Since history began man has attempted to smoke various burning herbs in different ways, but the first appearance of the pipe, functioning on the principle of the familiar briar, is a matter for conjecture. Pictured left: An American Indian Stone Pipe With Lead Inlay To The Bowl And Stem 6In. (15Cm.) Long. Sold for £1,320 at Christies, London, The Fine Art of Smoking sale, May 2006. Image Copyright Christies. The earliest known pipes have been discovered in the neolithic barrows of the Mississippi valley, and were made of porphyritic and other hard stone, tubular in shape or consisting of a tube with a central bowl. Many of these pipes, which are over 5000 years old, are elaborately carved with representations of animals, and from that time to this day, a lot of care and artistry has gone into the making of pipes all over the world. The Maya tribes, who migrated from North America to the Yucatan peninsula and other parts of Mexico before the Christian era, have left in their stone carvings representations of priests smoking pipes of a similar design—a design not far removed from the modern American Indians’ calumet, or pipe of peace. Excavations in many parts of Europe have led to the discovery of iron and earthenware pipes, used for smoking herbs other than tobacco, which was only introduced into the ” Old World ” in the sixteenth century, while many of these finds are attributed to the first and second centuries A.D. Pictured left: A Haida Argillite Pipe – The Bowl Carved As A Head, The Stem With Bird And Figure – 6in. (15Cm.) Long. Sold for £2,640 at Christies, London, The Fine Art of Smoking sale, May 2006. Image Copyright Christies. The first Europeans to smoke tobacco pipes were sailors of the Columbus expedition and those of other navigators of the time such as Vespucci and Magellan, who, having adopted the habit from the Indians, brought home with them calumets and tobacco. The custom and ” the weed ” spread from Spain and Portugal to France— where it was introduced by the French ambassador to the Portuguese court, Jean Nicot, whose name is perpetuated in the plant’s botanical name, Nicotiana Tabacum. From France it spread to the Low Countries and thence to Britain. Sir Walter Raleigh did much to popularise the habit of smoking the pipe in England, but it is difficult to ascertain whether he actually introduced it, or whether this distinction belongs to his great contemporaries and fel- low sailors, Drake and Hawkins. It is, however, an established fact that pipe smoking was common in this country before the end of the sixteenth century and the pipe makers of London became an incorporated body by 1619. The pipe found its greatest vogue in the nineteenth century, when some of the most beautiful specimens were made and this vogue grew as the century advanced becoming quite a cult with our Victorian grandfathers. The following passage from ” The Diary of a Nobody” by George and Weedon Grossmith, published about 1880, illustrates this fact: ” Cummings unexpectedly dropped in to show me a meerschaum pipe he had won in a raffle in the City, and told me to handle it carefully or it would spoil the colouring if the hand was moist.” The materials used for making pipes were many and varied—the main reason for their selection being suitability— but there were cases when the only substances available at the time and place were used. The neolithic stone pipes have already been mentioned. While these were made of hard stone, a softer type of rock was used until quite recently, to make pipe bowls, in Palestine. This is a dark grey bituminous limestone found on the western shores of the Dead Sea and these pipe heads were used in conjunction with a long wooden stem. Soap-stone bowls were often made for the calumet which had a stem of reed or painted wood about 21 feet long, decorated with feathers. The Eskimos have fashioned pipes out of reindeer antlers, while in parts of central Europe the antlers of red and fallow deer were used for the same purpose. Pictured right: An Eskimo Walrus Ivory Pipe Incised With Fishing Scenes, Inscribed Autsis Look 16½.In. (42Cm.) Long. Sold for £5,040 at Christies, London, The Fine Art of Smoking sale, May 2006. Image Copyright Christies. Glass has been used from time to time, and the best known specimens were produced in the first half of the nineteenth century at the Bristol and Nailsea works, in all the delightful shades for which these factories were noted. These glass pipes—be they of clear glass with white or coloured symmetrical waves, or of an opaque milky-white texture with blue or red waves—were very attractive but it is doubtful if any but the smallest were ever smoked. Some of the very large ones—up to four feet long, with a bowl capable of holding a pound of tobacco — were most probably used to adorn some Georgian or early Victorian tobacconist’s window. Corn-cobs suitably dried and toasted, fitted with a short straight stem of wood or cork and a bone