Having already attained the accolade and recognition for being France’s premier jeweller, by 1905 Rene Lalique had begun to focus his attention to the possibilities of commercial art glass. Additional impetus came in 1907 after being approached by Francois Coty, the celebrated parfumier, and his neighbour in the fashionable Place Vendome. Coty asked Lalique to design the embossed gilt paper labels for various perfumes, whereupon legend has it that Lalique took umbrage and only agreed on the strict understanding that he was also commissioned to design the actual glass bottles. In agreeing to this demand Coty could hardly imagine how this would send his business into a veritable overdrive, such was the response and increase in demand for those perfumes retailed in bottles designed by Lalique. At this time such bottles were manufactured by Legras et Cie as Lalique did not then have the sizeable glassworks needed for mass production, although Coty had also used the services of the Baccarat factory in previous years. The dramatic success of this venture resulted in a growing procession of recognised perfume companies approaching Lalique in the quest of emulating their competitor’s success. Such pre war commissions came from household names such as Roger et Gallet, Worth, D’Orsay, Arys and Rosine amongst others. Today these early bottles are keenly sought after by collectors as they manage to encapsulate their designer’s uncanny ability of transforming a utilitarian object into a desirable work of art. Such vessels allowed him to develop designs that borrowed from nature whilst making great play of both the mystical and magical elements readily evident in such Coty commissions as ‘Cyclamen’ and L’Effleurt de Coty (The caress of Coty), with the former later reworked with two additional forms of button stopper. Lalique soon recognised that the demand for stylish perfume bottles was big enough for his own ‘Maison Lalique’ creations that were available for the purchaser to then fill with an essence of their own liking. The combined ranges became so extensive that many collectors are content to restrict their collections to just perfume bottles. Initially he had made use of a small glass furnace located on his country estate at Clairfontaine on the outskirts of Paris, but the increase in demand dictated that he should acquire a larger facility. In 1909 he purchased a much larger concern at Combs la Ville that allowed for greater mass production with an estimated workforce of about 50-100 craftsmen and where output continued until closure until 1937. However it was the setting up in 1921 of the present day glassworks in Wingen sur Moder near to Strasbourg in the Alsace region of eastern France that allowed production on a truly grand scale, this time with a workforce that exceeded 500. Rene Lalique might be recognised as a designer who invariably thought ‘out of the box’ and one who recognised the almost limitless possibilities offered by such an elastic medium. In years gone by he has, on the odd occasion, suffered the indignation of having his creations labelled as nothing more than moulded glass. Fortunately, with the passage of time, collectors and design historians alike give a secondary consideration to the method of production and now place primary importance on both design and effect. Lalique was to show himself to be the absolute master of exploring the potential of glass whilst ready to embrace the growing technology and chemical science that allowed him to invariably remain several steps ahead of any would-be competition. The publication in 1932 of his illustrated trade catalogue, reprinted in recent years and an essential for collectors and enthusiasts, manages to give some indication of the sheer variety available to the discerning public of those interwar years. Within the pages, alongside the perfume bottles, can be found boxes, sculptures, paperweights, car mascots, clocks, lighting and all manner of tableware, dishes, bowls, architectural fittings and even glass jewellery. Perhaps the most readily available and affordable, depending on size and colour, are his vases, bowls and dishes, which are amongst the majority of his wares that tend to surface in many of today’s auctions. Desirability here is also decided by rarity and the all important condition of a piece. Having no wish to scaremonger it is worth pointing out that the present day market place has its fair share of repaired or doctored pieces. Consequently it is always prudent to purchase from a respected dealer or auction house. As a broad generalisation, unless considered a rare design, simple clear and frosted glass examples tend to be the least desirable. The addition of coloured staining or ‘patine’ helps to accentuate the definition of a design and adds both to the attraction and value. Again, another word of caution, as some pieces have been subjected to modern day staining. In order to determine old from new it is essential to build up an understanding of the original staining used as well as be aware that such early stains were liable to wear, whereas the modern colours have so far proved permanent. Opalescent glass, i.e. the inclusion of an internal milky blue effect that is invariably synonymous with Lalique glass, is more desirable, with value often enhanced by the intensity of the internal colouration. The overall effect is determined by the thickness of the glass that plays host to a chemical reaction that occurs during the cooling process. Lalique is known to have preferred the use of a demi-cristal which incorporated half the usual 24% of lead oxide used by makers of lead crystal such as St Louis and Baccarat. Demi-cristal offered a less white and softer grey hue to the metal – glass is actually a super cooled liquid but technically referred to as a ‘metal’. It also allowed for greater definition when using expensive steel moulds and was relatively lighter than lead crystal. The milky blue effect was all down to incorporating a tiny amount of cobalt oxide into the glass mix plus two specific fluorites that acted as opacifying agents. When heated, the […]
