Now what? Life in rural Ariege

Burblings about adjusting to life in the deep south west of France or "la France profonde" as they call it here and the challenges of restoring a ramshackle collection of tumbledown buildings. I mainly write about local festivals, events and celebrations and, most of all, the weekly ritual of combing vide greniers and brocantes for pre-loved vintage treasures.

17 September 2014

Hidden Treasure

It's happened again! I suppose it's inevitable that during my rummaging for vintage goodies for Histoires I'm going to stumble over secret items that have been deliberately concealed. My first hidden find was a couple of years ago when I discovered love letters concealed in a 1950s sewing pattern.

 Simplicity or duplicity? This 1950s Simplicity dress pattern has concealed a lover's letters for over 30 years.

It was not a particularly glamorous sewing pattern, a simple a wrap-around housedress and a dress with a matching housecoat. I was amazed when I checked to see if the pattern had been cut to pull out 2 letters which had been carefully concealed within the pattern itself. They were stored neatly in their original envelopes (one of which was post dated 1977) and I pulled one out to see if it related to the pattern in any way. I was confronted with a love letter from a Dutch sailor, Piet, to his sweetheart, Pat. The first letter began “My dearest darling Pat” and contained the telling line “I will not phone you anymore because Steve has arrived home”. The second short letter was sent while Piet was at sea and he wrote “I still cannot put you out of my mind” and that he “is waiting for you in Exeter at the central station”. Did she ever meet him again or was the affair over? Either way what better place could there be to conceal billets doux from your lover than in an old dress pattern? Her husband would almost certainly have never stumbled across these by accident and she always had them nearby as she did her sewing. 
And last weekend it happened again. I was at a Vide Grenier and spied a lovely mid century mint green coffee pot. I lifted the lid and could see there was something inside but I did not remove it to take a look as the pot was half filled with water and the object looked rather black and slimy. I showed the owners who laughed and did that oh-so-gallic shrug before telling me the water and "thingy" were free but the pot was 10 euros. After a little bartering I left with the coffee pot and its contents. When I got home I tipped out the water along with the blackened object. I had thought it was probably an old kitchen measure or possibly an old metal filter, at the very least I had reasoned it must be something to do with coffee. How wrong I was!

It is, in fact, a child's christening or baptism cup. It has a gorgeous frieze around the base of pedal cars, rocking horses and toys. It is marked on the bottom "metal argente" (silver plated). I estimate it dates to the 1950s or possibly the 1960s. 

I can only guess at why it was hidden away in a coffee pot. To keep it safe perhaps, a coffee pot is an unlikely storage place for valuables that would surely never be discovered in the event of a burglary. Maybe there was some connection between the pot and the cup, possibly they were both souvenirs of loved ones, cherished family items stored together. I'll never know for certain, what do you think? 

I'd love to hear if you've ever discovered concealed items...