If there’s any room left in your miniature closet for another set of miniature shoes, there’s a fabulous new collection of footwear from France you won’t want to miss – Les Petites Feet. Each shoe is a highly detailed replica of romantic footwear from a bygone era.
Unlike resin models currently on the market, these beautiful shoes are made of ceramic, lace, and fabric. All of the shoes are made by hand in France, so each has its own individual, distinct qualities. Prices range from $20 to $45 USD, and pieces range in size from 2″ to 7″ in length. The most stunning aspect of the footwear is the incredible detail in the applied lace and brocade, clearly the work of skilled artisans.
When collector Larry Moskovitz of Foster City, California, saw Les Petites Feet while on vacation in France, he was absolutely smitten with them. After two years of negotiations, he has arranged with the manufacturer to create unique styles, designs and colours for his own company web site.
For further information, check out Larry’s web site at www.lespetitesfeet.com.
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Random Collecting Feature
1961 was the best of times. JFK and Jackie were in the White House, NASA was in space, Elvis was back from the Army, and Marx Disneykins were introduced on toyshop shelves throughout the Western world. Made of injection molded hard plastic and hand-painted by artists in British Hong Kong, each Disneykin figure was a perfectly packaged “miniature masterpiece” of postwar technology. Playfully packaged in bright candy-like boxes and intriguing shadow box scenes, Disneykins were a perfect cartoon fantasy universe unto themselves. Carried in pockets and schoolbook bags they could spring to life at a moment’s notice, providing hours of imaginative fun and make-believe. Disneykins embodied both the self-assured innocence of the times and the Walt Disney Productions’ cartoon mythology. The figures included representations of almost the entire Disney pantheon of toon stars, from everyday favorites like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and Peter Pan (from the first series) – to more exotic personalities like Bongo the bear, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Uncle Scrooge, Toby Tortoise, the Mad Hatter and Willie the Whale (from the second series) – to name a few. The Louis Marx Toy Company manufactured Disneykins from 1961 right up to the company’s demise in 1972-3. By the end of the line, the Marx Company had produced a large number of completely different Disneykins and Disneykin lines, with a total of over 160 figures at last count. Basically, Marx made a Disneykin representation of nearly every major character in a Disney animated film that was released (or re-released) during that twelve-year period. When combined, the original 1961 “First Series” of 34 figures (the most common Disneykins) and the rarer 36 “Second Series” figures (called “New” Disneykins) feature the major cartoon stars of PINOCCHIO, BAMBI, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN, SLEEPING BEAUTY and DUMBO. Other more film-specific Disneykin lines that followed were: the 1961 101 Dalmatians series (sold primarily in Europe and Great Britian), 1962’s Babes in Toyland series (soldiers and flats, in two sizes), Lady & the Tramp (1962), The Sword in the Stone (released in 1963 and only available as a large playset), 1967’s The Jungle Book, and closing with the scarce Robin Hood cartoon line in 1972. In addition, a special Pinocchio series was briefly marketed during the film’s 1962 re-release, as well as a separate Ludwig Von Drake series of figures and playsets which tied-in with both NBC & RCA and his Wonderful World of Color (NBC-TV) appearances. Featured products from the Disneykin era included many finely detailed, way-out miniaturized toys such as: The Lady & the Tramp Kennel Box Set — with the entire film’s cast of 12 dogs and cats in kennel windows. The Sword In The Stone Playset — a larger HO scale boxed playset, which included a castle, playmat, knights, Madame Mim and Merlin’s houses and the entire cast of character figures. The “See and Play” Disneykin Dreamhouse Playset (Marx/Montgomery Wards, 1968) — an intricate see-through 2 story suburban house, complete with landscaping, two cars, Disneykins, and all modern conveniences, including a 60s-era kitchen, gaudy dining room set, TV, carpeting, pool and even a bathroom). The 101 Dalmatians Playset line — which featured the film’s complete story, uniquely illustrated in six boxed playset scenes, with figures, props and furniture — which came in two different sizes. A Brief History Like many Marx toys from the 1960s, Disneykins were basically a recycled product, having their roots in the previous decade. Most of the Disneykin figures are essentially the “grandchildren” of the 38 soft-plastic, 60mm unpainted Disney character figures from the large scale Marx “Walt Disney Television Playhouse” (1953) along with the 13 additional character figures. The “kin” evolutionary path went through a few more essential steps — such as the metal hand-painted Linemar line, and the German, Holland and Japanese figures – before being miniaturized, hand-painted and rechristened “Disneykins.” They are essentially the same figures with the same poses – only the scale and materials differ. Disneykins were usually packaged and sold in four basic formats: Single figures – in little candy-colored individual boxes, with or without a window TV-Scenes – one or two figures and props in a small 3″ x 3″ television-like window display box. Playsets – larger, more elaborate window display boxes which housed five to eight figures in a stage-set scene, with furniture, props and a themed background. Gift Box – a large window display package which included all or most of the figures from an entire series, each in its own individual cubby hole with name ta g. This