Whimsies for every type of collector

Glass workers spent their “off” hours after completing their regular work schedule creating unusual glass objects known as whimsies.  This includes candy-striped canes, paperweights, pipes, hats…the list goes on and on.
 

A whimsy can also be an item that is made of a product that you usually don’t see it made out of.  This can be something like a Fenton plate made out of hobnail pattern slag glass.

Whimsies were often taken home and given as gifts to family and friends.  They can rarely be attributed to a specific glasshouse or glass worker.  Some say that color or style indicates region or factory, but no one has come up with a perfect identification key other than to talk to the person that actually made the piece.

Highly collectible and usually pricey, whimsies can be a fun collectible.  What examples have you found?

A lesson learned on reproductions

While shopping at one of the local antique malls in my area, I happened onto something that could be a very good thing. It happened to be an R S Suhl shaker, or even possibly hat pin holder.

With the price being right, and some wear being present on the bottom of the shaker, I went ahead and bought it.  When I went to find out what I could about the mark (so I could list it online), there was a little voice in the back of my head that was saying that something was not right.

And then I found a shaker just like the one that I have.  I was thrilled!  I started to read what was posted online about it, and sure enough, that little voice I was hearing was right.  The thing was a reproduction and possibly even an outright fake.

The lesson I learned?  A little research and knowledge can go a long way in the long run.

Two Cents worth? Yep

Did you know that there was actually a 2-cent coin that was produced by the United States mint?

The Two Cent piece officially ran from 1864 to 1872, but there was a copy made for collectors in 1873.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The economic turmoil of the American Civil War caused any and all government-issued coins to vanish from circulation (they were hoarded by the public) Even the Indian Head cent—which was made of bronze—was pretty much gone from circulation (The Coinage Act Of 1864 authorized the cent to switch to a bronze composition and the production of the Two Cent coin).

Even though there were other mints actively producing coins at the time, this coin was only produced at the mint based in Philadelphia.  What this means is that there will not be a mint mark anywhere (which is the way this mint was marking the coins until 1980).

Two of the more famous die varieties happened in 1864.  One is called the “large motto,” and the other is called the “small motto.”  These two varieties deal with the motto, “In God We Trust.”  The words IN, GOD, and TRUST has some small differences, while the word WE has the most differences.  It all hinges on the size of it, and it is very noticeable.  The WE on “large motto” is larger than the WE on the “small motto.”

Large motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
small motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The “small motto” is much scarcer than the “large motto.”  The best idea is to keep an eye out for it in case you might walk across a case full of coins at a mall, or happen to be at a coin shop or show.

Have you seen one of these really cool coins?

Look at all of the different colors on glassware!

Pink, green, black and even red are only a few colors that you will see on glassware.  There are so many that it will make your head spin!  Here are some of the colors that you may have not heard of:

Jadeite—this is a type of glass for the table made of Jade-green opaque milk glass.  Jadeite was popular in the United States in the mid-20th century and has a blue variety that’s called “Azur-ite”.

MONAX—this is a translucent white glass that has a faint blue hue when held up to the light. This unique colored glass is sometimes mistaken as milk glass (which is whiter in color).

Ruby Flashed glass—this is created by coating a clear glass with one or more thin layers of colored glass (this is also known as flashed glass).  The colored glass can be either partly or completely etched away by using items like acid or sandblasting.  This results in spots where the colored glass has been removed.

This is a ridiculously small portion of all the colors that you will run across.  What have you seen?

Cardboard Store Displays

Just about every company that has ever existed, they have used some form of advertising.  In the age of the internet, you find tons of ads online.  Before the advent of the Internet, one of the best forms of advertising was with a store display.  Companies still use them today.  They are made out of just about any material that you can think of, but one of the more common materials to use as an advertising piece is cardboard.

Once the sale on a certain item was over, or even when an item is discontinued, the display is taken down and discarded.  Sometimes the displays are kept, either in the storeroom of the business, or the person running the store takes it home with them.

The great thing for collectors is that these displays are put up for sale after a while.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to the products that are advertised on a display.  It could be Jell-O, Duracell Batteries, or even Kodak Film.

Store displays can be great ways to decorate a room since many of them have more than one color printed on them.  The ways that you could come up with to show your collection of displays are just as unique as the store displays themselves.

What kinds of store displays have you run across?

To clean or not to clean, that is the question

One of the oldest questions in collecting is when to clean—or not to clean—an item.

Sometimes an item’s value will go up if it is cleaned, and other times the items value will go down.

Some items are perfectly fine to clean.  Costume jewelry, glassware, pottery, clothing from the 1970’s or the 1980’s, and even graniteware are perfect for this area.  A little research can go a long way with these items, though.  You need to find out what can and can’t be used on an item; cleaner can potentially do damage that can’t be undone.  Things like graniteware can be cleaned with oven cleaner, while cheap costume jewelry can be cleaned with toothpaste that has baking soda in it.  Even Alka-Seltzer can be used to clean jewelry.

There are some items that you should take to someone that knows what they are doing when it comes to cleaning.  Artwork, antique books, pricy jewelry (pieces that feature precious stones like diamonds), quilts or antique clothing, and quilting samplers are items that fall in this category.

