All posts in the 2015 category

Something old, something new: One Victrola’s mysterious journey.

Published December 29, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Vic VVXIV for wordpress Picture of a Victrola VV-XIV.

There’s a poor behemoth Victrola VV-XIV tightly wedged between a long metal filing cabinet and a tiny portion of bookshelf space in a used furniture store. I promised myself, “no more” in regards to restoring these beautiful wind-up antique phonographs simply because the cost to restore them can outweigh the price you pay for the machine.

And it was only twice I seen a gold-plated Victrola model. The last one I had seen at a thrift store was beat to heck and back. There was rust all over it and it reeked of stagnant mold damage like it had been dredged up from the depths of a leaky basement– or worse, perhaps. And the thirft store was charging $368! There were 78s adhered to the storage shelves. It was a pitiful mess of Tetanus waiting to happen. And that baby upright Victrola didn’t stay in the thrift store very long. Don’t know if it was ever bought or sold, or made its way to the landfill.

But this large upright gold-plated Victrola was in far better condition. The cabinet was clean (although dusty), and it requires some major and minor TLC. It’s a labor of love I’d happily accept.

And this Victrola’s provenance (history of its previous owners and what state it came from) is completely N/A (non-applicable). This Victrola didn’t come with any paperwork and that’s to be expected. There was no instruction booklet (sometimes these do surface).

I have no clue who owned this antique talking machine, but it likely dates around Aug. 1, 1913 (checked the sticker on the back at the lower left hand corner). And I did some cross-reference from this fantastic site: The Victor Victrola page before I decided to return to the store.

This talking machine has been around a day or two. Sure the cabinet has a few nicks, a minuscule white paint speck here and there. Overall the ornate carved moldings are present and appear to be in good condition for their age. And nope, it’s not even close to being museum quality or even pristine condition. Most antique phonograph collectors with disposable incomes won’t even consider these less glossy talking machines or rather, let me say, cosmetically-challenged Victrolas that have veneer loss and/ or alligator-like cabinets due to separation of the original gloss. The stain appears to be red mahogany or something similar. And my Christmas present finally arrived yesterday morning.

I had the sales person give me an in-store demonstration long before I ever decided to get this particular Victrola. I cringed when I heard “At the Pawn Shop” by Guy Mitchell. I have nothing against this artist. For the love of Nipper, (Victrola’s mascot Fox Terrier), don’t ever play a 1950s 78 on a Victrola—ever. I stress this because the record grooves are different and can’t handle the heavy weight of a talking machine’s reproducer nor that of the steel needle that will act like a pumice stone thus causing groove walls of the 78 terrible wear and tear. Plus its very damaging to the mica diaphragm and creates an unpleasant shrill to the ears. Also, 78s recorded on or after 1935 is the cut-off point due to differences in the recording/cutting processes.

And I will always have Guy Mitchell’s song stuck in my head from now on whenever I lay eyes on this once proud, stunning glorious talking machine that was one of two flagship models in the Victor-Victrola line. It was $200 brand new back in 1913 or thereabouts. It is well over $4,000 in today’s money according to the Federal Reserve inflation calculator.

And it’s going to need critical TLC. As I suspected (and scrunched my shoulders when listening to it play in the store), the mainspring(s) were broke, possibly. They weren’t thumping per se, one—perhaps all three mainsprings are possibly weak which is very common on nearly all un-restored Victrolas nowadays if not well cared for by its former owner(s). I suspected such and figured up additional costs it’s going to take to get this beautiful talking machine to perform as it once did.

Three red flags went up in my mind aside from the common potential mainspring breakage, the internal horn shifted inside the cabinet. Also, there was scoring to the main board bolts likely due to someone using the wrong type of screw driver. And its missing four tiny gold-plated screws from its lid, which indicates to me the lid had been removed at some point.

Regardless, I’m happy with the new Victrola. It came with its own record duster (not often found with these machines), three packs of old original needles, and the cabinet key that’s original to the machine as well. The folks in the furniture store told me that a man tried to walk off with the cabinet key. This is because they are extremely hard to come by, very pricey when found, and seldom if ever, are retained with the phonograph.
I don’t plan to get into a massive rush to get the mainsprings repaired nor do will I have the Exhibition reproducer overhauled anytime soon. I decided to take the leisurely (or lazy approach) with this machine. The talking machine plays, but the mainsprings violently protest while it plays a 78 and sounds like one of the springs is uncoiling inside the barrel. And no, it’s not the ever common “thump,” “thump”, “thump” from dried grease in the mainspring barrels, its more than likely broken. I know since I own and serviced my own talking machines in my younger days and can detect by listening if its going to be something major that will require professional assistance or something minor like dried grease in the mainsprings.

I froze outside yesterday without a coat on so I could clean the caked on grease from the governor and worm drive shaft. And I remembered to put a few generous drops of Hoppie’s oil in the bushing and tips before I re-assembled it. That’s the extent of my main board adventure. There’s a few things I didn’t mess with simply because the majority of it calls for a professional, something of which, I’m not.

