Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Baubles and trinkets and keepsakes

A few years ago we had a fabulous holiday in New York and one of the highlights was spending not enough time at the Metropolitan. Out of everything there - and trust me you would never see everything even in a a month (I suppose if you were on blades you could whizz by but that doesn't count) - my favourite section was dedicated to Tiffany. These super works surrounded a garden area where you could relax and be quiet and just get lost in all these beautiful panels of glass. My favourite was Oyster Bay and that is the glass tile that I then bought at the gift shop and which is now on the top shelf of our smaller display cabinet.
I've always liked collecting bits and pieces and for a while went through a phase of collecting hand-painted Victorian glass. I would go to oh so many antique fairs trying to find colours I didn't have and unusual styles and here is a memo to anyone about to break up with someone. Take the things you have bought with care and love out of the room before your other half decides to take them first (and my Dinky car collection- with boxes!) . Anyway, as you can see from this next picture there is still a fair bit left and what prompted me to write this post was Fhina's recent post about disposing of one's assets. The Limoges punchbowl and ladle (top left) and the Limoges coffee cups (bottom left) were given to me by a friend of my mother's who wanted to give her things away before she died and not have people squabble about them. This friend had an antique shop in the Lanes in Brighton and she only ever bought superb pieces. Both the Limoges items she gave me are very collectable but I would never sell them.The two pairs of vases on the top shelf in the next photo were my father's pride and joy (it's him I get this urge for buying beautiful things from; my mum's purchases of pleasure were clothes and shoes - oops, guilty again). I was never allowed to touch these special vases when I was young and the cabinet they were in (which I now have as our drinks cabinet - see photo after this one) was always locked but the key was visible but out of reach to little me. My mum used to grumble at my dad about locking things away and once, when he was out, she unlocked the cabinet and took out one of the larger vases to show me the beautiful figure on it. I don't know how it happened but it fell and the vase smashed in two and I can still remember the moment as if it had happened this morning. My dad never shouted- it wasn't his way - he would do silent anger and sulks, my mum was the shouter (as I am) , but I can remember my dad shouting and I ran away and left home (for ten minutes). He got an expert restorer to repair the vase but I learnt an important lesson that day - either keep very valuable things in the bank or lock them in a cabinet in a room and keep the key on you at all times - don't just leave it in the lock.
This next cabinet is the one the vases used to be in. My dad used to also like art deco furniture and this piece came with a matching tallboy which, unfortunately, he had to sell when he moved out of his large London flat. The cabinet is in the dining room because being brown and traditional it suits the look of the room. The previous cabinets are modern white ash ones and suit the living room.
In about 30 years time I will invite the younger family members (most of whom I hardly know) and Mr FF's family to come and choose the items they would like to have. I hate to think of people squabbling over these things that my parents and I in turn loved. Far better to give them away whilst I am still alive, to hopefully see that these lovely things will be in good hands. Of course the downside means that we will have bare shelves but in my retirement home overlooking the coastline of Brittany, will it really matter?

41 comments:

Lucy Fishwife said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, lovely, lovely. And points for even having a beautiful cabinet to store it in! I have the magpie urge too - as does my grandmother. Although in her case I think it's a more squirrel than magpie - a hangover from rationing etc.

Frankofile said...

How come I only manage to collect books? Which have no resale value.

Then again, no dusting or breaking to worry about.

The Accidental Fan said...

I'm not sure dusting has been worried about there anyhow Frankofile. Less feather boa and more feather duster required.

Tell Mr FF off, and hand him the Mr Sheen

The Accidental Fan said...

(Yes, I am just teasing you, they are immaculate)

Ayak said...

You have some beautiful things FF. I really like the art deco cabinet...lovely!

A Super Dilettante said...

OMG! Your collection is beautiful and VERY electic in taste! I hope they've been catalogued and insured (here a curator speaking!!) BTW, I just discovered today what ASD stands for other than A Super Dilletante. It stands for Autistic Spectrum Disorder! I need to see a therapist!

