Collecting & Preserving The Typewriter

This past summer, my youngest, age 11, discovered a typewriter at a garage sale. He, like all our children, is fascinated by typewriters and their mechanical means of doing what the younger generation does digitally. His find was a portable blue Royal Sprite from the 1970s, and he negotiated a price of $1 for it. (I’ve taught my kids well!)

Recently, he and his find were featured at Frank De Freitas’ Typewriters Around the World, a site devoted not only to showcasing typewriters but to showing off their typefaces or fonts by having folks mail in letters typewritten on the machines.

In a related note, at Boing Boing, news that a documentary on typewriters is in need of funding in order to be completed:

Christopher Lockett, a director/cinematographer in Los Angeles, began working on a documentary called The Typewriter (In The 21st Century) after visiting Boing Boing and following Cory’s link to a Wired.com article about “The Last Generation Of Typewriter Repairmen.”
Christoper says:

We’re down to our final [7] days in the Kickstarter.com fundraising… and we are woefully behind out goal of $20,000. We are presently at $5,631 with 34 backers.

We’ve shot 17 interviews with typewriter repairmen, users, collectors, authors, artists, street poets, historians and enthusiasts, documented two type-in events and have shot in LA, SF and the Phoenix/Mesa, AZ area. We’ve photographed famous machines once owned by John Lennon, Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Updike, George Bernard Shaw, Ray Bradbury, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway.

But we’re only about halfway through shooting the film. There is a lot left to shoot on the West Coast, and even more to shoot on the East Coast and abroad. Details of our plans and some of the incentives we’re offering are on the Kickstarter page:

One of the incentives we’re offering at the $5,000 donor level is to type a letter on a typewriter owned by Ernest Hemingway that he used to keep in Cuba. It’s in Los Angeles now in the Soboroff collection.

Of the $20,000 we’re hoping to raise, none of it goes toward salaries. It’s all for travel and post-production.

More details and means to donate can be found here, so, typewriter collectors and fans, take action!

Typewriter Ribbon Tins

I’ve been reading about dead technology, things like wind-up watches, letter writing and typewriters. Then I found a link to people who collect typewriter ribbon tins. This got me thinking, it’s not just the technology or industry itself which dies but all the little things that go along with it.

I had an old typewriter, or my family did anyway. I can remember the smell of the ribbon and the tinny smell of the old typewriter itself. The ribbon was wound around two spools and would gradually wind back and forth between them until someone decided the ink had become too faded and replaced it with a new ribbon. That’s where the fancy ribbon case would come in. It would hold the fresh ribbon and spool.

Flickr: Typewriter Ribbon Tin Menagerie

As products go, what could be more banal than the lowly typewriter ribbon? In an effort to stand out from the crowd, ribbon manufacturers covered their products’ tins with colorful type and graphic elements. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Mid-century Modern graphic design are all well represented. Some tins feature fanciful illustrations having absolutely nothing to do with typewriters, ribbons, writing, business or anything remotely connected with typing. As the industrialized culture of international business spread throughout the 1960s and 70s, soulless, bland graphics and cheap cardboard packaging took over. The tin was no more.

Collecting Typewriter Ribbon Tins – Site by Darryl C. Rehr

Uppercase Collection of Typewriter Ribbon Tins on Flickr.

Floaty Pens for Laura (Wherever she is)

“Life’s more fun if you tilt things now and then. ” – Elizabeth Spatz

I had an online friend, Laura (which is also my own name), who loved floaty pens. Like so many people you meet online in chats, forums and various other virtual places, I lost track of her after the group fell apart/ faded away. Without turning this post into a tell all true confessions thing, I will say that I really liked Laura but (at the time) I was shocked to find out she was having an affair with one of the married men in the group. She was also married. I’ve become a little jaded or seasoned since those early days, back when we talked on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and used mIRC.

Anyway, Laura had begun to create a site for her floaty pen collection. She shared the link with me. But, that was probably ten years ago. I don’t have the link and so far I don’t think I’ve found it. Many of the personal collection floaty pen sites I’ve found are pretty neglected/ forgotten. Not all, some are as active as this year, pretty good for a small niche hobby page/ site.

I do have a couple of floaty pens buried away in the stuff I haven’t unpacked. I have been something of a vagabond, moving every 5 to ten years. Unpacking wears thin. One of my floaty pens came from my Grandmother’s trip to London, UK. Another I had bought myself with my allowance money on a family trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. A third pen is from the CN Tower here in Toronto, another family trip though we had arrived on a foggy day and never did go up to the observation deck to try looking for our house.