mouthpiece, have enjoyed long popularity in the United States. Calabash, which is a fruit of the gourd family, has been used for making bowls and was much smoked in this country during the 30 or 40 years preceding the first world war. The rim of the pipe and the end of the stem, where it adjoins the curved amber or ebonite mouthpiece, were generally protected by a silver band and the pipes can be dated from the hallmark carried by the silver. Early in the nineteenth century, a Budapest shoemaker is supposedto have discovered the process of waxing a mineral white in colour, soft, chemically a silicate of magnesia, quarried mostly in Asia Minor and known as ” meerschaum” (a German word meaning sea-froth) because of its light weight. Pictured left: Finely carved meerschaum pipes. Image Copyright Christies. This discovery meant that the material could now be used for making pipes, the wax treatment […]
Tiny Tears Dolls – The Most Popular Vinyl Doll – Launched in a blaze of publicity in 1965, amazingly Tiny Tears dolls are still sold today – and the earliest ones are becoming exceedingly collectable. At the time, Palitoy was one of Britain’s largest toy manufacturers, and their revolutionary doll went on to win the ‘Toy of the Year’ award no less than three times. But what made this vinyl doll any different to the hundreds of others on the market at the time? Well, not only she could she shed ‘real’ tears and wet her nappy, additionally her limbs were attached with unique rotational joints, causing her to fall naturally into a floppy, babylike position when she was held. The very first, 1965, Tiny Tears doll was 16″ high with fine pale blonde hair and blue sleeping eyes. The back of her neck was marked ‘Made in England 16D’. She had delicate features, a small, pursed mouth, wore a turquoise or pink gingham romper and came with a bib, bottle and a dummy. This doll proved so popular that a year later Palitoy produced a smaller version, Teeny Tiny Tears, just 12″ high. Shortly after, Palitoy became part of the American company, General Mills Inc., who decided to keep the Palitoy name. Sometimes today collectors come across a baby doll similar to Tiny Tears but with a smiling face. This is Baby Flopsy, issued around the same time and advertised as being able to wear Teeny Tiny Tears outfits. She was sold wearing just a nappy. Five years after the initial launch, Tiny Tears was given a complete revamp which made her appear older; her delicate face was more rounded, her eyes were larger, her mouth wider and her hair was thicker. This is the face which most people remember, and it was to stay the same for the next fifteen years. She was marked ‘Palitoy’ on the back of the neck. One of her most popular outfits was a white nylon dress with blue and pink smocking on the yoke, and she was sold in this from 1973 to 1980, at a recommended retail price of œ7.99. Tiny Tears dolls came with guarantees and gift certificates, as well as instructions on how to feed the doll and make her cry. The tear mechanism was activated by ‘feeding’ the doll with water, quickly inserting a dummy to prevent the water trickling out of the mouth, and then squeezing her tummy hard. She would wet her nappy at the same time, probably due to shock! To mark the next decade, Tiny Tears was given a pretty cotton dress with a floral design in either pink or blue, and, at first, matching pants and bonnet, though soon a nappy was substituted for the pants while the bonnet was discarded.The eye-catching box read ‘She’s as cute and cuddly as a real baby. Just like a real baby she cries real tiny tears.’ The decade also heralded a new addition, the little Teeny Weeny Tiny Tears, just 9″ tall, who is now extremely popular with collectors and quite hard to find. A Tiny Tears logo was introduced, shaped like a yellow ‘sun-ray’, to decorate clothing and accessories, and in 1982, the floral outfit was updated to a white cotton dress trimmed with blue gingham. Three years later one of the prettiest versions of Tiny Tears appeared. Her ash-blonde hair was very thick and curly, her face was slimmer, and she wore a distinctive all-in-one jump-suit consisting of pink and blue spotted trousers over a white and blue striped top, with the words ‘Tiny Tears’ embroidered in blue on the trouser bib. Although the boxes of these dolls were labelled ‘Palitoy’, the actual doll bore no mark. It was around this time that General Mills withdrew from the toy scene and for a while, it seemed that Tiny Tears would disappear too. However, you can’t keep a popular doll down, and soon she was back, now produced by Tonka Toys, who introduced a brunette version as well as the standard blonde. It was Tonka who were responsible for one of the more unusual innovations when, in 1988, they gave Tiny Tears ‘flirty’ eyes, which moved from side to side. At the same time, they revamped her body, giving her realistically-curled fingers. This roving-eye doll is very collectable, but be