I’ve never toured China, but I collect antique children’s hats from the Chinese ethnic minorities, embroidered silk-and-cotton confections of exquisite handiwork. In my mind, I am floating down the Yangtze as I show them to guests: If the appliquéd fabric pieces of a hat create a three-dimensional tiger, I explain, the child who wore the hat 100 years ago was a boy, as the tiger was the spirit animal for male children. Mothers sewed such hats to protect their babies from evil spirits, and the motifs derived from where the family lived and what sex the baby was. Isn’t that fascinating?
Like me, you might have talismans from lands you yearn to visit. You might have souvenirs from places you have been. You might even have an affinity for artisan works created in another country. Whatever the reason, decorating a home with items from far-flung lands infuses it with a curated mood.
Bonus: When you infuse your rooms with international style, you can satiate your wanderlust without leaving your living room. You can muse on a French vase, a hand-painted Chinese ginger jar or a print of the Hellenistic architecture of ancient Rome to soak in the culture of that country. Some call it daydreaming. I call it “taking a daily vacation.” Try it sometime with one of these fascinating finds.
Calling all Francophiles: This Sèvres vase hails from the royal porcelain factory founded in 1756 in the village of Sèvres, France ($4,000; Booth S-514). Produced in the 1840s, the vase features hand-painted details on the portrait and edges, a sign of quality craft.
Purchased in 1965 from a grand Antebellum home in Natchez, Mississippi, the vase was converted into an electric lamp, as was the fashion in the 1930s. So, the bottom was removed to accommodate the electrical work, along with the famous Sèvres mark. Nonetheless, GasLamp appraiser Sam Holden valued the vase at $6,000 in 2019. Ooh, la la!
Those captivated by Japanese culture can appreciate this whimsical 1940s musical jewelry box ($125; Booth S-514). Made in the shape of a piano, the box is painted in black lacquer as a striking backdrop for the paintings of trees and pagodas in metallic gold. A tiny geisha, wearing the “split peach” hairstyle, dances when the music plays. So charming.
This vintage Russian doll strikes an exotic note. This fellow is wrapped in traditional folk clothing in rich shades of chocolate, red and marigold ($38; Booth T-2012). His head is made of papier-mache that has been molded and hand-painted to create facial features. This is an excellent piece for any Russian culture enthusiast.
The craftsman who created this wooden Asian figurine took his time with the details, carving tiny grooves into his beard and hair, as well as little worry lines across his forehead ($140; Booth B-115). Wearing a rust-colored robe and holding a staff, this solemn figure is an Asian deity, most likely a god of longevity called Shouxing in Chinese or Fukurokuju in Japanese.
PASS THE VINO
Figural bottles carried Barsottini Italian wine to customers throughout the midcentury era. These decanters came in a catalog of shapes, among them a rifle (in deep green glass), a pheasant and a Roman centurion bust. This 13-inch bottle is, obviously, made in the mold of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, that famous Italian landmark that continues to sink. This unusual bottle could be used as a candle holder or to decorate a mid-century modern bar.
A DASH OF SCANDINAVIA
This authentic Norwegian flag is aesthetically familiar to Americans for a reason: Adopted on July 17, 1821, the flag of Norway was modeled after the flags of the U.S., Britain and France ($45; B541). Why? The country associated red, white and blue with independence and liberty.
MEDALLIONS MADE FOR WALKING
If you like Germany, traveling or hiking – or all three! – this one-of-a-kind lamp is for you (Booth B-2012). The base is covered in stocknägel from German towns, including Bremen and Schloss. What’s that? Don’t you know what stocknägel is?
Stocknägel is a souvenir that Europeans, particularly children, traditionally collected to commemorate a place of interest, typically in the mountains, where they have hiked. Tourists then nailed their stocknägel – also called a walking stick badge or medallion – to a hiking stick in hopes of completely covering it over time. This tradition motivated children to enjoy the great outdoors. The medallions on this lamp are made of stamped metal and depict castles, mountains and more.
With a quick tour of GasLamp, we found many around-the-world treasures, no passport required. See how easy that trip was? Now, go forth and discover what finds will send you daydreaming.