Vintage Warner Brothers Studio Cosmetic Photo Featuring Brenda Marshall

This vintage photograph is pretty enough to display with your vanity collectibles! The 8 X 10 glossy photo features Brenda Marshall wearing a feather-trimmed peignoir sitting at a vanity table applying a powder puff to her bare shoulder.

brenda marshall powder puff vanity vintage photo by scotty welbourne

Circa 1940, the seller of this photograph offers the following details:

Captured by Scotty Welbourne for Warner Bros. Studios, Marshall is seen in a glamorous fur trimmed robe applying soothing lotions and cosmetics to her sunburnt shoulder.

Attached press snipe reads: “DUST YOUR SUNBURN LIGHTLY … Brenda Marshall has discovered that dusting powder can be very soothing to a sunburned skin. After the star of THE SEA HAWK (opposite Errol Flynn) has applied a cooling lotion to her ‘overdone’ skin, she pats on a light bath powder. She finds it relieves her skin of that stretched and hot feeling.”

Measures 8″ x 10″ with margins on a glossy, single weight paper stock. Photographer’s ink stamp on verso.

vintage warner bros scotty welbourne photo

vintage warner film studios ephemera

I Go Dotty Over A Vintage Mid-Century Modern Brass Metal Lipstick Tube & Case

Who wouldn’t go dotty over this fabulous Mid-Century modern lipstick tube with polka-dots!

vintage metal brass lipstick case tube vanity collectible

The golden dots in the ivory enamel or paint expose the gold-tone metal beneath it. (Both the vintage lipstick tube and case are all metal, likely brass.) Remnants of the old lipstick remain inside — but you know these old tubes can be refilled, right?

vintage polkadot lipstick tube case

But what’s really driving me dotty is not knowing who made this beauty as there’s no label or marking for brand or maker.

mid-century modern polkadot lipstick tube case (1)

The fluted bottom is like many of the vintage and retro Yardley lipstick cases, but the top on this case is much rounder and more domed than the on those in the London Look or Slicker collections…

vintage yardley mod slickers metal lipstick tube

Perhaps this is an early design from the 1950s or early 1960s by Yardley?

Britemode also made a dotty lipstick case (and matching compact), but the Britemode’s base is not fluted nor is the top as tall or rounded.

vintage Britemode metal lipstick compact set

And older Britemode lipstick case has a fluted tube bottom; but not a domed top. Plus, it appears the Britemode lipstick tubes are stamped and embossed on the bottom.

vintage Britemode cosmetic set lipstick case

stamped bottom of vintage Britemode metal lippy

And so I remain stumped.

If you can identify the maker, let me know!

This vintage polkadot metal lipstick tube and case measures approximately 2 3/4 inches tall, from bottom of fluted base to round dome top. And it is 3/4 of an inch in diameter on bottom (widest part).

vintage vanity metail brass lipstick case

A Trio Of Vanity Collectibles

Some lovely vanity collectibles from stainedglasssonia:

A vintage Chinese hand mirror with a hand-painted geisha on the porcelain back, an intricately embossed silver metal settings and celadon jade handle. In original box.

Vintage Chinese Celadon Jade Hand Painted Porcelain Petite Vanity Mirror Geisha

A hand-painted Victorian powder box with original powder puff.

Hand Painted Victorian Swansdown Powder Puff Box And Original Puff

An Art Deco handbag made glass beads featuring a fabulous peacock.

Art Deco Beaded peacock purse flapper handbag glass Beads

Sweet Antique Candy Boxes

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without the proverbial box of chocolates! These two boxes are pretty examples of sweet antique advertising ephemera.

antique chocolate candy boxes

The first box marked “Overhauser’s of Spokane” features a Victorian lady with a large hat. There’s a holly and berries sticker on the box that shows this box of candy from the Overhauser Candy Company (Spokane, Washington) was likely given for Christmas — but it’s still a romantic gift, right?

The second antique candy box also features a fancy Victorian lady wearing a large hat — with roses that match the other roses on the paper. This box bears a red and gold foil seal that reads “De Luxe Chocolates, Little Falls, Minn.” Remarkably, the original fancy embossed papers are still inside!

antique de luxe chocolates minnesota box

Both boxes are for sale in our Etsy shop, here & here. Or you can contact me at We Have Your Collectibles or the We Have Your Collectibles Facebook page.

Vintage Paint By Number Metalware

Combining two of my favorite things, vintage metalware wastebaskets and vintage paint by numbers, what’s not to love about this 1950s paint by number Tole Craft Wastebasket!

