Saturday, January 2, 2021

If Objects Could Talk--Or Maybe They Do!

 

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: We're watching Bridgerton, are you? And we'll talk about that someday soon here. But in looking at the clothes, and the settings, and the opulent everythings, I realized we have a reading chair that dates to 1811. It's wonderful, and I 'll show you a photo someday. I has an attached swing arm, with a wooden easel that's designed to hold a book at lap level. 

It ever has a little metal page holder so the pages don't turn. And it made me think--someone in Bridgerton could have sat on it. (In a kind of magical realism sort of way.) But that chair certainly has stories of its own to tell. Who sat in in it? And what did they read? So many possibilities.

 Our dear friend of the Reds, Jane Cleland, has made her glorious career writing about stories like that. And we are thrilled to welcome her today! (And look for her generous giveaway at the end!) 

 If Only Antiques Could Talk, the Stories They Would Tell 
           by Jane K. Cleland 

 The Nature of Meaning 

As I ferret out the facts and lore behind each antique I write about in my Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, I think about the person who designed it, created or crafted it, bought it, sold it, gave it as a gift, left it as a bequest, stole it, coveted it, or cherished it. I want to know the truth, but, of course, the truth is lost in the annals of time and can never be known. 

All I can do is speculate about why a certain object holds value to a specific person—I use facts to write fiction. 

 Meaning Is in the Eye of the Beholder 

As I look around my home, I see so many objects that are significant to me for the memories they inspire, and for the love, respect, or affirmation they represent. Have you ever considered which object in your home is most significant to you? For me, it’s not an easy assessment. For instance, it might be the crown my students gave me to celebrate their semester with “Queen Jane.”
















Or perhaps it’s the tile designed by Rex Stout, one of my favorite authors, given to me by his daughter, Barbara Stout, a generation after his death. I had it framed and it sits where I can see it as I write.
















I don’t have to choose only one object, of course. Not in real life or in my novels. The most recent entry in my series, Hidden Treasure, weaves together stories about three antiques, each intriguing and mysterious in its own right—a cat sculpture, a steamer trunk, and a gold book.









Hidden Treasures 

In ancient Egypt, the cat was the sacred animal of the goddess Bastet. Statues of elegant cats were often left at temples in her honor. The cats usually wore gold jewelry, earrings or nose rings, and were frequently presented in ornate bronze, silver, and gold boxes ornamented with precious jewels.

 Nineteenth-century wood and tin dome-top steamer trunks were huge, often four feet long and nearly as high. I spent some time speculating on who might need so large a trunk. Someone who traveled with the circus, who had no home? A sailor, shipping out for months or years at a time? A grifter, moving operations from one high-end resort to the next?













The oldest known book was found more than 70 years ago in a tomb uncovered while digging for a canal along the Strouma River in south-western Bulgaria. The book, which includes six gold “pages” held together with golden rings, was produced around 3,000 years ago. It’s illustrated with various soldiers, a mermaid, and a harp. Who commissioned its creation? What do the illustrations symbolize? Who owned it? I want to know the details… I hate half a story!
















My Most Significant Object 

 The idea that objects hold meaning beyond their form or function is, to me, captivating. Value, after all, is based on perception—what one person holds dear is likely to be profoundly different from what another person holds dear. Sometimes, though, the meaning is inherent in the object and doesn’t require context or additional explanation. Consider, for example, this wedding photograph, which was rescued from a flood, and is the only picture my darling husband Joe and I were able to salvage. If this photo could talk, it would report on the joy Joe and I felt that day.

















It would recall my running to show Joe how beautiful it looked in its fancy frame. It would recount nearly drowning, and drying in the sun, and wishing it wasn’t so washed out. It would be thrilled it was back in its place in the living room, an enduring symbol of love and hope and dreams. 

What object in your home is most significant to you? Why? I’d love to hear the stories your objects would tell, if only they could talk. 

 HANK: And the wonderful Jane is offering a signed copy of Hidden Treasure (U.S. address only). We'll choose a lucky winner from the comments. What object is most significant to me? Impossible. But I will think about it as I read your answers!


Jane K. Cleland writes both fiction and nonfiction, including the long-running and multiple award-winning Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries [St. Martin’s & Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine] and the Agatha Award-winning bestsellers Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot and Mastering Plot Twists [Writer’s Digest Books], recommended by Dan Brown, Louise Penny, David Baldacci, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Neil Gaiman. Jane is a contributing editor for Writer’s Digest Magazine, and the chair of the Wolfe Pack’s Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA), in partnership with AHMM. She is a frequent workshop leader and guest author at writing conferences and MFA Residencies. Jane offers free monthly workshops on the craft of writing in the “We’re All in It Together,” series. Details can be found at www.janecleland.com




The newest entry in the Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, Hidden Treasure, tells the story of dreams, desperation, and second chances.

