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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some people are extremely serious about collecting antique bottles and jars. There is even a Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors that is devoted to antique bottles and glass. Maybe you’re that serious. And maybe you’re not.
Even those of us who are the most casual consumer of antiques are able to see and appreciate beauty. And there is something intrinsically lovely about an antique bottle. Maybe it is the beautiful color, or the slight waviness of the blown glass. A collection of bottles can make a stunning visual display. But old bottles are useful, too. You can use them to infuse your own vinegars and oils, or as a small vase for wildflowers. You can fill them with salad dressing, or wine, or virtually anything your imagination conjures up. And although it is perfectly acceptable to display your bottles, there is something particularly special about finding a use for them. When you repurpose something old, you give it new life, you create a function for it, and in so doing, you become part of its history.
Annie’s Gold is full of lovely things and each has its own story. We love helping antique items find a new home and new life. If you’ve never owned an antique, a bottle would be a perfect first acquisition. It’s simple, it’s small, and it’s truly beautiful.
By the 1930’s, chaise lounges evoked images of luxury and Hollywood glamour. Stars of that golden age of cinema, such as Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow, draped themselves across chaise lounges for photo shoots. But chaise lounges have humble beginnings. “Chaise lounge” is actually an Americanization of the French phrase “chaise longue” (pronounced shayz long), accurately describing exactly what it is – a long chair. Chaise lounge furniture first evolved in the 16th century, during a period when benches and stools were the norm, and chairs were reserved for authority figures.
The earliest chaise lounges were made of wood and caning. Early American chaise lounges, dating from the 1600s, were derivations of the daybed with many wooden legs. These modest pieces of furniture developed and changed throughout the years, eventually becoming a symbol of extravagance. Ornately designed chaise lounges, tasseled and cushioned, graced the parlors of many mansions in the 1800s.
Today, these pieces of furniture incorporate a wide variety of styles – French Renaissance to Art Deco, Victorian to Modernism – and a wide variety of materials – aluminum to wicker, silk to leather. It follows then that when you acquire an antique chaise lounge at a shop like Annie’s Gold, you also acquire the personal history of the piece. It comes to you representing the period and place of its origin, as well as the people who owned it and used it. An antique chaise lounge is beautiful and useful, full of character, and has a story to tell.