Most of us have heard of Holly Hobbie, but perhaps Sarah Kay and Betsey Clark are slightly less familiar. All three artists specialised in drawing greetings cards, lending their names to the characters they drew, which were later issued in doll form. The Betsey Clark character is an old-fashioned miss, quite distinctive with her pointed, elfin-type face, teardrop-shaped eyes, high forehead and wispy blonde hair caught up with a thin ribbon into a bunch on top of her head. Pictured right: Betsey Clark doll She is a poor waif, with patches on her clothes and oversize shoes. This adorable child was created by her namesake, Betsey Clark, who lived in Amarillo, Texas. Betsey showed early promise for art and design, winning awards for drawing while still a child. In the early 1960s she began work at Hallmark cards, producing greetings card designs which depicted her so-called Whimsical Waifs. These soon caught the public’s imagination. Later, various dolls featuring her characters appeared, to the delight of both children and adults. Additionally, the German company of Goebel were commissioned by Hallmark to produce a series of Betsey Clark figurines for collectors. According to a collector’s site on the internet, Betsey proclaimed that she loved to ‘work off in a little bitty corner, with the drapes pulled around me’. She died in 1987, but her enchanting characters live on. A range of Betsey Clark dolls was issued by Knickerbocker in the 1970s. Amongst them was an 8″ tall vinyl-headed, soft-bodied girl, dressed in a pretty pale blue outfit of patterned dress and striped apron. Her apron bore two patches. The pale colouring of the dolls’ features and clothing reflected the delicate hues in Betsey Clark’s illustrations, and the attractive box featured a picket fence, topped with a robin, with the Betsey doll standing behind. A verse on the box read, ‘Betsey’s the very best kind of a friend, whenever you need her, she has time to spend. You can tell her your troubles when something goes wrong, and wherever you go, she likes going along! She can make you smile brightly when you’re feeling glum, when you tell her your secrets, she’ll keep every one! She can make almost anything more fun to do, and she’s coming to stay and have fun times with you!’ Betsey was also available as a small all-vinyl doll and as a rag doll, while in 1985 a delightful 6″ porcelain collector’s doll was created. Betsey Clark dolls seem more difficult to obtain here in Britain than those of Sarah Kay and Holly Hobbie, which is a shame as they are very cute with their wistful faces and large, sad eyes. Artist Sarah Kay seems to be something of a recluse. Apparently, she shuns all publicity, preferring to talk through her delightful portrayals of little girls in old-fashioned summer dresses and mob caps. Often confused with Holly Hobbie, Sarah Kay’s creations tend to wear clothes featuring spotted fabrics, while Holly Hobbie uses patchwork and small floral prints. Pictured left: Sarah Kay doll She lives in Australia, and trained at art college before joining an advertising agency. When her daughter Allison became very ill, Sarah needed something to soothe her worries, and began to work on a series of drawings featuring carefree children in an idyllic, old-fashioned country setting, gaining her inspiration from her own childhood, spent on her grandparents farm. The drawings were noticed by the Valentine Greetings Card Company, and were produced as popular cards and stationery. Pedigree decided to manufacture dolls based on the little girls in the drawings, producing a range during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some of the most delightful had vinyl faces with round, painted eyes and softly coloured lips. A few freckles were scattered across the bridge of the nose. Pictured right: Sarah Kay Pedigree doll Sweet Thoughts These dolls had rooted hair and soft bodies, and stood 13″ tall. They had names such as Gentleness, Tenderness, Sweet Love, Sweetness, Cheerfulness, Happiness, Joy, Affection, Kindness and Sweet Thoughts, and each wore a different colour or pattern; for instance, Gentleness wore mainly green, Tenderness blue, Sweet Love red and so on. Several versions were available including rag dolls in assorted sizes, and Pedigree also marketed a nightdress case, shaped like a Sarah Kay doll, under the Burbank name. Sometimes the dolls wore bonnets or mob-caps, while others had straw hats. In their 1979 catalogue, Pedigree proclaimed, ‘The most beautiful rag dolls ever. High quality material. Detailed replicas of world famous greetings cards.’ The House of Anri, founded and maintained by the Riffeser family over several generations, is famed for its creative range of wooden figurines, which are made at St. Christina, located in the Dolomite mountains of South Tyrol, Italy. Amongst their products are ornamental models of Sarah Kay characters. These delightful pieces are hand-carved from Alpine maple and are extremely popular. Several kinds of Sarah Kay jointed wooden dolls have also been carved, including Martha, a sweet little girl, 14″ tall, made in a limited edition of 750. She has the trademark freckles across her nose, and is dressed in a typical Sarah Kay outfit of cotton frock and bonnet. As you might expect, these painted, wooden creations are expensive, but they are extremely beautiful and collectable. Most famous of the three designers is Holly Hobbie. During the 1960s, people became intrigued by her designs featuring a little girl, facing sideways, dressed in a long patc hwork frock, with a large bonnet totally obscuring her face. This pose tended to create an urge to see the expression which lurked beneath the brim. Grannies, especially, adored this nostalgia theme, imagining it was their granddaughter lurking under that floppy bonnet, and the whole concept happily coincided with the fashionable look of the day – long, floaty dresses, small prints, Laura Ashley, country style, femininity and pastel shades. Pictured left: 1975 Knickerbcoker Holly Hobbie doll Holly Hobbie created her designs for the American Greetings Card Company for many years, featuring children in […]
