A few weeks ago, Eva Mendes was spotted with a skull in her Kiki de Montparnasse lingerie bag — which sent the celeb-stalking world into a 50-Shades of kink gossip cliche tailspin. But as it turns out, the antique papier-mâché skull, a ceremonial prop from an Odd Fellows lodge, was purchased at Obscura of Oddities fame. More about Mendes and “her favorite home-décor store” in this article.
Are you a heavy collector of weird (as others may perceive) yet cool stuff? Want to try something new to hang on your wall? Usually, it’s a painting, a cross-stitch, a vintage movie poster or a celebrity sketch that would make a sophisticated and noticeable framed wall art. For this year, here is the challenge: why not come up with a framed artwork featuring the oldest casino chips that you can find? One might argue that this is an expensive and a very difficult challenge for hobbyists and collectors like me. Poker chips are unique to every casino. The designs before are so intricate as compared to the latter ones. As opposed to coin collecting, this is not an expensive variety of exonumia for these tokens aren’t made of silver or gold.
If you intend on pursuing the project, you can either collect in person or purchase online. My Vegas Chips online sells poker chips manufactured from 1930s to 1960s at a reasonable price. You can never tell if those vintage chips have been used by artists, musicians or famous poker players who played in the casino. You can also purchase some from your online friends over at Partypoker.com. The largest virtual poker room aside from offering virtual casino games also provides a virtual community and social lounge for members to interact. You might meet someone who’s also a collector or someone who’s a son-of-a-poker-legacy who happened to have an old chip to dispose of.
Below are some of the surprisingly cheap vintage chips (price range from $15 to $35) that you can purchase from My Vegas chips:
ROULETTE SILVER PALACE YERINGTON
This obsolete old vintage casino chip was manufactured in the 1930s. There are plenty of stocks left dedicated for avid collectors. It is available in yellow, brown and navy blue colors. There are no signs of warping and the golden engraved Silver Palace Yerington Nevada is still visible and clear. The size of the chip is 39mm in diameter. A bubble wrap case is included upon delivery for protection.
HARRAH’s CLUB RENO LAKE TAHOE
Harrah’s Club Reno casino is still operational as of date but you can’t purchase this rare poker chip manufactured in the 1960s if you are planning to go to the casino today. Actually, this rare chip is still on stock but the conditions are slightly used. It will still easily stand on edge. Although there is a slight scratch on its body, the golden imprint is still visible against the pink colored chip with four gray spots each side around the chip.
CONTINENTAL LAS VEGAS NEVADA CASINO POKER CHIP
For a price of only $7.00, one can purchase this lime green poker chip with a golden engrave of Continental Hotel Casino in the late 50s. What’s special about this chip? There is a polished detail around the chip which shows a flower, spade, heart and diamond.
Today’s scrapbooks are filled with photographs of family & friends, complimented by decorative papers and supplies purchased for the sole act of creating fantastic looking photo albums. But once upon a time, scrapbooks bore more resemblance to their name: they were books full of “scraps” of paper.
Some of these vintage scrapbooks did chronicle personal events or lifetimes, of course; but many were just compilations of neat things people found in newspapers and magazines. Some people were quite dedicated, focusing their efforts on specific themes. At least each scrapbook had its own theme. And some of the most popular themes were scrapbooks dedicated to movie stars. Like this old Mae West scrapbook.
It’s filled with carefully clipped images of the film star from various newspapers and magazines of the time. Looks like there are a few publicity photos sent to fans as well.
I know some people will balk at the seller’s price tag of $450. But when you consider how much it would cost to find and purchase enough vintage publications and the like to attempt to recreate this nearly-antique scrapbook, it seems a pretty small price to pay in comparison. Plus, even if you could manage to locate all the same scraps, would it be the same as knowing someone dedicated themselves to the selection and organization of this old book? I don’t think so.
When you think about it, scrapbooking isn’t much different than blogging is today. But as ephemeral as old paper is, there’s something more lasting about it… Perhaps because none of us knows what will become of blogs and websites in the next 80 years. Even in that unknown future, I can’t imagine someone not enjoying holding an old book like this and carefully turning the pages to see what someone created.
Image Credits: All images from empressjadeoftheuniverse.
I am struck by the current lack of public acceptance of certain kinds of screen entertainment, most notably short subjects, newsreels, and child and animal stars. Television is blamed for the decline in the first two, and the greater sophistication of today’s young people for the last two.
Very few of the old films featuring animal stars have survived. The private film collector can purchase a few 8mm prints starring Rin Tin Tin, and a couple of Westerns featuring his marvelous pony, Fritz, and even a complete print of Rex, King of Wild Horses; occasionally the collector can find prints of 16mm sound features starring various cowboys and “their” horse and/or dog co-stars. But that’s about all, and even the currently popular “retrospective” programs of films of the past have yet to bring back any of the fondly remembered great animal stars.
Like every other kid who was around during the last years of the silents, I loved animal pictures.
I think you can see where Peeples is going. Similar feeling film fans can click to read the larger scans.
These vintage Valentine’s Day cards are also holders for lolly pops or suckers. The half-circle tabs pop-up, and the stem of the sucker would be slid through the openings, thus delivering an extra sweet greeting — with pop related puns, of course!
Produced by the E. Rosen Company of Providence, RI, these vintage die-cut cards measure approximately six inches tall and are printed on cardboard stock as opposed to thin paper.
(These cards, 1930s and 1940s, are from my own collection; but you can find cards for sale here.)
This pair of traffic signal cops or police officers shows that the one with green ink is older than the black ink; the one with green states that the patent is pending.
