Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques… and home of pretty shiny things!

I don’t consider myself to be a materialistic person, nor do I have expensive tastes. That is probably just as well as, despite a “higher” education, I have not found a pot of gold at the end of the “user pays” rainbow; in fact, it was more a cesspit of student debt that I am still paying back in my thirties! But I digress….Carters

What has led me to despair at my own poverty was playing with a new electronic resource – Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques.  Amongst the colourful online pages of antiques and collectables are whole sections devoted to antique jewellery. What stories these pieces could tell! How did a “Georgian enamel and seed pearl mourning ring from the late 18th century” ever make it to Sotheby’s Australia? Why was an “Art Deco 18ct white gold necklace with a centrally oval solid white opal” sold at auction rather than being placed by some handsome Mr Darcy type of a man around my neck? Could it be the $AUD 7,000 that it sold for?

Most of my possessions are old and second-hand, so maybe if I look through this site I may spot something worth selling? Something that I could sell so I could get just one glittering jewel around my neck or on my finger? It could work for me or you, considering Carter’s is an Australian product with plenty of New Zealand content. Time to sort through dusty boxes and see if you can trade up to pretty shiny things!

You can use this online resource and another like minded one, Price it! through the library catalogue and at the Source using your library card number and PIN. Enjoy your fossicking!

But I need it! Crafts and collecting

Are you a hoarder, a collector, someone who just can’t bear to part with things? Maybe you feel you must be a keeper of the knowledge of your life, community or every piece of paper you ever owned, including receipts. As a child, did you not want to eat because you felt the food would be sad and feel pain as you chewed? Are you a compulsive shopper, buying gifts for people, but once your purchases are home, you can’t part with them? Then you will find kindred spirits in Stuff – compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things. This riveting book sheds light into the crevices and dark tunnels in the homes of America biggest hoarders. And yes, apparently there is a reality show!

CoverI found it a fascinating read, even bored my fellow library lunchers with it in the staff room. In it are people whose lives are limited and crippled by a need to collect and an inability to throw away. There are often links strangely to perfectionism, ADHD and giftedness and it had me thinking about the more sane end of the spectrum –  the collectors amongst us.

I for one have always collected. Trade Me has been my recent undoing, my sparkly brooch collection is impressive, as are my necklaces and the group of very useful old Temuka pottery in my kitchen. I’ve just married a retro collector who also has ‘throwing away’ issues, so lord help us!

Whether it is rare bone china tea sets, GI Joe comics or making your own retro lamps , it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t collect stuff. Some do it for long-term rewards, hoping that in their dotage they can sell their collection and live off the profits. Others may love the feel of the objects in their hands, or the memories they evoke. But for whatever reason, it’s a trend that’s big and getting bigger.

The popularity of Antiques Roadshow and the ability to hunt down maker’s marks and the histories of objects on the internet as well as trade amongst others with ‘The Sickness’, all makes it easier and more exciting than ever before.

The libraries stock many books on objects, furniture, books, stamps and many other things people collect. Price It! is a searchable database is constantly updated and contains more than 20 million images and prices received on treasures people collect, buy and trade.

Just ensure the things you collect don’t take over, so you have to engineer complex tunnels through your possessions to get from one end of your house to another, as the reclusive and obsessive Collyer Brothers did in 1930s New York, one of whom was crushed to death by the ceiling high piles cramming their four storey mansion.

‘Stuff’ makes you think about your own attachment to ‘things’, our materialistic world and ways to collect but not obsess. Now, back to my Trade Me watch list…

How to shop smarter New Zealand!

Search our catalogue for books on vintage clothing
Search our catalogue for books on vintage clothing

I remember as a kid being dreadfully ashamed that my mother bought second-hand clothes.  She loved nothing better than a good scramble through other peoples discarded goods and would pounce gleefully on a “perfectly good skirt”  that someone, “obviously well-off”  had chucked, and would bring it home triumphantly. When I became a hard-up student I began to appreciate her eye for a bargain, and so my love affair with everything second-hand began.

Time passes and so do trends.  Secondhand is now referred to as ‘Retro’ or ‘Vintage’.  We no longer slink into secondhand shops under the cover of darkness, and celebrities proudly proclaim that the beaded Dior dress they are wearing is indeed – Vintage.

The Library of course, being at the forefront of all new trends, has a multitude of books on all things vintage, retro and recycled. 

Our webpages also have some really useful guides on this subject.

Tempting crafty books

Being of a crafty bent I feel that I am very lucky to be the Librarian who gets to buy the art and craft books for the library.  With  Christmas looming on the horizon, publishers are turning out some wonderful looking books to tempt us into a creative frenzy.  I thought I would share with you some of the titles that we have recently ordered for the library that look particularly tempting.

