Monday, March 22, 2010

The Prague Easter Markets

One of the highlights of our trip, so far, have been meandering through The Prague Easter markets. These run daily from 20 March to 11 April 2010 at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Over 100 stalls sell hand crafted products, such as wooden toys, Czech crystal and glass, candles, jewelry, metal-ware, embroidered cloth, and beautifully dressed puppets and dolls. The most common sight is the brightly colored, hand-painted Easter eggs, which Czech ladies dressed in traditional costume will even personalize for you, painting on a name or special message.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Spring Quiche Dish ~ Delish!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased this charming vintage pie/quiche dish at an Indiana antique shop (see my March 15th posting, "Favorite Places"). I wanted to fill it with something appropriate for early Spring - and what better than an egg, goat cheese, and early spring onion/chive quiche! Tender spring onions have been sprouting up all over the Washington, DC area during the last few blue sky, low seventy degree days. Below is a photo I took today before gathering some in the woods behind our house. They were growing among fallen oak leaves and a limb downed in the winter winds.

Goat Cheese and Spring Onion Quiche
6 servings

1 pie shell
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh spring onions
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 oz soft goat cheese
1/2 tbsp butter
kosher salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes (or, if using a purchased pie crust, according to package instructions.) Cool crust while preparing the filling for the quiche, and turn oven down to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the diced sweet onion, a little salt – and pepper, if desired. Stir constantly to prevent browning, until the onion is mostly translucent - a process that will take just a few minutes. Remove the onion from the pan and set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk the three eggs briefly but vigorously to combine the yolks and whites. Set aside.

Add the cream and milk to the saucepan, keeping it over medium heat until it is very hot to the touch. Add this to the eggs, very slowly to prevent curdling. First, drizzle in a small quantity of the milk, whisking constantly. Then add a little more. When the bowl of eggs feels warm, you can (again, whisking swiftly and constantly) stir the bowlful of egg and milk into the saucepan, or you can just continue drizzling all the milk into the bowl until it is fully incorporated.

Don't chop the spring onions until you are ready to add them to the quiche. First combine them into the room temperature goat cheese, or they will float to the top of the egg mixture. Add the goat cheese/spring onions and cooked sweet onions to the pie shell, then pour the egg-and milk mixture on top.

Bake the quiche at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, longer if you want to eat it at room temperature. If making a day or two ahead, store the quiche (once it has cooled) covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator, and allow it to reach room temperature before serving.

Serve with a salad of spring greens and pansy petals and a glass of Pinot Grigio...Cheers (to Spring)!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pigtails a.k.a., Braids

As a child, I was in “pigtails” and "bangs" from the time I was aged two through ten! How happy I was to finally be shorn of those dreaded “tails” when I was in 6th grade – this was an era before Johnson & Johnson’s “No More Tangles”! According to most dictionaries, a pigtail is a braid of tightly woven hair. In the Indiana of my childhood, these long braided hairstyles were NOT known as braids, but as the well-understood “pigtails”! The term originated in the later 1600s through the 1800s, and came to be applied to any braided (plaited, in British parlance) hairstyle. In many regions, pigtail bunches and pigtail braids are traditionally given to very young girls, though it is not unusual for younger and fully grown women to wear them as well in informal situations. Evidently, there are numerous styles of pigtails - they may be braided, straightened, beaded, ribboned (mine were almost always beribboned!), fishtailed, and French braided. Pigtails can be placed on different parts of a person's head. It is said that the higher the pigtails the more liberal the look. The lower pigtails are said to give off a more conservative look.As you can see from the photos above and to the left, this 1955 Hoosier kindergartener (pictured in her favorite "Snow White" dress) and 1958 third grader was of the more conservative bent!

