One thing that often appeals to us collectors is a sense of order.
Star Wars Drifter In 1977 George Lucas’s Star Wars was released in cinemas all over the world. The film revolutionised the cinema industry, and the two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi were equally successful. Around the films has been built a massive merchandising industry which seems set to grow as a new generation of fans arrives willing to buy figures, comics, posters, autographs, cells, games, puzzles, light sabres, masks, stationary, videos of the films, videos of the making of the films, display pieces, promotional material, Pez dispensers, Tazos etc etc etc. Outside of the main characters which we are all so familiar with, there was a cast of hundreds. At a recent collectors show WCN met John Chapman who played one of the X-Wing Pilots in the briefing room scene. This scene never made it into the final cut and eventually only the scene with the back of the X-Wing pilots viewed. The lost briefing room scene still exists and has caused a lot of debate among die hard fans. His character Gil ‘Drifter’ Viray was one of the survivors of the assault on the Death Star and John also appeared in the end ceremony where Luke, Han and Chewbacca are awarded medals. John Chapman is attempting to find other members from the lost briefing room scene to have a re-union. He is also attempting to develop his character further with stories of Drifter’s adventures after Star Wars. Although in only a small, non-speaking part John Chapman is developing a fan base, especially among completist Star Wars collectors, who just have to have everything associated with the film. As well as attending memorabilia fairs, John has been a guest at several Star Wars conventions where he has been surprised by the interest in his character. “I’d never bothered with the convention circuit as I didn’t have speaking part, I was just one of the extras in the briefing room scene”. Will Drifter memorabilia be collectable? Probably not, but to the many Star Wars fans out there, this is another slice of unusual Star Wars history that adds a new dimension to their collecting.
Colour Box Holiday Time by Susan Brewer Peter Fagan, creator of those delightful Colour Box series of figures, depicted his cats, bears and other creatures in all kinds of situations – including holiday scenes. The Colour Box characters enjoyed a holiday just as much as we do – they knew there was nothing to beat sand beneath their paws, seaweed tangling their fur or saltwater damping their tails. And through the talent of sculptor Peter Fagan we saw the cats, bears, and many other creatures, having fun on the beach. Much of the excitement of a holiday is the anticipation and the packing – at least, Robert seemed to think so. The super sculpture Holiday Bear (TC 210) issued in 1988, showed the little bear perched on top of a large blue trunk, obviously bound for a holiday destination. The trunk was beautifully modelled to show the straps, fastenings, and name label, and Robert had his own red bucket and spade, ball, bag of chips and lollipop. This was one of the larger pieces in the Teddy Bear Collection, as was Bathing Beach (TC113) 1990, which depicted Christopher sitting on a towel with his picnic lunch of a banana, orange drink and a sandwich close by. Nearby a notice warned ‘No Bathing’ (and in tiny letters underneath ‘by order of P Fagan’)! A seagull perched on top of the notice, while beneath was a collection of items including a bucket, spade, pebbles, shells, length of rope and a bottle of Fagan’s Pop. Amongst the bears you might possibly encounter at the seaside were Jimmy, Martin or Bosun. Jimmy (TC618) 1991, looked a rather shy bear, who, according to his booklet was ‘champion at building sandcastles. He lived in Bournemouth near the beach, where his family ran a fish and chip shop.’ Jimmy wore smart blue and white striped bathing trunks, and one white woolly mitten. Martin (TC121) issued 1993, was a smart Able Seaman bear, who carried a canvas kitbag and wore a sailor’s hat with ‘HMS Teddy’ around the brim. He was dressed in navy shorts and a white shirt decorated with a motif of a cruise liner. Bosun (TC074) 1997 was an unclothed bear, except for his official peaked hat. Cats don’t seem so keen on the seaside, but Beach Boy (HS536) 1991, showed a black cat on the sand with a sailboat-decorated red bucket and the beginnings of a sandcastle, while in the delightful Sixpenny Cornet (HS528), also 1991, we saw a cheeky ginger and white striped cat busily licking an ice cream cone while snuggling up to a tub of Fagan’s Dairy Ice Cream complete with a large silver spoon. Picnic Puss, a Colour Box club special depicted those naughty cats stealing food from a picnic hamper, though whether it was on the beach or not, I couldn’t say! The dogs weren’t forgotten. Sea Dog (DG302) 1991, from the Personality Pups collection was a smashing