I’ve been thinking a lot lately about antiques, vintage collectibles, and why I collect…
This is the first, of quite a few, posts about these thoughts. Which, I suppose, is my way of warning you that a number of “pondering posts” about the subject are headed your way. *wink*
Not many people know this, but I often wish I was teaching in high school, or junior high / middle school. I’d love to take a stack of antique photos, vintage magazines, or a box of “old things” into a classroom, have the young adults each select one that intrigues or out-right confuses them, and offer them the opportunity — yes, opportunity — to find out all they can about it.
Or at least research whatever aspect they’d like to about it.
Who made this? Was it popular? Why or why not? Would the item be acceptable today? Why or why not? Who did it belong to — if not in name, what kind of person would have owned or used it?
…Here all roads lead to learning.
Along with the obvious lessons in research, the self-directed subject of study would lead them to all sorts of things…
Not history in the boring memorization of dates; not a biographical sketch similarly based on facts which have little meaning to either themselves personally or the greater educational goals of school. But instead they would find themselves exploring the connections between the issues, or educational disciplines, we call “culture.” For example, the connections between art, technology and commerce in tintypes – which certainly mirrors the debates today over digital technological advances.
Even cases where little-to-no documentation exists is a learning opportunity.
What happened to those businesses, those people? People die, of course; but not all trails that end for businesses mean the business died… There are mergers, etc. And even when a business does “die,” what was the cause of death? Is this the same for styles and trends? How could someone or something be so significant as to make headlines — and then just disappear? How does this relate to the world we live in today?
You know; good old critical thinking skills.
But more than that, study borne of passion, self-directed study rooted in their individual area of interest, means that what they seek is more likely to matter and therefore be remembered. That includes not only the dates, the periods, the names, but the frameworks — including how to go about finding information, analyzing what’s there and what’s not.
Even if their original intentions are not academically pure, if they selected a piece simply to mock it, I believe that at the end of the process they would find something to respect. People far removed in time who are not so different than themselves in terms of needs, motivations, humanity. And maybe these students would even respect themselves more for being able to not only find the facts but find the connections as well.
SyFy added another collectibles show to it’s lineup. Sorta.
Haunted Collector is a marriage of sorts between SyFy’s Ghost Hunter franchise and the ever-increasing television line-up of shows for collectors. It sounded like a marriage made in heaven, but I think Ghost Hunters, the folks at TAPS, all collectibles programming, and all television viewers should ask for a divorce.
Haunted Collector follows the renown John Zaffis, “Godfather of the Paranormal” and “eminent paranormal researcher and world-renowned demonologist” and his “family” (son Chris, daughter Aimee, psychic investigator Beth Ezzo, and tech specialist Brian Cano) of investigators as they try to help people by identifying and then ridding them of their haunted objects. But…
The very things that make Ghost Hunters cool and worth watching is their diligence to detail in their ethical investigations. The very things that make the best collectibles shows (Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Oddities) cool and worth watching is the discovery of and information about collectibles. And all these shows offer a nice heaping of interesting personalities too; that’s the “reality” part of the appeal, we have to admit it. But Haunted Collector misses each and every one of these points. …Save for, perhaps, a bit of “personality” in team members; it’s hard to say with all the annoying stuff going on.
Errors in paranormal investigations:
A blue “cold spot” on the thermal camera appeared — quite obviously, below a vent in the kitchen’s ceiling. Instead of investigating to rule out such things as TAPS would have done, the crew heads outside to investigate under the house. Sure, they found an old gun, but fans of Ghost Hunters, like hubby and I, were perturbed.
After finding the gun under the house, it would have seemed like another “go” at an EVP would have been worthwhile, with a few questions targeting any connections to the item. And because guns like that could have been used in crimes, the team believes it’s haunted and caused the blue spot on the floor — something we never see the team go back to after the gun is removed, to see if the thermal readers resolved themselves. But instead, Zaffis keeps the gun accused of being used in a crime, placing it in “haunted museum” rather than turning it in to the police.
In the libary — err, sorry, Zaffis’ mispronunciation drives me nuts — in the library, the antique typewriter gave high EMF readings. That could be kind of cool in terms of unexplained phenomenon, but true investigators would have moved the typewriter to another place and gave it another check — as well as the place where it once sat — to see if anything changed or could be explained.
Perhaps they did such further investigations, but they were edited out in the final cut of the show that aired?
Either way, it’s sloppy.
Zaffis also has odd rules about hauntings… He drops the idea that a house is itself haunted when it turns out it was not made from wood once belonging to a church; only church wood can be haunted? He removes three shark jaws from a house, despite a single shred of “evidence” that they are haunted by ghost sharks — simply because they were carnivores. Hey, Zaffis, humans are carnivores. The stuff we own is made by carnivores.
When the team got a recording on the EVP, the Godfather of the Paranormal hears the muffled noise(s) as a voice saying, “purple flowers.” I didn’t get that. Hubby didn’t get that. I don’t think the rest of the Haunted Collector team even heard that. But sure enough, that’s what Zaffis shares with the bereaved daughter who believes the voice belongs to her mother. Such clearly shoddy leading was emotionally abusive in its manipulation and extremely uncomfortable to watch.
Not even fans of the paranormal can really enjoy this show.
How will collectors and collectibles fare?
In terms of the collectibles themselves, they get some camera time, but even this is as oddly skewed as the paranormal investigations.