There is a recent pen, pink for breast cancer awareness. It’s not as fun as watching London bridge rise and fall or the elevator go up and down the length of the CN Tower but it is pretty in pink, with the pink ribbon floating along a line of women standing together. I bought it at Zellers, when I was still working there as a cashier.

Happy Worker: Custom Floating Action Pens

History of Floaty Pens
In the 1950s, Esso (now Exxon Mobil) approached Peder Eskesen, a one-time baker and the owner of a small acrylic factory in Denmark. Eskesen had been working on a pen that contained mineral oil, and Esso wanted to have an original ballpoint pen made with a small oil drum floating in oil. Buoyed by this first floating success, in the decades that followed Eskesen produced numerous corporate and tourist souvenir floaty pens. A later standout invention was the famous (or infamous) tip ‘n strip pen. Long a staple of dorm rooms and source for teenage snickering, these x-rated pens featured scantily clad female or male strippers whose black-colored underwear vanish completely with a simple tip of the pen. Of course, the mechanism behind these conceal & reveal pens have also been put to good use with other, less controversial corporate messages.

Float Art Design: History of Float Pens

Over 63 Years of Float Pen History
Typical Danish-made Eskesen floating pens create a detailed miniature scene inside the confines of a 16×80 millimeter translucent tube, and inside the tube, some object (a plane, a car, etc.) always floats by. The liquid inside the pen is not water but rather mineral oil, which allows the floating objects to float smoothly and slowly across the scene.

Eskesen was not the first company to attempt floating pens. Other styles had been created over the years. But inventors had been plagued by the problem of leaking mineral oil. In 1946, Peder Eskesen, a Danish baker, developed a method of effectively sealing the oil-filled tubes, launching him quickly in front of his competitors. Eskesen has continued on to become the leader in float pen technology, and the company’s sealing process is still a carefully-guarded secret.

Early Eskesen pens often held 3-dimensional floating objects, such as the mermaid pen (below). There were many mechanical pencils made, and many of the parts were metal. In the 1960’s, however, it became difficult to find workers willing to hand paint the 3-D floating objects, and the metal parts became too expensive to be profitable.

Eskesen’s first pen order was for Esso (now Exxon) and contained a bobbing oil drum. Soon the company was marketing the pens worldwide.

Early Postmarks Of Haiti

Some of the early postmarks from the feature article on the postal history and stamps of Haiti, by Clarence W. Hennan, found in The American Philatelist, Vol 66 No 8, Whole No 627, May 1953.

The scan is from the vintage copy I have listed for sale at eBay.

Dating Old Newspaper Clippings (And Some Telephone Number History)

As an ephemera collector, I find lots of old clippings inside my vintage magazines, retro catalogs, and even in my antique books. While the acidic old paper may be a threat to already fragile old paper, I am delighted by what I find. It’s somehow comforting to know that we humans have always clipped and tucked away little bits and bobs in publications, either to save them as related materials or as a bookmark in a pinch.

The trouble is trying to discover the age of the clipping itself, because, then as now, we humans don’t exactly tuck only ephemera from the same year as the publication itself.

Now for some, the year of the clipping is irrelevant; but I am an admitted obsessive, remember? So it matters to me.

When I found these old bits of paper in a recently purchased vintage copy of Watkins Household Hints, I wanted to post them to my vintage home ec site, Things Your Grandmother Knew — but I wanted to properly document them as accurately as possible. While the date on the old handwritten partial tip on whitening clothes would be nearly impossible to know, I felt compelled to do better with the newspaper clippings.

Neither vintage newspaper clipping has any masthead or anything to indicate the newspaper name or location, but I figured I could at least get a date or time period for them.

The first one, the larger one with the list of household tips, was easy. There was the complete short story of the resignation of Marvin L. McLain. No, I’m no expert on US assistant secretaries of agriculture; but Google helped nail that date to October 27, 1960. (Give or take a day, I suppose.)

The other clipping however…

The only clue I had to help me with this clipped and saved tip on brightening furniture was the ad on the back. An advertisement with an unusual phone number.

Now I’m familiar with telephone numbers with letters in them; prior to 1958, phone numbers used exchange name dialing or letter prefixes. (And, in fact, it wasn’t until sometime in the mid-1980s that exchange name dialing gave way to all-number calling or ANC.) However, the phone number in this ad, “1597-J,” doesn’t have a letter prefix, it has a letter suffix.

This I was not familiar with.

