Scotty The Pup Desk Accessory

You may have seen these vintage wire desk sets, but chances are you didn’t know they had a name — or at least you probably didn’t know their name. Like many vintage items are found without the boxes, it can be hard to find out the actual name of an item. Thankfully, I found this one boxed so I know this little guy is Scotty The Pup, aka Mac’s Dog.

vintage scotty dog desk secretary

His metal coil body holds letters, his coiled tail holds a pen (or pencil), and you can hang paperclips off his chin. These vintage doggy desk sets came in silver chrome, gold, and matte black finishes. I’ve got one silver, and one black one. The silver desk secretary doggie was an early one; the box is marked that the patent was applied for.

vintage scotty the pup box

Another Old Yellow Dog Follows Me Home

When I fist spotted this adorable dog, I thought I’d be adding a new piece to my chalkware collection, but the second I picked him up, I knew better. Sure, I’d be adding him to my collection — who could resist that face?! — but he isn’t made of chalk or plaster.

old yeller composition dog

This vintage dog is made of composition, a mix of sawdust and glue molded into shapes that’s both heavier and denser than paper mache. Composition was used primarily from the late 1870s through the early 1950s. The height of the market for composition toys and home decor pieces was the 1920s (popularity due to novelty of a new material) through 1940s wartime (when rationing limited options for manufacturing). The invention of new, inexpensive and more durable hard plastics in the 40s brought about the end of composition items by the 50s.

I’ve seen (and own) composition dolls, and quite a number of small toy animal toys and figurines (mostly nativity scene pieces), but nothing quite like this charming dog. Outside of the doll world, this golden pup is the largest vintage composition piece I’ve seen. At five inches tall, he seems too large to have been a child’s toy; likely an inexpensive display figurine for the home.

vintage composition dog

The crazing, or cracks in the lacquer or sealing finish caused by changes in humidity and temperature, are common. Thankfully, the worst of the crazing (and resulting loss of color due to damage to the sealer) is limited to the backside and bottom of this vintage piece.

back and bottom of antique composition dog

I call him Old Yeller because I like to imagine I’m saving this yellow lab as I’m making him part of my collection of dogs.

Suitable For Framing: Illustrations by Diana Thorne | Collectors’ Blog

Diana Thorne’s history is quite intriguing. She was born in Russia in 1895 and due to the tumultuous times, her family went from Canada to Germany to England. Her first teacher in the “art world” was William Stang.

See on www.collectorsquest.com

Nothing To Write Home About? Letters From WWII

In my post at Collectors Quest today, I share my disc-overy of WWII voice mail: audio letters sent during the war.

While I encourage you to read that history, I have two other items to share regarding that story.

First, in the January, 1946 issue of Audio Record (published by Audio Devices Inc., a manufacturer of blank discs used by the USO for the voice recordings), there was this cute story:

From a USO club in the South came the story of a man who made a special record for his family. His mother wrote back that when his pet dog heard the boy’s voice he sent up great bays of delight. So the soldier went back to the USO club ad made a whole recording just for his dog, Fido.

Since this is an industry publication, this heartwarming wartime story may be made up, simply propaganda — but it still works!

And that brings me to the very true fact stated by Letters on a Record Home, a documentary directed by John Kurash which focused on these Word War II recordings from the USO, Gem Blades, Pepsi and local radio stations:

At one point, over 25,000 letters on a record were sent home each month. Very few remain but what we have offers us insight into the lives of the soldiers and their families during the second world war. Most soldiers came back home to become part of the Greatest Generation. But not everyone comes home from war, not every soldier was able to keep their promise.

This short film is part of the GI Film Festival, and will be screened on Sunday, May 20, 2012.

