A growing interest in lace collecting has also created a renewed interest in old pillow lace bobbins. Lace bobbins have always been a decorative adjunct to lace making and although functional and fairly standard in form the bobbin flourished in its decorative charm with carving, colour, material and decoration making up for the deficiency in variety of form. Within this slender compass there was room for invention and even humour and romance in the phrasing of the inscriptions. The art of pillow lace-making was introduced into England in the middle of the sixteenth century. At that time pillow lacemaking as an industry was well established on the Continent and in 1563 the first of a great many Protestant refugees, many of them lace-makers, fleeing from religious persecution arrived in England, persecution arrived in England, along the south coast. For various reasons many of these refugees wandered inland and settled in areas notably in Bedfordshire. The emigris taught the art to their new neighbours in England and gave to them what later became a great rural craft. Unlike lace makers in the traditional centres of lace making in Belgium, Flanders and France who used large numbers of identical, plain bobbins, each bobbin on the pillow of an English lace maker was different. Hand carved or turned on a treadle lathe, bobbins were commonly made of wood or bone and could be intricately carved, painted, inlaid with pewter, wire-bound or inscribed with names and dates. (Lace makers’s bobbins, Mackovicky) . Many people took to lace-making and the area of the new industry grew so that it eventually included the whole of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and large parts of the adjoining counties, and so became known as the Midland Lace-making Industry. The lace was a creation of great beauty. The bobbins used for making lace took on special characteristics in this area and they themselves became works of art. Their attractive design and decoration alone make them worthy of collecting and study. The inscribed bobbins give us a very clear and intimate story of the lace-makers. Little has been recorded of the lives of these cottage workers: it is through the bobbins they have left that we can build up a story of their everyday existence. The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford has a collection of lace bobbins, lace samples and lace pattern bought by Henry Balfour from a Mrs. M. Butler in 1903. The collection does give an insight to the life and work of a lace maker. The feature by Nicolette Makovicky of Wolfson College is a very interesting read. However, it is Mrs. Butler’s bobbins that allow us some insight into her work and her life. Every bobbin she used was unique; different people would have given them to her and she would have personalized them by adding her own decoration. Of the collection, five stand out. All have the typical shape for East Midlands bobbins – long (3-4 inches or 9-10 centimetres), ending in a decorative ring of beads called a ‘spangle’, or ‘jinkum’ in parts of Oxfordshire. Bobbin making was a profession and while most lace makers were female, bobbin makers were invariable male. Although it was unusual for bobbin makers to mark or sign their work, collectors have been able to identify the work of enough makers to see that the profession often ran through several generations of the same family. (Lace makers’s bobbins, Mackovicky) . Three examples from Mrs. Butler’s collection. The most common form of inscribed bobbins are those with just a Christian name. Sometimes a full name is given with the place of abode and the date. The bobbins inscribed to commemorate hangings are interesting. Here are three of them: ” Joseph Castle, hung 1860 “Castle murdered his wife at Luton.” William Worsley hung 1868 “” William Worsley hung 1868 “Worsley was tried with Levi Welch for the murder of William Bradbury at Luton. Worsley’s execution was the last public one in Bedford. ” William Bull hung 1871 ” — Bull murdered an old lady named Sarah Marshall at Little Staughton. Bull’s execution was the first privately carried out in Bedford. Bereavements are recorded on bobbins inscribed like tombstones — ” William Church died April 5th, 1866, aged 63,” ” Mary Ann Betts born October 24th, died March 21st, aged 37 1873 “—” Agnes Mary Read my sister died 25th September 1870.” Romantic inscriptions are plentiful — ” Love buy the ring,” ” My love for thee no one can tell,” — ” I love my love because I know my love loves me.” True love did not always run smooth, some bobbins clearly indicate heartaches—” Tis hard to be slited by the one as I love,”” Tis hard to love and not be loved