07 November 2007

The Best of Everything.

tiara created by Alice Temperley for a special magnum bottle of
Moet & Chandon White Star. i LOVE headgear.

I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be Jane Stubbs. Or, at least work for her. Pressing the right book into the right hands makes me feel like I've just downed a tumbler (yes a tumbler for I hate stemware) of champagne, chilled perfectly in a battered bucket bought at an estate sale for $5 or so. Oh well, wouldn't you know. Just guess what Jane Stubbs chills her champagne in. An column about Ms. Stubbs from the NY Times, March 16 2003:

POSSESSED; A Party Giver's Holy Grail
David Colman

SOME people get fed up with the too, too vaunted ideal of simplicity.

Not Jane Stubbs, the noted rare-book dealer, who has been spending her life in the all-too-full bloom of clutter. Because of extensive reconstruction in her apartment, its contents have been disgorged onto every table, sill and ledge in sight. There is china -- Ms. Stubbs collects early-20th-century hand-painted Wedgwood. There are rock and crystal specimens; there are lamps and silver family heirlooms. There are hand-wrought silver seashells from Cambodia, an old obsession; and several brass hands of Fatima, a new one. And there are the ladders, dropcloths and sundry construction paraphernalia.

''The maid finally quit,'' Ms. Stubbs said, her lilting Mississippi drawl hinting at the weight of the clutter on her shoulders. ''I have just simply given up.''

Still, the Stubbs apartment in the throes of disarray looks readier than most for chronicling in a shelter magazine, if an arty one -- perhaps the fanatically English ''World of Interiors.'' But whatever Ms. Stubbs does, she does with style first and substance second, knowing full well the oft-overlooked value in judging books by their dust jackets.

While her home is objet-ified to the rafters, it is one of the most utilitarian objects that she has the greatest fondness for: her Champagne bucket. Bought at an estate sale somewhere in Westchester County about 15 years ago, for about $5, the bucket has proved well worth the investment, having served as a Champagne or wine cooler or an ice bucket at every fete she has held -- at home and at her former Upper East Side shop, where she had very popular openings for artists. (Her stock is now sold at Bergdorf Goodman.)

Made of nickel silver, a silvery alloy of zinc, copper and nickel common in the early 20th century, the simple vessel is one of only two acceptable styles of ice bucket -- at least according to the 1948 edition of ''Vogue's Book of Etiquette'' (written by Millicent Fenwick, the onetime model who went on to represent New Jersey in the House of Representatives). Ms. Stubbs's bucket is fortunate enough to fit Fenwick's description of ''a modern straight-sided cylinder, as functional as a drugstore ice-cream container, and rather like one.''

As simple as it is, Ms. Stubbs said, ''it does make an entrance.''

''When you come in the room with it and a bottle of Champagne inside, everyone does smile,'' she said. ''It's not a solitary thing. It is by nature associated with people and fun, and it reminds me of different parties and different people from over the years.''

The simplicity of the bucket elevates it above even the rather fantastic silver-plated 1874 trophy urn given to Ms. Stubbs's great-great-grandfather, a horse breeder, by the owner of a sweepstakes winner he had bred (and which would also make a valid Champagne bucket, matching Fenwick's other permissible shape).

''I love the urn kind, too,'' Ms. Stubbs said, ''but they are a little grand. With this one, the grandeur comes out of the Champagne -- and the company.''

Moreover, there are practical reasons for the squattest shape one can find. ''With the urn, you really have to be careful,'' she said, ''and when Champagne is involved, you want to not have to worry too much.''

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