A Favorite Antiquarian Book Purveyor – The Lyrical Ballad

One of my very favorite brick-and-mortar bookshops is the Lyrical Ballad in Saratoga, New York. I visit this charming site every August – during racing season - when we stay at our family's beloved 85 year old Adirondack “camp” at Sacandaga Lake, New York, about 20 miles to the north. This bookshop, owned by John and Jan DeMarco, and named after the Wordsworth poetry title, has been a cornerstone of downtown Saratoga for 35 years.
What is special about this shop is that it is truly a “labyrinth of books”. How I love to wander through the labyrinth of rooms containing SO many wonderful old books and prints! The shop is located at 7 Philadelphia Street, right off Saratoga’s main street, Broadway, in the lower space of a former bank building. The original bank vault remains, but instead of being filled with bags of money, it is loaded with rare and scarce biblio-treasures - this is certainly one place laden with late 19th and early 20th century decorative publisher’s bindings! The front rooms are stunning, lined with corniced wood shelves that frame these precious jewels to great effect. The accompanying photos show the two bookcases I most covet and from which I have purchased many a wonderful tome: an antique revolving bookcase that looks like a castle turret…
… and the glass-fronted bookcase of precious miniature books.
And then, there is the DeMarco’s extensive collection of fabulous old bookends displayed above all the shelves. The Demarcos sell books previously owned by Audubons and by Melvilles - as in Herman of Moby Dick fame! When I ask for more titles illustrated by my beloved Margaret Armstrong, I am told of many still remaining in the DeMarco’s storage facility, which have not yet been transported to the bookshop!

Do visit this treasure of a book shop if you are ever in the Saratoga Springs area (and be sure to sample the waters from the many springs!). The store is open every day, with extended hours during the Summer Racing Season. The DeMarcos can be contacted at (518) 584-8779 or send an email to: for more information

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Packing for Prague

My husband and I will be traveling to Eastern Europe later this week. I am looking forward to posting our photos and experiences once we return in a couple of weeks. As a frequent traveler, I have put together pre-packing and packing lists, which are helpful, especially for lengthy overseas trips. I thought I would share some selected tips with my dear blog readers:

• Always pack a pashmina shawl, along with a neck pillow, earplugs, and a blindfold for long airplane trips
• Call your cellphone carrier to activate an overseas SIM card in your Blackberry or iPhone.
• Carry one ATM card and load the account before you leave!
• Pack all vitamins and prescription and non-prescription meds
• Fill out a medication form listing all prescriptions and dosages
• Don’t forget your passport!
• To lighten your load, cut out articles from magazines and/or print out articles from the Internet to read and Sudoku or crossword puzzles to work on the plane.
• Pack healthy, non-perishable snacks to bring on the plane with you in case there are delays.
• Charge your cell phone, BlackBerry/iPhone, digital camera, netbook, iPod, and any other electronic devices you want to take as well as all chargers – AND an extra memory card or two for your camera. Don’t forget your wall socket adapters for 220 voltage!
• Make a note of the things to do when you get home and leave it on your desk.
• Wear Velcroclosure or slip-on shoes to make it easier to go through airport security.
• Pack a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
• Ensure that you have tagged your luggage with your name and contact information (put only your first initial(s) and your full last name for safety reasons) - inside and out.
• Make your luggage easy to identify from others by wrapping a colored or plaid ribbon or band securely around the handle (nothing dangling), or apply stickers to the sides.
• Roll several garments together rather than packing flat. You can fit more in and it distributes the weight more evenly and causes fewer wrinkles.
• Use a lightweight knapsack (with a luggage tag attached) as your carry-on luggage, as it can go on all day trips and bus tours. Also pack a small or medium-sized over-the-head shoulder bag/purse to use during non-tour times. Carry on all valuable items, i.e., electronic equipment, cameras, film, cash, jewelry, passport, tickets, flight confirmation info, emergency numbers/embassy addresses, medications, prescriptions, and keys. In case of luggage loss or delay, also carry on sufficient toiletries/makeup, tissues, travel-sized Clorox and/or antibacterial wipes, chewing gum/mints, small folding umbrella, tour info/guides, reading material, foreign-language dictionary/ phrase book, pens, pencils, paper/small notebook/journal, medical information, and copies of prescriptions, and your itinerary.
• Other useful items to pack: small sewing kit/safety pins, Q-Tips, tweezers/ nail clippers/scissors, small flashlight, eyeglass lens cloth or spray, toothpicks, stain remover pen or wipes, binoculars, small magnified make-up mirror, and a lint roller
• It is wise to pack and wear inexpensive watches and jewelry.
• Hairdryers are usually not necessary to pack – check with your hotels before you leave…

In Honor of St. Patrick's Day...

Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, March 15, 2010


The blue and bright-eyed flowerlet of the brook, hope's gentle gem, the sweet forget-me-not.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

My parents on their wedding day, May 22, 1948, featuring my mother's forget-me-not wedding hat...

Books as Furniture

Books are made for furniture,
but there is nothing that so beautifully
furnishes a house.
A little library growing each year
is an honorable part of a [wo]man’s history,
is not a luxury,
but one of the necessities of life.

Henry Ward Beecher
Our Russian Blue, Katerina Kiev, posing on my Library's book-laden coffee/tea table

Favorite ♥ Places: "Way Back When Antiques"

Greenfield, Indiana, is my 89-year-old mother's hometown. It is located a few miles east of the Indiana state capital of Indianapolis. Greenfield has several charming antique shops and malls with great selections and prices. This is one of my favorites: "Way Back When Antiques" on Main Street, which is U.S. Route 40 - "The National Road". Be sure to let me know if you ever visit the antique shops of Greenfield...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Smithsonian Jaunt I

One of the benefits of living a short Metro ride away from the Smithsonian Museums is the opportunity to spend winter weekdays “ far from the maddening crowds” in peaceful exploration of amazing treasures. This morning I visited the Freer and Sackler Galleries, which house the Smithsonian’s collection of Asian art, and enjoyed viewing the kinds of Asian objects d’art that inspired the 19th century Japonisme craze.

Section from Emperor Minghuang's Journey to Sichuan; Ming Dinasty (1368-1644) Chinese handscroll painting on silk

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dutch Oven Cooking

Easy Dutch Oven French Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Potatoes
Serves 4

8 chicken bone-in or boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Dried or fresh Thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small potatoes cut into quarters (I prefer Yukon Gold or red potatoes)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
¾ cup dry white wine
¾ cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 container of sliced fresh mushrooms

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and thyme; coat with flour, shaking off excess.
2. In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat olive oil over medium-high. Cook chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove; set aside.
3. Add potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth and wine. Stir in mustard. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
4. Return chicken to pot. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve with white wine, a salad, and French or sourdough bread.

Teddy Bears

A Collection of Children with their "Teddies"
My first "best friend" was a teddy bear simply, yet appropriately, named, "Teddy". I received Teddy from Santa (my parents!) when I was almost 6 months old.

Here he is pictured with me on my first birthday...
...and a couple years later when I was almost three.
My Teddy was "born" in Germany. His "fur" is grey mohair, and he has black shoe-button eyes. His "paws" were originally yellow felt as pictured above, but they wore out from much kissing and loving. I will never forget my sorrow as he was "stored" in the top of a closet for weeks, awaiting surgery/repair! He still sports a bent right ear from his closet "prison" time! At long last, my grandmother, Lavenua, rescued him. She cut up one of her old black felt hats to create new "paws". I will never forget how difficult it was for her to sew on those heavy, thick felt pieces to Teddy's mohair body! Those paws have never worn out, and Teddy still graces a bookshelf in my home.

Teddy must wear bifocals now and a sweater to keep him warm ~ note that he still has that bent right ear!!!

Be sure to click on the album above to see my collection of old photos of children and their "teddies".

Who is Margaret Armstrong?

Margaret Armstrong, second left, in 1910 at the family's lake house in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada with friends & sister, Helen, far left, and brother, Hamilton, far right.
In previous postings (see below), I have referred to Margaret Armstrong. Margaret Nielson Armstrong (1867-1944) was the most productive and accomplished American book designer of the 1890s and early 1900s. Thematically and philosophically, her career places her squarely within the vibrant Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States. Her eclectic style - combining classical and art nouveau with its graceful symmetry and natural motifs, mainly floral in character, rooted in Japonisme and with Colonial, Native American and other motifs - resists easy characterization.

Margaret was the eldest daughter of an old and artistic family, a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the Governor of New Amsterdam, on her mother’s side. The family, which eventually included 7 children, spent considerable time on the Hudson River in a 1750's house known as “Danskammer,” inherited by her father; and later spent summer vacations at a lake house in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada. When Margaret was a young girl, the family lived in Florence, where her father, Maitland Armstrong, a diplomat and stained-glass designer and colleague of John LaFarge, practiced his craft. Margaret is said to have enjoyed assisting him in his studio.

