Emerald Faceted Sideboard by Marco Costa

I saw this arresting piece for the first time a few weeks ago and it’s stuck with me ever since.  The modern, abstract construction makes it look like a massive jewel, particularly given the gilded base and slightly iridescent covering.  It sounds flashy on paper, but because of the deep emerald color it’s not over the top in my opinion. Clearly a focus piece for any room, it would lend an amazing pop to a minimalist penthouse.


Available at Boca Do Lobo for a princely sum indeed – http://www.bocadolobo.com/en/

9 Unconventional Antique Gifts

Vintage Bat Skeleton

While macabre for most, this beautifully posed skeleton might just be the perfect antique gift for those who long for a Victorian age.

vintage mounted bat skeleton

Available at Acorn in Haddonfield, NJ.

Flying Racer Sled

Perfect for the winter season and any collector of folk art or Americana, this sled has a nostalgic character that draws the eye.  The  painted imagery in the center has held up quite well over the years, and small details like the contrast edging on the wooden slats as well as the triangle inlays in the steering bar add that extra bit of charm.

Available at Rehab Vintage in Los Angeles, CA.

Antique Greek & Roman Statuary Art Print

It can be challenging to give such a personalized gift as an antique, fortunately there are pieces such as the print below which go with virtually any style.  This piece is actually one of an edition of four offered by the gallery, and would be just at home in an office, entryway, or any other area of the house in need of an extra bit of grandeur

Classical Greek and Roman Statuary Print

Available at Elizabeth Legge Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

Edgar Brandt 1st Edition Book, by Joan Kahr

A colossus of the art deco period, Edgar Brandt was perhaps the most influential decorative ironworker of the last century, having influenced other masters such as Raymond Subes and Paul Kiss.  This fascinating book by Brandt scholar Joan Kahr is filled with page after page of stunning documentation of his greatest achievements, and provides a good deal of background on the artist and his studio.  A quintessential item for deco enthusiasts.

edgar brand art deco ironwork book by joan kahr

Available at Potterton Books in Yorkshire, England.

Tiffany Picture Frames

Turn of the century glass works from Tiffany & Co. are typically out of the reach of most mortals, but these frames are an exception.  While still quite expensive for a frame, the richly colored stained glass and fine metalwork make a statement and are certain to last for years to come.  Think of this antique gift as investment.

antique louis comfort tiffany grapevines picture frame

Available at Bonhams 20th Century Decorative Art Auction in New York on Dec. 11, 2012

Midcentury Mobile Sculpture

A mobile sculpture isn’t an item you see in most homes, but I just can’t understand why.  These minimalist pieces add a flash of color and movement, and are an ideal accent to modern decor.  This particular piece, clearly channeling Calder, is no exception.

midcentury vintage red mobile

Available at BG Galleries in Hingham, MA.


Red Leather Nailhead Wingback Chairs

It takes a certain kind of person to give furniture as an antique gift, but honestly who could hate these magnificent wingbacks?  The style is immortal for anyone decorating a library or office.  They’re just as suited to the city as the country and given the leather upholstery and nailhead detail, are certain to only improve with age.

red leather wingback chairs

Available at Antiquario in San Francisco, CA.

Violet Regency Style Chairs

Perhaps the least approachable of all my picks, the regency style is one I love though not for everyone.  Well, I don’t care, these are fantastic no matter what anyone says.  The violet and gold on ebony oozes luxury with class; it’s the sort of piece one reserves for themselves in a personal sanctuary like the bedroom or walk in closet.

violet regency style chairs

Available at Umbrella in Hopewell, NJ.

Sheaf of Wheat French Antique Lamp

An icon of the luxe side of midcentury design, the gilt sheaf of wheat is one of my favorite visual elements for home decor.  There are plenty of examples out there, and you have to be careful to walk the line between gaudy and flimsy, which I think this particular example does nicely.  The individual stalks of the sheaf of wheat are pleasingly wide, varied in size as to seem more realistic, and sweetly curled like a ribbon as they struggle under the burdensome weight of the heads of grain. There’s a lifelike tautness about the design, as if the lamp would fall apart if you untied the detailed, finely threaded string in the center.  As a whole, this an expertly proportioned piece from the small, beaded base to the bulbous neck below the bulb.  And half a century on in its life, there’s a spectacular burnished patina that provides visual depth and additional drama to the piece.

gilt sheaf of wheat lamp

As symbols go, the sheaf of wheat has been around for centuries, but rose to prominence in furniture during the 1940s and 50s when Parisian fashion designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Sant Laurent made it a staple in their own homes.  Ever since, their popularity has grown, with high points in Italy during the 60s, and Hollywood during the 70s.  You’ll often find sheaf of wheat pieces in the states made from metal, and with more of a dull color; the finest items are made from gilt wood and naturally tend to be earlier works.

Available at Glo in Miami, Florida.

19th Century French Wrought Iron Gates

Any room or residence looking to make a statement, seek no further than these enormous and imposing French wrought iron gates.  At nearly nine feet high, and having already lasted well over a century, this is a piece fit to guard your fortress or palace with impunity and grace.  The gently rusted patina gives them a sort of mysterious and experienced element that would suit the entrance to a grand, manicured lawn on an old estate.  Decked out with classic, wrought iron acanthus leaves, a rectangular lock detailed with clamshell finnials, and other regal embellishments, these heavy gauge gates have a rich soul without being gaudy.

Wrought iron denotes the decorative and high quality aspect of this piece, specifically that the details are hand worked as opposed to being cast in a mold.  Today this type of piece would almost certainly be entirely cast, and look cheap by comparison.  You can often tell when pieces are cast because they exhibit rough edges where two halves of a detail are welded or screwed together.  For example, the acanthus leaves and clamshells would be cast in two halves, and you’d be able to see an edge in the center.  As this piece is wrought of solid iron instead of cast though, all the details are crisp and clean, ready to withstand the next century of wear and tear.


wrought iron gates

The French styling is apparent through its relative minimalism for the times.  These gates may seem quite detailed in these days, but if these were Italian from the same era, there would likely be far more embellishment, and every corner would be festooned with some kind of sculptural detail.  The Italians were also more likely to use literal imagery, for example mythical figures, or characters than the French, which tend toward the abstract leaves, and scrolls.

Available at Le Louvre French Antiques in Dallas.

Art Deco Wrought Iron Fire Screen by Paul Kiss

Thanks to the distinctive hammered workmanship, this wrought iron fire screen makes a bold statement.  Signed by master metalworker Paul Kiss, the combination of the highly textured material along with the brilliant imagery of the piece creates a compelling overall statement.  Kiss worked in Paris during the height of the art deco movement, and while he was perhaps more famous for his work in lighting, this fire screen is something special.  In the center, a scalloped brazier cradles a roaring fire shooting coals out from all sides and then clouding into curvy smoke in the corners.  Framed in a thick border with a wave design at the base and then seated on scrolled feet, it’s a mercifully sized piece that would be perfect to anchor a cozy study.

wrought iron fireplace screen

Available at Colletti Gallery in Chicago.

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