With the World Cup now under way we thought we would have a look at some of the official and unofficial collectables and memorabilia available to collect and buy. The Official FIFA Store There are quite a few interesting items here. The World Cup mascots are always fun and especially nice are the range of Limited Edition prints available. There are about 20 prints available, including prints for each host and of interest to collectors will be the Romero Britto prints. Robert Harrop Designs To celebrate the World Cup in Brazil, Robert Harrop has produced 10 special Bull Terrier footballers. The England and Brazil editions are both timed and feature Red Bull Terriers. The remaining eight are all modelled using White Bull Terriers: Germany, France, Argentina, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, USA and Australia. Coca-Cola World Cup Brazil 2014 The Coca-Cola Company has had a long-standing relationship with FIFA since 1974 and has been an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup™ since 1978. Coca-Cola has had stadium advertising at every FIFA World Cup™ since 1950. Brazil 2014 sees one of their largest campaigns ever. Look out for special bottles, cans, and promotions which will vary from country to country. Betty Boop Something different with these Betty Boop footballer figurines. There are six different posed figures. Header, On My Knee, Striker, Goalie, Free Kick and Star Player. Panini Stickers and Panini Heritage Collection Football stickers form part of every World Cup. When I was first collected you had to lick the backs to stick them in (my first was Argentina 78). Panini have a section called Panini Heritage which includes framed prints and tee-shirts featuring the covers of all the previous World Cup sticker albums. Swarovski Silver Crystal Swarovksi’s latest limited edition Soccer Champion Mo has a World Cup feel. She is very colourful with a yellow head, green body and clear horns and bell. A football hitting the target decorate her body. All very much giving a Brazilian theme.
Collecting Communion Tokens and small Communion Tokens price guide. Communion tokens were round or oval in shape, and they were given to individuals who took communion in churches during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Presbyterian worship in Scotland is particularly associated with them, but they may also be found in England, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland. The Communion tokens were used to identify those who were entitled to receive Communion. The minister would give the person a token before giving them Communion. When Communion was being given, the individual would show the token to the Communion steward. There are a number of reasons why communion tokens were used. First, communion tokens ensured that only those who were members of the church and who had been properly instructed in the faith were able to receive Communion. This was important because Communion is a sacred act in which Christians partake of the body and blood of Christ. Second, communion tokens helped to prevent Communion from being taken by those who might not appreciate its significance or who might abuse it in some way. Finally, communion tokens served as a tangible reminder of an individual’s commitment to the Christian faith. Though communion tokens fell out of use in the 18th century, they remain an important part of Protestant and Calvinist history. Communion tokens remind us of the importance of maintaining a proper understanding of Communion and of our commitment to the Christian faith. They were also used as a means of identifying Communion members who had been away from the church for a period of time. They were also given to children when they were first admitted to communion. Often, these tokens would be made of metal or other durable materials and would be worn around the neck or on a keychain. The most common materials were metal, wood, and bone. In some cases, Communion Tokens were also made of other materials such as stone or glass. They could have holes in the centre and so could be strung together. Tokens were often engraved with a Christian symbol or the initials of the person who received the Communion Token. Communion tokens were collectibles even back then and people would try to get as many different ones as possible. There are many different types of communion tokens that can be found. Some have biblical scenes or symbols on them, while others have the name of the church or the year they were made. Messages on tokens would include biblical quotes such as ‘This Do In Remembrance of Me’ and ‘Let A Man Examine Himself’. Today, they are still collected by some people as a hobby and for the most part can be acquired fairly inexpensively.