In the 1870s the family moved to 58 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, then the heart of the City’s bohemian artistic community, and where Margaret lived and worked most of her life. Friends and neighbors included artists like Edwin Austin Abbey, Winslow Homer and William Merit Chase, and architect Stanford White, who redecorated the 10th Street house for the Armstrong family. Two of her siblings had significant careers as well: Helen was also an illustrator and artist who often worked on projects with her sister; and her youngest brother, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, served as the managing editor of the journal Foreign Affairs from 1928-1972 and wrote an autobiography, Those Days, published in 1963.

Margaret was educated by a governess and studied at the Art Students League. Her career began in 1883 at the age of sixteen when she sent some menus and place cards that she had made to the Women's Exchange in New York City to be sold. She and her sister, Helen, began designing a series of Christmas cards for the family at this time. Her first book cover design was published in 1890. She so feared being exposed as a woman working in what was at that time a man's profession that she submitted her first work, Sweet William by Marguerite Bouvet, under the name M.N. Armstrong.

Beyond Margaret’s obvious talent, several major exhibitions devoted to book design and bindings at about the same time directed more attention to her work. In 1893 the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition provided an entire building for exhibits relating to women. Her work was displayed here; her cover designs won an award and a mention in Frank Linstow White's 1893 article on "Younger Women in American Art". In 1894, the Grolier Club published a catalog of book artists that described her as a "designer of great versatility and eminent skill" whose "skill in adapting, combining, and creating designs which are almost flawless in excellence has made her book covers famous." In an 1895 article in the New York Times about the art of book design, she was cited: “Perhaps Charles Scribner’s Sons have as large a collection of signed book covers as any other firm in the city. Margaret Armstrong has designed many of the covers they have brought out, and on several of them appear in an inconspicuous place the initials, 'M.A.' They are delightfully appropriated, these designs of Miss Armstrong, for the books which the covers inclose [sic]; very pretty and artistic, with just enough of the significance of the character of the book – an appropriate suggestion, not a full-fledged illustration to repel the reader instead of luring him on to further pleasing developments within.”

By the turn of the century Margaret was considered to be the most important woman working in book design in this country. She utilized bold and strikingly colored inks and bookcloths, and often designated that gold-stamped areas be both glossy and matte to heighten the effect and create interest. Her use of slightly asymmetrical designs, however, set hers apart from many of her contemporaries. She was extremely prolific, designing more than 300 bindings between 1890-1940, the majority between 1895 and 1911 for Scribner's and Putnam; and designed multiple bindings for several authors, including George Washington Cable, Paul Leicester Ford, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Paul Bourget, and Frank Stockton. In the years 1900 and 1901 she undertook two major projects with Scribners, a complete series of twelve in uniform blue cloth for the works of Henry Van Dyke and a similar series in lavender for the works of Myrtle Reed. These designs reveal many common elements in her work: a compartmentalized "stained glass" technique which boxed in elements in the designs; the use of botanical designs; symmetry; and the ornamental use of her own distinctive lettering in alphabets and type fonts of her own creation. Two of her most exuberantly lettered covers are Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleeping Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, published by Putnam in 1899.

After 1907 her output of cover designs gradually decreased until about 1913 when she worked almost exclusively on design and writing of her own books and an autobiography by her father, Day Before Yesterday: Reminiscenses of a Varied Life, published in 1920. In her mid-forties, she spent a few years travelling around the western United States. In 1911, she and some friends were the first women to descend to the floor of the Grand Canyon where she discovered some new flower species. A few years later, in 1915, her first authored book, Field Book of Western Wildflowers, which included over five hundred of her drawings, was published. In her later years, she also wrote a family history, Five Generations: Life and Letters of an American Family (1930), for which she also designed the cover, and two very successful biographies, Fanny Kemble, A Passionate Victorian, in 1938 and Trelawny, A Man's Life in 1940 as well as three murder mysteries, Murder in Stained Glass, The Man with No Face, and The Blue Santo Murder Mystery.

Influential in her own time, Margaret Armstrong's exceptional book design work has been the focus of several major exhibits during the past 20 years. Books with her designs became scarce and rose sharply in value after a catalog of her titles, A Checklist of Trade Bindings by Margaret Armstrong, was published by the University of California Library in 1968.