sculpture of a very hairy brown and beige mutt perched on top of a red bollard. Ropes were entwined around the bollard, and the dog had an expectant look, which, according to the story booklet was because he was based on Peter’s boyhood dog who would jump on top of a bollard waiting to be fed batter from Peter’s fish and chips! Tethered to the bollard by a silver chain were two grey and black dogs, which could also be bought separately as Fatherly Love (DG205) 1991. Pennywhistle Lane collection featured a piece called Old Sea Salt (PL203) 1994 which showed Sam the pipe-smoking monkey dressed in beige trousers, dark red jacket, yellow-spotted blue scarf and jaunty blue hat standing on top of his old green sea trunk ‘full of past treasures’. Sitting on the end of the trunk was a cheeky little mouse wearing a sailor suit. The trunk was amazingly detailed, with all the brass studs, rivets, padlock and handles carefully accentuated in gold. Sam held a thick length of rope. The Hopscotch range included several tiny creatures you might find on your holiday, including a bright scarlet lobster (H106)), a beige crab (H105)), a plump orange fish (H104), and a cheeky blue clam peeking from its shell (H103), all issued in 1996. The Miniatures Collection also contained many animals and birds associated with the coast, for instance, Puffin (MC16) 1987, standing on a grey-green base. This model could also be found with a sand-yellow base. The Seal (MC49) 1989, and Seal and Pup (MC6) 1983, were both highly-detailed models, with the water, stones and rocks realistically depicted, as well as the creatures themselves, in tiny sculptures less than one-and-a-half inches high. If you were very lucky, you might just have caught a glimpse of a shimmering blue tail glinting in the sun, or perhaps noticed a friendly paw rise for a moment from the waves. Then you would have known that you had seen a Merbear (TC158) 1998, one of Colour Box’s prettiest-ever creations. Guardian of the Ocean, she cared for those who travel on her seas, as well as looking after the marine life. Many other sculptures from the Colour Box range featured holiday topics, including limited editions or club pieces such as Sail Away, All at Sea, Lifeguard and Out For a Run. Early Colour Box sculptures can often be found at collectors fairs, or on the net, and are worth collecting for their amazing detail and smile-making subjects. Colour Box & Peter Fagan Related Colour Box & Peter Fagan
Bengo collectables have become increasingly sought after by those of us who, as children, followed his simple, hand-drawn adventures
Wemyss Ware Wemyss Ware (pronounced Weems) is named after the castle situated on cliffs between East Wemyss and West Wemyss in Fife, which was the home of the Grosvenor family who became patrons of the Fife Pottery in Gallatown, near Kirkcaldy. The Fife Pottery was built in 1817, traditionally the Fife Pottery had paid its way by producing useful domestic wares, and it was not until the 1880s when the production of the hand-painted earthenware, with characteristically bold decoration, recognised today as Wemyss Ware began. The first piece of Wemyss Ware appeared in 1882 on the initiative of Robert Methven Heron. R. M. Heron had studied painting at the studios of the Edinburgh artists of his time and had travelled extensively in Europe. The production of Wemyss style pieces, particularly with traditional subjects such as the cock and hen patterns, had already begun when R. M. Heron brought back to the pottery six continental artists to augment the staff at the Fife Pottery. Five returned, and the one who remained was Karel Nekola, who became chief decorator and instructor at the pottery. Karel Nekola introduced a new style of ware to the pottery which was initially fired at a low temperature in order to produce a soft ‘biscuit’ body which would be able to absorb the colours from the decorator’s brush. It is this initial firing which is responsible for giving Wemyss Ware a body which is very fragile. After being painted and dipped in a soft lead glaze the pottery was again fired at a very low temperature, this time so as to avoid spoiling the brilliant colours. Wemyss Ware was decorated with natural subjects, such as flowers, in particular the red cabbage roses, but also buttercups, honeysuckle, sweet peas, carnations, Canterbury bells, thistles, irises, violets; and fruits are to be found including: cherries, plums, apples, pears and oranges may be seen, but also rare fig pattern, or lemons and grapes. Pictured: A Wemyss ‘Cabbage Roses’ ewer and basin – The basin painted by Karel Nekola, ewer 16cm high, 19cm diameter, both impressed WEMYSS and with green painted Wemyss mark, ewer with blue printed T.Goode & Co mark. Sold at Bonhams, Edinbugh for £275, August 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. Wemyss Ware was a instant success, and with interest shown in the pottery by the Grosvenor