Marilyn Monroe Still Alluring At 90

marilyn monroe blowing out candle on cakeI continually swear that I’m not going to write, again, about Marilyn; but here I am again

I may have been able to to get away with a wistful smile & a re-Tweet or two in the honor of her 90th birthday. But then I discovered of the photo show in honor of the icon’s birthday — and from there, a very important fact that I had missed for low these X years.

In 2010, a collection of Marilyn’s personal journals, poems, letters, and the like was published in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe, edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment. (Can you even imagine having access to such intimate ephemera?!)

monroe notebook

As Lucy Bolton notes at the BBC, “This shows how the process of writing was integral to Monroe’s self care and well being. She could also be honest here, perhaps in a way that she couldn’t be elsewhere.” Including both the cruel and the kind. It’s the self-talk that fascinates me the most. Again from Bolton:

In her so-called Record notebook from around 1955 she writes that her “first desire was to be an actress” and that she is striving to work fully and sensitively, “without being ashamed of it”. Her drive to work on herself and her craft was merciless: “I can and will help myself and work on things analytically no matter how painful”, and she notes in her notebook a single line, “having a sense of myself” – as if the words ground her in some way and remind her of what she needs to keep in mind.

This is not just to be coveted for the personal diary of a celebrity aspect. This is the self-reflective artist at work.

remember there is nothing you lack – nothing to be self conscious about yourself – you have everything but the discipline and technique which you are learning and seeking on your own

And it’s the documentation of a woman’s life, which I find supremely interesting, most poignant, relateable. How many of us, sadly, can relate to these words of Monroe?

I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really… starting tomorrow I will take care of myself for that’s all I really have and as I see it now have ever had

This is the stuff you miss when you swear off your collecting, your obsession. Oh, but how easy it is to be pulled back in! Another book on the wishlist. No; scratch that. I think I’ll buy myself a birthday gift early. I’m convinced it’s what Marilyn would want me to do.

Pawn Stars Casting (An Exclusive Interview)

Of all the TV shows about antiques and collectibles, we’re still huge fans of History’s show Pawn Stars. So we were thrilled to receive a casting call announcement from the show — and turn it into an exclusive interview with the show’s Casting Director, Martin Hardy!

Pawn-Stars-Wants-You

How does the casting process work?

We are always looking for real sellers of unique, new items and encourage anyone who is interested in selling or pawning an item to contacts us through our casting email: pawnstarstvshow@leftfieldpictures.com. We get hundreds of submissions daily from potential sellers who are looking to sell their items on the show. Our casting department works very hard identifying rare and unique items that we have not shot with before but that also tell an interesting historical story.

Once we receive a great item that we feel is right for the show, we generally notify the seller to grab some more key information about it. Then we present it to the guys at the Gold &Silver Pawn shop to see if it is something that they would be interested in purchasing. Once we get the go ahead from Gold and Silver, we tell the seller their item has been approved and we schedule a date for them to come in.

Is there any compensation for being on the show? Do you pay for transportation, lodging?

Because we use real sellers of real items, we don’t provide any compensation for being on the show. Each seller has the opportunity of making a deal and being compensated for the purchase of their item.

We know that not everyone on the show sells their item; but does a person have to at least be willing to sell? Or can they just want to show off their item, get an appraisal, find out more information, (just meet the Pawn Stars!) etc.

At this time we are only able to cast sellers who are serious about selling their item. Of course they need to be comfortable with terms of the deal they reach with the shop, but we always hope they make a sale. We do not offer any appraisals for anyone who does not appear on the show with that item.

Are there any categories that you are more interested in than others?

At the moment we are really interested in anything that is rare and unique (books, autographed originals, artwork, historical documents and coins etc.)

Should a person get on the show, how much of a time commitment does it require?

Depending on the item, the filming of scenes generally last anywhere from 3-4 hours.

If you have something you think is rather rare and special — or wonder if it is, why not contact Martin and casting team? They’ll tell you if it makes the Pawn Stars grade. And we’ll all learn a little something along the way.  More information is in the casting flyer below (click to see a larger version). You can contact them at pawnstarstvshow@leftfieldpictures.com (and you can mention Inherited Values sent ya!)

Pawn Stars Casting Flyer

Polly Dolly (Or, Of Boys & Dolls)

I don’t write about dolls here much because I write about them for Diane’s Doll Hospital. In January, I wrote this piece for their newsletter; but since it was such a personal story, they graciously gave me permission to publish it here.

In 1972, the Ms. Foundation for Women produced Free to Be… You and Me, an illustrated book and record album set. Initiated by Marlo Thomas, the mission of the Free to Be… You and Me project was to provide healthy messages refuting and rejecting gender stereotypes while encouraging the positive and empowering post-1960s ideas of gender equality, individuality, comfort with one’s identity, and tolerance. Using her celebrity clout, Marlo Thomas got a number of her celebrity friends to create, write, and perform the modern day lessons to children in song and story form. No doubt the hope was that the parents and other adults in children’s lives were listening — and learning — too.

Just two years later, in March of 1974, ABC aired the Free to Be… You and Me television special. The TV special also had the celebrity cast of singers, performers, and narrators, known as Marlo Thomas and Friends. For the special, the LP tracks were often produced with animated cartoon visuals, designed to capture the attention of children who were used to being fed a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons. (By this time, Schoolhouse Rock! was already seeing great success with its educational animation work.) A number of the segments from this TV special were also reformatted for educational use in schools, including audio-visual materials such as filmstrips. As a result of this heavy media saturation, many adults today readily remember Free to Be… You and Me. In fact, the principles behind Free to Be… You and Me combined with the nostalgia continue to drive the foundation and push sales; the record has remained in print all this time (as well as put onto CD) and a newly remastered version of the television special was released on DVD in 2010.