careful, because the delicate eye mechanism is often damaged. When Tiny Tears celebrated her 25th birthday in 1990 (sold in a special anniversary presentation box) she was given a complete makeover, and reverted to the original delicate features. Tonka introduced two new dolls to the range. Timmy Tears, still a favourite today, and advertised as Tiny Tears’ twin brother, had dark hair, a saucy face, and wore a white and navy dungaree suit. He had the same crying and wetting abilities as his twin. The other addition was big sister Katie, who was a triumph, and one of the prettiest dolls on the market at the time. She was dainty, with a sweet face and, at 17″ tall, an inch taller than her siblings. Her outfit consisted of a white-spotted cerise or navy dress, and though she wasn’t a crying doll, she could do something even more clever – she could grow her hair! Around her neck hung a large plastic locket containing a pull cord, which enabled the hair to be wound in or out from her head, and an additional hairpiece was included in her box. Katie was soon discontinued, and is today one of the most sought-after of the Tiny Tears collection. During this period, the who-owned-whom became complicated. A spokes-person, writing in 1998 on behalf of Playmates Toys, a more recent owner of Tiny Tears, states that General Mills was bought out by Tonka and ‘eventually Kenner Parker. The company stayed Kenner Parker up until about 5 years ago (1992), when it was bought out by Hasbro, however the company still remained with the name Kenner Parker, which became a part of […]
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 […]
The City of Dublin is often referred to as the heart and soul of Ireland, and within the heart of the City itself is Ireland’s number one visitor attraction – The Guinness Storehouse. Opened in November 2000, it has to date, attracted over 3 million visitors including myself on a recent trip to the emerald isle. The huge structure is breath taking and the in-depth knowledge that I gained from just one day at the Storehouse is second to none, so I highly recommend a visit, especially if you are an avid collector of Guinness memorabilia or if not, purely to soak up the history of a brewery which began more than 250 years ago. Born in 1725, Arthur Guinness was familiar with the duties of running a brewery as he often helped the workers on this family estate brew the beer, so when on 31st December 1759 Arthur signed a 9,000 year lease at an annual rent of £45 for a disused brewery in Dublin, he was well aware of the business ahead of him. Determined to make the brewery work he began by brewing a strong black beer made from roast barley called “porter,” worldwide, today, this drink is known as “Guinness.” The first shipment was exported to England on a sailing vessel and proved a success but by 1775 the Dublin Corporation Sheriff tried to cut off the water supply where the Brewery drew its free water. Defending his right, Arthur threatened the authorities with a pickaxe and they left well alone. Arthur died in 1803, aged 78 leaving behind a large personal fortune of £23,000 and a flourishing business, which was then taken over by his son, Arthur Guinness II. From 1833 Guinness has been the largest brewery in Ireland, and now in 2006, 5 million glasses of the black stuff is enjoyed in over 150 countries around the globe each day. This is largely due to the successful growth of the Brewery’s business, which from the end of the 19th Century through to the 20th Century employed between 3,500 and 4,500 people at any one time. Throughout history the brewery had family members directly involved and the influence that the Guinness family had on Dublin is evident throughout. Benjamin Lee Guinness took over from Arthur Guinness II after his death and later became Lord Mayor of Dublin along with being elected for the Parliament of Dublin City in 1865. After Benjamin’s death in 1868, Edward Cecil Guinness took the reins and was to be the first Lord Iveagh. He was also responsible for establishing the Guinness Trust, which later became known as the Iveagh Trust and provided homes for the poor in both Dublin and London. After Benjamin’s death in 1927 Arthur Edward Guinness took over and was then followed by Rupert Edward Guinness who was the 2nd Lord Iveagh. It was under Rupert that the first official advertising campaign for Guinness was launched. The final family member to be directly involved with the running of the Brewery was Benjamin Guinness who passed away in 1992. Today, the brewery is owned by Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks company who also boast Baileys, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker Whisky amongst others in their drinks portfolio. With such an impressive history it made sense to open a visitors centre that paid homage to the Guinness Dynasty. So in November 2000 The Guinness Storehouse was officially opened on the site of the original brewery. This