Image via the Grimm Wikia
Vintage squeaky toys are one of my kitschy little collections. They are scattered all over the house, but I am slowly adding photos of them to my Collectors Quest collection, so over time they will at least digitally appear together in one place.
I don’t have childhood memories of these things; no warm fuzzy moments when I spot them. I must confess, I got into collecting these little guys for really odd reasons.
One of the first big sales I made online was a vintage made in Taiwan cat squeaky toy. I paid 50 cents at a rummage sale for it, and when it sold for nearly $30, I began scouring rummage sales and thrift stores looking to make another score. Sometimes, even when they weren’t in good shape, I’d buy them — just to save them from the ladies who were going to buy them to give them to children or their dogs.
Such actions aren’t just good for the vintage toys either; I’m saving dogs and babies! For these old rubber toys are not a good idea to give to young children or pets. The rubber either has deteriorated or is in the process of deteriorating and as such tears easily, allowing bits of the old plastic to lodge in the throats and airways of those chewing on it. Often, the little screens or covers on the “breathing” holes which allow the toys to squeak are damaged or give way easily to a tooth too. Plus, these things are old and dirty and heavens knows where they’ve been! Boiling them to sanitize them isn’t a good idea either as this just further breaks down the elasticity of the old plastic, rubber, or vinyl.
Once I found myself with a number of these vintage kitschy rubber toys, able to squeak or not, I found myself falling in love with their cute and comical faces. A collection had amassed itself and I was unable to sell pieces of it anymore. Other than the usual practice of a collector, selling what I have doubles of, I now keep my little kitschy deers and other dears.
Most collectors only want those which still squeak, are void of teeth prints, and with the paint still intact. But if it’s cheap enough — and I don’t already have it (and sometimes if I do!), I will sneak an extra one onto a shelf somewhere. Hubby won’t ever notice. *wink*
Cereal and cereal boxes hold a special place in my heart. They are as familiar as family at the breakfast table. Maybe more so. For when my sister was young, she went through this phase where no one, especially our Dad, was allowed to look at her in the morning. (Some weird Vanessa Huxtable stage — that’s still kind of around. Sorry, Jackie; but you know it’s true!) Besides her yelling in protest, one of her defenses was to place the cereal box in front of her, hunching herself behind it to hide from anyone who might dare glance at her. I don’t think anyone in the family knows exactly what she looked like in the morning during those years… But I readily recognize the cereal boxes from that time today.
My favorite cereal box was — and is — Ralston’s Freakies.
Freakies was a short-lived cereal, produced by Ralston from 1972 to 1976. But the impact of Freakies was huge. That’s because Freakies were more than a cereal; they were seven creatures with a story. Each Freakie, BossMoss Hamhose, Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Goody-Goody, and Snorkeldorf (my favorite).
When little plastic versions of the Freakies started appearing in cereal boxes, I had to have them all. So did my sister — and everyone else under the age of, say, 16 years old.
Funny thing about Freakies; I don’t recall the cereal at all. Not eating it, anyway. I can’t even remember the flavor… I remember the Freakies, their story, and the box (often my sister’s “face,” remember?). But we must have eaten it, or I never would have had the little Freakies themselves. (Did I mention that Mom and Dad were serious about us eating the stuff?) I do remember having and playing with the little plastic Freakies. Sadly, I also remember selling the little Freakies online. It was one of my first big sales on eBay, way back in the marketplace’s early years. I was paid handsomely for them; but today I wish I’d never sold them. *sigh*
The Freakies and their story were the brainchildren of Jackie End. (How freaky is it that the face behind the Freakies had the same name as my sister who hid behind the cereal box?!) Sadly, Jackie End passed away in August of this year. You can read a great tribute to her here.
As a tribute to Jackie End’s wonderful creation, Freakies live on, inspiring cult fandom and collectors. Vintage or retro Freakies stuff sells. Figures, toys, magnets, animation cells, t-shirts, cereal boxes, advertising, and even Freakies cereal coupons are popular enough to make people pay.
I’m not exaggerating the continuing popularity of Freakies. In 1987, a new Freakies cereal was made. Without Jackie End. Now, the characters were aliens from another planet. And there was a change in the cast; while BossMoss and Grumble remained, the other characters were replaced by Hugger, Sweetie, Tooter and Hotdog. (Seriously? No Snorkeldorf?!) But the retro cereal re-do didn’t last long. If they had kept the original Freakies and their creator, maybe that cereal would still be around.
