There is an old story in my family about attending any holiday party: invitations were always issued with the reminder, "Ring the doorbell with your elbow!" It was (supposedly) an exhortation to never show-up empty handed. Now, I myself never heard any family member make this stipulation; the account has always been fourth-person hearsay. And, from what I know of my elders, it seems out of character for them to have suggested such a requirement. I'm guessing that one person said it one time—after which, like so many family tales, the story gathered momentum and embellishment. It is a good story! This ceramic bear, made and hand-painted in Russia, is a lovely "hostess gift" (should one be required or desired). He has a little...
Christmas is two weeks away! There is still time to order and receive your gifts by Christmas. But please act quickly! We always try to ship purchases on the day of receipt—if they arrive by Noon (Eastern). Orders received on the weekends (when the Post Office is closed) are posted Monday. This sweet pewter Christmas ornament was hand-cast in California. It also makes a useful (and festive) candle snuffer.
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the great solemnities of the Roman Catholic Church. But there is significant popular misunderstanding of the theology. Many people—even some Catholics—don't understand that it refers to the immaculate conception of Mary, not Jesus. Christian theology includes the concept of "Original Sin," which is basically the "fall from grace" that all humans experienced as a result of Adam & Eve's decision to break with God (in Genesis). It is an inherited state which, Christians believe, can be rectified with baptism. Roman Catholics believe that baptism is the essential, redeeming sacrament through which people are "born again" into a life with Christ.
Tonight is the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, the annual Jewish "Festival of Lights." The celebration commemorates the Maccabees victory over the Greeks and the miracle of the oil lamp. In the Second Century BC, the Jews found themselves under the thumb of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. The Greeks insisted that the Jews worship their god, Zeus, and they desecrated the Jewish Temple (the "Second Temple") by slaughtering pigs within it. Many Jews rebelled. But the Maccabees rose-up and took-on the Greek Army. Despite a small number of warriors, the Maccabees defeated the Greeks and reclaimed their temple. While cleaning-up their house of worship, they were disappointed that they only had enough lamp oil to last through one night of...
Here's a more elegant glassware offering: a classic Double Old Fashioned rocks glass, decorated with 22 karat gold swags, stars and a holly tree. Atop it all, a gold rim—which is handsome and useful: it helps protect the rim against chipping. The set of four glasses hold 12 ounces each.
Sixties swank will add a little punch to your punch. These two sets of highballs—one with six glasses, the other with eight—are decorated with a jaunty array of wreaths, bows, bells, trees and poinsettias. Not really elegant, certainly not tacky—these 10 ounce tumblers capture a certain Sixties style, full of innocence and promise and simple Holiday cheer.
The Holidays—and the Holiday guests—are on their way! Get ready now with this set of six Mid-Century highball glasses. They are festooned with swags of green pine, red bows and candles, and a 22 karat gold lantern. Perfect for egg nog or even something a bit harder.
The Holidays are upon us! Christmas is only five weeks away! And while other retailers lament the collapse of "the supply chain," here at LEO Design we are brimming with terrific gifts—ready-to-ship. We have nothing "waiting-on-the-water." Nothing queueing off of California. I suppose this is one of the inadvertent strengths of the antiques trade: I have to buy it when I find it, not place an order for some future "ideal" delivery date. So place your orders; there's plenty of time to ship! And remember: the perfect time to buy an antique is when you see it. Many of our offerings are one-off items. Once it's sold, it's gone. This festive vintage biscuit tin, dressed in a vibrant Christmas red,...
It was 1995. And, during my little shop's First Christmas on Bleecker Street, I refused to decorate the store before Thanksgiving. I would defend The Tradition! I was adamant not to hang one pine needle until Thanksgiving Day! So I crept into the shop on Thanksgiving morning around 6:00 am. I turned on NPR; Bob Edwards was interviewing celebrity chefs on their favorite Thanksgiving offerings. (Paul Prudhomme was making a "Turducken.") The store would be closed for the holiday. I was working alone but had nothing but time to relax and decorate: window, garlands, holiday merchandise, and a 10 foot tall Christmas tree, loaded with Christopher Radko ornaments (which would be for sale, of course). As I took my first sip of...
In recent decades, Hallowe'en has become perceived as a pagan celebration—a day of witches, gnomes, Kim Kardashian, and the Devil himself. I've heard a number of people proclaiming the day "my favorite holiday," further explaining that they liked it because it was a big celebration devoid of religious associations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the year 800, the date has had religious importance. Hallowe'en—All Hallows' Eve—is the vigil night before the important Christian celebration, The Feast of All Saints (celebrated 1 November) also known as All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Day or Hallowmas. And the following day (2 November) is also special—All Souls's Day, a day dedicated to honoring all the dead (sainted or not).
Three months 'til Christmas. (But who's counting?) It seems like it was only just Summer, yet, before you know it, Christmas will be here! Get ready for the season with this set of four (plus one) jolly rocks glasses from the Seventies—decorated with a "stained glass" Season's Greetings" wrap. A light rim of gold helps protect the edges and provide an extra touch of subtle sparkle. Whether serving eggnog for the kids or something a little harder for the grown-ups, these Double Old Fashioned tumblers will have you hoisting with style for the Holidays.
