Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fish and Company…

Continuing to describe the items that are in the photographs that span across the top of our blog…we’ve now reached the middle…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA …and will be talking about antique raseurs.  In general, the word raseur…pronounced as “raw-sir”…translates to mean a person who is boring. A raseur…the object…was found in just about every early inn and tavern in the regions of Alsace in eastern France and Flanders…or what is now northern France and Belgium. When a customer  had had a bit too much to drink or  became an annoyance, the inn-keeper  would set the house raseur in motion.  Consisting of a fanciful figure in tôle peint…painted sheet metal…the raseur would oscillate back and forth...back and forth...until it eventually which time, the boring person knew it was time to leave. No further discussion necessary.

raseur 1 We chose to adopt a raseur as the logo for our antiques business…The Meadows Collection…and you’ll find the raseur shown to the right on the home page of our web site:

It’s a perfect symbol as we specialize in antiques and vintage decorative arts that are definitely not boring and pride ourselves on always having objects that are a little bit out of the ordinary...we like to say that they are  "Just as unique as you are."

The raseur featured on the top of the blog has its own stand; other types were designed with a counterbalance weight at the bottom and could rest directly on the bar counter or zinc…pronounced “zang” and meaning the bar counter which was typically topped with zinc…the metal that we pronounce as “zink”.

In addition, each night, the tavern owner would set the raseur in motion to signify “last call”. Kinetic sculptures…they are both playfully decorative and downright useful…particularly handy should you  ever suffer with a guest who has over-stayed their welcome…hence the title of this post!

Raseurs were made in all sorts of fanciful shapes…here’s one that
typifies those found in nineteenth century Alsace…
…he represents a horn blower…recalling that up until around 1790, the guardians of the Cathedral in Strasbourg would blow on a horn…called a grüselhorn…to signify that the town gates were about to be closed and those that were not authorized to spend the night in the city had best beat a hasty retreat. A fitting motif for a raseur.

Here’s another raseur that looks surprisingly like Mickey Mouse…raseur 5

…and this one’s a colorful parrot…
raseur 2

Definitely not boring…they are all wonderful examples of French folk art…what the French call art populaire!

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


  1. Adela, this is absolutely charming. What fun to know about these little pieces of folk art. I have something similar, newly produced, in the form of Santa and his reindeer. I've seen others in various motifs, but never knew the origin of these. Thanks for educating us on this form. ~ Sarah

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I suspect that the version shown on our masthead was originally intended as a toy, but it was being used as a raseur when we found it in Strasbourg. I'm betting that your Santa version could be put to use to limit the consumption of eggnog, but then that wouldn't be in the true spirit of the season when it's calories be damned!