Vintage Pin-Ups For The Nursery

Once upon a time, brightly-colored graphics on pressed layers of cardboard in the shape of characters from nursery rhymes, Mother Goose stories, and other childhood tales covered the walls in baby nurseries and children’s bedrooms.

Once the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States joined World War II, Japanese imports disappeared from store shelves and American companies began to take over the toy and other markets once previously held by importers. At the end of the war, Phil Riley of the Dolly Toy Company in Tipp City, Ohio, designed this new kind of wall decoration. They were dubbed “Pin-Ups” and promptly patented.

The Pin-Ups hit stores in 1948, marking the entrance of Dolly Toy Co. into the “Baby Business”, and quickly spawning knock-offs. Dolly Toy would defend their patent in court — and win, thus cornering the paper Pin-Ups market. With such success behind them, Dolly Toy sought to increase their line. By the the 1950s, the company had created other matching d├ęcor items for baby’s room. Along with Tidee-Ups (a decorative wall hangers with pegs for clothing), there were lamps and even the company’s first Disney designs. By the early 1960s, crib mobiles would be sold too.

The following photos are of the Dolly Toy Co. items I have listed at Etsy. (You can also search eBay for deals too.)

I personally adore the vintage Western cowboy designs. I soooo wanted to do my son’s room in a vintage cowboy theme, but I didn’t have these then. I mentioned that to my son when he was about six years-old and he put his hand on my arm and said, “You can still do that it you want, Mom.” It just about broke my heart it was so sweet! Of course, now that he’s 11, all I get is an eyeball-roll. *sigh*

If some of these seem vaguely familiar or faintly nostalgic, even if you never had them in your family’s home, you may recall seeing them on reruns of at least one classic TV show.

According to the long-gone Dolly Toy website, Dolly Toy Co. products were featured on one of the most popular shows, I Love Lucy, thus making Pin-Ups part of The World’s Most Famous Nursery. While Dolly Toy Co. was not featured in the 1953 ad, you can spot the Pin-Ups in Desi Jr’s nursery — there’s Jack Jumping Over The Candlestick and what appears to be Mary & her Little Lamb.

A more complete Dolly Toy history (or corporate obituary, as the company ceased in 2008) can be found here.

Naughty Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens

Would you trust them to mind your coats and hats? What about your children’s belongings? I spotted this vintage wooden novelty coat rack in an antique mall. Painted blue and white, the cat tails are the pegs to hold your children’s clothing.

Adorable Vintage Childrens Wooden Hangers

I don’t know where Joan “No More Wire Hangers, Ever!” Crawford stood on wooden hangers, but I’m guessing she wasn’t a fan. However, these cute vintage wooden hangers for the nursery might have made her at least think of them as adorable display pieces…

Painted pink, with decals of kittens and little girls, I nearly bought these at a local thrift shoppe… But at $2 a piece, I left them all there.

When I went back with second thoughts a day later, all of them had sold.

I left empty handed, with a heavy heart, reminded once again that the time to buy something is when you see it.

(Cookie) Cuttin’ It Up With Tom & Jerry

Seventy years ago — long before Itchy & Scratchy appeared on the Krusty the Clown Show on The Simpsons — there was Tom & Jerry.

The series of animated theatrical shorts was created for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Hanna and Barbera. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera ultimately wrote and directed one hundred and fourteen Tom and Jerry cartoons (and earned seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject, Cartoons) for the MGM cartoon studio in Hollywood between 1940 and 1959, when the animation unit was closed. Tom & Jerry would live on, however, with different animators and studios before returning home to Hanna & Barbera.

The incredible popularity of the never-ending cat and mouse games between Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse produced these red plastic cookie cutters by Lowe.

Along with the heads of Tom and Jerry, I also have Barney Bear, Droopy Dog, and a full body cookie cutter of Jerry.

These particular cookie cutters, , marked with a copyright date of 1956, are made of a sheer red hard plastic — but the series was also available in green.

Laundry Fun — Go Figure!

Absolutely adorable family of vintage Rogers Clean-Grip clothes pins — with little heads and faces of each family member, including the family dog and cat.

The vintage plastic clothes pins were called “Clean-Grip” because the plastic did not stain, discolor, or soil the wet laundry like wooden and/or metal clothespins can. Plastic clothespins don’t splinter either. But of course the best things about these vintage clothespins are their figural heads of humans and pets.

