A Mangle Board 

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Mangle Board

At a Copenhagen flea market, we found a mangle board. A mangle board is a carved board that was used to remove water and press the wrinkles out of woven cloth. The cloth was wrapped around a round rolling pin. Then, the user would press the mangle into the cloth wrapped rolling pin. This early ironing contraption was used before handheld heated metal iron.

Mangle boards were used throughout Europe between the 1500s and 1800s. Often they were given as a courting gift. Highly carved, they often had horses as handles. In the Scandinavian countries, the horse represented virility. The one we found has a horse handle with a horsehair tail. The carving was done as chip-carving, a traditionally Scandinavian style. Although we bought it in Denmark, it resembles a Swedish board. Today, mangle boards are collected as folk art.

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Exploring the Vasa Ship

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A model of the Vasa, painted to show the grandeur of the ship when it was launched.

Almost four hundred years ago, a warship sank on its maiden voyage, right inside the harbour where it was constructed in Stockholm Sweden. It sank into the mud and was left there and forgotten. Now, it resides in a museum.

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Doesn’t it remind you of the Black Pearl? Note the people in the shadows at the 3:00 position.

We visited the Vasa Museum, home to the ship, in Stockholm on our cruise aboard the Viking Sea. Walking into the museum, you’re immediately struck by the size of the resurrected ship; it looks like the Black Pearl of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We wandered up and down stairs and platforms which allows you views of the outside of the ship in all its glory. Each year, a million visitors view the Vasa.

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The masts were cut off as soon as it sank, so these are reconstructions.

In the early 1600s, Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf was ready for Sweden to become a naval power and had ordered four identical warships built. The Vasa was the first one finished. The ship was impressive. It had 10 sails, 64 cannons and hundreds of sculptures. It communicated the wealth and power of Sweden. Four hundred and fifty people were needed to run the guns and the ship. There were concerns during the Vasa’s construction about the ship being too narrow and too top heavy, but the King pushed forward.

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This is the back of ship, which was highly carved. The wood was saved because the water was so cold that worms and bacteria could not survive. Thus, there was no damage for hundreds of years. 

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These are the carvings directly below the former photo. Note how the carvings would have been painted. 

On August 10, 1628, thousands of spectators gathered to watch the Vasa set sail from Stockholm’s harbor. About 1300 meters from the shipyard, a gust of wind causes the ship to list and water to flood the open and low positioned gun-ports. Yep, it sank and sank fast. Ending up on the ocean floor along with fifteen crew members.

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Isn’t this grand?!! On a battleship?

 

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So much detail on the sculptures. 

They tried to raise the Vasa, but it was stuck in the mud. Later, in the mid-1600s, they raised most of the cannons using a new invention, the diving bell. But the Vasa continued to sit at the bottom in cold ice water. The exact location was lost in time. In the 1950s, a determined Swede set out to find the battleship. And he did.

In August 1959, the Vasa was lifted and moved in stages. On Monday, April 24, 1961, the Swedish people gathered to see the Vasa appear over the water. The first of its kind to be raised in its entirety. Years passed as they work to dry out the wood and preserve it. In 1990, a museum housing the Vasa opened to the public.

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The model next to the ship. 

Thanks for reading about our adventures aboard the Viking Sea. This concludes our trip blog series.  Back to antiquing!

 

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Archipelago of Stockholm Sweden

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Arriving by ship to Stockholm Sweden had its advantages. Early in the morning, as dawn was breaking, the Viking Sea sailed into the archipelago of Stockholm from the Baltic Sea. There are over 30,000 islands that make up the archipelago.

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Amazing! Some are little more than uninhabited barren rocks and some are wooded islands with gorgeous historical homes perched on their coasts. Rugged shores and little hideaways captured our imagination. Sailboats flitted among the islands. Small villages hugged the shoreline. It was so quiet.

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As we got closer to the islands that make up Stockholm, we saw more activity as the city was waking up. Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands set on a lake. It’s a beautiful clean city and easy to find out the layout.

 

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A dry dock with a “giraffe” crane.

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Amusement Park near the ABBA Museum.

We loved our visit to Stockholm. All the photos were taken from our balcony aboard the Viking Sea.

Only one more vacation blog! Thanks for reading.

 

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Palaces in St. Petersburg

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Catherine’s Palace

On our Baltic Sea cruise, we visited St. Petersburg Russia for two days and managed to see three palaces, do a tour of the city, visit a church, and attend a Russian Ballet performance of Swan Lake. Needless to say, we were a bit worn down after Russia.

Peter the Great planned this city on the Baltic Sea over 300 years ago. It gave his navy access to the sea and was meant as an elevated showcase to the world as Russia’s cultural capital. Most of his inspiration came from other European cities, including his grand boulevards and canals. What we experienced were his baroque and classical buildings.