again,”—” I once loved them that never loved me.” Bobbins are made of either wood or bone because the materials were suitable, cheap, and easy to obtain. There are some unusual bobbins made of both wood and bone jointed together. One specimen of this type inscribed—” I long to wed the lad I love ” indicates there were obstacles, either financial or parental, in the way, or perhaps it was just impatience. Many of the bobbins that are not inscribed are of great interest.The fancy turned ones are good The fancy turned ones are good examples of turners art in miniature. A great variety of ornamentation can be found, bobbins are dyed in many different colours, carved, bound with fine brass wire, and inlayed with wood or pewter. Sometimes small coloured beads threaded on fine wire were bound round the bobbin. The most popular of the carved bobbins are those that are known as Church Window Bobbins. A Trolly bobbin is a large wood bobbin with several loose pewter rings round it, and was used to carry the thicker thread which outlines the design on a net ground. It is on the bone bobbins that most of the inscriptions are to be found, the wooden ones usually have nothing more than a […]
The Chad Valley Company was one of the most successful and best-loved of all English soft toy manufacturers and although it ceased trading in 1978, the memory of its golden years lives on. Today, Chad Valley teddies and other animals are highly popular with collectors for a variety of reasons. Pictured right: Classic Chad Valley Magna bear For a start, they were well-designed and generally made of good quality materials, and in the firm’s heyday its inventive designers came up with one appealing product after another. Then there is the identity factor – Chads are often easy to identify, even without their original labels – making them particularly attractive to novice collectors. Finally, price is a key factor in the collectable status of Chad Valley bears. With a few exceptions, they rarely cost more than a few hundred pounds because there are still quite a lot of them available in good condition, and are therefore accessible to collectors with limited budgets. Pictured left: Chad Valley Magna Teddy bear, English 1930’s Golden mohair bear with orange glass eyes, stitched nose, mouth and claws, swivel head and jointed at shoulders and hips, cloth paw pads, red ribbon to neck, label to right foot, 48cm (19in) tall – sold at Bonhams, Nov 2006 £120 – image copyright Bonhams. Having acquired and absorbed several smaller firms during the previous decade, the 1930s proved to be something of a boom time for Chad Valley. Through ingenious marketing which played on people’s suspicions of soft toys as carriers of infectious disease, the company positioned its products as clean and hygienic compared with the competition. So successful were they during this period that by 1938 Chad Valley were granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment as Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen and labels appeared on their bears proclaiming them ‘By Appointment Toymakers to H.M. The Queen.’ In 1953, following the death of King George VI and the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, the wording changed to read ‘By Appointment Toy Makers to H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.’ (If original labels are present today, this enables the modern collector to date Chads of this period to within a few years). During this period of growth and development, one of the most distinctive of all Chad Valley teddies was produced. Known as the Magna bear, it was launched around 1930 and featured an unshaved muzzle, smallish, widely spaced ears and a narrow, horizontally-stitched oblong nose. It is this instantly recognisable nose that allows aficionados to unhesitatingly pick out a Magna from a room full of similar bears. The slightly serious, perhaps even grumpy expression common to Magnas has made them well-liked by collectors although they were not terribly popular in their own day. This could be because their admirers of today are adult collectors who appreciate any teddy idiosyncrasies, whereas in their early days Magnas were intended to be played with by children who are more inclined to appreciate a friendly rather than an austere expression. In any case, UK production of teddy bears was severely curtailed during WWII and its immediate aftermath, and when it resumed in the 1950s styles and tastes had changed dramatically, leaving no demand for the old-fashioned Magna. In its own way, this characterful English bear is as much an evocation of the 1930s as a Clarice Cliff tea set and should be revered as such.
Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. To mark 60 years of The Queen’s reign the Diamond Jubilee celebrations will centre around an extended weekend in 2012 on 2, 3, 4 and 5 June. Pictured right: A selection of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Collectables As with many Royal events collectable companies, gift producers and memorabilia makers have been working over time to produce a wide range of collectables for collectors. World Collectors Net takes a look at some gifts on offer. Lilliput Lane Lilliput Lane has taken the opportunity of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to revitalize their popular Britain’s Heritage™ collection to incorporate Jubilee celebrations. The four Jubilee pieces are: Jubilee Tower Bridge, Jubilee Big Ben, Jubilee Tower of London and Jubilee at Windsor Round Tower. Pictured right: Jubilee at the Crown Inn and Jubilee at the Windsor Round Tower These iconic landmarks have been adorned with bunting, flags, gems and a commemorative plaque. All of these superb miniatures of our finest buildings will only be available during 2012 and are produced in a Limited Edition of 2,012 pieces each. Another special cottage has been produced to celebrate Her Majesty’s sixty-year reign, again only available during 2012. Picked for its name, The Crown Inn — a delightful eighteenth-century pub from St Ewe, Cornwall — has inspired the 2012 Anniversary Cottage, Jubilee at The Crown Inn. Caverswall English Fine Bone China Caverswall China was founded in 1973 and is starting to gain an excellent reputation for its Commemorative Ware. In 2011 they produced a number of pieces for the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton. Pictured right: A selection of Caverswall China celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Caverswall China have created a 10″ plate, 8″ coupe, Edinburgh Mug, 3″ round box, 4″ round sweet dish, a lionhead beaker and an excellent Durham Vase. Border Fine Arts Border Fine Arts have introduced three models featuring the Queen. As with all Border Fine Arts models their is great attention to detail and the models show the Queen at various times during her reign including Trooping the Colour in 1952, Newly Crowned in 1953 and the Her Majesty at Balmoral. Pictured left: Trooping the Colour 1952 – Celebrating the Queen’s sixty-year reign, the figurine depicts Her Majesty at the Trooping the Colour parade of 1952, her first as Sovereign. Wearing the scarlet tunic of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Scots Guards and the blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter, Her Majesty is elegantly poised on her chestnut horse, Winston. The black plume on her tricorn hat is in remembrance of her father, His Majesty King George VI, who died four months previously. Pictured right: Her Majesty at Balmoral – This delightful figurine depicts Her Majesty in a relaxed pose at the Balmoral Estate, where she can unwind and enjoy some of her favourite things. Here, her beloved corgis are never far from her side and many have been recorded on what can only be considered some of the most endearing photographs ever taken of the Queen. Tiny is on her knee and Brush is at her feet. Caithness Glass Caithness Glass have produced a number of editions including the fabulous Limited Edition Elizabeth Rose Garland paperweight (Pink and red roses with entwined stems sit alongside sprigs of myrtle in this diamond shaped weight) and Magnum paperweight (Shimmering sand and dichroic shards of glass to form the internal design inside this magnum sized paperweight). Pictured left and right: Elizabeth Rose Garland Limited Edition Paperweight and Magnum – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Limited Edition Paperweight Also available is the Crown paperweight, Rose paperweight, Elizabeth Rose Garland paperweight, Coat of Arms paperweight, Sand Rose paperweight and Penny Black Sandcast paperweight. Carters Teapots Tony Carter the UK’s leading teapot designer and created two new teapots and two new mugs for the event. The teapots include the Heart Diamond Jubilee Teapot and Diamond Jubilee Flag Teapot. Pictured left and right: Tony Carter’s Diamond Jubilee Flag Teapot and the Heart Diamond Jubilee Teapot The pottery is known as one of England’s leading makers of handmade collectable teapots, supplying shops and stores throughout the UK with over 70% of the pottery/output exported throughout the world. Each collectable teapot is cast and painted by hand, resulting in no two teapots being exactly the same.
