Rare and Unusual David Winter
Three Dimensional Model of Eggars Hill
Produced by one of many unknown artists that worked behind the scenes at Eggars Hill – this model is very true to life of the buildings and grounds that collectors have visited over the past twelve years or so.
Authorised Collector Sign
The Studios and Workshops of John Hine Limited had a much larger one that was coveted by all dedicated collectors of David’s work!
This miniature sign was 6.5 inches high and 4 inches wide and was sold in very limited numbers by the same stockist who produced the “Sabrina'” Pin.
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The Cube Teapot was a combination of modern design, successful advertising and British innovation. This made the Patent Cube Teapot a revolution of its day. Now it is a rare and stylish collectable item that conjures up images of the times when “everything stopped for tea”. The Cube Teapot was a quest to find the “Perfect Teapot”, one that did not drip tea when poured and was easily stored away when not used without the worry of the spout being chipped. Many companies had tried to create this perfect item but rather than change the whole design they had just concentrated on one of the defects. It was only when the Cube Teapot came onto the market that the all the problems were solved. The entrepreneur Robert Crawford Johnson was responsible for the design of this revolutionary new teapot and registered “Cube Teapots Ltd” in 1917. He perfected the sought after design, one that did not drip, poured easily and was chip resistant, together with easy stacking for storage. With no spout or projecting handle the cube teapot looked exactly as it sounds – a cube. Even though it was registered in 1917 the first teapot was not actually put in to production until 1920 and it claimed to be the climax in teapot construction. The first company to produce this teapot in earthenware was “Arthur Wood” of Stoke-on-Trent. But by the mid twenties this company was not the only one to make the cube and there were variations on cubic designs by other companies who were not all producing under licence. As with any successful innovative idea there are always rivals and copies, and Johnson sought on different occasions to take legal advice although he was unable to take any actual action against his rivals. James Sadler and Sons as we know today are specialists in novelty teapot designs had produced many ranges of teapots such as the “Nesta” range which were popular with the restaurant trade as they stacked neatly on top of each other, another of their designs was the “Handy Hexagon” an almost identical design to Johnson’s cube. Johnson aware that the problem needed to be tackled decided that the only course of action was a strategic marketing plan. In 1925 he formed “CUBE Teapots Co., Ltd” and embarked on the marketing and distribution of the cube teapot and similar tea ware. Percy Aspinall was one of the directors and emphasised in his campaigns that the original article was far more appealing than any imitation. A huge marketing campaign was launched to help retailers sell the product, it included colourful showcards and booklets but the most exciting was a moving display in the window of the Leicester Showrooms of a lady perfectly pouring from the cube. This campaign was a huge success with anyone who is anyone wanting a cube teapot and the companies producing under licence increased to include big names such as Wedgwood & Co Ltd and T.G. Green & Co. Ltd. There had been a continual growth of tearooms in Britain, a place where ladies could acquire refreshment in a public place. Lyons Corner Houses are probably one of the most well known and the country’s largest and with such an expanding tea business the cube teapot was exactly what the industry had been waiting for. The Cube not just popular in cafes and restaurants became used at sea on the Transatlantic Ocean Liners. This is the epiphany of the twenties to me, drinking tea out of a teapot whilst cruising the oceans at a time where transatlantic travel was the only way to go! The Cunard Line was one of the companies using the tea ware although other vessels that were not Transatlantic Liners used it on board as well. Probably the biggest contract for the teapot was when Cunard wanted the Cube supplied on its greatest liner Queen Mary. Used by all from First Class downwards it was a daily occurrence to see people sipping their morning tea having been poured from the Cube Teapot. Because it was only the shape of the teapot that was patented potteries could decorate it how they pleased. There are many differently decorated pots, my favourite being the bold bright colours of T.G. Green but variations on decoration go from one extreme to the other. The most commonly found Cube teapots today are the simple plain white ones, or the Ivory Banded Cubes used on the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth which were supplied by Brain’s Foley China. Unusual decoration such as the “Shagreen” effect again by Foley or the Grimwades earthenware models are a lot harder to find on the secondary market, recently a plain Grimwades model sold for £40. As with all good things they have to come to an end and the demise of the Cube was in the early 1950s when other modern teapot designs became popular. I believe that the key to its success was definitely the high volume of self-promotion. It was also a modernist design at a time when change was accepted and welcomed with opened arms. I am always on the look out for affordable and unusual collectables and the Cube teapot definitely sits in that bracket. Although a good mint condition one is hard to find I think the hunt would certainly be worth the effort because image how you could impress any guest that might pop in on the off chance for afternoon tea! THE CUBE TEAPOT FACTS. DID YOU KNOW? · Minton’s supplied Cunard Liners Mauretania and Aquitania · Myott and S. Fielding & Co. Ltd supplied the QE2 · T.G. Green famously known today with collectors for Cornish Ware produced the Cube palette and cup. · Foley China Works supplied bone china Cube Teapots to both Queen Mary and QE2. · George Clews and Co. Ltd produced stoneware Cube sets for the state rooms on board Queen Mary. · It was said that the cube was the largest sale of any patent teapot […]
