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.
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!
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!)
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.
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!
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”.
The text also changes. First it reads:
I’m very very bashful as certain people know
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.
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!
Besides cookie cutters, what would you display this way?
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.
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.)
This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.
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.
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.
Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!
Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve all seen those cute vintage Santa and reindeer sleigh sets…
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.
And here, retro kitschy poodles pile on in! I just love that!
Immediately, I thought of the holidays and the need for low centerpieces which wouldn’t get in the way of seeing family and friends.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
These vintage Valentine’s Day cards are also holders for lolly pops or suckers. The half-circle tabs pop-up, and the stem of the sucker would be slid through the openings, thus delivering an extra sweet greeting — with pop related puns, of course!
Produced by the E. Rosen Company of Providence, RI, these vintage die-cut cards measure approximately six inches tall and are printed on cardboard stock as opposed to thin paper.
(These cards, 1930s and 1940s, are from my own collection; but you can find cards for sale here.)
This pair of traffic signal cops or police officers shows that the one with green ink is older than the black ink; the one with green states that the patent is pending.
These cards were part of a long tradition of delivering holiday candies. E. Rosen Co., which also operated as School House Candy, is also noted for the highly collectible figural plastic candy holders, such as Easter bunnies, Santas, witches, and Valentines hearts. Those plastic pieces are marked Rosbro, a sister (or brother) company of Rosen as both companies were owned by the same family.
E. Rosen Co. was acquired by Sherwood Brands in 1998; Sherwood went into receivership and among the assets auctioned-off in 2012 were intellectual property rights, including Rosen names.
One of the things I like best about vintage Valentine’s Day cards, especially the children’s cards, are the puns. (It bears repeating!) The other thing I like about vintage Valentines are the graphics. So much nicer to look at than today’s pop culture Valentines, I think. …Then again, today’s stars and fads will become the nostalgia of the future. But then that just means I still have time to change my feelings about them.
This vintage Valentine combines both puns and great graphics — with a few other goodies we don’t see today. This vintage Valentine greeting card featuring a little boy sailing as the captain of his ship is slightly embossed, die cut, and has a stand on the back so it can be displayed.
The best thing about it though is that both the bottom of the card and the stand are rounded, so when the card is standing up, it rocks and rolls, like the motion of the sea!
I can’t keep all the lovely vintage Valentine’s Day cards (or anything else I get my hands on), so I’ve listed it and others for sale. Sometimes, scanning and blogging about things is enough time to cherish something before letting it go to another collector. Hopefully one who won’t have to keep things stored, but can display it and let it be adored.
On Friday, September 21, 2012, Gerald Charles Dickens will honor his great great grandfather by doing as Charles Dickens himself did in 1868: performing A Christmas Carol at the Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA. On on Saturday, September 22, 2012, there will be two performances at Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton, MA; at 2:00pm, The Republic of My Imagination and Oliver Twist, and at 7:00pm, A Child’s Journey with Dickens, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
There are no marks for maker or anything — but like this vintage valentine with soda pop bottles, this one has red printing or stamps on the back too. There’s another baby cupid and hearts with arrows through them and the words or names “Bud” and “Dick” too. You can make of all that what you will. *wink*
PS I just realized in the scan of the front of this valentine one one cupid’s foot was bent back. It’s there, just creased.
I recently acquired a small lot of vintage valentines. Most of them were the type kids passed out at school, and each of them has a number penciled on the front, placed in a circle. While this may detract from their value, I find the idea of a youngster implementing some sort of ranking or even an organizational system rather charming!