Display Photos & Ephemera With Tiered Hangers

Vintage metal skirt hangers are a great way to display photographs, postcards, and other pieces of ephemera. As the clips can be slid along the bars (to accommodate for various waist sizes), you can vary the arrangement of multiple items. If you have smaller pieces, you can even add clothespins to display more items.

Since the arrangement is not permanent, it is easy to rearrange and even change for seasons, etc.

These tiered hangers, which some refer to as linen hangers for their ability to store tablecloths and other linens, are still made today. So even if you cannot find a true vintage skirt hanger, you can do this!

As always, I recommend putting photos, postcards, and other pieces of old paper in protective sleeves to safeguard collectibles from both sunlight and dirt.

What to look for: Look for skirt hangers with plastic or rubber-tipped clips as these are best for safely holding old paper. Also, look for tiered skirt hangers with swivel hooks as these give you more options and greater versatility for easy hanging.

Ways To Display Monochromatic Collections In Your Home

Spotted this at Country Living:

Here’s how we recommend keeping the arrangement interesting:

• Group similarly shaped items (fluted vases, trophy-like urns) together, but stagger heights and mix various creamy shades.

• A few wild-card components, such as shells, architectural remnants, and tarnished silver vessels, prevent a monochromatic collection from becoming monotonous. Just keep them all muted, so they don’t hog the spotlight.

Photo by Bjorn Wallander.

Repairing Broken Or Missing Hangers On Vintage Chalkware Plaques Or Plaster Wall Art

When most people hear “chalkware” or “plaster” they think of those funny animal pieces and rip-offs of comic characters — the cheap prizes hawked by carnival barkers. Even at the circus and those old country fairs there were more delicate home decor pieces to be found. Some, like my harlequin Great Dane dog statue are really lovely. But there’s more than statues in the world of plaster & chalkware. Among the most popular chalkware collecting areas are the pieces by Miller Studios, like white poodle heads plaques. There are so many styles, you can literally plaster the walls!

miller-studios-vintage-plaster-poodles

Since chalkware and plaster of Paris items are fragile, no matter what their age, many pieces were damaged and thrown away. Surviving items may have chips and/or paint problems. Some collectors will make repairs, especially quick touch ups with paint, but I prefer the charm of a ‘flawed’ piece.

vintage-chalkware-plaques-pink-and-black-dancers

However, if the old wire hangers or staples on their backs have been broken (or completely lost), what do you do? You can’t just hammer in a replacement — you’ll shatter the chalk!

Once upon a time, there were these little picture hanger things with squares of rectangles or cloth on them… Do you remember those? The cloth was moistened, activating a glue-type adhesive. They looked rather like these on the back of these Wanda Irwin pieces. Only the ones I was thinking of had metal grommets securing the holes.

hangers-on-Wanda-Irwin-pieces

I went searching for them; but after three different stores, they must have gone the way of window shades: Practical things of the past one could only find online. You can find them online; but I was working on setting up the new antique booths and needed to fix the vintage poodle plaques now!

We have handfuls of the metal “toothed” picture hangers, but I needed a safe way to attach them to the plaster. Safe enough not to break the plaster when attached — and strong enough to make sure the plaques wouldn’t fall off the walls when hung.

First, I placed the sawtooth picture hanger on the back of the plaster plaque, where I wanted to attach it. Using a pencil, I traced the holes in the hangers. Once the hanger was taken away, I applied a rather generous dot of Liquid Nails over each of the penciled markings. Then, gently, but firmly, I pressed the metal hangers in place. Some of the adhesive oozed through the holes in the hangers — which is what I wanted. This is about securing the hangers, and therefore the future of the vintage plaster plaques; not about how neat it looks on the back.

I let the glue set over night. The next morning, I used a glue gun and applied a good layer of hot glue over the ends of the metal hangers, covering the Liquid Nails as well. I let that set for the day, and then, when I went to set up the new shop space, I carefully hung the vintage chalk plaques in place. Again, the backs may not look super (Did they ever, with those rusting staples?!), but the pieces are safely secured.

vintage-plaster-chalk-plaques-back

PS The kitschy plaster poodle plaques (from Miller Studio) and the pair of vintage plaster dancer plaques (in pink and black!) are available for purchase in our space at the new Fargo-Moorhead antique mall. If interested, feel free to contact me.

fixing-plaster-chalkware-hangers

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!]

