September 17, 2014

Auction Fever

I love going to auctions and there’s nothing like the thrill of bidding and winning a coveted item! But my favourite auction house has recently converted from a live auction on Saturday mornings to an on-line “discovery” auction. I still bid on things, but I really like the fun of out-bidding someone in person, and watching all of the different personalities and characters who attend the auctions.

In smaller auctions like this one, there are “lots” of items, and sometimes they’re related, like a box of china, and other times, the lot is totally random, like the that lot that had some mid-century modern lucite and chrome pieces, and this Thai Noodle Cart. I won a few lots at the auction over the weekend, which was amazing with everything else that was happening, and I thought I’d share them with you.

How about this amazing cheese dome! It’s huge and weighs a ton. There is one similar to this, but with more elaborate decoration, on 1st Dibs for over $6,000! I can imagine a huge hunk of Stilton under this dome. IMG_3879

Do you remember that massive lot of china I got at an auction earlier in the summer? This huge platter matches it exactly!


One of the other pieces in this lot was a piece of the china that my mother collects, and pieces of which have been in her family for generations. It’s Davenport in the Flying Bird pattern. IMG_3875

I especially like this piece because it’s been repaired with staples. A jeweler would use a diamond-tipped drill bit to cut the holes for the staples. It’s completely sturdy and shows a respect for the piece.IMG_3877

This is another piece in the lot, and although it’s filthy, it’s still a great piece.


The reverse is equally interesting. Some one’s written “English Ironstone, Crown Derby …” and on the side, it almost looks like a date, 17xx??IMG_3883

This platter is also huge! The pattern is similar to some pieces I bought at auction last summer, except they were blue and white.


The last piece I will share with you is a toast rack. It’s English silver and is marked 1867! Such a sweet piece with its hearts. IMG_3898

There is still an auction house that does live country-style auctions, so I will probably start paying more attention to that!

September 14, 2014

Pride of Baltimore!

If you’ve been reading Pigtown*Design for any length of time, you know that I am a big booster of Baltimore, my home town. This weekend gave me so much more to be proud of with the celebrations for the 200th Anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem. As I mentioned last week, there were loads of events happening in and around Baltimore, on the land, in the sea and in the air. I managed to take advantage of all three!


Friday started out by leaving the office at noon to join one of my best friends for drinks and lunch at the Four Seasons, which is right on the waterfront. We knew that the Blue Angels would be practicing in the afternoon, so we had a front row seat for that, and for watching the ships sail by. The one above is Pride of Baltimore II and is a gorgeous ship!

It was so exciting to see the Blue Angels swooping and zooming by us and they looked like they were having such fun! They are so fast that they move faster than the speed of sound, so you see them before you hear them, and they can actually sneak up on you!IMG_3481

At times, they fly so close to each other that their wings are only 18 inches apart. It’s equally thrilling and a little scary!IMG_3537

Saturday started out with some rain, but all reports said it would move out by 3:00 and sure enough, it did! We headed down to the harbour and had a chance to look at some of the tall ships that were visiting for the Star-Spangled 200 celebrations. Luckily, I had the perfect shirt to wear!SS200  (1)

Each of the tall ships that we saw were impressive in their own way, from the masthead to the rigging.
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SS200  (4) SS200  (15)

Just before sunset, we hopped on a boat and headed out of the Inner Harbour. The sky was just gorgeous and provided lots of opportunities for pictures!SS200  (42)SS200  (43)SS200  (56)SS200  (64)SS200  (68)SS200  (72)

When we finally reached the cove where we moored, we waited in anticipation of the fireworks. On the way out, we’d seen the barges that they would be shot from, and there was a barge about every half mile.

And then with a huge bang, the fireworks started!fireworks  (3)

We were perfectly situated, being able to see over to Fort McHenry which was the main venue, and back into the city and the Inner Harbour. To say that these were the best fireworks I’ve ever seen would not be an understatement. They went on for more than 20 minutes, with all six barges firing off fireworks at the same time. It was a sensory overload, but so much fun!fireworks  (11)fireworks  (21)fireworks  (23)fireworks  (33)fireworks  (50)

I tried to take a panoramic shot so you could see more than one barge, but it’s not great… the boat was rocking a little bit in the chop, so some of these pictures are a little crooked. fireworks  (29)

One of the fun pieces that they did was make pictures out of fireworks, and you can just see the flag here. They also spelled USA and 1814 and 2014. fireworks  (57)

I love this picture, during the finale! I am taking a picture of the fireworks, and in the corner, you can see one of my friends taking the same picture!fireworks  (64)

I love the second or two after the fireworks finish, and they’re still echoing across the harbour, and then all of the boats start sounding their horns in a cacophony of hoots and toots!