All of the buildings we toured were magnificent. The opulence and artistry are hard to convey in a blog post, especially in a few photos. There were times we were overwhelmed by the art and architecture. Speechless. We can’t imagine the blood, sweat and tears it took to build these palaces and then, rebuild them after the war. The locals are extremely proud of these buildings, as they should be. As tourists to a foreign country, lining up in great herds to see priceless works of art and oh and ah over each room, it’s too hard to take it all in.

If we were turned loose, and allowed to wander at leisure in empty rooms, our experiences would have been different. We would have found favorite pieces of art, discussed details we found in the rooms, noted collections that spoke to us, but we were not allowed to stray from our particular herd. You cannot go into St. Petersburg, unless you are on approved tour or have applied for a visa. So, what we’ll share with you is a few photos of each location and let you linger if you want.

First up was Catherine’s Palace. We visited both the house and the extensive gardens. We saw the famous “Amber Room” and the 12 chandeliers in the Great Hall.

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Next was the Winter Palace, home of the Russian Emperors from 1763 to 1917. Today, it’s one of the five buildings that make up the State Hermitage Museum. The Small Hermitage was built onto the Winter Palace to house Catherine the Great’s collection of artifacts. The Hermitage now has over 3 million items. Only a small portion are displayed for the masses. Here, we saw two da Vinci paintings and a number of Rembrandts.

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Luckily, we got to by-pass the lines into the Hermitage.

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Later, in the evening of the first day, we dressed up and went to the ballet. We were so exhausting it would have been easy to just stay on the ship. But this would be a chance of a lifetime, to see the Russian Ballet performance of the Swan Lake in the small private royal theatre located at the Hermitage. So, we pulled up our big boy pants and got back on the bus. The three-act ballet and orchestra performance were outstanding.

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The next day, we visited the onion-domed Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. It is a memorial built where Alexander II was assassinated. With every inch filled with mosaics, it was something to see in person.

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Our last palace was the Peterhof, the yellow palace of Peter the Great.  Established as a royal summer imperial residence, it opened in August 1723. The northern facade faces the sea and after touring the building, we followed the gardens from the palace to the sea. We stopped to admire the fountains and sculptures in the gardens, then boarded a hydrofoil back to the city.

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Scenes from Gdansk Poland

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There are many choices for cruises sailing in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. We chose the Viking Ocean Cruises “Viking Homelands” for our vacation because it included several stops in Norway, visited eight countries and spent a day in Gdansk, Poland. Theresa is Polish on her mother’s side, so Poland was a must do.

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Even the manhole covers are interesting.

Gdansk was one of the most prosperous cities in the Baltic during the Middle Ages and the Old Town has been beautifully restored since the end of World War II.

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We saw many accordions.

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Children enjoying the costumed characters in the Long Market. 

As luck would have it, we visited Gdansk on the first weekend of their three-week St. Dominic Fair, held annually since 1270. The city was packed full of families and tourists spending the day in the street market and listening to music as it filled the old town city streets. We even found several streets with flea market items.

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Marking the spot of the first engagement of WWII.

Our ship, the Viking Sea, docked at the Westerplatte Quay. It was here that the first invasion of WWII occurred, when Germany attacked the Polish Military Depot.

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The Motlawa River that connects the town with the Baltic Sea.

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The Green Gate is not green.

The old city of Gdansk sits on the Motlawa River and restaurants and shops line the riverbank. During the Fair, throngs of people bought bread, pierogies and souvenirs from all the temporary stalls along the city streets. Even though the town was crowded, we enjoyed the fair atmosphere. The Green Gate spans the opening of the Long Market Street. It’s actually a building with arches at the bottom and was built in the 1500s as the formal residence of the Poland’s monarchs. Walking through the arches, you enter the Long Market, a historic public square lined with period architecture.

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Dluga Street.

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Neptune’s Fountain in Long Market

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Lovely architecture on a private home.

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We also visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption (Roman Catholic).

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We also visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption (Roman Catholic).

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The house, now a hotel, where Nicolaus Copernicus (“sun is the center of the universe”) is said to have visited with his mistress/housekeeper. 

We had the opportunity to visit the shipyards where the strikes led by trade union activist Lech Walesa began the fall of communism in Poland and deconstruction of the Soviet Block.

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Mariacka Street, quiet and cozy. Full of shops and cafes.

Gdansk was nothing like what we expected it to be. We thought it would be reflective of the war that happened at its doorstep, but instead the Polish people have rebuilt and stayed true to the original architectural designs. Neither dull, nor boring, instead it was lively and welcoming. If we have the opportunity, we’ll go back.

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Back on the ship, a traditional Polish troupe shared folk music and dances from the area.

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Antiquing on the Viking Sea

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Outdoor Market in Gdansk, Poland during St. Dominic’s Festival

We took a Viking Ocean cruise to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary In July/August. Even though this was a vacation, we still planned to use our downtime to hunt for antiques for the store. We were gone for 16 days and managed to pop into a couple of different antique shops and attend one flea market.

