Friday, April 15, 2011

PARLOR DOMES a Different Kind of Flower Arranging.

  If you had a fine home during the high Victorian Era,(1860-1880), you most likely had a Parlor Dome, at least one, in your Parlor. Sometimes they were in pairs and would adorn the fireplace mantle, others would reside on the, center of the room table. Sizes and shapes varied from big to small,shot to tall and oval or round. Glass parlor domes were kinda a Victorian oddity,housing almost anything you could imagine. The domes made for the formal parlors were more or less full of flowers. Flowers made from paper, wax,silk,shells and real flowers dried. The art of artificial flower making was at it's height  around 1860. Classes  at ladies finishing school were offered. Kits were available to be order  through the mail. Parlor Domes were not all home made, as a lot of department and jewelery   stores offered them for sale, right  off there show room floors. Large cities also had fine flower shops were a lady could purchase one for her home. This art form probably started in Europe,England or France, I am sure, as most home fashion trends of that  day did. The empty  glass domes could be purchases as well for those who liked to do it yourself. The domes always had a wood base and most of the time it was painted a shiny black. Little bun feet held it off the table. A braid or cord was put around the base of the glass dome to protect it. A grove was cut into the wood base for the glass dome to rest in.The glass is always very thin.All theses are hints in telling if a dome is old or not.

   The flowers under the domes were of several forms. Often silk flowers that hat makers used, were the subject. Ladies hats and dresses were often decorated with these flowers. They could be ordered from a mail order catalog and most came from France. Some large cities like New York had department store that would have these flowers in stock.  Hand made flowers from crepe paper were another favorite. Patterns were again available by mail. Kits were also sold. Some of these paper flowers were also dipped into hot wax after they were formed. Some people also dipped real cut flowers from there garden in wax. This was a very tricky process as the hot wax would often harm the flower. One trick that was used, was to let the real flower dry first, hand paint them and then dip it in wax. The wax flowers are very delicate  and tend to break apart after say, 100 years or so.

A French Wire Basket  dipped in wax forms the base for this arrangement.

See all the broken pieces in here. I hardly ever take these domes off to clean,just too hard on the insides.

    Many forms of vases and baskets were used to hold the flowers under the domes. The favorite of most was a Vieux Paris,(Old Paris), flare vase. These were sold again by mail order,floral shops,or department stores. Holes were drilled in the bottom so they could be attached to the wood base. Plaster of Paris was most often used to hold the flowers in place.Natural wicker baskets were used and they too were dipped in the hot wax some times. Hand made baskets  of seed and sea shells were also common. French wire baskets were also found in many a parlor dome

This is my favorite, a man walked into my shop in St.Louis one day caring this, I P-----my pants. He wanted to sell it and didn't  want much for it. LUCKY_LUCKY DAY!!!!!!Guess who bought. Same man latter brought me 2 domes with birds. I love this man!!!!

I love these roses. LOVE,LOVE,LOVE them!

  Often a fake feathered bird would be added as an extra touch. Some people also chose tiny pieces of wax fruit, again these could be purchased from a hat shop, flower shop, mail order or department store Once in awhile life size wax fruit pieces were also added. The domes with the large fruit pieces were more or less designed  to be in a dining room.

This one came with a note telling who made it and who owned it.

These flowers are all wax.

   I was a grown man before I ever had seen a Parlor Dome. I was in college and my roommate was from St.Louis.I was a farm boy, had never been to St.Louis, I spent the week end with him and he took me to a museum house. There in the parlor was this large glass dome on the center table full of  flowers and birds. I was hooked and didn't rest till I had one. The first dome I bought was at a country auction. I was just out of college and teaching school. I went to this auction  and there on the bed of a farm wagon, was this glass dome. It was full of wax fruit and candy. They were displayed on a glass cake plate, compote and a mug. I was in LOVE!!!!!!! Things were going high. In those days people were crazy about antiques and auction prices could go out of this world. It started to rain and a lot of people left.Not me, I just stood there in the pouring rain. The dome was one of the last items to sell. There was one other person interested in it, a dealer from out of town. He had to re-sale it, so could only bid  so much. He stopped at $150 and I won with $175.Sound cheap,but you have to realize that was 1972 and that was a lot of money to a first term school teacher who was making $12,000 a year, I had to eat beans for awhile -but I had a DOME. I have carried that dome with me all these years,every time I move,it goes and goes and goes. After that, other domes have came into my life. I never could stop with just one of anything. If I saw one today, I am sure I would try and buy it. I told one of my friends,"IF I ever try to buy another Dome,break my arm"! The dome disease has rubbed of onto others ,I know,once they see mine. It is an awful sickness. I hope you never catch it.And the prices can be really high now days.So the cost of Dome medicine is dear.

