You Can't "Handel" the Truth About These Lights

Boasting an illustrious lifespan of nearly half a century, the Handel Lamp Company was one of the early 20th century's premier lighting companies. The company began in 1885 as a partnership between Philip J Handel and Adolph Eydam, before Handel bought out Eydam's share and opened a showroom in New York City. The Handel Company was best known for their reverse-painted lamp shades, which were produced from 1906 until the 1920s, when Art Nouveau began to wane in popularity. These highly collectible pieces were marketed to upper-middle class families, and offered interchangeable shades and bases to suit the owner's preferences. Unfortunately, the company closed in 1936, two decades after the death of Philip Handel, after ownership passed through several family members' hands. Today their lamps still command impressive prices at auction, in recognition of the highest quality craftsmanship that went into their creation.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Handel lamps have become family heirlooms, collectors' items, and highly sought-after home decor pieces. In fact, several celebrities have owned Handel lamps at some point, including the late actress Carrie Fisher and singer Linda Ronstadt! In interviews with Architectural Digest back in 2004, the two women independently included the lamps in their exclusive tours of their homes. Linda Ronstadt's are family heirlooms in the living room of her Tuscon, Arizona home. Carrie Fisher received a Handel lamp from George Lucas as a form of payment for "writing an episode about young Indiana Jones losing his virginity to Mata Hari," and it sits in her Beverly Hills living room.

Linda Ronstadt's home in Arizona

Linda Ronstadt's home in Arizona

Carrie Fisher's living room in Beverly Hills

Carrie Fisher's living room in Beverly Hills

In local history, the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota features Handel pendant lights above the billiard table. The Congdon family built the 39-room home between 1905 and 1908 on their beautiful 12-acre property right on the shores of Lake Superior. Chester Congdon was a major player in the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota, and within Duluth the family was known for donating land intended for public use, such as today's North Shore Scenic Highway and Congdon Park. The estate was donated to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and opened as a historic home museum in 1979. Their Handel lights (below, on the left) are nearly identical in design as the mission style sconces we have in store (below, on the right). For anyone looking to incorporate a little Minnesota history into their home, these sconces would be an excellent way to pay homage to a family whose contributions to the state are still visible today.

In our own inventory, we are excited to share four lights that have been attributed to Handel, including a matching chandelier and sconces!

These would all look beautiful in an Arts & Crafts home, or one that wants to incorporate an Arts & Crafts style. 

All the World's a Stage

We recently acquired antique light fixtures from the Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, including pendants, flushmounts, and the enormous chandelier that once hung above the original auditorium! They were left over from the 2014 renovation, and we are happy to help them find a new home. These pieces are full of history, having seen the likes of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Peoples Republic of China Ballet troupe, and Herbie Hancock grace the Northrop stage. The craftsmanship is unparalleled, as can be seen in the picture below of the chandelier being cleaned in the 1970's.


Due to their size, some of these magnificent light fixtures would do better in large rooms or outdoor venues. However, antique pendants and flush mounts can make excellent accent pieces in indoor spaces as well.

Gothic cathedral pendant.JPG
flush mount.JPG

If you would like a piece of Minneapolis and UMN history to grace the ceilings of your own home, check out these incredible lights online or in store!

The Great Brass Revival

Picture credit: DecoratorsBest

Picture credit: DecoratorsBest

For those of a certain age, shiny brass decor may bring to mind your grandmother's living room circa 1977. Brass lamps, brass vases, brass coffee was a bit of a brass explosion. In the past few years brass has seen a resurgence, but never fear! It's being applied as a much softer, warmer accent rather than the focal point of interior design.  Brass, and other vintage metals such as gold, are overtaking the sharp, clinical-looking stainless steel and chrome as the perfect pair to contemporary styles.

An easy way to begin incorporating brass into your home decor is to start small. Brass cabinet handles, faucets, and door knobs can make surprisingly elegant yet subtle accents, especially when paired with dark hues and raw materials, such as concrete. When you're ready to go bigger, brass light fixtures are a warm contrast to colder metallic pendants and floor lamps. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use it as part of a larger mixed-metals palette, and to incorporate it with a variety of natural materials. These are a couple of our favorite brass-integrated examples!

