A little history of a Victorian red tomato server

During the Victorian era, you could find a serving piece for just about anything.  Olive forks? Got it.  Cake servers?  Yep, got that too.  But have you ever run across a red tomato server?

These items are great.  Tomato servers come in two different variations, one for red tomatoes and one for green.  Why in the world would you have a different one for each type of tomatoes?  Its simple really when you think about it.  The red tomato servers have the openings built in for all of the juice from the tomato to drain through the server and not onto your tablecloth.

The server for the green tomatoes does not have the openings for the fact that the green tomatoes are not as messy and don’t need the openings.  You could even use the green tomato server for fried green tomatoes.

Currently in my Etsy shop, there is a red tomato server that was made by the William Rogers Company.  Its made of silverplate and sports the LA FRANCE pattern.  You can see the piece here.

The Victorian era truly did make a ide variety of serving pieces for the table.  What items have you run across while shopping?

What are some of the different types of finishes that you will see on glassware?

When you dive into the world of antiques and collectibles—especially glassware—you will find many different types of finishes applied to the item.  Frosted glass, satin glass and even pearlescent glass are a few of the finishes that you will run across.  Here are a few more that you will see:

Matte finish—this type of glassware has a non-shiny finish that was made by sandblasting or even applying an acid to dull the finish of the glass.

Luster—this has a shiny (almost a metallic effect) that was made by applying the glass with metallic oxides that were dissolved in acid and fired in a kiln.  After cleaning, the glass has a distinctive shiny surface.

Acid etched—this is glassware that has been treated with an acid to produce a finish that has a frosted appearance.

This is a few of the different types of finished that you will run across.  What types of finishes have you seen?

There was a Half Disme? Really?

When 1792 rolled around, the United States started to produce coins under the Coinage Act Of 1792.  Some of the coins that the United States mint (which is based in Philadelphia) include a half dollar, a cent, and even some gold pieces.  But did you know that they also produced a coin called a half disme?

*Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Pictured above is one of the early examples of a half disme, which ultimately became a half dime.  The face value of the piece is what the name suggests it was worth 5 cents.  The coin was produced in pure silver up to the time it was renamed in 1873.

The coin was renamed to 5 cent piece, which is what it is called today, and today one of the nicknames for it is “nickel” (which is a pretty good description for the metal which it is made of).

What kind weird names have you heard a coin called?

Two Cents worth? Yep

Did you know that there was actually a 2-cent coin that was produced by the United States mint?

The Two Cent piece officially ran from 1864 to 1872, but there was a copy made for collectors in 1873.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The economic turmoil of the American Civil War caused any and all government-issued coins to vanish from circulation (they were hoarded by the public) Even the Indian Head cent—which was made of bronze—was pretty much gone from circulation (The Coinage Act Of 1864 authorized the cent to switch to a bronze composition and the production of the Two Cent coin).

Even though there were other mints actively producing coins at the time, this coin was only produced at the mint based in Philadelphia.  What this means is that there will not be a mint mark anywhere (which is the way this mint was marking the coins until 1980).

Two of the more famous die varieties happened in 1864.  One is called the “large motto,” and the other is called the “small motto.”  These two varieties deal with the motto, “In God We Trust.”  The words IN, GOD, and TRUST has some small differences, while the word WE has the most differences.  It all hinges on the size of it, and it is very noticeable.  The WE on “large motto” is larger than the WE on the “small motto.”

Large motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
small motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The “small motto” is much scarcer than the “large motto.”  The best idea is to keep an eye out for it in case you might walk across a case full of coins at a mall, or happen to be at a coin shop or show.

Have you seen one of these really cool coins?

Look at all of the different colors on glassware!

Pink, green, black and even red are only a few colors that you will see on glassware.  There are so many that it will make your head spin!  Here are some of the colors that you may have not heard of:

Jadeite—this is a type of glass for the table made of Jade-green opaque milk glass.  Jadeite was popular in the United States in the mid-20th century and has a blue variety that’s called “Azur-ite”.

MONAX—this is a translucent white glass that has a faint blue hue when held up to the light. This unique colored glass is sometimes mistaken as milk glass (which is whiter in color).

Ruby Flashed glass—this is created by coating a clear glass with one or more thin layers of colored glass (this is also known as flashed glass).  The colored glass can be either partly or completely etched away by using items like acid or sandblasting.  This results in spots where the colored glass has been removed.

This is a ridiculously small portion of all the colors that you will run across.  What have you seen?

The not-so-famous furniture styles

There are the ultra-famous styles of furniture that everyone knows about (like Chippendale, Hepplewhite, or even Victorian) but did you know that there were quite a few styles that often were around with the more famous counterparts that are just not that well known?

The first one that I heard about that is like this is called DIRECTORIE.  It ran from 1795 to about 1804 and ran the same time as the Sheraton and Duncan Phyfe styles (the Duncan Phyfe style is also called the Federal Style).  Following the French Revolution, France was ruled by five directors.  Any and all signs of royalty were thrown out the window, and furniture design was controlled by a Jury Of Arts and Manufactures.  Greek, Roman, and even Egyptian influences are strong with the DIRECTORIE style.