Vintage Tole Craft Paint It Yourself No 17 Oriental Teahouse

Frankly, I had no idea metalware came in DIY crafting sets…

So I searched, finding a vintage promotional Tole Craft “Paint-It-Yourself” Art Metalware piece at Pine Street Art Works:

tole_craft_brochure_small

And I found an ad from 1958, listing all eight of Tole Craft’s metalware craft kits: Hanging Picture Tray, Waste Basket, Desk Basket, Chippendale Hanging Tray, Snack Trays, Magazine Rack, Planter Plate, and Tissue Box. I need all of those! Especially the magazine rack.

Now that I do know about these vintage paint by number metalware kits, I’ve saved eBay searches for vintage “tole craft”, and vintage metal paint by number — and I purchased/bid on a couple of kits. *wink*

But I did find and leave a few of these kits for you too. Like these six metal paint by number trays. It’s not a set of six, but three different pairs of trays; a pair of equestrian or horse trays, a pair of floral pattern trays, and two Scandinavian themed trays.

vintage paint by number metal trays

Along with kits by Tole Craft, look for kits and finished pieces by the Morilla Company, and even Family Circle. You’ll find wall sconces, book ends, and maybe more — if you patiently keep looking!

PS I just got this completed paint by number bookend with a heron as a gift for my bird-loving, antique addicted parents! (Shhhh! Don’t tell them!)

vintage paint by number bookend with heron and birds

Becoming Unhinged Over Antique Beaded Purses

On Saturday, we went to an auction. Normally I avoid the girlie jewelry cases, with their beautiful vintage jewelry and antique purses because, not having very deep pockets, I fear having my heart broken. But this time was different. Not only did I look, linger, and love, but I won a number of beautiful pieces, including this antique beaded purse — sparking clear glass beads applied by hand over silk — for just $11!

antique beaded purse

This dreamy creamy white antique hand beaded bag is a square 4 1/2 by 4 /12/ inches, but it’s placed into the frame on an angle so that it looks diamond shaped. The German Silver frame is embossed with leaves — and the clasps are acorns!

embossed details on silver antique purse frame

The long beaded fringe (approximately 3 inches long) nearly doubles the length of the purse — something I’d have thought would actually have reduced the life of the purse by at least half. (Can’t you just imagine having one of those delicate — but weighty with glass beads — fringes loop itself around something and the next thing you’d know, you’d hear a shower of beads hit the floor!)

Upon close inspection, this purse is not perfect; the frame was damaged on one side, near the hinge, and a lame repair was attempted. (Things not noticeable in a locked jewelry case; a reminder for the less adventurous to ask for help before bidding.)

broken hinge on white antique beaded purse

But even if the frame is not real silver, I didn’t feel hopeless. In the worst case scenario I could get one of my antique frames, insert a bright blue or vivid red fabric background, and hang this beautiful work of art inside it (with no glass over it — because that’s not good for vintage or antique beaded purses); in the best case scenario, I could see if my jeweler could make a fine repair.

Since the old repair attempt included lead, which goldsmiths simply cannot use on the premises as it contaminates, I am left with two options: A) have hubby remove the lead here at home and then have the jeweler laser solder it, or B), have the jeweler solder around the old bad repair (which would look less lovely on the inside). Naturally I’d prefer the proper and prettier repair of option A; but in either case the cost is the same, about $20.

That would bring my total price paid for a collectible to $31; not bad since the purse could be worth as much as $500. (And even though the repair lessens the value in the collecting marketplace a bit, it surely is worth the cost and effort for a lovely beaded purse, let alone an antique beaded purse surviving with its fringe.)

And so, in the end, I’m the one ‘unhinged’ — giddy with the thrill of a find at the auction.

I Love Trash – Cans

But not just any trash cans, mind you; I love the smaller-sized, vintage and retro trashcans more properly called wastebaskets.

vintage metalware wastebaskets

At first glance, the uninitiated might dismiss these gems for several reasons.

“Eeeiwww, they’re used!” the skeptics recoil. I’ll acknowledge that, like most vintage items, these wastebaskets have been used — and that may mean bits of gum and I’m-too-afraid-to-guess-what-it-is spots. But in all honesty, doesn’t your brand new waste can end up the same? Wash it out as best you can and then stick a liner in it. Starting fresh and clean may seem preferable, but this is recycling. Do we really need landfills filled with old wastebaskets?