1961 was the best of times. JFK and Jackie were in the White House, NASA was in space, Elvis was back from the Army, and Marx Disneykins were introduced on toyshop shelves throughout the Western world. Made of injection molded hard plastic and hand-painted by artists in British Hong Kong, each Disneykin figure was a perfectly packaged “miniature masterpiece” of postwar technology. Playfully packaged in bright candy-like boxes and intriguing shadow box scenes, Disneykins were a perfect cartoon fantasy universe unto themselves. Carried in pockets and schoolbook bags they could spring to life at a moment’s notice, providing hours of imaginative fun and make-believe. Disneykins embodied both the self-assured innocence of the times and the Walt Disney Productions’ cartoon mythology. The figures included representations of almost the entire Disney pantheon of toon stars, from everyday favorites like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and Peter Pan (from the first series) – to more exotic personalities like Bongo the bear, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Uncle Scrooge, Toby Tortoise, the Mad Hatter and Willie the Whale (from the second series) – to name a few. The Louis Marx Toy Company manufactured Disneykins from 1961 right up to the company’s demise in 1972-3. By the end of the line, the Marx Company had produced a large number of completely different Disneykins and Disneykin lines, with a total of over 160 figures at last count. Basically, Marx made a Disneykin representation of nearly every major character in a Disney animated film that was released (or re-released) during that twelve-year period. When combined, the original 1961 “First Series” of 34 figures (the most common Disneykins) and the rarer 36 “Second Series” figures (called “New” Disneykins) feature the major cartoon stars of PINOCCHIO, BAMBI, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN, SLEEPING BEAUTY and DUMBO. Other more film-specific Disneykin lines that followed were: the 1961 101 Dalmatians series (sold primarily in Europe and Great Britian), 1962’s Babes in Toyland series (soldiers and flats, in two sizes), Lady & the Tramp (1962), The Sword in the Stone (released in 1963 and only available as a large playset), 1967’s The Jungle Book, and closing with the scarce Robin Hood cartoon line in 1972. In addition, a special Pinocchio series was briefly marketed during the film’s 1962 re-release, as well as a separate Ludwig Von Drake series of figures and playsets which tied-in with both NBC & RCA and his Wonderful World of Color (NBC-TV) appearances. Featured products from the Disneykin era included many finely detailed, way-out miniaturized toys such as: The Lady & the Tramp Kennel Box Set — with the entire film’s cast of 12 dogs and cats in kennel windows. The Sword In The Stone Playset — a larger HO scale boxed playset, which included a castle, playmat, knights, Madame Mim and Merlin’s houses and the entire cast of character figures. The “See and Play” Disneykin Dreamhouse Playset (Marx/Montgomery Wards, 1968) — an intricate see-through 2 story suburban house, complete with landscaping, two cars, Disneykins, and all modern conveniences, including a 60s-era kitchen, gaudy dining room set, TV, carpeting, pool and even a bathroom). The 101 Dalmatians Playset line — which featured the film’s complete story, uniquely illustrated in six boxed playset scenes, with figures, props and furniture — which came in two different sizes. A Brief History Like many Marx toys from the 1960s, Disneykins were basically a recycled product, having their roots in the previous decade. Most of the Disneykin figures are essentially the “grandchildren” of the 38 soft-plastic, 60mm unpainted Disney character figures from the large scale Marx “Walt Disney Television Playhouse” (1953) along with the 13 additional character figures. The “kin” evolutionary path went through a few more essential steps — such as the metal hand-painted Linemar line, and the German, Holland and Japanese figures – before being miniaturized, hand-painted and rechristened “Disneykins.” They are essentially the same figures with the same poses – only the scale and materials differ. Disneykins were usually packaged and sold in four basic formats: Single figures – in little candy-colored individual boxes, with or without a window TV-Scenes – one or two figures and props in a small 3″ x 3″ television-like window display box. Playsets – larger, more elaborate window display boxes which housed five to eight figures in a stage-set scene, with furniture, props and a themed background. Gift Box – a large window display package which included all or most of the figures from an entire series, each in its own individual cubby hole with name