There’s something special about tinplate fire engines. They’re intricate, they’re beautiful, and they hark back to a bygone era of firefighting. For collectors the area is easily definable and a good collection can be acquired. We include a number of examples along with their estimates or prices achieved at auction. Tinplate fire engines were first produced in the late 19th century, and they quickly became popular among children and toy collectors alike. Some of the most collectable and highly prized tinplate fire engines were made by the German and French toy companies including Marklin, Bing, Arnold, Distler and Unis. They were often colourful with excellent and transfer printing including names, firemen and fire engine details. Some models included extending ladders and detachable tin firemen. Clockwork tinplate fire engines are particularly desirable, especially in good working order. British toy makers such as Mettoy made tinplate fire engines.
The 20th Century has been responsible for some of the greatest changes to the way we live our everyday lives. Fast moving technology gave us the invention of the radio at the beginning of the century to the ipod’s that we plug into today. Interior design has progressed from Formica to Ikea and ceramics from Midwinter to Moorcroft. But it is not just the products that are worthy of status, it is the talented designers that created them, without their initial vision and determination, these products would never have developed into reality and become such a huge part of the world we live in today. One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century was Andy Warhol. Born Andrew Warhola, in Pennsylvania USA to Czechoslovakian emigrant’s Ondrej and Julia Warhola, his date of birth still remains a bit of a mystery. Andy always claimed that his 1930s birth certificate had been forged, but we do know that he was born between 1928 and 1931. After graduating as a Batchelor of Fine Arts in 1949, Warhol shortened his name and started work as a commercial artist and illustrator for well-known publications like Vogue and Harpar’s Bazaar. Although foremost his career was as a commercial artist he was desperate to have his work taken seriously and to be seen as a “pure” artist. 1956 was a turning point in his career and already a well-established figure mixing with the elite in social circles, his fascination with fame, celebrities and youth led him into another period of his artistic life. Being obsessed with celebrities (as were most people in the 1960s) he began to paint the Hollywood screen idols. The image that is so recognisable as his work today is that of Marilyn Monroe, she was Warhol’s favourite model although he did not begin to paint her until after her death. Other Hollywood screen idols that he captured during the 1960s were Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. These paintings were so popular, celebrities endorsed them and each wanted to be painted by him. One of his most famous images is that of the Campbells Soup Tin. He saw the heavily advertised consumer images like the soup tin worthy subjects and was right to – as this particular image has become iconic, being re-produced on many products. The most well known “The Souper Dress.” Was marketed as a throwaway item. This outfit originally cost just $1.25, and featured Warhol’s soup can images which formed a huge part of the “Pop Art” culture. An extremely rare item that if you were to find one in good condition it could cost in the region of £700 to £1,200. Other commercial work produced during this period was Coke bottle tops, Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles. These commercial art images reflected the popular need for consumer mass production and Warhol’s ability to turn a mundane object into art thus ensuring his place in history as one of the founding members of the “Pop Art” culture. Over the course of his career he produced thousands of different pieces and had a team of employees who reproduced his work in his studio, which he named “The Factory”. The most common method used was silkscree n painting because his art could be reproduced time after time, turning “high art” into a form of mass production. Now anything adorning Warhol’s images is highly collected. Originals command serious money but modern day collectable items are more affordable. Most of his original works of art now sit in private collections or are on display in museums around the world. In Pittsburgh, USA is The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest American Art Museum to be dedicated to one single artists work. However, sometimes items do come up for sale. A “Little Electric Chair” pink acrylic silkscreen print sold at Christies Contemporary Art Auction in 2001. Its estimate was $430,000 to $575, 000 but it actually realised $2.3 million. There is something for everyone in the Warhol collecting world and you don’t have to spend a fortune on an original piece as there are many companies producing his products under licence. Crystal Impressions have a range of laser etched crystal blocks in their “Prestige and Special