Zookies are super, large, colourful character-type creatures are great fun to collect. During the 1950s, a number of companies began manufacturing ranges of animals, hoping that people would go on to collect several in a set. Wade introduced their exceedingly popular Whimsies – delicate, realistically-modelled porcelain miniature animals and birds – and a company called J. H. Weatherby & Sons Ltd. in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, decided to do the complete opposite, producing a series of sturdy comical animals which they called Zookies. An advertising leaflet from 1957 read, ` People who buy one, buy another and another and buy them for their friends too!` According to records, forty-four different Zookie models were designed, though it`s possible that some of the later ones never made it into production. The average height of a Zookie is four inches, but because of the nature of the modelling – they are stocky, chunky creatures – they appear much larger. Some of them seem to resemble popular Disney characters of the time, while others have comical faces and look just as though they’ve stepped from the pages of a child’s book. Most are colourful, and they all have a high gloss finish, similar to Wade products. It seems that some of the range must have been more popular than others because the tiger, rabbit, elephant, koala and sad dog are much easier to find than, for instance, the pony, pelican or tortoise. The pieces are easy to identify as the majority are marked `Weatherby, England` on the base. Sometimes the word `Hanley` is there, too. Weatherby and Sons Ltd. (who often used the name Falcon Ware), was an old-established company. Founded in Stoke-on-Trent in 1891, they began by manufacturing tableware, toilet sets and vases, later supplying china to the hotel and catering trade. It wasn`t until after the second world war that the company decided to move in to the giftware line. They produced such items as `Chuckleheads` (cups and saucers shaped like animals), `Beasties` (dinosaurs), commemorative items, dwarf figurines and tableware (including a range of small trays) often decorated with 1960s favourite images such as gonks, Butlins and daleks. A range of realistic animal ornaments were also made. The company was not connected with the Falcon Works, Longton, makers of Sylvac. Because of the bulk of the pieces, the creatures tend to look larger than they really are – the giraffe seems tall, yet is only five-and-a-half inches high. He has been modelled in a seated position, with a benevolent expression on his face, and is bright yellow with brown markings. The tiger cub is similarly coloured – he is one of the most commonly-found models, and has an open, laughing mouth. Surprisingly, the zebra also follows the orange and brown colour scheme, rejecting his usual black and white garb for a more-colourful coat. The seal, with unusual black heart-shaped eyes, is probably the longest piece at six-and-three-quarter inches – slightly longer than the sinister green crocodile, who is opening his mouth in a `welcoming grin`. Most substantial of the Zookies is the standing baby elephant, even though his actual height is only four-and-a-half inches. This large-eared creature with his raised, curled t runk, happy face and long-lashed eyes is very similar to Disney`s Dumbo. A seated elephant was also made but is much harder to find. Dogs were the most popular pets during the 1950s, which probably accounts for the variety of canine Zookies – there are seven different models, including one which is the spitting image of Disney`s Tramp, while the sad brown spaniel greatly resembles his girl-friend, Lady. Then there is a happy mutt with sticking up ears, a solemn boxer, a dignified poodle and two mournful dachshunds. Occasionally you might come across the grey and white cat with a ball of wool, but that is quite rare, as is the large blue/grey mule. Other rare Zookies include the tortoise, frog, kangaroo, rabbit holding a flower, ass and monkey. One of the most easily found is the laughing rabbit (some people call him a dog but he definitely has bunny teeth!) wearing either a red or a green jacket with one large button. There seems to be slightly more red jackets than green, but both are common. Another frequently found piece is the koala, though surprisingly he usually sells for double the price of the rabbit, possibly because he is popular with teddy bear collectors. The koala isn`t quite so characterised as the other Zookies, but is very cute and is nutmeg brown. His eyes are smaller than most of the other creatures in the range, and he has the typical, flat koala nose. Another delightful animal is the lamb, who seems to be about to leap. His white and grey fleece has been cleverly moulded to give a nubbly appearance. Usually, the lamb faces to the left but apparently it is possible to find one facing the opposite way. The horse is very spirited with braced