Thursday, April 12, 2007

Trinkets of the Age of Innocence

I recently discovered that I am a complete, utter, bought-and-sold, tie-me-up-tie-me-down diehard Edith Wharton fan. This is a complete surprise to me; but even more surprising is the fact that, despite advanced degrees in English literature, I had never read any Wharton, ever. Shameful!

But, man, am I catching up now. Just finished The Custom of the Country and am now ripping through Age of Innocence (I'll rent the movie--which I vaguely remember seeing in a flu-induced stupor when it first came out--after I finish the book) as well as The Decoration of Houses and her biography by Hermione Lee. All great reads, all highly recommended if you're of a historical New York, high-society, pretty- opera-gowns, manners-drama, summers-in-Paris, spring-on-Long-Island kind of bent.

In the dreamy spirit of Ms. Wharton, I have searched the interwebnet for late-19th to early 20th-century trinkets and vanity pieces that the characters in her novels would have lived with on a daily basis.

A nice diversion, hopefully, on what is a grotesque snowy day here in northeastern Canada.

A lady always travels with her enamelled compact. This German rose compact from Vintage In Style is undated--thus remaining literally timeless.

This deco compact and perfume set from Bath Antiques is a 1930s Coty original! Comes in a box adorned with "nude maidens." Giggle. Scandalous!

Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was the last king of France (wet his pants, right in the middle of a ballroom dance). He was then Emperor until his death in the 1870s. A lady preparing herself for an evening at the opera at around this time may have had a lovely opaline pocket-watch stand such as this in the front vestibule, with which her husband could determine that she was sufficiently "fashionably late" for her appearance at the opera house and would she mind terribly hurrying things along a little. From Ruby Lane.

Another great Ruby Lane find--an undated enamelled vanity set. Quite quite handsome, old chap.

Please, sir, you're sitting far too close to me. Can't you see that I find the ballroom fearfully warm? Snap! Flutter, flutter.

Again from Ruby Lane, ornate late 19th-C benamelled and bejewelled opera glasses. All the better for spying on the John Thorntons II in the box across the way.

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At 5:19 AM , Blogger Carolina Lange said...

Wow, so beautiful!

At 1:40 PM , Blogger whyioughtta said...

Aren't they?...Unfortunately, most of these also come with a "collector's level" price tag, but a girl can dream...

At 10:11 AM , Blogger Carolina Lange said...

I allways como to check out your blog, you post really beautiful things.

At 11:24 AM , Blogger whyioughtta said...

Thanks a lot! I truly appreciate your visits.

I try to update as often as possible--there are so many lovely vintage finds out there on Ye Olde Internet.

At 9:51 PM , Blogger Candid Cool said...

I remember when I was young I was obsessed with those little fans, and I always ended up breaking them

At 3:38 AM , Blogger whyioughtta said...

There's something about those fans that little girls just love, isn't there? I remember being obsessed with them too!


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