What’s This Thing From The Past?

People have asked what the pretty floral fabric item is in this photo of the antique child’s chair:

The long fabric piece which rolls up onto a tube (also wrapped in the fabric) is a part of textile history nearly forgotten.  It’s a doily holder! Ladies would roll their doilies, runners, etc. up in this to store them and keep them clean, back at a time when drawer space was at a premium (and also to accommodate wider textile pieces which would only fit in drawers if folded, which would crease them). So it still serves those who collect doilies and other textiles!

I’ll try to add more photos of the piece alone soon.

Vintage Folding Sewing Cabinets

Having recently written about the various types of vintage sewing baskets and boxes (part one, part two), I was thrilled to find this vintage newspaper photo:

The photo of Jan Norris (of NBC’s It’s A Man’s World television show) was featured above an article promoting patterns for making this folding sewing cabinet and other sewing boxes. Unfortunately, the microfilm copy isn’t very clear; but you can still get the idea.

Vintage Industrial & Primitive Candle Holders

Vintage dairy cream separator funnels have a great industrial look — and a great primitive look when rusty.

They make great candle stick holders!

If you plan on lighting the candles, you should place them on an appropriate heat resistant/fire-safe container — antique saucers and plates work well for this and you can even mix and match leftover saucers or find a use for those in not-so-great condition. You might even want to weave some lace or ribbon in the holes to play up the textures against the old metal. …And if you are using ribbons and things, why not add some vintage buttons too? There are lots of possibilities.

Everedy For Vintage Kitchenalia

If I weren’t reading vintage magazines, I might have continued my ignorance of the Tater-Baker. I would have seen the (probably aluminum) dome and thought it was a cake saver, missing it’s platter.

Vintage Everedy ad, found in Good Housekeeping (May 1961).

Vintage Flatware From Oneida & Betty Crocker

For you collectors of all things Betty Crocker, a vintage ad promoting flatware you could buy with your Betty Crocker coupons. This ad is from November, 1964, and features Oneida silverplate flatware patterns Enchantment and Winsome, and Oneida stainless flatware patterns Twin Star and My Rose.

(Another) Back To School Primer On Collecting Vintage Children’s School Books

It’s that time of year again, when children head back to school. While parents feel that special mixture of worry and relief, many children head back to school with a groan. But school must not be all that bad — or why else would so many adults collect vintage school books?

Of course, like any collection, a collector may begin collecting the books they had as a child but find themselves adding editions that came before (and after) the versions they were assigned… Adding more books by the same author, publisher, illustrator… And there are other books besides primers and reading books. Every school subject had its texts. There are books on geography, math, science, sociology — even text books for adult learners on accounting, typing, welding, etc. Every one of those niches has its collectors, whether they are collecting to preserve memories or the history of an occupation or industry. Literally not sticking to the subject is one way to amass great shelves full of old school books.

Some collectors primarily collect, or begin collecting, the old children’s school books for the illustrations, photographs, and images inside. For many collectors, it is the pretty pictures which they fondly remember and seek. As many illustrators of children’s books had prominent careers, with their works seen outside of school walls (and homework at the kitchen table), some collectors end up with vintage readers etc. simply collecting the careers of their favorite illustrators. Others just find old images fascinating; after all, old pictures are still worth a thousand historical (and sometime hysterical) words.

As you can see from the history of Dick and Jane books, there’s more then mere nostalgia involved in collecting antique and vintage school books.  Not in spite of — but because of — old or outdated information, assumptions, and omissions old school books document the history of educational movements and culture in general.

Of course, primers existed long before Dick and Jane, or even the two Williams (Gray and Elson) themselves. The history of primers, of literacy itself, has links to the history of the Bible and the Reformation. FromThe English Primers, 1529-1545, by Charles C. Butterworth:

The name itself was given by the people of England, as early as the fourteenth century, to what was known in Latin as the Book of Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Compiled from materials used in church and monastery, the Primer was intended specially for the laity, to guide the devout layman in his private daily devotions or to help him bear his part in the services of the Church.

…It is supposed by some that the name Primer was derived from Prime, the first of the Hours. But most authorities believe that from the start the name was applied to what was naturally regarded in many households as their first book (liber primarius), either because it was in such constant service or, more likely, because it was useful in learning to read, especially in Latin. No evidence at hand is of sufficient antiquity to settle the question.