legs, large eyes, long tail held high and ears pricked. He has a glossy chestnut coat and a black bridle. Other animals include a fat brown smiling hippo, a delightful camel with splayed legs, a skunk with a raised tail and his paws over his nose, a sideways-glancing monkey and a deer seated in a Bambi-esque pose. Birds aren`t neglected in the Zookie series. A handsome toucan, perching on a branch, has black and white plumage, a red head and long, curved, yellow beak. The two ducks are really comical, and are in complete contrast, as one is long and thin with an open beak and small feet, the other is short and fat with a closed beak and big feet. They are both bright green, the thin one having a red head. According to the Falcon Ware book, the thin duck was available in two sizes. The rather rare pelican is grey, with a yellow bib and beak. He is seated, while the dignified penguin adopts a typical upright stance. It`s strange […]
English glass of the early eighteenth century was plain with the Queen Anne taste for simplicity clarity, and as such there was no for applied decoration. Several factors saw this change including a period of peace with the Treaty of Utrecht, which was signed in 1713, and led to an opportunity for the glasshouses of Silesia, Bavaria and Prussia to increase their exports to London. The passing of the Excise Act of 1745, whereby glass was taxed by weight, led to growth of drinking glasses of slender proportions, using smaller bowls of curved profile on air-twist stems (cotton twists, opaque twists), sometimes combined with white or coloured enamel twists. The reduction in the content of lead in the metal deprived it of the deep glow of the earlier body, and there was a move to applying decoration in the form of engraving, gilding and enamelling. Pictured: Bonhams Beilby Goblet Record Price at Auction. The Prince William V Goblet. A highly important Beilby enamelled and gilt Royal armorial Goblet, circa 1766 The deep round funnel bowl painted in colours and gilding with the arms of the Nassau Princes of Orange encircled by the Garter and surmounted by a crown and mantling, the lion supporters on a ribbon bearing the motto JE.MAIN.TIEN.DRAY, the reverse with a white butterfly and floral sprig beneath the signature in red, traces of gilding to the rim, set on a multi-knopped stem and conical foot, 30.2cm high Signed Beilby Newcastle pinxit in red enamel. Sold for £109,250 inc. premium at Bonhams, New Bond Street, November 2011.The art of enamelling had long been familiar in Germany. The process required a paste combining equal parts of lead and tin, together with colouring matter, mixed with a flux and an oil medium. This prepared enamel was then painted on the glass, fired at a low temperature and reannealed by allowing the enamelling furnace to cool gradually. German glass was harder than the English metal and more suitable for enamel decoration as the colours were less likely to flood in the firing, but the reduction of lead content in English glass following the Excise Act made it a readier vehicle. This enamelling method was used by William and Mary Beilby of Newcastle who adopted the technique, worked entirely in the tradition of German independent decorators or “hausmaler” by purchasing plain vessels from the glasshouses of their home town and decorating it in their home. The style of their work was entirely individual and belongs in spirit to the English interpretation of Rococo. William Beilby (1740–1819) was the fourth child of a Durham jeweller and goldsmith William Beilby Senior. One of a family of seven, William was placed as an apprentice with a Birmingham enameller in 1755 and while he was there the family moved to Newcastle. A younger brother, Thomas, went to Leeds where he found employment as a drawing master and is later recorded as having his own academy. When William returned, perhaps in 1761, his father was still in business, while a younger brother, Ralph, and his sister Mary (1749–97), were also at home. Ralph was an engraver and earned a reputation for his industriousness and his willingness to undertake any type of engraving. In particular he was an heraldic specialist and engraved coats-of-arms and crests on silver. Thomas Bewick, whose exquisite wood engravings were later to reveal a sensitive and poetic artist, was apprenticed to Ralph in 1767 and lived in the Beilby home. It is, in fact, to Bewick’s memoirs, written many years after his life with the Beilbys, that we owe so much information about the family. Bewick states that both William and Mary had “constant employment of enamel-painting on glass,” and while William also taught drawing in the town, he evidently instructed his young sister so that she could help him in his enamelling. As well as armorial decorations, there are examples of landscapes painted in colours to which Mary may well have contributed and also a series painted in white enamel with flowers, avian motifs or picturesque scenes of ruins and figures. The enamel of these monochrome decorated pieces has a faintly bluish tinge. Of the type of wine-glasses chosen for decoration, the bucket-shaped bowl provided the larger surface for painting, but small glasses with straight-sided or ogee bowls and straight stems containing white enamel twists, are also found. The series continued probably until 1778. Mary is known to have had a stroke in 1774, while the household was probably broken up by Ralph Beilby and Thomas Bewick going in to partner ship three years later. Mrs. Beilby died in 1778, when William and Mary evidently gave up their workshop and left Newcastle for Fifeshire. By this time English glass had abandoned the Rococo manner and the moment for such individual achievement was over.
