Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sun Porch a work in progress.

There are two wing chairs to watch birds from in the cooler parts of the day. A tavern table provides a nice breakfast spot for two.

Living and dining room

The atrium beyond the dining table extends the dining area nicely. I hope to do a pretty job with the little atrium garden.  The television in front of the fire place is strangely invisible to some visitors, the eye accepts a black rectangle there as a glass screen over a fireplace.  From the seating area, one can see onto the sunporch, making that view larger also.  Butterfly tables are our special pets, we have worked three into this room!  Along with a gateleg and two tavern tables as well as an unusual candle stand not shown yet.  I drew diagrams for days to get as many favorites in as possible.   The high ceilings led us to decorate up high all over. 

From the Entry Hall

The  blue cupboard is straight ahead, the kitchen is to the right of center,  and the tall case clock and sitting area are to the left.

Antiquarian's man cave

Jack is pretty well settled in now, he is storing extra stoneware in the floor in one corner, but the rest seems settled. The bonnet top desk, highboy with a shaped apron, lovely low boy and bow front chest, a corner chair and a portrait he likes because it looks like one of our daughters to him, are all favorites.   There is a computer at a desk in a deep closet, and other collections including lots of Buddy Holly records.  Jack added a shelf above a window to show some of his Boston/Charlestown pottery.   A room size oriental rug covers the floor, it used to be our living room rug.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Can Just See This.

Dear Eydth and Jack,

I have been sitting here at my computer since I put the dogs to sleep for the night. And quickly went to my computer. It's nearly 10:00 now and I have devoured Jack's article on the rifle. I have spent most of my time until now, trying to make a response on your blog--couldn't remember my password for Google (probably made a long time ago by Clark)-but in the meantime, long story-short. I said: That I was so happy that he told me about his Bunker Hill rifle on my last visit with you both.  He has so much knowledge about antiques, their history, and etc. that I would love to see him write many articles on all of his interests. He is really terriffic!  
His article brought back so many memories for me, and I remember getting to Brimfield very early and trying to use a flashlight. It was so dark that I found my self going around areas twice because I actually got lost. And could not see a thing. The funniest thing was on Clark's and my first time there, waiting with all the dealers lined up and ready for their rush like to free land in Okla. Clark was propted against a tree watching what happened, and I got caught in the race to help the dealers unload their wagons. For the first, and last, time in my life, I found myself up in an open truck with my hand on one handle of a huge great basket, and a woman grabbing the other handle. I won! Ha! But never tried that again. Clark said that they actually shot a gun in the air to start the mayhem and let the dealers in---but I never heard it from the roaring crown gone wild. I think that was the time we found you two at the ice cream store, and I was never so glad to see anyone in my life. ! Well, I tried to get smart with a cart and got up to the fence to go in another area, one time when we ran in to John and Bea K, I had a perfect position when they opened the gate--except my cart was too wide to go through the gate--I nearly got stompted to death, until John just lifted my empty cart over my head and over the fence to the other side. Wow, antiques are dangerous. Well, I could go on and on, the the old clock has just struck 10:00 p.m. and I am dying for sleep.

But please tell me, Jack, that you will write for us again--- Love, Virginia

Redware Bowl, Trifle or Treasure

Like so many adventures on our many New England buying trips, this one began when I  met a dealer at Brimfield while examining some of his early pieces. He explained that he mostly dealt in later decorator Items from local Coastal Connecticut estates, as that was what he could find and make a profit on, but occasionally came upon older goods from the same households and had just purchased a group of redware and not had time to pack them up for the sale. His shop was on the southern coast of Connecticut. Always anxious to find a new source, we agreed to go there that afternoon. Coincidently the name of the shop was “The Source”.
We were staying in Massachusetts and would have to drive across Connecticut to get there and turn around and go back to our motel that evening, a daunting drive after a very full day, but Edyth was game so off we went. It’s always a mess getting thru or around Hartford and we were thinking maybe this was a foolish errand.

We called and the gentleman met us at his shop as planned. The shop had nice things but not our style until he showed us five pieces of redware. We are always on the lookout for nice American redware pieces for our shop or collection. I’m sure we have sold several hundred pieces of redware from our many trips up East. There was a nice turkshead mold, a small jar, and two undecorated redware dishes, plus a small footed bowl or handleless cup with bands of slip around the outside. The interior was completely covered with slip except for leaf shaped voids around the upper edge. I could hardly contain my excitement in finding such an unusual and attractive piece. I quickly agreed to purchase the group and we packed it up to head back to Massachusetts to be ready for the next day of shopping at Brimfield.

