Collecting Halloween: The History of Halloween Postcards & Costumes

Like all collectors, collectors of Halloween items are busy collecting all year ‘round. Unlike most collectors, however, Halloween collectors find discussion and articles about their category of collecting mainly relegated to the month of October only. Here’s is one such article. *wink*

The two most popular categories of vintage and antique Halloween collectibles are postcards and costumes.

The most popular Halloween postcards are from the Golden Age of postcards, which began in the USA with the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898 and lasted until about 1918. While many of these postcards were designed and published in the USA by names such John O. Winsch, International Art Publishing Company, and Raphael Tuck & Sons; the cards themselves were printed in Germany. Superior lithographic techniques combined with inexpensive wages made Germany the place for printing up until WWI. (German printing never quite recovered after the war.)

halloween-bewitching-vintage-postcardThe number one reason for collecting antique Halloween or Hallowe’en postcards are for the graphics, of course. There are plenty of jack o’lanterns, black cats, and witches — from comical to scary. As with postcard collecting in general, the hold-to-light postcards and those with fringed borders are among the most rare and sought after. But another area that is quite popular with collectors are the romantic Halloween cards.

Many of these romantic postcards offer the traditional Halloween fare of witches and cats. Sometimes there are simply ladies with icons or symbols of witchcraft, such as cauldrons, clocks, mirrors, and potions. But with these cards it is the messages which are most charm-ing. While some of these old postcards offer sweet sentiments and courtship rituals, others go a step further into the magic of love. Quite obviously directed at young and/or single women, these antique Halloween postcards have a parlor game fortune telling aspect or offer bewitching true love spells.

Halloween costumes are nearly as old as Halloween postcards, however most true antique Halloween costumes were made to be scary — and made to be worn by adults at rather wild carnival-type events featuring drinking and other rowdy behaviors. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that American’s toned the holiday down and focused it mainly on children.

vintage-antique-halloween-costumesThese early costumes were handmade, rather more like simple theatrical costumes than the pop culture icon costumes we think of today. Some were actually just festive garments featuring holiday colors and decorations.

However, by the late 1930s, with The Great Depression having put many theatres and other live performance events out of business, professional costume companies began to try to save their business by mass-producing Halloween costumes for children. The most famous of these companies, and most popular names in Halloween costumes among collectors, were A.S. Fishbach and Ben Cooper.

Fishbach was the first to secure major licensing rights — and with Walt Disney Company yet. But Cooper Inc. quickly assumed control of Fishbach, and by 1937 was producing Donald Duck, Snow White, and other Disney character costumes under the name Fishbach’s Spotlight brand. By 1942, Fishbach and Cooper would merge and the Fishbach name would be but a footnote in Halloween costume history. The Golden Age of Television would usher in the near death of homemade costumes, and Ben Cooper would capitalize on this by being one of the first to not only license popular TV and film characters but to get costumes on the shelves quickly. This cemented the company’s place as one of the biggest Halloween costume companies.

vintage-ghosts-with-signs-1960sThe homemade Halloween costumes are more rare; however, those commercial made costumes are often those which inspire more nostalgia and so can be quite pricey. In either case, if you can’t afford to collect vintage or antique Halloween costumes (or simply don’t have the space to display them all), many collectors opt for photographs featuring people in Halloween costumes. These can be far less expensive and take up a lot less room. Plus, there’s a lot of personality in these old snapshots — no two ghosts are quite alike!

Halloween collectors (like collectors of other holiday items) often find shopping for their collectibles is rather limited to the holiday season itself. Like shopping for contemporary holiday merchandise, antique shops (online and off) make a special effort to list and display holiday wares during holiday time. The good news is that you can find sales right after the holiday has passed, just like in most retail shops. And Halloween items for sale “out of season” may be lower priced as well. So if you’re reading this after the holiday, take heart — you can still find great Halloween collectibles, and possibly at a better price too.

Image credits: Bewitching Halloween postcard; vintage homemade Halloween costumes; vintage Halloween photo.

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.