The Della Robbia Pottery was established in Birkenhead in 1894 and took its name from the celebrated Italian renaissance sculptor Luca Della Robbia whose colourfully glazed creations had graced Florentine churches since the 15th century. This Merseyside Company was founded by Harold Rathbone and the sculptor Conrad Dressler at a time when the Birkenhead area was witnessing a dramatic influx of workers seeking employment in the shipbuilding industry. In 1820 the village of Birkenhead numbered 200, however by the time Messrs Rathbone and Dressler opened their doors for business the “town” boasted a population of close to 100,000 souls. Pictured: Della Robbia Chalice and cover decorated by Cassandia Annie Walker Harold Rathbone, (1858-1929), had the benefit of being a member of the wealthy Liverpool merchant family of that name – a name which to this day still figures prominently in the financial sector based on Merseyside. He was also a man of vision at a period in time that had begun to witness the emergence of the Arts and Crafts Movement. This radical cause was essentially a reaction against the products of debatable taste emerging from the factories and dark satanic mills of that machine age. In contrast the Movement’s mission was to re-establish the importance of hand crafted objects of unquestionable artistic merit at affordable prices, and consequently to re-affirm the position and importance of the craftsman or woman. Rathbone was unquestionably a man on such a mission and it was his aim to supply the growing wealthy classes setting up home on the southern shores of the river with beautiful hand crafted “art” pottery. He did not however limit his parameters to the domestic and soon began executing commissions for public buildings and churches – this was a time when the growth in church building exceeded that witnessed last during the 15th century. Rathbone has been described as a painter, designer and a poet. Pictured: Della Robbia two handled albarello decorated by Marianne de Caluwe after Peruginos 1902 His father Phillip Rathbone was not only the head of a wealthy and socially wellconnected family but also the Chairman of the Arts and Exhibitions Sub- Committee at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery between 1886 and 1895. His son would have accompanied him to the studios and workshops of some of the most respected artists and craftsmen of that time and almost through a process of osmosis would have been influenced into recognising the talented and the brilliant in later years. The fact that the celebrated pre- Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt painted his portrait gives a reasonable indication of the circles within which he made regular orbits. Add to this the non-conformist leanings of the Rathbone clan and you soon begin to appreciate that young Harold was, at least at an aesthetic level, also a man of his time. Here was also a man determined to achieve and maintain high artistic standards that within a short period of time attracted the patronage of Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales and that great patron of the arts, Sarah Bernhardt. Outside the pottery he was able to call upon the services of such artistic luminaries as William Morris, Walter Crane, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton and not forgetting William Holman-Hunt. But it was inside the pottery that he was able to establish a team of talented designers and decorators that collectively provided the individual spark which ignited a range of wares that made strong use of incise carved (sgraffito) decoration complemented by colourful glazes. Subject matter tended to be dominated by floral and figural themes that also provided the staple for many of their contemporaries both in the United Kingdom and the United States. Rathbone was determined to provide a working environment that allowed for individual interest and dignity, which contrasted starkly with the harsh conditions and mindless toil personified by the Victorian factory system that was the lot of the working masses. These “Utopian” ideals attracted a loyal artistic workforce that included several lady decorators such as Cassandia Annie Walker, Ruth Bare, Emily Margaret Wood, Liz Wilkins and Annie Smith. Pictured: Della Robbia twin handled bottle vase decorated by Ruth Bare When it comes to value, size and quality of decoration is always an important factor, with collectors often paying a premium for portraits and Art Nouveau inspired subjects. All decorators tended to sign their work using a painted signature or monogram on the base of a pot near the incised ship trademark motif flanked by the letters D and R. In Conrad Dressler he had a co-director who was keen to establish the company’s credentials as a supplier of fine quality architectural pottery and who initially shared Rathbone’s artistic ideals. This was made manifest in a lecture Dressler gave to the Liverpool Ruskin Society in1896 titled “The Curse of Machinery”, which in all honesty fails to sit well on the epitaph of a man who in later years was to invent the revolutionary “Tunnel