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Happy Juneteenth.

Juneteenth: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Today, we honor Juneteenth, a significant moment in American history marking the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth is a significant date in American history and the African American experience. The name is a play on the date of June 19th, 1865. On that day, the Union Army made its way into Galveston, TX under the leadership of General Gordon Granger, and he announced to the people of Texas that all enslaved African Americans were free.


“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”

– Major General, Gordon Granger. General Orders, No. 3. Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865


Even though we know that the Emancipation Proclamation freed African Americans in rebelling states (Texas being one of them, from as early as it when the Proclamation went into effect on January 1st, 1863) and we know that the Civil War had ended in April of 1865, it took a while for freedom to make its way to the western most rebelling state. Although there were enslavers who were aware of the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation, it wasn’t until June 19th, 1865, that it was actually enforced with the Union Army. June 19th freed enslaved people in the rebelling states; it did not free enslaved people throughout the nation.

As we reflect on this day of freedom and resilience, we like to consider the profound cultural and historical narratives reflected antique furniture and the decorative arts which correspond to our shared experience. Happy Juneteenth.

Excerpted from : Mary Elliott, Curator of American Slavery National Museum of African American History & Culture, Smithsonian https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/what-juneteenth

  1. The first Black Music Month gathering hosted by President Jimmy Carter on the White House’s South Lawn on June 7, 1979. Courtesy of Dyana Williams
  2. Emancipation Proclamation

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Happy Earth Day 2024.

Earth day -- Antiques are green.

Happy Earth Day! We are all aware of and trying to lessen our impact on the climate. Today, of all days, it’s not inconsequential to note that buying and holding onto your antique furniture is better for the planet.

I mean, as if anyone needs any other reason to buy beautiful antique furniture, a 2010 study on greenhouse gas emissions commissioned by the antiques trade 1 2 was tasked with answering the question: “Are antiques greener than new furniture? And if so, what is the difference between their carbon footprints?” It compared two specific chests of drawers, one from 1830 and the other a contemporary piece.

Ultimately, it was determined that the antique chest of drawers had a lower greenhouse gas emissions impact compared to the new chest of drawers. The life cycle emissions of the antique chest of drawers were less than those of the new chest of drawers. The new chest of drawers had a greenhouse gas emissions impact 16 times higher than the antique. Additionally, they determined that the new chest of drawers had higher emissions in raw materials, production, distribution, and storage compared to the antique. The longer lifespan of the antique and the lower emissions throughout its life cycle contribute to its greener profile.

As we say, buy what you love and buy in good conscience. Happy Earth Day!

…AND.. some stats for the nerds!

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Graph: The typical life cycle emissions of the antique and new chest of drawers between 1830 and 2025
Graph: The typical life cycle emissions of the antique and new chest of drawers between 1830 and 2025
Product Footprint Comparision: A breakdown of the emissions from each stage
Emissions per year of use. Antique compared to new.
Graph: Green House Gas emissions per year of life in use associated with a new chest of drawers are 16 times higher than those of the antique.

Further readings and sources:

  1. Product Footprint Comparison Produced For The Antiques Trade , August 23, 2010. https://sworders.blob.core.windows.net/sustainability/ProductFootprint.pdf
  2. The Antiques Trade, as represented by various organizations and websites such as Antiques Trade Gazette, Antiques are Green, International Antiques & Collectors Fairs, The British Antique Dealers’ Association, LAPADA – The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers, Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers, Online Galleries, and Antiques.co.uk. The study was conducted by Carbon Clear, an independent consultancy specializing in carbon management and carbon accounting.
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Happy Easter!

Vintage Easter Card. unknown (unknown cultural designation). A Joyful Easter. 1910.

The Victorians loved corresponding by mail and the advent of the uniform one penny postage rate in January 1840 made it a very economical way of staying in touch with loved ones, no matter where they lived in the country. During the latter half of the 19th century, publishers began designing writing stationery with festive images and Easter greetings. Before long, it was the fashion to exchange brightly coloured Easter cards. These could be bought quite cheaply but many preferred to make their own Victorian Easter cards with spiritual images such as lambs and crosses or bunnies and eggs on brightly colored paper all to emphasise the happy and lively nature of spring. 1

Today, Easter is the fourth most popular greeting card holiday, behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mothers’ Day.
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Further readings and sources:

  1. Excerpted from “Victorian History: 10 Victorian Easter traditions you should try”, Victorian Homes, https://www.adrianflux.co.uk/victorian-homes/victorian-easter-celebrations/
    Easter Card images: Rhode Island School of Design.
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Thanksgiving 1910

The Sunday Magazine of The St. Louis Republic, November 20, 1910

Creator: Paus, Herbert (creator); Date: November 20, 1910; Material: 4 color print

Three young boys are sitting or kneeling around pumpkins, carving them into jack-o-lanterns. The boys are wearing early 1900s attire. Behind them is a banner that reads: “Thanksgiving 1910,” with wishbones and two boys holding axes with turkeys behind them on a lead. 1

The St. Louis Republic was published daily by George Knapp and Co. between 1888 and 1919. Its weekday editions consistently featured reports on local, national, and international politics; local or statewide criminal investigations; society news; financial news (particularly reports on the price of grain and local markets); classifieds, marriages and deaths; and editorials. Its Saturday edition typically consisted of two news sections with longer articles, poetry or fiction. Sunday editions included three or more news sections, a comics section, and a magazine featuring society news and events, literature reviews and excerpts, and articles about travel and culture. 2

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Further readings and sources:

  1. Paus, Herbert. Thanksgiving 1910. November 20, 1910. 4 color print. Modern Graphic History Library, Washington University in St. Louis. https://jstor.org/stable/community.18968095
  2. Newspaper: The St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, Mo.) 1888-1919 Saint Louis Republic Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/item/sn84020274/ Provided By: State Historical Society of Missouri; Columbia, MO
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Giving Holiday Gifts To Friends Is Often Like ‘Bringing Owls to Athens’.

Often, buying holiday gifts for well-to-friends is like ‘bringing owls to Athens‘. We suggest a unique bronze owl inkwell from the late nineteenth century now mounted as a table – desk lamp with a painted metal shade .

The idiom, “to bring owls to Athens”, is an ancient Greek proverb ascribed to Plato by Diogenes Laërtius (d. 180 – d.240) biographer to the Greek philosophers. 1

It is said that an abundance of owls famously roosted in the rafters of the original Parthenon (before it was burnt down). The owls became a symbol of the city over the years and were sacred to Athena the goddess.

The silver coins of local Athenian currency featured an owl. The Athenians mined their own silver and from this they minted their own coins, so they had need of nothing more. The proverb is stating that to bring owls (either the birds or coins) to Athens would be a pointless exercise, because they have plenty of their own, anymore would be superfluous. 2

The owl symbolizes wisdom, intelligence, protection, and vigilance. During the Victorian period of the 19th century, owls found their way into nursery rhymes. Lamps and andirons were decorated with owls; the birds came to be associated with libraries and learning. The depiction of owls was just as prevalent during the Arts & Crafts movement.

Further readings and sources:

  1. Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Diogenes_Laertius/Lives_of_the_Eminent_Philosophers/3/Plato*.html
  2. The Idioms https://www.theidioms.com/bring-owls-to-athens/