The upcoming Auction At Graceland includes a special section of early Elvis merchandising memorabilia from various owners and includes rare items from the collection of Darlene Parker Tafua, daughter of Ed and Leilani Parker. (Ed Parker was a martial artist who ran the Kenpo Karate Studio in Pasadena, California; Parker trained Elvis Presley along with other stunt men and celebrities.)
And how about the original receipt for Elvis and Priscilla’s Wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Vegas?
It was quite the shindig! More than $10,000 in charges for the chartered flight, the limos, the judge, the champagne, the fruit baskets, the security (of course), the musicians, the gloves and the floral arrangements. No expense was spared by Elvis for his blushing bride Priscilla and their guests, who assumed two suites and 21 rooms at the Aladdin. The bill was sent to the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills and this copy to Colonel Parker at MGM Studios. We know this because of the included (and formerly paper-clipped) note concerning possibly being double-charged for the private jet flight. It is written in pencil and reads: “Jim: – Is this in order to pay – How about the plane chg [charge]? Remember pmt [payment] to Lear Jet in amt [amount] of 1774.50 – Please call me Pattie.” Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated. Each page measures approximately 10 by 6 1/2 inches (25.4 x 16.51 cm).
Elvis touched the hearts and lives of fans across the globe, and our goal for the Elvis Week 2015 Auction at Graceland was to include artifacts from across the spectrum of collecting, including items owned by Elvis, gifted by Elvis, written by Elvis, used by Elvis and created to promote the king and his career.
This Elvis auction starts at 7:00 PM CST on August 13, 2015; online bidding is available.
When my parents were working on this latest estate sale, the found this miniature copper diver’s helmet. Attached to it was a note stating it was from a Rolex watch store display. Ever curious, err, obsessive I had to investigate. (Plus, I do so love a great watch.)
It turns out, Rolex did use small metal divers’ helmets in displaying their waterproof watches, including the Submariner the very first wristwatch for divers (1953); the Deep Sea Special, which was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe the Trieste during its historic dive (1960); and the Sea-Dweller, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises (COMEX) watches (1963). This is what the metal diver helmet looked like with its original Rolex dealer display stand.
I’ve no idea how many Rolex stores there are now, let alone how many there were in 1970 when this display piece was used… I’d dare say, in the hundreds. Which makes the helmet, even without the sea-green turquoise display stand relatively rare.
However, as Rolex’s divine diving watches debuted before 1970 when this diver helmet display appeared, there were earlier display stands using a nautical theme, if not the “At One With The Sea” slogan. Here are a few of them:
Rolex diving watches also got some promotion out of popular films. Sean Connery wore a Submariner “Big Crown” in 1962’s Dr. No, for example.
Further confusion is added by the fact that watch collectors refer to the 1974 Rolex Sea-Dweller as the “Great White.” It’s debut certainly was good timing for the movie. But the “Great White” nickname comes from the fact that this version of the Sea-Dweller is in all “white” steel.
So just what watch did Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper wear in Jaws?
Equally obsessive collectors, with far more watch knowlege than I, did the research. It was published in the February 2010 issue of WatchTime. The conclusion? Dreyfuss wore an Alsta Nautoscaph. …Though, as the article states, that still leaves lots of room for questions. As for me, I’ve spent enough time submerged in all this watch talk.
If you are interested in the Rolex diving helmet display piece, the Milwaukee estate sale begins today, July 27, 2015, at noon. Details here.
I never thought about collecting restaurant menus. But I do like to read them while I’m there. Too often there isn’t time before serving staff are at your table, wating for you to make a decision. So, I can see how collecting restaurant menus would get started.
I especially like old menus which have the history of the business, explanations about the restaurant name, the family who run it, and so on. It would be nice to take home the menu and have time to read it. Not to mention, the artwork.
What do you think of modern menus compared to vintage menus? Now they can be made on a computer and printed out without going to a professional printer. I think there is less artwork used. Other than the image on the front cover or top of the page, the rest are likely photographs. I’d rather have illustrations.
Of course, I’m not even counting chain restaurants as places to collect menus from. My favourite restaurants are still the individual, little places. Most of them get passed by tourists looking for the cookie-cutter restaurant chains. I prefer the little places, often family owned and run, where the locals still go for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I admit, I’m especially fond of the breakfast places. The bottomless coffee, the bacon and eggs and the slice of orange on the side. My favourite local breakfast restaurant is run by a Mother and son with one of the daughters often stepping in too. I’ve seen all the incarnations of their menus. They aren’t vintage, but they have that feeling of being homemade and kitschy.
