Friday, July 22, 2011

Steel Cut Beads and Other Stories

Marcia and Wendy waiting patiently to get into the hat factory

We were lucky enough to have Wendy Addison and the infamous Marcia Ceppos of Tinsel Trading join us the first week of our Chateau Getaway this summer. Although, by about day two I wondered why in the world I had invited two of the most prolific treasure hunters to dig with me at the French flea markets! Within minutes of being at any one of my favorite stomping grounds, I would look over and see Wendy and Marcia, arms completely full with antique French ______________(insert almost any treasure here), and smiling from ear to ear. Well, Wendy was smiling from ear to ear and Marcia, the more practical of the two, was shaking her head and probably thinking: there goes the bank!
Marcia and I had fun telling each other stories about the history we each knew of different old bits and pieces. After visiting Cathy Brocante, and finding a box full of old rusty French steel cut beads, we were ambling back home to the chateau when I decided to tell my story about these small unassuming beads - once all the fashion in Paris.
Told to me by the great bead dealer, Ben Eagle, the story goes something like this:
During World War II when the Germans were in France, they came upon the last known steel cut bead factory still in production when they decided to take the machines back to Germany and manufacture the beads there. After loading all of the factories' machines onto the freight train, the train was unexpectedly hit by an errant bomb and the machines were completely destroyed - and there have been no more steel beads manufactured since.
I thought Marcia was going to fall out of the car - she just kind of looked at me and starting cracking up. "Are you kidding me?" she said, "No - I'm not - that's the story I heard and I'm sticking to it." Well that was it for Marcia, she couldn't believe that I would fall for a story like that - but she also didn't have another one to tell me - so I decided I would just have to be comfortable with the bead lore I had heard from my old friend, who always has a good story to tell.
Provenance is funny that way - you really don't know much more than you are told, unless of course you can look it up somewhere - which I still haven't been able to find anything to verify or nullify this story - some provenance is just passed down through word of mouth.
Speaking of which, I hope Marcia and Wendy have come up with some good stories to tell about the treasures they found in France - nine or ten suitcases in all, brimming with beautiful ribbons, trims, pom poms and labels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this story, it reminds me of how stories are passed through generations and change ever so slightly. Thank you for your stories...they continue to inspire many of us.
Kathleen McCartney
Madison, WI