Editions” range, you can choose from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis to the commercial images of the Campbell Soup tin to a Coca Cola bottle. Prices are far more affordable than an original piece of artwork as they start at as little as £39.95 to £49.95 each. The sports clothing company, Adidas, recently produced a Superstar trainer as part of their “Expressions Series” to celebrate their 35th Anniversary. The “Andy Warhol” design, produced in a limited edition of 4,000 shoes sold out instantly. If you bought a pair now on the secondary market they would cost between £70 and £90. There is even an Andy Warhol soft doll, which sells for £15, and a stunning ‘Art Opening with Andy and Edie’ Daisy doll, which is rare, and can cost £50 upwards. If this is still a little high for your pocket then you could purchase a copy of the “Velvet Underground” album for around £15 to £20, as this “Banana” cover was another famous design. Warhol would have appreciated these interpretations of his work in modern day collectables, as he was an obsessive collector himself. Well known for frequenting the flea markets looking for bargains he was also a common face in auction houses and loved buying off of local dealers. After his sudden death in 1987 when gall bladder surgery went terribly wrong he left behind a townhouse with 30 rooms. He had only been able to live in two of the rooms because the rest were crammed full of objects that he had collected. Well known for his extensive collection of cookie jars, he also had items ranging from Tiffany Glass Lamps to a Fred Flintstone watch, celebrity autographs to his 600 time capsules, which he filled with everyday materials that reflected his life. […]
January 1940 – Britain was at war with Germany. War had actually been declared in September of the previous year, but it was during the 1940s that the effects were to hit home, changing many people’s lives forever. Food rationing began on January 8th, with meat, sugar and butter the first foods to be affected, but as the war took hold more and more shortages became apparent. 1940 saw people restricted to 4oz bacon, 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, a shilling’s worth of meat (a pork chop and a couple of sausages), 8 oz sugar, 2 oz jam and 1 oz of cheese. People were encouraged to ‘Dig For Victory’ by transforming their flower gardens into vegetable patches, and recipes appeared which used non-rationed products in so-called appetising dishes. Women were urged to ‘Make Do And Mend’ by unravelling woollens and re-knitting them, cutting-down adult garments for youngsters and transforming pillowcases and sheets into underwear. Parachute silk was sometimes obtainable, and in 1941 a Utility Mark, which looked like a pie with a slice taken out of it, appeared on products to indicate they passed government regulations regarding quality and restrictions. No unnecessary trims and embroidery were permitted, even on baby clothing. As items such as stockings became unavailable, young women resorted to staining their legs with gravy browning and getting a friend to draw a seam line down the back with an eyebrow pencil. They prayed that not only would the friend have a steady hand, they would not get caught in the rain. The British faced grim times – huddling in an air-raid shelter while bombs rained down was no joke – while London Underground stations were also pressed into service with many people spending their nights there, safe if uncomfortable. However, it wasn’t all gloom and doom, and a great cameraderie developed, especially amongst Londoners who bore much of the brunt of the onslaught. The younger people, especially, deemed it a great adventure, and would think nothing of racing along the streets while shrapnel rained down, dodging from one doorway to another. My mother and aunts seemed to be out dancing every night, partying with the soldiers on leave – perhaps a release from the horrors they witnessed and uncertainty they faced. No-one ever knew if their brother or boyfriend was going to be the next soldier killed, or if their family would be eradicated by a direct hit from a bomb on the house. In 1944 the terrifying Doodlebugs droned overhead; when the buzzing stopped, there was fifteen seconds to escape before they exploded. Many premises were taken over for munitions work, including doll factories such as Pedigree and Palitoy, and young women would be employed to make aircraft parts or guns; all women under sixty were required to undertake some form of war work. Sometimes, their skin turned yellow with the chemicals they came in contact with, and they were encouraged to use make-up to form a barrier on the skin. Headscarves became fashionable – they were a necessity in the factories to pro tect hair from machinery – as did wedge-heeled shoes with cork soles; leather was scarce, but the cork proved durable. Skirts were worn shorter as fabric was rationed, but hair was often kept long with plenty of curls, as women strove to retain their femininity. Thousands of ‘Land Girls’ worked on farms, and for the first time wore trousers, a freedom which women were