 

Miniature Bibles On Greeting Cards

Did you know you can get a patent for a Bible? Not a copyright, but a patent? If so, why did it take until the 1940s? These were some of the questions I had when I discovered this vintage Christmas card with a miniature Bible on it.

christmasbiblecard

The small Bible, measuring 1 by 1 1/2 inches, is tied onto the card with a ribbon. Untie the ribbon, slide it out of the card, and you have a miniature Bible. According to press at the time, the miniature Bible contains 220 pages of the New Testament plus the 23d Psalm.

Made by the Sorin Bible & Card Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, the back of the card carries the following information:

Copyright 1943 — Patent No. 136006
The use of a miniature Bible and Prayer book on a greeting card is prohibited unless by permission.

In performing searches, I’ve found various other greeting card themes with the little Bible, including this very patriotic one.

As far as I was able to ascertain, the patent lasted about three years… If anyone can add to the story, please share!

Happy New Year’s From Rose O’Neill & The Kewpies

A vintage Rose O'Neill holiday postcard featuring the Kewpies!

New Year’s Luck for You
At the mystic hour of midnight,
If your eyes are bright,
you’ll see the Jolly Kewpies
bringing New Year’s luck to you from me.

In February of last year, I wrote about Kewpie dolls for the Dolls By Diane newsletter; leave a comment or email me if you want me to send you a copy!

vintage kewpie new years eve postcard

The Halloween Tradition Of Romantic Tricks & Treats

Halloween was once steeped in the tradition of belief that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year and so was considered a time when fortunes could be best told. Not even the Victorian era and it’s designs to clean-up the naked bonfire bawdiness could quash that Hallowe’en tradition. In fact, the Victorian notions of romance and marriage quite fed such things. Especially the romantic sort of fortune telling, predicting whom you might marry.

halloween-bewitching-vintage-postcardIncluded in this historical paper trail are the antique and vintage Halloween postcards. There, among the now-so-traditional Halloween fare of witches and black cats, are the romantic Halloween postcards. Sometimes these are simply postcards with romantic prose, courtship rituals, or even wistful, hopeful sentiments. But there too, along with icons or symbols of witchcraft (such as caldrons, clocks, mirrors, and potions), there are the utterly charm-ing old postcards of spell-casting or divination. These discuss the magical steps one might take to find love and bind lovers. Some are quite clearly the stuff of parlor games.

There were quite a number of fortune telling games. Some, like the postcards, provided instructions. Others were of the oral tradition. For example, among the myriad of seasonal apple traditions is the one in which single ladies peeled an entire apple and then tossed the long peel behind them. The shape the apple peeling took was said to form the first letter of the first name of their future mate.

Along with these sorts of party games, there were dolls who might help a single lady out.

In the 1800s, both France and Germany made wooden, and porcelain, dolls with skirts over paper petticoats, of sorts. It was on the paper pages of the skirting that one found one’s fortune. Much like a fancier version of the paper fortune telling games played in schools now!

German Porcelain Miniature Fortune-Telling Doll Wooden Tuck Comb Doll as Fortune-Telling Doll

This is an antique wooden Grödnertal fortune telling doll. (So-named for the Grödnertal region of Germany where the original peg wooden dolls were made.)

Grödnertal Wooden Doll as French Fortune Teller antique

antique witch fortune telling doll

antique french fortune telling doll

In French these fortune telling dolls are known as “bebe a bonne aventure” dolls.

They are often depicted as witches or gypsies, which is rather keeping in the Halloween tradition.

See also: Collecting New Age Items From Old Eras.

Image Credits: Antique fortune telling dolls via, via, via.

Schuster’s Billie The Brownie

Billie the Brownie was a character that Schuster’s Department Store introduced in 1927 to promote their annual Christmas Parade in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I spotted this large plastic version of Billie (likely used in a story display) at DJ’s Antiques (also on Facebook). He was there last week, but you’ll have to contact the shop to see if he’s still there. The number is (414) 282-0447. (And tell them Val & Dean’s daughter from Fargo sent ya!)

billie the brownie statue vintage

Sweet Antique Candy Boxes

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without the proverbial box of chocolates! These two boxes are pretty examples of sweet antique advertising ephemera.

antique chocolate candy boxes

The first box marked “Overhauser’s of Spokane” features a Victorian lady with a large hat. There’s a holly and berries sticker on the box that shows this box of candy from the Overhauser Candy Company (Spokane, Washington) was likely given for Christmas — but it’s still a romantic gift, right?