and other Scottish families, Wemyss became an exclusive, expensive product much sought after by the affluent. Thomas Goode & Co. the well-known Mayfair china shop, became the companies sole retail outlet in England. Goode’s would often request special shapes and designs. Pictured: A large Wemyss Ware pig, with sponged black markings, the details picked out in pink, 46cms long, impressed WEMYSS WARE, R.H. & S., and bearing red printed retailer’s mark for T.GOODE & Co. Sold at Bonhams, Edinburgh for £1,995, December 2004. Image Copyright Bonhams. Karel Nekola continued to work at the pottery until disability prevented him and even then continued working at home, using a small kiln which was built for him in his garden, so that at his death in 1915 he had completed 30 years arduous service for the pottery. Edwin Sandland became chief decorator to the Fife Pottery following the death of Karel Nekola. Edwin Sandland, was from a family of potters and was a decorator in the Staffordshire area, and was posted to Perth during the Great War. He joined the pottery until his own death in 1928. New designs were introduced at this time and typical Wemyss motifs were painted over an all-black ground. Another innovation was to paint the design over splashes of various colours thus producing a gaudy effect. At the same time means were successfully found to raise the temperature of the final firing and so produce a glaze which was free from crazing. Despite new designs and new techniques the great economic depression of the 1930s meant that the pottery ceased trading in Fife. Wemyss Ware at Bovey Tracy 1930-1957 Thus the Fife Pottery came to an end in 1930, but Wemyss Ware secured a kind of extended life when the patterns and designs were taken over by the Bovey Pottery Co. of Bovey Tracey in Devon. Here Joseph Nekola, Karel Nekola’s son, following in his father’s footsteps, continued the familiar style of painting on a harder, whiter body, under a brilliant glaze which was free from crazing. A number of pieces produced during this time are marked as “Plichta.” Jan Plichta was a Czech immigrant that sold and exported wholesale glass and pottery, and items he ordered from the Bovey Pottery were marked with his name. Wemyss decorators produced items for Plichta, which sometimes leads to confusion, but in general Plichta items are inferior in quality. One of the lead apprentices at the pottery was Esther Weeks who went onto become head decorator in 1952 when Jospeh died. The pottery at Bovey Tracy closed in 1957. Wemyss Ware and the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd® In 1985 Griselda Hill started producing Wemyss Ware® back in its birthplace in the heart of Fife. Griselda was inspired by the memory of her grandmother’s Wemyss® pig, which she discovered to have been made locally when she moved to Fife in 1984. The first product was a cat modelled on an example in Kirkcaldy Museum, and over the years since then the Pottery has developed a range of Wemyss Ware® which can easily stand alongside the originals. Pictured: A modern black and white Wemyss Ware pottery cat from the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd®. This and other cats etc are still available at https://www.wemyssware.co.uk/ As with the original Wemyss Ware®, the success of the Pottery is based on the quality of the hand painting and the beauty of the designs and colours. All the artists have been working at the Pottery for over fifteen years, and have become very skilled at their work. While some new technology has been introduced to minimise production problems and environmental pollution, the techniques of hand decoration remain the same as ever. Being hand painted, each piece is unique. Pictured: A modern small clover Wemyss Ware pottery pig from the Griselda Hill Pottery Ltd®. This and other animals etc are still […]
Netsuke date back to the 17th Century, and became extremely popular in Europe towards the end of the 19th Century. This coincided with the Japanese adopting the suit and its pockets and with oriental artefacts being very much in vogue with buyers in western Europe. A huge supply of redundant netsuke came into Europe and were sold in many places as novelty items very cheaply. For the collector today there are many styles, and types, some by well known designers and the range in price can be incredible: from a few $/£ to £140,000 paid for a netsuke horse carved by Tomotada. Netsuke served both functional and aesthetic purposes. The tradtional Japanese dress, the kimono had no pockets. The robes were hung together by a broad sash (obi), so items that were needed to be carried were held on a cord tucked under the sash. The hanging objects (sagemono) were secured with carved toggles (netsuke). A sliding bead (ojime) was strung on the cord between the netsuke and the sagemono to tighten or loosen the opening of the sagemono. The best known accessory was the inro, a