You can expect this brass trend to stay especially prevalent in lighting and accessories, so make sure you check out our inventory to find the perfect accent piece for your own home!

"Great Beauty As Well As Illuminating Power": The Story of Holophane Lighting


trademark | ho•lo•phane | \hoh-luh-feyn\

The word holophane stems from the Greek words Holos (whole or entire) and Phanein (to appear or to seem). Put together, holophane means "to appear completely luminous."

When Andre Blondel, a French scientist, and Spiridion Psaroudaki, a Turkish engineer, submitted the documentation for what would be filed as U.S. Patent #563,836 in 1896 (see above pictures), it is unlikely they could have predicted that their holophane lights would "diffuse" into our lives just as well as they diffused light. This style of lighting, characterized by the use of parallel or crosscut prisms to refract and reflect light, can be seen everywhere from the domestic sphere to industrial spaces. Its popularity stems from the way that the light refraction creates a more luminous light source with less glare, creating a more efficient kind of illumination that can be directed where the light is needed most. Their design is also optimized to reduce light depreciation due to dirt, so you don't have to clean them as often to maintain the same level of brightness!

These diagrams show how light is refracted and reflected using different angles and shapes. Figures 5, 7, and 9 demonstrate the efficiency of holophane lighting, where light is refracted, reflected, and diffused, respectively.

From Blondel and Psaroudaki, the rights to manufacture and sell holophane glassware in the United States made their way to Otis Mygatt, a New York businessman, who founded Holophane Glass Company and transferred the rights a final time to the company itself. In the next 100 years the company and holophane lighting took off, and found their way into some quite prestigious places!

1904 - On display at the St. Louis World's Fair

1945 - By this time, holophane lighting is used in the Library of Congress (above), the Senate, and Congress

1936 - Used as supplemental lighting in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of King George VI

1953 - Used as supplemental lighting in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

WWII - Presented with the Army-Navy "E" Award for Excellence in War Production

1970s - Found in airports, on highways, in tunnels...wherever light is needed over a large area!

Within the domestic sphere, holophane lighting has seen a bit of a resurgence with the popularity of more industrial-style kitchens and vintage-inspired living spaces. Holophane lighting is perfect for casting optimal illumination across your space in a way that is not harsh or dull. Whether providing illumination over culinary creations in the kitchen or late-night work in your home office, holophane is an excellent choice! Here at Architectural Antiques, we have several different designs available to fit the style you're looking for.


Spyhouse Coffee in St. Paul beautifully integrated holophane lighting into their decor!

Putting to Rest the Age-Old Question: Mantle Or Mantel?

Spelling is hard. It often seems like the English language has as many spelling rules as it does exceptions to those rules, which makes every memo, blog post, newspaper article, etc. an adventure to write. Sometimes a word will even have two acceptable ways to spell it, which causes more confusion. We recently ran into this problem as we were promoting the two mantles we salvaged from Rockton, Illinois...or is it mantel?

                                                                            Slate Mantel with Lighthouse Motif

                                                                            Slate Mantel with Lighthouse Motif

In order to determine which spelling was the correct one, we had to take a little trip back to the Middle Ages. Both mantle and mantel are derived from the Latin mantellum, meaning "cloak" or "a beam or stone supporting the masonry above the fireplace." It was adopted into Old English around the 15th century as mentel, but evolved into both mantel and mantle under Anglo-French influence. Mantel typically referred to that shelf over the fireplace, and has generally kept this definition since. Mantle is a bit trickier, because although the original definition referred to a loose, sleeveless cloak often worn by royalty and religious leaders, it has also been used to indicate non-textile structures such as a movable shelter for soldiers and a covering over a flame used to intensify its glow. This association is likely the reason behind the ambiguous "correct" usage.

Essentially, if you're trying to talk about a ledge over your fireplace where you put your vases, candles, and other tchotchkes and you're using American English, technically there is no right answer! It really comes down to personal preference. However, if you want to stick to the status quo (and stay in line with the Better Homes and Gardens Stylebook), mantel is probably the way to go. Even though we are not spelling and grammar experts, we are salvaging, restoring, and repurposing experts, and we would love to help you find the perfect mantel for your living space! Stop by our store or check out our inventory online!