The second antique candy box also features a fancy Victorian lady wearing a large hat — with roses that match the other roses on the paper. This box bears a red and gold foil seal that reads “De Luxe Chocolates, Little Falls, Minn.” Remarkably, the original fancy embossed papers are still inside!

antique de luxe chocolates minnesota box

Both boxes are for sale in our Etsy shop, here & here. Or you can contact me at We Have Your Collectibles or the We Have Your Collectibles Facebook page.

Sweet Little Girls Looking For Love At The Opera (Antique Valentine Card)

This antique mechanical Valentine’s Day card features a pair of cute, chubby-cheeked girls. One holds a pair of opera glasses or binoculars and, when you move the section on the back, they move up and down. The girls eyes also move or “google”.

antique mechanical carrington valentine

The text also changes. First it reads:

I’m very very bashful as certain people know

Then:

So I’m sending this to ask you if I stand any show

Here it is in action!

The artwork is similar in style to the Campbell’s Soup Kids by Grace Wiederseim Drayton, but there is no mark for the illustrator. The back is marked Carrington, for the George S. Carrington Company, with a ‘G’ in tree logo.

If you are interested in this antique mechanical die-cut valentine, it’s available for purchase in our Etsy shop. Or, you can contact me directly at my dealer’s website, We Have Your Collectibles, home of Fair Oaks Antiques.

vintage antique mechanical valentine carrington card

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?

Vintage German Christmas Tree Candle Clips

Before electricity made its way into most homes, Christmas trees had the warm glow of candlelight. The candles were attached to the tree branches via little metal clips. Most often they were decorative clips made in Germany, like these shown here.  Since using candles to light your tree is neither practical, nor safe, we don’t recommend bringing back that tradition lightly. (No pun intended!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t safely use these charming bits of Christmas past this holiday. They make wonderful placeholders, with or without candles, at your holiday table.

antique german tree clips as placecard holders

More than that, these vintage and antique Christmas tree clips can be used to display your holiday greeting cards (collectible ephemera and the new ones you receive from family & friends this year), photographs, etc. (As always, I would recommend sliding old or collectible paper in clear sleeves to protect them from the elements.)

christmas tree candle clips display cards

This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.

display vintage ephemera with vintage christmas tree candle clips

In fact, since the designs on these old tree clips vary widely, including non-holiday motifs, like pine-cones, you could use them year round. For example, instead of clothespins on those framed bits of chicken-wire and other rustic ways to show-off photographs.

While I obviously prefer “old” pieces, if you prefer something more industrial (or at least not so shabby chic), there are contemporary clips as well. Whether you opt for old or new, whether you want to light the candles or not, the fact that they still make these tree candle clips means they still make the right size candles too.

Christmas Decorating For Collectors Who Want To Show Off Their Collections

The holidays, with all their visitors, are the perfect time for showing off our collections. And what collector doesn’t want to show off their collection?! Instead of replacing your antique and vintage treasures with holiday pieces, why not deck your collections along with decking the halls? It can be as simple as mixing in some simple holiday trims.

Here’s a collection of vintage soda pop bottles topped with simple gold and silver ball ornaments. It would make a unique centerpiece on any holiday table.

festive vintage soda pop bottle collection display

Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!

festive holiday poker display

Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.

vintage collectibles dressed for the holidays

Even more rustic country displays can be given some holiday glitz this way. I added some silver balls and garland to this set of vintage blue Ball canning jars.

festive primitives glass canning jars

And here, that rustic autumn centerpiece gets a bit more glamorous for the holidays. Along with the ball ornaments, I added some glittery golden picks.

rustic holiday centerpiece

Antique and vintage ornaments are nice to use, of course. And the old glass ornaments are actually much cheaper than you think right now. The kitschy vintage pipecleaner and flocked plastic ornaments, like the shelf-elves, are becoming more popular now and well out-price the vintage glass pieces. In fact, the vintage glass balls and ornaments — even those painted, frosted or otherwise decorated — can be found in antique shops in my area for as little as one dollar! (Contact me at my store page if you want me to be your personal shopper and get some for you!)

