Thursday, October 30, 2014

Czech (Bohemian ) Glass

Bohemian glass sometimes referred to as Bohemia crystal, is glass produced in the regions of Bohemia and Silesia, now parts of the Czech Republic. It has a centuries long history of being internationally recognised for its high quality, craftsmanship, beauty and often innovative designs. Hand-cut, engraved, blown and painted decorative glassware ranging from champagne flutes to enormous chandeliers, ornaments, figurines and other glass items are among the best known Czech exports and immensely popular as tourist souvenirs. The Czech Republic is home to numerous glass studios and schools attended by local and foreign students.
Oldest archaeological excavations of glass-making sites date to around 1250 and are located in the Lusatian Mountains of Northern Bohemia.
Jug in Bohemia, Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) by L. Moser & Sohne

Crystal vs. glass

 In the Czech Republic, the term "crystal" is used for any exquisite, high quality glass. Leaded crystal means crystal containing more than 24% lead oxide.
In the European Union, only glass products containing at least 24% of lead oxide may be referred to as "lead crystal".
In the USA it is the opposite - glass is defined as "crystal" if it contains only 1% lead.


Bohemia, a part of the Czech Republic , became famous for its beautiful and colourful glass during the Renaissance
Bohemian glass-workers discovered potash combined with chalk created a clear colourless glass that was more stable than glass from Italy.
 During the era, the Czech lands became the dominant producer of decorative glassware and the local manufacture of glass earned international reputation in high Baroque style from 1685 to 1750.
Czech glassware became as prestigious as jewellery and was sought-after by the wealthy and the aristocracy of the time. 
Today, Czech crystal chandeliers hang, for example, in Milan's La Scala, in Rome's Teatro dell'Opera, in Versailles, in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg or in the royal palace in Riyadh. Various sorts of glassware, art glass, ornaments, figurines, costume jewellery, beads and others also remain internationally valued.

Reverse glass painting was also a Czech specialty

Czech costume jewelry
It was in glass center of Gablonz, at the end of the Victorian Era, that Austrian jeweler Daniel Swarovski introduced the first cut-glass crystals to successfully imitate the look of diamondsrubiessapphires, and emeralds. In 1892, Swarovski patented a mechanical glass cutter so his crystals could be mass-produced to meet the high demand.
Bohemian costume jewelers also pioneered a technique for replicating the look of pearls, which were enormously popular at the beginning of the 20th century.But glass remains the Bohemia region’s most important contribution to costume jewelry.

Amethyst Czech Glass Bracelet 1920s 

Art Deco Bracelet Amber Glass

One of the glass items for which the Czech nation is still well known is the production of "druk" beads. Druks are small (3mm-18mm) round glass beads with small threading holes produced in a wide variety of colors and finishes and used mainly as spacers among beaded jewellery makers.

6mm Czech Glass Druk Bead 

For more czech glass:


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cultural Shifts: How World War II Brought Us the Poodle Skirt

What?  A link between crinolines, wiggle dresses and the oversexed, over-the-top 1950s and World War II?  Well, yes.  In a pretty straightforward manner.  We are all familiar with Rosie the Riveter, the icon of women's contribution to the war effort.  Women moved into the workplace en masse as the men went to Europe to fight.  War needs machinery, and machinery needs to be built by someone. Women worked in factories and took on many jobs that were ordinarily open only to men. They dressed in dungarees, work shirts. Or work uniforms. They also worked in more traditional jobs such as stenographers, secretaries and the like. Their beaus, brothers and husbands were mostly on the battlefield.  The Great Depression brought privation and WWII brought even more.  Silk hose was gone.  Old dresses were taken in, let out, repurposed (yes, repurposing isn't a new phenomenon -- we just rediscovered what was a way of life in previous decades!) All the material that could be used for the war effort was not available for clothing and accessories.  And this was just in America. European privation was on another scale all together, as was what was expected of women.  Everyone sacrificed.  The war years were exceedingly difficult.
Sewing Pattern courtesy of

