Vintage Camera & Photography Ephemera Garland

Whether or not you an add another camera to your collection, you may want to consider this Vintage Camera Garland from Christine of Flapper Girl:

This garland celebrates the beauty of vintage cameras with a Wardette, Starflash, Brownie Hawkeye, a handful of retro lightfilter boxes, and two photos documenting what fun can be had with a camera in tow!

All components of this garland were hand-cut by me. The vintage cameras and lightfilters depicted in this garland are from my personal collection, and were photographed and edited by me.

Garland measures approx. 48″ long.

I love how everything looks like prints drying on the wires in a darkroom.

Flappergirl offers other paper garlands, in varying themes, in her Etsy shop — and I find them very inspiring:

These garland designs are the result of my endless fascination with, research into, and love of their subjects. Countless hours are spent collecting and assembling the perfect elements for each piece.

Each garland design is uniquely considered, elegant, and beautiful. Everything is hand-cut, hand-folded, and hand-glued. My passion and dedication is evident in their small, unexpected details and craftsmanship, making them unique and delicate treasures.

Beasts Of Burden: Recycling Plastic Toys Into Planters

I found this idea for novelty planters at The Daily Telecraft: Brainstorm: What to do with plastic animals! [Large & small]. Just Dremel out a section on the beast’s back, spray paint them, fill them with dirt and add a small plant or cactus.

It’s a great way to recycle those plastic animal toys the kids have left behind as well as to fill-out a windowsill or other spot with groupings of vintage animal planters.

If you have a green thumb but are all butter-fingers with a Dremel, here are some planters ready to purchase!

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

Pickers Sisters

Picker Sisters On Lifetime

Last Tuesday, August 2, 2011, Picker Sisters aired on the Lifetime Television. (If you were confused by the ads showing American Pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz promoting the show on the History Channel, that’s because both Lifetime and History are part of A&E Television Networks — but that really didn’t help those who went to The History Channel on Tuesday night and, confused, wondered why the TV promos weren’t as clear as they could have been.)

The show’s premise is that best friends and interior designers, Tracy Hutson and Tanya McQueen (of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home EditionPicker Sisters has the same producer, RelativityREAL) are on the hunt for what Wolfe and Fritz would call “farm fresh rusty gold” to turn into “stunning pieces for their Los Angeles home decor pop-up shop.”

[I don’t want to start any rumors, but I can’t find a single reference to this shop… Or where it ever pops up. Establishing shots in show episodes feature the store front with a sign that indicates the shop is named I-10. But not only did searches find nothing, neither are there details or links at Hutson’s offical site, the official Facebook page, Tanya McQueen’s Twitter, the official Hutson-McQueen blog, etc.]

Alan Luxmore, Tracy Hutson, and Tanya McQueen

To assist the designers in the creative process, there’s a third cast member, contractor, Alan Luxmore, himself with connections to Extreme Makeover and previous host of A&E’s Fix This Yard.

Despite early complaints or fears (primarily based on the American Pickers‘ promos) that Picker Sisters was going to emphasize pretty women (including the use of short-shorts and other feminine charms in order to get deals), I was looking forward to the show. Like Cash & Cari, I was hoping this series would emphasize decorating both in terms of objects and projects; much like Cash & Cari, I was to be disappointed.  As with Cash & Cari, I was hoping we’d not only have the Picker Sisters show us what they transformed, but how it was done. But it misses that mark.

Since the success of these collecting shows is partially dependent on the personality of the cast, it bears mentioning that Hutson and McQueen come across as Valley Girls meet former professional NFL cheerleaders; perhaps a bit to bubbly and hair-twirly for most of us. (And those 80’s headbands only emphasis it.)

I don’t want to bash these beauties for how they look; that would be as wrong as saying someone isn’t good-looking enough to be on TV. But there are practical matters here…

Those of us willing to pick on farms, through old industrial items, etc., we don’t only have work gloves, we wear jeans or long pants to protect our legs — no matter how fab our legs look in short shorts.  I get that they are on camera, but aren’t they annoyed enough by their own Farrah Fawcett locks, blowing into their eyes, sticking to the sweat on their necks, to put it up in a ponytail or something? I’m less worried about two grown women — complete with camera crew — getting hurt heading off with strange men than I am about cuts, infections and diseases from stumbling about improperly dressed in places where tetanus and hantaviruses make excellent bedfellows.