format is frequently misidentified as a store display. In addition, some Disneykin series included larger combo gift boxes of multiple playsets and TV-Scenes. The playset combo is called a Triple Playset and featured three separate playset scenes in one box, and the TV-Scene Gift Box included six separate TV-Scenes in one box. Again, these packaging formats are frequently misidentified as store displays. The ingenious, and confusing aspect of the Disneykin packaging was not only the large variety of interesting box formats and packaging used to sell (and re-sell) the same items, but the fact that a child would have to purchase nearly every playset in a line just to assemble one film’s cartoon cast. For example, in the First Series: The “Mickey Mouse & Friends” playset includes Peter Pan, the “Donald Duck Pier” playset has Captain Hook, and Tinkerbelle appears in the “Dumbo’s Circus” playset alongside Alice. In the Second Series it became even wierder: the “Lost Boys” playset features Flower the Skunk from Bambi, the “Lady & The Tramp” playset scene has the two clowns from Dumbo, the “Three Little Pigs” playset included Brer Fox standing in for the Big Bad Wolf, and the “Cinderella” scene box has Peter Pan’s Wendy masquerading as Cinderella alongside the Owl from Bambi. (Note: a Big Bad Wolfe figure was eventually produced in the early 1970s lineup, and Marx never made a specific Cinderella figure.) Although many of the Disneykin figures were available for over ten years […]
Baccarat Paperweights Baccarat Crystal is a manufacturer of fine crystal glassware located in Baccarat, France. The Musée Baccarat, on the Place des États-Unis in Paris, displays many of its finest productions. Pictured: A very rare Baccarat concentric millefiori `fireworks’ paperweight circa 1848, it was made specifically to commemorate the French Revolution of 1848. This brilliant object is one of only two examples of this type known. Image Copyright: Bonhams. History 1764-1816 In 1764 King Louis XV of France gave permission to found a glassworks in the town of Baccarat in the Lorraine region in eastern France to Prince Bishop Cardinal Louis-Joseph de Laval-Montmorency (1761-1802). Production consisted of window panes, mirrors and stemware until 1816 when the first crystal oven went into operation. By that time over 3000 workers were employed at the site. 1817-1867 Baccarat received its first royal commission in 1823. This began a lengthy line of commissions for royalty and heads of state throughout the world. In 1855 Baccarat won its first gold medal at the World’s Fair in Paris. Pictured: A Baccarat spaced concentric millefiori weight and a Baccarat spray weight mid 19th century and 20th century, the second with stencilled mark. The first enclosing a central cane encircled with six others including three silhouettes of a goat, a cockerel and a dog, within an outer circlet of canes; the second with a spray of white lilies with orange stamens and green leaves on a white honeycomb-ground. Sold for £900, May 2006, Christies, London. Baccarat first began marking its work with a registered mark in 1860. The mark was a label affixed to the bot tom of the work. In the period 1846-1849 Baccarat signed some of their high quality glass paperweights with the letter B and the year date in a composite cane. A special paperweight dated 1853 was found under the cornerstone of a bomb damaged church in Baccarat when construction recommenced after World War 2. The crystal production expanded its scope throughout this period, and Baccarat built a worldwide reputation for making quality stemware, chandeliers, barware, and perfume bottles. 1867-1936 The Imperial Era ended in 1867 with the defeat of Napoléon III. Influences outside of France began to have a stronger influence on Baccarat’s work during this era, particularly imports from Japan. Strong growth continued in Asia for Baccarat. One of the strongest production areas for Baccarat was perfume bottles, and by 1907 production was over 4000 bottles per day. Pictured: A Baccarat dated carpet ground weight signed and dated on a single cane ‘b1848’ The clear glass set with assorted scattered brightly coloured millefiori canes, including animal silhouettes of a stag, a peahen, a horse, an elephant, a butterfly, a cockerel, and a monkey, set on a ground of red and white canes, some with blue star centers. Sold for $13,145, October 2004, Christies, New York. In 1936 Baccarat began marking all of its works via acid or sandblasting. 1936—Present Baccarat created an American subsidiary in 1948 in New York City. By 2007 there were stores in Chicago; Costa Mesa; Dallas; Houston; Greenwich, Connecticut; Honolulu; New York; Troy, Michigan; San Francisco; Palm Desert, California; Las Vegas; and Atlantic City. A 12th location is set to open in Atlanta in 2010. A retrospective was held in 1964 at the Louvre Museum to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the crystal works. In 1993 Baccarat began making jewelry and in 1997 the company expanded into perfume. Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
