the latest batch of Ty releases is the 2005 Signature Bear.
Also released are Charming and Icing.
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Random Collecting Feature
Do you remember Cassy? Cassy was an innovative little doll who became popular in the early 1990s, manufactured by the Hornby company. A few years before, Hornby had enjoyed a huge success with their Flower Fairies – dainty dolls who inhabited their own small world – and obviously, they hoped to do the same with Cassy.She was released amidst a torrent of publicity in 1992; slim, petite and just seven-and-a-half inches tall. Cassy was available with assorted hair colours and styles – sometimes her hair was long and sleek, and sometimes it was worn in a thick mass of curls. On special occasions it was piled high on top of her head in a kind of beehive style. Her pretty face featured painted blue eyes which looked straight ahead, a tapered chin and pale lips. The back of her neck was marked ‘Hornby 1991’. Cassy’s facial expression varied, and the Hornby brochure declared ‘Her moods are reflected in many differing expressions, from broad smiles to that unique, pensive look.’ The doll was fully poseable with joints at the neck, shoulders, hips, knees and waist, enabling her to sit, bend, straddle a pony or assume graceful ballet positions. However, the most innovative thing about this little doll, and the reason for her name, Cassy, was her unusual packaging – she arrived inside a transparent cassette, similar to the kind of boxes used to hold video tapes. Alongside the doll were a brush and a stand as well as a colourful backing card printed with a room setting. It was also possible to purchase sets of furniture for the doll, packaged into cassettes. This furniture was well-made from plastic, and often featured light or sound. The cassette cases were not just a practical gimmick for shop display purposes – they could be clipped together to build up into a large play-set, a brilliant marketing ploy, as the more you bought, the bigger the house for your Cassy dolls! Each cassette measured ten inches tall by six inches wide, and was hinged, just like a normal video case. Bases and roofs were sold to make the cassette-houses more realistic. These bases were complete with decorative edging and fencing, and they ensured that the structure was firm. Pretty pink roofs provided the finishing touch. Everything was held together with plastic clips to make a sturdy and versatile structure. In addition to the small cassette packs, it was possible to buy large boxed sets such as a ballet studio, disco, house, riding school or, the ultimate, Cassy’s country home – it saved time to get them this way, rather than gradually buying the individual cassette units. These boxed sets contained additional features, including dolls in special costumes. The disco contained a dj’s console with flashing lights and a Cassy doll dressed in a metallic-look jacket over a purple catsuit, while the balle t studio pack came with a roof, base, and two cassettes containing a barre, a mirror and a Cassy wearing a delicate lilac tutu. The stable set was enormous fun, because the horse-trough was fitted with tiny red buttons, which, when pressed, enabled you to hear the horses walking, whinnying and huffing. It came with plenty of accessories such as tack, brushes, rosettes, and an all-important broom and rake to enable Cassy to muck out Stroller, her palomino horse. Without doubt, Cassy was a young lady from a wealthy family; her lifestyle was reflected in the lilac quilted satin draped bed, gold plated bath taps, and dining table set with ornate silver cutlery and candelabra. She had a fully-equipped kitchen which included a microwave oven. Buttons on the hob of her glass-fronted cooker pinged the microwave, or made the sound of food frying, while buttons on the fridge caused the phone to ring and the food processor to whirr. Her top-of -the-range country house was a huge double-gabled building, with two attics and a stable, featuring plenty of lights and sound. As with the other buildings, this could be purchased all in one go, or built up from the various cassette units, and the ingenious design meant that all the fittings, even the lights, could be repositioned. Everything folded down and clipped neatly inside its cassette, ensuring that small accessories were kept safe. Cassy’s clothes were superb, especially her evening dresses and disco outfits. Everything was well-detailed, and made from fine, colourful fabrics, often floaty chiffons, sparkly lurex or layers of net. Even the ballet tutus were trimmed with narrow satin ribbon, and their skirts were of finely pleated net over white, lilac, or turquoise leotards. Many of the outfits featured a novel characteristic – an unusual puff sleeve on the right arm, the left arm being bare. This could be seen in all the tutus, as well as in several dresses such as a full-length silver gown in the ‘Special Occasion’ range, with detachable pink and purple chiffon panels. A froth of chiffon was gathered on the right shoulder, while an unusual finishing touch was the narrow pink and mauve plait fastened across the top of Cassy’s head, to match the dress. Some of her most elegant outfits were the sheath-type fitted gowns which flared below the knee, and the lavish, silky ballgowns. When she went to the disco, Cassy opted for a gold lame mini with pink satin overskirt, a silver and black dotted jacket worn with a swirly cerise skirt, a gold and black shimmering dress with fitted bodice and full skirt or a blue handkerchief-pointed spot net dress with a navy bodice. A purple catsuit was included in with the disco studio. She adored colour – her casual clothes were in shades of orange, pink or purple, and of course, being the early nineties, she was the height of fashion in her pink and green shell suit! Outfits could also be bought separately, in blister packs, which often also contained a plastic easy-to-dress ‘mannequin’, which allowed the garment to be displayed if required. Packs of hats, shoes and […]