As I mentioned, I feel that Luxmore‘s work is slighted… But perhaps that’s because he’s an actor playing a character role.  In the few scenes Luxmore is in, he plays the frustrated “daddy” to the two little girls on the road, ominous about projects, money spent, design ideas. Worse, he’s shown working while appearing straight out of some Gap ad or GQ photo-shoot, his black sleeveless muscle shirt taunt across his chest, tightly and neatly tucked into crisp belted green khakis. If he’s a master of the 100 hour build, why is he playing a stock masculine character, one part beefcake one part paternal male disapproving of his errant shopping sex kittens?

Like his female cast members, Luxmore ought to dress for the work at hand. We’ll notice he’s handsome, anyway, I promise.

Overall, the show feels far more Hollywood glossy than “unscripted” (the new word for reality shows). While this may appeal to a certain part of the television audience, I feel it’s a disservice to the cast — showing them more as pretty and, due to the lack of “reality,” more bumbling than the educated and experienced people they are. Coupled with the absence of any shop or announcements of where it will appear, the pretty posing makes me feel the shop is simply a premise. Television does blur with tinsel town, you know, so it all feels too glossy, too fake…

Tracy Hutson & Tanya McQueen On The Road

Perhaps we’re supposed to enjoy the fashionista-fish out of water thing… But McQueen, Hutson and Luxmore are build and design heavyweights, so maybe they should have left them a little more raw and saved all the polishing for the finished project pieces.

That said, there are good things in the show…

There’s less of a monetary focus on the show; though that could simply be due to the too-small price / sold graphics.

And it is fun to see the before and afters — even if it is at sacrificing how it’s done.  I consider myself a creative person, a visual person with an eye for seeing the potential in “junk” and I’m not bored with what I’ve seen so far — far from it, I’m inspired by all the repurposing of industrial items!

I won’t be glued to episodes, but I will watch more of Picker Sisters. Even if I am hoping the show format itself will undergo a transformation of it’s own.

PS Because Lifetime quickly signed on for a seven-part, one-hour series (originally entitled To Live and Buy), I’m not sure we’ll see any changes in Picker Sisters; the slick format’s likely set.

PPS Check out the comments below for more & updates!

Displaying Collections With Antique Printer’s Trays & Other Little Wooden Shelves

Over at Crazy Suburban Mom, Tracy wonders what to do with antique printer’s trays.

Is it best to hang them or set them on something – And do you set things in them or attach them inside the little boxes?

I’ve seen them painted but I really don’t want to do that…

I’d love it to end up looking cool and eclectic but not like something off the show Hoarders. I want it to look cohesive not a big ol’ hairy mess…

I don’t have any old wooden printer’s drawers; if we did have them, they’d likely be filled with old print blocks. (And while most of the print blocks would be hubby’s, guess who’d get to dust it? *wink*)

Although, we shouldn’t overlook the original and obvious intent of keeping it flat, storing and organizing anything from screws to Legos in it. But this is a collectors’ blog, so I’m going to stick to displaying collectibles. Plus, as the drawer has no cover, it would need to be stored flat in a place not likely to be disturbed.  (If you have one of those places, please tell me how to get one! lol)   I highly recommend the wooden drawer is to be hung on the wall for the most visual appeal; you can use small amounts of museum putty to hold the items safely and securely in place.

I remember that my mom once used to display her thimble collection in a printer’s tray. If you have a collection of “the same things” to fit inside, this is the ultimate way to keep things from looking like a “big ol’ hairy mess.”  As many decorators advise in general: keep to a theme.

Here’s an example of glassware and travel souvenirs; however, even those pieces are likely too large for the spaces in a drawer meant to hold printers blocks. You might have smaller items on a theme… Buttons, marbles, shells, rocks and minerals, pinbacks, vintage game pieces, jewelry, coins, fishing lures… Even if only half the little objects on display are say, marbles, the number of them will move the eye about and give the cohesive look of a theme.

Another interior design principal for creating a unified look is to select a color palette for the items on display. Since the antique wood is rather dark, and the spaces small, I’d suggest light colors to create more of a contrast and visual interest; perhaps whatever bits and bobs you have in shades of white and ivory… Again, even if you can’t carry the color theme throughout the entire drawer, proper placement, spreading the items of common color around, will create the impression of a carefully cultivated, organized collection.

Personally, I find little displays of “whatever” to be quite charming. Here’s an small wooden antique shelf, with nicely scrolled details, that I’ve put little bits of random childish sentimental loveliness upon.

Yes, every item in there has a story — and it’s my hope that whoever visits our house will ask to hear each and every one!

