Sunday, July 24, 2011

rugged and romantic

Friday's auction had a pre-auction of 140 lanterns from one man's collection. The crazy lantern collectors bought the best ones, but somehow I ended up with eight. Every other purchaser was a man.

Perhaps because they are sensible and utilitarian, with a certain rugged appeal. Their purpose was to aid the hard work of fire fighters; train, road and ship crews; builders of dams; farmers, etc. Of course they also have a bit of romantic appeal if you consider their purpose: bringing light.

My favorite is this Traffic Gard made for the City of Flint, Michigan--its design is relatively stylish and I love the specificity of its name, city and purpose. 

You may have seen my post on the orange Little Defiance

Now I have a Defiance. Defiance was the name of a lantern company that did not survive the stock market crash of 1929, and was bought out by a larger company. As with any manufactured product, the history of lanterns has its dark side, including labor unrest and factory fires. 

At a purely aesthetic level, I enjoy how they look together. Kind of ordinary when viewed solo, they gain visual appeal when grouped. I don't feel that way about many objects--I prefer to spread things around, mix types of objects and styles. I never thought of myself as a collector, but somehow I ended up with a lot of old pottery, mostly vases. I usually don't display them together (except in occasional small groupings) preferring to place them around the house, where they stand on their own beautifully. I also move them frequently, so they stay visually fresh. In the store I've gone both ways, tending to scatter. But then one weekend I put a lot of the vases together and I love how they look.

I would enjoy hearing any thoughts you care to share on collections and their display.



  1. It's got to be so much fun going to those auctions! Love the lanterns too. Grouping them definitely gives visual impact, the vases are beautiful on their display.

  2. Hello Jen:
    We love the hurricane lamps as we should refer to your 'lanterns'. They are, as you say, appealing for their practicality as well as their simple good looks. As with so many things, we always think that when enough of one item is gathered together they look so much better than when displayed on their own. In the garden we were always to be found planting in groups of three, five, seven or, at best, many tens. We really never knew what to do with a single plant.

    Your vases look so well together on the stand!

  3. hi Jen
    I like collections of interesting things displayed together on a special cupboard or special table or shelving. BTW Thanks for the butterfly paper weight I love it !!! You are so so nice

  4. I don't know what it is about "hurricane lamps" that attracts me so much but I'm always picking them up in the thrift stores and then putting them back because I have no use for them. Next time, I'm going to buy it by gosh! But then I have no idea where I'd place it. :)

    I kind of enjoy things arranged in I suppose a Victorian manner with lots of clutter and stacks of things such as books next to vases and ink wells, and a pen collection. When I first looked at your blog I found the way you have the vases arranged here very attractive and my eye was drawn from one to another.

  5. beautiful objects! thank you for your kind words at my blog- they mean a lot

  6. Jen,
    Love the different colors of your lanterns, I like to display things in groups at different heights. Your vases look great all together on that green display piece. (love that green)!

  7. They are beautiful! I have a red one that was my greatgrandfather's. :)