Five months to go! Let it snow, let it snow, let it sNOOOOOO!!! For those of us happy to embrace a head start, how about these: a set of four Jolly Holiday tumblers, decorated with an encircling holly-leaf wreath and embellished with bold, scrolling red ribbon. Serve adult drinks, if you wish, or use them for the kids' eggnog. They're fairly durable (for glass). And they will certainly contribute to the cheer of the season.
Although our Holiday gatherings will be smaller this year, need they be less jolly? This set of eight rocks glasses, made in the Seventies, will bring a seasonal flair to your gathering—no matter how small. Whether used for milk (and cookies), eggnog, or something a bit stronger, the bold red and green "stained glass" lettering will remind you exactly which season you're celebrating.
With Christmas but three weeks away, perhaps a little "hostess gift" would help make your season bright. This set of six highball tumblers are decorated with a handsomely illustrated Victorian Christmas tree. A gold band rims the top of each glass—which is not purely decorative, it also helps to protect the glass from chipping. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
Today is Black Friday, the so-called "Biggest Shopping Day of the Holiday Season" (more about this later). My first "professional" Black Friday was in 1985 as a 22 year old, brand new department manager at G. Fox Department Store in Hartford, Connecticut. The tables on my "pad" (retail speak for the carpeted area that defines the boundaries of a department) were piled-high with sweaters and poly-knit turtlenecks—all marked down from $28 to "the magic price point" of $19.99. It was a whirlwind season for this recent college graduate. I spent my time just getting through the day: helping old ladies find their sizes, filling-in new merchandise, keeping the cash registers humming, and marking-down new items as panicked buyers (in the...
Oy! Exactly one more month to go! On 3 November, the voting will have ended and the counting will have begun. Within a week or two of that, most of the ballots should have been counted and The American Will should be known. Until then, we must bear things as best we can. I received my Pennsylvania ballot today, Saturday, and will mail-it-back on Monday. I plan to drop it into the interior lobby slot of my local post office. If you haven't yet, VOTE! Whether you vote by mail, vote early in-person, or vote at the polls on Election Day, your voice is critical. It's true, one lone voice can appear powerless. But, when combined with the voices of...
In 1494, nineteen year old Florentine sculptor Michelangelo Buonarotti contributed the male angel (and candlebearer) to the tomb of Saint Dominic in Bologna, Italy. The female partner had been carved by the late Niccolo dell'Arca, who had intended to complete the pair. Michelangelo was hired to finish the male half of the couple. By now, the tomb—inside the Basilica of San Domenico—was already in its 230th year of construction. Many artists contributed to the work which took 500 years to complete. The angels above are a late Twentieth Century recreation based on the Michelangelo (and Niccolo dell'Arca) originals. In 1995, during my first Holiday season at LEO Design, I purchased this pair of Italian painted terra-cotta angels. I received them the week before...
In the darkest time of the year we celebrate the Jewish "Festival of Lights." The Talmud tells of a miracle whereby a single jar of oil—which should have lasted one night—continued to burn for eight days. Thus, the holiday lasts eight nights. Our bronze Modernist Hanukkah Menorah has eight candles (one for each night) plus the shammash ("helper" or "attendant"), which is used to light the other candles and which is placed just a little higher than the other candles. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. And a Happy Hanukkah to all! Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we...
In the Northern reaches of Northern Europe—where complete winter darkness might last 20 hours a day—every ray of light is precious. This explains the Scandinavian affection for blonde woods, white walls and lots of colorful home furnishings. It also helps explain the allure of this Swedish Pine Christmas Tree glass sculpture by Kosta Boda. Let it bring a little extra light into your home this Holiday. Click on the photo above to learn more about it. More stocking stuffers in days to come. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District"...
Following closely on the trail of her little cub (yesterday's Journal entry), this Mama Bear ceramic ornament is also handmade in Russia. It can hang or stand as shown. Click on the photo above to learn more about it. More stocking stuffers in days to come. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com). Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248
Having spent a week in Moscow last month, this little Russian handmade ceramic bear is even more precious to me. Meant to hang on a tree, he can also stand on a flat surface, keeping you company in the kitchen, office or living room. Watch for his mother, who is bound to show-up tomorrow. Click on the photo above to learn more about this sculpture. More stocking stuffers in days to come. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique...
Over the next several days, we'll be sharing some of our favorite "little gifts"—perfect stuffers for the stocking. We start with this cast pewter ornament. Though you may hang it from the tree, it would look good sitting on a windowsill or could be used as a holiday candle snuffer. This bit of folk craft will help ensure a Merry Merry Christmas. Click on the photo above to learn more about it. More stocking stuffers in days to come. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla &...
I don't know about you, but I need a little Christmas right now! And, so, it was fortuitous that I happened to unpack another box of merchandise from our Village shop—and out-popped this cast pewter Christmas ornament! It will happily hang on your tree (or window latch), it could stand on your desk (or mantelpiece) and it could even be pressed into service as a jolly candlesnuffer. Click on the photo above to learn a bit more about it. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla &...
