The Joy and Tribulation of The Antique Dealer

No Egrets Antiques
No Egrets Antiques

No Egrets Antiques has just completed our third antique show of this new year. Our first was held in West Bend, WI in January. Cold, but the snow kept away and turn-out was very high! As always, the N. L. Promotions’ events are well attended and offer top-quality vendors.

The second was in Wausau, WI on a very cold winter weekend. At this time of year Wausau is snow ski country and the sport is for the hardy outdoor types.  But we were set up inside the D.C. Everett High School and the droves of customers provided our booth with constant action for two full days. They came to buy! This show and our St. Norbert’s Show were put on by AR Promotions and Audre’ and Ray really do things right.

This last endeavor was a flip of what we had expected. Weather was kind to us, but buyers were not. The venue was at St. Norbert Collage in DePere, WI, and the gym was filled with many of the same dealers that were in Wausau.  We were very pleased to see the crowds pour thru on both Saturday and Sunday. But!!  After talking with many of our friendly competing dealers, the consensus was that the visitors left their purses and wallets at home. Still a good show, but not up to our expectations.

And so goes the life of an antique dealer. Wait until our next show. We’ll bring better antiques or maybe lower end items.  Better glass, or depression glass? Probably not, it is not selling up to its potential.  Victorian period? No, we need to bring more Mid Century Modern. Sports items? Always hot. Jewelry always sells so do post cards. Yippee! Post cards and jewelry. And probably some delightful prints and paintings for home decorating This is also a great show for outdoor items for your yard decor and also heavy-metal for your man-cave. That’s what we will bring to our next event.

Our next show will be in Elkhorn, WI, (another N.L. event) and it’s always a super show for both collectors and decorators and sellers, with Inherited Values and No Egrets in booths next to each other – Row two # 216.

See you soon.

 

How To Wash & Care For Antique China, Vintage Glass, Silverware & Other Fine Tableware

(It’s More That “Just A Tradition!”) At holiday time, we all bring out the fancy china and silverware —  the old china and silverware if we are lucky enough to have it. Age, material, and condition issues…

Source: www.ebay.com

Vintage Bronzeware Flatware From Thailand

I found this vintage bronzeware set while helping my parents, Antiquips, of No Egrets Antiques, with their latest estate sale. (Details and photos of this latest sale can be found on their Facebook page as well as here.) I became rather fascinated with this set of vintage flatware!

vintage bronzeware with rosewood handles

It was obtained by a man in the air force about 1961 or so, when he was stationed in Thailand (officially known as “Siam” until 1939) — and the set clearly remained a prized possession (as you’ll see below).

These are some of the original brochures from the bronzeware purchase:

vintage 1960s thailand brochures

 

vintage bronzeware brorchures ephemera

Included with the set were some other papers that explained more about the flatware:

What is Bronzeware?

Bronzeware is a unique tableware handmade by skilled craftsmen in Thailand, perhaps better known as Siam. Cast individually from glowing red molten bronze, each piece is then ground to the proper shape and then polished to a mirror finish by these patient craftsmen. The rosewood handles are carefully shaped with the simplest of tools, and joined with care to the bronze stem.

What is Rosewood?

Rosewood is a brownish-red hardwood native to the steaming tropical jungles of Southeast Asia, so called because the fragrance of roses permeates the air when the tree is hewn to the ground. Naturally water resistant because of the resinous content of the fibers, rosewood is also exceptionally hard to nick or dent. In addition to these qualities rosewood is perhaps one of the world’s most beautifully grained woods and has long been used in the finest and most expensive furniture and musical instruments.

As of right now, this vintage flatware set is available in a very fine rosewood cabinet, made specifically for holding flatware. It has dragons carved onto the drawers and matches not only a large china hutch or breakfront but a dining room table and chairs.

rosewood flatware cabinet

rosewood dragon utensils cabinet

But the vintage bronzewear originally came in a wooden box — with an eye-blazing fuschia felt liner, just like this one (and other sets found at eBay). We have the case too, but it looks much nicer in the cabinet!

thailand siam bronzeware in mod case

This set of Bronzeware, like others often sold as bronze or bronze alloy pieces, was most likely made of a nickel-bronze alloy. To the best of my knowledge, and research, bronzewear is safe to eat off of. Caring for bronzewear is similar to that of silver plate. As a general rule, I never advise using the dishwasher. Most especially for antique and vintage pieces. And with the rosewood handles, I wouldn’t dare do anything else!

vintage bronzeware flatware rosewood handles

The following is some more of the original literature that accompanied the flatware purchase, or was obtained during the same period. I thought it was proper to include it here.

