Halcyon Days was founded in 1950 and is among the rare international shops to specialise in both antique and contemporary collectors’ items.
Pictured left: THE V&A MUSEUM ‘COUNTRY FLOWERS’ – Garlands of leaves surround delicate country flowers on this serpentine-shaped box. Length of box 2 3/8″ (6cm)
The company is honoured to have been granted royal warrants by Their Majesties The Queen and The Queen Mother, and Their Royal Highnesses Prince Philip and The Prince of Wales as the first ever and only ‘Suppliers of Objets d’Art’ and is one of only six companies to hold all four royal warrants.
Pictured right: JACK VETTRIANO ‘BILLY BOYS’ – An outstanding collectors’ item inspired by the artist’s, Jack Vettriano, 1994 oil painting, ‘Billy Boys’. A limited edition of 350 Length 3 1/4″ (8.4cm) Copyright 2005 Jack Vettriano
Halcyon Days’ antiques, enamels, porcelain and scented candles are incomparable collectors’ items, gifts par excellence.
Pictured left: MARILYN MONROE HAND-BAG MIRROR – On one side of this slender ultra-glamourous enamelled mirror is Warhol’s ‘Lavender Marilyn 1962’ and on the reverse is an indispensable mirror for the beauty conscious.
They are direct descendants of the rare and beautiful enamels of 18th-century England. They are made by craftspeople in Bilston, the traditional English centre of enamelling on copper. Prized by collectors all over the world, both as tokens of taste and sentiment and as small works of art, they are the antiques of tomorrow.
Pictured right:RONALD REAGAN – 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – This handsome enamel box celebrates the life of the man who once said ‘I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead’. A limited edition of 250
Each one is fitted into an elegant presentation case in the company’s pale blue and mocha house colours and can be gift-wrapped on request.
Thunderbirds first screened on the ITV Network in 1965, and 2015 sees the series celebrate its 50th annversary. The series was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, and filmed by their production company AP Films (APF) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. The first Thunderbirds collectables and books appeared in 1966 and we take a look at some of the highlights from the last 50 years, and their values and produce a small Thunderbirds collectables price guide. Pictured: Thunderbirds Annuals from 1966 and 1971. The first Thunderbirds annual appeared in 1966 with editions in 1967-1970 and 1971 & 1972. There have also been annuals in the 1990s and more recently with the Thunderbirds film and new TV series. In excellent condition early annuals are valued at £25-£35 each. Condition is everything, in lesser conditions annuals can be just a few pounds each.<a target=”_blank” href=”https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=9&pub=5574679543&toolid=10001&campid=5335953011&customid=thunderbirds&icep_uq=thunderbirds+annual&icep_sellerId=&icep_ex_kw=&icep_sortBy=12&icep_catId=&icep_minPrice=&icep_maxPrice=&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>View Thunderbird Annuals on ebay</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”https://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?ff3=9&pub=5574679543&toolid=10001&campid=5335953011&customid=thunderbirds&uq=thunderbirds+annual&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]”>. One of the most popular characters is Lady Penelope actually appeared first in the TV21 annual of 1965. Thunderbirds is set in the mid-2060s and followed the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR’s secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters are ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR, and his five adult sons – Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan, who pilot the Thunderbird ships. Other main characters included Lady Penelope and Brains. Pictured: A Dinky No.100 “Thunderbirds” – Lady Penelope’s FAB1 – pink, clear roof slides, gold interior with “Lady Penelope & Parker” figures, cast detailed hubs – comes with missiles and harpoons in bag – overall condition appears to be generally Near Mint, still a superb example in a Near Mint bubble pack. Sold for £360 at Vectis, August 2015. Image Copyright Vectis. As with all die-cast models condition is everything and this is a very good example. There have been several versions over the years of this classic and Corgi are releasing a 50th Anniversary version – click for more details. It was the fourth Supermarionation puppet TV series to be produced by APF. Previous shows included Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray. Supermarionation used a form of electronic marionette puppetry combined with scale model special effects sequences. The Thunderbird Ships Thunderbird 1: a hypersonic rocket plane used for fast response and accident zone reconnaissance. Piloted by primary rescue co-ordinator Scott Tracy. Thunderbird 2: a supersonic carrier aircraft that transports rescue vehicles and equipment to accident zones in detachable