145 comments:

  1. This is fascinating, Jane . . . I'd love to know more about the gold book, too!

    It’s so difficult to choose just one “significant” thing because so many things hold particular meaning.
    I have, framed and hanging on my wall, a Lord’s Prayer, carved by hand out of wood by a great-great-great-great cousin as a gift for his mother . . . three were made; this is the only one left. So, significant to our family certainly.
    But I have a lovely little clay lion, made by one of my children when they were in kindergarten . . . it doesn’t look like a lion, but I treasure it for the joy that Little One had in creating it for me . . . so, also significant.
    I guess life gives us much that can become significant . . . .

    “Hidden Treasures” sounds quite intriguing; I’m looking forward to reading it . . . .

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  2. Oh, I am in tears. Those are such perfect choices. Thank you, dear Joan.

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    1. You're so right, Joan! It doesn't matter what the object looks like... it matters what it means to you. Your story is lovely. Thank you for sharing it.

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  3. Most significant. The first thing that pops into mind is the ornament my brother and sister-in-law used to tell me that my niece was on the way. I've also gotten some pretty special signed books over the years that mean a lot to me.

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    1. that's so sweet Mark! and signed books, always gems...

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    2. That is such a sweet idea, Mark! I can see why you treasure that…

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    3. Oooh, Mark, your comment reminded me of a book I got signed by Ed McBain shortly before he died. I asked him to sign it, "To golden days and purple nights," a toast often spoken by one of his characters. I cherish it.

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  4. Jane, I love antiques, too, because of the stories they tell, especially the ones passed down from my parents and my husband's parents. For my favorite piece, I have to pick the drop-leaf table from my mother. It's beautiful, but more importantly, it meant so much to my mother. My mother lost her father when she was twelve, and she and her mother didn't have a lot. It was hard times indeed for them until my mother went to teacher's college and started teaching third grade. But, before things got better for them, life was tough. Of course, they had each other, and they were very close. Then, there was a fire in the house where they lived. All was lost except for one piece of furniture, which was sitting on the screened-in porch. It was the drop-leaf table that I now have in my foyer. Every time I pass it I feel the love between my mother and her mother and between my mother and me. My maternal grandmother (in fact all of my grandparents) died before I was born, but I have this one connection that links me to her and to my dear mother, who passed away 26 years ago. I expect this piece of furniture, this memory holder, to go to my daughter and then her daughter. Five generations. I like that.

    I can't believe I haven't read your Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries. I know I'd love them. I will be putting those on my list of series with which to catch up.

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    1. what a story kathy, fires are so devastating. I bet all the folks on the west coast who lost their homes this year would have similar stories...

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    2. Oh, you always have such touchingly poignant stories. And that table is a book in itself!

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    3. Isn't it amazing the way life works out? Why was the table (and only the table) on the porch?

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    4. P.S. Thanks so much, Kathy, for giving Josie a whirl! I hope you enjoy spending time with her.

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  5. The objects I hold near and dear all came from family. Mom gave me a moonstone and amethyst necklace with a fun story behind it. An ex-boyfriend flew the hump during WW2 and bought it in Burma. He sent it to her right after she married Dad. She wrote him her news and he was miffed because he thought they had an understanding. Mom was more than miffed because it was news to her and he had always played the field even when they had dated back home. She was going to return his gift but he told her to consider it a wedding present. I swear she was still indignant when she gave me the necklace and told the tale four or five years ago. I've a cedar chest my grandparents owned that was big enough for my cousin and I to sit on and play double solitaire. A Bakelite electric clock my aunt gave my grandparents to celebrate electricity coming to their part of Texas.
    My favorite Christmas ornament is a paper angel tree topper my son made in elementary school. He painted the robe to look like camouflage--green and brown splotches. I love that camo angel!

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    1. Love your choice of objects Pat--and the story about your mother's indignation!

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    2. That is quite the war story! what is flew the hump? I have never heard that!

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    4. There was a route Allied pilots flew from Indian to China. The Hump was the eastern end of the Himalayas.

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    5. Those are all wonderful stories! My favorite is the camo angel!

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    6. Oh! I have never heard that before! Thank you.

