Friday, October 19, 2012

Cottages & Creatures

Thursday was definitely a creature day! I spent several hours on horseback then viewing pictures of wildlife in Tanzania.  There is always more to do in Aiken than I have hours to do it!  Aiken is well known as a “horse town”.  Yet it is also a vibrant small town with residents that are passionate not only about horses, but the land, arts, and history.

I went with my horse and three other friends and their horses to Hitchcock Woods.   The “Woods” as it called by the locals is one of the largest urban forests in the US.  There are over 2,100 acres of forestland with over 70 miles of trails.   One of the local hunt clubs,
The Aiken Hounds hunts in the “Woods”.   Riding through the longleaf pine forest is both beautiful and relaxing.   To me, it was as relaxing as a massage with my favorite therapist.  A bit more expensive though, considering hay, horse shoes, vet bills, and all those things horses need!  Thanksgiving Day, November 22, will be the annual “Blessing of the Hounds” in the Woods.  This is a tradition in the Woods and is also the formal opening day for the Hunt with other clubs invited to join along. 

The Aiken Hounds
                                           (photo by G. Southworth)

                                         The Horse Show in the Woods
                                               (photo S. Mcmillan)
Afterwards I rushed home with just enough time to wash my face, comb my hair, and then it was off to the open house for the wildlife photos.  Fortunately, one can go almost anywhere in Aiken in boots and britches.  It really cuts down on the need for other clothes!  Who knows, maybe a reduced clothing budget might offset some of the equine costs!  The pictures were taken by Michael Beckner who spent nine years in Tanzania working in wildlife conservation.  Michael is also the son of neighbors.   His photos captured these noble animals along with the essence of the land.  I have trouble just handling a point and shoot camera, so I began to ask questions about his camera, lens, etc.  I decided that it would take me nine years to understand…… 

 Michael is passionate about his work with these animals and it shows in his pictures.  Below are a few pictures of Michael with his some of his photos.  They are on display for sale at Aiken Art & Custom Framing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mother of Pearl

I am drawn to Mother of Pearl....Are you?  Each buying trip that I go on I find myself always drawn to anything with Mother of Pearl.  Sterling silver flatware, serving pieces, boxes, small chairs with MOP inlaid, and my list could go on.  Recently I have noticed that when it comes to the home more products are available with MOP.  I came across a few that were specifically for bathrooms.  Hope you enjoy them. 

                                          (source HGTV C. Bauman)

Bowl from Thompson Traders

I have this bowl for a bathroom without the Mother of Pearl
How did I miss this one?

                                            Love the use of multi colors!

                                     Mother of Pearl Tiles-Maybury House

                               More luscious tiles from Maybury House

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Antique Silver

Do you collect antique silver?  Have you been thinking about it?

I have customers that collect a wide range of items. Vesta cases, snuff boxes, nutmeg graters, tea caddies, tea caddy spoons, master salts, candlesticks, card cases, wine/spirit labels, servers (asparagus, tomato, etc.), christening cups, trophy cups, napkin ring holders, timbales, and more.  Some of these items are a bit more challenging to collect.  Let’s look at nutmeg graters and yes they can be a bit more of a challenge.  Especially if you are looking for graters from the Georgian Era and you want to collect those that are whimsical in design.  I never ceased to be amazed at the details that a quality silversmith could impart to items that were both useful in form and function yet amusing in design.  Why nutmeg and why a nutmeg grater?  Here are a few facts behind theses interesting items, their purpose, and nutmeg in general.

The nutmeg (Myrstica fragrans) tree produces two spices. The spice nutmeg comes from the egg shaped seed of the tree and the spice mace comes from the covering of the seed.  It was used to flavor both food and drink during the Roman Empire,  Middle Ages, and the Renaissance Period.  The Dutch and English fought over control of group of islands that was the main source  for the spice during the 17th.  Century.   It was expensive, yet highly desirable. 

 By the late 17th Century warm drinks were very popular on both sides of the “big pond”. Brits and Americans were drinking, coffee, tea, and chocolate.  Warm punches followed and the other warm drinks and became very trendy.  Brandy or rum mixed with strained fruit and sugar with nutmeg being used as the “final touch”.

To add that final touch; a grater was necessary to rasp the small brown seed.  Small decorative “pocket sized” graters became a fashionable item.   No different than fashionable trends today; the desire to match or exceed one's peers helped to fuel the creativity we see today in these items.   Graters were created in wide range of whimsical or novelty shapes.  It is these that are most desirable and highly collected today.  Egg shaped, melon shaped, strawberry shaped are just a few of the creative designs used.   Graters were also created using other materials such as coquille nut and enamel which are also highly collectable.  Another collection…another day.

For more information and to view some of the "novelty shapes"; visit this  site which is devoted to silver collecting:

                    A nutmeg grater from my inventory that is egg shaped
                                          with engraved details (my photo)

                                          Notice the star shaped grater
                       Room for the nutmeg seed and a removable grater
                                                (photo my me)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The weather has been great for the last week.  So great that it has had an impact on my schedule and work.  I find it so difficult to think about leaving the barn and coming back to my desk.  Very cool mornings that warm up to  comfortable temperatures are my ideal for riding.   Once out in the fields and bridlepaths it is hard to head back to the barn and reality.

To add to the distractions the weather causes; the fall polo season is in full swing.  The past weekend I left the barn then headed over to watch hunter trials and then a polo match.   Far too many choices are coming up over the next weeks...might have to start taking my Ipad and try to fit some work in there somewhere. 

I have new inventory for my antique business that needs to be photographed and listed.  A buying trip that needs final plans.  Well, maybe tomorrow.

            My friend Kate and her Belgium Paint, Cracker Jack leading the way

                               Beautiful blue fall sky at the hunter trials
                                                    (photo by me)

                                     Action packed fall afternooon
                                            (photo Aiken Polo)

                                      Who can resist a face like this?
                                                (photo Aiken Polo)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For the Love of Auctions

It is a raining Tuesday morning here in Aiken.  My morning ride has been moved to early afternoon and hopefully confirmed with a glance at the local radar.  The delay has given me the opportunity to wade through my emails.  As I quickly scan for those emails that I always look forward to opening andI see one from Christie's.  It is for an auction on October 9th to be held at Aynhoe Park in England.   Ah, the perfect delay from reality; I quickly open the link to view the house and some of the collections that will be in the auction.   Below is a link to the website for the house; be sure to take the grand tour!