A Favorite Book from Childhood

This antique children's book is currently on my "wish list". It was one of my very favorites as a young child, gifted to me and my sister in the mid-1950s by a family friend. This Volland edition, published in 1923, contains charming Arts and Crafts style illustrations, as seen above.

The Romance of Japonaiserie


(Click on photo above to view Cassandra's collection.)

Japonisme or Japonaiserie are the original French terms for the influence and assimilation of the Japanese aethetic on the arts and design of the West in the mid to late 19th century. When contact between the West and Japan started after the arrival in Japan of Commodore Perry in 1853, ending a period of Japanese isolation, a period of assimilation of Japanese styles by European artists and artisans commenced in the areas of design and construction, furniture (Herter), sculptures, porcelain/ceramics (Gallé, Rookwood), glasswork (Tiffany, LaFarge), jewelry (Lalique), silver (Gorham, Tiffany), wallpaper/prints/textiles (Liberty), and book design (esp. Sarah Wyman Whitman, Margaret Armstrong, and Bertha Stuart).

During the 1860s and 1870s, various Japanese products, both new and old, swept through Europe, and various traders, diplomats and travelers returned from their travels to Japan to publish books and spread their knowledge of Eastern life and culture. Thus, the elegance and simplicity of Japanese style, design and production greatly inspired English and French artisans, who ultimately worked to fuse Japanese aesthetic values with Victorian functional needs. This assimilation and fusion of styles allocated "new ideas and shapes that looked towards the 20th century". The Japonisme influence ultimately molded and directed the progression of the Aesthetic Movement and unleashed a fervor of desire for this "new style". Larger artistic movements such as Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau are also rooted in Japonisme.

The success of the Japanese pavilions at world's fairs in the 1870's and 1880's, insured that Victorian homes were soon awash in Japonisme. The 1880s, the height of the craze in Europe and America, ushered in a period in which everyone wanted Japanese style objects in their home, and producers obliged, providing both original imports and Western decorative wares done in the Japanese style. Designers used books such as A Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design (1879-80) by Thomas Cutler and original Japanese craftsman manuals as sources for their designs. The Victorians, however, were not especially interested in authenticity. Ardent consumers, they wanted the new and the now. Their furniture preference was for real bamboo made up into side tables, whatnots and folding screens, many of them startlingly rickety. So great was the Victorian bamboo craze that some living rooms appeared to be entirely furnished in kindling. Some, in fact, was not even bamboo but, instead, miscellaneous branches and twigs smoked and scorched to give a bamboo impression.

With respect to book-binding, decorative cover designers employed a variety of techniques that reflected an interest in Japanese style. In the Victorian period, covers that didn't necessarily look Japanese showed the influence through the use of asymmetrical design, strong diagonals, oriental typefaces and motifs, and a variety of fill patterns. In the move away from more gaudy Victorian covers, many designers, i.e., Sarah Wyman Whitman, Margaret Armstrong, and Bertha Stuart, appreciated the simplicity of Japanese style. Some covers featured an oriental style typeface or actual Japanese characters. Asymmetrical design continued to be popular as well as imitations of the flat Japanese landscape style.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sarah's Butterscotch Pie

An Old Indiana Recipe:

2 ½ cups milk
2 eggs separated
¼ cup flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup water
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 8-inch baked pastry shell

Thoroughly combine ½ cup milk, egg yolks and flour. Set aside. Scald remaining 2 cups of milk over hot water. Combine brown sugar, water and salt in skillet. Place over low heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook until mixture thickens and a few bubbles break sending up not whiffs, but puffs of smoke. Add caramelized sugar very slowly, stirring constantly, to scalded milk. When smooth, gradually stir in egg-yolk mixture and cook, stirring constantly, over hot water until thick. Remove and add butter or margarine and vanilla. When fat has melted, stir it in. Cool. Pour filling into cooled pie shell. Make a meringue using the egg whites, ¼ tsp. Cream of tartar and ¼ cup sugar. Spread over pie. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) for 8 to 10 minutes or until delicately browned.

A Pioneer Great, Great Grandmother

My great, great, grandmother Eliza Roe Bunker, pictured here in the early 1850s, was a Quaker born in 1829, who pioneered as a young girl with her family to Indiana from New Garden, North Carolina via Washington County, Tennessee. This is the oldest of my family photos, and I am very happy to have a photo of one of my original pioneer grandmothers!