capsules known as “Pods”. Piloted by Virgil. Thunderbird 3: a single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft. Piloted alternately by Alan and John, with Scott as co-pilot. Thunderbird 4: a utility submersible. Piloted by Gordon and normally launched from Thunderbird 2. Thunderbird 5: a space station that relays distress calls from around the world. Manned alternately by “Space Monitors” John and Alan. JR21 (named after managing director Jack Rosenthal) which later became Century 21 produced a range of toys featuring all the vehicles (Thunderbirds 1-5 and Lady Penelope’s FAB 1) in the show and some with variations. These JR21 and Century 21 toys have become collectables with models in boxes in very good condition fetching up to £300. Robert Harrop have been producing Supermarionation and Thunderbirds models for a number of years and their reproductions have won many fans and plaudits. Robert Harrop started producing figures in 1986 with their initial range of Doggie People. They have made models of all the main characters, associated characters, models and scenes and have designed a range to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Below are a selection of the 50th anniversary models. Tracy Island – The Greatest Toy Ever In 1992, Tracy Island became a phenomenon in the UK, after Thunderbirds was re-run on BBC2 and generated massive interest in Thunderbird related toys. The Tracy Island playset was top of many Christmas lists but large demand resulted in a shortage that left many parents and children upset. Pictured: 1992 Matchbox Tracy Island. These now sell boxed from £40-£100. The story was reported in the national news and is cited as the archetypal mistake to be avoided by the toy industry in general during the Christmas shopping season. Blue Peter responded to the stock shortage by demonstrating how to build a home-made version. Another release of the series in 2000 also sparked a peak in interest and a new Tracy Island playset from Vivid Imaginations went on to become the best-selling toy of 2000. Blue Peter once again had an island building creation. Thunderbirds on TV and in the movies Thunderbirds original series 1965 Thunderbirds Are Go film 1966 Thunderbird 6 film 1968 Thunderbirds film 2004 Thunderbirds Are Go tv series 2015 Other Thunderbirds Collectables and Ephemera There have been many Thunderbirds advertising tie-ins, books, ephemera, models, puppets, coins and more produced over the years – too numerous too mention in a brief article. Below are a few we like here at WCN. Thunderbirds Collectables and Toys related links Thunderbirds Vintage Toys has some great information and many wonderful images of rare and unusual Thunderbirds merchandise – click to visit. Stingray Collectables and Stingray Toys Price Guide
Britain is a nation of gardeners; I’ve heard that 80% of houses in Britain have private gardens, covering an area twice as large as Surrey. That’s fifteen million gardens in our green and pleasant land. Every weekend sees thousands of us making our way to garden centres, where we choose plants, bulbs, seeds and sundries to try to make our garden beautiful. Slugs, aphids and caterpillars eat most of them, but gardeners are a tolerant bunch – it’s not just the plants, it’s the general feeling of well-being and of feeling at one with nature which urges us to plunge our hands into the soil to embed yet another plant into the ground. Pictured right: Alpine Strawberry by Roy Kirkham plate Some of us build conservatories, or maybe garden shelters, so that we can use the garden as an extension of our homes even when the weather is inclement. We dot ornaments around the flower beds, nesting boxes and insect homes along the garden walls and we build ponds and fountains so birds can bathe. When we dine in the garden, we use floral plates, butterfly-decorated glasses, flowery cutlery – and all these things can be deemed collectable, whether you use vintage pieces or go for modern or retro designs. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still create a garden feel indoors by collecting items with a floral or naturalistic theme. I’ve known people who have created an indoor garden by displaying pretty flowered plates against white wall-mounted trellis and hanging a few indoor plants to enhance the effect. Another way of ‘garden collecting’ is to collect old gardening items, from tools to seed packets, and from statues to lawnmowers. The most obvious choice for garden collectables is probably the well-known ‘Botanic Garden’ range of tableware made by Portmeirion pottery. Portmeirion, though, have produced many other beautiful designs which would look stunning at an alfresco meal. Pictured right: 1980s Portmeirion British Birds One of my personal favourites is the ‘British Birds’ design, based on illustrations from the Natural History of British Birds by Edward Donovan, published in 1794. Forty birds were featured in the collection, and because the designs are in a antiquated style the pieces have a timeless quality about