WCN has been a fan of artist Colin Rayne for some time and in this feature we take a look at his varied and unique artefacts. Colin’s work ranges from traditional oil and watercolour paintings to incredible clocks, from sculpture to kinetic art, and from glass sculpture to large scale commissions. Colin Rayne was interested in art from an early age winning prizes for art at school and he was frequently encouraged to copy ‘old master’ paintings. After school, Rayne served an apprenticeship in his father’s dental equipment manufacturing company Norman Rayne Ltd which gave him experience in precision and cinematograph engineering which would serve him well in his creation and design of kinetic art and clocks. Hence, ‘a seemingly unusual alliance’ of the arts and sciences, forms the basis of Rayne’s prolific and uniquely creative and prolific artistic life. Colin had a number of successful exhibitions in London and led to many notable commissions. Early on in the mid 1960’s when Harold Wilson was premiere, London’s Post Office Tower was erected close to Norman Rayne Ltd where Colin was studying design drawing. Colin created an Illuminated Scale Model (1″:30′) of the building with rotating restaurant for the advertising department of P.O. Telecommunications. The resulting publicity, which included a live six minute interview on BBC TV, greatly encouraged him to work independently. In 1983 he was elected a Member of The British Horological Institute and was invited to display two pieces of work in London’s Goldsmiths Hall in 1987. At WCN we believe that the combination of Colin’s art, innovation and engineering are portrayed best in his clocks and kinetic art. One of Colin’s most impressive pieces is the Stonehenge clock. Stonehenge 2000 – Neolithic Time The wall mounted sculpture recreates the most ancient relics of the Stonehenge monument, showing the stones as they would probably have looked when first built. An Arc of twelve ‘Sarcen’ stones in acrylic, light individually, to indicate the ‘hour’, and an ‘Oval’ of acrylic ‘lintel’ stones divided into sixty, indicate the minute. Time showing: 9.23. The inner rings and the ‘Altar’ stone are cut from ‘Spotted Dolerite’ from the Presilli Hills of Wales. (The same location from which the actual monument’s stone was obtained). The clock’s circuitry is based upon 4.193mhz crystal, subdivided into minutes and hours. The 72 LEDs are driven from serial shaft registers; – ‘CMOS’ logic is used. The Stonehenge Horlogical Sculpture is available at £7,500. Colin’s recent works include The Ancient of Days by William Blake inspired by a 10” x 8” print forbook illustration is one of eight, all slightly different. Colin says of the piece “I hope that Blake would be flattered by my tribute to him, were he with us today, and that my followers will find it of interest, and offer some stimulating thought!” In 1983 Rayne moved from London to Brighton and in 2000 created a private gallery The House of Rayne, close to the South Downs which has on display a permanent show of approximately 100 artefacts. For more information including a virtual tour of the gallery visit TheHouseofRayne.co.uk and remember to see the kinetic art page which is of particular interest. The gallery can also be contacted by phone UK + 44.7870125991 and by email to [email protected]
Antique Bisque Dolls – Years ago, the dream of most doll collectors was to be able to afford an antique doll – a doll made from bisque china with glass eyes and a jointed wood or composition body. We used to sigh over pictures in magazines and drool at doll fairs. Then, not so long ago, something happened; prices came tumbling down and doll collectors discovered that their dream really could come true. Now is the perfect time to buy antique dolls, before prices begin to rise again – and rise they will, because however lovely reproduction dolls, vinyl babies or modern collectors’ teens might be, they are not old and do not have that special air of mystery which only an antique doll can bestow. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Walther & Sohn 125.10 doll Bisque is an unglazed porcelain; it’s matt instead of shiny, hence the ‘biscuit’ finish and so it gives a natural look to the face of a doll. Before the advent of plastics, dolls’ faces would be made from carved wood, composition, papier mache, wax or bisque. Although these substances all had their advantages, bisque was not only the most durable, it also allowed artists to portray the human face in a beautiful way. A doll made completely from bisque would prove expensive, so most had bisque heads attached to bodies and limbs made of composition, leather, wood or fabric stuffed with woodwool. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Heubach 300 doll French doll makers made exceptionally beautiful dolls, though they tended to be exceedingly expensive as they were so labour intensive. These dolls, by makers such as Juneau and Bru, were dressed in top quality high fashion garments, and even today most are out of the reach of the average collector. However, German makers also made dolls and soon grew to dominate the industry as they were skilled in mass production. Consequently, they produced dolls in their thousands, far more cheaply than the French factories could manage. The vast majority of old dolls that beginner-collectors are likely to come across will be German, but just because they are cheaper, it doesn’t mean that they are less beautiful. Many German dolls are very pretty indeed, and usually they are incised on the back of the neck with the maker’s name, mark, initials or a number, so from that information and a bit of research you can find the factory and the date the doll was first produced. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Armand Marseille 390 doll The most prolific of the German companies was that owned by Armand Marseille, who, despite his French-seeming name, was German. Often it is an Armand Marseille doll that a novice collector will buy as their first old bisque doll, because they are so easily found and can be bought from around £100–£150 depending on condition. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Kammer & Reinhardt 133 doll One of the most popular and easy to find dolls are the Armand Marseille 390 girls, which have pretty faces and glass eyes. These are usually mounted on a wooden ball-jointed body, which means that you can pose the doll gracefully on display. With these 390s, as with all bisque dolls, it is amazing how dolls from the same mould look so different, due to the handpainting of their faces, which varies the colouring, thickness of lashes and shape of mouth. Also, eye and hair colours/styles influence the doll’s appearance. This is why a 390 is a good doll to start off with – there is so much choice, because these dolls were developed in the early 1900s and remained in production till 1938, and so there are thousands around. Other Armand Marseille moulds to look out for include the character toddler 990, the character girl 327 and the 370 girl. All these dolls should be available in ‘played with’ condition for under £300 – with dolls, obviously price depends on condition, and a much-played with doll with broken fingers and a scant wig will be far less than an almost perfect doll. Another Armand Marseille doll which the collector will easily find is the ‘My Dream Baby’. My Dream Baby swept Britain and the Continent during the mid- 1920s, when baby dolls came into vogue, and had a sweet face with either an open or a closed mouth. Today, the closed mouth babies sell for a slightly higher price, as more of the open mouth type were produced, but even so should comfortably fit into the £300 price range. As with the 390 girls, the appearance of these babies varies enormously depending on the painting, the body type, the eye size and the size of the doll (they range from tiny babies just a few inches high to very large babies often used as shop window display models). Of course, there are many other types of affordable German dolls, such as some marked ‘Heubach Koppelsdorf’. Ernst Heubach was a brother-in-law of Armand Marseille, and his company produced very attractive dolls, often with a rather flushed appearance. Other makers of bisque dolls that might be found by collectors include Simon & Halbig, Kestner, Schoenau & Hoffmeister, Kammer & Reinhardt, Alt. Beck & Gottschalk and Schuetzmeister & Quendt. It should be possible to buy the more common models by these makers at a reasonable price, though naturally the rare, more desirable moulds will always fetch a premium. The best advice is to familiarise yourself with the various kinds of dolls and makers by reading books on the subject. Some of these books are in the form of price guides, so will help you discover the models that you can afford. Recently, there has been something of a price slump with some of the antique bisques, so if you find one which appeals, now is the time to buy because prices are bound to rise. Wherever possible, it’s best to buy a doll that you have already seen and handled, rather than one which is advertised on […]
Tea was introduced to this country in the mid-seventeenth century, and within 100 years it was a national beverage enjoyed by all classes, the direct cause of considerable changes in the times of meals and in social customs and, of course, of the introduction of the tea services so highly prized by housewives of every succeeding generation. Pictured right: A Leeds creamware teapot and cover circa 1770 – The globular form with foliate spout and grooved double entwined strap handle with foliate terminals, painted in a limited palette with a seated lady, the reverse with a large low building with thatched roof and smoking chimney, beaded borders, the cover painted with a similar building beside the flower knop, 11.5cm high. Sold for £780 at Bonhams London, April 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Other meals might be eaten from vessels of cream-ware or delft, from plates and dishes not necessarily matching, but tea drinking was from the beginning a ceremony in which women took a predominant part to the exclusion of their menfolk, and which demanded a proper set of pot, sugar basin, cream-jug, teabowls and saucers and, most important, a