small box used by the wealthy for carrying medicines and seals. Netsuke were also used to secure purses, and were widely used to hold the tobacco pouches that became almost universal with the introduction of smoking in Japan. The quality of Netsuke was variable. As everyday objects many were carved quickly with left over materials. Netsuke could be made using a variety of materials mainly wood, and ivory (also shell, bone, horn, even metal and precious stones). Wealthier people would have finer netsuke, and it could be possible to tell the status of an individual by the quality of their netsuke. The workmanship is some is outstanding and despite their small size 1 to 2 inches, there can be considerable detail. There are several types of netsuke including: manju, round or square button like boxes; and kagamibuta, comprising a metal lid and a bowl; and katabori. The range of subjects included all manner of animals, birds, the heores and villains from folklore, the immortals and mythical animals of Japanese legend, the grotesque and the amusing. The variety and variability of netsuke is a reason for their continued popularity today. Knowledgeable collectors look for compactness, a design that appears good from any angle, and the cord holes must not interfere with the piece and may often form part of it. With the decline of the kimono there was less demand in Japan for netsuke, but they continued to be produced for export. Some skilled designers continued to produce excellent pieces which are much sort after. Production continued into the 20th Century with a revival in the art as interest incr eases. In recent years a number of poor netsuke have been produced and a number of fakes of original pieces have also been manufactured. These pieces are often produced using ivory obtained from illegally poached elephants and other animals. Resin replicas are also being produced. Many are sold as such but collectors should be careful. Forms of Netsuke kataborinetsuke (形彫根付) or “sculpture netsuke” – this is the most familiar style, a compact three-dimensional figure carved in the round, usually around one to three inches high anaborinetsuke (穴彫根付) or “hollowed netsuke” – subset of katabori which is hollowed-out and carved within; the most common are scenes in clams sashinetsuke (差根付) – this is an elongated form of katabori, literally “stab” netsuke, similar in length to the sticks and gourds used as improvised netsuke before carved pieces were produced, about six inches long obi-hasami – another elongated netsuke with curved top and bottom. It sits behind the obi with the curved ends visible above and below the obi. mennetsuke (面根付) or “mask netsuke” – the largest category after katabori, these were often imitations of full size noh masks, and share characteristics in common with both katabori and manju/kagamibuta manjunetsuke (饅頭根付) or “manju netsuke”- a thick, flat, round type of netsuke, with carving usually done in relief, sometimes made of two ivory halves. Shaped like a manju. ryusanetsuke (柳左根付）- shaped like a manju, but carved like lace, so that light shines completely through kagamibutanetsuke (鏡蓋根付) or “mirror lid netsuke” – shaped like a manju, but with a metal disc serving as lid to a shallow bowl, usually of ivory. The metal is often highly decorated with a wide variety of metallurgical techniques. karakurinetsuke (からくり根付) or “trick/mechanism netsuke” – any netsuke that does something, ones with moving parts or hidden surprisesForms of Netsuke text – Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed. Books on Netsuke
Tea was introduced to this country in the mid-seventeenth century, and within 100 years it was a national beverage enjoyed by all classes, the direct cause of considerable changes in the times of meals and in social customs and, of course, of the introduction of the tea services so highly prized by housewives of every succeeding generation. Pictured right: A Leeds creamware teapot and cover circa 1770 – The globular form with foliate spout and grooved double entwined strap handle with foliate terminals, painted in a limited palette with a seated lady, the reverse with a large low building with thatched roof and smoking chimney, beaded borders, the cover painted with a similar building beside the flower knop, 11.5cm high. Sold for £780 at Bonhams London, April 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Other meals might be eaten from vessels of cream-ware or delft, from plates and dishes not necessarily matching, but tea drinking was from the beginning a ceremony in which women took a predominant part to the exclusion of their menfolk, and which demanded a proper set of pot, sugar basin, cream-jug, teabowls and saucers and, most important, a slop basin in which the proud owner might wash her precious pieces while seated at the tea-table. Pictured left: A good early Staffordshire teapot and cover of Whieldon type Circa 