After a very rainy and dismal Summer, we’re now looking at chilly mornings and nights returning, so why not curl up in the warm and turn on the radio to listen to your favourite programme? After all, it’s better than the reality contest rubbish that assails our senses on the Box isn’t it? I find the sound is made so much warmer, making me feel even more cosy, when the programme emanates from a good, old fashioned vintage radio. It’s the valves, I think. They just make everything seem so much better than bland old circuitry. Or may be I’m an old nostalgic at heart. I’m almost reaching for the buttered, toasted crumpets as I type! Pictured: EKCO model M23 with bakelite case Personally speaking, I listen to an EKCO model M23, designed in 1932, that I bought at auction in Somerset. Its clean-lined, modern architectural shape reminded me of an Art Deco building. And it’s precisely this that interests collectors the most. It’s actually not the sound (lovely as it is!), but the case that matters. The more stylish and evocative of the period the design is, the more desirable it is likely to be. My radio was made around 1931, so fits in to the time period when the plastic radio boomed in popularity. Developments in plastics during the 1920s and 1930s saw all manner of shapes and colours being produced, allowing the radio to break out from the dull dominance of cases built like the wooden furniture of the Edwardian period and unappealing ‘build it yourself’ crystal kit boxes with wires. Bakelite and similar early plastics were easy to mould into all sorts of shapes, often in a rainbow of plastic colours, although some were still put into wooden or veneer cases to attract traditionalists. EKCO (short for the maker’s name ‘E.K. Cole’) was one of Britain’s most revered radio companies. They were responsible for the unique and innovative ‘Round’ EKCO, which was designed by British architect Wells Coates and made in five different variations. Values today vary from around £500 to over £1,000 depending on the model as some designs, such as the first AD65 of 1934, are more popular than others. Most were made in plain or mottled brown bakelite, but examples are also found in Deco black and chrome and these tend to fetch a premium. Also look out for blue, green or other coloured examples. Pictured: EKCO model A22 radio bakelite Exceptionally rare to the point of being legendary, prices go stratospheric, although the few examples I’ve seen over the years look as though they were sold (and even made) by Del Boy from the Trotter stall! Another solid British name to look out for is Philips, who made radios from both bakelite and a mysterious laminated wood known as ‘Arbolite’. Those with Art Deco styled grilles are particularly appealing and can fetch anything from £200-500. Kolster Brandes (known as ‘KB’) made a fun little radio known as ‘the toaster’, for obvious visual reasons. In plain, sprayed on colours, they can be found for around £50-80, more for wild ‘solid’ colours or combinations of colours. A great start to a collection is the chunky 1950s Bush DAC90, the doyen of many an antiques centre, which can be found for anything from £20 upwards. Now I said ‘old fashioned’ when I introduced my article, but many vintage radios were and still are far from it – even more so than the round EKCO. In fact during their day, they were the height of fashionable, avant garde interior decor. The country that did it best was undoubtedly the US. The name FADA instantly springs to mind, particularly its famous ‘Bullet’. Shaped like a gumdrop, its streamlined shape shouts late American Art Deco of the early 40s. Made in a variety of bright colours, it became one of the most popular radios ever made. The colour was down to the choice of material, a cast phenolic plastic often known as ‘Catalin’ after the American company that made the material. Cheery cherry reds, yellows and strong cobalt blues abound, but look out for the ‘All American’ produced when the US entered WWII with its patriotic combination of red, white and blue. This can fetch over £2,000 in great condition, whilst others can fetch around £500-700 upwards. Other names to look out for include the desirable skyscraper-like Air King, designed by the notable Harold van Doren, Motorola, Addison and Bendix for their funky colours and louvres or grilles, and Emerson for its radios aptly nicknamed ‘tombstones’. A rare baby blue Air King ‘Skyscraper’ fetched over $50,000 at auction a while ago, but in general prices vary from around £500 to around £3,000. So keep your eyes peeled at a relative’s house and at local fairs and auctions where they may not