Kate Greenaway Salt and Pepper Shakers – Wait, Who’s Kate Greenaway?


Kate Greenaway, 1846-1901

Catherine (Kate) Greenaway was a children’s book author and illustrator, born in March 1846. Her family lived in Islington (a borough of London), above her mother’s clothing boutique. Her father was a wood engraver and also worked for the Illustrated London News, which was the world’s first illustrated weekly newspaper. Kate spent her summer days with family in the Nottinghamshire countryside, the inspiration for many of her stories.

Kate went on to study art than began illustrating. Her first successful book was Under the Window, published in 1878. The book was released in time for Christmas and quickly sold out! Kate went out to write and illustrate many children’s books such as Birthday Book (1880), Mother Goose (1881), and Marigold Garden (1885). The fashions illustrated by Kate were replicated and worn by children in the late 19th century.

kate greenaway books.jpg

Kate was known to be quite shy and never married or had children of her own. However, she had a unique relationship with art critic John Ruskin – who was 27 years her senior. The two met in 1882 when Kate was 36 years old and Ruskin 63. When Kate and Ruskin were not together, they would write letters to each other. Ruskin is rumored to have been aroused by drawings of prepubescent girls and encouraged Kate to draw girls with bare feet or perhaps even nude; however, she held true to herself and her work and declined.


John Ruskin, 1819 – 1900

Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in 1901. Kate not only left behind popular children’s books and fashion, but also inspiration for designs that have appeared on china, salt and pepper shakers, napkin rings, toothpick holders, and more.


Antique Ceramic Kate Greenaway Salt and Pepper Shakers

Above is a Kate Greenaway inspired figural boy and girl salt and pepper shaker set. They each measure 3″ high and 1.5″ at the base and I believe the set to be from the late 1800’s. Both children feature hand painted faces with rosy cheeks. They appear to be inside a rope barrel or sack in a childlike pose with their chins resting on crossed arms. There is a small chip in the girl’s bonnet; however, other than that they are in fairly good shape and free of cracks and crazing.

The woman whose life and estate started my journey into the world of antique and vintage collectibles (a journey you can read more about here) was quite the collector of salt and pepper shakers. I look forward to sharing more of her collection with you as I uncover it!


A Toddler’s Review of Vintage Children’s Books

My 2 1/2 year old daughter, Lillian, has an intense love for books. Even as an infant she adored being held and read to for long periods of time. When I was mulling over what to pull out and consider selling, photographing, and/or researching this morning a “ding ding ding” went off in my head! I realized Lily would enjoy helping me look through a pile of vintage children’s books I had tucked away after happening upon them in an attic last summer.


As you can see, her face immediately lit up when I placed the books on the rug. The two most visible books in the above photo are from the BibLearn Series, both copyrighted 1976. These books were published by Broadman Press and printed in the United States; however, a print date is not listed within either. The first book is Abraham: Man of Faith, written by Elsie Rives and illustrated by William N. McPheeters; and the second books is Joseph:  The Forgiver, written by Jester Summers and illustrated by Michael Sloan. This series includes 24 books, each with several stories that end with a question or challenge to get kids thinking about the religious story they just read.


Above, Lily is browsing a Rand McNally Junior Elf Book titled Little Duckling, written in 1956 by Helen Wing and illustrated by Lucy Ozone. Although I’m not certain which edition it is, this particular book was printed in 1960 and sold for only 15 cents (as is printed on the cover). Interestingly, the Rand McNally Junior Elf Books printed their dates in roman numerals… for instance, inside Little Duckling is written “Copyright MCMLVI” and “Edition MCMLX”.


What a little ham! Lily reclined back, put her hands behind her head and asked, “mama, can you take a picture of me laying on my back?” How could I resist?

Sitting next to Lily is A Children’s Hour with Puss In Boots and Other Stories, edited by Watty Piper. This book was copyrighted in 1922 and 1929 and published by The Platt & Munk Co., Inc. in New York. I believe this particular copy was printed in 1929. The old binding style combined with the thick pages allows it to lay flat when open. The book certainly has some wear to it; however, it will still make for a nice addition to someone’s collection. Lily obviously has superb taste in vintage books as this was her favorite!


Clearly pictured above is A Little Golden Book version of Jingle Bells, retold by Kathleen N. Daly and illustrated by J.P. Miller. This particular book is the ninth printing (1978) of the 1964 story and sold for 59 cents.

Also in the collection were two fun and adorable Whitman books including Clip Clop written by Nancy Hoag and illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship in 1958; and In, On, Under, and Through written by Joan Potter Elwart and illustrated by Stina Nagel in 1965.


I’m looking forward to Lily joining me on adventures looking through antique and vintage collectibles this summer as I think she’ll enjoy discovering books. Who knows… perhaps she’ll become a little expert on the subject someday. Either way, I’m going to cherish the moments I spend reading with her next to me on the floor or in my lap.


Fruit Cake! Who You Calling a Fruit Cake?

