Rare and Unusual David Winter
Jockey Mouse by Alice Winter
As preparations got underway for Carnival 1997, Ian Weatherby Blythe and I started to plan “The Great Mouse Hunt II” Competition which was to be held in Warwick.
As it was supposedly just for fun, with “Mouse” gifts as prizes I approached Col Freddie, David’s father and asked him if Alice, David’s sister might have a “one of a kind” mouse laying around in her studio that we could offer as a prize.
We didn’t expect anything grand, as the competition was purely for fun! All the clues were hidden around the hall and attached to Chocolate mice.
Alice didn’t have anything that she though was special, so she sculpted a “one-off” in Resin for the first prize and then a smaller one, seen above to offer collectors who ahve over the years grown very attracted to mice that are found on David’s cottages. It was a limited edition of 100 and cost £24.95.
David’s Sculpting Tools
Rosemont a suburb of Chicago has become the site for the annual mid-year Collectibles exposition in the United States. In 1996 John Hine attended the show and David and members of the Media Arts Group, and each year something special has always been planned for David Winter Collectors who attend the show.
This particular year the gathering was treated to a Charity Auction of some rare and intereting items one of these being a set of David’s sculpting tools – in September at the last gathering at Eggars Hill another such auction was held, again sculpting tools, a bronze “Christmas Castle”, a cancelled credit card belonginh to David, a one off “Castle Tower of Windsor” complete with Ghost and extra shields were amongst items on offer.
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Random Collecting Feature
With the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond franchise, the release of Skyfall and the use once again of the Aston Martin DB5 as the Bond car we thought we would look at the toy and collectable cars that have been released over the years to tie-in with the James Bond movies. We are using a nice feature by James Riswick who has written on the Top 10 James Bond Cars. James Riswick has the Aston Martin DB5 as top, here at WCN we are split for looks with the DB5 and for the amazing chase and then turning into a submarine the fabulous Lotus Esprit S1. Also at 4 he has the BMW 750iL from Tomorrow Never Dies, yes a functional car for a spy but not for a Bond car. 1. Aston Martin DB5 — Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall Was there really any doubt about No. 1? We could be controversial for the sake of being controversial, but how can you possibly go against the car that started it all? The car that didn’t just have a starring role in one film, but went on to appear in five others? The car dubbed the most famous in the world? Say “James Bond’s car,” and everyone knows which one you’re talking about. Pictured right: Corgi No.261 “James Bond” Aston Martin DB5 taken from the film “Goldfinger” – gold body, red interior with “James Bond & Bandit” figures. Sold for £150 at Vectis Auctions. Image Copyright Vectis. Now, the Aston Martin DB5 wasn’t really the first Bond car. In Dr. No he drove a Sunbeam Alpine and in most books he drove prewar Bentleys. However, the novel Goldfinger actually features an Aston Martin DB Mark III with a few special spy additions like a hidden gun compartment. For the movie, the filmmakers obviously had bigger ideas. Production Designer Ken Adam chose the latest Aston — the DB5 — to outfit with machine guns, an oil sprayer, tire shredders, rotating number plates, a tracking system and, of course, an ejector seat. Despite what you might suspect, Aston Martin didn’t bend over backward to help out. Eon Productions had to twist Aston’s arm just to “loan” the film a development prototype and there wasn’t any sort of product placement deal. The overwhelming publicity generated for Aston Martin by Goldfinger is a major reason such placement deals exist today. Not only did the car shortly thereafter feature in Thunderball, but it went on a worldwide tour to promote both films. Pictured left: Gilbert No.16701 James Bond Tinplate Aston Martin DB5 – from the film Goldfinger and Thunderball, silver with plated trim, black bullet shield. Sold for £340 at Vectis Auctions. Image Copyright Vectis. The car itself would inspire all of the gadget-laden cars that came after it, and made a reappearance years later as the personal car of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond — albeit without the gadgets and a slightly different number plate (BMT 214A versus 216A). In Casino Royale, the modern Bond’s ownership of the car is explained when Daniel Craig wins it in a poker game. Like James Bond himself, the Aston Martin DB5 will return in Skyfall. 