Antique malls are akin to nature walks, libraries and museums in my book.
The panoply of objects that owners once treasured and then discarded is a continuous source of amusement and interest to me. You never know what you will find.
When Jim and I were visiting Dad, we had the pleasure of discovering an absolutely wonderful treasure trove, the Shirley Street Antique Mall in Naples, FL. It's home to Homer Helter's, the largest military antique mall in Florida...a fact that becomes apparent when you walk through the back door and are greeted by a table full of veterans and friends who gather there on a daily basis. They were a welcoming band of brothers and offered a chair, a cup of coffee and fellowship to my Dad while Jim and I went treasure hunting.
It didn't take long before I spotted this 6 inch square example of petit point embroidery...
It is petit point stitched with silk floss on silk gauze at 44 stitches to the inch.
The strange thing about this piece was that I had seen the exact same fragment a couple days before at another Antique Mall in Naples but didn't buy it because it was three times as much. It was also dirtier and much more faded than this one.
I took that as a sign from the universe. I mean, what's the likelihood that you see two pieces that are so distinct within one week of each other? It was meant to come home with me.
Since being back, I've scoured the internet trying to find any information that might unlock the secret of its progeny or history.
Its original frame seemed to be from the 1940s. When I took the piece out of the frame, I was sad to see that the fragment had been glued to a cardboard backing.
The edges are frayed and the piece does appear to be a fragment.
The image seems to be heraldic in nature, with a lion salient on the left and a unicorn on the right both holding banner poles in front of a tournament tent. Through a parting in the tent curtain, there's a red shield emblazoned with a lion rampant and a plumed helm and visor...
The lion and the unicorn in this configuration bring to mind the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.
There are quite a number of crests in the piece. In addition to the main red crest in the bottom center, there are four in the corners and two more resting against each other atop the opening in the tent.
There are two banners suspended from the flag poles...
And the date "1526" below the flag on the left...
If any of you can help me understand a bit more about the history of this piece, I would be very grateful. Jim tends to think it's merely a pretty design created in a heraldic style. Perhaps he's right. That might explain why I saw another similar one in the same town. Of course, they woman who sold it to me could have had a pair and a stall in the other antique mall we visited...but I didn't think to ask that at the time.
All in all, it's just lovely. The background bounty of bright flowers stitched in soft, romantic colors, brings to mind jousting, knights, and the favors of noble ladies. It's all very romantic indeed. I wish I knew more.