The cabinet was cleaned using Murphy’s Oil Soap and a clean cloth and cotton balls for the more intricate wood carvings. I then vacuumed inside the machine after I extracted ten or so needles, both steel and Fibre (bamboo kind). I didn’t stumble upon any hidden treasures. There was no Prohibition alcohol stuffed inside, no money either. But, hey, one can always dream. I heard various stories of people finding peculiar things inside these antique phonographs when they go to restore them that is.
And something tells me my new Victrola spent its life either near the Ocean in a beach front home, or elsewhere in a similar corrosive environment near salt water. The gold-plated hardware shows corrosion and has seen a lot of use as evident by the worn mark on the goose-neck tone arm. It came with a few record books that contained several 12” 78s. There were some nice one-sided red and also black bat wing label records, two dark purple Victor 78’s by Harry Lauder (a favorite of mine) and some modern 33 1/3” shoved in the books. And the other books contain…nothing. Oh, well.

Here’s how to decipher the types of music commonly found on a Victor 78 (I didn’t get around to covering the Orthophoics or the “VE” (Victor Electric) series because its been a lazy, cold, blustery day:

Red bat-wing label one-sided (included double-sided) 78’s will have classical, instrumental, sentimental, operatic ballads for example Enrico Caruso, Erinestine-Shumann-Heink, Fritz Kriesler, John McCormack, etc.

Black bat wing one-sided (including double-sided) 78’s will generally include Vaudeville, Fox Trots (jazz and waltzes), country, etc.

Purple bat wing one-sided 12” 78s will contain Opera in most cases, unless the singer happens to be Harry Lauder, then the song(s) would fall into a Scottish sentimental song category. Harry Lauder was a vaudeville comedian and music hall Scottish singer.
Now I believe the record binders themselves were manufactured during the 1940s since they have “RCA Victor Victrola” and the legendary Nipper trademark image in gold. But they appear later produced, not earlier like that of my embossed record binders from eons ago (same company). When the Victrola Talking Machine company was bought out by The Radio Corp. of America (RCA) in 1929 after the stock market crashed, they then changed the company’s name to include “RCA Victor” and the like. Thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, commenting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂

The Ladies Tunic 1890s-1900s.

Published December 3, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

ladies tunic front cranb

This is a special blog post dedicated to antique clothes. And believe me at one time I found myself swimming in antique bloomers, corset covers, chemises, Victorian era nightgowns (nursing gowns), and various mismatched lawn cotton articles. Their conditions varied. Some even wearable with extreme care. Others just for study. Since I’m not much of a seamstress I never copied these antique clothes. Why not? They’re incredibly easy to duplicate with brand new materials that could closely match.

Simply because I didn’t have the work space or a sewing machine. Therefore, rather than hang on to the fragile antique clothing, I made the decision to sell it on eBay some years ago. I had way too many antique clothes. I don’t regret ever selling off the tattered clothing. It freed me up tremendously, but with all things, sometimes you find a true article of clothing that you can’t pass up. A ladies tunic I bought recently is the nicest (and most pristine) article I ever laid eyes on.

I don’t intend to sell this tunic. What I do plan to do is have somebody help me make a duplicate of it though. Judging by the picture the tunic appears to be for a very extremely petite woman. Maybe even a teenage girl in her late teens. Perhaps there was a long bell-shaped skirt that went to this lovely tunic, but I didn’t find anything else. I think it dates between the late 1890’s- 1900’s. So, I bought the tunic.

I got it home and studied it’s design and how it was sewn together. I believe it was constructed from cranberry/ almost dark grape cotton-twill with tan-colored lining. I could search from now on and never find exact buttons to match it. Not that its missing any. But if I’m going to make another like it, finding similar buttons is like finding a needle in a haystack. They’re the special kind of tiny brass buttons that are sometimes seen on the old Victorian button-up boots. I have a pair of new-old-stock black wool spats (for a woman) that has similar buttons.

What is it with this particular antique clothing that I’m so in love with? Maybe its the lost style—perhaps even the cut of the garment is what appeals to me. It screams; “I’m not mass-produced!” I already have one corset cover that was graciously given to me. Although there’s some paint stains on it I still love it. It was the better of the two corset covers I that I kept for myself. Then I have one very long heavy eyelet-laced and pleated petticoat. The waist on it is large and I believe it was likely made to fit over a bird cage—eh, sorry— I mean to wear over a crinoline hoop skirt. A crinoline is a metal ‘cage’ skirt women of the 1850-1860s used to wear under their dresses. Sometimes they were strapped into the cumbersome contraption. And I can’t image wearing a crinoline nowadays in combination with a whale-boned corset as well. It would probably feel like wearing an over-sized metal wire whisk strapped around the waist. And forget trying to sit down wearing a crinoline skirt. I don’t think women could have reclined all that well on the fainting couch much less sit upright without that metal skirt jabbing them. I think I can gather in the petticoat with some Velcro strips or ties so it’ll fit. It won’t be period authentic, but I’m not out to win best altered petticoat awards. I’m more about getting in and out of it with ease.

I believe I might still have one outer black tunic jacket with puffy sleeves, black tassels, circa 1909-10. And for its age it’s falling apart. I believe the black tunic was made of real silk (no synthetic materials there) and the sleeves were lined in quilt batting material for winter. It was another gift that was graciously given to me. I also have a black shoulder half cape in excellent condition stored with my long coats. I haven’t ever tried to wear the shoulder cape because I would need to first see how it was worn and with what attire. I believe the cape dates to the Pioneer days, and if not, then maybe falls somewhere in the first half of the Twentieth century.