Of all the varieties of china manufactured by the firm of W. H. Goss, the cottages and other small buildings have probably the greatest appeal. They are accurately modelled, of a fine translucent body, well decorated and are not disfigured by a transfer crest. It is these two latter criteria which are used, quite arbitrarily, to define the term ‘cottage’ in this article. Pictured: Three W H Goss Cottages including the First and Last House in England, small with green door, Shakespeare’s House, small full length, one chimney damaged, and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Estimate £100-£150. Image Copyright Bonhams. Plain white pieces, whether parian, or glazed with a crest, have not been included. Thus the series of lighthouses has been omitted, as have any uniformly coloured buildings. It was in 1883, just over 20 years after the founding of the firm of W. H. Goss, that the well-known heraldic china was introduced, with an eye to catching the popular market, although the more costly jewelled china and parian ware continued to be manufactured. So successful was this venture that, about 1893, Goss started a new line for his wider public, which was apparently an immediate success. This consisted initially of models of three cottages, Ann Hathaway’s, Burns’, and Shakespeare’s. Pictured: A WH Goss model of Robert Burns’ cottage. Estimate £60-£80. Image Copyright Bonhams. Perhaps, at this point, there seemed little need to increase the range, and new models were at first very slow in being issued. The Manx cottage and the ‘Window in Thrums’ were issued about 1898, and in 1908 a further model, of the First and Last House at Land’s End, was produced. All these models were produced in two sizes, the larger being designed to be used as a nightlight. The choice of subject was intended to make as wide an appeal as possible and was mainly confined to well-known tourist attractions, though Goss’s liter ary interest is evident throughout, and models associated with Shakespeare, Dickens, Johnson, Wordsworth, Barry, Thomas Hardy and Izaak Walton are included. The period from 1910 to 1915 was one of intense activity, and no less than 15 new models were announced. These, as the earlier ones, are distinguished by having a registered design number, a practice which was discontinued in July 1914. The firm’s fortune started to decline during the First World War, but new models continued to be issued. As a group these were labelled ‘Copyright’, until about 1922, when any reference to protection of the design was omitted, although all the models were clearly labelled with the name W. H. Goss and the trademark, the Goss hawk, a kind of falcon which was taken from the family crest. In addition, every model bears a brief inscription as a form of identification. Some, particularly the earlier models, also bear an impressed mark, W. H. Goss, but this is not, as has been suggested, a reliable method of dating. A collection of eleven W H Goss cottages, early 20th century – Comprising two large cottages ‘Model of Burns’ Cottage’, 14.5cm wide, and ‘Model of Shakespeare’s House’, 18.5cm wide,and nine smaller examples ‘Ann Hathaway’s Cottage’, ‘Charles Dicken’s House’, ‘Prince Llewelyn’s House Beddgelert’, ‘Rt. Hon D Lloyd George’s early home Criccieth’, ‘St. Nicholas Chapel, Lantern Hill, Ilfracombe’, ‘A Window in Thrums’, ‘Old Maids’ Cottage at Lee, Devon’, ‘The House at Lichfield in which Dr Samuel Johnson was born’ and ‘Model of oven in which Goss porcelain is fired’, printed black marks. Estimate £800-£1000. Image Copyright Bonhams. The exact date of issue of the pieces is by no means easy to establish. As long as the registered design numbers were used, it is quite straightforward to find the approximate first date of issue. From 1914, the only evidence readily available is from the Goss Records, which were small catalogues listing all the so-called ‘special models’, covering heraldic ware as well as cottages, parian busts and many other types. The last two editions of these Records were issued in 1914 and 1921 with a slim supplement in 1918, so that any exact dating is impossible from the simple list of new models that was issued. The 1921 Record, for example, lists six models as being in preparation, but for the last six, no documentary evidence is available. The lists given here represent an attempt to place the models roughly in order according to the first date of issue. With the exception of the last piece, John Knox’s house, it is likely that all the models were issued well before the firm sold out in 1929. The buyer had also acquired several other china firms, together with their moulds, and a num ber of their products were issued, marked with the Goss trademark, which had a well-deserved reputation for quality. As regards the cottages, these were mainly very inferior models of Shakespeare’s and Ann Hathaway’s cottages, in various sizes, crudely coloured and bearing the original Goss transfer label. John Knox’s house, how ever, having no counterpart in the for mer range, bears the later style of trade mark, ‘W. H. Goss, England’, which applied to new designs after 1929. Although, as the lists show, there are only about 40 different subjects, my own collection comprises about 115 recognisably different varieties, either Because of different size, different colour, or depending on whether the models are matt or glazed. For example, of the first 17 subjects listed, that is, of those first issued up to about 1912, 15 are found both glazed and unglazed. The Newquay Look-out House, being akin to a lighthouse, and having little colour ing, is invariably glazed, while the First and Last Post Office has so far not been seen glazed, although it may well exist. None of the subsequent subjects has been found in the glazed state and it is postulated, with some supporting evi dence, that all models were issued glazed for a limited period around 1912. The glaze has the effect of protecting the paint, so that the glazed models are normally found in outstanding […]