1750-60. – Globular with a crabstock handle and spout and a twig finial, sprigged in relief with fruiting vine branches extending from the sides of the handle, further leaves and grape sprigs on the cover, 11cm high. Value £2,500-£3,500. Image Copyright Bonhams. In spite of opposition from such wiseacres as the philanthropist Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) and later William Cobbett, who condemned the new habit as harmful and sinfully alien, it is a fact that as early as the 1740s over one million pounds of tea were imported annually into London alone, and our earthenware makers and, later, our porcelain makers were quick to meet the resultant demand, with the early support, we may note, of Dr Johnson who defended the ” elegant and popular beverage ” against Hanway and who, if legend is to be believed himself conducted experiments in the making of porcelain. Pictured right: An English Creamware Cauliflower-Moulded Teapot And Cover Circa 1760, Probably Wedgwood – Naturalistically moulded, with foliate handle and cabbage-leaf spout 5 1/8 in. (13.2 cm.) high (2). Sold for £1,560 at Christies, London, January 2007. Image Copyright Christies. So to the most important single item of tea-drinking, the pot itself, to find whose origins we have to go back as far as the Chinese Sung Dynasty (420-79 A D.) when the drinking of tea was considered to be a serious masculine pursuit. The origins, but not the actual making as we know it, for at first tea was brewed actually in the tea-bowls, of any vessels of familiar tea-pot design were almost certainly winepots. Nevertheless, R. L. Hobson (Wares of the Ming Dynasty) refers to tea-pots of the Cheng Te period (1506-21), and as early as the latter part of the seventeenth century tea-pots which formed the greater part of the output of the great potting centre of Yi-hsing were exported to Europe with consignments of tea. These pots were made of stoneware in brown, buff and red, unglazed and relied for their beauty upon good design and shape (flattened globular, pear-shaped, or faceted) rather than upon elaborate detail. It was this kind of ware that was copied at Meissen and by the Elers brothers in this country, dating from the early eighteenth century, and though such pots were much too small for European use they were nevertheless the first to be made in England, developing into the familiar size by the middle of the century. It is always inevitable that with the introduction of any new article in household furnishing designers find themselves hard put to resist the temptation to allow their imaginations to run riot. English teapots were for a time made in the forms of houses, ships, shells, birds, camels, and other animals, in salt-glazed or lead-glazed pottery. Even the great Whieldon, usually a master of restrained design, so far forgot himself as to fashion a pot in the shape of an elephant, and among the rarest of early Chelsea specimens are some in the shapes of Chinamen, dating to the early triangle period. One such, seated, holds a protesting parrot whose open beak serves as a spout, and another clasps a snake. We must remember that this was a time when anything Chinese was widely copied, and it is probable that pieces of this kind were facsimiles of actual Chinese wine-pots. Pictured left: A Staffordshire Creamware Hexagonal Teapot And Cover Irca 1760, Probably Thomas Whieldon – From a block-mould by William Greatbatch, with rectangular panels of Oriental figures at various pursuits against a fretted geometric pattern ground, the shoulders with scrolls and Chinoiserie fretwork, the fluted spout with ozier-pattern and elongated geometric panels, the finial formed as a griffin, recumbent, the scroll handle with a biting serpent terminal, enriched in a typical palette of green, ochre, brown and grey glazes 6 in. (15.2 cm.) high’ Sold for £1,125 at Christies, London, January 2008. Image Copyright Christies. At the other extreme the Staffordshire potters were obliged to make some kind of ware which would imitate the whiteness of porcelain, and we find white salt-glaze tea-pots made between 1740 and 1760. These, and other domestic wares were often decorated with ” sprigging,” the process of adding separately moulded relief decoration such as vine-pattern or prunus sprigs in Oriental style. Pieces so ornamented usually have ” crabstock ” handles and spouts fashioned in imitation of gnarled branches. Variety was introduced by the use of differently coloured clays for body and ornament, and from about 1745 onwards relief ornament similar in appearance was produced by casting, when it was sometimes picked out with japan gilding. This process was, of course, used for the making of the camels, ships, and so on. Confusion sometimes creeps in (especially in sales catalogues) between salt-glazed and lead-glazed ware made […]
The forms were practical and classical, the lines were clean, and the colours were vibrant.