reluctant to relinquish after the War. Of course, countless women joined the services and worked alongside their male counterparts in the war zones. Although Britons had to adapt to a more frugal way of life, they were still able to visit the cinema or theatre, and music played a vital part in keeping up morale. Dance halls throbbed to swing music; the American Glenn Miller band was a huge hit with numbers such as ‘In The Mood’, and a crazy dance called the Jitterbug literally swept girls off their feet. Forties’s films and shows included Oklahoma, Casablanca, Bambi, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Easter Parade, The Red Shoes and Brief Encounter. ‘Gone With the Wind’, released the year before, won eight Academy Awards in 1940. Radio programmes such as ‘ITMA’ and ‘Music While You Work’ kept the people in Britain entertained, while in Russia, Prokofiev’s stunning new ballet, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, was premiered. As so many factories had been requisitioned, dolls were not particularly easy to find, and those which were available tended to be of composition or pottery, often cheaply made and with homely faces. Nevertheless, these were the dolls which comforted children through the air-raids, and went with them when they were evacuated. Dolls were also made from cloth, or knitted from old garments, while Norah Wellings made mascot dolls, donating a percentage of the proceeds to servicemen’s organisations. After the War, plastics began to be used by toy companies, and by the late 1940s were becoming increasingly popular. Pioneering developments were made at this time by companies such as Palitoy, Rosebud, Roddy and Pedigree, while Mormit produced a innovative soft plastic doll with detachable limbs for easy drying. Although composition dolls were still manufactured, it was obvious that plastics was the medium which people wanted; these new dolls were lightweight, washable, virtually unbreakable, warmer to hold, and pretty, as the modelling was finer. Other developments included ‘Beauty Skin’, a kapok-filled rubbery plastic patented by Pedigree. After the war, people became a little resentful when goods and clothing were exported rather than being sold ‘off ration’. Christian Dior introduced his ‘New Look, with longer skirts, as there was now no need to conserve fabric, but in Britain, clothes and fabric were still rationed, and would be till the end of the decade. Britain in the late 1940s was feeling a bit jaded, and something new was needed. It came in the 1950s, with a new queen, a futuristic exhibition and a phenomenon known as a ‘teenager’.
In the UK, government land is known as crown land. Anything belonging to the government is called crown property, and if you are prosecuted in the courts, you are prosecuted by the crown. So the crown is more than just a symbol of Royalty in the UK – it represents the state, the country and the Queen. There are a lot of different crowns on the buttons and badges of the armed forces and other uniformed government employees, so I am going to tell you what little I know about them. The Queen Victoria’s crown 1837-1901, (R49*). This isn’t strictly Victoria’s crown because it was used by most of the monarchs before her, but it is associated with her more than anybody else. Its’ proper name is St. Edward’s crown. The Hertfordshire Yeomanry (R 387) and The Royal Canadian Regiment (Smylie F111*) both still wear Victoria’s crown on their buttons to this day. The Royal Canadian Regiment is allowed to wear it as an honour for the services they gave in WW1. On January 1, 1901 the Irish Guards were formed. They all paraded wearing their badges and buttons with Victoria’s crown on them. Then on the 22nd of January she died, and they all had to be replaced. These buttons and badges are very rare, I have never seen any. The King’s crown, 1901-1952, (R59). Known to the Edwardian soldier as “Teddie’s hat,” it is the Imperial state crown that was made for Queen Victoria when she became Empress of India. She did not like the St. Edward’s crown and always found it too heavy to wear on state occasions, (no she didn’t wear it when she was doing the house work either). After her death, the Kings were depicted wearing it on coins, etc., and it was used on buttons and badges, so it became known as the King’s crown.The Queen’s crown, 1952 onwards, (R44). Now we are back to St. Edward’s Crown. * The numbers referenced here are from Howard Ripley’s Buttons of the British Army, and Eric Smiley’s Buttons of the Canadian Militia.Other Crowns The Green Howards, (R233), Alexandra the Princess of Wales’ own Yorkshire Regiment. This crown is a coronet. It is Danish, because Princess Alexandra was a Danish Princess who married the Prince of Wales. In 1902 he became Edward the Seventh.The Rifle Brigade (R567) and The Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry (R341), Prince Alberts Own. Albert’s crown is the Guelphic crown. Prince Albert was a German, and this crown is the crown of the Dukes of the House of Hanover, of which he was a member, as were the British Royal family. Victoria and Albert both