I knew it was a phone number, not some blind box number; the ad reads “Phone 1597-J.” Was it possible this was just a more fashionable way to write a phone number? It certainly wasn’t a pragmatic or effective way because the exchange would need to be dialed or given to the phone operator first. It just didn’t seem to make sense.

I tried to do some online research, but I didn’t find much to help me. I knew I was putting the wrong words or terms into search engines and data bases. Knowing I was at a wall, I decided to look up the “J” and see where it might least me…

According to the The Telephone EXchange searchable database, the letter — if a telephone exchange, belonged to San Diego. So I contacted the San Diego History Center. While I waited for a response, I also contacted the Library Of Congress, telephone book collector Gwillim Law, and Ammon Shea, author of The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads.

Not content to just sit back and wait for returned calls and emails, I turned to the only other clue I had: the name of the person can business mentioned in the old ad: Arnold Kholmetz, Auctioneer and Realtor. That turned up some old articles in the Milwaukee Journal – Sentinel Archives. This made sense because the first clipping seemed to be from a Wisconsin newspaper and the old household tips book itself was purchased in that state.

So, naturally, I then did what any true obsessive does and called the Journal Sentinel to speak to their archivist. Sadly, Mr. King hadn’t any idea himself regarding the phone number, but he suggested a few other places to try.

The first was AT&T, which does have a telephone history page, has no means of connecting you to anyone but customer service. (I’m not sure you’d call it “irony”: it was simply pure frustration to have their operator inform you that they outside of customer service they only have a list of names and extensions, no departments, etc.) I did manage to get to the voice mail of “Investor Relations” but no one has returned my call and I don’t expect anyone ever will. Note to collectors and historians: Don’t bother contacting AT&T; not by phone anyway.

The second place Mr. King suggested was the Milwaukee Public Library; they couldn’t help me, but stated I was welcome to come in and look through all their old phone books to see if I could find the research I needed.

Well, I wasn’t going to do that — at least not right now; but I wasn’t going to give up either. Like a dog with a bone, and fueled with the rationalization of helping other collectors by writing a great “how to” article, I wasn’t ready to give up.  I could call the Watertown Public Library (because that’s where those old Journal Sentinel archive clippings said Mr. Kohlmetz was from) or I could try to research the partial radio show listings showing there at left of the clipping…

But then Jane Kenealy, Archivist at the San Diego History Center, called me back.

I explained to her that I no longer believed I had an old San Diego phone number, but did she have any idea what the “J” could be at the end of a phone number?

She said she didn’t know, but went to get the 1931 San Diego City Directory — the first city directory which listed phone numbers. I listened to her as she read numbers that ended in “J” and a few other letters, but it was clear, she said, that these letters were suffixes; that they were not exchanges because each page or section of the listings began with the exchange, then listed the phone numbers. We were both puzzled…

“All the phone numbers which end in letters end in either a ‘J,’ ‘M,’ ‘R,’ or ‘W’… But no place in the book is there an explanation…” said Kenealy with the excitement of a researcher enjoying her clues. “Let me go look for another book and I’ll call you back.”

Somewhere in the back of my brain those four letters meant something; I just couldn’t access it. Not yet. So I searched for “telephone J M R W” and found this:

A Restored Notchless Dial Plate with the letters J M R W in red, which are explained at that site as follows:

J M R W were suffixes used on the station numbers on certain manual (non-dial) common battery exchanges that had 10000 line switchboards with 4 subscribers on each line. In metropolitan areas where there was a mixture of dial and manual telephones because the transformation from manual to dial service was in progress and still had not been completed, the DIAL phones were provided with dials with these letters so they could call the MANUAL subscribers who did not yet have dial telephones. The conversion from manual to dial often extended over several years. Washington, DC for example started this conversion with its first dial exchange which was cut into service on May 3, 1930. But this conversion did not complete until the last manual exchange was converted to automatic dial operation on April 23, 1949 – some 19 years later. Chicago started its conversion in the early 20s, but it did not complete until 1957.

Upon seeing that vintage telephone dial plate, and this Western Electric Candlestick Telephone, I not only remembered the old party lines but knew that I just should have picked up my modern cell phone and called my parents about this old phone number; they likely would have known all of this and saved me a lot of work.

