Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free Veteran's Day 2010


In the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allied nations and Germany. The United States and many other nations had been embroiled for years in a bitter battle against tyranny. This cessation of hostilities or the Treaty of Versailles would become known as the end of WWI or of the "war to end all wars." In 1938, November 11th, would be set aside as the legal federal holiday "Armistice Day". After the heavy toll taken on U.S. soldiers during WWII and the Korean War, an effort was made to amend the 1938 act to change the name to "Veteran's Day" in recognition of not only those WWI soldiers but also the multitudes who would later serve. President Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From that day forward, Veteran's Day became a time for the nation to come together in honor of her soldiers of all wars.

"From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots." -Thomas Jefferson

How true that is held in the light of our past and present wars. America's freedom has been purchased and maintained by the high price of the shed blood of her patriots. Of the 4,734,991 who served in World War I, 116,000 gave their lives and 200,000 were wounded. 16.1 million U.S. soldiers were in World War II, and of these 405,399 died with 671,846 wounded. The lesser known Korea War would see 5.7 million serving with 103,284 wounded and 54,246 deaths. Vietnam soldiers would total 8.7 million with those of the "some gave all" numbering 58,209 with 153,303 wounded. The Gulf War would see 2.2 million serving with 382 deaths and 467 wounded. The battle still rages in Iraq and Afghanistan with the death total approaching 6,000. According to the 2008 Census, there are 23.2 million living veterans with over 3.4 million with some form of service related disability. All these casualties bear witness to the terrible toll that war exacts. Freedom demands costly sacrifices from some so that all may continue to enjoy its privileges.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."- George Orwell

Veteran's Day is a day set apart in which to celebrate these "rough" soldiers' love for country - a time for honoring them for their willing personal sacrifices while serving the common good. It is also a time to remember that though war is ugly there are things far worse to avoid for the soldier and civilian alike, such as: a toleration of tyranny in exchange for temporary safety, a comfort induced apathy causing a lack of support and exercise of freedoms, and an oversight and depreciation of the blood shed in securing and maintaining U.S. Constitutional freedoms. From past Revolutionary War days to the present day Middle East conflict, American soldiers and civilians alike shared and are to share in the burden of safekeeping freedom. "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stewart Mill

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -Thomas Paine

November 11th, is a wonderful time to come together as a nation in honor of our vets, but let us not forget as civilians the other 364 days allotted to partake in freedom's burden. Year around, the American flag can be displayed in a place of prominence in the yard or even on a vehicle. Keeping informed about legislation, holding officials accountable for laws upholding the Constitution, and exercising the right to vote are essential year around as well. If you see a veteran while out, just say a simple, "Thank you." Patriotic and sweetheart jewelry can be worn to show love of country and esteem for our patriots. Son in Service flags hung from windows, and yellow ribbons wrapped around trees herald support. Programs are available for helping and encouraging our soldiers and their families left behind. Remembering to pray for those in harm's way is something civilians of any means can do at anytime. "Freedom isn't free" for we, civilians and soldiers alike, must share in safeguarding our Constitutional freedoms for our posterity.

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose
coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag." - Father Dennis Edward O'Brian

To the soldier...Thank You!

*Originally written for Ruby Lane 11/11/2009 by Jennifer Atkinson http:/

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Deep green Beryl or the Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. Emerald is the most famous and valuable of the Beryls. This lovely gemstone symbolizes life, fidelity, love, nature, and springtime. Treasured by Cleopatra and adored by the Romanovs for its beauty - this vibrant gem is rich in history!

The early Egyptians and Aztecs regarded it as a holy stone. Ancient works in India proclaimed it as a bringer of luck and health. Violence and mystery surrounded the removal of quantities of Emeralds as Cortes plundered Montezuma's treasures which found their way into the courts of Europe. Royalty for centuries from shahs to maharajahs to kings and queens have sought them to add to their jewelry and to their royal coffers. Crowns, tiaras, burial masks, scepters, and statuary glowed with their verdancy.

Today, Colombia and Brazil are the most popular sources though the first Emeralds were mined in Egypt. Deep, velvety green stones are more sought after than their paler counterparts. Emeralds are typically flawed with cracks and inclusions so color is the most important factor when choosing an Emerald. Jewelers know this as well so one must be aware of synthetics, fakes, and oiling enhanced with color.

The Emerald is certainly one of my favorite gemstones second only to the Opal in my books. The lure of their verdant green is hard to resist. Below are some world famous Emeralds, and a few that Backwoods Treasure currently has for sale.

Diamond Emerald Tiara from collection of Queen Elizabeth II

Angelina Jolie’s Emeralds

86CT Emerald Necklace & Earrings Harry Winston Inc.