As time passed, we can thank (or blame) primers and their instruction of children and adults for the loss of Latin as a primary language and for the empowerment of the everyday person in general. These old school books educate us about more than issues and movements of religion, slavery, city life in an Industrial Age, prohibition, etc., but about the treatment of the people living through them. Depictions, descriptions, and even omissions tell the story of how we once treated women, children, the physically and mentally handicapped, the aging, native peoples, the poor, and even wealthy white men. Through these old educational books, we see the the documented history of how people were treated — and just when society demanded that we treat them better. These books are the documentation of our societal values, of our tolerance and intolerance.

Along with nostalgic collectors, scholars, and historians, many parents today are buying vintage school books and primers to use with homeschooling and helping assist their children with learning. (Since the way we instruct our children in the classroom has changed over the years, some older books are actually sought for teaching those with special needs; it’s another way to try to reach and teach.) This increases the competition for primers, readers, math books, and other books for which the information is not dated.

When selecting a book to add to your collection, condition is always an issue. Children’s books always have condition issues. Along with underlined text, attempts to solve problems, and the doodles of a bored or distracted student, many primers and texts were passed down to the next child in the family or to new students at the start of a new year. Passing through so many hands means more wear and tear. Along with more smudges, dog-eared pages, rubbed corners, and even notes from one child to the next child assigned the book, there’s the greater likelihood of torn and missing pages, fatigued or spent bindings, and lost covers. School copies, even teacher editions, will have stamps and official markings; though typically less than library copies.

Expecting antique or even vintage primers, readers, and other school books to be pristine or collectible-conditions clean is unrealistic. I’m not saying finding such a copy is impossible, but given the fact that these old texts were often tossed out for being obsolete, it’s amazing we have any around at all. Suffice it to say, the prettier the book, the prettier the pennies you’ll pay for it.

For some of us, signs of use are part of the charm. Not just the doodles, or notes which tell you of the previous owners, but even covers rubbed bare and split signs are signs one can compare to a well-loved stuffed animal. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, books can become real with love.

PS All the images here are from books I will be selling, either at eBay at our yard sale this weekend.

A Back To School Primer On Collecting Vintage Dick & Jane Books

Dick and Jane books are among the most popularly collected school books. This is because the series of books was used for over 40 years in American schools. That’s millions of children who were taught by Dick, Jane, Sally, Pam, Penny, Mike, their neighbors, families, and pets! Here’s a bit of history on the vintage Dick and Jane series of books.

In the late 1920s, Zerna Addis Sharp sought out William S. Gray, a renowned educational psychologist and reading authority from the University of Chicago, and pitched to him her philosophy that children are more receptive to reading if the books contained illustrations related to them and their lives. Gray was impressed enough to hire Sharp. While illustrations of the family Sharp created were published in earlier versions of primers by Scott, Foresman and Company, it wasn’t until later that Dick and Jane would appear by name.

In 1930, Gray and William H. Elson, along with May Hill Arbuthnot, created the Curriculum Foundation Series of books for Scott, Foresman and Company.  Here Dick & Jane and their family appeared in the first edition of the Curriculum Foundation Series pre-primer called Elson Basic Readers. In this edition, the baby sister was not named yet (she was simply called “Baby”), the cat was called “Little Mew”, and Spot, the dog, was a terrier.

In 1934, the pre-primer was renamed Dick and Jane and a second book, also a pre-primer, More Dick and Jane Stories, was added. In 1936, the series title changed to Elson-Gray Basic Readers to acknowledge Gray’s role in the series (Sharp was not acknowledged, despite what would be a 30 year career at Scott, Foresman & Company). Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward did the illustrations, and Marion Monroe also authored some of these early editions of the Dick and Jane books.