Among the most memorable and iconic Free to Be… You and Me stories was William Wants A Doll, based upon Charlotte Zolotow’s children’s picture book William’s Doll (1972). The animated TV version of William Wants A Doll, performed by Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas, was about a little boy who really, really wanted a doll. But William’s desire for a baby doll wasn’t encouraged.

william wants a doll

His friends told him not to be a “sissy”. His brother said not to be a “jerk”. His father tried to distract William with more manly toys, giving his son a basketball, a baseball glove, and other sports items as gifts. But none of this deterred William. In spite of all the mocking and manipulation, he still wanted a doll.

Eventually, William’s understanding grandmother gets William a doll! The boy is elated!

william and his doll

But William’s father is concerned by the gift, and it’s up to the grandmother to explain that it’s OK. After all, William just wants to love and care for a doll — and that’s how he will learn care for his own baby “as every good father should do”.

William’s lesson of boys and dolls was given over three decades ago. Since then, many studies have been done and many articles have been written. Over and over again they indicate that dolls are perfectly fine toys for boys. But still, the social pressure of “the boy code” persists so strongly that many people today remain shocked that little boys would like to play with dolls. Or that grown men would collect dolls. Thanks heavens for all the boys and men who ignored those people and just continued to love dolls!

[Break]

I was just 10 years old when William Wants A Doll hit television and I still remember it vividly. Not just for the whiny and grating (yet somehow infections) chorus of “A doll, a doll, William wants a doll”. (It is quite catchy!) Nor for the hoards of kids who sang it, matching the whiny and grating sound with mocking and contemptuous sneers. What made William Wants A Doll so memorable then was the shock I received seeing and hearing it — I was flabbergasted that it even existed.

How could the idea of a boy loving a doll even be “a thing” — let alone a thing so big that there had to be a counter-movement against it?

Now, you might say that I was a wise and accepting kid. Or that all kids are wise and accepting, at least until someone teaches them not to be. Or maybe you think I was just naive. …It is true that I didn’t have any brothers, so what did I know of male gender roles and doll troubles? But the truth is, I knew a little boy who had a doll — or, I should say, I knew of a little boy who’d had a doll growing up. That boy was now a man. And that man was my father.

This is my father, Dean, with his doll, Polly. Actually, to the family she is known as Polly Dolly.

deanwithpollydolly

Though Polly Dolly bears no marks for maker or origin, she is likely a German-made, soft-bodied, composition doll.

We aren’t sure exactly when Polly Dolly was made; but we do know that she was really born the day she was given to my dad and he christened her “Polly Dolly”. Not that my dad remembers that day. As far back as his memory goes, there’s always been a Polly Dolly. The best he can guess is that he was given the doll when he was about three years old. Since my father was born in 1942, that would be about 1945.

It was during those years that America, like most of the world, was involved in WWII. Even if you had a lot of money (and his family didn’t), toys were quite rare due to wartime rations. Now, as an adult, my father believes that Polly Dolly was a secondhand doll, likely given to his mother by a neighbor or family friend. Not that it mattered to the three year old boy. It was a toy — and it was his, all his!

At least for the next few years.

You see, my dad has a younger sister. Being three years his junior, her arrival was around the same time as Polly Dolly’s. That’s probably not a coincidence. More than likely, news that a baby was on the way was what motivated someone to give the doll away. Here was a little boy who needed to learn how to be gentle with a real baby coming into the house; some wise and generous person know a doll was in order!

Baby sister grew. And young Dean learned to share. First, he had to learn to share the bedroom he already shared with his grandmother. And then, he had to learn to share Polly Dolly too.

One day, when my dad was about seven or eight, his mother took his little sister on a walk down the block to the park — and his sister insisted upon taking Polly Dolly along. But when mother and daughter came back from the park, little Dean discovered that his sister had left Polly Dolly there!

Being that she was so little, it was up to Dean to go back to the park and get the doll. He was furious! This was more than just some annoying thing a big brother had to do to help his little sister; this was her mistake, and she should fix it. This was inexcusable! It was one thing to walk down the block to the park and let his pals see him running errands for his sister — but it was something else to be seen carrying a doll! Remember, this was 1949-1950, or so. Boys didn’t play with dolls. Teddy bears? Sure. But a doll for a guy was different. Heck, G.I. Joe hadn’t even been invented yet! (Not to mention, as my husband and all the other men in my life remind me all the time, G.I. Joe is an “action figure”, not a “doll”). Little seven or eight year old Dean did not want to be seen carrying a doll!

But — it was his beloved Polly Dolly; he had to go get her!

No one else was going to do it; it was up to him.

So young Dean waited as long as he possibly could before he went to rescue Polly Dolly. He figured the later it was, the less of his friends there would be at the park to see him fetch the doll. I obviously wasn’t there that night, but, as a parent myself now, I know the boyhood version of my father had to have a knot in his stomach waiting as he did, worrying with every passing minute whether Polly Dolly would be there… The longer he waited, the greater the risk that someone else could take her or break her… Was the potential embarrassment worth such a risk? What a gamble it all was!

I envision my father as a boy venturing out on Operation Rescue Polly Dolly… I picture him sticking to the lengthening shadows as much as possible to hide his face — his flushing, sweating, anxious face. I imagine his joy when he spots his doll, safe and sound, at the park… Perhaps some tears spring to his eyes; one part relief, another part shame at having risked, for the sake of his boyish pride, never seeing his friend again. I see him scooping Polly Dolly up and turning quickly to make that uncomfortable run home, still trying not to be spotted by any of his friends, as his emotions twist and turn into anger at his sister once again.  And how he ends up at home, winded and spent, just glad to be able to return Polly Dolly to her proper place in his bedroom.