When it comes to old furniture, silver, gold, modern coins, brass or even copper, make sure that these don’t get cleaned.  The best way to ruin the value of these items is to get out the cleaner.  Patina on these pieces is a great thing to have; it helps prove an items age and provenance.

A great way to start is to get an appraisal of the item.  This way you know what you have.  If the item is in fact valuable and in the need of a cleaning, you could ask the appraiser for a recommendation.

I think the best rule of thumb is that if you have any doubts about cleaning an item, don’t!  Once the original finish is gone, there’s no getting it back.

Have you ever cleaned an item that you wished you hadn’t?

The not-so-famous furniture styles

There are the ultra-famous styles of furniture that everyone knows about (like Chippendale, Hepplewhite, or even Victorian) but did you know that there were quite a few styles that often were around with the more famous counterparts that are just not that well known?

The first one that I heard about that is like this is called DIRECTORIE.  It ran from 1795 to about 1804 and ran the same time as the Sheraton and Duncan Phyfe styles (the Duncan Phyfe style is also called the Federal Style).  Following the French Revolution, France was ruled by five directors.  Any and all signs of royalty were thrown out the window, and furniture design was controlled by a Jury Of Arts and Manufactures.  Greek, Roman, and even Egyptian influences are strong with the DIRECTORIE style.

The next style is called EASTLAKE and it ran from about 1879 to 1895.  It ran the same time that Late French Provincial and the Victorian Styles were going on.  This style was created by Charles Eastlake and achieved some popularity here in America and in England as well.  The style had some Gothic flair going on and had some Japanese ornamentation as well.  Cherry and Fruit were extensively used in the furniture of this style and had tile panels and conspicuous hardware that were used for decoration.

This is only a small portion of all the fantastic styles that I’ve heard of that really aren’t that well-known.  What kinds of styles have you heard of?

What are some items that you may not run across in a kitchen anymore?

The home kitchen is a place that you can find quite a few different items.  Over the years, there have been many items that have fallen out of favor for one reason or another.  It could be that a better version of an item that came out previously or it could be that a manufacturer introduced a completely new method to cook, chill or store an item.

What are some items that you may not run across in a kitchen anymore?

Butter Churns—this is a device that takes cream and turns it into butter.  There are several different types that you will find on the market—the first has a plunger inside that goes up and down while another is a hand crank that is attached to paddles on the inside.  I have also seen a barrel type that is on a stand that turns a good amount of cream.

hand crank churn photo courtesy of WIkipedia.com
plunger churn photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
Barrel churn photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Crockery Pots—this item is for storage and it comes in a wide variety of sizes that could easily be stored on a table or shelf to one that holds several gallons.  You can find them usually with a number on them on how much they can hold.  This item was slowly phased out with metal and eventually plastic replacing them.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Cream Separators—this device does what the name says—it separates the cream from the milk.  This device was seen quite a bit on a farm in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  Milk is now separated in industrial dairies.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

This is only a few of the items that are not used anymore.  What items like these have you run across?

A Century Of Progress!

When the World’s Fair came to Chicago, it was called “A Century Of Progress International Exposition”.  It was originally to run from May 27th 1933 until November 12th 1933, but it was such a success that the Fair was opened again on May 26th the following year and ran until October 31st, 1934.

There were many exhibitors at the Chicago World’s Fair—some of the exhibitors were automobile manufactures (some of which are Cadillac, Nash, Pierce Arrow, Packard, and even Lincoln).  Another exhibitor was the Union Pacific Railroad, and they introduced their first streamlined train called the M-10000.

The Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-1934 has a vast area of souvenirs that you could collect.  There are programs, buttons, flyers, coins, badges, ash trays, photographs, tape measures (I’m not joking on the last one), banks, and the list just goes on and on.

I can find plenty of different items here in the Ozarks when it comes to collecting the Chicago World’s Fair.  The prices are all over the place, it really depends on how rare and well preserved the piece is.

The great thing about any World’s Fair is that every piece that came from it is marked with the year and the name of the Fair that it came from.

What kinds of collectibles have you run across from this World’s Fair?

Silent And Early Talkie Film Star MAE W MARSH

Mae W Marsh Was an American actress whose career spanned over 50 years.  Her career started out in silent movies, and then went over into “talkies.”  Her big break came when Mary Pickford refused to play the role of Lily-White in the movie “Man’s Genesis” (Mary Pickford was known for “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and “Cinderella”).

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Some of the movies that she stared in were “The Dear One,” “The Birth of a Nation,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “How Green Was My Valley,” and even “When Kings Were the Law.”

She became such a famous actress that her image was featured on several items, including this plate:


The plate was produced in the 1920’s by the STAR PLAYERS PHOTO COMPANY.  This is a part of a series of plates that features other famous actors, like Charlie Chaplin.

The plates that I have seen have considerable wear to them, like they were actually used instead of just being admired.  I also have yet to see one without any chips on them as well (the one in my Etsy shop has a very small chip on the back).

The great thing about it is that it is a cross-collectible.  Pottery, collector plate, movie buffs, and even people who love Mae Marsh would love to have this plate in their collection.  Not only that, you could also display this in a retro kitchen in something like an old Hoosier cabinet.

What was your favorite movie that Mae Marsh was in?