Collecting Communion Tokens and small Communion Tokens price guide. Communion tokens were round or oval in shape, and they were given to individuals who took communion in churches during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Presbyterian worship in Scotland is particularly associated with them, but they may also be found in England, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland. The Communion tokens were used to identify those who were entitled to receive Communion. The minister would give the person a token before giving them Communion. When Communion was being given, the individual would show the token to the Communion steward. There are a number of reasons why communion tokens were used. First, communion tokens ensured that only those who were members of the church and who had been properly instructed in the faith were able to receive Communion. This was important because Communion is a sacred act in which Christians partake of the body and blood of Christ. Second, communion tokens helped to prevent Communion from being taken by those who might not appreciate its significance or who might abuse it in some way. Finally, communion tokens served as a tangible reminder of an individual’s commitment to the Christian faith. Though communion tokens fell out of use in the 18th century, they remain an important part of Protestant and Calvinist history. Communion tokens remind us of the importance of maintaining a proper understanding of Communion and of our commitment to the Christian faith. They were also used as a means of identifying Communion members who had been away from the church for a period of time. They were also given to children when they were first admitted to communion. Often, these tokens would be made of metal or other durable materials and would be worn around the neck or on a keychain. The most common materials were metal, wood, and bone. In some cases, Communion Tokens were also made of other materials such as stone or glass. They could have holes in the centre and so could be strung together. Tokens were often engraved with a Christian symbol or the initials of the person who received the Communion Token. Communion tokens were collectibles even back then and people would try to get as many different ones as possible. There are many different types of communion tokens that can be found. Some have biblical scenes or symbols on them, while others have the name of the church or the year they were made. Messages on tokens would include biblical quotes such as ‘This Do In Remembrance of Me’ and ‘Let A Man Examine Himself’. Today, they are still collected by some people as a hobby and for the most part can be acquired fairly inexpensively.