So you see, even at 10 years old, I didn’t need William Wants A Doll to tell me that boys can love dolls. Nor today do I need a bunch of studies or articles to tell me how boys who play with dolls grow-up to become nurturing parents and caregivers. I’ve always had my dad to show me those things.

dean with polly dolly

[Break]

As you can see, Polly Dolly has seen better days. Or, as we learned in The Velveteen Rabbit, Polly Dolly has been made Real by someone who REALLY loves her. Like the Skin Horse in the book explained, “These things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” And we all understand.

Along with the damages to her pretty face and head, Polly Dolly also has some issues with her fingers and is completely missing her toes.

polly dolly vintage composition doll

back of polly dolly's head

composition doll's hand

momma crier doll hole

And there’s a hole punched through the fabric on her soft body, exposing that she once was a mama crier doll (though my father never recalls her having made any noise; the crier was likely damaged before he ever got her).

…OK, Polly Dolly may be a bit too Real. While I completely believe in what the Skin Horse says, that “Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always,” dear old Polly Dolly is in need of some serious repairs — if only to make sure she will be able to survive to supervise the stories about her as they are told to future generations.

polly dolly face

 I’d like to thank Diane’s Doll Hospital, again, for allowing me to post this article here. February is the month of sweethearts for me; not only for Valentine’s Day, but my daddy was born in February. So I am happy to celebrate him — and Polly Dolly — this month!

PS If you collect dolls, or just love them, you really should subscribe to the free Dolls By Diane newsletter. *smile*

Remember These Children’s Books?

Anyone else remember these vintage fairy tale books with the fancy “winky” cover inserts? If you are of a certain age, they are iconic as well as nostalgic.

RARE 1st Cover Snow Queen Child IZAWA SHIBA PRO GOLDEN Book 1968 PUPPET 1 ED 3D

Often called 3-D books, the iconic images on the front cover are actually lenticular designs created in Japan. Most of these books date to the 1960s. By the 1970s, the books were republished without the plastic inserts on the covers; instead, they were replaced with standard photographs of the posed puppets Those images themselves are rather iconic — to those of us who are of a certain age. This one is The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson illustrated by Shiba Productions and published by Golden Books. Via Little Slice of Heaven.

vintage Snow Queen Book 1968 PUPPET lenticular 3D

Movie Tie-In Paperbacks: Judging A Book With Matt Dillon On The Cover

In a post sure to rile up book lovers, I shall discuss the judgment of books by their covers; namely collecting movie tie-in paperbacks. It may not be big-time Collecting with a capital ‘C’ (at least in terms of dollar value), but copies of these old paperbacks certainly have more appeal to some folks than mass market sized books sans film adaptation covers. (And bonus points for those with photo pages with scenes from the movie.)

In general, such book collecting practices have perks for parents too: A) you can foster interest in reading if you let your kids (during those uninterested in reading years) buy books based on movies or the re-released film versions; and B), kids digging for “Now a Major Motion Picture!” covers remain occupied (with less whining) longer at the thrift store, rummage sale, flea market, etc.

But as with most of my collecting tales, I’ll be discussing one title in specific: Tex, by S.E. Hinton, copyright 1979 (my copy is the second Dell Laurel-Leaf printing, August, 1982).

tex s.e. hinton

It’s true that I was drawn to this paperback simply because Matt Dillon was on the cover. First, because I had a thing for Dillon back in the day. (I won’t apologize for it — but I will apologize to Jackie Earle Haley for mistakenly remembering Dillon as playing the bad boy Kelly in Bad News Bears.) And second because I figured that if Dillon — and Meg Tilly — were in some early-80’s flick that I don’t recall, it must have been down-right cheesy, and I’m a girl who loves her kitsch.

But, in a surprise left to the temple — which will undoubtedly thrill my fellow bibliophiles — this book wasn’t the breezy-cheesy-chuckle I’d thought.

My first clue came just a few pages into reading, when my 13 year old spotted me nose-deep, and asked if she could read it when I was done. I thought it was for the cover’s hot bad boy on the cycle. But it turns out, she recognized the author from a book she loved, The Outsiders. Apparently, it was read (and the film viewed) in school; but I’ll admit, I know nothing of The Outsiders.

After promising that she could borrow it (if she would write her own review — yup, that’s foreshadowing!), I returned my nose to the book and read.

The short story is that Tex is a pretty good read, which is probably why the ALA gave it the Best Book for Young Adults title. It’s full of that misfit angst, friendship stuff (including a budding romance), with plenty of anger issues forced by a dysfunctional family setting. Focused on the male perspective, boys ought to like this book for sure and there are plenty of things for girls to like too (including horses!) too.

My first thought was to mention that the story isn’t dated; but then I remembered that it isn’t dated based on my perspective… See, I grew up in a world where kids didn’t have cell phones, so maybe the lack of electronic gadgetry will ring of ye olden days to kids today. And back in the day, we kids got to hang-out at carnivals etc., without either parents or the parental fears of the dangers of strangers we have today… So maybe it is dated. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how my 13 year old feels about it. (Though I’ll admit, she doesn’t have a cell phone either; so her perspective might be tainted with our old world ways.)

In any case, I never saw the book’s reveal coming — something I can rarely say about fiction in general, let alone a book intended for teens. So Hinton’s story gets high praise from me.

Reading it brought back all those teenage feelings, a general nostalgia; picturing Matt Dillon doing all those things didn’t hurt either. The cover shot of Dillon on the motorcycle might have been a bit misleading (in true promo-fashion, it captures a dramatic scene depicting the physical action of an epiphany), but that’s the worst thing I can say. And hey, that’s what got me to pick up the book in the first place.