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 […]
In this highly digital age board games are taking more and more prevalence for spending interactive time with family and friends. From this we seem to be digging those family board games we still own from the seventies and eighties out of the cupboards, blowing off the dust and this gets us thinking….. Is this worth selling or playing? What is mine worth? How do I get a valuation? Is mine collectible? One example is the game consisting of the original usual suspects. Colonel Mustard, the Reverend Mr Green, Mrs Peacock, Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and the (apparently) controversial Mrs White. She was removed from the game in 2016 after it was claimed that having a housekeeper was a ‘dated idea’ and was replaced with Dr Orchid. The artwork was also updated to a more cartoon style. An original 1949 edition of Cluedo, the popular crime deduction game can sell for around £150. But wait, it would have to be unplayed !! Unplayed?? Who, genuinely in 1949 was thinking that this brand new board game would be worth buying, taking home and NOT playing with it in the hope that in seventy years time it will be something of value? Surely these games are there to be played with? A pre loved copy of a board game has more character having stood the test of time. Write in the comments below if you are a board game collector and own the games to play or to simply to have bragging rights that you own a much sought after copy. As a board game collector myself, what interests me more than anything is owning an original copy of a game that has been played with since it was originally produced. The idea that I am now sitting with my family and friends playing a game which was handled and played when it was very first produced? What are your thoughts on this? When looking for an original copy of Cluedo don’t forget that the black and white cover thought to be the first edition is not actually the case. This could affect your expected valuation. Instead you would be looking for a bold, red thumb print under the magnifying glass as in the above picture. This changed to the simple black and white as the additional printing layer of the blood red was far too costly to keep up with the demand for the game. Over the years the art has changed significantly on the box and in the game. From the late 1950s into the 1960s it would look like this. I’m in my mid forties and I remember this art from the late 1960s through the 1970s. More recently Cluedo looks like this. In recent years the game has been franchised into versions from films, specific areas (similar to Monopoly), Disney, comics and more. These include Harry Potter, Nightmare Before Christmas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ricky and Morty, Sherlock and even a Newcastle and Gateshead edition. These editions are more niche and limited and have the potential to increase in the value. And remember that in the United States the game has simply been called Clue. There is even a spin off film starring Tim Curry which I am a huge fan of. Our research shows that certain online auction sites have varying prices. Why?Because there are two sides to the story. What someone wants for it and what someone is willing to pay. Board game related features How much is my Monopoly worth? Cluedo feature by Rob Edmonds.
When it comes to design innovation, in my opinion the Italians have always gotten it right. Now this may be a piece of hand blown glass created on the Island of Murano, or a fashion garment that resembles a work of art rather than an everyday outfit. However, for me, the pinnacle was when I recently discovered the Art Deco ceramic offerings from the Italian Lenci factory. Renowned for their beautiful felt dolls which can realise hundreds of pounds from collectors, the Lenci ceramic figurines are also speedily gaining in popularity, thus finally commanding the reputation and respect that is so deserved. Although very little information is available about the Lenci factory, we are aware that it was established on 23rd April 1919 in Turin by Elena (Helen) Konig and Enrico Scavini. We are also know that the factories name ‘Lenci’ is an acronym from the Latin motto ‘Ludus Est Nobis Constanter Industria’ which translated means ‘Play is our constant work.’ Although some believe that Lenci was actually an Italianism of Elena’s pet name ‘Helenchen’ which her friends gave her whilst she lived in Germany. This explanation could also be the reason why Elena adopted the nickname ‘Madam Lenci’ by those who worked at the factory. However, in my mind it does not really matter where the name originated from as it is the actual products that Lenci created which are of far greater importance. In the first instance, the factory began with the production of felt dolls and decorative objects for the children. These dolls were meticulously executed as each was delicately hand painted and possessed a sense of refinement and sophistication rather than being every day playthings for children. The public adored the dolls and they were exhibited all over Europe starting with Zurich, then Paris, Rome and Milan. Even Mussolini congratulated Elena on her doll creations when they were on show at the Monza Biennial Exhibition and the famous entertainer Josephine Baker also fell in love with the dolls, so in return Elena created a special one in 1926 as a portrayal of the star. However, sadly with any production that gains great success