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IN the course of many years a great number of collectors have written to to me deploring that information concerning minor articles of everyday use of a past age has gone unchronicled. Others have complained that collecting has confined itself to set subheads: Furniture, Porcelain, Silver, Pictures, Engravings, Glass, etc., and has excluded or neglected the bye-paths of such subjects. Many of my correspondents have specialized in their subjects, and having sought a bye-path are chagrined that it has not become a highway.
In regard to the first suggestion I have attempted to fulfil the desire expressed and to deal with objects of a bygone period which should claim recognition from collectors on account of the value in completing the chain in the development of domestic furniture.
Throughout my previous works on Furniture and Cottage and Farmhouse Furniture, on Old China and on English Earthenware, I have attempted to make a complete study, suggesting the bye-paths for those who were so inclined.
But now I find myself as a guide to bye-paths not wholly explored.
In regard to those critics whose objections were well founded that there was an absence of any volume dealing exclusively with their subject, the bye-paths they suggest are not unknown nor have they been overlooked. Those collectors who have specialized in old coffers or old bellows, old tinder boxes or playing cards, know this. The search for unbeaten tracks has not been left to the few; in consequence many apparently subsidiary objects in the field of art-collecting have already reached a prohibitive price. But whether top price has been reached depends upon many conditions. A few years ago collectors of English earthenware became frightened because the prices were approaching, and in some cases exceeding, those of English porcelain. The bravest among them do not now repent of their courage. Markets have shown that all genuine old art objects have gone up in leaps and bounds in value. The supply of the authenticated old is limited, and the demand by reason of the multiplication of the number of collectors has greatly exceeded the supply. The sham antique from the hand of the fraudulent faker has filled the gap. The collector must always be wary and not allow himself to be victimized, it is a contest of knowledge. But an invoice declaring the goods to be of a certain character is a legal instrument against all fraudulent dealers. It is an
axiom that the genuinely old and the actually antique must command a good price and the market will not go down.
It is hoped that the present volume will stimulate the further study of phases of collecting which have not hitherto received detailed investigation. What is herein written is intended to be suggestive rather than exhaustive. My notebooks for twenty-five years have been ransacked in order to discover points in regard to collecting that require further elucidation, and will afford pleasure to those who care to follow up the outlines of the subjects here sketched. In regard to prescient judgment relating to objects not already of old enough vintage, the collector must remember that old wine once was new.
I have been enabled to dip into various collections by the courtesy of their owners. The celebrated Redfern collection at Cambridge has afforded me some interesting specimens, and I am personally indebted to W. B. Redfern, Esq., J.P., D.L., for much valuable information. To Sir Gerald Ryan I owe a similar debt for allowing the inclusion of some of his art objects. H. Sutcliffe Smith, Esq., has kindly proffered me a choice from his valuable collection of silhouette portraits, and to F. Hodgkin, Esq., I am particularly obliged for allowing a few examples to be illustrated from his collection of Liverpool tiles and other art objects. Harry Barnard, Esq., has kindly assisted me in illustrating some Wedgwood
articles from Messrs. Josiah Wedgwood and Sons' Museum at Etruria. Arthur Deane, Esq., of the Public Art Gallery and Museum, Belfast, has rendered me valuable assistance in regard to matters relating to old spinning-wheels and other objects of bygone interest. E.. E. Lowe, Esq., of the Municipal Art Gallery and Museum, Leicester, has also kindly given me timely assistance. The authorities of the Victoria and Albert Museum have granted me permission to illustrate certain objects herein, which are duly acknowledged under each illustration.
The Marriage Chest-The Chest and its Developments
-The Coffer-The Casket-The Travelling Trunk—
II. MAN AND FIRE
The Potter's Tribute to Agriculture-Old Methods and
Implements - The Eighteenth-Century Land Girl-
Man Traps and Spring Guns-Lace Bobbins-Old
Oriental Fans-Italian, Spanish, and Dutch Fans-
French Fans-English Eighteenth-Century Fans-The
Modern Fan-The Fan Mounts of Charles Conder-
Early European Playing Cards-Oriental Cards—Fif.
teenth-Century Cards - Seventeenth-Century Cards