However, if you don’t have any vintage ornaments left over once you’ve decorated the Christmas tree, or if you cannot find enough old ornaments to get a color theme for your grouping, you can get extra trimmings inexpensively at the dollar store. That’s where all of these balls, picks, and garland came from.

Use Vintage Sleds To Carry The Holiday Gifts

I just love the look of old wooden sleds holding the Christmas presents. Sometimes you have more presents than the sled can carry — but a few on the sled looks lovely next to the tree! This is a photo of our display at Exit 55 Antiques.

antique vintage sled holding holiday gifts

Sylvia Pope is a 70-year-old grandmother who loves Christmas

ornamentcollector

Her house in Morriston, Swansea, South Wales is home to her ever-growing collection of Christmas ornaments, which now numbers over 1800 pieces. The glittering holiday baubles come from all over the world and, because she has more than would fit on her Christmas tree, they hang from her living room ceiling for all to enjoy.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

More photos & info if you click 😉

See on fair-oaks-antiques.tumblr.com

Load Up Your Vintage Sleighs

We’ve all seen those cute vintage Santa and reindeer sleigh sets…

vintage santa reindeer and sleigh

And we’ve all seen enough of the old sleighs at thrift shops to know that eventually, like Santa’s sleigh Christmas morning, whatever goodies were originally in the sleigh have left — even Santa and his reindeer have departed leaving an empty and forlorn sleigh, just shadow of its former useful and joyful self.

But Wanda’s archive of Christmas decorating inspires me to rescue and adopt these old empty sleighs and fill them with other collectibles. (I do have quite a number of those just sitting around!) Here she shows some vintage plastic dolls of other nations taking a ride around the world in Santa’s sleigh.

vintage dolls in sleigh

And here, retro kitschy poodles pile on in! I just love that!

poodles in sleigh

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.)

Meet Me Down by Schuster’s (Vintage Department Store Memories & Collectibles)

Like many people, my first jobs were in retail. It was work I actually loved; but retail doesn’t pay enough to support a family, so I left it & got a college degree. Years later, I still consider myself to be a “retail brat” — and so I collect vintage retail store items. Like most collectors, I tend to focus on the names that mean something to me. For me, these are the department stores of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Vintage Milwaukee Department Store Collectibles: Boston Store Cloth Patch, Schuster's Stamp Book, Gimbles * Schuster's Hat Box
Vintage Milwaukee Department Store Collectibles: Boston Store Cloth Patch, Schuster’s Stamp Book, Gimbles * Schuster’s Hat Box

A recent score was a Schuster Stamp Book. This vintage ephemera piece from the Ed. Schuster & Co. department store, founded by German immigrant Edward Schuster in 1884, may not look like much. But as an early department store chain in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it is near to my heart.

Vintage Schuster Stamp Book
Vintage Schuster Stamp Book

I myself never worked at or even shopped at a Schuster’s store. Schuster’s merged with another Milwaukee department store, Gimbels, two years before I was born. In effect, that act in 1962 was a Gimbels buyout of Schusters — and the resulting joint “Gimbels Schusters” name was very short-lived indeed. I never quite worked for Gimbels either; however, I did work at the Southridge Mall Gimbels location just after it became a Marshall Field’s store (at the prestigious Estee Lauder counter) which, in but a blink of a glamorous eyelash, quickly became an H.C. Pranges and, just a few more years later, Younkers stores. But even though I have no real personal memories of Schuster’s, I have the shared collective memories of the store.

Growing up, every adult referenced the both Schuster’s (and Gimbels). It wasn’t just that they referred to buildings and locations once occupied by these earlier retailers (you know, in that way people habitually call new companies and buildings by the former names and occupants), but their advertising campaigns were iconic. For example, anyone my parents’ age or older still feels that special holiday magic at the mere mention of Billie the Brownie.

