Friday, February 19, 2010


TWITTER: dfantiques
FACEBOOK:donna finegan

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


You all know I love antiques. But I am also an animal lover. I must admit I have a special place in my heart reserved for cats. They are loving, intelligent, mischievious, independent, full of personality and the list could on and on and on.... Six furry little critters live with me; Seth, Hannah, Raven, Morgan, Linsey and Woolsey. Each one is unique and very special. Seth and Hannah are brother and sister. Seth is a gentle soul and a lover. Hannah is quite the lady and is so sweet. Raven is my black cat with intense green eyes. He is my watcher and is extremely inquisitive. Morgan has many personalities residing in her. One minute she is a loving sweet kitty and within a flip of her tail she switches to her evil twin. Linsey and Woolsey are both girls and they are identical grey twins. They just turned 1 year old and their personalities are still forming. Needless to say I have many stories about my babies. One of my favorites, which at the time was very upsetting, involved Miss Hannah. I had been busy one morning doing laundry and I went upstairs early to put some clothes away in our dresser. The bedroom was dark because I didn't take the time to turn on the light. It was an easy chore which I did quickly. Now it is around dinner time and no Hannah. I searched and searched and then searched some more. I was getting really upset. Finally I heard bump, bump, bump coming from upstairs. I followed the noise into our bedroom and then to the dresser. I opened up the drawer and out jumped Miss Hannah giving me the MOST disgusted look a cat could ever give and I swear she flipped me off with her tail. She had spent the entire day snoozing in the drawer and was quite cranky about being late for her supper.

I would love to hear about your little companions and maybe a cute, funny story that will warm all our hearts.

For anyone that responds their name will be registered in my Antiques Weekend Drawing and the entry will go in a hat. Miss Hannah will pull the winner out on March 6th. The person will win two free tickets to the upcoming Fox Valley Antique Show to be held Saturday March 13th and Sunday March 14th at the Kane County Fairgrounds, St. Charles,Illinois. Additionally the winner will receive from me $25.00 in antique play money that can be spent at the show.
Please leave your story and register for the drawing. I look forward to reading them all and meeting the winner at the show.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


As we make dinner reservations at some elegant restaurant, run to the candy store to buy that heart shaped box of candy and order a huge bundle of flowers I can't help but wonder about Valentines day in the past.

Some say it was a Roman celebration of a fertility festival, Lupercalia, that started on the eve of Feb. 14th. While others attribute the day to St. Valentine who was an early Christian martyr. Apparently he defied the Emperor's ban on marriages by marrying sweethearts in secret. He was beheaded on 2-14-270. In Medieval times up to the 1500's an annual village lottery was held, names were drawn and pairings were formed that lasted a year. How romantic. As early as 1533, a folded piece of blue paper with the sweethearts name written on it in gold letters has been documented. By c1610 lovers were giving their sweeties love tokens such as jewelry (posey rings and lockets) gloves, garters and silk scarfs. The Puritans tried to stop the practice but did not have much success. Even John Winthrop, Govenor of Mass. Bay Colony, got into the spirit of the day. He wrote to his wife on Feb. 14th, 1629, "My sweet wife. Thou must be Valentine, for none hath challeged me." In the 18th century exchanging of Valentines became popular. In America c1740 handmade Valentines were sealed with red wax and left secretly on a lover's doorstep. Puzzle Valentines became popular. A puzzle Valentine had a puzzle to read and unfold. Scattered among their many folds were verses that had to be read in a certain order. Early 1800's young men wore slips of paper pinned to their sleeves with their sweeties name written on it. That is how the phrase "Wear your heart of you sleeve" came from. In the 19th century tiny paper hands symbolized asking for a lady's hand in marriage. It evolved into giving his sweetheart a pair of silk gloves as a marriage proposal. During the Civil War some valentines were made like paper dolls that were acturally dressed with cloth to resemble the person sending it. Sailors would carve a stay busk out of whale's teeth or wood and decorate it with hearts and flowers and give it to their sweethearts as a love token. They also carved lace bobbins, knitting sheaths and made valentines from shells.
"Accept, dear girl, this busk from me.
Carved by my humble hand.
I took it from a sperm whale's jaw
One thousand miles from land.
In many a gale had been the whale
in which this bone did rest.
His time is past, but his bone at last,
Must now support thy breast."
"The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of"
Blaise Pascal, Pensees 1670
"Many are the starrs I see, but in my eyes no starr like thee"
English saying used on posey rings
"Love, and a cough, cannot be hid"
George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum 1651
My favorite valentine personally was a hand written poem composed by my husband written on a homemade valentine card.
No matter how you decide to celebrate Valentines Day I hope you have a lovely one.
The first two pictures are of a wooden stay busk from the 18th century.
The other pictures are of a silver heart locket with intitials on the inside from the 17th century.