That’s only likely to happen when another collector visits. And one who has already heard the stories behind all the larger, more attention-grabbing items and collections in the house. A pretty tall order indeed. *wink*

Great Way To Display Collectible Travel Postcards & Souvenirs

I spotted this clever display at an antique mall and I thought it would be great for use in the home too: a simple vintage wall shelf, with the vintage postcards in the little spaces for knick knacks — the vases and glassware keep the postcards upright.

Wouldn’t it be great to pair travel postcards with little travel souvenirs? It would be like a 3D scrapbook that everyone could see!

Of course, you don’t have to be limited to postcards or travel items; any ephemera of a similar size would work. Antique trade and advertising cards paired with related smalls; vintage paper and fabric bookmarks with metal bookmarks; baseball cards with signed baseballs in cases — nearly endless ideas!

(I would advocate placing the postcards and other ephemera inside those firm plastic sleeves first, to keep them protected.)

Pick & Grin – Christmas Memories – Time to Tear Down the Tree

Pick: I suppose it is time. Time to take down the tree, put all the ornaments in their boxes, until next year. We are the only ones in our ‘group’ who have a live tree. When the kids were small, we’d work on putting it up for a few days. You’d do the lights, the girls would put the ‘unbreakables’ near the bottom and I’d do the top part.

Grin: I remember a few of the early years when our trees were SO crooked that we’d have to wire them to the window hardware. Otherwise, they’d tip over. We got numerous comments , none of them good.

Pick: We have talked about getting an artificial tree, but then you mentioned the ‘limited space’ in our attic. And I truly love the smell of a real tree. A friend has an artificial one and her son-in-law always walks up to it, takes a good sniff and retorts “Ahh, the smell of dust!” I don’t want that from my son-in-laws. (Not that either would be so crass – ha!)

Grin: And then there is the concern of the ornaments. The ones from your grandmother, for example. If you left them on the tree, you would worry until next year if one would be broken when moved around. So, since we have to take it all down and wrap them, we’ll keep the live tree. But is there any way we can eliminate some of those ornaments?

Pick: Each time I pack and unpack I have fond memories. I remember putting that exact angel on our tree-top at home. She has withstood the test of time. And the bird with the tail-feathers, why, that was my grandmother’s and there is precious little from her.

Grin: That is understandable – you’ll always want to keep that one. But what about these poorly-painted ceramic ornaments.? They are a bit tacky on your classy tree. And we have so many to pack away.

Pick: But don’t you remember these? We made them with the kids when they were about 8 or 9 years old! They are very special to me.

Grin: OK then, but these plastic ones can go. They are out of date and very cheap too!

Pick: Now wait a minute – those are the bottom-of-the-tree ornaments. Nicholas, our youngest grandson can still come over and touch things. You know how I want to be a ‘fun grandma.’ And then if our Westie knocks one off when he strolls past, who cares? You need the lesser ones near the bottom.

Grin: Sounds like you have rationale for every one on this tree. But then, I am not surprised. It is the same with your year-round decorations. Everything has a special memory, or makes you smile to recall where you found it or who gave it to you. Someday, the house will just sink slowly into the ground.

Pick: You exaggerate – there is still room in the basement for a few things and the attic has a bit of room.

Grin: Dear, if you started collecting toothpicks, we’d be in trouble. But let’s get back to the tree.

Pick: It will look so darn empty in this room when it is gone. Can you put up an Easter Tree?

End (Table) Of The Road For Industrial Americana

Andrea Porter, an honors graduate from Fashion Institute of Technology, spent over 14 years working in the textile business until one day she found herself in need of a new coffee table. Unhappy with the current options available in today’s commercial design world, she decided to look into the past and created a coffee table out of an old rusted gear she’d previously found at a flea market. When the newly repurposed piece came home from the local welder and friends began to express interest in having their own, gears began to turn in Porter’s mind… Now, with the help of her sister, Ameri Spurgin, Porter cranks out repurposed items from the past into new functional pieces of home decor via Arms and Barnes.

The company’s name honors the sisters’ childhood nicknames while the company itself honors the American past in (re)purpose and motto, “Finding the beauty and potential in things forgotten.”

Old industrial, factory and farming items (such as iron fence pieces, old gears, thrasher wheels), architectural pieces (like scrolled window grates, register vents, fire place covers) and even more domesticated pieces (cast iron cookware and the wooden harness of weaving looms, for example) now find themselves converted into practical, conversational, chic tables for your home.

Joel Hester does something similar with scrapyard metal.

Mortuary Blood Jars and Other Collectibles To Die For.

Pick & Grin from Antiquips brings you bizarre finds.