slop basin in which the proud owner might wash her precious pieces while seated at the tea-table. Pictured left: A good early Staffordshire teapot and cover of Whieldon type Circa 1750-60. – Globular with a crabstock handle and spout and a twig finial, sprigged in relief with fruiting vine branches extending from the sides of the handle, further leaves and grape sprigs on the cover, 11cm high. Value £2,500-£3,500. Image Copyright Bonhams. In spite of opposition from such wiseacres as the philanthropist Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) and later William Cobbett, who condemned the new habit as harmful and sinfully alien, it is a fact that as early as the 1740s over one million pounds of tea were imported annually into London alone, and our earthenware makers and, later, our porcelain makers were quick to meet the resultant demand, with the early support, we may note, of Dr Johnson who defended the ” elegant and popular beverage ” against Hanway and who, if legend is to be believed himself conducted experiments in the making of porcelain. Pictured right: An English Creamware Cauliflower-Moulded Teapot And Cover Circa 1760, Probably Wedgwood – Naturalistically moulded, with foliate handle and cabbage-leaf spout 5 1/8 in. (13.2 cm.) high (2). Sold for £1,560 at Christies, London, January 2007. Image Copyright Christies. So to the most important single item of tea-drinking, the pot itself, to find whose origins we have to go back as far as the Chinese Sung Dynasty (420-79 A D.) when the drinking of tea was considered to be a serious masculine pursuit. The origins, but not the actual making as we know it, for at first tea was brewed actually in the tea-bowls, of any vessels of familiar tea-pot design were almost certainly winepots. Nevertheless, R. L. Hobson (Wares of the Ming Dynasty) refers to tea-pots of the Cheng Te period (1506-21), and as early as the latter part of the seventeenth century tea-pots which formed the greater part of the output of the great potting centre of Yi-hsing were exported to Europe with consignments of tea. These pots were made of stoneware in brown, buff and red, unglazed and relied for their beauty upon good design and shape (flattened globular, pear-shaped, or faceted) rather than upon elaborate detail. It was this kind of ware that was copied at Meissen and by the Elers brothers in this country, dating from the early eighteenth century, and though such pots were much too small for European use they were nevertheless the first to be made in England, developing into the familiar size by the middle of the century. It is always inevitable that with the introduction of any new article in household furnishing designers find themselves hard put to resist the temptation to allow their imaginations to run riot. English teapots were for a time made in the forms of houses, ships, shells, birds, camels, and other animals, in salt-glazed or lead-glazed pottery. Even the great Whieldon, usually a master of restrained design, so far forgot himself as to fashion a pot in the shape of an elephant, and among the rarest of early Chelsea specimens are some in the shapes of Chinamen, dating to the early triangle period. One such, seated, holds a protesting parrot whose open beak serves as a spout, and another clasps a snake. We must remember that this was a time when anything Chinese was widely copied, and it is probable that pieces of this kind were facsimiles of actual Chinese wine-pots. Pictured left: A Staffordshire Creamware Hexagonal Teapot And Cover Irca 1760, Probably Thomas Whieldon – From a block-mould by William Greatbatch, with rectangular panels of Oriental figures at various pursuits against a fretted geometric pattern ground, the shoulders with scrolls and Chinoiserie fretwork, the fluted spout with ozier-pattern and elongated geometric panels, the finial formed as a griffin, recumbent, the scroll handle with a biting serpent terminal, enriched in a typical palette of green, ochre, brown and grey glazes 6 in. (15.2 cm.) high’ Sold for £1,125 at Christies, London, January 2008. Image Copyright Christies. At the other extreme the Staffordshire potters were obliged to make some kind of ware which would imitate the whiteness of porcelain, and we find white salt-glaze tea-pots made between 1740 and 1760. These, and other domestic wares were often decorated with ” sprigging,” the process of adding separately moulded relief decoration such as vine-pattern or prunus sprigs in Oriental style. Pieces so ornamented usually have ” crabstock ” handles and spouts fashioned in imitation of gnarled branches. Variety was introduced by the use of differently coloured clays for body and ornament, and from about 1745 onwards relief ornament similar in appearance was produced by casting, when it was sometimes picked out with japan gilding. This process was, of course, used for the making of the camels, ships, and so on. Confusion sometimes creeps in (especially in sales catalogues) between salt-glazed and lead-glazed ware made […]
The Chessell Pottery was founded in 1978 by Sheila and John Francis in the pretty village of Chessell on the Isle of Wight.