The good news is that you can still get official Freakies merch here, some of it signed by Jackie End herself. That’s because it’s sold at the official Freakies website, started by Jackie herself, where they are carrying on Jackie’s legacy. And that’s pretty sweet.
Now, if only I could get myself a vintage Freakies cereal box (with at least Snorkeldorf, please?) before the holidays… I’d love to set it in front of my sister during breakfast. (That’s a hint, Santa.)
Image Credits: Freakies Cereal box, 1973, and Freakies collection via Gregg Koenig.
Seven Freakies Cereal Premium Figures from Rob’s Vintage Toys & Collectibles.
Freakies Goods, t-shirts and Wacky Wobbler, from the official Freakies website.
These are a few of the vintage baby rattles we have in the case at Exit 55 Antiques. Normally, I am afraid of clowns (one did try to assassinate me once — and that’s all it takes); but somehow a roly poly clown is not so scary. By the way, I also find the fact that such round-bottomed toys are called “roly poly” toys absolutely adorable! But it’s the celluloid (or other vintage thin plastic) angel which is my favorite. Isn’t that chubby little cherub sweet?!
I’ve never scored a storage unit at auction, but over the holiday weekend, at Maxwell Street Days in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, I met a guy who did. He ended up buying a storage unit that had once belonged to Western Publishing, and in it was the sweet stuff of a 1970s childhood… Among the items I purchased from him these great Donny & Marie show collectibles, each copyright 1977, Osbro Productions Inc.
Donny and Marie: The Top Secret Project, by Laura French, illustrated by Jan Neely, a Little Golden Book (number 160).
Donny and Marie: The State Fair Mystery, a Whitman Tell-A-Tale Book (number 2635), story by Eileen Daly, pictures by Olindo Giacomini.
Donny & Marie, a Whitman coloring book or “color book” (number 1641) with paper dolls to cut-out on the back. Inside, there are pages of clothes to color and then put on the paper-doll Donny and Marie.
Donny & Marie, a sticker book, Whitman number 2188. There are photos on the cover, but inside, the stickers and pages you stick them on are illustrations.
Two Whitman Frame-Tray Puzzles (B4542-1 and B4542-2), each with a different photo of Donny and Marie Osmond. Each in its original factory-sealed plastic covering.
Each item is new, never used, as minty-fresh as you’d find on store shelves back in the day! I’m saving one of each for my collection, and selling some too — to bring joy to others.
I’ve read about haunted toys, as a concept, before. Each time I just think – how gullible are these people? How badly do they want to believe in ghosts, spirits and hauntings? I don’t believe you see, not to the point of overlooking common sense.
I do think there are ghosts, of some sort. Feelings and emotions left over from the past. Turbulence doesn’t just disappear because the cause of the disturbance has gone. It’s like having a huge fight with someone. You can feel it in the atmosphere.
But, I don’t think that’s all there is to the ghost thing. I don’t know exactly what I do believe. I haven’t quite pinned it down into so many little words. My Grandmother did see ghosts, her sister and her husband both appeared to her soon after they were gone. Gone in a permanent way, not just out of the room or out of town. Seeing ghosts scared her. Me too. I don’t trust them all to be benevolent or casual or just want to come over for tea and a chat. So, like my Grandmother before me, I picked a day and spoke out loud and told everything (whatever everything is) that I don’t want to see ghosts. My Grandmother was told to do this by a psychic and she said it worked for her. She stopped seeing anything once she clearly said she did not want to see anything, of that sort.
Anyway, the idea of haunted toys annoys me. Why take something simple and kind of innocent and turn it into something frightening?
When I watch the ghost hunting shows I can see through almost everything they do. I understand the difficulties with proving the existence of ghosts when others are watching and the people filming can’t show they really didn’t cause the camera to shake or prove they really do feel a cold air pocket. But, it seems to look so phony I just can’t take it very seriously. It seems scripted, pre-planned.
So I don’t believe in haunted toys. I don’t believe children who have died would hang around an old toy and try to harm people or scare them with it. Children aren’t like that, except in movies.
One good thing about the haunted toy thing, it’s a great way to bump up the value of vintage toys. If you can show the toy as haunted… the interest in having the toy (even if just to prove or disprove the ghostly haunting) will help to sell it and sell it for a bigger price. Which just throws more doubt on the concept of haunted toys.
What do you believe? Have you had a haunted toy? Has an old doll given you the creeps? Do toys mysteriously move when you know no one and nothing is logically making them move?
