Collecting Halloween: The History of Halloween Postcards & Costumes

Like all collectors, collectors of Halloween items are busy collecting all year ‘round. Unlike most collectors, however, Halloween collectors find discussion and articles about their category of collecting mainly relegated to the month of October only. Here’s is one such article. *wink*

The two most popular categories of vintage and antique Halloween collectibles are postcards and costumes.

The most popular Halloween postcards are from the Golden Age of postcards, which began in the USA with the Private Mailing Card Act of 1898 and lasted until about 1918. While many of these postcards were designed and published in the USA by names such John O. Winsch, International Art Publishing Company, and Raphael Tuck & Sons; the cards themselves were printed in Germany. Superior lithographic techniques combined with inexpensive wages made Germany the place for printing up until WWI. (German printing never quite recovered after the war.)

halloween-bewitching-vintage-postcardThe number one reason for collecting antique Halloween or Hallowe’en postcards are for the graphics, of course. There are plenty of jack o’lanterns, black cats, and witches — from comical to scary. As with postcard collecting in general, the hold-to-light postcards and those with fringed borders are among the most rare and sought after. But another area that is quite popular with collectors are the romantic Halloween cards.

Many of these romantic postcards offer the traditional Halloween fare of witches and cats. Sometimes there are simply ladies with icons or symbols of witchcraft, such as cauldrons, clocks, mirrors, and potions. But with these cards it is the messages which are most charm-ing. While some of these old postcards offer sweet sentiments and courtship rituals, others go a step further into the magic of love. Quite obviously directed at young and/or single women, these antique Halloween postcards have a parlor game fortune telling aspect or offer bewitching true love spells.

Halloween costumes are nearly as old as Halloween postcards, however most true antique Halloween costumes were made to be scary — and made to be worn by adults at rather wild carnival-type events featuring drinking and other rowdy behaviors. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that American’s toned the holiday down and focused it mainly on children.

vintage-antique-halloween-costumesThese early costumes were handmade, rather more like simple theatrical costumes than the pop culture icon costumes we think of today. Some were actually just festive garments featuring holiday colors and decorations.

However, by the late 1930s, with The Great Depression having put many theatres and other live performance events out of business, professional costume companies began to try to save their business by mass-producing Halloween costumes for children. The most famous of these companies, and most popular names in Halloween costumes among collectors, were A.S. Fishbach and Ben Cooper.

Fishbach was the first to secure major licensing rights — and with Walt Disney Company yet. But Cooper Inc. quickly assumed control of Fishbach, and by 1937 was producing Donald Duck, Snow White, and other Disney character costumes under the name Fishbach’s Spotlight brand. By 1942, Fishbach and Cooper would merge and the Fishbach name would be but a footnote in Halloween costume history. The Golden Age of Television would usher in the near death of homemade costumes, and Ben Cooper would capitalize on this by being one of the first to not only license popular TV and film characters but to get costumes on the shelves quickly. This cemented the company’s place as one of the biggest Halloween costume companies.

vintage-ghosts-with-signs-1960sThe homemade Halloween costumes are more rare; however, those commercial made costumes are often those which inspire more nostalgia and so can be quite pricey. In either case, if you can’t afford to collect vintage or antique Halloween costumes (or simply don’t have the space to display them all), many collectors opt for photographs featuring people in Halloween costumes. These can be far less expensive and take up a lot less room. Plus, there’s a lot of personality in these old snapshots — no two ghosts are quite alike!

Halloween collectors (like collectors of other holiday items) often find shopping for their collectibles is rather limited to the holiday season itself. Like shopping for contemporary holiday merchandise, antique shops (online and off) make a special effort to list and display holiday wares during holiday time. The good news is that you can find sales right after the holiday has passed, just like in most retail shops. And Halloween items for sale “out of season” may be lower priced as well. So if you’re reading this after the holiday, take heart — you can still find great Halloween collectibles, and possibly at a better price too.

Image credits: Bewitching Halloween postcard; vintage homemade Halloween costumes; vintage Halloween photo.

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.