Star Wars Revenge of the Sith Collectables With the sixth Star Wars ‘Revenge of the Sith’ film opening shortly – the merchandise and associated premiums have been finding their way into shops, cereal packets and elsewhere for months. The first Star Wars film ‘A New Hope’ in 1977 was the first film to really tie in with merchandise and and many of the toys and related products from then are now worth considerable sums such as the first series of Kenner figures produced from 1977-1979 included a Jawa with plastic cape which can now fetch around $1,000 if in mint condition. It will be interesting to see if any of the new action figures, toys, comics etc will be as collectable. Pictured right is a StarWarsShop.com shared exclusive Original Double-Sided Episode III Theatrical Movie Poster Hasbro are releasing a number of action figures and toys including limited editions through certain outlets. Target will offer an exclusive Star Wars: Episode III Collector’s Case 5 pack and Toys R Us have an exclusive Anakin Skywalker Starfighter. Pictured left is the Episode III Unleashed Figures 3-Pack, Assortment 1 featuring Anakin Skywalker figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi figure and General Grievous figure. Available to all are a number of action figures that come individually and in various assortments, sets and packages. Often the Limited Editions, exclusives and less popular characters have the most potential to increase in value. Pictured right is the Episode III Deluxe Figure Assortment 1 featuring 2 Anakin Skywalker with Darth Vader tunic and armor figures, 2 Obi-Wan Kenobi with Super Battle Droid figures and 2 Emperor Palpatine changes to Darth Sidious figures. Collectors Cards, Trading Cards and Pins are always popular. The Revenge of the Sith Hobby collectors card set comprises 90 gold foil-stamped. There are a number of special chase cards randomly inserted: etched foil cards, morph lenticular cards, and a number of one-of-a-kind artist sketch cards (insertion ratio of the sketch cards are 1/36 packs). Pictured left Revenge of the Sith Hobby Collectors Cards. Pins and pin trading has become popular over the last few years especially with the growth in Disney Pin Trading. A number of pins have been produced including a number of exclusives such as the Celebration III exclusive StarWarsShop.com pin depicting the famous “Vader in Flames” banner art for the Star Wars event held in Indianapolis. Pictured right Vader in Flames exclusive StarWarsShop.com pin. Disney are pro ducing a incredible collection of Star Wars pins created for their annual Star Wars weekends. These are being released at the Tatooine Traders in the Disney-MGM Studios theme park. Star Wars Weekends 2005 will take place at the Disney-MGM Studios from May 20 through June 12, 2005. Pictured left Star Wars Weekdns Logo Pin features the logo for Star Wars Weekends 2005. Mickey Mouse is putting the finishing touches on Darth Vader’s helmet. Mickey Mouse’s hand is a pin-on-pin. Randy Noble from Disney Design Group designed the logo for this year’s celebration. Premiums normally produce some interesting toys and collectibles and for Revenge of the Sith, Burger King has the promotion. The offering varies from country to country – there are six exclusive toys in the UK (include Darth Vader™, droids R2D2™ and C3PO™, Chewbacca™, the Millennium Falcon and, of course, Yoda™!), and over 30 in the US. The US toys come in several ranges including Pull Backs, Wind Ups, Water Squirters, Plush, Image Viewers and Limited Edition 2 in 1 Darth Vader toy. Pictured above right: the UK Burger King Star Wars toys There should be enough variety to cater for even the most ardent collector and with expectations that this film is the best of the latest trilogy there appears to be more interest. I’m just off to get my Lightsabre. May the Collecting be With You!