These cards were part of a long tradition of delivering holiday candies. E. Rosen Co., which also operated as School House Candy, is also noted for the highly collectible figural plastic candy holders, such as Easter bunnies, Santas, witches, and Valentines hearts. Those plastic pieces are marked Rosbro, a sister (or brother) company of Rosen as both companies were owned by the same family.
E. Rosen Co. was acquired by Sherwood Brands in 1998; Sherwood went into receivership and among the assets auctioned-off in 2012 were intellectual property rights, including Rosen names.
One of the things I like best about vintage Valentine’s Day cards, especially the children’s cards, are the puns. (It bears repeating!) The other thing I like about vintage Valentines are the graphics. So much nicer to look at than today’s pop culture Valentines, I think. …Then again, today’s stars and fads will become the nostalgia of the future. But then that just means I still have time to change my feelings about them.
This vintage Valentine combines both puns and great graphics — with a few other goodies we don’t see today. This vintage Valentine greeting card featuring a little boy sailing as the captain of his ship is slightly embossed, die cut, and has a stand on the back so it can be displayed.
The best thing about it though is that both the bottom of the card and the stand are rounded, so when the card is standing up, it rocks and rolls, like the motion of the sea!
I can’t keep all the lovely vintage Valentine’s Day cards (or anything else I get my hands on), so I’ve listed it and others for sale. Sometimes, scanning and blogging about things is enough time to cherish something before letting it go to another collector. Hopefully one who won’t have to keep things stored, but can display it and let it be adored.
Don’t you just wish you could find this old collection? I do! Via.
When hubby and I were selling at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, we had brought a large collection of vintage colored aluminum pieces to sell. While the display was incredibly vibrant, shining in the sun, what was even more striking were the reactions to it.
Groups of people were drawn to it, often grabbing a person they were shopping with and dragging them over to the display. Of course, these people were usually of a certain age… For while aluminum was considered a rare metal in the 19th century — and costly by the ounce than silver or even gold — once the mining processes improved, aluminum became all the rage and by the 20th century it was used from everything from kitchenware to Christmas trees. By the 1960s, however, plastics were on their way to replacing pretty much everything, including colorful aluminum ware. But many younger people also recognized the vintage colored aluminum ware as much of the fancy colorful aluminum pieces lived second lives as part of camping gear and in cupboards in summer cottages.
Nearly each person who passed by had their own stories and memories about vintage colored aluminum ware. Clutching a piece in their hand, they’d shared their stories — making a collective experience as they stories drew even more people over.
“My grandma had these glasses — I remember fighting with my sister over who got the purple one!”
“I remember these! Everyone had a set of these. …I wonder where I put my set? Oh, I know, I gave them to the kids for camping. I wonder if they still have them?”
“My aunt had these glasses! I remember how cold our hands would get holding them!”
I too recall my aunt having a set of the vintage colored aluminum tumblers — but my memories are more fear-filled. For my aunt used to save money by making Kool-Aid with only half the directed amount of sugar. Ack! Now the sight of these vintage aluminum tumblers makes my taste buds suspicious. *wink*
Another woman shopping at the flea market also was suspicious. When her friend was regaling her with fond childhood memories of drinking the leftover milk from a colored aluminum cereal bowl, the woman shuddered and said the idea of the aluminum near her mouth made her teeth ache. Her friend knit her brow and said, “You use a spoon and fork to eat, right? And aren’t you drinking that Coke out of an aluminum can right now?”
But my favorite story came from a man about my age who said, “I remember how cold the cups stayed — and how they would sweat. And I’d always leave one sitting put on the furniture and when my dad would find it he’d call me over. He’d tell me to pick the cup up and bring it to him. And when I brought it to him, my dad would ‘ding’ it on the side of my head.”
As a mom, I have to wonder just how many times this had to happen before the kid would learn to put his dishes away. *wink*
There were a number of collectors there that day too, out shopping exactly for more pieces to add to their collections — and a number of collectors who were delighted to discover that there really was a pitcher or a coffee pot to go with their tumblers and trays, butter dishes to go with their salt and pepper shakers, measuring spoons to match their measuring cups, and tongs to go with beverage sets. There even are advertising pieces, such as scoops for lard!
Some pieces have (usually black) plastic handles. Some pieces have embossed, etched, or even hammered designs. And the range of colors and brands are impressive!
My favorite piece of those left is this red and gold aluminum coffee pot — look at the clear mod percolator top! (It’s available at Exit 55, and it can ship from there!)
After reviewing her book, Hello, Cutie!: Adventures in Cute Culture, I had the chance to interview the collector and author, Pamela Klaffke. In her book, she mentions that her young daughter is also a collector. Since I’m a big fan of children who collect, I wanted to speak with Pamela specifically about her daughter’s collecting.
Hello again, Pamela. Let’s talk a little bit about your daughter and what she collects.
Her name is Emma, she is 11-and-a-half and is in sixth grade. She primarily collects Blythe and Dal dolls, anime figurines, Pokémon plush toys and game cards, plus stuffed animals in general.
When and at what age did she begin collecting?
She’s been collecting since she was a toddler — first with Care Bears, then My Little Pony, and big-eyed Lil Peepers plush toys. Her interest in each collection lasted about 2-3 years and she was really focused. She would usually just buy items for her collections, rather than just a bunch of random toys.
Did you have to encourage her to collect?
It’s not something we really discussed, but being a collector myself I certainly didn’t dissuade her, except maybe when the stuffies started to edge her out of her bed! We had to start keeping them in bins. But collecting has always interested her and come quite naturally.