Kiln” that allowed for the continuous gas firing of tiles and pottery with great energy savings. Regrettably Dressler was unable to achieve any meaningful success and left the pottery in 1897. The name of the sculptor Carlo Manzoni, originally a native of Turin, is also synonymous with the Birkenhead venture, having opened his Hanley Granville Pottery in about 1894 with limited success and which appears to have terminated as the result of a disastrous fire. In 1898 he accepted the invitation to join the company and stayed until the pottery’s closure after which he continued to work in Birkenhead where he provided headstones and crosses until the need for the same with his death in 1910. Even so, Manzoni’s artistic contribution is difficult to determine, as only a few pieces appear to survive bearing the painted letter M. From all accounts this most mild mannered of men appears to have stoically endured Harold Rathbone’s apparent eccentricities and is credited with maintaining a presence that contributed artistically whilst helping to maintain a fragile solvency issue. As a result of this on-going problem, in 1900 Rathbone joined forces […]
With Ghostbusters celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year, and a new Ghostbusters film being released in 2016, there is renewed interest in this classic film and we look at some of the collectables and merchandise being released for the event. HotWheels Elite GHOSTBUSTERS ECTO-1 30th Anniversary Edition The Ecto-1 is the legendary vehicle that the Ghostbusters used to travel throughout the city busting ghosts. The vehicle used for the Ecto-1 was a 1959 Cadillac professional ambulance, built by the Miller-Meteor company and converted by Universal Studios. “GhostBusters” is the famous 1984 American comedy film about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists-turned-ghost exterminators. MattyCollector Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Figures Pack 1: Ray Stantz™ and Winston Zeddemore™ Pack 2: Peter Venkman™ and Egon Spengler™ LEGO Ghostbusters™ Ecto-1 Celebrate 30 years of ghost-busting action with the iconic Ghostbusters™ Ecto-1 car! Selected by LEGO® Ideas members (formerly known as CUUSOO), this fun and iconic vehicle from the blockbuster ‘80s movie is fully loaded with all the paranormal detection equipment needed to track down those ghastly ghosts. It also features cool Ghostbusters™ logo decoration, removable roof, tracking computer and seats for 3 minifigures. This unique set also includes a fascinating booklet containing building instructions, selected images and behind-the-scenes details about the classic Ghostbusters™ movie. So if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, strap on your proton pack and get ready to help Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore bust some ghosts! 4 minifigures with proton packs included. Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Commemorative Print Collection A number of fantastic prints have been created by artists such as Dan Mumford, Scott C, Anthony Petrie, Rich Kelly, Tara McPherson and others visist https://www.ghostbusters.com/ to view all the wonderful 30th Anniversary prints Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Edition Super Deluxe Vinyl The Traveler has come! Legacy Recordings celebrates the 30th anniversary of the classic comedy Ghostbusters in the biggest, fluffiest way. The Stay Puft Super Deluxe Edition Vinyl is a limited edition collectible vinyl package in honor of the terrifying but tasty Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. This package contains the No. 1 hit single “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. and the fan-favorite “Ghostbusters” rap by Run-DMC for the film’s hit sequel featured on a white 12” single in a deluxe collectable package.
Imagine how useful it would be if we had little knobs, strings or keys in our backs, enabling us to instantly lengthen our hair from a short, everyday bob to long, flowing locks which would make even Rapunzel jealous. Lots of dolls have this useful feature; they don’t need sessions at the hairdressers for fiddly hair-extensions!Probably the most famous ‘grow hair’ doll was Palitoy’s Tressy, produced under licence from the American Character Doll company. When she burst into the advertising spotlight in 1964, the slogan, ‘But HOW does Tressy’s hair grow?’ was chanted in school playgrounds. In fact, it turned out to be a clever promotional campaign because little girls who weren’t in on the secret became upset, pestering their parents until they too had a Tressy. So, how did Tressy’s hair grow? Simply by pushing a button in her tummy to release the ‘magic strand’ which could then be gently pulled until her hair lengthened. Afterwards, the strand was wound back into the head by means of a small metal key inserted into the hole in her back. Later versions had a plastic key as a permanent fixture. Tressy stood 12″ tall and was a slim, teen-type doll, with painted sideways-glancing eyes, but was afterwards updated and given forward-looking eyes, jointed wrists and gripping hands. Her