2. Lotus Esprit S1 — The Spy Who Loved Me The DB5 is the icon and the original, but if it were our choice for a spy car, the Lotus Esprit S1 featured in The Spy Who Loved Me would be it. Not only does it participate in one of the series’ best car chases, it tops it off by taking a plunge off a pier and turning into a submarine for an underwater boat chase. How cool is that? Pictured right: Corgi No.269 Lotus Esprit “James Bond” taken from the film “The Spy Who Loved Me” – white, black, with “007” bonnet label – Mint including harder to find late issue window box with detachable header card – comes complete with missiles attached to sprue. Sold at Vectis Auctions for £180. Image Copyright Vectis. “I thought its shape could make it a believable submarine,” Production Designer Ken Adam said in the book The Art of Bond. “An American submarine company built it for me. And it traveled underwater — it was not pressurized but it could do 7 knots underwater. Stunt divers with oxygen tanks operated it and we also had it as a model.” Lotus provided seven vehicle “shells” that were used to create the submarine and show individual transformation elements. However, getting fully functional road-going cars proved more difficult. During the making of the film, the second unit realized the only other car that could keep up with the Esprit for car-to-car shots was another Esprit. As it was so early in the car’s production, they were informed that the only other one available was owned by Lotus Chairman Colin Chapman. He was only too happy to loan it to them. The exotic Esprit also proved to be a handful for the stunt driver unaccustomed to midengine dynamics. With director Lewis Gilbert dissatisfied with the speeds being portrayed on film, Roger Becker, a Lotus employee Chapman had personally instructed to aid the production, stepped into drive for many of the featured shots. The result was a ground-breaking action sequence. 3. Aston Martin V8 Vantage — The Living Daylights With Timothy Dalton taking over the part for 1987’s The Living Daylights, the Bond producers were eager to use elements that tied the film to those that came before it. At the same time, Aston Martin was facing hard times (not exactly an uncommon occurrence) and was thrilled to rekindle the relationship that had made it so famous. Pictured left: Western Models No.ML1 “James Bond” Aston Martin V8 taken from the film “The Living Daylights” – grey, chrome trim, complete with side skis – Mint including lift off lid box and outer carded sleeve – harder issue to find. Sold for £140 at Vectis Auctions, February 2010. Image Copyright Vectis. The Aston in question was a Volante that Q’s boys in the workshop somehow “winterize” to become a regular Vantage coupe. Probably best to overlook that one. […]
The Wind in the Willows is a classic of children’s literature by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908.
Pomp, Pre-Fabs And Poodles – Dolls in The 1950s by Sue Brewer Just as a black and white film explodes into technicolour, this decade dawned grey, but ended in dazzling colour. This eventful ten years gave young people more power that ever before, and propelled Britons into a completely new lifestyle. Though the war had ended five years previously, many goods were in short supply and some rationing was still in force. Bomb sites scarred many areas, and thousands dwelt in ‘pre-fabs’ – prefabricated buildings designed as emergency accommodation for those who had lost their homes during the bombing. Britain needed something to cheer her up, and the Festival Of Britain was a great start. Held in 1951, on London’s Southbank alongside the Thames, and dominated by the Dome of Discovery, it featured all that was new in design. Towering above the site was the Skylon, a delicately-shaped edifice which was illuminated at night, and which entranced me as a child. Millions of people thronged the festival, which spilled over into nearby Battersea Park. One of the great attractions there was the Guinness clock, a marvellous timepiece which featured toucans and other creatures popping out of windows and doors on the quarter-hour. Ideas seen at the exhibition gradually filtered through into people’s lives – geometrical designs were in vogue, bright colours, and, conversely, black and white patterns. The most famous 1950s ceramics’ range is probably ‘Homemaker’, which featured black and white drawings of coffee tables, cutlery, settees and lamps. Homemaker, designed by Enid Seeney, was made by Ridgway and sold in Woolworths stores throughout the country in the mid-fifties. Black pottery ‘African’ hands and figurines were in vogue, as was formica, spindly-legged furniture, coloured ‘atom’ knobs on small fixtures, ballet scenes on crockery, open-plan living, and poodles on everything! In 1953, patriotism was truly to the fore – Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Union Jacks fluttered from lamp posts, commemorative mugs were give to school children, and street parties were held throughout the country. Young and old sat down to enjoy cakes, sandwiches and jellies, and to raise a toast to her Majesty in tea or lemonade. People crowded the front rooms of those fortunate enough to own television sets to watch the beautiful young Queen ride in a fairytale coach along the Mall from the palace, and to see the Archbishop of Canterbury place the crown upon her head in Westminster Abbey. For one lady, Peggy Nisbet, the Coronation proved a career change when she was inspired to dress small dolls which were sold through the prestigious Harrods store. Little could she have known that those small dolls would be the start of a huge concern, which would go on to produce millions of Peggy Nisbet costume dolls over the next three decades. Naturally, other manufacturers jumped aboard the bandwagon, most notably Pedigree Toys, who issued an 14 inch hard