Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Past Is A Foreign Country, They Do Things Differently There



Don't despair, this isn't me bleating on about the failings of 21st Century, I owe my health and mobility to the modern health service and have made a living (and some fabulous friends) through the wonders of the internet and, if I was that obsessed with preserving the past, I wouldn't have set about this Victorian bookcase with a jigsaw in an attempt to convert it into our music system storage (still a work in progress)....

but it's sad that some of the sweetest traditions have all but died out.


I inherited my Great-Great Aunt Beatrice's album as a child and its been a prized possession ever since.  Like many other women of the era, both Beatrice (Bessie) Chapman and her sister Winifred died spinsters from the lack of eligible young men, many of whom perished in the Great War of 1914-1918 and the subsequent Spanish 'flu pandemic. Judging by the number of entries in this album, though, there was no shortage of talented girlfriends. 

The album's first entry was in 1908 and the last in 1922.
























See what I mean? A drawing or a poem by a friend sure beats a text message, a "like" on Facebook or an email, doesn't it?

Tiger print top (£1.99, TopShop via Acorns Hospice), 1970s Brushed denim & feather trim maxi (£5.19, eBay) worn with a heap of second-hand and inherited bling.
Who'd have thought a tatty little book could contain such treasure?

See you soon.

94 comments:

  1. Did your aunt do all those drawings? What a talented lady she must've been. Also, wasn't people's handwriting beautiful and ornate in those days. I make a concerted effort to print out photographs and keep them in an album these days as it's so easy to lose them in the digital ether, and it's nice to keep something like a historical record that I existed, I think. Those things will stay around forever, just like your aunt's album has. X

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  2. What an amazing treasure!
    I have some postcards from mycket great great grandmother - they are my treasure!
    Thank you for all your Lovely comments - they warm upp my snowy Days!

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  3. That is such an amazing album. It really is a treasure. I love all those wonderful drawings. Love your animal print top and that very cool belt. Gorgeous rings Vix, lovely as usual.

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  4. I am stunned to have seen this. What remarkable beauty. Says to much that people went to such effort to show their friends how much they cared. This is so wonderful and I thank you for sharing such a treasure!

    Love your outfit too, my dear.

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  5. Wow, Vix how beautiful a find is this?! Such a treasure. Those delicate sketches and poetry. Did Did Beatrice write her own verse? I think I saw a Tennyson quotation in there. I'm not surprised this is one of your most prized possessions. It would be one of mine too. I'm pragmatic about the past too but I always have a leaning towards sentimentality xxx

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  6. The drawings are fascinating, so good. You are right that an email, text, a like or whatever is not the same as a poem or a drawing. Sad the tradition has died.
    You are very brave to attack your Victorian book case with a jig saw. I hope it works out well. xx

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  7. Treasure indeed. Thanks for sharing that. What lovely pictures.
    p.s. I'm relieved to hear you think old furniture should be adapted to fit our lives today!

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  8. What a gorgeous album full of beautiful words and drawings.
    Andy's grandad was an artist and we have a whole heap of sketches and paintings he did on scraps of paper, so lovely to look through. Andy definitely got his grandads talent for drawing, so I keep making him sketch and draw!
    Also, love the animal print on you. Lush.
    xx

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  9. How beautiful! What a wonderful treasure you inherited...thanks for sharing it with us :-)

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  10. i'm so with you RE snail mail/poems/handwritten stuff Vix, as you know i'm fed up with technology!!!! :/

    I do love your top you're wearing, though!!! :)
    xo

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  11. what a treasure of a book. and you are so right...nothing compares to a handwritten note or card.

    i too try not to lament the old days but it's sad that generations to come will never know what's it is like to communicate through the written word.

    xo

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  12. Creativity runs in your family, as evidenced by the contents of you Great-Great Aunt's album, held by hands that bear jewels. This is a lovely way to start my day! Thanks for sharing your treasures.

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  13. What a cool keepsake, it's obvious that your talent has a genetic component.