When researching an antique cane gun, said to have been purchased in an antique shop in New York I think it was, Aimee turns up some expert who says there were only a “handful of cane guns in the area” in 1870 — and there was one unsolved cane gun murder from that time, so naturally we can conclude it’s haunted. Ummm, isn’t one gun a “handful”? Anyway… Listen, 1870 was the year the gun was likely made, there’s no proof the cane gun was ever in New York at that time — and so how do you get there? I guess it’s enough of a reason to take the rare valuable antique to your personal museum. …And why is it, again, you don’t really tell us the value of the cane gun you took?
(And, while on the subject of your personal “museum of haunted collectibles”… I wonder, how does that work? Do the haunted objects wrestle one another? Is it a loud place? Moving on…)
When researching the music box,which looks no more than 10 years old, no one even points its age out. I suppose that doesn’t matter in terms of an object’s supposed haunting; but to collectors it matters. Having the local antique shop owner say she has no doubts the music box could have sentimental value to someone was a silly statement. Name one object that couldn’t have sentimental value?
Photos of my children, you are all haunted!
Oh, and then there’s scary just to be scary. Not just how it’s filmed (think Ghost Hunters meets Blair Witch), but what is filmed.
The vintage cold paint figural clown face McCoy pottery cookie jar (I had just sold one!) got a lot more camera time than it deserved. I don’t just say that as one who is uncomfortable around clowns. Clearly the clown is suspicious — the team thought so too. But merely suspicious, creepy in a way that loves the camera, or out-and-out accused of haunting places, the object is given minimal attention. Not only in terms of “proof” of being haunted, but in terms of history, price or any “value” at all.
In short, the marriage between collectibles TV and ghost hunting shows could have been great — maybe it could still be. But I have little hope.
Yeah, Haunted Collector sends me screaming into the night. Or mocking into the night; because we watched the second show rather like an episode of MST3K. It became the only way I could sit through it. My apologies to the people on the show who sought help. And, here’s some free advice: Next time, call TAPS.
PS Even more annoying than the fact that the Haunted Collector‘s official website has incessant audio from the commercial for the show in each and every page I loaded, there’s no real photos of (or information about) the items found on the episodes which have aired — making the efforts of searching fruitless as well as infuriating. I warned you.
You know what they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” so I decided to join Mimi — in an interview.
When did you begin collecting Weight Watchers publications?
A couple years ago. It’s hard to say–it just sort of “happened.”
Did you set out to purposefully collect Weight Watchers items — or did you sort of realize that you were doing so over time?
It all started with one cookbook: a fellow WW member gave me a copy of The 1972 Weight Watchers Program Cookbook. I became so intrigued with it that I had to know everything about this crazy & wonderful program. Incidentally, my mom lost a great deal of weight on the 1972 WW program after I was born–so this added to my fascination with it. After I got my hands on that first retro cookbook… pretty soon, I started looking for more information, recipes, books, magazines, etc.
It became a hobby (read: obsession), and people started giving me their old WW stuff. The WW magazines are my favorite. They are hard to find, but they really contain some of the best “gems” and really represent the evolution of the WW program over the years.
What’s your criteria for collecting Weight Watchers publications? Are issues limited to a specific time period, condition rules, etc.
I am really only interested in the magazines from 1970-1976. These were the really wild and wacky years. Or as I like to call them: The Knox Gelatin years… The liver-once-a-week years…. The Fluffy Mackerel Pudding years. So the recipes are really horrifying and funny. But there is also something endearing to me about the program during these years. WW was so genuine and sincere about helping its members. It was like a family. Or a secret society or something. Really kitschy and cool.
How many do you think you have?
Maybe 50? But growing every day…
How do you organize them?
Since I reference and use them regularly–they are kept in a jelly cupboard in my kitchen alongside all of my other favorite cookbooks–both retro and otherwise.
How do people react to your collection?
Most people think my retro WW magazines are pretty odd. Most of the recipes are gag-inducing. Some of the recipes literally make you say “what were they thinking??” My husband tries not to look at them anymore. He had a bad experience with an aspic, and that scarred him for life.
You’ve been putting your collection to use; tell us about your blog and the Skinny Jeans Project.
My blog www.theskinnyjeansproject.blogspot.com is both a tribute and an adventure. As a Weight Watchers lifetime member who has lost over 40 pounds on the modern day WW program, I wanted to pay tribute to the history of WW and all of the brave women (including my mom) who followed this program in the early days. I also pay tribute to Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW and author of all of the publications I reference on my blog.
But most of all–my blog is a crazy adventure that I decided to embark upon as I turned 40. I figured it was time to do something BIG. I wanted to get back into my “skinny jeans”, so I thought I would incorporate the rules and recipes from the 1970’s WW program into my current weight loss plan and write about it. I re-create some scary retro WW recipes and yes–I even eat them. At times it is horrifying. At times it is delicious. You never know what dietetic disaster will end up on the platter… Maybe a giant Mackerel and Cantaloupe Salad? Maybe a Crown Roast of Frankfurters? Maybe a Chicken Buttermilk Loaf? Stop by and check it out! I dare you…
Because you use the books and magazines as intended, do you consider them collectibles?
I guess so. To me they are both collector’s items and cherished resources. Not all of my Retro WW magazines and cookbooks are in mint condition, but I love them all just the same!
