An Apron Mystery and A Dog’s Day

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This apron was a mystery to me. I thought someone made it, but didn’t complete it. There are no neck straps or ties.

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Then I saw this pattern and the purpose was clear. It was a style of apron that went with a 1920s dress. The top of the apron was pinned to the dress fabric. I think this is one of the all-time silliest pieces of clothing that were ever designed. Can you imagine pinning and re-pinning an apron to the silk and crêpe dresses of the era?

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As I was ironing the apron, the handle broke on the plastic squeeze bottle I use for misting.
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I went down to the shop and brought up a 1935 Coke bottle with an old aluminum “sprinkler” top and finished the job. It worked well. As I was ironing, I was thinking, “I wonder why no one uses sprinklers anymore.” And then I remembered…maybe it is because everyone else would have poured the water into the, I don’t know, steam iron, perhaps?  Sometimes, I scare myself.

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I still think that headboard lights from the 1920s through the 1950s can not be improved upon. This is mine, above. Just reach up and pull the chain. It is so convenient. Just as one’s eyes begin to flutter toward sleep, the light can be turned off without having to re-awake.

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My cat, I call her Kaiser because I thought she was a boy, doesn’t care if the light is on or off.

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Going through things to price for the shop today, I added three 1920s powder puffs to a box to be carried downstairs.

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A glass-domed handmade molded paper image of the Sacred Heart.  Some people think these were made by nuns, but I don’t know if that is true. Perhaps the ones embroidered in real gold thread were made by nuns, but I’d bet not. The prayer is in French. I suspect that these are actually souvenirs from Lourdes and other shrines and cathedrals with the earliest examples boasting the more elaborate embroidery and later examples, like this one, were made from molded and gilded paper around 1900.

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A vintage bridge tablecloth and a lovely handmade quilt made from the clothing of many eras. A true American quilt, its fabric ranges from the printed calicos of the 1870s to feedsack cotton of the 1930s. Quilts sell for next to nothing now as many people don’t seem to treasure them. I’ll show you something I treasure…

These are illustrations by Cecil Aldin from the book, A Dog Day, written by Walter Emmanuel in 1902. The impish hero tells the story of one day in his life, in his own voice. He gets into a lot of trouble. His quirky terrier personality is so charming that he never seems to get punished for his mischievous behavior. He lives in a reality of his own making.

This book usually sells for 40.00 or 50.00 to those who love Cecil Aldin, but mine is without value. The reason it is valueless is the reason I love it. You see, at one time, maybe in 1919 or 1940 or even in 1960…

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 It was chewed on by a puppy.

Love, Ginene

Published by

Ginene Nagel

Fox and Finch Antiques is my 16-year-old shop housed in a 1890 bank building in Richmond, Illinois. I live above the shop in a space with 11 foot ceilings, big windows and a 17 stair daily commute. Richmond is a pretty little town 16 miles south of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There are charming historic houses, a wooden bridge and the wonderful Prairie Trail runs just past my back door.

46 thoughts on “An Apron Mystery and A Dog’s Day”

  1. I love how you weave stories about these beautiful things. You reminded me that I have a vintage lamp that I know know is a headboard light. So I just put it on my headboard and voila! Thanks for sharing your love of all things antique.

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  2. What wonderful taste you have and what exquisite little things those are. Do you buy/find antique quilts ever on eBay or Etsy for a song or just estate sales and so forth? The three things you can buy now for almost nothing: books, quilts, and furs.

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    1. I only buy for the shop at auctions or from individuals. I would think that eBay and Etsy would be very good places to look for quilts at low prices. I see them selling low. Prices on eBay are often driven by trends and fads. A couple of years ago, Hawaiian quilts were all the rage and they were selling for higher prices. A vast number of sellers on eBay are now listing things at But It Now prices because the auctions were bringing in such low prices that sellers were losing their shirts. Sometimes, Etsy prices are lower than eBay prices. It is an ever-changing market. I’ve been selling on eBay since it began and am just starting to list on Etsy. It is good to have a larger market. Before the international postage rates doubled, a couple of years ago, 75% of what I sold on eBay went to England, Australia, Russia and Japan. It is more like 30% now.

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  3. I adore history and tangible items from the past. You have taken me on the most wonderful visit to years gone by, and I am so happy for the journey. You have remarkably well preserved things for your shop. Absolutely beautiful items! Thank you for sharing them.

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  4. This is a lovely post Ginene. How wonderful to have just the job in your shop when the modern appliance broke. I think the puppy chew is marvellous. It reminds me of a facsimile of William Morris’s Kelmscott Chaucer I once owned. The top corner of the wooden box case had been chewed by our parakeet which we gave the run of the flat because we couldn’t bear to shut it in its cage. Your shop must be fascinating.

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  5. As I always say, the condition you bring things to is just wonderful. Everything is crisp and so clean that it brings the era to a current feeling. Love it and everything else you share.

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  6. Another romantic sifting through several bric-a-brac, each one telling its own tale. The calico cloth, Ginene, that you cite here has its origin in Calicut (now Kozhikode), a city in south India, located just 140 miles from where I live…best wishes… Raj.

