in praise of the past

It was probably inevitable that I would end up a collector. After all, both my parents were antiques dealers; they even met at a fleamarket. I grew up in New England surrounded by antiques: We used antique stoneware bowls and wooden spoons in the kitchen and kept the dishes in an early wooden pie safe. An enormous spinning wheel dominated the living room. The house itself was quite old, with a huge, sprawling garden where we regularly dug up old treasures like marbles and keys, and where there was a locked door that lead to nowhere. My aunt is a kitchen witch who lived in the witchiest house in historic Lexington you ever saw, and later in Salem. So, yes- I think we can safely blame all this on my upbringing.

 

That said, I didn't take an active interest in antiques until I was in my teens. I discovered Oscar Wilde and felt like a door had been kicked down. It was his work that taught me what it means to be an aesthete, to cultivate an intrinsic sense of beauty, and to be one's own work of art. (That, and sarcasm.) I rapidly began accumulating whatever late 19th century odds and ends I could afford, eager to place myself in his world.

 

These days, my interests range far beyond the confines of the Aesthetic Movement, but 19th century objects are still my favorite to collect. I especially love sentimental items like mourning jewelry, hair work, and love tokens: Literal manifestations of one person's affection for another. I take a fastidious, curatorial approach to collecting, choosing items for their quality, uniqueness, and beauty.

 

 

what's in a name?

When I was starting the shop, I knew I wanted the name to be an homage to the man who inspired me. "Roses and Rue" is an early poem by Oscar Wilde, which he wrote for the actress Lillie Langtry. Always fond of dramatic gestures, he used to throw stargazer lilies at her feet. It's not a particularly good poem, but a line that never made it into the final draft has always struck me: "You had poets enough on the shelf- I gave you myself!" The graphics are adapted from border designs by Aubrey Beardsley, Wilde's friend and collaborator, from his immense Le Morte D'Arthur.

from my collection

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