them, which is probably why they have remained in production for so long. This pattern was originally conceived in 1974, and sadly is not now sold in Britain, though is still available in America. I acquired my items in the 1980s when visiting the shop in Portmeirion village, but pieces do crop up at collector’s fairs. Pictured left: Portmeirion Strawberry Fair I’m also very fond of the ‘Strawberry Fair’ decoration – perfect for serving scones on a summer’s day – and the ‘Pomona’ design of varieties of fruits. There are many other Portmeirion designs with a ‘garden’ theme, amongst them the recent ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ which is based on the popular picture book by Eric Carle. Incidentally, if you are visiting North Wales, do try to visit the village of Portmeirion. The pottery isn’t made there, though there is a shop selling the current range – but the village is stunningly quirky. It’s as though a slice of a sleepy Italian village has been deposited on a beautiful stretch of Welsh coastline; it’s a restful place and one of my all-time special spots. Pictured right: Meakin Poppy Jug 1960s Many ranges of tableware from the 1960s and 70s employed the flower motif – these were the days of flower power. Think Meakin, for the delicate pink floral ‘Filigree’ design, or the more bold ‘Poppy’, while ‘Topic’, with its blue stylised flowers is classic 60s elegance. Even more stylised is the swirling 1960s ‘Spanish Garden’ from Midwinter, while their ‘Country Garden’, with its pattern of leaves and buds symmetrically curling from either side of a large blue and pink flower, is beautiful. It would be impossible to mention all the floral ranges – practically every manufacturer of tableware has included a floral design at one time – but they range from delicate chintz type patterns to vibrant, bold roses. Pictured left: 1960s Meakin Filigree & Viners Love Story Floral china is perfect for a meal in the garden on a summer’s day, and can be themed with pretty cutlery, such as the 1960s’ Viner’s ‘Love Story’ which bears a design of tiny silver daisies. Don’t forget glasses; there are plenty of beautiful designs to look out for, both vintage and modern, featuring flowers, leaves or butterflies. You could look out for a suitable vintage tablecloth, too – ‘lazy daisy’ stitch was very popular in the 1930s, 40s and 50s and will complement your garden theme. If you’re worried about risking your treasured china in the garden, then there are plenty of modern plastic pieces around – and some, such as the gorgeous retro sixties floral designs which Asda came up not so long ago, might even become future classics! As well as tablecloths, other fabric items can be used outside including cushions, throws and canopies; look out for vintage patterns, such as the large-flowered round-petalled daisy types from the 1960s and the bold flowered orange and deep green 1970s’ designs. It’s best, though, to bring them in at night as they could get damp, and also not to keep them in the sunlight for too long, in case they fade. Floral handbags and scarves, or wicker shopping baskets and hampers look good artlessly dotted around at a garden party or a get-together. They add an element of fun, and are a great way of displaying a collection of traditional or retro items. I’m a Simon Drew fan – he is an artist with a quirky sense of humour. He’s based at Dartmouth where he has a shop and gallery, and many of his designs are based on puns such as a ‘receding hare’ or ‘joined up whiting’. Some of his garden themes, including ‘Incapability Brown’ have been featured in a range of ‘bug proof’ mugs. They come […]
The Della Robbia Pottery was established in Birkenhead in 1894 and took its name from the celebrated Italian renaissance sculptor Luca Della Robbia whose colourfully glazed creations had graced Florentine churches since the 15th century. This Merseyside Company was founded by Harold Rathbone and the sculptor Conrad Dressler at a time when the Birkenhead area was witnessing a dramatic influx of workers seeking employment in the shipbuilding industry. In 1820 the village of Birkenhead numbered 200, however by the time Messrs Rathbone and Dressler opened their doors for business the “town” boasted a population of close to 100,000 souls. Pictured: Della Robbia Chalice and cover decorated by Cassandia Annie Walker Harold Rathbone, (1858-1929), had the benefit of being a member of the wealthy Liverpool merchant family of that name – a name which to this day still figures prominently in the financial sector based on Merseyside. He was also a man of vision at a period in time that had begun to witness the emergence of the Arts and Crafts Movement. This radical cause was essentially a reaction against the products of debatable taste emerging from the factories and dark satanic mills of that machine age. In contrast the Movement’s mission was to re-establish the importance of hand crafted objects of unquestionable artistic merit at affordable prices, and consequently to re-affirm the position and