The first use of pipes for smoking was by the Native Americans. Tobacco was valuable to them. It was considered to have medicinal properties, and smoking was believed to help alleviate pains and cure illnesses. Tobacco and smoking pipes reached Europe when explorers returned to their country in the 1500s. Some early European pipes were made out of a type of clay used to make fine china. Some pipes were made of wood such as walnut and cherry. Aside from their wooden pipes, Germany was also known for its excellent porcelain pipes. Pipe shapes changed as time passed until it evolved into the pipes we recognise today.
Barsony lamps are Barsony Ceramics’s most popular collector’s items. What separates these from other lamps are their black colour scheme and carefully crafted figurine bases in graceful poses. Some have a hidden light bulb, while other pieces don’t even have one. Despite the latter, Barsony lamps are beautiful enough to be displayed as works of art. They were quite in demand. But as the times changed, so did tastes. Fortunately, these exquisite lamps have seen a resurgence in popularity, especially for collectors. Though this cannot be completely explained, and whatever the reason, Barsony lamps are quite unique decorative pieces that captivated a generation and may continue to do so for years to come.
Movie posters have always served as an effective tool in promoting films. The first movie poster was believed to be produced by Jules Cheret. He developed a printing method that also gave birth to many visual advertising materials. As cinema style evolved, so did movie posters. Technology has, of course, brought about this evolution. Movie posters became collectable pieces for their art or because of the movie they promote. However, they are not just advertising materials nor are they just art collectables. They can be seen as a reflection of the sentiments of the era they come from, just as much as the films they promote.
Artisans began crafting beautiful containers for which to store snuff. Snuff boxes were made to keep the precious powder dry in between uses. Snuff boxes are considered very personal items. Like jewellery, they can be passed down as heirlooms. Artisans used a variety of materials in creating these boxes. Fine metals such as silver and gold were often used, as well as horns, tortoiseshell, porcelain and ivory. The materials used to craft these particular collectables make them valuable pieces. Add in the level of craftsmanship, a well-known place of origin or craftsman, the type and quality of ornamentation, and you’ve got yourself a highly coveted antique with a price that might cost an arm or a leg.
For some, collecting corkscrews may seem quite peculiar. Some would even note that these items look pretty much the same, while some would even say that corkscrews do not even possess aesthetical appeal. Anyone can be an avid corkscrew collector. As with any other collectable, one collector’s preference might differ from another. One could decide to collect corkscrews with a particular mechanism, while others might look at the place of origin or age of a particular corkscrew. Peculiar or not, collecting these curiosities may be a means of preserving a small part of the history of humankind and its tools.
Postcards, as we know them today, could have been inspired by the picture envelopes in which cards were sent. These envelopes would have comics, pictures of the season or holidays, patriotic pictures and even musical notes. John P. Charlton was the first person to copyright a postcard in the United States in 1861. Hymen L. Lipman bought Charlton’s copyright and began reissuing these postcards in 1870. Postcard collecting or deltiology came about shortly after the first picture postcards appeared. People bought postcards not only to send messages but also to add to their collection. One could also visit museums that feature postcards or find them in auction houses and antique stores.
Toys have always been integral to the development of children. This is true today as it was in the countless generations before us. For as long as there are children, there would be playing and, by extension, toys. Toys, however, are not the exclusive province of children. Even as adults, people still find them fascinating, perhaps no longer as playthings but as tokens from childhood, nostalgia pieces, memorabilia, and even collectables. In fact, toys from bygone days can command very hefty prices. While people did collect toys before, the toy market now actively markets to adult buyers. Plus, this century saw an increasing demand for antique and vintage toys.
You probably own a snow dome or globe or two, most of us have one somewhere about. They can be varying sizes and may have outer decorations which can be elaborate. Snow globes and snow domes may also have a built-in musical box to further enchant you. They are not too difficult to find for collectors, although there are some very rare and precious ones for the serious addict. Snow globes and snow domes are for everyone. Indeed, they do have a magic of their own – and you are never too old to turn the globe and watch the snow falling, falling, falling…
Before there were portable music players and apps, there was the music box. This carefully crafted contraption made of wood or other material plays a certain melody whenever one winds the key or opens the box. Music boxes in the 21st century have become novelty items. They often make lovely presents, especially for young girls and ladies. They also come in many forms: from the usual box to clocks, snow globes, figurines, and the most common variety as jewellery boxes. They evoke a feeling of nostalgia, and as the box is opened or the key turned, memories seem to rise with the melody. Despite all the modern musical inventions, there’s nothing quite like a music box.