ta g. This format is frequently misidentified as a store display. In addition, some Disneykin series included larger combo gift boxes of multiple playsets and TV-Scenes. The playset combo is called a Triple Playset and featured three separate playset scenes in one box, and the TV-Scene Gift Box included six separate TV-Scenes in one box. Again, these packaging formats are frequently misidentified as store displays. The ingenious, and confusing aspect of the Disneykin packaging was not only the large variety of interesting box formats and packaging used to sell (and re-sell) the same items, but the fact that a child would have to purchase nearly every playset in a line just to assemble one film’s cartoon cast. For example, in the First Series: The “Mickey Mouse & Friends” playset includes Peter Pan, the “Donald Duck Pier” playset has Captain Hook, and Tinkerbelle appears in the “Dumbo’s Circus” playset alongside Alice. In the Second Series it became even wierder: the “Lost Boys” playset features Flower the Skunk from Bambi, the “Lady & The Tramp” playset scene has the two clowns from Dumbo, the “Three Little Pigs” playset included Brer Fox standing in for the Big Bad Wolf, and the “Cinderella” scene box has Peter Pan’s Wendy masquerading as Cinderella alongside the Owl from Bambi. (Note: a Big Bad Wolfe figure was eventually produced in the early 1970s lineup, and Marx never made a specific Cinderella figure.) Although many of the Disneykin figures were available for over ten years […]
The first Swarovski Limited Edition Disney Princess was Cinderella and was released in 2015. Each year since Swaroski have released a limited edition annual edition Disney Princess. The series has proved very popular with the early editions rising in value on the secondary market. Cinderella was followed in 2016 by Elsa from Frozen, in 2017 Belle from Beauty and the Beast, in 2018 by Rapunzel from Tangled and in 2019 by Snow White. The combination of Swarovski design, Disney icons and colour has made a stunning series of crystal models. 2015 Cinderella 2016 Elsa 2017 Belle 2018 Rapunzel 2019 Snow White Swarovski Disney Limited Edition Princess 2015 Cinderella Cinderella is a tribute to Disney’s new Cinderella movie released in 2015 and the model showcases Swarovski’s expert craftsmanship and depicts Cinderella dancing in a sparkling blue and clear crystal outfit. The model originally retailed for £349 and is now being seen on auction sites at over £2,000. Swarovski Disney Limited Edition Princess 2016 Elsa Swarovski Disney Limited Edition Princess 2017 Belle Swarovski Disney Limited Edition Princess 2018 Rapunzel Swarovski Disney Limited Edition Princess 2019 Snow White
The traditional Quimper faience pottery has been created in the Brittany region since the late 17th century and the tradition continues today with the Henriot Quimper factory. Another factory located in Quimper, Ceramiques de Cornouaille, is also continuing the proud tradition of pottery creation in the region. The Ceramiques de Cornouaille was founded in 1998 by Xavier Dutertre and still mainly produce a personalised traditional Breton bowl which sells very well to the local and tourist markets. However, it is the companies new modern designs based on traditional designs and costumes which have caught our eye. These include the Costume designs by Joëlle Josselin, and the VLGM and Pays Ocean designs by Charles Cambier. Costume Design by Joëlle Josselin These decorations are creations of the painter Joëlle Josselin of the Relecq Kerhuon near Brest, specialist of the costumes paintings of Brittany she created a special range adapted to the porcelain and gave a touch of modernity to these decorations. A very personal style, a dynamic painting that represents very well the modernity of our Brittany, imbued with its tradition. A logic well adapted to the Ceramics of Cornouaille. The colourful designs have a modern approach to the traditional Breton costumes. Pays Ocean Design by Charles Gambier Le pays, on connaît tous, c’est ici bien sur, mais l’océan c’est plus loin, c’est ailleurs, l’un n’allant jamais sans l’autre ! (“The country, we all know, it is here of course, but the ocean is further, it is elsewhere, the one never going without the other!”) VLGM Design by Charles Gambier For more information visit https://www.ceramiquesdecornouaille.com