Saturday, February 6, 2010



This is an example of a 1830's beaded neck chain. The chain has a turquoise beaded background with white designs: key, anchor, hearts, arrows, crown and possibly an urn. It is signed Mary A. Wilson. It can be found on my website

Friday, February 5, 2010


Woman throughout history have always been aware of fashion. Some trends last longer than others while some have remained in one form or another for a very long time. I remember not so very long ago that paper dresses were the "in" thing in fashion.

In 1830 bead chains or neck chains made an appearance and only lasted a decade. A bead chain is comprised of tiny colored beads, thirteen beads per half inch compared to about seven beads today, are woven into strips, 1/2 inch wide and 40 to 60 inches in length and ended with silk ribbon ties. Not unlike samplers, the chains were worked with motifs of anchors, keys, crosses or hearts. Some had names and even phrases while some were signed and dated. They had various uses. They were used as watch chains by both men and women, others were woven in a woman's hair and draped over the forehead. At times they were made and given to a loved one. A phrase like "Forget me not" and "We part to meet in Heaven" were both sentimental and phrases of remembrance. The chains could either be commissioned or they could be purchased in a jewelry store. Sometimes they originated in young ladies' academies. These bead chains often had a religious and moralistic mottoes or had memorials and family registers stitched on them. Some of the more frequent symbols incorporated on a chain were a cross, an anchor and a heart which symbolized Faith, Hope and Charity. Others were a key and when worked in gold beads symbolized the "golden key of knowledge" - education and wisdom. A crown motif represented the ladder to heaven while birds and butterflies were symbols representing the soul and Resurrection. The three leaved clover represented the Holy Trinity.

Fashion trends over the years have taken many diverse forms. I have found this one particularly interesting and fun to research.

Monday, February 1, 2010


One of my favorite things to do on a winter's afternoon is to read. I try to find a warm spot in the house, preferably in some sunlight, get one or all of my six cats to cuddle me and arm myself with a hot cup of coffee and a good old book. Today I came across a couple of olde time alternatives that I just had to share with you. You never know when these might come in handy.

"SUBSTITUTES FOR TEA AND COFFEE: The leaves of currant bushes picked very small and dried on tin can hardly be distinguished from green tea. Peas roasted and ground are an excellent subsitute for coffee and you would hardly know which is best."*

"SHOE BLACKENING: Wash elderberries in a kettle of water. Set them in the shade for a day or two to ferment, then boil it half a day, adding a little water as needed. Strain the liquid and boil it down to the thickness of molasses. It will give a fine gloss with rubbing."*

"TO PREVENT FLIES from injuring picture frames. Boil three or four onions in a pint of water; then with a gilding brush do over your pictures and frames. The flies will not light on them. This may be used without apprehension, as it will not do the least injury to the frames."*

"TO PRESERVE EGGS: One pint of coarse salt, one pint of unslacked lime, to a pail of water. Eggs will keep sound and wholesome for years in this, if kept in a cool place."*

Boy that was a lot of typing and I sure could go for a nice cup of coffee. Oh yeah, I'm out. Guess I'll run down to Starbucks.

*The Pocumtuc Housewife