As we sailed back into the harbour, it was great to see how many of the buildings had been lit in red, white and blue!fireworks  (76)

On Sunday, I met up with some friends at Port Covington and we watched the final show of the Blue Angels. If you haven’t seen them, they’re simply amazing.BA  (39)

Their rolls, spins, speed and seer power are fabulous. At times, they are flying so low that their landing gear drops, BA  (4)and then they fly so high that they get lost in the sky and the clouds. They fly over so fast and so close that your bones rattle.If you look closely, two of the planes are flying up-side-down! BA  (8)

As these two went by, they were going about 600 miles per hour. BA  (28)

My little camera and iPhone are just not good enough to get decent shots, although the friends I was with got a lot. Between the two of them, they shot off more than 1400 images!BA  (37)

One of the fun images from this weekend is of Governor Martin O’Malley dressed in period uniform atop a horse. I remember when he learned to ride about 10+ years ago at Fort McHenry. Later in the weekend, he and his Irish rock band played a concert at one of the Star-Spangled celebration sites!bal-omalley-pg-026

It was such a fun weekend and I am so glad to have the chance to participate in the events. I am so proud of Baltimore and how beautifully everything went and how fabulous the city looked.

September 11, 2014

You Look Marbelous

In July, I posted a story about all of the beautiful end papers in the books in our collection at work. Click here to see it. marble

A friend sent me the most beautiful video about marbling, with the most gorgeous music to it, and I wanted to share it with you.

The artist is Turkish and is at least the second generation in his family to do marbelizing. It’s really fascinating how drops of paint on a surface can become such an amazing work. And amazing that this craft has come down through the middle ages, and is still in use today. Here’s the original article from The Paris Review.

September 9, 2014

O, Say Can You See?

About 15 years ago, I was sitting in a bland conference room, in a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fort McHenry. We were speculating about the 200th anniversary of the writing of the National Anthem in 2014. At that time, 2014 seemed so far away, but we knew the planning had to start then, and that everything would culminate over the weekend of September 12-14, 2014.

The time is nigh. image

Two years ago, Star-Spangled 200 was launched with the Star-Spangled Sailabration, when dozens of tall ships, battleships and other sea-faring vessels arrived in Baltimore for a weekend celebration. You can read about it here, here and here.image

The next week will be filled with amazing events, from the arrival of the tall ships, to the spectacular aerial acrobatics of the Blue Angels, to the mock battle that will take place over 25 hours, to a massive fireworks display lighting up the Inner Harbour, to the raising of the flag, exactly 200 years to the hour, after Francis Scott Key first spotted it in the distance.

Here are some other things I am excited about.

Today, more than 6,000 children gathered, for the 100th year, to create a living flag at Fort McHenry.image

Local company, Under Armour, has kitted out the University of Maryland’s football team in uniforms with the Star-Spangled banner’s original words printed on them. The captains will wear red belts, as did the captains in the War of 1812 did.imageimageimage

They have added 15-star and 15-stripe flags to the top of the Washington Monument. Notice that on these flags, the blue field rests atop a red stripe. This is the only version in which this happens.image

The Blue Angels will be flying again. Last time, I saw them twice. I am going to try to see them all four times they fly this time!image

By the Dawn’s Early Light flag-raising ceremony. The flag will be raised at the exact time that Francis Scott Key saw it after the Battle of Baltimore. I am not hugely patriotic, but seeing this flag  over the actual ramparts, as you sing the anthem, does me in.image

The original manuscript of the National Anthem will be on display at Fort McHenry for the first time in decades.image

The words to the anthem are essentially a question that’s asked in the first verse and answered in the subsequent three verses. At our lecture on the writing of the anthem at work, we started the event with by singing the first and at the end, sang the last verse, which is my favorite.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

imageFor more information about events at Fort McHenry, click here. For more overall information about Star-Spangled 200 events, click here.

My sincerest congratulations to all of my friends, including former fellow board members, the staff at Fort McHenry, Star-Spangled 200 and everyone else who has worked so hard for so many years to present this event, the largest in Baltimore’s history. I am so proud of all you’ve done! THIS is Baltimore!