Laurel and Hardy were one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedy double acts of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. Pictured left: LAUREL, STAN AND OLIVER HARDY. Photograph Signed (“Stan Laurel” and “Oliver Hardy”), 8 by 10 inch silver print, of both men wearing bowler hats, signed at lower margin and additionally inscribed “Hello Charles!” tipped to mat with archival tape, framed. Sold for $671 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, California, April 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. Laurel and Hardy Autographs At the heart of every Laurel and Hardy Collection will be autographs and signed photographs. Autographs of the pair range from $150 (£100) to $450 (£300), with some signed documents going for more. Laurel and Hardy signed photographs start at $450 (£300) with sort after and exceptional images fetching significant premiums. Composed of thin Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavy American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957) they became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous Hardy. They made over 100 films together, initially two-reelers (short films) before expanding into feature length films in the 1930s. Their films include Sons of the Desert (1933), the Academy Award winning short film The Music Box (1932), Babes in Toyland (1934), and Way Out West (1937). Hardy’s catchphrase “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” is still widely recognized. Pictured left: A Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy set of shirts from “Bonnie Scotland” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1935. Both made of gray wool, collarless with four-button front closure; Laurel’s has added striped collar detail; each have Western Costume Company labels reading “Laurel 2148 15 2” and “Hardy 2150 18 2;” each have additional ‘WCC’ stamps on inside; worn by the duo as they played characters who had their same real names; both pieces altered for later use. Included are reprinted images showing the two in costume. Sold for $4,575 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, Los Angeles, June 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Prior to the double act both were established actors with Laurel appearing in over 50 films and Hardy in over 250 films. Although the two comedians first worked together on the film The Lucky Dog (1921), this was a chance pairing and it was not until 1926, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio, that they began appearing in movie shorts together. Laurel and Hardy officially became a team the following year in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip (1927). The pair remained with the Roach studio until 1940, then appeared in eight “B” comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945. Pictured right:Stan Laurel’s trademark Bowler Hat, the undersized black felt bowler hat, with black grosgrain ribbon trim — worn by Stan Laurel circa 1930s – 1940s, signed and inscribed inside To Anne, Stan Laurel; accompanied by a two page autographed letter in Stan Laurel’s hand, on Laurel And Hardy Feature Productions illustrated and headed paper, 511 Pacfic Mutual Building, Los Angeles California, November 28th, 1941 to Anne, thanking her for her correspondence and Hope you recd. the photos and also the hat… Am also enclosing you a little song book of parodies that was sent to me, thought you may enjoy it and get a few laughs.; the song bookSing-A-Laff by L. Wolfe Gilbert as mentioned and an early photograph of Stan Laurel inscribed in Laurels hand To Anne From Sweet Sixteen!! — 7×4½in. (18×11.5cm.); and stamped envelope. Sold for £26,250 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Christies, London, November 23rd 2011. Image Copyright Christies. After finishing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on stage shows, embarking on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland. In 1950 they made their last film, a French/Italian co-production called Atoll K, before retiring from the screen. In total they appeared together in 107 films. They starred in 40 short sound films, 32 short silent films and 23 full-length feature films, and made 12 guest or cameo appearances, including the recently discovered Galaxy of Stars promotional film (1936). Pictured left: Laurel and Hardy, Nothing But Trouble MGM, 1945, half-sheet, style B, condition B-. 22 x 28in. Sold for $568 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams Los Angeles June 2006. Image Copyright Bonhams. Image Copyright Bonhams. A common comedy routine was a tit-for-tat fight. Their silent film Big Business (1929), which includes one of these routines, was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992. Notable Laurel traits included crying like a baby while being berated and scratching his hair when in shock. On December 1, 1954, the team made their only American television appearance, surprised by Ralph Edwards on his live NBC-TV program, This Is Your Life. Pictured right: Rare bisque headed Laurel and Hardy wind-up toys, Hertwig & Co Germany 1920’s. Well moulded bisque heads and hats with painted features, card cylinder bodies with wooden lower arms and metal feet, wearing black and white felt suits with bow ties, mechanism to body and key to rear when wound the figures move about, both 20cm (8in) tall. Sold for £3,600 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, May 2008. Image Copyright Bonhams. The works of Laurel and Hardy have been re-released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 16mm and 8mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home video since the 1930s. They were voted the seventh greatest comedy act in a 2005 UK poll by fellow comedians. The duo’s signature tune, known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku”, or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”, played on the opening credits of their films. The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is known as The Sons of the Desert, after a fraternal society in their film of the same name. Pictured left: Laurel and Hardy – A collection of character dolls modelled as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, comprising: a pair of wind-up dolls — ½in. (14cm.) high, a pair of plastic squeezie […]
The glass of Emile Galle is attracting increasing attention among collectors, not only for its inherent beauty and refinement, but also because every piece, so far as we know, has that favourite feature of the collector, a signature.