plastic doll called Little Princess. Th is doll had blonde, curly hair, just like the toddler Princess Anne, and her outfit was designed by Norman Hartnell, the man responsible for the Coronation gown. Pedigree also issued a ‘Bonnie Charlie’ doll, presumably modelled on Prince Charles, and a slender, teen-type called Elizabeth. All these dolls are very much sought-after today by collectors. Hard plastic was extensively used in the world of doll manufacturing for much of the 1950s. Developed during the war, it was enthusiastically embraced by toy makers, being light, colourful and cheap to produce. It rapidly replaced the older-style composition dolls, and many beauties were made during this time. Towards the end of the decade, however, an even more revolutionary product, soft vinyl, was introduced. Vinyl enabled the hair to be rooted directly into the head, and didn’t crack when it was dropped. Soon vinyl replaced the hard plastic, though for a time, dolls often sported vinyl heads on hard plastic bodies as the new machinery was expensive to install. Barbie, the most successful doll of all time, made her debut in America in 1959, created by Ruth Handler. This sophisticated curvy teen in her black and white striped bathing costume, was a sensation, though she was scarcely known in Britain until the 1970s. Girls in the United Kingdom were less mature than their American counterparts, and although teen dolls were gradually arriving, they were softer-featured and tended to wear the everyday fashions of the time – flared skirts, blouses, smart coats and dainty hats. Even in their early teens, girls still read ‘Girl’ comic, filled with colourful comic strip adventures featuring nurses, schoolgirls or ballet dancers – children were unsophisticated in those days. Palitoy issued a tie-in ‘Girl’ doll, who wore a white dress patterned with the logo of the comic. Her knickers and hair-ribbon bore the same motif while her belt had a plastic ‘Girl’ head as a buckle. At the beginning of the decade, teen girls dressed like their mothers, often wearing twin-sets and pearls, but as the fifties progressed, they rebelled. Permed hair gave way to ponytails, and skirts were full, often with layers of net or ‘paper nylon’ petticoats beneath. ‘Pedal-pusher’ trousers, which ended at mid-calf. were in vogue for a while, as were ‘sloppy Joe’ sweaters, but, on the whole, girls still had a very feminine look – the love-affair with blue denim was not, as yet, widespread. Music-wise, Rock ‘n’ Roll was in – Bill Haley and Elvis Presley were listened to on large 78 rpm records which broke when they were dropped. However, Britain had its own teen stars too, especially Tommy Steele who appeared on the ‘6.5 Special’ tv programme every Saturday, rocking to the music. Teddy Boys loved Rock ‘n’ Roll, and wore narrow drainpipe trousers, long jackets and winklepicker shoes, combing their hair into a quiff. Skiffle groups, who performed on guitars, washboards and broom handles affixed to tea-chests, were also extremely popular. As the decade progressed, television grew to play a large part in people’s lives; programmes were followed so avidly that […]
The Tiffany family might not have made it to the New World aboard the ‘Mayflower’ but they might still qualify as early arrivals when, sometime around 1660, a certain Squire Humphrey Tiffany arrived and settled in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Some 150 years later his descendants were in business running a general store in Connecticut. The son of this concern, Charles Louis Tiffany, together with his college friend John Young, decided to try their luck setting up shop in New York at 259 Broadway, aided by a $1,000 loan from Charles’s father – the year was 1837 and Charles was 25 years of age. Initially trading as Tiffany and Young the firm is known to have offered stationery and fancy goods. Pictured: Tiffany Glass Lustre Vase – part of the Haworth Art Gallery Tiffany Glass collection. Image copyright Haworth Art Gallery. The enterprise eventually became Tiffany and Co and gained a reputation for carefully selected European objects that benefited from being tastefully displayed attracting both a discerning and growing clientele. By 1850 the company was importing jewellery and that same year acquired a collection of jewels that had once been owned by Marie Antoinette. The firm had prospered to such an extent that by 1887 they were in a position to purchase a significant proportion of the former French crown jewels for the sum of two million French francs. By now Tiffany and Co were jewellers and silversmiths to an elite clientele of multi millionaires with such legendary names as Havemeyer, Gould, Astor and Vanderbilt. This was a stratum of US society keen to offload vast sums of cash on the best that their money could buy and Charles Tiffany was a master at keeping his customers satisfied. His son Louis Comfort Tiffany was born into this rarefied retail outlet in 1848 and had benefited at birth from growing up in a home surrounded by tasteful furnishings of the finest quality. Despite the expectancy that the son would naturally join the family firm it became obvious that he had other ideas and by his teenage years had shown intent to develop his painting skills by studying under George Innes the celebrated American landscape