Scott, Foresman and Co. retired the Elson-Gray series in 1940, but Dick and Jane remained in the Basic Readers and their Think-and-Do workbooks. Now the baby sister is named Sally — and she gets a teddy bear named Tim, the cat becomes Puff, and Spot becomes a Cocker Spaniel. New books in the series were introduced in 1940 and 1946. In Canada, English and French versions of the Dick and Jane books were translated and published by W.J. Gage & Co., Limited; and British English versions were published by Wheaton in Exidir in the UK. Official Catholic editions of the series, the Cathedral Basic Readers, were created to teach religious themes along with reading. For example, Sally, Dick, and Jane was retitled Judy, John, and Jean to reflect Catholic Saints and to include stories on morality. In the 1946 edition, Tim the teddy was removed and a toy duck was added. Also, Texas had its own editions of the the books in 1946. Another author, A. Sterl Artley, began writing Dick and Jane books in 1947. By the end of the 1940s, the Collection Cathedral was published for French-Canadian Catholics.

By the 1950’s, over 80% of first-graders in the United States were learning to read with Dick and Jane. New editions whose titles began with “The New” were added, and Robert Childress would become the illustrator. But it was during this decade that Dick and Jane et al. would find themselves under strong attack. Concerned groups criticized everything from misrepresentations of perfection and other cultural issues to matters of literacy itself. In 1955’s Why Johnny Can’t Read, Rudolf Flesch blamed the look-say style of Dick and Jane readers for not properly teaching children how to read or appreciate literature. While phonetics were always a part of the Dick and Jane series, there was not enough for the growing movement of phonics fans. For all of these reasons, most of the major changes to the Dick and Jane series occurred in the 1960s.

In 1962, Helen M. Robinson was the new head author, the books had new material (including more phonics), new illustrations by Richard Wiley, and Dick and Jane had matured, in age and sophisticated. The initial printings of the 1962 soft-cover Dick and Jane books increased in page size and did not have the white tape reinforcement on the spine. The covers of these editions fell off rather easily — which is why they are so hard to find with covers intact.  As a result, Scott, Foresman and Company added the reinforced taped spines and advertised the feature heavily. (These books were never issued as hardcovers; any hardcover copies were either library bindings or were rebound later.)

But in 1965, both Civil Rights school integration and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act would continue to challenge the book publisher.

Scott, Foresman and Company worked to address the school integration and inclusion issues by once again employing Zerna Sharp’s literacy philosophy. The African-American family, including twins Pam and Penny and their brother Mike, first appeared in the 1964 Catholic School books; public school students were introduced to the African-American family in 1965. (In response to outrage from racist complaints, Scott, Foresman & Company offered alternative covers of the 1965 integrated books; these Child Art editions removed the characters from the covers and replaced them with finger-paint art designs. Later editions of Think and Do books just had solid color blocks.) Also in 1965, the Pacific Press Publishing Association published an integrated version of Fun With Dick and Jane for Seventh-day Adventists. Entitled Friends We Know, Jesus appears on the covers along with Dick, Jane and Mike.

In the mid 1960s, Scott, Foresman and Company tried to address the phonics issue by introducing books in an experimental language called Initial Teaching Alphabet or ITA. The Experimental Edition of the Scott-Foresman pre-primer was titled Nou Wee Reed. These ITA Dick and Jane books are rare finds.

In the late 1960s, the Dick and Jane books expanded to include three new series based on academic performance. For those performing below grade level, there was Open Highways. (Original printings of these books had “The Open Highways Readers” printed on the spine; later printings just had “Open Highways”.) For strong readers, Scott, Foresman and Company added Wide Horizons, self-directed readers which did not have workbooks, and for even more advanced or gifted readers, there was also Bright Horizons. Reading Inventory tests were added to the Dick and Jane series to use as a placement guide.

Despite all Scott, Foresman and Co. tried to do, the book publisher just couldn’t overcome all the objections, especially those regarding the too-perfect Dick and Jane world. The goody-goody kids and their ideal gender stereotyped simplicity was no longer relatable or desirable.  The series was officially ended in the late 1960s, replaced in 1970 with Scott, Foresman Reading Systems. (However, in 1975, the 1962 pre-primer was republished by the American Printing House for the Blind in a large type edition with black and white images for sight-impaired children.) Still, Dick and Jane books continued to be ordered and sold from warehouse stock well into the 1970s.

