Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Photo Friday: Antique Wall Sconces with Amethyst Globes

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Antique wall sconces with amethyst globes. Photograph by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Truly stunning antiques are always hard to come by, and this pair of antique cast iron wall sconces are no exception. Cast in iron with heavy detail and topped off with rare amethyst tinted globes, these sconces are a prime example of true rarified beauty from the early 1900s.

Featured Product: Antique Victorian Era Dry Sink

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Dry sink, the name seems like a misnomer being that dry often isn't the first descriptive word that comes to mind when you think of a sink, but in the pre-plumbing days this makes a lot of sense. A dry sink is a piece of furniture used in the era prior to indoor plumbing, and was used to hold a washing bowl and water pitcher. The dry sink would have been used in the kitchen to prepare meals, wash dishes, shave and even bath. Some higher end dry sinks would have featured copper liners or tiled backsplashes.

Today, dry sinks are sought after purely for decorative reasons and would work exceptionally well in a modern kitchen or bathroom.

Antique Victorian Era dry sink. Photograph by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Featured Product: Antique Black Forest Wall Cabinet

By Gretchen Sawatzki

In 1800s the wood carving industry in Brienz, Switzerland, Black Forest region, launched on an international stage.  Featured in many international expositions, including the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893,  the wood carvings from the region quickly became luxury items highly coveted by wealthy Americans by the mid-1800s.

The quality of the Black Forest carvings were so precise and well-crafted, that European royals of the same period collected the carvings in the form of furnishings for their royal homes and collections. As popularity continued to grow in the United States, artists of the Black Forest region began designing carvings of North American animals that would capture the interest of this market. Popular Black Forest carvings included in bears, eagles, boars, dogs, and stags.

Antique Black Forest region carved cabinet circa1920.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

This antique wall cabinet from the Black Forest region features ivy and filigree with a hand-painted central cartouche on glass. A prime example of carvings from the region, this cabinet would make a quality addition to any collection or an amazing focal piece in a bathroom.


Salvaged Feature: Antique Post Office Boxes

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Every now and then, we get some pretty interesting items at Materials Unlimited. Some we've seen many times, others are extremely unique one-of-kind items that warrant a fun blog post!

Very funky antique post office boxes. Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

We recently acquired these antique post office boxes circa 1900. Their unique design features ruby glass letters on the front of the boxes and the perfect little cubbies on the back. These would make the perfect built-in cubby for a kitchen or work space.

Backside of the post office boxes. Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Antique Figural Table Lamps

Gretchen Sawatzki

When electricity made its way to most larger cities in the late 1800s, life in the Victorian period changed. Electric lighting allowed for longer work days and late night activities. Light fixtures of the same period also quickly changed from the standard gas jet fixtures to light fixtures that could receive light bulbs. Along with the new light fixtures came new interests in lighting design, which lead to the creation of high-end figural table lamps.

Figural lamp depicting  a farmer digging potatoes.
Original sculpture by Emily Bruchon, lamp titled,
"Agriculture, Par Bruchon," ca. 1880. Photo by HannahManning for Materials Unlimited.

These lamps often depicted a famous scene, mythical imagery, a famous person or event from the period. From ancient greek deities to cherubs and farmers, these lamps were a sign of wealth and disposal income in the post-Civil War America leading into the era of the first World War.

Figural lamp depicting a chariot scene, circa 1935.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Featured Product: Antique Carousel Horse

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Nothing evokes fond childhood memories spent at the county fair or beach boardwalk quite like that of a carousel. Painted horses and animals of all types moving to sound of music is an all-time childhood favorite for many.

This hand-painted carousel horse from the early 1930s is the perfect object to take you back to your childhood. Carved from popular, this horse is a prime example of the skilled woodworking of the era. With cast aluminum pole and base, and fully restored paint job it's ready for its next phase in life, bringing joy to any household or storefront.

Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Detroit's J.L. Hudson's Department Store Relic

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Every major city had one; a department stored. New York has Macy's, Chicago had Marshall Fields and Detroit had J.L. Hudson's Department. Opening in 1911, and situated on the busy corners of Woodward and Gratiot avenues in the heart of the city, J.L. Hudson's was a massive building occupying nearly 200,000 square feet inside over 30 floors.

View of Hudson's Department Store 1929. Image Credit.

For Detroiters a trip to J.L. Hudson's was an event. At just over 400 feet tall, it was the tallest department store in the world, and offered nearly 200 departments, lots of fashions, activities, and restaurants for all types of visitors.

The department store continued it's success through a merger in the late 1960s with the Dayton Company out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through the merger J.L. Hudson's was able to expand further into the upper Midwest. As Detroit began to decline and population was on a downturn, the company could not longer sustain itself, ultimately closing the store in January 1983.

Original elevator call button from J.L. Hudson's
Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited.

The once magnificent building was torn down in 1998, but not before salvagers could rescue a few cherished items from the beloved business, including this brass elevator call button that would have been used on one of the more than 50 elevators in the building.