Manuel Cipriano Gomes Mafra (1829-1905) was one of the foremost Portuguese ceramists of the 19th century who developed a vast array of work influenced by the natural world. Manuel Mafra’s pottery work, marked by naturalism, was strongly influenced by the French 16th century engineer, craftsman and potter Bernard Palissy . Palissy was famed for his figulines rustiques (rusticware), or decorative faience fired in a high-relief pattern inspired by nature, and especially pond life: reptiles, insects, vegetation, flowers and fish. Palissy’s work apparently often used moulded from casts taken of dead specimens. The tradition Mafra developed of Portuguese Palissy-style ceramics became an important movement in the decorative arts in the second half of the 19th Century. Mafra moved to Caldas de Rainha to work at the famed Maria dos Cacos factory. He was later to run the same factory from 1853 till his death in 1905. The town was to become a magnet for other ceramicists and it became the centre for Portuguese Palissy Ware. The factory produced faience wares and later Did you know? Mafra was actually christened Manuel Cipriano Gomes and took the name Mafra, the county of his origin in 1853 19th Century copies of Palissy’s work were made in both faience and in majolica, a 19th Century version of faience with an improved lead-based glaze. Reference Manuel Mafra at the Met Museum A Concise Guide to Caldas Ceramics
Political Character and Toby Jugs at Stoke Art Pottery Toby Jugs have been around since the early 18th century. They were revived by Doulton in the 19th century, who developed the idea into a range of character jugs. Today, their popularity shows no signs of waning and they hold their price at auction sales. Their appeal is wide reaching because Doulton jugs are varied both in their craftsmanship and their subject matter. The first Toby Jug was made in the early 18th century. It was a jovial, seated, male figure, with a mug in his hand and a tricorn hat which made a pouring spout. He was dressed in clothes of the time; a long coat with low pockets, waistcoat, cravat, knee breeches and buckled shoes. No one really knows why he was named ‘Toby’ although it is possible he called after Sir Toby Belch a character in Shakespeare’s Twelth Night. Or maybe it was after a song popular in 1761, around the time the jug was first produced in a traditional, brown salt glaze version. The song ‘Brown Jug’ featured ‘Toby Fillpot’. Doulton had made Toby jugs in the traditional manner since 1815 but in the 1920’s Harry Simeon added colour. This inspired Charles Noke, a Doulton artist and modeller to rethink the Toby jug tradition. He envisaged a more colourful and stylish jug based on the head and sholders of a character rather than the full figure. He had in mind characters from English song, literature, history and legend, designed to appeal to future generations. It took him almost ten years to be satisfied with the standards of design and production, but in 1934 the first character jug was launched. He chose as his subject John Barleycorn, a figure symbolising whisky. It became an instant success and the range was added to with Old Charley, the Night Watchman, Sairey Gamp, Parson Brown and Dick Turpin. Two years later the first character jug modelled on a real person was made with Herry Fenton’s John Peel, a trend which has continued to the present day. A feature of character jugs is their handle which often shows an elaborate diversity of applied decoration. However, this is a feature which has developed over the years. The first jugs generally had plain handles, with one or two exceptions, for some of the clown jugs had multi-coloured handles, Dick Turpin had a gun for a handle and the Cellerer a bunch of keys. It was during the 1950s that the handles achieved greater creative significance when Max Henk was involved in their production. His Long John Silver had a parrot handle and for the sake authenticity does not have an eye patch, sticking to Louis Stevenson’s book ‘ Treasure Island’. The handles developed to tell more about the character and their associations, so the Dutchess from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has a flamingo handle, the Mikado, a fan. More recently, the London ‘Bobby’ has both a whistle and Big Ben. The character jug from 1996 shows how far this trend has developed in the model of Jesse Owen who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. This handle contains the Olympic torch, a contemporary US flag of the time and a banner inscribed with the name of the Olympic town ‘Berlin’. Character Jugs Variations Sometimes variations have been made to handle design without altering the overall style of the jug. The Beefeater Guard who guards the Tower of London was introduced in 1947 and carried the initials GR on his handle for George Rex. In 1953 when Elizabeth II came to the throne, these were changed to ER, Elizabeth Regina. There was also a version with gold handle, now more valuable. In 1991 a completely new updated design shows the trend for more elaborate handles with its raven, the birds which legend says signifiy the fall of London should they