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  14. What a beautiful reminder of your family & days gone by. I know I sound like a broken record, but my mother never saved things like this which I would have gladly taken. I did swipe my grandfathers rhyming dictionary so at least I have that & a few little things I managed to smuggle before my mother went on one of her rampages dumping everything. (Generic taste for a generic woman.) Your top reminds me of these Mary Quant body's we used to get in the 80s! I'm not quite caffeinated so still in my pj jammie jams, but you may have inspired me to gussy up, even though I'm in doing loads and loads (and loads) of laundry today! XXX

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  15. wonderful! What a fabulous treasure. Thanks so so much for sharing this. Enjoyed reading. xx

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  16. There is no substitute for actually holding a piece of history in your hands, I think it makes a connection that a visual cant compete with. All journals and photo's are stored online these days, with maybe the exception of wedding albums and baby books, and even then, its not as popular as it used to be.
    What a fantastic inheritance.
    V
    xxx

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  17. What a wonderful album, did your great aunt do all the drawings? I'm sad that I have next to no mementos from my grandparents generation and I have little or no memories of any of them other than my maternal grandmother. You have such great connections to your heritage. Really love your skirt x

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  18. This is such a treat! I love that you held onto this it's really really special. I think we take a lot of real things for granted these days, it's obvious back then they appreciated things more. I love the poem about things that will never die so much wisdom in there. I have a few odd things like this that were my grandmas and I cherish them forever!

    Are you round at lunch today? I miss you and would love to see your pretty smiling face!
    Love youXxooo

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  19. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Vix, this is true food for my heart, and for my love of papelicos, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  20. Oh darling Vix, this is one of those post that leave you a wonderful overwhelming feeling and you need to read it and read it again,I can't even imagine how beautiful is to own something so precious and personal.
    Your great-great Aunt was very talented, it's wonderful to think about those great women who spent their days writing and drawing (it sounds familiar!)...I love the 'Reunited' illustration and the one with the soldiers heads very much, but they are all very beautiful!And the poems too!!
    Thank you for sharing this treasure with us!
    The skirt you are wearing is a treasure too, I love the feathers trim, great find!
    Lots of love xxxxxxx

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  21. What a beautiful little book. Almost brings a tear to my eyes. I have a book I've started here at home with art and poems I've written but find it easy to forget to work on it. But what a wonderful thing to leave behind me as I depart this world some day. I do think our blogs here are a wonderful bit of our legacy but hand written items are so much more a treasure.

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  22. That's an amazing and inspiring little book! I can imagine leafing through it many times, especially if you're feeling down. You're right, it's so much better than some of our fleeting banalities. It's a treasure.

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  23. Hi there! What a truly wonderful heirloom to have and to cherish, it's great to see the real thought and creativeness put in to all these lovely pictures and words, thanks for sharing this xxx

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  24. What a fabulous treasure, Vix. Such amazing drawings and what beautiful handwriting. Can't wait to see how you transform your cabinet. xx

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  25. Thanks for sharing your little book of treasures with us, Vix.

    I found an album with a similar vibe at an estate sale for 50 cents that I just cherish. It was created by two "old maid" sisters and their mother from the turn of the century. It's all photos, and cards, poetry and drawing, etc. and I feel it's such an honor to have it.

    Having an album that's been past done to you is really something special.

    And you look terrific as it's backdrop too!

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  26. Such a beautiful work of art, what a keepsake. The writing is so artistic so are the words.
    Hope your cat sitter has a wonderful time, my daughter can't wait to go back there.

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  27. Yes, that book is a tresure.
    Too bad that kids don't seem to learn poems in school anymore. I hated it at the time, but bits and pieces still jumble about up there.

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  28. Thank you so much for sharing that book! So much history and so fascinating! My favorite drawing is all of the faces :)

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  29. Another wonderful post. Such beautiful drawings and poems. I love the Mary Woolfe verse, it is so wise and the pencil and wash portrait of the Edwardian lady at the top is incredible. And the handwriting, done with a proper ink pen...I could be guilty of incredible nostalgia seeing this. What a beautiful heirloom to have.

    My great grandmother was Winifred Beatrice :) I do love family history. The smallest things are a marvel when they are yours! xxxx

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  30. Is such an honor and a privilege to be the keeper of your loves ones treasures and to be caretaker of your family's history.

    An by the way, your outfit has a fantastic mid-western vibe!

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  31. Those drawings and poems are all simply astonishing! What truly 'accomplished' women! Even just looking at pictures of them is moving...what a treasure, indeed!
    Your outfit is fabulous, as well!

    Thanks for sharing all this creativity with us!!!

    xoxox
    theefface.blogspot.com

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  32. I think we live in the strangest of times sometimes. We are more connected but most of us feel further apart from each other than ever before.

    I agree there is much to be grateful about here and now, but certainly there are certain things I think we miss out on now. There is no sense of occasion anymore I love the way people would dress up and go to the theatre or whereever. Now even dressing up for a wedding for some is such a chore.

