Thursday, June 28, 2007

vintage needlework basket to die for

I actually took these photos a while ago but realised that I'd never gotten around to posting them.

This piece is a beautiful chinese-made needlework basket most probably from the 19th century, and it is housed in the collection at Buda which is a historic house here in Castlemaine.
Normally this basket is well behind velvet ropes, but one day someone had obviously moved them, and I had the camera, so of course I took advantage of the opportunity to get up close and personal.
The inlay inside the lid is in fabulous condition and a lot of the [ presumably original ] fittings and tools are still there. A friend who volunteers at Buda told me that there has been some pilferage in the past so a couple of the smaller sewing items have gone walkies. The silk bag underneath where one would have stored WIPs has seen better days but it's still obvious that this would've been an extremely expensive piece.

Buda belonged to a well known and talented Hungarian silversmith, Ernest Leviny, from 1863. Five of his very artistic daughters never married and the house is filled with their embroideries, paintings, copper enamelling, even wrought iron work which would have been a very unusual pastime for a well brought up young woman in those days one would think. The interesting thing about the Buda story is that the last of the daughters lived to a very very old age, by which time all the money had long run out and so she was reduced to living in penury in one heated room in this huge old house. This lack of funds meant that the furnishings pretty much remained untouched even down to the original hall carpets from 1850.

When she died in 1981, the house was left to the people of Castlemaine. and is a veritable time capsule of affluent high victorian life. Oh and the nearly 2 hectares of gardens aren't half bad either even with the ravages brought by the drought.


crazyhaberdasher said...

I must visit there hopefully soon - maybe next time. It would be great to see the basket/box "in person". I could just see the five women sitting around the needlework stand, working on their projects, possibly ideas taken from Weldons or even Godey's, gossiping about life in Castlemaine - or is that a scene from Pride and Prejudice!

catsmum said...

actually a lot of their ideas were original designs strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement... and yes, you DO still have to go there one day :]

Sheepish Annie said...

That is a beautiful piece! And I have a little nook here where I think it would look just lovely.

Don't see that happening, though...

Rose Red said...

I love those workbasket/ worktables - every time I see one in a museum or antique store I wish it would be mine (not that I could fit all my knitting WIPS in the basket underneath but it's nice to dream!)