The books Dick and Jane collectors are searching for today are those which managed to be saved — and held onto — by teachers, staff, and students, despite the fact that many schools were even ordered to destroy all remaining copies of works in the series. For these reasons, along with the usual wear and tear of children’s books, finding vintage Dick and Jane books in pristine conditions is very difficult. Collectors learn to live with writings, doodles and marks, missing pages, etc. — or pay steep prices for not having signs of use.

Over the decades, many Dick and Jane materials were produced. Along with the readers and primers mentioned, there were other subject books, such as art, health, math, etc. There were teacher editions; books on teaching techniques; large display books placed on easels, called Our Big Book; posters and picture cut-outs for classroom display; picture and word flash cards; LP record albums; games for the classroom; and other teaching aids.

On the business end, Scott, Foresman and Co. sent out catalogs, newsletters, and promotional items, such as calendars, greeting cards, and Christmas ornaments. These items were produced in much smaller quantities and, being ephemeral in nature, are rare finds.

But Dick and Jane live on.

In 1977, George Segal and Jane Fonda would star in Fun with Dick and Jane, a film based on a Gerald Gaiser story about the failed promises of a Dick and Jane perfect world. (The film was remade with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni in 2005.)

In 2003, Grosset & Dunlap rereleased original Dick and Jane primers, selling over 2.5 million copies in just over a year even with a publisher disclaimer that the books were nostalgic and not to be used to teach children to read. Due to the popularity of the reissue, reproductions and new related merchandise featuring the iconic imagery and catch phrases, like “See Spot run!”, has been produced.

Additional Resources:

A rather complete list of original Dick and Jane books is here.

Carole Kismaric’s Growing Up with Dick and Jane: Learning and Living the American Dream captures the nostalgia while tracing the cultural points of the Dick and Jane series.

Image Credits:
(In order they appear)

Our Big Book, Dick and Jane Teacher’s Classroom Edition, via into_vintage.

First Dick and Jane book, the 1930 Elson Basic reader, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

Set of 11 vintage Dick and Jane readers from the 1940s and set of 13 readers from the 1950s, via Wahoos House.

The 1963 Judy, John And Jean New Cathedral Basic Reader, via Keller Books.

Set of 13 books from 1960s, via Wahoos House.

A set of 1930s Dick and Jane flashcards, via Wahoos House; vintage Dick and Jane Blackout Game, circa 1950s, and 1951 Poetry Time three-record Dick and Jane set, narrated in the voice of May Hill Arbuthnot one of the original Dick and Jane authors, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

The 1954 Scott, Foresman and Company Dick and Jane sales catalog, via Tiny Town Books & Toys.

This One Was Hard To Part With

Sold this lovely turquoise vintage Dormeyer mixer at the yard sale. I really wanted to keep it, but as I’ve said, “I only keep a dozen mixers a time. When I reach more than 13—a baker’s dozen—I have to sell some off, because what good are they in boxes in the basement? Well, OK, 10 in the basement is fine. But 12? That’s insane… Right?

Don’t Throw In The Towel: Antique Advertising Tin Has A Hold On Me

I found this antique tin advertising piece at the flea market this past Sunday. The little clay marble or ball inside it intrigued me… At first, I wasn’t sure if it had inadvertently stuck itself in there, but it rolled back and forth freely and there was a hole in the back that looked like a manufacturing punch to insert the ball. I played with it a few minutes… Rolling the ball back and forth. Not the worst game ever; but not exactly riveting either.

An older man watched me playing with the piece, so I looked up and asked him, “Do you know what this is?”

“Advertising…”

“I know,” I responded politely, “But what was it for?”

By now another older man had joined us and they both simultaneously replied, “It’s a towel holder.”

Ah, so that was it!

Having played with it, I decided to honor the dealer’s time (and patience) by buying it. Then returned back to hubby, who was waiting in our sales booth (yeah, we were supposed to be making money, not spending it; but that’s how flea markets go!) I was pretty sure if I’d never seen one, I could stump him.

I should have known better. He knows pretty much everything.

“Guess what this is?” I goaded.

“A towel holder,” he said with barely a glance.

Arg! What a buzz kill. *wink*

But since a huge part of my interest in collecting is learning, my enthusiasm didn’t stop.

This antique advertising piece is from the Mahlum Lumber Company of Brainerd, Minnesota, (the lumber business formed in 1904, but incorporated in 1914) and it promotes the company as “The House Of Dependable Lumber & Coal.” But, unless you collect such advertising pieces, that’s probably not the most interesting part.

