Friday, July 30, 2010

Rescuing A Calash, Gowns, A Doll & A Piece Of Local History!

We have discovered so many wonderful antiques this summer!!! We have photographed a few to show you. Do you remember Show & Tell from when we were children in grade school? Consider this our Textile and Millinery Show & Tell!(It sure beats a slimey frog and a handful of grimy aggies!!!)

We were saleing around a local Massachusetts town, armed with steaming cups of coffee and townwide yard sale maps!(Just imagine it, an entire town hosting sales down every street, on the gorgeous Common and all around the byways and back roads...)

Down one rural lane, we found a woman arranging buttons and baskets, shirtwaists and sleeves. We started talking and realized we had found more than things, but had discovered a kindred spirit, who cared enough about an antique doll, whose face was eaten by her cat, to try to find the doll a new home, now that she was forced to divest of her treasures. She explained(as she took a break from setting out her wares)how her naughty cat had torn the stuffing right out of a beloved doll's face and had the temerity afterwards to sit nonchalantly cleaning her own bewhiskered face surrounded by the bits of fluff and stuff that once had given the doll its fat cheeks!!
As we talked she dispensed stories of her youth growing up near the Hadley sisters(Lucy, Mary and Lizzie) who allowed her to play attic dress up with their ancestors' trunk treaures. She asked if we might be interested in them. Of course we responded with resounding affirmatives. She came back with armloads of velvet dresses, Edwardian blouses, 1850's gowns, and a stunning three piece blue and cream skirt, and bodice with the most glorious huge bow ever known to woman!!!! We were performing mental cartwheels as no living Murphy woman has ever been known to possess the agility to do an actual cartwheel.
We pledged to use the stories and garments in our children's tales and in our lectures on antique clothing. So thank you Lizzie, Lucy and Mary. We will share your stories and gowns with another generation of local youngsters. By the way, the seller gave us the sad old doll for free, waiving the 10 cent price she had decided on, so long as we take care of her. She has a seat of honour on a white linen covered chair, seated next to a very fine early china head, who does not seem the least bit nonplussed that her new chairmate is in need of some major face work!!!
That same week-end we also spied a folded calash at the bottom of a box of tools.(We know, we know... can you imagine that it had survived since the 1830's and was about to meet its end under a hammer and planer????) The bonnet was tossed aside by everyone who assumed it to be trash, until it fell into our hands!! The rescue was a success and the marvellous bonnet now has a place of honour in our collection...
We are marvelling at another fortuitous discovery of an old mercantile soap box, labelled WAX, that contains a pamphlet on how to make wax millinery flowers. The box was obviously a precious commodity and in an age when such an item was prized, it had been sewn and resewn by hand where the edges had begun to separate from the box!! Inside the box is layer upon layer of wax in the richest jewel shades...To sell or to keep??? Might the wax melt if we shipped it on such hot and steamy July days such as these? You are all correct. We had better wait...until the cooler weather sets in...

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