The Plate Lady of Tampa Bay Blog

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A History of Fairy Lore

The Enchantment of Fairy Lore
By Lillian Glockson

From the beginning of time man has believed that fate was not entirely in his own hands, but also in the hands of all-powerful beings, residing within an alternate dimension, separated from our perception of time and space.

The entities believed to inhabit that plane of existence have been countless. A very large and heavy book would be required to recount all of their names, not to mention the variations on their names in different countries. Let it suffice to give only generalized references within this article for the sake of brevity.

Even to this day there are people who continue to believe in those elusive masters of destiny, and who continue to perform rituals meant to appease, just in case, for fear of the consequences of not believing.

Although people of every continent have embraced the supernatural at one time or another, to the point of worshiping those entities they thought would favor them, there has been an effort by some to abolish all other beliefs but their own. Through disinformation they have reshaped the public sentiment, to transform the once benevolent into malevolent creatures that evoke fear rather than reverence.

Such was the fate of the Fay: The fairies of the Seely Court and the fairies we know as nature spirits. In an unpredicted twist of circumstances, their fortune came to rest in the hands of humankind rather than the reverse.

Where did they come from? Were they just imaginings that took on an existence of their own? Were they a race that is now extinct? Are they still with us? These questions have never been conclusively answered. Nonetheless, for the humans who share in the passionate love of nature that fairies epitomize, and who wish to do all they can to preserve its balance, it does not matter. They are alive in the hearts of those who believe, and life would not be complete without their stewardship.

Because fairies were very real to so many of our ancestors, it is difficult to know for sure whether or not the many tales about them were grounded in some truth. Most people now feel that fairy stories were just flights of fancy, but there is strong evidence in literature that they were either a popular tool for scaring children or enhanced accountings of actual events. Perchance they were both. Reports of recent sightings are rare, but fantastic rumors of fairy encounters were once numerous and quite descriptive.

The fairies of legend have always been with us under one name or another. Whether or not they were ever real, it is well documented that great caution was always used when referring to fairy-kind. The names they were called by, such as "Gentle Folk", were more wishful than descriptive. It was held that dealings with the Fay could bring about either fortune or misfortune. No one really knew for sure which it would be, so it was the practice at least to try not to anger a fairy and at best to find favor, just in case it was ill-tempered.

The more recent trend is to classify a fairy as light, dark, or grey - suggesting a disposition or tendency. However, many of our ancestors would have never dared to do so. Stories passed down on the subject frequently reported that fairies despised those who would attempt to define them and objected to even being called by the name fairy or Fay. As such, they would have certainly taken exception to being classified by human moral values.

Fairies were thought to be the servants of nature, and it appears that the fairy code of ethics was no more reconcilable with human morals than would nature be herself. Nature cannot and will not follow the moral codes we have set for ourselves, because to do so would ensure its extinction.

Tales of the Fay often described them as seductively alluring, as well as deadly. Fairies were believed to be entwined within nature's driving need to reproduce itself, to ensure species survival; and death is as important a part of life as birth in keeping a delicate balance. This custodianship of nature intimately involved them in both the procreation and the decline of all living things. They were symbolically responsible for the renewal of life that comes with the emergence of spring.

Not unlike humans, fairies were often attributed with extreme emotions such as happiness, joy, anger, and rage. Perhaps that is why we tend to judge them by our own standards. The resemblance is so profound that it is difficult to see more than superficial differences. It is also true that humans are part of nature and its innocence. This makes it very tempting to see fairies as lighter versions of ourselves, but that comparison would be groundless. We do not truly serve nature, as fairies were renowned for doing; we depend on nature to serve us. That alone makes us significantly different.

It is well documented in literature that fairies loved music and dance. In that aspect fairies and humans have always been very much alike. The Fay were also noted to be eternally young with childlike qualities of curiosity and mirth, and like children they delighted in playing pranks on the unsuspecting. Still, life was not all gaiety and fun for their kind. Sometimes their dancing was said to weave magical rites of the seasons, in their service to nature. The ground where these dances took place was considered sacred, with fairy rings marking their places of revelry. Legend says that any humans who dared to tread there, did so at risk of great peril.

