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So, what came first?  The sugar or the kettle?

The Sugar Kettle is a product of the late 18th and 19th Century. These beautiful, spherical kettles were primarily used in the production of sugar. They were also useful for cooking where meals were needed for large numbers of people.  Made of cast iron, the Kettles were very durable and versatile.

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The kettles evolved upon the realization of cane juice and the heating of this juice creating delectable sweet crystals – called sugar.

 Therefore, the Sugar Kettle like so many things, came to be out of necessity! — a way to extract the sugar from the cane — a process of high heat and water, evaporation and extraction.

Réunion is an island and region of France in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar–The island’s economy is dominated by the sugarcane industry, and its main exports include sugar, seafood, rum, and vanilla.

Black-and-white photo of sugar cane standing in field

A sugar plantation on the island of Réunion in the late 19th century.

France found its sugarcane islands so valuable that it effectively traded its portion of Canada, famously dubbed “a few acres of snow”, to Britain for their return of the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia at the end of the Seven Years’ War

Sugar cane is normally harvested in the fall. After cutting the cane, it is milled to produce sugar cane juice. Originally animal power Image result for images of step by step procedures from making sugar from sugar canewas used to turn the rollers (usually a multiple roller mill) to grind the cane.

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The cane juice was boiled in four large open kettles (sugar kettles) arranged in a “kettle train”, heated by burning wood. As the juice boiled it thickened and when the consistency was just right, the juice was transferred to the neighboring pot.  Each kettle was of different size, and the kettles were arranged from the largest, which held up to 500 gallons, to the smallest. The first kettle, the largest, was called the grande, the next one was called the flambeau, the third called the sirop, and the fourth, the smallest, was called the batterie.  Impurities were skimmed off the top, and the boiling process was begun again. This was done pot after pot until a brown sugar called muscavado was produced– brown crystals of sugar.

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The workers boiling the cane juice had to be highly skilled. A mistake in timing would end up in the production of molasses which was not nearly as valuable as crystal sugar.

The muscavado was then cooled and dried. The finished product was loaded into large wooden barrels called hogsheads containing about 1,000 lbs. of sugar each. The hogsheads were transported to the beach where specially constructed small boats, called dories, were used to bring the large barrels to seagoing ships bound for the markets of mainland Europe.

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Around 1722 the city of New Orleans along with the rest of the Louisiana colony, was a French possession.  The French immigrants and how they lived without doubt had all the cultural aspects of the French.  When the French began to occupy the New Orleans, LA area they quickly realized how conducive the land and tropical climate was to raising sugar cane — just like on their island of Réunion.  So began the evolution of the Sugar Cane Plantations in Southern Louisiana.

St. Joseph Plantation is one of the few fully intact sugar cane plantations in the River Parishes.

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The kettle below, found at RF Antiques, may very well have been a GRANDE Kettle – the first kettle used in the boiling process.

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RF ANTIQUES 251-928-8336 carries a nice assortment of kettles of all sizes listed in the process of turning cane juice to sugar.

Today, the Historic Sugar Kettle is not typically used in the production of sugar; however, they can be used in many other ways. The Sugar Kettle is used as a container planter, a water garden and water fountains, as well as lawn planters or estate ornaments.

Two kettles together forming a fountain.

University Park - Landscape Addition - landscape - dallas - Southern Land Design - A Design / Build Firm:

Sugar Kettles large photograph

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Fire features, or fire bowls, are also a common use for the infamous kettle.

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If you enjoy reading, the book below is a vibrant novel detailing life in the South and the backbreaking, brutal, yet rewarding life that is sugarcane farming today.

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Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

February 2017 Container: Off The Beaten Path in France

JUST IN – February 2017 – French Container!!

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Please take a peek at our newest items under What’s New



When we visit Europe, in particularly France, we are not experiencing the country in the same way a typical tourist might.  We are seeing France in an “off the beaten path” kind of way.  Most visit the large Paris flea markets such as the Les Puces de St Ouen within the city limits, but we value the antique finds that are outside Paris.

The journey begins with the trains that travel outside of Paris.  Below is a France Train Map (TGV high speed train system) with all departures from downtown Paris to the rest of France.  You can see how many areas of France you can journey to with a simple hop on a train.

France Train Map of TGV high speed train system with all departures from downtown Paris to the rest of France.:

Before we decide on what area of France we plan to shop we decide what items we are in need of at our stores.  If we are looking for linens and French pottery we might decide on Provence.  There you can find all the colors of French living – deep greens, blues and ochre yellows.  Rush seating is typical in the Provincial area of France.

Blue and white/red and white ticking fabric and the use of burlap – all very French.

Vintage linens via Linen & Lavender:

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These occasional chairs covered in French burlap can be found at Crown and Colony Antiques 251-928-4808

All of these little nuances:  specific colors, how the leg on the chair may curve, the ornamentation on the piece, are all depictions of where something comes from.  As we travel the country of France we are constantly looking for unique items to bring home.  That is why we enjoy getting outside the city of Paris and looking for pieces that are indicative to a certain region.