ever leave the Tower. Other handle variations which help to date the character jugs are the easrly versions of John Barleycorn. The first plain handle disappeared inside the jug at their top end. Later handles were attached to the outside. Early versions of Stairey Gamp have an ‘S’ at the bottom end of the handle. There have also been limited editions of handle design. Founder members of the Doulton Collectors Club were offered versions of John Doulton with the clock on the handle pointing to eight o’clock. Members who joined at a later date find the clock points to two o’clock. Rare Character Jugs Other factors which aid dating and can affect value includes colour variations. For instance, the first clown range of jugs produced in the 1930s had red hair and multi-coloured handles, but due to the war time restrictions on supply of materials, the hair during the war years was changed to brown. Between 1951 and 1955 hair colour had changed to white. Red or brown haired clowns are two-three times more valuable than the white ones, but the most valuable if the one-off black haired clown, commissioned by a family whose grandfather was a black haired clown. This was sold at auction a few years ago for £12,000. Old King Cole designed by Harry Fenton had a yellow crown in 1938-1939 and a green handle and is vastly more valuable than the versions produced after until 1960, which had reddish-borwn crown and handle. Even more valuable are the versions which contain musical movement, produced in 1939. One of these sold at Phillips for £1,092. The Mad Hatter, from Alice in Wonederland woar a black hat in the original but ten years ago a red hatted Hatter came to the market and was sold for over £6,000. It appears that in the 1960’s a painter in the factory changed the colour of the hat and this was produced for a short period before it was discontinued. Another example are the colour variations in the buttons, hat coat and feather boa of Hary Fenton’s character jugs of the cockney pair ‘Arry […]
One of the most prolific designers of the 20th/21st Century has to be French born Philippe Starck. His design achievements include an eclectic mix of everyday domestic items, lighting and furniture to more flamboyant interior design projects, making him an industrial design genius often referred to as “The Designer of Our Time.” Pictured left: Phillipe Starck’s Juicy Saliff designed for Alessi. Born in Paris on 18th January 1949, Starck’s passion for design started as a child. His father Andre Starck worked as an aeroplane designer and Philippe spent much of his childhood underneath his father’s drawing board dismantling objects and then putting them back together again in the form of complex machinery. He studied at the Ecole Nissim de Camondo School in Paris until 1968 when he set up his first business producing inflatable products. He then took the position as Art Director for Pierre Cardin in America but later returned to France and embarked on his first interior design projects by fitting out the Paris nightclubs “La Main Blueue” (1976) and Les “Bains-Douches” (1979). The company “Starck Product” was founded in 1979 and the project that was to launch Starck’s career to International success was when he was asked by President Francois Mitterand in 1982 to renovate his private apartments in the Elysee Palace. Pictured right: A set of four Victoria Ghost side chairs modern, designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell. Sold for $525 at Bonhams, May 2012. Image Copyright Bonhams. From then on Starck worked on numerous design projects that included the Café Costes, the Paris Eurostar Terminal and the Penninsula Hotel restaurant in Hong Kong. He created everything from the furniture to the design of the rooms themselves, one of his most talked about projects being the exclusive Sanderson Hotel in London where there are 150 Starck designed rooms. His creative touch is evident throughout the hotel where the design element used is “fun” and everything about this hotel screams enjoyment especially in the trendy “Long Bar” which features a row of Starck’s “eye” bar chairs. Pictured left: Dr. Skud, Fly Swatter designed by Phillipe Starck for Alessie and bearing his likeness. His design skills do not stop at interior projects and during the 1980s and 1990s he produced some innovative domestic designs for many companies, including a range of luggage for Samsonite, furniture for Kartell and lighting for Flos. From a collectors point of view it was whilst working for the Italian Design Company Alessi that Starck produced some of his most iconic work. He began workingfor Alberto Alessi in 1986, creating everything from a toothpick to a fly swatter but the most famous visually recognised product