'Little zoos popping up everywhere…
It’s always the same :
Leopards on the left,
rhinos on the right,
monkeys in the middle...
sea lions in the center,
ferrets in the front…'
(John Cleese, 'Fierce Creatures', 1997)*
Ours Too!…We Have...
...'LIONS TO THE LEFT' :
Rare Pair Faience Polychrome Lions
Probably Luneville, France, c1800
Mirrored & whimsically painted in shades of black, gray and violets,
with black-lined yellow manes,
each face with cobalt blue eyes, showing teeth, and tongue picked out in reds,
the ears laid back and pierced;
resting on a rectangular sponged grassy plinths; each 18" long
'REINDEER TO THE RIGHT' :
Pair of George III Irish Silver Wine Coasters
Maker's Mark Rubbed, Dublin, 1782
The round upright galleries engraved with floral and foliate swags
centering ovals crested with a stag's head erased
'MONKEYS IN THE MIDDLE' :
Kangxi Blue and White Monkey Ewer
The seated monkey holding a blue ewer (the spout),
having a removable head forming the cover, a loop handle to the backside;
painted to the front with an upright tree issuing from roots surrounding three cash symbols
'FOXES IN THE FRONT' :
Staffordshire Creamware Fox Head Stirrup Cup
England, First Quarter 19th Century
The white glazed cup modeled as a fox head having straight-forward gaze and upright ears,
the "collar" as a silver-luster rim
'UNICORNS UPSTAIRS' :
Pair of George II / III Irish Silver Hook End Basting Spoons
John Dawson or James Douglas, Dublin, 1750 or 1770 (D in Pointed Shield)
Of quite heavy gauge silver, the long spoons having deep ovoid bowls with single drop heels,
the terminals over-turning in the mid-18th century Irish manner,
each engraved in with the crest of a Unicorn,
for the Irish and Scottish family of Colyear
'BIRDS AT THE BACK' :
George III Facet Cut Stem Wine
The funnel bowl engraved with polished and engraved roses and foliate sprays,
having a crested bird in flight on the reverse,
raised on a facet cut stem
George III Double Series Opaque Twist Stem,
The funnel bowl engraved with a daffodil amount forget-me-not foliage,
having a crested bird in flight on the reverse,
raised on a double series opaque twist stem with single knop
'BEARS AT THE BOTTOM' :
Scarce Staffordshire Pottery Stirrup Cup : Muzzled Bear
England, Early 19th Century
The white collared and muzzled bear's head, showing all teeth,
red tongue extended, having black edged red eyes and protruding ears and nose,
the rose muzzle extending from an orange rimmed rose collar
'WOLVES IN WINTER ONLY' :
George IV Armorial Silver Salver
William Stroud, London, 1821
Heavy gauge silver, the gadrooned rim centering the arms and motto of
Granville Leveson-Gower, the 1st Earl Granville
Arms : Quarterly 1st and 4th Barry of eight argent and gules a cross flory sable
(for Gower) 2nd and 3rd Azure three laurel leaves or (for Leveson)
Supporters : On either side a wolf argent collared and lined or;
the arms ensigned with an earl's coronet
Motto : Frangas non flectes (Thou may break me, but not bend me)
Provenance : How of Edinburgh
'EAGLES AT THE END' :
Fine Victorian Silver-Gilt Hanoverian Pattern Dessert Service for 12
Holland Aldwinckle & Slater, and George Adams, 1878-1895
Consisting of twelve each :
pistol-handled dessert knives; three-tine dessert forks; and rattail dessert spoons
Crested en suite with an eagle rising displayed beneath a baron’s coronet
for The Right Honourable The Baron Farquhar, later Earl Farquhar
'...AND A PARTRIDGE BY A PLUM TREE!' :
Dutch-Decorated Japanese Pear Form Porcelain Tankard
Edo Period, c1680-1700 / 'Quail & Millet' Pattern
In a European form, the underglaze blue over-painted in The Netherlands
in the Kakiemon manner with the quail and millet' pattern in overglaze enamels and gilt;
The 'quail and millet' pattern was first seen in China in the early 12th century.
The subject was later taken up by court painters in Japan, where, by the 17th century,
and continued as ‘The Partridge Pattern’ on the Continent & in England throughout the 18th century
'And now over here, this used to be the lion house...
but as it's no longer suitable for animals...
we're using it for middle management.'
(John Cleese,‘Fierce Creatures’, 1997)*
Oxford Dictionary defines 'treen' as 'made of a tree of or belonging to, obtained or made from a tree or trees'.
However this definition is a bit too broad.
When collectors (of such) refer to 'treen', they are speaking of
small carved or turned wooden items, made for specific everyday domestic or even farm use :
(definitely 'middle management' stuff!)
boxes, graters, spoons, dishes, knitting needles, salts, combs, pipes – the list is quite long!
Many of these same small items were also made as more expensive silver or brass – even gold.
However treen is made equally enticing by several factors :
I find in these antique treen wares warmth, humor, whimsy,
and a delightful provincial quirkiness - even in the most precise of carvings.
Additionally (for me) part of the charm of antique treen is
not only the great skill in execution and oft intricate carving...
...but that the pieces themselves retain the history of those who handled them -
the fingers that used them somehow still remaining with the objects.
Not so with pricey metals – those prints have been polished away – many times so.
Presented is a part of our treen collection - each individually linked.
May each one give you a smile.
A question is 'eruditely' disputed as to the existence - or not - of 'half a bee' :
'Half a bee, philosophically
Must, ipso facto, half not be
But half the bee has got to be
A vis-a-vis its entity, d'you see?
But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury?'
And the answer of course :
When he be...
Spoonin' with his Queenie!
Queen Anne Royal Britannia Silver Table Spoon
Thomas Spackman, London 1713
Bearing the Royal Cypher of Queen Anne
In the Hanoverian pattern with rattail attachment and upturned terminal
The shaft also incised with a ‘Crowned B’
'Honey Vendor :
A strong hive of bees contains approximately 75,000 bees.
Each honey bee must make 154 trips to collect one teaspoon of honey.'
‘Animals Under a Night Sky’, Antoine Vérard’, Woodcut, 1494
... GOODNIGHT! …
And A VERY 'MERRIMENT' CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
'Venus & Company : on Life!, Hearts & Laughter'
'Beakers' & 'Beacons'
'Christmas Song', a Spoken Improvisation
* The movie "Fierce Creatures" : a 1997 comedy starring John Cleese (also the author),
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin :
A massive corporate conglomerate, run by a shrewd and cruel tycoon,
purchases a UK-based leisure company - and the failing London Marwood Zoo.
To bring more business to the zoo, a new manager is hired,
who promptly comes up with a way to increase profit,
by doing away with all the animals - except for the ferocious ones.
Above Illustrations :
Closing Image : ‘Animals under a night sky’,' L’Art de bien vivre et de bien mourir'
(The Art of Living Well and of Dying Well), Antoine Vérard’, Woodcut,1494;
Pub. Paris, 12 Feb 1453; Image 342, Library of Congress, USA; National Library of Australia
Inventory Photography : Millicent F. Creech
Lyric & Script Excerpts : Creative Commons
Please Click Here for 'Image Legend & Full License'