Also well established is that fairies instinctively distrusted humans, and for good reason. Intrusions on their privacy seldom went unpunished, unless of course the intruder was a child. There seemed to be a softening of restrictions, in those instances, that can only be indicative of nature's love of youth and beauty.

Some stories suggest that fair human youths were once irresistible to fairies, who were accused of spiriting away those that they favored. Some tales speak of the fairies wishing to rescue those they stole, from a life of cruelty and/or hardship. Indeed, those captives were often given full fairy status and lived in luxury within the fairy realm. An identical child was thought to be left in place of the stolen one, but this is where the story turns to horror: That child was often tortured by its human parents, to make the fairies return their true offspring.

Of course there were also tales written about adults being taken to Elfame (also known as Faery or Fairyland) as servants or mates. Once released, they found that more time had passed in the human world then they had realized. Time had not been perceived and they had not aged during their stay in Elfame. The fairies living there also did not age and were considered immortal due to their indeterminate life-spans.

Marriages between fairies and humans were recorded as well. Fairies remaining in the human world had to give up their powers and live as mortals, but children born from those unions were noted to be greatly gifted with talent and beauty. Sometimes, after a number of years, the fairy wife returned home to her own people and was never seen again.

Elfame, the legendary realm of the fairies, was renowned for being accessible through magical portals. The entrances were thought to lie under hills, under water, and under certain trees. The distance between those doorways was of no consequence, and any human who entered was changed forever by the experience.

Admission into that world was by invitation only and did not come without a price. Going there often resulted in indefinite imprisonment, even for guests, and trespassers were dealt with severely. Yet for those who claimed to have visited the fairy kingdom, it seems the price paid was not felt to be unjust.

Accounts of Elfame described it as a resplendently dazzling land with elaborate castles dotting magnificent farmland, rolling hills, and meadows covered with wild flowers. Trees were heavily burdened with exotic fruits of every kind and it was rumored that one taste of fairy food would forever make all other food seem unpalatable.

Magnificent celebrations were held there frequently - lavish spreads of sumptuous foods were served on golden platters and wine was served in bejeweled goblets - but the biggest party of the year was believed to be held in May on the full moon. Almost every fairy attended.

The fairies were summoned at midnight by the ringing of bluebells. They dressed in extravagant finery made from the most exquisite cloth and embellishments. Enchantingly beautiful music could be heard floating on the evening breezes, and it was said that the lights from the fairy ball could be seen sparkling through the water on those moonlit nights.

The remarkable sights reportedly witnessed from within the fairy world are as yet unrivaled. Only fleeting glimpses of that same grandeur were ever seen from outside its magical gates. The glittering jewels and golden spires of that realm were noted to be hidden from the eyes of those who did not possess fairy sight, an ability to see through fairy glamour.

Tricking the human eye, into believing whatever it sees, was easy for fairies; and the use of glamour made that possible. Legends and stories are filled with fairies able to hide or transform portions of the landscape, to the dismay of travelers. They even transformed themselves into animals and inanimate objects. In the blink of an eye they could either disappear or disguise themselves completely. The forms taken were limitless.

Fairies were even known to make themselves look like humans, but the image that most readily comes to mind is that of a tall, elegant, radiant nymph that is lithe and beautiful with delicate wings shaped either like a butterfly or like a dragonfly. Other popular shapes are that of a child with wings and that of a very tiny, luminescent being that appears to be a firefly.

It is also said that the use of fairy glamour allowed fairies to decorate themselves however they chose. Flower fairies appeared dressed in the same flower petals as the flowers that they tended, forest nymphs appeared in the colors and substance of the wood, and water sprites appeared almost as crystalline as water itself. There were also many other variations when it came to the choice of clothing or the lack of it.

The Fay were not always described as having wings. Earlier stories recounted an elfin creature endowed with a strong work ethic and/or mystical healing powers. These were sometimes skilled master craftsmen, able to create fabulous works of art overnight. Metalwork was one of the more favored trades. Jewelry, armor, and legendary weapons – all bestowed with magical properties - were said to have been made by elfin fairies.