younger sister, Toots, also favoured growing hair. Palitoy seemed quite taken with the grow hair mechanism, and in 1974 produced 18″ Sheena, more sophisticated than Tressy, with glamorous clothes such as a sparkly lilac outfit with flared trousers and a matching long-line tunic. Sheena’s hands were beautiful with long expressive fingers, and her slogan was ‘Just like magic her hair grows’. Instead of a key she had a dial in her back to wind the hair, though she still had the button in her tummy to release the strand when it was pulled. Yet another Palitoy doll was Goldilocks, a younger girl, rather than a teen, dating from 1968. Goldilocks wore a variety of outfits, and her hair was worked by a dial in her back, similar to Sheena’s. She was advertised as having 101 hair styles! Bradgate, a subsidiary company of Palitoy. issued Silky, a 10″ tall girl with a permanently fixed key, similar to Toots, Tressy’s sister. The American Ideal Toy Corporation produced a range of grow hair dolls, some of which were sold in Britain. Most popular was Crissy, a similar height to Sheena, who had striking large dark eyes. Crissy’s hair grew by gently easing out the main centre strand, and could be retracted by means of a pull-cord in her back. She was first made in 1968, and others in the series included Velvet, Mia, Kerry, Brandi and Cinnamon, all just as attractive. Haute Coiffure Sindy, dating from 1985, was a grow hair doll too. Made by Pedigree, she wore a beautiful pearlised strapless full-skirted dress over a lilac net petticoat, and a white fluffy jacket with three-quarter length sleeves. Sindy’s hairpiece was lengthened by carefully pulling it from a hole in the top of her head, and the idea was to style – or cut – the hair, which explains why so many of these dolls are found sheared! Replacement hair came in little plastic bags marked with the Sindy logo, and a panel in her back could be prised off, allowing the new hair to be inserted by means of a plastic ring tied to a thin string. Once the hair was fully extended it was virtually impossible to retract it, though sometimes, if you were lucky, the string attached to the plastic ring could be eased back slightly. One of the prettiest of these clever dolls was Katie, first issued in 1992 by Tonka, and made for a further couple of years by Kenner. Katie was the big sister of Tiny Tears and her blonde hair not only grew but could be changed from straight to wavy, depending on which hairpiece you chose to insert. This young girl doll was 17″ high, and her mechanism was activated by a plastic locket around her neck, attached to a pull cord. She is quite difficult to find today in perfect condition, and good examples sell for around £40. There were French versions of Katie, too, called ‘Kattie’, including a brunette version who seems to be fairly rare. Still easy to find, however, is Playskool’s cheerful Dolly Surprise, a 10″ high smiling girl dating from 1988. She was obtainable with many variations of both facial features and hair styles. Eye colours, dimples and freckles varied, and some dolls even featured TWO growing tresses. The mechanism was worked by raising the doll’s right arm, causing the hair to lengthen with a whirring sound. Twisting her left arm let the thick wavy strand retract back into the head, clicking loudly as it went. This doll came dressed in many different styles including a pretty pink and silver ballet tutu, and extra outfits were available. There was also a larger, 15″ version, a chubby faced baby, with a similar mechanism. Bride Surprise, from the Hasbro/Kenner/Tonka group, was a creative hair grow doll from the 1990s, a 14″ beauty whose hair cascaded down to her toes when her arm was raised. Amazingly, as it erupted, it turned from blonde to vivid pink! She had plenty of other unusual features, including a dress which turned from short to long by means of attached ribbons, a bag which changed into a bouquet and a secret gift hidden inside a rose fixed to her hair. Other grow-hair dolls which surface from time to time include a winsome-faced soft-bodied girl from Gotz, mini-sized ‘Kim’ dolls from Uneeda (with the mechanism worked by a cord in the foot), various Barbies, a range of ‘Haircut Magic’ Cabbage Patch dolls, Pedigree ‘Cut and Grow’ girl dolls with yarn hair and ‘Pert and Pretty’ by Horsman. There are many others. However, the prize for the most unusual of these dolls must surely go to Kenner’s 9″ tall Hair-Do Dolly. […]