While most used copies of Tex sell for a buck or two (and mine was only 50 cents at a thrift store), used copies of Tex with Matt Dillon on the cover can be quite pricey.

But if you’re a Dillon fan, or a fan of the film, it’s probably worth it to spend more on a collectible copy.

tex back cover

Of Revolutionary War Items & Revolutionary Bidding

In Philadelphia, PA, Freeman’s auction house reports that “one great history lover” was dedicated to procuring every single item in yesterday’s Historic Muhlenberg Property from a Private Collection auction. The private collector, who wished to remain anonymous, was successful — spending $646,063 to ensure the entire collection would remain together and be added their own private collection of Revolutionary War materials.

This auction contained items from the Muhlenberg family, having descended through the family, which included an extensive archive representing the public and sometimes private lives of Pennsylvania’s leading German family from the period of the American Revolution through the Civil War.

The collection’s signature piece was The Grand Division of Color of the Eighth Virginia, a Regimental flag which descended in the family of the Regiment’s original commander, Peter Muhlenberg (1746-1807), the legendary “Fighting Parson”, who served in the Continental Army, as Colonel., Brigadier-General and finally as a Major-General. (His robe was featured on PBS’s History Detectives.)

The flag, which sold for $422,500, is cited in the 1849 biography, The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army by descendant Henry Augustus Muhlenberg. (Henry Augustus Muhlenberg was the son of Henry Augustus Philip Muhlenberg and grandson of Henry Muhlenberg Jr. (1753-1815), General Peter’s brother.) The flag’s description reads as follows on pages 338-339:

The Eighth Virginia Regiment was generally known as the ‘German Regiment.’ By that name it is designated in the Orderly books of Generals Washington and Muhlenberg during the campaigns of 1777, 1778 and 1779….The regimental colour of this corps is still in the writer’s possession. It is made of plain salmon-coloured silk, with a broad fringe of the same, having a simple white scroll in the centre, upon which are inscribed the words, “VIII Virg(a) Reg(t)

Samuel M. “Beau” Freeman II, Freeman’s Chairman and specialist in Americana said, “Revolutionary battle flags are rare and those in private hands are almost unknown or only fragments have survived–this is an extraordinary discovery. Muhlenberg is a legendary hero of the Continental Army and this flag represents his Virginia regiment. This flag pre-dates the Tarleton Colors and may be the last remaining battle flag in private hands.”

Among the lots were hundreds of letters, including historical content concerning the political affairs of U.S. Congressman and diplomat Henry Augustus Phillip Muhlenberg, General Muhlenberg’s letters to his brothers about his military role, several letters from sitting presidents, and a document signed by Benjamin Franklin.

Called “especially illuminating” was the General Order and Brigade Order Book, kept by General Peter Muhlenberg’s orderly from May through November, 1777, a period that encompasses the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. That book set an auction record when it sold for $98,500.

As for the pieces from the Muhlenberg collection remaining together, Lisa Minardi, author of Pastors & Patriots: The Muhlenberg Family of Pennsylvania, Assistant Curator at Winterthur, and the president of The Speaker’s House (a preservation group that overseeing the restoration of Frederick Muhlenberg’s home), said it best. “This collector is my hero! It’s amazing that these items descended in the family and are now staying together in a single collection.”

The Medium In The Math Lesson

When I first spotted this page in Study Arithmetics: Grade Three, a vintage school primer published by Scott, Foresman and Company, I thought of the old filmstrips we had in school. But it turns out, the film show in this old math lesson is “moving picture” film. There are actually several lessons using film as a teaching tool, which is rather cool. If the concept of movie film being understood enough at this time for the average third grader to put to use learning math amazes you, just remember that film was then more commonplace than it is today.

Not all of the lessons are as outdated as you might think! You can see different images from this book here.

She’s A ‘Lil Bit Country; He’s A ‘Lil Bit Rock & Roll

I’ve never scored a storage unit at auction, but over the holiday weekend, at Maxwell Street Days in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, I met a guy who did. He ended up buying a storage unit that had once belonged to Western Publishing, and in it was the sweet stuff of a 1970s childhood… Among the items I purchased from him these great Donny & Marie show collectibles, each copyright 1977, Osbro Productions Inc.

Donny and Marie: The Top Secret Project, by Laura French, illustrated by Jan Neely, a Little Golden Book (number 160).

Donny and Marie: The State Fair Mystery, a Whitman Tell-A-Tale Book (number 2635), story by Eileen Daly, pictures by Olindo Giacomini.

Donny & Marie, a Whitman coloring book or “color book” (number 1641) with paper dolls to cut-out on the back. Inside, there are pages of clothes to color and then put on the paper-doll Donny and Marie.

Donny & Marie, a sticker book, Whitman number 2188. There are photos on the cover, but inside, the stickers and pages you stick them on are illustrations.

Two Whitman Frame-Tray Puzzles (B4542-1 and B4542-2), each with a different photo of Donny and Marie Osmond. Each in its original factory-sealed plastic covering.

Each item is new, never used, as minty-fresh as you’d find on store shelves back in the day! I’m saving one of each for my collection, and selling some too — to bring joy to others.

The Early Gay Fad Years Provide Clues For Glassware Collectors

Always wanting to learn more, I contacted Kitty Hanson of the Santa Fe Trading Post about my suspected Gay Fad juice set.

Miss Kitty, as she is most known, is co-author of the new and incredibly, exhaustively, researched two-volume encyclopedia set about Fran Taylor and Gay Fad Studios, Gay Fad: Fran Taylor’s Extraordinary Legacy. She was gracious enough to write back with a great deal of information:

Hi Deanna,

I went to your site and enjoyed the article and photo of your Anchor Hocking juice set with the hand-painted oranges. My opinion is that you may well have an early Gay Fad orange design, but that’s going to be difficult to definitively prove. However, I can add a few more clues.

