Sailor’s Souvenirs and Whirligigs

sailors souvenir remember me vallejogallery.com

Are you interested in collecting nautical antiques, but aren’t sure where to begin? There are few things as exciting as beginning a new collection, particularly when the items are reminders of love from long ago. Sailors in the 19th century were often away for long periods of time.  It was common practice, then as now, to bring a girlfriend or wife something special when returning home from a long trip. A popular item was a glass rolling pin, often decorated with poetry or artwork. The rolling pin opened on one side so it could be filled with salt, a treasured commodity as a high tax on the preservative made it very expensive until about 1845.

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Most of the blown glass cylinders came from Liverpool, Bristol, or Nailsea, all known as manufacturers of glassware. Bristol was the best known; I have two Sailor’s Souvenirs of my own from Bristol.  Some of the glass items popular at the time were vases, candlesticks, salt cellars, cups and saucers, and other ornamental items.

sailor rolling pin 1850

Nailsea was quite close to Bristol, actually started by a Bristol glassmaker in 1788. Nailsea made many little “fairings” and love-tokens, including the rolling pins. Some people believe the rolling pins were used to smuggle spirits during the strict British Excise laws. Most likely, however, they were filled not only with salt, but also with spices, cocoa or baking powder.

sailors souvenirs or valentines

To keep the salt dry, the glass rolling pins were often hung by a fireplace. Superstitions abounded in the maritime community, and it was thought that if a rolling pin fell to the floor and broke, that the sailor would either be in a shipwreck or lost to another woman.

sailor whirligig from etsy

Another charming folk art collectible is the sailor whirligig.  Because the whirligig depends for its movement on the same principles which propels a weathervane, it is thought that the first whirligigs were made by either farmers or sailors, the groups most concerned with wind direction and a change in the weather.  “Nantucket” or “sailor” whirligigs were popular toys in the 19th century, and the most common form is that of a sailor twirling his paddle arms.

sailor whirligig cape cod folk art from yessy.com

Supposedly the whirligig was a child’s toy during a time of strict religious practices. A father would whittle a toy that moved by wind alone to entertain a bored child who was forbidden to play during the day. It’s unclear whether or not this is a true story, but the whirligig today is among the most valued of folk art objects, particularly with its original paint.

sailor whirligig

photo courtesy of live auctioneers.com

There are Victorian-era collectibles for any budget, so start searching for some of the beautiful and fascinating items that interest you. Some rolling pins can still be found quite inexpensively; others are rarer and cost more. An interesting source of additional information on folk art and antiques is Jim Linderman’s blog Dull Tool Dim Bulb. Find it here.

Some of these images were found on the internet, and are included under the U.S. Fair Use Law because their inclusion in this post illustrates an educational article. If you are the owner of any image which you believe to be copyrighted, please contact me at info@dujardindesign.com. 

Sand, Salt, and Shingle Style Architecture

Cape Cod House

There’s nothing that says Nantucket so much as its weathered grey houses with white trim. Although Nantucket is famous for shingle style houses, the architectural style is a tradition on beach front properties across the east coast, including Long Island, Cape Cod, coastal Maine and Newport, Rhode Island. They first appeared in New England after the 1876 Centennial celebration, when America was fondly looking back on rustic Colonial style buildings, and architects were happy to a rebel against Victorian fussiness.

shingle style one

One of the primary characteristics of a shingle style home is the gentle way it blends into the landscape. Key features are its soft grey surface, plain siding, very little ornamentation, a welcoming porch, and a rambling outline. Victorian shingles were made of thinly cut, unpainted cedar that quickly became a weathered grey from exposure to the oceanfront elements.

New England House

Their apparent simplicity belied the fact that most were vacation homes for the very wealthy. Well-known architects such as Henry Hobson Richardson, Charles McKim, Stanford White and Frank Lloyd Wright were drawn to the form, and began creating their own versions of shingle style homes. Perhaps the most famous shingle style home is the summer residence of George W. Bush, built in 1903 on Walker’s Point near Kennebunkport Maine.

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Bush Summer Residence; Photo Courtesy of Architecture.About.com

On Nantucket, a large population of Quakers greatly influenced the social mores and architectural styles on the island. Their insistence on simplicity and minimal decoration  made the shingle style house enormously popular during the 19th century, and the island’s large stock of historic homes has set the standard for any new homes built since.

shingle style two

Today, the Nantucket Historic District Commission oversees homeowners’ building and renovation plans with strict regulations that dictate a home’s height, use of shingles, and a pitched roof to protect the island’s historic character.  Homes are often surrounded by charmingly old fashioned gardens, overflowing with hollyhocks, peonies, foxgloves, and larkspur, and bordered by trellises covered in tumbling pink roses that give the island its signature grace and charm.

roses on trellis

 

Bring Summer and the Seaside In

seaside 3

It’s May, and many people are heading for their summer homes, ready for long, lazy days in sun and sand. You don’t need a vacation home to make your house summer-ready, though. Try some of these ideas for bringing summer and the seaside in!

seaside rooms

Use light-colored, indoor/outdoor fabrics and wicker or rattan furniture to add a summery feel to your rooms. Indoor/outdoor fabrics also make for a more relaxed environment, as clean up is a breeze.

seaside 2

An artfully placed starfish or shell says you love the beach! Painted white furniture and light colored fabrics are another warm-weather touch.

seaside flowers

Nautical prints or paintings of boats, water and ocean beaches are a window to the world you love.

seaside bedroom 2

Slip into the garden early in the morning when the grass is still cool beneath your feet, and cut a few fresh flowers for a small vase on your bedside table. You’ll love falling asleep with the light fragrance of blossoms to scent your dreams.

seaside bedroom

A light, bright room always feels summery. Change your bedding to an all-white coverlet, toss a brightly colored throw onto the end of the bed, and stack clean white birch logs in the fireplace.

Natural fiber fabric and rug

Add texture and interest with natural rugs underfoot, such as sisal, hemp, jute or seagrass. Plant fiber rugs are sustainably harvested, renewable, and biodegradable, an added bonus to their beauty!

Redhead Ducks; Hen; Ducklings

Photo by Neil Mishler U.S. FWS.

Finally, celebrate summer’s beauty by making a pledge to help protect America’s waterways and all the creatures who depend on them for their lives. Visit the Natural Wildlife Federation to learn how you can help. 

shells white

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” –John Lubbock, The Use of Life