I have felt creeped out by an old doll. I admit. But, I’m sure it was just my own doing. I let myself feel that way. It was based on nothing, just a suggestion by someone else. But, I can remember the feeling. I didn’t like it.
One interesting side note… the haunted toys all seem to be dolls. Co-incedence? Not likely.
Flickr: Creepy Dolls
Haunted America Tours: Real Haunted Doll Gallery
YouTube: Scary Doll
When I first discovered this little plastic man with a movable mouth in an auction lot of winnings, I thought the was Uncle Sam or something because of his red, white, and blue coloring — and the hat. Well, he’s red, pinkish, and blue… And the hat wasn’t your typical Uncle Sam hat, but that’s what I thought. Until my mom schooled me that he was Mayor Phineas T. Bluster from the Howdy Doody Show.
Sometimes you’ll see these vintage plastic figures called “cake toppers” but while there’s nothing to stop anyone from using them on top of cakes, these are little plastic toy puppets made for children who were fans of Howdy Doody. They were early television show merchandising tie-ins from TeeVee, Kagran Corp.
According to one of the original point-of-sale display cards, there were five characters from this classic TV show: Mr. Buster, Clarabell, Howdy Doody, Princess Summerfall-Winterspring, and Dilly Dally.
The display card encourages kids to “Put On Your Own Puppet Show.” To make them talk, “simply jiggle the lever in back of his head.” That’s a bit less than Buffalo Bob Smith had to do. *wink*
Staying in character, Clarabell does not talk — instead, kids could blow his “musical” horn.
The toys stand about four inches tall and are made of plastic, not celluloid.
Additional Image Credits:
Original Tee Vee display card via 69ferrari69.
Elyse Luray of History Detectives fame will have her own show on the the Syfy channel. The new series is named Collection Intervention and according to the press release she’ll be helping couples at odds with their overwhelming collections:
Collection Intervention follows Elyse Luray, a sharp and to-the-point collectibles expert as she helps couples who are divided over what to do with an overwhelming collection of memorabilia. Whether it’s a husband’s collection of mint-condition G.I. JOE action figures worth thousands of dollars or a girlfriend’s treasure trove of Star Wars movie posters, Elyse helps couples decide what’s worth keeping and what they can sell. For each couple, their new cash windfall will make their dream come true, whether it’s an engagement ring, a down payment for a home, or the honeymoon they never had. Production company: High Noon Entertainment. Executive producers: Pam Healey, Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees, Jim Berger.
I’m not sure how I feel about the sound of that… Sounds like another show comparing collectors to hoarders, mocking us… But I’ll have to watch a few episodes when it arrives this fall to be sure.
Syfy has also announced another collecting show to air in 2013. This one, entitled Toy Traveler, features Shane Turgeon and sounds similar to the Travel Channel’s Toy Hunters with Jordan Hembrough, owner of Hollywood Heroes Collectibles.
Shane Turgeon, the Indiana Jones of toy collectors, travels to remote corners of the world to find the rarest and most valuable toys and collectibles. Whether it’s in an old toy warehouse in a remote Guatemalan town or a small swap meet in the Ukraine, Shane will go to all lengths to find the most unique and collectible toys. Production company: Jarrett Creative Group. Executive producers: Seth Jarrett, Julie Insogna Jarrett.
Mr. Rock Space Adventurer from Another Planet.
Clearly this vintage action figure, which includes Ray Gun and Space Communicator, is a knock-off of Star Trek’s Spock. The pointy ears and slanted eyebrows give it away.
This vintage space age toy was made by Lincoln International, a New Zealand toy company. Fun Ho says that Lincoln International began in 1946, when Mr. Lincoln Laidlaw took over a Higgins and Clotworthy handbag frame company. (Lincoln Laidlaw is likely the son of Richard Laidlaw, the founder of Farmers Trading Company; and Lincoln also opened the Jon Jansen furniture shop.) By 1948, the first “Lincoln Toy” was made and the toy company went on to make and import many licensed — and unlicensed — toys, using the “Boy oh boy, a Lincoln Toy!” slogan. The toy company merged with or was bought-out in 1983 or 1984.
The toys made between the 1960’s and 1970’s are often considered the company’s “golden age” and the vintage space age theme toys by Lincoln remain quite popular with collectors today. Even though “Mr. Rock” is a knock-off, this vintage toy has great value — it’s so rare that, according to Mego Collector, one of these sold in 2007 for $5,556. More info available here.
Other vintage Lincoln toy info:
Lincoln may have used Wyn toy bodies for trucks and other vehicles.