Cigarette cards were originally blank card inserts that were used to stiffen soft and flimsy cigarette packets and protect its contents. It wasn’t long until someone decided that these stiffeners could serve another purpose: advertisement material. Eventually, these cards began to come with pictures of a particular theme, compelling customers to buy more of the product to complete the set of a certain theme. No matter the reason one has for indulging in cartophily, it cannot be denied that cigarette cards not only served as a hobby. The information printed on them helped people to see places they would never see, learn things they wouldn’t have known, and reflected the sentiments of the people of their era.
Paul Storr is revered as one of the finest and legendary English silversmiths. He built a reputation for perfecting the works, styles and designs of the grandiose Neo-Classical style developed in the Regency period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Most of his works can be easily found in European royal palaces, museums and throughout the world. But contrary to the notion in people that his works were commissioned only by the royalties, the truth is that he embraced a higher level of craftsmanship and superior quality into his products. Up to date, his legacy lives on, and his works command very high prices in many global auctions.
Archibald Knox was a Manx silver designer of Scottish descent. He became best known as being Liberty’s primary designer. One of his notable works is the epitaph or gravestone for Liberty’s founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty. Knox’s premier and prolific work acted as a bridge of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Celtic Revival, Art Nouveau and Modernism. Knox’s family engineering background somehow influenced Archibald’s design process for he used metalwork designs that were produced in the style of ready-to-engineer blueprints. Archibald’s design talent consisted of a wide range of objects, ornamental and utilitarian, and also included silver and pewter tea sets, jewellery, inkwells, boxes, gravestones, watercolours, graphic designs, calligraphy, house design, fonts and bank cheques.
Hester Bateman happened to be the most famous English female silversmith of the 18th century. However, she had no education, which explains her ‘X’ signature and why many of Bateman pieces had been outsourced elsewhere from talented craftsmen. There is no single known Hester workpiece after 1760. Most of Hester’s pieces are over-stamped with their marks, meaning they were from other artists. Despite this, Hester was an adept businesswoman who learnt the smithing trade from her husband. The Bateman family had a catalogue of various silverwares that included flatware, serving dishes, inkwells and horse-racing trophies. Due to their quality, any antique silver made by Hester Bateman and her family is still very collectable today.
Christopher Dresser was an English designer whose knowledge of past styles and experience with modern manufacturing processes made him a pioneer in professional design. Dresser successfully introduced to British design elements from many cultures across the world, especially Japanese. He created ceramics, metalwork, silver, glass, textiles, wallpaper, and other items. Dresser was notably important in introducing modern industrial techniques by working directly with manufacturers to produce elegant and affordable products. A lot of Dresser’s metalwork designs are still in production today, which are now manufactured by Alessi. One of his Old Hall designs is thought to have inspired Alan Garner’s 1967 novel ‘The Owl Service’.
Drummond & Co. was a partnership between Samuel Brush and William Drummond in Collins Street. It was called the Brush & MacDonnell Company. The name was changed after the death of Samuel Brush in 1878, which was maintained till its closure. The company had been renowned for style and quality since inception. At Drummond & Co., all royalty, entertainers, politicians and gentry have had the Drummond experience, where exclusive jewellery, fine china, crystal and the sniff of snobbery combined to affirm one’s social status. Even some cashed-up underworld figures and brothel madams had a reputable outlet in which to spend their money.
August Brunkhorst was the successor to Henry Steiner and was another notable silverware dealer in Adelaide. After the famous collapse of the Australian economy and the loss of Steiner’s wife and two children from a typhoid epidemic, Steiner decided to sell off his business. The buyer was August Brunkhorst, who was his employee. The business was again sold by August Brunkhorst to Caris Brothers before his death, at the age of seventy-one years. There is not much known about August Brunkhorst and his business, but many historians and museums are trying to fill in the gaps and recover any of the pieces that he sold or made.
Basse-taille, meaning low-cut in French, is an enamelling technique where the artist creates a low-relief pattern in precious metal such as silver and gold by engraving or chasing. The technique was developed in Italy in the 13th century, and its work enamel was very popular in Europe especially during the Gothic and Renaissance periods. This style was used in the late Middle Ages and later revived in the 17th century. And following the invention of the domestic table clock and of the watch in the 16th century, enamelling became one of the most popular forms of decoration for the dials and cases.
J. Henry Steiner was a very prolific silversmith. He exhibited at many of the great 19th century exhibitions across the world. Despite being born and trained in Germany, Henry Steiner was an ace silversmith in Adelaide who displayed his foremost creations at many inter-colonial and international exhibitions. In around 1875, Steiner created one of his most spectacular art and functional pieces, a perfume-bottle holder that incorporated the shape of an emu egg. In 1880, the silver epergne which was made in his workshop became Australia’s largest known centrepiece. Today, the centrepiece has now been confirmed as being originally made for Australia’s first international exhibition held in Sydney in 1879 where it occupied part of Steiner’s exceedingly beautiful display.