the art of the heirloom

Bonjour and happy holidays! It’s officially deep December and I’m sure we’re all in the middle of holiday preparations of baking and wrapping (or we’ll be starting any minute now…)

Over here it’s been a busy few months getting everything back in order after a small hiatus. We’ve restructured with the help of great friends and family, and are back up after a lot of hard work. truth is it’s a lot more fun to work with people and letting that happen has been the ultimate blessing. the best part is that we’ve got a sweet collection from the paris on the website and for the moment, i get to enjoy these little gems in my home. i guess the major shift has been that our focus has shifted from just buying little do-dads to honing in on the real treasure hunting that can done at the Paris flea markets. Now i’m looking for pieces that are part of history. i was asked to write an article about it for a good friend and colleague, Mimi Bleu who lives in paris and has created an online magazine, Belle Inspiration which is a beautiful venue for all things authentically french. she let me share the full article below so i’ll stop writing and you’ll see what i mean…

well… there’s a lot more to say on the subject but that will have to be another article i suppose…

thank you again, mimi for letting me share this! if you’re interested in checking out the entire magazine or subscribing, take a look at her site, www.belleinspiration.com.

and now, maybe i’ll try my hand at baking some cookies! a tout alors!

 

December 16, 2018. flea markets, Fleamarkets, France, Heirlooms, Marché aux Puces, Paris, Paris Flea Markets. 2 comments.

there are no silver linings without clouds

bonjour dear blog friends, how are you? i hope you’re doing well. it’s been a long hiatus but i’m back with a new perspective on all things old. so where oh where have we been, you and i? well truth is that i’ve been here all along, just working behind the scenes since i truly needed a break from the technological side of life. taking time off from tech taught me a lot about what it was to live again instead of dreading the things i once loved. if you follow this blog you know it’s been a struggle to ‘find time’ to be creative and enjoy the little things like photography and writing. so what’s changed? well let’s see…i started to pull back from all the excesses and minimize in every way.

this gave me a chance to really look at what was important as far as what and who is in my world. After paring down the physical stuff like excess clothing, papers and clutter, it left one thing, the people. what’s funny is that it opened up the opportunity to forge closer relationships with my friends and family who are now not only a part of my private life, but also a part of my work life too. in fact, they’re now going to be helping with research and development of The Paris Apartment and they’ve taken on tasks like digging deeper into areas i’d previously skimmed over. case in point, we’re learning a lot about some of the little pieces we brought back from paris and are starting to understand what they are and where they’re from.

for example, this little pillbox may not have been a pillbox at all. in fact, my sister in law, jean found out that they’re often called ‘patch boxes’ and were where the french would sometimes keep those small black dots we see on the faces of the fashionable men and women of the past. beyond that, she discovered the meanings of some of the hallmarks that are pressed into the silver and gold and that each has significance. on this little sterling box, were two marks on the underside, one of an anvil, signifying the maker’s mark, in this case, paul canaux who was in operation in the 1800s: Paul Canaux, a manufacturer jeweller-silversmith, active at 30 rue des Francs-Bourgeois in Paris succeeded the silver-plater Joseph Mégemond and entered his mark on 9 August 1888. Paul Canaux based his sponsor’s mark (an anvil as symbol) on that of his predecessor Mégemond. He was a manufacturer of silverware, cutlery, tea sets, centerpieces, serving dishes, etc. His maker’s mark was struck off on the 12th of April 1892 and at the same date a new maker’s mark “PC & Cie” was registered, as the house changed its style to Paul Canaux and Company.

The Makers Mark is for ‘Maitre Orfevre’ Paul CANAUX and shows a P and a C separated by an anvil.
Paul CANAUX registered his mark on August 8th 1888 and cancelled it on April 12th 1892.
He was succeeded in 1892 by his sons under Paul CANAUX & Compagnie.
His workshop was located 30 rue des Francs Bourgeois in Paris

she also discovered the other mark referred to the amount of silver contained in the piece was and still is known as a ‘tête de minerva‘ (head of minerva, referring to Roman goddess) a mark which ranges from the 1st to the 2nd percentage. the french standard for silver is higher than most other countries and requires at least 95% silver to be of the first caliber (the 2nd is just 80%). our little box marked ‘Rosa” is of the first quality. and can be identified with the symbol below, always in an octagon (the second is in an oblong square).

the best part about it is that many of the gold and silversmiths set up shop in the marais on the very street where we often stay in paris, making it even more fun to learn about who is behind so many of the pretty little things we often overlook.

 

this little box below is one i’m obsessed with for its intricate beauty. it’s so exquisitely detailed that it’s almost a meditation whenever i hold it. who created it and how? when i’m trying to created something i think about the patience and creativity it took to make this by hand with such precision and perfection. as we’re researching we found that there are two small circles on the inner lid with tiny swans inside. the meaning is a little unclear but it seems that the swans signify silver articles of unknown origin coming into france around 1864. meaning this was made sometime before then but it’s undocumented up to that point.

you can see the tiny scratch marks on the lip where the creator must have used a very fine tool.

 

the inside is almost a gold hue making me think that it’s not all silver but there’s no way to tell the full percentage. the truth is that this society was very complicated and there are books and historians who go into great detail about the marks that range from rhinos to owls.

at the paris markets we often come across this vendor at vanves who sells metal tools and iron stamps. these may not have been used on the boxes per se but they give us a look into what it may have been like to forge these tiny gems that we see among the scattered tables each weekend.

anyway that’s about it for me tonight, i’ll be back soon. i hope you come by and say hello. if you’d like to keep in touch you can now follow the blog again on the link at the bottom right sidebar. alors, bonne nuit! xoc

November 26, 2018. Life. 6 comments.

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. -Claude Monet

allo! ca va? spring is whizzing by isn’t it? it’s hard to believe may is almost over and we’ll be in full summer mode in just a few days, for me that means planning a trip to france and this year i’ll be going to a many places that i’ve been before but others that i have to admit that i haven’t. i thought i’d start to jot down some of the spots on the to-do list and see how it will unfold. the first on the list is Normandy, specifically Giverny where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. there are so many gorgeous images out there it’s easy to see why he would devote his life to capturing these magnificent grounds it. i love this one above for its simplicity and sweetness: (Pink cosmos and golden sunflowers tower above Fifi, the calico cat who resides in Monet’s garden, as she strolls down a gravel path in the silver mist of dawn. Photograph by Elizabeth Murray c 1990. From a collection of postcards published by Pomegranate). people and pets have come and gone here but somehow this place has been perfectly preserved for all these years.

maybe it’s the voyeur in me but i love to visit homes of artists, writers and designers. the fact that the french keep these special places for us is truly one of the reasons i fell in love with france. 

if you want to learn more about it, this is a wonderful fondation that works tirelessly year round to keep the gardens and home in perfect condition.

you can actually take a virtual tour here: fondation-monet.com/visite-virtuelle. i’m sure seeing this magical place in person will be more incredible than i can imagine. apparently it was so exquisite that it was almost painful for Monet in a way that i’m sure only those who know the beauty of a garden or even a single flower can understand.

‘Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it’.

-Claude Monet

May 29, 2018. art, Artists, Day Trips, Flowers, France, Gardening, Monet. 10 comments.

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