I am totally fascinated by collectors and their coveted collections and most of all learning something new each time. We all, of course, watch Antiques Roadshow (don’t we wish we could get more of the English BBC version, please!) and find something fascinating each time we watch, not only the value but the history of the items.
I found such a collector and his collection recently when visiting my friends Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel. We were going to a concert that Tom H was playing at and stopped by to pick up his parents, Harold and Elenor Hawley, (you have been treated to several of Elenor’s recipes in past posts and will find two more at the end of this post) it was a quick visit and I became intrigued by the cabinet in the above photo (Harold is an accomplished woodcrafter, I’m sure there is a more glamorous name for this craft, sorry Harold…..his work is amazing a true craftsman. There are many examples in their home. He built a wonderful walnut shelf for my apartment, I’ll feature it in a future post.) Harold built this case of oak, along with several other pieces, to display his extensive collection of page turners and the amazing antique Asian chess set that fits into the center. The side pieces are fitted with beveled glass and it has shelves underneath. I decided that this would make a fascinating topic for one of my collections posts. I was fortunate to go back a couple of weeks later when Christmas decor was going up and took the opportunity to talk a bit with Harold about his collection and take lots of photos.
How did the collection begin….both the Hawleys like to collect and Harold was thinking of a new collection when Elenor said “Why don’t you start a collection of page turners!” and so the hunt was on. His collection begins with a piece from 1859 and goes through 1912-1914 with most of the items from the late 19th Century. The history of the page turner goes back further to churches and synagogues where they were used to read Holy Books…they were used to do exactly what they imply turn pages in huge manuscripts and books (and later newspapers) as well as open double pages without a sharp knife (letter openers). As you will see they have rounded or square ends not sharp ends. If you look on Pinterest, and you will find many examples, you will often find them listed as letter openers.
The only book I could find on the subject.
Instead of my talking about this extraordinary collection, let’s look at some of the pieces.This vignette holds some of my favorites and I love the way Elenor staged her Grandfather’s prayer book that he brought with him from Germany when he immigrated to the States…the ivory piece with the roses, to the left in the picture, I think is my most favorite of all. The silver and ivory piece, on the book, is the smallest at 8″.
I am also very fond of the angel and the cameo pieces. The pierced ivory is also most unusual.
Some of the Asian pieces along with an advertising piece done as promotional giveaways (somethings never change!).More of the Asian pieces.
Some sterling handled page turners with march strikers.
Isn’t this amazing….makes me want to take up chess again!
A huge thank you to Harold and Elenor for allowing me to document this unusual story of a collection and it’s collector. I am sure you all agree it is amazingly beautiful and each piece a work of art.
All photos were taken by me on my iPhone 7….if you look closely you will see my silhouette hovering in a couple of shots….sorry about that.
Remember to check the monthly Randolph Street Market to add to your collections or to start a new one, you never know what treasures await you. Next market Saturday and Sunday, January 27th and 28th from 10 to 5.
How about a couple of brunch suggestions for New Year’s Day.
FROM ELENOR HAWLEY’S RECIPE BOX
Corned Beef Oven Omelet
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 cups milk
2 – 4 oz packages Buddig thinly sliced corned beef
2 Tablespoons minced onion
Beat eggs and milk together, add salt; tear corned beef into small pieces & add to mixture. Stir in cheese and onion and combine. Pour into greased 9″ X 13″ glass casserole. Bake uncovered 1 hour at 350º oven or until omelet is set and top is golden brown. Test by sticking a silver knife in center, the knife should come out clean. Cut into 12 or 15 pieces. Any leftovers may be rewarmed in microwave.
Elenor’s note: “I often put the casserole together and refrigerate overnight, especially when we have overnight guests…it will need an additional ten minutes or so to bake.”
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Prepare topping and filling mix:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teapsoon cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Mix and set aside.
Cream 1/2 cup butter until solf
Gradually add 1 cup sugar
Continue creaming until light and fluffy
Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add to butter mixture, alternating with 1 cup sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour half the batter into a Bundt pan. Sprinkle 1/2 nut mixture evenly over batter. Stir spoonfuls of remaining batter evenly over nut mixture and top with remaining nut mixture.
Bake at 325º for 40 minutes until done.
Elenor suggests serving with fresh fruit, juice, and coffee…. Nena says…anyone for a mimosa!!!
A most fascinating article. I must say I never knew them as page turners . I have seen them many times abroad, but only thought they were rounded envelope cutters for very large envelopes . Each one is so beautiful. I saw some sterling silver match strikers in the corner of the page which I have and wear as a decorative piece around my neck or part of a chatalaine that I have.
Thanks Nena, great article!
What would I do without your comments Marcia…I am so appreciative your support. I found the topic fascinating and was blown away with the detailed craftsmanship.
Fascinating! I never heard of page turners, love learning new facts from Nena! Happy New Year 🎉
Thanks so much Dianne….so much to learn about so many things….and I love sharing my “finds” on nenasnotes. Happy New Year!🍾🥂
These are amazing! I love the simplicity of some and the intricate details are so interesting and some a little creepy, but all beautiful! I so enjoyed this and want to know more…thank you Nena and Happy New Year!
Thank you so much. I found them totally intriguing. The detail is extraordinary. Happy New Year!
I enjoyed your article very much and enjoyed the pictures of the collection even more. I’ve had only two in my lifetime, a simple but elegant Tortoise shell and a Black Forest example depicting a three dimensional dog with glass eyes. They have always seemed to be the height of elegance to me.
What super treasures you have enjoy them. Thank you for reading nenasnotes I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post!