Let us greet October—now the tenth, but once the eighth month of the year!
During the Early Roman Empire, October was the eighth month of the year (as demonstrated by the "Octo-" prefix, which indicates "eight." Back in those days (which started with Romulus, first King of Rome, circa 700 BC), there were 10 months, many of them named with prefixes indicating the month's numerical order: September (seven), October (eight), November (nine), and December (ten). The second King of Rome, Numa Pompilius, added two new months (January and February), thus lengthening the year by 60-ish days—in order to better approximate (though not perfectly) the Earth's annual orbit around the Sun. Even today, in France, October is sometimes abbreviated as "8bre."
October's birthstone is the Tourmaline, a semi-precious "crystalline boron silicate mineral" gemstone. It can be "contaminated" with traces of many different metallic impurities—each of which results in a different color possibility. Thus, tourmaline can be mined in many different colors: black, brown, and every color of the rainbow (red through violet) and even bi-colored variations. Interestingly, tourmalines have magnetic properties (when iron is present) that affects black the most and red the least. Tourmalines were first mined in South India and Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka), and were a valuable curiosity imported to Europe by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th Century. Today, Tourmalines are also mined in North America, South America and Africa.
The Art Deco ceramic rose bowl , shown above, was made by Roseville in the 1930's. It is dressed in the mottled "burnt orange" version of their "Tourmaline" glaze. Like the actual gemstone, the Roseville Tourmaline glazes come in a variety of color options. The bowl's form is interesting, too. It has a futuristic, slightly industrial design—reminiscent (to me) of the vacuum-formed venting in the interior of a Star Wars battle ship. The soft, orange coloration provides interesting (and natural) juxtaposition to the otherwise highly-mechanical form. Please click on the photo above to learn 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 & 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