Info on Lincoln and diecast Brentware aka Brentoys.
Collecting Little Tuppence and Posing Penny dolls.
Images from a 1967 or 1968 Lincoln International toy catalog.
This is my Mother’s teddy bear. I’m not sure how old it really is. But, she wasn’t the first owner of this bear. My brother used to keep it in his bedroom when he was a boy. Currently, it’s in his house, in the spare bedroom. I saw the bear there when I visited over the Christmas holidays. It doesn’t look any different from the first time I saw it as a kid.
The bear’s arms and legs are held with a thin rope which has become loose through the body so the arms and legs both dangle around. The head is a bit loose at the neck, but it doesn’t dangle. The fabric/ textile over the body is a little thread bare looking, like an old, worn in carpet. Overall, I think the bear is in pretty good shape. The embroider on the face is still tight and hasn’t got any damage from wear and tear at all. As an experienced embroiderer, that is pretty remarkable. The bear is stuffed with something pretty dense. It has no leaks so I can’t be sure what is actually in there.
We never played with this bear. It was given the respect due it’s age (and the fact that it was Mom’s bear) and we rarely touched it. She had a few other toys leftover from her time as a child but the bear is the one my brother liked best. He had his own bear, bought for him. Also, a dog Mom made him. So he had stuffed animals to play with. That bear was always special. It didn’t get to play with the other toys but it did get to watch from it’s perch on top of the clothes dresser.
Cymruted Collectible Bears: Teddy Bear Identification by Build
The Teddy Bear Museum: Teddy Bear History
Flickr Teddy Bear Photo Groups:
- My Teddy Bear
- Teddy Bears
- Crazy Teddy Bears
- Artist Teddy Bears
- Handmade Teddies
- Girl Teddy Bears Only
- Mini Bears
- Lost Bears
Back in November, I heard WDAY making the promo for that night’s broadcast — an alarming headline about model trains. I don’t recall word for word, but it was so alarming that I indeed remained glued to the station and watched the news especially for that report. While the headline sounded far more drastic (implying that something was preventing the manufacture of model trains or something), the segment (video here) was about the decline in model railroading membership and a decreased interest in model trains themselves. While it wasn’t particularly surprising, it was saddening… Even though we do not yet own a model railroad set.
Through the serendipity of the collecting gods (what some might call “luck”), we found ourselves days later in Wisconsin, visiting family, and there we discovered that the Lionel Railroad Club Of Milwaukee was having an open house — we transported ourselves there asap!
There were so many things to look at… Not just the trains, the engines and cars, but all the figures, cars, animals, and details in the layout. So much to take in, that even though there is a raised look-out spot for engineers and others to get a great “aerial” view, you really have to walk around — several times — to try to see everything.
And then you’ll need to make at least one more trip looking at the vintage railroad engines and cars displayed on the walls and on the side of the layout!
There’s an impressive 28-foot long, 250 pound, model of New York’s Hell Gate Bridge which spans above your head. You can see more photos and details on how it was made here.
The bubbling oil rig lights that look like vintage bubble light Christmas tree ornaments were a complete surprise.
The kids fell in love with the aquarium. I myself was completely smitten with the Lionel Madison Hardware Shop model — there was a miniature model train set in the miniature store window! Yes, the mini train worked too! Here’s a closer look:
As a family we greatly enjoyed the huge model train set-up. Being there just confirmed all the reasons why we want a model train set. It’s not just the rush of the choo-choos, the excitement of their woo-woos, but the chance to build the whole miniature world! I’m a girl who loves miniatures. And hubby’s a man with some model building experience — small toys and larger theatrical sets too. For both of us it’s a chance to get really creative!
The price of a model train set can seem steep. New, vintage, or antique, it’s not cheap. But if you consider the years you can take to build and grow your set, it’s achievable to do it piece by piece. And affordable when you realize this is a true hobby. Not to minimize collecting in any way (How could I?!), but model trains and railroads are about building, expanding, playing; these are not shelf-sitters.
The husband and I have wanted a train set for a long time; since visiting the railroad club open house we’ve grown not only more wistful but determined to make it a goal for ourselves. (Yes, you can expect more model railroad articles!) I’m sure the kids will climb on board once they see the train in action.