Do you think you will begin collecting other cookbooks, health & diet publications, etc. from that period — or will you remain a Weight Watchers purist?
I admit that I am drawn to any cookbooks or magazines with a good selection of gelatin mold recipes. Better Homes and Gardens Circa 1955-1970 are my current fave. I also cherish my Knox On Camera cookbook from 1962. It’s a bit creepy, but I have a slight obsession with Knox Gelatin and anything that can be gelatinized. There’s something wonderful to me about “gel cookery” and the women who took that much time and effort to prepare something so disgustingly weird.
I also love any cookbooks or magazines focusing on the topic of retro dieting. I recently picked up a cookbook from 1961 called “Glorious Eating for Weight Watchers” for .50 at a flea market. It was published by Wesson Oil, had nothing to do with Weight Watchers and mostly contained pictures of fried food. I found this to be quite strange. I had to have it.
Anything you’d like to add or mention about your collection that I didn’t mention?
Aside from the recipes, which is what I love most about my Retro WW Magazines–each issue features a fashion section, a “success stories” section, and many valuable articles about health and fitness. But the best part of WW Magazine HANDS DOWN is “Ask Jean…” where readers get to write in with their questions, comments and complaints and have them answered by Jean Nidetch–the founder of WW. These letters and responses are never dull, because, well…let’s just say: Jean has chutzpah and tons of charm. To say the least.
So do you, Mimi; so do you.
I’d like to thank Mimi for sharing more information about her collection — even more than she shares at her blog. For quick retro WW bites, follow Mimi on Twitter @RetroMimi — “Sometimes its easier to swallow in small doses!”
There are things that the campaign gives out that are sort of “officially sanctioned,” that they are using to get their message out, like a button. And then there are things that people make and wear themselves. Typically, I like to try to get something from a person who’s wearing something—it could be a lapel pin, a sign they made or a sign they’re carrying. It’s very difficult to talk that item off of a person and in fact, it’s almost not even fair because if they could just give it to you, would you want it? What you want is what they can’t give you. It means so much to them personally. That’s what you want to collect. You want to collect the material of activism and engagement.
How do you know it’s “museum worthy?”
“Museum worthy” implies that there’s some kind of aesthetic judgment going on, which there may be, but that’s hardly the first thing that you think of. The material that we get is so inherently ephemeral; it doesn’t really have any great inherent value. The items can be quite modest and even flawed—they can have rough edges and corners and be duct-taped to a paint paddle or something. I mean for a couple of bucks you can pick up a couple of buttons, but when you get it all together at the end of the year, it really is quite valuable as a record because it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Along with the reassurance that even professional collecting is subjective (which I admit I still need like to hear), I’m thrilled to hear that curators — at this level, even — are seeking to cultivate a contextual collection based on the rather intimate items of individuals.
Is that any different than what we do?
I don’t think so.
They even want the stuff more when it’s hard to get, when people are less likely to give/sell!
We can argue, or, more accurately, belittle the importance of our collections. We can say we “just” have silly little pieces. We can say we don’t have anything of any real significance. But at the end of the day, we are doing the same thing the museum is doing: collecting a segment, preserving a set of objects (maybe even using home security systems like www.safemart.com), which when put together are a record or a snapshot of what was.
In related news, Scientists hope to unlock secrets of museum smells, hoping to see if the smell or, more accurately, the air surrounding the objects contains anything that could be used to understand their composition or condition; museums and collectors could then use such technology to assess collections without touching the objects.
For those of us who remember film photography, you’ll enjoy seeing these vintage photos of shops long out of the picture.
First, this photograph of this drive-up film developing stand called the Shutter Shak. (Or perhaps it’s the Shutter Shack? It’s hard to tell from the angle.) This stand-alone building has the shape of a camera, complete with dials and flashbulb on top, and rivals the details of any kitschy roadside attraction! I have no idea where this shop was located; please post a comment if you know more about it.
This next photo is of a camera and supply shop called The Darkroom, with it’s storefront window looking like a camera lens. According to Fine Arts LA:
The Darkroom (5364 Wilshire Blvd.) was once the photographic supply store of choice with a 9-foot tall camera storefront. Built in the early ’30s, it is now the home of El Toro Cantina.
Digital cameras have nearly Photoshopped these places from our main streets — but they live on on photographs.
Pick: I suppose it is time. Time to take down the tree, put all the ornaments in their boxes, until next year. We are the only ones in our ‘group’ who have a live tree. When the kids were small, we’d work on putting it up for a few days. You’d do the lights, the girls would put the ‘unbreakables’ near the bottom and I’d do the top part.
Grin: I remember a few of the early years when our trees were SO crooked that we’d have to wire them to the window hardware. Otherwise, they’d tip over. We got numerous comments , none of them good.
Pick: We have talked about getting an artificial tree, but then you mentioned the ‘limited space’ in our attic. And I truly love the smell of a real tree. A friend has an artificial one and her son-in-law always walks up to it, takes a good sniff and retorts “Ahh, the smell of dust!” I don’t want that from my son-in-laws. (Not that either would be so crass – ha!)
Grin: And then there is the concern of the ornaments. The ones from your grandmother, for example. If you left them on the tree, you would worry until next year if one would be broken when moved around. So, since we have to take it all down and wrap them, we’ll keep the live tree. But is there any way we can eliminate some of those ornaments?