My question for menu collectors is: Do you ask to take them home or walk out with them under your arm and hope no one says anything?
I love reading menus. They are the shop windows of the kitchen and provide a playful sense of gambling for what might just be the best of worst meal of your life. Today I stumbled upon a rather […]
Pick: Well, Grin, nice find! Those old promotional booklets from WESTVACO Printing and Publishing should be popular. Entitled “Westvaco Inspirations for Printers”, they have a lot of neat advertising pictures, ready to frame! The paper is much more solid than magazine “tear sheets”, they are nice quality pages. The pages are marked with the specialty type of paper used, pretty cool! Let’s pull some out and look for frames!
Grin: What? Are you crazy? These will be much better as a whole booklet. Lovers of “Advertising from the Golden Age”, the 1920s and 30s, will be delighted to have these in their collection.
Pick: But check out some of those ads. The artists are top-of-the-line and even the articles, like the one on Will Bradley, is framable! And pictures by Robert Cheveux, Cavarrubias, Will Hollingsworth, Maxfield Parish, these are incredible.
Grin: I just do not have the heart to tear these up. Although, I do agree that the page showing the Erte’ ad for nylon stockings is awesome. I can see it in a period frame, perhaps in a bathroom or on a vanity.
Pick: So I am swaying you, huh? That’s hard to believe since you have that stubborn Austrian gene from your dad.
Grin: Stubborn? My dad and I argued all the time over who was most stubborn and I believe I won (meaning HE was more bull-headed.)
In any case, no, I am not convinced.
Pick: Well, if not separated, what will you do with them? Coffee table books have lost popularity (at least since Kramer had his pop-up book.)
Grin: Well, we have a daughter who loves ephemera and her husband is a “font-lover”, so perhaps they’d like to check them out before we decide what to do.
Pick: Well, how would it be if you listed just one of them on-line. Maybe you’ll get some information on their value or what type of buyer might be inclined to purchase these.
Grin: That sounds perfect for Etsy. It just might work. For once, we have reached a pleasant compromise. Dad would be proud!
[Editor’s Note: Westvaco, originally the Piedmont Pulp and Paper Company and then The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, became MeadWestvaco when it merged with The Mead Corporation in January, 2002. You can find the first listing of these Westvaco. publications here!]
In the early days of motion pictures, movie theaters were experiencing a number of public attacks as to their safely for patrons. Among the numerous concerns regarding the dangers movies and theaters presented to families there were the fears for women, primarily of the white slave trade, and the usual new media concerns of eye strain. Naturally, the movie industry sought to calm the public down, including offering movie-goers premiums, which were primarily targeted at women. They also sought to approve amenities, including the screens that the movies were shown upon. Of course, this lead to fierce competition between companies who sought to capitalize on all the money to be made in the film industry.
Many of these ground-breaking and creative companies did not last long. But even if they dominated the industry for a time, both the companies themselves and the technology they provided remain but a footnote in books on film history. This is why ephemera, particularly advertisements from the period, remain so important.
Testimonials on the back page include The Thomas A. Edison Electrical Establishments, the Nicholas Powers Company, Havana’s “The Fausto”, the United States government, John H. Kunsky of Detroit “who probably controls more high class picture houses than any single man in America or probably in the world” and many others.
In the 1920s, the Glifograph Corporation (located at 280 Broadway, New York City) promoted their Glifograph movie screen with this brochure. Glifograph said their screen “makes every seat a good seat”, with “perfect pictures from any angle” due to “stereoscope view”. Promised “no eye strain — no distortion”.
Also, in the 1930s, there was the “Lustro-Pearl” made by Mandalian Manufacturing Co., of North Attleboro, Mass. If that name sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because Mandalain made those metal mesh purses! Well, at least until the company was bought-out by Whiting & Davis. But just imagine, a film screen made of mesh metal!
It was obtained by a man in the air force about 1961 or so, when he was stationed in Thailand (officially known as “Siam” until 1939) — and the set clearly remained a prized possession (as you’ll see below).
These are some of the original brochures from the bronzeware purchase:
Included with the set were some other papers that explained more about the flatware:
What is Bronzeware?
Bronzeware is a unique tableware handmade by skilled craftsmen in Thailand, perhaps better known as Siam. Cast individually from glowing red molten bronze, each piece is then ground to the proper shape and then polished to a mirror finish by these patient craftsmen. The rosewood handles are carefully shaped with the simplest of tools, and joined with care to the bronze stem.
