Thursday, 17 January 2013

The tale of a table

Once upon a time, not so long ago - and there I shall end the nod to Bagpuss that made such a huge impression on me when I was growing up. For those unfamiliar with Bagpuss he was a cat ( a saggy old cloth cat) who lived in a shop with lots of other objects that had been found, taken in and restored to their former glory. What with that and the Wombles the seventies certainly knew a thing about recycling. Anyhow, I digress.
Ahem - once upon a time there was a table (nothing too extraordinary there but stick with it!) Having passed through the glory of youth and bounty of middle age it was now spending a quiet retirement in the corner of a shop. A shop filled with grand carvings, marble washstands, Victorian samplers and hand painted china. People came and people went. Wowed by the beauty of the grander artefacts they rarely noticed the small, unassuming object in the corner. That is until the day that Plain Jane appeared. 
Okay - enough of the third person - that's just too far. Back to earth now.

Always on the lookout for a bargain the shape of the little table took my eye. It appeared to be made from bent plywood with a gorgeous bevelled round top.


 But then I looked closer.I saw something that made me curious. Can you see it? Look really close.


A catch. Now where there's a catch there's usually more to see. Hidden treasure? I quickly peeked inside and hurried over to Mr Shop Man to nervously ask the price. He looked relieved. Oh that thing - it's been there for ages - full of junk  - how about £10 just to get rid of it? I must have changed colour. Surely he hadn't looked inside properly. Surely he was talking about something else. What was certain was that for £10 I had bagged a cute little table and I needed to get it out of that shop - quick - before he realised his terrible blunder. Unaware of my anxiety Mr Shop Man calmly accepted my £10, carried the little table to the car for me and waved me off in a  friendly, if confused, fashion. 

Once home I couldn't wait to see the full extent of the treasure. I unclasped the catch and was immediately smitten by the beautiful rose coloured silk that padded the lid.

I was so excited that my hands were shaking. Look!

And then the little treasures revealed themselves.

It became clear pretty quickly that this little table had once been owned by someone who valued it very much. It was a place for them to store all that they needed to 'make do and mend'.

There were needlebooks.

Look at the motto on this one.
'Tis Plenty in Small Fortune to be Neat.

Mrs Table Woman was not only thrifty but neat to boot! Inside this one each 'page' had a label as to what sort of needle should go there.

This one was double, long and darning but there was also chenille, straw and rug!


Some darning thread together with a beautiful hand painted darning mushroom.

Lots of 'bits and bobs' including notions, a suspender clip, a shell, keys (I wonder what they were for), a badge from Torquay and - obviously - a small plastic baby.

There was beading thread on a gorgeous card.

...for stringing pearls and beads.

And a pillar box red tin
full of pins!

The sweetest little blue nappy pin and name tape. B.D. - Bartholomew Dimple?

But the crowning glory was saved until last.

I imagine this tin was given as a present, probably full of loose tea, and was cherished as a 'posh' tin which would be brought out when visitors arrived, full of biscuits or home baked fancies. Later in life it was given a new purpose. Maybe not as fancy but just as noble. Can you guess? 

That's right. Buttons!

Lots and lots of buttons.

Mrs Table Woman must have kept the buttons off all of her clothes. Imagine the larger ones on her winter coats, pretty glass ones on 'best' blouses, hefty ones with brass fastenings for Mr Table Man's cardigans. I have my own button stash and the obvious thing to do would be to sort them all out together and then keep them according to size, colour etc. But it wouldn't feel right. No - these buttons must stay together until needed for a worthy cause! In that tin is a whole history of Mrs Table Woman's wardrobe - how lovely it would be if we could magic up the clothes they belonged to. For now they are going back in the tin. And the tin is going back in the table. And the table is going to be cherished for many years to come.

I blame it all on Bagpuss x


  1. Hello:
    We cannot believe it! What an amazing find and we are so delighted for you having now got over our disappointment that we did not, in fact, beat you to the shop. This is most certainly the bargain of the year and what treasure to be found inside.

    That said, we are utterly useless at any form of sewing [or any crafts, come to that] but we should be enchanted to have all of that goodly collection. And no, we do not think the buttons should be sorted - just leave them in the tin.

    We are so thrilled to have discovered your blog and will much look forward to reading future posts.

  2. Hi,what a glorious find!!I can quite understand the shaky hands,I love all that kind of stuff and the tin full of buttons how fabulous!Isn't it wonderful that there are still bargains to be found?I love pieces of furniture with a double purpose.Have a good weeekend kind regards Pam.

  3. Incredible! What a lot of amazing bits and pieces - that certainly was a marvellous find! Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  4. Oh my gosh!!!! How lucky are you?? That would be a cool story to type out, print and forever keep the tale in the table.

    Have a happy one!!

  5. What a wonderful find - I love sewing tables. It is very pretty just as a table, and I love the way you have paid tribute to it. It's pure magic that the little table and it's much loved contents waited and waited for you to come along and rescue it. Imagine that the spirit of the little lady who owned and cared for it very happy that you found it. We love Bagpuss - and even had a rescued cat named after that. Minerva x

  6. FANTASTIC! You are very lucky indeed, what a fabulous find, well done! I adore the Wombles and Bagpuss, they stood us in good stead for our future thrifty finds and upcycling didn't they?



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