But with the war won and over, along with the grinding Depression that preceded it, the economy revved up into a full roar. It was time to party a little bit!   The closed well of  flirty femininity reopened as a gusher. (Although Rosie would never be put back into the box again, that is a different story.) Flouncy, frilly and frou frou were in!  Full skirts, held out by crinolines, red, red lips, sexy, form fitting "wiggle" dresses and bright, sparkling costume jewelry became the silhouette of the 1950s.  Yves St. Laurent, who startled the fashion world with what became known as The New Look in 1947, led the way, just as Coco Chanel had led in the 1920s. The New Look was also about sophistication.  The Whole Look -- full parures or matching sets of necklace, bracelet, brooch and earrings were worn, along with hats, gloves and the right shoes.  We may think of this as so much excess today, but looking at old Vogue Magazine shots from that time, one is struck by the elegance and great beauty of the best designs that incorporated all the accessories into one seamless package.

Dress courtesy of
The one thread that carries through the vintage clothing and jewelry  we so love is that of presentation. Both men and women saw it as normal, and right, to present themselves in public put together.  It was a cultural norm that began to unravel with the upheavals of the late 1960s.  But we are still in the well-coiffed 1950s for this article.  No amount of beautiful clothing could hide the isolation of so many women tucked away in their new suburban homes with new refrigerators and vacuums.  It may have been only June Cleaver who vacuumed in high heels. It was the attempt to keep women in the kitchen after the relative freedom of the war years that led to the visceral reaction that became the women's movement in the early 1970s.  Ah, but we are writing about clothing and jewelry.  Except that fashion always is about a statement of some sort.  It is not separate from the cultural milieu in which it finds its expression.
Pattern Courtesy of

So were women completely reduced to sexual objects and dutiful housewives in the 1950s?

One only has to review old black and white photographs of Dovima and other powerful women in fashion and the public eye in the 1950s to feel the power and magnetization that the clothes of that era could bestow on a woman. Rockabilly and great elegance and sophistication existed together. Sexy, feminine and even frivolous?  Perhaps. Grease and Audrey Hepburn!   But there were an awful lot of very strong women wearing those clothes.

Jewelry courtesy of

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tectonic Shift: The Roaring Twenties and Art Deco Design

We who so love the fashions, jewelry and Art Deco design of the 1920s sometimes forget what it must have been like to live through a period when so much changed so quickly.  Just a decade before hemlines rose to the knee in 1925 many women were confined to the "S" shape corset and to so many layers of restrictive clothing that movement was not easy. The stultifying routines that culture and fashion dictated have left us with a treasure of incredibly intricate, delightful and astonishing array of dresses, robes, coats and under garments of the upper class Edwardian female in aristocratic England, Europe and upper class America, as well as the simpler garments of the middle classes.  As World War I swept away millions of men and the empires of 19th century Europe, it also swept in huge cultural changes for women. Just as with World War II, women moved into the workforce in Europe to fill the vacancies left by so many young men fighting.  The vote for women in America was only a few years away.  The war also led to vast shifts in wealth, as a true middle class took hold in Europe and America --  there was a market for the "costume" jewelry that was designed to accompany the loosely structured, free flowing outfits of the 1920s. Coco Chanel saw this and led the way!  It is said that Chanel even coined the term "costume jewelry" as she designed it to be worn with her outfits.  
Evening Dress Jeanne Hallee 1910-1914

Dress courtesy of

And so a young aristocratic woman who was raised with the strict social and fashion mores of the 1910s found herself with a bob haircut, a loose flowing chemise and very little in the way of undergarments just ten years later!  Her less wealthy sisters could afford to wear the beautiful faux jewelry that was common place by the 1920s.  The bob hair cuts made long dangle earrings a staple of the era. The flat front chemises were embellished with layers of  pearls and other long "flapper" necklaces. Bare arms were covered with rows of bangles.   After the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts from April to October of 1925 in Paris, what we now know as the Art Deco Design era exploded. The exhibition epitomized a "modern" style characterized by a streamlined classicism, geometric and symmetric compositions and a sleek, machine age look. (Wikipedia).  We now recognize these clean designs and wonderful 
geometric patterns in  designs from jewelry to architecture.  

