Jimi Hendrix fans will be interested to see an unusual document amongst the lots at the Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia sale on 16th December.
The police document, signed by the guitarist, provides background to his arrest in Gothenburg, Sweden, in January 1968 for wrecking his hotel room. This is estimated to sell for £4,000 – 5,000.
Pictured right: A document relating to Jimi Hendrix’s arrest in Sweden,
details including Jimi’s date of birth, occupation, nationality and address in London, with a ban on travelling and order to report to the police daily at 2pm, signed by Jimi in blue ballpoint, datestamped 15 JAN 68, mounted and framed, 15 x 21cm (6 x 8¼in)
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is often considered to be the greatest electric guitarist in the history of rock music by other musicians and commentators in the industry, and one of the most important and influential musicians of his era across a range of genres. After initial success in Europe, he achieved fame in the United States following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.
Hendrix often favored raw overdriven amplifiers with high gain and treble and helped develop the previously undesirable technique of guitar amplifier feedback. Hendrix was one of the musicians who popularized the wah-wah pedal in mainstream rock which he often used to deliver an exaggerated pitch in his solos, particularly with high bends and use of legato based around the pentatonic scale. He was influenced by blues artists such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, and Elmore James, rhythm and blues and soul guitarists Curtis Mayfield, Steve Cropper, as well as by some modern jazz. In 1966, Hendrix, who played and recorded with Little Richard’s band from 1964 to 1965, was quoted as saying, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice."
Carlos Santana has suggested that Hendrix’s music may have been influenced by his part ly Native American heritage. As a record producer, Hendrix also broke new ground in using the recording studio as an extension of his musical ideas. He was one of the first to experiment with stereophonic and phasing effects for rock recording.
Hendrix won many of the most prestigious rock music awards in his lifetime, and has been posthumously awarded many more, including being inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. An English Heritage blue plaque was erected in his name on his former residence at Brook Street, London, in September 1997. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6627 Hollywood Blvd.) was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut US album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Registry, and Rolling Stone named Hendrix the top guitarist on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time in 2003. He was also the first person inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame.
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These days there is a definite tendency to over-use adjectives such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘inspirational’ but when these words are applied to the achievements of Margarete Steiff, founder of the world famous Steiff company, their use is amply justified. In the nineteenth century, to be female was almost as great a stumbling block to achieving international commercial success as being disabled. Margarete was both and yet she overcame these ‘disadvantages’ to establish a business that was phenomenally successful in her own day and remains so today, 127 years after it was founded. Pictured right: Recreation of Richard Steiff’s workshop, featuring a scale replica of 55 PB, the world’s first teddy bear Born in Giengen, Germany in 1847 to a master builder and his wife, Margarete was stricken with polio before she reached her second year, leaving her paralysed in both legs and with a severely weakened right arm. It was a devastating setback that left her confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life but whilst the polio was able to damage Margarete physically, it was unable to destroy her spirit. Surrounded by a loving family, she grew up with a strong sense of confidence in her abilities and with a vision to earn her own living. She took the first step towards achieving this goal when she began dressmaking in 1866 and, eleven years later, opened her own shop selling felt garments which she had designed and made herself. As the business prospered, Margarete was able to employ a few people to help produce her garments. Pictured left: PB 28, Richard Steiff’s second jointed bear, also known to collectors as the Rod Bear The switch to toy making occurred in 1880 when Margarete used a pattern from a German magazine to create a small felt elephant which could be used as a pincushion or simply as a toy. Encouraged by the positive reaction of friends to whom she showed the elephant, Margarete started to experiment, making felt dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and pigs as well as the original elephant. The more she made, the more people wanted them, and thus Margarete Steiff GmbH was born. As her business grew, Margarete devised ways of bringing her products to the attention of an ever-increasing audience. In 1892, for example, the company produced its first catalogue which featured the maxim, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children.’ Simple and to the point, the motto is still used by the Steiff company today. Another step towards worldwide recognition came in 1897 when Margarete booked a stand for the first time at the Leipzig Toy Fair, the toy industry’s most important trade event. Unable to attend in pers on, Margarete arranged for a new employee to represent her company at this prestigious fair. The young man in question, fresh out of college having just completed his studies at the Stuttgart School of Art, was to play a seminal role in the future of Steiff. A favourite nephew of Margarete, his name was Richard Steiff and his gift to the world was the Teddy bear, arguably the best-loved toy of all time. Pictured right: First Steiff catalogue, produced in 1892; it introduced the company’s motto, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children’ Until the early twentieth century, bears had been represented in toy form as fierce and somewhat unlovable but Richard Steiff was determined to change that. He had a passion for real bears and made it his mission to create a soft toy bear that would win the hearts of children. To this end he made countless sketches of the bears he saw at Stuttgart Zoo as well as those found in travelling circuses and animal shows. At the end of the nineteenth century he designed a number of bears on wheels that could be ridden on or pulled along, and he also produced bears that stood up on their hind legs. In all his experimentation, his object was to give the toy bears life-like movement but nothing quite satisfied him. Then, in 1902, he made a significant breakthrough, creating a bear that was able to move thanks to its innovative string-joints. Called Bär 55 PB, it was destined to take the world by storm. Pictured left: Margarete Steiff holding Richard Steiff’s perfected bear First, however, the new toy had to be unveiled to the world and the venue chosen for this was the 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair. At first, the reaction to Steiff’s new, jointed bear was disappointing but that changed when an influential New York buyer, searching for something new and unusual, placed an order for 3000 of them. The arrival of Bär 55 PB in America coincided with President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s much publicised refusal to shoot an injured bear for sport. Public perception linked the new toy bear with the popular President and thus the ‘Teddy’ bear was born. To cope with the unprecedented demand for the bears and to accommodate the rapid expansion of the company, a state-of-the-art glass and steel factory was erected in Giengen in 1903. So revolutionary was the design of the building that it does not look dated and is still in use today. For all its success, however, Richard Steiff was not entirely satisfied with his jointed bear and he continued to experiment and develop. His aim was to perfect his design and in 1905 he achieved this by replacing the bear’s string joints with disc joints, an ingenious method that has remained in use to the present day, 100 years after its invention. This ‘perfected’ bear met with unparalleled success, requiring Steiff to produce 974,000 of them in 1907 alone. Margarete Steiff died just two years later but her company continued to flourish in the capable hands of her nephews. Their combined vision and business acumen enabled the company to grow and to weather the worst that the troubled 20th century had to offer. Today, Steiff has an unrivalled worldwide reputation for the excellence of […]
A decade of tragedy; in the space of a few short years, almost ten million young men died on the battlefields of Europe, with 200,000 losing their lives on the fields of Flanders. Yet it was also a decade of triumph and creativity. Pictured right: Ernst Heubach 1910 bisque When King Edward VIII died in 1910, he was succeeded by his son George V and his wife. George’s elder brother had died of pneumonia in 1891, and so George not only took over as heir to the throne, he also appropriated his brother’s fiancée, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. It seems to have been a happy marriage and by the time they were crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1911, they had six children, amongst them the future George VI, father of our present Queen Elizabeth. George V and Queen Mary (as she was now known) reigned for twenty-six years. Not long after Edward died, the skies were illuminated by a bright light when Halley’s comet made a spectacular reappearance. At one point the earth actually passed through its tail, causing the press to weave sensational tales of cyanide poisoning as the tail contained a poisonous gas. Naturally, it was a false alarm, though some people maintained it was a bad omen, nodding with satisfaction a few years later after two major disasters of the decade – the ‘Great War’ and the sinking of HMS Titanic – seemed to have proved them right. HMS Titanic was launched with great ceremony on 1911, but just a year later struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sunk with a loss of 1502 lives. Pictured left: Vectis Effanbee Miss Coquette 1912 During the earliest years of the decade, beautiful German dolls filled the toy shops. Manufacturers such as Simon & Halbig, Schoenau & Hoffmeister, Heubach and Armand Marseille produced vast numbers of bisque china dolls, often finely painted and exquisitely dressed. The Germans had cornered the market at this time, their faster production methods and flair for business gradually squeezing out the French dolls, but when the war started, there were importation restrictions on their goods, including dolls and toys, which meant British and ‘friendly’ countries needed to fill the breach. Pictured right: Vectis WW1 AM Sailor with medals Half-dolls were beginning to be popular during this decade, often referred to as ‘tea-cosy dolls’ or ‘pin cushion dolls’. Some of them were very delicate, made by famous porcelain manufacturers, and they topped items such as cakes, brushes, pin cushions, powder puffs and tea-cosies. In 1913 Mary Phelps Jacob, an American socialite, constructed the first brassiere from two silk hankies and some ribbon, to wear under a sheer evening gown. At last women could discard their restricting whale-boned corsets (though not without a fight by many shocked ladies). That same year, the zip fastener appeared, honed to perfection from a much earlier invention, as well as the crossword puzzle, which at last gave people something to do during their coffee break. And in 1915 a character was dreamed up by Johnny Gruelle, who would bring pleasure to generations of children – Raggedy Ann. Pictured left: Japanese Bisque Doll 1910 The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his pregnant wife in Sarajevo 1914 was the trigger for hostilities to start. Young men rushed to sign up to fight, all believing it would be a bit of ‘harmless sport’ and be over by Christmas. It wasn’t, of