Part of the joy in collecting or selling antiques and collectibles is the people you meet. Sharing the stories of the hunt, the success in finding a super item at a great price or selling one for a king’s ransom. Mistakes are forgotten, and the next great find is only a matter of time.

“What do you collect?”, can start an hour of conversation.  So it is when we stop at a consignment shop called DJ’s Antique’s in Greenfield, Wisconsin and engage in a bit of chit-chat with Don the owner and Trisha, whose claim to fame is properly displaying the latest “must haves”. Her own passion in collecting is rather unusual, funeral or death related items. Now any old collector/seller has something in that category or at least Pick had some large ornate casket handles, a casket plate and some cabinet photos of funerals.

Pick: I purchased the handles in the last century to be used as a towel bar, but!!!

Grin: I know that “but”, I just never got around to getting them up.

Pick: That better be the only thing you don’t get up.

Grin: I know!!

Pick: I decided to offer that stuff to Trisha for her collection. That’s why your recent purchase of blood jars came as a surprise. I couldn’t tell if you were a serious bidder when the pair of red amber mortuary bleeding jars came up for auction at our last visit to Bailey’s Honor Auctions held in Wisconsin.

Grin: I had looked at them during preview when auctioneer Carol Miller was explaining that they came from an estate and were called “mortuary bleeding jars.” Their cone shape, and old rusty wire hangers drew my attention. I spotted the pair and considered the shape to be unusual even without the provenance. The color was also unique. They first appeared amber, but holding them up, the color looked redder. The only markings are on the rim and it reads “Klip Kup, Patn. Applied For.”  And on the flattened bottom end, it has the initials MP.

Pick: I can’t find one single item or any reference to these two glass containers on line or in books.

Grin: Nor can I. But when the bidding was still within reason and the other bidder dropped out I was the owner of two used blood bowls.

We had discussed our strategy before the auction trying to curb our enthusiasm for only the most unusual items to fill our antique mall case and on-line stores. Now what could be more interesting than mortuary jars?

Pick: The Jaguar Hearse used in the movie Harold & Maude.

Grin: You’ve got me there.

More from the Antiquips: Bringing Things Home

Pick: That was such a fun auction we went to the other night! Lots of variety, friendly crowd, and it moved along quickly too. My favorite thing was the treasure we got, almost a piece of your family heritage!

Grin: I started my inspection of the items going up for auction at the far end of the hall, and had found several pieces that were of interest. When I finally got to the second last table, there were the three items from the old Gridley Dairy that my grandfather had worked at during the (first) Great Depression.

Pick: You showed me the paper sign, amber-colored milk bottle and the mini-milk can and I could tell you were excited by them. You turned the can around to show the company’s name and location and even the date of “1935.” I asked if your grandpa would have worked there then and you exclaimed “Yes.”

Grin: Over the years, I have bought a couple of bottles with Gridley on them and some paper advertising in the form of recipe books. Nothing expensive, nor rare or too exciting. They are in our Depression-era farm and advertising collection, resting on our antique oak ice box.

Pick: This was a large auction and had numerous items for sale. But we were relieved to see those items brought up front early for bidding. The paper sign was first and I asked if I should bid for it.

Grin: When bidding started, I contemplated trying to get the sign, but the price soon escalated past what I considered to be reasonable. Paper is pretty delicate and not easily displayed when not framed.

Pick: When the runner held up the can and the bottle, I was “at the ready” to bid, asking you how high I should go. They were offering “choice of the two”, meaning we could get one or the other for the bid-price. The bidding was pretty active with three of us in early, then down to two. Our price came and went and I still bid a few more times, but alas, we realized we could not get the can. But to our surprise, the bidder took the bottle and they re-opened bidding. We got it for half what our top bid would have been.

Grin: Part of my interest in this milk can was its size. It can easily be displayed inside the house and not stuck in the garden or on the driveway where some of our other milk cans have been placed. I am not sure what the contents of this can might have been but have a suspicion that it was used In a commercial setting. It have been used to deliver heavy-cream to a bakery or restaurant.

Pick: Well, you know how we love to send things back home! That is the ultimate recycling. We have shipped collectibles back to their original owners quite a few times and that just tickles us. Remember the Ruby Farms thermometer?

Grin: That one went back to the granddaughter of the original owner. And how often do we send advertising items found on our travels back to the city of their origination? Many times!

These are going to collectors that have an interest in preserving part of their town’s history.

Pick: Another thing we sold that brought fond memories to a buyer was the calendar from the dairy near Madison, Wisconsin. The winner kindly shared with us that he had worked that very farm in the 1960s, alongside his favorite cousin.