“They’re too small to be practical!” is the other complaint I hear. But I assure you they are not too small. They are just the right size to fit in those small but well-used places that you need a receptacle for used tissues, out-dated appointment cards, spent pens, unnecessary receipts, and other useless bits and bobs that pile up on desktops, counters, etc. because folks (not you, I’m sure, but other people you live with wink-wink-nudge-nudge) are too lazy to carry them off and properly dispose of them. Places like bathrooms, bedrooms, foyers… Any room with a desk — in fact, many of these vintage wastebaskets actually fit in that side-space on modern computer desks! The more places you put these little beauties, the less clutter you’ll suffer from.

And they are little beauties.

retro kitsch trash can huge scottie applique

With decades worth of designs, there’s likely sure to be plenty to appeal to you and go with your home decor. Everything from kitschy fun retro wastebaskets with fabric Scottie dog appliques to classic feminine florals — and more.

When it comes to vintage wastebaskets, I prefer the metalware models (but plastic versions are available too). The big name in collectible vintage wastebaskets is Ransburg, but there are other names, less known and so less sought after.

Frances Martin made my blue painted wastebasket with gold flowers; the cans will usually have the name printed on the bottom, centered, like this (hard to read, even when you click and enlarge the photo):

bottom vintage metalware frances martin

My pink texturized waste can is by Pearl-Wick. It has a plastic rim-footer around the bottom which was once gold; but most of that has peeled away, leaving a milky clear band which isn’t noticed when it sits on the carpeted floor in the bedroom.

bottom of vintage pearl-wick wastebasket

The fabric-covered metalware wastebasket — the adorable Scottie on burlap — was made by Creative Made (Hand-Crafted Gifts, Annapolis, Maryland). The paper label remains fixed to the bottom, with the hand written copyright date of 1975; many collectible wastebaskets have lost their tags and so go uncredited, making finding and/or identifying makers difficult.

creative made label 1975

Many vintage wastebasket collectors don’t mind signs of wear, as long as they do not detract too much (like other old things, signs of wear are part of the charm), but in terms of ‘collectible conditions’, the things to look for and avoid are rust, dents, splits at the seams, and damages to paint or other decorations.

To keep your vintage metalware wastebasket in great condition, avoid keeping it in damp or wet places. Cleaning the outside is best done by washing it with a mild dish soap and a soft cloth — and drying it thoroughly. Avoid harsh cleaning products, never use abrasive cleansers; test any cleaning products on the bottom of the can where boo-boos will not be noticed.

For more stubborn spots and marks on the inside you can be more industrious, if you’d like; trash liners will hide scouring marks as well as whatever you can’t remove. Be sure to dry it well.

A word on rust: If you want to slow or stop the spread of rust, you can do so with a very fine steel wool. I don’t recommend doing this on the outside of the can at all; but on the bottom and/or insides you likely can’t make it look any worse. Personally, I just leave it — or avoid buying those cans to begin with.

Some people save less-than-perfect cans for creative gardening, like Kathy Stantz; just know that such use will only further damage the vintage wastebasket — even if you don’t drill drainage holes.

Antique “Stuffed” Child’s Chair

This lovely antique child’s chair came from the Hammett estate in Sheboygan, WI.

As the estate company folks noted, “The family was once listed as one of the 250 most important families in the USA. The grandfather was the vice president of Northern Furniture ..the family also owned the Hammet gift shop on the 4th floor of the then Security Bank Building downtown. They spent time in Italy buying for the store which was there from 1926-1940 The great grandfather raised Percheron horses.” This little chair, however, was locally made.

Sheboygan was once the Furniture Capital Of The World. Having lived there, I can tell you I’ve seen many lovely examples to prove such a large claim. But I’ve never seen a child’s chair like this. Not only is it covered and skirted in leather, but look at how finely it was made!

It bears it’s original maker’s label, proving the chair to be made by the American Chair Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

American Chair Co. furniture is so nice, it is mentioned at many fine collectible furniture websites as fine examples of Arts & Crafts furniture, even mentioned with names such as Stickley.

In terms of age, this chair was called “Grandfather’s chair,” having belonged to the 86 year old gentleman’s grandfather — so tack on another 40 years or so and that makes the chair 120+ years old!

We have it for sale here. You can contact me if you are interested in it!

Vintage Pin-Ups For The Nursery

Once upon a time, brightly-colored graphics on pressed layers of cardboard in the shape of characters from nursery rhymes, Mother Goose stories, and other childhood tales covered the walls in baby nurseries and children’s bedrooms.

Once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States joined World War II, Japanese imports disappeared from store shelves and American companies began to take over the toy and other markets once previously held by importers. At the end of the war, Phil Riley of the Dolly Toy Company in Tipp City, Ohio, designed this new kind of wall decoration. They were dubbed “Pin-Ups” and promptly patented.