Tintypes & Seashells

Since we went to that museum auction and got that fabulous antique folk art piece made of tintypes and seashells, I’ve been looking for more…

I found this antique frame of nine photos decorated in seashells…

Antique Sea Shell Display Frame Wall Sailors Valentine Folk 9 Ambrotypes 1860s

And this antique folk art or tramp art “Memory Bottle” has seashells mixed in with all the other buttons and bobs.

Antique Folk Tramp Art Memory Bottle

Image Credits: Drive Back In Time & The Antique Poole.

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

Vintage German Christmas Tree Candle Clips

Before electricity made its way into most homes, Christmas trees had the warm glow of candlelight. The candles were attached to the tree branches via little metal clips. Most often they were decorative clips made in Germany, like these shown here.  Since using candles to light your tree is neither practical, nor safe, we don’t recommend bringing back that tradition lightly. (No pun intended!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t safely use these charming bits of Christmas past this holiday. They make wonderful placeholders, with or without candles, at your holiday table.

antique german tree clips as placecard holders

More than that, these vintage and antique Christmas tree clips can be used to display your holiday greeting cards (collectible ephemera and the new ones you receive from family & friends this year), photographs, etc. (As always, I would recommend sliding old or collectible paper in clear sleeves to protect them from the elements.)

christmas tree candle clips display cards

This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.

display vintage ephemera with vintage christmas tree candle clips

In fact, since the designs on these old tree clips vary widely, including non-holiday motifs, like pine-cones, you could use them year round. For example, instead of clothespins on those framed bits of chicken-wire and other rustic ways to show-off photographs.

While I obviously prefer “old” pieces, if you prefer something more industrial (or at least not so shabby chic), there are contemporary clips as well. Whether you opt for old or new, whether you want to light the candles or not, the fact that they still make these tree candle clips means they still make the right size candles too.

Christmas Decorating For Collectors Who Want To Show Off Their Collections

The holidays, with all their visitors, are the perfect time for showing off our collections. And what collector doesn’t want to show off their collection?! Instead of replacing your antique and vintage treasures with holiday pieces, why not deck your collections along with decking the halls? It can be as simple as mixing in some simple holiday trims.

Here’s a collection of vintage soda pop bottles topped with simple gold and silver ball ornaments. It would make a unique centerpiece on any holiday table.

festive vintage soda pop bottle collection display

Collect breweriana, not pop? Gold balls really make vintage beer glasses come alive!

festive holiday poker display

Here I used some sparking Christmas tree balls and strings of garland to decorate some vintage pottery pieces.

vintage collectibles dressed for the holidays

Even more rustic country displays can be given some holiday glitz this way. I added some silver balls and garland to this set of vintage blue Ball canning jars.

festive primitives glass canning jars

And here, that rustic autumn centerpiece gets a bit more glamorous for the holidays. Along with the ball ornaments, I added some glittery golden picks.

rustic holiday centerpiece

Antique and vintage ornaments are nice to use, of course. And the old glass ornaments are actually much cheaper than you think right now. The kitschy vintage pipecleaner and flocked plastic ornaments, like the shelf-elves, are becoming more popular now and well out-price the vintage glass pieces. In fact, the vintage glass balls and ornaments — even those painted, frosted or otherwise decorated — can be found in antique shops in my area for as little as one dollar! (Contact me at my store page if you want me to be your personal shopper and get some for you!)

However, if you don’t have any vintage ornaments left over once you’ve decorated the Christmas tree, or if you cannot find enough old ornaments to get a color theme for your grouping, you can get extra trimmings inexpensively at the dollar store. That’s where all of these balls, picks, and garland came from.

Use Vintage Sleds To Carry The Holiday Gifts

I just love the look of old wooden sleds holding the Christmas presents. Sometimes you have more presents than the sled can carry — but a few on the sled looks lovely next to the tree! This is a photo of our display at Exit 55 Antiques.

antique vintage sled holding holiday gifts

Load Up Your Vintage Sleighs

We’ve all seen those cute vintage Santa and reindeer sleigh sets…

vintage santa reindeer and sleigh

And we’ve all seen enough of the old sleighs at thrift shops to know that eventually, like Santa’s sleigh Christmas morning, whatever goodies were originally in the sleigh have left — even Santa and his reindeer have departed leaving an empty and forlorn sleigh, just shadow of its former useful and joyful self.

