Blog

Welcome to our Blog! This is the place where we post our most recent news, pictures, ideas, stories and DIY make-its.

For latest news about vintage events follow us on Follow Vintage Dorset on Twitter

It’s Christmas Card Time!

People have been giving and receiving Christmas greetings in some form or another for hundreds of years but when did giving Christmas cards become so popular?. Well it seems it all began in 1843 with art patron Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (and also designer of “Summerly’s” tea service made by Minton). This caricature of Sir Henry by James Tissot appeared in Vanity Fair in 1871.

Sir Henry Cole

Sir Henry used to hand write greetings to his family and friends on sheets of paper decorated with Christmas themes but decided he had too many to do so he commissioned 1,000 hand-coloured cards to be printed by London artist John Calcott Horsley. Sir Henry wanted something that would be suitable for everyone so Horsley designed a triptych with scenes on each of the side panels depicting the charitable essence of Christmas: feeding the poor and clothing the homeless. In the centre was the message “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To You” (the message that is still today the standard Christmas card sentiment) under a beautiful drawing of a family toasting the season. And remember – Horsley hand coloured each one!

 

Henry Cole Christmas Card

Sir Henry sent half the cards personally and 500 were sold for the then huge price of one shilling each (probably a week’s wage for the average person). Only about nine have survived and today they can sell for thousands of pounds at auction. Due to the cost involved exchanging cards started out as something only the wealthy could afford to do.

Later, during the Victorian period cards were illustrated with gorgeous intricate designs and vivid colours, often hand-painted and from around the 1860’s a process known as chromolithography produced cards with colours so intense they rival anything produced today. By the 1880’s Christmas cards had verses inside and started to show more seasonal images.

The practice of sending cards caught on in England aided by the Postal Act of 1840, which allowed a piece of mail to be sent anywhere in the United Kingdom for just one penny. Strangely enough Sir Henry himself was involved in establishing this better postal system and creating the first self-adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black (he provided the sketch of Queen Victoria used on the stamp).

The start of a cheaper postal service in 1870 made it affordable for almost everyone to send cards and it became a true Christmas tradition.

The Edwardian era brought with it more Santa Claus-themed cards with robes of many different colours but it wasn’t until the 1930’s when the Coca-Cola Company adopted St.Nicholas (and fattened him up a bit!) to promote it’s drinks that he became synonymous with the red and white we know and love today!

If you love vintage Christmas cards do have a look at some of the images from Raphael Tuck & Sons, De La-Rue and Marcus Ward & Co. Here’s just a very few of our favourites!

 

 

Published by annie, on 11th December 2012 at 6:36 pm. Filled under: Christmas,Vintage Activities,Vintage Arts,Vintage Events,Vintage Local History Tags: , , Comments Off on It’s Christmas Card Time!


Wartime Christmas

As ever the Tank Museum at Bovington put on a great show at the weekend with their Wartime Christmas Festival. There was so much to see and do with lots of stalls selling fab Christmas goodies to wonderful living history talks and presentations. All set around some amazing displays of tanks and other wartime equipment from World War One to the present day.

We absolutely loved the 1940’s fashion show. The guys and girls putting on the fab show (The Blitz Buddies) really knew their stuff about fashion from the time and the talk was fascinating and informative as well as good fun – those parachute silk bloomers were terrific! We learned loads about utility fashion and the CC41 symbol.

In 1941 the Government introduced “Controlled Commodities” – things that needed to be rationed due to the fact that raw materials such as cloth, wool, metals etc were in short supply. These goods were identified with a CC41 symbol or Controlled Commodity 41 (often mis-quoted as Civilian Clothing 1941) and can be found on clothes, furniture and housewares. Just like foood rationing, families were issued with special coupons allowing them to buy limited supplies of CC41 items.CC41 Logo on Vintage Dorset blog

The Utility Clothing Scheme came in and although not well received at first, people quickly became adept at making their own accessories and adapting what they had.

Here’s some pictures from the fashion show. Many of the clothes were original and the group go to some trouble to trace the history of the items where they can – especially uniforms. Some of the items were reproductions but everything looked amazing!

We also sat and listened to a fascinating talk all about life during the Blitz and what it was like to live with the constant threat of bombing. The lovely men dressed in their Home Guard and ARP (Air Raid Precaution) Warden uniforms had an incredible amount of knowledge and passion for their subject. We were told about incendiary bombs and the fact that even though you can buy deactivated ones on internet sites such as Ebay they are still potentially lethal as the casings are made from magnesium which is highly flammable (be warned – if you have one of these in your home you may be invalidating your home insurance!). We also learned that more people were killed in the bombings at home than died actually fighting the war…. a truly sobering thought. Here’s some more pictures of the living history displays – thank you to all those dedicated people that keep our history alive in such a brilliant way. We had a truly great day! By the way – doesn’t this chap look just like the late (and much loved) Clive Dunn, the wonderful Lance-Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army…….

Published by annie, on 5th December 2012 at 7:47 am. Filled under: Christmas,Vintage Activities,Vintage Arts,Vintage Events,Vintage Fashion,Vintage Local History Tags: , , , , , Comments Off on Wartime Christmas


Pot to the Kettle Never Kettle to the Pot!

We’ve shared this wonderful vintage You Tube video before but it’s so much fun we felt we just had to share it all over again – it’s guaranteed to cheer you up when it’s raining constantly and the wind seems to be doing it’s level best to level everything! It’s a gorgeous peice of social history – check out the hair styles, the furniture and the absolutely HUGE teapot – and we completely adore the Tea Instructor – one of the scariest men ever – those eyebrows and he never blinks – never!! We think the 6 steps to making a proper cup of tea should be laid down in law and tea should always be sold in the biggest tea chest you can carry by people with the most glorious 1940’s cut glass accents – it would be so much more fun than trying to find a decent tea at the local supermarket. And please – if you learn nothing else from watching this little video do ALWAYS remember – take the pot to the kettle NEVER the kettle to the pot – Gran would be proud!