So You Want to List Your House on the National Register of Historic Places

Was your house built in a distinctive style, or designed by a notable architect?

Do you love to tell stories about famous former inhabitants?

Do you think it's just a really neat house and would like to learn more about whether it could be recognized as one?

If you answered "yes!" to any of these questions, you may have an eligible property for the National Register of Historic Places! Created as part of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, the National Register is the official list of the nation's historic properties worthy of preservation. Currently, more than 90,000 properties are listed. Anyone is allowed to submit a nomination form, from local governments to special interest groups to private citizens like you! All it takes is the time and dedication to do the research and fill out the nomination form. If you don't know where to start, never fear! We've rounded up all the resources you may need.

NRHP plaque.JPG


You may be asking yourself, "why would I go through a bunch of work just to put my house on a list?" There are many benefits to having a federally-recognized historic property, including:

  • Federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation
  • Federal investment tax credits
  • International Building Code fire and life safety code alternatives
  • Possible state tax benefit and grant opportunities*
  • The opportunity to celebrate the listing by ordering a bronze plaque that distinguishes the property as listed in the National Register!

*For our local customers: The Minnesota Historic Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit offers a state tax credit up to 20% for qualified historic rehabilitation!

Also good to keep in mind, listing your property on the National Register DOES NOT do the following:

  • Require public access to your property
  • Lead to public acquisition of your property
  • Automatically invoke local historic district zoning or local landmark designation
  • Place restrictions on what you may do with your property, up to and including destruction, UNLESS it is part of a project that receives federal assistance

Basically, your property is still yours to do what you like with it, unless you apply for something like a federal preservation grant to help with restoration. Technically, you can even demolish your house, but you risk losing the National Register designation unless your property was listed for more than just the structure.


If you think your house could potentially be eligible for listing on the National Register, there's a four step process you need to follow:

1. Contact your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)

This is the agency that will receive and review your nomination, and essentially take over the nomination process after you complete the form. They will be immensely helpful in your research, since they have a wide range of knowledge and resources available to you. They can also tell you if your property is already protected by local or state ordinances, help you determine which of the four criteria (covered in the next point) it falls under, and provide guidance for navigating the more complex sections of the nomination form. You can find a list of SHPO websites here

2. Do your research!

A property is eligible for the National Register if it meets at least one of the following criteria (although meeting more than one always helps a nomination!):

Criteria A: Associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history (e.g. a house that was part of the Underground Railroad network)

Criteria B: Associated with the lives of significant persons in our past (e.g. the childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Criteria C: Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represents the work of a master, or that possesses high artistic values, or that represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (e.g. a house designed by notable architect Frank Lloyd Wright, or that is a well-preserved example of the Art Deco style of architecture, or was built with the Chicago School construction method)

Criteria D: Has yielded or may be likely to yield information important in history or prehistory (e.g. a house in Colonial Williamsburg that may contain archaeological artifacts from the colonial era)

Typically, houses are not eligible for consideration if they are solely the birthplace of a historic person, have been moved from their original location, are reconstructed historic buildings, or became significant less than 50 years ago, unless they meet the following exceptions:

  • It is the birthplace of a historic person, and there is no appropriate site or building associated with his or her productive life.
  • It is moved from its original location, but it is significant for its architectural value, or is the most important structure associated with a historic person or event.
  • It is a reconstructed historic building that has been accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and no other building or structure with the same association has survived.
  • It has achieved significance within the past 50 years for something of exceptional importance.

If you believe your house may fall under one of these exceptions, the SHPO will be invaluable in helping you determine if it is still eligible for the National Register.

3. Fill out the nomination form

You can find the nomination forms found on the National Park Service website here. The only form you need is Form 10-900, unless you need additional space for Sections 7 and 8 (Form 10-900a) or you are submitting a multiple property nomination (Form 10-900b). The National Park Service has published many bulletins that can assist you in filling out the form, including "Researching a Historic Property," "How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation," and "How to Complete the National Register Registration Form." The two most important things to remember when filling out the form is that your house must have historical significance (as shown through one or more of the four criteria) and it must retain the integrity of its significance (in location, design, materials, association, etc.). 

