Monday, January 23, 2012

Who's Herbert and Why Did the Girls Send Him Valentines?

In the past year, at one of those farm auctions Dear Husbola and I love so well, we purchased a large box of excellent condition valentines.  We date them to about the turn of the 20th century--and each and everyone was carefully preserved and each is a little work of art.  All were different --but the common theme is that they were all inscribed to Herbert.

Herbert must have been quite the guy.  Who was he--and why did girl after girl send him a valentine--each and everyone addressed in a childish scrawl?

"Let me whisper to thee Dear, Let me say it in thine ear, That my heart is all thine own, Thee I love and thee alone"
"An offering of Love"
"And now the woods are gay, with carols clear, The singing birds proclaim, that spring is near and I with faithful heart do love thee dear!"

Valentines were quite the art.  Many of these have a three dimentional feature to them--lacy hearts that pull out.  Glued on bits of German scrap art enhance some.  Little buds with children popping out or butterflies with wings that fold out.  Colorful and delicate and charming.

Now--the bigger question--why did Herbert keep them all those years?  At the auction of his estate--all manner of things was being auctioned--goods from a long life--and yet--here was a delicate box of valentines from his grade school years.  Where they all from the same girl?  I wonder.  Were they all from the woman who eventually became his wife?  Maybe.  Where they all from the same girl who he WISHED had become his wife--now there is a plot even the writers of Downton Abbey would envy.

Coming up for us is the Northern Antiques Dealers Association Show near Rockford Illinois at Forest Hills Lodge Feb. 18 and 19th.  It is a beautiful show and the perfect cure for cabin fever.  Why not come out for it?  Dear Husbola, Herbert and I will be there.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ex Libris Collecting---What????

On our recent trip to th Czech Republic--we became aware of a European collecting frenzy that was never on my radar before--Ex Libris Collecting.

Ex Libris  literally means the bookplate used to describe a book's owners.  Yes--those paper stickers that you sometimes see inside the front cover of a book are collectible, desirable and sometimes worth some serious money.




I vaguely remember receiving a package of bookplates from my mother as a birthday gift when I was in early grade school.  They came in a heavy cardboard box with gold trim and had adhesive on one side like postage stamps and on the other--a colorful collection of drawings and the words "This book belongs to...".   I know I exited the birth canal with a book clutched in my tiny hand--so it was not at all unusual for my mom to give me this rather grown up gift when I was young.  I remember sitting at my desk and carefully--Oh So Carefully spelling out my name in cursive and getting ready to install the plates in my books.

Ex Libris collecting is REALLY big in the Czech Republic.  Most antiques shops have boxes of them at the front desk--and they are used and have been removed from books or are just "extras" that are available for purchase.  These plates can be really artistic gems--made to order by the book owner or even designed by famous artists--as one of a kind special works of art that say "This book is mine--please return it if it gets lost".  Some have quirky artwork, some use coats of arms or monograms.  They are collected and put in albums much like stamp collecting.

Libraries use them as invaluable tools to trace the ownership of books.  In the CZ, since 1992, restitution of real property and personal property has been going on with great vigor.  Items that were confiscated by the Germans and Russians is still be returned to families.  Ex libris plates allow libraries to be rebuilt and "lost" books to be returned home.

Some of these ex libris plates can be worth big money.  I wonder if my 1960s version with the childish scrawl are worth anything?

Sad Farewell Beautiful Lady of Paris

Adieu Belle Dame.... View from the beautiful blooming park behind the cathedral.