Raggedy Ann Dolls by Sue Brewer @bunnypussflunge Raggedy Ann Dolls are one of the great American classic dolls. Instantly recognisable with her beaming smile, red triangular nose and round black eyes, Raggedy was originally a storybook doll. Unlike the majority of dolls which are devised purely for commercial reasons, Raggedy Ann was created for the nicest reason of all – she was created through love. Her creator was an artist and storyteller called Johnny Gruelle, who told the tales and drew the delightful pictures to entertain his small daughter when she was ill – or so the story goes. However, the anecdotes woven around the creation of this charismatic doll have become embellished, contradicted and disputed over the years, so no-body really knows for certain. Johnny’s small daughter was named Marcella, and one anecdote has it that while she was playing in the attic she discovered an old cloth doll with a faded face, which had belonged to her grandmother. Her father drew a new face onto the doll, and it was she who became immortalised as Raggedy Ann. Marcella was enchanted, and from then on, Raggedy Ann became her constant companion, inspiring her father to tell stories to the little girl about her doll. Tragically, Marcella died when she was still quite young from a smallpox vaccination which became infected, and it was then that Johnny took the decision to publish the stories which she had loved, for other children to share – it was his tribute to his daughter. He patented and trademarked the Raggedy Ann design in 1915. Over the years, numerous editions of the books have appeared, though they have never been as popular in Britain as they are in the United States. Other characters have been introduced too, perhaps the most famous being her brother Raggedy Andy, Beloved Belindy, Uncle Clem and the gloriously-named ‘Camel With Wrinkled Knees.’ The stories tell how Raggedy Ann, a sweet kindly doll – because she has a candy heart – comes to life when humans aren’t around, and has great adventures with her brother, Andy. First in the series was ‘Raggedy Ann Stories’, which was published in 1918 by the P. F. Volland company, who later followed up the success with a character Raggedy Ann doll. The rest is history. More stories followed; Raggedy Ann’s Magical Wishes, The Paper Dragon, Raggedy Ann in the Deep Deep Woods and Raggedy Ann and the Left-Handed Safety Pin amongst many, many others. Raggedy Ann dolls have been made for almost as long as the books have been published. Apparently Johnny Gruelle persuaded his family to make some cloth dolls to accompany the earliest of the books, maybe for shop display purposes, we can’t be sure now. One delightful rumour said that each doll was given a candy heart which read ‘I Love You’, just as Raggedy Ann has in the story books. So far, this hasn’t be proved – old dolls don’t seem to contain any remnants of candy, though it is a charming idea. Many people, especially in America, concentrate on Raggedy Ann and Andy, forming immense collections of dolls and other memorabilia. The dolls have been made by manufacturers such as Volland, Knickerbocker, Russ, Playskool and Dakin. One hangtag reads, ‘These stories – infused with a father’s pure, simple love – became immortal.’ The early Raggedy Ann dolls often had brown hair, and less of a caricature face than later Raggedy Anns. Volland dolls were made during the 1920s and 30s, and many are highly prized, while even those from some of the later companies, Knickerbocker for instance, are increasing in price, especially in America where Raggedy Ann is one of the most famous character dolls. In Britain, she is much less-widely known, and frequently gets muddled with the ‘Orphan Annie’ character who later became the star of a musical and movie. Raggedy Ann is often dressed in a pinafore worn over a cotton print frock and stripy red stockings. Perhaps the most expensive of the early dolls, occasionally found today, is Beloved Belindy, a plump black doll wearing a headscarf. She appeals not only to Raggedy Ann enthusiasts but to the collectors of black dolls as well. Recently, R. John Wright, the famous creator of exquisite felt toys and dolls, produced a beautiful version of the young Marcella, holding her Raggedy Ann. Standing 17 inches high, the little girl has a pensive expression, and is dressed in a yellow print dress and straw bonnet, which is tied with a wide blue ribbon. She clutches her beloved Raggedy Ann. R. John Wright has also created particularly jaunty versions of both Raggedy Ann and Andy, 17 inches high, made from pure wool felt. He maintains that they are the most authentic Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls ever made. As Raggedy Ann is such a traditional character, and, being a rag doll, is relatively easy to make, thousands of home-made copies have appeared over the years, some of them excellent, others very basic. Beware when you are buying a doll which you haven‘t examined, especially if buying from ebay, because it is all too easy to be fobbed off with a copy. Having said that, many collectors are happy with the copies too, feeling that they are all part of Raggedy Ann’s history. A special museum devoted to Raggedy Ann Dolls opened in 1999 in Arcola, Illinois. Called The Johnny Gruelle Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum, it is the only officially licensed Raggedy Ann & Andy museum in the world. The museum also sells dolls, books and memorabilia. And in 2005, Raggedy Ann celebrated her 90th anniversary, prompting several companies to produce commemorative versions of the doll. Johnny Gruelle, who died in 1938, eventually became known as ‘The Raggedy Ann Man’ – he would no doubt be astounded could he know that his sweet creation was still widely collected and very much loved today. Raggedy Ann Dolls values and Raggedy Ann Dolls price guide Realised prices at auction give a reflective price […]
