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Art-Nouveau toothpick holder~what's that monogram?

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Posted 7 years ago

(84 items)

I found an identical form of toothpick on ebay that was actually steamship china and hope that this one is from the same kind of source. I'm hoping that it is connected to the Hamburg-America Line ~ or it's offshoot Hamburg-Pacific Lines. Anyone have thoughts?

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  1. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, since no one else has given it a shot, I guess I'll give you my tentative thoughts on the matter. I might well be wrong....

    It looks like there are at least two initials here, which I think are "I" and perhaps "G". The "G" might instead be a "P". These two initials are dark, outlined, and have interior decoration. I can't tell if one of them is primary because they both occupy the central portion of the item, and they're interlinked.

    The organic, sinuous form around and through them might also be an intial, but might well not be. If it's an initial, it could be an "H", or perhaps an "M".

    Regards, miKKo
  2. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Looks like "HPI".

  3. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, all. Yes, my mind is worn out tonight. That must be a "P", because if it were a "G", it would be reversed. However, I still thing that the sinuous form might well not be a letter, and that if it is a letter, it could be an "M" instead of an "H", though it does look like an "H". miKKo
  4. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Also, there are conventions for monograms, which convention could vary over time and culture. People might also not wish to adhere to a particular monogram custom, and might depart from it. However, if this were a monogram of a married couple, I would expect it to have three initials, and it would be customary for the initial of the last name to figure in the center. Would that mean that the sinuous "H" represents the last name? Seems to me that an initial standing for a last name would be darker than the "H", and have a decorated interior, but perhaps not.

  5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    OK, back to the scene of the crime when I'm a bit fresher....

    I think it unlikely that this monogram is for a married couple. The couple example was useful to me to indicate that there are conventions of order observed in monograms, and useful to indicate why I think "HPI" would be an unlikely order, if Scott did in fact mean to indicate an order. I wonder if "H" could stand for "Hotel"? I haven't a clue as to what it would stand for.

    Item looks to me like something that might have been found in a hotel, cafe, bistro, restaurant, or perhaps a train restaurant car or train station 'cafe', or the like. I am quite ignorant of the types of china/porcelain that one would encounter in these places, however! I was just taking a stab at this monogram last night.

    By the way, I don't advance the content of the ehow link as gospel. It was a convenient link for me last night. There are better sources of monogram conventions.

    I hand off now to the people who do about such items. Thanks! miKKo
  6. Pencil-necked-geek Pencil-necked-geek, 6 years ago
    Mikko ~
    Thanks for all your suggestions & thoughts. As I mentioned in my first post, I suspected that it was rail or ship dining stock based on the other example I found (which had a steamship flag to help with identification for that seller). It seemed logical that an outfitter/chandler would offer similar forms to other companies as well.

    I had posted an inquiry on the ebay community boards, but never got a nibble. I also know an advanced boat china collector, but they had nothing to offer.

    I finally listed it on da bay with "ship china (?)" in the title. It was purchased by someone who collects it (for $25) and they said they also had an example of that form for another shipping line, but they couldn't identify this one either ~ said they just liked the design.

    I guess this will just have to remain an 'unsolved mystery'. I appreciate art nouveau and thought this design was quite striking. Thanks for taking a stab at it.
  7. Pencil-necked-geek Pencil-necked-geek, 6 years ago
    I should add that, to my eye, I finally decided that the P looked like it was morphed with an L and the ' I ' was just a nouveau form, not an initial. Whether or not the H was also a design form or an actual initial is open for debate. But I did feel that HPL (Hamburg Pacific Lines) was not an unreasonable guess.
  8. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, Pencil-necked-geek. I suspect that it will take a good many speculations to solve this one, so let's all hypothesize away!

    In my opinion, the "P" is a "P", not an "L" or in process to become an "L". In some fonts, a "P" will have an arc at the foot similar to one found on a "G". If you google art nouveau fonts, you will find some; however this arc at foot on the "P" is not distinctive to the Art Nouveau period. Indeed, I don't immediately read your "P" and "I" as Art Nouveau fonts. Rather, it was the sinuous organic framing element, which might also be an "H" or an "M" in my opinion, along with the other sinuous design elements and the distinctive floral motifs that lead me to read this item as "Art Nouveau".

    Moreover, if "P" is a letter, then I think that "I" is one, too. I personally don't see the "I" as a mere design element.

    I must apply myself to three major tasks today (Much behind, I am!!!), and cannot work on this project any further. I will say in closing that as soon as I saw this intriguing piece of yours, Brussels came to mind, then the Paris Metro. I do not advance this as a hypothesis to be established or rejected, just recording it as my personal, fleeting impression. The "H" framing element reminded me of designs in Art Nouveau door 'surrounds' in Brussels. I couldn't undertake a serious search because of my obligations, but I thought that I might take a quick look yesterday at the monograms of old Art Nouveau hotels in Brussels, and to see if I could locate, say, 'Hotel Palace International' or other such among historical hotels in Brussels. There was a Palace Hotel in Brussels, I think, that was scheduled for destruction in the late 1970's or early 1980's. I might be wrong. It might have been the Plaza or the Park - can't remember. There was certainly a Palace Hotel in Brussels, but I just read that it was 'Belle Époque'. Anyway, I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. I did find an old door surround with this "H" framing element. At no point did I entertain the opinion that the Art Nouveau "H" form was a distinctively Belgian form, in contradistinction to French or other Art Nouveau 'flavors'. I was just reporting my initial impression of 'Belgium' as a mental phenomenon, and reporting the fact that I found what I thought was just such an "H" framing element in an old Brussels door surround. In closing, I would note that, in my opinion, it would be a bit odd to find such a porcelain item in a deluxe hotel. It would be wonderful to find a railroad association! But I must leave further researches to you and the others, as I don't have time to pursue this. Thank you for your kindness! Regards, miKKo

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