Pick: Each time I pack and unpack I have fond memories. I remember putting that exact angel on our tree-top at home. She has withstood the test of time. And the bird with the tail-feathers, why, that was my grandmother’s and there is precious little from her.
Grin: That is understandable – you’ll always want to keep that one. But what about these poorly-painted ceramic ornaments.? They are a bit tacky on your classy tree. And we have so many to pack away.
Pick: But don’t you remember these? We made them with the kids when they were about 8 or 9 years old! They are very special to me.
Grin: OK then, but these plastic ones can go. They are out of date and very cheap too!
Pick: Now wait a minute – those are the bottom-of-the-tree ornaments. Nicholas, our youngest grandson can still come over and touch things. You know how I want to be a ‘fun grandma.’ And then if our Westie knocks one off when he strolls past, who cares? You need the lesser ones near the bottom.
Grin: Sounds like you have rationale for every one on this tree. But then, I am not surprised. It is the same with your year-round decorations. Everything has a special memory, or makes you smile to recall where you found it or who gave it to you. Someday, the house will just sink slowly into the ground.
Pick: You exaggerate – there is still room in the basement for a few things and the attic has a bit of room.
Grin: Dear, if you started collecting toothpicks, we’d be in trouble. But let’s get back to the tree.
Pick: It will look so darn empty in this room when it is gone. Can you put up an Easter Tree?
Magazines, like newspapers, provide context for periods of time — and that information provides great tips for collectors. In a wartime issue of Modern Woman Magazine, A Magazine Published By The Ice Industry (George M. Wessells, Publisher) a look why World War II home-front photographs are so scarce:
Spike TV enters the antiques and collectibles television programing fray with Auction Hunters.
Similar to Storage Wars, this show’s action is focused on the bidding, buying and selling of the content of storage units; unlike Storage Wars, the show has a much stronger focus on antiques and collectibles, and only follows two men.
The fact that these men are partners gives the show a camaraderie — more like the ribbing on American Pickers than the very macho male competition on Storage Wars.
Auction Hunters is also much more frank about educating you, the viewer, on how to evaluate storage units. There are tips on what to bring, how to spot a “good locker,” and they even show you more of the work and expense involved in restoring things before they’re flipped for profit.
The first season’s nearly over for this TV series; the season finale is scheduled for Tuesday, December 21, at 10/9 PM. Initially, I had a very difficult time finding the show on at a time I was able to watch; but when one episode is on, there’s usually a block or marathon of them, so you can likely find some time to watch a few episodes back to back. And I highly recommend that you do.
The headboard appears to be hand painted or, if fabric, embroidered with the titles of her husband’s books. What a lovely idea! …If not your book titles, why not the names of your children, special dates, etc.?
Beautiful to look at and, as Waring says, this offers practical organization too:
Due to the lack of space in my studio, I am constantly forgetting what notions I have packed away in my organizer containers that I keep hidden in a storage closet, or up on my highest shelf. When you don’t know what is in those containers, it is hard to know where to begin, and I am often tempted to just go out and buy more supplies. This DIY project is the solution to that problem, and it seconds as art work on my work-space walls.
…Also, I like to tag each board with a number that will match up with the storage container where you keep your coordinating back-stock, so things are easily located.
Included in the step-by-step project instructions are two of her original 8×10 design templates.
Lisa Kudrow was on ABC’s The View Wednesday, promoting her new show, Who Do You Think You Are?, an adaptation of the award-winning hit BBC television documentary series of the same name. Kudrow is executive producer of the show which leads celebrities on genealogical journeys to discover the genetic answer to “who they are” — at least as best genealogy can.
Rumors about the debut of this show have been swirling for well over a year, and those of us who enjoy the personal side of history (if not the celebrity-side of the production), have been stymied as to why we’ve had to (impatiently) wait. But it’s finally here!
The show debuts this Friday, 3/10/10, with Sarah Jessica Parker. Other celebrities include Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Spike Lee, Brooke Shields, and Matthew Broderick.
Kudrow puts herself in front of the cameras for this series too, sharing a particularly poignant story discovered in her family tree. Her family’s personal tragedy not only chronicles WWII history, but pierces the intellectual shield most of us have in processing and recalling such horrors… Something that only increases as witnesses to those dark moments in history leave us.
If you’re tempted to dismiss this as more celebrity adoration, or pure dramatic sentimentality, Kudrow and I want to assure you that genealogy may be personal, but it’s also much larger than that — it’s about the historical context.
Personal stories always illuminate the dry facts and dates of history into reality, celebrity or not. Heck, even the reasons why you hit a wall or can’t fill in the blank in your family’s story is illuminating. For example, in this clip, in which Kudrow shares what she found out about the family history of the ladies on The View, the matter of why it’s so much harder to find out family tree information for African-Americans is discussed.
One of the things that I did like about your particular series was the interspersed history lessons. Will that continue throughout into the next season?
Lisa Kudrow: Oh boy. It will continue and hopefully there can be more of it because the BBC version has a lot of that. The thing is that it’s not just dry history, it’s back story that’s essential once you’re invested in these characters like Sarah Jessica, (John Hodge) or (Esther Elwell) and you need to know the back story which is history.
Dan Bucatinsky: It’s context.
Lisa Kudrow: And that’s what I mean by because there’s an intimacy to it now that it’s not just dry history that happened to strangers. It has more impact and that’s – we’re supposed to study history. We’re supposed to know what we’ve done before, how did we do things? How did it work? How didn’t it work to learn from it and hopefully this makes it worth knowing.
