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    Auction Finds

    Collection of dried flowers from the ‘70s

    There was a time when placing real flowers between the pages of newspapers and books was seemingly a favorite pastime for many hobbyists. It was not a hobby I ever got into, but I understood its allure.

    Anyone who loves the beauty of flowers would want to hold onto that pleasurable experience by memoralizing them for life. That’s apparently what one hobbyist did back in the 1970s. I stumbled onto a grouping of small pressed flowers in a box lot at auction recently.

    Dried and pressed flowers

    Part of the collection of dried and pressed flowers in a box lot at auction.

    The hobbyist had neatly placed flowers and leaves between newspaper pages and white tissue paper, and in clear paper sleeves. Those in sleeves had remained well-preserved and mostly intact. Those between the newspaper pages kept dropping little pieces of themselves each time I opened a page.

    The flowers came with a typed sheet on “Pressed Flower Art,” with instructions on how to keep dried and pressed flowers from fading and how to color them with a “translucent bisque stain” to maintain their natural look.

    I’m sure these dried and pressed flowers had been tucked away years ago, and came out into the open again when family members were cleaning out a house or clearing out an estate.

    Dried and pressed flowers

    Dried and pressed flowers in a clear sleeve.

    Do many people dry and press flowers between the pages of books and newspapers anymore?

    Apparently many people still preserve flowers in various ways, and are using them creatively. I recall buying a greeting card at a crafts show some years ago with a pressed flower on the front, but I don’t see those as often anymore, especially not in commercial card shops. Maybe they are still sold in small quaint shops and at shows.

    Googling the topic produced a ton of results of companies that sell pressed flowers, along with products and tools for drying flowers, scrapbooks and other accessories; instructions on how to dry and press flowers on your own for gifts, decorations, cards and candles, and books for adults and a guide for engaging kids.

    Dried and pressed flowers

    Dried and pressed flowers on newspaper.

    If you’re going to dry and press your own, one suggestion is that you choose flowers that are flat – such as violets, daisies and roses with single petals – and pick them in the morning after the dew has disappeared from them. Choose quality blooms if you want good results.

    Drying and pressing flowers has been around for centuries, starting early on as a way for botanists to preserve their findings. By the 16th century, the Japanese had made it into an art form called Oshibana, which involved using flowers to create pictures.

    The craft spread to England in the Victorian period, then to the rest of Europe before coming to America, according to the website and others.

    Dried and pressed flowers

    Pressed-flower art by Nobuo Sugino.

    Pressed flowers became especially popular among some Victorian women, who also made pictures out of flowers and slipped petals into books. Of special interest were two books over the last century or more: In 1900, Frederick Vester put together a book of pressed flowers from Jerusalem called “Flowers of the Holy Land.” 

    And in the 1990s, artist Nobuo Sugino, president of the International Pressed Flower Art Society in Japan, collected flowers wherever he journeyed and assembled them in an art book. Here are some of Sugino’s lovely works.

    Here are works from the pressed-flower collection at auction. Please click on the first photo to start the slideshow.

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