Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Let me start by saying I have nothing against Geeks or appliqués.

In fact, some of my best friends are Geeks. OK, I can't say I'd be comfortable with one moving next door, but that doesn't mean I don't like them.

Appliqués of baby geeks No. 1554-available

I'm actually a very hip guy--I say gag when I really like something....AND I know geeks are cool now, so I accept their lifestyle choice. I just don't want my daughter marrying one.

Appliqué of another baby geek No. 4256-available

And to all you Geek Activists in San Francisco, please don't send me whiney texts about this. In San Francisco, everyone and everything has an activist group: Insects, Polyester, Dust Mites, Clams, you name it.

I myself am a Gerbil activist (along with other celebrities like Richard Gere). In fact, when biking to work I wear a Go!Cam on my noggin trying to capture videos of Gerbil abuse.

Just look at these adorable angels (OK, they're rodents, but what mom wouldn't want 1000 of them nesting in her nursery?).  I myself own three:

"Shrimp Boy"


and "Stretch"

Awwwwww, so cute, right? OK, so now that we're feeling all warm and fuzzy, let's talk about inhumane torture.

I'm talking about what's "going down" (hip right?) at Guantanamo Bay (pronounced WONTON-uh-mo, BAY): Waterboarding. Blasting the Red Hot Chili Peppers music day and night (this is not a joke-really-Google it). Solitary confinement with no access to Cool Ranch Doritos. They probably even use the tried and true "Iron Maiden." I think we can all agree these are barbaric forms of extracting information from terrorists as well as reappearing cast members on ABC's Scandal (ABC Thursdays at 10|9 central):

The Iron Maiden-ouch, ouch, ouchie!

But for an antique guy like me (no smart cracks about my age), the cruelest and most inhumane torture is having to listen to antique geeks constantly mispronounce one of the most common words in antique-speak: APPLIQUÉ.

It's pronounced "app-lick-KAY" but for some reason everyone says "app-PLEEK." ARRRGGHHH. And it's so darn easy to remember: just think of that catchy jingle from Kay Jewelers: (music) "Every kiss begins with Kay." And then think of its lesser known but equally delightful sister ditty, (music) "Every appliqué ends with Kay." Simple dimple.

I suspect all this appalling mispronunciation of "appliqué" started in 1978 with that disco crowd in New York City. Many of these glitterati were overly rich antique dealers who learned all the French they know at Studio 54 (while "powdering their noses" in the bathroom stalls with Bianca Jagger).

How do I know this? Well, the biggest disco hit of 1978 was the smash Le Freak C'est Chic (pronounced "leh freek say sheek.") So to me it's obvious that calling an appliqué an "App-LEEK" can be directly traced to drugs, alcohol, Studio 54 and some lousy DJ (now waiting tables at Chick-fil-A in Snellville, GA).

This is why I despise discos: BAD FRENCH. Damn you Steve Rubel!

The word appliqué is used a lot when talking antiques because it means so many things! It can mean a wall sconce, a bracket, an architectural element mounted on a wall, or a variety of pieces that are carved or molded and then overlayed on a larger piece.

OK, so now that we know how to pronounce appliqué, let's take a look at some.

Here's a beautiful pair of giltwood wall appliqués (also called trophies) currently hanging in our Gallery. The detail is extraordinary:

No. 3521-available

And this was an amazing pair we had from Florence, 18th c. Italian wrought iron, showing two of the Papal hats:


Look at the hat on the left above. It's called a "Saturno" hat--I think it was designed by the renowned milliner to the Popes, Guido Saturno. But to me, it looks like a cowboy hat. Is there NOTHING new in fashion? Anyhow, the Pope dons this jaunty hat for resort wear, beach volleyball, and romantic picnics on St. Peter's Square. Little known fact: Pope Benedict XVI (shown below) was as much a fashion icon as Princess Di. Sigh. Here's a photo of him wearing his smart chapeau at an impromptu beer bust thrown by the College of Cardinals. College boys, will they ever change? :)

The Pope at Malibu Beach early last year.

More appliqués, these 19th c. polychrome and mecca giltwood with ebonized animal paws grasping candle torcheres:

No. 1059-available

And here's a handsome antique appliqué pair of sconces in silver gilt with tole "leaf" bobeches:


Appliqués are also wall brackets like this rare and gargantuan 18th c. Italian pair in polychrome and parcel gilt:

No. 3196-available

Baroque 18th c. Italian Giltwood sconces with hand-made tapers (hand-made by ME-I kid you not):

No. 2250-available

And this pair of remarkable Italian 17th c. copper clad repoussé wall sconces:

No. 2317-available

So what have we learned from this post? This is a multiple choice question:
   A. Not a whole helluva lot except that I forgot how revolting disco music was.
   B. NOW I know how to pronounce appliqué.
   C. Appliqué means so many things that the word is pretty worthless and so is this blog.

The correct answer is ALL ARE RIGHT! Congratulations--no one's a loser (at least not here).

Here's the most important thing to take away from this post. The word appliqué means so many things (sconces, brackets, stuff that hangs on walls, wall trophies, blah blah), that you're much better off just speaking in terms of what you really want. 

If you want a wall bracket, then say that. A light sconce? Say that. Some dooohicky to hang on your wall? You're on your own and I'm not your mother. 

The thing is, that if you walk into an antique shop and ask for an appliqué, you're just gonna be asked, "What kind?" So save yourself the effort but take great comfort in the knowledge that you know a very sophisticated antique term that comes in very handy with all the parvenus (pronounced PAR-ven-news) at uppity cocktail parties. Buzz out. :)

Legal Disclaimers: I don't own gerbils, I don't ride a bike, I don't wear a Go!Cam on my head; the Red Hot Chili Pepper Torture is absolutely true;  I don't have a daughter-duh.