11 April 2013

Just so you know: Italian coffee makers are stylish, marrow spoons are not

Part of this week's shop window display
- a series of very cool 1960s Italian
coffee makers that have been much
admired.  The cute little double cup
drip (bottom row) sold minutes after
this photo was taken.
Well last week was huge.  Seriously huge.  Hurrah!  You can’t predict how each week will go, but who would have thunk that the week after Easter would be so much better than the Easter week?  Go figure.  This week has started more slowly, and yet my window display of uber cool 1960s Italian stove-top coffee makers has already generated a great deal of interest. 

Who knew there were so many coffee aficionados in Eumundi who knew exactly what they were looking at, but lots of people have been stopping to
Calypso being so helpful in
conducting a final inspection
of the window display.
admire and photograph the coffee makers.  My guess was that the Atomic would be the first to go – the most famous of the coffee maker brands and a design icon, and it would have except for a very mean wife who told her husband he was so not getting it.  He was already carrying it to my desk when she intercepted him, and loudly told him to put it back. He pleaded with her, telling her that it could be his birthday and Christmas gifts in one, plus any other gift she could think of for the foreseeable future, but she was adamant that he wasn’t getting it.  Sorry matey, but you’re apparently getting socks and jocks for your birthday and Christmas gifts.  Normally we get mean husbands in the shop (of which more later), but this was One Mean Wife - the first of our “interesting” visitors this week.
Poh the Little White SomethingorOther
came by for a play date, and it was all
good until she got too excited and
decided to bark at Caleb.

The interesting visitors of last week included a family from Sydney who bought our beautiful French cross-roads cross that dated from the 1800s.  This was a lovely cast iron cross that featured Mary in the centre, the initials for Ave Maria towards the bottom, and Mary was surrounded by lots of Roses of Sharon, which I think is the only flower specifically mentioned in the Bible. 
Big mistake, Poh - don't you be barking
at Caleb unless you want a solid 
clobbering in return.  He put some
force into this blow - it wasn't a pat on
the nose, it was a serious roundhouse
punch to the nose.

And now I’m talking about the cross-roads cross I regret that I didn’t photograph it before it left the shop.  You know I am the world’s worst photojournalist because I keep forgetting to get my camera out, but I have received a rap over the knuckles from an internet business trainer about this and have promised to lift my game.  Just don’t tell him that I forgot to photograph something the very next day after he gave me a talking to.  He suggested that I video the next time we’re walking through the Paris Markets.  Ha!  As if!  Firstly I barely remember my camera, let alone some video device, and secondly I’m generally pretty busy shopping til I fall down dead when I’m in the Paris Markets.  But anyway, with the new! improved! website that will probably eventuate later this year I will try to get all 21st century and include video as well as photos.  Maybe.  No promises.
Realising the error of her ways, Poh
squeals and decides to hotfoot it out
of the shop.  But Caleb wasn't letting
her off the hook so easily and gave
chase.  At this point I had to ditch the
camera to rescue the dog.
But anyway, I digress - back to cross-roads crosses:  they are still seen in the backblocks of Normandy and Brittany, and they have an interesting history.  Superstition suggests that cross-roads at dawn and dusk are places of considerable supernatural power and so it can be quite dangerous to find yourself there at those times.  So large crosses were often erected at cross-roads, to protect travelers.  We’ve only ever seen one in the UK, not far from Norwich, and that is an enormous granite one and quite crude, though compelling.  The rest in the UK were either stolen or moved into museums. 
The next potential play date was a
Rhodesian Ridgeback.  She turned out
to be too boisterous to be allowed into
the shop, so hellos had to be made
through a window.
In France, though, you can still see them in situ.  They are made from iron or stone, and are really lovely.  They rarely come onto the market, and when they do you have to move smartly to secure them because they are snapped up by the first dealer who sees them.  We have developed a good relationship with a dealer in Brittany, though, who knows we really want these types of things (including any metal ecclesiastical pieces), so he always shows us his special stock. 

Her owners couldn't get her to settle,
so Caleb took matters into his own
paws.  A Bengal Death Stare (he
learned that from Calypso) and a quick
snarl really focused the mutt, and she
stood still like a good girl so a proper
greeting could be made. 
The dog's owner said she has never
been as effective as Caleb was in
focusing the dog on behaving herself. 
It no doubt helps if you can peel back
your lips to show off a mouthful
of big Bengal teeth. 

So it was all good that the lady who bought the cross-roads cross was so pleased to get it.  It was a little strange, though, when she told me that she plans to use it in her spells.  Goodness knows what that involves.  Who knew you could invoke the Virgin Mary through witchcraft?  In Darlinghurst you can, apparently.  But anyway, she was very excited about it, and made her son carry it to their car over his shoulder, a la Jesus, which would have taken some doing because it was a dang heavy piece.  I said if only you had bought it over the Easter weekend it would have looked far more in keeping, but better late than never.  So that was a good sale, so yay for Paganism!

