Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved collecting things. {I’m sure you’re not surprised about this, right?!}  One of the most special vacation memories I have was when my Mom and I went on vacation to the seashore in Noordwijk, Holland.  It sparked my love of Collecting Antique Sea Shells.

It was special mostly because my Mom and I always went together with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to our family forest and stayed in the little vacation homes my aunts and uncles had there.  It was heaven on earth for me and my cousins- there was a huge outdoor pool, a tennis court, acres of woods to explore, even a fruit orchard. But that year Mom decided to take just the two of us to the ocean.

mothers day gift guid

 

We were there for a week, and I mostly remember these things: 1. She let me wear my very best dress, with little red roses woven in the fabric and gold threads. {see photo above} 2. We bought white chocolate in a shop near the water. It was the first time I’d ever seen white chocolate! 3. I fell in love with shells and collected so many shells to take home as gifts that I had to lug a heavy bag of them with me on the train back home.

COLLECTING VICTORIAN SHELL SOUVENIRS

 

Seashells have always had a special allure through the ages. They are really gifts of the sea, and come in so many colors and shapes.  Collecting sea shells is a tradition that goes as far back as the 16th century. Shells were rare, and very expensive in the late 1500’s.  Royals were so enamored with sea shells that they built whole rooms to display these treasures from the ocean. Archduke Ferdinand II had four huge rooms filled with shells, amber, fossils and branches of coral in the 1500’s. For the next 3 centuries shells remained desirable and a sign of great wealth.

 

You can read more about the history of shell collecting and shell art HERE >

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

Shell Art Boxes

 

Making boxes for sewing, jewelry or the vanity became a beloved hobby in the Victorian era. There were little booklets with patterns and instructions, and women could either gather their own shells at the seashore, or buy shells from shell dealers.

The shells had to be soaked in fresh water for a few hours. Some shells were shiny by themselves, but if they lost their luster when dry, a wash of mostly water with a little glue could bring some gloss back to the shells. Periwinkles, which was the most popular shell lining the edges of almost every single box from this time, needed a little extra work. These shells have a gray outer scale which needed to be removed with acetic acid so that the beautiful pearly iridescence could be revealed. It was such a beloved and popular hobby!  It also means that almost each and every antique shell covered object is a one-of-a-kind piece.

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

In summer, especially, decorating with shells and antique shell work is a lovely nod to the season.  I have a huge antique glass jar on my mantel filled with seashells, and an antique platter on our table in the living room filled with shells and one of our ocean candles.

 

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

I love decorating a bathroom here at FrenchGardenHouse with shell antiques!

 

 

 

We have a few recent acquisitions at FrenchGardenHouse that are wonderful additions to your collection, or the beginning of one!  Not just shell work, there are antique French boxes with shell paintings, antique trade cards, some antique Victorian actual Sea Moss pages that are great to frame, antique Greetings from the Seaside postcards and more.

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

 

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

Tuck a few of these kinds of antique Trading Cards on a mirror over your mantel, or display on a shelf of books for summer.

Antique French shell card
Antique shell card

Great to frame, antique specimen pages are so beautiful! I love framing a grouping of antique sea side postcards too. I rotate the art work in our guest bathroom seasonally, and having some of these kinds of things ready to go makes creating seasonal decor so easy!

Collecting Antique Sea Shells

Antique sea side postcards

There are so many fun things with a shell motif to decorate with! Bring out your antique silver with shells too! I have such a fondness for silver with a sea shell design, and collect spoons, serving pieces with shells, and little shell shaped salts.

 

nautical antiques

Nautical Antiques

And then there are oyster plates!! If you have read me for awhile you know I don’t love the actual eating of them, {don’t hate me, I talked all about eating oysters with great style here >} but I love decorating with the plates!

 

This image is not from our home, but one of the gorgeous photos of the design work of the late Charles Faudree. But see how beautiful decorating with the oyster plates is?!

 

 

I’m wishing you great fun collecting antique sea shells of any and every kind!

 

I am adding some links for those of you who are always emailing saying please link in your posts. And apologize to a few of you who are not a fan of the links! Just ignore them then, please.  I can’t make all of you happy all the time, but I’m trying!!

 

Shop Recent Acquisitions >

 

Shop Silver >

 

Shop Porcelain & Pottery >

luxury gifts

Shop Summer Gift & Decor >

 

 

Happy Summer dear readers!

Do you collect sea shells and|or antique sea shells?

 

A BIENTOT

 

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and above all uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com