Friday, January 13, 2012

Granny's Curio

What does my Granny's curio cabinet have to do with art and calligraphy?

I remember my Granny's curio cabinet from my childhood. It was in the dining room and held glasses, for one thing. Spectacles too, but I mostly remember the drinking glasses. They were pretty glasses with fruit painted on them. I remember tracing the fruit designs with my child-fingers through the glass doors. It also held bowls full of pennies. My grandmother sold chicken eggs (before my memory) and there remained the legacy of cups and bowls of pennies everywhere. There were also pens on the cabinet - in a basket. They belonged to Papa. Now I recognize them as old fountain pens. The pretty ones, maybe Conklins, which happened to be their last name. So there is an art and a calligraphy connection. A lot of sentimental value for me.

Long after his death I learned that my grandfather had done some metal engraving. There were some samples of beautiful script associated with it, but I have no idea what's happened to that. My grandmother had an autograph book that I loved to peruse on every visit, wishing I could write in the style of the beautiful handwriting on its pages.

The cabinet was ruined when my aunt's house had a ceiling leak in the foyer where she kept it after Granny and Papa died. The glass door was broken when the front door - seldom used - was opened into it. But when my aunt was going to get rid of it she remembered that I had always loved it. She gave it to me, though she tried to talk me out of it. I had the convex glass replaced, but the shelves and the back are in terrible shape, but somehow it seems appropriate to me that I keep my pen collection and my grandmother's autograph book in it.

When ebay was new I used to buy pens. Lots of pens. I got many at bargain prices. I also bought lots of nibs before I even knew which nibs were the best. Years went by and competition got tough. I paid more for pens. I got taken a few times. I stopped buying pens. I have many varied nibs to practice with. Who knows? Maybe some will turn out to be my favorites. (Actually, some already have and competition is very stiff now, if you can even find them.)

I do have some cool pens. One is solid gold. One is shaped like a rifle, one like an umbrella. Some are carved. A couple have stanhopes in them. One is a trainer with finger rests built into it. One has a swan carved into its staff.

I have some with ivory staffs. It seems appropriate that my husband's Indian elephant with ivory tusks keeps watch over those.

I like that my grandmother's cabinet that used to house my favorite art and my grandfather's pens is in my living room. Even if it has seen better days.


  1. your corner curio cabinet looks beautiful, and also your collecton, they are great.

  2. I'm just overwhelmed with the wonder of your collection. Though I am not a Calligrapher, I have always loved the elegance and wonder of the pens and fountain pens. I could get lost looking over and trying out all of these treasures. And a more meaningful home for them all I can't think of. Terrific post!

  3. It's great that you were able to be the steward for your Grandmother's cabinet and that it inspires you with all the history. The furniture piece looks lovely and your collection is wonderful!