And then my cell phone rang and Ms. Kenealy was excitedly telling me that the “J” was referencing a party line. She had found this bit of telephone number history:

line numbers could be one to four digits long; multi-party lines had a letter tacked onto each station on parties sharing the line. All parties on the same line shared the same numericals however. 2-party lines differentiated each other with W & J 4-party lines used J, M, R, W

I felt embarrassed that I’d sent her on such a long wild goose chase, but Ms. Kenealy was more than kind — she was excited. “Thank you for helping me find out something I didn’t know! I’ve never had the excuse to look this up,” she said. And then we ended up talking a bit about how this party line information hadn’t been published in any of the directories or phone books because people then “just knew what it was.” Which, leads to a larger issue of why history and indeed collecting with an obsessive streak are so important — including our documentation of it all these years later.

And that brings us back to the date of this old newspaper clipping…

I did contact the Watertown Public Library, but they had no records regarding the end of party lines.  But for me, this is where the research ends.

I’m satisfied at this point narrowing it down to somewhere between the 1930s and the early 1950s… Likely the mid 40’s, based on all the little clues, such as dates on the newspaper clippings (and ads without such patyline references), the fact that the clipping mentions using silk (and after WWII, nylon was more in vogue and use than silk).

It’s not pinpoint accuracy, but I think I’ve accomplished helping other collectors learn how to date the clippings they have, assisted in documenting a part of history — and been reminded that one’s own parents are still an excellent resource, no matter what kind of help you need.

Vintage Fan Collection Is Really Cool

When I saw this photograph of Wink, the vintage fashion collector and seller, the first thing I thought was, “Wow, vintage fans really blow her skirts up!” The second thing I thought was, “What a ‘cool’ thing to collect!”

And then, nearly out of puns (“She has created her own ‘Fan Club!'”), I realized I wanted to be a bit more serious and talk to her about her collection of vintage fans.

Wink, describe your fan collection. What do you look for in a fan? Is there a time period, manufacturer, size, color or other specific thing you look for?

My “fan club” consists of seven electric fans of varying vintage. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so I tend to notice the brand badges in addition to the industrial design of the fan.

For collecting purposes, I don’t pay much attention to the brand, or color, or period… I just go for whatever catches my eye. That being said, I’ve been a fan of the “atomic future” shapes of the 1950s for about as long as I can remember, and I suspect that most of my fans date to that general time frame.

Do the fans have to work? Do you repair them? If so, do you do it yourself, or pay a professional? (Or, option three, make a spouse do it lol)

Six of the fans work, although the oscillating fan no longer oscillates. One that had been a catalog stylist’s prop and was gifted to me has a cut cord, and I’ve never bothered to splice a new plug on. I could, though! If the motor is blown, though, that’s beyond my own skill set. I might pass it off to a mechanically-inclined friend and bat my eyelashes, but it’s really not important to me that one isn’t working.

When buying, though, I’ll do a function test on-site if it’s possible. Which is kind of funny, really, because I never use any of them for their intended purpose!

Aside from your personal budget, do you pay attention to the monetary or book value of fans?

None whatsoever.

I buy what I like, and the most I’ve spent is $20 so I decided that was my personal, if random, limit. I could easily go higher, and I know that I’ve been very lucky both with my own finds and with the friends who have given me a few as gifts.

When my collection was younger and smaller I tried looking up the value of what I then had, but it was a cursory search and really. I just buy them because they look cool. It’s not an investment thing, like clocks or rugs would be.

What made you become a fan of fans — decide to collect fans?

I bought my first fan for $1 at a garage sale. (Well, the seller was asking 75¢ and tried to give me 25¢ change but I told her to keep it.) That was a blue Coronado, and I bought it because I loved the shape.

Then I bought a second at an antiques mall, and my third (the non-oscillating one) at a flea market. That was when I came up with, “Two is a coincidence. Three is a collection.” Talk about a rationalization!

How many fans are in your collection?

A mere seven, but they take up space!

How do you display your fan collection?

I used to have them up on wall-mounted shelves in the living room, but a few years ago I bought an “entertainment center” that has six cubbies which are perfect for displaying items approximately fan-sized. The seventh fan sits on top of the TV. If/when I get more, there’s a shelf that’s supposed to go along the top which can hold perhaps five or six similarly-sized fans.

Fans are larger and their shape makes them less efficiently organized than say books or some other collectible… Does their size limit your collection?

Most definitely. I had to set an artificially low budget for myself so that I won’t obsess over searching for them, or my house would fill up. They’re definitely out there if you’re looking!

Instead, I made an Etsy treasury of electric fans for other people, and tried for a while to replace listings as they sold. As the treasury got older, it wasn’t getting new views so I stopped updating it. I can’t bear to take it down, though, so perhaps it’s time to refresh it!

