Thursday, April 29, 2010

Antique Dollhouse Dining Room Set

Here's my most recent find, not yet arrived, but I couldn't wait to post it. It's an almost complete set of dollhouse dining room furniture made in America circa 1910 by the Star Novelty Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The set includes 3 chairs (there should be one more, but it's gone missing), table, buffet, and china cabinet. The chairs have leatherette seats, and the whole lot is made of oak. It's in a large scale (the tallest piece measures 8 inches tall) almost sized more for small dolls rather than dollhouses. Can't you just picture this little one sitting here? With a little tea set on the table, and dishes in the cabinet....oh, I can't wait for it to come so I can play with it!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Antique American Teddy Bear with Provenance

I've been collecting antique teddy bears for about 15 years, and I've just finally managed to acquire something I've longed for all that time: a bear with provenance. The greatest associated item one can hope for with an antique bear is a photo of the original owner holding said bear. The next best: a photo of the original owner, period. This find falls into a category of its own, as it includes a picture of the original owner, family photos, a handwritten geneaology, and a children's book, also from the original owner and inscribed with his name.

The bear is a 10 inch American ted, with a definitive date of 1917, given to his original owner when he was born. The bear has an inset fabric nose and glass bead eyes, and sports one of the greatest smiles I've ever seen on an antique teddy.

He was originally purchased for Daniel Munn Richmond, Junior, of Grundy Center, Iowa. Below is a school picture of Daniel, aged 6. Isn't he a cutie? And, if you look closely, you'll see an illustration of the Three Bears on the wall behind him...

Here's the inscription on the photo's back. It reads: "Daniel Munn Richmond, Junior  Age 6 years  May 1924   Grundy Center   Grundy Co.  Iowa"

A whole sheaf of genealogical treasures came with Daniel's bear, including photos of his family (that's mom and dad below), a handwritten family tree dating back to the 1770s, and a letter from his family members who sold the bear to my dealer (the same dealer who provided my Victorian doll trunks full of toys: she's really good at finding stuff like this):

The final item in the lot was this 1919 children's book, Doctor Rabbit and Grumpy Bear, inscribed with Daniel's name.

Daniel died in 1968 at the relatively young age of 51, but I hope he would be comforted to know his bear is being well-looked after.

(Another) Victorian Doll Trunk Full of Toys

Last December, I posted about a Victorian doll trunk full of antique toys that I purchased for Christmas. Well, incredibly, another one has come my way, and the neat thing is, its the very same pattern, just a smaller size, measuring 12 inches wide by 6  1/2 tall. The trunk and the toys within, left by the original owner, date from the 1890s - early 1900s, just as with the previous one.

The contents included a 14 inch china head doll wearing her old, handmade dress; a 5 inch dollhouse doll with a mohair wig, in her original clothing; a tiny jointed all bisque doll, only 2 inches tall; a tin toy horse, 3 3/4 inches long; two 5  1/4 inch J. & P. Coats Company advertising paper dolls, complete with extra outfits and hats; a child-made patchwork doll quilt; and a handcrafted needle case made from birch bark, probably an arts and crafts project done at a Victorian children's summer camp.

Inside the trunk.

The big china doll, wearing her simply smashing hat.
She is ready for her tea.

All the other goodies. The child-made
doll quilt and needle case are on the far right.

Here are some close ups of the paper dolls, which are incredibly beautiful. They were actually advertising premiums for the J.& P. Coats Company, later known as Coats & Clark, which made cotton thread. Several series of dolls were printed, and girls were encouraged to "collect them all!" The company's advertising information was printed on the back of each piece. Click on the picture to enlarge, and you'll see that one doll features kittens, while the other has several different toys, including a rather frightening jack in the box, a ball, and dollies of her own.

Here are a few close ups of the small dolls: the dollhouse doll, who is wearing her original, sewn-on dress with a cotton lace overlay and a big, bustly ribbon, and the itty bitty baby doll.

A snazzy polka dotted underskirt!

The itty bitty 2 inch all bisque baby.

Lastly, here's the tin horse, who just fascinates me. I'm not sure if he was originally flat like this, or if he was left outside and run over by something, perhaps one of those new-fangled "horseless carriages"...either way, he was obviously special to his young owner, who carefully tucked him away in the trunk when his playing days were over.