We know for sure that Fran often painted her GF designs on Anchor Hocking blanks, and I, too, have found what seems to be authoritative information that AH’s Manhattan pattern was produced from 1938-1943. So if your set is by Gay Fad, that would mean that Fran produced it in Detroit before moving Gay Fad Studios to Lancaster, OH in 1945. As we say in “The Fran Taylor Story” chapter of our book (page 5, volume 1), we have yet to discover a newspaper article about Fran or Gay Fad or a Gay Fad ad dated prior to 1945. But we do know that all of her Detroit work was done with “cold painting” because she didn’t have the ceramic paints or equipment necessary to do fired designs until moving to Lancaster and installing a lehr in her new production facility. Obviously your set is “cold painted” and that accounts for the flaking paint on your juice set.

Interestingly enough, Red Burn (Fran’s first husband and GF vice president) wrote an article for the July, 1949 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal where he explained the difference between cold painting and fired painting and the fact that cold painting has durability issues. That article is reproduced in the “Gay Fad Articles” chapter (page 180, Volume 2).

We also know that Gay Fad produced a variety of Orange designs over the years, and we show pictures of 10 of them in the “Gay Fad Designs – Identified” chapter (page 103 of Volume 1). Our earliest example is from a GF ad in the February, 1947 edition of Crockery & Glass Journal.

Your design is different from any of the ones we show, but again, we have only three pre-1945 examples of Fran’s work: a Rose design lamp she gave to her brother as a wedding present in 1941 (page 4, volume 1), a Fruit design recipe box she gave to his wife during the early 40’s (page 5, volume 1), and one of the wastebaskets that “started it all” (page 3, volume 1) cut from a photo in the “Beauty and the Baskets” article in the June, 1947 edition of American Magazine (full article on page 169, volume 2).

Another reason why I think your orange design is probably an early GF piece is because of the squiggly stem on the bottom of the orange on your carafe. The fruits (apple, pear, grapes) on Fran’s early 40’s recipe box clearly have squiggly stems, as do many of GF’s various fruit designs, including some of the various Orange designs.

In addition, several of the GF Orange designs are painted in orange and yellow similar to yours. Donna has a similarly-shaped carafe/pitcher (NOT the ribbed Manhattan pattern) with a double orange design in orange and yellow, plus a squiggly bottom stem (page 103, volume 1), all of which looks very much like your single orange.

So again, my opinion is that your set may well be an early Gay Fad orange design, but that’s going to be almost impossible to prove – at least at this point in time.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Miss Kitty

This information is exciting!

I was pretty sure the vintage glass was cold-painted, but honestly, the texture and flakes had me confused… All the cold-paint pieces I have are vintage ceramic pieces, and there the paint appears more “slipped off” and not something that you can feel like you can on this set. (But then again, who knows how it was taken care of? An idiot putting the vintage glassware in a dishwasher back in the 1980s?! I’ve seen damages from dumber things.) I didn’t think the art glass was decorated with decals; there’s no film or lines surrounding the fruits and leaves; and you can see paint strokes and layers, especially behind the clear glass. But there are transfer processes too…  Glassware can be so confusing!

But Miss Kitty’s information makes sense.  The dates of the vintage Depression glass coincide with Fran Taylor and Gay Fad’s early years during which the cold painting was done. Likely there was some experimentation with different paints and processes. Conditions, like on this set, will be an issue. But I’m rather charmed by signs of use and the notion of a woman starting her business.

I don’t really collect glass. Partly because of the confusion about the different process involved; partly because glassware doesn’t speak to me. However, there’s something about Gay Fad Studio’s designs, and, especially, Fran Taylor herself that speaks to me… I do also have a ballerina shaker that I’ve since come to believe was a Gay Fad Studios piece too. So maybe I’ll have to pluck this vintage juice set out of the case and just accept the fact that I’m now collecting Gay Fad glassware. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from looking for her early pieces anyway. *wink*

Now, about the Gay Fad books by Miss Kitty and Gay Fad collector Donna McGrady…

I want them in the worst way. The price of the two-volume set (a total of 610 pages, 1,549 photographs, and 745 scans) is $149.95 (buying both together saves you 25% off list price and gets you free priority shipping to anywhere in the USA). That’s pricey; but this information isn’t anywhere else (she softly whined). So it’s on my wishlist. If you care to gift me the books, or donate towards them, just let me know. *wink*

A Dickens Of A Big Birthday Celebration: Charles Turns 200

The world is celebrating Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday this year, and one of the many events includes a world tour, retracing the historic steps that Charles Dickens made during his famous American tours, by Gerald Charles Dickens, great great grandson of the author himself. Two days of the historic tour will be celebrations involving Vaillancourt Folk Art, makers of fine chalkware collectibles. (I interviewed Luke M. Vaillancourt, the son of founder & artist Judi Vaillancourt, back in 2009.)

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.

I know this is a bit early — but it’s a pretty big deal for Dicken’s fans! Get more details and tickets here. And watch for news on more Vaillancourt Dickens’ Christmas items too.

This Week’s Antiques & Vintage Collectibles Link Round-Up

Collecting Stuff

Derek sheds light on a ghost ad for the Harold Lloyd film Grandma’s Boy which was unearthed in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Our very own Pickin’ of Antiquips, aka Val Ubell, weighs in on the scale and shape of collectibles.

I cover the record number of record collections and obsessively research the history of the Jay Herbert fashion labels.

Cliff reviews The Story of Cigarette Cards (1987) by Martin Murray.

Image via Shorpy.

How Does The Deal Measure Up?

How Does The Deal Stack Up?