1960s star house thailand ephemera

Strawberry Tablecloths Forever

Nothing quite cheers me up like vintage strawberry print tablecloths. Especially on a cold night, when Spring still seems like it’s forever away. Here are a few of my favorite recent “pickings”.

This classic from the 1950s is full of red cheer!

vintage strawberries print tablecloth

This one, also from the 50s, has a very romantic quality with its high-handled baskets and Azurite blue.

Strawberry Basket and Azurite Blue vintage print tablecloth

Of course, you can’t beat hearts and flowers with your strawberries for romance! In such a lovely pink, it would be great for romantic meals, Valentine’s Day, or, as the seller notes, for Spring bridal and baby showers.

Pink Tablecloth with Flowers & Hearts vintage tablecloth Spring Bridal or Baby Shower Decor

This one may have been made as early as the 1940s — and I love the deeper, purple-red tones.

vintage strawberry print table cloth with purple

This one mixes in some other fruits, but who can complain with that sunny yellow around?

Vintage Tablecloth Strawberry Cherry Watermelon Fruit Print

Displaying Vintage Cookie Cutters

Some collections are easy to display for the holidays — and don’t require any additional trimmings either. In our space at Exit 55 Antiques, I’ve put the vintage cookie cutters in the ceramic basin of an antique washstand. It would be an awesome way to greet guests at the door, especially if you added some old wooden baby blocks spelling out “Welcome” or “Merry XMas” along the back shelf!

antique washstand with cookie cutters

Besides cookie cutters, what would you display this way?

Casual Vintage Holiday Table Centerpiece Using An Old Wooden Drawer

As I’ve said before, I like useful collectibles — and, because I don’t like anything to go to waste, I like to find new ways to make use of old things. Just because something is “old and just laying around,” doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged or re-purposed. Like the vintage refrigerator crisper drawers, I knew these old wooden desk drawers I’d found could do something new and fabulous… Worn, paint-chippy wood is so charming!

Immediately, I thought of the holidays and the need for low centerpieces which wouldn’t get in the way of seeing family and friends.

vintage fall thanksgiving table

I lined the drawer with this seasons’ hottest decorating fabric is burlap (probably because it is both rustic and natural looking for Fall), but you can use any fabric that goes best with your table settings. Inside, I placed some nested vintage brown glazed stoneware bowls, a vintage brown milk bottle, some little glass bottles with colorful rocks and shells, and then, for some extra seasonal flair, I tucked in some pheasant feathers. Pretty enough for a Thanksgiving table, don’t you think?

old wooden drawer used as table centerpiece

You can certainly fill the bowls with pine cones or something else decorative, or use the bowls to help with serving at  the holiday table. And you sure can go crazy with red and green for Christmas; or change the colors and decorative combinations to match your china, your every day decor, whatever you’d like!

I may just keep this vintage wood drawer on the table top all the time. It can be awfully practical, serving to store the family’s usual table needs, such as napkins, salt and pepper shakers, the morning’s cereal bowls — whatever you find you need to leave on the table. And since it’s all in one drawer, you can pick it up as easily as any tray (maybe even more so, as the deeper sides mean less things will topple out and over!) to wipe the table clean, change the tablecloth, etc.

(See also Sit Down to Handmade Table Settings.)