As always with these trunk lot finds, its remarkable to me that everything stayed together for so long and in such fine shape (horsie excepted), and it's very touching to handle the items and wonder about the child, or children, who played with them so long ago...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Iggynormous Troll

Too bad I didn't have this guy in time for my Troll Blog-a-thon back in March: he is definitely the highlight of my collection. Made by Thomas Dam in Denmark at the height of the 1964 craze, this was one of the biggest trolls available. Standing a formidable 12 inches tall, he dwarfs his standard-sized 3 inch companion. These huge trolls were named "Iggynormous" and came in a wide variety of hair, eye, and clothing colors. This one is in minty condition and still bears his original ribbon and tag.

People who already dislike the trolls tend to be especially disturbed by Iggy. The impact seems to be intensified by the size. My friend Ron took one look at him, stopped short, pointed at Iggy accusingly and said, "THAT is really terrifying." I actually had to put him (Iggy, not Ron) away for awhile.

Losing Our Heads Dexterity Puzzles

Here are a few of my latest dexterity puzzle games. From Japan circa the 1930s, they're tiny (only about 2 inches tall) and fragile (made of cardboard with a thin plastic covering). They're also a bit ghoulish: each of the three rather comical characters have literally lost their heads, and it's up to the player to shake them back into place. 



1966 Batman Button

After finding this vintage 1966 button, guess who is now a 
Charter Member of the Batman & Robin Society?

I wear it proudly every day.

As an aside: I've often thought that Adam West's Batman 
would be the best 
President of the United States ever. 
Don't you think so, too?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

1914 Oyster Eating Contest Award Badge

I found this old award badge at an antique mall last month, and have puzzled over it since. It's one of the oddest items I've ever found. Made of die-cut leather, it measures about 5 inches in diameter. There's a small damaged area at the top where I think a ribbon and pin may have originally been attached so that it could be worn.
The text reads: "Presented to Bob Frey   Champion Oyster Eater   Capacity 982 Oysters   Galveston Texas  Oct. 31, 1914". Near as I could tell (thanks to some rather lazy googling) the current world oyster eating record is "only" about old Bob must really have been something special.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Antique Bisque & Compostion Character Baby Doll by Hertel Schwab

Antique teddy bears are my real passion, but every once in awhile I find a doll that appeals to me. That was putting it mildly with this guy, spotted at an antique show yesterday. A bisque headed character baby on a composition body,  he was made in Germany by Hertel Schwab around 1910-1912.  He has blue glass sleep eyes, his original soft mohair wig, and an antique doll's christening gown and cap. He measures about 8 1/2 inches tall in his sitting position, and I thought the tiny Schuco bear was the perfect companion for him.

This close up reveals the beauty of his face sculpt and painting. He even has a little dimple in his chin...

Antique Toy Kitchen Cupboard

I love miniature toy cupboards. They can be used to set up delightful vignettes for dolls or teddy bears, but they're also just lots of fun to stock. Searching for just the right tiny utensils, or doll-sized pots and pans, or salesman's samples of food items, and then arranging and rearranging the contents can consume me for hours. It only took me a few minutes, however, to load up this circa 1900s-1920s handmade kitchen cupboard, found at an antique show over the weekend. It measures 18 inches tall, and has all of its original hardware. Its primitive charm and obvious wear just endeared it to me, and I find myself wondering how it was filled by the little girl who owned it almost 100 years ago.

For a sense of scale, here's the toy cupboard sitting on top of my real-life Hoosier cabinet:

Vintage Kitchen Playset

I have several of these vintage tin toy kitchen playsets: they line the counters and appliance tops in my real kitchen, which I never use. I think I've used my Easy Bake Oven more than I have my real oven, now that I think about it...It's futile to expect real food, or even coffee, at my house, but if you want to play kitchen, I can totally hook you up.

Anyway, here's my latest set, scored at an antique show last weekend. All made of lithographed tin in the late 1940s - early 1950s, the stove is by Marx while the fridge and sink are by Wolverine. For scale, the stove measures 12 1/2 inches high.

The fridge features great lithography on the inside door, revealing well-stocked shelves, and houses some unique pressed tin food items:

The stove has an opening oven door with a bright red rack inside:

And the sink actually works: a reservoir on the back can be filled with water, which then pours out through the tap!

A very retro kitchen set, indeed. Makes me want to go to Grandma's for some pie.

Vintage Barbie Case and Clothes

Found at a local antique show over the weekend was this 1962 Barbie doll case packed full of original clothes, accessories, and doll furniture. I love finding these cases: it's like a little treasure hunt, digging through the layers and (hopefully) discovering rare and valuable items buried deep within.

