I have written about the Addison mother-daughter team and their antique sales in Berkeleyside, two articles about Eli Leon (his quilt and other collections), one about Ron Morgan’s Christmas ornaments, and one about an anonymous collector’s vintage toys. Here is the blog for their studio sales.
Julie Addison is the mother of the pair. She has a gorgeous paper-oriented store at 3054 Telegraph, Addison Endpapers.
Daughter Geneva has had several antique stores in the past, different iterations of Addison Antiques. She thinks that it has been at least eight years since she had a store – until now.
This latest incarnation of Addison Antiques is, purely and simply, beautiful. The storefront is modest and humble and by no means flashy. Inside – oh my.
A significant majority of the things for sale have high quirky ratings.
Example – these communist-era Polish circus posters. Lots about the CYRK posters here and here. Instant Classy Hip Quirk.
The store reflects years of finding and buying and keeping to sell. It also reflects an inner peace. Geneva says, “It is my outlet for beauty. My home is a zoo. Here, I have control. I can make it beautiful.”
Geneva Addison knows a lot about antiques, high brow and middle brow and low brow. She is not braggy or boastful or obnoxious about her knowledge. The opposite.
I asked about the pretty blue dishes. “Early blue transferware from England, between 1810 and 1840.”
Transfer printing is a method of decorating pottery using an engraved copper or steel plate from which a monochrome print on paper is taken which is then transferred by pressing onto the ceramic piece.
Addison doesn’t beat you up about the facts. “It’s not just about the stuff. It’s about the history of that piece.” She can tell you where she bought almost everything with a decent backstory on a good part of it.
What are these? Geneva tells me: “Victorian tinsel pictures from the 1850s and 1860s. A woman’s craft.”
The American Folk Art Museum teaches us: “Tinsel paintings are reverse paintings on glass with smooth or crumpled metallic foil applied behind translucent and transparent areas; when viewed in candlelight or gaslight, the effect was one of shimmering highlights. In the first half of the 19th century, tinsel painting was taught to young women whose parents were dedicated to providing refined education for their daughters and paid for such special classes. By the mid- to late 19th century, the art had expanded outside the school curriculum, and instructions proliferated in books and were advertised in women’s magazines.”
Addison is effortless with this. She shares, doesn’t weaponize her knowledge or show off.
This ship? She had two and sold one. Handmade with a story.
Every little piece is handmade. The figurehead is a Frozen Charlotte doll. Talking about the ship led to talking about Spenger’s and all the ship models there and the food that didn’t keep up with times and then something else. It is really something. Dear Santa….
She can do this with everything in the store. Not just the antique facts, but the stories which often lead in a non-linear fashion to other good stories.
Let’s see some photos now, emphasis on the quirky merch.
Creepy. Really creepy. Creepy AF!
Of the textile piece here, Addison writes me “it’s an Indian Toran door hanging. I wish I knew what the iconography means, it is my understanding that they were used during festive occasions, and weddings so perhaps the images reference something special. I think this one is probably about 60 to 75 years old.” For those keeping score at home, the Hindi word for “toran” is तोरण.
This and the others like it below are from the Edo and Meiji period. Japanese dolls are called 人形 ningyō, lit. “human form.” Japan was closed to most trade during the Edo period (1603-1867). Most of the traditional dolls were developed then. The Meiji period was from October 23, 1868, to July 30, 1912. They were meant for decoration and were for the wealthy. The heads are carved wood that is painted or dipped in layers of gofun, which is made of powdered shells from oysters, clams, and scallops, used in Japanese paintings. Its main component is calcium carbonate and is characterized by the fine particles which produce a smooth matt texture. These dolls are beautiful.
This is from a sampler stitched by Maura Wise, age 16, Pike Township, Ohio, 1837. The verse continues: “Remember me as you pass by/ As you are now, so once was I / As I am now, so you must be / Prepare for death and follow me.” I also find it on the flyleaf of a Book of Common Prayer, dated 1781, Downer! I didn’t check the back of the teapot to see if the death part is there. I hope not. Better we stay life-affirming when we take tea.
These pieces seem pretty straight, as in non-quirky. The flowers won me over though.
My mother was an accomplished seamstress. She had a button can that made for hours of fun for two generations of young children.
As if the beautiful and quirky things were not enough, there are the cabinets, the drawers – the best ever.
This set of drawers from an apothecary is off the charts wonderful and quirky.