importance of the craftsman or woman. Rathbone was unquestionably a man on such a mission and it was his aim to supply the growing wealthy classes setting up home on the southern shores of the river with beautiful hand crafted “art” pottery. He did not however limit his parameters to the domestic and soon began executing commissions for public buildings and churches – this was a time when the growth in church building exceeded that witnessed last during the 15th century. Rathbone has been described as a painter, designer and a poet. Pictured: Della Robbia two handled albarello decorated by Marianne de Caluwe after Peruginos 1902 His father Phillip Rathbone was not only the head of a wealthy and socially wellconnected family but also the Chairman of the Arts and Exhibitions Sub- Committee at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery between 1886 and 1895. His son would have accompanied him to the studios and workshops of some of the most respected artists and craftsmen of that time and almost through a process of osmosis would have been influenced into recognising the talented and the brilliant in later years. The fact that the celebrated pre- Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt painted his portrait gives a reasonable indication of the circles within which he made regular orbits. Add to this the non-conformist leanings of the Rathbone clan and you soon begin to appreciate that young Harold was, at least at an aesthetic level, also a man of his time. Here was also a man determined to achieve and maintain high artistic standards that within a short period of time attracted the patronage of Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales and that great patron of the arts, Sarah Bernhardt. Outside the pottery he was able to call upon the services of such artistic luminaries as William Morris, Walter Crane, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton and not forgetting William Holman-Hunt. But it was inside the pottery that he was able to establish a team of talented designers and decorators that collectively provided the individual spark which ignited a range of wares that made strong use of incise carved (sgraffito) decoration complemented by colourful glazes. Subject matter tended to be dominated by floral and figural themes that also provided the staple for many of their contemporaries both in the United Kingdom and the United States. Rathbone was determined to provide a working environment that allowed for individual interest and dignity, which contrasted starkly with the harsh conditions and mindless toil personified by the Victorian factory system that was the lot of the working masses. These “Utopian” ideals attracted a loyal artistic workforce that included several lady decorators such as Cassandia Annie Walker, Ruth Bare, Emily Margaret Wood, Liz Wilkins and Annie Smith. Pictured: Della Robbia twin handled bottle vase decorated by Ruth Bare When it comes to value, size and quality of decoration is always an important factor, with collectors often paying a premium for portraits and Art Nouveau inspired subjects. All decorators tended to sign their work using a painted signature or monogram on the base of a pot near the incised ship trademark motif flanked by the letters D and R. In Conrad Dressler he had a co-director who was keen to establish the company’s credentials as a supplier of fine quality architectural pottery and who initially shared Rathbone’s artistic ideals. This was made manifest in a lecture Dressler gave to the Liverpool Ruskin Society in1896 titled “The Curse of Machinery”, which in all honesty fails to sit well on the epitaph of a man who in later years was to invent the revolutionary “Tunnel Kiln” that allowed for the continuous gas firing of tiles and pottery with great energy savings. Regrettably Dressler was unable to achieve any meaningful success and left the pottery in 1897. The name of the sculptor Carlo Manzoni, originally a native of Turin, is also synonymous with the Birkenhead venture, having opened his Hanley Granville Pottery in about 1894 with limited success and which appears to have terminated as the result of a disastrous fire. In 1898 he accepted the invitation to join the company and stayed until the pottery’s closure after which he continued to work in Birkenhead where he provided headstones and crosses until the need for the same with his death in 1910. Even so, Manzoni’s artistic contribution is difficult to determine, as only a few pieces appear to survive bearing the painted letter M. From all accounts this most mild mannered of men appears to have stoically endured Harold Rathbone’s apparent eccentricities and is credited with maintaining a presence that contributed artistically whilst helping to maintain a fragile solvency issue. As a result of this on-going problem, in 1900 Rathbone joined forces […]
Space 1999 remains a cult classic and we take a look at some of the Space 1999 collectables, Space 1999 merchandise and Space 1999 toys that have appeared over the years.