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  6. Congratulations on the new book, Jane. Like Kathy, I'm not sure how I missed this series, because I do love antiques with stories. I have a camelback trunk almost exactly like the one pictured here. It came down from my grandmother, but I have no idea who it belonged to in the family. Maybe my great-grandmother. Today it holds old quilt tops and blocks my great-grandmother made, and a couple of quilts I made from those blocks for my mother and aunt. I'm the only one left of them all, so the quilts came back to me. Those, and the quilts I have made for myself, would probably be the things I'd most want to keep.

    But there's another antique that has come down through the family from my great-great-grandfather's time that holds special significance for me. It's a lovely 19th century candlestick, meant to be one of a tall pair for a formal dining table. Family lore has it that it was a gift to my great-great-grandfather from his neighbor, when the family moved from England to America. According to family lore, the neighbor was Charles Dickens. My grandmother once wrote a Dickens museum (not sure which) to ask about it, and they sent her back a photo of an identical candlestick which--being only a singleton--Dickens had made into a lamp.

    I haven't done the genealogy to nail the whole story down but, Dickens has always been a big deal in my family. Last night I watched the delightful new film "The Personal History of David Copperfield." There is a scene towards the end where David, who was always a stand-in for Dickens himself, walks into his house in Kent (where my family comes from) to write. In that moment the film's David and the real Dickens, and my family's legend all sort of layered on top of one another in my mind, and I almost expected to see a tall bronze candlestick with a blue glass shaft standing on his desk, ready to light his way.

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    1. "The Personal History of David Copperfield" is huge fun, by the way, with excellent acting, a fun script, and an exuberant spirit that has started my new year off on a high note. It's not traditional Dickens, so if that's what you long for, this isn't your film. It is, however, a wonderful exploration of how a writer draws on the people he meets and the experiences he has to weave his own special magic. Dev Patel is brilliant. I loved it.

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    2. Gigi, I bet those quilts are amazing. And thanks for the movie recommendation

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    3. Oh my gosh, that is the best story ever! Fascinating! Jane is going to snap that write up unless you write it first :-)
      Last week on first chapter fun, we read the first of A Christmas Carol, and it reminded me what a fantastic writer he was. I mean – – well, will have to discuss it. Brilliant.

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    4. What an incredible story about Dickens, Gigi! I love quilts, too. It's a real talent to be able to craft them so they communicate stories.

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    5. Thank you, Jane. "Incredible" is the main reason I'd like to take the time to do the family research and figure out if it really happened that way. As for the quilts, I embroider the stories on the back, and work a little symbolism into the quilting and the color choices, so there are more than just the three basic layers when you really start to look at them. Most people don't go that deep, but I know the story is there.

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  7. That picture is certainly a treasure, Jane. I have beautiful (and functional) quilts my mother made. One is a quilt top her mother sewed that my mom and her quilt group quilted and signed. I have the compact two-volume OED (with the tiny print and magnifying glass in a drawer) my father gave me. My grandfather's upholstered rocker here in my office, perfect to sit in with pen and paper for a brainstorming session. A turquoise ring my sons gave me after my divorce. And more, but I'll stop there. The common thread is family, of course.

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    1. Lovely Edith, and how nice to have a special brainstorming chair! I'm envious

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    2. Yes, and I bet you have some celestial help in the chair!

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    3. How lovely the quilt is signed. So special. Josie's best friend has a thinking room. A tiny room, that's hers alone. I love that idea--sort of like your brainstorming chair.

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  8. Jane, welcome back to Jungle Reds. I do enjoy reading your Josie Prescott series and I like it that I learn something new about antiques with each of your books.

    Unfortunately. I don't have very many items passed down from my parents. No antique furniture or pieces of art.

    My mom passed away suddenly in 2003 from a brain aneurysm at the age of 66. She was a talented seamstress who had made all my custom-made business suits for me during the 1980s and 1990s. She could create any piece of clothing I wanted based on a magazine photo. Although I can no longer fit into most of the pieces she made (i.e. 25 years have gone by & I am 30 pounds ago too heavy), I still keep these precious items in my closet for sentimental reasons.

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    1. I forgot to mention above that the mysteries of the oldest known book and its illustrations also fascinate me, and I would love to know more.

      NOTE: I am NOT eligible for the HIDDEN TREASURE drawing since I live in Canada, but will look for this latest Josie Prescott book at my local library.

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    2. I'm sorry for the early loss of your mom Grace. And I would have a very hard time throwing out those handmade suits..

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    3. Thanks, Lucy. I can still wear 2 of the suit jackets made in the late 1990s/early 2000s and I do so on special occasions.

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    4. Grace: I have a few pieces of clothing hanging in my closet that are not yet back in style but are too good quality to get rid of. If I wait long enough, I'm sure I'll be wearing them again one day. Mind you, they are waist-coats, not trousers with waistbands!