 

Tea Making Tips on YouTube

Published by annie, on 25th November 2012 at 6:09 pm. Filled under: Christmas,Vintage Activities,Vintage Events,Vintage Fashion,Vintage Food,Vintage Homeware,Vintage Local History,Weddings Tags: , , , , , Comments Off on Pot to the Kettle Never Kettle to the Pot!


Perfect Vintage & Steam Wedding

Wedding steam trainSome brides have so much energy and great ideas for their wedding day that its a wonder to behold. When we helped Kimberley and Sam with their vintage styled wedding reception we knew it would be special – not every couple and their guests arrive at their venue by steam train and with the gorgeous Purbeck settings of the Swanage Railway together with all of the vintage details that Kimberley had planned; this wedding turned out to be spectacular!

Swanage railway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kimberley and Sam were married in Purbeck and then made their way together with all of their guests to the lovely village hall at Harman’s Cross via the Swanage Railway. We bedecked the hall with bunting and vintage tablecloths – but Kimberley also created a fabulous chill-out area with vintage throws and traditional toys for the children, a vintage pampering kit in the ladies bathroom with cute vintage soaps and tissues and a table planner with vintage papers – matched up to cute mini-milk bottles!

vintage wedding chill-out area

table planner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vintage teacup favoursThe afternooon tea organised by Vintage Dorset with extra treats from the bride and groom was a festival of delicious finger sandwiches, cakes and vintage china with wine and cordial available throughout. The collection of cakestands waiting to go out was incredible and with the guests dressing up to suit the vintage theme it looked wonderful and everyone really loved the vibe!

Many thanks for all your work over the wedding. The tea was lovely and the tables etc looked absolutely wonderful. It all went so well. We all thought you and your team did a splendid job. Thank you so much (from the grooms mum)

As the afternoon went on there were ice-creams, a bouncy castle and then fish and chips to finish off before the evening music – then the sun shone through the showers bringing with it the most glorious of rainbow’s to make a perfect ending to a truly lovely day! Here are some of the pictures….

Perfect Vintage Wedding

 

 

 

 

Published by vdorset, on 19th November 2012 at 11:40 am. Filled under: Vintage Events,Vintage Fashion,Vintage Food,Weddings Tags: , , , , , , , Comments Off on Perfect Vintage & Steam Wedding


Love and Care for Vintage China

Recently we’ve had a few people ask us about caring for vintage china. Having so much vintage china means we’ve gained real expertise in maintaining vintage ceramics and porcelain to keep it bright, clean and beautiful and this is the perfect time of year to have a look at all our stock and give it the once over. So here’s our tips for keeping all that vintage gorgeousness looking lovely and fresh.

Washing

Whenever we get “new” stock the first thing we do is give it a good wash – you never know what’s been in or on it……mmmm

  • If you are washing a teapot always remove the lid before you begin. Lids are the most vulnerable bit of the teapot and more likely to get broken than any other part.
  • Check the china over – are there any cracks or chips – we never use cracked china for food use – but blemishes are common in old crockery so just because an item has the odd uneven mark or colour spot – doesn’t mean that it is ruined! Inside teapots its quite common for the glaze to be imperfect. Marking beneath the glaze does not affect the taste of the tea or use of a teapot or cup.

washing a blue vintage teapot

  • Use a plastic bowl, lined with a dishcloth if necessary and only wash one item in the bowl at a time.
  • How hot is that water? Scalding water or direct heat can cause the glaze to crack or lift the gilding. Its one of the many reasons we never recommend using fine china teacups for scented candles – they may look pretty once – but be prepared that they will ruin the cup! Warm water is best for vintage china – and delicate hands!
  • Use a non-abrasive detergent. Vintage china does not fare well with dishwashers or modern detergents that might mark or scratch the gilding. We use Ecover or other “earth friendly” detergents. For more stubborn marks use baking soda, cream of tartar or salt. For very stubborn tea-marks then fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar soaking overnight will usually do the trick – but toothpaste can also be good for ground in discolouring – well if it works on your gnashers it’s got to be good!
  • The best way of avoiding staining is rinsing the china immediately after use. Jam is particularly horrible as it will leach into the china turning it pink. Wipe and rinse as soon as you can.

Cleaning the spout using a cotton bud

 

  • For teapot spouts, use a cotton bud to get into the spout and clean thoroughly. Don’t scrub at the gilding as it can start to flake off.
  • Check for staining along the underside of the spout as this area is often overlooked.
  • Use a cotton bud for the rim of the lid. Tea stains are common here too.

 

Checking under the spout washing a teapot lid using a cotton bud

  • Dry your china with a clean tea-towel. This prevents smears.
  • If stacking or packing china or cups do not use plastic bubble wrap. This can cause the china to sweat and encourage moulds. Remember that very old bone china may have some organic content (yum!). Your china is best wrapped in thin dry paper or paper serviettes.
  • Keep your china at moderate temperatures – too hot or too cold and wild fluctuations in temperature will cause cracking.
  • Fine surface crazing from too hot water can generally be “healed” by placing the china in warm milk for 30 minutes before re-washing – we know – how amazing is that!

Washing crockery correctly is a vital part of vintage china care. If you keep these hints in mind you’ll keep your teapots and trios in tip-top condition… but do remember to enjoy a cup of tea when you’re done! With a few biscuits of course!

Tea wedding favor

Published by annie, on 12th November 2012 at 8:48 pm. Filled under: Vintage Activities,Vintage Events,Vintage Homeware,Weddings Tags: , , , Comments Off on Love and Care for Vintage China