that he produced was the futuristic silver Juicy Salif in 1990. This iconic lemon squeezer was made of aluminium casting and resembles a rather strange looking spaceship. So much so, that it was used in the film Men In Black starring Will Smith as an actual space ship with aliens leaving it. Other products that have become sought after by Starck for Alessi include the Cactus Ashtray made of bakelite in 1990 and the Dr Kiss toothbrush set designed in 1998. Alessi is the perfect place to start if you want to collect Stark pieces, as it is affordable for most pockets. Prices begin for as little as £13.99 for the toothbrush to £145 for a Dede Door stop; £12 for the “Dr Kleen” toothpick to £180 for a “Max le Chinois Colander”. It also a great point for learning about Starck and his designs, you can get a feel for his products before investing more money into his higher top of the range designs, such as the furniture and lighting. Pictured right: Philippe Starck for Daum, ‘The Curiosity’, a pair of glass vases 1988 – engraved 25/34 Daum Starck height 15cm x width 55cm. Sold for £1,560 at Bonhams, London, April 2007. Image Copyright Bonhams. Although Starck’s Alessi designs are affordable and fun he is better renowned for modernist contemporary designs in furniture, and working with the Kartell Company has allowed Starck to produce some of the most innovative and creative styles to date. The Eros Swivel Armchair designed in 2001 is the epiphany of modern design with its die-cast aluminium frame and polycarbonate seat, whilst the much-celebrated Louis Ghost Chair proves that traditional antique furniture designs can be revisited and adapted perfectly to fit into our modern lives. If you decide to buy a good example of Starck’s work for Kartell be careful because designs such as the Eros chair are being copied. The only way to recognise the copies is that they are made fractionally smaller than an original Starck design and of course are being sold much cheaper. An authentic Eros would cost around £260 so try and buy from someone that is a legitimate Starck retailer and can tell you about the history of the chair. Pictured left: Flos Bedside Gun Table lamp designed by Phillipe Starck. Aside from the domestic utilities and furniture Starck also designs items for the Flos lighting company, with one of the most controversial pieces being in 2005 when he created a hard-hitting gun lamp range. Amongst the designs were a “Beretta” pistol, “AK 47 Kalashnikov” and M16 rifle which were in the form of a floor lamp. Starck’s inspiration for these lamp designs were taken from the media pictures of Saddam Hussein’s gold-plated gun, which was recovered when America and its allies attacked Iraq. Each gun is coated in gold leaf and is paired up with a black lampshade, which signifies death. Small crosses line the inner portion of the shade reminding us that the next passing could be our own! As you can image this did not bode well when launched in Milan as some people took the belief that Starck was glorifying gun crime but in fact he was creating a memorial for those killed for political progress. Whatever your opinion on this lamp, it’s a must have item for a Starck collector. Not all of Starck’s […]
Pomp, Pre-Fabs And Poodles – Dolls in The 1950s by Sue Brewer Just as a black and white film explodes into technicolour, this decade dawned grey, but ended in dazzling colour. This eventful ten years gave young people more power that ever before, and propelled Britons into a completely new lifestyle. Though the war had ended five years previously, many goods were in short supply and some rationing was still in force. Bomb sites scarred many areas, and thousands dwelt in ‘pre-fabs’ – prefabricated buildings designed as emergency accommodation for those who had lost their homes during the bombing. Britain needed something to cheer her up, and the Festival Of Britain was a great start. Held in 1951, on London’s Southbank alongside the Thames, and dominated by the Dome of Discovery, it featured all that was new in design. Towering above the site was the Skylon, a delicately-shaped edifice which was illuminated at night, and which entranced me as a child. Millions of people thronged the festival, which spilled over into nearby Battersea Park. One of the great attractions there was the Guinness clock, a marvellous timepiece which featured toucans and other creatures popping out of windows and doors on the quarter-hour. Ideas seen at the exhibition gradually filtered through into people’s lives – geometrical designs were in vogue, bright colours, and, conversely, black and white patterns. The most famous 1950s ceramics’ range is probably ‘Homemaker’, which featured black and white drawings of coffee tables, cutlery, settees