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.

 

Collecting Coffee Makers

I have an unplanned collection of coffee makers. I even have a couple which are old enough to be considered vintage.

The pot I use most often is the French press. I’ve got three of them now. One is the well-known Bodum brand. The others are brands I don’t remember any more, one was no-name. The one I take with me when I visit or travel is the smallest French press. It’s great because I can make coffee as long as I can boil water. No need for filters or a stove element to percolate the coffee through the machine.

That brings me to the percolators in my collection. The one I like best is Corningware. It has those blue flowers on a white pot. I found it at a thrift store and miraculously it was not only clean but had all the parts too. I’ve only used it once, so far. It’s a large pot and I don’t need to make that amount of coffee on a standard coffee-drinking kind of day. I like to watch the percolator pots, especially those with the clear knob on top so you can see the coffee get thrown up to the top of the pot each time.

I also have an espresso percolating pot. I had a second one but it got broken up for parts when my Mother needed the rubber ring for one of her espresso pots. It seems to always be that rubber ring inside of them that wears out first. Actually, unless something pretty dire happens I doubt much could cause the failure of those metal espresso coffee makers.

I don’t have a ceramic drip cone filter and pot. That would be a nice addition. But, it wouldn’t be simple for taking on the road. You would have to have filters and worry about it getting chipped or cracked. I do have my old Melitta cone filter and drip pot. I even still have the lid for the pot. They are made in a different plastic from that which is around now. They feel really solid and it takes a lot of effort to find any bend in them. I prefer not to bend them. I hope the set will last until I’m a very old lady and beyond.

Collecting Cookbooks, Magazines & Ephemera While Losing Weight: An Interview With Retro Mimi

When I stumbled upon Mimi and her Retro Weight Watchers Experiment, I couldn’t take my eyes away…

I wanted to; but I couldn’t. *wink*

You know what they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” so I decided to join Mimi — in an interview.

When did you begin collecting Weight Watchers publications?

A couple years ago. It’s hard to say–it just sort of “happened.”

Did you set out to purposefully collect Weight Watchers items — or did you sort of realize that you were doing so over time?

It all started with one cookbook: a fellow WW member gave me a copy of The 1972 Weight Watchers Program Cookbook. I became so intrigued with it that I had to know everything about this crazy & wonderful program. Incidentally, my mom lost a great deal of weight on the 1972 WW program after I was born–so this added to my fascination with it. After I got my hands on that first retro cookbook… pretty soon, I started looking for more information, recipes, books, magazines, etc.

It became a hobby (read: obsession), and people started giving me their old WW stuff. The WW magazines are my favorite. They are hard to find, but they really contain some of the best “gems” and really represent the evolution of the WW program over the years.

What’s your criteria for collecting Weight Watchers publications? Are issues limited to a specific time period, condition rules, etc.

I am really only interested in the magazines from 1970-1976. These were the really wild and wacky years. Or as I like to call them: The Knox Gelatin years… The liver-once-a-week years…. The Fluffy Mackerel Pudding years. So the recipes are really horrifying and funny. But there is also something endearing to me about the program during these years. WW was so genuine and sincere about helping its members. It was like a family. Or a secret society or something. Really kitschy and cool.

How many do you think you have?

Maybe 50? But growing every day…

How do you organize them?

Since I reference and use them regularly–they are kept in a jelly cupboard in my kitchen alongside all of my other favorite cookbooks–both retro and otherwise.

How do people react to your collection?

Most people think my retro WW magazines are pretty odd. Most of the recipes are gag-inducing. Some of the recipes literally make you say “what were they thinking??” My husband tries not to look at them anymore. He had a bad experience with an aspic, and that scarred him for life.

You’ve been putting your collection to use; tell us about your blog and the Skinny Jeans Project.

My blog www.theskinnyjeansproject.blogspot.com is both a tribute and an adventure. As a Weight Watchers lifetime member who has lost over 40 pounds on the modern day WW program, I wanted to pay tribute to the history of WW and all of the brave women (including my mom) who followed this program in the early days. I also pay tribute to Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW and author of all of the publications I reference on my blog.

But most of all–my blog is a crazy adventure that I decided to embark upon as I turned 40. I figured it was time to do something BIG. I wanted to get back into my “skinny jeans”, so I thought I would incorporate the rules and recipes from the 1970’s WW program into my current weight loss plan and write about it. I re-create some scary retro WW recipes and yes–I even eat them. At times it is horrifying. At times it is delicious. You never know what dietetic disaster will end up on the platter… Maybe a giant Mackerel and Cantaloupe Salad? Maybe a Crown Roast of Frankfurters? Maybe a Chicken Buttermilk Loaf? Stop by and check it out! I dare you…

Because you use the books and magazines as intended, do you consider them collectibles?

I guess so. To me they are both collector’s items and cherished resources. Not all of my Retro WW magazines and cookbooks are in mint condition, but I love them all just the same!

Do you think you will begin collecting other cookbooks, health & diet publications, etc. from that period — or will you remain a Weight Watchers purist?

I admit that I am drawn to any cookbooks or magazines with a good selection of gelatin mold recipes. Better Homes and Gardens Circa 1955-1970 are my current fave. I also cherish my Knox On Camera cookbook from 1962. It’s a bit creepy, but I have a slight obsession with Knox Gelatin and anything that can be gelatinized. There’s something wonderful to me about “gel cookery” and the women who took that much time and effort to prepare something so disgustingly weird.