4. Submit your nomination!

Submit your nomination to the State Historic Preservation Office. They will review the form, notify local governments and request public comment, submit the nomination to the state review board, and, if it passes, send it on to the National Park Service of final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places! After you submit the nomination to SHPO, it will take a minimum of 4-5 months to finish the process, so patience is key!


Here at Architectural Antiques, we are strong advocates of preserving our material heritage. With every item we salvage, restore, and repurpose, we are retaining meaningful pieces of our history to be appreciated by generations to come. Antique architectural elements are a great addition to any style of decor, but they can also make your nomination application stronger if they fit with your home's era of significance. If you are in the market for an era- or style-specific piece for your home, come on in and let us help you find the perfect light fixture, stained glass window, woodwork, etc. for your historic place!

Crossing the Pond for Giggle Juice: English Bars During the American Prohibition

What do Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, and Neil Armstrong have in common? Other than being American icons from the first half of the 20th century, they were all patrons of The American Bar! This Art Deco bar in the Savoy Hotel is the oldest surviving "American bar" in London (which get their name from serving American-style drinks--cocktails). It opened in 1893, but moved to its current location in 1904. These bars grew in popularity as trans-Atlantic travel became more common, and for the poor Americans who were not allowed to "manufacture, sell, transport, or import" alcohol stateside, it was a bit of home away from home.

American Bar.jpg

One would not be surprised to find Ernest Hemingway ordering a Montgomery, Marilyn Monroe sipping Dom Perignon, or Neil Armstrong enjoying his first alcoholic drink after the moon landing--aptly named the Moon Walk--as well as many other international celebrities enjoying the bar's cocktail creations, such as Vivien Leigh, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain.

Ada Coleman

Ada Coleman

Throughout its years as a top destination for artists and businessmen alike, The American Bar became well-known for the caliber and inventiveness of its bartenders. Ada "Coley" Coleman is often credited as the first of only two female head bartenders at the bar, as well as the creator of the Hanky Panky, a variation on the sweet martini. She was inspired to make the drink for her friend, comedic actor Sir Charles Hawtrey, who was overworked and often came in for a drink. When she set her concoction in front of him, his first reaction after tasting it was, "that's the real hanky-panky!" The name stuck.

Harry Craddock

Harry Craddock



When Coley retired in 1925, infamous bartender Harry Craddock replaced her, having left the United States several years earlier to avoid Prohibition. Legend has it (and Harry was fond of boasting), that he served the very last legal drink before Prohibition began. It is due to his cutting-edge mixology that we now enjoy cocktails such as the White Lady and Corpse Reviver #2. His 1930 book, The Savoy Cocktail Book, remains a reference staple for bartenders around the world.

You too could be serving dry martinis, Hanky Pankys, and Moon Walks (although admittedly at much cheaper prices) at your very own Art Deco bar! This beautiful walnut showstopper has been professionally restored to look like it just stepped out of 1935 Chicago. Come in to take a look, and imagine the literary conversations, shady business deals, and lifelong friendships that may have started there!

                                                                                                 Art Deco Bar with Glass Rods

                                                                                                Art Deco Bar with Glass Rods

Bronze and Brass and Iron...Oh My!

If you've taken a look through our inventory, or even just follow us on social media, you've probably noticed that we have a lot of doorknobs. 

They come in styles like "Bramante," "Montello," and "Cairo," are defined by schools like Classic, Italian Renaissance, and Vernacular, and were manufactured by historic companies like Russell & Erwin, Reading, and Yale & Towne. We try to identify all of these pieces of information as we sort through our inventory, and do most of our research on It is a treasure trove of information, and a wonderful resource if you are looking to research the doorknobs in your own home!