The Pin-Ups hit stores in 1948, marking the entrance of Dolly Toy Co. into the “Baby Business”, and quickly spawning knock-offs. Dolly Toy would defend their patent in court — and win, thus cornering the paper Pin-Ups market. With such success behind them, Dolly Toy sought to increase their line. By the the 1950s, the company had created other matching décor items for baby’s room. Along with Tidee-Ups (a decorative wall hangers with pegs for clothing), there were lamps and even the company’s first Disney designs. By the early 1960s, crib mobiles would be sold too.

The following photos are of the Dolly Toy Co. items I have listed at Etsy. (You can also search eBay for deals too.)

I personally adore the vintage Western cowboy designs. I soooo wanted to do my son’s room in a vintage cowboy theme, but I didn’t have these then. I mentioned that to my son when he was about six years-old and he put his hand on my arm and said, “You can still do that it you want, Mom.” It just about broke my heart it was so sweet! Of course, now that he’s 11, all I get is an eyeball-roll. *sigh*

If some of these seem vaguely familiar or faintly nostalgic, even if you never had them in your family’s home, you may recall seeing them on reruns of at least one classic TV show.

According to the long-gone Dolly Toy website, Dolly Toy Co. products were featured on one of the most popular shows, I Love Lucy, thus making Pin-Ups part of The World’s Most Famous Nursery. While Dolly Toy Co. was not featured in the 1953 ad, you can spot the Pin-Ups in Desi Jr’s nursery — there’s Jack Jumping Over The Candlestick and what appears to be Mary & her Little Lamb.

A more complete Dolly Toy history (or corporate obituary, as the company ceased in 2008) can be found here.

Shake, Rattle, & Roly Poly

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?!

A Back To School Primer On Collecting Vintage Dick & Jane Books

Dick and Jane books are among the most popularly collected school books. This is because the series of books was used for over 40 years in American schools. That’s millions of children who were taught by Dick, Jane, Sally, Pam, Penny, Mike, their neighbors, families, and pets! Here’s a bit of history on the vintage Dick and Jane series of books.

In the late 1920s, Zerna Addis Sharp sought out William S. Gray, a renowned educational psychologist and reading authority from the University of Chicago, and pitched to him her philosophy that children are more receptive to reading if the books contained illustrations related to them and their lives. Gray was impressed enough to hire Sharp. While illustrations of the family Sharp created were published in earlier versions of primers by Scott, Foresman and Company, it wasn’t until later that Dick and Jane would appear by name.

In 1930, Gray and William H. Elson, along with May Hill Arbuthnot, created the Curriculum Foundation Series of books for Scott, Foresman and Company.  Here Dick & Jane and their family appeared in the first edition of the Curriculum Foundation Series pre-primer called Elson Basic Readers. In this edition, the baby sister was not named yet (she was simply called “Baby”), the cat was called “Little Mew”, and Spot, the dog, was a terrier.

In 1934, the pre-primer was renamed Dick and Jane and a second book, also a pre-primer, More Dick and Jane Stories, was added. In 1936, the series title changed to Elson-Gray Basic Readers to acknowledge Gray’s role in the series (Sharp was not acknowledged, despite what would be a 30 year career at Scott, Foresman & Company). Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward did the illustrations, and Marion Monroe also authored some of these early editions of the Dick and Jane books.

Scott, Foresman and Co. retired the Elson-Gray series in 1940, but Dick and Jane remained in the Basic Readers and their Think-and-Do workbooks. Now the baby sister is named Sally — and she gets a teddy bear named Tim, the cat becomes Puff, and Spot becomes a Cocker Spaniel. New books in the series were introduced in 1940 and 1946. In Canada, English and French versions of the Dick and Jane books were translated and published by W.J. Gage & Co., Limited; and British English versions were published by Wheaton in Exidir in the UK. Official Catholic editions of the series, the Cathedral Basic Readers, were created to teach religious themes along with reading. For example, Sally, Dick, and Jane was retitled Judy, John, and Jean to reflect Catholic Saints and to include stories on morality. In the 1946 edition, Tim the teddy was removed and a toy duck was added. Also, Texas had its own editions of the the books in 1946. Another author, A. Sterl Artley, began writing Dick and Jane books in 1947. By the end of the 1940s, the Collection Cathedral was published for French-Canadian Catholics.

By the 1950’s, over 80% of first-graders in the United States were learning to read with Dick and Jane. New editions whose titles began with “The New” were added, and Robert Childress would become the illustrator. But it was during this decade that Dick and Jane et al. would find themselves under strong attack. Concerned groups criticized everything from misrepresentations of perfection and other cultural issues to matters of literacy itself. In 1955’s Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolf Flesch blamed the look-say style of Dick and Jane readers for not properly teaching children how to read or appreciate literature. While phonetics were always a part of the Dick and Jane series, there was not enough for the growing movement of phonics fans. For all of these reasons, most of the major changes to the Dick and Jane series occurred in the 1960s.