Pioneers to Indiana

I am descended both maternally and paternally from pioneers to Indiana, who arrived to the unbroken forests in the early 19th century from Connecticut, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina. These many grandmothers and grandfathers were mostly English or German in ancestry and traveled to the Hoosier State by horseback and Conestoga wagon.

From the History of Indiana by the Hon. W.S. Haymond, 1879:
"The journey from civilization to the forest-home for the pioneer, with his wife and family, was not among the least of their difficulties. The route lay, for the most part, through a rough country. Swamps and marshes were crossed with great exertion and fatigue; rivers were forded with difficulty and danger; forests were penetrated with risk of captivity by hostile Indians; nights were passed in open prairies, with the sod for a couch and the heavens for a shelter; long, weary days and weeks of tiresome travel were endured. Perchance the mother and child were seated in a rough farm-wagon, while the father walked by the side of his faithful team, urging them over the uneven ground. But they were not always blessed with this means of transportation. And, in the best cases, the journey westward was a tedious, tiresome, dangerous one...Generally the pioneers were blessed with good health, and enabled to overcome the privations of the forest travel. At night they slept in their wagon, or upon the grass; while the mules, hobbled to prevent escape, grazed the prairie around them.

But the toils and dangers of the pioneer were not ended with the termination of his journey. Perchance the cabin is yet existing only in the surrounding trees. But he never falters. The forest bows beneath his axe; and, as log after log is placed one upon the other, his situation becomes more cheerful. Already the anxious mother has pointed out the corner for the rude chimney, and designated her choice in the location of the door and window. The cabin grows day by day; and at length it is finished, and the family enters their home. It is not a model home; but it is the beginning of a great prosperity, and as such is worthy of preservation in history, on account of its obscurity and its severe economy. But it was a home, notwithstanding; and I venture the observation, that with all its lack of comforts, with all its pinching poverty, with all its isolation and danger, it was often a happy home; and perhaps its growth, in this respect, is not among the greatest of its accomplishments; yet after all, it has become happier, as well as wealthier...

The years passed on, and the pioneers continued their toils, submitted patiently to their hardships, until the light of civilization and prosperity dawned upon them in open cornfields, waving in harvest luxury, or in neat, comfortable dwellings, that were raised by the site of the cabin homes. But his dawn is rapidly approaching the high noon of prosperity. In place of the ever-winding 'trace,' the iron rail may now be seen, and for the old-fashioned two-wheeled cart we have the powerful locomotive. The scene has been completely changed. The forests have disappeared, or are rapidly disappearing, and being supplanted by cultivated fields. On every hand we may behold evidences of this great transformation. Let us thank God and praise the pioneers of Indiana for what has been accomplished, and, having the promises already fulfilled in our eyes, continue in the industry and perseverance for which we have had so glorious an example."

Grandmother Lavenua’s Graduation Day

Muncie, Indiana - June 1914

Margaret Armstrong Covers

"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves" ~ Gilbert Highet

"Gardens of Gold" ~ Cassandra's Collection of Decorative Publishers’ Bindings

Decorative Publishers' Bindings

To view, please click on photo above.

My antiquarian book collection, authored by both well- and lesser-known authors, encompasses novels, poetry, and nature, religious, and historical themes. Most are bound in embossed and gilt stamped cloth and showcase imaginative design, rich materials, and skilled artistry. The “mass-produced” books of this particular era became elaborate vehicles for the visual arts and technical innovation. These books have been commanding increasingly more attention over the past two decades from discerning collectors, decorators, dealers, and librarians. Preservation and conservation of these antique books is important, as they are in limited supply and the demand for fine examples is increasing. Yet, despite the visual appeal of these attractive covers and the fact that they are authentic products of the period, they remain relatively unknown - new finds are occurring each day at brick-and-mortar or online used book sellers, antique dealers, flea markets, yard sales – or even on your own bookshelves!

An Antiquarian Book "Heaven" For Sale in Pennsylvania

My Dream!

Longing for Spring!

When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close to the waterside. But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a county turnpike toad. I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew about the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake. ~ Dorothy Wordsworth

Beatrix & Friends...

Frolicking Lambs

Cassandra Follows...