Meet the Artist: W.H. Bartlett

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This week we found several etchings from the 1840’s British artist William Henry Bartlett (W.H. Bartlett).

W.H. Bartlett was born 1809 in northwest London.

Bartlett apprenticed with John Britton, who was an antiquary (an interest in old things), author, and editor. John Britton introduced a new form of literary work focused on topography (shape and features of the land). He published several works focused on topography and antiquities: The Beauties of England and Wales, a 9 volume set on the Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain, and a 14 volume set Cathedral Antiquities of England.

It is clear that the apprenticeship with Britton had a lasting impact on the work of Bartlett. Bartlett became one of the most prominent illustrators of topography. Much of Bartlett’s work will depict some aspect of the past. Nathaniel Parker Willis, an American author poet and editor who published a work about America illustrated by Bartlett said, "Bartlett could select his point of view so as to bring prominently into his sketch the castle or the cathedral, which history or antiquity had allowed".

W.H. Bartlett traveled extensively through Britain, North America, Balkans, and the Middle East. He would sketch scenes which would later be turned into engravings and published. He wrote in the preface to one of his books that he wanted to portray a “lively impression of actual sights”.

He died of fever at the age of 45. He was on a ship returning from a trip to the Near East.

W.H. Bartlett Hand Colored Etching Fredericton Published by George Virtue 1842

W.H. Bartlett Hand Colored Etching Fredericton Published by George Virtue 1842

W.H. Bartlett Hand Colored Etching Citadel of Quebec Canada Published 1840

W.H. Bartlett Hand Colored Etching Citadel of Quebec Canada Published 1840

January Giveaway!

January, by contrast to the excitement and celebrations of December, can feel cold and dark. We’d love to help make your January a little brighter!

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What are we giving away?

A Marine Corp. 1917 Coffee Mug!

The 1917 Centennial Watch Mug is based on dated fragments of original Marine Corps enlisted mess hall china recovered from a dump site in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  In the early twentieth century, mess hall mugs, plates, bowls, and condiment containers were stamped with “U.S.M.C.” and the year of production.

The 1917 Centennial Watch Mug™ is made in Newell, West Virginia, by the Homer Laughlin China Company. 

A bag of coffee or tea.
You’ll need something to go in your new mug, we’ll add a bag of tea or coffee (your choice!)

How to enter?

Three ways to enter (complete one or all three!)

  1. Sign up for our newsletter. It’s a brief, twice a month newsletter featuring interesting items, informative articles, and current news / trends in the Vintage / Antique / Art market. To complete your entry make sure to confirm the email subscription.

  2. Head over to our Facebook page, like our page and like and share the contest post.

  3. Visit our Instagram page and share our contest post. (Make sure that you follow us on instagram!)

Each one action will count as one entry, so there is a possible total of 3 separate entries (email, Facebook, Instagram). The contest runs from January 1 - January 13. Winner will be announced on January 14th!

Fill out the form below to sign up for our Newsletter.

Item of the Week: Vintage Young Adult Adventure Books!

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I’ve always loved reading! One of my first memories involving books happened when I was about four years old. My mom was going to read to me. I went to get a few, books, I ended up getting more than a few and hid them under the couch. When she finished reading one, I’d say “I’ve got one more” and pull a new book from where I had hidden them. I love that with books there is always one more!

When I started reading on my own, after graduating from the basic books, I gravitated toward young adult adventure books. Sci-fi, mysteries, books about the frontier, I read them all. I still occasionally pick some up. Several years ago I started collecting some of my favorites, both to re-read and to share with my kids.

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Vintage young adult adventures are a lot of fun, even as an adult. They’re a fast, easy, and entertaining. It’s a remarkable thing to see how the world has changed from the first part of the 1900’s to the modern day, from parental supervision (or the lack thereof) to how they viewed the future.

Recently we found a great collection of young adult, adventure books. The copyright dates run from the early 1900’s to the 1940’s. The dust covers are fun examples of pop art during that time period. The dust covers are wonderfully cared for.

If you’re interested in taking a look, jump over to our eBay store (click here) and scroll down to see what’s available.

Defining Terms: Antique vs. Vintage

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The English language can confusing. Take, for instance, the word “bow”. We can bow (a sign of respect or deference). We can shoot a bow (think Robin Hood). The bow is the front a boat. And this is just one example.

This becomes more complex when we realize that our language shifts over time. Words that meant one thing years ago now mean something completely different. For example, naughty originally mean someone who has nothing (they have naught) but then shifted to worth nothing (bad, wicked) and then a shift to mischievous or badly behaved.

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An then we come to specialized language within an area of expertise.

When it comes to buying and selling old things there are a lot of terms that get used to describe the age of an item; antique, vintage, collectible and retro. To add to the confusion we then begin to add in other descriptors or periods, Art Deco, Mid Century Modern etc… (and when we describe furniture or art there are even more terms!)

We’d like to help make sense of these terms and periods! We’ll start with two of the most common; antique and vintage.

People can mean a lot of things when they use the word “antique”.

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It might just mean something is old (look at this antique i.e. “old thing”). It might mean that something is outdated (“my computer is an antique”). Or it might mean a specific period of years. For example, in Virginia you can purchase an “antique” license plate for your car after 25 years. For many of us antique is not a very specific word.