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    5. What absolute treasures! And of course you’re not going to get rid of them… They are art and love.

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    6. AMANDA AND HANK, Yes, I am keeping them since they were made by love, and unique pieces of clothing that I could not buy anywhere. I have dropped 2 dress sizes since 2016 due to injury and illness so I could probably fit into some more pieces, but I have not tried because pandemic lockdown...when/where would I wear them?

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    7. Grace, what an astonishing talent to be able to make a suit from a photo. Wow. Every time you look at them, I bet you get to think of your mom. So special.

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    8. HANK, so far the Zoom calls I have been on have had participants dress pretty casually.
      But I do get what you are suggesting...

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  9. Congratulations on the new book.

    I have a solid, heavy sterling silver spoon from my great grandmother. She was Irish and married my great-grandfather, a black man, and her family disowned her. Whenever I visited, we would sit and drink tea which she stirred with this spoon and eat Social Tea cookies. When she passed, that spoon was given to me.

    Don't enter me, as I've already read the book and enjoyed it.

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    1. What a lovely memory and memento, Dru.

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    2. That's the kind of family keepsake I love, dru: practical and used every day. really nice.

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    3. That is so perfect. Perfect perfect perfect. Almost magical.

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    4. Thank you, Dru. I love sterling silver, and have written about several pieces over the years. The memory is lovely.

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  10. Welcome Jane and thanks for the entertaining Saturday post. Probably my most treasured object would be a pair of watercolor paintings of Raggedy Ann and Andy that hang in our bathroom. They were painted by my grandmother, Lucille Burdette, not long before she died in her early sixties of a heart attack. I'm sure they're not worth much, except to me!

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    1. So much history in those! So very sweet… and she must be so pleased at the choice of your pen name, and smiling down on you.

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    2. Oh, Lucy, that's so touching. As an aside, I love Raggedy Ann and Andy!

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  11. Welcome Jane. HIDDEN TREASURE sounds fascinating. Kudos.

    Special things in my house? Some qualify as antiques and some not. There is the little tool box my youngest made in metal shop. I still use it. Yesterday I looked at my bedside table, not nearly big enough and with only one drawer, but my grandmother bought it at an auction for maybe a dollar, when I was a little girl. Same with the secretary that she bought for $3 so my grandfather could have a desk in his barber shop. There is the Polydor music box that plays metal disks. My grandparents brought it from Germany in the late 1800s, and it was a mainstay of family entertainment per my father. And that aluminum measuring cup, the one with a hole in it, that lives in the flour canister. I bought it in 1959.

    And my stethoscope, a Littman, just like you see hanging around the necks of nurses everywhere. I've had it since day one of nursing school, replaces the hoses a couple of times. With it I can hear a wheeze at fifty paces! I wonder who will want it?

    I've given almost all my good jewelry to my daughter and granddaughter. It gives me pleasure to know they wear it. Although that 3 carat diamond ring, art deco estate jewelry, the one my aunt's partner left me, is often missed. Until I see it on Melinda's pretty hands.

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    1. When I was a little girl reading my way through the Sue Barton: Nurse story series, I would have loved to be given your stethoscope, Ann. Any grand-children of the right age in your family?

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    2. Sue Barton! Yes, I read those too! And I have to tell you, what they taught me was that I was not brave enough to be a nurse.

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    3. And seeing that jewelry on Melinda‘s hands – – the key of giving something away is: will it make the other person happier than it makes you? And that is always a good decision.

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    4. No grandchildren going into nursing, at least not yet. But we shall see. I’m not ready to part with it yet.

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    5. I would have loved my mom's wedding band, but when she died, my daughter was getting married the very next month... so it is now Kayti's, and I think of my mom every time I see it on my daughter's hand.

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    6. That your daughter wears her grandmother's wedding band is so touching.

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    7. Debs, I had saved my father's wedding band. His name was Allan - the same name as my older son. When my Allan was getting married two years ago, I offered him the ring to melt down and incorporate in their rings. He later asked if I would mind if he just wore it, since it fit him perfectly (and wasn't engraved). I said nothing would make me happier!

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  12. Welcome, Jane! A new Josie Prescott book is always reason to celebrate. I'm a big fan of old things... like the rocking chair I'm sitting beside right now. Jerry rescued it from a neighbor's garbage - it was painted gloppy white and had a broken rocker. The neighbor said it had belonged to her grandmother. We took a furniture refinishing course at our local high school, stripped it, refinished it, and with the instructor's help we repaired the rocker. Interesting, figuring out where to buy a piece of maple that from which to fashion a new rocker. It's not very comfortable but it's got beautiful lines and I can't imagine my house without it. And now I know better than to ever even imagine that I can refinish furniture. Good to know one's limitations.