But Wanda’s archive of Christmas decorating inspires me to rescue and adopt these old empty sleighs and fill them with other collectibles. (I do have quite a number of those just sitting around!) Here she shows some vintage plastic dolls of other nations taking a ride around the world in Santa’s sleigh.

vintage dolls in sleigh

And here, retro kitschy poodles pile on in! I just love that!

poodles in sleigh

Casual Vintage Holiday Table Centerpiece Using An Old Wooden Drawer

As I’ve said before, I like useful collectibles — and, because I don’t like anything to go to waste, I like to find new ways to make use of old things. Just because something is “old and just laying around,” doesn’t mean it can’t be salvaged or re-purposed. Like the vintage refrigerator crisper drawers, I knew these old wooden desk drawers I’d found could do something new and fabulous… Worn, paint-chippy wood is so charming!

Immediately, I thought of the holidays and the need for low centerpieces which wouldn’t get in the way of seeing family and friends.

vintage fall thanksgiving table

I lined the drawer with this seasons’ hottest decorating fabric is burlap (probably because it is both rustic and natural looking for Fall), but you can use any fabric that goes best with your table settings. Inside, I placed some nested vintage brown glazed stoneware bowls, a vintage brown milk bottle, some little glass bottles with colorful rocks and shells, and then, for some extra seasonal flair, I tucked in some pheasant feathers. Pretty enough for a Thanksgiving table, don’t you think?

old wooden drawer used as table centerpiece

You can certainly fill the bowls with pine cones or something else decorative, or use the bowls to help with serving at  the holiday table. And you sure can go crazy with red and green for Christmas; or change the colors and decorative combinations to match your china, your every day decor, whatever you’d like!

I may just keep this vintage wood drawer on the table top all the time. It can be awfully practical, serving to store the family’s usual table needs, such as napkins, salt and pepper shakers, the morning’s cereal bowls — whatever you find you need to leave on the table. And since it’s all in one drawer, you can pick it up as easily as any tray (maybe even more so, as the deeper sides mean less things will topple out and over!) to wipe the table clean, change the tablecloth, etc.

(See also Sit Down to Handmade Table Settings.)

Collecting The Kind Of Molds You Do Want In Your Kitchen

When I saw this jangle of vintage copper molds at the thrift store today, I was reminded of my aunt Vicki.

copper molds at thrift shop

When she was alive, her entire kitchen was decorated with them. It began, I believe, as an inexpensive way to decorate. Back when I was a kid, you could grab these copper molds for just a quarter or so, which meant for a dollar or two you could easily cover your kitchen walls. (They are more expensive now, but still less expensive than other forms of home decor for your kitchen walls.)

I remember how the copper would gleam off the walls and warm the room… Except for the lobster (he creeped me out — still does!)

As their monetary situation improved, even when they moved to a much larger house, my aunt continued to collect the copper molds — but she also began to add more pieces to her collection, like vintage chocolate molds.

I’ve sort of taken up the idea, but for even more practical reasons: space.

I’ve a modest collection of whimsical cake pans and I find that rather than attempting to stuff them into that wee drawer beneath the oven or fail at stacking them neatly next to the pots and pans, that it’s easier and prettier to display them on the wall above the kitchen cabinets.

collectibles above cupboards

Most of them, like the Wilton Scooby-Doo, have a small hole in the top from which to hang them. And cake pans without them can, like my vintage 3-D lamb cake mold, can sit up atop the cupboards. In either case, I’ve ended the clutter and crashes of cake pans that do not stack or nest nicely.

Plus, on display I know where each one is. The kids pick one out, I take it down and wash & dry it while they gather the ingredients. And I think they add charm to my kitchen too.

Vintage Paint By Number Metalware

Combining two of my favorite things, vintage metalware wastebaskets and vintage paint by numbers, what’s not to love about this 1950s paint by number Tole Craft Wastebasket!

Vintage Tole Craft Paint It Yourself No 17 Oriental Teahouse

Frankly, I had no idea metalware came in DIY crafting sets…

So I searched, finding a vintage promotional Tole Craft “Paint-It-Yourself” Art Metalware piece at Pine Street Art Works:

tole_craft_brochure_small

And I found an ad from 1958, listing all eight of Tole Craft’s metalware craft kits: Hanging Picture Tray, Waste Basket, Desk Basket, Chippendale Hanging Tray, Snack Trays, Magazine Rack, Planter Plate, and Tissue Box. I need all of those! Especially the magazine rack.