impressive seven storey high building was the first steel framed building created in the Chicago Style in the British Isles. A H Hignett carried out the architecture and the steelwork was supplied by Sir William Arroll. Taking over 3 years to complete this £30million visitor experience has been designed so that people can take a journey through the past, present and future of the world’s most famous beer. Aside from the fact that you can spend the day discovering the ingredients, process, craft, time and passion that goes into making each individual pint, you can also relax in the lavish Gravity Bar with your free pint, which is situated above the roof and from the outside is seen as the head of a pint of Guinness. This is the highest bar in Ireland and has 360 degrees panoramic views across Dublin – an experience not to be missed. There is also an impressive array of advertising collectables on show in the Storehouse, covering everything from vintage bottles and mugs to the more modern Carlton Ware figurines. Amongst the display is the original Harp, which today is the registered trademark of Guinness. Made in 1702 by Cormac O’Kelly of Ballynascreen it was adopted by Guinness in 1862 and is their signature piece appearing on everything from the bottle labels to merchandise. During my visit I was lucky enough to meet with Claire Hackett, an archivist at the Storehouse whose job involves documenting all the Official Guinness merchandise that has been produced from 1930 onwards in Ireland (the UK and overseas marked is archived in Scotland). Although the earlier items were more point of sale pieces such as showcards, the range did expand and by the 1950s items were made to target wholesalers and licensed trade. It wasn’t until the 1980s when Guinness started to produce merchandise for customers as well. Claire explained to me that the Storehouse is used as a vehicle to show the home of Guinness and has many of the earlier collectables available on show. She also told me that the archive system is readily available to the public, so if you come across a piece of Guinness memorabilia and are not sure where it dates to, the archivists can help you find it, date it and recommend organisations such as the Guinness Collectors Club for valuations. “It is normally figurines, key rings and cufflinks that turn up and are very popular but the most unusual item I have ever come across is a hair brush that is shaped like […]
Flirty Thirties – Sophistication And Elegance – Dolls in The 1930s by Sue Brewer Lights! Camera! Action! This was the decade of the movie idol. People from all walks of life filled cinemas to watch glamorous actors and actresses on the big screen, escaping everyday worries as they drifted on a sea of music and romance. Stars became household names – though, unlike today’s celebrities, managing to retain their mystique in a waft of fur, satin, diamonds and aloofness. 1930 opened with a literal high for women when Amy Johnson became the first female aviator to fly solo from England to Australia. Sadly, the year ended with a tragic aviation low when the airship R101, on its inaugural flight from England to India, crashed in France, exploding in flames with a loss of 48 lives. The early years of the decade were a combination of emotions as light-hearted young people danced the night away to jazzy music, contrasting with despair and poverty faced by millions as the Depression, following the earlier U.S. Wall Street Crash, hit home. Characterised by instability, with changes of governments, unrest amongst lower-paid workers and, amazingly, three kings in one year (1936), the Thirties were turbulent times. Germany was proving a constant threat, and a sense of unease permeated the atmosphere – this was sensed even in the fashion industry, where clothing became more simple and casual, as though preparing women for the lean times ahead. Even so, it certainly wasn`t all doom and gloom. A magnificent 1000 ft. liner, the ‘Queen Mary’, was launched in 1934; cruising was the height of fashion amongst the upper classes, and this magnificent ship with its Art Deco design, was deservedly popular. Sophisticated, elegant and stylish, just like her passengers, she summed up the very best of the decade. On her maiden cruise she arrived in New York to find the harbour filled with a welcoming armada and cheering crowds lining the shore. Millionaires, dukes, heiresses and, of course, film stars, adored the ship – this was the height of luxury and style. The rising movie culture was enthusiastically embraced, and elaborate cinemas with velvet seats and plush fittings were built at a frenzied pace. Soon it seemed that every town had its own ‘Picture Palace’ where audiences could lose themselves in a fantasy world. This was the era of Busby Berkely, a choreographer who directed amazing dance routines featuring dozens of feather-clad performers, and many films featured song and dance numbers. Glamorous stars