Faberge Emerald Cabochon Sapphire Diamond Ring

Emerald Opal Cluster Ring

Emerald Diamond 14K Ring

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Symbolic through the ages for regard, unrequited love, and chivalry, Daffodils are also associated with the arrival of spring and rebirth. Some of its other names include the jonquil and white narcissi, and they are part of the genus Narcissus. One of the first flowers to make an early spring appearance, Daffodils with their trumpet shaped center against star shaped petals have been recorded in history as early as the second century B.C. They are believed to be native of the area around the Mediterranean Sea. Daffodils were important flowers to both the Greeks and the Romans. The Romans brought Daffodils to Britain as the sap was thought to have healing powers. Egyptians used these bright bunches in funeral wreaths. The early American pioneers took these hearty bulbs across the wilderness in their covered wagons. I was fortunate to be given some of these heritage Daffodils as a volunteer Master Gardener at the Frederick Meijer Gardens. Daffodils are also admired and sought after in poetry, art, antiques, collectibles, and in home d├ęcor. Below are some Daffodil inspired finds!


I Wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
-William Wordsworth 1804

I’m the Golden Daffodil
Gleamin’ over Childhood’s hill,
Gayest thoughts to you I bring
Of happy days
And sunny spring!

-Helen E. Jeffers

In time of daffodils - who know
The goal of living is to grow
Forgetting why,
Remember how...

E.E. Cummings

Yellow yellow daffodil, dancing in the sun..
Oh yellow , yellow daffodil, you tell me spring has come.
I can hear a blue bird sing, and hear a robin call.
But yellow yellow daffodil,
I love you most of all.

-Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Since this is Saint Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be in keeping with the holiday to highlight one of Ireland's most famous collectible exports -Belleek. On the 18th of November 1858, the foundation stone was laid for what would become famous world over for fine Parian china. Belleek Pottery of County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, would establish itself as a producer of translucent fine domestic ware and decorative pieces. By 1865 these pieces were being exported to England, Canada, the United States, and Australia. The demand has kept coming ever since as the handiwork on many of these pieces is absolutely stunning! If you have ever handled the earlier black stamped pieces, you can appreciate the fine eggshell delicacy and transparency. There is nothing like it!

Below is one of Belleek's most popular themes - the shamrock! Notice how you can see the green back stamp through the plate due to the translucent fineness of the china. Another popular feature with Irish Belleek is their trademark cob (yellow) luster finish shown in this Belleek swan. Some pieces are just accented with this color, some are completely yellow while some just have on the inside this cob finish. This swan has just the head and wings touched with yellow luster.

This Belleek grouping has a lusterless swan, a pair of candlesticks with cob luster, and a basket-weave cream and sugar complete with hand painted shamrocks. Some of the artisans at the Belleek factory serve apprenticeships for many years until they have the necessary skill to work on the more difficult hand painting, sculpting, and weaving. The Belleek basket below has delicate hand cut and hand applied roses and leaves and would definitely have been set aside for the more seasoned artisan.

Many Irish Belleek pieces are Irish heritage themed which is not very surprising! You will find many pieces adorned or shaped as: shamrocks, harps, wolfhounds, thistles, thatched cottages, Celtic symbols, seashells/maritime, wild Irish roses, and more! Yes, there are even teapots to vases shaped like the castles and ruins that dot their lush green countryside!

Whether you are purchasing Irish Belleek for reselling, collecting, or just incorporating pieces into you home decor, knowing the back stamps with their approximate time period is a must. As with many fine old porcelain pieces, the date can really make the difference between getting a deal and overpaying! Books such as: Belleek: The Complete Collector's Guide and Illustrated Reference by Richard K. Degenhardt are available on the history and dating of Belleek for those who want more in depth information. The official Belleek Factory website also has some valuable information about Belleek, its history, and dating Belleek - and better yet - this info is free at:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A big part of the joy of collecting would be missing if one were never to see the acquired treasure on display. I not only love selling and collecting but also displaying. There are a plethora of ways to display antiques and collectibles. One of the intents of this blog is to encourage collecting and to share some of these decorating and displaying ideas that we have garnered over the years. Some of these ideas will use groupings of like kind, era, syle,color, and medium while others will show how various objects can be successfully combined. Collections and displays will vary in size from a single shelf to whole rooms thanks to the participation of family, friends, and colleagues. Our goal is to inspire readers to make the most of their treasures and to encourage the passion of collecting for future generations to come.


This room is an eclectic mix of objects and eras from Victorian to retro French Provincial from cast metal to art glass. The framed artwork of R. Atkinson Fox and Hermann Rudisuhli mingle with Asti and Bradshaw Crandell. A retro wall mirror curio is adorned with old Czech & Austrian floral vases, Lefton birds, and Fenton hobnail candlesticks.

French Provincial end tables tie in with the French Provincial curio cabinet which is full of carnival, Fenton, slag, and vaseline glass of all ages, colors, and shapes. Throw pillows on the couches in vibrant shades pick up their subdued complements in the wool floor rug. The graceful lines of a Victorian etagere curio provides a display for antique silver, more floral vases and glass, Irish Belleek, and an Art Nouveau mirrored lamp. Clinging roses surround a modern bookcase which is host to antique books, a mechanical music box, and an unromantic but necessary stereosystem.

The mantel combines porcelain, pottery, and metal objects in its Art Deco motion lamp, Victorian portrait ewer, Art Nouveau clock, and vintage Irish Belleek. Frog princes and sweet bunnies scattered throughout the room add a touch of whimsy. The owner states this room is still a work in progress as the collection grows and the thrill of the hunt continues!