Vintage Old Manse & Hazle Atlas Art Deco Preserves Bottle

A few months ago I stumbled into this vintage (nearly antique) glass preservatives bottle or jar. While I love the romantic (and nearly heart-shaped) paper label for Old Manse strawberry preserves (by Oelerich & Berry Company of Chicago), it was the fluid art deco lines of the bottle itself that sealed the deal in terms of purchase. Those same lines led to a real labor of love, because this bottle became quite the cleaning restoration project. (To be honest, the shinning silver with “runs” of golden along the embossed sides were beautiful — had it not been for the incredible stink, I would have left it thus!)

old preserves bottle before after

In my attempts to discover how to clean it, however, I discovered the BLM/SHA Historic Glass Bottle ID & Information Website and Bill Lindsey.

While my email conversations with Lindsey were a bit disjointed (because I was dealing with a bottle soaking in bleach & therefore had forgotten all about looking for any marks on the bottom of the glass jar — sheesh!), Lindsey did confirm my thoughts that this was an authentic art deco food bottle from the 1920s.

Lindsey also added

The lid on the bottle you have is probably not original to the bottle as it appears in the images to be a zinc “Mason’s” jar lid that would have been used on a Mason jar.

The jar itself is a “art deco” style food jar popular in the late 1910s to 1930s (maybe a bit later). It almost certainly would not be of exclusive use to any one company but one of a number of standard designs sold to any purchaser by many different glass companies.

The “5623” is a mold index code and the “8” could be related to a date but we’ve not published our article on that company yet – and I don’t have a copy – so not sure. Still dates as you estimated.

I eagerly await the article!

Meanwhile, other collectors should note that this is a Hazel Atlas piece, marked 5623 – 8, stands about 10 and 1/4 inches tall.  Personally, I’d love to know if anyone else knows anything about this vintage glass bottle or the Oelerich & Berry Company… (UPDATE: Now listed for sale!)

hazel atlas bottle 5623 8

 

Collecting The Kind Of Molds You Do Want In Your Kitchen

When I saw this jangle of vintage copper molds at the thrift store today, I was reminded of my aunt Vicki.

copper molds at thrift shop

When she was alive, her entire kitchen was decorated with them. It began, I believe, as an inexpensive way to decorate. Back when I was a kid, you could grab these copper molds for just a quarter or so, which meant for a dollar or two you could easily cover your kitchen walls. (They are more expensive now, but still less expensive than other forms of home decor for your kitchen walls.)

I remember how the copper would gleam off the walls and warm the room… Except for the lobster (he creeped me out — still does!)

As their monetary situation improved, even when they moved to a much larger house, my aunt continued to collect the copper molds — but she also began to add more pieces to her collection, like vintage chocolate molds.

I’ve sort of taken up the idea, but for even more practical reasons: space.

I’ve a modest collection of whimsical cake pans and I find that rather than attempting to stuff them into that wee drawer beneath the oven or fail at stacking them neatly next to the pots and pans, that it’s easier and prettier to display them on the wall above the kitchen cabinets.

collectibles above cupboards

Most of them, like the Wilton Scooby-Doo, have a small hole in the top from which to hang them. And cake pans without them can, like my vintage 3-D lamb cake mold, can sit up atop the cupboards. In either case, I’ve ended the clutter and crashes of cake pans that do not stack or nest nicely.

Plus, on display I know where each one is. The kids pick one out, I take it down and wash & dry it while they gather the ingredients. And I think they add charm to my kitchen too.

Using Vintage Planters To Squirrel Away Items By The Sink

I’ve written before of my belief in the versatility of small decorative vintage pottery planters. I continue to grab them when the price is right — and as these vintage planters only seem to be decreasing in price, I’m grabbing a lot of them. (Even the big names, such as McCoy and Shawnee, as well as those marked Made In Japan, are becoming dirt cheap.)

Recently I got this little gem, an unmarked piece showing a squirrel on a log.

vintage pottery planter as sink caddy

The elongated rectangular shape is especially nice for use at the kitchen sink. It holds (a damp, but never soaking wet) sponge, scrubby, the old toothbrush I use for getting the gunk out from behind the faucet, around the stainless steel sink, etc.

Everedy For Vintage Kitchenalia

If I weren’t reading vintage magazines, I might have continued my ignorance of the Tater-Baker. I would have seen the (probably aluminum) dome and thought it was a cake saver, missing it’s platter.