As a parent and a collector, I feel that the act of collecting is a great thing for children. It helps with practical things such as handling money, negotiating, making decisions, etc. While regular shopping has some of these things, collecting is different and even better than just going to a toy store. Even without the vintage aspect of learning about history, there’s far more involved… It’s not as easy because there’s more to sift through, no catalog pages to circle, etc. A child learns to value imperfect things — while perhaps learning to take better care of the things she collects (because “older” can mean “more fragile”). And I do believe that the role of collector is rather like the role of artist. What things do you think your daughter has learned or gained from collecting?
She’s definitely learned how to save money for an item she wants — she saved for four months earlier this year to pay for a special, limited edition Blythe doll. She’s also learned how to research the best price for items online and can spot a good deal. Many of the things she collects have to be ordered from Asia, so she’s become pretty savvy at ferreting out the bargains. She also combs every nook and cranny of a thrift shop in search of a genuine 1970s vintage Kenner Blythe doll. She’s heard the stories of people finding them in unlikely places and hopes one day it will happen to her!
Here’s hoping Emma finds her big score!
If you or child collect dolls, toys, and other cute things, you’ll love Pamela’s book.
Vintage squeaky toys are one of my kitschy little collections. They are scattered all over the house, but I am slowly adding photos of them to my Collectors Quest collection, so over time they will at least digitally appear together in one place.
I don’t have childhood memories of these things; no warm fuzzy moments when I spot them. I must confess, I got into collecting these little guys for really odd reasons.
One of the first big sales I made online was a vintage made in Taiwan cat squeaky toy. I paid 50 cents at a rummage sale for it, and when it sold for nearly $30, I began scouring rummage sales and thrift stores looking to make another score. Sometimes, even when they weren’t in good shape, I’d buy them — just to save them from the ladies who were going to buy them to give them to children or their dogs.
Such actions aren’t just good for the vintage toys either; I’m saving dogs and babies! For these old rubber toys are not a good idea to give to young children or pets. The rubber either has deteriorated or is in the process of deteriorating and as such tears easily, allowing bits of the old plastic to lodge in the throats and airways of those chewing on it. Often, the little screens or covers on the “breathing” holes which allow the toys to squeak are damaged or give way easily to a tooth too. Plus, these things are old and dirty and heavens knows where they’ve been! Boiling them to sanitize them isn’t a good idea either as this just further breaks down the elasticity of the old plastic, rubber, or vinyl.
Once I found myself with a number of these vintage kitschy rubber toys, able to squeak or not, I found myself falling in love with their cute and comical faces. A collection had amassed itself and I was unable to sell pieces of it anymore. Other than the usual practice of a collector, selling what I have doubles of, I now keep my little kitschy deers and other dears.
Most collectors only want those which still squeak, are void of teeth prints, and with the paint still intact. But if it’s cheap enough — and I don’t already have it (and sometimes if I do!), I will sneak an extra one onto a shelf somewhere. Hubby won’t ever notice. *wink*
Cereal and cereal boxes hold a special place in my heart. They are as familiar as family at the breakfast table. Maybe more so. For when my sister was young, she went through this phase where no one, especially our Dad, was allowed to look at her in the morning. (Some weird Vanessa Huxtable stage — that’s still kind of around. Sorry, Jackie; but you know it’s true!) Besides her yelling in protest, one of her defenses was to place the cereal box in front of her, hunching herself behind it to hide from anyone who might dare glance at her. I don’t think anyone in the family knows exactly what she looked like in the morning during those years… But I readily recognize the cereal boxes from that time today.
My favorite cereal box was — and is — Ralston’s Freakies.
Freakies was a short-lived cereal, produced by Ralston from 1972 to 1976. But the impact of Freakies was huge. That’s because Freakies were more than a cereal; they were seven creatures with a story. Each Freakie, BossMoss Hamhose, Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Goody-Goody, and Snorkeldorf (my favorite).
When little plastic versions of the Freakies started appearing in cereal boxes, I had to have them all. So did my sister — and everyone else under the age of, say, 16 years old.
Funny thing about Freakies; I don’t recall the cereal at all. Not eating it, anyway. I can’t even remember the flavor… I remember the Freakies, their story, and the box (often my sister’s “face,” remember?). But we must have eaten it, or I never would have had the little Freakies themselves. (Did I mention that Mom and Dad were serious about us eating the stuff?) I do remember having and playing with the little plastic Freakies. Sadly, I also remember selling the little Freakies online. It was one of my first big sales on eBay, way back in the marketplace’s early years. I was paid handsomely for them; but today I wish I’d never sold them. *sigh*
The Freakies and their story were the brainchildren of Jackie End. (How freaky is it that the face behind the Freakies had the same name as my sister who hid behind the cereal box?!) Sadly, Jackie End passed away in August of this year. You can read a great tribute to her here.
As a tribute to Jackie End’s wonderful creation, Freakies live on, inspiring cult fandom and collectors. Vintage or retro Freakies stuff sells. Figures, toys, magnets, animation cells, t-shirts, cereal boxes, advertising, and even Freakies cereal coupons are popular enough to make people pay.
I’m not exaggerating the continuing popularity of Freakies. In 1987, a new Freakies cereal was made. Without Jackie End. Now, the characters were aliens from another planet. And there was a change in the cast; while BossMoss and Grumble remained, the other characters were replaced by Hugger, Sweetie, Tooter and Hotdog. (Seriously? No Snorkeldorf?!) But the retro cereal re-do didn’t last long. If they had kept the original Freakies and their creator, maybe that cereal would still be around.
The good news is that you can still get official Freakies merch here, some of it signed by Jackie End herself. That’s because it’s sold at the official Freakies website, started by Jackie herself, where they are carrying on Jackie’s legacy. And that’s pretty sweet.
Now, if only I could get myself a vintage Freakies cereal box (with at least Snorkeldorf, please?) before the holidays… I’d love to set it in front of my sister during breakfast. (That’s a hint, Santa.)