Brother Tobias said...

And so beautifully displayed..I like the eclectic mix, full of variety in which beauty and quality supply the unity.

I have a similar collecting urge. People said there was no chance these objects would remain on display as our children grew up, but there are children and children and, with the occasional accident(why does a mis-aimed ball always take out the best piece!), we were lucky!

A Woman Of No Importance said...

You have some very beautiful things, FF, and you and your parents have/had great taste...

I recall my mum's sort of wake, and I was giving away bits and pieces of her costume jewellery to my cousins, and one piece to my best friend...

My dad later wondered what had happened to a silver charm bracelet she had added to over the years, as I don't think he knew what I was doing - Neither did I, but it gave me great comfort to know her things were in loving hands... As will looking at your empty shelves, my Fancy Friend xx

French Fancy said...

Lucy - I seldom buy things for the cabinets now because there is no room left (which is a Good Thing because the sort of things I like these days I just could not afford)

Frankie- we've also got the book collecting gene as well, both of us and have to have periodic clear outs because we don't want to buy any more bookshelves. I really miss English second-hand book shops. I used to love going to Cecil Court when I worked at the Albery - you probably went there too, because I recall that you worked nearby.

TAF - you tease! After I read your comment I enlarged the pics thinking that I was showing my usual lack of house keeping skills - but it looked fine to me. Then later on I read your next post. I must tell you that seldom is the word *immaculate* used anywhere near me.

Ayak - when I was young I never appreciated the cabinet or the tallboy (which also had the stained glass tulips along the front). I used to think 'my dad and his boring old brown furniture' - I've come a long way and wish I could have told him how much it means to me now.

ASD - it is a bit of a ramshackle collection - my dad never had a theme to his purchases, he just bought what he liked. Oh ASD, if only my mum had kept some of her early outfits she bought when she lived in Paris - she used to wear such beautiful clothes.

My dad used to have certain items logged at some valuables place that details such stuff but I've not bothered out here in France.

(I always refer to you as *Dilettante* - yes, we do mention you from time to time :)

Brotob - I firmly believe in displaying things and taking a chance on them getting broken. Only one thing has actually been broken - a little clown dish that was one of the first things my dad ever bought.

I'm glad your children are careful.

AWONI - You did the right thing, my dear. Just as I look at the punchbowl and coffee cups and think of 'Auntie' Millie, your friends will look at your mum's pieces and think of her.

Dedene said...

FF, I've got many items belonging to my Mom, Dad and grandparents. Many of your beautiful pieces remind me of mine. It's always sad to break something, but it's hard to keep glasswear whole for a long time.
My biggest regret, when my dog broke my grandmother's carnival glass bowl.
Thanks for the tour!

LadyFi said...

Oh, so many gorgeous things! I especially love the glass tile.

Phil Lowe said...

I love collecting buddhas and saw a cat buddha in an antique shop in Paris a couple of years ago. The shop was shut and any rue en haut (any road up)I probably couldn't have afforded it. I walked past the shop and then quickly returned with my camera and took a picture. I have it framed with all my other buddha collection. At least I captured its soul if not the reality. Then what is the nature of reality, substance or thought...? The photo, is it illusion or manipulation...? Arret!!

PS: I really like coloured glass as well and art deco objects d'art.Thanks for showing us your lovely collection.

French Fancy said...

Dedene - it is nice having things owned by the people one loved. Actually it is more than 'nice', I love it - it is like a connection with them that is in the room with you. When I sit at the bureau below the glassware cabinet in the dining room I always think of my dad sitting at it almost every day.

Ladyfi - The Met have such lovely Tiffany things in the gift shop - perhaps you can buy them from their online shop.

thanks Phil - I like the idea of a photo of something instead of the thing one couldn't buy. How many buddhas do you have?

willow said...

Nice collection! I have some pieces of flow blue and ruby glass, as well.

claire p said...

