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Archive for October, 2014


Antique fireplace mantels are important pieces of furniture. They provide a classic look to the living room, warmth and coziness in the bedroom, or a meditative and unwinding therapy by the poolside patio.

Chateau Lyon, Lake Norman. By Ancient Surfaces, Barry Dixon 2008.

Chateau Lyon French Countryside Castle on Lake Norman. By Ancient Surfaces, Barry Dixon 2008.

These mantels have stood the test of time unlike their brand new counterparts. Also, a good antique reclaimer might offer an arsenal of refurnish antique accessories to complement the whole antique mantels ambiance that you’re trying to create in your home.

Private home with an Ancient Fireplace Mantle in Paradise Valley Arizona, Fireplace originated from Ancient Surfaces.

Private home with an Ancient Fireplace Mantle in Paradise Valley Arizona, Fireplace originated from Ancient Surfaces.

Such items include ancient metal gates, antique herringbone brickletts used to line the insides of the fireboxes, to the simple yet elegant and classic andiron and baskets that are salvaged from the 18 an 17th centuries.

Antique Stone Fireplace by Ancient Surfaces As featured in Luxe Magazine 2012, Florida.

Antique Stone Fireplace by Ancient Surfaces, Luxe Magazine 2012, Florida. Thin Herringbone firebox.

Classic timeless pieces from the Norman medieval, Italian and French Renaissance or Edwardian and Victorian eras are the best options to choose from. While choosing from a variety of ancient hand carved stone mantels, generally, those offered by dealers are mainly simple with the occasional corbeled legs to them like the French countryside fireplaces, or with a nice bolection frame or picture frame looking mantles that were common during the late British Imperial era.

Reclaimed Medieval era antique stone fireplace installed in an outdoor open patio, Coastal California.

Reclaimed Medieval era antique stone fireplace installed in an outdoor open patio, Coastal California.

Various kinds of stone such as dolomitic limestone, brachiated marble or even basalt rock in some instances were used by pas carvers to create some of Europe’s most elaborate fireplace mantels for the last ten centuries.

Elaborately hand carved antique marble fireplace, restored by Ancient Surfaces.

Elaborately hand carved antique marble fireplace, restored by Ancient Surfaces.

So what is the best kind of stone to carve mantles out of? This stone remains uncontested since it grants mantles an eternal durability while allowing them to age gracefully. It’s a great heat conductor yes soft and textured to the touch.

An Antique French limestone fireplace acquired by the current owner of this Mediterranean Countryside style home in Orange Country, California.

An Antique French limestone fireplace acquired by the current owner of this Mediterranean Countryside style home in Orange Country, California.

This stone is seen in the most well preserved fireplaces in the world that were once carved out of. It is called the ‘Oolitic Limestone’ and its raw blocks are highly prized by master stone carvers from around the world.

French Limestone Fireplace Mantle with Trumeau by Ancient Surfaces in a Renovated Countryside Vacation House

French Limestone Fireplace Mantle with Trumeau by Ancient Surfaces in a Renovated Countryside Vacation House

As for the style of mantles goes, the most popular kind of fireplace mantel today are South European or the Tuscan or French Bastide and Normandy styles that are based on one simple philosophy of simplicity equals beauty, as long as that simplicity didn’t stand for losing the personality and historic characteristic that defines that particular fireplace and help set it apart from its counterparts.

A Simple and Clean Line Antique Fireplace Mantle by Ancient Surfaces.

A Simple and Clean Line Antique Fireplace Mantle by Ancient Surfaces.

Mostly sculptures realized in this style were a simple way for countryside residents to have functional yet elegant hand carved stone mantle that resonated with the simple countryside way of life.

Simple countryside hand carved fireplace mantle out of Oolitic Limestone by Ancient Surfaces.

Simple countryside hand carved fireplace mantle out of Oolitic Limestone by Ancient Surfaces.

They still offered a perfect balance of design and proportion based of the utilization the ‘Golden Ratio’ and ‘Golden Mean’ and by utilizing many other carving and visual tricks like the play on the visual perspective, ‘Chiaroscuro’ shade manipulations, ‘Foreshortening’ the play with lines, and ‘Sfumato’ which consist on blurring or not fully carving a section to give it a perception of distance.