What is Rosewood?
Rosewood is a brownish-red hardwood native to the steaming tropical jungles of Southeast Asia, so called because the fragrance of roses permeates the air when the tree is hewn to the ground. Naturally water resistant because of the resinous content of the fibers, rosewood is also exceptionally hard to nick or dent. In addition to these qualities rosewood is perhaps one of the world’s most beautifully grained woods and has long been used in the finest and most expensive furniture and musical instruments.
As of right now, this vintage flatware set is available in a very fine rosewood cabinet, made specifically for holding flatware. It has dragons carved onto the drawers and matches not only a large china hutch or breakfront but a dining room table and chairs.
But the vintage bronzewear originally came in a wooden box — with an eye-blazing fuschia felt liner, just like this one (and other sets found at eBay). We have the case too, but it looks much nicer in the cabinet!
This set of Bronzeware, like others often sold as bronze or bronze alloy pieces, was most likely made of a nickel-bronze alloy. To the best of my knowledge, and research, bronzewear is safe to eat off of. Caring for bronzewear is similar to that of silver plate. As a general rule, I never advise using the dishwasher. Most especially for antique and vintage pieces. And with the rosewood handles, I wouldn’t dare do anything else!
The following is some more of the original literature that accompanied the flatware purchase, or was obtained during the same period. I thought it was proper to include it here.
Sophie began her fashion design work as a young girl making clothing for her dolls and grew into an adult who hired as a stylist for Saks. She was hired by none other than Adam Gimbel, whose grandfather was the founder Gimbels. (Kind of ironic, hey?) In 1929, at the age of 31, she was lead fashion designer and manager of the Salon Moderne of Saks Fifth Avenue; by 1931, she would marry Adam Gimbel. Her designs, originally sold under the “Sophie Gimbel” label were so fabulous, she became recognized as an innovator in New Look fashion. By the 1940s, the label was changed to “Sophie of Saks”, and, on September 29, 1947, Sophie would become the first American fashion designer to grace the cover of Time magazine. (Elsa Schiaparelli was the first fashion designer in the world to be on the cover of Time in 1934.) So by the time this news article I’m going to share was published, Sophie was firmly established as a leading force of mid-century American fashion.
The article was in the Montreal Gazette, June 17, 1950, and was about a Sophie fashion show which had been held the day prior at Saks Fifth Avenue. She had designed not only doll clothing for Wanda but a series of matching doll and children’s fashions!
The costumes, which were presented simultaneously on dolls and little girls, are available in children’s sizes three to six and seven to fourteen. They include a pink organdy party frock, a gray flannel jumper suit, a plaid cotton dress, and a blue reefer coat.
I suspect this Sophie’s Original’s For Saks doll outfit may be one of these ensembles, despite being sold as a set for composition dolls. (Wanda Walker and her doll companions were rather pudgy in the tummy in order to accomodate the walker mechanics.)
Here’s an ad from Christmas 1950 promoting some other fashions made for the Wanda Walker doll (by Advance Doll & Toy Corporation and/or Walkalon; that’s a long story I’m covering in the doll articles!): “Organdy hat and dress in pink, yellow, or blue are designed by S.F.A.’s own Sophie!”
This is quite possibly one of those Sophie’s Originals for Saks dresses mentioned in the ad, which was made for, and shown here on, a Wanda Walker doll.
Of course, Sophie continued to design high fashion for adult human females long after this (including creating the red coat and dress Lady Bird wore to LBJ’s 1965 inauguration); but it is more than fitting to include Sophie’s fashion costumes for dolls in her story. After all, Sophie Gimbel began her design work making clothing for her own dolls.
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!)
These simple seed planters were quite revolutionary in their time. And they still work today! They are simple to use. Simply stab the end into the ground and when you open the handles, the end “shovels” open a section of earth as a single seed drops into the freshly made hole.
We know this seed planter was made prior to 1912, as that’s when the company changed its name to the James Manufacturing Company, using the “James Way” slogan.
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!
An old wooden crate that once held bottles of embalming fluid. I spotted it in an antique shop (and forgot I had on my camera lol). Printed on the side: Penetrating Beta-Dioxin Re-Concentrated Embalming Fluid.
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.