Frank Fritz of American Pickers calls it “the bundle” when he groups multiple items into a single sale to negotiate for a lower price. I think as collectors we’ve all done that… You spy a few records you want in the box and decide to make an offer on the whole box so you can flip through all the vintage vinyl more comfortably at home. In fact, there are a number of regular picking places hubby and I buy in volume to get a better deal over all and I swear that on more than one occasion we’ve paid less for a van-load of stuff than we would have paid for just one of the larger items.

Of course, there were times we’ve blown our budget on such “deals” too because we miscalculated just what was all in that box…

But Grinin’ — one half of Inherited Values own Antiquips who is otherwise known as The Dean — has tips for you on how to measure up your own deals going by the inch!

Read it and the next time you are faced with a box of records or comic books, a stack of View Master Reels, postcards or other ephemera, you’ll make a wiser decision — leaving you richer for the read.

Books On Film That Bibliophiles Will Approve Of

Whether you’re a member of the Hollywood elite with a book addiction or a less notable bibliophile, you’ve probably desired to see the insides of a book up for auction but haven’t had the time or money to fly to the auction location to inspect it. While many auction houses have made it easier for you to bid long distance, with online and phone bidding, getting a good look at the goods (or bads) remains a problem.

This is especially true of books. But Joe Fay, Manager of Rare Books at Heritage Auctions, explains how the auction house is addressing the issue for book collectors:

Books are especially difficult to fully represent with photography, or to completely describe to someone else in words. A 300-page book has about 320 surface areas to show, counting the covers, all sides of the book, any preliminary pages, and so on. So, here in the rare books department, whenever we can, we take advantage of Heritage Auctions’ continued commitment to employ technology to make the auction process easier, faster, and more transparent, and to deliver to bidders as much information as possible in order to help them make an informed decision about a lot. One particular way we do this is through the use of Video Lot Descriptions (VLDs) for premium lots in our auctions.

A Video Lot Description is a two to four minute video presentation of an auction lot, produced entirely by Heritage Auctions, and hosted on a given item’s webpage once online bidding opens.

Why Old Books, Antique Bookstores, Archives, & Book Collections Smell So Good

According to this post at Reddit, which appears to be a quote from Perfumes: The Guide (page 148, to be precise), there’s a reason the “old book smell” is so lovely:

Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habits, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.

This should apply to most paper ephemera too, right? (Provided the old paper isn’t stored in wet or humid places where mildew will overpower any other scent.)

Excuse Me, I’ve Been A Bozo About Vintage Capitol Childrens Book & Record Sets

I don’t collect records by series or any other system, to be honest. Like everything else I collect, I mainly rely on the serendipity of stumbling into something and falling under it’s charm… Then, whether I buy it or not, the obsessive researching begins. So I didn’t know that the old Capitol Records series of Record-Readers were once sold as Looky Talky book and record sets.

These set of records and books for children featured Bozo The Clown, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters, Disney and other famous characters of the day.

Image credits:

The 1946 Capitol Records “Looky Talky” ad via Jon Williamson.

The Bozo the clown mechanical store display for Capital Records via Childhood-Memorabilia-Vintage-Items.

Antique Japan Travel Guide For Westerners

There are many charming and antiquated things of note in this antique travel book titled The Club Hotel, Limited: Guide Book of Yokohama, Tokyo and Principal Places in Japan and I thought I’d share a few of them before this book and map sells.

Printed at the “Box Of Curios,” No. 58, Main Street, Yokohama, Japan, there’s no copyright or publication date; but it’s circa 1880s to 1910s. This antique book with blue cloth boards and gilt lettering contains all you’d expect in a guidebook, including hotels, excursions, tea rooms, shopping, bars, geisha, libraries, museums, churches, temples, etc. — including black and white photos, ads for businesses, AND, neatly tucked in the built-in pocket in the back cover, a fragile but pristine color map! (Map opens to roughly 12 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches, so it would not fit completely on the scanner.)

I’ve never longed to travel to the Orient, but if I could travel back in time, perhaps I would change my mind for the book says, “One can go all over Tokyo at any hour unarmed and unannoyed, which one certainly could not surely do in London, Paris, Vienna, or other Western Capitals.”

Apparently, The Club Hotel, Limited was an actual place as there are photos of the building, the entrance, the dining room, and the bar.

According to the text, The Club Hotel, Limited was located “near the landing place (English Hatoba).” More details are found on this page:

Despite The Club Hotel, Limited being a real hotel, this book has ads for many other places rather than really promoting the The Club Hotel, Ltd. (The ads must have paid for the printing, me thinks.) In fact, the first ad in this book, right inside the front cover, is for The Hotel Metropole, “the only hotel in Tokio under European Management.”

Here are some interesting (if racist due to the times) things of note from the text’s Preliminary Remarks:

The Japanese will be found pleasant mannered people. Treated politely, they are invariably polite, and as a rule very kindly disposed towards foreigners. Many of them are incorrigible procrastinators. It is always “to morrow” with them. Hotel servants, however, are often very quick, as well as good and attentive, and seeing so much of foreigners they understand foreign requirements.

The people who stamp about the streets playing a double whistle are blind Shampooers, i.e. “Massage” operators by trade.

Japanese baths are generally heated with charcoal, and it is well to be careful of asphyxia from the fumes. The bath-houses with men and women bathing in full sight of each other, are a curiosity to Europeans.

Geisha or Singing girls, which could be ordered through the tea-house, and are listed on the same page as Japanese Wrestling, Public Libraries, Museums, Places Of Worship, etc. (The scan below also includes the small map of the Temples of Shiba.)

But, of course, the collector in me is most intrigued by all the discussion of “curio shops,” which are heavily advertised in the back of the book.  (Note how the chapter begins promoting the European Curio Shops of Yokohama.)