be recognised. If the 50s are more your thing, look out for the Philco ‘Boomerang’ or a Crosley ‘Bullseye’ as nothing beats them in getting the look of the day. Colour is important to value, with vibrant blues, greens and cherry reds usually being more sought after and valuable than yellows, browns or beiges. Great combinations of colours, such as between the body and grille, are also desirable. On that note, it’s also worth pointing out that many of the ‘butterscotch’ yellow radios weren’t made like that. They began as an attractive ivory colour, but discoloured over the years to ‘chicken tikka masala’ yellow. Polishing can remove these signs of ages, but this is best done by a professional. This brings me on to another thing best done by a professional – restoration. Never, ever plug a new purchase in to the mains to see if it works, no matter how excited you are. Always get it checked out by a qualified electrician or vintage radio restorer first. Whilst the collecting arena is hot with spares and information on how to restore your radio yourself, it will take time and it’s best to seek advice if you are […]
John Wyndham (full name John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris) was a British science fiction author who wrote several classic novels, including The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos. His works are highly collectible, especially in first edition form. Here we take a look at the value of John Wyndham first edition books published under his own name during his lifetime. John Wyndham was a British author who wrote science fiction novels and short stories. He is best known for his novel The Day of the Triffids, which was adapted into a film in 1962. Wyndham was born in 1903 in England. He began writing science fiction in the 1920s, but did not achieve commercial success until the publication of The Day of the Triffids in 1951. The Day of the Triffids, in particular, is considered a science fiction classic. It tells the story of a massive attack by alien plants that leaves humanity struggling to survive. The Day of the Triffids was first published in 1951, and a first edition can sell for upwards of £5,000 / $7,000. As with all first edition books the dust jacket condition is everything and prices vary greatly. John B. Harris and John Beynon However, Wyndham had actually been writing stories and short stories since 1925 under several aliases and pseudonyns. In 1927 he published a detective novel, The Curse of the Burdens, as by John B. Harris, and by 1931 he was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines. His debut short story, “Worlds to Barter”, appeared under the pen name John B. Harris in 1931. Subsequent stories were credited to ‘John Beynon Harris until mid-1935, when he began to use the pen name John Beynon. Three novels as by Beynon were published in 1935/36, two of them works of science fiction, the other a detective story. He also used the pen name Wyndham Parkes for one short story in the British Fantasy Magazine in 1939, as John Beynon had already been credited for another story in the same issue. The Kraken Wakes John Wyndham’s second novel was The Kraken Wakes which was first published in 1953, originally published by Michael Joseph in the United Kingdom in 1953, and first published in the United States in the same year by Ballantine Books under the title Out of the Deeps as a mass market paperback. . The novel is about an alien invasion of Earth by creatures known as the “Kraken”. The Kraken are giant sea creatures that are able to telepathically control humans. They use their powers to create a world-wide flood, which forces humanity to evacuate to the moon. The novel was well-received by critics and is considered to be one of the classic science fiction novels of the 20th century. It has been reprinted several times and has been translated into multiple languages. The Kraken Wakes is considered to be one of Wyndham’s most accomplished works. The Midwich Cuckoos John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos is a classic of British science fiction. First published in 1957, it tells the story of a group of children who are born with strange powers after a mysterious event in the village of Midwich. The book has inspired many writers and has been adapted for movies and TV series many times. A first edition in near fine condition with near fine dust jacket estimate £2000 / $3,000. Did you know? Wyndham began work on a sequel novel, Midwich Main, which he abandoned after only a few chapters. The Chrysalids, Trouble with Lichen and Chocky Price Variations In writing this feature as with many that include price guides it is always apparent that their is massive variation in prices even for similar books and objects. The prices given here are for near fine copies, so copies in excellent order. First editions of The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos will always be popular and sort after. Bibliography of books published in his lifetime under the name John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids (1951) The Kraken Wakes (1953) The Chrysalids (1955) The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) Trouble with Lichen (1960) Chocky (1968) Related BBC interview and feature with John Wyndham
One thing that often appeals to us collectors is a sense of order.
