Friday, September 23, 2011

Oktoberfest and Nutcrackers

Hello everyone!  I'm Simone's daughter and I am doing a guest post as she is traveling again.  

As you may or may not know, the official Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany kicked off last week and lasts until October 3.  Now, you may be thinking, shouldn't the Oktoberfest occur in October and not September? Well, yes. The official first Oktoberfest began in October 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig I to his new princess.  The Germans enjoyed celebrating the marriage so much they're still celebrating.  However, to take advantage of the nicer September weather, it was moved up to start in September and end in October.  The wedding celebration also coincided with an older celebration of drinking the previous years' beer before it went bad.  Hence, all the beer drinking.

Since I'm not in Germany, to me the Oktoberfest is a wonderful excuse to display my nutcrackers. (Ok, who am I kidding, they're up all year round...)

Personal photo- this is actually a smoker, not a nutcracker, but it said Oktoberfest on it.


The traditional wooden nutcracker dressed as soldiers and kings that are everywhere during the holidays did not start appearing until between 1800-1830 in Southern Germany in the Erzgebirge region.  
Personal Photo- a Steinbach nutcracker dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing

Antique wooden nutcrackers from that era are difficult to find as people actually used them to crack nuts instead of to display on shelves. As a result, they would eventually break from use and get thrown into the fire.  All of my nutcrackers are new.  If I ever found an antique wooden one I would buy it right up, broken or not! 

Personal Photo- another Steinbach nutcracker dressed as a wine maker

Nutcrackers used as Christmas decorations didn't begin until the Victorian era when children would receive miniature versions in their stockings.  Then of course, Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" ballet played during Christmas only enhanced their image as a Christmas symbol.

Personal Photo
I leave these nutcrackers up all year long, I just don't display them front and center.  Before Tchaikovsky and the Victorians, nutcrackers were left up all year long, so I am merely following an older tradition!   During the holidays I move them to a more central location and then add my Santa nutcrackers in as well. I'll have to post the Santa nutcrackers later as they are very cute!

Today there are two main German nutcracker makers... Christian Steinbach and Christian Ulbricht.  All of the German nutcrackers are handmade.  During the holidays you can buy nutcrackers at many stores, but they are made in China and are not high quality.  Plus, they just aren't as cute.

There is a nutcracker museum located in Leavenworth, Washington.  Leavenworth is this picturesque little village in Northern Washington located in the Cascade Mountains.  It is called the "Little Germany" because it looks like a little German village nestled in the Alps.
File:Leavenworth Washington.jpg
Photo from Wikipedia.  Click on photo for link to official Leavenworth website.
It is a cute little town to visit if you ever find yourself up in the Northwest corner of the U.S.

Hopefully that encourages you to display your nutcrackers at other times other than Christmas. The holiday nutcrackers will be posted in the holidays. I hope you enjoyed the little history lesson too!!
Thanks to my mother for letting me guest post!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baltimore Antique Show - Ending Summer With Fun

There has been much going on this summer, but I've always wanted to attend the Baltimore Antique Show.  This show was hampered by the hurricane.  People were worried that the show, held in the basement next to the harbor, would flood.    It didn't, but they did have an earthquake during setup.   My California friends paused a moment, and then continued working.  About 20 minutes later, the building was evacuated.   You can tell the east coast doesn't know how to handle earthquakes.  ( #1 Rule:  DO NOT stand on the sidewalk outside brick skyscrapers.  Those bricks can come down and kill you....)

This is the first time I've been to the Baltimore show.   I've been to Miami, Philadelphia and my husband has been to Brimfield, but I tend to stay on the West Coast.    The Left Coast is the best coast--for hiking, weather, etc (or life, as my daughter says)--but go to the Right Coast for antiques!

I intended to take alot of photos, but wound up not thinking about my camera or blogging.    The show opened at 11 AM, and I didn't complete the first "walkaround" until 3 PM.     That's unusual for me, and I can usually blow through a show in 2 hours.