Image Credits: Freakies Cereal box, 1973, and Freakies collection via Gregg Koenig.
Seven Freakies Cereal Premium Figures from Rob’s Vintage Toys & Collectibles.
Freakies Goods, t-shirts and Wacky Wobbler, from the official Freakies website.
Whether you have a smartphone or a tablet, whether it’s an Apple or Android based, you can put it to work for you as a collector. Many of them are completely free; others just a few dollars. With apps like these, you’ll feel like the Harrison’s on Pawn Stars because you’ll have your own experts to consult anytime you need them! Here are a few of my favorites.
(Because I have an Android phone, I’m listing these with links to Google Play but you can find most, if not all, of them at iTunes as well. You can easily gift these apps by giving Google Play Cards and Apple iTunes Cards.)
There are scads of apps for alerting you to garage sales, including providing maps so you can easily get there. Pickers Pal has free and paid versions. (Note: Apps based on location will vary widely in results/reviews because some areas just fetch smaller results, so I say try free versions first to see if the number of results is worth it.)
WorthPoint’s Price Miner has a free app, but it’s only for subscribers. To access it, use your wireless device to go to www.priceminer.com/iphone and login.
If you buy and/or sell books, Amazon’s Price Check app will show you what the book (or anything else with a barcode) is selling for at Amazon.
One of my favorite apps is from my local scrap metal guy. Not only does this sometimes help in evaluating the price to pay for metal objects, but there’s no reason I can’t pick up scrap stuff along the way, sell it to my scrap guy and use the profits to fund my antiquing. So look around and see if there are scrap metal apps like this to help you in your area.
The Antique Silver Makers Marks App is your digital catalog of makers marks for silver items. Why carry around a book when the knowledge can be in your hip pocket?
There are lots more apps that you might find useful. Just start searching! And please do tell us what apps you find useful!
Traditionally Thanksgiving involves giving thanks for family, friends, food and other blessings of a non-materialistic nature. I’ll be giving that little speech later today with family, don’t you worry about that; but this holiday I want to give special thanks from the bottom of my little collector heart.
#1 “Thanks, ancestors, for settling here.” And by ‘settled’ I mean just that, setting up permanent houses. No offense to the more nomadic peoples, but I’m a collector; I need a place to store my stuff.
#2 “Thanks to all the people who don’t throw things out.” If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to find and adopt them.
#3 “Thanks, mom and dad, for instilling in me the love of collecting.” You taught me many joys of collecting… the rush of finding, the thrill of bidding victory, the coolness of displaying it all… But more than object ownership & the pursuit of it, you taught me what objects & collecting really is about.
Objects were never ‘just things’, but stories, lessons, and connections. You taught me that everything has/had a purpose. It was made to solve a problem, to express an emotion, or was in some way a part of a larger story. That story may be personal or part of the collective human story — sometimes, the story begins as one and ends as another. You didn’t just share your stories & knowledge, but did so with enthusiasm. And you encouraged us to share our own stories about what we learned, which in turn encouraged us to become lovers of learning.
These lessons in history, culture, art, form & function were all valuable — but none more valuable than the time spent with you. May I have the brains and patience to convert the passion for stuff into such gifts for my children.
#4 “Thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me how to collect.” The lessons here were many… Simple money management skills, for example, have served me well. But learning how to evaluate and establish the value of something has impacted my life the most.
Value is isn’t always what you think it is. It’s not just the price you pay for it, and it may be something no two people will ever agree upon either. Yet when it comes to monetary value, this can only be determined when people agree upon it. So if you don’t agree with the price suggested, negotiate.
Lessons in negotiations taught me, even as a child, how to walk up to anyone with confidence and talk about anything — and how, when things weren’t going my way, to walk away politely without any upset. I’d done my best, but it just wasn’t going to work out this time. Everyone should learn that lesson.
If & when you agree to a value and pay it, no matter what that amount is, you should treat that item with great care. The true value of that object is what made you want it in the first place, and, whatever price you paid, that was money you worked hard to earn. Dismissing these intrinsic values in the object does more than dishonor the object now entrusted to your care, but shows disrespect for yourself. It’s not that the guy with the bigger pile wins; but rather it’s the girl with the most integrity, who takes care of her things and show value for herself, who does.
#5 “Thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me what collecting is — and what it isn’t.“ Things are not more important than people, but objects can be a link to the people in our personal pasts and long-gone members in our family tree. As we hand traditions and stories down, the original objects themselves are the tangible proof of who walked and loved among us, as well as those who walked before us.
That said, no one should ever love an object so much that they are willing to sacrifice a family member or family peace over it. People first, things second.
#6 “Thanks, teachers, for instructing me how to take an interest and turn it into an obsession.” Without the research skills you taught me, I never would have known how to sate my curiosity. Nor would I have learned that research may in fact only lead to more questions, more research, and that this too is a form of joy; the delight of discovery & the thrill of yet another new adventure are awesome things.
Of course, this would not have been possible if it weren’t for those who taught me not only to read but to love reading. (My book collection, especially thanks you.)
Ditto those who taught me to write. I may have cursed dangling participles, hated your red pen, but without you, my obsession & research would have no outlet.
#7 “Thanks to my dogs for not chewing on or otherwise destroying items and boxes left on the floor when we unload the van after a trip to an auction.” It means I have some time to make room for them all.
#8 “Thanks to my cat for reminding me that the boxes have sat there too long by sitting on top of the most visible box.” It reminds me the things in the boxes need better care, so I’d better find more safe and permanent storage for them.
#9 “Thanks to the guy who invented boxes.” It would truly suck if I didn’t have strong, stackable containers to carry things home and store them in.