Flirty Thirties – Sophistication And Elegance – Dolls in The 1930s by Sue Brewer Lights! Camera! Action! This was the decade of the movie idol. People from all walks of life filled cinemas to watch glamorous actors and actresses on the big screen, escaping everyday worries as they drifted on a sea of music and romance. Stars became household names – though, unlike today’s celebrities, managing to retain their mystique in a waft of fur, satin, diamonds and aloofness. 1930 opened with a literal high for women when Amy Johnson became the first female aviator to fly solo from England to Australia. Sadly, the year ended with a tragic aviation low when the airship R101, on its inaugural flight from England to India, crashed in France, exploding in flames with a loss of 48 lives. The early years of the decade were a combination of emotions as light-hearted young people danced the night away to jazzy music, contrasting with despair and poverty faced by millions as the Depression, following the earlier U.S. Wall Street Crash, hit home. Characterised by instability, with changes of governments, unrest amongst lower-paid workers and, amazingly, three kings in one year (1936), the Thirties were turbulent times. Germany was proving a constant threat, and a sense of unease permeated the atmosphere – this was sensed even in the fashion industry, where clothing became more simple and casual, as though preparing women for the lean times ahead. Even so, it certainly wasn`t all doom and gloom. A magnificent 1000 ft. liner, the ‘Queen Mary’, was launched in 1934; cruising was the height of fashion amongst the upper classes, and this magnificent ship with its Art Deco design, was deservedly popular. Sophisticated, elegant and stylish, just like her passengers, she summed up the very best of the decade. On her maiden cruise she arrived in New York to find the harbour filled with a welcoming armada and cheering crowds lining the shore. Millionaires, dukes, heiresses and, of course, film stars, adored the ship – this was the height of luxury and style. The rising movie culture was enthusiastically embraced, and elaborate cinemas with velvet seats and plush fittings were built at a frenzied pace. Soon it seemed that every town had its own ‘Picture Palace’ where audiences could lose themselves in a fantasy world. This was the era of Busby Berkely, a choreographer who directed amazing dance routines featuring dozens of feather-clad performers, and many films featured song and dance numbers. Glamorous stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo and Mae West made the cinema the place to be, while ‘The Wizard of Oz’ starring a young Judy Garland, was released in 1939, just one of the many classic movies which appeared during the decade. Two years earlier, Disney had produced his first-ever full-length cartoon, ‘Snow White’, allowing companies such as Chad Valley to make stunning commemorative dolls. Additionally, a golden-haired tot called Shirley Temple became such a cinema cult that she was created in doll-form to thrill both British and American girls alike, while sassy cartoon star, Betty Boop, was such a hit that she is still adored today. By the mid-thirties, composition had largely overtaken bisque as the best medium for doll manufacture, and while many dolls made by this method were almost as beautiful as their elegant bisque forbears, others were much more crude with slapdash face painting and basic moulding. Some of the bisque manufacturers switched to composition, while new companies evolved, keen to take advantage of the fashion for a medium which didn`t require firing in hot kilns. America had a particularly extensive doll industry at this time and amongst the classic dolls developed were Dy-Dee, Patsy and Shirley Temple. The first Shirley Temple dolls appeared in the shops in 1934, sporting a red and white spotted dress resembling the outfit the little girl wore in ‘Stand Up and Cheer’. The dolls were made by Ideal, using a kind of wood-pulp composition, and their success ensured that Shirley Temple dolls would continue to be produced for several years, wearing costumes from her various films. Additionally, extra outfits and accessories could be purchased, including a beautiful dolls pram. Composition Shirley Temple dolls were finally discontinued in 1939 as interest had waned. Nevertheless, in the late 1950s, a combination of nostalgia plus new interest in Shirley, led Ideal to release an updated range, this time using modern vinyl. Today, Shirley Temple dolls are still produced for collectors by companies such as Danbury Mint. In Britain, Cascelloid experimented making baby dolls from a material they called ‘Plastex’, which was a glue-reinforced unbreakable composition, while companies such as D. G. Todd, British National Dolls and Pedigree produced various composition dolls to a fairly basic design. These were the dolls which would later prove such comfort to children huddled in air-raid shelters, or, alternatively, be the one reminder of home to a child taken to the safety of the countryside, parted from her mother. Britain – in fact the world – was rocked in 1936 when Edward VIII, renounced his throne in order to marry American heiress Wallis Simpson. She was divorced, and so was unable to become queen. In a broadcast at the time, Edward declared that he could not carry on ‘without the help and support of the woman I love`. Instead, Edward`s brother reigned as George VI, and his delightful wife Elizabeth became universally loved, later becoming affectionately known as ‘The Queen Mum’. Before the 1939 hostilities began, the decade was an elegant age, with evening wear influenced by the slinky, sparkly gowns worn by stars such as Ginger Rogers, who whirled around the dance floors in the arms of Fred Astaire. Women embraced a feminine, curvy look, simple by daytime and stunning by night. Schiaparelli, the classic Italian designer, promoted the zip fastener which at the time had been scarcely used in fashionable clothing. At last, it was unnecessary to employ a maid to do up all those hooks […]