Things That Go To Make Up A Life

In What Is Left Behind, photographer Norm Diamond takes a look at what most collectors see at estate sales: the cycle of life. And then he photographs the objects. Among the artfully preserved poignant moments, a bride’s wedding dress and photo (as well as her wedding night lingerie), and a burial receipt for a young mother and her baby who had died in an automobile accident…

norm diamond brides dress and photo

vintage wedding night lingerie by norm diamond

burial receipt photograph norm diamond

Diamond is now retired, but he previously worked with very ill people as an interventional radiologist. In an interview at Slate, Diamond admits his career likely affected him and this series:

I didn’t realize it until I had retired, but I think when you deal with people who are sick and dying all the time, your outlook on life is different than people who aren’t subjected to that. You don’t tend to be a glass-is-half-full person; you see some of the poignancy of life and some of the sad, tragic things that occur and that maybe part of where I’m coming from.

Diamond photographs some of the objects there at the estate sales; others he purchases and takes home to photograph. Either way, it’s a very moving series which reminds me yet again of that perfect line in Genesis’s Home By The Sea:

Images of sorrow, pictures of delight
things that go to make up a life

You can purchase copies of Diamond’s photographs here.

Vintage Warner Brothers Studio Cosmetic Photo Featuring Brenda Marshall

This vintage photograph is pretty enough to display with your vanity collectibles! The 8 X 10 glossy photo features Brenda Marshall wearing a feather-trimmed peignoir sitting at a vanity table applying a powder puff to her bare shoulder.

brenda marshall powder puff vanity vintage photo by scotty welbourne

Circa 1940, the seller of this photograph offers the following details:

Captured by Scotty Welbourne for Warner Bros. Studios, Marshall is seen in a glamorous fur trimmed robe applying soothing lotions and cosmetics to her sunburnt shoulder.

Attached press snipe reads: “DUST YOUR SUNBURN LIGHTLY … Brenda Marshall has discovered that dusting powder can be very soothing to a sunburned skin. After the star of THE SEA HAWK (opposite Errol Flynn) has applied a cooling lotion to her ‘overdone’ skin, she pats on a light bath powder. She finds it relieves her skin of that stretched and hot feeling.”

Measures 8″ x 10″ with margins on a glossy, single weight paper stock. Photographer’s ink stamp on verso.

vintage warner bros scotty welbourne photo

vintage warner film studios ephemera

Amazing Authentic Elvis Items Up For Auction!

The upcoming Auction At Graceland includes a special section of early Elvis merchandising memorabilia from various owners and includes rare items from the collection of Darlene Parker Tafua, daughter of Ed and Leilani Parker. (Ed Parker was a martial artist who ran the Kenpo Karate Studio in Pasadena, California; Parker trained Elvis Presley along with other stunt men and celebrities.)

rare 1970 promotional photo been signed by Elvis

Among the standout Elvis items are signed items — my favorite is the autographed cocktail napkin from the Thunderbird Hotel.

elvis auto on vintage Thunderbird Hotel Cocktail Napkin Vegas

And how about the original receipt for Elvis and Priscilla’s Wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Vegas?

It was quite the shindig! More than $10,000 in charges for the chartered flight, the limos, the judge, the champagne, the fruit baskets, the security (of course), the musicians, the gloves and the floral arrangements. No expense was spared by Elvis for his blushing bride Priscilla and their guests, who assumed two suites and 21 rooms at the Aladdin. The bill was sent to the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills and this copy to Colonel Parker at MGM Studios. We know this because of the included (and formerly paper-clipped) note concerning possibly being double-charged for the private jet flight. It is written in pencil and reads: “Jim: – Is this in order to pay – How about the plane chg [charge]? Remember pmt [payment] to Lear Jet in amt [amount] of 1774.50 – Please call me Pattie.” Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated. Each page measures approximately 10 by 6 1/2 inches (25.4 x 16.51 cm).

vintage receipt for elvis wedding vegas aladdin ephemera

But perhaps my absolute favorite is the jacket Elvis Presley wore in Viva Las Vegas in that dance scene with Ann-Margret. Hot!

Elvis Presley Jacket from the Viva Las Vegas Dance Scene with Ann-Margret

elvis and Ann-Margret dance in Viva Las Vegas

This Elvis auction is held by Invaluable (formerly Artfact):

Elvis touched the hearts and lives of fans across the globe, and our goal for the Elvis Week 2015 Auction at Graceland was to include artifacts from across the spectrum of collecting, including items owned by Elvis, gifted by Elvis, written by Elvis, used by Elvis and created to promote the king and his career.