“Life’s more fun if you tilt things now and then. ” – Elizabeth Spatz
I had an online friend, Laura (which is also my own name), who loved floaty pens. Like so many people you meet online in chats, forums and various other virtual places, I lost track of her after the group fell apart/ faded away. Without turning this post into a tell all true confessions thing, I will say that I really liked Laura but (at the time) I was shocked to find out she was having an affair with one of the married men in the group. She was also married. I’ve become a little jaded or seasoned since those early days, back when we talked on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and used mIRC.
Anyway, Laura had begun to create a site for her floaty pen collection. She shared the link with me. But, that was probably ten years ago. I don’t have the link and so far I don’t think I’ve found it. Many of the personal collection floaty pen sites I’ve found are pretty neglected/ forgotten. Not all, some are as active as this year, pretty good for a small niche hobby page/ site.
I do have a couple of floaty pens buried away in the stuff I haven’t unpacked. I have been something of a vagabond, moving every 5 to ten years. Unpacking wears thin. One of my floaty pens came from my Grandmother’s trip to London, UK. Another I had bought myself with my allowance money on a family trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. A third pen is from the CN Tower here in Toronto, another family trip though we had arrived on a foggy day and never did go up to the observation deck to try looking for our house.
There is a recent pen, pink for breast cancer awareness. It’s not as fun as watching London bridge rise and fall or the elevator go up and down the length of the CN Tower but it is pretty in pink, with the pink ribbon floating along a line of women standing together. I bought it at Zellers, when I was still working there as a cashier.
- StyloMotion – A place to discuss floaty pens.
- Susan and Russell’s Floaty Pen Museum
- Floating Around the World
- Float About
- Debbie’s Floaty Emporium
- The Floaty Pen Zone
- Flickr: Floaty Pens
- Mary Mc’s Floaty Pen Page
- Personal Floaty Pen site and collection.
Happy Worker: Custom Floating Action Pens
History of Floaty Pens
In the 1950s, Esso (now Exxon Mobil) approached Peder Eskesen, a one-time baker and the owner of a small acrylic factory in Denmark. Eskesen had been working on a pen that contained mineral oil, and Esso wanted to have an original ballpoint pen made with a small oil drum floating in oil. Buoyed by this first floating success, in the decades that followed Eskesen produced numerous corporate and tourist souvenir floaty pens. A later standout invention was the famous (or infamous) tip ‘n strip pen. Long a staple of dorm rooms and source for teenage snickering, these x-rated pens featured scantily clad female or male strippers whose black-colored underwear vanish completely with a simple tip of the pen. Of course, the mechanism behind these conceal & reveal pens have also been put to good use with other, less controversial corporate messages.
Float Art Design: History of Float Pens
Over 63 Years of Float Pen History
Typical Danish-made Eskesen floating pens create a detailed miniature scene inside the confines of a 16×80 millimeter translucent tube, and inside the tube, some object (a plane, a car, etc.) always floats by. The liquid inside the pen is not water but rather mineral oil, which allows the floating objects to float smoothly and slowly across the scene.
Eskesen was not the first company to attempt floating pens. Other styles had been created over the years. But inventors had been plagued by the problem of leaking mineral oil. In 1946, Peder Eskesen, a Danish baker, developed a method of effectively sealing the oil-filled tubes, launching him quickly in front of his competitors. Eskesen has continued on to become the leader in float pen technology, and the company’s sealing process is still a carefully-guarded secret.
Early Eskesen pens often held 3-dimensional floating objects, such as the mermaid pen (below). There were many mechanical pencils made, and many of the parts were metal. In the 1960’s, however, it became difficult to find workers willing to hand paint the 3-D floating objects, and the metal parts became too expensive to be profitable.
Eskesen’s first pen order was for Esso (now Exxon) and contained a bobbing oil drum. Soon the company was marketing the pens worldwide.
I’d never seen anything like them before, so here’s what the seller, dahntahntoys, has to say about them:
54 mm solidcast women’s Suffragette Band by Charles Hall, bought in 1970s at the MFCA show. Eight pieces in mint condition. See photos. Colorful Victorian era female musicians and placard carriers for Women’s Right to Vote.
That still didn’t tell me very much, so I began to research Charles Hall.
Information is disappointingly scant. Charles Hall is said to have been a former police officer in Glasgow, Scotland who started his scale miniature toy production with some Scottish regiments figures about the mid 1970s. Eventually, he produced up to 350 different figures.
During the 1970’s when Britains where not producing metal band figures;three prolific makers emerged in the English speaking world. They all made complete lines from their own masters and moulds. …The least know was a Scottish maker who named his line after himself CHARLES HALL.