The 20th Century has been responsible for some of the greatest changes to the way we live our everyday lives. Fast moving technology gave us the invention of the radio at the beginning of the century to the ipod’s that we plug into today. Interior design has progressed from Formica to Ikea and ceramics from Midwinter to Moorcroft. But it is not just the products that are worthy of status, it is the talented designers that created them, without their initial vision and determination, these products would never have developed into reality and become such a huge part of the world we live in today. One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century was Andy Warhol. Born Andrew Warhola, in Pennsylvania USA to Czechoslovakian emigrant’s Ondrej and Julia Warhola, his date of birth still remains a bit of a mystery. Andy always claimed that his 1930s birth certificate had been forged, but we do know that he was born between 1928 and 1931. After graduating as a Batchelor of Fine Arts in 1949, Warhol shortened his name and started work as a commercial artist and illustrator for well-known publications like Vogue and Harpar’s Bazaar. Although foremost his career was as a commercial artist he was desperate to have his work taken seriously and to be seen as a “pure” artist. 1956 was a turning point in his career and already a well-established figure mixing with the elite in social circles, his fascination with fame, celebrities and youth led him into another period of his artistic life. Being obsessed with celebrities (as were most people in the 1960s) he began to paint the Hollywood screen idols. The image that is so recognisable as his work today is that of Marilyn Monroe, she was Warhol’s favourite model although he did not begin to paint her until after her death. Other Hollywood screen idols that he captured during the 1960s were Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. These paintings were so popular, celebrities endorsed them and each wanted to be painted by him. One of his most famous images is that of the Campbells Soup Tin. He saw the heavily advertised consumer images like the soup tin worthy subjects and was right to – as this particular image has become iconic, being re-produced on many products. The most well known “The Souper Dress.” Was marketed as a throwaway item. This outfit originally cost just $1.25, and featured Warhol’s soup can images which formed a huge part of the “Pop Art” culture. An extremely rare item that if you were to find one in good condition it could cost in the region of £700 to £1,200. Other commercial work produced during this period was Coke bottle tops, Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles. These commercial art images reflected the popular need for consumer mass production and Warhol’s ability to turn a mundane object into art thus ensuring his place in history as one of the founding members of the “Pop Art” culture. Over the course of his career he produced thousands of different pieces and had a team of employees who reproduced his work in his studio, which he named “The Factory”. The most common method used was silkscree n painting because his art could be reproduced time after time, turning “high art” into a form of mass production. Now anything adorning Warhol’s images is highly collected. Originals command serious money but modern day collectable items are more affordable. Most of his original works of art now sit in private collections or are on display in museums around the world. In Pittsburgh, USA is The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest American Art Museum to be dedicated to one single artists work. However, sometimes items do come up for sale. A “Little Electric Chair” pink acrylic silkscreen print sold at Christies Contemporary Art Auction in 2001. Its estimate was $430,000 to $575, 000 but it actually realised $2.3 million. There is something for everyone in the Warhol collecting world and you don’t have to spend a fortune on an original piece as there are many companies producing his products under licence. Crystal Impressions have a range of laser etched crystal blocks in their “Prestige and Special Editions” range, you can choose from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis to the commercial images of the Campbell Soup tin to a Coca Cola bottle. Prices are far more affordable than an original piece of artwork as they start at as little as £39.95 to £49.95 each. The sports clothing company, Adidas, recently produced a Superstar trainer as part of their “Expressions Series” to celebrate their 35th Anniversary. The “Andy Warhol” design, produced in a limited edition of 4,000 shoes sold out instantly. If you bought a pair now on the secondary market they would cost between £70 and £90. There is even an Andy Warhol soft doll, which sells for £15, and a stunning ‘Art Opening with Andy and Edie’ Daisy doll, which is rare, and can cost £50 upwards. If this is still a little high for your pocket then you could purchase a copy of the “Velvet Underground” album for around £15 to £20, as this “Banana” cover was another famous design. Warhol would have appreciated these interpretations of his work in modern day collectables, as he was an obsessive collector himself. Well known for frequenting the flea markets looking for bargains he was also a common face in auction houses and loved buying off of local dealers. After his sudden death in 1987 when gall bladder surgery went terribly wrong he left behind a townhouse with 30 rooms. He had only been able to live in two of the rooms because the rest were crammed full of objects that he had collected. Well known for his extensive collection of cookie jars, he also had items ranging from Tiffany Glass Lamps to a Fred Flintstone watch, celebrity autographs to his 600 time capsules, which he filled with everyday materials that reflected his life. […]