Do fans have many fans? lol In other words, when you are at auctions, flea markets, do you find yourself competing with many other collectors for the fans?

There do seem to be a few collectors out there, but since I go for looks/price and not book value, I don’t know if we’re hunting for the same things. Shipping expenses will often blow my budget out of the water, so I tend to look locally. I’ve never had anyone try to pry a fan out of my hands at the antiques mall! LOL!

How do people react to your collection of vintage fans?

The fans are clearly on display in my living room, which is the first room in the house. People who know me are used to seeing them (the collection started somewhere around 10 years ago), but new friends notice them right away and usually let out with a “Oooh, I like your fans!” They’re like sculptures for the common man!

Do you collect brochures, advertisements, packaging etc., or just the fans themselves?

Just the fans, although I wouldn’t be opposed to buying printed ephemera if the price was right and it had some display value.

Do you collect anything that you’d consider related to fans — other small appliances or some such?

I’m a clutterbug. Is that a word? It is now. I collect, actively or passively, a lot of things. Fans are the only electric appliances, though!

Given your youthful appearance, I gather the fans are much older than you are and so they do not carry a sense of real life nostalgia for you… Is there anything you’d like to say about your affection for their “atomic” appeal?

Why, thank you! Yes, I imagine all of the fans are older than I am. However, I grew up in a family of thrifty folks who typically didn’t throw away or replace anything that was still useful, so this is the kind of fan that my grandmother or great aunt would have had in their houses.

My dad had an industrial-strength window fan in his home office that was probably similar in style, although I don’t quite remember its looks as much as I remember its ability to wreak havoc with his paperwork if we accidentally shut his office door! As a family, we spent many weekends watching ’50s sci-fi and film noir flicks on the television, so I’m sure I grew accustomed to this style in that way as well.

Then again, I’m still grumpy that the Dodgers moved to L.A., even though Ebbets Field was torn down before I was ever born! It’s difficult to explain some of the things I’m sentimental about.

Isn’t that true for some many of us.

You can keep up with Wink at her blog, Shoes and Pie, and become a “fan” of her Etsy store at FaceBook.

Photographs of Wink with her Fan Club taken by Candy Apple Photography. (Caution: Candy Apple Photography website plays music — so don’t try to sneak in at work, unless you’ve got your sound off!)

THE UNEXPECTED COLLECTIONS: PICK & GRIN FIND AT HOME

Grin: I decided to clean out some desk drawers and filing cabinets. Trash collection is tomorrow and I can’t seem to close some of my drawers anymore.

Pick: You never could keep your drawers closed.

Grin: I resemble that remark, and blame you for my condition. But to the point, I have trashed some stuff I know should have gone to recycle years ago, mostly paper receipts, bills, catalogs and correspondence. Lots of old price lists, that makes me cringe when I think of the great stuff I should have bought at those prices.

Pick: Was that back when you were making two bucks an hour, and all the fries you could eat?

Grin: OK!! Ruin a dream, but you were the one that married me for my money.

Pick: I married you because your mother promised to pay off your bar tab.

Grin: And your father offered me fifty bucks and a tank of gas if I wanted to escape.

Pick: So, what’s the problem, do you need help carrying your junk to the curb?

Grin: What I really need is a sanity check, I have found stuff. Things that have accumulated into what can only be described as unexpected collections. And since you are an expert on collections, I need your advice on whether to toss them out, or save them with the intent of someday offering them for sale.

Pick: Well, if they’re your collections, some items are probably antique already.

Grin: I should have taken the fifty bucks.

Pick: So let’s see what can be tossed or saved.

The collection of business cards, mostly industrial companies from the upper mid west, lots of big name companies, many manufacturers now gone or moved.

Our old expired credit cards.

Plastic and heavy paper faux credit cards pasted on letters telling me my credit was so good I needed another card.

Pick: Goes to show, you can fool some of the banks all the time and all of the banks some of the time.

Rubber stampers, mostly shipping room types, some are address or date stamps.

Old industrial catalogs, some dating back to the 1920s.

Connection cables from computers and electronic devices.

Pick: Well, let’s analyze each to see their potential for a future sale, with the understanding you’re going to toss out the useless collections. First, your collection of fake credit cards, that’s an easy toss. You have so many the same and all from big companies, the collection will never be sellable in your lifetime. I’ll bet these were send out by the billions.

