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.

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.

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.

Antique Real Photo Postcard Featuring Female Backsides

Another “stumper” old photograph featuring the backs of women, this one, from bondman2, is a real photo postcard, circa 1910s. We’re still hoping to hear more about these photos, so if you know anything, please share!

14 Things This Collector Is Thankful For

Traditionally Thanksgiving involves giving thanks for family, friends, food and other blessings of a non-materialistic nature. I’ll be giving that little speech later today with family, don’t you worry about that; but this holiday I want to give special thanks from the bottom of my little collector heart.

#1 “Thanks, ancestors, for settling here.” And by ‘settled’ I mean just that, setting up permanent houses. No offense to the more nomadic peoples, but I’m a collector; I need a place to store my stuff.

#2 “Thanks to all the people who don’t throw things out.” If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to find and adopt them.

#3 “Thanks, mom and dad, for instilling in me the love of collecting.” You taught me many joys of collecting… the rush of finding, the thrill of bidding victory, the coolness of displaying it all… But more than object ownership & the pursuit of it, you taught me what objects & collecting really is about.

Objects were never ‘just things’, but stories, lessons, and connections. You taught me that everything has/had a purpose. It was made to solve a problem, to express an emotion, or was in some way a part of a larger story. That story may be personal or part of the collective human story — sometimes, the story begins as one and ends as another. You didn’t just share your stories & knowledge, but did so with enthusiasm. And you encouraged us to share our own stories about what we learned, which in turn encouraged us to become lovers of learning.

These lessons in history, culture, art, form & function were all valuable — but none more valuable than the time spent with you. May I have the brains and patience to convert the passion for stuff into such gifts for my children.

#4 “Thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me how to collect.” The lessons here were many… Simple money management skills, for example, have served me well. But learning how to evaluate and establish the value of something has impacted my life the most.

Value is isn’t always what you think it is. It’s not just the price you pay for it, and it may be something no two people will ever agree upon either. Yet when it comes to monetary value, this can only be determined when people agree upon it. So if you don’t agree with the price suggested, negotiate.

Lessons in negotiations taught me, even as a child, how to walk up to anyone with confidence and talk about anything — and how, when things weren’t going my way, to walk away politely without any upset. I’d done my best, but it just wasn’t going to work out this time. Everyone should learn that lesson.

If & when you agree to a value and pay it, no matter what that amount is, you should treat that item with great care. The true value of that object is what made you want it in the first place, and, whatever price you paid, that was money you worked hard to earn. Dismissing these intrinsic values in the object does more than dishonor the object now entrusted to your care, but shows disrespect for yourself. It’s not that the guy with the bigger pile wins; but rather it’s the girl with the most integrity, who takes care of her things and show value for herself, who does.

#5 “Thanks, mom and dad, for teaching me what collecting is — and what it isn’t. Things are not more important than people, but objects can be a link to the people in our personal pasts and long-gone members in our family tree. As we hand traditions and stories down, the original objects themselves are the tangible proof of who walked and loved among us, as well as those who walked before us.

That said, no one should ever love an object so much that they are willing to sacrifice a family member or family peace over it. People first, things second.

#6 “Thanks, teachers, for instructing me how to take an interest and turn it into an obsession.” Without the research skills you taught me, I never would have known how to sate my curiosity. Nor would I have learned that research may in fact only lead to more questions, more research, and that this too is a form of joy; the delight of discovery & the thrill of yet another new adventure are awesome things.

Of course, this would not have been possible if it weren’t for those who taught me not only to read but to love reading. (My book collection, especially thanks you.)

Ditto those who taught me to write. I may have cursed dangling participles, hated your red pen, but without you, my obsession & research would have no outlet.

#7 “Thanks to my dogs for not chewing on or otherwise destroying items and boxes left on the floor when we unload the van after a trip to an auction.” It means I have some time to make room for them all.

#8 “Thanks to my cat for reminding me that the boxes have sat there too long by sitting on top of the most visible box.” It reminds me the things in the boxes need better care, so I’d better find more safe and permanent storage for them.

#9 “Thanks to the guy who invented boxes.” It would truly suck if I didn’t have strong, stackable containers to carry things home and store them in.

#10 “Thanks, museums & their staff, for housing & caring for what I cannot.” Everybody has limits — even museums. But without you, where would things, large and small, go and be preserved? Thanks for doing all that you can so that these objects and their stories will be there for others when they desire to see and learn about them.

(And you make research that much easier too.)

#11 “Thanks, again, to all the people who don’t throw things out.” It bears repeating, because without you, what would I do?!

#12 “Thanks, hubby & kids, for not just putting up with me — but for collecting with me.” I love that we all go on collecting adventures together, and that we share our finds, discoveries, and stories. I love that you listen to mine (and review games with me on occasion), of course, but it’s not every mother, every wife, who is lucky enough to be the goal of a footrace as every one rushes to tell her what they found, how they found it, and why it’s so special.

Every time we talk about our things, asking questions — and listening to the answers, I think how lucky I am to have a close family comprised of such inquisitive & interesting people. It’s a privilege to collect with you.

#13 “Thanks, makers of the Internet, for creating a new world.” Without the Internet, my collecting world would be so much smaller… Smaller in terms of finding, buying, selling, researching, and meeting other folks as obsessed as I. It’s nifty to know that there are other nuts like me — folks even nuttier than me — ‘out there somewhere’; but it’s hard to put into words just how keen it is to meet these fellow-nuts, see their glorious stuff, and learn their stories.