course, and as those fresh-faced youths faced the horrors of the war trenches, their women folk back home had to take over the mens’ jobs in factories, banks, farms and businesses. They were also marshalled to act as auxiliary workers in the armed forces, so freeing the men-folk to fight at the front. The majority of the women had never worked before, and this was an unknown freedom. Not long after the end of the war, women over thirty were given the vote for which the suffragette movement had long been campaigning. The gap in the market due to the hostilities with Germany was swiftly filled by Japan who sent bisque and celluloid dolls to Britain. The majority of these dolls were crudely made of a coarse white bisque. Many little girls enjoyed assembling collections of the smaller dolls which were sold cheaply in toyshops and newsagents. Sometimes the dolls were made completely of bisque, but often their bodies were cloth. These unsophisticated Japanese dolls have a charm of their own, though some of their dolls were very fine and beautifully painted. Pictured right: Deans Rag Dolls Various patriotic dolls, often made from cloth, appeared during the war years, dressed in uniforms such as a ‘Tommy Atkins’ figure to represent a soldier. Sometimes a mother would dress a bisque doll for her child in a replica of her father’s uniform, as a reminder while Dad was fighting at the front. Britain tried to emulate the unavailable bisque German beauties but with little success, with manufacturers such as Goss making various china-headed dolls. Goss dolls were quite pricey, and once the war ended and German dolls were imported again, Goss ceased production. In 1917, the Russian Revolution had led to the abdication of the Tsar, Nicholas II. Refused refuge in Britain, he was murdered by the Bolsheviks six months later, along with his wife and children, as symbols of the old Russia. Over the years, several women have claimed to be Anastasia, the youngest child, who was rumoured to have survived the shooting. Other notable events included the invention of traffic lights in 1911 and parachutes in 1912. In 1919 speedy breakfasts were achieved by the creation of the pop-up toaster. Three years before, the first Women’s Institute in Britain was established in North Wales, while young girls were able to emulate their Boy Scout brothers in 1910 when the Girl Guides’ Association was founded by Sir Robert Baden-Powell. Six years later, he completed the hat-trick by founding the Cubs for younger boys. All in all, this was […]
Graceland is the name of the 13.8 acre estate and large white-columned mansion that once belonged to Elvis Presley, located at 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. It is located south of Downtown Memphis, less than four miles north of the Mississippi border. It currently serves as a museum. It was opened to the public in 1982, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991 and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. Elvis Presley, who died at the estate on August 16, 1977, his parents Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother, are buried there in what is called the Meditation Gardens. Graceland History Graceland was originally owned by S. E. Toof, publisher of the Memphis newspaper, the Memphis Daily Appeal. The grounds were named after Toof’s daughter, Grace, who would come to inherit the farm. Soon after, the portion of the land designated as Graceland today was given to a niece, Ruth Moore, who, in 1939 together with her husband Dr. Thomas Moore, had the present American “colonial” style mansion built. Pictured right: This beautifully detailed brass ornament shows a 360 degree view of the Graceland mansion. Elvis purchased Graceland in early 1957 for approximately $100,000 after vacating an East Memphis house located at 1034 Audubon Drive. He moved because of privacy and security concerns, and the opposition of neighbors to the enthusiastic behavior of the many fans who slowly cruised by his home. Elvis moved into Graceland together with his father Vernon Presley and his mother Gladys. After Gladys died in 1958, and Vernon married Dee Stanley in 1960, the couple lived there for a time. Wife-to-be Priscilla Beaulieu also lived at Graceland for five years before she and Elvis married.After their marriage in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967, Priscilla lived in Graceland five more years until she separated from Elvis in late 1972. Pictured left: Thomas Kinkade painting of Graceland marking the 50th Anniversary of the purchase by Elvis Presley. On August 16, 1977, Elvis died in his bathroom at Graceland allegedly of a heart attack, according to one medical examiner report at the time. However, there are conflicting reports as to the cause of his death. According to Peter Guralnick, the singer “had thrown up after being stricken, apparently while seated on the toilet. It looked to the medical investigator as if he had ‘stumbled or crawled several feet before he died.’ ” The author adds that “drug use was heavily implicated in this unanticipated death of a middle-aged man with no known history of heart disease…no one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist.” After initially being buried at Forrest Hill Cemetery, and fo llowing an attempt to rob his grave, Presley’s remains were moved to Graceland. The estate has become a pilgrimage for Elvis fans across the world. Graceland architecture and modifications The mansion is constructed of tan limestone and consists of twenty-three rooms, including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. The entrance way contains several Corinthian columns and two large lions perched on both sides of the portico. After purchasing the property Presley carried out extensive modifications to suit his needs and tastes, including: a fieldstone wall surrounding the grounds, a wrought-iron music styled gate, a swimming pool, a racquetball court, and the famous “jungle room” which features an indoor waterfall, among other modifications. One of Presleys better known modifications was the addition of the Meditation Gardens, where he, his parents Gladys and Vernon, and grandmother