artist working in the Barbizon style. In 1867 he travelled to London and Paris where he developed a fascination with the ‘Orientalist’ approach to painting that sought subject matter of both middle and far eastern themes. The young Tiffany had the additional benefit of being mentored by Edward C Moore who worked for his father and was recognised by all as a significant expert in all matters of historical design and fine art. Over the years LCT made several painting trips to Europe and North Africa where he had become particularly inspired by the simple and pleasing colours of the buildings, instilling an ambition of bringing colour into the buildings and homes of his native country. On one trip he was joined by his friend and much respected fellow artist Samuel Colman with whom in later years along with Candace Wheeler, the much respected needlework and textile designer, they collectively traded as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated Artists. Their relatively short lived joint venture was aimed at providing a total interior design and decoration service with Candace Wheeler in particular admitting LCT to be difficult to work alongside due to his obsession with his experimentation with all things glass. Their success appeared to be well and truly consolidated after being commissioned by President Chester Alan Arthur to redecorate several rooms in the White House. Other significant clients included Mark Twain and Lily Langtry – referred to at the time as the ‘Jersey Lily’. Tiffany’s fascination with glass had been nurtured during his early visits to Europe where he studied medieval stained glass in the many cathedrals as well as the early glass displayed in important museums. This interest was also stimulated by the ancient Roman and Islamic glass that he came across whilst travelling around the Middle East. His preoccupation with the commercial possibilities offered by producing aesthetically pleasing art glass began to override his expected involvement with his interior design company. As early as 1878 he had set up his own glassworks employing Venetian glass maker Andrea Boldini as his partner. Unfortunately their enterprise appears to have failed after the works had burnt down on two occasions leading the Italian to resign. Tiffany was however determined to pursue his dream and in 1880 began to file various patents including one that made use of metallic lustres and was to become manifest as his now legendary ‘Favrile’ glass. The term being a derivative of the word ‘Fabrile’ an old English term for being hand made. His efforts and further trialling appear to have taken place across the East River in the Louis Heidt glassworks located in then fashionable Brooklyn. In 1882, three years after parting company with Candace Wheeler and Samuel Colman, his continuing fascination resulted in the founding of the Tiffany Glass Company. The company was initially involved in the making decorative windows that had witnessed a growing demand that was also providing commissions for his one time friend John La Farge. Tiffany’s experimentation included iridescent glass that emulated that uncovered from archaeological sites and eventually retailed as ‘Cypriot’ glass. Other techniques included coloured lustre, wheel carving, paperweight, agate, reactive, lava, cameo and aquamarine. The latter might be considered to be a novelty type of glass albeit extremely difficult to perfect, which therefore accounts for such pieces being relatively rare. The intention was to emulate aquatic weeds, marine life and fish within a solid mass of clear glass encased within an integral vase or bowl or as simple doorstops and paperweights. In 1892 he made the decision to rename his business the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, thereby making it known that his interior design service was still operating and attracting no shortage of commissions. More importantly Louis Comfort Tiffany had by now secured the position and reputation of being able to claim the accolade as the […]
Royals, Romantics And Rubiks – Dolls of The 1980s by Sue Brewer The tragic murder of John Lennon outside his New York apartment in December 1980 was a huge blow to the world of popular music. His wife, Yoko Ono, watched in horror as Mark Chapman fired the fatal shots. A few years later Madonna, destined to become a superstar, made her chart debut – her song ‘Holiday’ was a success on both sides of the Atlantic. Glam rock and Romanticism arrived, and British charts were dominated by stars such as Wham!, Boy George, Duran Duran, The Pet Shop Boys, Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry. The 1984 famine in Ethiopia prompted Live Aid, a huge charity concert organised by Bob Geldorf, which was a resounding success. Prince Charles married Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1981, and Britain went crazy. Shops were filled with memorabilia, thousands of books appeared to commemorate the event, and most neighbourhoods held street-parties, with the kids in fancy-dress. Diana was a highly popular figure, a fashion icon. Her choice of a full-skirted, romantic-style, silk wedding dress influenced brides for over a decade. There was another Royal wedding in 1986 when Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson – once more street parties were in full swing. Suddenly babies were big news, almost a fashion accessory. Prince William was born in 1982, Prince Harry two years later, and Princess Beatrice was born to Sarah in 1988; Princess Anne’s second child, Zara, had made her entrance in 1981, while children were also born to Princess Richard of Gloucester and to Princess Michael of Kent. The Royal family was rapidly increasing. The latest fashion was ‘New Romantics’, encouraged by people such as Vivienne Westwood who designed a swashbuckling ‘Pirates look’, and singer Adam Ant who dressed as a highwayman. We all trotted around in pixie boots and puffball skirts. However, as a complete contrast, many women favoured ‘power dressing’, as seen in the tv soap Dallas, with wide padded shoulders, dominant colours and ‘big hair.’ One of the most maligned garments of all time springs from this era – the shell suit. Originally introduced as a sportswear item, it rapidly spread as a fashion garment, and both young people and ‘golden oldies’ could be seen sporting these bright turquoise, pink and emerald two-piece track suits. This was also the time of the ‘Mullet’, an odd hairstyle with long and short sections, sported by many men including footballer Kevin Keegan and singer Limahl. Perhaps the strangest craze of all was for ‘bonce-bouncers’ – colourful balls or ornaments on springs, worn on a headband. The doll world made dramatic headlines in 1983 when Cabbage Patch Kids first entered the shops. They caused riots, with adults fighting over them and even stealing them from children. Brainchild of Xavier Roberts, the ‘one of a kind’ soft-bodied Kids were promoted as being for adoption, rather than for sale, and prospective parents had to solemnly vow to take care of them. Cabbage Patch Kids are still sold today, and continue to cause controversy between those who love them and those who loathe them. Large dolls, such as those made by the German manufacturer Zapf, were very popular, especially babies and long-haired toddlers. Barbie, the queen of the doll world, celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday in 1984, but didnâ€™t look any older. In the UK, Barbie and Sindy were enormous rivals; Pedigree’s Sindy, though introduced in the 1960s, was probably at her peak, at one point sporting a Princess Diana-influenced hairstyle. There were many royal dolls around, notably those produced by Peggy Nisbet to commemorate the Royal Wedding, in both the standard 7 inch models, and a new 18 inch size. Peggy Nisbet also issued a stunning set of vinyl dolls intended to represent the two Princes, William and Harry. These dolls were beautifully dressed, in a range of clothing inspired by the royal wardrobe, though all had the same faces. The major change in the doll world was the introduction of small ‘collectables’ dolls. Children were encouraged to accumulate sets of the dolls and their accessories, tapping into a pocket-money treasure trove. Dolls such as Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, Flower Fairies and Lady Lovelylocks were all the rage, as were Care Bears, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Star Wars figures and My Little Ponies. The toy with the most influence was Rubik’s cube, a hand-held puzzle. The craze instantly spread across the globe and hands clicked and twisted as people attempted to correctly align the coloured squares. In 1984, the Apple Macintosh personal computer was developed, and a year later came Windows – the world would never be the same again. Another invention, pioneered in 1984, was the CD which most people thought would never catch on. Nintendo, Walkmans, Prozac and Karaoke all jostled for attention, but perhaps the most influential gadget, certainly in Britain, was the Breville sandwich toaster! For a few years Briton’s gorged themselves on toasted cheese sarnies. Margaret Thatcher proved she could stand up to threats when she sent battleships to defend the Falklands against the Argentineans, the Berlin wall came down opening up the eastern bloc, and construction began on the Channel Tunnel, enabling trains to travel from Britain to Europe. The beautiful Princess Grace of Monaco was killed when her car veered over the mountainside, while at Lockerbie, in Scotland, a bomb aboard a jetliner downed the plane onto a small town, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Shopping malls sprung up everywhere; the face of Britain was changing, losing its individualness, while a trendy acronym, Yuppie – Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person – typified a new breed of spending power and wealth. Yuppies worked hard and spent hard. In Britain, the eighties ended with a window on the world – satellite television became available for the first time. Related Dolls at WCN