Another crucial piece of information we look at is the type of metal. Most cast doorknobs are made of brass, bronze, or iron, although steel is sometimes used as well. You can usually identify the metal by the patina, or tarnish caused by oxidation, and whether or not it is magnetic. Brass and bronze are not magnetic and can develop a greenish patina, which you can see at the bottom of this plate:

                             Fluted Brass Knob Set

                            Fluted Brass Knob Set

Iron and steel are magnetic, and develop a reddish patina, as seen peeking through this bronze-plated cast iron doorknob set:  

These beautiful and detailed pieces of hardware are created with a process known as metal casting, which is actually one of the oldest forms of manufacturing at more than 5,000 years old! Scholars believe that metal smiths in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Syria and Iraq) were the first to use casting between 4000-3000 BCE, since the Sumerians in southern Mesopotamia were the first civilization to add tin to copper to make bronze tools and weapons, ushering in the Bronze Age. The oldest known casting is a copper frog cast from a grave in the ancient city of Kish around 3200 BCE:

     Copper frog cast from 3200 BCE Mesopotamia

     Copper frog cast from 3200 BCE Mesopotamia

At this time, bronze was usually cast in permanent stone molds for large items, but ornaments and jewelry show an early use of lost wax, or investment, casting. The lost wax process has remained essentially the same since 2000 BCE: 

Lost wax casting

Lost wax casting

  1. An original model of the product is sculpted out of clay, wax, or another moldable substance.
  2. A negative mold made of silicon rubber or latex is created around the original, often held in shape by a jacket of plaster or fiberglass.
  3. Wax is poured into the mold to coat the interior, creating a positive mold of the product. At this point, sprues are attached to provide a path for bronze to flow and air to escape later on in the process.
  4. The positive wax model and sprues are coated with several layers of ceramic and grit, then baked to burn out the wax. This is the "lost wax" part, although sometimes the melted wax can be collected and used again.
  5. The negative space in the ceramic is filled with molten bronze and allowed to cool. Then, the ceramic shell is chipped and sandblasted away to reveal the final model, and the sprues are cut off.
  6. The final model is welded together if cast in pieces, and chased to recreate the surface detail and remove signs of the casting process.
  7. The last step is patination, where chemicals are applied to the surface to protect the metal and create a beautiful finish.
Sand casting

Sand casting



Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, was developed many centuries BCE, but the exact date and location are still unknown. Brass products can be cast using die casting, where molten brass is forced into reusable molds, or sand casting, using either green sand molding or air set molding. Green sand molding uses a blend of silica sand, clay, water, and other additives to create a "wet" or "green" sand mold, into which the brass is poured. Air set molding mixes dry sand, silica sand, and additives with an adhesive that allows it to air set quickly, often resulting in a two-part mold.

Casting at Architectural Antiques

We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Brian F. Leo, a local artisan specializing in custom hardware, architectural ornaments, and cast-metal specialties. We had received an interesting pendant light fixture in the Art Deco style, but quickly realized that the bottom bowl was missing. Brian used a collection of Art Deco parts he had, along with a plaster mold of an overlapping pointed arch pattern on the original light, to cast a new brass bowl! 

Beautifully detailed bowl

Beautifully detailed bowl

The overlapping pointed arch design modeled after an original part of the pendant

The overlapping pointed arch design modeled after an original part of the pendant

A Brief History of the Crystal Chandelier

When you think of crystal chandeliers, your mind probably goes straight to large, elaborate structures, a la Versailles or Beauty and the Beast:

Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
Beauty and the Beast Ballroom

In reality, the first uses of crystal in lighting appeared long before Marie Antoinette ate her cake and Belle waltzed to the sound of Angela Lansbury's voice. Crystal chandeliers appeared in the late 16th century and were designed with natural rock crystals, making them difficult to produce and expensive to own. Roughly a century later, in 1676, Englishman George Ravenscroft patented flint glass, a new material made with significant amounts of lead oxide that made it easier to cut and more prismatic. This marked the advent of English style chandeliers, identified by metal pieces in the main shaft, receiver bowl, and receiver plate, and glass arms extending from the plate to the drip pans. Unfortunately, few chandeliers from this time survive today, but the shape is quite familiar!

