Archive for antiques

Ceremonial Sugar Hammer

hammer 4sml Hammer head Face On

Although sugar cane is believed to have originated in New Guinea the first commercial sugar plantations were in India Circa 350.

The Indian’s had managed to produce it in a crystallized form which made it an internationally trade-able commodity which came to be known as a ‘fine spice’ and in the 15th century was set in enormous earthenware moulds and turned out as ‘sugar loaves.’ These loaves were known to be 3 feet in height & 14 inches in diameter. This necessitated sugar hammers and axes to break it down into manageable sizes so it could then be nipped into smaller usable lumps.

Sugar hammers and axes were generally made of steel, consequently I believe our brass example to be more ceremonial than practical and that it’s elaborate design & ostentatious decoration is more a mark of it’s owner than its purpose, though having said that it does exhibit a serious amount of wear.

It would no doubt have been a special commission and the feathered parrot that is engraved upon it’s fluke would be an emblem of the family that owned it themselves most likely plantation owners.

These hammers are ceremonial because the ‘breaking of sugar’ took place in the presence of a retinue of invited guests.

British Folk Art

lhs-blog English-Hand-Puppets rhs-blog

Folk art by definition is the quintessence of the vernacular.  The dimensional soul of a native culture. It is the unpretentious product of a folk who looked to their hearts for artistic inspiration at a time when the practicalities of life got in the way of education.

It is an ethnic expression of working men and women who’s product has not been blighted by intellectuals. So it has been saved from fancy otherworldly muses which it never needed because fundamentally it is instinctive and comes from the gut not the Heavens.

The expression ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ is also true of folk art. It may only have been understood under the term folk art in the last 150 years or so, but it’s apprentices were working up a sweat centuries before that. It was emotionally conceived within reverberations of the primal-screem, its earliest manifestations emerging from a dark and impoverished time. Ironically primal-folk-art is often viewed in an incredulous or optimistic way and objects which to our highly superstitious ancestors may have had serious votive or magical properties, we now frequently see as quaint, hopeful or amusing. One may also perceive in the evolution of folk art a natural backlash, the antithesis of classism and the culture of guilds, but because of an intrinsic humility it has operated hitherto in a kind of undercurrent to the more punchy and avant-garde arts.

The spokes in the wheels of folk art are so disparate and the demography of its practioners so wide that like a bicycle with out a rider there was never a hope of any movement.  It is not only a wholehearted expression of a stratum of humanity it is also naive, disorganised, alternative, romantic and frequently annonymous and as a consquence presents itself as an enigma within the arts.

This cohesive reflection we see from these disjointed elements make it collectively the intriguing and unconventional body of work that we know and love and if British folk art is now becoming less endangered than perhaps it once was, I suspect that perhaps part of the reason is that people see it as an escape from the present to the past, away from the over-manufactured, technological and multinational world we live in. So when it’s green credentials, it’s organic roots, merge with our dreamy concept of a rustic workshop set in a rural idyll, then these criterea provoke a sentimentality that becomes an antidote to our modern times

Folk art is the embodiment the sentiments the aspirations and the musings of an underclass and we are the fortunate benefactors of an inheritance, which brings nothing but joy to us. At its most expressive and pursuasive it can be a harbinger of love, piercing our hearts with its eccentricitys, emblems and tokens, with it’s naive charm, humour, invention and honesty.

I implore you to stay in touch with this expansive heritage of ours known as folk art –  to help save your souls and invigorate your spirits don’t go a day without it.

Copyright: P.Cooper


 Overheard in a Museum

“Quite colloquial and nearly charming

It’s perspectives all awry”

“Peasant Higledy – pigledy seascapes

where figurheads score the sky”

Folk art is not these whispering dilettants

always seeking the sublime;

But the brightly painted drummer boy

Who beats the whirligig of time:

BRITISH FOLK ART – A Celebration

Beginning 12th June 2014 our on-line exhibition will include selected Folk Art, Furniture & Pottery items of museum quality from throughout the British Isles which will be for sale.

Changes to Call Me Naive Website



For those of you reading this who did not have the advantage of receiving last weeks newsletter, we would like to point out the
changes to our website.

Firstly we now have a dedicated pottery gallery where we will exhibit English Creamware and English Polychrome Delftware beside the English Slipware and Sussex Pottery we specialise in. There is also now a dedicated Picture Gallery where we will continue to exhibit the Antique Naive Paintings we are so fond of. Folk Art and items of English Country Furniture along with Antique
Treen, Antique Pewter, Antique Needlework, Antique Oak Furniture, Antique Oak Carvings and Naive Works of Art will now all be exhibited on our main gallery. We are anticipating that these changes will facilitate easier navigation of our website.

Lastly I would like to bid our readers and customers a very prosperous and Happy New Year.

Call Me Naive Antiques

Shadow Box

It was with great excitement while on my travels this week that I stumbled upon the ‘Shadow Box’ that is ‘Rose Villa’ This castellated creation almost fairy tale in its beauty dates to the mid 19th century.

Size is important

As all antique dealers know size is important and the size of this particular Shadow Box is divine measuring only 14″ X 9″

Tantalizing Provenance

Tantalizingly it may have a connection to ‘Chatsworth’ our greatest country house as the lady who owned it was a parlor maid there until 1920 an association I shall be looking into.

Fall from Grace

Unfortunately the brass-ball-finial that surmounted the right Hand gable has fallen from its perch so I have had to send it to the finial fixer! But on its return it will be photographed and placed on the site. Believe me it is worth waiting for – it is very much a treasure.