are buried. The garden was opened to the public in 1978. For more details concerning the decorative arts that makes Elvis’s mansion seem a creation as well as a site, see Karal Ann Marling, Graceland: Going Home With Elvis (Harvard University Press, 1996). Graceland’s “act of faith in serial novelty,” the author argues, synthesized the “intense concern for personal style” that made B. B. King notice a teenaged Elvis in a pawnshop years before he was famous and the fashion sense informing the “theme clothes” of the ’70s — “carapace[s] of sheer, radiant glory.” Graceland grew from 10,266 square feet when originally bought by Presley to 17,552 square feet today. Managers of the complex announced a major renovation project that will include a new visitors center, a 500-room convention hotel and high-tech museum displays. The current visitors center, souvenir shops, the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel, and museums will be torn down and replaced with the new facilities. The project will take approximately 3 years to complete. Elvis Presley at Graceland According to Mark Crispin Miller, Graceland became for Elvis “the home of the organization that was himself, was tended by a large vague clan of Presleys and deputy Presleys, each squandering the vast gratuities which Elvis used to keep his whole world smiling.” The author adds that Presley’s father Vernon “had a swimming pool in his bedroom”, that there “was a jukebox next to the swimming pool, containing Elvis’s favorite records” and that the singer himself “would spend hours in his bedroom, watching his property on a closed-circuit television.” Pictured left: Plate featuring Elvis at the Gates of Graceland. Graceland was Lisa Marie Presley’s first official home, and residence after her birth on February the 1st 1968 and her childhood home, although her main state of residence was California where she lived with her mother after she divorced Elvis when Lisa was in elementary school. Every year at Christmas time Lisa Marie Presley, and all her family go to Graceland to celebrate Christmas together. Lisa Marie Presley often goes back to Graceland for visits. When she turned 30, Lisa Marie inherited the estate and she sold 85 percent of it. According to Brad Olsen, “Some of the rooms at Graceland testify to the brilliance and quirkiness of Elvis Presley. The TV room in the basement is where he often watched three television sets at once, and was within close reach of a wet bar.” Elvis […]
On my travels around collector’s fairs I have recently been drawn to a range of unusual looking costume jewellery. So distinctive in design it keeps leaping out at me and I cannot walk past without studying its intricate patterns and styles. So intrigued was I that after some investigation and research I found myself being sucked into the vibrant colourful world of renowned French costume jewellery designer – Lea Stein. Lea was born in Paris, France in 1931 and although very little is known of her early years it is believed that a lot of her childhood was spent in a concentration camp during WW2. Lea married Fernand Steinberger in the 1950s but it was not until the 1960s that she embarked in her own business of making creative innovative designs in costume jewellery. Fernand had discovered the process of laminating celluloid; using many paper-thin celluloid acetate sheets he created a multi-layered effect, finishing the process off with a top layer of material such as lace or even straw. Once the layered sheets had been blended they were then baked to harden and various shapes could be hand carved. The master piece could take up to as long as 6 months to perfect and then when totally satisfied it was used as a template to produce the jewellery (or component to use its official term), these components then transformed into the fantastic sculpture designs that today is so recognisable as Lea Stein. From the 60s right through to the 80s Lea produced pins, earrings, necklaces, bangles and even other objects of desire such as picture frames and mirrors. Amongst some of her earlier work are unusual buttons that again vary in design and were bought by French Couture fashion houses, but even rarer are the serigraphy pins, which were typically art deco in style, and were commonly images of ladies or girls framed like miniature paintings. Lea’s patterns and designs vary from the amusing caricature to the classic geometric deco style. Lea’s great passion for Art Deco shines through in her work with pins such as “Flapper” and one of my favourites the “Deco Cat” which I have seen sell recently for as much as £90.00. The stretch bracelets, bangles and necklaces also have a distinct deco influence with the geometric squares and colours such as green, which were typically used in jewellery during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the more common designs and the one that Lea is most famous for, is the “Fox” pin; these come in all types of colours and patterns and are easily recognisable with their looped tail and outstretched paws. This particular design can be found in layered pattern, pearlized, snakeskin and even glitter. Costing as little as £30 to £35 upwards you could easily just concentrate on collecting the foxes, as there are so many pattern variations. In the 1970’s Lea Stein bought the licence to a French Children’s Television show called “L’ile aux Enfants” – this translated into English means “Isle of Children”. She reproduced the characters onto pins, which were only made during 1975. All the characters were from the programme and include “Casimir”, “Tiffins” and the really loveable “Calimero” who is a little black bird with an eggshell sitting on his head. These are extremely hard to come by and do not come up for sale very often, but if you do find one expect to pay £70 to £100. In the early eighties the company fell into financial trouble and had to cease trading. However, this was not the end of Lea Stein, after a break of 9 years she began making earrings out of the fox head pins and cat faces left over from the factory. She hasn’t stopped there either, now from her home in France Lea is still producing and coming up with new ideas, thus