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    1. That’s a great story, Hallie! You got a chair and some wisdom.

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    2. No joke about refinishing furniture. I come from a long line of cabinet makers. I know how hard it is to hang a door, whether it's new or a replacement.

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  13. Congratulations on your new release! I like reading about antiques.

    I have a 19th c. Cape Cod pine dresser in the kitchen, which I cleaned up with steel wool and a wax finish. The handles are carved walnut, which some thrifty Yankee used to pretty up the piece. I use it for placemats and napkins, batteries, and candles.

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  14. I'll have to be watching for these books. My dad got interested in antiques, especially carnival glass, when I was a kid, so by extension sill did I. I enjoy the story behind old things. I don't know that I have anything especially old or valuable, beyond dad's glass collection, but something with value to me is the nice Mickey Mouse watch I got when I was around 5 and learning to tell time off a face clock. That was the only watch I'd ever owned. It finally quit working this year and couldn't be fixed so I had to get a new watch. I was so disappointed. My new one is nice but not the same.

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    1. What is carnival glass? And you could still wear the Mickey Mouse watch, just as jewelry!

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    2. It's glass with an iridescent shine applied and different patterns, shapes, and colors. Red, blue, green, purple, marigold, white, vases, pitchers, plates, bowls, animals, flowers, geometric designs... There are so many varieties and even within those there's variations in color,sharpness of the mold, some are reshaped into a whimsey design. It's really neat to look at.

      Yes, I definitely kept the old watch and will probably still w wear it from time to time.

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    3. I've written about carnival glass in a few of the Josie books! Collectors tend to focus on specific objects--they collect pink vases, for example. I think it's all pretty!

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    4. Oh! More new info. I will look this right up…thank you !

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    5. Alicia, my sister has some cool carnival glass that's come down to her in the family, and I have a nifty deviled egg plate I found for a song in a local antique mall. It's beautiful stuff. I'll bet your dad's collection is a treasure.

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  15. I have a number of things that are significant to me, but the portrait of my great-aunt Josephine is the one I would pick. She was from a small town in PA and married a man who became a banker at Chase Manhatten, and they lived a rather affluent life. They were never able to have children, but she was very fond of my father and his sisters. When my father was in his 20's he was diagnosed with TB (this was in the 1920's) and needed treatment. Aunt Jo and her husband paid for him to be in a sanitarium in NY for almost 5 years, and for his eventual lung removal surgery that was the "cure" at the time. He was able to live to age 73 and marry and have 3 children, at a time when no one was sure that he would live past 40. Without Aunt Jo's financial help and encouragement, I would not be here. So her portrait is in our living room, and will always have a place in my home.

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    1. Oh, incredible. A portrait to generosity and love.

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    2. What a wonderful story of hope and devotion.

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  16. Welcome, Jane! And Happy New Year!

    I'm so intrigued by that gold book. Knowing how soft gold is, I suspect it's incredibly fragile, and yet it's survived this long. Amazing. And I started leaking from the eyes a little about your wedding photo. So very precious, much more so than gold.

    We put up a Christmas tree this year for the first time in a long while, since we usually travel over the holiday. Opening the ornament boxes and seeing the special pieces I always put on the tree first made me sorry I'd left it so long. My now-50-year old daughter's first ornaments include one of her red satin booties that I stuffed. Each of my other children, and my grandson, also have their own special little bobs and bits, all bringing a wave of loving holiday memories. That was so important this year.

    Also, we were given some art for wedding gifts, 39 years ago. One pair are artist's proofs from John Ruthven, a very dear family friend who just died a few months ago. The honor of these gifts far exceeds their monetary value.

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    1. Oh, what absolute treasures! and yes, opening the ornament box is such a memory wonderland.

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    2. Thank you, Karen. I collect Christmas ornaments. Joe and I buy one on each of our trips as a souvenir. Each one comes with a set of special memories.

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  17. Congratulations on the new book, Jane. Add me to the list of JRW followers who has somehow missed this series until now!

    I don't come from the kind of family who had things to pass down, so I don't have any treasured antiques. That probably affected my mindset about "things," because I've always said I didn't want to own anything too nice to use, and have made it a point to use all the nice serving pieces, crystal, etc., that I own, even if that means occasionally something breaks. I had to really think a moment to come up with any treasured items. Among those that did come to mind are an afghan made for me by my mother after she retired, about 35 years ago; a quilt made by my ex-sister-in-law at my son's birth; and some beautiful Christmas ornaments that were a wedding present from my bridesmaid and her husband.