Billie the Brownie was a Christmas character that Schuster’s Department Store introduced in 1927 to promote their annual Christmas Parade in downtown Milwaukee. Billie, Santa’s favorite elf, went on to delight children in radio shows, motivate parents, and, of course, sell products via ads — until 1955, when a Billie the Brownie doll failed to sell in Milwaukee stores. Billie’s last radio show aired on Christmas Eve 1955. But he continues to live on in the hearts of many a Milwaukee Baby Boomer today! (FYI, in his final broadcast, Billie makes reference to “Sandman”, and according to this site, Billie, true to his German roots, went on to live another life in East Germany the following year.)

But enough about Billie. As charming as he is, he does not appear in my vintage Schuster’s stamp book.

What does appear in the pages of this old book is far more fascinating to me. But before we get into that, it would be helpful for you to know a little bit more about Schuster’s history. Especially in terms of store, trade, or trading stamps which were used as a rewards or loyalty program.

For those of you who think that S&H Green Stamps (aka Green Shield Stamps) were the first trading stamps, it may surprise you to know that the S & H (Sperry & Hutchinson) stamps began in 1896 — five years after Schuster’s stamps. In fact, Ed. Schuster & Co., Inc., is credited with founding trade stamps in the Unites States. The program, which began in 1891, ran for 68 years (until 1959, just before merger talks with Gimbles).

Now for the fascinating part.

Stamped rather sloppily inside the the front cover it reads “Valuable Schuster Stamps will be issued on Price-Fixed Merchandise if Chapter 52 is finally determined invalid.”

Not knowing anything about “Chapter 52”, I wanted to research it — but knew having some date or time period would be helpful. So it was time to try to date the old stamp booklet.

While the covers are rather fancy (a deep red or burgundy, with black & white flourishes, in a matte finish), the paper pages on the inside are quite tanned, old & brittle — as in “cheap paper.” Each page of the book as rectangles for the stamps to be placed, surrounding a center illustrated advertisement for Schuster products. On the back, there is a stock code, “I-39”, which leads me to believe it dates to 1939. While there are no Schuster’s stamps inside (bummer), there are clumsily-placed Easter Seals (for Christmas, 1940) which seem to be the work of a child. The date of those stamps make me more inclined to believe that this booklet dates to 1939 – 1940; but who can tell? I mean, a child could have found this old stamp booklet in the same junk drawer as the old seals and put them together in 1960 — or even later.

Inside Vintage Schuster's Department Store Booklet
Inside Vintage Schuster’s Department Store Booklet

So what’s an obsessive collector to do?

Stumbling about the Internet, I was delighted to discover that there was a book about the department store! Of course, it has to share billing with Gimbles, but… Well, at least a book exists! Schuster’s and Gimbels: Milwaukee’s Beloved Department Stores is by Paul Geenen — and since the book has a website, I reached out to the author, telling him, “I have no idea what this ‘Chapter 52’ is… I know a bit of the early history of Schuster’s and stamps (which is why I was so thrilled to have found this!), but I have no idea what this ‘Chapter 52’ is or when it occurred.” Could he, would he, help?

Yes!

Mr. Geenen replied:

I found a very similar coupon book at the Milwaukee Historical Society when I was doing the research for my book, Deanna. You have one of the few around.

I believe that the book you have was issued and filled with stamps during WWII, when there was strict price fixing. Stores were not allowed to raise prices and were restricted in using the word” sale” when they advertised.

I don’t know what Chapter 52 is for sure, but by the language it appears that Chapter 52 was the fixed price legislation. So what they were saying is that Schusters stamps would be issued if the item was not on the price fixed list.

Issuing the stamps was like putting an item on sale and during the war putting an item on sale was discouraged as it would encourage people to hoard.

How exciting to know what I have is rather rare! And now, thanks to Mr. Geenen, I have more pieces to the story!