I also have four pair of black Victorian era boots (conditions vary for their age) and they’re still wearable with care. I reserve those for special occasions and never use them for everyday boots. I also have two pairs of black lace up “granny” shoes from the 1930s. And those I do wear on occasion. I receive a lot of compliments on them because they are so unique and kept in nice condition. I also have a ton of antique/ vintage dress gloves (colors vary). My oldest pair date around 1910 or a little earlier. They’re white, but have a few rust stains and some fraying of the material due to their age. I often wore them out and about with my everyday hat and coat. I received a ton of compliments and one antique vendors told me “Might as well enjoy those gloves because given another hundred years, they’ll turn to dust.” And they’re probably right so I lovingly don them during the winter. I also have extra pairs of everyday newer gloves that I keep tucked in the vehicle, in my extra coat pockets, etc. Never want to go somewhere in the dead middle of winter without a pair of gloves. When I was in my Twenties I had a bad habit leaving the house without so much a coat on nor did I own any pairs of gloves. And when you get older then you realize you want warmth and comfort. And if you’re me, you’ll long for your favorite pair of fuzzy house slippers, nightgown, and steeped mint melody tea at the end of a long day.

I have yet to turn up anymore Edwardian and/ or Victorian era hats. I had one that I just adored. It was very Titanic in style and swore I’d never part with it. I wanted it so badly and it was the first antique ‘clothing accessory’ I gravitated to when a small antique shop had their grand opening in a town where I used to live many years ago. Two ladies ran the shop and the older lady scowled at me and didn’t want to sell me the Edwardian hat. She made a huge fuss she was going to take it home earlier that same day before they opened shop. The lady standing beside her told her in a firm tone to sell it to me.

In a huff the older lady sold me the hat, but not before smashing it into the shopping bag. It was worse for wear and suffered splits in the velvet material. It still retained bits of its ostrich feathers that were sewn inside the wide brim and would have graced the hat all the way around.

That particular Edwardian hat traveled with me. It moved back home with me and I kept it stored away. I removed it from the storage container one day and saw that it was in worse shape. Well, the move likely damaged it. The shape of the hat was flattened and couldn’t be re-shaped. It was also shedding black dust from its lining. I made the decision to sell it. I’ve only seen one other hat similar to it on eBay selling for a lot and was in much nicer shape. I keep holding out for a better condition Edwardian hat to turn up that I could wear. And if asked, no, I don’t wear the hat pins. I believe those would set off metal detectors one-hundred miles away, get stolen or broke. And since none of my grandmothers are alive anymore, I have nobody to show me how to wear the hat pins. I do know they went through the back of the hat and through the bun of the hair to hold the hat on the head. But some of those wide brim hats were meant to sit on top of head that was piled high with hair extensions to round out that Edwardian style.

My best advice for lovers of antique clothing: make copies of the clothes if you know how to sew. Or wear them “as-is” with care. I have a shirtwaist that’s bright white lawn cotton in good condition for its age, but the material is so see through (most all shirtwaists were back then) that a chemise would be worn underneath it along with a corset cover and corset. And I have a few detachable lace arrow collars made for women that I have incorporated with modern blouses. You just have to add buttons and do some slight alteration of the modern blouse if you can’t find any collar buttons. I have no shortage of those collar buttons lying around. Thanks again for liking, sharing, commenting, re-posting, tweeting, I truly appreciate it. 🙂

Transferware: the beautiful antique dinnerware

Published November 30, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Now this says: eat, drink, and be merry. However, caution prevails, nagging at my better senses to do some exhaustive research on the particular dinnerware.

Before I knew it was called ‘Transferware’ I had no idea how to describe that particular pattern and the knock-offs that look like extremely fancy painted china. Okay, it is china. It’s antique porcelain. It’s antique (______) fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind. It comes in massive quantities of red, blue, green, purple, brown, black. The depictions vary. The age of the dinnerware can be difficult to pin point to a certain era. All I know is it began with a fragment I dug out of my garden bed this summer. Ironically enough, it isn’t as thick as the other Transferware I discovered in the antique stores. It could have been a tea cup since I did find a partial handle painted bright blue over white, the glaze still bright after being buried since who knew when in my backyard.
So with what little I did have to go on I reviewed some of similar dinnerware at the antique stores and looked at the dealer’s label: “Transferware- English”. I made a mental note and went home to clack the keys.
Gorgeous would be an understatement. The different designs and dishes are almost too beautiful to use. But some collectors do use them for special occasions. What about potential lead poisoning? Don’t all antique dinnerware contain ungodly amounts of lead in them? It depends on the dishes.
If you’re a firm believer of what the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advises about the lead content in such dishes made before the administrations founding forty-years ago, they advise to avoid using crazed antique dishes (although they call it ‘cracking’), cracked, chipped or damaged dinnerware. This could allow the lead (if any) to leech into the food and make a person ill. Especially bad would be to drink or eat anything acidic and this is a HUGE NO-NO even by antique dish collectors. Anything acidic like tomato products, orange juice, acidic fruits can eat away at the glaze.
Will it be red, blue, green? And is it microwave safe? NO. And I will use all caps on the word ‘no’. These antique dishes aren’t meant to go in a microwave, dishwasher or even a conventional oven. Because the transfer pattern is delicate and the glaze of unknown origin (I’ll assume), I wouldn’t ever subject this particular dinnerware to our harsh, speedy ways of serving up meals nowadays and letting a dishwasher do the rest.
I lean more towards the red Transferware. However, if I come across any other that I like better I may opt for it if it’s a.) not cracked, chipped, or worn. b.) if the glaze shows no signs of crazing, and c.) if the design and color catches my eye. It will not only have to be delicate-looking, but very stately and rich. And the silent statement it needs to echo: “I’m a damn fine antique!”
Undoubtedly it’s beautiful. It displays well. It fits all budgets and best of all, it’s saved from being dumped off in a landfill. Can’t say the same for paper plates and Styrofoam cups.
Where was Transferware made? In England, the Staffordshire region. It was produced sometime during the mid- 18th century. The process involves pottery being stamped with a transfer from a copper print, to a exact sized paper and applied to the pottery. Transferware is also found on bone China, Porcelain, and ironstone. Although typically it is seen on earthenware. Some antique dealers will label it as: “Staffordshire”. But beginner beware there’s A LOT of Japan made Transferware out there too. This is easy to tell the difference as the name “Japan” will be stamped on the bottom of cups, saucers and plates and it will be of thick, kinda chunky quality and less appealing in my personal opinion.
What do I love most about it? It’s plentiful even if the patterns don’t match. And here again, I wouldn’t pay too much for them. I love the Bavaria China tea cups and saucers and Butter pats (small dishes for serving butter), but here again, the gold paint worried me as did any possible lead poisoning. I’m speaking in terms of heavy metals toxicity in the gold paint, although I have noticed that it does wash off easily. But I see so much gold-painted China at the antique stores that it turns me away even as a potential buyer of antique China. If you have anything to add in the comments, please do. Again, thanks for liking, commenting, re-blogging, sharing. I truly appreciate it. 🙂

