Italian Minstrel

Italian Minstrel

Monday, 22 August 2011

French Inspiration

Extract from French catalogue c 1900
The above picture is a page from a wonderful French shop catalogue dating from the turn of last century, showing the lovely elegant items of furniture and furnishings on offer for the discerning buyer. These sort of catalogues are very useful to people like me because they give the narrative to things I find, which by themselves might be a bit of a mystery. For example, I might come across pelmet roses or patera, which would probably have formed part of a bed or curtain set, but the rest has long since been separated. So these designs give me a clue as to how to complete the look.

Sometimes also the name of an item is lost, either through translation or disuse of an item, for example, I sell hold back hooks, which essentially are anchored to the wall and are composed of brass or bronze 'arms' that hold back the curtain in the way a tassled tie back would, These have a  name, which is 'embrasse' or embrace (in direct translation) and that makes perfect sense! The brass curves 'embrace' the curtain fabric. Even French sellers do not know the name, so this catalogue is keeping a name alive, that would otherwise be lost.

Speaking of keeping names alive, I was astounded to hear that Collins say the words 'aerodrome' and 'charabanc' are now obsolete words and will no longer be in their short dictionaries, although they may be of interest to historians! They are lovely words, which I very much connect with a 1920s Miss Marple type world, and the loss of them from the dictionary will surely consign them to history. Use these words as often as you can please, strike back and support charming language! I use these words regularly and I really never thought the day would come where my language was obsolete!! Ouch!

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