A lovely vintage advertising piece for Radiant Roast Coffee (Fairway Fine Foods, St. Paul, Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota). This framed piece, likely used in stores, features three images of the coffee making process: Blending, Grinding, and Vacuum Packing. Spotted at Antiques On Broadway.
By the start of the 1900s, home sewing and clothing patterns were big business. One of the last to enter the fray at the turn of this century, would become another one of the big names in sewing pattern collecting. According to Zuelia Ann Hurt in Craft Tools — Then and Now (Decorating & Craft Ideas, October 1980 issue):
Soon after 1900 a prominent fashion magazine called Vogue published a coupon for a pattern. For fifty cents, the reader received a pattern hand-cut by the designer Mrs. Payne on her dining-room table.
While Vogue was using its publishing power to spawn a fashion pattern business, the other sewing pattern companies did not slow down. Here are some notable moments — and collectible names — in sewing pattern history.
In 1902, James McCall’s The Queen of Fashion magazine changed its name again and became McCall’s Magazine, widening the contents of the publication to other womanly pursuits and interests.
In 1910, Butterick continued their sewing pattern industry innovation by introducing the “deltor” — the first instructions printed on a sheet included inside the pattern’s envelope.
In 1914, the Vogue pattern department officially left the magazine to become Vogue Pattern Company. (This was in no small part due to the 1909 purchase of Vogue by Condé Nast.) Vogue patterns continued to be sold by mail until 1917, when B. Altman’s department store in New York City became the first store to stock their patterns. In May of 1920, Vogue Patterns launches the Vogue Pattern Book.
In 1920, there was another major change in the sewing pattern industry. This time it was McCall’s leading the way by moving from the perforated tissue patterns to printed ones. Eventually the others would follow suit. McCall’s would also begin working with designers like Lanvin, Mainbocher, Patou, and Schiaparelli.
An advertising salesman for fashion magazine Fashionable Dress, Joseph M. Shapiro, was shocked to find that something consisting mainly of tissue paper would cost $1. Via his connections, he found the way to produce — and profit from — a pattern which would sell for just 15 cents. The Simplicity Pattern Company was born in 1927 and Joseph’s son, James J. Shapiro, was its first president. With such a low price, Simplicity expanded quickly, including internationally.
In 1931, Vogue starts Couturier Line and introduces new large format envelopes.
In 1931, Simplicity began producing DuBarry patterns exclusively for F. W. Woolworth Company (through 1940).
In 1932, Condé Nast starts the Hollywood Pattern Company. Hollywood Patterns featured designs straight of film and usually had photos of Hollywood stars on the packaging as well. The Hollywood Pattern Company ceased pattern production a few years after the end of World War II.
Also in 1932, McCall’s would again push the envelope by, well, pushing the envelope — now full-color illustrations appeared on the covers of McCall’s pattern envelopes.
In 1933, Advance began manufacturing patterns sold exclusively at (and for) the J. C. Penney Company. Because of the J.C. Penny connection, Advance was able to secure a number of designers (including Edith Head and Anne Fogarty) as well as rights from Mattel for authentic Barbie fashion patterns. (The company was sold to Puritan Fashions in 1966.)
In 1946, Simplicity finally fully converts from perforated patterns to printed sewing patterns.
In 1949, Vogue added the Paris Original Models patterns from French Couturiers and was the only company authorized to duplicate these fantastic designs. Such deals with international designers would expand, including millinery designs in 1953 and International Designer Patterns in 1956.
In the 1950s, McCall’s patterns produces another designer line which included French couturier Hubert de Givenchy and Emilio Pucci.
In 1958, Vogue Patterns fully transitions from perforated to printed tissue patterns.
In the 1960s, McCall’s “New York Designers’ Collection Plus” featured designs from Pauline Trigere and Geoffrey Beene, among others.
Starting in 1960s and continuing through 1970s, Butterick produces the “Young Designer” series, featuring designs by Betsey Johnson, John Kloss, and Mary Quant.
In 1961, Butterick licensed the Vogue name and began to produce patterns under the Vogue name.
As you may recall from part two, fashion sewing patterns were still rather complicated in the mid-1800s. However, some, like Ellen Louise Demorest and her husband William Jennings Demorest, began to assist those who were interested in sewing at home — assisting at a profit, of course.