This Elvis auction starts at 7:00 PM CST on August 13, 2015; online bidding is available.

Collectible Vintage Rolex Diving Watches On Display

When my parents were working on this latest estate sale, the found this miniature copper diver’s helmet. Attached to it was a note stating it was from a Rolex watch store display. Ever curious, err, obsessive I had to investigate. (Plus, I do so love a great watch.)

vintage rolex diving helmet watch display

It turns out, Rolex did use small metal divers’ helmets in displaying their waterproof watches, including the Submariner the very first wristwatch for divers (1953); the Deep Sea Special, which was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe the Trieste during its historic dive (1960); and the Sea-Dweller, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises (COMEX) watches (1963). This is what the metal diver helmet looked like with its original Rolex dealer display stand.

rolex diver helmet stand vintage advertising

I’ve no idea how many Rolex stores there are now, let alone how many there were in 1970 when this display piece was used… I’d dare say, in the hundreds. Which makes the helmet, even without the sea-green turquoise display stand relatively rare.

However, as Rolex’s divine diving watches debuted before 1970 when this diver helmet display appeared, there were earlier display stands using a nautical theme, if not the “At One With The Sea” slogan. Here are a few of them:

vintage rolex submariner advertising fish

rolex submariner vintage posiden trident ad display

Rolex diving watches also got some promotion out of popular films. Sean Connery wore a Submariner “Big Crown” in 1962’s Dr. No, for example.

Sean-Connery-wearing-rolex-submariner-in-dr-no-with-Ursula-Andres

But one film watch causes confusion… Jaws.

Despite the Rolex advertising campaign in 1975, neither the Submariner nor any other Rolex was worn in the film. (Likely why the ads focused on author Peter Benchley.)

Rolex Submariner Chronometer Jaws Movie Watch Ad with Peter Benchley

Further confusion is added by the fact that watch collectors refer to the 1974 Rolex Sea-Dweller as the “Great White.” It’s debut certainly was good timing for the movie. But the “Great White” nickname comes from the fact that this version of the Sea-Dweller is in all “white” steel.

So just what watch did Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper wear in Jaws?

dreyfuss as hooper in jaws wearing watch

Equally obsessive collectors, with far more watch knowlege than I, did the research. It was published in the February 2010 issue of WatchTime. The conclusion? Dreyfuss wore an Alsta Nautoscaph. …Though, as the article states, that still leaves lots of room for questions. As for me, I’ve spent enough time submerged in all this watch talk.

If you are interested in the Rolex diving helmet display piece, the Milwaukee estate sale begins today, July 27, 2015, at noon. Details here.

Photo Credits: Copper Rolex display divers helmet via No Egrets Antiques & Estate Sales (aka Antiquips here on IV); Rolex diver helmet on display stand and other vintage Rolex retail displays via Paul Boutros by way of his posts in the Timezone Forum.

Vintage Clown & Circus Memorabilia Up For Sale

These cool pieces of circus history will be available to purchase at an estate sale in West Allis (part of Milwaukee), Wisconsin. Sale starts Monday, July 27, 2015. My parents, No Egrets Antiques & Estate Sales, are running this sale. More info and photos here and here. If you like circus memorabilia, don’t be a bozo and miss it!

Featured here are a poster from The Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee, 1992; a photo signed by Bozo the clown (to “Joey”), and, the most unique, a check signed by the legendary Emmett Kelly.

1992 milwaukee great circus parade poster

signed joey bozo photo

emmett kelly check

Collecting Vintage Restaurant Menus

I never thought about collecting restaurant menus. But I do like to read them while I’m there. Too often there isn’t time before serving staff are at your table, wating for you to make a decision. So, I can see how collecting restaurant menus would get started.

I especially like old menus which have the history of the business, explanations about the restaurant name, the family who run it, and so on. It would be nice to take home the menu and have time to read it. Not to mention, the artwork.

What do you think of modern menus compared to vintage menus? Now they can be made on a computer and printed out without going to a professional printer. I think there is less artwork used. Other than the image on the front cover or top of the page, the rest are likely photographs. I’d rather have illustrations.