and esteem there is the worry that other factories will jump on the bandwagon and create cheaper imitations. This is exactly what happened with the Lenci dolls. The cheaper competition was to be the cause of great financial troubles for Lenci and even though Elena had the opportunity to move production to Japan in order to keep the manufacturing costs down, she refused, and remained insistent that production should stay in Turin. In order for Elena to keep her company alive she made the wise decision to begin production in ceramic figurines. Ceramic production began in 1928 under the original founder’s guidance as Elena had already trained as a designer at Art School before her ma rriage to Enrico. Responsible for designing many of the ceramic pieces herself, Elena did however collaborate with the many other talented and skilled designers which were employed by Lenci such as Sandro Vacchetti, Giovanni Grande, Essevi and Jacobi. Together they worked on many different elements of design and created various ranges; although Elena’s remarkable talent ensured that she instilled the same sense of playfulness into each piece that was already evident in the Lenci doll designs. The ceramic figurines also carried much of the fashionable Art Deco style along with the individual designers own personal distinctive traits. Nudity had become extremely popular during the late 1920’s and 1930’s with the celebration of the female form and so Elena’s “Nudino” range was well received by the public. Supposedly modelled on herself, Elena and the other designers would incorporate the nude in various poses, although the nude girl would always carry the same boyish figural form of a typical 1920’s/1930’s woman. These particular nude designs have become highly regarded with collectors and can achieve thousands of pounds when sold at auction. Recently a nude figurine of a lady wearing a black & white chequered cap with a dog sitting at her knees dating to 1925 realised £1,600 at Bonhams, whilst a1930’s Elena Konig Scavini nude kneeling and wearing only a floppy sun hat sold for £1,000. Lenci frequently used the model of a nude girl on many designs with one of the most well known being that of a young woman either kneeling or sitting on the back of a Hippo or an elephant. Only last year I was fortunate enough in my capacity as an Auction Valuer to discover three rare Lenci pieces at a lady’s house in Essex with one of them being the ‘Nudino Su Ippopotamo’ (Nude on Hippo.) When sold under the hammer it achieved an astonishing £4,600 whilst one of the other pieces ‘Nude in Pond’ depicting a lady bathing in the water with geese and ducks made £1,900. However, the highest recorded auction price for one of Lenci’s nude figurines was achieved for the polychrome figure ‘Abissina’ which was designed by Sandro Vacchetti. This piece realised a staggering £38,400 when sold at Christies in 2005. Aside from the popular nude figurines many other clothed varieties were also produced in the Art Deco style nearly all of which were female figural pieces. “Day Dreaming” a figurine of a fully clothed young girl relaxing in an armchair was created in various colourways and the version depicting a lady wearing a red and white polka dot dress was the third piece that I discovered at the Essex home. When sold at Stacey’s Auctioneers it made a fantastic price of £3,600, proving that even those that are not scantily clad can still achieve remarkable prices. Throughout the 1930’s Lenci were prolific in producing many varied ceramic designs which mainly consisted of figural and animal subjects. The majority still held the Art Deco stylistic traits such as the lady standing on top of the Art Deco building although some such as ‘Angelita alla Corrida’ a pottery figure of a Spanish Dancer and ‘Testa Paesanella’ a bust of a […]
Leslie Charteris was born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin in Singapore on May 12th, 1907. The son of a Chinese doctor and an English woman he was determined to become a writer from a very early age. His first published work was a poem which appeared in The Straits Times when he was just nine and a half years old. Along with his mother and younger brother he moved to London in 1919 and wrote the first Saint adventure, Meet the Tiger (published in 1928), when he was just twenty years old. Leslie Charteris went on to write a further eight-nine titles featuring Simon Templar his most famous hero. Simon Templar and The Saint books and character has inspired many inspired many films, radio series, comic strips, and several television series. Collectors main emphasis are The Saint books (and until the series were re-published in 2013 most collectors had to seek earlier editions), but also TV & Film memorabilia, comic strips, magazines, die-cast cars, autographs etc. The Saint Books The origins of Simon Templar as The Saint can be found in the early works by Charteris, some of which predated the first Saint novel, 1928’s Meet the Tiger, or were written after it but before Charteris committed to writing a Saint series. Burl Barer reveals that an obscure early work, Daredevil, not only featured a heroic lead who shared “Saintly” traits (down to driving the same brand of automobile) but also shared his adventures with Inspector Claud Eustace Teal—a character later a regular in Saint books. Barer writes that several early Saint stories were rewritten from non-Saint stories, including the novel She Was a Lady, which appeared in magazine form featuring a different lead character. Pictured left: A first edition signed Meet the Tiger, currently up for sale at Abebooks for £30,000. Charteris utilized three formats for delivering his stories. Besides full-length novels, he wrote novellas for the most part published in magazines and later in volumes of two or three stories. He also wrote short stories featuring the character, again mostly for magazines and