Buyer Beware!

Published November 30, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

radiation clock

It’s pretty isn’t it? Does it keep time? Yes, it does. It’s made of copper. It runs on a mainspring and has to be wound up. This particular clock was made in West Germany. Year unknown. So why should the buyer beware? Is there some knock-off alarm clock at Target that has more bells and whistles? Nope.

Look at the hands of the clock. Notice that nice-looking green paint on them. And what about it? The green paint is called luminal. During the Edwardian era and clear into the Twenties, this paint was notorious for one overt bad element that wasn’t understood back then: it’s radioactive and can expose a person to a small dose of radiation. Luminal paint was applied because of its ‘glow-in-the-dark’ effect it produces. Over time, however, this paint loses its glow and the chemical structures break down. The small inset glass won’t protect from its radioactive properties, either.

Would you want this on your nightstand? I sure wouldn’t. I was keen to the painted hands after watching two very informative documentaries about Hidden Killers of the Victorian home and Hidden Killers of the Edwardian home.

Was luminal restricted to just clocks? Nope. Way back during the 19th and turn of the 20th centuries luminal was used in clothing, toys, and people even hosted luminal balls never realizing they were exposing themselves to radiation.

Both documentaries intrigued me immensely simply because I love both eras. I love how they dressed back then. But I don’t agree with their strict morals or domineering attitudes. It got me thinking so I reviewed all of my antiques, and thankfully, never collected anything with luminal paint on it. I do have books with gold-painted pages, gold-painted shaving mugs and some uranium glass known as carnival glass and depression (era) glass and the risk of heavy metal toxicity exposure still remains, perhaps.

I always strongly advise to wash and dry your hands before and after handling such antiques. Never touch your eyes, nose or mouth either, and don’t make a regular habit of drinking or eating off of the antique dinnerware. I will get more into the Transferware and Ironstone dishes in another post. However, the Vaseline glass does emit a glow when placed under a black light, so although not related to the luminal paint specifically, can fall into this category of glowing antiques. If you ever get the chance read about the Radiation girls its very creepy what they were subjected to being purposely mislead to believe that radium was safe.

The radiation girls were U.S. factory workers who all came down with radiation poisoning from ingesting the luminous paint used on the clock dials. They would lick their brushes to a fine point thus ingesting small levels of radiation.

So does this clock from West Germany contain radiation since the dials are painted? Who knows. But its better to be safe than sorry. Thanks for liking, commenting, re-blogging, sharing. I truly appreciate it. 🙂





Lives torn asunder:

Published November 30, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

EDITED 12-3-15:

And I sincerely thank a fellow WordPress blogger for clearing up the misinformation about the vet story. From other message boards I read he was a hoarder and stayed in Florida mostly.

The first shocking article I read about came out of New York where a 68 year-old vet traveled to Florida to undergo knee replacement surgery. There were some complications after their post-op and the vet had to stay with a friend to recuperate until he was well enough to return home six months later. And what happened when he did go home in August? He was greeted by an empty lot. The town where he resided for 68 years of his life decided to demolish the vet’s family house they had lived in since they were 6 months old. It stored all of their childhood memories, personal belongings, family antiques and photos (of which the vet will never recover). The vet’s neighbor’s (of just 12 years) came right out and stated the property fell into disrepair, the house was an eyesore to the community, etc.

The vet corrected by stating they were paid up on their property taxes, mortgages on the home, etc.

Since the article left out A LOT what I gleaned from it is a spin on the ‘woe-is-me’ tale. And from doing a little more reading the vet wasn’t bad off (financially-speaking).