  I am sharing with you today a group of my domes that contain floral displays. Most of them are on the side board (Victorians called a table a board, a side board is a side table, so the word side board was born), in my dining room. One is on the center table in the Down River Parlor. The last is in the purple bed chamber on the second floor. The flowers  are made of wax and silk and have various items holding the flowers. I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I have enjoyed collecting them. Stop by any time for a tour. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss.

    Several years ago there was a article about my domes in Romantic Homes Magazine. It was written by a St.Louis friend,Elizabeth Maxon. If you have old issues you might like to look it up.

      I am having open house this Sunday 2:00 to 4:00 to celebrate the article in Victorians Homes Magazine. My Nieces and Great Nieces are all coming to help. They love to get dressed all up and we all pretend it is 1860. I will post the party pictures  Sunday evening or Monday. I hope we have a big turn out. Wish you all could come

Mother and Daughter

Don't you just love those period shoes???


Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

BEAUTIFUL my friend..I just drooled over all of these..what a great sory about them also..Now I need to go catch up on all your post's and see what you and Sissy love having been doing..Hope you have a GREAT weekend my Dear friend..Hugs and smiles Gloria

xinex said...

Love the southern belle outfits, Richard! Your domes are so pretty. Love the flowers and the vases in them. Thanks for the magazine, have not received it yet. How much do I owe you?...Christine

Unknown said...

So pretty. Drat, I still haven't gotten my new Victoria magazine......

I'm a cloche addict, as well. I don't have any like this, though!

~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage

Sissysmom said...

I love and one day I even hope to own one!! Wish I could come to the open house. I haven't received my Victorian Homes yet....I can hardly wait!

victorian parlor II said...

The parlor domes are gorgeous!!! The ladies look lovely in their gowns, and period shoes:). I can't to read the magazine article about your house-how exciting!!!



Marcia said...

This blog was a feast and a blessing! Thank you for sharing. I wish you the best for the open house tomorrow! I'll be with you in spirit!!!

LydiaO said...

You have the coolest Victorian collections evah! I'm so glad I found you.
Who is the lady in the plaid? Did she make her dress? She's quite period and I love historical costuming. said...

Oh the shoes are to cute with that dress! Your domes are beautiful and I know what you mean about never buying just one of anything! I will have to pick up a magazine and see your article.

Anonymous said...

Hoping to see you tomorrow, Richard. Aunt Ruth plans to come along with us. I know she will enjoy your home!

Anyes K. Busby - Studio Vignette Fine Art said...

How fun Richard! Your nieces look like those beautifully preserved flowers.
Wish I could be there.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Hope you had a great turn out for your open house.

Everything looks so out of this world beautiful and all your Ladies look so lovely

lvroftiques said...

I am DROOLING Richard!! You sure know how to hurt a gal *winks* OMG what a TDF collection! Yes I am an addict! Now those are MY kind of flower arrangements!! You really never see them in my area of the country. *sighs* I so enjoyed viewing yours. And all the ladies look lovely. Vanna

Brigitte said...

Really interesting collection once again.Richard you amaze me every time I come to read your blog.My favorite dome would be the one with all the ROSES in the center of the table.
Love the stories that go with your purchases and needless to say I wish I was one of the lucky ladies to wear dresses like that.
Thanks for sharing,

gretchen said...

I found your blog by doing a search for glass parlor domes....and apparently hit the jackpot when i opened this page. just amazing, you have some real museum treasures here!

Anonymous said...

I have a large dome made by my great aunt many years ago. She lived in New Orleans,La. and made all the flowers and a little parakeet on each side. It is so old and has been through many moves but I would like to know what an approximate amount it may be worth just for family purposes. I am 84 and it was in our house way before I was born. This aunt made these kind of things and sent them by train to many places. Laura

Richard Cottrell said...

If you leave a comment, and I am so glad you do, and yo ask a question, I need an email address or a link back before I can answer it. Some one just asked about there dome, what it would be worth. I would also need a picture, no one can appraise with out seeing the item. I am sorry. i hope to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping by. Richard Cottrell

keebler2921 said...

Hello my name is Brian and my fionce has a big water globe that has silk flowers in it we can't seem to find out what it is or anything about it. I'm looking for some one to help me figure it out. An old woman gave it to her and said her husband was in the military and got it over seas somewhere. Just asking for some help on finding out what it is

keebler2921 said...

Hello my name is Brian and my fionce has a big water globe that has silk flowers in it we can't seem to find out what it is or anything about it. I'm looking for some one to help me figure it out. An old woman gave it to her and said her husband was in the military and got it over seas somewhere. Just asking for some help on finding out what it is