Belleek Pottery was founded in 1857 by John Caldwell Bloomfield. The company is located in Belleek, County Fermanagh, Ireland. Belleek Pottery’s porcelain is characterized by its thinness, delicate features, and a translucent quality that resembles ivory. The pottery has become one of the most popular potteries in the world, and has managed to remain successful and still continues to produce pottery today. In fact the Belleek Factory produces over 100,000 pieces of pottery every year. The history of Belleek Pottery Belleek Pottery is a world-renowned pottery company that has been in operation for over 150 years. The company was founded in 1857 by John Caldwell Bloomfield in the village of Belleek, County Fermanagh, Ireland. Bloomfield was inspired by the Chinese porcelain he had seen while working in England, and he set out to create a similar product using local materials and resources. The company started out by producing earthenware products but later switched to producing porcelain. The change was due to the discovery of feldspar, kaolin, and other raw materials on Bloomfield’s land. These materials allowed for a higher quality of porcelain to be produced. On discovering, whilst having a geological survey of the land , that the area was rich in minerals, Bloomfield went into partnership with London architect Robert Williams Armstrong and Dublin merchant David McBirney. In setting up a pottery business, Bloomfield managed to get a railway line built to Belleek so that coal could be delivered with which to fire kilns. The first pieces of Belleek pottery for which the company became famous were made in 1863, using this local white clay found in the nearby Sligo Hills. The pottery was an instant success, and By 1865, the prestige of the company had increased that Belleek was exporting all over the world including Australia, Canada, and the United States. In England customers included the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria and the nobility. Porcelain was featured by Belleek for the first time at the Dublin Exposition of 1872 which showcased their range of Parian china statues and busts, ice buckets, compotes and centrepieces. The influence of Goss on Belleek’s early production Initially, the company struggled to find its footing, but everything changed when they recruited craftsmen, including William Bromley, from the Goss factory in Stoke-on-Trent in 1863. These experienced workers helped to transform Belleek into a world-renowned pottery, known for its intricate designs and beautiful products. Around the time there were some similar pieces produced at both factories including a bust of Charles Dickens. The Famous Belleek Baskets made by William Henshall The Belleek porcelain baskets with applied flower-work made by William Henshall are some of the most beautiful and collectible pieces of Belleek pottery. Born in 1839, Henshall was the son of a Belfast linen merchant and was apprenticed to the Belfast firm of John Caldwell, china and glass dealers. He later studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and then worked as a music teacher in Dublin. In 1862, he joined the staff of the newly established Belleek Pottery in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Henshall quickly rose to become one of the leading designers at Belleek, and his elegant porcelain baskets with applied flowers and lifelike floral designs were among the most popular items produced by the pottery. Today, Henshall’s baskets are highly coveted by collectors and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Thanks to Henshall’s talent and artistry, the Belleek Pottery is known for producing some of the finest porcelain in the world. The challenges the company has faced over the years The company has faced several challenges over the years, including two World Wars and the Great Depression. The first World War brought with it many restrictions on exports, causing Belleek’s business to suffer. However, World War II caused many similar challenges to WWI with its rationing of coal and drying of the export markets. In those years, the company produced utility earthenware pieces fired at lower temperatures and managed to survive as a business. During the Great Depression, with fewer people buying luxury items, Belleek’s sales plummeted and the company was forced to lay off many workers. In order to stay afloat, Belleek began producing more affordable items such as vases and tourist souvenirs. The company also started selling its products through department stores and gift shops, which helped to increase its exposure. The company has continued being adaptable including having a collectors club and thriving International Collectors Society and moving to tourism buy opening an award winning Visitors Centre in 1988. Although the Visitor Centre opened in 1988, Belleek has had tours for