Holly Hobbie was an artist specialising in drawing greetings cards, lending her name to the characters she drew, which were later issued in doll form. Pictured: 1975 Knickerbocker Holly Hobbie doll During the 1960s, people became intrigued by her designs featuring a little girl, facing sideways, dressed in a long patchwork frock, with a large bonnet totally obscuring her face. This pose tended to create an urge to see the expression which lurked beneath the brim. Grannies, especially, adored this nostalgia theme, imagining it was their granddaughter lurking under that floppy bonnet, and the whole concept happily coincided with the fashionable look of the day – long, floaty dresses, small prints, Laura Ashley, country style, femininity and pastel shades. Holly Hobbie created her designs for the American Greetings Card Company for many years, featuring children in idyllic settings, each illustrated by a motto such as ‘Life’s greatest blessing is a happy heart’, ‘Happiness is found in little things’ or ‘Start each day in a happy way’. The designs appeared not only on stationery items, but on products such as kitchen towels, oven gloves, plates, cups, aprons, bed linen, china ornaments, trays and, of course, as dozens of different dolls. Many of these were rag dolls, as befitting the nostalgia theme. Today, Holly Hobbie lives in Conway, Massachusetts, and is a successful author/illustrator of picture books featuring the adventures of two pigs called Toot and Puddle. Pictured: Tomy Party Days Holly Hobbie Dolls representing Holly Hobbie have been made by several companies over the years, including Knickerbocker, Tomy and, most recently, Ashton Drake. During the 1970s a Holly Hobbie made from a very soft thin rubbery vinyl was issued by the American Greetings Corp. This doll had barely-there features, a round head, straggley hair and tiny eyes. She looked rather strange. Knickerbocker created a whole range of rag dolls in various sizes, and, as well as Holly Hobbie, there were friends such as Amy, Heather, Carrie, Robby and Grandma. Amy tended to wear green, Heather pink or beige and Carrie, red. Robby was a little boy in blue striped dungarees, while Grandma, naturally, was an old lady doll. Pictured: Ashton Drake Holy Hobbie doll As well as the rag dolls, vinyl types were available – one unusual one stood just 6″ tall, but wore an enormous skirt. Underneath the skirt was a three-roomed dolls house, complete with Holly Hobbie-style furniture and accessories, such as a gramophone with a horn, a rocking chair, a butter churn, a kitchen dresser and a round table. Tomy introduced a range of Holly Hobbie dolls in 1989, featuring some beautiful rag types 16″ high, dressed in pastel-coloured dresses, each bearing a message such as ‘Make each day a sunshine day’ and ‘A gift from the heart is the best gift of all’. The box stated ‘Every day is a Holly day’. During the 1990s, Holly Hobbie was revamped again, this time by Knickerbocker, appearing as a vinyl, soft-bodied doll with a snub nose, cheeky smile and masses of curly hair. She wore a long patchwork frock and matching bonnet, available in several colourways. Smaller versions were sold too. The recent Ashton Drake issue of porcelain Holly Hobbie dolls was probably the most delightful representation of the character ever produced. Created by Dianna Effner, and standing 16″ high, they represented the four seasons. Autumn, the first to be released, showed the little girl in her famous patchwork dress and bonnet clutching a flowering twig. The next in the series, Summer, had Holly dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, holding the American Flag, while Winter had her in a red dress and Spring wore green. These dolls had delightful expressions – a combination of a shy smile and a cheeky grin – and the detailing on the costumes was excellent. Related Holly Hobbie Doll Features Greetings from Holly, Sarah & Betsey – feature on Holly Hobbie, Sarah Kay and Betsey Clark
Raphaël Kirchner (1876 – 1917) was an Austrian artist, best known for Art Nouveau and early pin-up work, especially in picture postcard format which became extremely popular during World War I. Kirchner attended the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and began his career as a portrait painter for the fashionable in Vienna. He moved to Paris in 1900, creating illustrations for magazines including La Vie Parisienne, where he worked with other notable artists such as Mucha. Kirchner became best known for his saucy ‘glamour’ postcards of young women which are very collectable over 100 years later. Raphaël Kirchner produced over a thousand published paintings and drawings in his lifetime, mostly in the form of picture postcards. His postcards are very sort after with collectors, from his orientalist Geisha series which had influences of Art Nouveau, East and West, to his ephemeral beauties from La Vie Parisienne to the more realistic erotic young ladies who were the favourites of the European and American soldiers in the Great War who pinned his cards up in the trenches. Raphaël Kirchner postcards were the original pin-ups. It was Kirchner’s witty, accurate portrayal of the seamier, yet perhaps the most exciting and glamourous aspects of Parisian night life–of the world of the bar and of the boudoir–that provided the real road to success for the artist. Kirchner’s alluring, often erotic depictions of the typical Montmartre female in La Vie Parisienne and in watercolours and pastels such as ‘Les Joueuses’ became so popular that the prettiest and most expensive of the ‘Montmartre Girls’ became associated with the artist’s images of them, and were duly dubbed ‘Kirchner Girls’. There are normally 350-400 Raphael Kirchner postcards on ebay click on link to view – Raphael Kirchner postcards on ebay.
The forms were practical and classical, the lines were clean, and the colours were vibrant.
