Now that the renovation of the den is finished, I’ve been trying to tweak the decor a little bit. While we are renovating, we’ve left a lot of things packed in boxes until each room is completed. It’s been fun pulling some of the pieces out that I haven’t seen in awhile. I get to fall in love with them all over again!
One of my favorite vintage items to collect and decorate with is old books and opera glasses…..more specifically French books and opera glasses.
I usually pick them up whenever I find them at a reasonable price because they are an easy item to decorate with and they definitely bring the vintage french look to a vignette.
Old books can be the focal point, the backdrop for something else, or used to elevate another piece to a different height.
You can stack them by a chair, fill a cloche, or pile them in an old dough bowl.
When I first starting buying old books, I didn’t look for any specific kind, just randomly picking them up if I thought they had a cool look to them. Over time though, I’ve become more selective, only buying vintage French books in neutral shades of blues, grays, and old worn leather bindings.
The visual impact of displaying books in one specific color is amazing. How much fun would it be to collect books only in your favorite colors such as red or aqua, and display together for a punch of color?!
Another look that I’m drawn to is turning the old books backwards so that only the timeworn pages are showing. I love the parchment color of the pages, giving texture to a display, but with neutral tones.
Many times you can pick up old books with ripped up bindings for a song. Just remove the bindings and stack them together. They make for a stunning display.
I started collecting French opera glasses several years ago and they are a perfect compliment to the vintage books. The have so much character and patina to the antique brass, leather, and mother of pearl.
The first opera glasses ever mentioned were in London in the early 1700’s. But it wasn’t until the early 1800’s that the first binocular opera glasses were invented. Pierre Lemiere, in Paris, invented the center focus wheel, which allowed both eyes to focus together. Opera glasses were originally used to better see the details on the stage at the opera………or perhaps to better examine some of the other patrons!
The French opera glasses will have the manufacturers name stamped around the lens pieces, and usually the word “Paris”.
They can be quite fancy with beautiful enameling, jeweled stones, and engravings. And many times, the petite leather case is still intact.
I’ve been lucky enough in the past to find a few with the original owner’s name or monogram inscribed on them. These have quickly become my favorites…..I just know they would have a story to tell if only they could talk! I sold a pair in our shop about a year ago that was engraved with the name “Grace”…..I wish I had them back!
Old books and opera glasses aren’t usually difficult to find, though some of the fancier opera glasses can command a high price. I have picked both up at flea markets, estate sales, Ebay, Etsy, and even Goodwill. I have collected quite a few of the opera glasses and now when I find them, they usually go into our online shop, unless they are unique from what I already have.
For now, I’m working on collecting more vintage books in the blues and grays……there seems to be a lot of bookshelves in this house to fill!
Paired together, old books and opera glasses are a perfect duo!