Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Lolo has had a great trip so far. As he was wandering around the Loire Valley, he discovered this L'ile aux Tresors (Treasure Island), well, that's what the sign says. It's actually a fabulous old French barn full of antiques. Take a look...

Wouldn't you love to have a barn like this in your back yard??

 And a greenhouse like this one?

With Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine as a chandelier?

Lolo tried to strike a deal on both the sign and the chandelier, but the owner wouldn't part with either. He did have several other tresors in his chest, though, and Lolo walked away with a truck full!
"Let Lolo Know" if anything is on your wish list.

Antique Carved Walnut Planter
Louis XVI Buffet 
19th Century Carved Wood Statue of St. Anthony
French Iron Candelabra
Louis XVI Mirror
Antique French Lectern
French Grape Hod
French Copper Watering Can
Barley Twist Farm Table

What's your favorite? 

À Bientôt!

Lolo & Mimi

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Lolo is back in France and is a pickin' and a grinnin' — picking through dusty old warehouses, 
marché aux puces and local haunts in search of antiques, that is.

Take a look at the some of today's picks.

Be sure to "Let Lolo Know" if you have a special need or want him to "pick" something 
wonderful for you!

À Bientôt!

Lolo & Mimi

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



cab·ri·ole [kab-ree-ohl; French ka-bree-awl]

noun, plural cab·ri·ole [kab-ree-ohlz; French ka-bree-awl]
1.   Furniture. a type of furniture leg, a curved, tapering leg curving outward at the top and inward farther down so as to end in a round pad, the semblance of an animal's paw, or some other feature: used especially in the first half of the 18th century.

2.   Ballet. a leap in which one leg is raised in the air and the other is brought up to beat against it.

Also called cabriole leg.

1775–85; < French: from cabrioler to caper, leap like a goat; so called because modeled on leg of a capering animal (see cabriolet

Printed in 1897, Bibliographisches Institut Leipzig Germany,
as an illustration for the 5th edition of "Meyers' Konversations Lexikon".

The cabriole leg is a sinuous, double-curved form used in legs (and feet) of furniture, with the upper portion curving outward and the lower portion curving inward in a gentle "S" shape, a conventionalized representation of the rear leg of a leaping goat.

Illustrations by Nan Richards 

While used extensively in French furniture, especially the Louis XV period of furniture design, the shape originated centuries before with the ancient Chinese and Greek furniture makers. Furniture historians can often determine the origin of an antique based solely on the form and detail of its cabriole legs.

Pair French Antique Louis XV Walnut Fauteuils
Pair French Antique Louis XV Petite Side Chairs

But there's no mistaking the signature "S" shaped cabriole legs on Louis XV chairs. Besides being very attractive, the graceful, curved lines of the cabriolet leg are also very practical. They create the balance needed to support heavy pieces of case furniture on slim legs without the use of stretchers.

Antique French Louis XV Walnut Side Table
Frédéric Schmit Pair of Antique French Louis XV Style Rococo Revival Buffets
Antique French Provincial Louis XV Chateau Armoire
18th Century French Country Louis XV Commode Sauteuse

What's more symbolic of 18th century furniture than the cabriole leg? 

À Bientôt!

Lolo & Mimi

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Many consider the marché aux puces (flea markets) in Paris to be a shopper's delight. Where else can you find oddities like taxidermy, fossils and other natural wonders amongst ornaments such as vintage Chanel, art, tattered books and period antique furniture, mirrors and chandeliers?  There's only one place...Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. 

Menagerie of oddities. Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen

What began as a shanty town with tin shacks and makeshift stalls of all kinds has become the largest flea market in Paris, and one of the top shopping destinations in the world for dealers, designers and tourists alike. The flea market at Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt, known simply as Les Puces, is actually fifteen submarkets with 2,500 to 3,000 stalls, indoors and outdoors, on and off the beaten path — a labyrinth of narrow winding streets, filled with all kinds of fascinating finds.

Les Puces. Photo: ParisSharing on Flickr | License
Map of Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

The history of the flea markets dates back to the mid-nineteenth century when biffins (rag-and-bone men) and chiffoniers (ragmen) traveled the streets of Paris by moonlight, rummaging through rubbish, in search of desirable objects that had been thrown out with the trash. These scavengers, collectively known as pêcheurs de lune (moonlight fishermen), would then resell their curiosities each day at local markets. The human hair they collected would be used to make wigs. Animal bones would be used for buttons or glue, while animal carcasses would be made into candles. Sardine cans would be used to make cheap tin toys. Rags would be sold to paper producers.