#10 “Thanks, museums & their staff, for housing & caring for what I cannot.” Everybody has limits — even museums. But without you, where would things, large and small, go and be preserved? Thanks for doing all that you can so that these objects and their stories will be there for others when they desire to see and learn about them.
(And you make research that much easier too.)
#11 “Thanks, again, to all the people who don’t throw things out.” It bears repeating, because without you, what would I do?!
#12 “Thanks, hubby & kids, for not just putting up with me — but for collecting with me.” I love that we all go on collecting adventures together, and that we share our finds, discoveries, and stories. I love that you listen to mine (and review games with me on occasion), of course, but it’s not every mother, every wife, who is lucky enough to be the goal of a footrace as every one rushes to tell her what they found, how they found it, and why it’s so special.
Every time we talk about our things, asking questions — and listening to the answers, I think how lucky I am to have a close family comprised of such inquisitive & interesting people. It’s a privilege to collect with you.
#13 “Thanks, makers of the Internet, for creating a new world.” Without the Internet, my collecting world would be so much smaller… Smaller in terms of finding, buying, selling, researching, and meeting other folks as obsessed as I. It’s nifty to know that there are other nuts like me — folks even nuttier than me — ‘out there somewhere’; but it’s hard to put into words just how keen it is to meet these fellow-nuts, see their glorious stuff, and learn their stories.
#14 “A special thanks to you, dear reader.” Your reading, comments, and emails are proof that I’m not alone in my obsession… The objects of our affections may differ (delightfully!), but we are all a part of the same thing. It’s a privilege to collect with you, too.
The lighter bears the raised emblem adopted when the ship was first commissioned in 1961: a star-spangled blue field; the frigate of 1797 on the left; CVA-64, her aircraft and her guided missile battery, on the right; all encircled in yellow.
This full-sized brushed chrome lighter was made in Japan by Penguin (No. 19531).
[Note: The bottom of this vintage lighter is not brushed, so it is very shiny and difficult to photograph.]
It is often compared to, or considered a knock-of of, the “original” Zippo “Town and Country” lighter. However, it is important for collectors of lighters to note that the Zippo version was not truly a Town & Country lighter. Zippo ended the Town and Country line in 1960; meanwhile, the USS Constellation (CVA-64) was launched October 1960, delivered to the Navy in October 1961, and commissioned at the end of October 1961. While the paint on paint process continued to be used by Zippo, lighters using that process were not part of the real own & Country line.
It’s a great piece in terms of history; and in collecting, it’s a reminder of how wartime knock-offs are often nearly as valuable as the originals. If the knock-off was the lighter held back in the day, it’s the lighter you want today.
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.
I meet a lot of interesting collectors, who also just happen to be as interesting and unique as their collections, and I thought perhaps you’d like to get to hear their thoughts on collecting.
What do you collect — and what is the most common reply you hear when you tell people about your collection? (Yes, blank stares and laughs are acceptable replies!)
Collin David: (From Collectors Quest.)
#1 Among other things: I primarily collect Batman stuff and action figures of all kinds. Secondary (but still scary) collections include vinyl records, art, robots, squid, DVDs and videos, trade paperback comics, Legos, gaming miniatures, trading cards, all kinds of books, scrap pieces of plastic, wood, metal and beyond, instruments. I’m actually slimming down a bit due to space concerns. And when I say ‘concerns’, I mean ‘am I going to be crushed in the night?’
Shelley Brice-Boyle: (Is also known as sweet*cherry*pops, the delightful seller behind Sweet Cherry Vintage Lingerie.)
#2 I collect and wear vintage lingerie, and totally passionate about it. I collect everything from bras, panties, slips, negligee’s and peignoir sets, anything from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. I not only sell it, I wear it, live it, dream it! When I tell people I collect vintage lingerie, they look at me with an expression of “Huh?” and “Why?”
Marty Weil: (The award-winning journalist, SEO content strategist, and editor/publisher of ephemera, a blog that explores the world of old paper.)
#3 For the most part, people have not heard of ephemera, but when I tell them it’s old paper, they perk up. There are a lot of people who collect old paper, but they don’t know it. They have drawers full of vernacular photographs or old menus or postcards. All of these things are considered ephemera, and once people realize the scope of it, they can see that it touches just about everyone.
Angela: (She owns Dorothea’s Closet, a virtual and real-world vintage clothing shop.)
#4 Satin boudoir slippers from the 50’s and older (primarily older, and I am most interested in Daniel Green pieces, but look for Oomphies as well as a few other labels). Advertisements and other paraphernalia as well. Typically people don’t even know what they are as the art of glamorous lounging is no longer practiced, sadly. I don’t collect fuzzy old lady slippers, these boudoir slippers are shoes meant to be worn indoors but meant to be seen…worn with silk and satin hostess gowns when entertaining at home.
#5 I collect many different kinds of things. I collecting movie and television props, and have a huge prop jewelry collection. I collect Henry VIII items and I collect things that I remember from childhood, dolls I had as a child, movies, television shows, etc., as well as silent films. Many of my things fascinate people but I do get those stares from people that question if I am eccentric or just a nut.
What two characteristics or personal traits you feel are essential to being a collector?
# 6 Mary Ann: I feel that you need to be collecting things you are interested in, not collecting items that everyone else is collecting, just to be part of a group. Dedication to collecting is important without going overboard or crazy about it. The best part of collecting something is getting the item for a bargain and not letting your heart rule your head.
(She’ll have to teach me how to do that!)
# 7 Collin: I wanted to say ‘disposable income’, but then I recalled my growing collections of feathers and dead bugs and scrap metal and wood and how gloriously free they were. I think that a collector needs to have a desire to hunt – not even acquire, just the excitement of discovery of something rare or unusual within a set theme.