had the surname, Sax-Coburg-Gotha, and they were first cousins, as are the Queen and Prince Phillip (they like to keep it in the family). The Yorks and Lancsaster Regiment, (R284). This is a Ducal crown because the Regiment is named after two Dukes (the Duke of Lancaster is the Queen). If the tiger has its’ head up, the button is Victorian. If the head is down, it is post Victoria, because the tiger was depicted with its’ head down in mourning for Queen Victoria. The Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry (R249) has the same crown. The Somerset Light Infantry (R224). This is a Mural crown. Mural crowns were Garlands given to the first R oman soldiers to scale the walls of a besieged city. As you can see, the crown is made to look like masonry work. This crown is worn because during the Afghan wars, 1838-1842, the Somerset Light Infantry were besieged in the City of Jellalabab (as were the Russians 100 years later – we won). During the seige, the commanding officer ordered everthing metal (including buttons) to be melted down to make musket balls. They wore Jellalabab on their badges and buttons until 1959.The Queens Royal Regiment (R203). This is the crown of the Royal Navy, and is worn because the Queen’s Regiment fought as marines in a naval battle. The Royal Green Jackets fought as marines during the battle of Copenhagen, in April 1802, when Nelson gave the Danish navy a lesson in naval tactics. Unfortunately, the Danish navy couldn’t put this lesson into practice because Nelson destroyed the Danish fleet in the process. Royal Cyphers Every King or Queen has their own cypher, which is displayed on certain buttons and badges, notably the Royal Engineers. (R66) Queen Victoria 1855-1901 (R67) Edward the Seventh 1901-1910 (R70) George the Fifth 1910-1936 (R69) Edward the Eighth 1936 (R68) George the Sixth 1936-1952 (R71) Queen Elizabeth the Second (R 402 & 403) This cypher is also worn by Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry. The Grenadier Guards have the Royal cypher and the cypher reversed on their buttons. (R75) Queen Victoria 1855-1901 (R76) Edward the Seventh 1901-1910 (R77) George the Fifth 1910-1936 (R78) Edward the Eighth 1936 (R79) George the Sixth 1936-1952 (R80) Elizabeth the Second 1952. Prince Charles will be known as George the Seventh when he becomes King. (R376) The Honourable Artillery Compnay wear the same buttons as the Grenadier Guards but theirs are white metal and the Grenadiers Guards are brass because the H.A.C. are volunteers. Personal cyphers The Wiltshire Regiment, The Duke of Edinburghs own, (R280). This button has the cypher of one of Queen Victoria’s sons, Alfred Duke of Edinburgh who died in 1950. This button was worn until 1956 when Prince Philip became Duke of Edinburgh and his cypher has been worn since. (R281) The Second King Edwards Gurkha Rifles (R570) has the cypher ERI. This stands for Edwardus Regina Emporatum, which is latin for Edward the King Emperor. The Rifle Brigade, Prince Alberts Own (R567). This is Prince Albert’s cypher. The Green Howards (R233) has the cypher of Alexandra on it. This is an “A” within a “Cross” and is known as the Danebrog. When the Britiish army went to France in WW1 the Green Howards cap badge got the nickname of the Eiffel Tower because of the shape of this cap badge. The […]
The first World Cup was in 1930 and if you are looking for memorabilia from then or even the subsequent World Cups up to 1966 you will find posters, autographs and programmes, but not much else. We can blame 1966 and World Cup Willie for the era of collectable memorabilia. Pictured right: World Cup Willie memorabilia – An official cloth doll, a snow storm in original box, an ashtray, a pen-knife, a horse brass, a hanging car mascot, a commemorative pin in original box, four metal badges, six plastic badges and three key rings all featuring World Cup Willie. Sold for £180 at Bonhams, London, June 2006. World Cup Willie was the first official mascot for the FIFA World Cup, being used to represent the 1966 FIFA World Cup in the United Kingdom. He was a large anthropomorphic lion who wore a Union Flag jersey with the words “WORLD CUP”. Willie was the creation of artist Reg Hoye, who was asked to design a mascot for the World Cup competition by the English Football Association. Pictured left: A 1966 World Cup Willie tankard – 1966 flag logo to side and World Cup Willie mascot, gold gilt trim to handle and bands to edges (faded), stamped with makers mark Gibson & Sons Ltd of Stoke on Trent underneath. Height approx. 