August 22, 2014

Baltimore Summer Antiques Show

For the next few days, the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show is taking place, and I had a chance to visit the show today, courtesy of my charming friends at Spare Room Antiques. The show is huge with almost 600 dealers participating. One of the fun things about this show is the full schedule of booth talks, ranging from how to tell good china from bad, and building an affordable collection. Here.

I thought I’d share some of the pieces that caught my eye, starting with the amazing flowers in massive urns that were scattered around the show floor. Each arrangement was at least five feet tall!
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One thing that struck us was the number of Flora Danica pieces that we saw. I am not sure whether you can decipher the price, but for a set of 60 pieces, the price is a cool $49,500, down from the original $104,000.IMG_2560

If you’re going to have that china, then clearly you need this silver chest to hold your silver.IMG_2586

It’s service for 24, IMG_2590with more than 800 pieces. The price is $295,000!IMG_2588

I’d have been perfectly content with this little set of mother-of-pearl handled knives and forks. Actually, it’s not unlike some that I already have.IMG_2574

If you’re dining on china like the Flora Danica and using the Reed & Barton silver, then you might think about wearing this set of jewelry. IMG_2554

Or maybe this blingy thingy. IMG_2621

One of the fun pieces we saw several times was an vintage silver plate meat platter dome, cut in half and repurposed as wall sconces. IMG_2609

I love trinket boxes and these are several that appealed to me.


When I was mugged in April, I lost my beautiful Goyard bag, but I am sure that if I’d been carrying this one, the mugger wouldn’t have bothered to grab it.IMG_2636

I am always a fan of prints and ephemera, and this show had no shortage of that.
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One of my favourite pieces, which is hard to see, is this old metal dish rack from France. It was about three feet tall and had a row of hooks across the top for hanging teacups or mugs. Such a simple design, but such fun.IMG_2659

I am sure you’re wondering what I got at the show. Funnily, I went to a jumble sale at the Greek church next to my office right before I headed to the Antiques Show, and got some fun things there. IMG_2679But nothing I HAD to have at the Antiques show.

For more information about the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, please click here.

August 20, 2014


One of my neighbours texted me to come over, as they’d been to an Amish produce auction and had “won” a case of limes and  a load of other produce. She gave me a dozen or so, along with some mangoes, bok choy, garlic (just a dozen, from the 30 lb. box) and a few other bits and pieces.

I am trying to think of some good uses for the limes and have come up with some good ideas, but since you all always have brilliant suggestions, I thought I’d open the floor…


I adore limeade, but I think that drinking it for a week might make me hate it. Of course, there are margaritas, but since I have to work all week, I’d not be able to take much advantage of drinking more than a few. imageKey lime pie is a perennial favourite, but I don’t want one in the house. image

I love lemon curd, so I am sure that I’d like lime curd just as much!image

What are your suggestions? I’d love to know what you’d do with the limes!

August 17, 2014

Christie’s “Odds & Ends” Auction

A year or so ago, Christie’s, the auction house, held an odd lots auction which proved to be very successful for them. So they are doing it again this year with the “Out of the Ordinary” sale, on view in London until it’s hammered down on September 3. I thought I’d share some of the odder odds and ends up for bid.

Pair of rare taxidermy Zebracorns (est. $5,000 to 8,000)zebracorns

Anthony Redmile Ostrich Egg Six-Branch Chandelier (est. $6,000 to 10,000)redmile

Handbag, formerly the property of the Queen Mother. (est. $3,000 to 6,000)image

A Swarovski crystal encrusted dog’s skeleton with platinum teeth. (est.$33,000 to 50,000)image

36” tall Chinese tole tea canisters ($11,000 to 16,000_image

Fornasetti Adam & Eve plates. (est. $5,000 to 7,000)image

Paul McCartney’s childhood home’s front door. (est. $10,000 to 13,000)image

An Enigma cipher machine. ($66,000 to 100,000)image

Lobster claw with pearls. Reminds me of the late, lamented House of Beauty & Culture. (est. $4.000 to 6,000)image

John Rocque’s 1746 24-sheet map of London, which I am hoping that Ben Pentreath will republish. ($50,000 to 60,000)image

Papier Mache horses’ teeth models (who wouldn’t want these!) (est. $4,000 to 7,000)image

1930’s enamel London Underground map. (est. $16,000 to 25,000)image

For more information on any of these lots, or to see some of the other amazing lots on offer, please click here.