Rag-and-bone man in Paris, 1899. Photo by Eugène Atget. 

In the early 1860's, Baron Haussmann's renovation of Paris, commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III, displaced the street corner markets and the moonlight fishermen were forced to relocate to the outskirts of Paris near the city gates. Ironically, the Baron's attempt to drive the riffraff merchants outside the city only made them more successful. The area beyond the fortifs (fortifications surrounding Paris) was a duty-free zone, exempt from Paris taxes, and proved beneficial to these crafty traders who possessed an eye for style. They continued to troll the streets of Paris on nightly fishing expeditions, returning each morning to their posts at the Porte de Clignancourt, the Porte de Vanves and the Porte de Montreuil, where they set up shop for the day. 

The traders quickly realized the benefits of grouping their wares together, and it was not long before curious Parisians, dressed in long gowns and top hats on their Sunday promenades, began to take notice. They gazed in wonder at the bric-à-brac piled on the dirt and stacked alongside the road just beyond Le Périph. As the number of curious onlookers grew, so did the number of traders. Soon, it became fashionable, like a genteel sport, for both affluent Parisian collectors and travelers entering and exiting the city, to come and hunt for bargains amid the miscellaneous objects for sale.
There was one thing the shoppers who frequented the eccentric bazaar every weekend didn't plan on encountering, though....FLEAS! Many of the goods for sale were infested with the dirty little creatures. As a result, Parisians began to refer to an outing to the markets at the edge of town as going to les puces (the fleas). The flea market was born!

Since many of the traders had taken up residence alongside the gypsies in the town of Saint-Ouen, town officials began to take measures to rectify the chaos amidst the shanty town and its motley crew. In 1885, the municipality reorganized the area into several markets along Rue des Rosiers. They provided the bric-à-brac dealers with water and electricity and cleaned up the area to make it safer for both traders and shoppers. Trading became regulated by the municipality. Stallholders were required to pay a fee to set up their stalls, as vendors do today. Roads were paved and walkways were created along the major streets. The appearance improved and rules were established.

Saint-Ouen postcard 

Les Puces gained official recognition when it was pictured on postcards in the early 1900's and became a highly popular attraction with the opening of the metro station in 1908. Parisians loved the opportunity to find a good deal, and as long as there was a steady flow of shoppers to the flea markets, guinguettes (a type of small bar and restaurant where one could drink cheaply) and other entertainment venues quickly popped up. Music, especially manouche jazz (gypsy jazz), was heard throughout the markets. The rows of colorful stalls that crowded the city gates attracted painters like Renoir and Manet, who frequented the markets in search of used canvases they could scrape and reuse. 

Dealers, tired of packing and unpacking their stuff everyday, began selling from enclosed stalls in a covered market where they could lock their wares overnight. The rag-and-bone men and junk dealers were replaced with antique dealers, brocanteurs (second hand furniture dealers) clothing and jewelry dealers. In 1920, Jules Romain Vernaison created the first open air market, Marché Vernaison, within Les Puces and it became an immediate success. Marché Biron, Marché Jules Vallès (the first covered market) and Marché Malik were the next markets to open. 

Paris: Marché Vernaison Antiquitées. Photo by Hellebardius.

Like all flea markets, prices are negotiable. Admire the merchandise. Be polite. Speak some French, if it's only bonjour or merci. Showing the dealers respect is the best way to get a deal. Though much has changed since 1885, the Paris flea markets are a treasured tradition and being a vendor is a respected profession. If you have just a few days to spend in Paris, with only a day for shopping, the marché aux puces are still a shopper's delight!

À Bientôt!

Lolo & Mimi

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



fa·ience [fahy-ahns, fey-; French fa-yahns]

noun [fahy-ahns, fey-; French fa-yahns]

Ceramics. glazed ceramic ware, in particular decorated tin-glazed earthenware of the type that includes Quimper, usually that of French, German, Italian, or Scandinavian origin, especially a fine variety with highly colored designs.

1714; < from French faïence, probably from Fayence, French form of Faenza, city in northern Italy that was a noted ceramics center 16c.

Historic French Faienceries
Illustration by Nan Richards

The name faience or faïence is simply the French name for the northern Italian town of Faenza, where painted majolica (or maiolica) was produced for export during the Renaissance. Italian majolica inspired the production of similar wares in France in 1689 when King Louis XIV, France's Sun King, ordered all gold and silver tableware to be melted in order to increase the royal treasury and finance his campaigns. Louis XIV sent his own dinner service to be melted into coinage and his court did the same. In less than a week, French nobility was without quality tableware. French entrepreneurs quickly began to imitate the brightly decorated Italian earthenware of Faenza and French faience was born. It provided a less costly, yet still highly refined and elegant alternative to porcelain. King Louis XIV was said to have preferred faience over his extensive collection of fine Chinese porcelain and it soon became a favorite among even the wealthiest French citizens.