Of course, I’m not even counting chain restaurants as places to collect menus from. My favourite restaurants are still the individual, little places. Most of them get passed by tourists looking for the cookie-cutter restaurant chains. I prefer the little places, often family owned and run, where the locals still go for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I admit, I’m especially fond of the breakfast places. The bottomless coffee, the bacon and eggs and the slice of orange on the side. My favourite local breakfast restaurant is run by a Mother and son with one of the daughters often stepping in too.  I’ve seen all the incarnations of their menus. They aren’t vintage, but they have that feeling of being homemade and kitschy.

My question for menu collectors is: Do you ask to take them home or walk out with them under your arm and hope no one says anything?

I love reading menus. They are the shop windows of the kitchen and provide a playful sense of gambling for what might just be the best of worst meal of your life. Today I stumbled upon a rather […]

Source: The Vintage Menu Collector: 25,000 Restaurants by One Woman

Help! I Was Framed – And Did Not Like It

DSC00221

Pick: Well, Grin, nice find! Those old promotional booklets from WESTVACO Printing and Publishing should be popular. Entitled “Westvaco Inspirations for Printers”, they have a lot of neat advertising pictures, ready to frame! The paper is much more solid than magazine “tear sheets”, they are nice quality pages. The pages are marked with the specialty type of paper used, pretty cool! Let’s pull some out and look for frames!

DSC00236Grin: What? Are you crazy? These will be much better as a whole booklet. Lovers of  “Advertising from the Golden Age”, the 1920s and 30s, will be delighted to have these in their collection.

Pick: But check out some of those ads. The artists are top-of-the-line and even the articles, like the one on Will Bradley, is framable! And pictures by Robert Cheveux, Cavarrubias, Will Hollingsworth, Maxfield Parish, these are incredible.

Grin: I just do not have the heart to tear these up. Although, I do agree that the page showing the Erte’ ad for nylon stockings is awesome. I can see it in a period frame, perhaps in a bathroom or on a vanity.

DSC00225Pick: So I am swaying you, huh? That’s hard to believe since you have that stubborn Austrian gene from your dad.

Grin: Stubborn? My dad and I argued all the time over who was most stubborn and I believe I won (meaning HE was more bull-headed.)
In any case, no, I am not convinced.

Pick: Well, if not separated, what will you do with them? Coffee table books have lost popularity (at least since Kramer had his pop-up book.)

Grin: Well, we have a daughter who loves ephemera and her husband is a “font-lover”, so perhaps they’d like to check them out before we decide what to do.

DSC00233Pick: Well, how would it be if you listed just one of them on-line. Maybe you’ll get some information on their value or what type of buyer might be inclined to purchase these.

Grin: That sounds perfect for Etsy. It just might work. For once, we have reached a pleasant compromise. Dad would be proud!

[Editor’s Note: Westvaco, originally the Piedmont Pulp and Paper Company and then The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, became MeadWestvaco when it merged with The Mead Corporation in January, 2002. You can find the first listing of these Westvaco. publications here!]

History Of The Silver Screen

In the early days of motion pictures, movie theaters were experiencing a number of public attacks as to their safely for patrons. Among the numerous concerns regarding the dangers movies and theaters presented to families there were the fears for women, primarily of the white slave trade, and the usual new media concerns of eye strain. Naturally, the movie industry sought to calm the public down, including offering movie-goers premiums, which were primarily targeted at women. They also sought to approve amenities, including the screens that the movies were shown upon. Of course, this lead to fierce competition between companies who sought to capitalize on all the money to be made in the film industry.

Many of these ground-breaking and creative companies did not last long. But even if they dominated the industry for a time, both the companies themselves and the technology they provided remain but a footnote in books on film history. This is why ephemera, particularly advertisements from the period, remain so important.

At some point in the 1910s, the Wisconsin Theatre Supply Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, produced this bulletin solely promoting the Gardiner Velvet Gold-Fibre Screen:

Gardiner Velvet Gold-Fibre Screen Wisconsin Theatre Supply Company Advertising

Testimonials on the back page include The Thomas A. Edison Electrical Establishments, the Nicholas Powers Company, Havana’s “The Fausto”, the United States government, John H. Kunsky of Detroit “who probably controls more high class picture houses than any single man in America or probably in the world” and many others.