                                        17th century bronze chandelier, available on 1stdibs

                                       17th century bronze chandelier, available on 1stdibs

At the same time, Venetian glass makers were continuing to develop a glass-manufacturing industry that dates back to the 8th century and the Roman Empire. The Glassmakers Guild moved all furnaces to the island of Murano in the 13th century, for the dual purpose of preventing fires from spreading to the wooden structures of the city and making it harder for the artisans to reveal trade secrets. To add their own touch to the growing popularity of glass chandeliers, Murano glassmakers began to add molded glass flowers and leaves to chandeliers that could extend up to eight feet wide!

While not eight feet wide, this Venetian chandelier at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland is an excellent example of the colored glass that became popular in the late 17th-early 18th centuries.

While not eight feet wide, this Venetian chandelier at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland is an excellent example of the colored glass that became popular in the late 17th-early 18th centuries.

The 17th century also ushered in the opulent style often associated with Versailles--French Baroque or le style Louis Quatorze. With an open birdcage frame of gilded bronze in a vase or lyre shape and decorations of shining cut rock crystals, this style was highly sought after among the royalty of Europe, from Charles II of England to Maria Theresa of Austria.

                                 French Baroque gilded bronze chandelier, available on 1stdibs

                                French Baroque gilded bronze chandelier, available on 1stdibs

The next two major developments in the glass chandelier industry came as a response to England's Glass Excise Act, which taxed glass by weight. Ireland was exempt from the tax, so many manufacturers moved their operations to locations like Waterford, which led to the growth of the world-renowned Waterford Glass House. Those who stayed in England resorted to cutting crystal drops from pieces of broken glass, which was taxed more cheaply, and strung them together like a tent, with a "bag" of more drops at the bottom--creating the tent-and-bag style:

The Glass Excise Act ended in 1835, around the time that the Industrial Revolution was transforming chandelier production. Mechanization allowed for faster and cheaper manufacturing, and a growing middle class meant there was a larger audience eager to show off their rising socioeconomic status. In particular, Daniel Swarovski's crystal cutting machine made it much more affordable to own diamond-like crystals, and launched an enterprise that is still around to this day!

Today, we can see that many of these old styles are still quite popular, such as Dutch brass-ball stem, French Baroque, and Georgian. Here at Architectural Antiques, we have a large collection of chandeliers that compliment a wide range of styles. Whether you're looking for Art Deco or Art Nouveau...

Colonial or Mid-Century Gothic...

         Mid-Century Gothic chandelier available in store!

         Mid-Century Gothic chandelier available in store!

...we've got the chandelier for you! In store or online, please Be Our Guest! 

Architectural Antiques and the Mystery of the Old Crate


One of the things that we love about antiques is that each nick tells the story of the people who owned it before. When we're lucky enough, the previous owners leave a piece of themselves in the form of handwriting; however, the printed qualities can tell a lot about the time period from which it came too. This crate is a smorgasbord of typefaces with each one containing its own unique story. On this single crate, four different categories of typefaces can be identified: sans serif, script, stenciled serif, and slab serif. Before we dive in, let's go over the definition of each of the terms.

A serif is the line attached to the end of a letter's stroke. We like to think of them as the feet. The stenciled in numbers on the side of the crate as well as the "W.&A. GILBEY" are both examples of a serif typeface. However, they are different types of a serif with different histories. Stenciled type was used in the early 19th century by a small group of English engineers and surveyors to label their technical drawings before becoming more commonly used in the 20th century

The "W.&A. GILBEY" belongs in a subcategory of a serif known as a slab serif. This means that the serif has sharper corners and doesn't transition smoothly into the letter stroke as a regular serif does. The variation of this particular slab serif was designed in the mid-1800s. It's popularity died down in the 1920s until a revival in the 1950s.

Since the type that says "TEN YEARS OLD" doesn't have any serifs (or feet) attached to the letters, it's a san serif. The san serif typeface reached popularity in the early 1900s and reached its peak in the 1920s and 30s. The clarity and legibility from a distance made it popular for display uses.

Lastly, "They Royal" is an example of a script. More specifically, it's an example of a Spenserian script similar to the iconic Coca Cola and Ford logos. Spencerian was the standard cursive script taught in schools from the 1860s to 1920s and was common during this time period.

