Monday, July 30, 2012

Costume collecting

Collecting period costumes is very satisfying in the sense that gives us a lot of information about history and customs of certain periods in modern world. From the grandest ball gown to the simplest hand-embroidered smock, the clothes and accessories that have covered the human form throughout history provide a fascinating insight into its changing needs and desires. So much costume survives that many pieces can be bought for small amounts and do not fluctuate widely in value.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Car boot sales

The car boot sale has become one of the most popular forms of weekend entertainment on both sides of the Atlantic. They range in size from several dozen stalls in a local school playground to several acres of land in the countryside. The larger, more rural ones tend not to operate during winter months, but local newspapers carry announcements of forthcoming sales usually one week in advance, although few include a contact telephone number. In larger towns and cities, many now take place in multy-storey car parks under cover. Head for one of these if it looks like rain.

The boot sale is the environmentally friendly way of getting rid of your unwanted clutter, and what may be rubbish to you might give someone else enormous pleasure. If you are selling, arrive early, preferably by 6 am. Take a strong torch and be prepared to deal with a particularly persistent and voracious type of small time dealer who has a tendency to dive into the boot of your car before you have had a chance to unpack your goods. It may suit you to do a deal and sell him or her a large proportion of what you have, but if you are determined to sell to the public, you will have to stand your ground and tell them firmly to leave you alone to unpack.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The object of the day: Carved and Etched Australian Cow Horn

An Unusual and Curious Carved and Etched Australian Cow Horn
(1800 to 1900 Australia)

Cow Horn

Literature Captain Arthur Philip established a colony of Europeans at Sydney Cove in 1788 and a trading seaport soon followed and it is possible that a sailor from Sydney who had also visited the Admiralty Islands on a voyage made this horn.
Kangaroos were once plentiful in the Sydney area and aborigines were observed using a variety of methods for hunting them, but although the young colony needed a supply of fresh meat, kangaroo flesh was not popular with Europeans. The Emu is one of two flightless birds in Australia and was once hunted widely. Their inquisitive nature was often their downfall as the hunters would mimic their call attracting them close enough to club or spear.
Wiped out in the wave of settlement that followed 1788 the aboriginal people in the area surrounding Sydney were gone so quickly that their culture had sunk without trace almost before anyone noticed.

Description / Expertise An Unusual and Curious Carved and Etched Australian Cow Horn
Decorated with an emu, a kangaroo, the figure of an Admiralty islander and two stylised armourials surmounted with kangaroo heads
Early 19th Century

Size: 38cm long – 15 ins long

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Standard British hallmarks

Great Britain operates the most rigorous system of hallmarking anywhere in the world. The first statute governing standards was passed in 1238, but the proper system came into operation with the introduction of the leopard's head mark in 1300, to be struck on both silver and gold throughout the realm. The standard set for coinage (92.5 %) was also used for silver objects. In 1363 a further statute was passed by which every gold and silversmith added his maker's mark to pieces (at this time in the form of symbols as few could read or write) to counteract the widespread practice of forging the leopard's head mark on substandard wares. in 1478, the third mark was added in the form of a letter. 

From this date all work had to be taken to Goldsmith's Hall for testing and marking by touchwardens (hence, Hall Marks). This was to stop gold and silversmith from bribing the touchwardens who had previously come to their workshop to do the testing and marking. Substandard wares had been marked, accepted by the Mint and converted directly into coinage which led to a loss of confidence in the currency. But with this third mark, originally called the Assay Master's mark, the Assay Master or touchwarden could be identified if a marked piece was found to be substandard.
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