You have some lovely things, and quite right to keep them behind glass. We used to have a dog with a very waggy tail, I lost count how many things he broke. I don't think we have anything worth squabbling over, some jewellery maybe, but it's a good idea to let loved ones choose. My mother in law let it be known who was to have what and so when she died we all took those things with no fuss.

bindu said...

How interesting to have items that your father valued so much, and to pass it along to those you choose because they would value them as much as you did. It would be interesting to have each owner write some memories about each piece and pass that along too ... how interesting that would be to read even a couple of generations later!

Elizabeth said...

Treasures indeed.
Yes, things are saved and loved often for association as well as aesthetics.
We can recall exactly who gave us what or where we discovered it.
A lovely post.

Steve said...

An impressive collection indeed. My wife is positively drooling.

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Gorgeous collection FF. I love New York too, I am desperate to take the children there one day. I also used to live right near the Lanes in Brighton. Ah memories!

Maternal Tales said...

Hi FF, Have just found your blog which I am very pleased about. I too am married to a Frenchman, although we live in England (Brighton - close to the Lanes)! So many lovely antique places. You have some beautiful pieces - my favourite is the duck egg blue vase in the first picture - really lovely. I look forward to reading and seeing more x

Ian Lidster said...

I share your love of glass in all forms, with Tiffany being right near the top. Of course your visit to Tiffany begs the question, did you breakfast there?

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I've come to the point in life where I've decided not to own anything I can't feel free to use. I gave quite a few "precious" items away. I still have a few pieces, which I display out in the open. Great subject, by the way. And thanks for sharing the lovely photos.

Not Waving but Drowning said...

Who's the fiddler?

GG

French Fancy said...

willow - I love ruby and cranberry glass - I have a few cranberry items and I'm hoping to pick up one or two more in Venice next month (Mr FF - if you are lurking - reasonably priced ones)

clairep - The main reason they are behind glass is because they look pretty lit up in the evening. In theory it is also meant to make them less likely to get dusty but, for some reason,the dust still gets in all three cabinets.

bindu - what a lovely idea. I must stress that anything that looks really good and classy was my dad's purchase - I bought all the oddball stuff (including two china bichon frise dogs)

Elizabeth - aw thanks. Whenever we visit a new place I always try and buy something lovely for one of the cabinets. Anything except glassware - we have hundreds of glasses.

Steve - thanks and also to Karen :)

Reasons - I used to love Brighton but Ive not been there since it became trendy. This surrogate aunt lwho gave me the old limoges lived in the loveliest bungalow which she'd bought from Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five, which impressed my six year old self no end.

Maternal Tales - hello to a new bloggy buddy. I also love that vase - it is hand painted Victorian from my former vast collection that my ex-man made off with. The only reason that was saved was because it was in another room with a single rose in it, at the time of his mass theft from my cabinet.

Ian - I wondered if someone would mention the Breakfast thing. I can't stress how lovely that Tiffany section at the Met is. there is a fountain, oriental mosaics on the floor, benches and these gorgeous wall designs by old Louis.

Elizabeth B - thank you so much. Yes, i sometimes feel a bit burdened by lots of items. I've had one cull and am content most of the time to live with the remainder but if most of it got burnt to a cinder tomorrow I would be sad but I wouldn't get hysterical. As long as Mr FF and the bichons got out I'd be fine.

NWBD - all the musical instruments were left to Mr FF by his musician uncle. My dad was a pianist but his grand piano was passed on to my cousin - just as well because it wouldn't have looked good on the wall.

Jennysmith said...

Don't write yourself off yet, FF. But yes, i remember my Gran's lovely things and the bitter dispute that went on in my Mum's family.

What exquisite images and such a lovely piece. xxxx

Kirti said...

Lovely blog you have! Thank you for your kind words--it's very encouraging and I so appreciate it!
Best of luck to you...

nikkicrumpet said...

What a stunning collection. And I think your idea of giving it away and watching to make sure it gets a good home is a great idea. Then you can see who will really enjoy it most!