Whilst travelling back from a toy fair where I saw a couple of Banana Splits toys, The Dickies version of the Banana Splits Tra La La song came on the radio. I was a massive fan of the show when I was younger so I thought I would indulge myself and cobble together a feature and on Collecting the Banana Splits and Banana Splits collectibles. The feature includes some vintage and newer Banana Splits collectibles and a price guide for the items. In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached Sid Krofft and Marty Krofft to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. The format of the show was loosely based on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968. Each show represented a meeting of the “Banana Splits Club”, and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who doubled as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of The Monkees. The main characters were Fleegle, a beagle (possibly crossed with a flat-coated retriever); Bingo, an orange-furred gorilla (possibly, half-orangutan); Drooper, a lion; and Snorky, called “Snork” in the theme song lyrics, an elephant. Fleegle would assume the role as leader of the Banana Splits and preside at club meetings. The characters were played by actors in voluminous fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf. They all spoke in English – Drooper with a Southern drawl in the manner of Michael Nesmith, Fleegle with a pronounced lisp – except for Snorky who “spoke” in honking noises. The Banana Splits’ segments included cartoons, songs, comedy skits, and live action features. Cartoons included Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers and repeats of The Hillbilly Bears, a cartoon segment that previously appeared on The Atom Ant Show (1965–1968). The show’s live-action segments included Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, an animated series consisting of only four episodes. For the first season, some of the live-action segments – specifically those used during the musical segments – were shot at Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park located in Arlington, Texas. For the second season, filming took place at Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train roller coasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags and Coney Island. The Sour Grapes Bunch is a group of human girl characters from the Banana Splits. One of the members of the club – Charley, usually played by Shirley Hillstrom – would bring a written note to the Splits. None of the Sour Grapes spoke in the entire series; however, they would also do a number with the Banana Splits. In the first-season episode on October 5, 1968, a song debuted entitled “Doin’ The Banana Split,” as all five girls appeared together with the Splits. The Banana Buggies and Toys Who didn’t want a Banana Splits buggy? The Banana splits buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles each decorated to resemble the character who drove them. These were seen driven by each live-action character in the opening and closing segments and occasionally in show segments. The closest most collectors will get to the Banana Buggy were the plastic 1/25 scale model kits issued by Aurora Plastics Corporation in 1969 and discontinued in 1971. These were only out for two seasons and when seen a mint in box edition will sell for over $200. A recent sale on ebay saw a excellent example sell for £220 ($281). Funko released a series of four Dorbz Ridez models in 2016 based on the series released in editions of 300 at the San Diego Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Bingo and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Snorky) and New York Comic Con (Banana Buggy with Fleegle and Banana Buggy with Bingo with Drooper) . These are now selling for between $75 and $100 each. Banana Splits and Comics Gold Key began publishing a comic version of The Banana Splits’ adventures in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. The series was drawn by Jack Manning and followed the Banana Splits team trying to find work or on the road between gigs. Issue number 1 in high grade VFNM CGC 9.0 will sell for about $150. In 2017 DC comics made a Banana Splits had a crossover with the Suicide Squad in Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Annual #1. “SUICIDE SPLITS”! Mistaken for metahumans, thrown in the bowels of Belle Reve, the animal rock band Banana Splits are recruited by Amanda Waller for a secret mission: to save the Suicide Squad! What follows is the weirdest team-up you never thought you’d see! How can Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky stand up to Harley, Deadshot, Katana and Croc? Banana Splits Reference Professor Plastic the banana splits banana buggy
The forms were practical and classical, the lines were clean, and the colours were vibrant.