French faienceries produced elegant tea sets, tiles, tureens, fine tableware and luxurious dinnerware sets for the noble and the fashionable during the 17th and 18th centuries. Louis XIV went so far as to commission the architect Louis Le Vau to design the Trianon de Porcelaine to be built on the outskirts of Versaille. This porcelain pavilion, built with tin-glazed tiles from Holland, Nevers and Rouen, was used as a place to escape the pomp and formality of court life with his mistress Madame de Montespan. The building deteriorated after a few years, as did his relationship with his mistress, and was torn down and replaced, as was Madame de Montespan.

Trianon de Porcelaine

France produced great quantities of superior faience tableware in the 17th century as faience craftsmen traveled throughout Europe to teach their trade. The major French faience cities were Quimper in Brittany, which is home to the Musee de la Faience, Rouen, Strasbourg, Gien, Nevers, Nîmes, Sarreguemines and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, also home to a faience museum.

Limoges - Musée de la Porcelaine Adrien-Dubouché, Sèvres-Cité de la céramique

In the late 17th century, Moustiers became one of the largest and finest production centers of faience. When King Louis XIV melted his fine porcelain, he replaced it with earthenware from Moustiers, giving the village great notoriety. Documents found in the Faïence Museum reveal that a monk, originally from Faenza, gave the secret of faience making to a local potter named Pierre Clérissy, who established the most important factory in Moustiers. 

Another important Moustiers factory was that of Joseph Olerys, founded in 1738 and active until 1793. Olerys introduced polychrome decoration, producing faience that was painted in purples, soft greens, oranges and blues. Other polychrome faience wares produced by this factory were decorated with such designs as chinoiseries, military motifs, medallions and the potato flower motif. Overglaze painted decoration was introduced in the late 18th century by yet another Moustiers factory. The wares manufactured in the 17th and 18th centuries were so distinctive, and of such high quality, that they were extensively copied by other faience manufacturers in France. 19th century Moustiers faience consisted of reproductions of earlier wares.

Limoges - Musée de la Porcelaine Adrien-Dubouché, Sèvres-Cité de la céramique

Since most faience is rarely marked, it's identified by the usual methods of ceramic quality: the character of the body, the character and palette of the glaze and the style of decoration. Quimper reflects a strong traditional Breton influence. Typical Quimper faience features the "petit breton", a naive representation of a Breton man and/or woman in traditional Breton costume. The "petit breton" became popular around 1870 and is still the main design bought by tourists. Prior to 1870, Quimper faience had no marks, signatures or back stamps of any kind.

Today, each piece of HB Henriot Quimper pottery is signed on the back by the artist prior to the firing. The "Quimper Brush Stroke" signature was created from various calligraphy styles developed by their painters and guarantees that the faience is original. This is a great site to check the markings on your faience.

HB Henriot Quimper Signatures and Marks

The term faience is now used for a wide variety of tin-glazed earthenware made in France, Germany, Spain and Scandinavia. Faience is distinguished from Faenza majolica as well as the Dutch and English glazed earthenware called delft. French faience is usually more simple than Italian majolica with a larger portion of white background. 

French Faience Oyster Set from Brittany Region
French Majolica Oyster Set from St. Jean de Bretagne

The tin glaze used in faience is actually a lead glaze that has been rendered white and opaque by the addition of tin oxide, imitating Chinese porcelain. An unglazed item is first fired in a kiln, dipped in the tin glaze and then allowed to dry. Next, designs are painted on the glaze, which sets them off and preserves them during a second firing at a very high temperature. The decoration fuses and blends with the top glaze to appear as if it has a white background like porcelain. If chipped or cracked, the item will be brown or beige. The colors originally used to paint designs were limited to the few that could tolerate the high temperatures. During the 18th century, a low-fire overglaze enamel began being used and faience became more colorful. Ceramic artists continue to produce a very fine variety of highly colorful and beautiful designs using this method.

While faience has never quite recaptured the mass appeal it once had, the technique remains in use today. Beautiful china is meant to be used and loved. It makes a simple meal or cup of tea feel more special. Is there a particular pattern you collect? Do you prefer porcelain to faience? Let us know!

À Bientôt!

Lolo & Mimi