A second characteristic would have to be the ability to organize and stay organized, because collecting takes up space. Being able to understand and monitor that space is essential to a successful collection.
(OK, I’m going to have to debate him on this one day; “organization” is not one of the strong-suits ’round here…)
# 8 Shelley: I feel you are a collector if you are very passionate about something. You see it, you get butterflies in your tummy. You see it, you have to have it. You see it, it’s your’s. You see it, and you want more and more of it.
(That’s more like me — let’s just hope Shelley & I won’t ever be vying for the same bit of vintage lingerie!)
# 9 Marty: It’s funny that you ask… I’ve actually done some research on this subject, and I wrote an article called the Highly Effective Habits of Collectors. The seven traits I identified, based on interview with dozens and dozens of collectors, were patience, persistence, scholarship, understanding, preserveration, Internet savvy, and fraternity with other collectors.
Did you ever get an item for your collection so cheaply that you felt like a thief? Ever stumble into such a great find that your fingers shook when you picked it up?
# 10 Angela: Bright lipstick red satin wedges with black deco piping and braided buttons on the vamp, 40s, in mint condition as well (and my size!). I had been hunting them for years but only found them on high end sites at prices out of my range. These I spotted at a antique fair in the streets of a local neighborhood and the woman selling them looked at me as I picked them up and said, “Those are so pretty, but you know they’re not vintage.” Pretty? Absolutely. Not vintage? Only if you don’t consider something vintage unless its 75 years old!! It’s likely the flawless condition that threw her off. But lucky me! They were TEN dollars!
As a collector, what is one thing you cannot live without? (Not the objects/items themselves, but other things related to collecting, such as ‘space’, ‘acid free paper’, ‘eBay’ etc.)
#11 Marty: The Internet.
#12 Shelley: Estate sales and clothing racks.
#13 Collin: I’d like to think that I’m entering a place where I don’t ‘need’ anything. In my current state, I do need space like crazy. If I had to stop collecting? It would be a really bad shell-shock, but I think I’d live and throw myself immediately into something else. Like a freeway.
For over a decade now, when I’ve had a question about records, bands, music history, or just want to discover something cool to listen to, I contact Tom Casetta. This is a continuation of my interview with my music guru.
Tom, you mention the “whole packaging” aspect of vinyl; let’s talk about records as objects… I remember in 7th grade, my art teacher having us design record albums. The lesson was more than the fab art, but the concept of the package. Back then, albums were like books, with each track a chapter in the story; now with MP3s etc, more than a bit of that is lost in terms of the artist telling the story. Yeah, we all tried our own hand at making our own stories with mixed tapes too. (Which ties in quite a bit with the “new” concepts of curation and playlists.) But there is something about the whole package from the artist — even if that includes Management & Marketing. lol
Can you share an example of why certain objects in collection cannot be replaced, i.e.why a digital audio file cannot replace a record album?
Sure, take Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention for example. Frank Zappa thanks a number of people in the liner notes as influences and it is like a map to understanding the music of Zappa and, for me personally, it opened and blurred all these doors or genre. I was exposed to all these 20th Century composers, jazz and folk people… The record album was also two sides. And that is lost if you aren’t playing the LPs. That two-part thing acted like a chapter of sorts. It really makes certain records what they are. The killer opening track on side two doesn’t have that same effect when heard right after the last song on side one without the pause to flip the record.
You have (at least) a whopping 8,000 records — I guess that’s why you have a radio show! Can you tell me the story of your radio show? Was it inspired by your collection — or just a way to rationalize it?
I am currently doing a weekly radio program on the Internet radio station G-Town Radio called Listen Up!. Each week, I guide you through a labyrinth of music shining a beacon on the unsung, should-be-sung, and will-be-sung recordings that clutter the maze’s dusty corridors. The station is based in a Philadelphia neighborhood called Germantown and it offers diverse programming originating from this community in Philadelphia that can be shared through the wide range of the Internet.
The Listen Up! show in some ways does rationalize my record collection as it serves as the library for much of the source material of the show. I love sharing these recordings with the public and exposing them to music perhaps they may not have heard of before. I want to share that excitement, infusing my personality into the show. It’s pretty much you, the listener, hanging out in my music library for two hours.
As a DJ, how liberating is today’s digital world?
I don’t see it that much different. I still approach my shows the same way as before.
Does the digital age come with a cost do you think?
The loss of the record shop as a means to find and discover music is probably the key loss, but there is always a need for gatekeepers to help steer one through the clutter. I also think not being able to see ones music collection on display is sad as those and the books on your book shelves say volumes about who you are to me. If I go to someone’s home and don’t see any books and/or music anywhere. I ask myself, what do you do? What do you talk about? What makes you you?
It’s that time of year again, when children head back to school. While parents feel that special mixture of worry and relief, many children head back to school with a groan. But school must not be all that bad — or why else would so many adults collect vintage school books?
Of course, like any collection, a collector may begin collecting the books they had as a child but find themselves adding editions that came before (and after) the versions they were assigned… Adding more books by the same author, publisher, illustrator… And there are other books besides primers and reading books. Every school subject had its texts. There are books on geography, math, science, sociology — even text books for adult learners on accounting, typing, welding, etc. Every one of those niches has its collectors, whether they are collecting to preserve memories or the history of an occupation or industry. Literally not sticking to the subject is one way to amass great shelves full of old school books.
Some collectors primarily collect, or begin collecting, the old children’s school books for the illustrations, photographs, and images inside. For many collectors, it is the pretty pictures which they fondly remember and seek. As many illustrators of children’s books had prominent careers, with their works seen outside of school walls (and homework at the kitchen table), some collectors end up with vintage readers etc. simply collecting the careers of their favorite illustrators. Others just find old images fascinating; after all, old pictures are still worth a thousand historical (and sometime hysterical) words.