Called “The Erickson Towel Holder“, this antique tin piece was made by the C. E. Erickson & Company of Des Moines, Iowa, “Manufacturers of Advertising Specialties” and, according to the original box of one of these towel holders, “Makers of the ‘Result-producing Quality Line.'” C. E. Erickson & Co. were also creators/owners of a number of patents. However, the only patent I see for a towel holder is for a paper towel holder (one I am quite familiar with). Yet that one doesn’t seem to bear the name “The Erickson Towel Holder”.

The Erickson Towel Holder ought to have been patented (and perhaps it was; I just didn’t find it), because it really is a neat contraption.

Good-Bye Unsightly Nails and Disfigured Walls.

No torn towels — no towels on the floor — increased life to the towel and a convenient place for it.

Through the use of this Holder the towel is held by either end — or by the center, increasing the service and life of the towel.

As a mom, I know the problems of towels which seem to “jump” from the towel bar; no one around here ever admits to pulling it off during use. And as a thrifty and environmentally conscious person, I like the idea of hand towels — if they are properly used. When hands are washed clean and dried on the towel, they do not get dirty; the towels merely get wet and dry in the air. (Something I remind my family about every time I find dirty hand towels — when you thoroughly wash your hands at the sink, there are no grubby prints or smudges on the towels!) Plus, this small holder (less than 7 1/2 inches tall and 3 inches wide) fits easily into small spaces; something more modern towel holders cannot.

Because C. E. Erickson & Co. was a promotions making company, they also made these nifty postcards for their customers to mail out:

This illustration of the Erickson Towel Holder will give you an idea of how handy and simple it really is — No home is complete without this practical, convenient device. We have one for your home and want you to call and receive this useful household necessity with our compliments.

Sincerely,

Kindly bring this card

(The blank spot after “Sincerely” was where Mahlum Lumber and other companies using these advertising premiums would place their names.)

How this nifty towel holder works is best described on the original packaging: “Simply insert the towel under glass ball with an upward movement. Remove with the same.” As stated before, my towel holder has a clay ball; presumably this version is an earlier form of the holder, with glass replacing the clay in later versions.

I cannot resist telling you that while writing this post, my daughter spotted this old towel holder, immediately picked it up, and began playing with it, rolling the clay marble back and forth just as I had! Even once it was explained to her, she still found the towel holder and its design as fascinating as I do.  Best of all, she did it all right in front of her father. Hubby may have known what it was; but I was the one who knew how exciting this find was!

Image Credits: Photo of The Erickson Towel Holder box via The Oak Street Barn; photo of the Erickson advertising postcard via Card Cow; all other images and video copyright Deanna Dahlsad (use allowed with proper credit, including linking to this page.)

Hidden Values In Antique Collecting & Genealogy In The News

Spending time with my collectibles is a huge part of why I collect — and I don’t mean the dusting! In fact, one of the reasons I blog is because I love the time to spend examining and researching each object. I truly believe this is a huge part of the value of collecting as a hobby.

Two recent news stories reminded me of this fact.

16th-Century Map of Lost Colony

The first is a matter of maps and historical mysteries… The British Museum’s recent re-examination of a 16th-century coastal map of the Tidewater coast of North Carolina has revealed hidden markings that may show what happened to the so-called American Lost Colony. While this colony was the second English settlement on the North Carolina coast, it was the first settlement to include civilians, including the legendary Virginia Dare, the granddaughter of the colony’s governor, John White. Virginia was born within weeks of their arrival to the settlement in 1587 — making Virginia Dare the first child of English descent born in the Americas.

Now, I’m not saying that all map collectors have a map of this magnitude; but even that vintage shell oil map may lead to a discovery, a road not taken, a connection you’ve not made before. Who knows what mysteries you might solve — or even find?

Speaking of connections, this next news story discusses how genealogy may help provide evidence that proves humans are continuing to evolve. Your family tree alone may not seem like much, but when combined with others, it provides scientific information:

“Studying evolution requires large sample sizes with individual-based data covering the entire lifespan of each born person,” said Dr Lummaa. “We need unbiased datasets that report the life events for everyone born. Because natural and sexual selection acts differently on different classes of individuals and across the life cycle, we needed to study selection with respect to these characteristics in order to understand how our species evolves.”