In the 1920s, the Glifograph Corporation (located at 280 Broadway, New York City) promoted their Glifograph movie screen with this brochure. Glifograph said their screen “makes every seat a good seat”, with “perfect pictures from any angle” due to “stereoscope view”. Promised “no eye strain — no distortion”.

Glifograph Movie Screen Brochure Stereoscope

Also, in the 1930s, there was the “Lustro-Pearl” made by Mandalian Manufacturing Co., of North Attleboro, Mass. If that name sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because Mandalain made those metal mesh purses! Well, at least until the company was bought-out by Whiting & Davis. But just imagine, a film screen made of mesh metal!

Happy New Year’s From Rose O’Neill & The Kewpies

A vintage Rose O'Neill holiday postcard featuring the Kewpies!

New Year’s Luck for You
At the mystic hour of midnight,
If your eyes are bright,
you’ll see the Jolly Kewpies
bringing New Year’s luck to you from me.

In February of last year, I wrote about Kewpie dolls for the Dolls By Diane newsletter; leave a comment or email me if you want me to send you a copy!

vintage kewpie new years eve postcard

The Halloween Tradition Of Romantic Tricks & Treats

Halloween was once steeped in the tradition of belief that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year and so was considered a time when fortunes could be best told. Not even the Victorian era and it’s designs to clean-up the naked bonfire bawdiness could quash that Hallowe’en tradition. In fact, the Victorian notions of romance and marriage quite fed such things. Especially the romantic sort of fortune telling, predicting whom you might marry.

halloween-bewitching-vintage-postcardIncluded in this historical paper trail are the antique and vintage Halloween postcards. There, among the now-so-traditional Halloween fare of witches and black cats, are the romantic Halloween postcards. Sometimes these are simply postcards with romantic prose, courtship rituals, or even wistful, hopeful sentiments. But there too, along with icons or symbols of witchcraft (such as caldrons, clocks, mirrors, and potions), there are the utterly charm-ing old postcards of spell-casting or divination. These discuss the magical steps one might take to find love and bind lovers. Some are quite clearly the stuff of parlor games.

There were quite a number of fortune telling games. Some, like the postcards, provided instructions. Others were of the oral tradition. For example, among the myriad of seasonal apple traditions is the one in which single ladies peeled an entire apple and then tossed the long peel behind them. The shape the apple peeling took was said to form the first letter of the first name of their future mate.

Along with these sorts of party games, there were dolls who might help a single lady out.

In the 1800s, both France and Germany made wooden, and porcelain, dolls with skirts over paper petticoats, of sorts. It was on the paper pages of the skirting that one found one’s fortune. Much like a fancier version of the paper fortune telling games played in schools now!

German Porcelain Miniature Fortune-Telling Doll Wooden Tuck Comb Doll as Fortune-Telling Doll

This is an antique wooden Grödnertal fortune telling doll. (So-named for the Grödnertal region of Germany where the original peg wooden dolls were made.)

Grödnertal Wooden Doll as French Fortune Teller antique

antique witch fortune telling doll

antique french fortune telling doll

In French these fortune telling dolls are known as “bebe a bonne aventure” dolls.

They are often depicted as witches or gypsies, which is rather keeping in the Halloween tradition.

See also: Collecting New Age Items From Old Eras.

Image Credits: Antique fortune telling dolls via, via, via.

Vintage Bronzeware Flatware From Thailand

I found this vintage bronzeware set while helping my parents, Antiquips, of No Egrets Antiques, with their latest estate sale. (Details and photos of this latest sale can be found on their Facebook page as well as here.) I became rather fascinated with this set of vintage flatware!

vintage bronzeware with rosewood handles

It was obtained by a man in the air force about 1961 or so, when he was stationed in Thailand (officially known as “Siam” until 1939) — and the set clearly remained a prized possession (as you’ll see below).

These are some of the original brochures from the bronzeware purchase:

vintage 1960s thailand brochures

 

vintage bronzeware brorchures ephemera

Included with the set were some other papers that explained more about the flatware:

What is Bronzeware?