As you can see from the history of Dick and Jane books, there’s more then mere nostalgia involved in collecting antique and vintage school books. Not in spite of — but because of — old or outdated information, assumptions, and omissions old school books document the history of educational movements and culture in general.
Of course, primers existed long before Dick and Jane, or even the two Williams (Gray and Elson) themselves. The history of primers, of literacy itself, has links to the history of the Bible and the Reformation. FromThe English Primers, 1529-1545, by Charles C. Butterworth:
The name itself was given by the people of England, as early as the fourteenth century, to what was known in Latin as the Book of Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Compiled from materials used in church and monastery, the Primer was intended specially for the laity, to guide the devout layman in his private daily devotions or to help him bear his part in the services of the Church.
…It is supposed by some that the name Primer was derived from Prime, the first of the Hours. But most authorities believe that from the start the name was applied to what was naturally regarded in many households as their first book (liber primarius), either because it was in such constant service or, more likely, because it was useful in learning to read, especially in Latin. No evidence at hand is of sufficient antiquity to settle the question.
As time passed, we can thank (or blame) primers and their instruction of children and adults for the loss of Latin as a primary language and for the empowerment of the everyday person in general. These old school books educate us about more than issues and movements of religion, slavery, city life in an Industrial Age, prohibition, etc., but about the treatment of the people living through them. Depictions, descriptions, and even omissions tell the story of how we once treated women, children, the physically and mentally handicapped, the aging, native peoples, the poor, and even wealthy white men. Through these old educational books, we see the the documented history of how people were treated — and just when society demanded that we treat them better. These books are the documentation of our societal values, of our tolerance and intolerance.
Along with nostalgic collectors, scholars, and historians, many parents today are buying vintage school books and primers to use with homeschooling and helping assist their children with learning. (Since the way we instruct our children in the classroom has changed over the years, some older books are actually sought for teaching those with special needs; it’s another way to try to reach and teach.) This increases the competition for primers, readers, math books, and other books for which the information is not dated.
When selecting a book to add to your collection, condition is always an issue. Children’s books always have condition issues. Along with underlined text, attempts to solve problems, and the doodles of a bored or distracted student, many primers and texts were passed down to the next child in the family or to new students at the start of a new year. Passing through so many hands means more wear and tear. Along with more smudges, dog-eared pages, rubbed corners, and even notes from one child to the next child assigned the book, there’s the greater likelihood of torn and missing pages, fatigued or spent bindings, and lost covers. School copies, even teacher editions, will have stamps and official markings; though typically less than library copies.
Expecting antique or even vintage primers, readers, and other school books to be pristine or collectible-conditions clean is unrealistic. I’m not saying finding such a copy is impossible, but given the fact that these old texts were often tossed out for being obsolete, it’s amazing we have any around at all. Suffice it to say, the prettier the book, the prettier the pennies you’ll pay for it.
For some of us, signs of use are part of the charm. Not just the doodles, or notes which tell you of the previous owners, but even covers rubbed bare and split signs are signs one can compare to a well-loved stuffed animal. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, books can become real with love.
Dick and Jane books are among the most popularly collected school books. This is because the series of books was used for over 40 years in American schools. That’s millions of children who were taught by Dick, Jane, Sally, Pam, Penny, Mike, their neighbors, families, and pets! Here’s a bit of history on the vintage Dick and Jane series of books.
In the late 1920s, Zerna Addis Sharp sought out William S. Gray, a renowned educational psychologist and reading authority from the University of Chicago, and pitched to him her philosophy that children are more receptive to reading if the books contained illustrations related to them and their lives. Gray was impressed enough to hire Sharp. While illustrations of the family Sharp created were published in earlier versions of primers by Scott, Foresman and Company, it wasn’t until later that Dick and Jane would appear by name.
In 1930, Gray and William H. Elson, along with May Hill Arbuthnot, created the Curriculum Foundation Series of books for Scott, Foresman and Company. Here Dick & Jane and their family appeared in the first edition of the Curriculum Foundation Series pre-primer called Elson Basic Readers. In this edition, the baby sister was not named yet (she was simply called “Baby”), the cat was called “Little Mew”, and Spot, the dog, was a terrier.
In 1934, the pre-primer was renamed Dick and Jane and a second book, also a pre-primer, More Dick and Jane Stories, was added. In 1936, the series title changed to Elson-Gray Basic Readers to acknowledge Gray’s role in the series (Sharp was not acknowledged, despite what would be a 30 year career at Scott, Foresman & Company). Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward did the illustrations, and Marion Monroe also authored some of these early editions of the Dick and Jane books.
Scott, Foresman and Co. retired the Elson-Gray series in 1940, but Dick and Jane remained in the Basic Readers and their Think-and-Do workbooks. Now the baby sister is named Sally — and she gets a teddy bear named Tim, the cat becomes Puff, and Spot becomes a Cocker Spaniel. New books in the series were introduced in 1940 and 1946. In Canada, English and French versions of the Dick and Jane books were translated and published by W.J. Gage & Co., Limited; and British English versions were published by Wheaton in Exidir in the UK. Official Catholic editions of the series, the Cathedral Basic Readers, were created to teach religious themes along with reading. For example, Sally, Dick, and Jane was retitled Judy, John, and Jean to reflect Catholic Saints and to include stories on morality. In the 1946 edition, Tim the teddy was removed and a toy duck was added. Also, Texas had its own editions of the the books in 1946. Another author, A. Sterl Artley, began writing Dick and Jane books in 1947. By the end of the 1940s, the Collection Cathedral was published for French-Canadian Catholics.