How ever the Fay were described, their most outstanding and consistent quality was that they all served nature in one way or another. They were noted to be guardians of the forests, the trees, the flowers, the waters, the rocks, the mountains, the children, the birds, and all wild animals.

For a great number of years, stories of fairy encounters were passed down by word of mouth or in letters; but recently scholars have been compiling many of those tales into numerous volumes of books. Intellectual analyses of those accounts have also added a dimension to the fairy lore. How they lived, where they lived, their interactions with humans, and the amazing powers they were believed to possess are all subjects of great speculation.

There seems to be no end to the information gathered about fairies throughout the ages; yet we still cannot fully define them nor conclusively establish their existence. Nevertheless, we continue to be spellbound by them. Legends of their magical enchantments and influences on destiny have irresistible appeal for children and adults alike. Despite all the time that has passed since people believed in fairies, they still have the power to hold us captive.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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Limited Edition Collectibles are our passion!We have been in the collectibles business since 1977. We buy & sell new and previously cherished, collectible plates; but that is not all. We also sell figurines, christmas ornaments, music boxes, and decorative display accessories for displaying or storing all of your fabulous collectibles.On our site,, you can find fine art collectibles at fair market prices.If you collect angels, then visit our Sandra Kuck angels page for some of the most enchanting angels you have ever seen.If you collect native american indian art, you won't want to miss our Gregory Perillo page or our Jonnie Chardonne page for breathtaking, realistic representations of that culture. You will also find Gregory Perillo's indian war ponies and other horses by Trevor Swanson. That page also contains farm animal art that you are sure to enjoy. If you collect wild life art, then we have it all. You will find African wildlife as well as wildlife from all over the world in the artistic works of Kimberly and Trevor Swanson. There is so much to show you that it took several pages to fit it all in, but we categorized it logically to make it easier to find whatever. Try our Nature page first. Then you will find more small and big cats on our Cats page. You will also find more dogs and wolves on our Dogs and Wolves page. Of course we have birds! From the american eagles, swans, and birds of prey to the backyard varieties on our Birds page. You can find movie stars on our Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne pages or you can add the ambiance of the sea or sky to your decor with Lighthouse Art and Hot Air Balloons . If you like sports or clowns, then you will love Ron Lee's whimsical clown art. You will also find the famous Mickey Mantle Commemorative plate on our special occasions page. There are so many artists represented on our site that we could never list them all on this page, but you can find any of our artists, plate names, plate series names, or plate manufacturers names on our Plate List page. The extensive list you will find there can be resorted by each category for your convenience by clicking on the category title. We do feature some of the most popular artists such as Bessie Pease Gutmann, Marty Bell, Edna Hibel, Norman Rockwell, and Other Reco Artists by giving them art picture gallery pages to display their work. However, there was so much art work from Sandra Kuck that her plates had to be categorized. You will find her captivating childrern scenes; her special occasion art work such as her Wedding and Christening plates; Her Mother's Day plates; and her enchanting Christmas and winter artwork plates. Of course, as above, you will definately find her mesmerizing angel artwork plates. We also feature the sophisticated, worldly art of Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondhal .If you need accessories for your collection, we have it all from plate frames; cup and saucer stands; plate and sports display cases; plate, platter, and bowl easel stands; platerails and plate racks; and wall hangers to dinnerware storage cases. And don't forget our figurine, ornament, and musical jewelry box pages where you will find the art of Sandra Kuck, Trevor Swanson, Norman Rockwell and many others.If you share our passion for collecting, we welcome you to come and explore our web site. We are always happy to talk with you and to answer any of your questions.

