"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Collecting: Antique Tortoiseshell

 While helping David York and Richard Metzler arrange their portraiture to create a gallery wall, I took the opportunity to photograph the couple's curated collection of antique tortoiseshell.

Prized for its organic patterns and rich, polished palette of mottled gold, black and brown, tortoise shell (originating from the Hawksbill Sea Turtle) became popular in the Victorian era and was used to create cigar boxes, snuff boxes, tea caddies, jewelry cases and personal accessories.

Although, the sea turtle was added to the endangered species list in 1973, items dating from the 18th and early 19th century can be legally purchased through antique dealers who possess proof of origin.

I love the way the collection is grouped together and displayed in combination with vintage books -which create a sense of dimension and height. 

A stylish, Blanc de Chine lamp softly illuminates the arrangement and boasts a personal history of it's own...

Featuring a seated, Chinese porcelain warrior on a pedestal base, the lamp was purchased at auction from the estate of late, Hollywood legend, Mary Pickford. Queen of silent films, Mary was also the first actress to win an Academy Award in a 'talking picture'. Her life off-screen was equally dramatic. If only this lamp could talk as well!

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