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    1. Yes, I’ve study the history of the calico cloth. It is a testimony to its quality that the fabric is still in use after the original clothing was retired and after being sewn into something with a new use. Just think how often that fabric has been washed. I just washed this quilt myself in the washing machine. All of this is part of the reason that I love these things.

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  7. My dad gave me quilts from my mom, his mom and his grandmother. I treasure these as my tangible connection to the past! Many years ago, I added to the collection with a baby quilt made by my hands. My mom was a seamstress and sewed all the time. My quilt is made from scraps of her projects. It is so much fun to look at the quilt and remember the corduroy overalls, the skating program costume, the full length coat. So many memories. Thanks for bringing those memories back again through your post!

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    1. Debbie,
      I love hearing about your collection and especially that you “get” the connections. I think of all the thoughts and family conversations that occurred as the women sewed. As you know, I’m sure, some quilts to years to complete. I really enjoyed your comment.

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  8. Ginene,
    What wonderful treasures – I love how you include a little background history in your posts. How odd that ladies pinned their aprons like that in the 1920s. I especially like A Dog Day. Having two little terrors – I mean terriers – of my own I can certainly appreciate that busy pup’s exploits. Ridiculously nostalgic, I kept a boar bristle hair brush with a wooden handle that was used as a teether by my Phoebe. It’s funny how such items draw my interest now – is it because I’m getting older? ;)

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    1. It is probably because we see a broader picture of the passage of time now. And yet, I think that time is a dimension that we don’t know much about. I still have my dog Copper’s collar. These things bring the fondness and love back to us again.

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    1. My grandmother ironed the sheets, as well. I bet yours did, too. It was nice getting into one of her beds. My father said he slept on feather beds at his grandmother’s house. I’ve always wanted to experience what that was like.
      Ginene

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  9. I was so excited to see you post, Ginene, and it was captivating. I’m longing even more so to visit your shop; your treasures are so thoughtfully chosen and meticulously handled by you. The sprinkler bottles…I have one but I get big drops instead of a spray. I wonder if irons still need to use distilled water? Well, that’s what we used “back in the day” to keep the inner parts from rusting.

    I love quilts and I really like the embroidery on these linens, the ladies in the billowing skirts. What a lost art. And old quilts. I used to collect them when I was first married. I was never able to mend them myself and they were quite used by my children. I didn’t know they were selling inexpensively now. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a good antique store. So many around here just border on thrift or second hand shops. I have to get down your way!!

    Hope all is well with you and that the new year has started out wonderfully! :)

    Jane x

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    1. Thank you, Jane. I remember my mother using our great-grandmother’s quilt as a blanket for the ground. Oh, boy…well, at least, I remember it and we did get to use it.
      My new year is starting out wonderfully!
      I remember my mother using the sprinkler bottle on my father’s white shirts, then rolling them up and inserting them into a plastic bag which then went into the refrigerator for the water to disperse and make them damp. I think it was a whole process.
      Thank you for your comment and maybe a visit someday.
      Ginene

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  10. Waiting on your book. You definitely have a gift to write. :-) The vintage bridge tablecloths brings back memories of my of aunt sitting and doing hand embroidery on tablecloths and handkerchiefs (sweet memories) my, the memories are rolling in. Thanks for the lovely read.

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  11. I so understand your appreciation of these amazing, amazing old pieces. They have such charm and characcter and if only we could know the history of those who have touched and cherished these pieces long ago. We have the same taste in old treasures. It is so very sad that quilts are not as appreciated as much as before. There is nothing better than feeling the softness of a well loved, well worn piece.

    Thank you for sharing!!!

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  12. I could read about all your intriguing treasures forever! I appreciate that each one is already special, but it seems to me that, once they fall into your hands, they take on a new found worth, and their unique stories become page turners, in themselves.

    So enjoyed this chapter.

    x
    Poppy

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  13. How did I miss this post? It has so many of my favorite, “vintage Ginene” elements! I love all the fabrics and embroidery. The headboard light is something I had as a child and until now had completely forgotten about it. Yours is so pretty, I love the china girl. Do you read the Miss Read books too? I have all of them and have read them multiple times! So funny..
    Your posts always make me feel happy, they are so beautiful and interesting and inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cynthia, I felt from the first day I saw your blog that we are sisters at heart! I found Miss Read in the 1980s and have read them over and over and over. I have probably half of them. I once found 10 or so on eBay in a lot and they were very inexpensive because they are paperbacks. Cynthia, as a fellow Miss Read admirer, you can imagine my surprise when I received the books and four of them were signed, yes, signed by Dora Saint as Miss Read.

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      1. I felt the same way, Ginene. The more I learn of you, even more things we both love crop up! Picking up my car from the shop, I passed Gladys Taber’s road and thought of you. I’m so delighted you have those autographed treasures. I’m sure Dora Saint is too:)

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  14. What a funny apron. My mom still irons everything. I’ve have had the same ironing board cover for 20 years if that tells you how much I don’t iron. You have some beautiful pieces in your shop. Have a great week!

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  15. What a fun blog you have! Vintage and nice stories and see a few of my friends here too! Thanks for the follow and bringing your blog to my attention. Look forward to see more! Warm greetings from Ohio, Johanna
    ps loved the sweet little terrier story in particular!

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