such as Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo and Mae West made the cinema the place to be, while ‘The Wizard of Oz’ starring a young Judy Garland, was released in 1939, just one of the many classic movies which appeared during the decade. Two years earlier, Disney had produced his first-ever full-length cartoon, ‘Snow White’, allowing companies such as Chad Valley to make stunning commemorative dolls. Additionally, a golden-haired tot called Shirley Temple became such a cinema cult that she was created in doll-form to thrill both British and American girls alike, while sassy cartoon star, Betty Boop, was such a hit that she is still adored today. By the mid-thirties, composition had largely overtaken bisque as the best medium for doll manufacture, and while many dolls made by this method were almost as beautiful as their elegant bisque forbears, others were much more crude with slapdash face painting and basic moulding. Some of the bisque manufacturers switched to composition, while new companies evolved, keen to take advantage of the fashion for a medium which didn`t require firing in hot kilns. America had a particularly extensive doll industry at this time and amongst the classic dolls developed were Dy-Dee, Patsy and Shirley Temple. The first Shirley Temple dolls appeared in the shops in 1934, sporting a red and white spotted dress resembling the outfit the little girl wore in ‘Stand Up and Cheer’. The dolls were made by Ideal, using a kind of wood-pulp composition, and their success ensured that Shirley Temple dolls would continue to be produced for several years, wearing costumes from her various films. Additionally, extra outfits and accessories could be purchased, including a beautiful dolls pram. Composition Shirley Temple dolls were finally discontinued in 1939 as interest had waned. Nevertheless, in the late 1950s, a combination of nostalgia plus new interest in Shirley, led Ideal to release an updated range, this time using modern vinyl. Today, Shirley Temple dolls are still produced for collectors by companies such as Danbury Mint. In Britain, Cascelloid experimented making baby dolls from a material they called ‘Plastex’, which was a glue-reinforced unbreakable composition, while companies such as D. G. Todd, British National Dolls and Pedigree produced various composition dolls to a fairly basic design. These were the dolls which would later prove such comfort to children huddled in air-raid shelters, or, alternatively, be the one reminder of home to a child taken to the safety of the countryside, parted from her mother. Britain – in fact the world – was rocked in 1936 when Edward VIII, renounced his throne in order to marry American heiress Wallis Simpson. She was divorced, and so was unable to become queen. In a broadcast at the time, Edward declared that he could not carry on ‘without the help and support of the woman I love`. Instead, Edward`s brother reigned as George VI, and his delightful wife Elizabeth became universally loved, later becoming affectionately known as ‘The Queen Mum’. Before the 1939 hostilities began, the decade was an elegant age, with evening wear influenced by the slinky, sparkly gowns worn by stars such as Ginger Rogers, who whirled around the dance floors in the arms of Fred Astaire. Women embraced a feminine, curvy look, simple by daytime and stunning by night. Schiaparelli, the classic Italian designer, promoted the zip fastener which at the time had been scarcely used in fashionable clothing. At last, it was unnecessary to employ a maid to do up all those hooks […]
At a recent exhibition at the Acorn Gallery, Pocklington we had the pleasure of interviewing a favourite artist of ours at WCN, the very talented Marie Louise Wrightson. Marie’s work and imagining of Alice in Wonderland has caught our attention and her clever use of props, novelties and frames for her art make her an artist to watch. Have you always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland? Being Dyslexic, I have always loved the illustrations in books, for me, they bring the stories to life in so many ways. Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite book, I think it’s that mix of escapism, fantasy and the wonderful portrayal of the creativity of Lewis Carroll in his story telling. Who is your favourite character? My favorite character has to be the Mad Hatter, because of his love of tea and fabulous quotes. Do you collect Alice in Wonderland books? I have a large collection of of Alice in Wonderland objects and around 70 books, many favorites, but I do have a Russian copy with some amazing illustrations. I am constantly inspired by the drawings, paintings and illustrations from the books, a fabulous resource of imagery. You also create designs featuring wonderful hair arrangements. How did you come up with the idea and how do you select the items that appear? I started painting a grown up Alice with large cups on her head and long hair with