As readers of my last post know – Saturday Morning Research Postponed by a Toddler – finding time to go through antique and vintage collectables to list in my Ruby Lane Shop (reopening soon) isn’t always easy. However, I was able to uncover time to photograph, learn more about, and price a handful of items in the past few days. Rather than overwhelm you with several pieces, I’ve decided to feature two collectables… both from the 60s/70s time period, both blue and white, both available for purchase in the Ruby Lane shop when it reopens.

img_20170115_075655-1Delftware Music Windmill
This working Delft blue windmill measures 6.25″ high, 3″ wide (at its base) and is free of cracks, crazing, and chips. When wound, the song “Tulips from Amsterdam” plays as the windmill turns. I found this item in its original box with “Amsterdam 1972” written on it as that’s when the estate owner purchased it.

Delftware was first introduced in the early 17th century by Italian potters who settled in Holland. “Delft’s blauw” (as the sticker on the windmill above reads) is the Dutch term for Delft blue, which is the recognizable blue on white tin-glazed earthenware appearance. These pieces  originally typically featured Oriental inspired designs. Delftware was primarily crafted in city of Delft, located in the Netherlands, and was most popular throughout the 17th and 18th century. However, there is still a limited amount of Delftware being produced today.

Shirley Jean Fruit Cake Tin
This vintage blue and white Shirley Jean Fruit Cake tin (circa 1960s) once held a 1 1/2 pound fruit cake! The side of the tin lid states the cake was once inside was baked by the Capitol Cake Company located in Baltimore, Maryland. Also on the lid is the ingredients used to make the fruit cake. Curious? “Made from candied fruits (grapefruit and orange peel, cherries, pineapple with benzoate of soda added as a preservative, U.S. certified color added), flour, corn syrup, water, vegetable shortening… salt, artificial flavors, baking soda… sodium propionate and potassium sorbate added to retard spoilage, artificial coloring.” Sounds delicious, right? No thank you!

So what’s up with fruit cake anyway? Who came up with such a strange concoction? Sources point back to the Roman times in which they mixed together barley, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins to create what we would now consider an energy bar. However, the fruit cake as we now think of it can be traced back to the Middle Ages when honey, spices, and dried fruits were added to the mixture. These, again, were meant for sustainability when crusaders left home for long periods of time. By the 18th and 19th century, the tradition of making fruit cakes for special occasions such as weddings and holidays became more popular because of the cost of the ingredients. Believe it or not, fruit cakes were considered a grand indulgence.

What do YOU think about fruit cake? YAY or NAY?

Saturday Morning Research Postponed by a Toddler

It’s currently 6:33am on a Saturday morning… my eyes popped open and I sleepily reached over to check the time on my phone at 6:11am. What am I doing awake? First off, I’m a school counselor at the local high school which forces me to the be an early riser because, despite all the research about how adolescents would benefit from later start times and more sleep, most Maine high schools still have a first bell around 7:30am. Secondly, I’m 23.5 weeks pregnant and as any of you who have been pregnant or lived with a pregnant woman know… I can’t ignore the morning pressure on my bladder! Lastly, and unfortunately, once I’m up… I’m up.


Oh hello feet… I can still see you down there! Baby #2 is growing fast!

So here I am with my cuppa coffee (in my adorable cup that was purchased at the New England Aquarium gift shop several years ago), an outdated version of Antique Trader’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide (I know I need the new version, but I do most of my research on the interweb anyhow), my laptop, and a crate full of antique and vintage items waiting to be discovered. All the while I’m well aware my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Lillian, might wake up any moment as she’s typically awake between 6:30 and 7:30am on the weekends.


Preparing for some morning work… or am I?

Even though I’m ready and prepared for research, I’m here writing a blog post. Procrastination? Good use of quiet time? I’m not sure and it’s a new dilemma for me since this is only my second blog post…

And there it is – the sound of running footprints upstairs, the creak of a door, and my favorite little voice calling out, “Mama!” I grab my cuppa coffee and laptop and head upstairs.

Me: “Good morning sunshine!”

Lily: “Where we going?” (currently her most popular question)

Me: “Nowhere right now, It’s too early in the morning.”

Lily: “Al’ight, want me to read a story to you and blankie?”

Me: “Absolutely!”


2 1/2 year old, Lillian

Now she’s happily “reading” her books to me as a I write just a little more.  Many of the books currently in the basket next to her are from my own childhood collection including “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Suess with “To Kristin, from Memere Christmas 1991” – 25 years ago! – scribed inside of it. As a side note, Lily firmly stated “don’t grab this book from me, that’s kinda rude” when I opened it up to peek at the handwritten note from my grandmother. For the record, the book was simply sitting in the basket next to her. I often find myself wondering what teenage years will be like with this one.

Regardless, my research sesh was over before it even began this morning. Here’s to hoping for another chance!