decades. In fact, the Belleek Visitors book actually shows a visit on October 1st 1868 by the Earl & Countess of Lanesborough of Lanesborough Lodge, Belturbet, Co Cavan. What makes Belleek Pottery’s porcelain so unique Belleek Pottery’s porcelain is world-renowned for its delicate beauty and intricate designs. What makes this porcelain so special is the way it is made. All of Belleek’s pieces are handcrafted from start to finish, using techniques that have been passed down through generations of potters. The clay used to make Belleek porcelain is gathered from the s hores of Ireland’s Atlantic coast, where it is combined with water from the nearby River Shannon. This clay is then formed into shape and fired in a kiln. After cooling, the piece is hand-painted with intricate patterns and finally glazed to give it a smooth, lustrous finish. It is this painstaking attention to detail that makes Belleek porcelain so treasured by collectors around the world. Belleek Pottery has been crafting high-quality porcelain since the 19th century. Each piece is handcrafted from start to finish, using only the finest materials. The clay used to make Belleek pottery is unique to the region, and it is mined by hand from the hills of County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. The clay is then expertly shaped and fired three times at very high temperatures. This process gives Belleek porcelain its distinctive creamy white color […]
Bisque china dolls are those tranquil faced beauties we see featured on the Antiques Roadshow, with glass eyes, hand-painted features and, often, ‘double-jointed’ limbs.
Barbara Millicent Roberts is fifty years old this year, yet she is looking younger and more glamorous than ever. How does she do it? It’s just not fair. This American icon, with her huge family of friends and relations, is famed world-wide and recently a megastore dedicated just to her opened in China. Blonde, beautiful, and above all, very pink, her wholesome image beams from toyshops, enticing even the youngest children to ‘want a Barbie’. Recently, a crowd of young upstart Bratz dolls tried to steal her thunder, and for a while they succeeded – but our heroine wasn’t having any of that. She took them to court and sued them. So, where did Barbie come from? Who dreamt her up? And why is she still so popular? Pictured right: 1959 Barbie Although this may sound a shocking thing to say about an international icon, Barbie’s origins are slightly salubrious, perhaps not as pure as she likes to make out. In the late 1950s, Ruth Handler, wife of Elliot Handler, a co-director of Mattel, was visiting Switzerland when she came across a kind of fantasy doll being sold in tobacconist shops. The dolls were sold to appeal to men, and were often used as mascots to adorn cars and trucks. They were based on a ‘good time girl’ who featured in a cartoon strip in ‘Bild’ newspaper, a German publication. The character’s name was Lilli. Today, collectors often refer to these very early figures as ‘Bild Lillis’. Ruth took back selection of the dolls to America, with the idea of producing a teen doll to appeal to girls. Mattel inspected the dolls, and from them created their own version, slightly less hard-faced and with less makeup. Ruth christened the doll Barbie, after her own daughter, and in 1959 launched her at the American toy fair. However, Barbie didn’t meet with much approval; the buyers for the stores demurred over introducing a glamour doll which had a voluptuous figure and pouting lips but which was intended for a young girl. Not wanting their new project to become a flop, Mattel screened a short black and white advertisement in the middle of a children’s television programme, which featured Barbie and her outfits. That was all it took – girls across America were hooked, suddenly they all wanted a Barbie doll of their own. In 1961 she acquired a boyfriend, Ken, and three years later, a younger sister, Skipper. Since then, many more additions to the Barbie family have been made. Pictured left: 1962 Barbie Pictured right: Barbie Can Can Even so, at first, not all the world was Barbie mad, and once Pedigree’s Sindy doll arrived in 1962, it was Sindy who was to dominate the teen doll market for almost twenty years. Even so, when Barbie finally did find her foothold over here, she was adored by thousands of girls, many of whom were won over by her high heels, curves and sophistication, as opposed to Sindy’s sweet girl-next-door look. The very early Barbies still had a rather ‘hard’ look, with red pouting lips, black lining around the eyes and arched brows, even though they had been toned-down. Barbie’s first outfit was that, now iconic, black and white striped swimsuit, teamed with high heels and gold earrings. Initially, the dolls weren’t sold in Britain, but in 1967 a Hobbies Annual supplement contained a section devoted to Barbie which stated, ‘America’s most popular (and certainly the most heavily advertised) range of fashion dolls, has recently been introduced into Europe with amazing success. Barbie, her MOD cousin Francie and her younger sister Skipper, are a range of beautifully made dolls with the most exclusive wardrobes yet seen. Barbie and Francie can wear each other’s clothes, so start with either doll and add-to as you go along. All models supplied with a pedestal stand’. Over the years, Mattel softened the Barbie doll features more and more, making her appealing to youngsters, and, certainly by the 1980s, she