The forces of these movements -- of women gaining some control over their own lives -- and of the spectacular explosion of creativity that followed the 1925 Paris Exhibition -- came to define what we now call "The Roaring Twenties."  The fashions and jewelry of this decade, and even with the Great Depression, the 1930s, are the lovely artifacts of tectonic shifts in Western culture. Sadly, the Art Deco era came to an abrupt end in 1939 when yet another war would again bring about jarring changes to Western culture.  It falls to another article to discuss the changes in fashion that followed the cultural upheavals after the  Second World War.
Set courtesy of

Rhinestone Clip courtesy of

Laubner, Ellie, Fashions of the Roaring '20s (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)
Wikipedia page on the 1925 Paris International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Majolica (Delftware,Faience)

Majolica may refer to
Tin-glazed pottery, decorated earthenware pottery with an opaque white glaze.
Maiolica, a type of tin-glazed pottery made in Italy.
Victorian majolica, brightly coloured earthenware pottery with a clear lead glaze

Tin-glazed pottery is pottery covered in glaze containing tin oxide which is white, shiny and opaque. (See tin-glazing.) The pottery body is usually made of red or buff colored earthenware and the white glaze was often used to imitate Chinese porcelain. Tin-glazed pottery is usually decorated, the decoration applied to the unfired glaze surface by brush as metallic oxides, commonly cobalt oxide, copper oxide, iron oxide, manganese dioxide and antimony oxide. The makers of Italian tin-glazed pottery from the lateRenaissance blended oxides to produce detailed and realistic polychrome paintings.
The earliest tin-glazed pottery appears to have been made in Iraq in the 9th century, the oldest fragments having been excavated during the First World War from the palace of Samarra about fifty miles north of Baghdad. From there it spread to Egypt, Persia and Spain before reaching Italy in the Renaissance, Holland in the 16th century and England, France and other European countries shortly after.
Tin-glazed (Majolica) plate fromFaenza, Italy

The development of white, or near white, firing bodies in Europe from the late 18th century, such as Creamware by Josiah Wedgwood and porcelain, reduced the demand for Delftware (Holland), faience (France) and majolica.
The rise in the cost of tin oxide during the First World War led to its partial substitution by zirconium compounds in the glaze.

Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes
The name is thought to come from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, an island on the route for ships bringing Hispano-Moresque wares from Valencia to Italy. Moorish potters from Majorca are reputed to have worked in Sicily and it has been suggested that their wares reached the Italian mainland from Caltagirone.An alternative explanation of the name is that it comes from the Spanish term obra de Malaga, denoting “[imported] wares from Malaga”.orobra de mélequa, the Spanish name for lustre.
A Hispano-Moresque dish, approx 32cm diameter, with Christian monogram "IHS", decorated in cobalt blue and gold luster. Valencia, c.1430-1500. Burrell Collection

Victorian majolica is earthenware pottery made in 19th century Britain, Europe and the USA with molded surfaces and colorful clear lead glazes.
Victorian majolica was originated by Mintons Ltd, who exhibited it at the Great Exhibition of 1851 under the name Palissy ware
The public came to call Minton's Palissy Ware majolica warePalissy ware dropped out of use and majolicastuck. In the 1880s, the curators of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) tried to clear up the confusion by reviving the Italian pronunciation maiolica for Italian tin-glaze. 
Minton majolica swan vase

For more majolica:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Make black cat o'lanterns for halloween

Tutorial on courtesy of:
On courtesy of:

Create a spooky trio of glossy black cats to watch over trick-or-treaters at your door. 
All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes ― long or pear-shaped for the body, small and round for the face.
 Look for body shapes with character and a stable base. They can lean to one side  but shouldn't wobble.
Choose a tall one for an elegant cat, or a squat orange heirloom for a chubby cat curled on its paws. Test a few "heads" until you find a good match.                                                                                                                                                         
This twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern cuts down on some of the usual pumpkin cleaning: No need to hollow out the body. Just clean out and carve the head, then add mini pumpkin paws, curvy cucumber tails, and ears from stiffened felt or black card stock from the craft store. Then, light the candle, get the candy, and watch your Halloween cats come to life.

