Rescuing lost treasures

Monday, March 3, 2014

Please sit and have some tea with me while I show you some of the treasures I recently rescued.


We're sitting in front of the fire because it's 18 degrees here. We got four more inches of snow this weekend, bringing us up to a total of 83.7 inches for the winter. This is the second snowiest on record; the snowiest was in 1880-81, with 93.6 inches.

The Official Blog Cat will join us, in her favorite spot.


I went to our local craft and antique mall last week to look for a teacup for my blog-a-versary giveaway (see here to enter). It is a big store. As you enter, all of the craft booths are to the right, and the antique booths are to the left. At the back is more of everything. I can spend hours getting lost here, and still only see a fraction of all the goodies.

If I don't have hours, I always head left to my favorite area, and focus on the china and linens. I emerge like a traveler returned from wandering in the past, from some kind of time warp, much as I feel when I have been sorting through old photographs. 

Sometimes I come away with nothing but the satisfaction of having traveled to some far-off land of memory (no small thing), and other times I bring home some beautiful treasures, like these . . . 


Two large pillowcases, a baby pillowcase (no babies here, but I am putting it on my small travel pillow), a bowl, some tea towels, and a lovely Irish bone china cup (in addition to my giveaway gifts).

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day
Sometimes when I am picking up and turning over a cup or a plate or a tablecloth I feel kind of sad. There's something about seeing other people's treasures, stacked up and collecting dust, waiting patiently for someone to come rescue them. It's kind of like the old stories of discarded dolls and playthings left behind by the children who have all grown up, hoping that a new generation will discover and love them. There's something very poignant about those lonely dolls, dreaming about their glory days.

The linens, especially, speak volumes of those who have gone before. They are almost always stacked in a box or a basket and in a corner on the floor. As if they really don't have any right to be taking up valuable shelf space. I have to hand it to whoever stocks these booths, though; the linens are always clean, pressed, and neatly folded.


I think of the women who embroidered these pieces, the hours and hours of time spent in the evenings after the dishes were done and the children put to bed, rocking before a fire and perhaps listening to the radio. Perhaps this tablecloth was embroidered in the 40s, by someone listening to news of the war in Europe or smiling and humming to a Glenn Miller tune. Maybe these pillowcases were made by someone living through the Depression, barely able to manage to feed her family. Perhaps this doily was crocheted by someone sitting in front of a black and white TV laughing over I Love Lucy, or later, stitching lazy daisies in an attempt to hold back the darkness she felt watching assassinations and images from the Vietnam War.

I would love to rescue all of these pieces as a way of honoring the memories of these women, but of course I don't. I have enough as it is. But once in awhile I do bring something home, and sometimes even make up a story about who made it, and what their life was like. I am happy to give a tablecloth or a china cup a home, and use them. They won't sit in the cupboard here. I am careful with them, but if I break china or stain linen, which only happens rarely, at least it's been used and loved. 

 I also always stop and look at the vintage postcards. It's striking to see how they were addressed: Miss Sally Smith, Toledo, Ohio. No street address, no zip. It was a much smaller world then, and not that long ago. And the handwriting is invariably beautiful. Lovely cursive by people taught Spencerian handwriting, or later, the Palmer method, in school, and practiced daily. Every time I look at it I think about getting out the Spencerian handwriting instruction package I bought some years ago, and practicing.

Look at this page from Beatrix Potter's journal to see what I mean about lovely, old-fashioned handwriting . . .


I feel like a voyeur when I read the backs of the postcards in the antique mall. And sad that no one in the family cared to keep their loved ones' correspondence. But I know we can't hold onto everything.

 If I need something I think about whether I can get it from the antique store or a consignment shop before heading to someplace like Bed Bath & Beyond or Target. The price of pillowcases is atrocious. For a fraction of the cost you can get something lovely like this . . .


And this beautiful bowl. For two dollars, I have a lovely dish to display fruit in.


It is footed, as you can see below.


I hope you enjoyed tea today. If I sit on the floor with kitty to have tea, right in front of the fire, she's right there, checking out the shortbread and trying to chew up the baby's breath.


Going to these parties . . .

29 comments :

  1. You found some real treasures. I, too, love to visit antique malls. Never know what you will find!

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  2. Such a beautiful and lovely post. I, too, love antique malls. Like you, I can get lost in them for hours.

    You imagining about the people who had the linens before you is something I do too. As strange as it sounds, I love meandering through cemeteries. (I was exposed to cemeteries on a weekly basis when I was a mere kid, and love for their beauty and tranquility has never left me.) When I stroll through them, I always have fun imagining the lives of those interred there. A look at their birth and death dates gives me enough information to imagine.

    And about that generations-ago handwriting. I feel the same way you do. I am into genealogy (as you would expect from a cemetery wanderer), and just last week, I discovered the last will and testament of one of my 2nd-great-grandfathers. It was dated 1897, and it was in his own handwriting! I loved reading the old-fashioned letters, and somehow, doing so, made him even more real.

    I enjoyed my tea visit with you. It brought a bit of beauty to my day. Thank you.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  3. I love the pillow cases. You are so right...designer cases or just plain ones are so expensive... You really found some beautiful things.. I love shopping secondhand..thrift stores and we call them peddlers malls... Hae a great day.. Blessings!

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  4. I'd love to go treasure hunting with you, Deborah. We'd have such fun dreaming and chatting. You've found some beautiful treasures of days gone by... :) Lori

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  5. Lovely post and lovely treasures you found. When I find a cup and saucer at the thrift store, I imagine what kind of story it could tell. I love embroidered linens .. some real beauties you found. Well done! Lovely teascape and teacups with your kitty. Happy Tea Day!