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If you want to make sure you are buying authentic Provençal antiques, look for pieces crafted in honey-toned golden walnut, pearwood, or linden; for mirrors, cherry; and for humble pieces, painted pine. Floral carvings, some with lacy ironwork, characterize pieces from Arles.x arles


Focus on the richly hued or printed cottons inspired by 18th-century Indian designs, that were fashioned into quilts called either boutis (plumped with cotton) or piqué (classically stitched). You may also come across old toile, originally produced in Aix-en-Provence.

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Confit pots and French linens and all types of furniture from PROVENCE and other areas of France can be found at Aubergine Antiques – our French culinary shop. 251-928-0902

If you visit Avignon Francex avignon (which is set in the heart of Provence), you can take a train directly from Paris – you might consider staying at one the of the two finest hotels there:  Hôtel d’Europe or the Hôtel de la Mirande.

And Olive jars from the Biot region of France can be found at RF Antiques – 251-928-8336 our French Antiques of architectural interest and for the garden. Biot is known for certain pottery and glassware.

Photo of Biot in Alpes-Maritimes

Biot is a small town near Antibes, between Nice and Cannes, a little inland from the French Riviera. Despite its location, it is slightly off the main routes that cross the region and is much quieter than many of the towns in the area.

The village of BIOT is very pretty.  The raised position of Biot means it qualifies as a Provencal perched village and it has the fortifications and entry gate that originally helped protect the town.  These olive jars and anduze pots are found at our shop RF Antiques – specializing in antiques for the home AND garden area.

All depicting the favored colors of France.

Another great place to visit is the town of LYON, France –Grand old Lyon is France’s third-largest city!  It is about 244 miles from Paris and closer to the border of  Switzerland.  It is here you might find a beautiful walnut buffet.  The buffets below are just in from our February 3 container!

The French towns mentioned in this post are only a spattering of areas that we visit to scour for antiques!!

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We travel to Europe many times during the year, and no matter where we end up there are always treasures to be found.  BUT, whether in the heart of Paris or off the beaten path, France is magical.  It unfolds itself in new ways every time we visit.

  Come and enjoy unique items from all over France by visiting our three shops in downtown Fairhope, Alabama.  We pride ourselves in offering a variety of price points for our customers.  We would love to visit with you and help you pick out something perfect for your home – see the map below for directions.

Crown and Colony Antiques 251-928-4808

Aubergine Antiques 251-928-0902

RF Antiques 251-928-8336

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!


  Wine and Cheese in France – It’s more than just eating and drinking….

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Cheese and wine are absolutely central elements of the French diet and French food. In France, traditionally, people eat a warm meal in the middle of the day and then a lighter (often cold) meal in the evening. This food tradition coincides with the French philosophy of shutting everything down in the middle of the day for a well-deserved break. Children go home from school and adults go home to eat lunch together. This is gradually changing, but in general you will find this to be true when you visit France.

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The French are known for formality and politeness and at the table of the French, dining etiquette is absolutely a must.

For some reason, it is very rude to keep your hands in your lap while you are dining in France. It is equally rude to keep your elbows on the table and so the American diner must keep hands visible but elbows not. Also remember that the French almost never eat with their hands. This includes so called “finger foods.”  Remember- in France, the fork is your friend!

Serving Fork' pad of oversized papers is perfect for serving cheeses, breads or a spread of desserts. Place on your table and serve right off the paper. Also works well under wine bottles on a bar.:

French dining etiquette says that one should wait to have their glass refilled by someone else at the table. With cheese, it’s the opposite.  A platter of cheese will be passed around the table and you should take some of each cheese that you would like to eat and put it on your plate. Traditionally, the bread sits on the table instead of your plate, and you break off bite-sized pieces of bread and spread cheese from your own plate onto your bite of bread.

Bread will always be served with your meal. If you are dining formally, bread will get its own plate. However, if you have no bread plate, the bread rests on the tablecloth and not on your plate. There is also a manner in which you should eat bread. While most Americans may take a bite out of the bread–the French consider taking a bite out of a whole slice of bread to be rather boorish. Instead, tear off the bread piece by piece. If you are using bread to soak up sauce, use it on the end of a fork.

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Culturally-speaking, wine and cheese are central elements of a French meal. Fortunately, because the many variants and flavors of both wine and cheese are delicious, so developing a taste for the two is inevitable.

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The number one rule in French dining etiquette is to follow the host. If you do this and observe carefully, you will almost never err. This is particularly important when we’re talking about beginning to eat, drink or anything else. In general, it is polite to wait until everyone is served and then the host will begin eating. Likewise, if there is an aperitif served, you should wait until the host raises her glass before you raise yours and take a drink.

The WINE Table

A Wine-table is a late 15th-century device for facilitating after-dinner drinking, the cabinetmakers called it a “Gentleman’s Social Table.” It was always narrow and of semicircular or horseshoe form, and the guests sat round the outer circumference. In the earlier and simpler shapes metal wells for bottles and ice were sunk in the surface of the table; they were fitted with brass lids.