This one was a jackpot: beneath a surface strata of mommy-made, handknit clothes and individual Barbie pieces were three complete, very early Barbie outfits, each of which typically sells for more than the whole case cost me. (Woo-hoo! Happy Dance time!) The outfits (Sorority Meeting, Friday Nite Date, and Red Flare) were complete with their various purses, jewelry, shoes, gloves, hats, and even the serving tray and sodas with straws that comprise the famous accessories to Date.

The booklets seen in the lower right of the case feature ads for various Barbie outfits, including the three mentioned above (click on pics to enlarge):

One of the most amazing finds was at the very bottom of the case, packed in its own clear vinyl envelope: a real fur wrap (feels like bunny) in miniature, Barbie size! Clearly, this Barbie was not a member of PETA. Below, my Barbie, who has euphorically plunged into the case full of goodies, models her new wrap:

A small compartment in the case was loaded with more shoes, purses, belts, picture frames with Ken's image inside, a tiny turntable and Barbie records, tiny Barbie-sized "Fashion" and "Home" magazines, and, treasure of treasures, one of the hardest to find vintage accessories: the teeny-tiny medicine spoon that came with the Nursing outfit! The tiny pieces, including Barbie's pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings, were carefully tucked into a large purse. Whoever the little girl was who owned this case originally, I thank her heartily now for the care she took to keep her toys together!

Antique Show Report

Yay: Antique Show season is here! I attended our area's first show of the spring over the past weekend. Although dealer numbers were down, and some of my favorites were absent, I did manage to find some great stuff:

-a 1962 Barbie case chock full 'o clothes and accessories, including some really hard to find pieces

-a set of lithographed tin toy kitchen appliances (fridge, stove, and working sink) from the late 1940s/early 50s

-a fantastic, primitive toy kitchen cupboard, circa 19teens

-and a German bisque and composition baby doll, probably made by Kestner, also in the 19teens

Posts and pics to follow!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fisher Price Bouncing Bunny Cart

One of the last of the Fisher Price Easter Carts made for their special spring toy line was the Bouncing Bunny Cart, created in 1961. The 8 inch long wooden cart is lithographed in a colorful bunny design, and the separate, spring-mounted head bounces merrily as the toy is pulled along. The cart, which makes up the bunny's body, could be filled with candies and treats to serve as an Easter basket. A really cheery vintage toy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fisher Price Chick Basket Cart

One of the smallest and cutest of the Easter Carts made by Fisher Price is the Chick Basket from 1957. Only 6 1/2 inches long, the lithoed wooden pull toy features a yellow and blue paint scheme with a sweet little chick sporting her Sunday best. These carts originally had either a fibre board container or a straw basket attached to the back. Easily damaged or lost, they are usually missing when this toy is found. Mine has a vintage replacement basket that color coordinates nicely.

Fisher Price Bunny Engine

Fisher Price made a number of Bunny Engines for its Easter toy line over the years. These 10 inch long wooden trains had an open area in the back that could be filled with candy, enabling the toy to serve as an alternative Easter basket. This one dates from 1954, and features one of the later lithographed designs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fisher Price Donald Duck Cart

For its Easter toy lines from the 1930s - 1960s, Fisher Price featured pull carts with various spring themes (bunnies, ducks, chicks) and Donald Duck toys. In 1954, it combined the two to create the Donald Duck Cart, a lithoed wooden pull toy consisting of a cart that could be loaded up with Easter goodies, pulled by a cut-out Donald with acetate plastic feet. As the cart was pulled, Donald's feet flapped realistically.

Fisher Price Egg Truck

The Egg Truck is one of the oddest of the old Fisher Price Easter toys. Dating from 1947, it features a farmer duck with delicate felt arms driving a strangely designed truck as he delivers his load of eggs to market. Disturbing cannibalistic theme aside, the 12 1/2 inch Egg Truck made a very practical Easter basket, as parents could load up the truck bed with candy and treats. The Egg Truck is very hard to find today, as it wasn't made for very long, and the duck's felt arms were damaged quite easily.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fisher Price Duck Cart

For its Easter toy lines, Fisher Price made a number of small carts with fibre board containers that could be filled with jelly beans or other small Easter candies. These are hard to find now, because the fibre board was so easily damaged. My example, the Duck Cart from 1946, still has its container, but it has typical wear and repair. Still a cute Easter cart!