Man-tiques: 10 Gifts for Him

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With the holidays approaching, and being the token male on this blog, I thought it timely to suggest 10 gift ideas for men that can be found at this year’s Art and Antiques Show. As much as your husband probably loved the Louis XV chandelier that you and your decorator picked up last month in Atlanta….you know, the expensive one you gave him for his birthday….some of these pieces might be a little more up his alley this Christmas.

1. Dogs

You can’t go wrong with man’s best friend. If the man in your life has a special dog in his life, why not find items that remind him of his favorite canine, or can serve as a reminder of a childhood pet? My wife, mother, and mother-in-law have added greatly to my dog collection over the years and I always love receiving a new addition to that collection. Here’s a lovely patinated bronze piece from the late 19th century.

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Here’s a set of twelve Wedgwood plates from the 1940’s.

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Here’s a rare Italian bronze from the Napoleon III period.

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These are some of my favorites from my collection.

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1. An early 20th century, carved Golden Retriever, given to me on my seventh birthday to accompany a real Golden Retriever puppy. This piece will always remind me of my parent’s generosity and our family pet. 2. A Royal Dux porcelain retriever from Czechoslovakia, circa 1940. 3. A Baccarat Lab. 4. A needlepoint Chocolate Lab pillow. 5. A collection of Spode’s Woodland dog plates (I fell in love with these a few summers ago when I saw them in every designer showroom and antique store in Cashiers, NC). 6. A Bernese Mountain Dog print, circa 1925 (It’s one thing to collect labs and retrievers, but finding an antique Bernese Mountain Dog anything is pretty near impossible. So when I found a dealer that had a collection of National Geographic dog prints from the 20’s, I quickly grabbed this one). 7. Last, but not least, these contemporary, English salt and pepper shakers reminded me of Lord Grantham’s faithful pup in Downton.

2. Shaving Mirrors

Okay, so he probably won’t use this to shave in, but they can serve a number of other functions and add so much character to a room. I have mine on my dresser and the drawers make a great place to store all your “junk”.….receipts, change, etc. My shaving mirror was also on my wife’s dresser for a time and she draped necklaces over the top of the mirror and stored make-up in the drawers. Here is a lovely, diminutive, English mahogany shaving mirror from the 19th century.

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And a very fine Irish one, circa 1840.

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3. The Biscuit Barrel 

Elegant timepieces of a bygone era, these little gems emerged in Great Britain around 1860 and were popular through the 1930’s. Ranging from sterling silver to the more rustic oak and brass like those pictured below, biscuit barrels were used at tea time to store biscuits.

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Okay, so maybe don’t get him a pink one, but you get the idea.

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To be honest, I keep picture hanging hooks and screws in mine. We are constantly hanging things in this house and I got tired of going to my tool box all the time. Now most of what I need is easily accessible and hidden right in the living room.

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4. The Tea Caddy

These guys don’t need much of an introduction. Once used to store tea, these timeless classics make a great place for a guy to keep his personal items. You can throw your wallet, phone, and keys in here right before a dinner party or keep on your desk for important receipts and correspondence.

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5. The Decanter

If your man likes to come home and fix his nightly cocktail like I do, this piece will save him a lot of time and add some class to his bar. For those of a more modern bent, check out this sleek Deco style decanter, circa. 1913.

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For those a little more old-school, take a look at this Anglo-Irish Edwardian magnum, circa 1900.

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You can never have too many decanters…..a much more tasteful way to serve liquor and wine, especially around the holidays.

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6. Tortoise Shell Boxes

Men’s dressers get messy. This ingenious little box is a great place to throw loose change. They are also invaluable in storing those bothersome little pins you get from various civic and fraternal organizations…..the ones you will never wear, but feel bad throwing out. A quintessential object for the gentleman of the 19th century, as well as of the 21st.

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7. The Barley Twist Candlestick

I guess it’s the Englishman in me, but I love these so much that I bought a pair for myself, wrapped them up, and gave them to my wife for Christmas last year. The form is so masculine and heavy, yet intricate and airy. These versatile little guys can fade into the background of any room or make a bold statement.

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They even make for a captivating table setting.

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8. The Box on Stand

Many times 19th century lap desks, campaign chests, and humidors have been put on stands to make excellent side tables. These pieces are invaluable to those design conundrums where you need a place to set a drink or give balance to room, but have very little space. This is the perfect gift to accompany a guy’s favorite leather chair…..just big enough for a scotch and his favorite book or magazine.

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9. Antlers 

Believe it or not, ladies, you will love these, too. They finish off a room so well and are what I want for Christmas (a half dozen, please, Mrs. Nash).

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10. Dead Things

Properly referred to as Game Paintings, my wife calls this type of art “dead things”. These still life paintings of killed and prized game were particularly popular in the 1800s.

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I absolutely love this signed, 19th century watercolor that I found for under $100. My wife almost relegated it to the mancave, but I made a good sale and got to put it in the kitchen (well, close to the mudroom).

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Whether it’s for a husband, boyfriend, brother, son, son-in-law, or grandson, why not consider some “man-tiques” this year? These timeless pieces will add class and character to any home.

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