Have you considered complementing your doll collection with picture postcards? There are thousands of designs available, and as they take up so little room, you won’t get guilt feelings each time you buy another. Picture postcards became popular in the 1890s, reaching their peak in the early 1900s, up to the end of the first world war, but even today, millions of cards are sent each year. In the days before telephones were commonplace, a postcard was the ideal medium for sending a quick message, and in Britain it was possible to post a card in the morning inviting a friend to tea the same day, and they would receive the message in plenty of time. Today, of course, it can take several days for a card to reach its destination, and so the cakes would turn stale and the tea grow cold and stewed before the invitation reached your friend. Cards served the same purpose for which we now use the phone, text message or email; they enabled people to keep in touch by brief communications. Nowadays we mainly tend to send picture postcards when we are on holiday, but at one time they were used for many different purposes including birthday, Easter and Christmas greetings – it wasn’t until the late 1940s that the folded greetings card became the norm. As you form your collection, you will no doubt discover that the majority of dolly cards you accumulate are of the greetings type. Dolls made an excellent prop for a child to hold, or even as a decoration to enhance a vase of flowers, and they featured quite extensively. They were used to increase the appeal of images of puppies, kittens, babies and beautiful young women, and also appeared in drawings and cartoons. A doll was a perfect subject for a child’s birthday card, and, in an era which was unashamed of showing sentimental feelings, dolls appeared alongside poems and ballads which are usually too sugary for today’s sophisticated tastes. All these, of course, are gems for today’s collector of doll-related postcards. One particularly popular theme is a praying child, kneeling at the side of the bed, with her (or sometimes his) dolls arranged neatly alongside, all ‘praying’ too. This image occasionally appears with a verse: Please God do make my dollies good They’ve been so naughty all today. I think I heard you say you could If I would teach them how to pray. I make them kneel with hands right up And say their prayers after me But Susan prays best on her head She breaks if Mother bends her knee. Many of the cards are photographs, usually sepia in tone, and, as well as being attractive, are particularly important to doll collectors because they make it possible to identify the doll depicted; something which can’t generally be done with any degree of certainty in a drawing. Extra interest can be added to a display when a doll is seated next to a postcard depicting the same kind of doll, especially if you dress your example in similar style to the doll shown on the card. Postcards can serve a practical purpose too. They are a visual guide to the types of dolls and the clothes they wore, as well as a guide to the fashions in children’s wear. Many of the boys depicted on the cards appear far older than their years due to their style of dress – thick formal jackets, long trousers, waistcoats and high collars. Some of the dresses worn by the little girls are delightful, with plenty of frothy lace and frills. No doubt today’s modern tot would turn her nose up in disdain if she was made to wear such a garment, which is why it’s fun to find modern examples showing 2000’s children with their dolls to add to your collection. It isn’t easy, though! However, a good start is to look through modern holiday postcards in the hope that a child and her doll was playing on the beach or walking along the prom when the photo was taken. Postcards can also be used as provenance – if the cards are dated, postmarked or stamped, it means that the doll shown on the front can be authenticated – it could be earlier than the date on the card, but will never be later. For example, if you had been told that a certain type of doll was not issued until 1927, but you come across a postcard featuring that doll and bearing a stamp franked with a postmark of two years before, you can be certain that the doll must have been made in 1925 at the latest – and maybe before. Cards add to our knowledge as well as providing a slice of social history; when telephones became more popular during the 1930s and 40s, they featured alongside dolls, as did motorcars, radios and televisions. A slightly different, but important, genre, are those postcards sold at doll museums and exhibitions which are basically straight depictions of dolls without flowery trimmings, pretty children, kittens or roses. These are useful as identification aids. Frequently, messages on the backs of the cards make interesting reading, even though you do get a feeling of eavesdropping. Early holiday cards often say that the sender is ‘having a grand time’; but later, ‘grand’ is substituted by the more modern term ‘lovely’. Some people didn’t like the thought of the postman reading their private mail, so they wrote the messages upside-down. Others alternated the lines of writing, wrote crossways or even used a code. At first, postcards cost a halfpenny (in old money) to send inland, which rose in 1918 to a penny. In 1940 it was doubled. Now of course, it costs 23p to send a postcard (2nd class delivery). It is amusing to see the oh-so-casual way which children treat their dolls on the cards, especially when you realise that the doll depicted is now classed as a collector’s item, not […]
Retro and vintage have become the new buzz words with those eagle eyed collectors who seek out all things dating from the middle of the twentieth-century onwards.