keeping up with the demand from collectors. Prices for Lea Stein vary from as little as £25 upwards, depending on whom and where you buy, but it is actually the more modern pieces that fetch higher prices as less quantities are being made compared to when Lea had a factory and was able to produce on a much higher scale. The more recent designs very rarely appear on the secondary market as collectors snap them up instantly. It is not just the distinctive patterns that make Lea Stein so recognisable, the “V” shaped clasp is the trademark and is signed “Lea Stein Paris” on the back although some earlier 1960s pieces do not have the signature. This clasp creates some confusion about distinguishing the vintage pieces from the more modern but I am reliably informed the only way to tell the age is by the designs themselves. There is discussion that the clasp gives away the age of a piece by whether it has been secured by being melted into the back of the pin or whether it has been riveted. This allegedly is not true, the type of design determines how the clasp is fastened and does not identify the age of the item. Another way to distinguish between earlier and later pieces are the back of the pins themselves, some of the lying down and upright cats have nasty white backing which generally means that they are later pieces. Early vintage designs to look out for are the “Tennis Lady” or “Diver” as she is also known, this particular pin was made between 1968 and 1980 and can cost around £65 – £70. “Rolls Royce”, “French Sailor”, “Saxophone” and even rock legend “Elvis” are also highly desirable to collectors, again made in the same time bracket and costing around the same price on the secondary market. One of the more modern pieces to look out for is the front facing panther. There are only a few on the open market as Fernand and Lea recalled it due to the fact that they were not entirely happy with the finished product. Other modern designs are the bears […]
We take a look at some of the Christmas Collectables, Christmas Collectibles and Christmas gifts available for Xmas 2018. Royal Doulton Royal Doulton has several festive offerings including their annual Christmas Figure entitled Christmas Surprise, their 2018 Father Christmas entitled Santa Christmas List and the annual petite figure Glad Tidings. Also available are two new models from the Carol Singers collection: Angels from the Realms of Glory and Here We Come A-Carolling. We especially like Santa’s Christmas List which is a colourful study reflecting all the magical charm of the festive season. The jolly Santa reads from a scroll bearing the names of the children he’s leaving gifts for under the flamboyantly decorated Christmas Tree. For more details visit Royal Doulton. Jim Shore Heartland Creek Jim Shore does create wonderful festive items and colourful items. White Woodland Santa is a new addition to the White Woodland Collections from Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore. Standing at 48cm tall, this impressive piece features Mr Claus with his arms out-stretched, holding a piece of bark in his hands. At either side of the log are small woodland creatures including a squirrel and two birds. His feet are surrounded by other creatures, with the piece depicting a white rabbit and grey raccoon. There are a number of new pieces in the White Woodland collection whose colours feature muted winter tones of ice blues, silvers and greys, creating a coherent look that will complement other items across the range while working harmoniously in any home off-set against existing festive décor. For more details visit Enesco’s Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore. Swarovski Silver Crystal The release of the Swarovski annual Christmas ornaments, stars and editions are always keenly anticipated. The 2018 Christmas editions include the SCS Christmas ornament, annual Christmas ball and a Kris Bear annual edition. The Annual Edition Ornament 2018 has been designed by Verena Castelein and is in golden crystal with 156 facets, and comes with a golden satin ribbon and a specially designed metal tag engraved with ‘SCS’ on one side and ‘2018’ on the other. The Christmas Ball edition is very nice and has been designed by Stefanie Nederegger. The Christmas Ball Ornament, Annual Edition 2018 showcases a delicate shooting star, a symbol of dreams and wishes, inside a hand-made, mouth-blown glass ball. Small hand-glued crystals add extra sparkle and make each piece truly one-of-a-kind. The 2018 Kris Bear Christmas Annual Edition shows the Kris Bear in an active pose, decorating a colourful crystal Christmas tree with a golden crystal star on top. The edition has been modelled by artist Viktoria Holzknecht. For more details visit Swarovski.com. Lladro Lladro have released three versions of the Lladro Christmas Bell and three versions of the Lladro Christmas Ball. These classic designs both feature new decoration inspired by musical instruments. In matte porcelain and decorated in three different colours. For more details visit Lladro.com. Steiff The Sweet Santa Musical Teddy Bear by Steiff is a limited edition teddy made in white mohair. It is a limited edition piece, has the white ear tag and the trademark Button in Ear – gold plated, and is being produced in an edition of only 1225 pieces. It stands 27cm tall and plays Jingle Bells . Very sweet. Visit https://www.steiff.com for more details.