Charles produced two areas of personal interest to himself from 1975 t0 1985 which were German Bands and Salvation Army Bands. In the early 1990’s Hank Anton of the USA bought Halls moulds but never produced very many sets from the line.
Along with the suffragettes, there are Dixieland jazz bands (and other bands with black musicians) and the largest variety of Salvation Army figures ever issued.
But Hall also seems to have specialized in miniature scale versions of many civilian figures, including fictional characters, figures such as Scotland Yard’s finest, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Hitler, Dracula, the beautifully odd Burke and Hare (Edinburgh’s most infamous grave robbers), and others… Including, perhaps, the most interesting miniature collectible toy pieces: Hitler and oddball Nazi caricatures.
I’d love to hear from collectors or anyone who knows more about Charles Hall and his wonderful scale miniatures!
For further information, collectors recommend Collecting Toy Soldiers, by Richard O’Brien.
Image credits: Charles Hall suffragette band photos via dahntahntoys; Charles Hall of Scotland figures, “listed as Camerons,they look to be Gordons,” via Treefrog Treasures Toy Soldier Forums; Dixieland band set of figures by Charles Hall via Bill The Bandman; Holmes & Watson by Charles Hall, via James H Hillestad’s article on Sherlock Holmes; Charles Hall Edinburgh Scotland “Burke and Hare the Body Snatchers” with Coffin and Corpse, circa 1985, via Live Auctioneers; Adolph Hitler (black overcoat at salute, 1978), S-Trooper Hitler caricature (on a spotted mule) and a caricature of a pregnant Irma Griese (1979), via Bill The Bandman.
Until I spotted this vintage image of a girl doing the twist, I’d never really paid much attention to “Lenticulars” — partly because I didn’t know they even had a name. (We just called them “those plastic image things that wink or move when you tilt them.”)
This particular Vari-Vue Lenticular was available for free at Lista (see my review of Listia) and I’m bummed that I missed it — especially as it only cost 202 credits!
The Listia description:
VARI-VUE Lenticular (wiggle) picture. 1957-1958 according to the patent number. Shows 1950’s fashioned black-haired girl dancing the twist. Man can she wiggle! Two smaller dancers also dance in the background. There are 3 small age spots that do not detract much at all. The back side has the wording:
VARI-VUE (R) PAT. NO 2,815,310
Mount Vernon N.Y.-MADE IN U.S.A.
And then I was outbid on this lenticular Beattle Booster button! (Misspelling of Beatles is on the button itself, not my error!)
So as not to miss out again, I decided to search more — and arm myself with some knowledge…
Vari-Vue invented modern lenticular technology, starting with a patent in 1936 which led to the formal incorporation of the Vari-Vue company in 1948 and billboards in 1955. Vari-Vue coined the following terms: “lenticular” to describe their linier lenses, “Winkies” to describe the blinking eyes, and “Magic-Motion” to describe any lenticular image containing motion.
Vari-Vue has an entire site devoted to the history and collecting of lenticular images, from which the following information is also given:
By the late 1940’s, VariVue had become a household name by producing millions of animated and stereographic lenticular images which were
available everywhere. These images included everything from wall hangings, to record album covers, CrackerJack prizes, greeting cards, post cards, political buttons and so much more. By the 1950’s, VariVue’s lenticular images had become a craze and many, if not most famous personalities of the time, wanted to be featured in VariVue advertisements. At the same time, VariVue buttons were used in every political campaign throughout the country and were available everywhere.
…In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Vari-Vue created a network of Lenticular license holders world wide which greatly increased the recognition of this technology. Vari-Vue has been the world leader in stereo (3D) and animated printing.
They also have a History and Guide Book To Lenticular Technology on CD-Rom.
The seller of this real photo photo postcard (RPPC) featuring two children with a rocking horse, says it’s from Central Pennsylvania, circa 1910s. You can’t help but wonder if the older sister is wishing she was still young enough to ride, rather than watch the younger child on the porch. *wink*
Image via Lynnstudios.
Do you remember this doll? I spotted this poor girl in a GoodWill thrift store this week. She was not in great shape, some hair had caught on something and pulled loose from her updo. Her dress was torn and she was a little dirty. Not things I couldn’t fix but as nice as it was to revisit my girlhood, I did not want to take her home. I had one very much like her, about 30 years ago. My girl wore purple instead of yellow. Next time I go to this store I will be tempted to check around the shelves and see if she is still hanging around.
