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Saturday, May 7, 2011

in honor of the Kentucky Derby....

my mint julep cup!

My antique mint julep cup is American coin silver made in the early 1800's by a New Orleans silversmith. It is engraved with the name "Wood."
We found the coin silver cup at a small antique mall in Carrolton, Texas years ago. It was heavily tarnished, and when silver tarnishes it can sometimes look like brass. The cup was marked:

Brass Cup $5

I examined the cup and noticed the marks on the bottom- the only marks are the silversmith's name and "New Orleans." I immediately knew from the font of the lettering and the weight of the cup that it was antique coin silver, and not a brass cup! Several years ago a mint julep cup, similar in style and condition (i.e. several small dents), made by this same maker sold on ebay for $1100!  Recently I found another similar cup by this maker up for auction for $2500!! :O  This is why we antique!!  I have kept the mint julep cup on my bedside table filled with flowers for years now- always with white (and only white;) miniature carnations!

For several years I hid my affection for white miniature carnations! When I was a young adult carnations were not a desired flower, even considered tacky by some. Whenever flowers were ordered from a florist you always specified NO carnations.
Then, one day early in our marriage Dan stopped at the grocery store to pick up some milk and also brought me some flowers.... white miniature carnations. I was touched by his sweet gesture, but silently thought... "carnations?? ewwwww!"  Then I placed them in a vase on my bedside table and proceeded to fall in love with their beautiful foliage (they look like miniature roses), their fresh fragrance and the fact that they lasted for two weeks! I was smitten. I hid my purchases in my grocery cart (their easy-to-find accessibility is another reason to love them;) fearing someone might see me buying the dreaded carnation until I discovered the wonderful "Seasons" Notebooks by the lovely Carolyne Roehm who made using all-carnations in an arrangement tre chic!! Thank you Carolyne!!

So, here's to mint juleps, white miniature carnations and Carolyne Roehm!!

Happy Derby Day!


  1. Great story and what a find! Beautiful picture also. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Just beautiful!
    What a terrific find you have in both the cup and the carnations...I will take a different view of these flowers from now on...and search for a wonderful container, too.
    HaPpY MoThEr'S DaY!

  3. We, here in Kentucky, actually say "Happy Derby Day!" My post yesterday was a recipe for Derby Pie, sort of. I had my annual mint julep at a party last night. Very sweet. Too sweet, actually.

  4. "seasons" notebooks, frilly mini white carnations, polished silver and the derby...sweetness... thank you for sharing! -xok.

  5. Joan how beautiful! I adore watching The Kentucky Derby and would love to go!!


    Art by Karena

  6. Love the story behind your mint julep cup! What a score! Isn't it funny about the revival of carnations? The miniatures are the best, of course. You're singing my song. :)
    Happy Weekend!

  7. I love miniature white carnations too for all of the reasons you mentioned including seeing them in abundance in Carolyne Roehm books.
    Your mint julep cup is beautiful. Lucky you for seeing the value in its unpolished state!

  8. Beautiful story. It's my dream to go to the Kentucky Derby!


  9. Lucky you for the cup find and lucky carnations for their devine container!

  10. Oh my gosh that mint julep cup WAS quite the score!!
    I too love carnations and as a former event coordinator, remember vividly the "no carnations" pleas to the florists. How silly - they are so lovely with their tissue paper-like layers, aren't they? To think they weren't in style just for being common. I love the white in your silver cup - so pretty!

  11. Love this sweet little pairing!
    I have a few of Carolyne's books and love her collections of containers...let alone the magnificent flowers she so cleverly places in them.
    Happy Mother's Day.

  12. What a find! If I found a brass cup for $5 it would well, be a brass cup.
    I used to hate carnations too. But over the last few months, I have changed my mind. They have such a pretty shape, last forever and some of the colours are just stunning.

    TDM xx

  13. Well, I just watched Animal Kingdom win the Derby! I didn't fix any mint juleps this year even though I have plenty of mint growing. You really scored a deal on the cup. The carnations looks so pretty in it. Hope you have a great Mother's Day.

  14. I couldn't agree with you more! I don't know how carnations got such a bad rap, but they are a beautiful, spicy smelling and long-lasting flower.