Laurel and Hardy were one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedy double acts of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. Pictured left: LAUREL, STAN AND OLIVER HARDY. Photograph Signed (“Stan Laurel” and “Oliver Hardy”), 8 by 10 inch silver print, of both men wearing bowler hats, signed at lower margin and additionally inscribed “Hello Charles!” tipped to mat with archival tape, framed. Sold for $671 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, California, April 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. Laurel and Hardy Autographs At the heart of every Laurel and Hardy Collection will be autographs and signed photographs. Autographs of the pair range from $150 (£100) to $450 (£300), with some signed documents going for more. Laurel and Hardy signed photographs start at $450 (£300) with sort after and exceptional images fetching significant premiums. Composed of thin Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavy American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957) they became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous Hardy. They made over 100 films together, initially two-reelers (short films) before expanding into feature length films in the 1930s. Their films include Sons of the Desert (1933), the Academy Award winning short film The Music Box (1932), Babes in Toyland (1934), and Way Out West (1937). Hardy’s catchphrase “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” is still widely recognized. Pictured left: A Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy set of shirts from “Bonnie Scotland” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1935. Both made of gray wool, collarless with four-button front closure; Laurel’s has added striped collar detail; each have Western Costume Company labels reading “Laurel 2148 15 2” and “Hardy 2150 18 2;” each have additional ‘WCC’ stamps on inside; worn by the duo as they played characters who had their same real names; both pieces altered for later use. Included are reprinted images showing the two in costume. Sold for $4,575 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, Los Angeles, June 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Prior to the double act both were established actors with Laurel appearing in over 50 films and Hardy in over 250 films. Although the two comedians first worked together on the film The Lucky Dog (1921), this was a chance pairing and it was not until 1926, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio, that they began appearing in movie shorts together. Laurel and Hardy officially became a team the following year in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip (1927). The pair remained with the Roach studio until 1940, then appeared in eight “B” comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945. Pictured right:Stan Laurel’s trademark Bowler Hat, the undersized black felt bowler hat, with black grosgrain ribbon trim — worn by Stan Laurel circa 1930s – 1940s, signed and inscribed inside To Anne, Stan Laurel; accompanied by a two page autographed letter in Stan Laurel’s hand, on Laurel And Hardy Feature Productions illustrated and headed paper, 511 Pacfic Mutual Building, Los Angeles California, November 28th, 1941 to Anne, thanking her for her correspondence and Hope you recd. the photos and also the hat… Am also enclosing you a little song book of parodies that was sent to me, thought you may enjoy it and get a few laughs.; the song bookSing-A-Laff by L. Wolfe Gilbert as mentioned and an early photograph of Stan Laurel inscribed in Laurels hand To Anne From Sweet Sixteen!! — 7×4½in. (18×11.5cm.); and stamped envelope. Sold for £26,250 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Christies, London, November 23rd 2011. Image Copyright Christies. After finishing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on stage shows, embarking on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland. In 1950 they made their last film, a French/Italian co-production called Atoll K, before retiring from the screen. In total they appeared together in 107 films. They starred in 40 short sound films, 32 short silent films and 23 full-length feature films, and made 12 guest or cameo appearances, including the recently discovered Galaxy of Stars promotional film (1936). Pictured left: Laurel and Hardy, Nothing But Trouble MGM, 1945, half-sheet, style B, condition B-. 22 x 28in. Sold for $568 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams Los Angeles June 2006. Image Copyright Bonhams. Image Copyright Bonhams. A common comedy routine was a tit-for-tat fight. Their silent film Big Business (1929), which includes one of these routines, was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992. Notable Laurel traits included crying like a baby while being berated and scratching his hair when in shock. On December 1, 1954, the team made their only American television appearance, surprised by Ralph Edwards on his live NBC-TV program, This Is Your Life. Pictured right: Rare bisque headed Laurel and Hardy wind-up toys, Hertwig & Co Germany 1920’s. Well moulded bisque heads and hats with painted features, card cylinder bodies with wooden lower arms and metal feet, wearing black and white felt suits with bow ties, mechanism to body and key to rear when wound the figures move about, both 20cm (8in) tall. Sold for £3,600 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, May 2008. Image Copyright Bonhams. The works of Laurel and Hardy have been re-released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 16mm and 8mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home video since the 1930s. They were voted the seventh greatest comedy act in a 2005 UK poll by fellow comedians. The duo’s signature tune, known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku”, or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”, played on the opening credits of their films. The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is known as The Sons of the Desert, after a fraternal society in their film of the same name. Pictured left: Laurel and Hardy – A collection of character dolls modelled as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, comprising: a pair of wind-up dolls — ½in. (14cm.) high, a pair of plastic squeezie […]
