Vintage Inspiration

Eastlake ClockThis antiquarian Eastlake clock belonged to my great-grandfather.  He and my great-grandmother were first cousins–double first cousins (whatever that means).  The clock sits on the mantle over the fireplace in my living room.  It inspired my unpublished story, which I named “The Eastlake Clock.”  How original is that?!

Charles Locke Eastlake, an English architect/writer, invented the Eastlake style of furniture, which dates to 1880. The popularity of Eastlake furniture quickly spread to America.  You can spot these fabulous antiques in any antique shop by looking for furniture with “Eastlake lines.”  I’ve found sofas, chairs, tables, beds, dressers, and washstands in this style.

EastlakeSofaCan you find the Eastlake lines on this sofa?

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While writing  THE PRINCE IN THE TOWER, I deliberately inserted some of my favorite antiques into the setting.  Most of the novel takes place in Northern Virginia. The Moore House in the City of Fairfax, VA inspired the fictional Warwick House.  Antiques abound in the antebellum Warwick House.  These include Eastlake furniture, a pincushion doll, and a salt cellar.

My display case above contains many salt cellars and two pincushion dolls. (Pincushion dolls that no longer have a skirt or a pincushion beneath the skirt are called “half dolls.”)

I have a large collection of salt cellars.  Most salt cellars are made of clear glass.  Others are made of tinted glass, ceramic, silver, or pewter.  Most date to the 1800s.  The larger ones are called “master salts,”  the smaller ones “individual salts.”  Other names for salt cellars are “salt dips” or simply “salts.”  These were in vogue hundreds of years before salt shakers existed.

Have you heard the phrase, “seated below the salt?”  It was NOT an honor to be seated below the salt.  Quite the reverse.

At least one salt cellar turns up in every piece of fiction I write.  It has become my “signature.”

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