William Moorcroft might be said to have been born in the right place at the right time, with the benefit of an incredible ability to master all the skills needed to ensure that his business prospered no matter what the economic climate of the times. He was born in Burslem in 1872 and educated at Longport Hall School prior to becoming a student at the Burslem School of Art. His considerable artistic talent led to a move to London where, in 1896, he studied at the National Art Training School, later renamed The Royal College of Art. Young William made good use of his time in the capital by deciding to make an extensive study of both ancient and relatively contemporary ceramics displayed in the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum. We recognise the latter today as the Victoria and Albert Museum. The following year he was awarded his Art Master’s certificate which would normally attract most students towards a career teaching art. However our Mr Moorcroft had set his sights on becoming a potter and, as the fates would have it, was offered the position of designer by the china and earthenware manufacturers James Macintyre and Company of the Washington works in Burslem. He wasn’t slow to see the god sent opportunity and showed no hesitation in eagerly accepted the vacant situation. The pottery made all manner of both relatively mundane utilitarian and decorative ware including artist’s palettes, door furniture and art pottery, alongside insulators and switchgear for the emerging electrics industry. In 1893 the company had enlisted the services of Harry Barnard, the well-respected designer and modeller formerly employed at Doulton’s Lambeth studio, in a bid to introduce art pottery into their repertoire. He was given the task of developing a range of ware that made use of a pate sur pate type of decoration that involved the building up of layers of slip in low relief. The method of decoration had already been well established and perfected at the nearby Stoke factory of Minton and Co. by the former Sevres decorator Louis Solon. James Macintyre decided to name their new designs “Gesso Faience”, but regrettably for Barnard it failed to excite would-be buyers and he eventually moved down the hill to Josiah Wedgwood’s Etruria factory where he continued to develop slip decoration whilst his career underwent a renaissance. Moorcroft’s earliest designs were registered in 1898 and made use of under glaze cobalt blue complemented with iron red on glaze and gilt decoration that enhanced his new and inventive shapes, being retailed under the trade name of “Aurelian Ware”. William’s obvious childhood passion for nature and flora is evident in his treatment and choice of formalised repeated designs, which show a real synergy with the then all-important mentor of many a young art student–William Morris. Undeterred by the failure of “Gesso Ware” Moorcroft recognised the potential offered by slip-trailed decoration and set about producing Arts and Crafts’ inspired floral decoration married to imaginative organic forms. As a result his “Florian Ware”, launched in 1898, established William Moorcroft as the most exciting designer in British ceramics, able to produce in quantity contemporary designs that managed to embrace the traditional Arts and Crafts hand produced ethic. This ethic was promoted initially by Morris and later by the various Guilds that had sprung up in both Britain and the United States of America. As far as Messer’s Macintyre were concerned the most important outcome was that they had struck gold with young Moorcroft and found a highly distinctive art pottery that generated good income. William’s fertile imagination offered a regular flow of quite oftenbreathtaking designs over the next fifteen years that were not entirely limited to all things floral. In 1902 William had produced a design featuring Japanese ornamental Carp specifically for the London retailer, Osler. The firm soon became synonymous with a distinctive palette painted in tones of blue and mauve within slip trailed outlines; such vases carried a “Hesperian Ware” back stamp with other subject matter including Butterflies. That same year that saw the introduction of the first landscape design composed of a frieze of tall trees set amongst an undulating countryside and adapted to fit a variety of vases and dishes of differing size. Eventually labelled “Hazledene” the design proved especially popular through the premier retail outlet of Liberty and Co. William’s friendship with Arthur Lasenby Liberty was eventually to prove of significant importance in 1913 when Macintyre and Co. decided to concentrate upon the lucrative electrical fittings market. With space at their Washington pottery at a premium they decided to close down their art pottery concern and part company with William Moorcroft. It is a matter of debate amongst present day Moorcroft authorities as to whether or not the two parties came to an amicable separation that saw William building his own ‘state of the art’ factory in nearby Sandbach Road, Cobridge, interestingly aided and abetted by the Liberty and Co. connection. New patterns were quickly introduced including utilitarian tableware using a porcellaneous body similar to that used by Macintyre in their electrical output and referred to initially as Blue Porcelain. The speckled blue tableware was a much-needed success that soon became synonymous with Liberty and Co.’s New Tudor Tearooms where it was known as “Moorcroft Blue”. The advent of the First World War led to an increase in export trade allied with government commissions to produce shaving mugs and hospital inhalers for the war effort, thereby allowing William to retain much of his workforce. However, it was in the post war years that he was able to consolidate his position and develop his reputation for producing richly coloured wares that continued to draw upon floral, fruit and landscape inspiration. Unquestionably the most successful design of the interwar years has to be his “Pomegranate” pattern, having been initially introduced in1910. The earliest examples display distinct buff reserves that by the 1920s had given way to deep cobalt blue, and the commercial success of the company […]