The complete book of retro crafts :Collecting, displaying and making crafts of the past  by Suzie Millions.

Forty retro-inspired projects run the gamut from glitter frames and matchbox purses to bottlecap men and teacup ladies, plus lovable plastic flower pixies; and the sparkling sputnik and its desk-top compadre, the beauty orb, amongst exciting others.

How could you possibly resist such a wonderful trip down memory lane?

 Yarn bombing :The art of crochet and knit graffiti  by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain was another title that caught my eye.

Yarn bombing ” n. The surreptitious or unauthorized placement of knitted objects on statues, posts, and other public structures’, sounds great fun, and as the Arts Festival here in Christchurch had great examples of crochet flowers in Cathedral square, we can perhaps look forward to seeing  more of these colourful additions to our bland city scape? Check out this blog to see what they got up to.  Also check ou the Yarnbombing blog to see what is happening in other parts of the world.

 Patchwork style :34 simple projects for a cozy and colorful life  by Suzuko Koseki, is definately on my list.  I am about to embark on a quilting course at Primrose’s and I think I will need all the help I can get; the book description has me imagining all types of creative and beautifully made items coming out of my craft room.

The projects’ minimalist style, attention to detail, and simple aesthetic speak to our desire to create a warm and authentic life at home. Each project is presented through stunning photographs that exemplify the creative, calming, and enriching qualities of the craft.

Unfortunately my sewing prowess doesn’t usually engender calmness, more like rage and frustration, so I definitely need this book!


Lastly I wanted to mention Felting for baby : 25 warm and woolly projects for the little ones in your life by Saori Yamazaki.    Who could resist these gorgeous little shoes or the blankets toys and clothes that are highlighted in this book.  It is also International day of Felt on October 3, so all the more reason to have a go at this fun craft.

The art of Shag

The works in Shag: The art of Josh Agle have a well-defined aesthetic.  It’s wood panelled interiors and martini glasses. It’s the tiki lounge.  It’s poodles.  It’s mods on scooters. The worlds that Agle creates are at once retro-kitschy whilst entirely modern and 21st century.  And he is full of mischief and surprises.  Just when you think you’re in for another party scene interior peopled with heavily eyelinered women and jauntily quiffed men…in comes a pink elephant with a bottle of Seagram’s and a cocktail shaker…wearing a fez.

It’s the presence of mythical creatures, man sized grasshoppers, yetis and even the rubella virus that keeps the lounge singers, beatniks, and spies in check. A cosmic balance of sorts.

Agle had every intention of being an illustrator, and you can see how “advertising friendly” his work is, but then his original works started to be snapped up by galleries and collectors.  Known as Shag (from joSH AGle) he’s now an industry, with fans able to purchase everything from prints to lunchboxes, calendars to zippos and everything in between.

Agle’s subject matter is very much of the same era as the television series Mad men and one can imagine those angst-laden advertising execs rubbing shoulders with Agle’s boldly coloured bouffant beauties. A new internet toy that lets you Mad Men Yourself has a little bit of the look of Agle’s look but sadly, no pink elephants bearing liquor. Enjoy!

Warming the cockles of frozen fashionista hearts

It’s a well-known fact that fashionistas love winter – more layers than a Sara Lee pastry mean more scope with exciting texture and colour combinations and luckily this month’s a) freezing and b) sees two gloriously fashionable books model-strutting to a bookshelf near you.

Forties fashion: from siren suits to the new look is one such and flicking through there are some terrific examples of that oh-so-retro-chic period. True, it was probably not that much fun to live through (at the height of rationing New Zealand women were allowed a measley two pairs of stockings per annum- gah!).  At the rate I go through mine I’d be bare legged by February. 

Fantastically illustrated there are pictures of Betty Grable-esque bikini pin-up posers, the military influence, V for Victory, buttons and aprons and Hawaiian prints.  For those interested in seeing something similar in the flesh (or should that be cloth?) The Airforce Museum has a free exhibition entitled Fashion at War: New Zealand style in World War 2.  For a taste of what’s on offer check out their gallery.

Like I give a frock : fashion forecasts and meaningless misguidance might have been designed specifically to appeal to moi.  Implied bad language, punning and pointed fashion-based bon mots.  Upon sighting this book on the shelf I was irresistably drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  The imaginary author “Michi” is sardonic, scathing and oh-so-sane (when did it become okay to wear a tracksuit to the supermarket?  Answer – it didn’t). Very sharp and very funny with whimsical, painted illustrations that are a delight to behold.  For those who can’t stand the tyranny of the reserve list some relief can be got from the website (which has fast become my new favourite thing) but do try and get your hands on the book which, with its pink fabric cover and little ribbon bookmark is a lovely thing in and of itself.