Vintage Everedy ad, found in Good Housekeeping (May 1961).

Taylor, Smith & Taylor “Ever Yours” China

The “Ever Yours” invitation set by Taylor, Smith & Taylor Co. (TS&T) of Ohio, a 53-piece service for eight, including 10 hostess pieces.

Your choice of nine patterns by designer John Gilkes… all over-proof, dishwasher-proof, detergent-proof.

Made by the makers of Taylorton, Modern American Casual China.

Vintage ad found in the May 1961 issue of Good Housekeeping.

You can find out more about TS&T and John Gilkes here.

Memories Of Vintage Colored Aluminum Kitchenalia

When hubby and I were selling at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, we had brought a large collection of vintage colored aluminum pieces to sell. While the display was incredibly vibrant, shining in the sun, what was even more striking were the reactions to it.

Groups of people were drawn to it, often grabbing a person they were shopping with and dragging them over to the display. Of course, these people were usually of a certain age… For while aluminum was considered a rare metal in the 19th century — and costly by the ounce than silver or even gold — once the mining processes improved, aluminum became all the rage and by the 20th century it was used from everything from kitchenware to Christmas trees. By the 1960s, however, plastics were on their way to replacing pretty much everything, including colorful aluminum ware. But many younger people also recognized the vintage colored aluminum ware as much of the fancy colorful aluminum pieces lived second lives as part of camping gear and in cupboards in summer cottages.

Nearly each person who passed by had their own stories and memories about vintage colored aluminum ware. Clutching a piece in their hand, they’d shared their stories — making a collective experience as they stories drew even more people over.

“My grandma had these glasses — I remember fighting with my sister over who got the purple one!”

“I remember these! Everyone had a set of these. …I wonder where I put my set? Oh, I know, I gave them to the kids for camping. I wonder if they still have them?”

“My aunt had these glasses! I remember how cold our hands would get holding them!”

I too recall my aunt having a set of the vintage colored aluminum tumblers — but my memories are more fear-filled. For my aunt used to save money by making Kool-Aid with only half the directed amount of sugar. Ack! Now the sight of these vintage aluminum tumblers makes my taste buds suspicious. *wink*

Another woman shopping at the flea market also was suspicious. When her friend was regaling her with fond childhood memories of drinking the leftover milk from a colored aluminum cereal bowl, the woman shuddered and said the idea of the aluminum near her mouth made her teeth ache. Her friend knit her brow and said, “You use a spoon and fork to eat, right? And aren’t you drinking that Coke out of an aluminum can right now?”

But my favorite story came from a man about my age who said, “I remember how cold the cups stayed — and how they would sweat. And I’d always leave one sitting put on the furniture and when my dad would find it he’d call me over. He’d tell me to pick the cup up and bring it to him. And when I brought it to him, my dad would ‘ding’ it on the side of my head.”

As a mom, I have to wonder just how many times this had to happen before the kid would learn to put his dishes away. *wink*

There were a number of collectors there that day too, out shopping exactly for more pieces to add to their collections — and a number of collectors who were delighted to discover that there really was a pitcher or a coffee pot to go with their tumblers and trays, butter dishes to go with their salt and pepper shakers, measuring spoons to match their measuring cups, and tongs to go with beverage sets. There even are advertising pieces, such as scoops for lard!

Some pieces have (usually black) plastic handles. Some pieces have embossed, etched, or even hammered designs. And the range of colors and brands are impressive!

We sold a lot of vintage aluminum ware that day. What didn’t sell has been split-up, with half going to our case at Antiques On Broadway and the other half going to our booth at Exit 55 Antiques.

My favorite piece of those left is this red and gold aluminum coffee pot — look at the clear mod percolator top! (It’s available at Exit 55, and it can ship from there!)

Vintage Flatware From Oneida & Betty Crocker

For you collectors of all things Betty Crocker, a vintage ad promoting flatware you could buy with your Betty Crocker coupons. This ad is from November, 1964, and features Oneida silverplate flatware patterns Enchantment and Winsome, and Oneida stainless flatware patterns Twin Star and My Rose.

Get Your Freakies On!