Things you need

  • Knife or carving kit
  • Pumpkins
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Stiff felt or paper for ears
  • Newspaper
  • Curved cucumber or skinny gourd for tail
  • Mini pumpkins for paws(or small pebbles)
  • Black floral spray
  • Wood floral picks (5 or 6 per pumpkin; optional)
  • Mallet or hammer for attaching picks to base pumpkin (optional)
  • Tea-light candle in flat dish or jar lid
  • Clay polymer or poster putty

Carve a cat pumpkin

Step 1: Cut out top of small pumpkin and scoop the inside clean. Place it upside down on the base pumpkin, turning to find a good fit. If necessary, carve opening slightly to adjust.
Step 2: Set head on the base to decide placement of eyes, then carve them out. You can draw them on first .
Step 3: Cut pointy ears out of felt or card stock and mark their positions on the head with a pen. Carve two shallow grooves into the head to hold the ears. Avoid cutting all the way through the pumpkin. (For more realistic ears, carve crescent-shaped grooves.)
Step 4: Prep an outside work area for spray painting. Stuff the head with loosely crumpled newspaper.
Cover pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and cucumber with one or two thin coats of black spray paint. Allow to dry. Remove stuffing and insert the ears.
Step 5: If the head is wobbly, gently pound a few floral picks into the body with the mallet or hammer. Measure the opening of the head, then position the picks to fit just inside.
Step 6: Put a short tea light on a lid or dish to catch any drips. Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty. Attach the head. Position cat and arrange tail and paws next to body.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Things I Have Learned Since Opening A Vintage Shop

             On courtesy of :Niki patterson

 Being stupid at a thrift store....

I love thrift stores! I found an old Pyrex gravy boat at one for .49 and just had an Ah-Ha moment. Can I find more treasures? Can I find them new homes? This should be easy right? The answers are yes, yes, NO! Here is a list of my top lessons learned and maybe they might help out a fellow vintage collector.
On courtesy of:

1. Bring your own supply of wrapping material and wrap items yourself

I had found one of the greatest finds of my life. A set of 8 mint Waterford crystal goblets in the Lismore pattern for .99 each. I'm sure a lot of you are familiar with Waterford crystal. I looked them up while in the store because my heart was racing a million miles an hour. Yeah, they only sell for about $400. No biggie. So I carefully took them to the register to check out. The checkout girl was kind of in a bad mood and a bit rude. As I was putting them on the counter I noticed a small chip in one. I was so excited I didn't even inspect them. I asked the girl if I could go see if they had another why she was checking me out. She just shrugged. I ran over and actually found one more. This made me think there was more than an 8 piece set. They don't put all their items out at once so I was going back the next day to see if I could score more. ( I didn't ) I came back, paid and headed to my car. My cart hit a tiny bump and I heard the most awful noise in the world, CRRRUUUUOOOOSSHHH!! (That's what I think it sounded like. Never been good at onomatopoeias)  That crystal just shattered, and so did my heart. I inspected the bags and come to find she stacked them on top of each other and put a piece of newspaper over the top. ARE YOU F*&#ING KIDDING ME!! I was able to salvage 2 without damage but I have not been that furious in a long time. I was going to go yell at her but came to my senses. That store was a major source of my items. I don't want to make a scene and possibly jeopardize my treasure trove.

Lesson Learned- DO NOT leave the register and always bring your own wrapping supplies. You may get weird looks but don't let that deter you. I bring a box full of newspaper and bubble wrap.This way they don't rattle if you carry them in bags.

