Monday, 30 September 2013

Linens, lace and the BBC!

I have had a busy couple of months since the last post. I have been to several auctions - one of which included linens and textiles from a large country house in Cumbria in the Lake District and another of a large house in Weardale. I have also made some new contacts including sales to the costume and props department for the BBC series "The Paradise". If you didn't catch the first series then look out for series 2 about to start soon.  The Paradise is based on the novel Au Bonheur des Dames or The Ladies Paradise by French writer Émile Zola. In this adaptation for TV the story transfers to a department store in 1890s northern England. Apparently the very first department store in the UK was in Newcastle!

It is filmed exclusively in the North East - at Lambton Castle for the interiors and at Biddick Hall.

This is Lambton Castle

And this is Biddick Hall

One of the lead characters in the haberdashery department

And finally, two of the items sold to the props department - I will be looking out for them in the series!

My second contact with the BBC was to be interviewed by a researcher from the BBC about another one of those antique programmes on daytime TV.  Apparently the director/producer of the programme thinks that it is possible to find buried treasure at auction and make your fortune!  I won't be appearing on TV anytime soon however....I have too much washing and ironing to do!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Textiles from The Hermitage - a time capsule in Northumberland!

Today, Friday,  I have been to the last of the 4 day Country House sale of the contents of a very unique house. The Hermitage is a large house in Northumberland near Hexham which has been the home for the same family since 1922. Nothing unusual in that, as many homes remain in a family's possession for that length of time or even longer, however this is a rare survival of a house on a grand scale where two generations of the Morant family lived for ninety years and threw little away. 

The house was let, in 1922, to Brigadier General Hubert Horatio Shirley Morant, who had married Isabella Helen Coppin Straker in 1914. Their three children, Doreen Shirley (1915–2013), Alice Bettine (1918–2008) and Major John Locke Straker (1919–1971) all remained unmarried.  

These circumstances lead to a time capsule of a house. Time stood still and the house took on the qualities of a museum. 

The children’s toys in the Nursery packed away when their interest waned. Wash sets and chamber pots removed to the attics once more modern facilities had been installed. The cellars locked up, still with unopened champagne bottles from 1919, some in their original tissue paper and packing cases. Pharmaceutical items from the 1920’s, including chemicals now regarded as poisonous, crowded the medicine cupboard.

Diaries and household accounts giving insights into a bygone age of servants, whilst fishing and hunting records spoke of house parties.

Items no longer required were neatly wrapped in newspaper, tied with string and stored in the extensive attics.

Linens, baby clothes, lace, furs, evening gowns and other clothing were stored away in many of the bedrooms or in the attics.

One of the items that I bought was a box of over 150 Irish linen tea towels....all unused!

Another was a box of Harris and other tweed and wool fabrics.

It will take me a while to get through all the linens and lace as they have to be sorted, examined and then photographed ready for listing for sale. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Irish damask linens

This week I have come across a large cache of Irish linen damask - tablecloths and napkins. I have started to list a few on Ebay and wondered (again) at the huge variation in designs that were produced in the past. Now it seems that it is only possible to buy new damask linen with either an Ivy or a Chrysanthemum design and, of course, the Shamrock so synonymous with Irish linen. However the cloths that I have acquired have Roses, Peonies, Scrolls, Acorns, Lily of the Valley, Pineapples, Fruit and more unusual pictoral designs of Birds, Stag and Deer.

                                   Monarch of the Glen to the centre of one cloth

                                         Acorns, oak leaves and ribbons
                                            Lily of the Valley
                                                       Laurel wreaths
                                      Pineapples - quite stylised!

Obviously the pictoral designs were produced for a purpose - Stag and deer or Pheasants for a shooting party lunch. The pineapple design was probably intended to impress your guests with your familiarity with a new exotic fruit. But why the other designs?  Maybe they were very obvious to the Victorian and Edwardian dinner guest as they would have been familiar with the "Language of Flowers"  - Roses indicates Love, Ivy - dependence & endurance, Laurel - ambition & success, Lily of the Valley - sweetness and trustworthy. Or maybe the designers just made up patterns from flowers that they could see! The photos above show mainly late Victorian - 20th century damasks. However, there is a very interesting article in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Art Materials and Techniques: Linen Diaper and Damask about how the very early damask linens evolved and the different styles and types of designs. I do have a few collectors of Damask Linens who buy from me and I know (from the high bids that they place!) that some of the early & pre 1800's damask linen is very sought after. Even small pieces such as napkins and towels can be very interesting - so maybe check on your old linen in the cupboard!
Read more:

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Liberty of London fabric designs

Since my previous post about the Liberty of London fabrics that I have for sale, I have had a number of emails from people, some wanting to buy and some just wanting to thank me for showing photos of the different and now rare (due to discontinued lines) designs that Liberty sold.  For many, I think, it has been a nostalgic look back. One reader wrote that she remembered making a dress for her daughter in one design and having a blouse in one of the others.  I could not find any reference to many of the designs so I have listed below the photos and names so that they can remain on view long after they have been sold on eBay!  I will add to the list when I uncover more designs



DOKKUM (available with black background)


EUGENIE (available in a number of colourways)








Friday, 8 March 2013

Liberty of London & William Morris fabrics

This month I was very lucky to be the winning bidder (after a bit of fierce competition!) on four large boxes of vintage Liberty and Sanderson fabrics. They belonged to a lady from the Lake District who had obviously made a trip to the Liberty store two or three times a year mainly during the 70's and 80's and couldn't resist buying some lovely fabrics everytime!

Who could resist going into such a lovely Arts and Crafts building? And then to find inside.........

....row upon row of fabulous fabrics. So Mrs M. came back to Cumbria with Veruna wool, Tana Lawn, silks and linen union. She bought scarves, plain silks, sateens and tweeds. She made much of the fabric into clothes and furnishings but, like many of us, her eyes were too big for her capacity to use up all the fabric (despite the fact that she lived to be 92!). So now my cupboards (and other places!) are stocked.

However as I have started listing these fabrics on eBay they have been flying off the shelf and on to new homes and new crafters who, no doubt, will make beautiful furnishings and other items with them.
I also have a number of scarves and silks listed that range from the Arts and Crafts era of William Morris to the very retro look of the 1950's.

                             Art Nouveau design
                    1950's London Landmark scarf
Blithefield design

Rare Dokkum design made for Liberty

Whilst most of the fabrics have the design name on the selvedge and are therefore identifiable, many are quite rare as they belong to a design line that has been discontinued for some time. Most are designs made for Liberty, but there are also designers such as Campbell Collier (Spice Trail) and Munro & Tutty.  There are also two or three large quantities of silks bought in India from Hayagrivas Silk House in Chennai - probably sari lengths. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

New Year & New stock!

A New Year and already a resolution broken - I had resolved to update the blog at least once a month .......and here is the first post of 2013 ... in February!  In my defence, I have been to a number of auctions, to France and bought from a large property in Scotland.  So I acquired some Durham quilts - lovely pink floral and paisley designs.

Down in Yorkshire came across some patchwork quilts.

And bought some shawls from a large property in the West of Scotland. 

This is an Assuit or Tulle bi Telli shawl. Made of metallic wires threaded through linen and then flattened. They originate from Eygpt and were very popular in the 1920's.

Gorgeous goldwork shawl on black crepe silk

And a lovely huge apricot coloured silk shawl with bobbin lace and long tassels.

Next week I will have a number of hand embroidered items for auction on eBay including this delightful tea cosy.

                        Sweet little cottage by the lake

                        Two little rabbits under the tree

A little work of art!