    But you are right in making use of old furniture adapting so its still usuable. What is the point of a big unit sat around doing nothing if you can update it?

    I just loved your book and no wonder you treasure it so much, it is amazing and how lucky your Grt Grt Aunt was to know so many talented and amazing friends. A really inspring post!

    P x

    P.s Love your fringy top!

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  33. Made me cry.

    We live in wonderous times - but oh what gentleness we seem to have lost - in spite of people like your Aunt going through wars and calamity.

    Abundance seems to have made life harsher. Or perhaps that's just reality TV shows lol.

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  34. omg beautiful drawing :") i love your top btw, you look stunning! xx

    Letters To Juliet

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  35. Isn't that the most wonderful family treasure? How wonderful.
    The drawings are beautiful and the whole book is a work of art.
    Fab.
    xxxxxx

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  36. Very beautiful! There is something so comforting about hand writing, it is the personal touch that is missing from a font!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Michelle

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  37. What a loverly keepsake! :) A memory you can hold in your hand is so much better like a like comment text or email your so right! love the feather detail :) x

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  38. Wow, what an amazing collection!
    I miss writing letters, although I do still have a pen friend from when I was 17, and we still write - a proper letter - a few times a year. Its SO much nicer to get a written letter, than an email or text :) x

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  39. Really personal, poetic and beautiful, but now over to you. The body, the top, the skirt ... I believe that you are even more beautiful (if possible) after your Goa trip.

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  40. It's so true - it's so great to get something through the post or to see a friend face to face. I sometimes fear the internet does somewhat play to ego - the desire for likes, comments, retweets etc. As you say, when there's something meaningful gained, the internet's a great place but it can be hollow too. Gosh, maybe I'll go write a friend a letter or something (actually, I'm off for a bath!).
    On a shallow note, I moved house to www.champagneshoeslemonadebudget.com and seem to have fallen off the internet a bit!

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  41. A real and precious treasure. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  42. Que bonitas ilustraciones!!!
    Saludos
    http://judithbysucre.blogspot.com.es

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  43. Such a beautiful book, perhaps this is a tradition we should bring back? Mass blogger journal swap I say;) My great grandmother, who would have been maybe 10 years younger than your aunt had the most amazing collection of postcards from friends and family. Some of them are amazing.

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  44. I am in total awe! This is such a beautiful post Vix, what a beautiful treasure of memories you have.
    Denise

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  45. Oh Vix! What a treasure! Was especially moved by that beautiful poem!

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  46. I couldn't agree more, I have some dear friends and we often surprise one anotherbthroughbthe year with hand written notes and letters. We can't scramble quick enough to reply to one another with it being such a rare treat these days.

    Thank you so much for sharing such preciousness with us, what a privilege. I'm totally captivated by the ones of children especially. Oh and the solider with injured arm with his lady, there is just something about that one and his stance. Thank you once again.

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  47. Oh how utterly beautiful! I love seeing the talent of the years!x

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  48. Absolutely charming, and the handwriting tells such a lot about the personalities.

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  49. I love this album . such beautiful drawings. a great link with the past. I think we live in a great era. still able to appreciate the written word , letters and diaries. I love the internet too and all the far off places I can reach at the touch of a button. I still keep a hand written diary. your outfit is lovely that style suits you so much.

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  50. I agree with your finishing thought. Yes, writing something down for someone sure means a lot! I loved your post. Thanks for sharing:)

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  51. It's stunning, what a talented bunch. Somehow writing LOL on a status update doesn't have quite the same cachet...

    I really need to write some letters at least.

    x

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  52. Oh my, that album is a marvel! I love the art and poems and they are ever so much better than what passes for declarations of friendships these days. I have a beautiful old autograph book that I found and it's so cool to read what people used to write to their friends. I also like seeing other people's handwriting styles (which is also no longer being taught in public schools!).

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  53. Thanks for letting us have a look at that fabulous album. All the better for its age! I had a book like that when I was young. We called it an autograph book, and so it doesn't have any drawings, but it does have some of the similar type sayings and poems. Some of them aren't politically correct anymore, but I didn't know that at the time.

    Cheers,

    Rosemary
    www.forever on the catwalk of life.blogspot.com

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  54. WOW that book is incredible. I can totally see why you cherish it. It's very pretty and sweet.