August 15, 2014

The Before Pictures

I work in a building that was purpose-built for the organization in 1909. There are many beautiful parts of it, but over the years, some of the rooms, which are used several times a week, have begun to show their age. This room, our Reading Room, was last refurbished in 1988, which you will see immediately from the colour scheme of mauve, Williamsburg blue and cream, with chintz curtains in matching shades. originalOne of my assignments over the next month or so, is to refresh this room and bring it back to what its original purpose was: a reading room where our physicians could study the latest information in one of the more than 65,000 books then in our library.

After consulting with one of my best friends, David, who is an interior designer, we decided there were a few mandatory items on the list of things to be done to bring the room back to its original beauty:

First, ditch the ghastly curtains. I told our facilities manager that I wanted to have a ceremonial tearing-down of the curtains and he thought I was serious! If that picture doesn’t tell you how out-dated the curtains are, maybe this little detail will convince you of my need to get rid of them.IMG_1080 (2)Yes, someone cut and hemmed the curtain to fit over the radiator. David has suggested that we forgo the curtains altogether, since they don’t really fit the spaces between the bookcases and the windows, and just go with nice two-inch Venetian blinds. That will give the room a cleaner look. And we will leave the top windows plain.

This is the original elevation of the building and I have highlighted the area where we’re working below. So, it’s three full-length windows in the center and two smaller windows on either end of the room. elevation

Second on the list is painting all the blue trim the same cream/antique white as the rest of the woodwork, imageand while they’ve got the paint out, they’re going to paint the “fruits and veg” cream.imageThey are badly painted in flat paints, and are really quite garish. I think that they will look much better in a monochromatic style.

The third item is painting the soffit where the a/c ducts in the room were added. Right now that space has three difference colours and looks very disjointed. David’s suggestion was to paint it the same cream as the rest of the woodwork, so it looks all of a piece. It’s funny how pink the paint looks in the different lights.

After some thinking, and suggestions from the donor who’s funding the project, we chose a gorgeous shade of paint, generously supplied by my friends at C2 Paints. imageIt’s called Turtleback, and is a mossy deep green. imageWhen you buy paints and have them tinted, the paint store uses three or five tints to achieve the shade you want. C2 paints use 16 colours to make up the paints, and they have so much depth to them. When I knew I was going to be working on the reading room, I knew I wanted C2 paint for the job.

Because the long walls are mostly book-cases, windows and doors, we think that this colour won’t overwhelm the space. The tall windows are west-facing, so the room gets lots of great light. And harkening back to its original use, the Turtleback will give the room the gravitas it once had… Not to mention that our earliest members founded the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, and the school’s mascot is a turtle!

The other thing that’s bothered me about this room is that many of the bookcases are empty! It’s not like we have any shortage of books, with a stacks library just down the hall with an inventory of 50,000 books. imageSo today, I measured all of the shelves that need to be filled and it came up to 172 linear feet of books. Some of the shelves already have artifacts and ephemera on them, but I’ve got a lot of spaces to fill. So, I will be heading up to the stacks, where our ghost resides, to mark off books which will be transferred to the reading room, where they’ve probably not been for 75+ years.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we progress on this project!

August 13, 2014

Lovely Lauren

Sad news again today with the passing of screen legend, Lauren Bacall. She’s always been one of my favourites for her classical good looks, her elegance and her beautiful deep voice.

It’s incredible to think that she’s only 19 in this picture, and when she first appeared on screen in “To Have and Have Not”.


With just a few tweaks, this could be a contemporary image!image

She always looks very serious in her early images, perhaps trying to play older than she is? And always great eyebrows!image

Even as she aged a bit, she was still stunning.image

Who can forget her in the classic Designing Women, with the stunning dresses she designed?Des Women

Finally, a big smile.image

In 1993, if she had work done, it was done very well.image

Still gorgeous in 2009.image

This is my favourite image of Lauren Bacall.image