Friday, October 15, 2010

Living with Antiques Mobile, Alabama

A friend made me White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies!

This morning I was invited over to a friend and customers home for coffee. Upon entering the home I could see from my first glance that this was the best decorated home in Mobile, Alabama. I have known the owner for about 8 years meeting him at a Antique show in Mobile that I was set up at, although I lived in New Orleans at the time. Over the years this person bought exquisite 18th century signed Old Paris porcelain from me mostly from factorys that had Royal patronage such as the factory of Marie Antoinette. I friend picked me up to take me over to the home. She met me with a plate of homemade baked White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies! I have the best friends.

I was invited when I first met him to see his collection. But for some reason it never worked out. Since I have moved back to my birth town we now live in the same place. I was invited over for coffee this morning. Sorry kids did not take photo's of the inside of the place but I felt like I was in a 18th century townhouse in Paris.

I will describe a few rooms in the house, The floor plan was based on a English Regency Townhouse, Entering the house was a hall with a sweeping 3-story staircase and a 1840's Alabama family portrait of two woman in white summer dress with roses in hair greeted you over a pier table. To the left you entered a large salon with a pair of 18th century Louis XVI George Jacob armchairs covered in Neoclassical red Lyon silk. Along with late 18th century and early 19th century French portraits as well as a portrait of a ancestor painted by Gilbert Stuart over a late 18th century large and very fine Italian cream painted and gilt pier table with Egyptian caryatid head supports! One each side of the pier table was a pair of French rouge colored marble pedestals with a pair of gilt metal & rock crystal Louis XVI candelabras in front of tall windows. The room had a two Napoleon lll Louis Styled coaches one gilt and the other walnut. On top of a Mahogany and gilt bronze Commode was a rare Sevres Blanc de chine porcelain figural grouping under a French styled 1820's Louisiana portrait of a gentleman with large diamond lepail pin in it's original gilt Classical Empire frame. French Empire silver and gilt bouillote lamps on every table, some of the small tables in the Roman tripod style were made up of hand chaste gilt ormolu with rams heads holding rings in there mouth.

The large salon opened into a smaller sitting room with a Beautiful mahogany and ormolu mount Louis XVI desk on fluted delicate legs. On the top of the desk a bust of young Napoleon flanked by a 1820's pair of Medici style Old Paris porcelain vases with each finely painted with a musician holding his instrument. Overstuffed comfortable furniture Along side delicate Louis XVI chairs and tables with gilt bronzed and rock crystal chandeliers and wall sconces. Old Masters and Impressionism oils hung on Louis XVI style Boiseries in both rooms along with many Parsons School of Design watercolors of French interiors similar to the one I was in. Parquet de Versailles flooring covered in French 19th century Neoclassical rugs.

The small salon open into a rectangular dinning room that ran the with of the house. Painted a French poison green on paneled wood walls. Floored in black and white marble tiles. This room has a 12 foot long 18th century English Georgian blond Mahogany dinning room table surrounded with plan Louis XVI square backed Belle Epoch chairs. On the table was a fine Neoclassical pair of gilt bronze 18th century candlesticks that Marie Antoinette would have liked. In the middle of the table was a navette shaped French Empire basket with two round ones next to it displaying balled boxwood leafed topiaries. The dinning room table over looked 4 tall French doors leading into a Italian garden and court yard. On each end of the room were floor to ceiling paneled doors with gilt bronze acanthus leaf chased hardware . The doors on both sides were opened to revile built in shelves that housed English and French, silver, crystal and pieces of fine 18th century French porcelain that I had sold him over the years. Some I had forgot that I sold to him. On the other walls of the room were a match set of 4 of what I thought were 19th century side tables in the Louis XVI style made of white marble tops mahogany bases on fluted legs with bell flower ormolu. I was told by the owner that they were custom made for him by a cabinet maker in Mobile after he drew the designs. On the consoles were White and Gold Neoclassical Old Paris porcelain dating from 1790-1820. Tea and coco sets, large tureens and platters.

A upstairs guest bed room was furnished with Alabama classical furniture made for his family. A octagon post full tester plantation bed. A Alabama made chest of drawers with a Alabama 1840's family portrait of old lady in bonnet. A classical mahogany side chair covered in gold colored damask from Venice! I felt like I was going thru period rooms at the Musee Carnavelet in Paris and the upstairs Alabama Antebellum bedroom felt like a room from Winterthur Museum and Country Estate. Although the rooms were set up as if in a museum they were not stuffy and had a lived in look about them that I like to see. I loved the fact that the owner decorated and designed every bit of it by himself without the ad of a decorator. The layout and styling of theses fashionable rooms evoked the famed decorator Elsie de Wolfe.


The garden felt like a aged old Italian garden with garden rooms, Beautiful wright iron furniture,fountains, urns, statues a pool and walled mirrors. We had out coffee in the courtyard.  I asked if I could take photo's of the outside and tuck a few that did not come out well due to the sun.  



  1. Andrew, I do wish we could see inside this house... how you tantalize!
    I do love people who use old things and don't just stick them in glass cases... they take food up to a whole new plateau, don't they? When I put my roasted wild bird on an early 19th c plate ( English, not French) the dish just pops. I am naughty because all of the food styling rules say... white plates... I just can't most of the time! I do love visiting your blog and always scroll back and back and back! PS Does your friend have that particular engraving of Frascati's or another one.. it was a very popular place for many years... serving an ice cream dinner!

  2. Hi I have added more details for you to this blog. You are right I love seeing food displayed and served on Old porcelain or pottery that's colorful. I and most of my customers use all of our old stuff down to the fragile hand embroidered French linen damask napkins at party's. More and more people are getting away from the plan white porcelain and other styling trends that have played out. The other day a article about almonds in Southern Living displayed a American Fiddle pattern coin silver spoon along side the almonds. Most people looking at that article would not know what that was but I was glad to see it. My friend has the same colored engraving that you used in your blog, his has it's original gilt and acanthus leaf frame.