Most notably, Kuhn & Komor, No. 37, Water Street, Yokohama, which asks you to kindly note the company’s trademark “Stork and Sun” used as a sign board on all their branches.

A few other interesting old ads I’ve scanned will be posted soon!

License To Pawn: Behind The Scenes Of Pawn Stars

When Hyperion, the publishers of License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver (by Rick Harrison, of History’s Pawn Stars, and Tim Keown, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine) offered me the chance to receive a review copy of the book, I jumped at it — I’m a huge fan of the show!

License To Pawn isn’t a “how to” in terms of opening or running a pawn shop, but the book contains more information on the business side of things than I had previously known or even thought of before; it takes a lot more than money to invest to enter and remain in the business.

License To Pawn isn’t a “how to” for collectors, dealers or buyers, but there are tips on how to negotiate, what affects the antiques and collectibles market, etc. Like the show, Rick bluntly lays down the realities.

Yes, there are stories about interesting objects (and persons) who come into the shop (most of the stories about objects are those already seen in show episodes), but that’s not what License To Pawn is really about either.

What License To Pawn really is, is the stories of the men behind the counters at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. And that’s far more entertaining and inspirational than even I, a huge fan, thought!

The book focuses on Rick, but even if Big Hoss, The Old Man, and Chumlee didn’t have their own individual chapters, which they do, each is included in Rick’s stories; it’s a family business, after all. However, Rick (even without my serious girl crush) remains the focus of the book.

While I am a fan of the show, I’m not one who stalks, even in terms of internet reading and media stories about celebrities so I had no idea that Rick suffered from epilepsy (grand mal seizures) as a child. This led to his belief that he wouldn’t survive to adulthood — and an eventual drug problem. But those seizures, which he eventually did outgrow, led to something else wonderful.

[The seizures] altered my life in nearly every way.  Whenever one hit, I would be out of school for as long as ten days. The muscle pulls were so painful and severe that ai could do nothing but lay in bed with ice packs on my hamstrings and quadriceps.

It was there, in that bed in our suburban home in the Mission Valley section of San Diego , that my life changed again. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move more than a few inches without pain. I didn’t have a television in my room. Video games and iPads hadn’t been invented. I was left to my own devices.

So I read books.

A lot of books.

…I have a very analytical, mathematical, calculating mind. I know I’m not supposed to believe in things like karma. But certain things have happened in my life that can’t be explained by simple coincidence. How else can you explain the sequence of events and circumstances that led to me turning those bedridden hours — which should have been the worst hours of my life — into something that would provide a foundation for a life of curiosity and fun?

That’s what happened. That’s how profound the discovery of books was in my life. I didn’t like school, but I loved books. Reading has been the basis of just about everything that came after. In that bed, I fell in love not only with books but with knowledge. The experience tapped into something I might never have found without the trying circumstances that led up to it.  So much of the enjoyment I’ve gained from life has stemmed from a book — either researching some arcane item or reading to learn how to do something practical with my hands.

(Is there anything sexier than a man who loves to read — and research yet!)

And then there are the Horatio Alger-esque stories of each member of the Pawn Stars cast’s rise from humble backgrounds to lives of security and comfort through hard work and determination. Passion and skills into profit, yes; but even more than that, the stories in this book are about finding yourself even when you do your very best to get in your own way. Overcoming obstacles — internal and external — with responsibility for personal accountability, education, and a dedicated pursuit of goals. There’s even a “be careful what you wish for” story; now that the show’s made the cast and the store so popular, Rick can’t be out on the floor, doing what he loves. All things worth reading. Even if they weren’t mixed in with stories about antiques and collectibles — and the unique individuals who buy and sell them.

I only have two complaints about this book…

One, Hyperion is often noted for their “strike while the iron is hot” approach to publishing. This makes sense, but I couldn’t help but feel that this book would have benefited from at least one more round of editing; there were several awkward phrasings, etc., which would have been simple fixes to make the book a bit more polished. And I do mean editing — this is not a slight towards Rick or any of the Pawn Stars themselves (or even Keown); another pair of professional editor eyes would have caught the small problems. Something that bothered me more than a bit for Rick, the reader!

Two, my kids are a fan of this show and while I think there are incredible personal stories my children would benefit from reading, I don’t feel comfortable giving them the book to read due to one adult joke. While reading about prostitutes across the street is certainly less shocking than the plethora of police and crime shows on mainstream prime-time television (not to mention song lyrics on the radio), a joke about oral sex is a bit too much for me to feel comfortable letting the 11 year old read the book.

Overall, License To Pawn is easy to read, charms with great stories, and offers an entertaining look at the world of pawn shops as well as the cast of the show and the cast of characters and objects one is likely to find at pawn shops.  It’s definitely worth the read.

For another take on this book, check out Inherited Values semi-regular writer, Cliff Aliperti’s review.

As noted above, I received a free review copy from Hyperion; this did not affect my review or even guarantee publication of my review.

Big Game Hunting In Books

It drives me nuts when appraisers, auctioneers et al. dismiss books (along with magazines and ephemera) as having “little no value” — unless, of course, they are ultra rare first printings of first editions, signed works, manuscripts and journals from historic persons or covering historic events, contain original art, etc. I mean, a-duh! These things are not so much valued for the works themselves, but really are coveted and collected for other reasons; i.e. a signed Hemingway book is collected for the signature, not-so-much the book itself. So at best, I call those works cross-collectibles which benefit from higher prices due to a competitive audience across collecting genres — especially from those non-book collectors.

The sad fact is, the experts are right. Most books, magazines and ephemera have little monetary value because fewer people are collecting them, keeping the prices (the value that matters to most decision makers of popularity) low. This is why you rarely see these items on the collecting shows. *sigh*

I obviously do not agree. Not only with the limited and inaccurate definition of “value” (which is why I started this site), but I believe there is real value in old books, magazines, and other printed works.