In another related article I read about an elderly couple living in Washington who were recently evicted from their place by none other that subsidized housing authority (Section 8). Good or bad, I once had to rely on Section 8 eons ago, and believe me, once I moved and no longer needed the assistance ,I swore I’d never go back. I was always living day to day back then (prepared to move at a moment’s notice) since the Section 8 program has a history of displacing a lot of tenants and the program itself tends to fail and funding runs out.

So why did the Section 8 program want to boot this elderly couple to the curb even after they agreed to buy the property that was going up for sale? Because they’re too old and Section 8 wanted to jump on the house flipping band wagon. Plus they wanted the elderly couple in a one-bedroom, cramped subsidized apartment.

While the new mod-cons may appeal to some, Section 8 in Washington said it wanted to vacate as many tenants as they could, fix up the houses/ apartments they already own and sell them to younger working class people with oodles of money. But there’s a problem. The Section 8 funding can only go so far. Most of the houses/apartments they did end up dumping off sit empty with no takers and haven’t been lived in for months, even years perhaps.

As a society, however, we seldom hear or read about these personal tragedy stories and when we do, we first thank our lucky stars it didn’t happen to us personally, then tend to light up the comment section that exclaims the elderly couple should have gone to work, they should have gotten an education like one commentor did and feels no sympathy for those truly needing government assistance. Commentor was on ‘a’ [non-specified] government training program that taught them a very boring trade, but then commentor joined a union, had a retirement savings, all their kids work, have two autos, a large nice house, no slackers and no laziness here—etc. The article didn’t ever say if the elderly couple were slackers or moochers in life.

But for a lot of people in this economy they can’t get ahead. They can’t find jobs, and if they do, there are certain restrictions on how many hours they can work. Part time won’t cut it. Even on a full time job it is difficult to make ends meet. I do feel for those that must work two jobs just to stay afloat.

But what struck me as curious was the similarities both articles had. The elderly couple lost all of their belongings when the Housing Authority came in and threw out everything they ever owned and they had to ask their adult kids to help raise the money so they could buy their property from Section 8, which as no surprise, asked more than the property was worth. The place the couple lived in since the 1970s was never remodeled or was it ever sold. It still sits vacant.

Do I see a creepy new trend cropping up or are these just isolated cases that leaked into the media? There’s a reason I never fully trusted the Section 8 program and why I never put faith in government programs. Yes, they are there when you’re in an emergency and need food and housing assistance. And these two articles made me seriously think to myself, “Growing old is going to suck.” Growing old doesn’t come with any stability especially not one of the three fundamentals for survival: shelter.

Since the elderly couple’s story was very one-sided and a lot left out there’s no telling what exact circumstances forced them to be evicted by the Housing Authority without so much allotting them a certain time frame to get their belongings and move. As a society we tend to blame the person’s circumstances as being a stereotypical ‘working the system’ sight unseen. Generational poverty gets mentioned in the comments and the person(s) are publicly shamed for being poor and doing nothing to better their financial and/ or educational status in life.

Thanks for liking, re-blogging, commenting, sharing, I sincerely appreciate it.


The forlorn antique pewter cruet set…

Published November 21, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Copy of table parlor1 Indeed, it called to me silently: four empty glass condiment containers that likely hadn’t seen table service since when? Probably since the late 1880’s. Curious as I was about it, I flipped the price tag over. $22 that’s more in my price range, and no, that doesn’t make me impractical, but I think in terms of what I feel an item should reflect price-wise.

I returned home to think about it. That roughly translates: “Don’t think about it too long.” Because it goes without saying if you see an item for a good price, then chances are someone else will swoop in and buy it out from under you. It’s happened a lot to me.

But it’s also within writing this that alas the pewter cruet set I purchased does contain lead. Does that shock me after the fact? Nope. I suspected such was the case.

Now before I go off on a ‘back in the day’… they didn’t know what we now understand about lead contamination and what nasty effects lead poisoning can do to the body.

From the pewter cleaning article I skimmed through it suggested mixing half a cup of flour, a teaspoon of salt and some vinegar, baking soda into a paste. Coat this paste on the pewter piece and gently polish it. Pewter won’t shine like silver or that of silverplate either. The end result is okay, but nothing fantastic. I think I’ll let the pewter age again and don’t plan to re-polish it. I have a habit of cleaning everything that first comes into my home since I don’t know where, how, or who cared for it before I purchased it.

So, the forlorn pewter cruet set sat there day after day in the antique store. The weeks rolled by and still no takers. I was looking for an antique cruet set within my budget (Good luck finding one of those for under $20 that isn’t “As-Is” with missing, cracked or taped together shattered glass bottles). I looked at several the shop had to offer and the more expensive silverplate cruets really didn’t appeal to me, surprisingly.

The antique store owner is exceptionally helpful and always willing to go out of their way to show me more antique cruet sets they have. I sincerely appreciate all their help.

And there’s ruby glass antique cruet sets. No, thanks. It’s not that I have anything against ruby glass, I just want something that’s not going to be one of those high dollar antiques that might be accident prone.

And what about those original glass condiment containers? What’s a person to do if one of those accidentally breaks? Hopefully, that won’t happen. But with all antiques anything can happen no matter how well cared for and loved. Replacements from other mismatched sets can be obtained.

And what about the glass containers? They might have lead or some other kind of heavy metal. Nowadays people tend to collect antique cruet sets for display purposes (I’m sure there are those that do use them). I don’t plan to use the cruet set simply due to its age, for one. And secondly, the fragility of the glass containers. Sure, the salt and pepper shakers are nice—actually the best condition I’ve seen thus far in all antique cruet sets I’ve run across.