Collecting Annie Dolls – When the Annie musical first hit London, in 1978, following on from the Broadway production a year before, it was a smash-hit. It gave numerous young girls a chance to shine, amongst them a very youthful Catherine Zeta Jones, who played the lead role in a Swansea production, aged just ten. Little Orphan Annie made her debut in a cartoon strip in the Chicago Tribune in 1924, brainchild of artist Harold Gray. The story of the twelve-year-old girl surviving by her wits as she made her way in the world proved enormously popular. In 1927, according to the cartoon, Annie was living with a kind lady called Mrs. Pewter, who decided the little girl needed a new frock. She made her a red dress, with a white collar and cuffs – and the Annie image was born! Today, the carroty curls and red, white-trimmed dress, are instantly recognisable to people on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to the musical, and, even more so, the movie. The London show, at the Victoria Palace theatre, starred Sheila Hancock and Stratford Johns, with Andrea McArdle playing Annie, and ran for 1,485 performances. It was a resounding success, and was soon followed by a movie version, which today graces not only our television screens but is often still shown at cinemas, too. Most of us know the story of the orphan girl who was adopted by the benevolent millionaire Daddy Warbucks, but cruelly tricked by scheming Miss Hannigan into believing that her parents were still alive. Songs such as ‘I think I`m gonna like it here`, ‘You`re never fully dressed without a smile’, ‘It`s a hard knock life’ and, of course, ‘Tomorrow’ led to a happily ever after finale – and spawned loads of memorabilia, including dolls. Annie was very much an all-American icon; she lifted spirits during the dark days of the depression, and has always had a special place in the hearts of the American people. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the dolls are American, some dating from the musical and movie days, others more recent, and a few which were made in the 1930s and 40s. When the musical first came out, manufacturers were quick to realise the marketing potential, but it was the release of the movie in 1982 which really triggered the mass interest. At the time toyshops featured colourful displays of the scarlet-dressed Annie, though, certainly in Britain, most of the dolls were of the cloth doll type. It might be just as well to clear up a popular misconception here – Annie is not the same character as Raggedy Ann. Raggedy Ann was a doll dreamt up by American writer Johnny Gruelle in 1915 to amuse his sick daughter. The doll was a pinafore-wearing rag doll with a triangular nose and red hair. By contrast, Annie (or Little Orphan Annie) was a fictional child whose character became world-famous through the medium of cartoons, musical theatre and cinema. Many of the Annie dolls are easy to find, though often you will need to purchase from America as the more unusual types were not sold in Britain. Those that are easy to find over here include a selection of cloth dolls. One of the most appealing was made by Knickerbocker in the early 1980s. She stood 16 inches tall, and her gingery hair was sewn in tight wool curls. A tiny furry Sandy, the dog which she adopted in the film, was tucked inside a pocket in her red dress. The company also made a smaller, 6 inch, Annie doll, but she was not so well detailed, as well as several larger sizes. Applause was another company who made Annie cloth dolls, including some with reinforced, stiff faces. The interesting thing about the Applause dolls was the way that the company tried to capture the blank-eyed expression of the original cartoon character by giving the dolls printed eyes which appeared to be gazing upwards. These dolls were similarly dressed to the Knickerbocker girls, but their curls were looser and softer. Applause Annies were made in various sizes, including some small clip-on types. Expect to pay around £15 for a cloth Annie doll depending on condition. Also available in Britain was a delightful small vinyl Annie doll, made by Knickerbocker. This doll stood just six inches high and was sold in the ubiquitous red Annie dress. A ‘gold’ locket was included in the box with the doll, large enough for a child to wear. In the show, the locket was a vital piece of evidence in the search for Annie’s parents. The outfits issued at the time for this little doll included a pale yellow floral dress, a cream two piece, a blue coat, a pink floral nightdress and a blue play-suit, with accompanying hats and shoes. Other characters were issued in the same series, but were much harder to find in the UK, and today you would probably need to try ebay if you want to add them to your collection. Punjab, an Indian doll, looked handsome in his white cotton suit and turban with a bright red and black striped sash tied around his waist. Daddy Warbucks wore a black satin evening suit with a white shirt, black bow tie and red cummerbund. Knickerbocker managed to achieve some great characterisation in these small playdolls, capturing Daddy Warbuck`s expression – and his bald head – very well. Scary, intoxicated Miss Hannigan was also included in the set, dressed in a mauve two-piece patterned with small multi-coloured shapes, while little Molly, Annie’s friend at the orphanage, wore a green pinafore over a floral long-sleeved blouse. Molly had a delightful smile and her brown hair was cut into a short bob with a fringe. Knickerbocker produced several accessories to go with these dolls, amongst them a super blue 1929 Model Duesenberg Limousine, complete with chauffeur. It measured 15 inches long, and there was room in the back seats for two Annie dolls. The company also made […]
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!