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  6. Lovely teacups...I LOVE teacups! Love your blog cat...I have an office cat! They always know the best place, don't they? I agree that sometimes it's sad, but I always feel as you do that I am rescuing something that is unloved.
    Ruth

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  7. It always amazes me that the treasures we find were cast off but I am so thankful that these wonderful treasures can find a good home with those of us who appreciate them. I LOVE your linens with the birdies on it. So sweet! Pretty teacup too and your blog kitty is adorable. Thank you for sharing and joining me for Tea Time. Hope you're having a lovely day.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  8. Beautiful treasures indeed. I love teacups, you have found some lovely ones. Stay warm.
    Sherry

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  9. I adore pretty teacups and am drawn to the floral ones especially if they have flowers inside the bowl of the cup...I sip the tea to reveal what delights await within. Aren't antique malls a treasure trove? I can spend an hour easliy just browsing at all the fine things.
    Keep warm and cozy...I think tea is the perfect beverage for a snowy day.

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  10. Hi from Scotland - I love shortbread with a cuppa! You have so many lovely things in this post!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  11. I'm like you Deborah, I frequent our antique barn for linens before I got to a department store. These things are left behind by someone who loved them and they wait for another to come along to give them a loving home again. You picked up some nice things, especially the embroidered birdies.

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  12. I enjoyed seeing your treasures from the antique mall. I am very fond of vintage linens. Much prefer them over the "new". Nothing is better than hand made and much loved items.

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  13. It fills me with such joy to know you are visiting these stores and taking such a deep and personal interest in these forgotten items; as you said they all have a story, all come from somewhere and it is wonderful to know they are being remembered and honoured beyond their time.

    The fact that they connect you to women and times gone by is beautiful an a truly inspiring approach to shopping and life! :) Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your acquisitions with us. x

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  14. There is little better than rescuing treasures that someone once loved. It is my hobby and my joy. I am happy I have so many daughters and granddaughters and even great granddaughters. Most of my treasures have already found future homes.
    You rescued some beautiful things. Did you know your heart is showing? :)

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  15. Lovely post! I have the very same tea cup you first share...the Colclough. What a pretty tea cup! Your newest finds are fab. I too, love to find linens like you. I agree that they are so unique and rarer by the day. I would much rather buy something vintage, than new. You really did do well! Your new Irish tea cup is just in time for March 17th!
    Hugs,
    Terri

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  16. Deborah: your post is so very touching, and reaches the hearts of all of us tablescapers who know EXACTLY what you mean when you talk about touching the treasures of ladies who held their teacups, china and linens with tender care. I often wonder where my lovelies will end up. Your new additions are beautiful, especially the dainty shamrock cup. Take care and thank you for expressing what so many of us feel. Rosie @ The Magic Hutch

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  17. Rescuing is always preferable to buying new. I love the idea of buying those beautiful pillow cases and other linens--especially, as you mentioned, when one thinks of the love and talent behind them. And anything with bluebirds on it, MUST be rescued, no question.

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  18. Such a lovely post. I collect vintage linens and usually display them in rotating groups in baskets and on tables. I even buy the old tattered and torn ones because of the work that went into them. Beautiful treasures.

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  19. Love all your beautiful new treasures. They are just wonderful. Blessings, Martha

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  20. Beautiful treasures!!! especially loving the handwriting in journal ... the art of handwriting is really a missing art in today's technology driven world. xo

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  21. What a lovely journey you took us on here. I to, just get lost in these large malls and love going through the booths, linens, dishes and treasures. I think it is the thrill of the hunt for something special. So glad you shared at Friends Sharing Tea.

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  22. I really enjoyed reading your post, and I completely agree with you about finding lost treasures at antique malls! When I moved to my new house, I furnished it with some "already loved" furniture, that was beautiful and very well cared for by its previous owners. I felt like I was giving it a second chance. You found beautiful linens and I love the scalloped edges of the Irish teacup. The bowl with the silver design is gorgeous!

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  23. This is a very special post to me. I have thought the same things as I browse antique & thrift stores. I am often overcome with sadness. Like you, I sometimes come away with treasures. The teacup is beautiful and perfect for this month.

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  24. Love that clover tea cup … so sweet. And blog kitty is the best! Great post … though it made me a bit melancholy! ;)

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  25. What a beautiful piece of writing. I feel the same way so often, when I see hand-work in a thrift store or being sold at an estate sale. But I've written that too, "we can't keep everything". I love the shamrock teacup you found, and the lovely bluebird pillowcase! Featuring this on my Link Party Features board on Pinterest - Thank you for sharing this at my History & Home Link Party this week, take care - Dawn @ We Call It Junkin.com

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  26. I love your special treasures that you found. Yes, I, too, feel the same sadness as you, when seeing the things that are given away. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  27. My, how chilly! It will be 72 today - and I have to be away from home! Beautiful tea, teacups and I just adore your cat! I do appreciate you sharing with A Return to Loveliness,
    Kathy

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  28. Very, very beautiful, Deborah. I feel that same "time-warp" effect when I go alone to an antique mall, or even sometimes to a good thrift store. Handling other people's possessions, with the impressions they leave on them, is almost mesmerizing at times. You did find some treasures. That bowl is gorgeous. And the fluting on the tea cup is lovely -- glad you rescued her!

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  29. I really enjoyed your treasures. I love collecting "stuff" too. I have a fav thrift shop that seems to get wonderful things. They are a bit pricey for a thrift but I have found things like crystal bowls there. I love antique shops its like a journey home. To times past.
    Janice

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