Now that I do know about these vintage paint by number metalware kits, I’ve saved eBay searches for vintage “tole craft”, and vintage metal paint by number — and I purchased/bid on a couple of kits. *wink*

But I did find and leave a few of these kits for you too. Like these six metal paint by number trays. It’s not a set of six, but three different pairs of trays; a pair of equestrian or horse trays, a pair of floral pattern trays, and two Scandinavian themed trays.

vintage paint by number metal trays

Along with kits by Tole Craft, look for kits and finished pieces by the Morilla Company, and even Family Circle. You’ll find wall sconces, book ends, and maybe more — if you patiently keep looking!

PS I just got this completed paint by number bookend with a heron as a gift for my bird-loving, antique addicted parents! (Shhhh! Don’t tell them!)

vintage paint by number bookend with heron and birds

Friday’s WHY IN DESIGN: how to incorporate antiques into your modern home

What do I collect? 
And, how can you collect and incorporate antiques into a modern aesthetic?  
I love anything for tabletop – like plates, sugar and bowl sets, tea sets and vintage cutlery, salt cellars (a fancy word for salt dishes) or glass ware.  Because many of these items were made beautifully and some by hand, the antique tabletop accessories tend to be high quality and durable.  I also enjoy collecting chairs (because you can never have enough chairs and especially when entertaining — there’s always a need to pull up extras), antique prints and botanical, outdoor furniture/ornamentation and lighting.  
Let’s focus on how to incorporate items that may be over one hundred years old into our modern day interior design in a way that highlights the pieces but with a fresh perspective.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

5 tips on what to look for & how to incorporate antiques into your home decor

See on nestnestnest.blogspot.com

Vintage Pin-Ups For The Nursery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Bruce & Beth

A pair of vintage pottery figurines — Asian dancers of some sort.

As you can see, from the markings on the bottoms of the pieces, his name is “Bruce” and her’s is “Beth”.

Both Bruce & Beth were made by The Ceramic Arts Studio in Madison, Wisconsin. These are but two of the more than 800 figurines Betty Harrington designed in her 14 years at the company. Likely made sometime in the late 1940s or in the 1950s, the pair of figurines are specific examples of the Harrington’s work and noted in Ceramic Arts Studio: The Legacy of Betty Harrington along with the following information:

Betty’s interest in the costume designs of modern dance pioneer Martha Graham led to a series of arts-inspired draped figures, with arms and legs fully, or partially, concealed under flowing garments. This simple and modern styling elevated CAS design to a new level. Not only did the body draping result in what Betty called “beautiful, graceful forms”, it also had a more practical result: exquisite detail was realized with a minimum of time and labor.

I probably sold them too cheaply… But that just means they delighted someone and got to be taken home and displayed far faster. *wink*

What Is Mid-Century Modern?

If you’ve spent any time talking with other collectors, antiquers, dealers, or folks who just enjoy watching the plethora of collecting shows, you’ve been hearing an increase in the term “mid-century modern.” Loosely applied, the term can mean anything made in the middle of the last, or 20th, century, usually 1940-1960. But more aptly, the term applies to a design aesthetic which embraces the marriage between function and form — with a simplicity of style born of the artistic and cultural movement of Modernism. And because of the “modern” in “mid-century modern”, the style dates back much further than the name implies.

Modernism is more than just an artistic style; it’s a cultural movement. The movement’s origins go far back as the 1880s, to Germany before the first World War. Despite, or perhaps because of, the prevailing conservatism, there was an increased interest in what the Germans considered the very American notion of usefulness — or, as Dennis Crockett phrased it in his book, German Post-Expressionism: The Art of the Great Disorder 1918-1924, the “predilection for functional work.”

This philosophy, called Neues Bauen or New Objectivity, was first or most notably employed in addressing the German housing crisis of the time. The physical design application of New Objectivity resulted in design innovations in architecture, in which the commercial need for cost-effective housing was met with a radically simplified yet dynamic functionalism, offering simplicity, health, and beauty for the occupants. This solidified the notion that mass-production was indeed reconcilable with individual artistic spirit — it meant affordability — and it was something the famous Bauhaus would build upon when it was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919.

Widely acknowledged as the the first academy for design in the world, the Bauhaus manifesto includes the declaration “to create a new unity of crafts, art and technology.” It was here students and artists would focus on the craftsmanship and the manufacture of works in a collaborative setting, “to produce a work that is not limited to its purely aesthetic meaning, but supports and even influences the transformation of social reality and thus shapes a new society.” And at this time, the transformation desired was a modern one of simplicity and functionality. (For more on the Bauhaus movement and the artists themselves, I highly recommend a book I’ve been reading The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism, by Nicholas Fox Weber. It’s fascinating!) Here is where mid-century modern truly begins.

