Friday, November 9, 2012

Mudlarking :: The Ultimate in Upcycling

Many years back, my parent's cleared out the house I grew up in. There were all kinds of things in the house that reminded me of my childhood. Things that were sentimental to me, but not likely valuable. Doesn't matter, as I cherish them. 

The oil lamp shown here is something my parents displayed in one of the cabinets, but I really never knew much about it. They would pull it out and use it when we lost power. I had forgotten about the lamp until my husband and I were home helping my parents clean out the house, and making keep or toss piles. I tucked it into my pile of 'keepers.' 
When my family first moved to Astoria Oregon, the town I grew up in, we lived in an old Victorian place on the river. What I remember most about living by the river was the fog that would bring the bridges or the old pier pilings in and out of focus.

Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi; at the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. So there are lots of relics from various periods of western history. My early memories of our house on the river were of the 4th floor with windows all the way around the upper floor (probably to watch the ships), and below the windows were small apothecary drawers where I hid all my treasures.

The oil lamp stayed in boxes for many, many years. Traveling from our San Francisco home to our Connecticut one. I pulled it out this year after being intrigued by a few of the British bloggers who do something called mudlarking. But what exactly is it? I had not heard this term until a few months ago. A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value. A term used especially to describe Londoners who scavenged along the banks of the Thames during low tide in the late 18th-19th centuries. Then I remembered the lamp I had been carrying around with me from coast to coast. My father had told me that this lamp had been found in the mud along the Columbia River. Ha ... My Dad the mudlarker!

So I set out on a mission to figure out what, and where this lamp might have come from. After researching it online I discovered that is was likely an Aladin lamp popular during the turn of the century. Further research told me that it was an Amethyst Lincoln Drape with a crowfoot base likely manufactured between 1941-1953. Ok, so maybe not as old as I thought it was, but still pretty cool. I'm a total geek for history.

I'm one of those people who loves the Antique Road Show. And the stories I love most are the ones where someone finds a priceless antique that they cleaned up with pledge. It just cracks me up. One lady found a museum piece... a Milanese helmet worth at least $250,000. The appraiser looked at her (after she confessed to use of pledge) and told her "this really should be in a museum." Man, that one had me rolling.

I would encourage you all to check out two of my favorite bloggers who mudlark. The first, Tania of Moonflygirl, makes the most beautiful jewelry from her finds. Look at these triple drop earrings she's done from pottery with what's called a Willow Pattern. I am always so amazed by how she sees just the right shard to work with. The other blog is simply called Mudlarking. In this second one Julia focuses on the history behind the pieces she finds. The one I am showing here is recent find that she's matched to the head dress Anne Boleyn likely wore. How cool is that? Ok, so my little town doesn't have the rich history that these two UK ladies have available along the Thames, but still it is fun to get out there and find a piece of history.

19 comments:

Julia said...

A great find- I doubt I'll ever find such a complete piece! Julia

Duni said...

How very interesting. This is the first I've heard of "mudlarking". Glad you kept the oil lamp - it is so pretty!!

Jean A. Wells said...

Mudlarking - who would have known? Very interesting article. I have a couple of boxes of old oil lamps, I even have a yellow whale oil lamp, but nothing with quite the story as yours.

Cheryl Roth said...

Very interesting blog I think my daughter would love. I stopped by from Thursday Favorite Things hop& became your new follower. Please visit my places too:
http://hearttoheartathome.blogspot.com/
http://createabeautifullife.com/

Christine Altmiller said...

Very interesting and exciting post! The scavenger in me is eating up all the words and clicking on all the links! How cool you dad found this oil lamp the way he did! And your childhood home sounds mysterious and magical :-) Moonflygirl makes some beautiful jewelry out of her finds. And I am off to check out Mudlarking blog :-)

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Lovely post! Mudlarking... I've never heard the term before, so today I've learned something new. My mom has kept so many things from way back, and every time I visit, I enjoy going from room to room to look at them. So many memories, so much sentimental feeling behind some items. If they could speak, these things would have so many stories to tell of the people they shared space with.

BeadedTail said...

I haven't heard of mudlarking before and would never have thought of digging in the mud either. How fun to find treasures buried though! The lamp is lovely and it's great you still have it!

BamaTrav said...

I saw Kindergarden Cop. It was filmed there. It looks nice. I liked it. Was Ahhhnold there? :D

Nancy said...

How neat to find out the origins of an object your parents have had for a while!

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

I love finding treasures when we air boat on the river. But I'm sure none of mine are valuable to anyone but me :)
Love the jewelry!

Bobbie said...

What a gorgeous lamp, and what a beautiful memory attached to it!

I've heard of mudlarking, and would love to have the chance to do it, although I fear that all I'd turn up would be old tires, scary waste, and the random discarded bicycle. Ah, to be creative AND lucky!

Kashmira said...

That is a really pretty lamp! Love the color. WIsh you had a pic of your old home in Astoria! Sounds lovely

And you lived in SF?? When???

And about the pledge? You mean they cleaned those antiques with pledge? I need to check out that show. And these two blogs. Thank you!

Introverted Art said...

I love stories like this. Heirlooms are so amazing and care so much history with them.

Splendid Little Stars said...

fascinating post!
I can just imagine how wonderful your childhood house must have been with its 4th floor all-around windows---oh, and drawers for treasures!
Mudlarking! I've learned a new term! Fun!

Miss Val's Creations said...

So interesting! This is my first time hearing of mudlarking. Antiques Road Show is so entertaining. I love when people find out that a random object from their attic is worth tons of money! Some of the things shown are absolutely amazing and have such cool history behind them. My parents have some awesome family heirlooms that I would be curious to find out about their value. Great lamp too. That may come in handy during the winter nor'easters.

New End Studio said...

If I ever think I might find something worthy of AR I pledge never to Pledge it, lol. The surprises make it worth watching and it's educational, too!

♥photos of Astoria and the memory of the house with the windows and drawers. How many floors, 4th was not the top? The views, ahh.









Islandgirl said...

Wondering along the beaches here after a storm was always refered to as Beach Combing... Where I live with our intertidal shluck I think the term mudlarking would be far more appropriate! Thanks for a great story, the house you grew up in sounds wonderful!

Patti Van said...

Oh yes...the Antiques Roadshow - my mother LOVES this show! I am always amazaed at the appraised value of some of the stuff people bring in! Your lamp is fabulous - as are the memories of your home!

Zena said...

Beautiful lamp, I´ve enjoyed reading your blog and in particular, this post, it´s delightful. I will follow you. Thanks for the links I am going to read more...

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