Today, my mother introduced me to the world of Staffordshire porcelain antique dogs.
My maternal Grandma Vera had a natural eye for beautiful and classic treasures. She was an unbelievable artist and designer. She was very wise when she was a young woman with her acquired good taste. My grandmother did not know her real mother, but she vowed to herself that she would become a cultured, loving and creative mother by adapting many different attributes which she so admired in her many mentors' lives.
My father's mother, my Nana Helen was an Antique Dealer and a written author/authority for the Steiff family ( Steiff Teddy Bears) in Germany and popular appraiser for many books and magazines
One company even asked her to design an honorary bear, which she did. The Hermann Company named this bear; The Helen Sieverling Bear after Nana.
Here is a picture of Nana's bear.
Here is a copy of one of her books.
I think my appreciation for beautiful art and lovely creations comes naturally inherited.
I grew up with so many beautiful pieces of art, furniture, musical instruments, poetry, jewelry and china, etc, from visiting both grandmother's homes. I only wish I had been wise enough to ask questions.
So now, I am on my own quest to gain wisdom about the things of beauty that interest me.
God is so great in the fact that He gives the gift of art and the ability of an artist to the world.
It is a joy for me to admire the wonder, purpose and meaning of these material pleasures.
But back to my story. These figurines were a Bourgeois upper class status-symbol.
New England's ancestral upper class always seemed to have a pair sitting upon their mantel. Porcelain Spaniel dogs never seem to go out of style.
The real ones are purchased for a pricey fee. I will include a clip discussing origin, how to detect a fake, and pictures of some more beautiful statues.
I want a pair with the chain and heart around their necks. It will take a great deal of convincing and kissing ma maw to get her's :)!
After doing some research on these little antique dogs, I found the following story of their history;
"Once upon a time, in a little bungalow next to the sea, there lived awoman and her two Staffordshire spaniels. She was careful about placement of her spaniels in the front window. When the spaniels had their backs to each other, her husband was at home. When they faced each other,
he was at sea. The woman's lover would pass by the house, note the position of the spaniels, and know whether or not he could sneak in for a snuggle.
There are more stories. The Staffordshire spaniel is tied to the history of the living, frolicking Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In the Renaissance, these gentle, comforting little dogs were called Spaniells Gentle or Comforter Spaniels. Court ladies hid them under their voluminous skirts to keep their legs warm. Legend has it that a small black and white spaniel was found in the skirts of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1582) after she was beheaded (Adele Kenny, Staffordshire Spaniels, p. 13).
The spaniels became great favorites of the British monarchs. King Charles I (1600-1649) had a spaniel as a young boy.
The court of Charles I’s son, the Cavalier King, Charles II (1630-1685), was full of his eponymous spaniels. They play an important role in Michael Hoffman’s filmRestoration (1995) starring Robert Downey Jr. as Dr. Robert Merivel and Sam Neill as King Charles II. The first bit of this youtube clip features a pack of gorgeous, boisterous spaniels.
Queen Victoria’s (1819-1901) spaniel, Dash, sat next to her on the throne. His portrait was done by court painters, and for this reason the spaniel became a popular artistic motif in paintings and pottery throughout Victoria’s reign (1837-1901).
Since the 1720s, spaniels had been produced by pottery factories in Staffordshire—along with other figurines, such as shepherds and princesses, lions and lambs. Thanks to Dash, however, the spaniel model enjoyed a siege of popularity in the 1840s which lasted through Victoria’s reign.
To meet the dog demand, factories enlisted underpaid, overworked children to paint the whiskers and splotches of “the only ‘pets’ they would ever know,” (Kenny, p. 9)—a sad story, and unfortunately true. Although the vogue of the spaniels was glamorously royal, the production of the spaniels descended to the smallest, poorest laborers.
The spaniels are all pretty much the same: for the most part, they’re seated, they’ve got a gold chain and locket, and they’ve got a creamy white base coat. They were produced in pairs, but today they are often found in lonesome singles.
The artistry is in the details. The spaniels come in sizes from a little over a foot to a few inches high. The base coat is layered over with polka dots or brushed patches of rust, copper luster, or black. Disraeli spaniels feature painted curls on their foreheads; Jackson spaniels are entirely black. Some have glass eyes, some painted. The most frequent model features front legs molded to the body; rarer models have one or two distinct front legs. Some spaniels are ready to go for a walk, while others are lying down. A rare bunch of spaniels do have utilitarian purposes: they masquerade as spill vases (see the slideshow), ring holders, banks, and pitchers.
You can also find other Staffordshire dog breeds, such as pugs, afghans, greyhounds, collies, poodles, and Dalmatians.
The best story a Staffordshire spaniel can tell comes from its own expression. Even in pairs, no two dogs are the same. The can be cuddly or fierce, whimpering or smug, curious or proud.
Today, you can find spaniels up for antique adoption in boutiques, at flea markets, and online. Why pick them up? For aesthetic reasons: their graceful silhouettes pop nicely against a dark background. For their rarity: each one is a unique artifact and a valuable investment. For their engaging expressions: buy a single one to be your ever-constant, patiently-listening best friend, or buy an entire pack to liven up the whole household. Or, just collect them for their stories: Staffordshire spaniels make great conversation pieces."
In other news ...
This morning while yard sale hunting, I came across a real find!
My mother has some pieces of Milk Glass which she received as wedding presents, along with three pieces that were her mother's. I have a liking for milk glass too! When my mom sets her table with shimmering crystal, a lace table cloth along with sterling accents and milk glass, the sight is so elegant and classic, that I get goose pimples savoring the beauty.
I stopped at the last yard sale on my way home and to my delight, I purchased several pieces of Milk Glass!!! The seller was so kind! She told me the prices, and then she said, "Oh, you are young and just starting your collection, take the entire box for $10.00!!!!!!!!! I am trying to downsize as we retire."
I want to share some pictures of the items I purchased today with you Milk Glass appreciators.
We can't take anything with us when we are gone, and I will remember the kindness of people who give me deals. When I reach the point of minimizing and sizing-down, I hope I will find some young, nesting woman to share my memories with. I will also give my Milk Glass to her and I will remember the joy and excitement.
I hope I never bury my treasures. I wish to share them, and make memories with them as I, and my dear ones enjoy precious times together; hopefully fellow shipping in God's will as we spend our allotted years on this fleeting earth.
One Last Story Before I Close . . .
My husband is deployed but, he has asked me to start house hunting. We need to purchase a home in the near future. After speaking with, and meeting with several Realtors, who by the way, are not all out for my best interest. After prayer and waiting upon God, a woman came right to my mom's front door. She is a Realtor and she looked very familiar to me. It ends up that she is in the same Bible study class that I am in. There are hundreds of women there. My point is, she has not pressured me. She is most understanding of our needs, and I know I will be in good hands with her. After visiting, just before she left my mom's house; she left me with a calender, some tablets, a business flyer, and this prayer printed with her letterhead. (Such an impressive witness)
Please enjoy reading it as I pass it along:
JUST FOR TODAY
JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
JUST FOR TODAY I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will trust God that with His help I will be able to handle whatever comes just for today.
JUST FOR TODAY I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study.I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
JUST FOR TODAY I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don't want to do - just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests; hurry and indecision.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, some time I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be unafraid. Especially, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful.
Blessings to you