 Knowing the history of these typefaces can help pinpoint a time period from when the crate, or at the very least the type stamp on the crate, was designed. Taking all of these histories into consideration, a clearer image of the time frame comes to shape. At the very earliest, the stenciled type and script indicate mid-1800s, while the revival of the slab serif suggests 1950s at the latest. Once all of the overlapping time periods are considered, the time frame is narrowed down to the early 1900s.

Now let's compare our estimation with actual facts. W.&A. Gilbey was founded in 1857, which corresponds with the script and stencil. The company gained its stride and started expanding their wares as well as acquiring other businesses in the early 1900s. W.&A. Gilbey merged with United Wine Traders Ltd in 1962 and then changed owners 1972. The detective work was pretty spot on, don't you think?


A Letter from Arch Antiques' Summer Intern


If you follow Architectural Antiques, you've probably noticed that our blog sprang to life this summer. That would be because of me; Hi! I'm Beka Barski, the store's summer intern.

A little background on me: I'm a student at the University of Minnesota, studying interior design. Since I'm currently obsessed with modern rustic style, I'm always finding excuses to mix the "old" with the "new" (as you can see from my previous blog post topics). This obsession is what initially drew me to Arch Antiques. The store is jam-packed with countless antique treasures that can be paired wonderfully with modern pieces. 

Since that first day when I stared at the sheer quantity of antiques in awe, I have learned so much about the style, history, and importance of almost every one of them. It wasn't difficult either - you tend to get attached to certain pieces, and caught up in the nostalgia of it all.

As a result, I now find myself analyzing all interior decor I come across ("That pendant is so art deco. It might be a reproduction, but if not then it's circa 1920"). Even though I don't need all that information when I'm in a coffee shop or a library, I know it'll come in handy when I'm designing for studio projects, and eventually for clients.

I'm so lucky to have gained such knowledge and experience from my internship, and will miss being surrounded by beautiful antiques as I write blog posts or edit product photos. That being said, I feel as if I have no choice but to tribute my last post to my favorite antiques. Here are the pieces that have stolen my heart this summer:


Making an Entrance

The entrance of a home is your best opportunity to communicate your personality and style. It is the first part of your house that visitors will see, and therefore makes an important statement.

This is why the entrance door that you choose should speak to you as a homeowner. Are you open with your day-to-day activities, and wouldn't mind having more glass than solid material? Or do you like your privacy, and prefer as little glass as possible? Maybe you have a dramatic side, and find the prospect of a double-door entrance exciting. 

No matter who you are, there is an entrance door for you. Follow this guide to find the type of door that fits you and your home perfectly.


The Admired Stoop


This quartersawn entry should open into a home with formal introductions, followed by a cocktail party. The solid wood door demands respect and admiration, while the prairie style sidelights add color, transparency and interest. This entrance is for the proper entertainer; someone who wants neighbors to wonder what event they're hosting while preserving their privacy.


The Whimsical Port


This oak entry door expresses unique creativity through its stained glass, glass jewels, and intricate carvings. The owner of this door would have a sense of wonder about the world, and perhaps an art studio in some corner of their home. They would also look forward to seeing their visitors' faces framed by the gorgeous colors that outline the door's arched window, as well as the time of day when the sun would stream through the glass and casts the colors onto their walls.



The Dramatic Double Doors


The owner of this entrance door set would simply have to open both doors at once when greeting visitors. The detailed woodwork and beveled glass would catch the eye of anyone walking past this home, which is exactly the attention that the homeowner would expect. Additionally, the low windows would connect the outdoors with the indoors, allowing those inside to experience the excitement of the outside world from the comfort of the home.


The Open Door


This primarily glass front door belongs in a house set into the woods, where most visitors are expected, and privacy isn't a concern. The owner of this home would be a free spirit, living their life without worry of the outside world. Their home would be a retreat from the everyday hustle and bustle, bringing ease through natural surroundings.


Minimalist Color Schemes


In today's design field, less is more. Designers are opting for modest styles, cleaner lines, and fewer distracting decorations. Throughout this trend to simplify interior spaces, designers have also pared down on the number of colors they implement. Most commonly, this means that the color palette includes tints and tones of two or three colors, with occasional accents of another color.