It is rare to find small delicate redware pieces that have survived a hundred and fifty or two hundred years intact. I have seen photos of a similar form from digs at early potterys, but never one decorated in this manner.    To get this design, I assume the potter must have applied the leaves before applying the slip and after the slip had completely dried, removed the leaves and then applied the slightly yellow lead glaze before firing it. The shape of the leaves reminds one of the much later Tea Leaf Ironstone, with a luster leaf design. The little bowl is 3 inches tall and 4 1/2 inches wide.

I feel it may be late 18th or early 19th century, possibly from coastal Connecticut or Massachusetts. Has anyone seen anything similar or have an opinion? Would love to hear from you…….Jack

Sunday, July 22, 2012

American Revolutionary War gun, Bunker Hill

 Powder horns, carved dated and initialled, as well as old wooden canteens with Revolutionary provenance turn up sometimes, but to find a long gun with a fragment of written history was real excitement for me on a buying trip back in the nineties.  To discover a genuine relic from the Revolutionary War, much less from the Battle of Bunker Hill, while shopping at an antiques flea market was a rare pleasure. 
A big part of shopping at the big outdoor antique flea market known as Brimfield is the anticipation of unearthing a rare treasure amidst the piles of collectibles, antiques and novelties that cover acres for most of a week three times a year in the small Massachusetts town of Brimfield. Several thousand dealers and tens of thousands of shoppers gather there to exchange goods for cash. Shoppers come from Europe, Japan and all over the USA to find things to fill in their collections or resell or just for the excitement of the hunt.
Sometimes I went on a buying trip alone if Edyth had other business to attend to at home. Our antique business needed new merchandise to keep our customers happy and coming back often, so off I went with our big van empty and hoping to return to Texas with lots of good, early items for our shop. I had shopped our favorite flea markets and co-ops in the Adamstown, Pennsylvania area on the way up to New England and was staying near Brimfield for the week. Some days there the markets open way before daylight and a flashlight is a big help to be the first to spot a choice item in a poorly lit booth or the back of a van. On Wednesdays, there is just one big market and it opens at eleven am. The dealers are in place but not allowed to sell or put out merchandise until the crowd comes in. This adds to the excitement as the dealers have not been able to shop amongst themselves before the market opens, increasing the odds of something wonderful still being available when you get to their booths. Before the opening the crowds gather on both sides of the road and just before eleven they merge and block the state highway for a few minutes until the turnstiles open and the owners collect their five bucks a head to enter. Short people can get lost or trampled in the rush. If you are the least bit claustrophobic I would recommend waiting ten minutes then entering. Of course there are always a few people with shopping carts in the mix to add to the chaos. Soon the crowds have spread out over the many acres of booths and business begins.

On one such morning I was in the crowd and was not having much luck buying before spotting an old relic of a long rifle or musket. The barrel was rusty brown and the rough tiger maple stock was bone dry and bleached out. The lock was missing, but it did have a nice brass trigger guard and butt plate and an interesting patch box carved out of the stock. The price was thirty bucks so I couldn’t resist. I knew exactly where it would go in our old cape, right over the back door.
As I was carrying it around the flea market, still shopping, it began to seem less attractive and a fellow shopper asked if I would sell it. Luckily, we had a policy of not selling anything before we got home. We wanted to bring as many interesting items from our expedition back to Texas as we possibly could, so I declined.
After I had been home for a while and had time to clean the old gun up a bit, I lightly sanded and waxed the barrel and used lots of Johnson’s Paste wax on the stock to bring out some color in the maple. When I removed the wooden patch box cover I noticed some faint ink writing on its back side. Very interesting…..I got my reading glasses on and the best I could make out it read:” made by Ebner Wentworth, illegible word, guns from Bunker Hill picked up by Capt ?Gideon? Elders”. See photo.
The writing was obviously old and faded and I am convinced from the period of the Revolutionary war. The next trip to Brimfield I talked to the dealer that sold me the gun and asked where it had come from and he told me he found it in a barn in Maine.
Part of being in the antique business that I enjoyed was researching the items that we came across. In this case it triggered a desire to know more about the Battle of Bunker Hill. I went to Charlestown Massachusetts to see where the battle was fought and to my surprise there was no longer a hill there at all, nor a Breed’s Hill where most of the fighting took place. They had both been leveled to supply dirt to expand the city! Now there is a nice monument to the battle and I dutifully climbed the stairs to the top to get a view of Boston. I learned that the American militia inflicted many casualties to the formidable British Redcoats before retreating after running out of ammunition. This was the first major battle of the war and gave the revolutionaries hope that they could stand up to the King’s soldiers. Weapons were in short supply and I suppose that remnants from the big battle were salvaged and repaired to augment the existing supply. I can envision Capt. Elders finding broken weapons and asking Ebner Wentworth to see what he could do with them. Someone took the time to write the inscription for posterity to see. Lucky me.