However, when we talk about antique items there is a very specific definition. 100 years old. (This is the generally accepted definition and is based on the United States Customs definition of antique). This means in 2018 an antique would be anything dating prior to 1918. This is a sliding definition, in 2019 anything prior to 1919 will be an antique and it will change every year.

What about vintage?

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Originally, vintage, primary referred to the year a wine was produced. Over time this term moved into the second hand market. For many, the proper way to describe a vintage item would include a year or time frame. For example: a vintage 1930’s book or a vintage 1955 board game. In recent years vintage has become a “catch-all” term for everything that is not antique or with an uncertain date of manufacture. For many of us vintage has become a term that signals that an item is older but not old enough to be classified as antique.

Stay tuned as over the next few weeks we’ll look at some frequently used terms in antique / vintage stores.

Item of the Week: Open Salts, Salt Dips, and Salt Cellars

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We enjoy learning the history behind the items that we sell. Each week we’ll feature an item and share a bit of its story!

For most of human history salt has been incredibly valuable, it has been thought to boost fertility, ward off evil spirits. It’s been used as currency, wars have been fought over salt, and cities founded because of it.

Despite it’s rich history, salt is something almost all of us take for granted. It’s cheap, accessible, and our primary thought of salt is “are we eating too much?”.

Did you know that modern, pour-able salt is a uniquely modern phenomenon. It was introduced by Morton’s Salt in 1911. The Morton’s Motto “When it Rains it Pours” is a reference to the fact that their salt is free flowing, even when the humidity is high. We take this for granted but it was a revolutionary development.

After the introduction of free flowing salt, our salt deliver method changed and the salt shaker became the way to dispense salt. Prior to this a salt cellar, salt dip, or open salt (all names for the same item) were used.

Salt cellars, salt dips, and open salts, were common features of table dating back to classical Rome. There have been salt cellars found that date back to 500 B.C.E. Our modern salt shakers aren’t even out of diapers by comparison.

Salt Cellars, dips and open salts are highly collectible and with the popularity of gourmet salts (many of which are too course to use in a shaker) are becoming practical again.

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These items can come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be simple or ornate, covered or uncovered, sized to serve an entire table or small individually sized. They can be found in any price range!

If you’d like to start your collection we have two Russian (soviet era) salt dips available for sale! One is listed on eBay and one on Etsy. It’s a two part salt dip, a small glass dish for salt and the silver plate holder. If you’d like to take a look here is the eBay link and Etsy link.

If you’d like to know more about salt, I’d recommend checking out the fascinating book by Mark Kurlansky: Salt, A World History. I know that a book about salt seems dry (haha) but Mark Kurlansky shares the story in a very compelling and interesting way.

Want to be a spy?

You are watching a movie and a spy pulls out a small, silver camera and begins to photograph documents. Most likely he’s using a Minox camera for his covert work. This sub-miniature camera was used by intelligence agencies and embraced by gadget lovers throughout the world.

The Minox Camera: History

Invented by Walter Zapp who, in conversations with friends, in 1922 conceived a camera that you could carry with you all the time. Invented in 1936 with production beginning in 1937 the Minox cameras were referred to as “sub-miniature”. The company operated from 1937-1943 in Latvia and then after World War 2 in Germany from 1948 onward.

Walters idea that there should be a camera for everyone (those without extensive photographic knowledge) to carry everyday never truly came to fruition. The Minox cameras were expensive to produce and as a result became luxury gadgets for the more affluent.

Because of it’s small size it quickly drew the attention of intelligence agencies. The Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, purchased 25 for use by their agents. It was used by intelligence agents on both sides during the Cold War. Notably, the Soviet spy, John Walker Jr. used a Minox camera while stealing U.S. Navy cryptography secrets.

One of the interesting features, and one that appealed to various intelligence agencies, was the Minox measuring chain. Looking like a watch chain, with a clip to attach to your clothing, the length of the measuring chain gave you the perfect focus for photographing documents.

Minox Camera: Model A IIIs

We recently found this Model A IIIs and thought it would be interesting to show some of the features and details. The Model A is the second model that Minox produced. Their first model the Riga was featured a stainless steel case. The Model A changed to aluminum making it lighter.

There were two variations of the Model A - II and III and one subset the IIIs. Often they are referred to by number instead letter (Model III instead of Model A-III).

Model IIIs with case, light meter, measuring chain, and film.

Model IIIs with case, light meter, measuring chain, and film.

The Minox IIIs was made for the American market and has a flash synchronization connector. Interestingly, the measuring chain and the focus wheel are measured in inches / feet rather than centimeters and millimeters.

Operation is simple. Open the camera. Turn the dials to adjust the camera. There are two dials, one for exposure and one for focus (distance). Click the button to work the shutter. Close the camera to advance the film. Note: The film advances regardless of whether a picture was taken. This was changed in later models.

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To replace the film turn it over. Press in on the indentation and slide it apart. Insert your film and you are ready to go! This camera used film capable of capturing 50 pictures. Inside the back case is where you find the serial number. This particular serial number: 129033 was produced in 1956.

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This very cool camera, light meter, measuring chain, cases, and film is currently up for auction on eBay. If you’ve always wanted to be a spy here’s your chance! Auction Link!