Oranges to alligators: a taste of Floridiana
Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 10:20 p.m.
Floridiana evokes so many vivid images of this state's past: orange groves, luxurious Flagler hotels, steamships, red-brick courthouses.
Show is Saturday
On Saturday, the Matheson Museum downtown will host its inaugural Floridiana Show and Sale - featuring all sorts of Florida memorabilia, from postcards, decorative plates and sterling silver spoons to hand-crafted Seminole dolls, Highwaymen paintings and pine-needle baskets.
There will be 45 vendors at 28 tables, with prices from under a dollar to hundreds of dollars. The museum board came up with the idea, after having repeated success with an antique-bottle event.
"Our antique-bottle show has been so successful (for the last four years) that we hit upon doing the same kind of thing for Florida-themed antiques," says Lisa Auel, director of the Matheson Museum. "There isn't another show we know of in the entire state that has (just) Floridiana."
Auel and several board members began to contact collectors and antique-shop owners last spring.
"We placed ads all the way into the Panhandle," said Auel.
The show should appeal to experienced collectors and curiosity seekers, said David Collins, a board member and vendor at the show.
"(We hope) people will see something so off the wall that they have to have it," he said.
Auel said that she would like a lot of children to come to the show.
"There will be a lot of fun, crazy things shaped like oranges or palm trees," said Auel.
The Museum itself will offer fruit- and cigar-crate labels, old newspaper prints and postcards. Collins said postcards are often treasures.
"(They) can range (in value) from a quarter to hundreds of dollars," said Collins.
"The original stuff is real photos taken by a photographer of a street scene. They might be the only known photo of the town to exist," said Collins.
Mass-produced postcards can also be valuable if they come from a limited edition set or contain important correspondence.
"Most collectors want (a postcard) to be written on and have the postmark on it. They want that human touch," said Collins.
Larry Roberts, author of the collectibles book, "Florida's Golden Age of Souvenirs," and a vendor at the show, said that carved alligator pipes and canes are also personalized.
"Alligator carvers were the Jacksonville's 42nd largest industry in the 1880s," said Roberts. "There were at least eight carvers. Individuals would carve pipes and canes as people watched."
Roberts said almost all of the items were carved out of orangewood because during that era North Florida had huge groves of orange trees, with limbs that were ideal for canes.
Thomas Delay, a Micanopy collector and vendor at the show, will be selling a variety of items at his table, including Highwaymen paintings and souvenir china.
"Souvenir china is very interesting. It documents images from different towns, hotels and piers that were popular in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Sometimes the towns no longer exist," said Delay.
Delay, who found one of his most prized Florida-themed collectibles in Massachusetts, says Floridiana is all about the hunt.
"I found a beautiful china water pitcher . with gold and multicolored images . of palm fronds on the side. It still takes my breath away," said Delay.
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