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June 1, 2018

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A Man Named Peach and The Hunt for Beautiful Forms

June 16, 2017

Each month on Beccalani I plan to devote an entire post to discussing a featured item in my shop! I'll give you a little history of the featured item, what decade it hails from, how I came upon it, and what makes it so unique. To me the month of June means longer days, warmer weather, and school letting out for summer. There's nothing quite like peering into the eyepiece of a keenly constructed kaleidoscope to instantly put you into a childlike state of wonder.  I am delighted to share that June's featured item is the, "PEACH REYNOLDS KALEIDOSCOPE."




Several years ago my aunt Mary Alexander invited me to join her at the Pasadena Art Alliance's coveted Treasure Sale which has been touted as the, "Tiffany of all garage sales."  Every four years or so members of the alliance clear out the attics of their stately homes and sell their fine wares all to support their cause.  Imagine rooms upon rooms filled with priceless antiques, furniture, china, glassware and silver.  It was there that I stumbled upon this quirky kaleidoscope!  



My husband Clay's maternal grandmother Linnie Boon was a kaleidoscope enthusiast.  Linnie was a philosopher who rigorously studied art history and world religions, and she found kaleidoscopes to be mystical objects that contained the truths of sacred geometry.  Ever since Linnie passed away I feel it's my job now to keep my eyes peeled for neat scopes! 



Drawn by it's trippy marble paint job, and mysteriously silent inner workings, I instantly knew this kaleidoscope was something special.  I saw that it was stamped and dated 1983 with an emblem of what I originally thought was an apple. I did a bit of research, but was unable to source the original maker, and all my online research was coming up dry.  



Until a few weeks ago when an awesome customer on Etsy sent me a tip!  That emblem that I had originally thought was apple, was actually a PEACH! (insert requisite peach + party emoji here) My new kaleospiscope expert friend explained that this was indeed an original hand painted kaleidoscope created by Mr. Peach Reynolds out of Austin, Texas. 



I was intrigued to find out that kaleidoscopes are a relatively new invention in the scope (hehe) of human history. The first kaleidoscope was created in 1816 by a Scottish inventor by the name of David Brewster.  Clay could probably do a much better job of explaining polarization optics to you, but basically while gazing at an object placed at the end of two mirrors Brewster noticed patterns and colors were recreated and reformed into beautiful new arrangements.



Brewster named his invention "kaleidoscope" from the Greek words:

  • kalos – beautiful

  • eidos – form

  • scopos - watcher

Therefore kaleidoscope means "beautiful form watcher."  



Kaleidoscopes became very popular during the Victorian age as a parlor diversion.  Later in the acid-trip and psychedelic rock fueled 1970s kaleidoscopes had a bit of a renaissance.  The movement gained momentum in the 1980s when Smithsonian Magazine published an article on kaleidoscopes in their November edition called "The kaleidoscope, magic in a tube, is enjoying revival."


Here is where we see the maker of our featured scope come on to the scene! From the late 1970s to the late 1980s Peach Reynolds developed what was at one time the world's largest handmade kaleidoscope business, Kaleidoscopes by Peach.  His brother Mark ended up taking over the business and how runs it under the name Kaleidovisions.  Peach has since moved on to become a real estate mogul in Austin Texas, but he clearly still loves his scopes as his real estate company is aptly named, Kaleido Properties.  



I am a child of the 80's and I was so delighted to unearth the rich history behind this month's featured item.  So naturally when styling this shoot I had to grab a fun 1980s style dress out of my collection and head out with the pupper into the Claremont Wilderness where the SoCal sun-rays would really make Peach's scope shine! 



I hope you've enjoyed reading about this month's featured item.  Do you remember the first time you beheld a kaleidoscope?  I'd love to hear from you!  Please comment below if you have a special kaleidoscope memory or story to share! 




YIPES! STRIPES! - 1980's Magenta and Cyan Striped Cotton Skater Dress with Boat Neck



 PEACH REYNOLDS KALEIDOSCOPE - 1983 Stamped Vintage Kaleidoscope with White Marble Painted Body and Wooden Eye Piece




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