A Journey into Antique and Vintage Collectibles

It seems appropriate to take my first step into the blogging world by somewhat briefly sharing how I got here. In the spring of 2013 my mother-in-law asked if I’d be willing to dive into a completely new (to me) hobby by assisting her with selling a close family friend’s estate of beloved antiques and vintage collectibles. I accepted the offer as a bit of a challenge since I’m a school counselor and have no prior knowledge or experience with this realm of the world… unless you count the year I spent in and out of Goodwill and thrift stores purchasing numerous bud vases for our June 2012 wedding.


Our wedding at Rivermill at Dover Landing in NH – photo by Bethany and Dan Photography

I began by rummaging through the estate’s numerous items and, when one struck my fancy, I’d spend time at the computer blindly searching for any information that could help me identify the piece. I’m typically not a fan of old dust, dirt, cobwebs, and (as other pickers are accustomed to) mice poop – okay, maybe I’m still a little bothered by mice poop! However, the more time I spent in the estate’s attic, basement, and other forgotten spaces, the more my threshold for grime grew.


It’s evidence of a good day of picking when you’re too dirty to sit anywhere but the floor.

Before I knew it, I’d be surrounded by dusty clocks, well-loved kitchenware, dolls with matted hair, and anything else you could imagine encountering when stepping back into another time. I’d ask myself, what next?

Research! I absolutely adored sitting down with a warm cup of coffee, my laptop, my trusty magenta suede notebook (which is just about full at this point… bummer), a good ol’ #2 pencil and, of course, a handful of antique and vintage collectibles. The thrill of discovering a piece’s origin – where it’s from, who it’s from, when it’s from – was truly intoxicating. Then there was the moment of truth when I’d discover the worth of an item. Sometimes it was expected and other times it was beyond imaginable that one small collectible could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. I was hooked!

Being new to the world of antiques and vintage collectibles, I figured it would be beneficial to try out various ways of selling items. I first contacted local shop owners and dealers for a one stop shop and cash exchange. This was a good way to move items quickly; however, it wasn’t very gratifying. Next, I contacted auction houses for some of the more unique items, but found them to be difficult to reach and arrange appointments with. I then stumbled across Ruby Lane, an online marketplace for antique and vintage collectibles. I decided to open up a shop of my own titled Boeske House (you can find the link to the shop here when it reopens). Where does that name come from anyway? Mrs. Boeske was the owner of the estate that started all of this and my last name is House (Did I forget to introduce myself? I’m Kristin House!)… so it only made sense to combine the two names into Boeske House.

I loved maintaining the Ruby Lane shop; however, as mentioned, I have a day job as a school counselor. Not only that, but my husband and I had our daughter, bought our forever home, and each started new jobs all in a two year span.


My family in the backyard of our Maine forever home – photo by Ornate Photography

Life’s changes forced me to close, reopen, then close the Ruby Lane shop. However, I desperately miss the excitement of finding unique items, researching them, listing them for sale, then sending them off to enthusiasts who will love and appreciate them just as much as, if not more than, Mrs. Boeske did. I plan to spend some extra time preparing listings for Boeske House before I reopen the shop for the final time. “Final” because I’ll be committing to remaining open through life’s changes (have I mentioned I’m pregnant with our second child by the way? It’s a boy!).

In the summer of 2016 I created an Instagram account (@boeskehouse) to allow others to follow my adventures, finds, and shop listings through snapshots. This blog will go beyond that by providing me with the opportunity to share more about my journey and the pieces I discover. I hope you choose to join me!


Enjoying a cuppa coffee during a research sesh.

The items pictured above – from left to right – are as follows:

  1. O’Hara Dial Co. Native American Tray
    This piece is a turn of the century O’Hara Dial Company tray with an enamel insert image of Chief Wolf Robe. Wolf Robe was a chief of the Southern Cheyenne Indian tribe and, during the late 1870s, Wolf Robe’s tribe was forced to relocate to a reservation in Oklahoma. The back of this tray is stamped “PARIS FRANCE O’HARA DIAL CO WALTHAM MA USA” within The O’Hara Dial Company’s Fleur-Des-Lys inspired trademark. The O’Hara Dial Company was developed in 1890 in Waltham, Massachusetts and their claim to fame was watch dials. Business declined in 1898 due to competition from a large watch dial company on Long Island, NY. It was at this time that the O’Hara Dial Company began making steins and other items, such as this tray.
  2. Taylor Instrument Stormoguide Barometer
    This barometer was copyrighted by “Taylor Instrument Companies”- located in Rochester, New York – in 1927. The instrument is that of a nautical design due to the wooden wheel and brass spokes.
  3. WWII Bastogne NUTS Bronze Plaque
    This octagonal brass plaque depicts two large military figures standing over the Belgium town of Bastogne. The figure on the right is a German soldier offering a surrender to American General McAuliffe who is standing on the left with his hands in his pockets. McAuliffe replied “Nuts” to this surrender, which is stamped into the top of the plaque. The piece also includes the American and Nazi flags and parachutes representing the 101st Airborne Division. “DECBER 44”, which is when this battle took place, is also stamped into the plaque. These plaques are said to have been made by melted down artillery casings.