I also love any cookbooks or magazines focusing on the topic of retro dieting. I recently picked up a cookbook from 1961 called “Glorious Eating for Weight Watchers” for .50 at a flea market. It was published by Wesson Oil, had nothing to do with Weight Watchers and mostly contained pictures of fried food. I found this to be quite strange. I had to have it.

Anything you’d like to add or mention about your collection that I didn’t mention?

Aside from the recipes, which is what I love most about my Retro WW Magazines–each issue features a fashion section, a “success stories” section, and many valuable articles about health and fitness. But the best part of WW Magazine HANDS DOWN is “Ask Jean…” where readers get to write in with their questions, comments and complaints and have them answered by Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW. These letters and responses are never dull, because, well…let’s just say: Jean has chutzpah and tons of charm. To say the least.

So do you, Mimi; so do you.

I’d like to thank Mimi for sharing more information about her collection — even more than she shares at her blog. For quick retro WW bites, follow Mimi on Twitter @RetroMimi — “Sometimes its easier to swallow in small doses!”

Looking For Help Dating Your Vintage Pillsbury Collectibles?

I was looking for information to properly date this vintage Pillsbury cookbook so I could accurately list it on eBay and I found this fabulous guide to Pillsbury cookbooks and advertising pieces — I just had to share it!

From Bull Cook To Bull Crap With George Leonard Herter

At an estate sale on Friday I grabbed this book, thinking it would have some interesting recipes and tips for my vintage home ec blog. It was $5, which I’ll admit is a bit more than I typically pay for a book I know nothing about… Oddly, there was no table of contents to assist me in my evaluation, but the title was intriguing: Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices.

Turns out, it was a fabulous find!

Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter, is the first of a number of books by Geoerge Leonard Herter (some available as modern reprints). In fact, Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices itself would later have three volumes; something I discovered via a trip later that day to a local antique mall, where all three volumes could be found (even later editions, in golden boards; each at $19.95).

While I haven’t tested any of the recipes (and there’s more than a few I will probably never ever try!), I can personally attest to the incredible array of topics covered in this vintage book.

Along with recipes for corning liquid, Norwegian Fried Ham, and Fish Tongues Scandinavian, Herter gives you the real history of the Martini, informs you which foods the Virgin Mary was fond of (creamed spinach), instructs you on how to dress a turtle and broil tiger’s feet, and tells you what you must know in case of a hydrogen bomb attack. It’s rather as the author promises right on the first page:

I will start with meats, fish, eggs, soups and sauces, sandwiches, vegetables, the art of French frying, desserts, how to dress game, how to properly sharpen a knife, how to make wines and beer, how to make French soap and also what to do in case of hydrogen or cobalt bomb attack, keeping as much in alphabetical order as possible.

But what makes this book so engaging — or, as Paul Collins calls it in The New York Times, “one of the greatest oddball masterpieces in this or any other language” — is its author. Collins describes George Leonard Herter as “a  surly sage, gun-toting Minnesotan and All-American crank” –which translates easily enough to “old coot,” a breed I am particularly fond of.

Herter was the heir to Herter’s, Inc., an outdoor sporting goods business founded in 1893 located in Waseca, Minnesota. (The company closed decades ago; but the brand lives on via Cabela’s — and hunters and sportsmen are avoid collectors of vintage Herter’s items.)

It’s not quite clear if Herter’s authorship was simply a genius marketing move, or if he just had more he was desperate to say — even after writing thousands of product descriptions and essays for the company’s catalogs, like this 1974 “How to Buy an Outdoor Knife” essay, whi to promote Herter’s Improved Bowie Knife:

An outdoor knife must be made for service–not show. Your life may depend on it. Real outdoor people realize that so-called sportsmen or outdoor knives have long been made for sale, not for use. The movies and television show their characters wearing fancy sheath knives. Knife makers advertised them and drugstore outdoorsmen bought them. [insert a picture that looks something like a Marble Woodcraft or an old Western fixed blade here] Nothing marks a man to be a tenderfoot more than these showy useless knives.

Ahh, classic Herter.

But whatever the case, savvy marketing or the need to “talk,” Herter was prolific and opinionated in his writings.

Most of Herter’s books were, at least in title, based upon the sporting goods business and the outdoorsman’s life — even with a few giant steps into the domestic world.  However, his book How To Live With A Bitch is not — I repeat NOT, about a female hunting dog. (If you cannot find a copy listed among Herter’s works at eBay, check Amazon for this elusive gem.)

So, what begins with a $5 bargain (for a hardcover copy of a 1961 third printing), leads to more fascinating fun than I can barely stand — but wait! There’s more!

I found this book on Friday morning at an estate sale, spotted the three volumes at an antique mall later that afternoon,  and then I even managed to snatch another copy (1963, sixth printing) for $6 at an auction on Saturday! This makes me very hopeful that more Herter books will fall into my hands — and I’m thrilled to do more of the collector’s kind of hunting.

Further reading:

A review of Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices, by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter at Neglected Books.

Reminiscing about Herter’s at Topix.

Image credits:

Photo of George Herter, by Peter Marcus (1966) via the NY Times article by Paul Collins.

Vintage photo of Herter’s Inc. via Waseca Alums.

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