The collecting of antique fans is one of the most satisfying of hobbies, for a small collection of fans can comprise a museum in miniature. Specimens covering the period from the 16th century, when fans were first introduced into Europe from the East, up to Edwardian days include the work of carvers in ivory and wood, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl; the silversmith, the painter, the printer, the lace-maker, and the embroideress in sequins and silk. Pictured: A hand-painted and ivory fan, 18th century The sticks and guards pierced and gilded, the hand-painted leaf depicting figures in a rural scene, bordered with flowers, boxed, 26.5cm. Sold at Bonhams, Knowle, Dec 2011 for £312. Image Copyright Bonhams. Apart from its exquisite craftsmanship, the fan is inextricably tied up with the history of the country of its origin — especially in the case of France and England. Each period of history brought its own influence in costume and that included fans, since they were an important accessory of dress. Fans made for the ladies of the Court of the French King Louis XV were elaborately carved and of great richness. With the accession of Louis XVI there was greater restraint though still very elegant and costly fans were in great demand. The French Revolution brought the French fan trade near to disaster. With the Court gone, their wealthy clients having fled the country or been left penniless, many master fan-makers fled, too, to set up in business in England. Pictured: Antique Fans. Sold at Bonhams, Los Angeles,Jan 2009 for $195. Image Copyright Bonhams. The fan of the Empire period is as distinctive as those of the two Louis. Small — it rarely exceeds seven inches in length — it has an exceptionally broad leaf, usually made of some textile material, trimmed with sequins in many shapes — crescents, stars, flowers, leaves. The sequin embroidery of the period is particularly intricate. There are fans of heavy satin in sombre colours, breathing Victorianism; dainty, pretty bits of nonsense of lace and mother-of-pearl, as attractive and gay as the Edwardian ladies who used them. Pictured: A rare Recovery of George III from Illness Fan. Many 18th-century fans commemorated important events. They marked the births, marriages and deaths of well-known people, royal occasions or major social events. This fan celebrates George III’s recovery from illness in 1789. The simple, emblematic design includes the rose and thistle, symbolising the Union of Scotland and England by Act of Parliament in 1707. Above are the words, ‘Health is restored to ONE and happiness to Millions’. The fan may have been designed for ladies to carry at the great ball given at Court in 1789 to celebrate the king’s recovery. Image from the V&A Collections. For more information visit https://collections.vam.ac.uk/ © Victoria and Albert Museum, London To the serious collector the less beautiful fans with printed leaves are amongst the most interesting. Sticks and guards are simple, often of plain, undecorated wood. It is in the paper leaf that the interest lies. Many will be found to bear the name of the publisher in accordance with an Act of 1735. Many of these fans provide an interesting picture of the contemporary social and historical scene. Some record royal betrothals and marriages; occasions of national mourning or joy. A special fan was issued to express the joy of the nation on the recovery of George 111 in 1789. The Naval Fan of 1801 was published to celebrate the naval victories of the Nile and Copenhagen. There were opera and theatre fans, showing the arrangement of boxes and seats. There is no end to the subjects depicted on these fans. The collector in his search may not find the quest an easy one. Fans are such delicate, fragile things, not made for long life. It is surprising that so many have survived for two hundred and more years in perfect condition. But if the search is long and hard, results when they do come are infinitely rewarding. Pictured: Three late 18th/early 19th century fans. All with ivory sticks and handpainted paper leaves, one with painted sticks and leaf depicting a couple in a rural scene; one Canton export fan with ornately carved and pierced sticks and leaf depicting a European scene with Chinese influences; the third with plain sticks and leaf depicting a classical scene. Sold for £624 at Bonhams, Knowle, April 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. There is a huge variety in fans: from fans of fabulous beauty, finely painted leaves on beautifully carved and gilded sticks, from the eighteenth century; feather fans vary from a tiny one of tortoiseshell edged with peacock’s feathers to a large screen-type fan in heart shape, composed entirely of feathers, decorated with sprays of roses (also made of feathers) and a stuffed humming bird. The first is from Vienna, the latter from Rio de Janeiro. Then there is beautiful Brussels lace in a design of flowers on sticks of honey-coloured pearl ; ivory finely carved in China, so delicate that it looks like frozen lace; a simple mourning fan of black paper on ebony sticks, but of special interest because it is telescopic, sliding up and down on its sticks, to become small enough to fit into the reticule, the handbag of ladies of its period — the early nineteenth century. A collection of antique fans would not really be complete without a brisé fan which were the work of the brothers Martin, who worked in Paris from the early to the mid-eighteenth century. These were particularly fashionable during the late Georgian and Regency periods. The brisé fan has wider sticks that overlap when open and are joined at the top by a ribbon or thread creating an effect similar to the pleated leaf of the folding fan. The Vernis Martin process of applying a fine colourless varnish to their work died with the brothers. Pictured: Four Chinese late 18th/early 19th century brisé fans ncluding a late 18th century example featuring a central swagged shield cartouche and two circular vignettes and a swagged design crossing all sticks, 21cm; two wedge-shaped fans, […]
