After our honeymoon we made a circle over the Smoky Mountains through North Carolina and back over to East Tennessee. Those of you that follow the blog have seen posts from our previous visits to our treasured friend in the Tri-Cities. He is convalescing after a recent medical procedure. We found him in good spirits having just supervised the gardener during the Spring makeover. As we sat in the living room I tried to grasp the magnitude of all the treasures on display gathered by a lover and collector of beautiful things. I had “a little vision” for what I hope you will enjoy as a blog featuring “found treasures”. I asked him to gather items that were curious or had a curious provenance. Here’s what he brought to light.
These are peach pits; Folk Art carved in the USA. In East Tennessee the carvings in the foreground were called Peach Seed Monkeys. Men wore them on their watch chains. Thus, the smooth, worn down finish.
This lotus pod carving was found in Fuzhou, China. It is carved from one small piece of Camphor wood. However, if you shake it…the seeds in the pods rattle…don’t ask me how. Under what would be a “lily pad” rests a charming fish. Because the Buddha is often depicted as seated on a lotus, the lotus is considered a sacred symbol representing purity and detachment from worldly cares. The lotus seeds hold the hidden meaning of “continuous birth of children”. Thus , this carving would’ve been a gift for newlyweds. The goldfish is a symbol for abundant wealth. Another reason this would’ve been carved for a wedding gift.
Found in Beijing these walnuts are called “Thousand Faces”. The intricacy of the carving is remarkable.
The pocket watch chain found in NYC is designed with Mercury Dimes as the focus.
This is a small gathering from the collection of Jingle Bells found all over the world proving “Santa Claus does travel everywhere”. The bell in the second photo was bought off of a bicycle in India.
FOUR LEAF CLOVER
This is just a few of the hundreds of four-leaf clover specimens and collectibles gathered over a lifetime.
These boxes are all of Chinese origin and all designed for crickets. Keeping crickets as pets emerged in China in early antiquity. Initially, crickets were kept for their “songs” or stridulation. The Imperial patronage promoted the art of making elaborate cricket containers and individual cricket homes. Traditional Chinese cricket homes come in three distinct shapes: wooden cages, ceramic jars, and gourds. Cages are used primarily for trapping and transportation. Gourds and ceramic jars are used as permanent cricket homes in winter and summer, respectively.
This is Chinese Yuan folded and interlocked into a wreath for a gift. The handwork is meticulous. The little girl who made it didn’t want to sell it until…American money was offered for trade.
This pearl was found in an oyster. Not in Japan or Italy or Britain or France. No this perfect specimen was found in Denver, Colorado, USA.
For the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London John Hancock, an English ornithologist mounted a series of stuffed birds as an exhibit. They generated much interest among the public and scientists alike who considered them as superior to earlier models and were regarded as the first lifelike and artistic specimens on display. Hancock’s display sparked great national interest in taxidermy and amateur and professional collections for public view proliferated rapidly. Displays of birds were particularly common in middle-class Victorian homes – even Queen Victoria amassed an impressive bird collection. The hummingbirds seen here were actually found in London. The Redbird is from Short Hills, NJ. The Kingfisher and Robin were found in Nashville, TN and the House Wren eggs are from East Tennessee. During the Edwardian era the trend reached its zenith.
These are called Fore-Edge books. The technique used is to “fan” the pages of the book and hold it in a clamp. Then, paint the scene. The earliest fore-edge paintings date as far back as the 10th century. The first known example of a disappearing fore-edge painting where the painting is not visible when the book is closed as seen above, dates from 1649. The earliest signed and dated fore-edge painting dates to 1653: a family coat of arms painted on a 1651 Bible. The book with the fishermen is dated 1857. The book with the city of Jerusalem is dated 1877.
After all that history we needed a bit of sustenance. As my mother used to say, “I fixed us a bite to eat” and our friend set “a pretty table”.
Then, the next evening we celebrated Memorial Day early.
We look forward to many more years of stories and collections and are happy to report the house was lovely and a good time was had by all.