New Treasures by Email

Rare French Business Letters & Documents

My wife and i were walking through a little Brocante in France when underneath a pile of boxes we spotted a collection of French handwritten business documents. Upon closer inspection I realised that there were various items, such as old bank cheques still carrying the original stamps through to elegantly handwritten business letters, all dating between 1892 - 1936.
Immediately we snapped up this bargain and then proceeded to go through each of them to understand better what treasure we had found this time. Some of the more interesting business letters were from a L. Grandjean Lace & Ribbon factory of Paris which were all (20 in total) handwritten by the founder within 6 weeks of the end of WW1! Interestingly there were references made to "... although the staff all have the flu, at least we did not succumb to the great malady that has befallen so many others..." Paris, 28th October 1918 exactly 13 days before the official armistice pronounced on November 11th, 1918 when optimism and knowledge that they had survived the greatest war man had ever, and still has, known to this day! Holding this old, delicate piece of history in my hand I can only wonder at the feeling that this author must have been feeling during all those weeks from September to November 1918 in the City of Love, Paris.
Other finds were a collection (x13 certs) of original Company Stock (or share) Certificates dated 1892! Now as an ex-investment banker you can imagine the surprise on face when I realised I was holding historical financial documents from the Victorian Period!
Others included bank cheques from 1925, all handwritten including the original postage stamps!
There were so many (100+) that I still haven't quite got through all of them and classified them so I have added some images below of those I have sorted and have already added to the shop... enjoy!

Very rare book find!

Recently my father in law gave me a few old books he had lying around in the garage where he can't remember where he got them from. I noticed that there were a part set of 5 books from the "Waverley" & "Benedictine"series by Sir Walter Scott the most famous Scottish writer in history. Sir Walter Scott's novel of Ivanhoe (1819) become one of Europe's most read books and remains one of the world's most read still today not to mention his rendition of the famous Scottish outlaw and thief "Rob Roy MacGregor" (1817).
As the popularity of Sir Walter Scott's writing grew, it was only then did he admit his true identity as he had originally published under a pseudonym. Then the books were republished and also then translated into French which was at the time the 2nd most spoken language in Scotland due to historical ties. It is these early translations that I have come into possession of.

Updated 27th August 2011
We have discovered that at one stage they formed part of the aristocratic Contessa (Countess) Caroli Rava's collection in Italy as seen from an insert added to the inside back cover that also has a handwritten date of 1916 which may point to the year of purchase.
Before this they appear to have been brought into Italy (c1823) by a Biblioteca (Library) Gabrielli (although we have not as yet found information on this library) as seen by a insert added to the front inside cover showing the coat of arms although originally printed in France by a "Libraire de Charles Gosselin"

The books I was given include:
  1. The Fortunes of Nigel (1822)
  2. Guy Mannering (1815)
  3. L'Antiquaire (1816)
  4. Le Monastere (1820)
  5. L'Abbe (1820)
the five books from the series

Currently we are researching their rather particular history as the books appear to be first editions in French and have had inserts added by various libraries in Italy & France. Helping in this matter is the British History Museum's rare books department. Below is an email from the National Library in regards to the French translations of "The fortunes of Nigel":
Dear Enquirer,
Thank you for your enquiry.

The British Library's earliest holding of a French translation of Sir Walter Scott's, The fortunes of Nigel, dates from 1836 (brief record below) however I do not believe this is the first French language edition as COPAC, the UK and Ireland's National and Academic Library Union Catalogue indicates an earlier edition (1822) is held in the National Library of Scotland. The COPAC record for the 1822 edition follows the British Library's 1836 record:

System number 003317304
Cataloguing level Minimal record
Author - personal Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Uniform title [Separate Works under Subheadings. The Fortunes of Nigel ]
Title Les Aventures de Nigel ... Traduction nouvelle par M. A. Montémont.
Publisher/year Paris, 1836.
Physical descr. 312 p. ; 8º.
Added name MONTEMONT, Albert.
Holdings (All) Details
Shelfmark 012611.g.43.

COPAC record of earlier edition:

Main author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832.
Title details: Les Aventures de Nigel / traduit de l'anglais par le traducteur des romans historiques de Sir Walter Scott.
[ Fortunes of Nigel. French. 1822 ]
Series: Oeuvres Complètes ; t. 59-62
Published: Paris, 1822.
Physical desc.: 4 v. ; 12mo.
Language: French
For local availability select a library name below.
Copies held by:
National Library of Scotland

A search for International holdings on OCLC Worldcat idicates that the BIBLIOTHEQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE also hold this 1822 edition and it could reasonably be expected to be the first such French edition.

Closer interrogation of the BNF catalogue reveals that there are two records for an 1822 edition and whilst they may be the same edition, you would need to check with the BNF to be certain. I suspect it is the same edition. The BNF catalogue records are below:

Type : texte imprimé, monographie
Auteur(s) : Scott, Walter (1771-1832)
Titre(s) : Les aventures de Nigel [Texte imprimé], par Sir Walter Scott
Traduction de : The fortunes of Nigel
Publication : Paris : C. Gosselin, 1822
Description matérielle : 4 vol. ; in-12
Note(s) : Traduit par Mme Collet, d'après Barbier
Autre(s) auteur(s) : Collet, Fanny Angel Mme. Traducteur
Notice n° : FRBNF31339474

Type : texte imprimé, monographie
Auteur(s) : Scott, Walter (1771-1832)
Titre(s) : Les Aventures de Nigel... [Texte imprimé]
Publication : Paris, 1822
Description matérielle : In-12
Note(s) : T. II
Autre(s) auteur(s) : Collet, Fanny Angel, Mme. Traducteur
Notice n° : FRBNF30257288

The most thorough method of determining the identity of the First French edition is to consult a Bibliography of Walter Scott.
Unfortunately, the British Library does not have the staff resources to undertake this kind of research, however, should you choose to, you are welcome to visit the British Library's Reading Rooms where you could consult a prominent Walter Scott Bibliography such as the one below:

System number 000791216
Cataloguing level Minimal record
Author - personal CORSON, James Clarkson.
Title A Bibliography of Sir Walter Scott. A classified and annotated list of books and articles relating to his life and works, 1797-1940.
Publisher/year pp. xv. 428. Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh, London, 1943.
Physical descr. 8º.
Added name Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832 Appendix.
Holdings (All) Details
Shelfmark 11900.e.82.