Who Do You Think You Are? airs Friday night on NBC at 7 PM, Central time (check local listings). I know what I’ll be watching!
I know next to nothing about hot rods, dragsters, automobilia or even cars in general, but I do recognize the value of vintage car part catalogs, like these Almquist “Equipment of Champions” catalogs, to fans and collectors of such things.
And I’ll admit, looking at old hot rod custom sport bodies, kits, 3-D chrome emblems, classic flame decals, etc. is cool — even when it’s all in black and white. (If you think so too, click the images to see large scans.)
But after taking some time to page through the pair of catalogs from Almquist Engineering Co., Inc. of Milford, PA (founded by Ed Almquist), I decided I had to list them for sale (1959 catalog, 1960 catalog) for collectors in need. (And if you collect, you know it’s a need — you need to know what was made and when, the part’s official name and/or stock number, etc.)
However I won’t be selling what I found inside one of the vintage catalogs — sketches of what I presume, my dear Watson, to be flame-type designs for the former owner’s dream car.
I won’t be selling them because they have no monetary value: A) the former owner doesn’t appear to have any fame, 2) most collectors or fans of hot rods probably have their own similar drawings, and III) fans of such finds typically won’t pay for such things — they prefer to enjoy the serendipity of their own finds.
I myself fall into the third category, and so will enjoy holding onto the vintage drawings, ever wondering if the maker of these drawings got his dream hot rod… If so, after sketching did he realized “flames” were more difficult than the thought, and so he just purchased them, or paid for a custom paint job… Or if he still pines for the awesome hot rod of his fantasies.
A couple of years ago, my son Hunter scored a sweet purchase at a garage sale: a NFL All-Pro Football game (Ideal # 2520-5, from 1967) for $3. He helped me review the vintage National Football League board game too, which prompted an email from Larry — and if you ever wondered why I spend so much time documenting (babbling about) collectibles online, Larry’s email ought to clue you in.
Larry’s email tells the tale of how nostalgia and childhood memories drive us to “buy back” or collect, of how our desires can frustrate and elude us because we just can’t see the name on the cover… And how writing online can save the day!
Here’s what Larry wrote (with photos of Hunter & his vintage All-Pro Football game mixed in):
I have been poking around on the internet intermittently for months/years, (not in an obsessed kind of way, but in a once-in-a-great while, when-the-wife-and-kids-are-in-bed, all-other-husbandly, fatherly, business-related-things-are-done kind of way,) unable to figure out the game I used to play at my grandparents’ house in the country with my cousin when I was a little boy.
I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name, or if I did, how the heck I’d hunt it down. I remembered it being a very generic-type name (alas, All Pro Football,) and remembered vividly what it looked like, and that was all. My grandparents were dirt poor and had few games, (& maybe just this one,) in the house. Most of our fun was comprised of finding things to do outside with sticks, rocks, railroad tie nails and anything else we could find. I’m in my mid-40’s now, remembered this game once I saw it as if I played it yesterday, with the board, game pieces, etc… Obviously, Hunter is a lucky boy to have found the real thing!!
Both of my grandparents are deceased and no one in my family either a) remembers the game I’m talking about or b) would have any idea where it could’ve possibly ended up after they moved all the family belongings off the farm. I’m sure it ended up getting thrown away, was ruined from being stored in their cellar, pieces lost, etc., or a hundred other negative possibilities.
I’m not trying to pry or badger, but I would give anything to own a piece of my childhood again and have something that instantly reminds me of my more innocent, carefree days at their farm, and everything that went with being there. I have two children of my own now, 11 and 6, and wouldn’t dream of asking one of them to give something up that became precious to them, but if Hunter ever grows tired of the game and, (contrary to his promise!), would ever dream of letting it go, I would pay handsomely for the chance to have it. …I am not a collector of any sort, nor do I do any (real) looking or know the avenues where I could get hold of the board game myself.
Thanks for taking the time to read the ramblings of a total stranger — I hope Hunter enjoys the game and it possibly creates memories later for him as it does for me, and if there’s ever a time you would consider selling it, I would jump at the chance to discuss purchasing it.
The bad news is that Hunter’s not interested in selling his vintage NFL All Pro Football game. Nor do I have another one here to offer you (if and when I do, I will email you!)
But the good news for Larry (and other fans of the game) is that now that you know the name of the game you can check out eBay and other online sales venues. Try searching for (or clicking these links to the searches for) NFL “All Pro” Football game as well as ideal “All Pro” Football game.
Now that you know the name of the game you so vividly remember and so touchingly talk about, Larry, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t search for it and buy it as soon as possible. It’s clearly not “just a game” to you. Wouldn’t you love to play the game again with your own children — to share the stories of your childhood memories of the game with them, creating new memories too?
I’ll be honest and acknowledge that your boys may not appreciate the game or your stories right now — what kid does? *wink* But, like you, they will remember years later.
And whether or not the physical game is an actual heirloom from your childhood or not, this new-to-you vintage board game is destined to become one of your family’s heirlooms.
In fact, I suggest you get two copies of the game. That way each one of your children can keep a game along with their memories and share them both with their own children in the future… A future where the memory of Grandpa as well as Grandpa’s memories live on and on and on.