Why have collectors suddenly gone overboard for an out-of-proportion teen with scary eyes? And what can you do if you can`t afford the £500 or so needed to buy one? Blythe was a novelty doll produced by Kenner in 1972, and distributed in Britain by Palitoy. She was just under twelve inches tall, with a slender teen body and an overlarge head. Her most amazing accomplishment was that she could change the position and colour of her eyes. In fact, this wasn’t an innovative development – Pedigree had done much the same thing when they manufactured Pretty Peepers in the late 1950s, though this was a much larger doll standing 22 inches high, and her head was normal size. Presumably, Blythe needed the large head to incorporate the eye-change mechanism, which was operated by a pull cord running from the back of the head. Blythe’s eyes were large and round, and they changed from green to pink to amber to blue each time the string was pulled, momentarily closing between each pull. The blue and green eyes were side-glance, amber and pink looked straight ahead. Her appearance was revolutionary for the time – in fact, she scared children which may well be why she was soon discontinued, though another reason could be that a child’s frenzied pulling of the cord could cause it to break or the mechanism to jam. Twelve outfits were available for the doll, and she was obtainable with four hair colours – blonde, brunette, dark brown and auburn, some with fringes, some with a centre parting. She wasn’t a great success, and probably would have been ignored by doll collectors, until something happened which gave her a new lease of life and, indirectly, spawned a complete turnaround in the doll world culminating in a line of dolls which today outstrip sales of everything else. A few years ago, a lady called Gina Goran wanted to try out a camera, and grabbed the first doll she could find to test out the lens. It so happened that this lady had accumulated a collection of Blythe dolls. When she saw how great Blythe was as a model, she decided to dress the doll in unusual outfits and to photograph her in various place-settings. The resulting photos were gathered into a small book – and the result is history. Within a few months, prices for Blythe dolls had escalated, and a doll you could once find for a couple of pounds at a boot sale was now like gold dust. Blythe originally came wearing a long maxi-dress. The light brunette wore ‘Golden Goddess’ (yellow, trimmed with braid), the dark brunette, ‘Medieval Mood’ (brown with a Celtic pattern), auburn, ‘Love ‘n’ Lace’ (green scattered with flowers) and the blonde ‘Pretty Paisley’ (blue paisley print). Her range of outfits were sold carded with helpful photos on the reverse showing other items in the range, and included ‘Lounging Lovely’, ‘Roaring Red’, ‘Kozy Kape’, ‘Aztec Arrival’, ‘Pleasant Peasant’ and ‘Pow-Wow Poncho’. ‘Priceless Parfait’ consisted of a boldly-patterned yellow, blue and pink skirt, pink top with matching bag, fringed scarf and scarlet boots, while ‘Pinafore Purple’ was a purple all-in-one with flared sleeves and a medallion-patterned skirt worn over the top. All the garments had a typical ethnic-type Seventies look with pl enty of braid and fringing. Usually a label was attached inside with Blythe’s name on, which makes identification easy today, though in any case the clothes are very distinctive. An attractive ‘Blythe’s Fashion Wardrobe Case’ bearing a picture of Blythe, was available to store one doll and her outfits. Additionally, it was possible to buy a set of zany wigs to fit Blythe. These delightfully frothy affairs came in ‘Strawberry’ (pink), ‘Lime’ (green), ‘Blueberry’ (blue) and ‘Lemon’ (yellow), complete with a pair of trendy sunglasses. Each wig had its own polystyrene wig-stand, and a special combined brush and comb. Once Blythe was flaunting this movie-star get-up her appearance was amazingly altered. When Blythe made her come-back, fans clamoured for her. Takara, a Hasbro-owned Japanese company brought out their own range of Blythe dolls around four years ago, which proved immensely popular, and these have evolved to the extent that the plastic and colouring is almost identical to the original Kenner/Palitoy 1970s dolls. They feature the four colour eye-change mechanism worked by a pull string. The Japanese people have taken this new Blythe to their hearts, dressing her in street-wise, kookie fashions. Unfortunately, she is quite difficult to obtain in Britain, and it is normally necessary to use the internet or mail order to obtain her. These Blythes are not cheap, costing around £65 – though a range of four-inch high mini Blythes are much more affordable. Takara Blythes are sold in brightly coloured boxes with retro graphics reminiscent of the seventies. Their dolls have names such as Modrian, Dotty Dot, Hollywood, Disco Boogie, and Lounging Lovely, and their clothes are chic and pretty, some being replicas of the original Blythe outfits, and others very ‘girlie’, with pastel pink and blue jackets and floaty dresses. Another company producing a similar doll is Pullip, again Japanese based, owned by Jun Planning. Pullip dolls are a slightly more ‘grown-up’ version of Blythe, with a shaped body. The limbs are fully articulated, even the wrists and ankles. Their outfits are wacky, colourful and cool, and they are proving very popular, though it seems that stockists are only allowed a few of each new version, and you often have to order in advance. Pullips cost around £60, and the mini-Pullips are under £10. However, the eye action on a Pullip is not a colour-change, it is a side-glance and winking movement, controlled by levers at the back of the doll`s head. Pullip dolls have names such as Arietta, Bouquet, Noir, Withered, Chicca, Principessa, Squall and Venus. Additionally, there are storybook versions – Alice In Wonderland, Ann of Green Gables and Red Riding Hood. There is also a boy, who is known as Namu, and he stands taller than Pullip, about fourteen inches high. Namu comes in various versions including Trunk, Wolf and Vispo. The costumes and accessories […]