Image Credits:

Vintage green clothespin photos (2) via shelbysfeet27.

Vintage blue plastic kitty head clothespin photo via AfterGlow-Antiques-and-Collectables.

Sweet Pink Kitty Paws – It’s Saalfield Oilcloth!

I’ve seen and sold a number of items from Saalfield Publishing Co., Akron, Ohio, before, but I’ve never seen anything like this uncut oil cloth with cats printed on it dated 1913.

The entire sheet of oilcloth measures 36 and 1/2 inches by 24 and 1/4 inches. It has three cats which are to be stuffed with cotton. Two are sitting (the largest is 17 inches tall, the other 9 and 1/4 inches tall), and the third is laying down (measuring 9 inches long). The largest one sits on the oval piece (a cardboard insert is to be added to stabilize it).

I love-lovelove the tiny pink kitty paws!

Complete instructions for making the family of kitties are printed on the fabric. The question is, would you even dare to cut it?

The charming antique oilcloth (available for sale at and images via kouleegirl) opens a whole new possibility for me in collecting Saalfield things — something I’ve not seriously collected yet. Yet.

Things like this get me excited! So I plan to spend some more time studying the collection at Kent University, where they have a nice Saalfield Publishing Company collection (1899 – 1976).

The collection includes artwork, oversize galleys, printing plates, etc., catalogs, and publications from 1899 – 1976. Or you can view lists of the collection’s holdings by series (linen books, paper dolls, activity books, etc.).

Sadly, Kent does not have any images from the Saalfield Collection online; but fans can check the university’s FAQ on the collection for more information.

A Happy Camper At Christmas & Beyond

Christmas time always brings up toys. Now that I’m a parent, I try to remind myself that finding the perfect toy ought not to be the pressure point I make it out to be…

1971-sears-wish-bookSome of my favorite and most memorable toys were not ones I asked for. Even if my grandma would sit us down with the Sears Christmas Wish Book and have us play “pick,” by going through it page by page and picking one item we wanted from each page, she didn’t really shop off our list of picks. Instead my cousin Lisa, my sister, and myself each got the same thing — and for many years, this was the latest big ticket item in Barbie’s world. (It wasn’t until I was 16 or so that grandma deviated from this plan, or gave me any one of my picks — a manicure kit signaled the end of childhood.)

So each Christmas Eve, gathered with extended family, we three girls would open our gifts at the same time, simultaneously revealing the Barbie airplane, house, camper, etc. It made for fun with all three of us playing together — after our dads did the some-assembly-required parts. (My poor dad had to put together two of the darn things, while my Uncle Mike only had to do one before he returned to his holiday beer; the year we got Townhouses, the assembly was so intense, that I do believe all boxes remained sealed, were carried home to sit beneath the Christmas tree, and then went directly to reside in attics & basements.)

My favorite bit of Barbie property had to be the Barbie Country Camper.


Not only were the campers most mobile and self-contained, but they had cool features. Features we put to use whenever the neighbor’s cat had a litter of kittens. And as a non-spayed, part-time outdoor cat, she had a litter every spring, giving us plenty of early summers to put tiny kittens into the campers and play with them rather than Babs and friends.

Once those kittens could eat crunchy kitten food, we’d filled the tiny camper sink with kitten chow, stick a lucky kitten or two in the camper, close the door, and extend the table off the back end, achieving a perfect view of kittens chowing down on the chow in the sink.


We watched them eat until they did as kittens do, and fell asleep, nose first in the chow-filled sink. Such sudden and sound sleep made us giggle — and it assured us that we could then drive the kitten-filled camper up and down the block.

When the kitties woke up and had the kitten zoomies, as kittens are want to do, we’d stop the camper and open the kit-tent (yes, we know it’s technically called a pup tent, but we couldn’t find any puppies small enough…) and watch the kittens crawl out of the orange plastic and down the vinyl ramp.

Sometimes momma cat followed the camper full of kittens; sometimes she just watched us return for another one or two of her babies, whereupon we’d start the process all over again.

Whenever I see a small kitten, I still have the urge… But I am without a retro 70’s Country Camper.

Santa, if you’re reading this, if it’s too much to ask… I’d love an old Barbie Country Camper — and a pair of kittens!

Image Credits: 1971 Sears Wish Book via Wishbook at Flickr; Barbie Country Camper photos via eBay seller goldenzelda.