PS At the risk of being entirely too girlie for covering a vintage sports game, this whole thing brings a tear to my eye. I can only hope that our children’s treasured memories include family game time.
Truth is, I once had an unintentional bookmark collection. As a young adult with a voracious reading habit and some money in my pocket, I searched for the perfect bookmark — the perfect bookmark being the perfect blend of form and function.
I wanted my bookmark to be a signature piece, beautiful enough to convey its importance in my life. Not only to display to others my value of books and reading, but to be substantive enough so that I would not lose it. (Unlike the problem of traveling pens, taping a big plastic spoon to a bookmark isn’t a solution — it risks damaging books, as well as undermines the bookmark’s lofty literary position.)
And this perfect bookmark had to hold my place in the book too, including when stuffed into the basket on my bicycle and transported over hill and dale to a reading spot under a tree — and then back home again.
All that’s an awful lot to ask of a bookmark; but I was confident.
I tried new bookmarks and antique bookmarks; corner bookmarks made of metal; plastic bookmarks which were like glorified paper clips in principle if not (always) appearance; bookmarks of string, with weighted bits and bobs at the ends (some with multiple strings, allowing you to mark several places in the book); elastic bookmarks, wooden bookmarks…
So many bookmarks, those years of reading were seriously affected by the preoccupation of all those bookmark trials.
In the end, I settled for the standard strips of fabric and paper (laminated, coated or not) — including, as most readers will confess — using whatever scrap of paper or thin flat thing is laying around. (Such found things in old books are a continuing delight for this book collector; however, I tend to place these saved functional bookmarks into other categories of my collection, such as photographs, ephemera, etc.)
I didn’t save many of the bookmarks I purchased in pursuit of The Perfect Bookmark; what didn’t succumb to natural losses, was given away in the disdain of failure. As recently as a year ago, I found a few of the plastic paper clip types in the junk drawer and divvied them up between the kids. But I did save this antique bookmark because its aged beauty outshines its dull performance.
I’m guessing this copper corner bookmark with a regal “cameo” of a woman is from the early 1900’s. The rounded corner limits functionality on square-tipped page corners, among other things, but she sure is pretty!
Since she’s the only one I’ve saved, I guess you could say she won, that she is The Perfect Bookmark. Or that beauty (form) beat-out the beast (function). But I think it’s more accurate to acknowledge that I outgrew childish notions of The Perfect Bookmark, and that she remains mine because she was collectible. (I do so love to collect rescue imperfect old things.)
I now wish I had saved all those bookmarks. (Even those purchased new would be retro by now!) Not because of the convention (though I admit, that would be cool as far as talking with other collectors — by the way, did you register yet?), but because all those rejected bookmarks would have been a museum, documentation of my attempts to discover The Perfect Bookmark.
I suspect that, now that I’m no longer so obsessed with finding Thee bookmark, I would not only enjoy those bookmarks for their beauty, but be quite entertained by the stories of them — how I got them, how they fared in their trials… I bet I’d even remember what book each bookmark had been placed in service of; I’m rather visual like that, seeing something and remembering everything associated with it.
As it is now, I am amused recalling the purpose-driven antics of my perfection-seeking former self. But the collector in me thinks it sure would be nice to have the tangible evidence of such an obsession.
Vintage red and green bookmarks, via Lauren Roberts and her article Bakelite In Books.
All photos of the antique copper embossed corner bookmark are copyright Deanna Dahlsad.
Maybe you’ve never articulated why you collect, what your collection “does” — or maybe you have & you just don’t think it’s important in The Big Picture sort of a way. Maybe others have made you feel like a capitalistic consumer pig in your collecting pursuits. Whatever the reason, do you down-play your “junk,” your hobby, and your passion?
It is my hope that in this session you will become a more confident collector, to learn to see your items beyond their materialistic cash value and appraise them for their cultural and intrinsic values, to see the very act of collecting itself and your contribution as a collector as significant. Because all collections, great and small — all collectors, great and small — are of incredible value.
It’s my belief that all collections and all collectors have value, even if the stuff isn’t “old enough” or “good enough” to seem of any value. I’d tell you more about this, but, frankly, you should come to the conference.
I don’t make a dime off this event (again, my passion for collecting is worn on my sleeve), but I ‘d like a nice big group in my session. *wink*
So, to entice you — be you a collector of bookmarks or not — with the help of the founder of Doodle Week, Inherited Values very own Laura Brown, I’m offering five Bookmark Collectors Virtual Conference Commemorative Collector Bookmarks for the first five folks (from the US or Canada) who mention “Inherited Values” in their registration for the event.
Only 12 of these commemorative bookmarks will be made (five to be given away here, five at the art site that’s home of Doodle Week, one for the artist, and, ever the collector, one for myself), so it’s truly a limited edition.
And pretty cute to-boot *wink*
I hope you’ll register for this event because you’re a collecting nut who is interested; but it never hurts to add a little incentive, right?
Monday night was the premier of the History Channel’s American Pickers. This hour long show is the channel’s latest foray into the world of collectibles and antiques, following one of my other favorite shows Pawn Stars. So I was wicked excited to see it.
The show documents the actions of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz (friends since the 8th grade and business partners in Iowa-based Antique Archaeology) and Danielle Colby Cushman (who holds down the fort back at the shop), folks who make a living off doing the work that some collectors and dealers won’t: not only crawling through farms, sheds, garages and junk yards to spot the gems, but willing to ask the dreaded question, “How much?” and then dicker over price.