2. Always inspect items inside out and backwards

This was a big rookie mistake I made. I would get so wrapped up by labels and marks I would just squee and put them in my cart. If I saw Noritake in it went. Limoges, you bet! I would be hyped up pay good money to only be disappointed when I got home because it was damaged in some way and could not be sold.

Lesson Learned- Always, always check for damages. I carry a small fold up magnifying glass with 3 magnifications to check for marks but it is a great tool for checking chips on crystal or small cracks that could make a piece worthless. Always inspect your items in full light, next to a window is perfect. Hold up kitchen ware and check for cracks, chips and scratches. Lay clothing and accessories out and look for tears, holes and stains. Especially in the armpit and crotch. Even if the item is perfect outside no one wants a pit stain!

3. Never tell the employees what you do

When I first started the employees would ask why I buy so much stuff. I would proudly say "I have a vintage shop. This place has such great valuable items. They don't even know what they have here!" Big mistake. I don't find much there anymore and they tend to keep an eye on me when I am. Let's just say I don't go there anymore. If people who work there ask me why I buy so much stuff. I just shrug and say it's pretty. I don't want to make up a whole story about how so and so had this and stuff and things. It detracts from your shopping and tends to make the employees kind of suspicious. The less you say the more they ignore you. They probably just think I'm a hoarder. I'm ok with that.

Lesson Learned- Don't bring attention to yourself. When you find awesome items don't yell "WHOO HOO YEAH!" and try to high five the old lady next to you. Try to be a bit stealthy when you examine items. You don't need to crouch in a corner like Gollum and his precious, but don't stand in the middle of the store with a huge magnifying glass like Sherlock Holmes.

4. Never pass up an item that could potentially be valuable

I'm not saying that if you see something old and think to yourself  "Hey, that's old. It must be valuable and I will pay $10 for it" just to find out it's a piece of worthless junk. If you pick something up and it feels right, maybe has an older mark or is a shape or pattern you have never seen before think about it. Is the price worth the risk? If it ends up not being worth much can you re-purpose it or use it for yourself? That's up to you. I found a little bisque plaque at a thrift store with a Greek scene and an old mark on the back. It was .49 so I said what the hell, I'm not really out anything and if it's not worth much my mom would like it. I got it home and wouldn't you know it, it was a 19th century piece made by Royal Copenhagen before they used there standard mark. From a collection called The Four Seasons. It was worth around $90. A great find! I never pass up on something that feels right even if it's filthy. I found a crystal candle holder that was covered in dust and was all dingy. It felt like it weighed 100 pounds so for the price of $1 I figured I would give it a go. I got home and placed all my treasures gently in the sink for a bath (always lay a towel in the bottom so they don't clink against the sink). After removing all the gunk and grime it was a gorgeous sparkling piece. I turned it over and actually yelled out and scared my husband. The mark read Tiffany an Co. Yeah, that happened.

Lesson Learned- Go with your gut. If the price is right and you just have a 'feeling' about it go for it! If you are new to picking, you will soon get the 'feeling' I promise. Try it out. You never know what you might find.

5. Lastly: Be prepared!

Download the Etsy app and keep it open why you shop. If you find something you think is great, do a quick search and see what its going for. Of course this only works for items clearly labeled but it certainly helps.
Do your research and find out what's trending. Think like the buyer not about what you like. I do love crystal but it's on it's way out. The new generation is moving in and they prefer the kitschy cute collectables and  vintage clothing from the 80's and *cough* 90's. (should have kept my wardrobe) There are pages on Etsy that show you what's trending and you can always get ideas from current fashion magazines or pictures of recent runway shows. Fashion designers tend to model new fashions from vintage stuff. Who would have ever thought neon windbreakers and high-waist pleated denim would be the new fashion trend?
Know your store. If you frequent a certain store know where items are located. Be cheerful with the staff and ask when new inventory is put out. Ask about discounts or days they have specials. These few things can score you some great items.
Always have a game plan. Know what you are after and set a budget and a time limit. If you want collectibles to stock your shop stay in that section. Don't wander because youwill get distracted and spend too much money and and be there way too long. Trust me, I know. You can end up with too much stuff to list or items that you really didn't need. Plus you probably missed lunch and are starving.