and lamps. Homemaker, designed by Enid Seeney, was made by Ridgway and sold in Woolworths stores throughout the country in the mid-fifties. Black pottery ‘African’ hands and figurines were in vogue, as was formica, spindly-legged furniture, coloured ‘atom’ knobs on small fixtures, ballet scenes on crockery, open-plan living, and poodles on everything! In 1953, patriotism was truly to the fore – Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey. Union Jacks fluttered from lamp posts, commemorative mugs were give to school children, and street parties were held throughout the country. Young and old sat down to enjoy cakes, sandwiches and jellies, and to raise a toast to her Majesty in tea or lemonade. People crowded the front rooms of those fortunate enough to own television sets to watch the beautiful young Queen ride in a fairytale coach along the Mall from the palace, and to see the Archbishop of Canterbury place the crown upon her head in Westminster Abbey. For one lady, Peggy Nisbet, the Coronation proved a career change when she was inspired to dress small dolls which were sold through the prestigious Harrods store. Little could she have known that those small dolls would be the start of a huge concern, which would go on to produce millions of Peggy Nisbet costume dolls over the next three decades. Naturally, other manufacturers jumped aboard the bandwagon, most notably Pedigree Toys, who issued an 14 inch hard plastic doll called Little Princess. Th is doll had blonde, curly hair, just like the toddler Princess Anne, and her outfit was designed by Norman Hartnell, the man responsible for the Coronation gown. Pedigree also issued a ‘Bonnie Charlie’ doll, presumably modelled on Prince Charles, and a slender, teen-type called Elizabeth. All these dolls are very much sought-after today by collectors. Hard plastic was extensively used in the world of doll manufacturing for much of the 1950s. Developed during the war, it was enthusiastically embraced by toy makers, being light, colourful and cheap to produce. It rapidly replaced the older-style composition dolls, and many beauties were made during this time. Towards the end of the decade, however, an even more revolutionary product, soft vinyl, was introduced. Vinyl enabled the hair to be rooted directly into the head, and didn’t crack when it was dropped. Soon vinyl replaced the hard plastic, though for a time, dolls often sported vinyl heads on hard plastic bodies as the new machinery was expensive to install. Barbie, the most successful doll of all time, made her debut in America in 1959, created by Ruth Handler. This sophisticated curvy teen in her black and white striped bathing costume, was a sensation, though she was scarcely known in Britain until the 1970s. Girls in the United Kingdom were less mature than their American counterparts, and although teen dolls were gradually arriving, they were softer-featured and tended to wear the everyday fashions of the time – flared skirts, blouses, smart coats and dainty hats. Even in their early teens, girls still read ‘Girl’ comic, filled with colourful comic strip adventures featuring nurses, schoolgirls or ballet dancers – children were unsophisticated in those days. Palitoy issued a tie-in ‘Girl’ doll, who wore a white dress patterned with the logo of the comic. Her knickers and hair-ribbon bore the same motif while her belt had a plastic ‘Girl’ head as a buckle. At the beginning of the decade, teen girls dressed like their mothers, often wearing twin-sets and pearls, but as the fifties progressed, they rebelled. Permed hair gave way to ponytails, and skirts were full, often with layers of net or ‘paper nylon’ petticoats beneath. ‘Pedal-pusher’ trousers, which ended at mid-calf. were in vogue for a while, as were ‘sloppy Joe’ sweaters, but, on the whole, girls still had a very feminine look – the love-affair with blue denim was not, as yet, widespread. Music-wise, Rock ‘n’ Roll was in – Bill Haley and Elvis Presley were listened to on large 78 rpm records which broke when they were dropped. However, Britain had its own teen stars too, especially Tommy Steele who appeared on the ‘6.5 Special’ tv programme every Saturday, rocking to the music. Teddy Boys loved Rock ‘n’ Roll, and wore narrow drainpipe trousers, long jackets and winklepicker shoes, combing their hair into a quiff. Skiffle groups, who performed on guitars, washboards and broom handles affixed to tea-chests, were also extremely popular. As the decade progressed, television grew to play a large part in people’s lives; programmes were followed so avidly that […]
Throughout the horrors of the First World War, artist Bruce Bairnsfather managed to raise smiles with his drawings of life in the trenches. But who was he?