Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!

zinc grapes New Year’s greetings in Brittany involves a generous pouring of cidre…cider…and a toast wishing everyone a Bloazevh Mat. The Welsh call their celebration Calennig and give gifts of bread and cheese. The Scots have Hogmanay and First Footing…after midnight on the 31st of December, it is hoped that the first person to cross a Scot’s threshold will have dark hair…a throwback to when those dastardly, red-headed Vikings were marauding about the countryside.  It’s also hoped that this tall, dark visitor will be bringing  along a wee bit of whiskey…is it any wonder that the holiday extends through the second of January in Scotland?

Like the wearing of the green on Saint Patrick’s Day, colors have their part as well…location makes a difference…in some countries it is the custom to wear red or yellow underwear to herald in the New Year in order to assure happiness and/or good fortune…while white is the color of choice in Brazil.

In Japan, the New Year begins with a thorough house cleaning. Buddhist temples sound their gong 108 times at midnight…signifying the cleansing of the 108 sins said to lurk within the mind of Man. In Spain and many Latin American countries, the celebration of the arrival of the New Year involves twelve grapes…grapes that are to be eaten one at a time with each tolling of the bell that strikes midnight. I tried it and I must say that it’s not easy to quickly swallow the twelve grapes from one hand while holding a glass of champagne in the other hand…not to mention having to do this while a husband is waiting for his kiss…

So, as I sit in my yellow underwear munching grapes, I raise my glass of champagne and wish you a 2011 that is filled with good health, happiness, and joy!

Note: I should have thought of using these wonderful vintage zinc grape clusters as place cards for our New Year’s table!

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Season’s Greetings!

From our hearth…Christmas Chez Nous …to yours…

We wish you Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Spoonful of Research

dehillerinspoonsd1 For me, one of the more enjoyable aspects of being an antiques dealer is the process of researching our new-found treasures. It’s like being a detective in the middle of a never-ending mystery story. For example, we recently found this great vintage spoon. Copper, fourteen inches long, and definitely well-loved…it had been silvered or tinned at one time, but barely a trace remained.
It had two separate bowls sharing the same center portion and was impressed with the maker’s mark for Jacquotot et Dehillerin located at 130 rue de Grenelle in Paris.
We found it at an outdoor brocante market in Brittany…I asked the vendor if he knew the specific purpose of this type of utensil…I assumed it was for measuring something or other as the two bowls were of slightly different sizes. The vendor said it was for putting eggs in the marmite or pot…he explained that different sized eggs required a different side of the spoon for lowering them into the pot. This seemed a wee bit far-fetched, but we loved it anyway and, thus, it had to be ours.

Back in Paris, the research process begins. Jacquotot we hadn’t heard of before, but some sleuthing on the internet came up with a rave review of the Jacquotot establishment that gave its location as 77 rue Damesme in the thirteenth arrondissement of Paris. Off we went to check it out…unfortunately, many things online are not dated and it turned out that we were a bit too late and Jacquotot was no longer…we figured that we must have been about five years too late, because now there was a modern building in its place.

But we were all too familiar with Dehillerin…dehillerinsign …E. Dehillerin to be precise…a fabulous cooking equipment store in central Paris. One of the oldest…if not the oldest…cooking store in Paris. We’ve been there many times…marveling at the shelves full of cooking paraphernalia.
blog dehillerin interior 2The store has been on rue Coquillière in the first arrondissement since 1820 and has amassed just about everything one could imagine in the way of matériel de cuisine.
blog dehillerin interior1 Floor to ceiling…everything one could possibly want or need…and in great quantities…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         …countless fouets (whisks) of every size…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         …and even more rings for containing one’s tartes!

