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?

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.

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

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.

What’s In Store? Real Photo Postcards, 1907

One of the most fascinating areas of collecting antique and vintage photographs are those images showing the interior of shops and retails stores — like these real photo postcards, circa 1907.

Notice the well-dressed help and the tin tiles on the walls; the fine array of items, such as china in the display cases, the baby buggies and strollers… Oh, the things you could see with the actual antique postcard in your hand and a magnifying glass!

In this next image, there are plenty of guns, tools, keys, and hardware — along with spinning wheels, a few stray things, such as coffee pots and lanterns. On the walls there are other intriguing photographs… Lots of lovely ladies — including one with two horses! Perhaps a circus act? Among all the beauties, what appears to be the bottom half a wrestler or other male athlete.

Images via Lynnstudios.

Sweet Vintage Glass Storage Jars For The Nursery

I spotted this charming set of glass storage jars with lids at a Minnesota antique mall. Obviously for the nursery, the frosted glass jars have white bunny rabbits. The jars are labeled with common-for-the-day items for baby: “Boric Acid,” “Baby Oil,” “Nipples,” and “Cotton.”

Vintage Birthday Greetings From Goldilocks & The Three Bears

This vintage greeting card has birthday wishes from Goldilocks and Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, aka The Three Bears.

Along with the cute illustrations (there are even three bowls of porridge on the back!), this card opens to reveal a four-page storybook!

The story is, naturally, of Goldilocks And The Three Bears.

The back of the card only bears the stock number (565) and Made in U.S.A., but the back of the little story-booklet (also marked 565 and made in the U.S.A., so it’s surely its original mate) says the copyright belongs to A.G.C.C., 1949.

A.G.C.C. made several versions of these greeting cards for children with nursery rhyme story inserts — a great way to begin collecting vintage greeting cards!

Now in our Etsy shop.

Adorable Vintage Childrens Wooden Hangers

I don’t know where Joan “No More Wire Hangers, Ever!” Crawford stood on wooden hangers, but I’m guessing she wasn’t a fan. However, these cute vintage wooden hangers for the nursery might have made her at least think of them as adorable display pieces…

Painted pink, with decals of kittens and little girls, I nearly bought these at a local thrift shoppe… But at $2 a piece, I left them all there.

When I went back with second thoughts a day later, all of them had sold.

I left empty handed, with a heavy heart, reminded once again that the time to buy something is when you see it.

Ephemera Collector Saves Baby & Bathwater From Being Tossed Out

Ephemera collector Dick Sheaff shares this 1875 carte de visite (CDV) photograph by William Shaw Warren of Boston which seems to be the source for The Pond’s Extract Company’s trade card advertising.