Grin: Didn’t you just tell me about another treasure that you sent back home?

Pick: Oh, you mean the ashtray. It was from the Golden Zither Restaurant in Milwaukee. The winner was so happy to get it. He got engaged to his wife in that very restaurant many years back. They are close to their 40th anniversary and he is planning to give it to her as part of their gift. Oh, how romantic!

Grin: We’ll have to share other ‘recyling’ stories down the road. I just read about a nearby auction…

Vintage China Nightlights

At a local antique mall, the Moorhead Antique Mall, I spotted another idea for salvaging vintage china pieces: turning tea cup saucers into nightlights.

I’ve also seen old cups (with and without saucers) turned into night lights (or night lamps), like this one by micah7:

But I think that since the vertical saucers are flatter and nearer to the wall, they are less likely to be damaged by an inattentive person vacuuming. (But maybe that’s just a problem at my house?)

I’ve never tried making night lights from china pieces, but if you want to give it a try, here are a few helpful “how to” links:

Cutting ceramics with a wet saw

How To Cut Plates Using Two Wheeled Cutters

How to cut a plate using Leponitt Cutters

Wielding your wheeled cutters

Also, your local hardware store may offer cutting services for a fee.

Some of Them are Real Knobs

Typically, you grab the knob, turn it to open the door and step inside. How many doorknobs have you had in your hand and not really noticed them at all?  I like the unique, decadent doorknobs made of crystal, glass and metals. I’ve seen especially nice brass doorknobs in Creemore, Ontario.

If you look for antique or vintage doorknobs online you will find yourself pulling up a lot of salvage sites. As an explorer of old and abandoned homes I’m not quite happy about salvage companies/ people who basically find old houses so they can rob them and then sell their stolen good for a lot of money. While I may cross the line and fall into trespassing on property to get photos, I don’t harvest, remove or take away anything from inside the house. I usually don’t even go inside of them at all. “Take only photos; leave only footsteps” is the basic rule for urban and rural explorers.

There are a lot of places that sell salvaged hardware from old houses. I don’t think you can ever know if they come by the hardware legitimately or not. It’s a shame because the old doorknobs are so glamorous and decadent, very hard to resist. Some modern hardware is designed to replicate the old. This seems a better option to me. Or, there are artists who work with glass, brass and other materials. I’m sure you could commission a truly unique, glamorous and decadent doorknob. It may not be old but it could be even better, designed to your own style.

Flickr: Glass Doorknobs

Flickr: Doorknobs and Doorhandles

Flickr: Knobs and Handles

TV or not TV-That is the Question

Pick-Let’s talk some more about the antique recycling in our home.

Grin-Does that mean you are finally going to clean out your clothes closet?

P-No, silly. I mean our “decorating recycling”, things we have saved from a dumpster or land fill by fixing it up and putting it to a good use. How about discussing our latest find-our Big Screen TV?

G-Well, that was your idea and it’s no wonder you want to tell everyone about it.

P-Well, as far as that goes, you have some bragging rights too. You negotiated the price and got us a super-deal. And you made the improvements! It sure is fun to tell our friends and family about our new TV set.  They know we’ve just recently replaced our black and white set with a color TV. So, they are astounded when we make the announcement.  Remember when our son-in-law asked if it was a “flat screen” and we responded with “it’s actually convex.” The look on his face.

G-So why don’t we tell the readers the whole story. It was your off-the-cuff comment while exploring an antique mall that prompted our purchase.

P-Oh, I remember walking into the booth and seeing the old Crosley cabinet – it was in great shape except no knobs or “guts” and I said you know what would look great in that 10” opening, a digital picture frame. You just left and went to the counter to have them contact the dealer, hopefully for a better price. I was not even aware that you were doing that, thinking you were not too thrilled with the concept.

G-The dealer accepted the offer and when we got it home, the work began.

P-Getting the right digital frame was the easy part, but I was a bit concerned about the hardware, especially the little light I recalled from TV’s of my youth.

G-I knew I had knobs for a TV or radio cabinet downstairs. I do keep all of that stuff.

P-And you think I never throw anything out, right!

G-Even with all the junk I have, I could not locate a rotary on/off switch with a long enough neck to fit through the wood of this cabinet.

P-Now, come on. What about your box in the electrical section that reads “rotary switches-long necked.”

G-Very funny, that box was empty. Finally, at the third store I found a switch. It was the type of store that has even more useless things than I have.  I also found a lens that fit into the hole for the indicator light.  You should remember that it took such a long time for the tubes to warm up and the indicator light let you know it was turned on.