So… I cleaned and polished. And now knowing that antique pewter does contain lead, I tossed all used dust rags into the trash. I don’t re-wash or re-use the dust rags that comes in contact with pewter or even silverplate.

How does a person know if an antique cruet set contains lead? Wash and polish it with a homemade flour paste with a little vinegar, salt, and baking soda. And when you dry it off and there’s more black residue on the rags and your hands, you’ll know there’s lead in the pewter.

The older the pewter the more black residue there will be. Also, this might help in dating a particular piece of pewter if you can’t find a maker’s mark. Mine has some of the mark missing. The words I made out K and CO, which might mean it is a Knickerbocker Silver company cruet set likely made sometime in the early/ late 1890’s. My first guess was early 1900’s, so perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark.

Older pewter will darken with age and this is due to handling without white cotton gloves on, oxidization, and oils from our hands can be very unforgiving on pewter and other lead-created metals from the past. The lead was added into the pewter to give it some substance, but lead is also a soft metal and shouldn’t be exposed to extreme heat as it does melt. I once bought what I thought to be at the time, a copper tea kettle. I’m sure you’ve seen these turn up from time to time in antique stores. The ones I used to love [at the time] were the kind with the porcelain handles. However, ninety percent of the copper tea kettles I was finding where made in Portugal, Korea, etc. And most of them, if not all, were in poor to extremely unusable condition. I waited for quite some time to find one that appeared in fairly okay condition.

I also heard more cons about the old copper tea kettles than pros. Well, the one I wound up buying was made in Portugal. The inside looked clean, but I still sanitized it, and before I ever used it, I boiled some water in it and noticed small itty bitty shiny beads on the burner falling from the spout. As it turned out, the spout had been fused to the tea kettle with lead. Thankfully, I never drank from it and never bought another since then.

I never would trust anybody that tells me those copper tea kettles are safe to drink from. And I would steer clear of the true antique copper tea kettles since the metals used to make them would probably contain a mix of alloy, zinc, lead, copper, tin and a bunch of other nasties that would be a toxicity brew nowadays.

And what about that antique cruet set that I just bought? It’ll be a display piece only.

As always, thanks for liking, re-blogging, sharing, tweeting, commenting. I do appreciate it. 🙂

Silverplate: More tonsil stabbers and spoons.

Published November 10, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Why do I keep calling the forks tonsil stabbers? Because they can be and the tines are very sharp! The spoons are vintage– I’m uncertain how ‘antique’ they are. But here’s the info I’ve gathered on the recent addition to this mismatched silverplate hodgepodge I keep adding to from time to time.

The spoons likely date anywhere between the 1930’s-40s (give or take). The forks might be a bit later, I wouldn’t say earlier because they don’t feel as durable as the 1880’s forks which have longer tines and are much sharper. However, simply because a silverplate spoon, fork, soup ladle or chowder spoon will have a date stamped on it like this, for example: Wm. and Rogers silverplate 1880 might not mean that it was produced in the late Eighteen-hundreds. It could refer to a particular pattern or style the silverware was made to look like. Now, I’ve seen a lot of tarnished silverplate and just about every spoon, fork, and knife I’ve stumbled upon will either be badly scored to gouged and therefore practically unusable… or if you like playing antique hostess, then the poor(er) quality of silverplate you may not want to display.

Yet, there’s so much silverplate that it literally can be mind boggling. And what price reflects a good piece of silverplate? It’s whatever the customer’s willing to pay for it. If you think $5 per spoon, fork or knife is worth it, then that’s how much you’ll pay. If you think $1 is a much better deal, then go for it. Personally, I have a saying: “It’s only worth as much as a person is willing to pay for it.”

Also, silverplate is being snapped up by silver/ metal collectors and then the silverplate is either altered into jewelry, sold for scrap metal or sold off by how many grams of silver a piece of silverplate contains. At least I’ve seen a few sellers state in their actions “xxx amount of grams in this silverplate.”

It’s my prediction that in the next few years or so silverplate won’t be as plentiful as it is today. However, my assumption of this could be way off. I’m just taking a guess. Here’s the “before” photo of the silverplate. This is before I soaked it in a scalding water bath with a sheet of foil underneath and a lot assistance from Arm n’ Hammer baking soda… (yep, I know) this could potentially ruin and/ or tarnish it further, but I’m not out to win any best displayed silverplate awards anytime soon.

silverplate forks spoons_before cleaning 11_9_15silverplate spoons and forks after cleaning

It’s almost Halloween and that means…

Published October 28, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

No, not a costume contest. I entered those in the past and they were all rigged. I didn’t win anything. I’m giving my top ten list of horror movies with some newly discovered B-movie gems thrown in that I watched just recently. In no particular order, here’s my list:

1. The Exorcist. This is still a very creepy movie. When this movie first debuted on Dec. 26, 1973 movie-goers were running from theaters in fear, fainting and couldn’t handle it. This horror film was way before my time, but I didn’t get to see this movie until I was in my early Twenties. My parents forbid me to watch it or even rent it for that matter (pre-internet days). The director’s cut of this cult classic film is more graphic than I had anticipated. Whatever copy you can find, I’m sure it’ll be as scary as the original. I know there’s several editions, blue ray, director’s cut, and so-on. There was also a book of this same film adaptation, although the script for the movie is loosely based on real life events.

