Monday, December 14, 2009

The Joys of Old-Fashioned Calendars

I am a fan of calendars, which I consider to be a convenient resource for measuring the progression of days, weeks, and months. While I no longer rely on them as I did before the days of laptops and BlackBerrys, which rendered my Filofax personal agenda and monthly date books obsolete, such electronic devices have yet to replace the old-fashioned calendars I enjoy. Although some readers may find calendars quaint or anachronistic in today’s world, I still find them to be a convenient and aesthetically-pleasing tool for noting the passage of the days and the progression of the seasons. If you no longer use a calendar I recommend that you go out and get one; you’ll be surprised how useful they can be.

I have a number of calendars in my City apartment and at Darlington. They range from the very humble to ones of more elevated beauty and refinement. Here’s a tour of the ones that I have, starting from the humblest:

This little magnetized calendar, which is affixed to the refrigerator in our City apartment, is an indisputably useful tool. However, its usefulness is not due to the calendar it shows but rather for the telephone number emblazoned on it for the liquor store around the corner that stands ready to deliver an extra bottle of hooch after hours if required…at the mere tinkle of a telephone.

This silver-framed perpetual calendar is a more rarified one than the previous one (how could it not be?), and sits on my bedroom chest of drawers at Darlington. You’d be surprised how useful it is to have a calendar in one’s bedroom. I frequently consult it while dressing or plotting our future dates and obligations. It originally belonged to my Mother and came from Tiffany & Co.

These calendars have been published by the Travelers Companies since 1936, always featuring a different Currier & Ives print each month. Growing up I had neighbors who had one of them hanging on the wall in their kitchen and I looked forward to seeing what the new print would be whenever I visited. Over the years I completely forgot about the Travelers calendars and lost my appreciation for Currier & Ives as well. However, last year some dear friends of ours in the country gave us this calendar, unframed, as a gift when they came over for dinner one night. Boy and I decided that such a Currier & Ives calendar would fit right in at Darlington, so long as it had a period frame suitable for our house. We found an early lemon-yellow frame at a dealer in Hudson and had it cut down to fit the calendar and have enjoyed having it on our wall ever since. In the meantime we changed our insurance coverage to the Travelers, since Chubb, our previous carrier, had jacked up our rate to an astonishingly high level. Now we are on the regular distribution list to receive these calendars annually from our insurance broker. We just received the 2010 Travelers calendar in the mail recently and I look forward to seeing each month unfold next year.

The final calendar I am showing here is my favorite. I bought it at an auction some years ago and it sits on our desk in our City apartment. Like the Tiffany calendar I inherited from my Mother, it is also perpetual. It is made from Shagreen with silver mounts, and the calendar components are made of celluloid, a precursor to plastic that was first widely used as an ivory replacement. It was likely made in the first quarter of the 20th century, almost certainly in England.

So what calendars will you not find in our house or apartment?
  • Wall calendars featuring pictures of shirtless firemen, cute kittens, Thomas Kinkade paintings, or the greats of sport and cinema;
  • Page-a-day calendars featuring 365 days of Dilbert jokes, brain puzzlers, fluffy bunnies, one-minute devotions, or chemistry fun facts to know and tell;
Photos by Boy Fenwick and Reggie Darling


  1. Love the shagreen :-)

    It's just wonderful


  2. I have a weakness for letterpress printed desk calendars. I loath magnet calendars from realtors.

    Sister Darling

  3. I have the exact same Tiffany perpetual calendar on my desk, and when I bought it in NYC eons ago, bought two, and gave the other to my mother!

  4. I like the Tiffany calendar with the yellowed pages best.

  5. My perpetual favorite calendar was the Phillips Brooks calendar, a New England classic. I mourned when the company discontinued it, and even tried to BUY the rights to produce it--to no avail.


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