Later in the day a man came in and looked at our small collection of meat cleavers.  You know what meat cleavers look like, so I don’t have to photograph them for you.  Anyway, he said they were staying with a chap in Noosa who has a number of meat cleavers, and my visitor said he thought they were for cutting cane.  But no, they’re meat cleavers. 
I said that with a collection of big sharp things maybe his host is actually a mass murderer, and this man took me seriously!  He frowned at me.  Do you really think so? he asked.  No, I’m joking I said.  Hmmm, he said, it is strange, though, don’t you think?   Really, I said, I’m just joking.  Lots of people have collections of interesting kitchen things, including me.  But by then he had a faraway look in his eyes and wasn’t listening anymore.  Oh dear, you’re not meant to take me seriously when I say patently silly things.  On the other hand, maybe I’ve just thwarted a murderous rampage in Noosa and saved this guy’s life.  In fact, when you think about it, I’m a total heroine and my every word should be heeded.  Yeah, let’s go with that.

A random shot of what's on
display on the Welsh dresser
this week.  The plates are
tin, which many people don't
realize until they pick them
up.  These are excellent if you
have a husband who has taken
to dropping really expensive
ceramic plates, and they've
proven to be surprisingly
popular.  Lots of clutz husbands
out there, I guess.
The Mean Husband for the week was this awful man, who from out on the street I could hear telling his wife that she wasn’t allowed to buy anything in our shop, but if she did she had to pay for it out of her own money and it had to be put in her room and nowhere else in the house.  What a romantic devil.  So in they came, and he immediately announced I’m only interested in silver marrow spoons.  I said And of course you are also interested in making your wife happy, because remember: Happy Wife, Happy Life.  He marched up to my desk, loomed over it, and said I’ll have you know that as of two days ago we have been married for 43 years.  I turned to his wife and said But it seems so much longer, doesn’t it?  She laughed and said Oh yes!  And I’m not interested in silver marrow spoons!  I had a friend with me and all of us women cacked ourselves, while he harrumphed and marched out.  And hey Mean Husband, no-one buys silver marrow spoons anymore.  They were a total affectation back in the Victorian era, and they certainly identify you as a bit of a Pratt these days. 
For everyone who would prefer to avoid Prattdom, marrow spoons are long and narrow and were used by the head of the table for extracting the marrow from the bones of roast dinners.  Marrow is good for you, you know, and it's true that the English in the Victorian era had a tool for absolutely everything.  But even by their standards brandishing a solid silver marrow spoon at the dinner table was considered a little bit too "new money".  If you had to buy your household goods and furniture rather than inherit them, you were probably a crass merchant-made-good (ie. new money), rather than from a proper old family with old money.  New money wasn't considered to have any taste, and would make outlandish displays of wealth by buying almost useless but hugely expensive things.  These days, buying silver marrow spoons falls into the Not Very Stylish category at best, and Downright Pratt category if you insist on boasting that this is what you buy.

The first of the Building the Rest of Our House photos. 
This is Dale and Errol, the builders, doing a final measurement to ensure that the steps to the front door are built where they're meant to be.  All those trees are too close to where the house will be and so have to go, apparently.  It's a pity but we have many thousands of other trees.

In between our more interesting (you know I really mean weird) visitors last week there were heaps of sales, which necessitated Doug and I hitting the garage to find some interesting stock.  I’m gobsmacked at all the good stuff we’re finding, and it’s a relief to see that we’re not having to drop our standards even though we didn’t do a March buying trip this year.  And just as well we’re here, because the builder has required heaps of decisions to be made – not that he always likes what we decide, but he’ll cope.
But see that Poinciana?  I don't care what the builders say, that tree is staying.  Build around it, boys, because I will not budge on this.

02 April 2013

Big Dogs, Big Sales & Naughty Girls

New on the website - French multi-coloured
rhinestone brooch with a white Japanned base,
Well that was our first Easter spent in Australia in some years.  So hurrah, we enjoyed our first chocolate chip hot cross buns in some years.  Despite extensive searching, we’ve never found chocolate chip hot cross buns in England, and certainly not in France – sacre bleu!

Eumundi was packed on Saturday, but when there are so many people everyone ends up just shuffling about and not really looking at things.  We ended up having an excellent week, though not as excellent as you would expect with so many visitors.  But still, can’t complain about excellent.

Calypso knows I've got my eye on her, and is
feigning disinterest in doing anything naughty.
At home Calypso and Mischka have been in trouble.  Calypso because she knows she is not to attack our Qing Dynasty marble head of Buddha in the bathroom, but for some reason she just can’t resist him.  When she was little I would occasionally catch her teetering on the top of Buddha’s head, and she was strongly discouraged from such acrobatics because try replacing this piece if she breaks it.  As a big girl she grabs and tries to wrestle with the head, and I know that Buddha is all forgiving and loves animals, but I will be less forgiving if she kicks him off the bench and breaks him. 