Lesson Learned- Think like a business, not about you. Find out what's selling and try to target a specific market. Manage your time and your cash. Make a game plan and stick to it. Don't put in more than you are making, you just end up with piles of stuff and an empty wallet.

I really hope that all of my bad mistakes can keep other sellers from unneeded heartaches and headaches. Practice makes perfect. You will make mistakes but learn from them. I sure as hell did!

I have to give credit to my friends from my Etsy team Vintage Vertigo! They really helped me out and gave me some of this good advice. Thanks guys! You're awesome!


The Neiger Brothers' Jewelry

Anyone who collects Art Deco jewelry will eventually run across the Neiger name.  And one may become hooked on the designs; complex, exotic, beautifully crafted jewelry that evokes the riches of King Tut's tomb or carries ancient Chinese motifs. As colorful and over-the-top as the Art Deco era itself. Trying to identify a piece as a true Neiger however, is no easy task.

Neiger Egyptian Revival brooch courtesy of

 Norbert Neiger graduated from the Gablonz, Poland technical school's bjouterie program in the early 20th century and started a jewelry company in the basement of the family home.  After his early success his younger brother Max joined him in the business. Norbert ran the business and Max designed the jewelry and ran the workshop.

After WWI the brothers focused solely on Max's designs, and also produced filigreed scent bottles. In 1926 they employed as many as 24 workers as demand from America and Europe for their jewelry was very high.

Neiger jewelry is characterized by beautiful Czech glass and lovely metal parts. Max designed the jewelry and the pieces were assembled by their workers.  They also did not stamp their parts, but bought them from estamperies, or local metal crafting shops. This is one reason why identifying a true Neiger is so difficult.

Neiger necklace courtesy of

Their best known works derive from the Egyptian design craze that began after the opening of King Tut's tomb in 1922.  They also added other fanciful lines, with Chinese and Indian motifs. They produced "hypnotizing brooches, beautiful beaded necklaces and fascinating bracelets, all of the highest quality."  (Value This Now Blog - 6/25/13). Their finishes were commonly gilded and rhodium plated.  The designs were composed of small enamalled and stamped floral patterns set with glass stones.

Neiger Chinese brooch courtesy of

Not only did they not stamp their jewelry, but
with their success other local jewelry makers began to emulate their work -- the parts were available to all from the same local manufacturers from whom the Neigers bought. Though their competitors' jewelry does not equal theirs in workmanship or style, these practices are why today pieces are often described as being "attributed" to the Neigers instead of being given full recognition -- certainty is often difficult.

The Neiger brothers came to a tragic end.  When WWII began they moved their operations to Bohemia, thinking it would be safe.  It was not.

Neiger buttons courtesy of

They were sent to Auschwitz during WWII and both died there.  Today there are Neiger jewelry clubs dedicated to identifying true Nieger pieces.  There are quite a few Boards on Pinterest for Neiger Jewelry, creating not only virtual museums but also places to help with identification of newly discovered pieces.  That the brothers' jewelry is so popular today and commands such high prices is a testament to their workmanship and the eternal nature of their designs.

Sources: Value This Now Blog; 6/25/13: Gillian Horsup Vintage: Jewels Collecting Dust.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

V For Victory!! World War II Victory Pin Jewelry

Post on courtesy of:
V for Victory!!  World War II brought out the fierce patriotism in people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world.  I bought the pin shown above on a recent buying trip.  As I and the gentleman selling the pin studied it, we both decided, that yes, it had to be a WWII era Victory pin.  I thought the little chick was adorable, but couldn’t fit that in with wartime. A friend suggested perhaps “a chicken in every pot’, or even relating to victory gardens.

