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Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

24 August 2007

Who'd a Thunk?

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Recently I bought a book about antiques and sent it to my brother, who likes to estate-sale browse. Before I shipped it, however, I peeked inside... and my, oh, my! What an eye-opening source of research details--and color pictures!

Of course I immediately bought myself a copy of Antiques Investigator, Tips and Tricks To Help You Find the Real Deal, by Judith Miller.
No, I'm not an estate-sale devotee; I'm not even an antique collector. But wow, what a resource book for period furniture, glassware, knick-knacks of all kinds.

For example: This is where I learned about "prisoner-of-war" carvings done during the Napoleonic Wars against France (1793-1815), during which so many Regency gentlemen were wounded and/or captured The prisoner-of-war bone spinning jenny pictured was carved by some POW about 1800, and its working parts actually work!

More on just this one page: Horn snuff mull. An 18th century snuff storage container and small mill for grinding the snuff, fashioned from ram horn (dark brown) with silver mounts.

Ivory miniature portraits: a winsome curly blonde girl and her carrot-topped brother, framed in ivory during the 19th century.

French ivory snuff rasp: carved with coat of arms and used for grinding the tightly twisted rope tobacco in the 1700's.

Visiting card cases: Calling cards were de riguer by the late 1700's, but not until the 1820's were cases made for them, many of ivory from the Fast East.

How about an entire page showing styles of European drawer handles ? Swan-neck (France); Louis XVI plain squared (France); stirrup (England); pierced backplate (England); neoclassical squared drop (Italy).

And chair backs: William and Mary caned with S-scroll (17th c); Colonial split-banister and crown crest with inverted heart (mid-18th c); Queen Anne with vase-shaped splat (1710).

And...18th century wine glasses, Dutch, French, Bohemian, Jacobite. French rococo tables. Ever hear of a Schwarzlot wine glass (1700's, made using black or brown enamel)? Viennese Cupid beaker? Trailed snake vase? Venetial Revival sweetmeat dish? Steiff teddy bear... May Freres and Armand Marseille dolls with eyes that move...

'Nuff already.

7 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Lynna, I love Judith Miller. A friend of mine actually does work for her helping to put together her guides. I had the opportunity to meet her and have her sign a copy of her book on Art Deco.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Man, I love this stuff. And as for the bone carving by the prisoner-of-war...may I ask what kind of bone that was???

I shudder to think I might know the answer. ;-)

11:09 PM  
Blogger Lynna Banning said...

Kathrynn,
I'd guess whale bone. Ivory seems too "rare" for pow carvings. The carving is listed in the "Ivory and Bone" section of Miller's book.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Laura Vivanco said...

That sounds fascinating. Are you tempted to put lots of these objects into your novels? Are they there in your minds' eye sometimes when you're writing a scene, even if they aren't actually described in the novel?

3:58 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Whew, whale bone carvings...I sigh a breath of relief. ;-)

9:07 AM  
Blogger Lynna Banning said...

Laura,
What's in my mind's eye when I write a scene is the general decor.... Since I'm writing medievals right now, not much of
Judith Miller's book is applicable,
but I do look at illustrated books on subjects like the Sutton Hoo find, castles in Ireland, interior views of restored Viking huts, eating implements, etc.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Prisoner of War work is actually made of bones from the prisoners rations - cow, sheep, pig etc, as this was all they could get their hands on. They were in a POW camp in the middle of the UK near Peterborough, so were no where near the sea. They are fantastic though - they were made to trade with locals for extra food or favours (and possibly to impress ladies...) There are a lovely collection of these as part of Charles Wade's collection at Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire - well worth a visit if you're across in the UK.

3:33 AM  

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