One of the most prolific designers of the 20th/21st Century has to be French born Philippe Starck. His design achievements include an eclectic mix of everyday domestic items, lighting and furniture to more flamboyant interior design projects, making him an industrial design genius often referred to as “The Designer of Our Time.” Pictured left: Phillipe Starck’s Juicy Saliff designed for Alessi. Born in Paris on 18th January 1949, Starck’s passion for design started as a child. His father Andre Starck worked as an aeroplane designer and Philippe spent much of his childhood underneath his father’s drawing board dismantling objects and then putting them back together again in the form of complex machinery. He studied at the Ecole Nissim de Camondo School in Paris until 1968 when he set up his first business producing inflatable products. He then took the position as Art Director for Pierre Cardin in America but later returned to France and embarked on his first interior design projects by fitting out the Paris nightclubs “La Main Blueue” (1976) and Les “Bains-Douches” (1979). The company “Starck Product” was founded in 1979 and the project that was to launch Starck’s career to International success was when he was asked by President Francois Mitterand in 1982 to renovate his private apartments in the Elysee Palace. Pictured right: A set of four Victoria Ghost side chairs modern, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell. Sold for $525 at Bonhams, May 2012. Image Copyright Bonhams. From then on Starck worked on numerous design projects that included the Café Costes, the Paris Eurostar Terminal and the Penninsula Hotel restaurant in Hong Kong. He created everything from the furniture to the design of the rooms themselves, one of his most talked about projects being the exclusive Sanderson Hotel in London where there are 150 Starck designed rooms. His creative touch is evident throughout the hotel where the design element used is “fun” and everything about this hotel screams enjoyment especially in the trendy “Long Bar” which features a row of Starck’s “eye” bar chairs. Pictured left: Dr. Skud, Fly Swatter designed by Phillipe Starck for Alessie and bearing his likeness. His design skills do not stop at interior projects and during the 1980s and 1990s he produced some innovative domestic designs for many companies, including a range of luggage for Samsonite, furniture for Kartell and lighting for Flos. From a collectors point of view it was whilst working for the Italian Design Company Alessi that Starck produced some of his most iconic work. He began workingfor Alberto Alessi in 1986, creating everything from a toothpick to a fly swatter but the most famous visually recognised product that he produced was the futuristic silver Juicy Salif in 1990. This iconic lemon squeezer was made of aluminium casting and resembles a rather strange looking spaceship. So much so, that it was used in the film Men In Black starring Will Smith as an actual space ship with aliens leaving it. Other products that have become sought after by Starck for Alessi include the Cactus Ashtray made of bakelite in 1990 and the Dr Kiss toothbrush set designed in 1998. Alessi is the perfect place to start if you want to collect Stark pieces, as it is affordable for most pockets. Prices begin for as little as £13.99 for the toothbrush to £145 for a Dede Door stop; £12 for the “Dr Kleen” toothpick to £180 for a “Max le Chinois Colander”. It also a great point for learning about Starck and his designs, you can get a feel for his products before investing more money into his higher top of the range designs, such as the furniture and lighting. Pictured right: Philippe Starck for Daum, ‘The Curiosity’, a pair of glass vases 1988 – engraved 25/34 Daum Starck height 15cm x width 55cm. Sold for £1,560 at Bonhams, London, April 2007. Image Copyright Bonhams. Although Starck’s Alessi designs are affordable and fun he is better renowned for modernist contemporary designs in furniture, and working with the Kartell Company has allowed Starck to produce some of the most innovative and creative styles to date. The Eros Swivel Armchair designed in 2001 is the epiphany of modern design with its die-cast aluminium frame and polycarbonate seat, whilst the much-celebrated Louis Ghost Chair proves that traditional antique furniture designs can be revisited and adapted perfectly to fit into our modern lives. If you decide to buy a good example of Starck’s work for Kartell be careful because designs such as the Eros chair are being copied. The only way to recognise the copies is that they are made fractionally smaller than an original Starck design and of course are being sold much cheaper. An authentic Eros would cost around £260 so try and buy from someone that is a legitimate Starck retailer and can tell you about the history of the chair. Pictured left: Flos Bedside Gun Table lamp designed by Phillipe Starck. Aside from the domestic utilities and furniture Starck also designs items for the Flos lighting company, with one of the most controversial pieces being in 2005 when he created a hard-hitting gun lamp range. Amongst the designs were a “Beretta” pistol, “AK 47 Kalashnikov” and M16 rifle which were in the form of a floor lamp. Starck’s inspiration for these lamp designs were taken from the media pictures of Saddam Hussein’s gold-plated gun, which was recovered when America and its allies attacked Iraq. Each gun is coated in gold leaf and is paired up with a black lampshade, which signifies death. Small crosses line the inner portion of the shade reminding us that the next passing could be our own! As you can image this did not bode well when launched in Milan as some people took the belief that Starck was glorifying gun crime but in fact he was creating a memorial for those killed for political progress. Whatever your opinion on this lamp, it’s a must have item for a Starck collector. Not all of Starck’s […]
The Beswick Characters of David Hand’s Animaland were all modelled by Arthur Gredington and were based on David Hand’s Animaland characters. The figures were produced by Beswick from 1949 to 1955. David Hand was a cartoon film animator who originally worked for the Disney organization where he was involved in several major productions including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. He moved to England in 1944 where he set up an animation studio – GB-Animation (short for Gaumont-British). He produced a series of 9 short films in the Animaland series on which the Beswick characters were based. The films are: The Lion (Felis Leo) (1948), The House-Cat (Felis Vulgaris) (1948), The Cuckoo (1948), The Ostrich (1949), The Australian Platypus (1949), It’s a Lovely Day (1949), Ginger Nutt’s Christmas Circus (1949), Ginger Nutt’s Bee-Bother (1949), Ginger Nutt’s Forest Dragon (1949). The Animaland characters with their Beswick model number 1148 Dinkum Platypus 1150 Zimmy the Lion 1151 Felia 1152 Ginger Nutt 1153 Hazel Nutt 1154 Oscar Ostrich 1155 Dusty Mole 1156 Loopy Hare Related Arthur Gredington and Beswick