For some of us, this isn’t so much something we wouldn’t do, but something we simply don’t have time for. (And this is how the pickers do more than survive but thrive.) For me, this is my dream job.
It’s not just that I’d like to turn my hobby of digging around for stuff into full-time travel adventures, but I really, really, have a fondness for what hubby and I call “old coots.” I love old people, especially old men, with stories to tell — and quirks, I love quirks. And American Pickers finds them and shows them to us.
Like Bear, the guy who was a second generation carny with 35 years worth of old carnival equipment and rides. I don’t recall the names of the other charming old men who we met in this first episode, but hubby can attest to my rapt attention and squealing during commercial breaks — both of which express my excitement and delight with the show.
So American Pickers satisfies not only my need to see more junk but to meet more old coots. But maybe you have different needs?
For those more seriously interested in antiques and collectibles than living vicariously through the day to day fun of what Frank, Mike, and Danielle do, there are more practical matters included in American Pickers.
There’s the obligatory math analysis of how much paid for the item, it’s value, and the resulting (at least potential) profits. There’s the history of the objects found (another obsession of mine). And there are tips and tricks too. Such as the best places to pick are at houses and properties without satellite dishes and new vehicles, that you always get the owner to name his or her price first, and that, no, you don’t always get what you want.
If you’re new to collecting, never been so knee-deep in dirty stuff as a collector, or just want to brush up on your antique hunting and negotiating skills, there’s plenty to learn (or reaffirm) from Mike & Frank.
Personally, I’ll continue to watch for the eye candy — the antiques and the old coots. And I’ll keep hoping for my future career as a traveling picker — who writes from the road.
Locally, original episodes of American Pickers are on Monday Nights, up against NBC’s Heroes. I used to watch Heroes religiously, but it’s no contest: The American pickers are my real heroes.
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.
So now I must content myself with posing the vintage stuffed dog, rather than my always-eager-to-be-prone 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.
People often are shocked to discover personal things like old photos, diaries, scrapbooks, and letters up for sale at auctions and estate sales, like this collection (shown at left, sold by kathct). Many people, like myself, like to adopt such ephemera, and as we carry it home in our hands we wonder just how these things were available for sale… And weren’t we lucky to be the one to rescue and adopt them!
Once I was given a pair of vintage scrapbooks, and I thrill flipping through every page, reading every scrap between the covers. One of my favorites from the books is a handwritten vintage letter from Cousin Henrietta. Since the 1948 note consists of just two complete sentences, a closing and a post-script, the bulk of the news centers upon Henrietta’s intent to see her cousins soon — despite an injury:
we hope to see you soon I am keeping my fingers crossed for I pulled a piece of my toe nail off and I sure have a sore toe, think there is a little infection there but am doctoring it and hoping it will be O.K.
For some reason, such a short note all about a toe is amusing to me. It’s not just a “I hurt my toe,” but a rather detailed account of injury in such a short bit of correspondence yet. And years later I feel I must be in the same boat as Henrietta’s cousins — left wondering just how she managed to pull off a piece of toenail!
We collectors like vintage letters which make us feel like we know the sender — or make us want to!
But the most popular letters are sets of letters over a period of time. As correspondence, there are typically two sets of letters; each a side of the conversation, collected by the recipient. It’s quite rare to have both sets of letters, like this collection of 115 letters between a father and daughter between 1911 and 1934 (photo below; sold by bdbrowncollect), but just one set or side of the conversation can tell you quite a story.
That story may be regarding a situation, such as life during WWII or a courtship; or the story may be more intimately revealing of an individual person’s character, like a diary. In either case, such old letters are fascinating — and not just for the vicarious among us. Writers love to get their hands on such letters (and old diaries) as they inspire characters in novels, plots for films, etc.
I recall just a few years ago when there was a special set of letters listed on eBay that went for nearly $300 dollars. (While we don’t like to dwell on the monetary values of things here at Inherited Values, I am compelled to mention it, in context; to illustrate the desire to own creating demand, affecting price.) Three hundred dollars is a pretty pricey sum for approximately two dozen letters; but these were no ordinary letters.
This set of letters, written in the 1930s was saved by a woman who had an affair while she was married — and there were letters from both her traveling salesmen suitor and her eventually heartbroken and disgruntled husband. Though the seller had read all the letters, every ultimatum, every plea, the letters contained no final outcome of this vintage lover’s triangle.
Can you just imagine the delight in filling in the blanks of each person’s plight? An author or screenwriter’s dream! (Not to mention my own!) Hence the high bidding. (Too high for me to even get involved in the bidding, so I just watched the auction’s progress, sighing and wishing I had more disposable income.)
But not everyone gets rid of their family’s old letters.
I found this gem of a blog, Matrilineal, by a woman who is not only keeping her family’s old letters, but transcribing 15 years worth of them. This is how she describes the previously unread family letters:
I now know that my grandmother at 60 taught 6th grade, bought commercial real estate, took in boarders, thought flying saucers were a mode of transportation, worried about getting sued because of an ill-tempered Pekinese, and commented on every murder and suicide when she wrote to my mother who was a 20 year old student at UC Berkeley. I’ve been obsessing over these odd letters, and I think I know where in the familial gene pool that tendency might have come from.