Doesn’t that all just inspire you to go antiquing, to organize those family records? It certainly makes me want to raise that bidding paddle!

Beasts Of Burden: Recycling Plastic Toys Into Planters

I found this idea for novelty planters at The Daily Telecraft: Brainstorm: What to do with plastic animals! [Large & small]. Just Dremel out a section on the beast’s back, spray paint them, fill them with dirt and add a small plant or cactus.

It’s a great way to recycle those plastic animal toys the kids have left behind as well as to fill-out a windowsill or other spot with groupings of vintage animal planters.

If you have a green thumb but are all butter-fingers with a Dremel, here are some planters ready to purchase!

Naughty Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens

Would you trust them to mind your coats and hats? What about your children’s belongings? I spotted this vintage wooden novelty coat rack in an antique mall. Painted blue and white, the cat tails are the pegs to hold your children’s clothing.

Vintage Joseph Jasgur Photos Up For Auction

A number of original Joseph Jasgur photographs are up for auction from Grapefruit Moon Gallery right now. Astonishingly, along with winning the vintage photographs now being auctioned off via Grapefruit Moon, the winner owns the copyright for the images, meaning that the buyer will be legally allowed to reproduce and sell copies of the photographs upon purchase. Most of these vintage photographs are of pinups, film stars, etc.

Jasgur is most know for the previously unseen photos of a 19 year old Marilyn Monroe, during her during her Blue Book Model Agency days as Norma Jean — photos caught up in a costly legal battle, which left the photographer penniless upon his death in 2009.

His estate, including archived file copy proof photographs, were sold in 2011 at a Hollywood auction to pay off creditors, where the Monroe photos fetched $352,000. Jasgur is credited with creating the urban legend that Marilyn Monroe had six toes for the optical illusion seen in a photograph of young Marilyn on a beach. His early photographs of Marilyn can be seen in The Birth of Marilyn: The Lost Photographs of Norma Jean. (Photo below taken by Angela Peterson, Orlando Sentinel, September 26, 1995.)

Joseph Jasgur stalked Hollywood celebrities and crime scenes alike, driving “his tricked-out Lincoln Zephyr, which had running water, a cot in the back and a radio-telephone, a rarity in the 1940s.” So who knows what other photographs of his will show up at this auction?

Discovery, Show Us The Dirty Money

Dirty Money on Discovery

The Discovery Channel’s Dirty Money may seem like just another formulaic collecting reality TV show, complete with a cast of family members — but if you believe that, you’re wrong.

Sure, the show features brothers John and Jimmy DiResta, along with John’s son Matthew aka “Rat-Boy”, in pursuit of getting their junk on, dumpster diving & making deals in order to turn trash into treasure selling their fab finds and resurrected relics at Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. And that may seem familiar — maybe even too familiar. But have you forgotten why you like to watch these shows?

Plus, Dirty Money has some aces up its sleeves…

First of all, the show starts with a bang. There’s a parental advisory which suggests that in order to avoid the not-for-kids language and humor on the show, adults should put their kids out in the car. It’s not that the show is wildly inappropriate or even overly risque, but the boys talk like, well, boys. And I happen to find them to be pretty funny. The show should be funny, for in researching to write this post I discovered that John is comic John DiResta, “the funniest human being that ever lived.” I like humor with my collecting, in case you hadn’t noticed. *wink*

Perhaps most importantly, Dirty Money succeeds where shows with promise, like American Restoration, Cash & Cari, and even Picker Sisters has failed: It realistically brings to life the joy of transforming vintage and found objects into something collectible and coveted.

The DiResta Boys

It’s not a true step-by-step “how to” show, but with an authentic creative builder in Jimmy DiResta, Dirty Money does focus more on the process and pitfalls of restoration, recycling and other projects. And in an affordable way, for both collector and creator. Examples: An antique Gramophone turns out not to be worth the money & effort to restore, but is revitalized as a beautiful decorative, functional, and affordable player any record lover would want. And a vintage kid’s bike, also not worthy of an authentic restoration, is turned into a chain-saw powered, Evel Knievel-esque bike.