So, spoon in hand, we walk over to Dehillerin…
dehillerin exterior with M Dehillerin…where we spy none other than Monsieur Dehillerin busy supervising a delivery as we approach the store…he’s the boss and a direct descendent of the founder of the company…that’s him left of center with the grey sweater and slacks and matching hair. Surely he will know the purpose of our mystery spoon. Once inside, we pull out our treasure and ask one of the clerks who immediately exclaims ”hien…c’est très vieille la cuillère”. The other clerks began to gather around…”oui, c’est très vieille”…everyone agreeing that it was very old.

But what was its purpose? Ah, for that I was directed to ask Monsieur Dehillerin himself…”C’est très vieille la cuillière” was again pronounced and after caressing it a bit, he proposed that perhaps it was for poser sur le plat…a serving spoon intended to make sure that portions were precise.

Once outside the store, we looked at each other and thought that that didn’t quite make sense as wouldn’t the person using the spoon end up getting the food all over themselves instead of on le plat? But then again…this was the opinion of Monsieur Dehillerin who was brought up on these things…and he must know that the French cooks in the early 1800s were far more adept than I!

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


the scream edvard munch The Scream by Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

§%@&{#!!!!!!!!!!….That’s exactly what I screamed Monday morning when I went to upload the second posting to my brand new blog. In fact, I’m sure I looked exactly like the central figure in Edvard Munch’s famous Expressionist painting

After working perfectly fine the day before, when I went to turn on our computer, it wouldn’t start…no amount of cajoling or fiddling was going to get it to open and believe me, we tried everything. The hard drive has been officially pronounced as being deader than a door nail and with it went four future postings that I had jealously hoarded.

So now it’s back to square one. This spare computer is not much more than a door stop and isn’t capable of accessing much of anything…so any photo processing is on hold…but with any luck, I’ll be up and running by next week!

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, Darling…wherever did you find it?

We are often asked that very question…a client sees one of our treasures and wants to know how or where we found it.

We sell unique and unusual vintage items and, thus, the answer is not always what the client would suppose.

Case in point:

We’re exhibiting at a lah-dee-dah antiques show in a chi-chi area and the question comes up about a gorgeous French wall cabinet we are offering…hand-carved walnut from the 1880s with original glass and provinçal fabric lining. It’s a beauty.

The facts:

We were in the Brittany region of northwestern France, searching for a brocante market that I had seen advertised on a light post…a typical scenario as small country markets are generally promoted in church bulletins, on light posts, and other such low-key manners. At least I was pretty sure the notice was about a brocante market. The unprofessional, hand-written sign said truc et puce. The word “puce” in French means “flea”…but has come to mean “flea market” in antiquing circles, and “truc” is slang for “truck” or “thingamajig” or “barter”.

I wasn’t really sure exactly what was in store, but it wasn’t too far of a journey…so off we went!
It wasn’t long before we came across a road barrier…men working…along with signs indicating that we needed to take a detour. What the signs failed to mention was that the detour was going to take us kilometer after kilometer out into the countryside…so far that we became hopelessly lost and well beyond the area shown on our trusty map…
…this is in the pre-GPS days, and even if we had it at the time, I suspect GPS would not have been very useful in this particular situation.

Finally after a couple of hours, we arrived at the designated site of the truc et puce. At first, I’m dismayed to see nothing but trucks. Oh no, we drove all this way only to find one of those impromptu used vehicle lots…a possibility that had lurked in the deep recesses of my brain as I knew that, tax-wise, selling a used vehicle in France involved some creativity. How frustrating to have driven all this way and there’s no antiques market!

Hours wasted…we don’t have a truck with which we want to barter and, worse yet, I have to pee.

But wait…one of us is quite tall and he spots a distant field way out between a row of trees. It’s a hay field that had been freshly mowed and with joy, we realize that spread out in the field are blankets strewn with unique treasures that the locals have put out to sell.

To get to those blankets, we have to flog our way through veil after veil of webs spun by the newly-displaced spiders that had just hours before been residing in the field and the only rest room “facility” is an old, abandoned car fender…in plain view of the market participants and showing obvious signs of having been well-frequented.

So…the question was “Wherever did you find it?”

The answer:  Brittany

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at