112mm. Sold for £187 at Bonhams, Chester, February 2002. Reg Hoye was a well respected artist having considerable experience and had illustrated some of Enid Blyton’s childrens books. Willie was one of four designs created, one was a boy and three were based on Lions. The design finally selected was of course Willie, with his looked based on Reg Hoye’s son Leo. Pictured right: A collection of 1966 World Cup Football memorabilia – Including an original programme from 1966 World Cup final [g], Officials Union Jack design pin badge, World Cup Willie mascot toy, pennant, Football Monthly souvenir, W.D and H.O.Wills portable desk and folder, newspapers and magazines. Sold for £216 at Bonhams, Chester, October 2009. Willie was a massive success and was popular not only in the UK, but throughout the world. There was special interest in the character in Germany and Russia. Willie found himself on everything from mugs to bedspreasd, money boxes to posters and from tankards to plates. There was a huge merchandise boom based on Willie and the 1966 World Cup. Pictured left: 1966 World Cup Willie postcard hand signed by Bobby Moore A colour postcard of 1966 World Cup mascot Willie, postmarked 18 August 1966, with England Winners stamp, hand signed by Bobby Moore. Sold for £350 at Bonhams, Chester, October 2011. Another first for 1966 was the World Cup song which was aptly name ‘World Cup Willie’ and was sung by the skiffle king Lonnie Donegan. The song was re-released for the 2010 World Cup by Lonnie Donegan Jnr. Dressed in red, white and blue, he’s World Cup Willie We all love him too, World Cup Willie He’s tough as a lion and never will give up That’s why Willie is fav’rite for the Cup Willie, Willie, he’s evry’body’s fav’rite for the Cup Pictured right: A red England 1966 World Cup final International shirt, No.10, with crew-neck collar and embroidered cloth badge. The shirt was worn by Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany. The 1966 World Cup Final England who started the 1966 competition as one of the favourites, due to the fact that the tournament was held on home soil, began their group qualifying games with a 0-0 draw against Uruguay. In the two remaining group qualifying matches England defeated Mexico and France 2-0 in both games. In the quarter-final match against Argentina, Geoff Hurst scored the only goal of an explosive match thirteen minutes from the end. England’s opponents in the semi-final were Portugal who had the wonderfully gifted Eusebio in their side. In a very entertaining match, England were worthy 2-1 winners with both goals being scored by Bobby Charlton. Pictured left: World Cup 1966 memorabilia – Eight tickets for games played in London to include Final and all England matches; two pennants; a World Cup Willie blazer badge; three F.A. News covering the World Cup; three postcards and official book by Purnell. Sold for £384 at Bonhams, London, June 2006. In the other semi-final, West Germany disposed of the U.S.S.R. national team by the same score and this set up a final match of the tournament between two of football’s oldest rivals at Wembley on 30th July 1966. Pictured right: A 1966 World Cup Winner’s Medal belonging to Alan Ball – a gold (unhallmarked) World Cup Winner’s medal, 1966, awarded to Alan Ball, the obverse inscribed F.I.F.A., the reverse inscribed World Championship, Jules Rimet Cup, in England 1966, Alan James Ball, with ring suspension. Sold for £164, 800 at Christies, London, May 2005. Before a crowd of just under 100,000, Haller scored for West Germany in the thirteenth minute, but six minutes later Geoff Hurst scored his country’s equaliser. For the best part of the next hour, neither side dominated the match but with twelve minutes remaining Geoff Hurst had an optimistic shot at goal which spun in the air for Martin Peters to knock home for what appeared to be the decisive winning goal. However, with seconds remaining, a hotly disputed free-kick from West Germany found its way across England goal and Weber knocked the ball into the net for a dramatic equaliser which took the match into extra-time. Pictured left: A collection of 1966 World Cup memorabilia – A large collection of memorabilia produced for the 1966 World Cup including stamps, World Cup Willie cloth badge, Geoff Hurst/Martin Peters hand signed picture, 8mm film of final, German album, football signed by Nobby Stiles, Gordon Banks, Ray Wilson, Alan Ball, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Roger Hunt, Wembley seat back and a ‘Sooper Snooper’ World Cup periscope. Sold for £216 at Bonhams, Chester, Feb 2009. After ten minutes of extra-time, England scored their third and without doubt the most controversial goal that has […]
These days there is a definite tendency to over-use adjectives such as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘inspirational’ but when these words are applied to the achievements of Margarete Steiff, founder of the world famous Steiff company, their use is amply justified. In the nineteenth century, to be female was almost as great a stumbling block to achieving international commercial success as being disabled. Margarete was both and yet she overcame these ‘disadvantages’ to establish a business that was phenomenally successful in her own day and remains so today, 127 years after it was founded. Pictured right: Recreation of Richard Steiff’s workshop, featuring a scale replica of 55 PB, the world’s first teddy bear Born in Giengen, Germany in 1847 to a master builder and his wife, Margarete was stricken with polio before she reached her second year, leaving her paralysed in both legs and with a severely weakened right arm. It was a devastating setback that left her confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life but whilst the polio was able to damage Margarete physically, it was unable to destroy her spirit. Surrounded by a loving family, she grew up with a strong sense of confidence in her abilities and with a vision to earn her own living. She took the first step towards achieving this goal when she began dressmaking in 1866 and, eleven years later, opened her own shop selling felt garments which she had designed and made herself. As the business prospered, Margarete was able to employ a few people to help produce her garments. Pictured left: PB 28, Richard Steiff’s second jointed bear, also known to collectors as the Rod Bear The switch to toy making occurred in 1880 when Margarete used a pattern from a German magazine to create a small felt elephant which could be used as a pincushion or simply as a toy. Encouraged by the positive reaction of friends to whom she showed the elephant, Margarete started to experiment, making felt dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and pigs as well as the original elephant. The more she made, the more people wanted them, and thus Margarete Steiff GmbH was born. As her business grew, Margarete devised ways of bringing her products to the attention of an ever-increasing audience. In 1892, for example, the company produced its first catalogue which featured the maxim, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children.’ Simple and to the point, the motto is still used by the Steiff company today. Another step towards worldwide recognition came in 1897 when Margarete booked a stand for the first time at the Leipzig Toy Fair, the toy industry’s most important trade event. Unable to attend in pers on, Margarete arranged for a new employee to represent her company at this prestigious fair. The young man in question, fresh out of college having just completed his studies at the Stuttgart School of Art, was to play a seminal role in the future of Steiff. A favourite nephew of Margarete, his name was Richard Steiff and his gift to the world was the Teddy bear, arguably the best-loved toy of all time. Pictured right: First Steiff catalogue, produced in 1892; it introduced the company’s motto, ‘Only the best is good enough for our children’ Until the early twentieth century, bears had been represented in toy form as fierce and somewhat unlovable but Richard Steiff was determined to change that. He had a passion for real bears and made it his mission to create a soft toy bear that would win the hearts of children. To this end he made countless sketches of the bears he saw at Stuttgart Zoo as well as those found in travelling circuses and animal shows. At the end of the nineteenth century he designed a number of bears on wheels that could be ridden on or pulled along, and he also produced bears that stood up on their hind legs. In all his experimentation, his object was to give the toy bears life-like movement but nothing quite satisfied him. Then, in 1902, he made a significant breakthrough, creating a bear that was able to move thanks to its innovative string-joints. Called Bär 55 PB, it was destined to take the world by storm. Pictured left: Margarete Steiff holding Richard Steiff’s perfected bear First, however, the new toy had to be unveiled to the world and the venue chosen for this was the 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair. At first, the reaction to Steiff’s new, jointed bear was disappointing but that changed when an influential New York buyer, searching for something new and unusual, placed an order for 3000 of them. The arrival of Bär 55 PB in America coincided with President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s much publicised refusal to shoot an injured bear for sport. Public perception linked the new toy bear with the popular President and thus the ‘Teddy’ bear was born. To cope with the unprecedented demand for the bears and to accommodate the rapid expansion of the company, a state-of-the-art glass and steel factory was erected in Giengen in 1903. So revolutionary was the design of the building that it does not look dated and is still in use today. For all its success, however, Richard Steiff was not entirely satisfied with his jointed bear and he continued to experiment and develop. His aim was to perfect his design and in 1905 he achieved this by replacing the bear’s string joints with disc joints, an ingenious method that has remained in use to the present day, 100 years after its invention. This ‘perfected’ bear met with unparalleled success, requiring Steiff to produce 974,000 of them in 1907 alone. Margarete Steiff died just two years later but her company continued to flourish in the capable hands of her nephews. Their combined vision and business acumen enabled the company to grow and to weather the worst that the troubled 20th century had to offer. Today, Steiff has an unrivalled worldwide reputation for the excellence of […]
When considering the work of Ettore Sottsass, the greatest Italian designer of the first half century, you have to understand the meaning of his work as well as the design concept.