Spot-On was a range of die-cast toys produced by British toy factory Tri-ang from 1959 to 1967 (Tri-ang was a division of Lines Brothers, which had been established as a toy maker in 1935). The Spot-On range was created in response to the success of rival toy company’s Dinky and Corgi. Dinky had had great success in the early 1950s with its die-cast range and in 1956 Corgi entered the market. The Spot-On trade mark was registered to Triang based in Merton Surrey, this was in December 1958 and in the following year ‘Spot On Models Ltd was incorporated on the 12th February 1958. The Spot-On range was made at the Lines Bros factory in Northern Ireland. When the folks at Spot-On Models set out to create a new line of die-cast models that would be different to the Dinky and Corgi ranges, and they wanted to ensure that their cars and vehicles would be as realistic and detailed as possible. They began by carefully selecting 1:42 scale as the basis for their new range, taking into account factors like size and weight. The Spot-On range were heavier than the Corgi and Dinky ranges. This meant that all of the tiny parts and components on the models could be accurately scaled and rendered, while still allowing some wiggle room for creativity and flexibility. From the outset in 1959 Spot-On models featured interiors and they were the first company to introduce electric lights in August 1961. On top of that, they infused the range with inspiring themes from real-world automotive history, ranging from classic racers to iconic supercars. In the end, it was this combination of practicality and creativity that led to the creation of a truly exceptional line of model vehicles. The Spot-On range was an immediate success with both children and adults. Its high quality meant that it appealed to collectors, but its cheapness ensured that it remained accessible for ordinary families. In addition, Tri-ang’s clever marketing strategies helped to ensure that the Spot-On range stood out from the crowd. For example, in 1963 Tri-ang launched a series of television advertisements featuring the character Mr Spot, who demonstrated the various features of its toys such as steering and suspension. This was highly unusual at that time, and helped to cement the Spot-On brand in consumers’ minds. To fully emphasize the fixed 1:42 scale, both large and little cars were chosen for inclusion in the range. The Silver Wraith was initially offered as a Rolls Royce, before being replaced by the even bigger Phantom V, which included functioning headlights and passengers from the Royal Family. Smaller vehicles included the Isetta bubble car, the rare Meadows Frisky, the Fiat 500 and the Goggomobil. The Mini Cooper, which had been added in March of 1960, was joined by other uncommon vehicles such as the Aston Martin DB Mark III, Jensen 541, Daimler Dart SP250, and Bristol 406. The Spot-On Meadow Frisky showing the same model in several colours Early Spot-On models stated “Made in the United Kingdom” on the base, but later models, changed to “Made in Northern Ireland”. The first packaging for Spot-On die-cast vehicles was a box in light blue with draughting compass ‘dividers’ and ‘graph paper’-like grid printed on it, as well as the standard yellow and black lettering. The appearance of the designs suggested that they were not only toys, but also finely engineered components. The second series of boxes was similar, however the ‘dividers’ were considerably reduced and an image of the automobile (which was not featured on the first boxes) was added. The final boxes in the late 1960s were black and blue with cellophane windows, which are thought to be some of the first window boxes available. The Spot-On range has long been popular with collectors and the prices for rarer models and colours have been rising consistently. The ranges were crated in more limited numbers than many Dinky and Corgi ranges and the colour range of models was much wider. The larger size and brittle nature of some pieces has meant that fine and near mint examples are much sort after. Spot-On also created a number of gifts sets and presentation sets which remain some of the rarest editions. Mecanno, which included the highly successful Dinky range, was acquired by Lines Bros in 1964, and this might have hastened the demise of the nascent Spot On model range. The last year of production for the original Spot-On models in the United Kingdom occurred in 1967.