Plus, Dirty Money shows the realities of what happens at flea markets, i.e., you don’t always get the money you’d like — but you will meet some great characters!

However, the best characters are the cast. It’s clear that the humor and antiquing skills are hereditary; they’ve got “the sickness,” the love of other people’s junk, from their father, who is known as the “Lord of the Fleas.” It’s not just a name. When John & Jimmy’s dad shows up at their flea market booth with a suitcase full of “chum” (smalls items for the boys to sell), the Lord of the Fleas then takes his now emptied suitcase out into the flea market to fill it back up again. I love it!

I wish Dirty Money had a regular set schedule. Not only does it make it hard to find an episode to watch, but such things lead to rumors that the show’s been cancelled. I hope the show lands a steady, stable spot on Discovery.

PS It should be noted that both brothers have another show on HGTV, Hammered With John & Jimmy DiRestia. Dirty Money is produced by Vidiots.

Antique Rug Shuttle Needles

Like I said, I’m becoming a resident vintage and antiques expert at Listia. Recently I was helping identify an item listed as “Tell Me What This Is” — headlines like that will always pull me in. *wink*

I immediately knew what it was, as I own several of these items myself. It’s a rug making shuttle or a rug shuttle needle. I know because the box on my Betsey Ross Rug Needle tells me so!

I just had to have this one because of it’s ties to women’s history, the fact that it had it’s original box, and the wicked looking nature of the tool itself.

Since then, I’ve been able to identify the other old wooden ones that I’ve ignorantly wound-up with over the years, being in auction box lots of old sewing and things.

I’ve not put any of mine into use yet, but it’s rather simple — the wooden “shuttle” pushes or prods the metal piece which pushes or prods the fabric strips through material backing, such as burlap, etc. It’s rather easy to see the process in these photos of my old wooden 1100 Kirkwood Of Des Moines shuttle.

Rugs including rag rugs made this way are often called “proddy rugs” for this prodding action.

While in my original comments at the auction at Listia I focused on the proddies (the strip of fabric in the Listia auction photo “prodded” me into thinking of those *wink*), these are also used to make “punch needle” style rugs too. Punch needle rugs are much like rug hooking, only you punch the thread or fabric through the back of the canvas rather than using the latch hooks most hobby kits have today.

Here’s what the Betsey Ross, ATK Product, box has to say:

Directions:

Thread as shown, push needle point through canvas and operate handles up and down, keeping the bottom of one of the handles on the canvas at all times and move toward the right. The length of the stitch can be regulated by bending the needle in for short stitches and out for long stitches, always be sure to have the yarn or rag free from tension so the loops will not pull out when the needle point is raised up and down. To get a chenille effect clip the loops with scissors. With a little practice beautiful rugs can be produced with this needle.

Rug shuttles like this may still be made; but I prefer to use older items myself — makes me feel like I’m part of the tradition and closer to the women who crafted this way. I’m no Betsey Ross, either in historic terms or crafting proficiency, but just owning this makes me feel closer to her and generations of women who once had such skills. My hands sweat where another’s once did. Or, rather, mine will once I find the time to sit down and give rug making a try.

I probably need to stop writing about antiques and collectibles to find that time, huh? *wink*

For further reading, I suggest quilt and hooked rug restorer Tracy Jamar‘s article A Few Loops Of Hooked Rug History and this basic page on hooked rugs at Red Clover Rugs.

New Vintage Reviews #9

New Vintage Reviews Carnival

Welcome to the ninth edition of the New Vintage Reviews carnival, where we review items normally considered “collectibles,” to encourage use of items as originally intended.

Books:

At Bucket List Media Miz parker reviews Beloved (1987) and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) — along with a lot of other new and vintage titles.

At Layinda’s Blog, a review of I Capture the Castle (1949).

Over at Immortal Ephemera, Cliff reviews authorized biography Dwight Frye’s Last Laugh (1997).

Film & Television:

Vintage Rock ‘n’ Roll Examiner Steve Marinucci reviews the Rolling Stones film Some Girls (1978).

At Out Of The Past, Raquelle reviews Quincy M.E. (1976 to 1983).

Cliff reviews Werewolf of London (1935) at Immortal Ephemera.