Limestone Entryway in a National Landmark. Height and width designed and carved using the golden ratio proportions.

Limestone Entryway in a National Landmark. Height and width designed and carved using the golden ratio proportions.

All European regions are splendidly depicted in the mantel designs that originated from them. They speak volumes of the old continent past vestige and it’s timeline. When designing a house selecting the style of the fireplace will help you define the overall type of the home you want to build and live in.

Hand carved limestone fireplace mantle. The 19th Century Italian Librarian style.

Hand carved limestone fireplace mantle. The 19th Century Italian Librarian style.

The earliest known mantel piece is the one in the Kings House in Southampton. It was carved in the 12th century and is a classic example of splendid old masters craftsmanship.

A 12th Century antique Stone fireplace salvaged from the South of France and installed in a Colorado compound.

A 12th Century antique Stone fireplace salvaged from the South of France and installed in a Colorado compound.

A very wonderful example of the early Renaissance style fireplaces is the mantelpiece of the ‘Palais de Justice at Burges’. Seventeenth century English era saw the introduction of pure Italian style of fireplace mantel pieces.

Antique Reclaimed 12th century Limestone Fireplace in its final home in Colorado.

Antique Reclaimed 12th century Limestone Fireplace in its final home in Colorado.

These mantels were very simple in style but had an elegant look. It was only in the latter part of the 17th century that bolder and molding styles were introduced. In the 18th century the rise of French style of architecture was seen and the designs of the mantels too were influenced by the French style.

A reclaimed 18th century French Fireplace Mantle from Burgundy. Reclaimed by Ancient Surfaces sold by dealer to current owner.

A reclaimed 18th century French Fireplace Mantle from Burgundy. Reclaimed by Ancient Surfaces sold by dealer to current owner.

The other different but very elegant styles of fireplace mantels include the Classic Tudor, Jacobean, Victorian, Georgian, Gothic, Louis Style, Pompadour, directories… Antique fireplace mantels of the above mentioned eras and designs have gained a lot of popularity today.

A reclaimed 17th century French Fireplace Mantle from Aix-En-Provence. Reclaimed and sold by Ancient Surfaces.

A reclaimed 17th century French Fireplace Mantle from Aix-En-Provence. Reclaimed and sold by Ancient Surfaces.

There’s a good chance that most antique fireplaces you purchase on the market today would have originated from France or Italy where a bulk of architectural antique salvaging, acquisition, sale and storage reside.

A reclaimed French Fireplace Mantle from the South of France. Reclaimed and sold by Ancient Surfaces.

A reclaimed French Fireplace Mantle from the South of France. Reclaimed and sold by Ancient Surfaces.

In recent years a sensational thirst for rare and unique stone elements have surged all around the English spoken world from England to the United States and from Australia to Canada.

A reclaimed Italian Fireplace Mantle from the North of Italy. Reclaimed by Ancient Surfaces and sold to clients through a local dealer.

A reclaimed Italian Fireplace Mantle from the North of Italy. Reclaimed by Ancient Surfaces and sold to clients through a local dealer.

This recent spike in demand had put the pressured on supplies of genuine antique stone elements especially on one of a kind antique fireplaces. To learn more about those fascinating and unique architectural gems as well as their hand carved exact replicas feel free to please contact us through our website at Ancient Surfaces.

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Call us at: 212-461-0245 // 212-913-9588

Sales@AncientSurfaces.com

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Call us at: 212-461-0245 // 212-913-9588

Sales@AncientSurfaces.com

The Classical system is influential because the ideals and philosophy behind the system is not only based on what’s practical but is also geometrically sound, attractive to the eye and functional engineering wise. One can only say that the Classical orders are orders of visual splendor and cohesion.