Cereal and cereal boxes hold a special place in my heart. They are as familiar as family at the breakfast table. Maybe more so. For when my sister was young, she went through this phase where no one, especially our Dad, was allowed to look at her in the morning. (Some weird Vanessa Huxtable stage — that’s still kind of around. Sorry, Jackie; but you know it’s true!) Besides her yelling in protest, one of her defenses was to place the cereal box in front of her, hunching herself behind it to hide from anyone who might dare glance at her. I don’t think anyone in the family knows exactly what she looked like in the morning during those years… But I readily recognize the cereal boxes from that time today.

My favorite cereal box was — and is — Ralston’s Freakies.

Freakies was a short-lived cereal, produced by Ralston from 1972 to 1976. But the impact of Freakies was huge. That’s because Freakies were more than a cereal; they were seven creatures with a story. Each Freakie, BossMoss Hamhose, Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Goody-Goody, and Snorkeldorf (my favorite).

When little plastic versions of the Freakies started appearing in cereal boxes, I had to have them all. So did my sister — and everyone else under the age of, say, 16 years old.

Funny thing about Freakies; I don’t recall the cereal at all. Not eating it, anyway. I can’t even remember the flavor… I remember the Freakies, their story, and the box (often my sister’s “face,” remember?). But we must have eaten it, or I never would have had the little Freakies themselves. (Did I mention that Mom and Dad were serious about us eating the stuff?) I do remember having and playing with the little plastic Freakies. Sadly, I also remember selling the little Freakies online. It was one of my first big sales on eBay, way back in the marketplace’s early years. I was paid handsomely for them; but today I wish I’d never sold them. *sigh*

The Freakies and their story were the brainchildren of Jackie End. (How freaky is it that the face behind the Freakies had the same name as my sister who hid behind the cereal box?!) Sadly, Jackie End passed away in August of this year. You can read a great tribute to her here.

As a tribute to Jackie End’s wonderful creation, Freakies live on, inspiring cult fandom and collectors. Vintage or retro Freakies stuff sells. Figures, toys, magnets, animation cells, t-shirts, cereal boxes, advertising, and even Freakies cereal coupons are popular enough to make people pay.

I’m not exaggerating the continuing popularity of Freakies. In 1987, a new Freakies cereal was made. Without Jackie End. Now, the characters were aliens from another planet. And there was a change in the cast; while BossMoss and Grumble remained, the other characters were replaced by Hugger, Sweetie, Tooter and Hotdog. (Seriously? No Snorkeldorf?!) But the retro cereal re-do didn’t last long. If they had kept the original Freakies and their creator, maybe that cereal would still be around.

The good news is that you can still get official Freakies merch here, some of it signed by Jackie End herself. That’s because it’s sold at the official Freakies website, started by Jackie herself, where they are carrying on Jackie’s legacy. And that’s pretty sweet.

Now, if only I could get myself a vintage Freakies cereal box (with at least Snorkeldorf, please?) before the holidays… I’d love to set it in front of my sister during breakfast. (That’s a hint, Santa.)

Image Credits: Freakies Cereal box, 1973, and Freakies collection via Gregg Koenig.

Seven Freakies Cereal Premium Figures from Rob’s Vintage Toys & Collectibles.

Freakies Goods, t-shirts and Wacky Wobbler, from the official Freakies website.

Soapy Money: Coupon Check Trade Tokens

Last week Wifey and I were hanging out at our local antique mall when a woman came in wanting to sell a Tupperware full of bits and baubles. Among the jewelry and silverware was a small jewelry-sized baggie full of tokens. Although I’m no help when it comes to jewelry, Wifey was glad I was around to evaluate the tokens. As you may have noticed, money and money-like things are one of the things I collect. The baggie held some generic arcade tokens, a nice Sioux City transit token that went into my collection, a few southeast Asia Playboy Club tokens went into Wifey’s collection, but the rest were a variety of trade tokens.

Today, some retailers have gotten all high-tech by distributing deals by texts and the internet, but even paper coupons are barely more than a hundred years old. Coca-Cola is considered the creator of the modern coupon, offering free drinks in hopes of hooking a lifelong customer, and once it proved effective for Coke other products followed suit.