But, do you know what the doll is called? That’s the big trivia question. I did not. I had to look for it online. Thank you to Dollkind.com. She has written a whole post about… Bradley Dolls. There are a lot of variety to them. Far more than the type above (which was the only type I had seen among my friends and in the stores at the time). You could have ordered a Bradley doll from the catalogue, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I’m not going to repost the history and information from Dollkind, I strongly suggest you check there and read if you are interested. One thing I did like to find out – people were making clothes for these dolls themselves. I used to like sewing, still do but don’t get much done. I’m surprised I didn’t get into sewing fancy dresses for my Bradley doll. I still design lovely gowns in my own mind, they just don’t make it beyond that point.
Found inside this 1977 Standard Doll Co. catalog, along with this page of Kate Greenaway postcards, miniature patterns, dollhouse items, etc..
Vintage catalogs are great ways to help date and identify what you have — and identify other items you need for your collection. *wink*
Below is a scan from the December 1923 issue of The Mentor; the page is an article by Vincent Starrett entitled A Doll’s House Built For The Czar Of Russia:
As usual, the discovery of this article about an exquisite eight-foot tall, six feet wide dollhouse leads to something even more fascinating than supposed!
The article tells the story of Peter The Great who “was living in Holland as a young man of twenty-four, working at various jobs to acquaint himself with the arts, commerce, and industry of the Dutch” and “chanced to see one day a tiny model of a seventeenth-century dwelling, and promptly fell in love with it.”
“No matter what the cost,” he declared, “I must have one like it.” But the miniature house and its lovely furnishings were not for sale, and the creator would make none for pay. The artisan’s name was Brandt. He was a successful merchant of Utrecht, who, having amassed a fortune, had retired from business and in his leisure made diminutive houses, furniture, toys, and ornaments for his amusement.
The article continues to say that Brandt’s creations “became the rage.” His hobby of making “exquisite toys” and “houses of Lilliputian dimensions” quickly provided him with a market, and possessing one of his creations “became a passion, and fashion, with collectors.”
The Antiquarium Museum at Utrecht, the old Dutch university town, still treasures one of Brandt’s sumptuously furnished little dwellings, with thumb-nail paintings on the wall by Dutch celebrities. It was probably this very model that so enchanted Czar Peter and stirred his desire to own one like it.
So, the article goes, Brandt graciously offers to make one of the dollhouses for Peter, “a little palace excelling all others in delicacy an ingenuity of workmanship, furnish it appropriately, and equip it with all the necessaries of life in a patrician Dutch household of the times.”
With his own hands he constructed a three-story house of about six feet wide. All of the furniture it contained was made by him. He made the molds, which afterward he destroyed, for the articles of plate and for silver and copper utensils. Regardless of expense, he had suitable carpets manufactured, and ordered chests of table and house linen woven in Flanders. The books that filled the miniature library shelves came from Mayence; each volume had golden clasps and was of a size to be enclosed in a walnut. The hanging chandeliers and services of glass were of Dutch manufacture; in the picture gallery paintings two inches square adorned the walls.
For twenty-five years Brandt labored to create this royal gift. At last he sent word to the Czar that the task was completed. His townsmen protested against such a masterpiece being lost to the country, but the model had been promised to the monarch, and Brandt had expended effort, time, and a small fortune to redeem that promise.
When Peter received Brandt’s message he had just concluded an advantageous peace with Sweden and was turning his attention to conquests in the East. But he had not forgotten the desire he had expressed a quarter of a century before, and he directed that a reply be sent asking what he would have to pay for the possession of the masterpiece. Deeply offended at Peter’s gross tactlessness and disposition to bargain, Brandt replied that even a czar had not money enough to pay for twenty-five years of a man’s life. Forthwith he presented the house to the nation. It is now in Amsterdam in the Royal Museum, none of whose treasures better exemplifies Dutch patience, industry, and love of decoration than the little house that Brandt build for Peter the Great.
That’s where the article ends — but my work begins.
If I thought I could just post this scan from a vintage magazine and, should I be so lucky as to find it, include a link to the czar’s dollhouse at the Royal Museum, I was to discover differently.
Yes, there’s an antique dollhouse at the Rijksmuseum — and it looks to be the same one shown in this articles photo (minus the glass doors on the cabinet — but the furnishings are too specific to be another dollhouse, and the dimensions are about the same), but from there it gets weird…
The museum doesn’t credit the maker of the dollhouse, but it does specify the owner as Petronella Oortman. Oorman was married to a silk merchant named Johannes Brandt — is that were the name Brandt comes from? If so, that might be explained away easily enough, I suppose… But given the strong relationship between Holland and Peter the Great, certainly if this dollhouse — or any dollhouse — had any connections to the czar, the museum would mention it. …At least I think so.