GI Joe celebrated his 50th birthday in 2014 having been released in 1964. The GI Joe line action figures, produced by the Hasbro toy company has become one of the best selling and most collected toys of all time, spawning comics, tv series, films, books and a wealth of related merchandise. The Most Expensive Toy Ever (so far) The 1964 Original Hasbro prototype G. I. Joe (pictured right) is the most expensive toy ever sold selling for $200,000 in 2003. Heritage Auctions sold the then 40-year old, handcrafted prototype GI JOE to Baltimore business executive Stephen A. Geppi on behalf of one of the famous toy’s designers, Don Levine. The GI Joe prototype even made it into the Guiness Book of Records: “The most valuable toy soldier in the world is the first handcrafted 1963 G.I. Joe prototype which was sold on August 7, 2003 on behalf of its creator Don Levine to Baltimore businessman Stephen A. Geppi for $200,000 (£124,309) by Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers of Dallas, Texas, USA.” The initial product offering represented four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces with the Action Soldier (U.S. Army), Action Sailor (U.S. Navy), Action Pilot (USAF), Action Marine (USMC) and later on, the Action Nurse. The term G.I. stands for Government Issued and became a generic term for U.S. soldiers (predating the action figures), especially ground forces. The development of GI Joe led to the coining of the term “action figure”. GI Joe’s appeal to children have made it somewhat of an American icon among toys. The G.I. Joe trademark has been used by Hasbro to title two different toy lines. The original 12-inch line that began in 1964 centered on realistic action figures. In the United Kingdom, this line was licensed to Palitoy and known as Action Man. In 1982, the line was relaunched in a 3¾-inch scale complete with vehicles, playsets, and a complex background story involving an ongoing struggle between the G.I. Joe Team and the evil Cobra which seeks to take over the Free World through terrorism. As the American line evolved into the Real American Hero series, Action Man also changed, by using the same molds and being renamed as Action Force. Although the members of the GI Joe team are not superheroes, they all had expertise in areas such as martial arts, weapons and explosives. The conventional marketing wisdom of the early 1960s was that boys would not play with dolls, thus the word “doll” was never used by Hasbro or anyone involved in the development or marketing of G.I. Joe. “Action figure” was the only acceptable term, and has since become the generic description for any poseable doll intended for boys. “America’s movable fighting man” is a registered trademark of Hasbro, and was prominently displayed on every boxed figure package. The Hasbro prototypes were originally named “Rocky” (marine/soldier) “Skip” (sailor) and “Ace” (pilot), before the more universal name G.I. Joe was adopted. One of the prototypes would later sell in a Heritage auction in 2003 for $200,001. Aside from the obvious trademarking on the right buttock, other aspects of the figure were copyrighted features that allowed Hasbro to successfully pursue cases against producers of cheap imitations, since the human figure itself cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. The scar on the right cheek was one; another, unintentional at first, was the placement of the right thumbnail on the underside of the thumb. Early trademarking, with “G.I. Joe™”, was used through some point in 1965; the markings changed once G.I. Joe was a registered trademark; “G.I. Joe®” now appears on the first line. Subsequently, the stamped trademarking was altered after the patent was granted (in late 1966), and assigned a number; 3,277,602. Figures with this marking would have entered the retail market during 1967.
One of the highlights during a recent visit to the Lake District was a visit to Hill Top the home of Beatrix Potter. The house (an other properties) were left by Beatrix Potter when she died in 1943 to the National Trust and is open to visitors throughout most of the year and includes access to items from the Beatrix Potter collection as well as artwork. If you do intend to visit get there early so you can book a ticket as it is a very popular place. As well as viewing the house, gardens and collection I was also interested in the shop which has a great selection of books, collectables, accessories and some exclusive items. Beatrix Potter bought the house and its 34-acre working farm in July 1906 as her home away from London and her artistic retreat with the profits from her first six books including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter first visited the Lake District in 1882 with her parents and from that time visited many times. During her visits Beatrix indulged in her interest in nature, spending hours exploring and sketching the wildlife. Beatrix frequently returned from holiday with animals such as mice, rabbits, newts, caterpillars and birds which formed an entire menagerie that lived in the schoolroom. National Trust website. The house is located near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria a few miles from Lake Windermere. The ferry at Windermere was closed when we went so we went the long route via Ambleside and Hawkshead. The weather was perfect for a visit to the house and village and to view some of the places that inspired many Beatrix Potter stories.. The house, farm and nearby villages feature in Potter’s