On the expired credit cards, I just don’t like having our name out there on old cards. This one is a tough decision as I have sold old credit cards before, but like the fake ones, none of yours are from old, out of business companies like Gimbels Department Store, a bank or an oil company thats no longer in business. Those would be worth hanging on to.

As for old electrical cables, why not save one of each style and recycle any duplication of the ones that are from old technology.

The rubber stampers, ink and pads are strictly useable, none are old enough to call collectable but still useable.  Keep any that can be used for our antique business and sell or donate the rest.  I would think with the stamping craze still strong, some might be sellable, like the fragile or first class stamps.

I have been surprised at the number of ephemera collectors we have encountered, look at our recent sales on Ebay, especially luggage labels, industrial catalogs, industrial employee magazines and bus passes. I would suggest any of those items are worth saving, as long as they’re older than 1980..

Grin: That’s pretty new. I have socks older than that.

Pick: 1980 is thirty years ago. That’s not the only thing in your drawers that’s old.

1957: The Year In Typewriters

I continue to be delighted with vintage magazines, this time another article in that November 1957 issue of Good Housekeeping has me thinking how advice on buying typewriters from 1957 might be of use to the collectors of typewriters today.

According to The Latest Word On Buying Typewriters, 1957 was a (at least semi) pivotal year for typewriters:

If you’re one of the many thousands of people who haven’t bought a typewriter in years, you’re in for some surprises.

Some of the gadgets offered on modern machines include easy-do ribbon changers, concave keys for finger comfort, automatic devices that show the number of type lines or inches remaining on the page, top plates that spring open at the touch of a button (to facilitate inside cleaning jobs), settings for light and for heavy touch, half-spacing to correct letter omissions or spacing errors, knobs to adjust the carriage speed to your own typing speed, special paper supports for post cards, practically noiseless type bars, and improved push-button settings for margins and tabulator. Often you can get typewriters to match the decor of your room, in pastels ranging from turquoise-blue to pink. You can usually choose a type style and size to match your whim, too; one manufacturer lists six sizes and 25 different kinds of type faces available in his portables.

Reading of yesteryear’s tech gadgets is both amusing and charming — like this part, explaining the “development of electrics” in typewriters:

In an electric typewriter — which is plugged into a wall outlet like any home appliance — the type bars, carriage return, and operational parts are moved by electrical power rather than by “finger power.” The typist mere touches the keys lightly, and electricity does the rest, the action resulting in a uniformly typed page.

How quaint the need for explaining an electric typewriter seems to this internet addict!

Such information may be charmingly amusing, yes; but this article may also help collectors identify the age of vintage typewriters too. So feel free to click the image to read (or download) a larger scan.

Nostalgia Calling: Cute Vintage Pay Phone Bank

There’s lots to love about this vintage pay phone ceramic bank I spotted at a local thrift store.

To add money to the piggy bank, you drop the coins in the slot at the top — just like you did with those pay phones. This particular bank was missing the presumably rubber stopper sealing the hole in the bottom for coin retrieval, signaling that someone had spent their pennies earned.

This vintage ceramic bank is a real conversation piece. First, in terms of true style of old telephones. There’s a rotary dial to really confuse kids — other people’s kids; ours have been educated in the ways of earlier technology. Heck, with the popularity of cell phones some kids don’t even know what a “pay phone” is.

But what I love most about it is the coin return detail and the memories it brrrr-rings. Had that been how one actually retrieved their coins from the bank, I probably would have bought it because I have fond memories of checking the coin returns of public pay phones.

My sister and I would race to see who could check the coin return first — or, if there was a bank of pay phones, who could get the most money. My sister was far more determined (greedy?) than I, and she often pocketed the most winnings.

She did win the all-time best story about pay phones too. One time, she stuck her greedy fingers into a coin return and came out with some partially eaten and/or melted candy. (We dared not dwell on all the possibilities too long.)

That moment in “Eeeiiww” nostalgia now makes me wish I had bought this vintage bank. I could have set it out in my home; it’s mere existence a prompt to tell that story over and over again… Or maybe even mailed it to her, eagerly awaiting her phone call to discuss pay phones and other gross childhood memories.

If this bank is still at the thrift shop on my next visit, I think I’ll have to get it.

PS I wasn’t sure which room in the house to categorize this under… As a kid, my bank was always in my bedroom — but then, when you’re a kid everything goes in your bedroom. I suppose this piggy bank probably more suited mom, who likely kept it in the kitchen or wherever the telephone was. Maybe she even used it to threaten charging her teenage daughters for each phone call they had. Hey, moms had to get that “rainy day” money from somewhere.