P-That’s WAAAAY before my time, but I do know that you have a built-in indicator that tells me when you are warmed up.  I do remember mom sending me in to start it up before the Friday Night Fights came on.

G-Was that any time when your rowdy family got together?

P-You are such a hoot!

G-Our last step was downloading pictures of family and friends and then we were set to turn it on.

P-It worked great but something was missing. To make it look authentic, we needed a 1950s TV lamp.

G-And no TV from that time frame would work without an antenna. We city dwellers would use rabbit ears that could be adjusted to pick up BOTH TV stations.

P-Will we also need aluminum foil for the top of the ears? I think you still have a ball of foil from the “war drive.”

G-What war was that, One or Two? Back to our project. We easily found several TV lamps from that time period and the antenna was spotted at an estate sale.

P-It’s now complete, even have a doily that your mom made to finish it off. And when our son-in-law, the one with the mega-screen saw it, he laughed out loud, but I think I saw a bit of “screen-is-envy” there.

G-You have always been so classy. You are a work in progress too, but good fun. It’s always great to work on projects with you.

P-Back Atcha!

Tip for IV’s Collectors: Unlike regular retail establishments, most antique stores and malls have a level for discounting the price. Be sure to ask at the counter when shopping what is the stores discount policy.  If an item is very expensive, you just might be able to negotiate by asking the mall personnel to contact the dealer. They often comply if you have an offer you’re willing to pay.


The Curious Case of Fiesta Go Alongs

First, there’s that curious name: Fiesta “go alongs.”

(Or is it “go with”? I’ve seen that tag used in eBay item descriptions.) What, exactly, does either phrase mean?

Classic Go Along: Hankscraft Egg Cooker
The long-acknowledged Fiesta experts, Bob & Sharon Huxford, describe go alongs in their book,  Collector’s Encyclopedia of Fiesta (10th ed. 2005). Simply, these collectibles were “…made by other manufacturers to ‘go along’ with Fiesta dinnerware.”
Mexican + Dishes Design Tablecloth

Okay, that’s straight-forward enough. One memorable Homer Laughlin-commissioned go-along item is the 1930-40’s Hankscraft Pottery Egg Cooker set. It used Fiesta-inspired colors on the cooker itself & for the accompanying four egg cups.

Hankscraft Egg Cup on Mexican Tablecloth

(Can you imagine eating a soft-boiled egg in a “radiation red” egg cup?! Not me; I use my set for display only!)

Second, besides the HLC-endorsed items, there’s also a bunch of unofficial Fiesta go-alongs.

Items with the “look of go alongs” include those that incorporate:
  • Fiesta-like bright colors
  • Fiesta-like dish designs
  • Similar rings/stripes & colors
  • Mexican motif or decal
  • Dancing lady motif or decal
  • Kitchen Craft motif or decal
Small Table Runner with Dishes + Fruit
The types of things that most often use Fiesta-influenced designs, markings, or decals include:
  • Dishes, glasses, & flatware
  • Linens & tablecloths
  • Tin or metal items (i.e., breadbox, napkin holder)
Meyercord Home Decorating Decals: '30s Dishes

Of course, there are also items that few people — except an eBay seller! — would automatically call a ‘Fiesta go along.’ Dedicated Fiesta collectors won’t let that deter them, however. Who cares if something is not truly a go-along when it ‘s too cute or compelling not to buy for your Fiesta collection

?

Butterscotch Bakelite Chick Napkin Ring

Like the totally unexpected “Fiesta vanity tray” recently listed by eBay seller petunia777.  (Photo used courtesy of seller.) It’s a “…beautiful handcrafted mosaic tray pieced together using tiles & shards from ONLY vintage Fiestaware from the Homer Laughlin Co. in ONLY the original six colors: Radioactive Red, Cobalt Blue, Turquoise, Old Ivory, Fiesta Yellow and Light Green!”

Handcrafted Vintage Fiesta Mosaic Tray

I totally agree with petunia777 who said: “I think of this piece as a unique Fiesta Go-Along!” The fact that the tray only uses pieces from the original six colors is inspired. Sure, the dishes were broken, but they’re the right colors for “Fiesta originalists” (if that’s even a word), like me. Yes, I love Fiesta dishes best. But go alongs — collectibles defined by the ‘eye of the beholder’ — have added a great deal of whimsy & fun to my collection. [Photos above taken by me, except for the Fiesta Mosaic Tray which is from eBay seller petunia777.]