Comments or information about the gun or possible origin of its parts, or anything about the names in the patch box will be much appreciated!    Jack O'Neill

Thanks to this blog and the internet I think Sarah E. Johnson, Geneologist at Gorgyncombe Courant has pinpointed the people mentioned on the patch box. She has found records of an Ebenezer Wentworth, a farmer, blacksmith, shoemaker and manufacturer of Potash in Buxton Maine. Also found records of a Gideon Elden who served in the Revolutionary War and was a Captain in the state militia as well as a representative to the State Legislature, also from Buxton Maine

Sunday note

Dear Diana and Virginia, what a nice day you gave us last week, a fine visit, thank you. Thank you Virginia for encouraging Jack to write something about his Revolutionary War long rifle. He has done that last night and we are shooting pictures of it today, to put on the blog.  Hope to have it up later today.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mulberry transfer print

A story is told of Roger Bacon, talking excitedly about how great a certain table was, but a listener protested something to the effect  "But Roger it is missing a leg!" To which the renowned dealer and collector replied "Don't look at what is gone, look at what is there!"  (I am writing from memory  here as I do not have his exact quote before me.)
This was before the time of the Antiques Road show's popularity, which stresses pristine original condition almost to the point of excluding other antiques from being worthy of importance or value.
As people and objects age, most become less than perfect and untouched by the passing of time.  I offer here a plea for old and imperfect pieces, still useful and worthy of regard. I think of our many well loved antique furnishings almost all imperfect or mended, if only having a newly woven chair seat or piece of replaced molding.
My late father-in-law, John senior, was almost 99 years old when he left us and he was still a great lover of antiques, having retained much of his sharpness and knowledge. He loved old English ceramics, and a few months before his passing he brought home a thrift store find, a lovely piece of flow blue ironstone, a sugar missing one handle.   He gave it to me and I treasure it as a container for bluebonnets each spring, and the rest of the year it sits in a cupboard along with our much older Delft.

Also among the things we have from my husband's parents is a piece of so called flow mulberry.  Mulberry transfer print is also the name used for a purple or plum color printed tableware the latter being a clear print and not the heavy flowing look. I believe this flow mulberry English sugar bowl dates about 1850.  Flow Mulberry is almost black, not plum or purple.  This heavy old piece of Ironstone missing the lid is now a pretty spooner in our kitchen.   I know that dozens of collector friends who read here are adept at repurposing!   E

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eggplant to Celebrate a new kitchen

Friend Ruby Lee grew the gorgeous eggplant. I sliced it and placed it in a covered baking dish (rubbed first with a tad of olive oil). I topped the rounds with ragu sauce and parmesan and fresh parsely.    Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until a fork tests it as done. I wish I had pictured it as it came from the oven bubbly and slightly browned but four of us were gathered for supper by then and pictures were not uppermost.  The purple rind is dicarded as you eat it, but leaving it on while baking holds the rounds together and makes them easy and pretty to serve.  A nice way to enjoy eggplant withour frying it.
We planned this room to show case Jack's pottery collection, More of the redware will be here as well as the stoneware that speaks to the gray tones. The gray green paint is Hampshire Gray from Benjamin Moore, Historic color 101. The counters are formica, which we prefer to stone as it is kinder to dishes and the pottery.

We are just beginning to decorate it now that the paint and new knobs and appliances and countertops are in.   This little house is a good size for us now.  E

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June was a scorcher!

I am thinking tonight of so many friends as well as all the rest who are without electricity today.  I hope tomorrow can bring relief for many of you.

I admit that I am completely bogged down and overcome by the tasks of moving out of one home and into another. The one we leave must have serious help to freshen it for sale soon.  I have a disorderly mess in the second one, which is why you do not see photos!  Thank all of you who have written encouraging words to us. We will soldier on. as all of us must do at times.  So.. for something happy to think of I googled Rufus Porter images, and got pleasantly lost in following some of those.    What would that man think of his fans in the 21st century!  I expect he could never have imagined us!  I have some good spaces for a few touches of his style.  I have not decided whether to paint on the wall itself, or on floor canvas and hang that, or on 4 x 8 sheets of styrofoam coated with gesso. Does anyone have the instructions which were published for doing that a few years back?   I look forward to a time when I will have brought about some order here and can think of painting again.  e

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