The RMS Titanic left Southampton on the 10th April 1912 headed for New York. Four days later she hit an iceberg and on the 15th April she sank.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. He died aged 42 on August 16, 1977 but during his short life and since his death he has become one of the most well known cultural icons of modern times.
Bjørn Wiinblad – Instantly recognisable, his style is very modern and personal with almost naively drawn, but immensely charming, characters, usually with happy round faces
From their home studio tucked away on the rural coast of northern California, a pair of sisters create works of art that look good enough to eat. Dinah and Patty Hulet have created stunning art glass that you’ll find in museums, galleries, and the finest gift shops in the world. Both went through college and pursued meaningful careers. While working as a librarian for a chemical company, Dinah found inspiration in the creations of the scientific glassblowers and it wasn’t long before both sisters were fully entranced with the captivating medium of glass art. By the mid-1980s, the sisters created Hulet Glass. They sold their works at local art and wine festivals with plenty of success, but they both felt it best to move to a rural portion of northern California to put their sole focus on creating their art and marketing to galleries and high-end gift shops across the country. Looking at their works, it’s amazing to discover that they are both self-taught in the field of glass art. Dinah excels at lampworking torch methods while Patty’s artistic focus involves the kiln with fusing, casting and pate de verre. What started as a hobby for both women became a full-blown career in art glass. Hulet Glass is now known around the world for upstanding quality and impeccable craftsmanship. Dinah’s portrait murrine have been exhibited in places like the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Patty’s pate de verre was represented at SOFA. After years of experience in glass art, they’ve lectured to aspiring glass artists, taught their techniques locally, nationally, and internationally, and Dinah is a past board member of the Glass Art Society. In addition to these accomplishments, the sisters have found the perfect recipe for success in the form of art glass chocolates. Under the name Hulet Glass Confections, Dinah and Patty began creating these delectably-designed art glass treats in 2005. Lavish details make each piece look good enough to eat, perfectly mimicking the look of gourmet chocolates, petit fours, tartlets, cupcakes, chocolate drops, and other delightful treats. The truly astounding embellishments include art glass chocolates topped with nuts that look so real you might attempt to taste them. When they displayed the glass chocolates at the Buyer’s Market of American Crafts in Philadelphia in 2007, buyers responded in a frenzy. Since then, the Hulet sisters have continued to create their art glass chocolates for collectors in the US and around the world. Each piece is crafted by the sisters only. They take great pride in ensuring the precision and quality their glass art brand is known for. A display of gorgeous chocolates adds a touch of class to any room, a symbol of both romance and opulence. As we eat with our eyes, the sight of stunningly-detailed chocolates evokes memories of innocence, love and happy times. Collectors will go out of their way to find a unique piece to add to their Hulet Chocolate collection. Many times when one friend or relative starts collecting, others in their close circle begin to do so as well, creating a partner to assist in tracking down that perfect piece. One look at Hulet Glass Confections and you’ll be amazed these pieces aren’t real gourmet treats. The sisters continue to craft them, coming up with new designs every year to tempt collectors to add to their growing collections. The sisters also devise decorative boxes for their art glass treats, making them the perfect vessel to commemorate special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and more. The creations they make are the ideal special gift for anyone that wants to give something unique. The Hulet sisters’ Chocolate Drop is a beautiful piece that can be used as a necklace or ornament and given for holidays like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or as a sweet treat for teachers at the end of the year. For more details on these great creations visit Hulet Glass Chocolates