Bronzeware is a unique tableware handmade by skilled craftsmen in Thailand, perhaps better known as Siam. Cast individually from glowing red molten bronze, each piece is then ground to the proper shape and then polished to a mirror finish by these patient craftsmen. The rosewood handles are carefully shaped with the simplest of tools, and joined with care to the bronze stem.

What is Rosewood?

Rosewood is a brownish-red hardwood native to the steaming tropical jungles of Southeast Asia, so called because the fragrance of roses permeates the air when the tree is hewn to the ground. Naturally water resistant because of the resinous content of the fibers, rosewood is also exceptionally hard to nick or dent. In addition to these qualities rosewood is perhaps one of the world’s most beautifully grained woods and has long been used in the finest and most expensive furniture and musical instruments.

As of right now, this vintage flatware set is available in a very fine rosewood cabinet, made specifically for holding flatware. It has dragons carved onto the drawers and matches not only a large china hutch or breakfront but a dining room table and chairs.

rosewood flatware cabinet

rosewood dragon utensils cabinet

But the vintage bronzewear originally came in a wooden box — with an eye-blazing fuschia felt liner, just like this one (and other sets found at eBay). We have the case too, but it looks much nicer in the cabinet!

thailand siam bronzeware in mod case

This set of Bronzeware, like others often sold as bronze or bronze alloy pieces, was most likely made of a nickel-bronze alloy. To the best of my knowledge, and research, bronzewear is safe to eat off of. Caring for bronzewear is similar to that of silver plate. As a general rule, I never advise using the dishwasher. Most especially for antique and vintage pieces. And with the rosewood handles, I wouldn’t dare do anything else!

vintage bronzeware flatware rosewood handles

The following is some more of the original literature that accompanied the flatware purchase, or was obtained during the same period. I thought it was proper to include it here.

1960s star house thailand ephemera

Sophie Gimbel Designs For Saks — And Dolls!

Because you know I obsess over things… Like Gimbels department stores

I was working on another set of doll articles for Diane’s Doll Hospital (this time on vintage walker dolls from the 1950s; sign up here to get the articles), when I stumbled into Sophie Gimbel.

Sophie began her fashion design work as a young girl making clothing for her dolls and grew into an adult who hired as a stylist for Saks. She was hired by none other than Adam Gimbel, whose grandfather was the founder Gimbels. (Kind of ironic, hey?) In 1929, at the age of 31, she was lead fashion designer and manager of the Salon Moderne of Saks Fifth Avenue; by 1931, she would marry Adam Gimbel. Her designs, originally sold under the “Sophie Gimbel” label were so fabulous, she became recognized as an innovator in New Look fashion. By the 1940s, the label was changed to “Sophie of Saks”, and, on September 29, 1947, Sophie would become the first American fashion designer to grace the cover of Time magazine. (Elsa Schiaparelli was the first fashion designer in the world to be on the cover of Time in 1934.) So by the time this news article I’m going to share was published, Sophie was firmly established as a leading force of mid-century American fashion.

sophie gimbel fashions saks 1950s

The article was in the Montreal Gazette, June 17, 1950, and was about a Sophie fashion show which had been held the day prior at Saks Fifth Avenue.  She had designed not only doll clothing for Wanda but a series of matching doll and children’s fashions!

The costumes, which were presented simultaneously on dolls and little girls, are available in children’s sizes three to six and seven to fourteen. They include a pink organdy party frock, a gray flannel jumper suit, a plaid cotton dress, and a blue reefer coat.

I suspect this Sophie’s Original’s For Saks doll outfit may be one of these ensembles, despite being sold as a set for composition dolls. (Wanda Walker and her doll companions were rather pudgy in the tummy in order to accomodate the walker mechanics.)

sophie originals doll outfit

vintage sophie originals doll clothes cloth label

Here’s an ad from Christmas 1950 promoting some other fashions made for the Wanda Walker doll (by Advance Doll & Toy Corporation and/or Walkalon; that’s a long story I’m covering in the doll articles!): “Organdy hat and dress in pink, yellow, or blue are designed by S.F.A.’s own Sophie!”

saxs fifth ave sophie fashions walker doll

This is quite possibly one of those Sophie’s Originals for Saks dresses mentioned in the ad, which was made for, and shown here on, a Wanda Walker doll.

vintage wanda walker doll wearing sophie saks fashions

vintage 1950s hard plastic walker coll with fashions by sophie

sophie originals tag for wanda walker doll clothes

Of course, Sophie continued to design high fashion for adult human females long after this (including creating the red coat and dress Lady Bird wore to LBJ’s 1965 inauguration); but it is more than fitting to include Sophie’s fashion costumes for dolls in her story. After all, Sophie Gimbel began her design work making clothing for her own dolls.