Ida Rentoul Outhwaite Her Fairies and Postcards Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888 – 1960) was an Australian illustrator of children’s books and most noted for her work depicting fairies. Born on 9th June 1888 in Carlton, Victoria to Rev. Dr. John Laurence Rentoul and Annie Isobel. She married Arthur Grenbry Outhwaite on 8th December 1909 and thereafter was generally known as Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Her works can be signed in a number of formats including I.S.R. and at some point changed this to I.R.O. She also occasionally used I.S.R.O. and full spellings rather than abbreviations. Her first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age – it accompanied a story, entitled The Fairies of Fern Gully, written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband – most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children – Robert, Anne, Wendy and William – served as models for her illustrations. Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour. Her work was very popular in her native Australia combining a love for fairies and native wildlife including koalas, kookaburras and kangaroos. Her work was made even popular in the UK when Queen Mary wife of George V by sending postcards to her friends in the 1920s. Her illustrations were exhibited throughout Australia, as well as in London and Paris between 1907 and 1933. She died in Caulfield, Victoria, Australia. There are normally 150-250 Ida Outhwaite postcards on ebay click on link to view – Ida Outhwaite on ebay. Values of Outhwaite postcards in very good condition vary from £10-£50 each. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite Postcard Price Guide
Toys to Delight – Sugar and Spice Toys by Sue Brewer Is there a difference between girls’ toys and boys’ toys? Well, yes, quite often there is. Sometimes it’s a fairly obvious distinction; as a rule of thumb girls are given dolls, cradles, dolls’ houses, toy brooms, fluffy creatures with long hair and anything pink. Boys tend to be given trains, cars, guns, space toys, science kits and, most certainly, nothing pink! There are exceptions of course, and while children are small they aren’t so fussy; it’s only when they start nursery school that peer pressure dictates the toys they choose. Lots of toys are suitable for both sexes; puzzles, board games, Lego, Fuzzy Felt, puppets and tricycles for example, though even then there can be differences. Puzzles might feature either a girlie picture of fairies or a boy-appealing ferocious dinosaur while Fuzzy Felt will be ballet or pirates. Even Lego can be girl-orientated when it contains pink bricks and small dolls. Of course, the classic toy for a girl is a doll; from earliest times it was assumed that the woman’s role in life was to care for babies and to create a home while man was the hunter or worker. Even today, when women have far more freedom and independence, and are increasingly taking over occupations once regarded as male, small girls are still given dolls. Look round any toyshop dolls of all kinds, from babies to fashion and fairies to mermaids predominate, usually sold in pink boxes or wearing pink sparkly outfits. Many girls’ toys are traditional “ our great grandmothers, even their great grandmothers, might have played with some of them. Things such as toy sewing machines, skipping ropes, tea sets, knitting sets, dolls’ prams, music boxes, clockwork dolls and tinkle tonks. The greatest revolution in toys began just after the Second World War, and was caused by the plastics explosion. Plastics transformed the toy industry “ at last there was a material which was light, colourful, versatile, easy to mould and difficult to break. A further explosion took place in the 1980s with the introduction of ‘collectable series toys’, following on the heels of the Star Wars toys of the late 1970s suddenly manufacturers discovered an exciting way of earning more money. By issuing toys in sets, children would need to buy several before they could satisfactorily play with them. My Little Pony was one of the most popular of the new lines, though many parents and teachers loathed the pastel pink creatures which, they believed, had no play value at all. The ponies had no moving parts, so it just seemed that their young owners combed and plaited the manes and tails. Yet that wasn’t strictly true as most girls created their own imaginative story lines, building up pon y worlds as they bought more and more ponies with names such as Cotton Candy, Applejack and Blossom. Over the years, dozens of different types of ponies made their appearance, often with special features such as rainbow or glittery manes, sparkling eyes, sleep eyes, transparent bodies, thick curly tails, scented or musical. Some featured translucent wings or magic heat-appearing motifs. There were clumpy male cart-horse types, unicorns, sea-horses, flutter ponies (very fragile, with delicate wings which soon broke) and Pegasus ponies too, all made by Hasbro, who had certainly struck gold with this product. Also on the scene in the 1980s was the ‘World of Strawberry Shortcake’, a large range of dolls and accessories, the most popular being a series of scented small dolls, 5Â½ inches high, with slightly overlarge heads. Jointed at the hips, neck and shoulders, each doll was marked ‘American Greetings Corps. 