Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The siren waits thee, singing song for song

There is some quiet industry underway in my home at the moment. I am unpacking my luggage, and in order to do that I need to relocate a portion of my current wardrobe.

It's dreary work, so I've avoided it in a myriad of different ways: ironing, going to the gym, taking long walks, sitting outside in the fresh air threatening the cats, reading Caitlin Moran's wonderful book and  writing postcards to my oldest brother as a surprise.

But the thing is, I have to go back to work next week and a degree of sartorial achievement is expected. So I attempted unpacking again today, starting with the jewellery (and some rather fine linen napkins emblazoned with CHICKENS. CHICKENS, I ask you.)

You saw my necklace yesterday; here is my haul from the markets at Port Vanves and Clignancourt.

Behold the chickens!

I'm particularly pleased with the mourning jewellery.

There's three brooches and, as you can see in the top right hand corner of the first picture, a pair of dainty  jet earrings. Mourning jewellery was popular in the 19th century after Queen Victoria went into extended mourning for her beloved Albert. The Victorians had, I think, a very healthy attitude to death - they photographed it, commemorated it, dressed to acknowledge it. Mourning paraphernalia is widely collected but I draw the line at black jewellery. I'm particularly pleased to have found the brooch on the left, which features French jet (black crystal). I'm pretty sure the one on the right is black glass.

I love little gold trinkets. The heart is self explanatory - it's a locket, and so is the large the large clear disc.The panels are actually celluloid, so it is very light. The little ornate scrolled piece is a dress clip.

More clips - on the top row a pair of fine silver dress clips, and on the bottom a pair of shoe clips. The dress clips could also be used to hold a scarf in place. The little shoe clips are a wonderful design - they look like smart buckles when attached to a pair of plain pumps.

An Edwardian watch pin on a watch chain. Watch pins are one of my current obsessions.  I bought these from different vendors and was thrilled how well they matched. Watch pins were very popular until the wrist watch became more common in the thirties. Before then, ladies would pin their watches to the belts and secure it with a decorative clip like this. Gentlemen also wore watch pins - theirs were larger but not nearly as pretty.

A pair of wobbly, lightly clinking coral earrings. I'm not sure how old these are - I'm inclined to think they are from the fifties, when this type of cluster jewellery was common. I've already worn these once and am happy to report that they are what the mags call a statement piece: they need no accompaniment apart from a sober dress and some lip gloss.

Earrings waiting for new hooks. The ones on the left are gold and coral, the other pair are gold plate over brass. I love that the coral pair are slightly different. I'll never know if they are from two different pairs, or if the jeweller was feeling obtuse when he made this pair. I'd say both pairs were originally clip-on but they will be for pierced ears when I restore them. When I've unpacked everything.

But wait! There's more!

Last week I sang the virtues of French hair clips. This week I'd like to extend that to French hair combs of all ages.

This quintet came from a very nice man who was selling a wild assortment of stuff on the periphery of the Port Vanves market. The market was closing and he had to get his goods packed up, but he was very gracious to me when I spotted the hair clips, and gave me all five for ten euros. The three black ones are mourning clips (you can see the second and third are set with chips of jet) and the other two are tortoiseshell. I love me a good clinging hair comb.

So that's the jewellery and the chicken napkins, and one less thing to divert me from the wretched unpacking.