Charles Dickens published The Old Curiosity Shoppe as a weekly series in 1840 and 1841. It proved so successful—on both sides of the Atlantic—that frantic New Yorkers stormed the pier when the final installment arrived by ship from England. They all wanted to know: "Will Little Nell Live?"
The story concerns 13 year old Nell, a kind and loving girl who was orphaned after her parents died in poverty. She is taken-in by her grandfather and they live in an antiques shop. She is a lonely girl; her only friend is Kit, a good boy who works in the shop, whom Nell teaches to write. Kit secretly falls in love with Nell and commits himself to keeping her safe. But her grandfather's finances are shaky. Desperate to accumulate funds to keep Nell out of poverty, he takes to gambling, racking up huge debts to the toxic sadist, Mr. Quilp. Quilp takes great pleasure in taking-away their shop and turning-out its inhabitants. Nell and her grandfather leave town and become beggars.
Friends and other kind acquaintances head out to find the pair. This includes the mistreated nameless housemaid who is nicknamed "The Marchioness" (depicted in the copper bowl, above). Unfortunately, the search becomes a race; Quilp is likewise trying to find and destroy Nell and her grandfather.
Heartbreak is a common theme in Dickens's novels. Alas, the story concludes with Nell's death. Her grandfather, who has by now lost his mind, sits by her grave waiting for Little Nell to come back to him.
Click on the photo above to learn more about this little Arts & Crafts copper bowl.
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