Steamer Trunks

The name steamer trunk is frequently misused. Many people tend to generalize and call all old trunks steamer trunks; but a true steamer trunk is about half the height of most regular flat top trunks because they were used by passengers in their quarters during steamship voyages. Everything they would need during the voyage would be packed in that trunk and it was allowed in their room. Their other trunks, if they had them, were stored in the cargo hold and were not accessible during the journey. So, the term is associated with steam ships but not all trunks that traveled on steamships were steamers.

The classic flat top trunks we generally think of as steamer trunks were made from about the 1870s to around 1920. These trunks were the workhorses of that period, although flat trunks have been around since the very earliest Egyptian trunks. Another popular design during the flat top’s heyday had a rounded top. There are many stories to explain why the popularity of trunk design went from flat top stagecoach design to the round tops and humpbacks. Some say these rounded trunks came about because people were fed up with baggage handlers stacking their trunks and damaging them, so the round top evolved. It probably took porters about half-a-minute to tip the trunks over on their side and continue stacking them. Maybe that’s why flat top trunks came back into fashion.

Flat top trunks make beautiful coffee tables, and can be used to store blankets or toys. Adding a classic trunk to a room adds charm and a little history to the space. It even brings a touch of glamor, as we imagine the ocean liners the trunks traveled on and the items they carried.


A Touch of Glamour

Sometimes the smallest changes make for the best results. For instance, creating a place in your bedroom where you can shut out the noise and hustle of the world and quietly prepare for what’s on your calendar can set the proper tone for your whole day. You don’t have to change your entire house or even your whole room, just that one corner that you claim as your space, and yours alone. An antique dressing table can help you make that space come alive with glamour and charm. Today this table is called a vanity table; in the 19th century, it was known as a dressing table; but in the 18th century, it was a toilet table.  A mirror that could be tipped for a better view was attached to the top of the table by the 1750s. Thomas Chippendale designed a “toylet” table in 1762 that had not only a mirror but also a fancy, ruffled fabric skirt. Whatever style suits you, giving new life to an old vanity/dressing table can lend new life to your personal space. Go ahead – create that charming, glamorous corner. You deserve it.


Live in rooms full of light.  ~Cornelius Celsus

Candlelight is romantic, mysterious, beautiful, even spiritual. A table lit with candles lends a certain ambience to a dinner gathering and there is an ethereal beauty to the flickering shadows cast on the walls by the flame. The light cast by candles is soft, gentle and welcoming ~ unlike the glare that comes from a 60 watt bulb. There are, of course, times when we need a bright light to do work or read; however, when what you’re looking for is a light that caresses you and fills the room with warmth and comfort, candlelight or a fire in the hearth are the way to go.

Now, when you place those candles in lustrous antique candlesticks, you not only achieve the above mentioned atmosphere, you also add a touch of glamour to the whole room. The quality of old silver that has been polished with love over the years has a deep richness to it, a weathered kind of beauty that comes with age. The candlelight is reflected in the silver, winking and sparkling as it dances over the surface. Antique silver candlesticks are not just for the antique lover. They are for any aficionado of the small dinner party, the perfectly set table, or the flawlessly decorated home. If you want to add a little glamour, a little richness to your table or your home, find a pair of lovely candlesticks ~ and use them.


A cappuccino  is an Italian coffee drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk foam. The name comes from the Capuchin friars, referring to the colour of their habits. It is made by pouring espresso into the bottom third of the cup, then adding a similar amount of hot milk. The top third of the drink consists of milk foam. 

One of the most important factors in preparing a cappuccino is the texture and temperature of the milk. When a barista steams the milk for a cappuccino, microfoam is created by introducing very tiny bubbles of air into the milk, giving the milk its luscious texture. The traditional cappuccino has a ¾ inch thick milk foam on top. Variations of the mixtures are cappuccino chiaro (a white cappuccino, also called a wet cappuccino) with more milk than normal, and cappuccino scuro (a dark cappuccino, also called a dry cappuccino) with less steamed milk than normal. Attaining the correct ratio of foam to espresso is a craft. It requires skill and experience and makes the cappuccino one of the most difficult espresso-based beverages to make well. A skilled barista not only makes a quintessential  cappuccino, but may also create artistic shapes while pouring the milk on the top of the espresso coffee ~ called latte art.