Because the Bauhaus produced more than a mere decorative style, because it pushed the values and needs of a modern world, the school, the artists, and the works created would inspire many others throughout the (mainly Western) world. Spurred on by urban living and the rapid development of plastics and other materials, mid-century modernism became quite popular.

Some of the most known — and collected names — in what we now call mid-century modern, were influenced by the Bauhaus and the movement. They include Americans Ray and Charles Eames (who made fabulous toys too!); Brits Robin Day and his wife Lucienne, and Ernest Race; the Japanese designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi; and Scandinavians Børge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl (PDF), and Hans Wegner. (Because of the latter design giants, mid-century modern overlaps with, and is often confused for, Scandinavian or Danish design. Here the date of creation and manufacture help make the final decision.)

Here’s a photo of mid-century modern designers George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saainen (who died not long after this photo was taken), Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, and Jens Risom for an article in Playboy, July 1961.

Furniture wasn’t the only thing affected by mid-century modernist design. Other functional household objects, such as clocks, radios, and lamps (this was the start of lava lamps!) were made — and are heavily collected today.

Housewares, kitchenalia, and decorative items also got the mid-century modern treatment. You’ll see lots of geometric yet sleek pottery and glassware with embossed patterns and lines of the mid-century mod design. While there still were the more traditional shapes and forms, some with more elaborate and fancy painted designs, made during this time too (Hey, not everyone hops on the trends!), the mid-century modern look is most readily identified by its design simplicity. The decorations seem to better fit the form and function of the piece. Look for pieces in solid colors with embossed designs which seem to flow along the lines of the piece rather than appear applied to it. And remember, one of the primary influences of the movement was purposefulness; meaning the design is wed to an item of purpose and function. When it comes to pieces of decorative turquoise California pottery, for example, there’s less usefulness and practicality than there is with a chair, lamp, or piece of refrigerator glass… However, the style is often represented in these pieces more decorative than functional items and collectors do like them.

Mid-century modern as a category of collecting dates from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Because of the dates involved, mid-century modern overlaps, influences, and to some degree encapsulates designs from the Atomic Era, Space Age and Googie design, California Modernism, etc. These innovative and popular designs of the 20th century not only pioneered modern furniture and industrial design, but are now the iconic pieces we think of when we think of these decades.

Truly defining or identifying mid-century modern pieces may be difficult; but like Justice Potter said of pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.

Image Credits: (In order images appear.) Photo of Keck & Keck home, via; photos of the Bauhaus Haus am Horn kitchen, 1923, and containers designed by Theodor Bogler for the kitchen and the Josef Albers set of four stacking tables (1927), via; designers photo from Playboy, via; and photo of vintage mid-century modern Westinghouse beige pottery refrigerator-ware pitcher, via.

A Bouquet Of Doorknobs

I found this pretty way to display vintage door knobs at Exit 55 Antiques (Fergus Falls, MN). I love how they look like a bouquet when grouped in the old silver vase.

For a collector of antiques and vintage items, there’s nothing quite like a bouquet of old items — which won’t fade or die! Maybe we should all be singing, “You don’t bring me doorknobs, anymore…” *wink*

Vintage Chalkware Baby Statue With Removable Diapers

This vintage chalkware piece isn’t as creepy (or racist) as these vintage chalkware babies, but there’s still something creepy about the “hair” spray-painted on it… It reminds me of the old bowl-haircuts mom used to give us. *wink*

The baby’s diaper is cloth and even has old (rusty) safety pins holding them up. This I found surprising as, even though I collect old chalkware pieces, it is the first time I’ve seen clothing or fabric attached to a piece of chalkware that wasn’t of the erotic varieties. (I’ve seen a few female nudes in chalkware or plaster which have little fabric or fringed skirts of sorts.) Have any of you seen old chalkware items with which have anything removable like that?

The Wonder Of Collecting

On shows like Oddities there’s much talk about cabinets of curiosities, but you needn’t have a fancy cabinet — or anything morbid, or even Victorian, to display in it — to arouse curiosity. In fact, I consider my entire home a display and I thrill when anyone stops and looks in wonder. It’s like a large, living, scrapbook. My home may not be at the level of Anthony Pisano’s, but whenever friends and family, like my young niece, take the time to look at what I’ve got on my shelves, I’m ecstatic that my objects start the conversations, the stories, the wonder…

Photo Credits: In Awe by Gracie Clark.

PS You really should see Anthony Pisano’s collection and home!