2. Halloween (1979). I watched this one on vhs tape growing up and found it to be creepy and quite gory. Since I know there’s a ton of re-makes of this film and there’s even some re-mastered editions floating out there and more sequels than you can shake a stick at, the original Halloween film is a keeper. Part II was okay. I didn’t care much for Halloween part 3: Season of the Witch, which had nothing to do with Michael Myers. I tried watching a few new re-makes of this horror film and cringed because the story lines were exhausted and the action predictable.

3. Creepshow. If you happen upon a vhs copy of this movie, buy it. The dvd version has been totally edited for language and some of the actors dialog is re-dubbed which takes away from this movie. Its sequel Creepshow part 2 wasn’t too spectacular as I remembered it and didn’t care for it.

4. Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella as Dracula. This is actually a film for us ladies, plain and simple. I thought this was the most romantic (in an eerie sort of way) adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but found an earlier film recently a few weeks ago that rivals Langella’s portrayal. However, this version of Dracula isn’t for the squeamish or faint of heart either. There’s some gruesome and violent scenes. I wish I could have seen this in theaters when it debuted though. This film was overshadowed by a Dracula comedy starring George Hamilton, Love at First Bite (another favorite vampire film of mine) that came out around the same time.

5.) Fright Night (1985). Another vampire film that had a good sequel to it, Fright Night part 2. All I remember of this movie is that Charlie Brewster suspects his new neighbor to be a vampire (which turns out to be true), and he enlists the help of a famed local vampire hunter to help kill him. I won’t give away all of this movie, but it’s quite good for its time and so 80’s. I guess nowadays it would be considered by a newer generation to be “too dated”, but hey, some of the 80s (even 70s) horror movies were better produced than what’s being cranked out now in cookie-cutter form in my personal opinion.

6. The Old Dark House (1932) starring Boris Karloff. Not sure if this would be considered a “B-movie” by today’s standards, but I caught part of this movie late night on TV back in 1994. I mistook it for a silent film (which is how the film starts out with a title card appearing on screen). Then it goes into sound. It’s eerie atmosphere, well rounded cast of actors, and getting stranded in a torrential downpour, there’s just something sinister about a huge, drafty old mansion and a very scary Karloff as mute butler, not to mention the creepy family that lets the stranded travelers spend the night under their roof that makes this old film unsettling. Oh, and it’s black and white which lends perfectly to the creepy factor as well.

7. The Student of Prague/ Das Student von Prague (1926) starring Conrad Veidt as “Balduin”. Although, Conrad doesn’t play a sinister somnambulist that goes on a killing spree in this silent, his portrayal of “Balduin” a fencing student, makes a deal with the devil (unknown to Balduin), and winds up getting more than he’s bargained for. Despite this dvd copy having very small print title cards and music that doesn’t quite match the action, this silent is a must see around Halloween, or on any given night cuddled up with your sweetheart. It’s also a great way to be introduced to silent films, in general, and see some of Veidt’s earlier works aside from his famous role as the Nazi in Casablanca.

8. The Return of Dracula (1958) B-movie gem. Okay, what can I say about this old fifties film aside from the fascinating classic cars and clothes? Haunting musical score, swirling mist and graveyard? The storyline was a step away from the typical Dracula I so often seen on TV growing up. I discovered this B-movie/ drive-in gem by happenstance on Youtube in the list of movies recently and enjoyed it.
The storyline looks like it had been ripped off years later by late producer Dan Curtis when he created a TV daytime 1960’s Gothic Soap Opera, Dark Shadows. The Return of Dracula shows Cousin Belak moving to sunny California from his native European country. He arrives at a household, posing as their distant relative (even the actor’s appearance and mannerisms closely match late actor Jonathan Frid’s portrayal of vampire Barnabas Collins to a certain degree). However, the actor in the movie doesn’t sport an onyx ring on his index finger nor does he tote a wolf-head cane. But the storyline seems very familiar of what would be echoed by Jonathan Frid many years later. Not to say that there was any ripping off going on, but this B-movie was quite entertaining and does contain a very graphic (and surprisingly) colorized staking scene for the film being shot in black and white. I tried looking for a copy of this Return of Dracula and its been back ordered since who knows when. I put it on my wishlist anyway.

9. Dracula (BBC mini-series) 1977 starring the charismatic late French actor, Louis Jourdan. This has got to be one of the most sensual Dracula movies I have ever seen since… well, since the late, great Sir Christopher Lee scared the pants off me as Dracula when I was younger on the Saturday Creature Features. And Christopher Lee’s Dracula was tall, dark and sinister with a hint of creepy sensuality thrown in. Jourdan’s portrayal of Dracula I feel rivals Frank Langella’s and Lee’s combined. Why? Because Langella fought tooth and nail against the fangs and contacts, and even though it put a new twist on the Dracula portrayal in the film, it sort of took away the magnetism in my opinion. Lee’s Dracula was very evil and gory and no less captivating.

Jourdan donned both cape and fangs. He comes across as being this very cultured, handsome type of Dracula (and can’t forget that accent!), but shows a very sinister, cold side that’s nothing short of terrifying. The special effects might be considered very low-budget and “dated” to some nowadays, but I found this BBC mini-series to be refreshing, new, faithfully adapted from the Dracula book and far better than most big-budget vampire movies I’ve watched. Louis Jourdan is spot on with the dark sensuality and conveys the romanticism to the extreme that I could picture in my mind’s eye from reading the Bram Stoker novel (which I still need to track down a copy of and finish reading). I won’t give away anymore of this movie other than it can be found on dvd from Amazon. Best watched with the lights out.