This type of color scheme was recently used by LDK First Impressions, in a kitchen featuring our art deco pendants. The space primarily consists of black, white, and grey, with brown accents. The effect is a simple, yet cozy space for cooking and entertaining.

Photos courtesy of Jean Milton

Photos courtesy of Jean Milton


This kitchen is also an excellent example of how antiques can be integrated into modern designs. The pendants fit the color scheme, while their detailing mirrors the fun, patterned back splash.

As a tribute to the minimalist color scheme, we chose three of our light fixtures to serve as inspiration for three different color palettes. We then designed blank rooms, using these light fixtures and our antiques to create unique spaces. Keep reading to see the results!



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This little scene could be anything from an urban living area to quaint cafe seating. We pulled colors from our Sixties Rondure Fixtures, coming up with white and grey. While we love the monochromatic tones of our Soap Factory Industrial Pallet and Midcentury Stool, we felt that pops of greenery were necessary to give the space some life. 




This traditional living room was inspired by our Six-Light Brass and Iron Gothic Chandelier, with its black and yellow form. Our Cast Iron Mantel visually connects the ceiling to the floor with the continuation of black iron. In the corner, our Decorative Privacy Screen brings the black and yellow together, while also making the yellow more prominent. The white Cast Iron Chair Set acts as an accent to the color scheme, offering a contrast to the rest of the pieces.




The range of browns, tans, and whites seen in this study space are brought together by the hues in our Brass Sputnik Light. We would imagine this space belonging to a student who resides in a loft, with our Oak Desk and Oak Ladder Back Chair creating the perfect place to take notes, and our Burden Basket acting as aesthetically pleasing and convenient storage. The room is further embellished by our I.P. Frink Illuminated Mirror, and artwork such as our Hand Painted Advertising Window. Each of these pieces coordinates with the color scheme, while introducing its own particular tint or tone through their antique qualities.


Creating Dynamic Duos with Antiques


Even when antiques are grouped together by style, it's not always clear which pieces would pair well together. Interior styles contain many nuances, causing distinct differences between items of the same style. For example, these two chandeliers are considered to be art deco, and yet would not be seen within the same space.

To pair antiques within our store, we start by finding pieces similar in material, line, shape, and color (or just go with our gut!). Below are some examples of our favorite antique combinations according to style.


There are many factors that make these chandeliers and mahogany bar a match made in heaven. The most obvious is the vertical line that is seen in the rods suspending the chandeliers, and in the glass rods built into the bar. This repetition of line creates a visual connection between the two pieces, forcing the eye to travel from the ceiling to the back of the bar. Additionally, the horizontal curves in the bar top and chandelier bowls intersect the vertical lines, introducing variety to the scene. Lastly, the metal structure of the chandeliers reflect hints of the mahogany tones found in the bar.

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Shape plays the biggest role in the harmony of these two pieces. The prominent circles and curved shapes within the window are reflected by the circular base of the Tudor sconce, making it an extension of the window's design. The sconce and window are further tied together by their single, strong horizontal lines and pastel yellows.


The colors and symmetry of these two windows truly make them shine as a pair. While the size of the arched window would make it a clear focal point in any space, the smaller rectangular window would accent and emphasize its bright yellow, purple, and blue hues. The windows also showcase similar curved shapes that are indicative of classic Victorian style.


These industrial style antiques complement each other because of their opposite materiality. The reflective surface of the pendant balances the visually rough wood and metal of the table, therefore creating interest through opposing textures. In terms of similarities, the horizontal bar that connects the two lights mimics the long horizontal lines of the table, further harmonizing the two pieces.


These arts and crafts lights are one example of identical pieces within a specific style. The shades on each fixture exhibit the same material, shape, and color, making these antiques an undeniable match. In instances like this, the most important design decision will be where to place the fixtures in relation to one another. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that both pieces are visible from most vantage points. For example, if this chandelier were centered over a dining table, the sconces should be installed on the walls adjacent to the table. This way, your conscious lighting choice will be acknowledged.  

Architectural Antique's Gothic Arts & Crafts Sconce with Leaded Glass Shades

Architectural Antique's Gothic Arts & Crafts Sconce with Leaded Glass Shades