I did a search on Google and there, through a couple of referrals met a charming and most interesting lady who collects among other wartime items, Victory pins.  Her name is Christine Lurk and she has graciously consented to me sharing some of her knowledge and a couple of her photos from her extensive Vee Pin collection.  Christine shares that she became a collector of these pins after seeing another person wearing one at a  World War II era air show in Reading PA.  She was instantly “hooked” (or should we say pinned?) and her amazing collection was born.  Below is the photo of the pin that started it all, MacArthur in a V for Victory.

“I  decided I had to have one of those, and like potato chips, I couldn’t just get one. Now I would say I have a world-class collection and I have started taking it on the road. Last year they let me set up non-profit tables (since I don’t sell anything) at the Reading airshow and elsewhere. I have branched out from just victory pins to other victory items (like license plate toppers)….and to Kilroy stuff….and to Uncle Sam stuff. And this year I have been invited back and am having fun expanding my display to include items that newer generations might not recognize and that demonstrate homefront sacrifices, like ration books and tokens and gas stickers, V mail, blackout bulbs and paper for covering windows, headlight masks, Victory gardens, airplane spotter cards, etc. I’ll make it into a Test-Your-Knowledge game too (with prizes, of course!).”

The pin above is a mystery pin.  The couple are obviously dancing the tango and it’s certainly a V for Victory pin, but it’s a mystery what the connection is between the dance and the V.   2nd unusual feature of this V pin is the musical notes depicted.  Typically, victory pins that contain musical notes are the audible representation of the Morse code symbol for “V” which is dot-dot-dot-dash.  Bring to mind the opening bars of  Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and you will recognize the rhythm.  That is why during WWII Beethoven’s Fifth was used as the opening theme music–the call sign–for BBC’s foreign language programming to occupied Europe.  It was easily recognizable and echoed the message of VICTORY and hope in the dark days of war.
The same pin, but only in blue.
And, another musical themed pin.

This is just one of many trays that include all sorts of V for Victory emblems and insignia.  Christine does not sell any of her collection.  She very generously shares it at shows and gatherings of Wartime Memorabilia collectors.  I’m very grateful to Christine for sharing her knowledge and photos of her collection with me.  If you are ever in the Reading PA area in June, do attend the airshow.  There, you will find Christine and her fabulous collection!!

Juliana costume jewelry

Juliana costume jewelry was produced by DeLizza & Elster, which was founded in 1947 to manufacture everything from buttons and buckles to pins and pendants for such venerable costume jewelers as Hattie Carnegie, Hobe, Kenneth J. Lane, and Weiss. In 1967, chief designer Frank DeLizza and business partner Harold Elster decided to create a brand of their own by placing paper tags with the Juliana trademark on some of their pieces. The brand lasted barely two years, but it became synonymous with DeLizza & Elster. Vintage Juliana pieces (which include unlabeled pieces created before 1967 as well as those with Gloria and Tara hang tags) typically feature vibrantly colored rhinestones such as aurora borealis, clear crystals, faux hematite, and fake opals.

Juliana Aurora borealis
On courtesy of:

Juliana hematite
On courtesy of:

Juliana Easter Egg Brooch 

On courtesy of:

Striking colors such as purple and teal or green and pink are routinely combined. In other Juliana pieces, large speckled (or "Easter egg") cabochons are set within rings of smaller, colored stones. Unlike much of the vintage costume jewelry from this period, Juliana pieces are almost all stone, with very little metal showing. Cluster settings for brooches are popular. In addition to such basic stone cuts as pears, baguettes, ovals, and rounds, some of the more fancy vintage Juliana pieces have stones cut into the shapes of keystones, arrows, anchors, and hearts. Brooch designs range from flat to domed to tiered, while earrings are arranged in clusters, cascades, or clumps with dangling jewels swinging free. Some pieces suggest natural forms like leaves on a branch, flowers, and crystals. Some pieces resemble birds; others looks like snowflakes or shooting stars. Milk glass is occasionally used as a cool accent or centerpiece, as are so-called watermelon rhinestones, which catch light and return a rainbow of colors to the beholder’s eye. The hardware on vintage Juliana helps collectors identify real piece from fakes. Earrings are mostly clip-backed; screw backs are rare. Necklaces tend to be clasped with J-hooks, which allow the wearer to adjust the length. Light necklaces have single hooks, heavier ones use double hooks, and some hooks are even adorned with rhinestones in closed-back settings. Juliana's vintage bracelets usually have fold-over clasps, some with ridges or stripes, some with arrow patterns, and some with rhinestones. Box-and-tongue clasps are used on flat-backed bracelets, clamper bracelets are hinged, and bracelets of all types frequently have safety chains.