What makes me rant about all of this again?

Roosevelt's Thrilling Experiences in the Wilds of Africa Hunting Big Game

I spotted this antique copy of Marshall Everett’s Roosevelt’s Thrilling Experiences in the Wilds of Africa Hunting Big Game up for auction at Heritage Auctions.

The fine folks at Heritage give an auction estimate of $1. One friggin’ dollar! Oh, and a neatly tacked on “- up”, which I presume to mean “and up.” (Though, the “- up” also means the mandatory Buyer’s Premium, 19.5% of the successful bid with minimum $14 per lot.)

It’s not that Heritage Auctions is wrong in their estimate (or their buyer’s premium; it’s their business and someone should get paid for posting info online so people like me can rant). The auction closes in a couple of days and the antique work is still at $1.

But here’s the kicker.

I’ve actually sold a few copies of this book. It pained me to do so each time. Not only because it’s hard for me to let go of things, but because they sold for like $29 to $45 — something I thought rather an insult for such an old, richly illustrated book. I consoled myself then that eBay wasn’t where the really big book collectors and history lovers were; that bigger legitimate auction houses would reach a wider audience, fetch more appropriate — bigger — bids for such books. But if Heritage can’t do it…

I should clarify a few things. For both my peace of mind and accuracy.

I sold my copies of this book (in the exact blue cloth boards with photo inset) on eBay nearly a decade ago; the prices on eBay haven’t changed much though — if the book actually sells, it’s at a higher price than the one at Heritage. (So if you’re interested… *wink*)  And I sold copies I found because then, as now, I sell so that a person just longing for that item can have it, rather than it being less loved and sitting on my shelf.  At least there I succeeded.

If there’s a moral to this little story, it’s this:  Books, magazines, etc. don’t have the monetary value they ought to; but that means those of us with less money can afford to collect and enjoy them.  And, collectors shouldn’t make assumptions that “the big auction houses have higher auction prices.”  Even with the buyer’s premium, the antique Roosevelt hunting in Africa book is 50% cheaper than on eBay.  So whether you’re new to collecting or an old hand at it, include the big auction sites in your hunting and see what killer deals you can make.

American Pickers Guide to Picking

American Pickers debuted on the History Channel last year and turned the wheeling and dealing of pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz into the biggest new cable television show of 2010. Mike and Frank, along with Danielle and author Libby Callaway, now bring their expertise on rusty gold and antiques dealing to your bookshelf in American Pickers Guide to Picking, released today by Hyperion.

The Guide is a no-nonsense book on the basics of the Pickers’ business model.   As shown on the show, Mike and Frank are antique and collectibles middle-men who try and find sources, usually collectors and original owners, to buy from in order to resell to antique dealers and collectors.  Aside from their dense Rolodex of existing sellers, the pair cold-call potential customers and mine other interesting ‘honey-holes’ for their wares.  After decades in the business, the Pickers have their business down to a science and this book breaks it down into its simplest components.  Picking is a specific facet of the antique and collectibles industry, and Guide to Picking does a good job of making the differences clear.  A picker is like a gold miner rather than a coin dealer; picking gets down and dirty with the abandoned or forgotten collectibles.

Although the book is full of anecdotes, it uses them as part of the teaching process.  It is fun to hear stories about Mike and Frank’s adventures, but the book sticks to business throughout.  I particularly like that anecdotes from the show assume you’ve seen the show, rather than repeating the entire story in the book.   From finding sources, to making the deal, to turning a profit by selling to a customer, the Guide gives tips and tricks for making the deals go as smoothly as possible.  It doesn’t promise making millionaires, though; they’re clear about the amount of work it takes and the amount of risk involved, so it may, possibly for the better, scare off people hoping for easy money.   The book comes right from the mouths of people doing the work every day, which makes it feel more trusted than a more traditional antique dealer guide.

The most approachable aspect of the book is that conversational tone, but this also contributes to the weakest part of the Guide.  As i mentioned above, the book cover credits four writers, and the acknowledgments thank several other contributors for their part.   Having a lot of cooks in the kitchen makes the Guide difficult to follow at some points, because the conversational tone uses a lot of “I” and “me” without being clear about who’s doing the speaking at the time.  This difficulty becomes more manageable once the reader gets a little ways into the book, so once that hump is over the Guide feels like sitting in a southern-Minnesota Perkins restaurant, eating a piece of the pie of the day and shooting the shit with two dusty guys who just got done climbing in the rafters of a slowly disintegrating barn.

Every antique dealer has their own business philosophy, a fact that the Guide addresses multiple times, but I have to say that the American Pickers Guide to Picking has a pretty firm grasp on the uncertainty and fluidity of antiques and collectibles dealing.   Much of the time, the book doesn’t just have the One Right Way to do things; each chapter covers a variety of options, based on benefits and drawbacks, to put in a toolbox of skills for making a go of the picking industry.   The last chapter, too, covers the future of picking — and the entire industry of collecting, by extension — by acknowledging the huge impact of the ever-changing internet and how the collectors of the future are the kids of today.

At a little over 200 pages, the Guide to Picking is an easy read, but it crams a lot of information into those pages.  A lot may feel old-hat to other antique dealers, but the personal voice makes it a fun read, in line with the tone of the show, and there might be something still to be learned hidden in the pages.   American Pickers Guide to Picking is a fun how-to book, full of tips and tales of the picking world, ready to make a picker out of anyone willing to pull on the gloves and get a little dirty.

 

American Pickers Guide to Picking
By Libby Callaway, with Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz, and Danielle Colby
ISBN 978-1401324483
Approx 206 pages, 6″x9″ hardcover
Hyperion, 2011