I have a small, but interesting, collection of antique stained glass which I have collected over the last thirty years. Although amounting to only seven pieces (five windows, a chandelier and a lamp), the collection is eclectic and each piece has a history. For example, as I will explain, the chandelier and one window go together even though they were bought about 25 years apart.
Just like my earlier post on the decay of post offices, railroad stations and light houses (see Going Postal), antique American stained glass suffers from neglect, urban renewal (or urban removal, as I call it) and changing modern tastes. The mid-20th century modernistic movement was a direct attack on all things ornate – whether Victorian, Art Deco or Art Nouveau. As a result, many wonderful pieces of antique stained glass found their way to the garbage heap. Fortunately, pickers, collectors and preservers managed to keep others from destruction.
One of the first pieces I collected came from the aptly named Thieves Market in Alexandria, Virginia. The entranceway greeter was an old fortune teller machine and the rest of the “market” was a labyrinthine maze of dead ends and rabbit holes. When Thieves Market closed for business, they sold the stained glass hanging above their auction floor, among them two pieces from a Victorian house dating from the late 19th century in Northeast Washington, DC. I did snag the back door transom (shown) but passed on the accompanying front door transom because it said “704” and I never lived at a residence numbered 704.
The next piece (actually a set of windows) came from an antique dealer from Ohio who dealt mainly in jewelry, She bought the matched windows as a present for her daughter but the windows did not fit in her daughter’s house (fortunately for me).
Here is some of the detail from one of the windows:
The dealer said the windows were from a house in Cincinnati in the early 20th century and mentioned Third Street Studios. Thanks to Wooden Nickel Antiques in Cincinnati, Ohio, I found out that Third Street Studios is not the name of a single glass studio but a name coined in the 1980’s by a dealer for stained glass makers from the Third Street area of Cincinnati dating to the late 19th and early 20th century. The matched set was originally placed as a hinged set in the dining room of an elaborate house at the turn of the 20th century. The hinges and locks have been removed but you can still see where they existed. You can find more on Third Street Studios in Cincinnati Magazine May 2002 starting on page 80.
(to be continued…)
I was asked the other day what my pet peeves were. After a few minutes, the person who asked realized the painful mistake of asking a curmudgeon for a list of pet peeves. Now, we can name Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly and CNN but these pet peeves are individual and personal. Death and taxes are inevitable. I believe that pet peeves should be generic and universal.
Here are a few of mine. Thousands more to follow.
I know that you are itching to tell me your pet peeves so go ahead, I dare you; I double dare you; I triple dare you. (Yes, that’s another pet peeve.)
I have stuff.
The stuff is everywhere. It grows in closets, shelves, drawers, along bookcases, in the attic, the basement, the utility room. I have books, tax forms, collectibles, old photographs, old phonographs, Rose Canton china, pottery, pictures, magazines, schoolbooks. I have wine bottles, half completed kits of medieval instruments and trains and Wright Brothers’ flyers. While there are no bean bag babies or Barbie dolls or model cars or Coke Cola paraphernalia, there are Hummel figurines (from my mother), old salt shakers, Stieff Rose pattern silver, antique tiles and old decoys. The list goes on and on.
Where did all this stuff come from? I secretly believe that, while I’m sleeping, some stuff copulates with other stuff and produces even more stuff. I have not yet gotten to the point of an extreme hoarder. Not yet. You can enter my house and believe that you have entered the home of a normal person with normal tastes. You do not have to climb over anything to get from one room to another. However, if you hazard the chance to open a drawer or veer into a back room or the space above the garage, then a whole new and abnormal world awaits you.
There are Christmas ornaments, stained glass windows, trebuchets, Chinese roof tiles, Mongolian entry doors (Was I ever in Mongolia?), antique Roman glass and whiskey barrels. I have my notes from college courses. You never know when someone will quiz you on whether or not you really passed that exam in Inorganic Chemistry and, voilà, you produce your college notes to show that, yes indeed, you aced the course. I am prepared to defend myself with supporting documentation against the Internal Revenue Service in case they ever dare to question me about the$2,342 (USD) I made in 1972!
Logic dictates that there is no need for old suitcases whose rollers no longer roll or traveling alarm clocks that run 30 minutes slow every 24 hours. You don’t need a Jolly Rodger flag or one from the last Tsar or the Detroit Yacht Club. On the other hand, who knows when a pirate or a pretender to the throne or the Commodore may appear suddenly at your door and, there you are, with no flag to run up the flag pole, which you also keep.
There is every reason to believe that you need a battering ram (from the Baltimore, Maryland police department, no less), brass knuckles, 18th century scales (from Poland), seven different types of wine bottle openers, Rummer glasses, shark jaws, a blow fish, a cannonball from the shipwreck of the Atocha, sundials, an antique Egyptian eye of Horus, a picture of the Enola Gay, antique easels (to hold antique manuscript pages), an English copper ash sifter, a miniaturized still, Japanese prints, antique embroideries, not to mention a full size Fairbanks grain scale in case you need to measure out two or three hundred pounds of grain.
Oh, to start over again in a simpler life, with nothing more than the clothes you’re wearing, a knapsack and your toothbrush.
Of course, then you need a few reference books (or your kindle), your PC (or your iPad), your cell phone, your HD TV, your home theater, your hiking gear, your scuba equipment, your opera glasses, eating utensils, night vision goggles, snake bite kit, a bazooka, emergency rations …