Dog Not Licked By Postage Due

Last night, Melissa Harris-Perry was the guest host of The Rachel Maddow Show and the Best New Thing segment was about scruffy mutt named Owney. Owney was the nation’s most famous canine, riding with Railway Mail Service clerks and mailbags all across the nation from 1888 until his death in 1897. And Owney was a collector — everywhere this dog went, he was given souvenir dog tags, exonumia, tokens, “trade checks.”

And today, this dog finally has his day: Owney is being commemorated with a United States postage stamp!

In this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show, Melissa talks about USPS mascot, Owney the dog, and briefly mentions the many medals.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Like Will Femia, a self-professed hoarder who blogged about Melissa’s Best New Thing segment on Owney, I’m shocked, smitten, and more than a bit envious. Femia wrote:

I can say without reservation that I would happily give up the glass jar full of matchboxes that sits on the bathroom shelf (and I’ll throw in all of my Foursquare check-ins ever) for a chance to grow a cool collection of medals like Owney’s.

It’s hard not to feel “licked” by this dog when it comes to collecting! (Even if the new postage stamp is one of those self-adhesive types.)

For more on Owney, check out all the posts on him at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Blog, Pushing The Envelope — there’s even an Owney Look-Alike Contest!

When Roadside Food Stands Went To The Dogs

So you and your family are driving down the road, on your way to some vacation destination spot, and suddenly a giant dog appears — I mean a huge building designed to look like a dog. A classic roadside attraction offering ice cream, coffee, sandwiches, and, of course, hot dogs. It didn’t matter if you were hungry or not, you’d just have to stop!

Photos via Old Chum (presumably Walter Manning of the Old Faithful Shop). If anyone knows more about these kitschy classic roadside wonders of yesteryear, please leave a comment and let us know!

(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.

Alice White, I Hardly Knew Ye (But I Want Your Furnishings & Your Little Dog Too)

One of the great things about collecting old photographs are the things in the photos — not only the objects and persons the photographer intended you to focus on, but the little extras which make the scene. Like in this vintage photo of Alice White.

Clearly designed to promote the movie star, but (as pretty as the Ms White is, as cute as her little white dog is) I’m drooling over the rather eclectic mix of furnishings in the frame.

Revel in the mix of patterns and textures, including the walls, the upholstery, the lace tablecloth, and the wicker Ms White sits on.

Check out the pretty mirror in her hand (more objects from the vanity set appear to be on the table — a table covered in a lace cloth, with suggestive legs beneath it, making me wonder just how wonderful that old round table is!). I just wish the mirror wasn’t preventing us from seeing more of that dress…

But it’s that fabulous art deco lamp which has me sitting-up pretty and panting, begging like her canine companion. Look at that final, the base, and that shade! All those spheres!

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.

Giving A Ceramic Poodle A Bath (Or How To Clean Vintage Spaghetti Figurines)

When I was a kid, I had a number of vintage spaghetti figurines — mostly poodles. Sadly, I sold most of them at family rummage sales as I got older. So when I spotted this black poodle with the familiar ceramic spaghetti fur for just $2 at a local thrift shop I had to take him home. Even if he is not perfect.

The most obvious problem was a long stripe down his back where someone had likely priced him for sale with masking tape. (Lack of concern for damages to items when pricing them is a huge pet peeve for all collectors.) And his ceramic spaghetti fur was covered in dust and dry ick. In short, Blackie the vintage poodle figure was begging for a bath.

Before I share my tips on cleaning old figurines, please note: Do not wash or submerge any pieces which have been glued or repaired as the water will likely seep in and, if not dissolve the fixative, can crumble away the weakened pottery itself. Do not wash or submerge vintage chalkware pieces or any pieces which do not appear to have been fired.

The best way to remove sticker residue and other goo from pottery, ceramics and even (many) plastics is with liquid soap. Rather any liquid soap, from dish washing detergent to hand soap or even shampoo will do. But you should always do a small test of both the cleaning product and the tools you are using, preferably in a place which won’t show, such as the bottom of the piece.