There’s another fabulous antique dollhouse, this one was owned Petronella de la Court, that sits on display at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum.
I don’t know if this is the other “Brandt” Dutch dollhouse from the “Antiquarium Museum” at Utrecht that Starrett, in The Mentor article, suggests “enchanted Czar Peter” or not, but it certainly is enchanting.
In The Speaker (Volume 11, 1905, Mather & Crowther), Edward Verrall Lucas writes of an antique dollhouse from the same Dutch craft period. I feel compelled to share a snippet not only because it might just be the de la Court dollhouse and the “Antiquarium,” but for the author’s descriptions.
At the north end of the Maliebaan is the Hoogeland Park, with a fringe of spacious villas that might be in Kensington ; and here is the Antiquarian Museum, notable among its very miscellaneous riches, which resemble the bankrupt stock of a curiosity dealer, for a very elaborate dolls’ house. Its date is 1680, and it represents accurately the home of a wealthy aristocratic doll of that day. Nothing was forgotten by the designer of this miniature palace ; special paintings, very nude, were made for its salon, and the humblest kitchen utensils are not missing. I thought the most interesting rooms the office where the Major Domo sits at his intricate labours, and the store closet The museum has many very valuable treasures, but so many poor pictures and articles—all presents or legacies—that one feels that it must be the rule to accept whatever is offered, without any scrutiny of the horse’s teeth.
(This piece by Lucas, with a stated copyright of 1904, appears to be what he published as a book in 1906, A Wanderer in Holland (Macmillan) — just in case you’d like to read more.)
Starrett never mentioned nudes paintings in the old Dutch dollhouse — but maybe he was less flappable in the Roaring Twenties than Lucas was at the turn of the century. And the commentary on the museum itself is rich — Lucas could be describing a lot of my collection and collection practices! *wink*
But still, the whole point of Starrett’s little story was right there in the article’s title, that the dollhouse shown had been made in Holland for Peter The Great; yet I could find no connection between Peter and Dutch dollhouses whatsoever.
So, I continued to research, like any obsessive would do.
I then found this bit in Dutch And Flemish Furniture, by Esther Singleton (The McClure Company, 1907):
In the Rijks Museum are several models in miniature of old Amsterdam houses. The finest one is of tortoise-shell ornamented with white metal inlay. According to tradition, Christoffel Brandt, Peter the Great’s agent in Amsterdam, had this house made by order of the Czar, and it is said to have cost 20,000 guilders (£2,500), and to have required five years to produce.
There’s that name, “Brandt,” again.
Or maybe not.
Seems the name of the czar’s Netherlands associate was actually Christoffel Brants, aka Christoffel van Brants after Brants was knighted by the czar. And while it seems Peter received actual houses from Brants, there’s still, no mention of houses specifically for dolls.
So, without further documentation, I’m left to conclude that Starrett’s story is just that, a story. (The man did love his stories! Among other things, Starrett collected books and was a Sherlock Holmes scholar.)
Or maybe you’d prefer the terms Singleton uses, “tradition.”
Either way, that would explain a number of things, such as the name Brandt being recalled, even if inaccurately, and the number of years it took to create the dollhouse changing by five-fold.
However, by the 1950s this traditional story of Peter The Great’s Dutch dollhouse has changed a bit with the telling… As most legends do.
In 1958, many American newspapers ran what appears to be a wire story; the uncredited story is exactly the same in each vintage publication. Here’s a copy from Kansas’ Great Bend Daily Tribune (June 22, 1958) — which reads pretty much like copyright infringement case for dear old Starrett (unless he was the one paid by the wire service), except for the first two lines:
Once there was a dollhouse so lovely that the czar of Russia, Peter the Great, wanted it very much. He hadn’t money enough to buy it however, believe it or not!
Cold war press copy conveying the anti-Russian sentiments, perhaps?
Then, in South Dakota’s The Daily Republic, February 19, 1977, the legend of Peter the Great’s Dollhouse gets tweaked again:
Those dollhouses were so expensive that only a few people could afford them. Peter the Great of Russia once ordered a dollhouse but when it was delivered, he refused it. The price was just too much.
The czar may have ordered and owned at least one fine Dutch dollhouse; but I can’t find any proof.
(See, I’m not just obsessive with my research as some sort of personality quirk; it’s necessitated!)