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    1. I think that is so powerful, I really do. I think it is silly to have beautiful things that you don’t use. What is the point of that? I so agree!

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    2. Yes, I agree, too, Hank. I use my beautiful things. My mom always said never to cry about anything that can be replaced with money, which gave me a good attitude toward "things."

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  18. I haven't read your books, Jane, but one of the things I love about this blog is the new authors I get introduced to -- my TBR pile grows and grows. I don't have anything that qualifies as an antique but I do have the harvest table that belonged to my mother and that was the center of family dinners when I was growing up. It's now one of two tables in my dining room (it's a big room) and is still the center of family dinners. I'm looking forward to having those dinners again someday! The only other meaningful item I can think of is a letter my father wrote to me when I was a pre-teen. He was overseas on an extended work assignment and he wrote a couple of letters to me; this particular one was about growing up. He died suddenly a couple of years later and I'm so glad that I'd tucked the letter away so I still have it many years later.

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    1. Letters are such a proof of life, aren’t they? Of a real person with real thoughts and dreams and emotions. You are so wise!

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    2. I love letters, and wish more people still sent them. I like nice stationary, too.

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  19. Count me among the new-to-your-series readers, Jane. Congrats on the new book.

    My morning mind is playing with the difference between 'old things' and 'antiques' -- they conjure up quite different images in my mind. Old things are just that -- things to use or display or maybe even wear -- that are from 'back then'; while antiques conjure images of spindly-legged chairs with grand-ma shrieking "Don't sit on that!". I'm not sure if that's a real memory...but it likely explains why I'm happy to have a few old things that have been passed down to me and that I use -- a few china plates from my great-grandmother; my mother's sterling silver cake tester that, I'm told, dates back to 1800-something; and a couple of green-glass shot glasses that always recall memories of my dad using them. And, ahem, I use them quite often.

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    1. And isn’t it wonderful, Amanda, how you think of him when you use them? That’s great! And what is a cake tester?

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    2. AMANDA, shot glasses definitely need to be used frequently, LOL!

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    3. Grace: Indeed they do!

      Hank: Does the equivalent of a toothpick -- for sticking into the cake to see if it's cooked in the middle, before pulling it out of the oven. Doesn't always work, as the last time I made Mary Berry's Fruit Tea Loaf, the tester came out clean, but the loaf was nonetheless uncooked in its middle. Oh well; we ate it anyway.

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    4. Welcome to the series, Amanda! I can almost hear your grandmother's shriek! Funny.

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    5. That is such a funny story, Amanda! Even the name of what you were baking is adorable.

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  20. Easily my favorite family heirloom is a letter written in 1861 to my great, great grandfather, John Pershing, from a young Union soldier, Daniel Stoneher, fighting in the Civil War. Being a young man, Daniel is mostly interested in two things, the food and the fighting.

    About the food he says: "We get crackers and bacon and coffee and sugar and we get potatoes and rice and beef every other day. It don't cost very much but it is the right kind of grub, it is very holesome (sic)food and we are getting as fat as bucks on it."

    About the fighting, here's just a few lines from a full page of description: "So we all arrived at the scene of action and the canon (sic) commenced to blare away and we all began to open fire. The roaring of the canon and the firing of our rifles made a tremendous noise."

    Someday I am going to transcribe all four pages of Daniel's letter!

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    1. Oh yes, you definitely should! Absolutely! And I can just hear that Ken Burns music :-)

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    2. Would your John Pershing be General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing? (Yes, I'm from Missouri. Yes, I went to Pershing Elementary School.)

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    3. YOU WIN, Amy! YAY!!! To get your copy of Hidden Treasures, email me your address! to Hryan at whdh.com. ! YAY! xx

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  21. Jane, I am so happy you were able to rescue such a sweet photo from a flood. After losing everything I owned in fires, right 2 fires, I don't really have anything very precious left. I learned that "things" are just "stuff" that really doesn't matter. So what is valuable to me now is the collection of photos I have. One of the things that burned up and that I really miss is a rocking chair. It wasn't old but I had seen it in a furniture store and fell in love with it. My first husband's grandfather gave it to me for Christmas one year. I still remember the store tag that said "a thing of beauty is a joy forever."

    Looking forward to reading your book.