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Antique Store in Bergen, Norway.

We visited two stores in Bergen, Norway, on the second day of our Homelands Cruise, but we came up empty. That happens a lot when you rely on the Internet to help you find shops. Antique stores are not always open when you are in their area. We tried again Stavanger, Norway and then, in Aalborg Denmark. We peered in many store windows.

We were in Copenhagen on a Friday and we had signed up to do a shore excursion to Trivoli Gardens and Rosenberg Castle in the afternoon. Since our morning was free, we hopped aboard the ship’s free shuttle that took us to the drop-off site and walked several blocks to a flea market we had found on the internet.

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Thorvaldsen Flea Market

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Philip’s wheeling and dealing!

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Another view of the Thorvaldsen Flea Market

The outdoor Thorvaldsen Flea Market is located in a plaza near the Danish Parliament, close to the Christiansborg Palace. They are open every Friday and Saturday, April through October. We arrived just as the dealers were setting up, around 9:30. There was around 20 stalls with a good mix of actual antiques and vintage items. The dealers seemed to be willing to take Euros, which worked out well for us. We found what we were looking for and loved the beautiful setting to shop in.

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Copenhagen, Denmark

We visited another outdoor market in Gdansk Poland without any luck. And then, we simply didn’t have any time in Berlin. We visited one small shop in Tallinn Estonia. No time in St. Petersburg, Russia. We had planned to visit another outdoor flea market in Helsinki Finland, but the rain caught up with us on that day and since it was raining buckets, no flea market. On the last day, our plans to shop were blocked by a Gay Rights Parade in Stockholm Sweden. Oh well.

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We loved what we did buy. Stop by the store and let Philip show off his new treasures.

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Our Biggest Sale Ever!


The most items ever on sale with the biggest reductions! We’ve got to make room and you’ll get the best deal ever. 

Starting July 1, all 50% yellow tags are an additional 50%.  The sale will end when Philip pulls the plug (probably when he feels faint!)

Come and get your Christmas shopping done early. 

See our Facebook page or Instagram account for a video of items.

We’ve reduced:

  • Cabinets
  • Majolica
  • Carved items
  • Blue and White Transferware
  • English smalls
  • Chairs
  • Trays
  • Stools
  • Pewter​

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Outside Flea Market near Fayetteville Arkansas

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Looking north at part of the crowds waiting to get in the gate.

Last week, we decided to visit The Junk Ranch in Prairie Grove, Arkansas for the second time. The Junk Ranch is an outside flea market where old rusty vintage meets homemade signs and crafts. With a big dose of food vendors and garden items. Not exactly what we carry in the store, but it’s close enough to visit again and see what we could find.

On our first visit, in 2014, the flea market was just finding it’s legs. Now, they have the flea market game figured out. The place had three times the number of vendors and hundreds more visitors. They managed vehicle and pedestrians traffic well. We arrived about thirty minutes before the market opened on Friday, at 9:30 a.m., and the two entrance lines were already winding around the fences. It was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for shopping in a field.

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Before the crowds.

The Junk Ranch is located outside of Fayetteville, in the middle of a big field around a big red barn. Most of the vendors are set up in tents, so if the weather hadn’t cooperated, you could have still enjoyed the day. Although there was a large crowd waiting for the gates to open, the crowds dispersed quickly because of the size of the venue.

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Typical items for sale.

So, what did we find? Not much that would fit into our store. English country house antiques can’t be found in a field in NW Arkansas. We did buy a few items. We saw a lot of country craft signs, old sinks, metal garden items, buckets, crafts, farm machines, old worn kitchen items, and lots of retro fans with frayed cords. We saw several buyers carrying small overnight suitcases and we wondered why. We made a couple of trips to the car, but our best buys were the extra large corn dogs!

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Some of the treasures we brought home.

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22 Yards Mapped Out the World

Mapping out Property with a Gunter’s Chain


In a world of GPS, a Gunter’s Chain is a true antique. It’s a surveyor’s tool for measuring a tract of land. It was primarily used from 1620, when it was developed by Edmund Gunter, until the start of the 20th century.

A Gunter’s Chain is a metal chain made up of 100 links and measures 22 yards. At the end of a group of 10 links is a metal tag. Metal detector enthusiasts often find these tags while out hunting for treasures.

The device was used for 300 years, along with a compass, by surveyors to preform their legal duties. These duties included measuring a designated tract of land, drawing a map of the land features and providing a written description of the land.

For cricket fans, here’s a bit of trivia: it is also used to measure the cricket pitch.

Our friend Stephanie pointed out this interesting item on our last trip to England, so, of course, we bought not one, but two!

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Over 600 Antiques Added Today!

We’re full of crazy cool antiques! Come see for yourself. 

Robertson Gallery and Antiques, 1055 S. Glenstone, Springfield Missouri.

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