In 1962, Helen M. Robinson was the new head author, the books had new material (including more phonics), new illustrations by Richard Wiley, and Dick and Jane had matured, in age and sophisticated. The initial printings of the 1962 soft-cover Dick and Jane books increased in page size and did not have the white tape reinforcement on the spine. The covers of these editions fell off rather easily — which is why they are so hard to find with covers intact.  As a result, Scott, Foresman and Company added the reinforced taped spines and advertised the feature heavily. (These books were never issued as hardcovers; any hardcover copies were either library bindings or were rebound later.)

But in 1965, both Civil Rights school integration and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act would continue to challenge the book publisher.

Scott, Foresman and Company worked to address the school integration and inclusion issues by once again employing Zerna Sharp’s literacy philosophy. The African-American family, including twins Pam and Penny and their brother Mike, first appeared in the 1964 Catholic School books; public school students were introduced to the African-American family in 1965. (In response to outrage from racist complaints, Scott, Foresman & Company offered alternative covers of the 1965 integrated books; these Child Art editions removed the characters from the covers and replaced them with finger-paint art designs. Later editions of Think and Do books just had solid color blocks.) Also in 1965, the Pacific Press Publishing Association published an integrated version of Fun With Dick and Jane for Seventh-day Adventists. Entitled Friends We Know, Jesus appears on the covers along with Dick, Jane and Mike.

In the mid 1960s, Scott, Foresman and Company tried to address the phonics issue by introducing books in an experimental language called Initial Teaching Alphabet or ITA. The Experimental Edition of the Scott-Foresman pre-primer was titled Nou Wee Reed. These ITA Dick and Jane books are rare finds.

In the late 1960s, the Dick and Jane books expanded to include three new series based on academic performance. For those performing below grade level, there was Open Highways. (Original printings of these books had “The Open Highways Readers” printed on the spine; later printings just had “Open Highways”.) For strong readers, Scott, Foresman and Company added Wide Horizons, self-directed readers which did not have workbooks, and for even more advanced or gifted readers, there was also Bright Horizons. Reading Inventory tests were added to the Dick and Jane series to use as a placement guide.

Despite all Scott, Foresman and Co. tried to do, the book publisher just couldn’t overcome all the objections, especially those regarding the too-perfect Dick and Jane world. The goody-goody kids and their ideal gender stereotyped simplicity was no longer relatable or desirable.  The series was officially ended in the late 1960s, replaced in 1970 with Scott, Foresman Reading Systems. (However, in 1975, the 1962 pre-primer was republished by the American Printing House for the Blind in a large type edition with black and white images for sight-impaired children.) Still, Dick and Jane books continued to be ordered and sold from warehouse stock well into the 1970s.

The books Dick and Jane collectors are searching for today are those which managed to be saved — and held onto — by teachers, staff, and students, despite the fact that many schools were even ordered to destroy all remaining copies of works in the series. For these reasons, along with the usual wear and tear of children’s books, finding vintage Dick and Jane books in pristine conditions is very difficult. Collectors learn to live with writings, doodles and marks, missing pages, etc. — or pay steep prices for not having signs of use.

Over the decades, many Dick and Jane materials were produced. Along with the readers and primers mentioned, there were other subject books, such as art, health, math, etc. There were teacher editions; books on teaching techniques; large display books placed on easels, called Our Big Book; posters and picture cut-outs for classroom display; picture and word flash cards; LP record albums; games for the classroom; and other teaching aids.

On the business end, Scott, Foresman and Co. sent out catalogs, newsletters, and promotional items, such as calendars, greeting cards, and Christmas ornaments. These items were produced in much smaller quantities and, being ephemeral in nature, are rare finds.

But Dick and Jane live on.

In 1977, George Segal and Jane Fonda would star in Fun with Dick and Jane, a film based on a Gerald Gaiser story about the failed promises of a Dick and Jane perfect world. (The film was remade with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni in 2005.)

In 2003, Grosset & Dunlap rereleased original Dick and Jane primers, selling over 2.5 million copies in just over a year even with a publisher disclaimer that the books were nostalgic and not to be used to teach children to read. Due to the popularity of the reissue, reproductions and new related merchandise featuring the iconic imagery and catch phrases, like “See Spot run!”, has been produced.

Additional Resources:

A rather complete list of original Dick and Jane books is here.