February 2006

NewsletterFebruary 2006Letter From The EditorIt's hard to believe that it is already February. We have been so busy this past month that it just flew right by us. The newest additions to our website are our Animal Figurine and Fantasy Art pages. We found a figurine source for many popular cat and dog varieties, as well as some of our wild animal favorites. The Fantasy Art page contains wonderful mermaid figurines, wizards, and beautiful winged warriors. You probably already know about our other fantasy art page that contains fairies and unicorns. We have so many fairies that we had to give them a page of their own, and in May we will be featuring an article about Fairy Lore that is sure to transport you into their magical realm.Of course February is all about Valentine's Day and having the chance to get mushy with the ones we love without losing face. Whatever your hearts desire is fond of, you are sure to find it somewhere on our website because art is always the perfect gift. We have Limited Edition plates from a wide range of famous artists, museum reproductions from famous sculptures, figurines, jewelry boxes, trinket boxes, incense burners, mirrors, vases, jars, and even authentic reproductions of famous Egyptian thrones for the King or Queen of your heart. Whatever the subject of your favorite art, we probably either already have it or we will have it soon. Email us and let us know if we are not fulfilling all of your needs. Customer service is always our priority.We just added an Art Deco and Art Nouveau page that includes Angels and Art Nouveau Fairies as well as jewelry boxes, trinket boxes & trays, mirrors, clocks, and so much more. These wonderful art pieces have floral, insect, angel and fairy motifs that are sure to delight any woman who receives them as a gift. The next page we will be adding will be a Native-American and African tribal art page with wonderful figurines and busts that honor the history and traditions of those indigenous people. Of course there will also be wolf figurines, birds, and horses. How could we possibly leave them out. Then finally we will be adding a Medieval Art page that will include Gargoyles and skulls, as well as exquisite medieval wine & champagne glasses.Our February Artist of the Month is Bessie Pease Gutmann. During the Golden Age of Illustration she produced some of the most popular children's art of her time. We maintain two galleries that feature her work, our Bessie Gutmann collectible plate page and our Bessie Gutmann figurine page. Don't miss her Artist's Profile below.Also, included in this month's newsletter are three articles that have to do with Valentine's Day. The first one is "The Origin of Valentine's Day Traditions" by Gary Ruplinger. The second one is "How To Keep Her In Love With You" by Susan Dunn, MA. Susan is a personal life and EQ Coach. Her advice can help anyone who has driven away the love of their life, by helping them understand why and by helping them not make the same mistakes again. The third article is actually a poem called "Someone To Love" by Trixie Torralba. We hope you enjoy reading them.We are always looking for good articles that are relevant to Art, Collectibles, Holidays, and Gift Giving. If you would like to see your writing talent displayed here, please send us an Email and we would be happy to review your work for possible publication. In return for using your article, we will give you a link to your website within the body of your article. Our goal is to eventually evolve our newsletter into a valuable source of information for art and art collectibles. We also plan to open a bulletin board on our website in the near future, so that our visitors can ask questions about collectibles and send messages to one another. We are aware that information about collectibles is often hard to find and we are constantly working to find more ways to share information with our website visitors.We hope Old Man Winter is being kind to you and yours. Don't forget to honor the Valentine's Day tradition by showing someone how much you love them, and then continue to remind them everyday.Artist's Profile: Bessie Gutmann Bessie Collins Pease Gutmann was born in 1876 in Philadelphia, PA and died in 1960. As an artist, her achievements were unparalleled by any other female of her time. Her favorite subjects were infants and children, but other subjects included adults and animals. She also did a series of Colonial Interior scenes. These prints have the Gutmann signature on the lower right, but the signatures sometimes appear to be different because it was not always Bessie who signed them. Bessie attended the Philadelphia School of Design for Women from 1893 - 1894 and then the Art Students League from 1899 - 1901. Early in her career she sketched portraits, advertisements, and illustrations for local newspapers. Then in 1903 she was hired as a commercial artist. Two of the children's books that she illustrated were "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll . Her art work appeared on postcards, calendars and art prints as well as in newspapers and on magazine covers. In 1947 Bessie decided to stop producing art because of failing eyesight, but by then she already had over 600 art prints to her credit. After her death in 1960, three children's books were published which included images from her art prints. Her original prints are extremely collectible today and certain of her rarer works, in the best condition, can bring $500 - $13,000 or more at auction. The Gutmann Colonials are not as valuable, with most valued in the $50 - $100 range. You can find more information about Bessie Pease Gutmann in the book "Bessie Pease Gutman - Over Fifty Years of Published Art" by Karen A Choppa, published by Schiffer. Visit to read the rest of this newsletter.