By 1860, Madame Demorest’s Emporium of Fashion began advertising her patterns in magazines. This was still by-hand work, with the patterns cut to shape in two options for the consumer: purchased “flat”, which was the cut patterns folded and mailed, or, for an additional charge, “made up” which had the pattern pieces tacked into position and mailed. At this time, Madame Demorest’s Emporium of Fashion used fashion shows held in homes, along with trade cards, to promote her patterns — as well Demorest publications. In 1860, the Demorests began publishing Madame Demorest’s Mirror of Fashions, a quarterly which not only featured plates of their own dress patterns but included a pattern stapled to the inside as well. However, patterns were still only available in one size at this time.
The beginning of sewing patterns as most of us know them has its roots in the winter of 1863. According to The Legend, Ellen Buttrick and her complaint were the mother of invention; but it was her husband, Ebenezer Butterick, an inventor and former tailor, who revolutionized sewing patterns and fashion history in the winter of 1863.
Snowflakes drifted silently past the windowpane covering the hamlet of Sterling, Massachusetts in a blanket of white. Ellen Butterick brought out her sewing basket and spread out the contents on the big, round dining room table. From a piece of sky blue gingham, she was fashioning a dress for her baby son Howard. Carefully, she laid out her fabric, and using wax chalk, began drawing her design.
Later that evening, Ellen remarked to her husband, a tailor, how much easier it would be if she had a pattern to go by that was the same size as her son. There were patterns that people could use as a guide, but they came in one size. The sewer had to grade (enlarge or reduce) the pattern to the size that was needed. Ebenezer considered her idea: graded patterns. The idea of patterns coming in sizes was revolutionary.
By spring of the following year, Butterick had produced and graded enough patterns to package them in boxes of 100, selling them to tailors and dressmakers. These early Butterick patterns were created from cardboard. However, as most early patterns were sold by mail, heavy cardboard was not ideal for folding and shipping. Butterick experimented with other papers, including lithographed posters (printed by Currier and Ives). While these were easier to fold and ship than cardboard, they were still not ideal. Ultimately the search lead to less expensive and light-weight tissue paper.
For the first three years, Butterick patterns were for clothing for men and boys; in 1866, Butterick began making women’s dress patterns. This is when the sewing pattern business really began to grow. In order to promote the mail order patterns, Butterick began publishing The Ladies Quarterly of Broadway Fashions (1867) and the monthly Metropolitan (1868).
Madame Demorest’s Emporium of Fashion was still going strong, as was their publication. Although the magazine was expanded to include a lot more magazine content as Demorest’s Illustrated Monthly Magazine and Madame Demorests Mirror of Fashions in 1864. In 1865, the name was changed again, this time to Demorest’s Monthly Magazine and Demorest’s Mirror of Fashions — more commonly referred to as Demorest’s Monthly. This monthly was reaching over 100,000 readers.
The success of sewing patterns could not be ignored and the competition would really begin; by 1869, James McCall started his pattern business.
These early sewing patterns by Butterick, McCall’s, and Demorest were not printed, but rather outlined on the tissue paper by a series of perforated holes. They were typically sent in an envelope which had a sketch of the finished garment and brief instructions printed on it. These instructions included suitable fabric suggestions, size information, and a description of how the pieces were to be cut from the tissue and pieced together to form the garment (assisted by a code of shapes, such as v-shaped notches, circles, and squares, which were cut into the paper).
In 1872, Butterick began publishing The Delineator. As with the earlier publications, The Delineator was originally intended simply to market Butterick patterns. However, it quickly expanded into a general interest magazine for women in the home, offering everything from fashion to fiction from housekeeping to social crusading (including lobbying for women’s suffrage in the early 1900s). As readership skyrocketed, the earlier publications were folded into The Delineator — and the magazine would go on to become one of the “Big Six” ladies magazines in the USA.
In 1873, McCall’s would start their own publication called The Queen. In 1896, the name was changed to The Queen of Fashion and it would be the first magazine to use photographs on its cover.
In 1875, the first in-store sewing pattern catalogs appeared. These were produced by Butterick.
Madame Demorest was still around. In addition to marketing paper patterns through the magazines, the patterns were sold through a nationwide network of shops called Madame Demorest’s Magasins des Modes. In addition to the paper patterns and drafting systems, the shops sold ready-made fashion items, Demorest’s line of cosmetics and perfumes, and custom dressmaking services to wealthy clients. It was the latter, along with fashion exhibitions in London and Paris, which really boosted the designer and therefore the company’s profile. By the mid-1870s, there were 300 Demorest shops, employing 1,500 sales agents. Her employees were mainly women, including African-American women who received the same treatment as the white women workers.