later compiled into omnibus editions. In later years these short stories carried a common theme, such as the women Templar meets or exotic places he visits. With the exception of Meet the Tiger, chapter titles of Templar novels usually contain a descriptive phrase describing the events of the chapter; for example, Chapter Four of Knight Templar is entitled “How Simon Templar dozed in the Green Park and discovered a new use for toothpaste”. Pictured right: A first edition of the second Saint book, Enter the Saint. This copy has a price tag of nearly £4,000 at James M Pickard Fine and Rare Books. The origins of The Saint can be found in early works by Charteris, some of which predated the first Saint novel, 1928’s Meet the Tiger, or were written after it but before Charteris committed to writing a Saint series. Burl Barer reveals that an obscure early work, Daredevil, not only featured a heroic lead who shared “Saintly” traits (down to driving the same brand of automobile) but also shared his adventures with Inspector Claud Eustace Teal—a character later a regular in Saint books. Barer writes that several early Saint stories were rewritten from non-Saint stories, including the novel She Was a Lady, which appeared in magazine form featuring a different lead character. Although Charteris’s novels and novellas had more conventional thriller plots than his confidence game short stories, both novels and stories are admired. As in the past, the appeal lies in the vitality of the character, a hero who can go into a brawl and come out with his hair combed and who, faced with death, lights a cigarette and taunts his enemy with the signature phrase “As the actress said to the bishop….” The period of the books begins in the 1920s and moves to the 1970s as the 50 books progress (the character being seemingly ageless). In early books most activities are illegal, although directed at villains. In later books, this becomes less so. In books written during World War II, The Saint was recruited by the government to help track spies and similar undercover work. Later he became a cold warrior fighting Communism. The quality of writing also changes; early books have a freshness which becomes replaced by cynicism in later works. A few Saint stories crossed into science fiction and fantasy, “The Man Who Liked Ants” and the early novel The Last Hero being examples. When early Saint books were republished in the 1960s to the 1980s, it was not uncommon to see freshly written introductions by Charteris apologizing for the out-of-date tone; according to a Charteris “apology” in a 1969 paperback of Featuring the Saint, he attempted to update some earlier stories when they were reprinted but gave up and let them sit as period pieces. The 1963 edition of the short story collection The Happy Highwayman contains examples of abandoned revisions; in one story published in the 1930s (“The Star Producers”), references to actors of the 1930s were replaced for 1963 with names of current movie stars; another 1930s-era story, “The Man Who Was Lucky”, added references to atomic power. Charteris started retiring from writing books following 1963’s The Saint in the Sun. The next book to carry Charteris’s name, 1964’s Vendetta for the Saint, was written by science fiction author Harry Harrison, who had worked on the Saint comic strip, after which Charteris edited and revised the manuscript. Between 1964 and 1983, another 14 Saint books would be published, credited to Charteris but written by others. In his introduction to the first, The Saint on TV, Charteris called these volumes a team effort in which he oversaw selection of stories, initially adaptations of scripts written the 1962–69 TV series The Saint, and with Fleming Lee writing the adaptations (other authors took over from Lee). Charteris and Lee collaborated on two Saint novels in the 1970s, The Saint in Pursuit (based on a story by Charteris for […]
Wow! 25 years ago Disney released WCN’s favourite Disney film The Nightmare Before Christmas. The cult film from Tim Burton and has certainly stood the test of time to become of Disney’s best franchises and we would say has had some of best and coolest merchandise, collectibles and toys. With the Nightmare Before Christmas 25th Anniversary well underway, we take a look at what Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, Sally and team have on offer in the way of Nightmare Before Christmas 25th Anniversary Collectibles & Toys. Lets start with this fantastic figure by Jim Shore. The figure is called What a Wonderful Nightmare and blends Disney Magic with traditional folk art to create a great piece featuring Jack Skellington, Sally, Zero, Mayor, Lock, Shock, and Barrel. Two classic games Operation and Monopoly have been released in 25th Anniversary editions. Operate on Oogie Boogie in Operation and explore Jack’s Tower, Oogie Boogie’s Casino, Dr. Finkelstein’s Laboratory, and Sally’s Alley in Monopoly. Funko have released some excellent editions including Mystery Minis, Snow Globes, Plushies, a super deluxe vinyl figure of Jack Skellington with Zero, Vinyl, Pen Toppers and more! Some cracking Nightmare items. The collections feature all the main characters including Jack Skellington, Sally, Dr. Finklestein, the Mayor, Pumpkin King Jack, Lock, Shock, Barrel, and Scary Teddy. Funko have also released a number of anniversary Vinyl Pops as well. With the film covering both Halloween and Christmas there are of course some ornaments and tree toppers including Jack Skellington and Sally Legacy Sketchbook Ornament and a Jack Skellington Tree Topper showing Jack as Sandy Claws. There are also exclusive editions at the Disney Parks and various Disney worldwide stores. Ultimately it is all down to the movie itself and there are a number of special 25th DVD and Blu-Ray releases that will keep fans happy. A special thanks to Tim Burton and all involved for this wonderful film.