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  55. What an amazing family heirloom to have, Vix. The paintings and drawings are exquisite, the first and second ladies are particularly beautiful. Women's friendships can be such wonderful relationships, and this gorgeous little album is a true testament to that.
    Maybe our blogs are a 21st century version? We still clearly feel a need to connect and communicate, we just have different media available to us.
    Love your bookcase/music storage and of course you look stunning - that skirt is such a beauty. So are you! xxxxx

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  56. The poems and pictures in that book are incredible. What a cool treasure to have-- thanks for sharing it. Love all your jewelry (as usual!) and that skirt is amazeballs!!
    Becky :)

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  57. Thanks for sharing such an amazing book. I love treasures like that, totally priceless and bursting with talent. I always loved to write letters and I prefer to visit friends. Wish you lived a little closer Vix.

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  58. I'm sure you could spend hours with that precious treasure. I do miss real letters and cards in the mail. X

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  59. You make a good point- and it is illustrated beautifully.

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  60. What a wonderful belt! And such beautiful illustrations!

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  61. What a family treasure to have. I have my grandmother's photo albums and they are a great source of pleasure (and blogging material!) :-) Jo

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  62. It's utterly wonderful! Such a beautiful book with so many exquisite drawings. Seriously, those heads are something special! Really really interesting. You're very lucky to own them!

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  63. What a gorgeous treasure! Noticed the date on one of 3/1/12 - hard to imagine that it's just over 100 years ago!
    Love your blog, read all the time but first comment
    Judy xx

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  64. Thank you so much for scanning these pages and posting them here...Your Aunt clearly was an amazing and talented lady. Guess it runs in the family :D

    I can understand why you hold on to it, if this was in my possession I would never let it out of my sight.

    Your skirt is another thing I would never let out of my sight if it were mine...Is it a crochet patch that I see on it? Love love love this post and your style Vix...I've had a horrid night and this really was great to wake up to :D

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  65. That is just SO bloody special!
    Certainly different to how we do things these days, for sure. And was every woman that bloody accomplished in those times?! The artworks are phenomonal! And not to mention the exquisite handwriting. That's something I'm bitter about, how handwriting hasn't been considered anything to be proud of for many years now. Can't bear it when I have to try and read somebody's beatle tracks.
    Tiger Tiger burning bright! Foxalicous, too! That skirt is so divoon, and it goes with everything!
    Love Helga xxxXXXxxx

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  66. True treasure indeed, I suspect I'd have a few pages on display if it were mine. Too bad though you have no-one to leave it to (or do you??)

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  67. I was so entranced by Beatrice's album, I studied every page in the pics. What an absolute treasure you have there. I knew elderly spinsters in NZ during the 70s, when I was a girl, I remember asking one dear lady named Queenie who I considered a friend why she wasn't married and she just smiled. Now I'm older I understand why there were so many women of her age who had never loved or who had loved and lost. Those women grew older under a cloud of loss at never having the chance to grow old with a loved one. Beatrice's album has such a sense of melancholy, I do hope she passed on holding the hand of a dear one. Thank you so much for sharing this while looking so deliciously feathery darling:)) xoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxo

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  68. this is a treasure..thanks for sharing it with us..these beat a like on fb any given moment.

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  69. That album is very special indeed, especially as it has a direct family connection to you. Your Great Great Aunt was a talented artist and I love that first drawing of the woman reclining. What I did find very poignant though is her painting 'Reunited'. xxx

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  70. What a beautiful treasure! How nice to have something that gives such insight into her life.

    Gorgeous!

    xx

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  71. Wow Vix that little album is such a treasure and another wonderful family connection to hold onto. I would love to sit down and hold that in my hands and scan the words and the picture in greater detail. Its truly beautiful your great great Aunty was a very clever lady infact you come from a long line of clever ladies in your family you included. I so agree with you a like or an email is so unimportant really. Its such a shame that the humble letter has been wipped out to really. Do i spy a stair makeover? pretty pink wallpaper on there? or have i missed a post somewhere there looking fab. Have a great weekend, dee xxx

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  72. That wee book is a treasure indeed, what amazing drawings.
    I still have a book from my childhood that I'd hand to family members & select friends for them to put a poem or a drawing inside but needless to say it does not hold a candle to this. I think most of us are far too distracted or "busy" to take time over things like this now (besides people that have a real passion for it), that last illustration is magnificent but must have taken a fair while to complete. Same with letters, much more time and effort involved in producing a two page letter but a ten sentence e-mail can be done in a matter of minutes, so that you can have more "me" time. Although my mum sends me two page letters in e-mail form, I do so still miss the excitement of receiving an actual letter...not just bloody bills all the time ;)
    You look fantastic!
    Lot's of love,
    Jennie...xXx

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  73. So charming! you are lucky to have such a beautiful piece from the past-I love the drawings, the writting- I'm speechless!