In this case, I find myself almost wishing Linda would sell her family’s old letters! But if she did, I might just have to wait for the film. *wink*
People who don’t collect often wonder why a person collects things. They neither understand the things, nor how it becomes an addition. For those that just don’t understand, here’s a primer; for those who do get it, feel free to sing in the choir by leaving the preacher some comments. *wink*
Collecting is not always about the things; it is what they represent.
Sometimes you hunt for things, specific things that you know exist. Sometimes, they are things you want back. Perhaps things from your childhood. A favorite toy can bring back simpler days, remind you of the bonds with your siblings. Or maybe you search for replacements for items that broke. Floral cups just like the ones Grandma had. Picking them up, taking them home, you are suddenly flooded with warm memories of hot cocoa with Grandma.
Sometimes you search for things you never had, but know are out there, and need them to complete. Pieces to a set of china you wish to complete, or a volume in a series of books, or the missing piece in a game — some collectibles ‘complete you’ in that way.
Other times, it’s the thrill of the hunt, the pleasure derived from the moment of “Aa-ha!” which completes you. In a world where survival is no longer based on hunting & providing by use of wits & skill, these exercises in collecting play with that primitive need to ferret & produce. Like a giant rack of antlers, items hunted for & brought home are symbols of our success.
But there is also a great charm in the serendipity of collecting.
Sometimes you run into things you didn’t even know existed, and you wonder how you lived without them. Such delights lie in dark corners of garage sales, in the bottoms of boxes not explored at auctions. Suddenly, you are face to face with this thing & you realize you must have it. This old recording you have not yet heard, this porcelain piece depicting some creature you cannot identify, suddenly they make life worth living.
Perhaps they are the comic relief you need to get through your day, or an example of what made a person in the past make it through their day. The humor transcends time. The knowledge that others have survived their times too brings a comfort as real as cocoa with Grandma.
Sometimes you run into things and you wonder how anyone could live without them.
Sometimes you run into things and you wonder how anyone could part with them. Family photographs, diaries, a much loved doll… You adopt them because they are worthy of a home. And it’s obvious they are not getting the respect, let alone the love, that a treasure deserves. You rescue them because no one else seems to want to. They may not be your family heirlooms, but they at least deserve to have a family.
Some of us buy the treasures of others as a form of insurance: One day, sadly, all these items, near & dear to us, may end up for sale *gasp* by family members who don’t value them; maybe we can pay it forward and someone will rescue our beloved mementos.
This collector hopes there are many out there that will come to rescue & adopt my treasures — each with the sense of delight of a real collector who understands these objects are not just materialistic things.
One of the things we try to do here is move past simply describing the objects of our (or any collector’s) affections and try to show the passions behind (or instilled within) the objects themselves. You may have thought that our blogging was all about the justification for our quirky pursuits, but that’s not so. Well, not always…
One of the number one reasons for collecting is a passion for history — be it our own personal history, a sense of nostalgia for people and places just at our memory’s edge, significant world history, or some other stop along that continuum. When we collect, we do not merely posses objects and clutch them to our chests, we cultivate collections to capture moments in time, to understand people, places, moments… To understand our collective and personal selves.
Recently, in New York Magazine, Amanda Fortini wrote a piece on a series of photographs of celebrities in their homes. In it she reassures us that our adoration and curiosity of celebrities isn’t just some silly voyeuristic exercise. She wrote:
If these images reveal much about the time in which they were taken — the white shag rug of the sixties, the pro-choice poster of the seventies — they reveal more about the celebrities captured therein.
Even gawking at these celebrities is worth something, for they were the icons of their day representing something larger than just themselves; they represent a culture, a time. Many are still considered icons and so they continue to tell us something of who we are even now.
In that same article, she summed things up well with this:
“Only because history is fetishized in physical objects can one understand it,” Susan Sontag wrote. In one sense, these images are themselves fetishized objects; they are fascinating curiosities. But the physical objects they capture are also historical artifacts, a way of making history concrete.
Ultimately the objects we preserve tell us of human events and motivations, even if what we collect and conserve is not fully appreciated by others.
Viewed this way, our collections are really private museums.
Which leads me to this announcement by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute.
In May, 2007, the institute is hosting a major international conference called “Collecting across Cultures in the Early Modern World” which will examine aspects of collecting as “a global and transcultural phenomenon.” In preparation they have posted a call for papers on the following subjects:
– The formation and organization of collections: trajectories, networks, circulation, exchange
– The motivations and uses of collections: science, art, religion, curiosity, commerce, empire
– The interpretation, contextualization, and reinvention of early modern collections
– The transference of techniques, artistic styles, ideas, and beliefs through the circulation of objects
– The role of geography in the production, circulation, and interpretation of collections
– The usefulness of theories of center and periphery, diffussionism, transculturation, metissage, etc. in the understanding of collections
– Relationships between objects, texts, and images
While these all seem rather lofty and ambitious (not to mention specifically focused on a period of antiquity ca. 1450 to ca. 1850), these questions are relevant to nearly every collector.
Don’t let the big words fool you, these are applicable to your collection. I plan on proving this here, and I encourage all you collectors to do the same. Post your stories here, write about it at your own blog, or maybe even submit a paper to USC for the conference. You are the curator of your own museum; you know why it exists, what affects how you build it, and what it means.
Stop right now, and look at your collection; besides ‘dust me,’ what is it telling you?
And what would it tell all of us if we could see it?