I haven’t quite closed the book on this bit of Schuster’s history. But I’ve put a (metaphoric) pin in the Schuster’s Stamp Savings Story for now. …A collector is never quite finished.

PS The title of this post is from (one of the variations of) the old Milwaukee saying, “Down by Schuster’s, where the streetcar bends the corner around”, which lives on as proof of Schuster’s duration.

All images are copyright Deanna Dahlsad; you may use with proper credits — including a link to this article.

Back of Milwaukee Department Store Book
Back of Milwaukee Department Store Book

Not All Disney Princesses Were Legal

In the 1920s through the 1940s, carnivals, state fairs, and the like gave away figurines made of plaster to those who successfully answered the calls of carnival game barkers. Because they were made of plaster or chalk, these pieces are called carnival chalkware. Given that they were made of a less-than sturdy material as well as given away to men trying to impress ladies and kids (both temporary conditions!), relatively few of the rather large number of plaster carnival prizes made and given away have survived; thus making them collectible.

The most popular of these pieces, then as now, are those depicting famous people, personalities, and icons of those times — including non-real folks, such as beloved comic and film characters. And not all of these were approved or licensed creations. Like my vintage Snow White carnival chalkware piece.

snow white knock-off chalkware

While characters such as Snow White and Cinderella (and their stories) are in the public domain, it’s pretty clear that the makers of vintage carnival chalkware pieces were ripping-off the intellectual property of Walt Disney.

Disney characters weren’t the only ones to be copied in plaster, but they seem to be among the most popular — both in terms of having been saved by original owners and in collector desirability. A true testament to the longevity of Disney.

Collecting Silent Film Stars: Annette Kellerman

Being the fan that I am (both of the collector and silent film), I couldn’t just let Mary Ann Cade go that easily after delivering her recent silent film news — I had to ask her about one of her favorite silent film stars, Annette Kellerman (also billed as Annette Kellermann and called “The Perfect Woman”).

Mary, tell us about Annette Kellerman… How did she catch your collecting fancy?

I got interested in Kellerman when I saw Esther Williams in the fictional biopic Million Dollar Mermaid, which was loosely based on Ms. Kellerman’s life. After viewing it, I started looking around to see if any of her product survived and why she is so forgotten today.

Annette Kellerman on board signed

At one time, during her heyday, she was a force to be reckoned with, kind of like Madonna or Oprah Winfrey. She was writing books, making films, doing publicity stunts, designing swimsuits, performing water ballets at the Hippodrome, performing in vaudeville type shows all over the world, making movies, and she even had her own chain of fitness clubs and a health food store.

vintage health beauty perfect figure course by silent film star annette kellermann

Sadly, she is all but forgotten today and when one looks at her swimming and diving contributions, including her discovery of what is considered synchronized swimming as well as the one piece bathing suit, it is a real shame.

antique trunk that belonged to annette kellerman

When I started the quest on Kellerman, the only known film was Venus of the South Seas, but, along with the news mentioned earlier, I have managed to locate Siren of the Sea.

vintage tobacco cards featuring silent film star annette kellerman

Kellerman is reputed to be in a cameo in the Fatty Arbuckle / Buston Keaton short Coney Island (1917) and a couple of other films that have not been confirmed as of yet. The Australian archives do hold some of her various water ballet footage as well.

Thank you, Mary, for sharing your collecting passion and information with us!

Photo Credits, in order of appearance:

Signed photo of Annette Kellerman and photo of Annette Kellerman’s trunk, from Mary Ann Cade.

Personal Course of Instruction In The Attainment Of Health, Beauty and Perfect Figure, by Annette Kellermann, 1932, via The Land of Pleasant Living;

Annette Kellerman movie photos, on a 1924 set of Henry Clay and Bock Co., Ltd. Cuban tobacco cards, courtesy of Cliff Aliperti.

“What’s in Your Collection”: Vintage Picnic Hampers

As summer unfolds, I begin to think about my “picnic entertaining”. I have always loved antique and vintage picnic hampers and would love to have a collection-but alas…no room to store yet another collection!

See on www.kathryngreeleydesigns.com