Introducing Pickin & Grinin, The Collecting Couple

Antiquips Pickin & Grinin

Pick: This is going to be our first article for Inherited Values so let’s show off some of our unusual collectibles.

Grin: How about your hand mirrors? You are always bragging to anyone that will listen, just how great you think they are and how well you display them.

Pick: Oh, I’d like to but I’d have to polish them all before we let a whole group of people in to see the collection.

Grin: Well, what’s your idea then? Or are you just Picking on me because it was my idea?

Pick: Why don’t we start with the smallest room in the house and show readers what can be packed into a tiny area with a little imagination.

Grin: Are you referring to your jewelry box? You sure know how to pack that thing full.

Pick: Boy we’re real smart today. No I’m talking about the powder room at the back entrance, the one that started out with a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling with a pull chain for decoration. Let’s show off our antique finds in that room first. I think we managed to accent the room nicely with some unusual pieces in a space of seven foot by four feet. Plus we did our “green piece” by recycling some items.

Grin: Five feet, it’s no longer than five feet.

Pick: Well, whatever, the important thing is we get to display the oddities within. But just to keep my reputation intact, how about a quick measure to see who is right. I say it’s about seven feet by 3-1/2” feet. What is your best guess?

Grin: I think five feet, maybe by 4-1/2 feet.

Pick: What was the measurement?? Oh, guess you were closest. Now, let’s change the subject. How about we start with the egret, the old screen door decoration. You know, the one I dragged home from an auction and had to listen to your questions like “Now, WHERE can we put that old thing?”

Grin: In this instance, you were right. It fits in flush, right over the toilet, a pun intended!

Pick: Well, if you’re giving me credit, I must say, your cold air return register was a perfect fit. It’s a radio speaker grill from a Pontiac Straight 8, probably from the early 1950s. And it squeezed right into the space.

Grin: I also recall where we got the old tin sheets that we needed when I dropped the ceiling to update the electricity to enable a wall switch. We had to purchase the full lot of sheets, but only needed a few and sold off the rest at a flea market. Then you found that marvelous iridescent chandelier at a local antique store. You discovered it just in time, too, because we had not decided on the color to paint the room and the green shade enlightened us.

Pick: Dear, you are funny today – you should be “pun-ished.” And you kept your promise to let me have some stained glasswindows in the house. That was something you committed to when we left our other house that had so many! And you did a super job finding the black and white tiles that are so “1930s”, it really completed the look we wanted.

Grin: Well, let’s continue in another area in our next blog. There’s hardly room for two of us in this room!

Salvaging Mismatched Or Damaged China Pieces

I like to use my vintage things, where appropriate (and sometimes I make up uses for things). I feel it really continues the life of old things. I also don’t like to let anything go to waste, even if it’s broken or damaged; but I’m especially reluctant if it was a part of my collection.

Broken china, for example, can break your heart; but sometimes you can salvage or recycle it. Even if you can’t make jewelry from it.

I suppose most people have discovered that the odd, mismatched china saucers, custard cups, and whatever all those little shallow bowls are, can readily be put back into use at the table simply by placing candles in them — or by setting candles in clear glass and/or candles in clear tea lights upon the old china pieces.

It’s an especially lovely way to have them still sit at the table, lighting the more perfect pieces while you dine.

But what about those antique china cups with the handles broken off?

I’m sure you probably have a set of those metal candle stands sitting around somewhere…

Usually they have glass candle holders in them. Well, when my glass candle dish broke, I realized I could set one of my (many) handless china cups in them.

This works with most of these candle stands; even if they vary somewhat in diameter, you’ll find that the sloping sides of china cups eventually meet a secure resting place.

You can also stagger the candle heights by surrounding the cups recycled into metal candle stands with cups without stands, small dishes with candles, and plates with tea lights.

Not only does this salvage your old china pieces (and, I daresay, add another layer of interest and elegance to your table setting or home), but you’ll finally use all those candles you bought at your sister’s candle party. (Don’t get hubby started talking about how I own “too many” candles in my candle cupboard!)

If you don’t have a cabinet full of candles — or you don’t have any that are just the right size, Katy Teson aka “Pie Bird — Who Vents While Cooking” (Isn’t that a hoot of name?!) shows you how to make tea cup candles!

So go ahead, recycle those old mismatched china pieces and damaged china cups.

Disclaimers: I’ve never had any problems, but I will caution you that some candles may burn too hot to hold candles safely, meaning the china may crack. (And china that is already cracked probably won’t contain melted wax — though you can put a saucer beneath it all too). If you’re concerned at all, you can set clear glass votive holders inside the cups to hold the actual candles. Or you can, as many candle owners do, simply place the candles in or on the vintage china pieces just for show.

