmanship on their newly acquired items, so that when the markets open again for business the following weekend, there will be a whole new selection of artifacts to offer, available for eager buyers and collectors.

No divining rod needed. Introducing a beautiful vintage antique to an antique lover can be a match made in heaven. It means that fine pieces of our history will once again find a home. What could be more perfect? Old pieces, recycled by those who appreciate the craftsmanship and at the same time, indulge their passion for the old and beautiful. What better profession is there than to be an antique guide in this paradise?

Antiques Diva Provence Tours, Sourcing antiques in Provence, Diva Guide Caren, French Antiques, L’isle sir la Sorgue, Flea markets in Provence

Diva Guide Caren Shopping in Provence with a Friend

Provence Diva Guide Caren – Filling in For The Antiques Diva®

 

 

 

How To Ship Antiques From Abroad

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Dear Diva Readers,

When you’re traveling overseas and shopping for antiques you have a few options on how to ship antiques home from abroad.  The first option is to only buy what you can pack in your suitcase.  This costs nothing and is perfect if you’re looking to buy a few trinkets or smaller items – but what if you’re really wanting to buy a lot when you’re overseas? The second option? Buy an extra suitcase.  When you’re at the Paris Flea Market they actually have stalls with suitcases for sale.  Pick up an extra suitcase and fill it to your heart’s content.  (It’s not a bad idea to bring a hand-held luggage scale with you on holiday so you can weigh to make sure you’re in the weight limit).

How to ship antiques from Europe, Perfectly Packables, Mail Boxes Etc, International shippers, Recommended International Shippers, Antiques Diva Tours

But what if you’re buying porcelain or other breakables? Do you really want to risk putting that in your suitcase? I didn’t think so.  Then we’re talking either the local post office or FedEx – hint the post office in Europe is always much cheaper than FedEx.  Plus at the post office you can buy the box for packing your purchases.  Investigate in the town you’re traveling if they have a Mail Boxes, Etc. I often pay to have Mail Boxes, Etc pack my breakables for me.  When Mail Boxes, Etc finds out that I’m using the post office to mail my box instead of them they often offer a discount off their services.  They are faster than the local post office so if you can get a bargain here it’s worth paying a little more for special handling to go this route.

How to ship antiques from Europe, Perfectly Packables, Mail Boxes Etc, International shippers, Recommended International Shippers, Antiques Diva Tours

How to ship antiques from Europe, Perfectly Packables, Mail Boxes Etc, International shippers, Recommended International Shippers, Antiques Diva Tours, La Poste

Now – you may not know this – but if you want to get a bargain in Europe – RARELY will you get that bargain on smalls.  The smaller, the more perfectly packable, it is the more expensive the price tends to be when comparing it with American standards.  On the other hand if you fall in love with an armoire it’s likely to be 1/3 the price you’d pay stateside. As I always say “Go Big or Go Home.”  The bigger the antique the better the price. But if you want to ship an armoire what’s a girl to do?  Hire an international shipper!   They will give you a cubic meter price – an estimate on the cost of shipping the item.  You’ll want to ask them door-to-door and specify that they include insurance on the delivery.  The price they give you may not be exact – it’ll probably be an estimate.  You’ll have the option to air freight the item or to put it in a consolidated container to ship home on the slow boat.  Find out the price difference between the two methods.  Be aware that delivery ALWAYS takes more time than you’re expecting.

How to ship antiques from Europe, Perfectly Packables, Mail Boxes Etc, International shippers, Recommended International Shippers, Antiques Diva Tours

For more help with your international antique shipping goods, contact The Antiques Diva & Co.  While we don’t do shipping ourselves we do liaise you with some of our preferred international shippers.  We’re always happy to help you get antiques home sweet home across the pond.

Happy Shipping!
The Antiques Diva®

Client Question- Sourcing Mid-century in Italy

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Dear Diva Readers,

As owner of Europe’s largest Antiques Touring & Sourcing company, I get inquiries of all kinds. While our tours are available for tourists and individuals looking to purchase antiques for themselves, we also get quite a lot of trade professionals (antique dealers, store owners and interior designers) looking to buy enough pieces to fill a container (or two!). I recently received an email from a client who wants to stock her store with Italian and French mid-century modern pieces. She had a few questions before booking a tour that are quite common, so I wanted to share my answers with you today on the blog!

Our client asks:
I own a store in America that specializes in vintage modern furniture and décor. Most of our Italian pieces we purchase through auction and they have strong provenance. I would like a more cost effective way of acquiring these pieces. Would you recommend taking a tour and if so, where should my buying tour be?

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Answer:
We are delighted to help you source mid-century pieces abroad by custom planning a tour to get you exactly what you’re looking for! I would recommend a three day tour in Italy to source Italian mid-century pieces. We would be taking you to our sources in Milan and further south into Tuscany for the best prices. Here’s a sample itinerary to give you a feel of what you’d be doing:

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Day 1Milan is brilliant for mid-century.    You’ll visit a variety of vendors from big to small, criss-crossing the city.  To save time we actually suggest doing this tour on foot and using public transportation (or, when needed, taxis – to be paid direct at taxi) as it’s the most efficient way to cover the ground needed without dealing with parking, etc.

Mid-Century Modern in Italy, Mid-Century Modern Milan, Sourcing antiques in Italy, Antiques Diva Italy Tours, Sourcing Mid-Century in Europe, Filling a container, How to organize international shipping

Day 2 –  You really need to go further afield, delving deeper into the countryside. Florence is 1 hour 45 minutes on the train from Milan and do-able in a day trip if you’re up for a long day.  You’ll find good prices and a great variety of inventory.

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Day 3 –  If you have the time I’d encourage you to consider the area in/near Arezzo for a 3rd day tour as you’ll find a plethora of mid-C pieces.   Here, our Guide will take you to our sources, helping you find the right pieces for your store.

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Your guide would custom plan your route, she will translate, negotiate and liaise you with international shippers to relieve all the stress from you!

We look forward to helping you source Italian mid-century abroad!

The Antiques Diva®