10. Burnt Offerings (1976). Okay—where’s the machete-totting, hockey mask-wearing “Jason” killer in this flick? Will a creepy chauffeur do instead? Burnt Offerings is a Dan Curtis production and doesn’t skimp on the haunting eeriness or creep factor either. Starring late actor Oliver Reed, Karen Black, Bettie Davis, etc. a family rent a huge Victorian house for the entire summer. Only there’s a catch. The house is evil. Character actor Anthony James plays the chauffeur and although he has no speaking lines, he doesn’t fail to terrify. Although this film may not hold a torch to other spooky movies of the same era, it’s definitely worth a watch. The book by the same title is also creepy.

So there you have it. Thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, tweeting, commenting. I sincerely appreciate it as always. 🙂 If you can think of any horror movies to add, please leave a reply in the comment section. Thanks!

Character worksheets and creating vampires.

Published October 2, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Well, looks like it might be back to the old drawing board as the saying goes. In the last couple of days I’ve had a lot of fun creating vampires and fictional locations for my self-published stories. What does it mean to fill out a character worksheet? It means you get a visual idea of what your character is all about: what they like, dislike, love, their favorite things to do and so on.

But the hardest part was finding a few pictures to ‘visualize’ what my vampire characters might look like. Then I had the fun (and daunting) task of morphing each photo into what I would think my vampires would appear (physically). I don’t have photoshop, so I had to do the next best thing and run all the pictures through an inexpensive photo shop-like program, play with the effects, colors and opacity levels and the end result? I believe I created some awesome vampires with what I had at my disposal. I’m doing this so when I go back into revise my stories I can glance at the worksheets and know exactly who goes where and get an idea of their emotions, what they’re doing, etc.

Right now I am repeat offender of writing in the “God point of view”. Instead of having a character say something I write it in the ‘third person’ which there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, it just shows that I don’t read much.

It would help if I would read—like really sit down and crack open a book. I do plan to find another set of the Vampire Files (by P.N. Elrod, one of my favorite authors), and actually take a step away from writing and begin by reading. How do the scenes flow? How do the characters interact with each other, what’s the basis of the story, what’s the plot about and most importantly, make it flow in chronological order.

When I write… I get inspired or get an idea stuck in my head and feel the overwhelming need to write it down not on scrap paper or even in my notebook, I write it into the story and that’s good if I’m planning to write back material, but I’m not. I’m trying to write a story.

But the character worksheets are a lot of fun! I believe I created no less than ten pages. I still plan to pack my camera with me and take some pictures of a few places, then weave these into my stories. One great thing when you write about fictional towns, residences, and cities, you pretty much write the laws. Yep, if you want your character to ride their bike on the sidewalk and not have to worry about receiving a ticket or a warning, you can write pretty much anything. In real life, (as I’m sure its law everywhere), you can’t ride a bike on a sidewalk, especially not in a downtown district. Recently where I live they put in bike paths and you won’t guess where. The new bike paths are right in front of on-coming traffic, and the city planners brought these paths out so far into the narrow streets that it also hampers motorists who may need to park by the curb.

Thankfully I don’t ride a bicycle anymore. However, I do drive so I’m always extremely cautious when driving around town. I feel the bike paths are a danger not just to the bicyclist, but also to the motorist as well. Oh, yeah, and the city planners also decided to run the bike paths right into the turn lanes, so when you need to make a turn, you may not see the bicyclist until they are right up beside you and since riding on the sidewalks is against the law, I’m waiting to see if these new bike paths will be removed, or what they plan to do about it. So far its received a lot of complaints. I assume this is ‘liberals’ at work.

The good thing about writing is you can make up any law and run with it in a story. And I do apologize if I went off topic there. Main thing is my writing and revising is far from over with. I do plan to leave all my stories up on Smashwords and Kindle Direct in the meantime until I am completely done going through my stories. Then I will upload brand new copies. I’ve also been kicking around some more ideas and really want to change a few scenes in my stories that I would like to expand on. As always thank you so much for liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting, I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Times of the Past my book.

Published September 16, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Here’s the links for my book, Times of the Past:

Amazon for Times of the Past and Times of the Past on Smashwords.

This was actually my second attempt at writing a very long novel-type story and it came on the heels of my great grandmother’s death as I recall. Therefore, I was not only writing out my grief over that, but also inspired to create some  ‘good guy’ vampires. I let my imagination run wild with a plot that wasn’t thoroughly thought out before hand. Times of the Past was a combination of different stories involving three of the protagonists and how they crossed paths with one another. Somewhere along the way I decided to weave them into Times of the Past and try to condense them down.

Little I was I aware in my infancy of writing about vampires (and this was many years ago) that not all characters need to have every small detail of how and when they were bitten/ attacked and/ or brought across into their undead existence written into a story. And yeah, it would help a lot if I began adding in chapters instead of scene breaks which are two spaces to began a new scene in a book.

All indie authors/ established authors and writers will have to find “their voice” even if its descriptive and lengthy.

Enjoy and as always, thank you for re-tweeting, liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, etc. I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Times of the past cover 1 alt 1600x2400