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
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
I only discovered Oiva Toikka recently when visiting a glass gallery in Chester (Pyramid Glass) which had a display Birds by Toikka and was immediately struck with the design, colour, variety and ingenuity of the birds. This feature focuses on the Birds by Toikka but I hope to feature further articles on his other glass designs, other work and a Birds by Toikka price guide. Oiva Toikka (1931-2019) was born in Viipurin maalaiskunta, the rural municipality surrounding then-Finnish Vyborg, now part of Russia. He became renowned for his designs for glassware, but he initially started in ceramics training at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and his career started at the art department at Arabia. Toikka was given the honorary title of Professor of the Arts by the state of Finland. His imaginative, rich and bold glass art is a departure from mainstream Nordic design. Toikka’s individual style is also evident in the utility objects he creates as they often deviate from the traditional clean-lined puritanism of Finnish design aesthetics. In addition to glass, his artistic activities cover staging, fashion design and plastic interior design elements. (Source iittala.com) Birds by Toikka He started designing in glass in the 1960s and his designs include Kastehelmi (1964) and Flora from the 1960s and the Pioni and Krouvi collections from the 1970s. Although it is for his hand blown glass birds which first appeared in 1972 that he is most well known. He carried on designing until his death and his legacy is a portfolio of more than 500 birds. The first birds were created by Oiva Toikka and the glassblowers of the Nuutajärvi Glass Factory in 1972. (Did you know? The Nuutajärvi Glass Factory is the oldest in Finland being established in 1793). iittala Toikka Flycatcher The first bird design was the Flycatcher, appearing in different colour variations. The most rare of the Flycatchers are those that have gradient coloring. Part of Nuutajärvi’s 1972 collection, two versions of the Flycatcher (Sieppo) were produced: one with a leg, and one without. The variation of vivid colors made these birds very appealing to collectors. The birds from the period bear the signature “Oiva.” Over 300 species have been created, some of them more enduring in production than others. Each bird is a unique individual, signed with the artist’s name – it is the tangible product of skilled artisanship. The passing of time enhances the value of these art objects. That is why Iittala Birds are cherished and valued gifts and irresistible to collectors around the world, from Finland to the United States and from Central Europe all the way to Japan. Birds featured in the collection include: Purple Finch, Arctic Tern, barn owl, mandarin duck, Western Meadowlark, and many others. The collection included annual editions, limited editions, special editions and later included glass eggs. Toikka Catcher 215 Anniversary Bird Other Work Another example of his creativity is represented by the pieces designed for the Me Too collection by Magis – the same collection which also includes the sympathetic Puppy and the colourful Trioli children’s chair created by Eero Aarnio – as the rocking chair Dodo and the coat rack Paradise Tree. Toikka enjoyed success, too, in other creative outlets. He worked as a stage and costume designer, generally with Finnish director Lisbeth Landefort [fi], whose autobiography he illustrated. In his later years, he was also associated with productions by the Finnish National Theatre and the Finnish National Opera. He has also occasionally contributed textile designs to the Marimekko collections. Toikka’s awards include the Lunning Prize in 1970, Finnish State Award for Crafts and Design in 1975, Pro Finlandia Medal in 1980, Kaj Franck Design Prize in 1992, Finland Prize in 2000 and Prins Eugen Medal in 2001. Reference Oiva Toikka at Finnish Design Shop Toikka Bird Guide at glassbirds.com Oiva Toikka at Wikipedia Toikka Special Archive Collection at Pyramid Glass Chester iittala.com
When we think of Snow White, most of us remember the classic Walt Disney animated film, first released in 1937, and which has terrified small children ever since with its scary witch. However, the story of the film was not something that Disney dreamt up, it was based on a legend and, like similar tales, dates from centuries ago. The Disney version is very like the one which was noted down by the Brothers Grimm in 1857, and is one of the less bloodthirsty versions. One of the earliest written versions stems from 1634, long before the Brothers Grimm discovered it. Not intended for little ones, this tale was gradually enlarged, adapted and added to until it contained such intrigues as an illegitimate baby, cannibalism, witchcraft, lots of blood, murder, poisoning and sexual awakening. Perhaps it is not surprising that when Disney was searching for a suitable subject