St.Valentine’s Day


I have been looking through hundreds of pictures – searching for a red dress – one that is romantic and a rich warm happy red. I remembered this one of Elizabeth Taylor in this red outfit and fittingly she is wearing a heart pendant.



This lady is such a romantic person – beautiful, still at this age, and her life has been filled with many love stories both on and off screen – so who better to portray on Valentine’s Day.



This is a quick blog because it is February 11th and I have to disappear to the seaside to finalise the design of a staircase – but I thought I would start a conversation about some paintings that we have and I have selected a few images of romance as befits the day.



A number of years ago we were going through a phase of enjoying the romance of steam – yes steam – as in steam boats. Charles ambitiously thought he would like to build a copy of an extremely elegant Victorian steam launch. He made a good start on the boat – we bought masses of cedar for the hull, big chunks of wood for the keel, studied shapes and played with other people’s boats on the Thames, such a fun time. The boat began to take shape – a stunning work of art as far as it went – then we had to find a steam engine. Now this is a challenge at the best of times and one possible resource was a machine dealer that he had met while equipping the school workshop (in a previous life).

 We called to see the dealer and in the middle of technical discussion, which was fascinating, but generally flew over my head, he turned to me and said: ‘I have something that you might like’. He then produced two little strong cardboard boxes which were crammed with the most amazing drawings and paintings of jewellery.  Another box filled with imitation gems – opals, emeralds, sapphires, heaven for a jackdaw like me.  To add to the collection he had about 120 tin boxes that contained beautifully engineered tools with which the jewellery was punched out.



We have had this collection for so long and had almost forgotten about it until the great sorting out started in readiness for the great move. Although we are breaking with tradition that people of our age downsize – we are upsizing – we do not have an attic in our new house and storage could be a problem. Added to this there is so much stuff in our present home – one disadvantage of having a very large house is that you never throw things away. So in the organisation I decided to sort out these paintings which we thought numbered around 3000. Having spent over a week so far – I now find that there are nearer 5000. I am still researching the styles so that I can work out what period is covered and initially it was thought perhaps about 12-15 years around the late 40’s and early 50s – that is until I garnered more knowledge it seems that they go from the 1920s to the 1960s.





The factory where they were made was in Birmingham and it closed around 1970. They made costume jewellery which followed the fashions of the time. For instance in the 1940’s and 1950’s jewellery was made that ordinary folk could afford, but were copies of the exotic jewels worn by stars such as Elizabeth Taylor in the films. Sparkling crystals, marcasite, early plastics, I have learnt so much doing the research, but have only touched the surface of knowledge. The collection is history in a couple of cardboard boxes – it is so exciting and absorbing that I forget to stop and get myself a cup of tea – or I find that it is 2 o’clock in the morning and I should be in bed.





I had to include the mistletoe as it is supposed to invite a kiss.


There are rings that could be for an engagement!





And necklaces – perfect to wear on the wedding day.




A pretty broach for the mother of the bride – or maybe a gift for the bridesmaids.





So there it is – my Valentine’s day celebration of romantic images.



May the love you give on Valentines Day

Be strong enough to last the whole year.



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