Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Antique Cameo Brooch

Bear with me for the first half of this post. I get to my antique/vintage finds eventually. :)

For our 10th anniversary, my husband had wanted to take me downtown Chicago to visit antique stores. But then he thought maybe a day trip to Galena was a better idea. You can sit in a car for hours driving in and out of the city, but the view is pretty depressing. The drive to Galena is stunning.

The further from Chicago and closer to Galena, it feels like you have entered New England. Rolling hills, forests and patchwork farmlands. Not CORN. 

With the exception of downtown Chicago, a drive in Illinois is primarily corn fields. And recently, there is a fun addition of soybeans and the occasional alternative energy windmill fields.

There are many attractions in Galena, but we were headed to the Main Street shops and restaurants. Once upon a time, it was known for fabulous antiques and oddities. And for some, that could still be the case, but in my opinion I found many shops to be overpriced due to the location's popularity.

There were some rare gems, however. One of my diamonds in the rough was All That's Vintage. I loved the fun collections of retro and vintage items. Such cute finds! Peace of the Past Books & Antiques had rooms filled with books, vintage collectibles and clever displays hanging from the ceilings.

We ate lunch at Vinny Vanucchi's Italian Restaurant. It was one of few restaurants open on a Friday afternoon - apparently, all the dining establishments start opening around 4pm on Fridays. Luckily, it was delicious and just what we had in mind. Even better than the food, however, was the vintage black and white photos all over the restaurant. I could have spent more time soaking them in - they had such character in each photo. Outside the Ladies room and inside, there were fabulous photos of sassy women, possibly from the flapper era. Here is a sample photo from their website - I believe this is to be of Vinny, himself.
After lunch we browsed only a few more shops before needing to head home.

The last shop of the day was such a great way to end our trip. I picked up a few special treasures. Unfortunately, when I went to look up the name of the store, it looked like the shop was closed and the building it was in is for sale. I am not sure if they are just moving locations or have gone out of business.

They had a great selection of vintage and antique jewelry. And lots of collectible pottery and glassware.

This blue glass bottle with porcelain stopper was hiding in a corner. I thought it was a perfect addition to my collection.

I also picked up a bag of vintage glass ball ornaments. I loved their different sizes and colors. And of course their patina. I tried to get a closeup, but all you saw was my reflection taking a photo! Ah! :)

While I was browsing, my husband surprised me by getting me this cameo brooch as an anniversary present. {Sneaky mister!}

I love it! Now, I don't know much about antique cameos brooches, but I know that this one is bordered in seed pearls and has a diamond pennant. The diamond adornment classifies it as a habille cameo, which research says was introduced in the late 19th century.

I haven't taken it in to be appraised, but I would love to know what the age is for this piece. It is so intricate, I cannot imagine the hours spent carving the fine details. I heightened the contrast a bit on this photo to really show the details. The background is not actually this dark.

I think he did amazingly well for his first time shopping antiques. :)

I actually have a funny story about our trip. On the way to Galena, we passed what looked a bit like a junkyard / antique store. We stopped in because I saw some retro garden chairs and some primitive farm equipment.

After a few moments I realized it t was like something out of Beverly Hillbillies, except way creepier. At least Beverly Hillbillies was campy.

Please know, that I grew up in the farmfields. I am not new to lack of money or 10 people living in houses with 3 add-ons.

Honestly, they had some treasures, but they were living within the goods they were selling. And I do not mean, a quaint boutique where the owner lives upstairs. Those, I adore.

I mean, there were vintage, collectible beer cans and glassware in the kitchen, where they were making lunch on the stove - this was considered the front of the store. They had 2 large dogs that kept slobbering on my husband and my pants and hands as we hurriedly browsed, even though we wanted to run for the car.

There were plates with leftover food on top of, if I remember correctly, an antique casino table. The whole place was covered in inches of dust and possibly kitchen grease. A man (Pa, and no - I am not kidding. I think the woman called him Pa) was grumbling and smoking a cigar in a back room watching TV.

The entire house/store gave me a feeling from the movie Deliverance. I'm pretty sure I could hear banjos playing in the background.

We spent a bit of time looking through the goods/junk so as not to be impolite. You know, just in case they were thinking about eating us for dinner. Then we high-tailed it to the car.

Why is this a funny story, you may ask? Well, come to find out, this is the first "antique" store my husband has ever been inside. So, he was assuming that they were all like that one. He must have been preparing himself for one fun-filled and truly disgusting day! Can you imagine?

That's honestly the kind of places he thinks I spend my time away from home while looking for my vintage fix! BaHaHa!

Luckily, the charming town of Galena was able to redeem the image of real antique/vintage shops for my poor unsuspecting hubby. Thank you, Galena :)

All images of Galena, Illinois with links to original sources can be found here.


  1. Wow! What a lovely way to celebrate. I've been to Galena, but it was a long time ago. We, too, wanted to enjoy the beautiful drive but also investigate the home of Ulysses S. Grant. Big brownie points for the lovely cameo gift :) and very fun post!

  2. Hi Dori,
    It's my first time here and I am laughing so hard!
    I know my husband would have dragged me out of there in a second. Poor guy, I can just imagine what he thought! Those people sound like some serious creepers. You're lucky that you weren't eaten for dinner. ;)
    Your cameo is just beautiful and the photos are so pretty- I'm glad the day ended on a good note. Found you on Farmhouse Porch.
    Can't wait to share this with my hubby. :)


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