Blu said...

I really love those blue coffee cups!!!.. A lovely cabinet too!

French Fancy said...

Jen - I've also heard of some dreadful family squabbles over mementos that people were not left who felt they should have been left them. I already (sort of) know which young cousins are going to be getting what, likewise children of close friends.

Kirti - thanks for popping back

nikki - as long as whoever I leave the things to does not sell them - but how on earth could I ever stop that happening. I also really hope I can let these things go easily - I'd hate to be an old aged hoarder.

Blu - yes, those cups are gorgeous - when you come over I'll get them out just for you :)

justme said...

What lovely things you have! I have way too many things, but on the whole they are not lovely at all and I often think that I should dispose of it all and become a minimalist sort of person whose surfaces can actually be seen. I love that you plan to give things away rather than leave them to be squabbled over! Much nicer.

lakeviewer said...

Lovely things. And yes, at some point in your future you will want to give things away to be enjoyed by the next generation. When we retired, our children and their spouses chose what they wanted to have of our collections and furnishings as we were downsizing. I love visiting their homes and finding the piano here, the credenza there. Little pieces of us appreciated and loved again.

French Fancy said...

justme - believe it or not I also have minimalist daydreams - I don't like cluttered surfaces and because all these bits and pieces are in a few cabinets they don't disturb my anal dislike of clutter.

lakeviewer - how lovely for you to visit all your family and see your treasured items being treasured anew. Yes, I will definitely do the same.

cheshire wife said...

You have some lovely pieces there. Oh, but the dusting must be a chore. Another reason then to keep them locked in a cupboard.

French Fancy said...

cheshire wife - dusting? what dusting?

Mama said...

Hello FF, I can see why your dad loved those vases so much they are stunning, I love your collections and I love that it makes you feel close to your parents and that you know what you will do with them. I hate that your ex made off with some of your treasures.
I only got a very quick visit to the met, going with Hayley was like going to the supermarket with hubby, no sooner are you through the front door than you are out again :-(. I was a late developer in the appreciation of the arts so I am thinking there is still hope for Hayley, then all my junk will become all her most treasured possessions. I hope you have a wonderful Easter, hugs, Kathy.

Bill Stankus said...

One little ditty I've often thought about is this:

A person spends the first part of their life collecting things and then spends the second half getting rid of stuff.

vicki archer said...

What an amazing collection. Happy Easter and have a wonderful weekend, xv.

Lane said...

What a fantastic collection and so beautifully displayed.

And very sensible to plan what will happen to it in your retirement. But surely that should be in 50 years time, not 30:-)

bARE-eYED sUN said...

just a quick thought: the Met has been one of our top three haunts since we were kids.

{being poor, the suggested donation policy made museums just about the only legal entertainment that we could afford. we'd get to spend the day at the Met for a quarter.}

you are absolutely right, there is almost too much to see.

here's a tip for visitors to NYC, get there early (9:30 am) for the major exhibits, and if possible skip them altogether.

instead, map out the permanent collections, in the smaller galleries, and in the storage rooms (glass cases make this seem like a treasure hunt).

your collections are like visiting a museum as well. :-) glad we stopped by.


tanks,

..
.ero

LadyFi said...

Hope you're having a happy Easter!

French Fancy said...

Mama - I know exactly what you mean re whistlestop tours of museums. I've barely looked at a few things and Mr FF is off and in the next section.

I was a late developer with all this arty farty stuff so I'm also testament to the fact at what vast changes people can make in their lives

Bill- that's very true actually- I was a little magpie for a long time and now I seldom buy anything for these shelves - well, mainly because there ain't no room

vicki - hello and thank you

Lane - Maybe I'll be clutching to me until the day I day. I like to think there will be all this largesse pouring out of me - come and have these things - you bright youthful people - who knows though?

bes - oh how I loved it there and could have spent all day on my little bench in the Persian style garden looking at the vast Tiffany panorams in front of me.