When it comes to innovative design there are two sisters that instantly spring to mind, Freda and Dorothy Doughty. Between them they were not only responsible for creating some of the most spectacular ceramic figurines but also for saving one of the UK’s best loved factories – Royal Worcester. Dorothy had a passion for nature which is evident in her bird figurines but Freda’s designs of enchanting loveable children at play changed the way Royal Worcester was perceived being not only hugely successful back in the 1930s but also highly sought after by collectors today. Born to the wife of the famous explorer and Poet, Charles Doughty, in San Marino, Italy, Freda and her sister Dorothy were brought to Kent in the UK when they were still small children. In 1926 their father passed away leaving the girls, who were unmarried, to run the family home. Dorothy was a keen naturalist and ornithologist who also had a talent for painting. She attended the Eastbourne College of Art where she excelled. Very little is known about Freda’s early life but we do know that she also had a keen interest in art and ran ceramic modelling classes for children, from the house. These children became great inspiration for Freda and she would frequently create ceramic models of them, totally unaware at the time of what impact her child figurines would have on saving one of the most reputable British ceramic factories from demise. In 1930 the Royal Worcester factory was having financial difficulties and was on the brink of closing. Businessman, Charles Dyson Perrins saved the day by purchasing the factory and paying the workers out of his own pocket until the company was stable again. Another initiative that he introduced was a new group of modellers who were mostly women. They were responsible for helping enlighten the factory once again. One of the Directors of Royal Worcester saw Freda’s child figurines whilst staying with her cousin and so asked if Freda would submit something to the factory. This was to be the start of a flourishing career for Freda both as a modeller and designer. The first four models were exhibited at a London Art Gallery along with offerings from the other freelance designers. In comparison to the more ‘avant-garde’ designs that were created by her colleagues, Freda’s children were very simplistic and considered to be old fashioned. However the public absolutely loved them and as a result Freda quickly became one of the most prolific and successful artists at the factory. During her long career with Royal Worcester, Freda produced over 100 different models, most of which were produced many times over. Each piece showed children either playing in the garden, on the beach or simply enjoying their youth. ‘Grandmother’s Dress’ and ‘Boy with Parakeet’ were two of the most popular and so were created in various colourways. Other successful ranges were ‘Days of the Week’ and ‘Months of the Year’ which were also produced over a long period of time. By 1934 Royal Worcester decided to introduce a range featuring Birds of America in order to re-establish themselves in the American market. A series of cabinet plates illustrating images from the Audubon Birds of America book were issued in limited edition sizes and proved to be a huge success. The Art Publisher of the book, Mr Dickens, then approached Royal Worcester again about the possibility of creating three dimensional bird figurines. His requirements were specific and the figurines had to have a matt finish which would help create a realistic feel. Freda was by now very popular with the public and had released many models of her children. So the Art Director, Mr Gimson approached Freda to see if she would be interested in sculpting the new range of bird figurines. Although a talented and versatile modeller she introduced Mr Gimson to her sister Dorothy who, Freda believed, would be perfect for the job. Dorothy already had a sound knowledge of birds, a fine artistic flair and also a legendary photographic memory for small details so this particular project was ideal. There was no doubt that Dorothy was skilled in watercolour and sketching but needed to learn the art of producing models for ceramics. Freda spent time teaching her how to create plasticine models and cut them to produce the required moulds for slip casting. The first few bird figurines were produced by studying photographs but these earlier models lacked the vibrancy of her later pieces which were created by modelling from life. It became apparent to Dorothy that the method of slip casting was unsuitable for making finer details such as flowers, so a workshop was set up and Dorothy along with a team of trainees began to hand mould the details. The bird figurines were all extremely complex to create and so were produced in limited edition sizes, a culture that was being adopted as it appealed to the public. On many occasions Freda was asked if she would like to make some limited editions of her child figurines, but she declined. She was a believer that her particular figures were to be bought and enjoyed by everyone and so be easily accessible rather than limited to just a few lucky people. Throughout the war years much of the factory production ceased as the staff concentrated on the war effort. Dorothy still worked on some of her bird figurines but also became an ambulance driver and was involved with secret experimental work with aircraft production. Sadly she then fell very ill and so together with her sister Freda, moved to Falmouth in Cornwall although together they continued their work for the Royal Worcester factory. By the 1950s Royal Worcester once again was experiencing financial difficulties and it is said that Freda’s child figurines especially ‘Grandmother’s Dress’ and ‘Boy with Parakeet’ were a contributing factor to the company’s survival. Dorothy continued to create her bird figurines but sadly in 1962 was taken seriously ill again and […]