Carole Kismaric’s Growing Up with Dick and Jane: Learning and Living the American Dream captures the nostalgia while tracing the cultural points of the Dick and Jane series.

Image Credits:
(In order they appear)

Our Big Book, Dick and Jane Teacher’s Classroom Edition, via into_vintage.

First Dick and Jane book, the 1930 Elson Basic reader, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

Set of 11 vintage Dick and Jane readers from the 1940s and set of 13 readers from the 1950s, via Wahoos House.

The 1963 Judy, John And Jean New Cathedral Basic Reader, via Keller Books.

Set of 13 books from 1960s, via Wahoos House.

A set of 1930s Dick and Jane flashcards, via Wahoos House; vintage Dick and Jane Blackout Game, circa 1950s, and 1951 Poetry Time three-record Dick and Jane set, narrated in the voice of May Hill Arbuthnot one of the original Dick and Jane authors, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

The 1954 Scott, Foresman and Company Dick and Jane sales catalog, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

Vintage Chalkware Baby Statue With Removable Diapers

This vintage chalkware piece isn’t as creepy (or racist) as these vintage chalkware babies, but there’s still something creepy about the “hair” spray-painted on it… It reminds me of the old bowl-haircuts mom used to give us. *wink*

The baby’s diaper is cloth and even has old (rusty) safety pins holding them up. This I found surprising as, even though I collect old chalkware pieces, it is the first time I’ve seen clothing or fabric attached to a piece of chalkware that wasn’t of the erotic varieties. (I’ve seen a few female nudes in chalkware or plaster which have little fabric or fringed skirts of sorts.) Have any of you seen old chalkware items with which have anything removable like that?

Of Valentino, Mineralava Beauty Pageants & Pink Powder Puffs

As a feminist, I have a complicated, conflicted, relationship with beauty pageants. But this vintage booklet from the 1923 Mineralava Beauty Pageant fascinates me because of the man involved: Rudolph Valentino.

Not just some master of ceremonies, Valentino was both the star and the prize of this contest: “The Most Beautiful Woman In America May be the Leading Lady of Valentino’s Next Picture.”

When the silent film star walked out of his Famous Players-Lasky (FP-L) contract in 1923, the studio suspended him without pay and won an injunction that prevented him from working for another studio, leaving the decadent dandy desperate for money. In Rudolph Valentino & the Mineralava Tour of 1923, Edward Lorusso explains:

Desperate for money, Valentino and Rambova decided to create a dance act and tour the country for Mineralava Beauty Clay cosmetics. Starting in New York City’s Century Theatre at a benefit for the Actors Fund on a bill with Will Rogers and Jeanne Eagels, the couple caused a sensation and received 20 curtain calls. Valentino was stampeded by 300 fans as he left the theater. A Boston headline claimed “10,000 Girls Mob World’s Greatest Kisser.” The mobs became so predictable that Valentino and Rambova often escaped theaters over rooftops. The couple performed in 88 cities in the United States and Canada during a grueling 17-week tour. The hysteria followed them wherever they performed.

The dance tour garnered a tremendous amount of publicity and earned the couple a big weekly salary plus a percentage of the gate. They broke house records in several theaters. But while Valentino was mobbed by hordes of fans in every city, local newspaper coverage often sniped at his romantic movie image and professional dancing as being “unmanly.” Plus, Valentino was hawking beauty products that he claimed to use himself.

Following the example of dance idols Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, the Valentinos created exotic dances and sumptuous costumes to the accompaniment of their own traveling orchestra. They performed a number of dances, but the tango routines were the ones that always brought down the house.

The beauty contest (the Miss America contest started in 1921) was another publicity angle of the tour. Mineralava sponsored a contest in each of the tour’s 88 cities and Valentino “judged” all the contestants. Then all 88 beauties descended on New York City, where they were paraded up Fifth Avenue to the Madison Square Garden. A young David O. Selznick made a short film of the contest called Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties; the film survives and is a fascinating glimpse at a “natural” Rudolph Valentino as well as the beauty contest styles of the day. Selznick shows the terrifying hordes of people who mobbed the streets outside Madison Square Garden, hoping for a glimpse of Valentino. Inside the Garden, the 88 girls come out onto a stage that is surrounded by crowds. Each girl (most with bobbed hair and bee-stung lips) parades in a gown and sash proclaiming her city and carrying (for some unknown reason) a ribboned Bo-Peep staff.

More details on the tour here, including a list of the tour stops.