In the mid-Seventeenth Century, Sweden was quite the world power. Its European territory included Sweden, of course, plus Finland, Estonia, and parts of modern-day Russia, Germany, Poland, and Latvia. And so, when the riches of the New World began glimmering across the Atlantic, Sweden was loathe to leave the riches to the French and English. […]
Today I give thanks for the loyal customers who have supported LEO Design—in word and deed—during the Holiday season and throughout 2017. Merry Christmas! LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed. While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"
An old favorite at LEO Design—back for another Christmas season. Peruvian fair trade craftsmen collect the gourds, dry them, then decorate them with paint, carving and a hot stylus. Cheery and bright and every one just a little different from his branch mates. Please come into the shop to see them in person or click on […]
Glass-making, as far as we can tell, started in Mesopotamia around 2,500 BC. About 1,500 BC, the Egyptians began making glass—mostly small amulets, beads, and tiles for decorative inlay. As the Egyptians expanded into (and conquered portions of) the Middle East, they captured and brought back to Egypt various skilled artisans, including glassmakers. At this […]
Like yesterday’s angel ornaments, this hummingbird is also made of carved tagua nuts—also known as “palm ivory” or “vegetable ivory.” He’ll happily hover amongst the branches of your Christmas tree or levitate year ’round in your kitchen window. Made in a fair trade workshop in Ecuador ($28). For the Holiday season, LEO […]
With Christmas three weeks away, perhaps it’s time to think about trimming the tree. Over the next few days I’ll share with you some of my in-store ornaments—new finds and old favorites. Shown above, little angels carved of tagua nuts. Also called “vegetable ivory,” tagua nuts grow on a variety of palm tree found in […]
Wishing a Happy Hanukkah to all—and a joyful Holiday Season! As we rush-about our ever-busy lives, let’s endeavor to enjoy a few quiet, focused moments with those we love. Hanukkah begins tonight—at sundown—and ends Monday evening, eight days from now. The Cypress Tree Menorah, pictured above, is cast of solid bronze in Canada. Please click […]
Our Holiday greeting cards have arrived and we’re quite pleased with the nice selection. Shown above, a sampling of cards letterpress-printed on Swan’s Island, Maine ($4 each or $22 for a box of ten). They range—stylistically—from the Arts & Crafts to Mid-Century Modern to the contemporary. Other options now in-store from England, Vermont and Brooklyn […]
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a set of four cheerful Nutcracker highballs! Whether filled with cold milk for the kids or spicy eggnog for the grownups, these 1970’s vintage highball glasses will make you feel like a child, if only for a moment. As they stand sentry on your […]
On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a half-dozen Candle Highballs! Cheery, indeed, yet without too much “Kitsch of Christmas Past,” this set of six highball tumblers from the 1960’s enjoys the warm glow of hospitality—bringing a reassuring note with each annual reappearance. Let their brass lanterns bring a little festive light […]
On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—a jolly set of festive highball glass! Have yourself a Merry Sixties Christmas with this set of eight highball tumblers, gaily printed with Christmas and New Year’s greetings ($95). Decorated in Red, Green and White, these glasses bring-back the simplicity (or naiveté?) of Holidays […]
A Merry Christmas to all—and a happy, healthy New Year, too. I’d like to thank all of my LEO Design customers for supporting the shop, especially during this—our twentieth!—Christmas season. Without wonderful and loyal customers like you, we would not have made it this far. Here’s to the next twenty Christmases! LEO Design is closed […]
While I refuse to decorate before Thanksgiving Week, I have begun putting-out a few of the early-arriving Holiday items as they have come in. Discreetly, of course. Last week it was the Holiday cards; now it’s a collection of hand-made, mouth-blown art glass ornaments. Beautiful enough to display year ’round, these lovingly-crafted little treasures come […]
Maybe it’s just too early in the game. Ah, but I thought I’d ask you, just the same. What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve? Frank Loesser’s song, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” is probably my favorite end-of-the-year song—elegant, simple, to-the-point. Perfect. Likewise, these crystal Champagne Coupes, shown above, are perfectly […]
Today is “Boxing Day,” the day in England (and other Commonwealth Countries) when the staff are given their gifts and given the day off. It is a public holiday in most of the British former-colonial countries. As LEO Design staff had yesterday off, we are open today: Noon ’till 6:00 pm. As for me, I […]
A Merry Christmas to you and a grateful Thank-you, as well. LEO Design will be closed today. Please visit us tomorrow; we will be open from Noon until 6:00 pm everyday through (and including) New Year’s Day. And—if you cannot help yourself—our on-line shop is always open. Thanks again.
A flock of little, red Holiday owls has landed at LEO Design, here to remind us: “Only one month ’till Christmas Eve!” Another reminder, this time from our ornithologist friends: a group of owls is called “a parliament.” Click on the photo, above, to learn more about these Peruvian, hand-made ornaments.
While in Brighton, England last week, I met an enterprising, young artist selling her hand-decorated berets on an outdoor stall. I thought them jolly without being flamboyant—just perfect for a Holiday party or a “Stocking Stuffer” gift . I bought-up an assortment, some of them shown above. Come into the store and see the complete […]