But after leaving the room for 30 seconds,
I return to find her casually sitting next to Buddha. 
Not being naughty, nosiree, no naughty going
on around here.
Meanwhile, Mischka’s trouble started because Doug finally got sick of sitting on our stock chairs – chairs that are awaiting respringing and reupholstering before they come into the shop.  We decided to put away our good chairs and use stock chairs while we had idiot kittens who love to play chasey over the furniture.  It’s been some years now and I keep getting kittens so the idiocy hasn’t yet lessened, but Doug is finally sick of getting springs stuck in his bottom so he raided our storage shed and brought back a very cool black leather 1960s Fler chair. 

Right in front of me she edges closer to Buddha,
but pretends she's just looking at something
out the window.
But guess what?  The chair hadn’t even made it into the house – was on the verandah while we removed one of the stock chairs – before Mischka leapt on it and gave it a test scratch.  Boy did she get shrieked at and chased about the house, being told loudly and clearly what a Bad Cat she is and how a short, sharp visit from the Smack Fairy was heading her way.  We’ve now bought a water pistol to shock her little furry socks off should she try again, but the shrieking and chasing and threats seem to have worked so far.  And now the chair has the first of what will no doubt be many war wounds gained from being in our house – we’ll just call it patination.

But finally she can't resist for a second longer
and has to launch the attack she had been
planning all along.  Buddha has withstood her
assaults so far, but she's in huge trouble if she
breaks him.
Caleb has been surprisingly well behaved at home, but in the shop on Saturday he became hugely over-excited and wouldn’t settle because a variety of mutts turned up for play dates.  Poor little Poh – the Little White SomethingorOther and the only scheduled play date - didn’t actually make it into the shop because she was too intimidated by the big dogs who were already visiting.  So Poh’s visit was a fleeting hello through the window this week.  In her place was firstly a whacking big malamute and his friend a rottweiler-cross, and then a big golden retriever. 

Caleb meets his biggest play date yet.  He fluffed
up a bit and gave a warning snarl but his tail is
pointing straight up, which is always a sign that 
he's feeling okay.
The malamute was the biggest play date so far, but what a brave boy our Caleb was.  He fluffed up momentarily and gave a quick snarl, and boy that made the big dogs sit up straight and pay attention.  And then, having established the ground rules (do as I say), he did a bit of nose touching with the malamute and laid down next to him.  The rottweiler-cross wasn’t interested in coming any closer – it’s amazing how one little Bengal snarl will do that.  I only had time to get one quick photo, because I was hovering and ready to intervene if the malamute wasn’t as friendly as claimed.  But there was no problem, and he was a big softy.  But once he started loudly yowly-howling at Caleb that was a bit too much, and the date was over.  His owner assured us that the yowly-howling was just him “talking” and it was cute (though ear-splitting).  But Caleb doesn’t speak yowly-howl and didn’t find it one bit cute and stalked off back to my chair.

Poh the Little White SomethingorOther
was too scared of the malamute to
come in for her play date, so she and
Caleb greeted each other through the
shop's front window.
The golden retriever's visit was over so quickly I didn’t even have time to get the camera.  Caleb has the measure of golden retrievers now, and isn’t one bit scared of them, so he marched up to a lovely girl to touch noses but she was terrified of him and kept leaping backwards – not a great thing in an antiques shop.  So we positioned her in the doorway (because Caleb isn’t allowed to play outside the shop), but then she just leapt backwards onto the pavement.

So the hunt continues.  We need a big dog that likes cats but isn’t a sook so he can’t intimidate it, and one that isn’t too loud.  Someone asked why we don’t just buy Caleb a puppy, and he would love it, but it isn’t going to happen.  He has the rest of the Gang as willing victims when he’s at home, and he’s going to have to make do with doggie play dates in the shop.

New on the website - French deep green enamel
lidded pot with a pale blue interior, c1920. 
Photographer's Assistant not included.
A good deal of the French vintage costume jewellery I photographed for the website this week I sold in the shop over Easter, but I still have a nice selection for the site.  We also sold lots of La Vie Parisienne covers and images and French vintage advertisements – it’s a good thing to be the only shop in Australia who sells only originals of these things, and we get a lot of repeat custom for them.  I told Doug that I had set aside six pictures for us, but when I inspected my secret stash we had 32 set aside.  I agreed to sell one – and that sold within days of going out - but I reckon I’ll find places for the others when the rest of the house is built.  And if not, then I’ll flog the ones that don’t fit.  Promise.

Le Galion perfume advertisements
New on the website this week - vintage French