books, The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan, The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding. Not only was Beatrix Potter a talented author, artist, a farmer, and a naturalist she was also a very astute business woman. She designed and patented a Peter Rabbit doll, making Peter Rabbit the world’s oldest licensed character and also developed links with Wedgwood and Royal Doulton. Her figurines and series ware are still collected today. Although there were no current Wedgwood and Royal Doulton lines in the shop there were many other interesting items including exclusive figurines, amazing miniature bronzes, limited edition books and silver coins. The shop featured three exclusive figurines. Profits from these exclusive figurines help support the work at Hill Top. Samuel Whiskers figurine – The Tale of Samuel Whiskers was published in 1908; Beatrix Potter was inspired to write the tale since moving to Hill Top as Hill Top had a terrible problem with rats. She counted 96 in her first two years. Jemima Puddleduck and Tom Kitten figurines were inspired by gates at Hill Top. These miniature bronze interpretations look incredible. More Beatrix Potter toys, collectables, accessories and more! For more details about Hill Top visit the National Trust web site Related Beatrix Potter Collecting Friends of Peter Rabbit Club
The Fulper Pottery Company was founded in Flemington, New Jersey in 1899 by Charles Fulper and his sons. However, the pottery had existed since 1815 when the first pottery was created by Samuel Hill. The pottery initially produced a wide variety of utilitarian ware, and drain tiles and storage crocks and jars from Flemington’s red earthenware clay. In 1847 Dutchman Abraham Fulper, an employee since the 1820s became Hill’s partner. He later took over the company. It was not until the early 1900s when William Hill Fulper II (1870-1953) started to experiment with colored glazes and the company started to create some of the art pottery it is famed for. Fulper is credited with inventing the dry-body slip glaze, which was used to create colorful designs on his pottery. He also developed a method of using electric kilns to fire his glazes, which resulted in brighter and more consistent colors. Fulper Pottery’s Vasekraft line was inspired by the work of German potter John Martin Strangl. The line includes a wide variety of vases, bowls, and other vessels, all with Strangl’s signature clean lines and simple forms. The company is especially known for the Fulper lamps-with glazed pottery shades inset with colored glass-were truly innovative forms. The firm’s most spectacular and innovative accomplishments are the table lamps made with glazed pottery bases and shades, which were inset with pieces of colored opalescent glass. These were produced from about 1910-1915 and are very rare, especially in perfect order. William Hill Fulper II was also an excellent advertiser and marketeer and Fulper’s Vasekraft products were sold throughout the United States in the most prestigious department stores and gift shops. Fulper’s pottery was exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where it received a gold medal. His work is also included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. During its first twenty-five years, Fulper Pottery was particularly known for its flambé glazes, which were heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese ceramic traditions. These glazes, which resulted in vibrant and often unexpected colors, helped to establish Fulper Pottery’s reputation for innovative and high-quality art pottery. After World War I, Fulper Pottery began to shift away from its Germanic roots and move towards more Oriental-inspired forms. The company’s designers began to experiment with new shapes and glazes, inspired by the Art Deco movement that was sweeping Europe at the time. The Vasekraft name was changed to Fulper Pottery Artware. These new pieces were softer and more graceful than the functional stoneware that Fulper had been producing up until that point, and they proved to be very popular with the public. In the 1920s, Fulper Pottery was one of the leading producers of Art Deco ceramics in the United States. The company’s designers created a wide range of vases, lamps, and other objects that were both beautiful and stylish. Fulper’s pieces were featured in some of the most prestigious design magazines of the day, and they were popular with both collectors and everyday consumers. In 1925, Charles Fulper died, and his sons took over the operation of the pottery. Under their leadership, Fulper Pottery continued to experiment with new glazes and firing techniques. They also began to produce a line of dinnerware, which was very popular during the Depression-era. The Great Depression hit Fulper Pottery hard, as it did many other businesses. The company was forced to lay off a large number of employees and cut back on production. However, Fulper’s designers continued to experiment with new ideas, and the company managed to survive the difficult economic times. William Hill Fulper II died suddenly in 1928. The company continued to be run with Martin Stangl as President. In 1935, Fulper Pottery Artware production was ceased at the small remaining Flemington location, and that building was utilized solely as a retail showroom for the company’s ceramic products. After 1935, the company continued to be Fulper Pottery, but produced only Stangl Pottery brand dinnerware and artware. Related Fulper Pottery at Auction American Pottery at WCN