Monday, 14 July 2014


Bobbine side table with two shelves, tramp-work border, made with linen bobbins and endive market boxes.
    Bobbine furniture and shelves used to be quite common and featured in many Brocante Fairs.  They consisted of useful little shelves, small book cases and stands of all kinds,  small tables and  storage units.   They were made around 1900 and the name bobbine describes the material used -  large linen thread reels which were available in huge quantities from all the convents, workshops and factories where hand sewing was universal and everything was stitched with needle and linen thread.  These large reels were threaded on to fine metal rods, secured with little metal bolts each end and producing a barley-sugar twist look framework for shelves.   When I was buying all over France I found many different versions and there were no set patterns - obviously handymen were able to assemble them without much trouble and the results were universally useful.  There were probably small workshops who regularly worked on the shelves and they were probably very cheap like the slightly similar bamboo furniture produced in a huge quantities at that time.  They have great strength and are quite steady due to the metal supports.
   I always bought these handy little accessories, often painted in blue-greys and greens and they sold almost immediately for bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens and I used them myself for displaying pretty bits of china, books and bathroom impedimenta.
  The example I show here is the one of two items of bobbine furniture I have now - first my phone office - it is painted a most lovely faded shade of greeny-blue,  has some tramp-work edging to the shelves and the shelves themselves are made from crates used for storing chicory - the name is just visible where the paint has worn a bit -  It holds telephone, diary, printer, directories and other vital equipment - always admired by Francophiles!  A perfect bit of French re-cycling.  The other example is much more elaborate with different sizes of bobbins, now hung in my new spare room bathroom.  Some have been turned into slimmer shapes - are they spools?  From a distance it looks quite like the bamboo that was so popular in early 20C.
  I will describe the special French china on the shelves in another Blog - AH MON AMOUR!   it's very collectable!
 I was much amused on one occasion at a London Fair when the 'vetters' there to check the authenticity of goods offered, decided to ban the bobbine items because they said there were so many at the fair, they must be repro. copies and therefore should not be on sale!   I don't suppose they knew that such bobbines for linen thread were not to be found anywhere since before the first world war.! Tant pis!

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