At Penny Dreadful Vintage, a review of To Sir With Love (1967).

Music & Audio:

Bob Purse reviews his adventures in old reel-to-reel tapes over at WFMU’s Beware Of The Blog.

Casetta reviews Wire’s second album Chair Missing (1978) at Scratch, Pop & Hiss.

Etc.:

Here at Inherited Values, I review another new entry in the online marketplace sites, Yardsellr.

Honorable Mention:

While not a review, The Wealthy Canadian submitted something worthy of reading in Collecting Things: Are You Guilty?, saying, “This article discusses my experiences in collecting comic books and stamps over the course of my life.”

Please submit your reviews (or reviews you liked) of vintage books, films, games, records, etc. to be considered in future issues of New Vintage Reviews!  (And let me know if you’d like to host a future edition!)

Collecting & Preserving The Typewriter

This past summer, my youngest, age 11, discovered a typewriter at a garage sale. He, like all our children, is fascinated by typewriters and their mechanical means of doing what the younger generation does digitally. His find was a portable blue Royal Sprite from the 1970s, and he negotiated a price of $1 for it. (I’ve taught my kids well!)

Recently, he and his find were featured at Frank De Freitas’ Typewriters Around the World, a site devoted not only to showcasing typewriters but to showing off their typefaces or fonts by having folks mail in letters typewritten on the machines.

In a related note, at Boing Boing, news that a documentary on typewriters is in need of funding in order to be completed:

Christopher Lockett, a director/cinematographer in Los Angeles, began working on a documentary called The Typewriter (In The 21st Century) after visiting Boing Boing and following Cory’s link to a Wired.com article about “The Last Generation Of Typewriter Repairmen.”
Christoper says:

We’re down to our final [7] days in the Kickstarter.com fundraising… and we are woefully behind out goal of $20,000. We are presently at $5,631 with 34 backers.

We’ve shot 17 interviews with typewriter repairmen, users, collectors, authors, artists, street poets, historians and enthusiasts, documented two type-in events and have shot in LA, SF and the Phoenix/Mesa, AZ area. We’ve photographed famous machines once owned by John Lennon, Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Updike, George Bernard Shaw, Ray Bradbury, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway.

But we’re only about halfway through shooting the film. There is a lot left to shoot on the West Coast, and even more to shoot on the East Coast and abroad. Details of our plans and some of the incentives we’re offering are on the Kickstarter page:

One of the incentives we’re offering at the $5,000 donor level is to type a letter on a typewriter owned by Ernest Hemingway that he used to keep in Cuba. It’s in Los Angeles now in the Soboroff collection.

Of the $20,000 we’re hoping to raise, none of it goes toward salaries. It’s all for travel and post-production.

More details and means to donate can be found here, so, typewriter collectors and fans, take action!

You Know You’re A “Pig” For Collecting When…

You accept a vintage pottery pig as payment for your work.

I happily received this vintage cold-painted piggy bank as my fee for consulting work. I adore her sweet face and the red roses that decorate her — butt but it’s the curly tail that charmed me the most. So this little piggy came wee-wee-wee all the way home with me.

I was told she was made by Hull, but it could be Shawnee… The piece of pottery is not marked and the style looks like other Shawnee pottery pigs I have seen too. The piggy bank is huge — roughly 13 inches long! And this little piggy bank still has her original cork stopper on the belly.

Anyone else work for vintage or antiques? *wink*

Vintage DIY Valentines Kit

A vintage kit for making paper Valentines, circa 1940s, from Gibson, the greeting card company. This kit was to make eight different Valentine’s Day cards for “kiddies.”

Inside the box (with charming graphics) there are eight cardboard bases for the cards, eight lace Valentines, two sheets of die-cut graphics to decorate the cards with, and, or course, eight envelopes.

For sale from Jones Antiques.

New Vintage Reviews Carnival

The New Vintage Reviews carnival, edition number eight, has been published. Even though I started the blog carnival, it’s been ages since I ran an edition; but I’m starting it up again — and the next edition will be posted here at Inherited Values on or around October 20 (2011).

Check it out — and submit your reviews (or reviews you liked) of vintage books, films, games, records, etc. here by October 15th to be considered in the next issue of New Vintage Reviews!