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    1. Nothing as powerful as photos, right? xxx

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    2. That is true, Hank. I do not have many photos from my childhood. My dad threw out so many things when he moved to a retirement home in 2016. He is NOT a sentimental person at all, and did not ask if I wanted any keepsakes. That being said, I hope he did keep the numerous family photo albums. He was quite a prolific photographer when I was young but pretty must stopped taking photos after I left home at 19.

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    3. Judi, so sorry to learn that you lost most of possessions during 2 fires. You are right that most "stuff" we have/keep is expendable and that what is more important is that you are still here.

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    4. That is so true, Grace! I lost a bracelet once, and I was sad, because it meant so much to me. But then I decided it wasn't "my bracelet" anymore now that it was gone. It was just some metal.

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    5. This is an important theme, I think. The objects remind us of people or events or love. And we have our memories whether we have the objects or not.

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  22. Welcome, Jane. Your novel sounds captivating and fascinating. The most precious things are my late father's sculptures. His hobby was sculpting out of soapstone and he would give them as gifts. These definitely are unique and real treasures. I have a few of them and I gave a full body one (his one and only) to my son who has it in his home. He was generous with his gifts to nieces, and business associates. I wonder what became of them.

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    1. SO fascinating to think about their journeys...As Jane says: if objects could talk!

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    2. I suspect those beautiful objects are cherished by their current owners.

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  23. When I think of treasures I realize that I don't have anything extraordinary but photo albums and old photos of my parents and family when we were very young, but I do wonder when I am gone who will enjoy them and have an interest in them and realize their significance. That is what matters in the end and it should be passed on to those who are appreciative. Your book sounds incredibly interesting. Best wishes.

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    1. You know, I have photographs from my mom, and I have no idea who in people in them are! And it is staggering to believe that there is not one person alive who could tell me.

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  24. When I think of the scenario of an emergency and I have only a minute to grab things as I dash out the door, I hit a brick wall. How to choose? (Other than people and pets, of course.)

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    1. Thank you! I agree that choosing something in an emergency would be so hard.

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    2. Yes, that question is so impossible, I agree!

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  25. Oh my! I see so many things! But 2 come to mind. Borh crafted by my Grandfather,no longer with us. A tree in a frame made of old costume jewelry and the other a wooden musical instrument also crafted by the same Grandfather that I have on display.

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    1. Your grandfather must have been so talented!

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    2. A frame made of old costume jewelry! That is so interesting…

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  26. Jane, it seems I'm behind in my reading--I've let Josie fall through the cracks--need to catch up! I love antiques, have a very few. The one object that means a great deal to me is a small green carnival glass bowl (Hank, carnival glass is iridescent, green is a common color). It belonged to my great-grandmother Genoa Ann Kee Thompson, who died when my grandfather was about 6 years old. I cherish it because my grandparents named my mother after her and because it turns out that my mother bore an uncanny resemblance to the grandmother she never knew. I keep the last antique red rose of the year in it.

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  27. What is BRIDGERTON?
    Nevermind, I looked it up. No Netflix here, so I am out of luck!

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    1. It’s great. Hope you can get it eventually

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    2. The streaming services available in Canada are quite limited compared to the US. No HBO MAX, Hulu etc. that US commenters often mention. Even if I restarted my Netflix, we don't get the same programs, due to licensing issues here. Same with my Amazon Prime (Canada) account, although I did enjoy watching KNIVES OUT which was recommended by the Reds during the spring lockdown.

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    3. I'm a huge Regency fan. (The period of British history from roughly 1807 to 1820.) Think Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.

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    4. It’s a fascinating show! Grace, I’m sure it will arrive there eventually…

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    5. I'll swap you my Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ for some universal publicly-funded healthcare, Grace...

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    6. Julia, if it was only so easy to do so, I would send the Reds some universal, publicly-funded healthcare!

      You do realize that under our system, prescription drugs, vision and dental care are NOT covered, right? That is why we need secondaru coverage that we either pay ourselves or in my case, is covered by my former employer as a pensioner.


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  28. Hank, I think yesterday’s blog brought lots of people out of hiding!

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    1. Agreed, Ann. It's wonderful to see so many new-to-me commenters here today!

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    2. I so agree! I was thinking that’s the same thing, and I am so extraordinarily pleased by that! xxx

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  29. Jane, congrats on the new book! I loved reading about the gold book, too--how amazing!

    My mother was not a "saver" so the only proper antiques here are the things that come from my husband's side of the family, his grandmother's sewing machine, some gilded mirrors, a little washstand that I've refinished with chalk paint. But I have lots of things that are connected to my parents, like the little silver coffee spoons that I use every day that my mom brought back from a trip to Hong Kong. And I have little souvenirs or talismans from almost every novel I've written. All stuff that means something to me but will not to anyone else...

