These days I have begun to separate my life into two separate eras which I call BE and AE, “before eBay” and “after eBay.” How could there have been so many things in the world which I never knew that I wanted? I think back to the early days of my marriage, when my husband and I lived in a 1400 sq ft Victorian “doll house” with wide board pine floors and a pitched roof and wonder how I managed to live without so many “accessories?” It wasn’t until we moved to California, and bought a Spanish style home with very large rooms (“Honey, I shrunk the furniture!”) that the woman who owned the store where I bought my new furniture declared, “Now all you need to do is accessorize!” And so I did. Ebay became the source of my many so called “accessories,” previously known to the world of interior design by the Yiddish word “tchotchkes.” Who knew that thistle themed items could be so attractive, and yet so ubiquitous?
The upside of eBay is that after a while you get to know who the best sellers are. Everyone makes mistakes at first—I remember the alligator skin antique doctor’s bag which looked SO good in the pictures, but smelled SO bad when it arrived that it went straight into the outdoor dumpster by the barn, usually reserved for horse manure. Sometimes antiques are charming and full of character. But sometimes they are just plain old and smelly. When I got my first deerhound many years ago, I became interested in all things Scottish, and discovered that Queen Victoria of England, was similarly enchanted with Scotland, where the royal family still maintains Balmoral Castle. In the mid to late 19th century, Scottish “pebble” jewelry became immensely popular, formed from polished agate typically surrounding a faceted cairngorm, a type of quartz mined in the Cairngorm mountains. Brooches of this design, especially the larger ones, were commonly used on kilts, particularly to fasten the shawl or upper portion of the kilt known as the “plaid.” In addition to beautiful rocks, Victoria also loved dogs and children, in that order– the phrase “children should be seen and not heard” is attributed to her reign. Portraits and etchings of the dog breeds she loved, including the deerhound, abound from that era. And judging from the walls of my home, I seem to have located most of them!
For the past several years, I have put on an auction to help raise money for our West coast Scottish deerhound club. The money raised helps us put on our annual regional show and allows us to subsidize our traditional after show dinner. This year I did it for the National show as well. I have discovered that my enthusiasm for Scottish and Victorian artifacts is transferable. I mean, who DOESN’T want to picture themselves as a wild red haired Scottish lassie dancing around the May pole in the rain, or a strong handsome barrel chested kilted lad leaning against the standing stones of remote mountains? And if you haven’t ever thought of it, tune in to the upcoming new Starz series “Outlander” and you too will be longing for a kilted man, pebble brooches, thistle emblazoned artifacts and an antique etching or two. I have begun to give away some of my collection so that others can share the romance of the Highlands. Join us and share the fantasy—the best is yet to come. And by the way, a deerhound puppy is a prerequisite, ye lairds and ladies!