Additional Image Credits:

1950s photo of Sophie Gimbel with models via Patricksmercy.

6 Very Cool Items From The Auction At Graceland

The first-ever Auction at Elvis’ Graceland is taking place August 14, at 7:00 p.m. at the Graceland Archive Studio — and online.

While none of the 72 items are from the official Graceland collection (the collection, Graceland Archives, etc. continue to be owned by Lisa Marie Presley and are not for sale), there are some very cool items.

This auction includes Elvis’ own copy of the original movie script for Love Me Tender. Love Me Tender (with Debra Paget and Richard Egan) was Elvis’ first movie. Originally, the role was a small one; but the part was revised to accommodate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s rabid fan base.

love me tender movie script elvis copy

Book lovers as well as Elvis Presley fans will like the library card. This library card from Tupelo has one of the earliest known signatures of Elvis. The signature is so early, that even the Graceland Archives has none pre-dating it — and the auction lot includes a letter from the Graceland Archives stating that the archives has no full Elvis Presley signature pre-dating the one on the library card.

elvis presley library card signed

Speaking of kings… This 18-karat gold lion’s head (with two emerald eyes, a ruby mouth, and diamond eyebrows whiskers) was designed specifically for Elvis. It is one of those pendant-brooch jewelry pieces. Elvis wore it as a pendant for his meeting with President Nixon, among other places.

the king's lion pendant

And what king doesn’t need a throne? This “Gold Throne” chair was used by Elvis in his dining room at Graceland. (I am more partial to this chair myself.)

elvis presleys gold throne chair

Of course, when it comes to Elvis, it’s mainly about the music. So why not grab his Martin D-28 guitar?

elvis Martin D-28 guitar

Looking for something bigger? The 1977 burgundy and silver Cadillac Seville V8 automatic being offered was not only the last Cadillac Elvis purchased for his personal use, but the very vehicle driven by Elvis himself on the day prior to his death.

elvis 1977 Cadillac Seville

Elvis fans and collectors can register & bid online online here.

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

Sweet Antique Candy Boxes

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without the proverbial box of chocolates! These two boxes are pretty examples of sweet antique advertising ephemera.

antique chocolate candy boxes

The first box marked “Overhauser’s of Spokane” features a Victorian lady with a large hat. There’s a holly and berries sticker on the box that shows this box of candy from the Overhauser Candy Company (Spokane, Washington) was likely given for Christmas — but it’s still a romantic gift, right?

The second antique candy box also features a fancy Victorian lady wearing a large hat — with roses that match the other roses on the paper. This box bears a red and gold foil seal that reads “De Luxe Chocolates, Little Falls, Minn.” Remarkably, the original fancy embossed papers are still inside!

antique de luxe chocolates minnesota box

Both boxes are for sale in our Etsy shop, here & here. Or you can contact me at We Have Your Collectibles or the We Have Your Collectibles Facebook page.

Sweet Little Girls Looking For Love At The Opera (Antique Valentine Card)

This antique mechanical Valentine’s Day card features a pair of cute, chubby-cheeked girls. One holds a pair of opera glasses or binoculars and, when you move the section on the back, they move up and down. The girls eyes also move or “google”.

antique mechanical carrington valentine

The text also changes. First it reads:

I’m very very bashful as certain people know

Then:

So I’m sending this to ask you if I stand any show

Here it is in action!

The artwork is similar in style to the Campbell’s Soup Kids by Grace Wiederseim Drayton, but there is no mark for the illustrator. The back is marked Carrington, for the George S. Carrington Company, with a ‘G’ in tree logo.

If you are interested in this antique mechanical die-cut valentine, it’s available for purchase in our Etsy shop. Or, you can contact me directly at my dealer’s website, We Have Your Collectibles, home of Fair Oaks Antiques.

vintage antique mechanical valentine carrington card