Coca-Cola Coupon

Soap, of all types and uses, was a commonplace product that was just growing in demand in the early 20th century — regular washing and bathing was an uncommon experience until Victorian times — and each new entry into the market needed to elbow its way into people’s kitchens and washrooms. The reason people still watch ‘soap operas’ hails back to one of the most successful soap marketing methods, making Procter and Gamble one of the more successful television production companies today. Coupons for free products, like Coca-Cola’s successful plan, became one of the soap industry’s more successful efforts to get their products into the hands of customers.

The soap coupon tokens I have are also rooted in an earlier type of token: the trade token. Trade tokens were issued by a business, municipality, organization, or other group as a sort of fiat currency. Regular customers could earn a trade token through repeat patronage, or as an encouragement to shop at an institution. They were often marked with the business’ name, and a value in money or product. These were truly tokens, not just coupons, made of metal and sized to be similar to other currencies of the time. People carried them around in their changepurse and used them as currency when applicable. Quite often they were good for fifty or twenty-five cents — a couple dollars in today’s money — at a general store or specialty shop, but you can easily compare a saloon providing trade tokens good for one drink to Coca-Cola’s coupon plan. Trade tokens lasted through the end of the nineteenth century, but slowly faded out at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Coupon tokens did survive in some corners well into the twentieth century, particularly if you remember Sambo’s coffee tokens or Country Kitchen coins. Those soap companies, who offered all sorts of freebies and offers in many different forms, found the greatest value in making coin-shaped coupon tokens. One benefit the soap companies found was that the metal tokens could be easily included in the packages of soaps, which often lived in wet places, without running the risk of damage that a paper coupon might encounter. The tokens also found their way into customers’ hands via mail, and their portability and resilience made them easily pocketable and carried about.

The Palmolive company and James S Kirk Co were the biggest producers of these coupon tokens, mostly during the 1920s. The tokens were often called “coupon checks”, because they had an actual monetary value to the retailer that accepted the coin. Retailers were welcome to accept the tokens if they chose, and could get a banner to show off their participation, but a review of old newspaper ads showed that the attempt to redeem tokens was so common that retailers who didn’t participate said so in their ads, to avoid having to refuse the tokens in the checkout line.

These coupon tokens were mostly aluminum, and some bronze, and they came in a variety of shapes and formats. Some were circles, like their money counterparts, but soap tokens could also be square, rectangle, octagonal, or oblong ovals. Most were on the large side, an inch or more in diameter, and many even had a hole in the middle. The wide variety of shapes and sizes makes for a collection as varied and interesting as any foreign coin collection, and the tokens are surprisingly common. This makes soap coupon tokens a cheap introduction into the art of exonumia, from an antique and unique perspective, without breaking the bank.

What’s This Antique Primitive Barrel Or Keg For?

My most recent Collectors Quest column was about primitives. Within a few hours of that column being published, I received an email about one of the items in the photographs, a small-to-medium sized antique keg or barrel.

Deanna,

I just saw a photo on your post I’d like info on. It was a primitive barrel-like container with a stoppered hole on top.

I recently obtained something very similar and don’t have a clue as to what it is. Can you tell me?

Thanks,

Patti

There are no labels or markings on this keg; no clues inside to what it once held. And, being handmade, there are many variations in size and design on barrels and kegs. The keg in the photo is now in our booth at Exit 55 Antiques, but to help you identify it, let me describe it in more detail. The keg stands between one and two feet tall. It’s made of tin, or other thin and light metal, covered in wood. (You can spy the metal through thin gaps in the wooden pieces.) There is a corked-hole, slightly off-center, at the top. The construction itself tells us what this was likely used for.

The hole at the top tells us that this barrel once held liquid. Where the hole is positioned tell us that the liquid was to be poured out. And the stopper at the top tells us that the liquid was likely poured out in small amounts at a time, rather than completely emptying the barrel all at once.