Tiny Tears Dolls – The Most Popular Vinyl Doll – Launched in a blaze of publicity in 1965, amazingly Tiny Tears dolls are still sold today – and the earliest ones are becoming exceedingly collectable. At the time, Palitoy was one of Britain’s largest toy manufacturers, and their revolutionary doll went on to win the ‘Toy of the Year’ award no less than three times. But what made this vinyl doll any different to the hundreds of others on the market at the time? Well, not only she could she shed ‘real’ tears and wet her nappy, additionally her limbs were attached with unique rotational joints, causing her to fall naturally into a floppy, babylike position when she was held. The very first, 1965, Tiny Tears doll was 16″ high with fine pale blonde hair and blue sleeping eyes. The back of her neck was marked ‘Made in England 16D’. She had delicate features, a small, pursed mouth, wore a turquoise or pink gingham romper and came with a bib, bottle and a dummy. This doll proved so popular that a year later Palitoy produced a smaller version, Teeny Tiny Tears, just 12″ high. Shortly after, Palitoy became part of the American company, General Mills Inc., who decided to keep the Palitoy name. Sometimes today collectors come across a baby doll similar to Tiny Tears but with a smiling face. This is Baby Flopsy, issued around the same time and advertised as being able to wear Teeny Tiny Tears outfits. She was sold wearing just a nappy. Five years after the initial launch, Tiny Tears was given a complete revamp which made her appear older; her delicate face was more rounded, her eyes were larger, her mouth wider and her hair was thicker. This is the face which most people remember, and it was to stay the same for the next fifteen years. She was marked ‘Palitoy’ on the back of the neck. One of her most popular outfits was a white nylon dress with blue and pink smocking on the yoke, and she was sold in this from 1973 to 1980, at a recommended retail price of œ7.99. Tiny Tears dolls came with guarantees and gift certificates, as well as instructions on how to feed the doll and make her cry. The tear mechanism was activated by ‘feeding’ the doll with water, quickly inserting a dummy to prevent the water trickling out of the mouth, and then squeezing her tummy hard. She would wet her nappy at the same time, probably due to shock! To mark the next decade, Tiny Tears was given a pretty cotton dress with a floral design in either pink or blue, and, at first, matching pants and bonnet, though soon a nappy was substituted for the pants while the bonnet was discarded.The eye-catching box read ‘She’s as cute and cuddly as a real baby. Just like a real baby she cries real tiny tears.’ The decade also heralded a new addition, the little Teeny Weeny Tiny Tears, just 9″ tall, who is now extremely popular with collectors and quite hard to find. A Tiny Tears logo was introduced, shaped like a yellow ‘sun-ray’, to decorate clothing and accessories, and in 1982, the floral outfit was updated to a white cotton dress trimmed with blue gingham. Three years later one of the prettiest versions of Tiny Tears appeared. Her ash-blonde hair was very thick and curly, her face was slimmer, and she wore a distinctive all-in-one jump-suit consisting of pink and blue spotted trousers over a white and blue striped top, with the words ‘Tiny Tears’ embroidered in blue on the trouser bib. Although the boxes of these dolls were labelled ‘Palitoy’, the actual doll bore no mark. It was around this time that General Mills withdrew from the toy scene and for a while, it seemed that Tiny Tears would disappear too. However, you can’t keep a popular doll down, and soon she was back, now produced by Tonka Toys, who introduced a brunette version as well as the standard blonde. It was Tonka who were responsible for one of the more unusual innovations when, in 1988, they gave Tiny Tears ‘flirty’ eyes, which moved from side to side. At the same time, they revamped her body, giving her realistically-curled fingers. This roving-eye doll is very collectable, but be careful, because the delicate eye mechanism is often damaged. When Tiny Tears celebrated her 25th birthday in 1990 (sold in a special anniversary presentation box) she was given a complete makeover, and reverted to the original delicate features. Tonka introduced two new dolls to the range. Timmy Tears, still a favourite today, and advertised as Tiny Tears’ twin brother, had dark hair, a saucy face, and wore a white and navy dungaree suit. He had the same crying and wetting abilities as his twin. The other addition was big sister Katie, who was a triumph, and one of the prettiest dolls on the market at the time. She was dainty, with a sweet face and, at 17″ tall, an inch taller than her siblings. Her outfit consisted of a white-spotted cerise or navy dress, and though she wasn’t a crying doll, she could do something even more clever – she could grow her hair! Around her neck hung a large plastic locket containing a pull cord, which enabled the hair to be wound in or out from her head, and an additional hairpiece was included in her box. Katie was soon discontinued, and is today one of the most sought-after of the Tiny Tears collection. During this period, the who-owned-whom became complicated. A spokes-person, writing in 1998 on behalf of Playmates Toys, a more recent owner of Tiny Tears, states that General Mills was bought out by Tonka and ‘eventually Kenner Parker. The company stayed Kenner Parker up until about 5 years ago (1992), when it was bought out by Hasbro, however the company still remained with the name Kenner Parker, which became a part of […]