Confessions of a Disney Fast F ood Toy Collector I thought I’d fill you in on why I collect Disney Happy Toy meals, and such. How I Started Collecting Disney Fast Food Toys ? I started my collection of Disney toys from McDonalds and Burger King gradually. Several years ago I purchased a Happy Meal and decided that the ‘free’ Thumper rabbit toy was well made and absolutely ‘darling’. I began to buy snacks until I had all of that set except Bambi. That really bugged me. I hung the Bambi toys on my Christmas tree. Years later I ran across the Aladdin toys at Burger King, and with a meal, I got, the wind up Genie. I was thrilled with the thing, and kept it on my desk at work. Next thing you know, I would just…happen…to buy one meal a week and got all of the set except Jafar. Then they had the Snow White Happy Meals at McDs. That did it. I then began to ‘collect’ with a passion. I have purchased every Disney toy, even those only loosely connected to Disney, such as Muppet sets, since then. Then I discovered that you can routinely find the toys at flea markets. I found my precious missing “Bambi” and “Jafar Toys”. I started prowling the markets picking up toys usually for .25 to 1.00 (at more knowlegable sellers). I ran into one ‘pirate’ lady who managed to sell to me several toys at $ 3 to $ 5 each! Those were for toys that predated myself purchased collection. Now here’s the kicker. As I broke down and admitted to people where I work – a State job – other collectors of Happy Meal Toys “Came out of the Closet”. Most are casual collectors, dabblers. Some are as hard core about it as I am. Why do I collect Disney Fast Food Toys ? Because they make me feel good. My childhood predates Happy Meals, I am 44. But they are cute, they are Disney, and how many people can indulge a harmless hobby for which they can even go ‘antique’ hunting when nearly broke?! I have gotten terrific days of toy hunting for which I spent less than one dollar! Lets see an ordinary, mundane antique hunter, do that. In conclusion, I once was disappointed to arrive at a Burger King to be told that they’d sold out of the wind-up Meeko toys (Pocahontas) days earlier. Another adult on line behind me, had an absolute hissy fit. Later on, outside of the restaurant, the man, looked to be in his 30’s, told me that he collected two toys from each fast food store, for EVERY promotion! I thought I was a ‘fanatic’ because I collect 2 toys from every Disney Promotion, just at BK and McD’s. I therefore believe that there are more adults out there, – closet collectors – than anyone suspects. Ask BK about their BK Lion King promotion here in Sacramento Believe me, wasn’t just kids buying THAT many toys! from Richard Eyman
Collecting Butlins Badges and Butlins Memorabilia Each year millions of people head for sunnier climates to enjoy their annual holiday. Whether travelling to Spain, Italy or Florida, no-one gives a second thought to boarding an aircraft and jetting off to all the different corners of the globe. However, this wasn’t always the case as overseas travel was not necessarily an option and certainly not affordable; so holiday makers in the UK tended to pack their suitcases and enjoy a fun filled break at one of the luxurious Butlin’s British holiday camps. Billy Butlin opened the doors to the first ever Butlin’s Holiday Camp on 11th April 1936. Built in Skegness on a former turnip field, the camp originally catered for 500 holiday makers. This increased to 1,200 by the end of the first season and today the camp can accommodate almost 10,000 people. In total Billy built nine camps covering England, Scotland and Wales but today only three remain as working Butlin’s Holiday Worlds in Skegness, Bognor Regis and Minehead. With the development of the camps came an abundance of memorabilia and now anything associated with Butlins, especially the older camps, has become a vast collecting arena. Sought-after items vary from brochures, menus and leaflets to postcards, china and trophies, but it is the enamelled badges that head up this collecting area and with between 3,000 to 4,000 different ones available to collectors it is no wonder some of these badges are highly sought-after. With the development of the camps came an abundance of memorabilia and now anything associated with Butlins, especially the older camps, has become a vast collecting arena. Not only is Butlins memorabilia a large area of collecting and a huge part of our British social history. The enamel Butlin’s badges were produced by several companies, such as Gaunt of London and Fattorini of Birmingham , so no-one knows for sure how many are in existence . They were made to represent every single camp and club formed from 1936 onwards. The origin of the badges is interesting, because of the licensing laws it was necessary for each camper to wear a badge to prove that they were members of the Butlins Club and so could be served with food and drinks. ‘Initially campers had to pay one shilling for each badge, but shortly afterwards they became free. Campers became very proud of their badges, which gave them·a sense of camaraderie and enabled them to identify each other when in the local town.’ The badges became so popular that repeat visitors wore their previous ones with pride and Butlins created badges for every club imaginable. You even received a special one for staying for a second week. Soon, Butlins discovered that people were selling their badges to neighbours who were staying in cheap B&Bs nearby, thus using the badge to gain entry to the camp and use its facilities free. So the colour of the badge was changed several times each year and if the security man saw you trying to get into the camp wearing the wrong colour badge they would throw you out! Today Butlins has recognised how collectable the early badges are and has commissioned reproductions to be made to sell in their souvenir shops. But you can tell a genuine British made badge because of the dull brass colour on the reverse and it will often have a maker’s name. The modern Chinese copies are bright gilt and textured on the reverse with a smooth shiny resin front rather than the original vitreous enamel. Masses of stuff was produced for all the different Butlin’s camps around the country and unique items such as the trophies won in competitions like ‘Miss Lovely Legs’ fetch high prices together with all the staff items. Butlins is also famously know for its red coat entertainers and Graham told me that ‘today an early red coat dating from the 1930s is so rare that it is impossible to find one but the 1940s coats can command £200 each’. Even the more modern red coats designed by Jeff Banks between 1998-2001 can sell for £50. There is a growing market for Butlin’s vintage fixtures, fittings and salvaged items.