Cappuccino was developed in Italy by the early 1900s, and grew in popularity as the large espresso machines in cafés and restaurants were improved during and after World War II. Here in America, cappuccino did not become widely available until the appearance of coffee houses in the 1990s. Those same coffee houses have become increasingly commercial, and now we long for an independent shop with some personality. That’s exactly what we have in Java Mountain Roasters. Just because Americans are late to the party (the coffee connoisseur party, that is) doesn’t mean we ever need to settle for second best. Let JMR’s skilled baristas serve you a hand-crafted cappuccino. You’ll never view coffee the same.

The Glamour of Crystal

Chandeliers have been around since the middle ages, when they were made of wood and used to hold candles to illuminate churches and monasteries. In the fifteenth century, they evolved, becoming decorative pieces as well as sources of light. They were also a status symbol, and frequently held the crest of the family whose home they graced. By the eighteenth century, glass making had developed to a point where lead was being added to glass, making an inexpensive and beautiful glass crystal. Crystal was incorporated into chandeliers, generating great sparkle and beauty, and quickly became a favorite item among the elite.  These chandeliers were luxury items, and afforded by only a few.

Even today, crystal chandeliers evoke images of glamour, wealth, class and elegance. The lead in antique crystal pieces create an extremely brilliant refraction of light. They are art pieces, not just light fixtures. Even if you aren’t a collector of antiques, a crystal chandelier might be what you’re looking for ~ that perfect signature piece for a room, that item that will give your home a special flair.

Antique Books

As long as a book is still in print, one can get the words anywhere – even electronically. But for book lovers, there is something irreplaceable in holding a bound book in one’s hands. There is the smell of the paper and the ink. There is the solid feel of its weight. There are the feelings it invokes of past reading pleasures. It’s pure satisfaction.

That satisfaction is increased when the book is an antique. When one acquires an antique book, one acquires a treasure. Old books have unique bindings and beautiful endpapers. Frequently, there are hand-drawn illustrations and elaborate fonts. They are works of art and make beautiful displays.

Then there is the possibility of unexpected discoveries. The original owner’s name may be pencilled in on the first page. Or an old postcard or picture may be tucked between the pages. Our family has a well-loved book of poetry that is just like this. It was owned by Mildred, who wrote her name inside the front cover with her precise schoolgirl penmanship. She went through the table of contents and marked her favorites. And inside is a postcard, written to her by a friend many decades ago. When we pick up that book, it sparks the imagination ~ taking us to a different time. We sometimes imagine Mildred holding that book, and reading those poems. It has become more than a book. It is a work of art, and a treasure map to the past. 

Annie’s Gold has many antique books. When your adventuring spirit puts you in the mood for treasure hunting, come in and see what delightful nuggets you can find to spark your own imagination. 

To Top It All Off

It was in the late seventeenth century that women’s headgear began to emerge in its own right and not be influenced by men’s hat fashions. According to HatsUK, the word ‘milliner’,  a maker of women’s hats,  was first recorded in 1529 when the term referred to the products for which Milan and the northern Italian regions were well known, i.e. ribbons, gloves and straws. The haberdashers who imported these highly popular straws were called ‘Millaners’ from which the word was eventually derived.

By the mid 1800’s Swiss and Italian straws, together with imitation straws made from paper, cardboard, grass and horsehair were available to women, along with the introduction of velvet and tulle. Throughout this journey, as hats evolved, they became works of art. True craftsmanship was required to create hats, which at this time were all made by hand. The fact that many antique hats in good condition exist today is a testament to the quality of haberdashery and the care taken by owners to preserve their hats. A hat put on display can become a beautiful conversation piece, or simply a lovely object to fill a special corner of your home. And for those of us with that certain sense of ‘style’, they can still be worn — for the right occasion, of course.