1979′. Strawberry Shortcake and her friends were sold by Kenner, though some were issued through Palitoy. Each character had its own hair colour or style, and, of course, a special fruit perfume so that they smelt of their name. By 1982 there were fourteen little dolls in the range, all with delicious names such as Lime Chiffon, Raspberry Tart, Lemon Meringue, Angel Cake, Apricot, Cherry Cuddler, Butter Cookie, Apple Dumpling, Orange Blossom and Strawberry Shortcake herself. The dolls came with their own pets, and had accessories such as houses, vehicles and shops. This same decade saw Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, Moon Dreamers, Flower Fairies, Sylvanian Families, Fairy Tails and Lady LovelyLocks â€“ all toys carefully designed so that a child needed several of them, plus the various accessories, in order to obtain the maximum play value. Of all the character toys, perhaps Sylvanian Familes was the most successful, offering maximum play value. The little animals first arrived in Britain in 1987 though were copyrighted in 1985; a selection of mice, bear, rabbit and racoon families. They were made by Epoch in Japan, and distributed by Tomy. The two main families were the bears, the Evergreens and the Timbertops, each with ten members, and the adult characters stood around 3.5 inches high. The youngsters were slightly smaller. Nowadays there are dozens of different creatures in the range from penguins to moles. Sylvanian Families are still sold today, now made by Flair, and the buildings and accessories are particularly sturdy and well designed. Many of the pieces of furniture and smaller items are bought by adults who use them in their own dolls’ houses! Dolls houses have been popular for centuries; although most are made for young girls, many have been created for adult collectors. At Windsor Castle is a spectacular dolls’ house which was originally made for Queen Mary in the 1920s, and it is packed with valuable treasures such as miniature hand-written books by famous authors, and tiny items of furniture created by craftsmen. More recently, dolls’ houses have taken a new form, with toys such as Palitoy’s Treehouse, the Matchbox Play Boot and Bluebird’s iconic Big Yellow Teapot, whilst Fisher Price have produced several designs including the Fisher Price A-Frame and a Tudor Style House. Young girls take great delight in imitating their mothers; they love toy vacuum […]
The Rollieflex TLR camera revolutionized photographic history by making high-quality photography more accessible to the general public. Prior to its release, cameras were bulky, expensive, and difficult to use, limiting their use to professional photographers or wealthy hobbyists. The Rollieflex’s simple design and affordable price made photography available to a much wider audience, sparking a lasting interest in the art form. The Rollieflex TLR camera was prototyped in 1927 and 1928 and first introduced in 1929 by the German company, Rollei. The TLR design (Twin Lens Reflex) was not new, but the Rollieflex was the first to offer high quality construction and a compact size. The Rollieflex quickly became popular with professional photographers and amateurs alike. Its simple design and rugged construction made it ideal for travel and outdoor photography. The Rollieflex remained in production until the early 1970s, when it was discontinued in favor of newer SLR models. Franke & Heidecke At the turn of the 20th century, Franke & Heidecke was one of the leading camera manufacturers in Germany. With a strong commitment to innovation and quality, they began to experiment with new types of cameras that could meet the growing demand for high-end photography equipment. One of their most successful designs was the Rollieflex TLR camera, which revolutionized the world of professional photography. Using cutting-edge technologies like precision gears and precise mechanics, Franke & Heidecke designed and built a sleek and sturdy camera that quickly gained the favor of professional photographers around the world. The Rolliefleix TLR camera offered a high level of control and flexibility, allowing photographers to capture stunning images with exceptional clarity and accuracy. It quickly became known as one of the most reliable, versatile, and effective cameras on the market, setting new standards for modern photography. Today, the Rollieflex is considered a classic camera, and its unique design continues to inspire photographers around the world.
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 […]