The tin or other lightweight thin metal also suggests a fluid. The wood used to cover the inner metal barrel was likely applied to protect the thin metal from punctures as well as to add strength to the piece, avoiding accidental ruptures. At the same time, use of wood keeps the piece relatively lightweight. (Had thicker metal sheeting been used, this keg when full would be very heavy and difficult to pour from.)

As mentioned, there are no obvious clues to what liquid this antique barrel may have contained. I’m sure scientific testing would provide results; but I’d rather save my money for buying more collectibles. *wink* Plus, like many primitive pieces, barrels like this were reused and repurposed. So even if we knew what it last held, it may not have been what it originally contained.

The best guess hubby and I have is that this antique primitive barrel was used to store household oil, like oils for cooking, kerosene for lamps, benzine and naptha for cleaning and other uses in the home. But honestly, there are a lot of options in types of fluids used back in those years — many of which likely occurred over the life of just one barrel.

This One Was Hard To Part With

Sold this lovely turquoise vintage Dormeyer mixer at the yard sale. I really wanted to keep it, but as I’ve said, “I only keep a dozen mixers a time. When I reach more than 13—a baker’s dozen—I have to sell some off, because what good are they in boxes in the basement? Well, OK, 10 in the basement is fine. But 12? That’s insane… Right?

The Early Gay Fad Years Provide Clues For Glassware Collectors

Always wanting to learn more, I contacted Kitty Hanson of the Santa Fe Trading Post about my suspected Gay Fad juice set.

Miss Kitty, as she is most known, is co-author of the new and incredibly, exhaustively, researched two-volume encyclopedia set about Fran Taylor and Gay Fad Studios, Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy. She was gracious enough to write back with a great deal of information:

Hi Deanna,

I went to your site and enjoyed the article and photo of your Anchor Hocking juice set with the hand-painted oranges. My opinion is that you may well have an early Gay Fad orange design, but that’s going to be difficult to definitively prove. However, I can add a few more clues.

We know for sure that Fran often painted her GF designs on Anchor Hocking blanks, and I, too, have found what seems to be authoritative information that AH’s Manhattan pattern was produced from 1938-1943. So if your set is by Gay Fad, that would mean that Fran produced it in Detroit before moving Gay Fad Studios to Lancaster, OH in 1945. As we say in “The Fran Taylor Story” chapter of our book (page 5, volume 1), we have yet to discover a newspaper article about Fran or Gay Fad or a Gay Fad ad dated prior to 1945. But we do know that all of her Detroit work was done with “cold painting” because she didn’t have the ceramic paints or equipment necessary to do fired designs until moving to Lancaster and installing a lehr in her new production facility. Obviously your set is “cold painted” and that accounts for the flaking paint on your juice set.

Interestingly enough, Red Burn (Fran’s first husband and GF vice president) wrote an article for the July, 1949 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal where he explained the difference between cold painting and fired painting and the fact that cold painting has durability issues. That article is reproduced in the “Gay Fad Articles” chapter (page 180, Volume 2).

We also know that Gay Fad produced a variety of Orange designs over the years, and we show pictures of 10 of them in the “Gay Fad Designs – Identified” chapter (page 103 of Volume 1). Our earliest example is from a GF ad in the February, 1947 edition of Crockery & Glass Journal.

Your design is different from any of the ones we show, but again, we have only three pre-1945 examples of Fran’s work: a Rose design lamp she gave to her brother as a wedding present in 1941 (page 4, volume 1), a Fruit design recipe box she gave to his wife during the early 40’s (page 5, volume 1), and one of the wastebaskets that “started it all” (page 3, volume 1) cut from a photo in the “Beauty and the Baskets” article in the June, 1947 edition of American Magazine (full article on page 169, volume 2).

Another reason why I think your orange design is probably an early GF piece is because of the squiggly stem on the bottom of the orange on your carafe. The fruits (apple, pear, grapes) on Fran’s early 40’s recipe box clearly have squiggly stems, as do many of GF’s various fruit designs, including some of the various Orange designs.

In addition, several of the GF Orange designs are painted in orange and yellow similar to yours. Donna has a similarly-shaped carafe/pitcher (NOT the ribbed Manhattan pattern) with a double orange design in orange and yellow, plus a squiggly bottom stem (page 103, volume 1), all of which looks very much like your single orange.