On to what you want to see--pictures.  I don't collect French faience, Quimper, but thought that it has a nice look.  Given that I collect early transferware, it seems like a nice collecting category to pursue.  So I'll think about what it is that would work for me in a collection.  I like to look for unusual items in a collecting category, but ALL of these pieces seem unusual.

A wall of Faience
The next thing I thought was something I could use was the wooden plaque below.   There were a pair of them. They were either European or Mexico.

Part of the Baltimore Show is a book show.  I've never sought out an antique book show, but I was delighted to have stumbled into such a wonderful show.  When we were first married, all I bought at estate sales were books.  Who could afford expensive (ha) antiques every weekend, but a $20 bill would buy me a stack of wonderful old bindings "decorator books by the yard".   I still can't pass up a nice book, however, instead of $2, it's more like $20-$60.

I took the business card of this dealer, I'll add his name when I find it...
Don't you just love all the wonderful bindings?  They are works of art.   Books add interest to a room.  I've got them stacked everywhere.  I am always amazed at how many estate sales didn't have a single book in it.  How sad not to have that dimension in your life.

Wow!  Check out these really old books.  Homer Iliad from 1664 in Greek for $1250?  Really, I can own something that old?
Check out all these wonderful books, many for $200.  Wouldn't you rather own one of these than an I-phone?
(I would, and I don't have an I-phone)
 I'm thinking about all the books that I see in the upscale shops like restoration hardware.  You see books wrapped in plain vellum.  Now I get what they were trying to copy.  I'd rather save my pennies, and buy one of these!

Owning books that are hundreds of years old is like owning art--literally.  This was quite an education

Of course the French Prayer Books with the embroidered tops were something I'd like to prop on the edge of my bookcase!
This was a German table from the 1700's.  Being German, I  think I should consider owning something like this.
Oh wait, I have one like this!

This English Penwork table has my name all over it.  Never go to an antique show without a mini-van....
That's my new motto.  Shipping this to the west coast would probably cost as much as the table.

This was like visiting a museum.  Many fabulous pieces, so over the top to own.  Can you imagine the size of room you'd need to hold this massive desk?  I think this was MS Rau from New Orleans.

My husband really liked this lamp.  It was very cool, you can't really see the molded glass that is a cameo like effect of a head.  I think he liked it because it was for holding the dealer's business cards, not for sale. hee hee.

One fabulous booth loaded with beautiful English antiques.  Close your eyes and point, you'll take something fabulous home!

I wish I'd thought about the blog and taken more photos.  This booth was soo wonderful.  They had many intriguing flags and I didn't even photograph the wonderful ones!

OMG!  You know how much I love needlepoint!   This was WONDERFUL!   I want this!   My husband said I couldn't have it because you can't sit on a piece like this, it would probably tear the needlepoint.  Sigh.  Someday....

The mosaic box was something that even caught my husband's eye.  The dealer wasn't in the booth.  I circled back later--his favorite box was from the 1700's, and was $24,000!   Oops, not going home with it  unless we win the lottery!  See what I mean about feeling like you are in a museum?

Isn't this painting charming?  It was $475.   I thought I would come back for that, but we ran out of time, had a flight to catch, and I forgot where this dealer was.  So a big hint for "possibilities"--write down the row of the dealer.  There must have been 50 rows of dealers.  500-700 booths?

The two pictures above are Antique Legacy, my friends from California.  They are the nicest people and OMG you wouldn't believe the fantastic clock that they sold.  I'll see if I can get a photo for you.

The two silk needlework pictures were a purchase.  However they never made it out west with me.  My daughter in St. Louis has them.   They'll stay there til next spring when I pick them up.

There were a couple of other purchases, but I wanted to share with you some of the fun of seeing the show.  Next year's advice:   Plan on two days to do the show.  Take an empty suitcase of bubble wrap so you can take a suitcase home on the plane with your treasures.

Since I've been home, I've been wandering through listings on Ebay.  I found another wonderful platter in mulberry transferware.  I'm working on a wall of platters in my bedroom.
Image Hosting by Vendio

It's great to get an antique fix without spending all day on an airplane too!