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    1. Thank you, Deborah. I agree... the issue really isn't the age of the object, but it's meaning to the owner.

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    2. Yes, all about memories ! I have my grandmothers watch, it is gorgeous and jeweled with amethyst and rubies and diamonds, and is rose gold. It has not worked forever, but it is… Gorgeous. she taught me to type, and doing it, and crochet. So… All in a little piece of jewelry.

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  30. Happy book birthday - what an intriguing topic. As a fellow victim of a flood, I am so glad you were able to salvage your photo. I always tell people that flood is the cruelest way to lose possessions because you lose them twice. First in the initial event, then when the water damage proved terminal.

    My most cherished possession is a silly one. It's my mother's potato peeler. She bought it as a new bride in 1941. I have it and every time I use it I think of my parents.

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    1. Kait, I have my mother's soup ladle, and feel the same way about it!

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    2. That is so sweet, Kait. And so true. Xx

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  31. Why have I not seen, like others, any of your books while scanning my bookstore aisles? I just Googled you, I need to remedy this soon. I love old things, I live with old things. Old things have so much beauty, stories, lives, memories. To chose single object, out of my home, that is hard.

    I've tried to add my comment a couple times now, but I keep getting too wordy. I have stuff that I would be upset to lose and have a semi-system for fire season, of what goes into my car after the essentials are packed. My great-aunts' paintings and jewelry. Family pictures, older books - these items all end up in my car but the one most precious item, to me, is already gone. My grandmother's rings were lost during my previous move. So now, I grab my great-grandmother's finished quilts, the recipe book/meal planner my grandmother got during her wedding shower.

    I have an old truck that my grandmother used when she went to teachers college in the early 1920s. It has a flat top so it's a great table. If I could move it after filling it, it would be what goes into my car during fire season. But chose one item? Today, at this moment, that is an impossibility for me right now.

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    1. Thank you, Deana, for checking me (and Josie) out! I'm so sorry you have to endure the stress of fire season.

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    2. Oh, it is so complicated, and I agree with Jane, as always, :-), so stressful for you . Xxx

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  32. I have many family pieces...I’m lucky in that sense... my great great grandparent’s wedding silver, my grandmother’s engagement pearls, lots of Victorian furniture. The piece I think I treasure the most is a chair, now in tatters, that my parents bought with money given to them as wedding gifts that has a label on the bottom that says “Custom made for Mr. & Mrs. George Ivory”. The chair is from the late 50s and I remember reading in it as a little girl. Someday I hope to have it reupholstered and read in it again.

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    1. Oh, I love favorite chairs. Mine is a wing chair.

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  33. Hopping on late because I spent the morning (fitting for the topic) helping a young friend move the last of her things from Old Apartment to New Condo. Because she's moving in with a roommate, she has several things that won't fit into the new place, but that she wants to keep so... into my barn they go. I swear, if my bother-in-law/kids/friends don't clear their things out of there, eventually I'm going to have enough stored to open my own junk and antiques shop!

    My most precious? I'm going to echo Kait and say my grandmother's German steel knife. Which was HER mother's before her, and possibly her grandmother's as well. I use it every day, and always think of the women in my family as I do so.

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    1. Oh, Julie, a family heirloom knife is a treasure. The blade hones so beautifully, and keeps its edge far longer than newer ones.

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    2. I just realized I got your name wrong... forgive me! Julia, of course!

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  34. My most treasured object is a framed photograph of my dad and his friends taken when he was 18 years old. He passed away 3 years ago at the age of 92. We were very close and that photo was the only thing of his I wanted. My son looks just like him,so that makes it even more special.

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  35. What is it about the photo that's so special to you, Kathy? His expression? How he interacted with his friends? The occasion it marked?

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  36. Hi, Jane! Congrats on your newest release! We signed years ago at the Poisoned Pen and I became a huge fan! Delighted to see you here. My grandmother's Italian Savonorola antique hall chair is my favorite "thing". It's back and arms are carved wooden lions - scared me to death as a kid but now I love it. And, yes, I've binged Bridgerton. Such beautiful...everything.

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    1. Yes, we all want dresses like that. And FEATHERS. Totally want a feather hat thing.

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  37. The chair sounds magnificent. Lions... I wonder why the designer picked that motif. As to feathers... I have a fluffy red boa thing...

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  38. Thank you all for spending time with me today. It's been a pleasure reading your stories. I wish you all a very, very happy new year!

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    1. You are so fabulous, Jane! Thank you for an amazing day – – and congratulations on your wild success !

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