all the related objects not long after I graduated from art school. I like creating that almost dream like effect with my figures, a head full of dreams. What else inspires you? I’m a bit of a DC fan and have painted many characters from the comics and films, would love to paint a Bane and Batman piece, many next year. Favorite comic characters has to be Harley Quinn and Cat Woman, always fun to paint. More about Marie Louise Wrightson Marie Louise graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art, in Dundee, in 2005, having completed her degree in Fine Art and then later her Masters. Marie’s modern twist on a very fine art style has gained her an excellent reputation. Marie was born in Lincolnshire but has lived in Scotland for the past twenty years. Further information You can find Marie on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarieLWrightson/ Marie Louise Wrightson at the Acorn Gallery
Kitchenalia are items and utensils associated with the kitchen and are now collected. These kitchenalia items range from Victorian copper jelly moulds and glass rolling pins to 1950s/1960s retro items to Kenwood Chef mixers to modern kitchen classics such as Alessi. Unlike other rooms, the kitchen is much more difficult to personalise. Kitchens, especially those in modern houses, tend to consist of rows of white metal appliances with wooden cupboards above. Pictured: Carlton Ware Sheep Mint Sauce Boat Unlike kitchens found in older houses, or those used by our ancestors (to whom many of our modern gadgets would seem alien), kitchens nowadays are often long and narrow, so it’s difficult to squeeze in a traditional dresser, let alone an old-fashioned cooking range or even an Aga. Many people today enjoy the minimalist, almost sterile look of a modern kitchen, but some of us still crave individuality. So how do we achieve it? If you want your kitchen to acquire a retro look, then there are thousands of items out there to accent your kitchen, from original 50s, 60s (and earlier) items of kitchenware through to streamlined 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s classics. With cooking being the in-thing right now, thanks to Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and co., there has been an upsurge of interest in kitchenalia. However smart a modern glass mixing bowl, plastic jug or non-stick saucepan can be, you can’t beat an earthenware bowl, blue striped Cornishware jug or maybe a seventies’ Poole casserole dish for adding a bit of warmth to your kitchen. Pictured: 1970s Kenwood Chef Some people embrace the collecting fad with a passion – they collect egg cups, or cruet sets or old mugs and display them on shelves to create a focal point – while others concentrate on a few, maybe larger items; an old enamel bread bin or perhaps a colourful enamel kettle. Sometimes, these old kettles and pans aren’t suitable for use on a modern hob, but they can still make a decorative statement. I think some of the most elegant of kitchen items are those long, tall sixties’ and seventies’ coffee pots. Many were ceramic, made by companies such as Meakin and Midwinter, while others were in subtle brushed stainless steel. The Russell Hobbs’ 3008 automatic coffee pot from the 1970s, with its wooden handle and tapered body, is still stylish today, and looks much more chic than a contemporary glass and plastic cafetiere. Other electrical items still sought after for modern kitchens include Kenwood Chef food mixers, Russell Hobbs’ stainless steel kettles and early toasters. Larger items too are collected by some people; I still use a 1960’s electric cooker manufactured by English Electric, and would never swap it for an up-to-date one. The solid doors and large, heavy grill pan are rarely found in modern cookers. Besides, the styling is much more ‘friendly’ than the flat, bland surfaces of today’s cooking appliances. Pictured: 1960s T G Green Roulette Kitchen Jars One traditional item still collected today is Cornishware, especially the blue and white striped variety. Originally made by T. G. Green, many look-a-likes appeared when other companies began copying the design after seeing how popular it had become. Fresh and summery, it is said that it gained its name after being described by a West Country salesman as reminding him of ‘blue Cornish skies and white-crested waves’. The blue and white ware was first introduced in the 1920s, and it became an immediate hit. Older or rare pieces are snapped up by today’s collectors. The company was actually based in Staffordshire, and the T. G. Green brand name is still used. In the 1950s, when British pottery design was becoming more ambitious, many designs were produced to coincide with, or were influenced by, the Festival of Britain. Often they had ‘futuristic’ designs based on atoms, or featured exotic scenes, ballet dancers or even items of furniture, such as the iconic ‘Homemaker’ range by Enid Seeley for Ridgway Poteries, which was sold