In 1877, business was peaking. The Demorest’s Monthly began circulation in London and, along with the quarterly, the company began publishing Madame Demorest’s What to Wear and How to Make It. Just a few years later, however, Demorest business declined. This was unfortunately do to the Demorests’ failure to patent their patterns, allowing themselves to be bested by competition. In 1887, Demorest sold their pattern business, which went on to live on primarily in name only — including sewing machines.
To Be Continued…
Image of Mme. Demorest Hilda Polonaise Pattern via dakotanyankee; image of 1899 Butterick Pattern Ladies Double Breasted Coat via janyce_hill.
This is a vintage glass embalming bottle. We’ve sold a number of them — and quickly, at that.
A product of the Embalmers’ Supply Company (ESCO) of Westport, Conn. USA. (“Manufacturing Chemists to the Funeral Profession since 1886”) the label reads:
Duo-Escohol (Pre-Injection) Incarnadines the Blood! Unit No.1 of the 1-2-3 System of ESCO Distinctive Embalming ~ Incarnadining Agents ~ Synergistic Increment ~ Balsam Principles ~ Double-Base Preservatives
Embalming primarily involves the replacement of bodily fluids with chemicals to prevent putrefaction. (Pre-injection chemicals break up clots and otherwise conditions vessels & bodily tissues, making them more receptive to the embalming process.) That makes this vintage bottle a hot little funerary collectible.
But even without the label, or knowing that this is a death and funeral related item, the old glass bottle itself is beautiful. It has such great art deco style! Look at that fabulous step-pyramid top, all the embossing, all the details, the measurement guide along the side… Just gorgeous! No wonder these ESCO bottles sell so fast! (Especially so when these bottles have their original paper labels, as all of ours have had.) They have to be one of the most beautiful embalming bottles ever made.
ESCO clearly had their own specific glass bottles made. This one is marked:
Made in U.S.A.
The patent pending means this particular bottle was likely an early example; Duo-Escohol was first produced by ESCO in 1926.
Such a beautiful, functional, bottle that it certainly is a great statement piece in any funerary or bottle collection. And quite the conversation piece in general.
PS One of our bottle did not have the original cap; instead, it had the cap from bottle or step number two in the process — the Duo-Raa-Co.
A few months ago I stumbled into this vintage (nearly antique) glass preservatives bottle or jar. While I love the romantic (and nearly heart-shaped) paper label for Old Manse strawberry preserves (by Oelerich & Berry Company of Chicago), it was the fluid art deco lines of the bottle itself that sealed the deal in terms of purchase. Those same lines led to a real labor of love, because this bottle became quite the cleaning restoration project. (To be honest, the shinning silver with “runs” of golden along the embossed sides were beautiful — had it not been for the incredible stink, I would have left it thus!)
While my email conversations with Lindsey were a bit disjointed (because I was dealing with a bottle soaking in bleach & therefore had forgotten all about looking for any marks on the bottom of the glass jar — sheesh!), Lindsey did confirm my thoughts that this was an authentic art deco food bottle from the 1920s.
Lindsey also added
The lid on the bottle you have is probably not original to the bottle as it appears in the images to be a zinc “Mason’s” jar lid that would have been used on a Mason jar.
The jar itself is a “art deco” style food jar popular in the late 1910s to 1930s (maybe a bit later). It almost certainly would not be of exclusive use to any one company but one of a number of standard designs sold to any purchaser by many different glass companies.
The “5623” is a mold index code and the “8” could be related to a date but we’ve not published our article on that company yet – and I don’t have a copy – so not sure. Still dates as you estimated.
I eagerly await the article!
Meanwhile, other collectors should note that this is a Hazel Atlas piece, marked 5623 – 8, stands about 10 and 1/4 inches tall. Personally, I’d love to know if anyone else knows anything about this vintage glass bottle or the Oelerich & Berry Company… (UPDATE: Now listed for sale!)
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.
The lifetime collection of Don and Diane Sayrizi – advanced collectors in many categories, but especially antique advertising – plus consignments from over 100 other advanced collectors from all over the country will be offered Oct. 4-6 by Showtime Auction Services, at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, located at 5055 Ann Arbor/Saline Road.
“By far this is the best collection of antique advertising we have ever had the privilege of selling,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services, based in Woodhaven, Mich. “We’ve held big auctions in the past, many of which featured advertising items, but never like this. The antique signs, in particular, are highly desirable and would be fine additions to any collection.”