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Gypsy Honeymoon

Elope with the Past

Imagine your family attic with pedigree -- the amassed objects of a rococo duchess, a Victorian globetrotter and a flapper-heiress, all dangling alluringly from your family tree -- and you have an idea of the delights that the small confines of Gypsy Honeymoon has been providing San Francisco for the past six years.

With such a dreamily evocative name as Gypsy Honeymoon, one might expect a collection of items bearing romantic associations touched with a certain bohemian cachet. Indeed, Gypsy Honeymoon does not disappoint in this respect; curiosity is piqued initially from the window displays, which feature a themed monochromatic assemblage of vintage treasures. The windows are presently decked out in a summery white, featuring an airy, turn-of-the-century frock requiring only a light, seaside breeze as an accessory.

The interior is no less inviting. While it strikes one immediately as being rather small for the amount of merchandise that immediately meets the eye, this is a decided virtue: the sheer spell of everything in the shop is rendered just that much more potent by the close juxtaposition between the items and the customer.

The ceiling is a grand riot, running the gamut of hanging lighting choices from conventional multi-tiered estate crystal chandeliers to frilly rococo fixtures to stylishly streamlined Deco pieces crafted of alabaster and frosted glass. This is the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind showpiece fixture for the historic interiors so representative of San Francisco.

The merchandising layout of the store invites you to rifle through objects as if discovering them for the first time. A large, glass-fronted chest of drawers, possibly a retail fixture from the turn of the century, encourages customers to further investigate the treasures displayed in the drawers: 18th century aviary prints, generous rolls of vintage wallpaper, Prohibition-era beaded handbags, antique lace and beaded trims, fragrant Le petit Marseilles soaps.

Natural and ethnic curiosities abound as well: A delicately filigreed Balinese dancer's headdress, vintage scenes of Japan and collections of unusual shells, coral and other sea life dot the store like postcards from a distant place and time. Authentic 19th century botanical and animal prints strike the balance between Science and Beauty.

A varied array of antique mirrors grace a single wall, all reflecting the curious merchandise of the shop; artfully faceted Venetian mirrors, like remembrances of a long-past holiday, reflect everything dimly in the old, darkened silver plating of their view.

The often whimsical and striking arrangement of objects in Gypsy Honeymoon not only displays in their most attractive lights, but also suggests eclectic juxtapositions and groupings for one's home.

Besides existing as a cache of treasured items for oneself, Gypsy Honeymoon recommends itself rather well as the perfect place to find the curious, novel, one-of-kind and affordable gift still glimmering with the gilt of a previous age. Genteel, delicate Porcelain de Paris Plates ($15) would not look amiss at the most soigné Victorian wedding breakfast; "A Perched Pair", two soap birds literally nested in a gift box, from Gianna Rose ($18.50) strike a tone of fresh, old-fashioned whimsy. SF Commercial Clubware's metalware, consisting of pitchers ($20), pots (large, $48; small $20), and bowls ($20) present the kind of potential presents future heirlooms are made of. The evocative scents of Seda France Candles ($28.50) are enclosed in a chinoiserie folly of a gift box that would give a recipient pause before opening.

Gypsy Honeymoon presents practically two hundred years' worth of fascinating, eccentric and eclectic objects in such a way that it is easy to fall in love with, engaging the eye, a sense of the romantic, and a desire to elope with the past.