As is this one:
Addison says – “Small-drawer cabinets were really popular as parts cabinets. I think this one was from a clock maker. I found some springs and such in the drawers when I got it It is from the 1930s-ish.”
And – a third one??????
If the first two were not enough, check out the Windsor and Newton drawers. Today I learned that Windsor and Newton is “the world’s leading brand of fine art materials including oil, acrylic, and water color paint with an unrivalled reputation for quality & reliability.”
What might be in the drawers?
Do you see what I mean? I told Geneva that there wasn’t anything in the whole store that I didn’t love. I meant it. If you want some high-taste quirk, this is the place. I love and recognize the important role that low-brow, pop culture quirk plays. But there is also a place for bizarre élégant – elegant quirk.
In summation, here is why I felt so happy when I walked into Addison Antiques:
1) The store is perfect. Good light, many pieces but no clutter, drawers and shelves and hanging. Just perfect.
2) The things. Perfect things. Beautiful things. Quirky things.
3) The joy that Geneva Addison brings to the store and the things in the store, with their history and their stories.
It is a store of beautiful quirk, history and stories, and joy – fleeting joy perhaps but joy all the same.
Here is the store blog. It shows these store hours:
Quirky Berkeley says: go check it out.
I showed the draft post to my friend. “What’s up with the ship model obsession? You’ve talked about ship models a couple times recently.”
“This is the building where I had classes in high school. It was the Upper School, Forms III through VI. It was originally named Yorklynne and was designed by William L. Price in 1899 for John O. Gilmore, a financier. It was the largest mansion in the City Line Avenue area. My school bought it in 1921.
“Mr. Latham was my teacher for political theory, European history, and American history. His classroom looked something like this. There were a couple of ship models in the classroom. You can see how they’d fit in. I got lost looking at them as Mr. Latham lectured. I wanted one.”
“One day every summer in Maine my family would go to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. My parents spent time with the Wyeth paintings. I spent time with the model ships. I wanted one.
“And then there was Spenger’s. The food was seriously mediocre for a vegetarian, but the ship models were outstanding. I wanted one.
“This is the closest I came. Rick and Pam were neighbors on Oxford Street in the 1980s. They found a simple handmade six-foot wooden ship under their house. The family from whom they bought the house used it in the place of a Christmas tree. Rick and Pam gave it to me. I fixed it up for son Jake, born 1981.
“Jake loved it. He had a collection of toy soldiers that had been my father’s and brother’s and mine. He had huge battles on the ship. Hours of fun.
“For Christmas 2005, it became a Christmas ship. My collection of santons (meaning ‘little saints,’ small figurines made of local Provençal clay, painted, and brought out at Christmas) went to sea, arranged on the deck of the ship. There was a soundtrack, from Pinafore. It was really truly brilliant, but not exactly the model ship I had dreamed of.
“Sometime after that, the boat went to a new young boy, Chamren Horn. I hope he dug it.”
My friend nodded. “As they used to say on 4chan’s /v/ – 4chan’s imageboard dedicated to the discussion of PC and console video games – ‘Cool story bro,'”
I know that it wasn’t that good a story, but it is a true story from the it’s-all-about-me department, known more kindly as the creative narcism department. Since I was 15 I have wanted a ship model. Maybe one day.
My friend started to walk back to his quarters.
He had just acquired a set of two Hartland Plastics Religious Jesus and Children Light Switch Plate Covers from a “dude named Tater Tot” and was deciding the perfect place for them.
He stood up. “You remember of course that the most revered icon in our friend Gabby’s life is his Harland Warren Spahn. Spahn and Spain and then pray for rain and all that. Did you know that they made a nativity scene?
“I bought this too but I’m not keeping it. Somebody out there is going to have a very happy Hartland Christmas.” He turned towards his quarters.
I said, “Slow ya roll my friend. I appreciate your interest in my obsession with model ships and your riff on Harland Plastics but that what I really wanted to know was how you liked the post.”
Great bunch of old stuff, Tom. I shall have to make it over there. Nice ceramica!
So glad to see this post and your appreciation of these 2 remarkable women. i don’t gush-ok, I do, at times- but Geneva has such a good eye and her range is amazing- and all without pretension or attitude. i gush whenever i see what treasures she has found. Once again, you nailed it, Mr D. Great post.
Love Addison’s Antiques. Geneva is a lovely person and very knowledgeable. I enjoyed the store and bought beautiful pearls. She inspired me as an artist to reach for more.