As an obsessive follower of fashion one of my favourite pastimes is spending copious amounts of money in the designer shops lining London’s smartest streets. Just recently I caught the train home armed with bags bearing the names of Gucci and Lulu Guinness, but if I’d had enough money then the bag that I would have definitely carried home would have been blazoned with the word “Chanel”. Pictured: Gabrielle Chanel, A Little Black Dress, Circa 1926 – classic silk dress in tunic form, with integral overblouse which ties at back waist, short sleeves and square neck, finely pleated apron panel, labelled Gabrielle Chanel Paris, numbered ‘2924’. Sold at Christies, London, Nov 2007 for £875 ($1,806). Born Gabrielle Chanel on 19th August 1883 in Saumur, France, into a poverty stricken family, she spent most of her childhood growing up in the austere area of Auvergne. Chanel’s mother was a sickly woman and her father a philanderer. Life became even harder for Chanel at the age of twelve when after her mother’s death from Tuberculosis she was abandoned at an orphanage by her father. Pictured: A Chanel Wedding Gown And Train 1930 – Composed of a dress with elaborately gored and top stitched bodice and skirts, the detachable train appliqué with cream velvet flowers, fixing to shoulder with hooks and eyes. Labelled CHANEL, with couture number ‘99409’ Sold at Christies, London, Nov 2013 for £40,000 ($63,520). Chanel’s passion for fashion started whilst at a boarding school in Notre Dame; she studied the other girls clothes and fabrics, then learnt to sew. After leaving school she found employment in a lingerie shop and took a second job with a tailor, but her biggest ambition was to leave the life of poverty behind. Intent on seeking wealth without marriage she knew that rich men would shower her with gifts and introduce a grandeur way of life. This dream became reality when Chanel found work as a cabaret singer in a bar at night. She sang two songs and one of these was called “Who has seen Coco”. This became her signature tune and gave her both a new name and the start of a relationship with Etienne Balsan, a wealthy man whose family money was made from textile manufacturing. Life as a mistress was a little uncomfortable at first, as she had a boyish figure and short hair, which was very different to the other mistresses who wore elaborate, corseted dresses and knew how to conduct themselves properly. Chanel decided to adopt her own unique style by wearing men’s clothing, and although this look was a little strange compared to other elegant women Chanel felt more comfortable and continued to dress in this manner. It was during this period that she started to design her own range of hats; this was the first stepping-stone of her successful career. Women craved to wear her millinery creations and it wasn’t long before she was recognised as an important hat designer, forcing her to open a workshop in 1909. Chanel’s first shop was opened in Paris in 1910, and by 1912 she had left Etienne Balsan for Boy Capel, a successful businessman. Capel took a personal interest in Chanel and backed her business financially, thus encouraging her to fulfil her dreams. She opened a boutique in Deauville in 1913 and then began to expand by designing clothing as well as hats. Using hand knitted fabrics she created jackets and skirts. These fresh new designs became an instant hit with the wealthier women, liberating them from their corsets, thus liberating their minds. Chanel wanted women to no longer be reliant on men but to think for themselves and saw that this could happen through the clothes that they wore. In 1915 Chanel’s business was thriving and she was able to open a second house of couture in Biarritz. Completely selfsufficient she no longer needed Boy Capel’s finances but he was the one true love of her life. Chanel was devastated; when in 1919 tragedy hit; Boy Capel was killed in a car crash, and once again she felt abandoned, coping with the grief by throwing herself into work. It was in 1921 when Chanel’s signature scent first appeared on the market. She asked Ernest Beaux, a perfumer, to create an innovative perfume and the result was a fresh smell that lasted longer than any other scent. She set about designing packaging that would capture what the name “Chanel” was all about; clean, crisp and modern. The perfume was housed in a square shaped plain bottle and she did what no other designer had done before by attaching her own name to the scent, “Chanel No. 5”. It was then launched at a Spring Fair on the 5th day of the month. “Chanel No. 5” has become one of the world’s biggest selling scents and the earlier bottles are highly sought after in collecting circles. Another popular area of Chanel collecting is costume jewellery. She was inspired by her own collection of precious stones to create a range of costume jewellery that would complement her clothing ranges. It was sold in a Chanel box and materials used varied from enamel and glass to crystal rhinestones and faux pearls. Some of the rarer pieces are worth thousands of pounds, such as a Peacock pin, set with poured coloured glass and clear crystal rhinestones, produced in the 1930s. This can command £1,665-£2,335. Another rare pin is the enamelled frog brooch dating from 1927, again worth in the region of £1,500-£2,000. If your pocket will not stretch to such high sums, then you can find more affordable pieces of Chanel jewellery on the market. Look for pins in the form of the Maltese Cross which was a signature motif for Chanel. Unfortunately this design is not as popular with contemporary collectors as some of the other designs, so a pin would only cost £80-£100, but it’s a good place to start if you want to begin a collection of Chanel jewellery. Coco Chanel continued to make classic sophisticated […]