Dec 132015


Here’s another fine old handmade object to wet your historical whistle! Long before our modern stainless-steel models, unbreakable water bottles were made of wood. This example dates from the mid-18th century, certainly American Revolutionary War-era. The cylinder of the flask is made of a single piece of carved hardwood, making this a ‘log style’ canteen (as opposed to the later, staved barrel type); the two ends have been finely joined, and held in place by hand-forged brass bands with dovetail fittings; the top of the canteen features a decorative brass pour-spout, as well. The leather strap and peg-stoppers have almost been replaced, but approximate the originals.


status: available

(please enquire)



 Posted by at 6:07 PM
May 032015



Countless faces: portraits of men, women, and children; endless landscapes; Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion of the nation; the American Civil War; the advent of the automobile . . .  What marvelous, strange and wonderful, or even tragic moments has this lens witnessed and documented?

Manufactured in Paris by famed opticians, Jean Theodor Jamine and Alphonse Darlot, and produced in great numbers in the second half of the 19th century, lenses like this were the Nikon of their day.

Whenever you think of the archetypal, antique wood-box camera, a photographer standing under a black shroud behind it, this was the lens on the front, Jamin-Darlot’s most popular model: the Cône Centraliser featuring rack-and-pinion focus, and a reversible lens-element for taking either portrait or landscape photographs.

This exacting instrument is a triumph of machined brass and ground glass, handmade with precision yet idiosyncratic characteristics that make it desirable to this day — both for aficionados of traditional large-format, wet-plate photography, and also modern devotees that mount these lenses to the latest digital cameras!


status: sold

 Posted by at 12:41 AM
Aug 162014

Here’s yet another fantastic vintage pepper mill designed by the incomparable Jens Harald Quistgaard. Fitted with the famous, flawless Peugeot mechanism, this model is one of his earliest designs (made for Dansk before they brand-named their goods; this one is simply stamped “Danmark”). Wonderfully collectible, this is a quintessential example of artistic form combined with effortless functionality: perfectly Danish Modern.

status: sold

 Posted by at 12:11 AM
Aug 222013

Jens Quistgaard must have loved pepper. This is evident by the fact that he designed dozens of completely unique pepper-mills (some that even incorporated salt-shakers) for Dansk of Denmark; each one a work of art, each a mini-monument of culinary architecture. Here is his “phillips screwdriver” design, so-called for the bold cross-knob on top.

Recently, through research and experimentation, I’ve developed an amazing, all-natural method to restore and beautify any and all wooden kitchen items; one that’s perfect for cutting the grease and grime of decades, eliminating bacteria, and returning warmth and glow to the woodgrain. The trick is simple, yet counter-intuitive: fine-grade steel-wool and lemon juice. No soap, no sanding, just good old fashioned elbow-grease and the miraculous properties of citrus. Don’t be afraid to rinse the wood thoroughly after a thorough buffing with lemon juice―but be sure to pat-dry immediately; then, after the wood is completely air-dry, polish with pure food-grade mineral oil. Nothing else cleans as safely or brings out the glow and luster as wonderfully. Works a treat on salad bowls, too!

It seems a shame to me that our modern world, despite its many advances, completely fails to produce anything as simply elegant as that executed by Jens more than half a century ago . . .  But that’s just one of the many reasons that makes collecting genuine Danish Modern designs so satisfying and enjoyable!

status: sold

 Posted by at 5:09 AM
May 202013


A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away . . .  brave men landed on our Earth’s moon, and lived to tell the tale. And ever since then, anything associated with the ‘Space Race’ has been incredibly collectible. Autographs are, of course, the most widely available kind of memorabilia. Much more rare and far more interesting are the various physical artifacts generated by the missions. At the top of this spectrum are the actual moon-rocks  gathered from the lunar surface, and now exist in aerospace museums, government holdings, and a few private collections; next in desirability: equipment, tools, and gear that very occasionally come to market; however, these objects are understandably few and far between. In the middle-spectrum is the various media and ephemera created by NASA that constitutes, in my opinion, the most interesting and accessible market to collectors of space exploration history.

And here is one such compelling example: an original super-16mm film documenting highlights of Apollo missions 12 and 13. The original packaging states that this item originates from the official recording studios of the United States House of Representatives, and documents the ‘Open & Close’ of those voyages (presumably: lift-off and splash-down).

It would be absolutely fantastic to see and hear what’s on this tape; however, as time passes, this item becomes more important as a physical object than as a document. Like an ancient clay tablet spidered with cuneiform characters, this is a compelling marker to and evocative evidence of a certain point in time; though once designed to deliver specific data, it is now valuable not just for the information it once conveyed, but as an artifact that connects us to distant historic events.

status: sold

 Posted by at 6:05 PM
Feb 242013

This is a stanhope; sometimes called an optical bijou. It was invented by René Dagron in 1857, and it’s a device for viewing microphotographs: detailed pictures no bigger than the head of a pin (1 square millimeter). Popular in the late 19th Century, these tiny scopes were, in fact, all the rage at the 1859 International Fair in Paris. They were often incorporated in rings, pendents, watch fobs, and one industrious instrument maker even mounted them inside violin bows. The images, predictably, were often of tourist attractions, historical cities, religious sites, and portraits of royalty (or, as in the case of the luthier, of famous conductors).

The example here is in the shape of a spyglass, made of ivory; it is, of course, very small—smaller than an British pound coin. I believe the image of a popular pantomime star of the era; the word “SILLY” below the portrait probably refers to the tradition in the United Kingdom of men playing the “dame” in this traditional yule-time theatrical show.


status: sold

 Posted by at 2:46 AM
Dec 122012

The culinary arts are, of course, primarily expressed in food: quality ingredients masterfully combined and coaxed to create dazzling dishes that astound the palette. However, the humble tools used to make such marvels can also be considered an art-form unto themselves.

Any truly outstanding tool must be a perfect balance between beauty and utility, and these antique porcelain game terrines from Pillivuyt of France are fantastic examples. Dating from between 1900 and 1910 (possibly the pheasant is a bit later), these pieces are exquisitely crafted and entirely hand-painted. Their matte, earthenware-like exteriors emulate traditional French en croute pastry crusts, yet their interiors are clean, bone-white porcelain. Incredibly sturdy yet wonderfully elegant and also satisfyingly practical: these are perfect for “oven to table” service as still found in many fine restaurants throughout France.

Simply gorgeous objects worthy of Julia Child’s Parisian kitchen!


status: sold

 Posted by at 1:05 AM

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