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The semi circle wine table below can be found on –as well, you can find many of our round and oval wine tables from Crown and Colony Antiques on the 1st Dibs site.  You may find all of our wine tables on located under the heading:

 Side Tables and Coffee Tables

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A 19th Century English Regency Semi-Circular Mahogany Hunt and Wine Display Table No. 4407

This tasing table above is a 19th Century English Regency Semi-Circular Mahogany Hunt and Wine Display Table and is from

Today’s French Wine Tables have evolved into oval and round shapes with flip tops so that easy storage is maintained.  Often times these type tables were pushed up against the wall in the wine cellar and pulled out, top flipped down and a table was available to serve wine for tastings.  These tables were and still are very common in most wine cellars.

The wine tables that are sold by Crown and Colony Antiques can be found at our culinary shop, AUBERGINE ANTIQUES.  Below is a beautiful picture of the entrance to our store that exudes all things French and specializes in the kitchen area and the celebration of French food and culture.  A wine table and rosemary filled confit pots greet our visitors!

ALL of our wine tables are quite beautiful.  We have oval and round shaped tables made of varying types of wood.  The legs are similar on each, yet different, and some are more refined while others are quite rustic.  Here are a few examples of what we have in stock.

Below are several pictures of one of our wine tables — This gives you a view from all angles and allows you to see how the top flips.  When the top is flipped down the table can be moved to allow for additional space in an area if needed or allows you to store the table if necessary.

Two of our more rustic Wine Tables — all are flip top. One is oval in shape and one is round in shape.

And remember we also carry FRENCH wine glasses.

Antique wine glasses - love these glasses!:

So enjoy your French Wine, Cheese and Bread on a beautiful wine table with nice French wine glasses, grapes and maybe an assortment of jelly spreads, olives and figs.  VERY FRENCH !!

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Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

FRENCH Commodes Vs. ITALIAN Commodes


French Commodes and Italian Commodes – a short comparison.

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chest bedroom xjpg italian chest of drawers commode late 17th century

Italian classic and French classic, have distinct and unique features that set the designs apart.

Certain French furniture pieces are often ornate, as opposed to the simplistic features of the Italian classic design. It is very common for  classic French pieces to be detailed with carvings (simple and/or elaborate depending on the region) and come in many different woods.  There is great attention to detail with a French chest.

 The French lean to making furniture that will serve many purposes.  The small chest shown above could be used in any room of the house for all different kinds of uses.  Making it a multi-purpose  piece of furniture.  As well the blanket chest or mule chest seen below is for storage of many things, but can also be used as a focal point in a room for the display of lamps, books etc.  A common example of how the French like to utilize furniture for more than one use.The chest below is typical classic French — NOTE: the apron on the bottom of this commode is scalloped, coveted French hardware used for the drawer pulls and the escutcheons…a low to the ground and deep chest….the French carved snail footing for the supporting base.

This French commode has simple detailing and carving, but without the snail carved feet.

Italian furniture pieces often feature mosaics and other complex details on a small amount of space. Some modern Italian pieces combine the look of the Classic and Tuscan furniture styles. These pieces often use materials such as iron in the design. While the pieces are elegant, the furniture is also designed with durability in mind and often times the Italian commodes are rather “heavy” and “hearty” in look.  The Italian chests in this post are of that style.

The Italian chest below, if you look closely, you can see that the cabinet maker used a very small portion on the front left and right to inlay a column to give this chest that Italian detail.

 French classic pieces often reflect the area of production. Provincial pieces have features such as cabriole legsImage result for images of french commodes from crown and colony antiquesand simple woodcarvings, Image result for images of french commodes from crown and colony antiquesas opposed to the more detailed work seen in some Italian classic pieces. Image result for images for classic italian commodesParisian pieces tend to reflect the artistic trends of the time, while adding elements of basic French classic design. Pieces made in the royal design are usually the most ornate, with gilded finishes, ivory or tortoiseshell Image result for images of tortoise and shell inlay in classic french commodesveneers and complex marquetry. The chief differences between French classic and Italian classic largely depends on the time period & region from where it originated.

French Louis XV Period Walnut Commode

The Italian commodes in this posting reflect raised carvings and inlays – heavy, substantial and the feet on these type chest/commodes are different in style than what you would see on a french chest.

The Italian commode and the French commode are different.  It takes a trained eye to distinguish the difference, but once you have learned the look of these beautiful chests you can begin to tell for yourself what country they originated.

Please visit our website for Commodes and Chests from France AND Italy.  As well view our merchandise on – SEARCH for Crown and Colony Antiques.

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

Some of the pictures in this posting were borrowed from 1st dibs in an effort to offer our readers examples of French & Italian chests.


How’s the Weather?  A Brief History on Antique BarometersImage result for images of french barometers


The mercury barometer was invented in 1643 by Torricelli, a student of Galileo, in Florence, Italy.

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This remarkable device is used to measure atmospheric pressure, and those changes in pressure indicate a change in the weather.

Continue reading “FRENCH BAROMETERS”