had become very popular in Britain. Toyshops soon had aisles of Barbie pink boxes, and Barbie demonstrated her versatility as she became a doctor, a vet, a dentist, an Olympic ice skater, a swimmer, a fashion model, a rock star and an astronaut. She also appeared with James Bond, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and in Star Trek – all in miniature, of course. Above all, though, Barbie became a fashion icon. In 1984 she celebrated her 25th anniversary, and appeared in a special ‘Crystal Barbie’ outfit, a doll which every small girl wanted. The long dress was made of a kind of pearlised fabric which shimmered in the light, and Crystal Barbie became one of the decade’s best selling Barbies. A decade later, ‘Totally Hair’ Barbie was released, the biggest-selling Barbie to date. She wore a multicoloured mini dress and her hair reached down to ankles, measuring 10.5 inches, the longest-haired Barbie ever. Pictured left: Barbie Totally Hair At the end of the 1990s, the ‘Generation Girl’ series of Barbie and friends was introduced, showing Barbie as we had never seen her before, with a street fashion look. Barbie’s face has altered a lot over the years; today, she has a much softer, gentler look than the original 1959 doll. She has also extended her family circle considerably, acquiring sisters Skipper, Stacie, Kelly, Krissy, Tutti and brother Todd, as well as a myriad of friends and relations. Cleverly, Mattel began to issue special collectors’ editions, and top-of-the range Barbies, some of which sell for two or three times the price of a standard Barbie doll, while others, wearing outfits created by top designers, can cost hundreds of pounds. These are in addition to the basic ‘pink-box’ dolls, the dolls intended for children. Nowadays, the Barbie collectors’ market is booming, with a huge variety of fashion, retro and themed dolls being issued, most of them destined never to be played with – or indeed, never removed from their packaging. Naturally, to celebrate her fiftieth anniversary there are […]
As with much of tobacciana the growth of decorative cigar cases relates to rise of smoking. The first use in this country of the word ” cigar” (or ” segar ” as it was often written and pronounced) is ascribed by the Oxford Dictionary to the year 1735. The date is curious when one considers the use of tobacco in its various forms during the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for the Georgian era was the golden age of snuff-taking the equipment for which lent itself admirably to the characteristic extravagance and ornamentation of the period. The studied code of mannerisms associated with the taking of snuff stems equally from eighteenth century etiquette. It must, therefore, be assumed that the cigar was introduced to England by a traveller from abroad, probably Spain. The making of cigars was practised in the West Indies at the time of Columbus’ voyage there in 1492, and had reached Spain by way of the Spanish colonies in South America. Cigar smoking remained an exclusively Spanish characteristic until the end of the eighteenth century, when a factory was opened at Hamburg in 1788; the habit spread rapidly through most of Europe, but was slow in reaching England, largely on account of a heavy duty on tobacco which had been instigated by James I nearly two hundred years before. This duty was considerably reduced in 1829, and cigar smoking rapidly became popular— except among the female members of Victorian society. Indeed, the novelty of smoking was such that Hints on Etiquette, published as late as 1834, roundly condemned the practice in these words :”If you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practise it under certain restrictions; at least so long as you are desirous of being considered fit for civilised society.” By this time, however, cigar-smoking was firmly entrenched, at all events among the large proportion of the population who had no thought of being considered a part of ” civilised society.” Eighteen-fifteen was the year of change, for the unaccustomed state of peace produced by the victory at Waterloo in that year brought home a horde of soldiers who had spent many years in continuous service in Spain, where the cigar was a universal form of relaxation. The cigars smoked at this time were small, hard and strong. They were, in fact, what we should now call cheroots; the Havana cigar, fat and expensive, was a considerably later importation. As the habit of smoking rose, as it inevitably did, through the strata of society, smokers began to feel that carrying their cigars loose in their pocket was good neither for the cigars nor their clothes. In about 1840 there began to be produced a form of case which became popular among the middle-classes. This was made from two leaves of papier-mache, joined at the sides by means of leather gussets, usually with a separate internal case of thin leather or stiff paper. The vogue for papier-mâché was then at its height, although it had first been made in France before 1770. These cases would be of little interest to the collector but for the decorations which were usually applied to the outer leaves (and very occasionally to the inner case as well). A wide range of subject matter was used for the pictorial decorations on the cigar cases. As well as papier-mache, cigar cases were created in metal, silver, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl and wood. Related Tobacciana Tobacco Colleting