Faience Soupier... French Ceramic Elegance!

As you may know, we have recently been on a treasure hunt through North-Eastern France in the region of Lorraine famous for it's high quality Faïence pottery. It was one of... ahhh who am I kidding... it was the MOST productive antique buying spree we have been on so far! The main reason for that is this incredibly beautiful, refined and elegant 19th century Soupiere (Soup holder) that had adorned an old French woman's home for generations until her death. It is believed that it dates from the 2nd half of the 1800s probably between 1860 - 1880 and is probably the most refined hand painted piece of Faience I have ever seen with scenes depicting hunting, flowers, birds, deer & other forest animals.
When buying Faience or Faenza as we call it here in Italy, or any other ceramic antiques for that matter, of course the value is always partially in the signature. This piece is signed by the artist himself being a simple F.B. brushed onto the bottom of the base dish. Our research as pointed that this F.B. was not a prolific Faience artist and as such his pieces are very rare (Tip: Search Google before buying anything antique!)

Anyway, enough from me... let's just enjoy some truly breathtaking hand painted French Faience...

c 1860 - 1880
Scene depicting forest animals & flora motifs as seen from lid
Base dish from above highlighting the incredible detail
Artists Signature "La Faiencerie, Peint à la main R.B."
which translates as, "The Faiencerie, painted by hand F.B."
Usually when an artist writes "La Faiencerie, it would usually
indicate the factory name where he worked.

Cherub wood carving

I'd like to showcase one of my favorite little treasures I found at a flea market in France or Brocantes for those French speakers of you out there.
It's a little hand carved wood Cherub playing a little harp. Perfect item for a rustic little cottage or even a Victorian Colonial property. It's for sale in our shop at a great price... I'll be sad to see it go!

Myott, son & co Transferware Teapot

Beautiful ironstone ceramic teapot of the famous label Myott, son & co from Royal Staffordshire, England. Scene is of Paladin Villas along the River Brenta in Italy. This was a typical inspiration for the artists from 1880 to 1930 based on the Venetian aristocratic villas that were built along the Riveria Brenta in North Eastern Italy, as summer residences to escape the Venice humidity which can be suffocating with mosquitoes also in abundance. Please visit for further information on the inspiration behind this scene.
No chips, cracks etc in perfect condition.
Believed to date between 1925 - 1935 (Edwardian)
The bottom also contains the factory mark also in perfect legible condition.
Quite rare item for the style and imagery with such a perfect white ceramic color, difficult to find the same listing over the internet. Please visit our "shop" to purchase or view pricing.

New French & English Vintage Antiques in our NEW SHOP!

Currently my family and I are at our holiday home in France. And as you do in France, we like to spend our time walking the many "Brocantes" or second hand markets that spring up in the rustic villages around the province of Les Vosges.
This year has turned up quite a few interesting little treasures of which all can be bought in our NEW ETSY SHOP. We had a focus on selecting some little easyily posted items that are also not so fragile. What we found was quite a mixed bag with some fantastic surprises that we couldn't pass up!

For example take this gold painted Victorian period decòr (circa 1890) of a Cherub playing:
(Click the images below to visit the shop and see prices or to purchase)

c.1890 Gold painted wood with velvet background

Cherub playing harp
And staying on the Cherub theme we found this rather cute little decoration:
Circa 1890 - 1910 Cherub wood carving
Hand carved, French decorative house piece

In the same market we found this early 20th century perfume bottle in-cased in a decorated metal frame:
Metal in-cased blue perfume bottle (c.1920 - 1930)

French, highly collectible

Image showing relative size

 Another little surprise were these (x2) 20th century decorative, baby warming plates. They keep the food warm by adding hot water to the dish:
Early 20th century (c1920 - 1935), French made.
Scene shows a cute bunny rabbit eating carrot.
Off-set by a beautiful gold gilt with matching rabbit water stopper
Another cute rabbit scene from a later period (French c1950s)
Please note this ceramic dish, although very cute &
highly collectible, does not have a matching stopper

Strangely for being in a remote part of France we also came across this rather beautifully English transferware coffee pot:

English transferware
Early 20th century (c1910-1920)

Staying in the English theme, how about this highly decorative metal tea caddy probably dating from the 1950s:
English made Tea Caddy in tin

Or for those ceramic lovers, how about this blue and white water jug probably dating from the early 19th century during the Edwardian period (circa 1920):
Blue & white ceramic water or milk pitcher (c1920)

And lastly, the greatest treasure of them all... a hand painted ceramic Faience Soupiere (Soup holder) dating from the mid 19th century (circa 1870) signed by R.B. and in total perfect condition as it had been in the same family in a  cottage in Northern France, passed down as a treasured heirloom through the generations.

Hand painted French Faience soupiere (soup holder)
dating from the late 19th century (1870 -1890)
In perfect condition with no chips or scrapes