for his first full-length film, he decided to choose the diluted Grimm version, which he prettied-up and made even more harmless. Even so, it still contains poisoned gifts, attempted murder, witchcraft and the rather dubious concept of a young woman living with seven unmarried men! The Grimm Brothers begin their version with the description of a queen sewing as she watched the snowflakes falling. Not looking at what she was doing, she pricked her finger and a drop of scarlet blood fell. She thought that the red looked pretty on the snow, surrounded by the ebony of the window-frame, and she wished that one day she would have a child with snow-white skin, ebony hair and blood-red lips. In time, the queen did have such a baby, but then died, and the king took a new wife, who became the wicked stepmother. That’s when Snow White’s troubles began; the new queen was jealous and wanted the girl killed, and the story was skilfully and entertainingly brought to life by Walt Disney. When the film was issued, it was a huge success. It was Disney’s first feature film, and the music and colourful cartoons enchanted both children and adults. Many companies, such as Chad Valley, were quick to capitalise on the idea of media memorabilia. The Chad Valley sets were issued in the 1930s, and Snow White stood 16 inches tall, while the Dwarfs were around 6 inches. These calico-bodied dolls had moulded felt faces with painted features, and were very well modelled. Show White wore a pink and blue rayon dress with pink shoes and white underwear, while the Dwarfs had colourful felt outfits. Hair and beards were mohair, and they bore a reasonable facial resemblance to the cartoon versions. If you are very lucky, you might come across a doll with the original card swing tag, but in any case, the dolls should bear embroidered Chad Valley labels on their bodies. Today, a cloth Chad Valley Snow White, together with her Seven Dwarfs, in excellent condition, will cost you in the region of £1000. For most collectors, however, a Chad Valley set is beyond their reach; nevertheless many, more modern but still enchanting, dolls representing the ebony-haired girl and the droll dwarfs are available at just a fraction of that price. A grouping of them makes a particularly colourful collection. Snow White is one of those characters which everyone seems to recognise, and most people have a soft spot for her. The dwarfs are comical in appearance, so a Snow White display is cheerful and bright. Mattel have produced several versions of Snow White over the years, including a very pretty model dressed in her famous blue and yellow gown, which reveals her in a tattered dress, all ready to scrub the doorstep, when the skirt and sleeves are removed. Usually, these Mattel Disney dolls incorporate a Barbie body, but have a specially modelled head to represent the character concerned. For many years the company produced dolls to accompany the various films, but nowadays the dolls are often made by Vivid Imaginations or Simba. In the 1990s, Mattel issued a miniature Snow White, just seven inches high, in their ‘Dancing Princesses’ series. Finely dressed in her traditional yellow and blue clothing, she was mounted on a musical box. Small wheels under the music box enabled her to spin when the box was pushed along. Another Mattel series was the ‘Holiday Princess’ festive set, featuring Disney heroines. Amongst them was a pretty Snow White dressed in a blue bodice and white satin skirt, while the ‘Petite Holiday Princess’ collection contained miniatures of the dolls, with bells sewn into their skirts and a loop to hang them from a Christmas tree. Sets of Dwarfs were also made by the company, including an ingenious Dopey and Sneezy re-enacting a scene from the film when Dopey hid under Sneezy’s long coat. This clever toy had Dopey standing on Sneezy’s shoulders, and wearing an over-size coat which covered Sneezy, making Dopey appear twice as tall. Some of the Mattel dwarfs had colour-change functions; they held a magic ‘jewel’ or other item which changed colour with the application of cold water. The clothes were moulded on to their bodies. Dwarfs seem very popular; a super Sleepy made by Mattel in the 1980s snores as his eyes close. More recently, Vivid Imagination’s sets have include one which depicts them all in their nightshirts! Squidgy all-in-one moulded vinyl sets can also often be found. These date from the 1970s and were probably originally intended as baby toys, but they all add interest to a Disney doll collection. Barbie herself has depicted Snow White several times, as opposed to the character-headed version. A particularly attractive model is the Special Edition Snow White Barbie, from 1999, which depicts her in the classic yellow and blue gown. Barbie has exchanged her blonde hair and pink lips for black hair and bright face paint, and the overall effect is stunning. A doll very similar to Sindy appeared as Snow White, issued by Pedigree in 1978, and it is sought after today by […]