I got my first diecast fifty years ago. My mother and father must have thought that at six years old I was ‘grown-up’ enough to have a real toy at last, and so Christmas morning 1958 saw me tearing open the brown paper packaging (potato-printed with holly and what could have been reindeer, although they looked rather like our bull-terrier wearing a T.V. aerial. My father’s wages as a long-distance lorry driver didn’t run to shop-bought wrapping) to reveal a magically reduced version of his Foden eight-wheeler. Every detail was there, from the door handle at the rear of the cab to the hole under the radiator for the starting handle. I could imagine myself cranking the engine over, thumb tucked away in case of a kickback just like Dad and watching the cab rattle into life. It was realistic, it was beautifully enamelled and it was solid, three of the qualities that have made die-cast toys such durable attractions for the collector. So much for their magic, but what actually do we mean by ‘die-casts’ as opposed to any other kind of metal toy? Die-casting as an industrial process came into being towards the end of the First World War. Casting itself is as old as metalworking, it simply means pouring molten metal into a mould from which the final object is shaped. In the early years of the twentieth century several American manufacturers began ‘slush casting’ model car bodies in cast iron. A wooden ‘form’ of the model was pressed into moist sand to create a one-shot mould into which molten metal was poured. As the metal in contact with the sand solidified the remainder was tipped out to leave a hollow casting, in terms of thickness and quality rather like a chocolate Easter egg. Next in complexity came ‘hollowcasting’ famous for producing lead soldiers, in which liquid metal is poured into a two part mould and swilled out to leave a hollow shell. Finally in die-casting as we understand it the molten metal is forced under pressure into a die, a two or more part metal negative of the finished model. As soon as the casting has cooled to its solid state the die is opened and the basis of the finished model falls out. This process allows almost ‘hairline’ detail to be incorporated into the surface of the toy, a great improvement on the tin-plate it superseded. Tin-plate toys had been constructed from stamped and cut pieces of sheet metal bent into shape and clipped or soldered together by hand. The impression of detail – door handles, bonnet louvres etc. was given by using lithography to print pictures of the required components on to the tin, but the detail remained two-dimensional, it was left to die-casting to bring its depth to life. So the increasingly mechanised world which followed the Great War had discovered a way to produce toys of an accuracy and robustness far superior to that of tin plate. The only real drawback was the cost of making the die for each new model. Die making was a process requiring great engineering skill, beginning with the hand crafting of a wooden mock-up, perfect to the tiniest detail, of the finished toy. The really fine work, door lines, radiator grilles etc. could be added with wire, the delicacy of this limited only by the ability of the metal used to flow successfully into the smallest crevices of the mould. The preferred metal for die casting toys is ‘mazak’ or ‘zamak’ if you are American. Basically it’s zinc with 3-4% aluminium and 1-2% copper added. Some of the earliest casting used lead, but as toy sucking lead to brain-damage it rapidly fell into disrepute. (These early lead toys were very expensive and so sucked only by the c hildren of the privileged classes, who grew up to run our society. Draw your own conclusions.) The slightest contamination of this mixture causes that bane of early die-cast collectors, fatigue. When first manufactured no one could have foreseen the problems this would cause. A toy’s life was, if fortunate, measured in years not the decades, which the collector’s market has extended it to. Fatigue is the name we give to the process of granularisation which causes the metal of a model to deform and eventually disintegrate. There is as far as I know very little to be done to cure this, the best advice seems to be to avoid handling the model and keep it room temperature. Not all parts of a model suffer fatigue at the same rate; cast wheels seem to be particularly prone. The theory seems to be that as wheels are relatively crude castings the same attention to detail in mixing the metal was not always given compared to that lavished on metal that had to flow into very finely detailed moulds. To keep the mould simple the toys are often made from two castings, in the case of my Foden one for the cab and chassis unit and one for the body. Before joining together each casting was tumbled in a rubber-lined drum part filled with loose stones and soapy water to remove any ‘flash’, the unwanted residue of the casting process. Next came a chemical preparation to help the enamel bond to the metal, and then the paint itself would be applied by spray gun as the models rotated along a conveyor belt to the ovens. Baked on at 200 degrees Centigrade the finish is extremely durable, another advantage for a roughly treated toy. Detail work, lights and radiator grilles etc., was hand sprayed through masks before the final assembly was completed with either screws or rivets. Among the first people to exploit this new technology for the toy market were the Dowst brothers of Chicago. They brought out their first “Tootsietoys” in the early 1920. Unlike tin-plate these new toys could faithfully reproduce the complex curves of full size automobiles, and were soon being used by motor dealers to promote their wares. […]