Whether you’re a fan of the books, the movies, or both, there’s no denying that Conan is one of the most iconic and popular fighting fantasy characters in history. Created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s, Conan the Barbarian also referred to as The Cimmerian was to appear in 17 published stories by Howard before he died in 1936. The Conan book world has been expanded by a number of authors over the years and in this feature we take a brief view at the publication history of Conan, some of the authors of the books and take a look at Collecting Conan Paperbacks. Conan in Weird Tales Robert E. Howard was one of the most popular authors to be published in Weird Tales, thanks to his Conan stories. Howard began writing Conan stories in 1932 and continued until his death in 1936. In total, Howard wrote 17 Conan stories, which were published in Weird Tales between 1932 and 1939. The stories were extremely popular with readers and helped to cement Howard’s reputation as a master of sword and sorcery fiction. The first Conan story to appear was The Phoenix on the Sword and was originally published in the December 1932 edition of Weird Tales. The story is set in the fictional world of Hyboria, and follows the adventures of Conan, a barbarian warrior. In the story, Conan is hired by an evil sorcerer to kill a rival wizard. However, when Conan learns that the sorcerer plans to use him as a sacrificial victim, he turns against his employer and defeats him. The Scarlet Citadel was published the following month. The Conan stories are set in the “Hyborian Age”, a fictional time period that Howard created himself. In these stories, Conan is a barbarian from the northern kingdom of Cimmeria who becomes involved in the politics and wars of the civilizations of the Hyborian Age. One of the Editors of Weird Tales Farnsworth Wright asked Howard to write an 8,000-word essay for personal use detailing “the Hyborian Age”, the fictional setting for Conan. This essay expanded the Conan world and was used for Howard’s next story “The Tower of the Elephant”. The Tower of the Elephant follows the exploits of Conan the Cimmerian as he breaks into a mysterious tower in search of treasure. Although the story is brief, it is packed with action, suspense, and atmosphere, making it one of Howard’s most popular tales. In addition, the story showcases Howard’s talent for creating memorable characters, such as the elephant-riding Jhalkari nomads who serve as Conan’s allies. The Tower of the Elephant is a quintessential example of Howard’s Conan stories and remains one of the most beloved tales in the entire genre. Conan After Robert E. Howard Conan has endured for decades and prompted numerous writers to continue Howard’s tales after his death, including Lin Carter, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Jordan, Björn Nyberg, Andrew J. Offutt, and others. Some of these writers completed incomplete Conan novels or rewrote Howard stories about different characters. The majority of post-Howard Conan stories are entirely original works. More than fifty novels and dozens of short stories featuring the Conan character have been written by authors other than Howard. Following Howard’s death, the copyright of the Conan stories passed through several hands. L. Sprague de Camp was eventually given charge of the fiction line, beginning with 1967’s Conan published by Lancer Books, and oversaw a paperback series collecting all of Howard’s tales (Lancer folded in 1973 and Ace Books picked up the line, reprinting the older volumes with new trade dress and continuing to release new ones). The De Camp reworkings of Robert E. Howard’s original tales were supplemented by further editing by de Camp, who also chose to write additional Conan stories to go with the originals, collaborating with Björn Nyberg and especially Lin Carter. These new works were constructed from a mix of previously completed Robert E. Howard tales with different settings and characters that were changed so as to include Conan and the Hyborian world, incomplete fragments and outlines for Conan adventures that were never written by Howard, and all-new pastiches. Lancer Publications and Ace Publications Paperbacks The Lancer Publications and later Ace Publications series of Conan books published from 1966-1977 were the first comprehensive paperback edition, which compiled the existing Howard and non-Howard stories together with new non-Howard stories in order of internal chronology, to form a complete account of Conan’s life. The Lancer Books publishing sequence initially adopted a chronological number for volumes issued later and reprints of earlier volumes, then reverted to an order of publication. Conan entered popular culture with the publication of this collection of tales. It contains all of the original Howard material, including that which he left unpublished during his lifetime as well as fragments and outlines, and was carried out under the leadership of de Camp and Carter. De Camp edited a large portion of the content, and he and Carter finished the unfinished stories. They also included new stories that they wrote themselves. Of the 35 stories in the last eight volumes, 19 were published or finished by Howard while he was still alive, 10 were reworked or finished using his manuscripts, scraps, or synopses, and six were the exclusive creation of de Camp and Carter. Other Publishers of Conan Books Bantam Publications published 6 non-Howard Conan books including Conan the Sword of Skelos by Andrew J. Offutt. Tor Publications released a new series of stories from 1982-2004 by various authors including Robert Jordan, Leonard Carpenter and Steve Perry. Tor also reissued most of the previous non-Howard volumes originally published by Bantam. The Tor editions jumped around to present random episodes from various stages in Conan’s career rather than publishing them in chronological order. Periodic chronological essays—first by L. Sprague de Camp, then by Robert Jordan—included in some of the older volumes helped readers place the episodes in the right perspective. Tor also reprinted some of the Bantam Conan books. […]