First I like to rinse the piece. Just to get all the loose stuff off. Then take a finger tip full of liquid soap and apply it directly to the areas affected by the sticky residue.

Rub it in good and then let it sit a few seconds to soften the residue.

When you are ready, hold the figuring securely with one hand. Take care how you hold your piece. You will be tempted to set or lean the piece against the counter top or table; don’t. The pressure you’re applying can leverage a break or stress fracture, or simply risks bumping and sliding across the hard surface causing a chip. (Since I was taking photos while I did this, you’ll see I’m short a hand for holding in the photo; but trust me, I did it!)

Using your thumbnail, gently but firmly, scrape the residue off. (Personally, I find there is no greater tool than your own fingernails; you know exactly how much pressure you are applying and the ease with which the goo is sliding off.)

In cases like this vintage figurine, the sticker residue has aged and set so well that while you do make progress, not all of it will come off right away.

Simply apply more liquid soap with your finger tip, let it sit, and scrape again. You may wish to rinse or wipe the piece with a damp sponge to make sure you’re removing all of the loose bits of residue you’re scraping off.

This may take repeated efforts, but eventually the oils &/or emollients will break down the residue.

Now to clean between the ceramic spaghetti strands. This is best done with a toothbrush (I always keep toothbrushes in my cleaning kits). Wet the toothbrush, apply a bit of the same liquid soap, and gently brush it into the ceramic fur and other crevices of the figurine, creating a lather.

Be especially careful where there are damages, paint that you have not tested, etc. But overall, a light brushing with the mild soap won’t do anything but remove the dirt.

The rinse off and gently blot the piece dry.  Let it sit on a towel to try before placing it back on the shelf, especially if it sits on a wooden or painted surface.

Now Blackie’s clean. But he’s still not perfect. He’s got a number of places where the tips of the spaghetti strands have been broken; the white ceramic spots are obvious to the collector’s trained eye, even if he looks great on the shelf. So I’m leaving him alone. But if your spaghetti figurine is going to remain yours, there’s nothing wrong with taking a permanent marker and placing a dot of color on the bare white ceramic and hiding the flaws.

Teaching Old Stuffed Dogs Tricks

sweet-vintage-stuffed-dog-faceI suppose technically, this vintage sawdust stuffed dog belongs to my stuffed animal collection, but like Tigger, I resist calling him a collectible.

In truth, I often resist calling things “collectibles,” because that tends to make people think of them as part of some set of things, as opposed to the more individual sentimental reasons for owning them… But in this case, I snatched up this old stuffed dog because it reminds me of my dog.

Well, at least a simplistic or childlike rendering of him.

Ween (named after the band; not short for Weiner), is a mutt with ancestorial Aborigonal roots. He does not like to have his photo taken, and we presume to imagine he fears photographs take his soul or pieces of it. As a result, I have very few photos of this dog. Here’s one, taken with a cell phone — before he figured out that it was a camera too.

ween

So now I must content myself with posing the vintage stuffed dog, rather than my always-eager-to-be-prone dog.

old-stuffed-terrier-dog

antique-sawdust-stuffed-dog

But don’t worry, my sweet old stuffed doygie likes to lay prone too. Quite lifelike. Or as lifelike as an old dog can be.

sweet-vintage-sawdust-stuffed-toy-dog-sleeping

If you think I’m somewhat crazy for taking photos of my toy dog, check out The Secret Lives Of Toys at Flickr and you’ll see that I’m not alone. *wink*

Terriers That Follow Me Home

In the 1930’s and 40’s, terriers were quite the popular dog.

vintage-terrier-figure

I usually refer to these terriers as Airedales because they seem so large to me — not ‘to scale’ or anything, but something makes them seem like big dogs rather than smaller ones. But I think because the bodies are more white than brown this figurine anyway might more accurately depict a Wirehaired Fox Terrier. In any case, they are lovely. I think I’m keeping this one.

vintage-terrier-dog-figurine