The next style is called EASTLAKE and it ran from about 1879 to 1895.  It ran the same time that Late French Provincial and the Victorian Styles were going on.  This style was created by Charles Eastlake and achieved some popularity here in America and in England as well.  The style had some Gothic flair going on and had some Japanese ornamentation as well.  Cherry and Fruit were extensively used in the furniture of this style and had tile panels and conspicuous hardware that were used for decoration.

This is only a small portion of all the fantastic styles that I’ve heard of that really aren’t that well-known.  What kinds of styles have you heard of?

A little history of cameo jewelry

Cameo jewelry has been a popular item for many years now, and it comes in many scenes and sizes.  Just what in the world is cameo jewelry?

Cameo is a method of carving an image into stone or shell that has a flat edge to it.  More often than not, you will see a product that has multiple colors in it to give an extra pop to the carving.  The cameos that are made of semi-precious stone like onyx and agate have examples that date all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome.  The ones that are made of shell are more modern.

The cameo that is pictured above is the type that you would find that’s made in the late 1800’s into the 1900’s.  As you can see, the piece features a picture of a person.  I’ve seen several different motifs including more than one person, an animal, and the occasional flower.

The price of all cameos depends on what it’s made of and the quality of the carving on it.  Some of the places to check are the hair, nose and facial features.  The more features that are present and are vivid, it makes the cameo just that much better.

The great thing about this type of jewelry is that it can fit any budget and liven up any outfit at the same time.

What examples of cameo jewelry have you found?

This is definitely a One-Of-A-Kind item!

I am always on the lookout for things that are unique.  I ran into this extremely cool tray a couple of years ago, and I immediately fell in love with it.

At least 30 years ago, a person in their garage needed a nut and bolt tray.  They reached for the nearest item, which happened to be a Gargoyle Mobiloil 5-quart oil can that was made by the Socony Vacuum Oil Company.

Whoever made this tray really did a good job.  They took their time and rolled the edges so that you won’t get a cut, and the compartments appear to be pretty close to being even as well.  It is insanely well-made and the tray borders on tramp art—you could even call it Garage Art.

When this tray was made, it is obvious that money was extremely tight.  Everything had to either be used until it was worn out or be remade into something else that was just as useful.  That’s how this tray came about.

The skies are the limit when it comes to finding a use for something like this.  It could be used on a desk to hold office supplies; it could hold pocket change and even your car keys.

What kinds of remade items like this have you run across while out shopping?

A brief history of the Westmoreland Glass Company

The Westmoreland Glass Company was founded in 1889, and was based in Graceville, Pennsylvania (which is not too far from Greensburg, Pennsylvania).  The company was run by brothers George and Charles West, which were the majority shareholders of the company.

When the company opened, the main production was pressed glass tableware lines, mustard jars, and even candy containers.

The brothers ran the company until 1921, when George West went on to run his own company.

The company was then run by Charles West and his close friend Ira Brainard.  When this happened, the name of the company changed from Westmoreland Specialty Company to Westmoreland Glass Company.  Shortly after the change, Westmoreland started to produce cut glass and even high-quality hand decorated glass.

The 1940’s saw James H. Brainard (Ira’s relative) take over ownership of the company.  At this time, they went with mass produced milk glass and discontinued the hand decorated glass.

The company eventually went out of business in 1984, and the building was apparently converted into a storage facility.

There’s a very wide range of glassware that Westmoreland produced over the many years they were in business.  This can be very helpful for a collector that’s on a very strict budget, and they can find something to decorate with or collect for not much money.

What kinds of Westmoreland pieces that you have found that you treasure?

The green flag is about to drop on the Indianapolis 500. . . from 1972?!?

The Indianapolis 500 race (also known as the Indy 500) is a race that’s held every year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and it’s been held there since 1911.

The photo-finishes, drinking the milk in victory lane and even the fabled yard of bricks at the start-finish line are just some of the things that you think of when it comes to this race.

One of the years that is memorable for this race is 1972.  Several important things happened during 1972, and this is the first year that Jim Nabors was invited to sing the pre-race song “Back Home Again In Indiana.”  It was the start of a 36-year tradition for Jim Nabors performed nearly every year from 1972 to 2014.

The second thing that happened in 1972 is that this is the first year that the cars were allowed to use bolt on wings.  This helped the speeds climb drastically—Bobby Unser won the pole with a remarkable 195 mph, and the average race speed was 162 mph (that speed would stand until 1984).

The 1972 race was also the first year where the Electro-PACER light system was used during the caution laps at Indy.  The officials at the speedway also did not use the pace car during the cautions, and this enforcement tool was used at Indy for 7 years (there were some controversies with the system in the years to come).

There are also many collectibles for the race, and one of them is this souvenir tumbler by Libbey Glass.

The Libbey Glass Company made this terrific souvenir glass celebrating the 1972 race. The glass features a blue race car scene on the front with a yellow 1972 at the top, and the back even has all of the race winners from 1911 to 1971 in blue.

You can see this great tumbler in my Etsy shop here, head on over and check it out!

What a great gift for a fan of the race!