Brooch mint green milk glass
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Juliana Watermelon Brooch 

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Be Good to Mother Earth - Buy Vintage

Wearing vintage clothing and jewelry is in fashion right now.  Vintage accessories, from cosmetic compacts to purses and shoes, are very popular.   And the fun things one finds while treasure hunting, from mixing bowls and lovely old crocheted quilts to fine china, will never go out of style for some people.  But there is another reason besides personal tastes why it is a very good thing indeed to buy and use vintage items -- it's good for our aching planet.

Today's consumer culture churns out an ever increasing amount of material items in a manner that is not sustainable.  The use of finite and toxic resources such as petroleum along with the pollution caused by large clothing factories, adds even more of a burden to our strained environment. And using new materials, from cotton to metals for jewelry, when we already have so much vintage clothing in existence doesn't always make sense.


An article in the March 16, 2014 edition of The Observer of London by Lucy Siegle had this to say about the ethics of wearing vintage:

If we think of a hierarchy of ethical ways of dressing, vintage is near the top.  It is the antithesis of throwaway fashion, being rare, covetable, and tradeable,  Rewearing old clothes also displaces the need to make new virgin fibres -- manufactured with oil-based petroleum or using cotton, both with hulking environmental impacts (add in dyeing, finishing and the use of factories with dubious ethics).

Although even new clothes can be coveted and traded, she does have a point. Obviously the market for new clothes will never disappear, nor should it. Fashion Week depends on it!  But there is room in the clothing industry for lovely vintage pieces to be brought back into use again. The throw away consumer culture that we live in can perhaps be tamed a bit if we all began thinking about the way our newer clothes are being produced and the harm caused by not only using petroleum products in new fibers, but the unsustainable agricultural practices used to grow massive amounts of cotton to make clothes that will end up in a landfill after a season or two. Clothes made out of petroleum and chemical products don't degrade well. What if we stopped chucking our perfectly good clothes when the fashions changed? (giving them to thrift stores is a fine idea! Then they are vintage!!)

The quality of older pieces cannot be denied either.  Just a few generations ago most clothes for the mass market were of much better quality than so much of what is made today.  They were made of natural fibers, made to last and to be passed down -- and boy did a lot of these pieces last!  There are a lot of vintage clothes and jewelry still in fantastic condition.  Just a nip and a tuck here and there and they will fit better than the generic small, medium and large ever will!



We aren't all fashion designers and there are vintage pieces that don't fit today's aesthetic.  But a push to begin rescuing older clothing and either wearing it outright or reusing the fabric would go a long ways in giving the planet some breathing room.  Perhaps someone can enlist the likes of Tim Gunn to do an entire new television design show using only vintage clothing and jewelry!! Get the current Ralph Lauren interested in the clothes the younger Ralph made.  Take vintage right to the center of Fashion Week!

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see top fashion designers begin to "repurpose"old garments?  The same fabric could be used to keep up with current trends.  Or to use the original beautiful garment as it is and just kick it up a bit to so that women (and men) would be scouring thrift stores and garage sales to get the "new" look?

There is also a growing market for vintage jewelry  -- so many older costume pieces are strikingly beautiful -- and they already exist.  Bringing them back into circulation lessens the need to consume precious materials and generate toxic waste by making new.  After all, the older pieces were made to be thrown away -- and yet they are more popular than ever!  The old saying that everything old is new again is very true when it comes to fashion, so let's use the old as much as we can and not reinvent the wheel.

Earrings: www.etsy/com/shop/ZephyrVintage