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May 15, 2013

Vintage Finds at Martyn George

By Ingrid Skjong | Shopping

Vintage Finds at Martyn George
Derek Richmond

Situated on Grand Avenue in Chicago’s growing design district, Martyn George—a small shop specializing in vintage kitchenware—is a find in and of itself. Owner Johanna Brannan Lowe, a photo stylist and former photographer, sources the store’s “culinary objects” herself, ensuring that the offerings are anything but run-of-the-mill.

“There is the potential to research a piece and have your own story about it, as well as a story unknown and mysterious from other lives before,” she says. “It’s fascinating to me that there are objects existing from one or two centuries ago that are still in perfect condition.”

Those objects make up a well-edited, sophisticated inventory that includes etched-glass coupes from the 1960s, English glass cake stands, bone-handled carving knives, cocktail and wine glasses and enamelware. On the day the store, which is named after Brannan Lowe’s father, opened last summer, a pair of soapstone bed warmers sold to the local prop house; currently items like vintage oyster sticks and a handsome amber-glass decanter from the ’40s are up for grabs.

Perpetually on the hunt for the next treasure, Brannan Lowe travels to her native England (for, in particular, 19th-century ironstone china) and closer destinations, such as Texas, Wisconsin and Michigan, where she has a 156-year-old home in the town of Buchanan. Needless to say, she has an eye worth following. 1855 W. Grand Ave.; 312-340-4666; martyngeorge.com.