Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hand-Painted Holiday Cards

The Holiday Season is rapidly approaching – this year, we started seeing Christmas advertising in October! One very important part of celebrating the holidays is the exchange of holiday greeting cards, and while there is no end of choices out there, Primavera Gallery has something very special to offer – gorgeous French holiday cards from the 1920’s.

On one of our trips to Paris, we purchased an entire collection of fabulous antique hand-painted holiday cards that were done in the 1920’s, some of them designed by known illustrators of the period. Fortunately, they had been stored in the original cartons, and the colors are still as fresh and vibrant as when they were made. They were created by a process know as pochoir, a labor-intensive process whereby a stencil for each color was laid on the card, and then carefully painted-in by hand.

The subject matter is varied. Many of the cards feature everyone’s “fantasy” 19th century Christmas – scenes of finely costumed people carrying brightly wrapped packages, with snow falling in the background, and beautiful interiors of people enjoying the holiday ambience. Some of the holiday cards feature exotic scenes, others depict people enjoying outdoor activities.

There are no messages inside, and while many of the images do evoke Christmas Past, they are quite non-denominational, and do not have religious themes, so they can be sent to people of any (or no) religious affiliations. Because they are so beautiful, many
people who buy them from us send them as small gifts, as they are worthy of being framed. They are definitely cards that will never be thrown away, and the lucky recipients will always remember the gorgeous card that you so thoughtfully sent.

To see our entire collection of these wonderful antique holiday and Christmas cards, visit the Holiday Cards section of our website. (<-- click on the link).

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Art of the Cocktail….Ring

While the term “cocktail” was first used in 1803, and the first Bartender’s Guide was published in 1862, the first recorded actual “Cocktail Party” was given by a Mrs. Julius Walsh of St Louis, Missouri in 1917. The idea obviously caught on, as Cocktail Parties (called Drinks Parties in England) became an increasingly fashionable way to consume spirits in public, and the Cocktail Party soon became the new and exciting way to entertain at home. The term evokes images of glamorous women with, perhaps, long cigarette holders, in languorous poses, and with a large ring consconspicuously on display as she sipped a martini or glass of champagne.

The evolution of the cocktail ring came about in the early 1920’s, with the social revolution that made it acceptable for women to drink, smoke and touch-up their make-up in public.

At soigné clubs and elegant restaurants, and the newly popular Cocktail Parties, (and also, perhaps, at somewhat less elevated locations), women took full advantage of their new freedoms, and they wanted elegant accoutrements with which to do so. These items were, for the rich, yet another way of showing off their wealth with precious and often jewel-encrusted accessories. Those less fortunate could also be in style with less costly versions.

A cocktail ring is a ring of unusually large proportions, meant to draw attention as the drinker raised her glass. These could take many forms, as long as the ring was large enough to attract the eye, and the idea of a cocktail ring remained fashionable through the decades, as did cocktail parties. After a brief rest, these rings have now become the new “must have” accessory.

A cocktail ring can take just about any form, as long as it is stylish and conspicuous, and what better way to be in style with great originality than with a smashing vintage ring, and you needn't just wear it to cocktail parties – these rings go out to dinner with equal panache.

All of these, and many other cocktail rings are available for purchase at the gallery.

Cocktail rings, l-r: Cartier, Paris, Ruby and Diamond ring, ca. 1960's; Marchak, Paris, Sugar-loaf turquoise and diamond ring, ca. 1950's; Chaumet, Paris, Ruby and Diamond ring, ca. 1930's; Cartier, Paris Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire ring, ca. 1950's; Unknown designer, USA, Sapphire and Pearl ring, ca. 1950's; Unknown designer, France, Gold and Diamond ring, ca. 1950's.

Audrey Friedman for Primavera Gallery

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