THE CLASSICAL ORDERS OF ARCHITECTURE

The Greeks and in later centuries the Romans used the human body as their proportioning system for their buildings and architectural creations. So what is that system? For each style: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian the proportions are based on each type of body. The male body inspired the Doric order, the female body the Ionic order, and the young maiden’s body the Corinthian order… nowadays any good architect/Geometer can create their interpretation of one of the three main orders as seen below

columns

This is how this works for each order. In the Doric order the column’s ratio is 1:7. When the column’s diameter is 1′ wide at its base, the column’s height should then be 7′. Take an entire Doric structure like the Greek temple at Tholos for example; the 1:7 ratio is evident as all the building elements are in a 1 to 7 proportional relationship with one another. Even the window openings the spacing between each column and the ceiling carved motifs are all in 1:7 proportional relationships with the columns. Same goes for the Ionic and Corinthian order as well as all later orders. 1732941262_eb917d6fac_o

The beautiful thing is that when using the Classical system these proportions and ratios encompass the entire building. Thus all the architectural elements, moldings, windows, doors, fireplaces, etc., would be tied in some way to the building’s order. What this means is that it was a pure and holistic system of building. Conceivably, if an owner requested a church to be built using the Ionic order, then with slight adjustments the master builder knew a great deal about the building, level of ornamentation, placement of windows, etc. Chasely Jeans

This idea brought great comfort to the Greeks. It was the Greeks that produced the greatest society of thinkers; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the mathematicians like Euclid for geometry and Pythagoras for math. There was no culture as obsessed with beauty and math and the sciences as the Greeks. They found inspiration in the human form, but it was not narcissistic attention to self that caused them to make the human form as a model. Untitled-1

They discovered as they dug deeper that the parts and pieces of the human form are mathematically pure as well; mathematical patterns that repeated themselves in trees, leaves, shells, bird and rock formations even. This hidden code was deified and was connected with the secret code of creation of everything living and inert. This mathematical miracle of sorts was rightfully called the golden mean.

 THE GOLDEN MEANUntitled-1

The golden mean is seen most clearly in its geometrical form, the golden rectangle. This rectangle with a short side of 3 and long side of 5 give us the mathematical ratio of 5:3. This ratio is represented by the irrational number 1.6183… This number, whether represented geometrically or mathematically, holds some divine attributes. AF 1110-sm-Golden-Ratiob

The Renaissance mathematician Fibonacci reveals some of the magic of this number in his famous sequence, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, etc. Known as the Fibonacci sequence, it mathematically represents the divine ideals of the golden mean. If we divide a lower number say, 55 into 89, it equals 1.618. This sequence of numbers is in turn tied to the proportions of rectangles found in the golden rectangle. This ratio has inspired and mystified scholars for years. Imagine the look of the Greek mathematicians faces, when they started seeing this golden mean all over nature, in the growth of a pine cone, in the face of a sunflower, in the nautilus shell and of course the human body.

The Golden Ratio on a Human Scale

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This 5:3 ratio is found all over the human body. Leonardo da Vinci spent a great deal of time measuring all parts of the human body and comparing them to one another.

An Antique Fireplace Mantle Hand Carved in the 16th century Using the Golden Ratio Harmonic Equation.

An Antique Fireplace Mantle Hand Carved in the 16th century Using the Golden Ratio Harmonic Equation.

He found this ratio again and again. It is thought by some to have helped define the face of Mona Lisa herself. This proportional ratio is found when we compare our overall height to the height of our belly button, in the hand to the forearm. It is like we have God’s fingerprint all over and throughout nature.025-pokliop- golden ratio-4

The Greeks certainly saw this as an important ratio, and we see it throughout their famous temples as an overriding organizational tool.COL-37-01-CO-227-e

It is this ability to organize, harmonize and beautify buildings and architectural elements such as fireplaces according to a universal ideal that enthralled the Greeks. Beauty for them was order, balance and harmony.An Antique Fireplace Mantle Hand Carved in the 16th century Using the Golden Ratio Harmonic Equation.

An Antique Fireplace Mantle Hand Carved in the 16th century Using the Golden Ratio Harmonic Equation.

It was only natural that the math and order it wrought gave them such satisfaction. In order for us to build a timeless house, we must use these same rules, principles and proportions in our designs that were cherished by the early Greeks and Romans. BEST-74-golden ratio-4

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