So again, my opinion is that your set may well be an early Gay Fad orange design, but that’s going to be almost impossible to prove – at least at this point in time.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Miss Kitty

This information is exciting!

I was pretty sure the vintage glass was cold-painted, but honestly, the texture and flakes had me confused… All the cold-paint pieces I have are vintage ceramic pieces, and there the paint appears more “slipped off” and not something that you can feel like you can on this set. (But then again, who knows how it was taken care of? An idiot putting the vintage glassware in a dishwasher back in the 1980s?! I’ve seen damages from dumber things.) I didn’t think the art glass was decorated with decals; there’s no film or lines surrounding the fruits and leaves; and you can see paint strokes and layers, especially behind the clear glass. But there are transfer processes too…  Glassware can be so confusing!

But Miss Kitty’s information makes sense.  The dates of the vintage Depression glass coincide with Fran Taylor and Gay Fad’s early years during which the cold painting was done. Likely there was some experimentation with different paints and processes. Conditions, like on this set, will be an issue. But I’m rather charmed by signs of use and the notion of a woman starting her business.

I don’t really collect glass. Partly because of the confusion about the different process involved; partly because glassware doesn’t speak to me. However, there’s something about Gay Fad Studio’s designs, and, especially, Fran Taylor herself that speaks to me… I do also have a ballerina shaker that I’ve since come to believe was a Gay Fad Studios piece too. So maybe I’ll have to pluck this vintage juice set out of the case and just accept the fact that I’m now collecting Gay Fad glassware. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from looking for her early pieces anyway. *wink*

Now, about the Gay Fad books by Miss Kitty and Gay Fad collector Donna McGrady…

I want them in the worst way. The price of the two-volume set (a total of 610 pages, 1,549 photographs, and 745 scans) is $149.95 (buying both together saves you 25% off list price and gets you free priority shipping to anywhere in the USA). That’s pricey; but this information isn’t anywhere else (she softly whined). So it’s on my wishlist. If you care to gift me the books, or donate towards them, just let me know. *wink*

Cheery Depression Glass Oranges

I’ve held onto this vintage glass juice set for years, hoping I could confirm the oranges were indeed hand-painted oranges from Gay Fad Studios. My set has a clear glass ribbed carafe or water jug and two small clear glass juice glasses — each painted with a cheery orange in shades of yellow and orange, and leaves of greens. The pitcher or carafe also has bands of yellow, orange and green painted on it. There probably were at least two more glasses in the set originally, and the paint has flaking; all of which I (oddly) find more charming. The wear is proof of its age and service, and juice for two provides a cozy breakfast scene!

In all these years, I’ve never seen another set quite like it — but I’m still rather certain it is a Gay Fad breakfast juice set.

The first clue lies in the story of Gay Fad Studios. Fran Taylor, founder of Gay Fad, began her business in 1938. With just a $30 investment, she began painting on glass “blanks” from the major glass companies of the day (such as Anchor Hocking, Federal Glass, Hazel Atlas, and others). By the 1940s, and throughout the 1950s, she and her staff of decorators would make Gay Fad Studios a major glassware design company whose pieces are heavily collected today.

The second clue lies in the glassware itself. While the little clear juice glasses bear no markings, the ribbed juice carafe or water jug does. It has the Anchor Hocking mark on the bottom, and is readily identified as a piece from the Anchor Hocking Manhattan pattern of clear Depression glass. (It does not have the matching circular ribbed lid, if it ever did.)

Production of the Manhattan pattern began in 1938 — the same year Taylor began her glassware painting. The pattern was retired in 1943, making it a true Depression era pattern, and soundly keeping the piece within the Gay Fad Studios lifetime.

So even though I’ve never seen another set like this — not by Gay Fad, Anchor Hocking, or anyone else — I’m fairly certain this is a vintage Gay Fad glass juice set.

…Of course, it could be hand-painted by anyone too. So any help is appreciated!

(PS The Depression glass juice set is currently available for sale in my case at Antiques On Broadway!)