Dame Muriel Spark (née Muriel Sarah Camberg) was born in Edinburgh on the 1st February 1918, and 2018 is the centenary of her birth. She is most famous for her sixth novel, published in 1961, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, with its eponymous title character, the free spirited Miss Jean Brodie. She was placed placed her eighth in The Times list of the ‘50 greatest post-war writers’. Muriel Spark began writing poetry in her early teens at school. At the age of 19 she left Scotland for Southern Rhodesia to marry Sydney Oswald Spark, thirteen years her senior whom she had met at a dance in Edinburgh. In July of 1938, she gave birth to a son Samuel Robin Spark in Southern Rhodesia and having left the marriage, Spark supported herself and her son there. Spark began writing seriously after the war, under her married name, beginning with poetry and literary criticism. In 1947 she became editor of the Poetry Review. In 1953 Muriel Spark was baptised in the Church of England but in 1954 she decided to join the Roman Catholic Church, which she considered crucial in her development toward becoming a novelist. Her first novel, The Comforters, was published in 1957. It featured several references to Catholicism and conversion to Catholicism, although its main theme revolved around a young woman who becomes aware that she is a character in a novel. Spark was to publish four more novels Robinson (1958), Memento Mori (1959), The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) and the The Bachelors (1960) until The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1961. Brodie was to become the novel that she would forever synoymous with. In the novel Spark displayed originality of subject and tone, making extensive use of flash forwards and imagined conversations. Muriel Spark Novels and Price Guide These prices are a reflection of the market as of 15th January 2018. As with most modern first editions condition of the dust jacket is critical to the valuation. The Comforters (1957) Robinson (1958) Memento Mori (1959) The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) The Bachelors (1960) The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) The Girls of Slender Means (1963) The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) The Public Image (1968) The Driver’s Seat (1970) Not To Disturb (1971) The Hothouse by the East River (1973) The Abbess of Crewe (1974) The Takeover (1976) Territorial Rights (1979) Loitering with Intent (1981) The Only Problem (1984) A Far Cry From Kensington (1988) Symposium (1990) Reality and Dreams (1996) Aiding and Abetting (2000) The Finishing School (2004) Reference Celebrating Muriel Spark and writing about post traumatic stress – Radio 4 a look at the work of Muriel Spark and discussion with William Boyd and Alan Taylor (14 January 2018) Dame Muriel Spark – A great British novelist, and the waspish creator of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – obituary on The Guardian (17 April 2006)
Robert (Mouseman) Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture maker whose designs were both functional and very collectable. His designs with their clean, simple lines, careful workmanship, classic construction and mouse carvings have attracted and continue to attract considerable interest from collectors not only in the UK but worldwide. Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Refectory Table c1935. Sold for £2,250 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2013. Robert Thompson lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, where he set up a business manufacturing oak furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece. Pictured: A Mouseman Oak Cheesboard and Mouseman Breadboard, c1935. Estimate £300-£500. It is claimed that the mouse motif came about accidentally in 1919 following a conversation about “being as poor as a church mouse”, which took place between Thompson and one of his colleagues during the carving of a cornice for a screen. This chance remark led to him carving a mouse and this remained part of his work from this point onwards. The mouse carvings can often be used to date pieces. Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Pair of Monk’s Chairs, c1940. Sold for £7,500 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2012. Image Copyright Bonhams, He was part of the 1920s revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement led by William Morris, John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. More specific to furniture making in this genre and era include Stanley Webb Davies of Windermere. Pictured: Robert Mouseman Thompson oak ashtrays – of similar form but with slight differences, each dished rectangular and with two canted corners, carved in relief to the opposite end with the mouse trademark ashtrays. Sold for £168 at Bonhams, Knowle, June 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams, The workshop, now being run by his descendants, includes a showroom and visitors’ centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains “Mouseman” pews, fittings and other furniture. The company is now known as “Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd – The Mouseman of Kilburn.” Mouseman Related The Mouseman Visitor Centre Mouseman Furniture at auction Robert Thompson Mouseman Price Guide Early Mouseman pieces are highly desirable and unlike a great deal of Victorian and early 20th century furniture, pieces are bucking market trends and are increasing rather than decreasing. The factory still produces furniture so new pieces are available. Below are realised prices from auction rooms and online auctions. Click for Mouseman Price Guide for Smaller Items.