exclusively through Woolworths. Pictured: 1970s Boscastle Salt Pig Another fad was to have different coloured cups and saucers (most people used cups and saucers back then, rather than mugs). By the 1960s, Midwinter, Portmeirion, Meakin and others were filling the shops with their attractive, dynamic designs. Some were stunning, and of course are the ideal kitchen collectable, as they can be regularly used, although it is best not to put them in the dishwasher, as the pattern might fade. I have a soft spot for those ceramics made by the smaller studios, which often you never hear of unless you happen to see a ‘pottery’ sign as you pass by some narrow country lane. You can often find attractive mugs, jugs and pots which look perfect in a kitchen. In the 1960s and 70s I collected various pieces of ‘kitchen’ pottery, mainly from the West Country. One of my favourites is a painted, unglazed ‘salt pig’ from Boscastle Pottery with a delicate tree design, the shape of which resembles the pots used in kitchens centuries ago. The design technique is known as Mochaware and is created by applying ‘mocha tea’, a mix of oxides, to the wet slip. Sometimes tobacco or coffee are used instead. This results in a staining in the formation of a fern-like pattern, and no two are identical. Another absolute favourite of mine is Tintagel ware, especially the soft pink and green ‘eye’ versions, which I think are just beautiful, and the swirly deep green dragon designs.. Fruit bowls, jam pots, jugs, vases, egg cups and cheese dishes – Tintagel pottery was established in 1948, and is still made in the mystical Cornish village, where rumour has it that King Arthur once roamed. There are also those distinctive cheese dishes and other items with hand drawn characters by Toni Raymond. Toni Raymond ware first appeared in the 1950s, and in the 1960s they acquired Babbacombe Pottery. Also collectable are Szeiler animal face dripping pots, Sylvac face pots and the later attractive line […]
Most researchers agree that the first jigsaw puzzle was produced in 1762 by John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker from London.
Polly Pocket & Polly Pocket Collectables by Susan Brewer (follow Sue on Twitter @bunnypussflunge) Small children love small items; they get enormous pleasure from a tiny doll hidden inside a walnut shell or a matchbox filled with beads. Obviously, the smallest toys aren’t suitable for a baby, but as soon as they get past the ‘toys in mouth’ stage, they seem to revel in the miniature. This was something Beatrix Potter understood very well, and why she insisted that when her famous Peter Rabbit series of books were first published in the early 1900s, they were of a size to fit the hands of a small child. They have been published that size ever since. So, when a gentleman called Chris Wiggs had the bright idea of turning a powder compact into a doll’s house for his daughter’s tiny doll to play in, success was almost guaranteed. It was the 1980s, a time when dozens of new and exciting girls’ toys were flooding the market – Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Flower Fairies and Care Bears, to name but a few. Even so, when Chris showed the toy to Bluebird Toys of Swindon, they snapped up the idea and, despite all the competition, it soon proved a hit. Polly Pocket compacts were neat, tidy toys, and girls loved them. The compacts were small and secretive, and as well as containing a tiny doll they were moulded inside as room settings, with staircases, furniture and other items. Although there was hardly enough room inside for the tiny doll to breathe, there was plenty of room for a child’s imagination. The compacts were hinged, just like a powder compact, and came in a variety of colourful shapes, including circular, square, shell, heart and oblong. The original Polly Pocket dolls were very small – around an inch high – but they were beautifully made, with hinged waists so they could fold when the compact lid was closed. When opened, each compact revealed extremely well planned interiors with every scrap of space utilised. The interior of the lift-up lid would be a house, for instance, while the base was a garden with moulded paths, flowers and ponds or paths and often a small revolving turntable so that the tiny Polly could move or dance. She could also be fitted into various holes in the mouldings. Frequently other characters or animals were included as well. All the detail was amazing, and to a child, almost miraculous. Even the exterior moulding was impressive; the plastic was smooth and rounded and was pleasant to hold. Picking up an unfamiliar, closed Polly Pocket compact was an adventure, there was a feeling of anticipation and, on opening, an air of wonder. Some of the specials, such as the Christmas versions with their sparkly interiors, were beautiful. Parents liked the toys too, because they were the perfect toy for children to take on a journey. They were small enough to