Most of us have heard of Holly Hobbie, but perhaps Sarah Kay and Betsey Clark are slightly less familiar. All three artists specialised in drawing greetings cards, lending their names to the characters they drew, which were later issued in doll form. The Betsey Clark character is an old-fashioned miss, quite distinctive with her pointed, elfin-type face, teardrop-shaped eyes, high forehead and wispy blonde hair caught up with a thin ribbon into a bunch on top of her head. Pictured right: Betsey Clark doll She is a poor waif, with patches on her clothes and oversize shoes. This adorable child was created by her namesake, Betsey Clark, who lived in Amarillo, Texas. Betsey showed early promise for art and design, winning awards for drawing while still a child. In the early 1960s she began work at Hallmark cards, producing greetings card designs which depicted her so-called Whimsical Waifs. These soon caught the public’s imagination. Later, various dolls featuring her characters appeared, to the delight of both children and adults. Additionally, the German company of Goebel were commissioned by Hallmark to produce a series of Betsey Clark figurines for collectors. According to a collector’s site on the internet, Betsey proclaimed that she loved to ‘work off in a little bitty corner, with the drapes pulled around me’. She died in 1987, but her enchanting characters live on. A range of Betsey Clark dolls was issued by Knickerbocker in the 1970s. Amongst them was an 8″ tall vinyl-headed, soft-bodied girl, dressed in a pretty pale blue outfit of patterned dress and striped apron. Her apron bore two patches. The pale colouring of the dolls’ features and clothing reflected the delicate hues in Betsey Clark’s illustrations, and the attractive box featured a picket fence, topped with a robin, with the Betsey doll standing behind. A verse on the box read, ‘Betsey’s the very best kind of a friend, whenever you need her, she has time to spend. You can tell her your troubles when something goes wrong, and wherever you go, she likes going along! She can make you smile brightly when you’re feeling glum, when you tell her your secrets, she’ll keep every one! She can make almost anything more fun to do, and she’s coming to stay and have fun times with you!’ Betsey was also available as a small all-vinyl doll and as a rag doll, while in 1985 a delightful 6″ porcelain collector’s doll was created. Betsey Clark dolls seem more difficult to obtain here in Britain than those of Sarah Kay and Holly Hobbie, which is a shame as they are very cute with their wistful faces and large, sad eyes. Artist Sarah Kay seems to be something of a recluse. Apparently, she shuns all publicity, preferring to talk through her delightful portrayals of little girls in old-fashioned summer dresses and mob caps. Often confused with Holly Hobbie, Sarah Kay’s creations tend to wear clothes featuring spotted fabrics, while Holly Hobbie uses patchwork and small floral prints. Pictured left: Sarah Kay doll She lives in Australia, and trained at art college before joining an advertising agency. When her daughter Allison became very ill, Sarah needed something to soothe her worries, and began to work on a series of drawings featuring carefree children in an idyllic, old-fashioned country setting, gaining her inspiration from her own childhood, spent on her grandparents farm. The drawings were noticed by the Valentine Greetings Card Company, and were produced as popular cards and stationery. Pedigree decided to manufacture dolls based on the little girls in the drawings, producing a range during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the most delightful had vinyl faces with round, painted eyes and softly coloured lips. A few freckles were scattered across the bridge of the nose. Pictured right: Sarah Kay Pedigree doll Sweet Thoughts These dolls had rooted hair and soft bodies, and stood 13″ tall. They had names such as Gentleness, Tenderness, Sweet Love, Sweetness, Cheerfulness, Happiness, Joy, Affection, Kindness and Sweet Thoughts, and each wore a different colour or pattern; for instance, Gentleness wore mainly green, Tenderness blue, Sweet Love red and so on. Several versions were available including rag dolls in assorted sizes, and Pedigree also marketed a nightdress case, shaped like a Sarah Kay doll, under the Burbank name. Sometimes the dolls wore bonnets or mob-caps, while others had straw hats. In their 1979 catalogue, Pedigree proclaimed, ‘The most beautiful rag dolls ever. High quality material. Detailed replicas of world famous greetings cards.’ The House of Anri, founded and maintained by the Riffeser family over several generations, is famed for its creative range of wooden figurines, which are made at St. Christina, located in the Dolomite mountains of South Tyrol, Italy. Amongst their products are ornamental models of Sarah Kay characters. These delightful pieces are hand-carved from Alpine maple and are extremely popular. Several kinds of Sarah Kay jointed wooden dolls have also been carved, including Martha, a sweet little girl, 14″ tall, made in a limited edition of 750. She has the trademark freckles across her nose, and is dressed in a typical Sarah Kay outfit of cotton frock and bonnet. As you might expect, these painted, wooden creations are expensive, but they are extremely beautiful and collectable. Most famous of the three designers is Holly Hobbie. During the 1960s, people became intrigued by her designs featuring a little girl, facing sideways, dressed in a long patc hwork frock, with a large bonnet totally obscuring her face. This pose tended to create an urge to see the expression which lurked beneath the brim. Grannies, especially, adored this nostalgia theme, imagining it was their granddaughter lurking under that floppy bonnet, and the whole concept happily coincided with the fashionable look of the day – long, floaty dresses, small prints, Laura Ashley, country style, femininity and pastel shades. Pictured left: 1975 Knickerbcoker Holly Hobbie doll Holly Hobbie created her designs for the American Greetings Card Company for many years, featuring children in […]