    As a trained floral designer, I have to tell you that I am impressed with your arrangement!

  15. Oh my gosh!! Did yu nearly die when you found that julep cup?? It's gore-g-ous! I adore old silver.. especially Southern silver.
    I had to laugh at the carnation thing..eeeuuwww. I used to think the same thing. Your little white ones are beautiful. In the photograph they almost look like gardenias.
    Hope you have a lovely Mother's Day.

  16. I love your beautiful silver cup and charming arrangement. I think the mini carnations are lovely - and yes, Carolyne Roehm's floral presentations are always admirable!!

  17. I too have always loved mini-carnations! They look exceptional in your silver cup!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  18. You...have the eye of an eagle! Gorgeous little julep cup! We have the derby on Tivo...we were busy building today!

  19. The mint julep cup was a great find and it looks beautiful with the white carnations!

  20. The Run For The Roses ... you did it proud with this post!!!

  21. You found the beauty in both the tarnish cup and the often discarded little flower. Together they make an elegant presentation.

  22. When I first saw them I thought they were roses! Very surprised they are carnations. I love mint julep cups for flowers. Such a simple way for a little elegance!


  23. Great antique find! Don't you love it when you *know* that you're getting a major deal? Yay for antique hunters!

  24. Thank you from Louisville, KY! and have a wonderful Mother's Day to you!

    Louisville, KY

  25. What a coincidence! I too was always under the impression that carnations were a no-no. When I was little I would put them in colored water and watch the edges of the pedals change shades. Just recently I was looking for a bouquet and couldn't stop looking at the mini carnations and without reading the name I bought them only to find later I had made the faux pas. Now I can't stop buying them. I just love them, especially the white ones. I used them in my Easter centerpiece and I even blogged about a bouquet I bought today! So funny.

    ♥ sécia

  26. Love the story of your mint julep cup and that's exactly why I antique, too! It's beautiful and I love the fact that you enjoy it everyday!

  27. I'm guilty- the words "no carnations" have often crossed my lips.

    Perhaps I'm now eating those words!

    Don't you just love the Kentucky Derby- such a great excuse for a party. We didn't have one (or go to one) but it's a great excuse just the same!

    Hope Ella gave you an extra Mother's Day snuggle.


  28. What an exciting find! It's a beautiful cup, and I love the miniature white carnations! They do look like little roses, and any flower that lasts that long is worth it. Simply beautiful.

  29. My Kentucky born and bred roots love mint julep cups, horse-shoes and fresh sprigs of mint used as a garnish! I have not forgotten your home artwork. I will surprise you....with a gift like that special cup you found for a song.

  30. I love carnations too!! I never understood why people didnt like them. and I have ALL of Carolyne Roehm's books-she is amazing!
    My sister and her husband were at the Kentucky Derby this weekend and had a blast! I cant wait to see all their pics they took.
    Have a great day!!

  31. Score! I love mint julep cups. I remember those days with carnations. I am still having a hard time getting comfortable with them haha.

  32. I hadn't known that about the mint julep cup--or the canations! I've always loved mini-carns. I'm glad they're no longer so maligned!

  33. I am laughing as i just did a night table post with carnations in my husband's silver baby cup...I'm too Northern to have a mint julep one!!

  34. I too admit to being a former carnation snob. If the husband wants to bring them home, I will not complain!
    I'm amazed at your find! I wish I was antiquing right now. That would make a great bumper sticker.

  35. The Japanese have used carnations in ikebana for years. After taking a course in ikebana,and seeing the lovely use of these maligned flowers in practice, I was forced to abandon my distaste for carnations forever.

  36. Hi Joan, Dan, and Ella: Thank you for sharing your stories; I find that I always learn something when reading your blog..I need to get out to some antique shops! Carnations have always found a place in our home...great scent, great value!

  37. *** came here today via a country farmhouse...with a blog name like yours how could i not....and then i see new hampshire !!! even though i am in california i am "pretending" that i live in new england....

    just lovely...i am so happy to have found a new friend today...my LUCKY DAY !!!!


    kary and teddy

  38. $5!! You hit the jackpot with that one!


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