Display, Protect, & Store Ephemera

What I like about these Lil Davinci Art Cabinets is the fact that each cabinet is a storage container as well as a display piece, holding up to 50 sheets at a time with a spring-loaded pocket.

That means you can store multiple pieces of artwork — and ephemera — in one place, with the one in front on display. The hinged door opens from the front, giving you easy access for rotating what’s seen as well as keeping other pieces within reach.

I’m thinking they’d work wonderfully for protectively displaying vintage magazines!

The art cabinets come in two sizes: The Li’L DaVinci (8.5″W x 11″H) and the Big DaVinci (12″W x 18″H).

New Life For Old Forks

It’s not always easy for me to accept altering antique and vintage items, but sometimes it’s a matter of salvaging things the best you can, breathing new life into them so that they are appreciated once again. When I spotted these vintage fork easels, I had to say I thought it was a beautiful way to display a collection of photographs, ephemera, small art works, etc.

display-old-photos-with-vintage-fork-easels

And given the number of unappreciated and neglected old silverware pieces (individual pieces and entire sets), it’s a great way to recycle not only the materials, but the appreciation and usefulness of old flatware.

vintage-fork-easels-displying-vintage-photographs

As a collector, I would suggest protecting photographs, especially antique and vintage photographs, by sliding them inside those little plastic sleeves first. And displaying little photographs this way not only saves the hassle of finding the right frame size, but allows you to rotate your favorite photographs so that they all get attention. What a lovely display! Even if the stems aren’t ornately decorated, the gleaming silver is elegant.

The seller/creator, WHIMSYlove at Etsy, also suggests using the vintage fork easels to hold individual recipe cards while baking. Clever!

vintage-fork-easel-holding-recipe-card

I’m not sure how easy this is to do — even if you’re the Amazing Kreskin, and you’re used to bending spoons, I imagine the tines are quite a bit more resistant. But thankfully, WHIMSYlove makes them for us *wink*

vintage-fork-easels

Christmas Decorations: Why We Make Him Carry All Those Boxes From The Attic

snapdragon-antiques-holiday-decorationsUnpacking delicate vintage glass ornaments, untangling glowing orbs of flickering light, placing winter village scenes just so, divided camps of garland vs tinsel, and don’t forget the tradition of tree topper placement. Some believe less is more (those weird freaks!), and others (like me!) believe holiday is the time of year to go all out. But no matter what our design style, we all deck those halls.

We decorate our homes in the right fashion & in the established order as dictated to us by tradition.

And by “tradition” I mean the stuff that mothers and wives say.

We women get away with all of this for many reasons. After all, it’s usually the women who rule the roost, so it’s we who decorate the roost. We choose between real & artificial trees. We direct the placement of the tree – based on the ability of it to be best seen by those inside & outside of the home, with a dose of practicality to household traffic pattern. We tend to be the ones with the largest collection of ornaments, ceramic villages, and other family historical objects & know the importance & lore of each object as well.

Women tend to be the keepers of family history. The story keepers. We remember whose ornament is whose, the when & why, and we need to balance the old memories of our ancestors with the newer stories of our own families. Not only do we remember the stories, but we also, and this is perhaps the most important part of it all, we share those stories.

vintage-elvesAnd in order to share those stories, we know that there must be proper placement. For how else can we bring up the funny stories of ice skating gone bad, if the winter pond scene isn’t displayed? How can we discuss the history of Uncle Marvin’s elf collection, if the elves are not displayed properly? Without seeing great grandma’s tree skirt, no one can mention how lovely it is, and then we might forget to tell the story of her first Christmas in America.

The physical placement of objects & ornaments is directly tied to our oral traditions.

So it seems only natural that at the holidays, a time of family & tradition, that women give all the dictation on the decoration. This goes here, that goes there, use the angel – not the star, just a little more to the left please. More lights, less lights, all white lights.

If you don’t want the oral tradition to include the tale of the year there was no presentation of Marvin’s elves (a story to be repeated each & every year), you’ll just carry & tote, move & remove, then, yes, then get out of the way & let her do her holiday thing.

Now please bring down those other 8 boxes marked ‘Holiday’ from the attic, honey – we must begin to set up the Winter Wonderland on the console table behind the couch (which will now have to be moved to better appreciate the view of the tree). Everything must be just so.

And some folks already began in October, so we are late.

Images via Snapdragon Antiques.