Along with being a great advertising piece, I find this vintage booklet to be a lovely little piece of women’s history, combining the power of the women as consumers with their status as prey for marketers. Along with the testimonials from “women in American Homes,” collectors of silent film will also enjoy all the celebrity endorsements from silent film stars such as Nazimova, Mae Murray, Marion Davies, and Marie Prevost.

Other items from this beauty pageant tour can be found too. Donna L. Hill, author of Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs (who also runs Rudolph-Valentino.com, owns this original trophy from the Mineral Lava Beauty Contest in Baltimore. (The Baltimore contestant came in third overall in the national contest.)

Along with trophies, Mineralava gave out boudoir dolls of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova to contest winners.

As fabulous as this pageant was for Valentino (it did get him a better contract — if also assisting in the “Pink Powder Puff” slur) and, one presumes, Scott’s Mineralava Beauty Clay, at the time, the story doesn’t really end well… Valentino’s life lasted just a few more years and Mineralava seems only a footnote in the life of Valentino.

Image Credits:
Images of the 1923 Mineralava Beauty Pageant booklet, measuring 5 1/2 by 8 inches, via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.

Photo of the Mineralava trophy belongs to Donna L. Hill; found via Cinema OCD.

Old newspaper archive photo of Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova boudoir dolls found in The Doll of Choice by Movie Stars & Naughty Girls, by Linda Wulfestieg (published in Contemporary Doll Collector, March 2009).

Airspun In Central Park

This photo, titled Makeup, Central Park, was taken by Frank Paulin 1955.

The photograph itself is a 20 x 16 inches gelatin silver print, signed and dated on verso. But what’s most fascinating to me is the powder compact, clearly from Coty. The Coty Airspun powder-puff design debuted in 1939 and now has been around so long it’s iconic enough to be spotted easily.

Naughty Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens

Would you trust them to mind your coats and hats? What about your children’s belongings? I spotted this vintage wooden novelty coat rack in an antique mall. Painted blue and white, the cat tails are the pegs to hold your children’s clothing.

Vanity: Thy Name Is Woman

One of the things I love most about this vintage photo of a woman (obviously showing off her stockings in an erotic “French postcard” way) is the old boudoir doll on the vanity. You don’t see a lot of photos of boudoir dolls!

Mothers Say The Darndest Things

Did you ever notice that as a mother you have all these little odd sayings… Weird sing-songy ways of announcing bed time, meal time, to comfort your children, etc. Some of them were handed down to you from your own mother — who may or may not have heard them from her own mother. Somethings you say, you picked up from your children — like when your toddler isn’t forming the words just right, but you understand him anyway and use his words to communicate with him. (Speech therapists do not like that; but we do it now and then!) Other words and sayings are just part of that secret world of parenthood, things we sing or say along the way that become recognizable comfortable traditions of communication.

My mother has a whole slew of words that she’s entirely made up. Words and sayings I didn’t know weren’t real until I used them around others and received only quizzical and comical responses. Embarrassing then; much beloved now.

As a society, we have such expressions too. Quite often you can find these old sayings on antique and vintage prints, like this one, from an art deco 1920s calender, illustrated by L Goddardfeaturing. At the bottom it reads, “Baby is Going to Bye-Lo Land.”

Up until now, I’ve never heard of “Bye-Lo Land.”

Images via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.

Charming, Yes; Charmin, No. (Identifying & Valuing Vintage Prints Of Children)

I’ve been running into a lot of new collectors of vintage and antique things at Listia; I kind of feel like I’m becoming a resident expert, both it terms of being able to help folks and because of the amount of time I spend at Listia. *wink* I don’t normally take the time to give detailed responses, let document (blog), all the requests but this time there was great merit in doing so…

This is the question from Sherry:

Hi my name is Sherry and I saw a comment that ya posted on another auction about ya writing about antiques and collectibles online. I have been in search of someone to talk to about some pictures I have that were left here years back. My nephew was living with me as well as his girl friend. When they broke-up she left plenty behind. My nephew thought I had burnt all that was left. He freaked out and said there were photo’s that cost a lot of money, because they were some of the Charmin Toilet Paper Girls.

By the style clothing that are being worn in the photo’s I can only assume they are from the 50’s – 60’s maybe older. I do not recall commercials from back then, so I have no idea if these are even worth anything. Is there away ya might be able to help me figure these photo’s out? Thank You in advance.

I was pretty sure what Sherry had were prints, but since she had called them photos I was glad she had sent me some scans (some of which I’ve included here).

