Featured Member Antiques: July 24 Morning

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from: Val Magnuson: "A gaggle of sterling salt cellars from around the world."

We always love seeing photos of "salts", as we called them growing up, and appreciate Val sharing this photo of her collection. This is Nancy with Dusty and, as many of you did, I grew up with salt cellars always on the table.  Ours were mainly glass or china, however, and not the silver like Val's.  As a child one of my first tasks was to keep them filled. There was always a large one near the middle of the table and smaller ones at the corners.  At fancy meals everyone got their own, placed above their plate.  We didn't use salt spoons until much later and then only with company; we just pinched out the amount of salt we needed. 

When I was growing up, salt in shakers clumped in the summer's heat and humidity.  My grandmother & mother would put rice in the kitchen stove-top shakers, but mainly we got our salt from the salt cellars.  They were a part of life.  To this day, I still use them.  My own is a small milkglass hen on a nest.  It was mine as a child. 

Salt cellars actually have a very long history, going back to ancient Greece.  Elaborate ones were used in wealthy homes in the Middle Ages and social rank was determined at meals by who sat close to both the salt and the host.  By the late 18th century they were much more common, especially when pressed glass was industrially produced in the early to middle part of the 19th century.  The advent of silverplate, especially the wares produced by Sheffield, made even silver salt cellars more affordable.  Sterling, of course, had a higher value and we can imagine that many sterling "salts" were given as wedding presents. 

Salt, however, can be damaging to silver, especially silverplate.  Many silver salts came with glass liners.  Those without liners would be need to be emptied right after a meal. 

Salt cellars are a very nice item to collect...and to use!   When we were growing up the butter dishes, preserve stands and salt cellars stayed on the table.  In the summer, if flies were around, we'd throw another tablecloth over all of them.  Somehow, none of it seemed like work. 

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from: John W. Mcintire Jr: "I got this from a friend and can't find much on it, it says Bueatility on a metal tag inside one drawer, it's a really detailed piece and help would be greatly appreciated."

John's Art Deco dressing table or bureau is one of those pieces that makes you stop and breath slowly.  Besides the great veneer, the lines are simple and classic.  Even the mirror looks to be in great condition.  We love it's oval shape.  

We're assuming that the tag says "Beautility" and not "bueatitlity".  It's a word that has common usage today, meaning something that has a combination of both beauty and utility. 

Beautility Furniture Ltd was an English furniture company famed now for its lines that were often on the cutting edge of "modern"-- where ever that edge was.  It was established in 1894 and purchased by the English Morris Furniture Group in 1999.  Morris was known best for making quality furniture for hotels, embassies and the Cunard line, including the Queen Mary. 

We did notice that a 1938 Beautility dining room set was added to the collection of the Museum of London in 2009.

One interesting aspect of John's piece is the inclusion of those middle drawers.  That's not typical of a lady's dressing table so we're going to guess that it was meant to be a piece used standing up, perhaps one meant for a gentleman.   We have also seen Beautility bars cabinets with similar lines

Thank you, John, for showing us this Art Deco beauty.

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from: Robbie Jean: "Can someone tell me anything about this bed? It is a queen size which is all I can tell you. "

The Victorian bed in Robbie Jean's photo is so simply elegant.  It looks to us to be mahogany or rosewood.  Those curved lines show a bit of the influence of Rococo Revival.  The heavy legs/posts with the large bulb-type finials also suggest that movement from Empire to restrained Rococo to Victorian.  It's nice, too, to see a room that is so peaceful.  We love seeing bare wood floors, especially in the summer.  Thank you, Robbie Jean, for sharing this lovely room with all of us at Dusty Old Thing. 


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