Antique Typewriters Collecting antique typewriters has really come of age in the last twenty years, as the appreciation of antique machines has grown in our technological times of smooth cases and blinking lights. There were a few typewriter collectors fifty years ago but they could have been counted on one hand. Pictured left: Odell 2 ~ Chicago, 1890 This attractive index typewriter is nickel plated with an Art Nouveau styled base. Today there are over 500 typewriter collectors spread around the world. The largest group of collectors are found in the US and Germany, but there is strong interest throughout Europe, especially in Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland. Most typewriter collectors seek machines from the 1880s and 1890s, the first twenty years of typewriter manufacturing, a time when the fundamental design of the ‘modern’ typewriter had yet to be discovered. During this time there was a major effort by many pioneering machinists and engineers to create a viable typewriter for a world that was ready for this revolutionary machine. There are perhaps 400 different models to collect from this age of experimentation. These typewriters were manufactured in many industrialized countries, in particular the US, England, and Germany. Today, the values of these machines are affected by condition, rarity, and desirability. With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars, to into the thousands for the rare machines. However, for those interested in acquiring an early typewriter at a modest price, there are a number of intriguing and historically important typewriters that can be had for a few hundred dollars, including the Blickensderfer ($150 to $250), Hammond ($150 to $500), and Odell ($400 to $600). Ebay is a good place to look for these and others – click to view Antique Typewriters on ebay. By 1910 the design of most typewriters had become standardized as a result of the emergence of the ubiquitous and brilliant Underwood 1, which appeared in 1897. All typewriters from now on, right up to the invention of the personal computer in the early 1980s, would ostensibly have the same look and function as the Underwood, the age of experimentation was over. An early and unique American typewriter goes to the auction block This November, a very special typewriter went for auction in Germany. It was the typewriter of US inventor Abner Peeler. His very strange typing machine was made in 1866 and is one of the very first typewriters to ever be made. This typewriter was not manufactured though and only one example is known to exist. Mr. Peeler also has the distinction of mailing the first typed letter in the US, which was sent on June 19, 1866. Pictured right: Commercial Visible ~ New York, N.Y., 1898 This attractive machine types from a type wheel, that is easy to remove, allowing for a quick change of font. To make an impression, a spring-loaded hammer behind the carriage swings forward, striking the paper and ribbon against the type wheel. The letter begins “Dear Companion, We are both well. I feel splendid. I am now in the office of Chipman & Co . The machine has been examined by a great may shrewd men and they think it is the greatest curiosity of the age. They also think it is of great value.” The ‘shrewd men’ were right but it would not be his machine that would herald in the age of the typewriter; that would be a few years later in 1874 when the American printer Christopher Lathem Sholes had his very functional typewriter, the Sholes & Glidden, manufactured by Remington & Sons. Mr. Peeler also created the very first airbrush machine and his impressive self-portrait, from a photo, is the first airbrush picture in history. One can read more about the Peeler collection and see his typewriter and self-portrait at www.abnerpeeler.com. The first typewriters ~ a brief history The keyboard provides an essential means for one to communicate and is used by more people today then ever before. Keyboards are arguably one of the most important tools in the world, a tool that represents our personal communication in this technological age. The keyboard truly connects the planet. But what did the first keyboards and typewriters look like and how did they evolve? Typewriters from the 1930s and 40s all look pretty much the same, they “look like a typewriter”. With four rows of straight keys, single shift and front strike visible (type-bars hit the front of the roller allowing one to see what they have just typed). Typewriters have not always looked like this though. Just imagine if you, never having seen a typing machine, were asked to design one. How might it look? In fact, the standard big, black machines that you might be familiar with such the Underwood and Remington were the result of many years of mechanical evolution. Pictured right: Caligraph 2 ~ New York, N.Y., 1882 With no shift key on this typewriter, there are twice as many keys as a normal keyboard; black keys are for capitals and white keys are for lower case. During these early years of discovery, ingenuity and mistakes, over four hundred different typing machines were produced to print the written word. Among them were machines with curved keyboards, double keyboards or no keyboards at all! The first typewriter patent was issued to an English engineer, Henry Mill in 1714. He outlined the concept of the typewriter when he registered a patent for ‘an artificial machine for impressing letters one after another, as in writing, whereby all writings may be engrossed in paper or parchment, so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.’ However, this machine was never made. Many experimental typewriters were built and used during the first 75 years of the nineteenth century but none were produced in quantity. This was about to change though, as the technology for mass production had arrived and the need for fast, accurate business communication was growing. What was needed was a person to bring together all […]