What Sherry has are vintage promotional prints from Northern Paper Mills aka Northern Tissue. The series of prints was called American Beauties, illustrated by Frances Hook. (You can see her signature printed on the little girl’s shoulder that doesn’t have the kitten on the scan above.) Hook is most known now for her religious works, but her career began in commercial illustration for various advertisements as well as illustrations to supplement magazine stories. Her American Beauties begin to appear in the Northern Tissue advertisements in 1958 as the original Northern Girls. On March 23, 1959, the first rolls of tissue featuring the girls were shipped from the mill and tissue sales skyrocketed —

And prompting the corporate response to sell the prints.

The first American Beauty prints were available as a set of four: one baby girl and three little girls.

Not long after, the company released Northern Towel’s All American Boys, a set of three prints of little boys.

Not much later, Northern asked Hook “if she would take our little “American Beauty” girls and cast them into some fresh new poses” — for both the toilet tissue packaging as well as an additional print set (also four prints).

That would bring the total of American Beauty girl prints to eight. As far as I know, the All-American Boys series remained at three prints. Which brings the overall total of the Northern prints by Hook to eleven. All prints were available in multiple sizes: 11″ by 14″, 8″ by 10″, and 5″ by 7″.

You know I don’t like to discuss monetary values, but this is another opportunity to discuss some collecting basics…

Generally speaking, the larger the quantity of art prints (and anything else) made, the less the value they have. According to Georgia-Pacific, who now owns the Northern brand, “Offers for prints of the girls and Northern Towel’s All American Boys break records with 30 million sets of prints being sold by 1966.” Which means there were and still are a large number of these prints out in circulation.

However, as these pieces are advertising collectibles, they do have some cross-collecting appeal. Again, these prints are a bit less desirable as they were mass produced — as well as more likely to be saved — which means more of them are available.

Like most collectibles, these prints come and go in popularity; which means the prices go up & down. Because they are desired primarily for the nostalgia (“I had those prints in my bedroom!”) or a sense of nostalgia (“I love those vintage baby prints!”), their ability to match decor or gender of child for a specific room, the size of the prints (available wall space), and/or for the appeal of individual images themselves (one may look just like their son or grandson, etc.), prices can vary quite a bit for each print.

And, of course, condition of the print itself matters; not only in terms of tears, creases, spots, etc., but in terms of the color of the prints, such as fading of the colors or tanning of the paper itself which weakens the contrast of colors (and usually the strength of the paper itself). Those prints with spots and damages on the faces especially will likely have no interest (no value). However, someone, on Lista or elsewhere where you have no seller fees, might want these imperfect prints for altered art or collage projects.

Depending upon the condition of the paper, etc., right now they could be worth anywhere from $1 to $9 a piece in today’s market. How do I get that value range? Based on the information discussed above and years of dealing in collectibles — and by getting a “snapshot” of the market by using eBay. I looked at current sales of these prints as well as recent past (closed) auction sales values, searching for Northern American Beauty prints by Frances Hook, and variations on those words. I also checked searches for Charmin print — as a great number of folks mistakenly think these prints were put out by Charmin toilet tissue.

You can check eBay for current and very recently closed auction sales prices too — anytime, for anything. You can also use Price Miner. Checking periodically does take time, but that’s the best way to see if there’s an increase in demand or a decrease in offerings of these prints — both of which will mean higher prices. If and when that happens, you might want to list them for sale. The prices may rise again; a few years ago, I sold individual prints for $10 to $29 each.  You just need nostalgia and or the appeal of sweet charming children to sweep back into home decorating again.

Additional image credits: Vintage Northern Girls Tissue ad via Jon Williamson; American Beauty Portraits Folder via undoneclothing; All American Boys prints photo via jwenck; Northern Paper Mills ephemera abut the prints via With A Grateful Prayer

Antique Advertising In Japanese Travel Guide

More scans from that antique, turn of the century, Japan travel guide; these are advertisements found in the back of the book.

S. Nishimura, “one price silk store,” founded in 1604.

K. Kawata, another silk vendor ad, this one targeting “Ladies desiring Embroideries or Drawn Work.”

K. Tamamura, “the leading photographer of Japan.”

K. Kimbei, a photographic studio promoting magic lantern slides, among other items.

An ad for the Nagasaki Hotel.

The top half of this ad is for the Batchelor’s Hair-Dressing Rooms, “Ladies’ Department under the sold supervision of Mons. Mogaillard, a clever Parisian Artist.” (Note that cigars are also available — for gentlemen only, I’m sure!) The bottom half is for C. & J. Favre-Frandt, an import-export shop.

Pope & Co. worries that you’ll perish from hunger on trips to the interior! The small print mentions tinned goods, but the large print mentions wines, liquors and cigars. The next page is a continuation of their ad which meantions specific champagnes, whiskey — and Schlitz Beer!

Ride A Cockhorse

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.