fit inside a pocket or bag, and as the dolls stored neatly inside the compact, there was little chance of losing pieces. As more and more of the toys were made, children became spoilt for choice, and it wasn’t long before there was a Polly Pocket to suit every occasion, or so it seemed. In addition to the little houses, Polly Pocket compacts could also be obtained containing such delights as a Studio Flat, Hair Salon, Movie Star’s House, Winter Chalet, Parisienne Hotel, Dance Studio, Pet Shop and many, many more. In 1993, the Gamleys chain of toy shops were advertising an extra large play set, called Polly’s Dream World. They stated ‘The dream house has two wings that open out to reveal lots of beautiful rooms. In Polly’s dream world there are so many secret places to visit and exciting things to do. It’s everything you ever dreamed of for Polly!’ At the time this set cost £24.99, over five times more than the average Polly Pocket compact price of £4.99, and, like many other Polly Pockets, is beginning to be quite sought after today. Eventually over 350 different compact sets were produced. The toys continued to be made throughout the following decade, but in the late 1990s Mattel, who had taken over production from Bluebird, decided to redesign them. They made Polly larger, bringing out different designs and larger play sets – although she is still imaginative, she seems to have lost much of that miniature magic which charmed little girls during the late 1980s and for most of the 1990s. However, the larger dolls are more realistic with ‘real’ hair rather than the moulded hair of the Bluebird dolls, and also have removable clothing. Mattel still make some small types, such as the recent ‘Polly Wheels’ – tiny cars containing a 1.5 inch high jointed-at-the-waist doll – though these items are not as small as the originals. Running alongside Polly Pocket were the Polly Pocket Walt Disney compacts, which were also made by Bluebird. They were called the Tiny Collection but were invariably referred to as ‘Polly Pocket Disneys’. These themed play sets, made to resemble scenes from Disney films, were charming, and contained minute Disney characters. Some of the sets were in compacts, just like the original Polly Pockets, but many were slightly larger and shaped like buildings, the outside decorated like a house so it was an attractive item in own right, lacking the plainness of the compacts. Some sets were even larger, though the scale was just the same, with the characteristic little characters. For instance, the thatched Snow White cottage was delightful, and it even lit up. Snow White and the seven dwarves were included, and the cottage could be closed up with the characters inside. Some of these larger play sets came with their own compacts, which could be played with separately. Amongst the Walt Disney films which appeared in the Tiny Collection were Bambi, The Little Mermaid, 101 Dalmatians, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Cinderella, Alice In Wonderland, Beauty and the […]
Originally released in 1973 this highly competitive, strategy card and dice driven board game can be found as a newer version almost fifty years on. However, there is still a market for the first edition. Set during the real-life eponymous daring escape from Colditz prison, one player takes the role of a German security officer, and the other players will play the Allied prisoners looking to escape. Fascinatingly, the game was inspired and co-created by Major P.R. Reid who was one of the few British soldiers to successfully escape from Colditz Prison during the Second World War. Although used, original 1973 copies of the game printed by Gibson Games of London can still sell for around £40 and is considered highly collectible. A newer version was produced by Osprey Games for those interested in playing this classic game and sells new for around the same price as the original. So you could always sell your old copy and invest in the shiny reprinted version. Otherwise, those who are nostalgic for this classic game can easily pick one up on the secondhand market. Action Man Escape from Colditz This set is very collectable and if you are able to find a set in perfect condition and complete it will sell for over £500 / $700. Even empty boxes in very good condition can sell for £80 / $110. The Action Man Escape from Colditz Set was released in 1974 was part of a range built upon the success of the BBC TV Colditz series and the popularity of Action Man at the time. The Escape from Colditz box set included the uniforms of the Escape Officer and a German Sentry – basically a paired down German Stormtrooper, along with detailed Colditz accessories, including a self- assembly German cardboard sentry box with barrier, and forged escape papers. The set was also released in a 40th Anniversary Edition. This set has a secondary market estimate of £150-£250 / $225-$375 Escape from Colditz board game feature by Rob Edmonds.