#14 “A special thanks to you, dear reader.” Your reading, comments, and emails are proof that I’m not alone in my obsession… The objects of our affections may differ (delightfully!), but we are all a part of the same thing. It’s a privilege to collect with you, too.

How Does The Deal Measure Up?

How Does The Deal Stack Up?

Frank Fritz of American Pickers calls it “the bundle” when he groups multiple items into a single sale to negotiate for a lower price. I think as collectors we’ve all done that… You spy a few records you want in the box and decide to make an offer on the whole box so you can flip through all the vintage vinyl more comfortably at home. In fact, there are a number of regular picking places hubby and I buy in volume to get a better deal over all and I swear that on more than one occasion we’ve paid less for a van-load of stuff than we would have paid for just one of the larger items.

Of course, there were times we’ve blown our budget on such “deals” too because we miscalculated just what was all in that box…

But Grinin’ — one half of Inherited Values own Antiquips who is otherwise known as The Dean — has tips for you on how to measure up your own deals going by the inch!

Read it and the next time you are faced with a box of records or comic books, a stack of View Master Reels, postcards or other ephemera, you’ll make a wiser decision — leaving you richer for the read.

Little Easels To Display Your Small Collectibles, Miniature Works Of Art

These little button easels are a great way to display your vintage and antique buttons on shelves, in shadowboxes and antique printer’s trays, you vanity — anyplace, really! Each is hand made by happyhoarder66, who says that each little wire easel is made of “very workable metal so if you need to bend one slightly to accommodate an unusual shape there should be no problem.”

A slightly lager size, measuring just over an inch tall, is available for displaying jewelry and ephemera, such as on postcards, matchbooks and photographs. I bet they’d work for displaying pinbacks too.

Both sizes of the little collectible display easels are sold in lots of one dozen — bur larger order amounts and custom sizes are welcome.

Foxy Vintage Postcard Stories

Many people collect postcards for what’s on the front… Maybe they collect real photo postcards, or vintage images of animals on postcards, or antique images of cities… Maybe they collect by artist or publisher. But some of us fall in love with what’s on the backs of the postcards.

Some postcards were used as contest entry forms, or direct response responses, like this vintage postcard requesting a Sergeant’s dog book. But perhaps even better than that, are the handwritten notes — like little glimpses into lives, short stories as sweet as snapshots.

Here’s an example:

Seward, Alaska
Aug. 12, 193(3?)

Dearest Aunts:

At last we are back on the coast again (and much too soon to suit us). The Kenai Peninsula camping trip we have had these last two weeks has been unbelievably glorious. One very interesting place we visited is the biggest and most scientific fox farm in Alaska on Kenai Lake not far from Moose Pass. (?) Mrs. Williamson (she attended the V. of California) showed us around their farm and we handled this very tame silver fox.

Lots of love, Ben

I’m guessing, from this article on the fox farms of Kenai, that the postcard’s Mrs. Williamson was Harriet “Mickey” Williamson; but I have no idea about Ben or his unmarried Aunts.

Call me a romantic, but I like to imagine or create their stories… How the “spinster” sisters enjoyed the postcards from Ben. Who Ben traveled with. For how long… And, of course, that the tame silver fox lived to a ripe old age, despite his “scientific” home at a fur farm.

Image Credits: 1930s real photo postcard of a woman with a fox on her shoulders, via Lynnstudios.

Ride A Cockhorse

The seller of this real photo photo postcard (RPPC) featuring two children with a rocking horse, says it’s from Central Pennsylvania, circa 1910s. You can’t help but wonder if the older sister is wishing she was still young enough to ride, rather than watch the younger child on the porch. *wink*

Image via Lynnstudios.

What’s In Store? Real Photo Postcards, 1907

One of the most fascinating areas of collecting antique and vintage photographs are those images showing the interior of shops and retails stores — like these real photo postcards, circa 1907.

Notice the well-dressed help and the tin tiles on the walls; the fine array of items, such as china in the display cases, the baby buggies and strollers… Oh, the things you could see with the actual antique postcard in your hand and a magnifying glass!

In this next image, there are plenty of guns, tools, keys, and hardware — along with spinning wheels, a few stray things, such as coffee pots and lanterns. On the walls there are other intriguing photographs… Lots of lovely ladies — including one with two horses! Perhaps a circus act? Among all the beauties, what appears to be the bottom half a wrestler or other male athlete.

Images via Lynnstudios.

Great Way To Display Collectible Travel Postcards & Souvenirs

I spotted this clever display at an antique mall and I thought it would be great for use in the home too: a simple vintage wall shelf, with the vintage postcards in the little spaces for knick knacks — the vases and glassware keep the postcards upright.

Wouldn’t it be great to pair travel postcards with little travel souvenirs? It would be like a 3D scrapbook that everyone could see!

Of course, you don’t have to be limited to postcards or travel items; any ephemera of a similar size would work. Antique trade and advertising cards paired with related smalls; vintage paper and fabric bookmarks with metal bookmarks; baseball cards with signed baseballs in cases — nearly endless ideas!

(I would advocate placing the postcards and other ephemera inside those firm plastic sleeves first, to keep them protected.)