Wednesday, February 23, 2011

100 Happy Days Challenge......day 17

Yesterday, as you know, I received a shadow box. In the box is a small heart that is partially made of dyed shells that reminded me of something.....



On a family vacation trip to the Atlantic East Coast we drove into Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on an extremely foggy day and as driving was a bit hectic we parked and did a stroll along some of the streets. We came upon a gift and antique shop and of course I had to take a look.

The store had lovely stuff. In one corner there was a display of various sea related Victorian do dads that I poked about in. One thing that did catch my eye was an octagonal box that I thought was a jewelery box. It had beautiful marquetry on the outside and a design in what looked like mother of pearl. I opened it and was completely surprised to see what was inside........sea shells in  very complicated patterns.

The shopkeeper sensing a sucker potential customer gave me the whole history of the box. It was a reproduction of a Sailor's Valentine. Now, I had seen something like it before and I racked my brain trying to remember. Then it came to me that I hade seen boxes like it when visiting a marine museum in England. I can't recall which one it was but I think it may have been in Plymouth.

So you are saying what do these boxes look like......well sadly I don't have any pictures as the museum wouldn't allow them but I did google........I know, but a picture will help to show you what I mean:)




I don't if these are originals or reproductions as I understand that they are pretty rare and very collectible. They were produced between 1830 to about 1890. They were usually octagonal hinged boxes and most were small...about 8-9 inches.....easily portable souvenirs.

The art has been revived and you can get very pretty (and very expensive) modern versions:


I found a book on Amazon called Sailors' Valentines by John Fondas that I may get out of my library just out of interest. It looks like a very interesting book. Here's a view of the book on flicker:

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonianlibraries/4778019281/

But, I also found that the term "Sailor's Valentine" generally covers any decorative shell work of the period. I found another example in a musuem in Liverpool that's a bit different and I can definitely see that a sailor would make something like this during a sea voyage:



You can see this item on display in the Lifelines gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum.  I've been to the Merseyside museum but I don't recall seeing this anchor:)

I don't know why but things like these boxes are fascinating to me.  Shells in general fascinate me.......I have a few in a small collection that I bought at Micheal's. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. They are nice to look at but very fragile which is a bit of a problem.


These boxes are nice ..............maybe:).

marthastewart.com

Take care:)

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