    Have a great weekend

    Ariane xxx

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  74. Wow your Great Great Aunt's book is incredibe, such a treasure trove! I love old books and do feel sad to see everyone reading from their tablets and little ipod screens instead - what about the pleasure of turning a page, of cherishing favourite old paperbacks! Vix I adore your matching nails and rings! And another gorgeous outfit as ever, you beautiful vintage goddess.

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  75. Thanks for sharing Vix - lovely xoxoxo

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  76. i believe this is my first time to your blog, and i must say... you are so interesting and i just want to read more! i adore all of the little details of your outfit. props to you for being so stylish.

    lindsey louise

    hellomrrabbit.blogspot.com

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  77. What a delightful heirloom Vix, our family has something similar, must look it out sometime. The sketches of the pretty ladies and Marechal Foch are particularly good, people had so many skills in those days.
    Love the stair risers and your denim maxi.
    x

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  78. How wonderful that this beautiful record of your great aunt's life, friends, observations and interests not only survives but is cherished by you. It's an enormously touching collection.
    I've recently been trying to revive my own art of letter writing as well as doing paintings or sketches for birthday and Christmas presents. I wonder if any of them will stand the test of time in the way your magical album has....

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  79. This is such a collection of overwhelming beauty it has really made my morning, thank you for sharing it Vix! So many lovely images, poems and then comments. The older generations seemed to have such gravitas, probably from seeing so much loss of life during the wars and flu.

    Desire's comment made me misty as I was feeling the melancholy as well thinking of a 93 year old spinster I knew who left our neighborhood a while ago. She said she never married because she had to take care of her down's syndrome sister. She did such a great job her sister lived much longer than expected, which she was very proud of. She was also very proud of her shipyard work during ww2.;)

    It is interesting that the drawings are all so well done, as drawing used to be considered part of one's proper education. I just read that cursive handwriting will no longer be taught in schools which is a shame, it's always a pleasure to read something when it's nicely written.

    And, I must add that the statement under the collie "the highest form of courage is to do one's duty" seems so very British, love it. Funny, that now here it would probably be "whatever man";)

    And, you look so cute in your tigers and feathers...guess the cat did get the cannery.;)

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  80. Such beautiful images, it’s such a shame nothing is quite as sincere anymore, and we’ve lost all sense of correspondence. Letter writing is a huge part of my life and I’m determined to stay true to that – but I do feel sad that all of my letters are to bloggers/penpals, and not immediate family or friends. xxx

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  81. You're right! That :)- its drawings and find penmanship (pen-womanship) is amazing. It IS a treasure.

    Of course, I adore your brushed denim maxi, too

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  82. I had a couple of these albums and sold them on Dickinsons Real Deal this years for £60. Apparantly they are quite common but they are so interesting to look at. I'd had mine 25 years - time to let go,

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  83. oh my god all those brilliant drawings, that book is indeed a treasure! and i love your wild beauty look here!
    kiss,mary

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  84. I can see me coming back to this blog again in the future Vix, to look at that beautiful album, you really do have some treasures from your family's past. The drawing of all the heads is really interesting isn't it, your great aunt must have been an interesting lady. I used to love writing and receiving letters, I still have that sense of excitement every time the letterbox goes even though personal mail like that is a real rarity now, but I love the connections I can have to so many people through the internet now too. xx

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  85. Wow wow wow, treasure indeed! What a fantastic thing to have! I love that Tennyson quote, what talented ladies :)

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  86. What a lovely little album you have. The drawings are just beautiful xxx

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  87. what a wonderful treasure - such beautiful pictures - something like that is a wonderful joy to have and admire.

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  88. I really enjoyed reading this post, what a wonderful album and such a special momento.

    Lx

    www.whatlisawrote.blogspot.co.uk

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  89. A treasure beyond belief!!!! How fantastic that you have this. Loved it all.
    ; )
    d

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  90. How wonderful that you have kept your precious treasure. Thank you for sharing it with us. And you're right, a drawing or handwritten note is more intimate than the using technology to communicate. On the other hand, I love it that technology is making the world a smaller place. I wouldn't have met you if it weren't for the internet.

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  91. this little book is such a treasure ... fantastic!

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Love from Vix
xxx