By the 1950’s, over 80% of first-graders in the United States were learning to read with Dick and Jane. New editions whose titles began with “The New” were added, and Robert Childress would become the illustrator. But it was during this decade that Dick and Jane et al. would find themselves under strong attack. Concerned groups criticized everything from misrepresentations of perfection and other cultural issues to matters of literacy itself. In 1955’s Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolf Flesch blamed the look-say style of Dick and Jane readers for not properly teaching children how to read or appreciate literature. While phonetics were always a part of the Dick and Jane series, there was not enough for the growing movement of phonics fans. For all of these reasons, most of the major changes to the Dick and Jane series occurred in the 1960s.
In 1962, Helen M. Robinson was the new head author, the books had new material (including more phonics), new illustrations by Richard Wiley, and Dick and Jane had matured, in age and sophisticated. The initial printings of the 1962 soft-cover Dick and Jane books increased in page size and did not have the white tape reinforcement on the spine. The covers of these editions fell off rather easily — which is why they are so hard to find with covers intact. As a result, Scott, Foresman and Company added the reinforced taped spines and advertised the feature heavily. (These books were never issued as hardcovers; any hardcover copies were either library bindings or were rebound later.)
But in 1965, both Civil Rights school integration and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act would continue to challenge the book publisher.
Scott, Foresman and Company worked to address the school integration and inclusion issues by once again employing Zerna Sharp’s literacy philosophy. The African-American family, including twins Pam and Penny and their brother Mike, first appeared in the 1964 Catholic School books; public school students were introduced to the African-American family in 1965. (In response to outrage from racist complaints, Scott, Foresman & Company offered alternative covers of the 1965 integrated books; these Child Art editions removed the characters from the covers and replaced them with finger-paint art designs. Later editions of Think and Do books just had solid color blocks.) Also in 1965, the Pacific Press Publishing Association published an integrated version of Fun With Dick and Jane for Seventh-day Adventists. Entitled Friends We Know, Jesus appears on the covers along with Dick, Jane and Mike.
In the mid 1960s, Scott, Foresman and Company tried to address the phonics issue by introducing books in an experimental language called Initial Teaching Alphabet or ITA. The Experimental Edition of the Scott-Foresman pre-primer was titled Nou Wee Reed. These ITA Dick and Jane books are rare finds.
In the late 1960s, the Dick and Jane books expanded to include three new series based on academic performance. For those performing below grade level, there was Open Highways. (Original printings of these books had “The Open Highways Readers” printed on the spine; later printings just had “Open Highways”.) For strong readers, Scott, Foresman and Company added Wide Horizons, self-directed readers which did not have workbooks, and for even more advanced or gifted readers, there was also Bright Horizons. Reading Inventory tests were added to the Dick and Jane series to use as a placement guide.
Despite all Scott, Foresman and Co. tried to do, the book publisher just couldn’t overcome all the objections, especially those regarding the too-perfect Dick and Jane world. The goody-goody kids and their ideal gender stereotyped simplicity was no longer relatable or desirable. The series was officially ended in the late 1960s, replaced in 1970 with Scott, Foresman Reading Systems. (However, in 1975, the 1962 pre-primer was republished by the American Printing House for the Blind in a large type edition with black and white images for sight-impaired children.) Still, Dick and Jane books continued to be ordered and sold from warehouse stock well into the 1970s.
The books Dick and Jane collectors are searching for today are those which managed to be saved — and held onto — by teachers, staff, and students, despite the fact that many schools were even ordered to destroy all remaining copies of works in the series. For these reasons, along with the usual wear and tear of children’s books, finding vintage Dick and Jane books in pristine conditions is very difficult. Collectors learn to live with writings, doodles and marks, missing pages, etc. — or pay steep prices for not having signs of use.
Over the decades, many Dick and Jane materials were produced. Along with the readers and primers mentioned, there were other subject books, such as art, health, math, etc. There were teacher editions; books on teaching techniques; large display books placed on easels, called Our Big Book; posters and picture cut-outs for classroom display; picture and word flash cards; LP record albums; games for the classroom; and other teaching aids.
On the business end, Scott, Foresman and Co. sent out catalogs, newsletters, and promotional items, such as calendars, greeting cards, and Christmas ornaments. These items were produced in much smaller quantities and, being ephemeral in nature, are rare finds.
But Dick and Jane live on.
In 1977, George Segal and Jane Fonda would star in Fun with Dick and Jane, a film based on a Gerald Gaiser story about the failed promises of a Dick and Jane perfect world. (The film was remade with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni in 2005.)
In 2003, Grosset & Dunlap rereleased original Dick and Jane primers, selling over 2.5 million copies in just over a year even with a publisher disclaimer that the books were nostalgic and not to be used to teach children to read. Due to the popularity of the reissue, reproductions and new related merchandise featuring the iconic imagery and catch phrases, like “See Spot run!”, has been produced.
A rather complete list of original Dick and Jane books is here.
Carole Kismaric’s Growing Up with Dick and Jane: Learning and Living the American Dream captures the nostalgia while tracing the cultural points of the Dick and Jane series.
(In order they appear)
A set of 1930s Dick and Jane flashcards, via Wahoos House; vintage Dick and Jane Blackout Game, circa 1950s, and 1951 Poetry Time three-record Dick and Jane set, narrated in the voice of May Hill Arbuthnot one of the original Dick and Jane authors, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.
Sold this lovely turquoise vintage Dormeyer mixer at the yard sale. I really wanted to keep it, but as I’ve said, “I only keep a dozen mixers a time. When I reach more than 13—a baker’s dozen—I have to sell some off, because what good are they in boxes in the basement? Well, OK, 10 in the basement is fine. But 12? That’s insane… Right?