The term Victoriana covers a vast and interesting group of generally low-priced, mass produced wares, typical of the period. Pictured left: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire spill vases. Image Copyright Bonhams. Such wares as Staffordshire chimney ornaments and printed pot lids can still be found at a relatively low price and have a certain unpretentious charm, lacking in the costly porcelains of the period. A wide range of Staffordshire earthenware figures was produced throughout the Victorian era. These figures were manufactured by means of simple plaster of Paris moulds, the original design being kept as simple as possible to facilitate the rapid and cheap production of these pieces. All Staffordshire figures of this type were made in a white earthenware body, with the exception of some rare early models occasionally produced in porcelain. It is an exception to find a marked specimen. During recent years many collections have been formed and research carried out on the many named historical portrait figures in this category. The named portraits cover almost every field, from Queen Victoria down to notorious murderers and included a long series of War heroes and politicians. Many of these can naturally be dated to within a few years. While these historical figures have a special interest, they also have a drawback in that they are being keenly sought after and tend to be correspondingly expensive. Pictured right: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire cottages and covers. Sold at Bonhams for £348, Knowle 2010. Image Copyright Bonhams. Vast scope still exists for the collection of the untitled purely Victorian sentimental figures and groups which prove so decorative, even in the most modern decorative schemes. Charming animals, cottages and castles (often watch stands) were also produced and can still be acquired at a modest price. Although these wares are generally attributed to the lesser Staffordshire potters, many examples were produced in other regions some of the Scottish manufacturers issued many models, including typical Scottish fishergirls. Of the Staffordshire manufacturers, Messrs. Sampson Smith were undoubtedly the foremost producers of these cheap decorative wares. Pictured left: A pair of mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire spaniel chimney dogs. Sold for at Bonhams for £96, Knowle, 2007. Image Copyright Bonhams. Other types of Staffordshire earthenware include the wellknown dogs made in various patterns. These ” Staffordshire dogs” were made over a long period, the chief manufacturers being Messrs. Sampson Smith of Longton and William Machin of Hanley some late examples being produced by John Sadler of Burslem. In the late 1840’s various patents were taken out by Felix Pratt (and others) for the rapid manufacture and improved method of decorating pot lids, etc., and multi-coloured underglaze printing was introduced successfully for the first time on a commercial scale. The process called for a series of different copper plates each transferring one particular colour on to the transfer paper until the complete picture was built up. This method naturally depended on accurate registration or positioning of each successive copper plate. The Pratt coloured prints quickly became popular, a range of objects decorated in this manner was included in the 1851 Exhibition. Perhaps the best known examples are the ” Pot” Lids, to be found decorated with a vast number of different patterns. Dessert sets, vases, teasets, tankards, etc., were also produced and decorated by this method and offer interesting scope to collectors seeking colourful and reasonably priced wares. Specimens are to be found bearing the signature of Jesse Austin (b. 1806 d. 1879) who was Pratt’s chief engraver for over 30 years and who worked on this specialised type of multi-coloured printing. Pictured right: Mid 19th C Victorian Staffordshire recumbent cats. Sold at Bonhams for £312, Edinburgh 2013. Image Copyright Bonhams. Jesse Austin had earlier been apprenticed at the Davenport Works. He joined Messrs. F. & R. Pratt & Co. at Longton circa 1845. For a brief period he joined Messrs. Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. after a misunderstanding with Pratts, but soon rejoined them and continued to engrave for F. & R. Pratt until his death in 1879. Apart from original compositions by Austin, many celebrated paintings from both English and Continental sources were reproduced on Pratts earthenware. Other manufacturers made use of this process, noticeably Brown-Westhead, Moore, T. J. & J. Mayer and G. L. Ashworth. The heading” Victoriana “permits the writer to digress and mention some of the other interesting aspects of Victorian ceramics. Parian figures and groups can often be found bearing inscriptions relating to ” Art Unions.” The most important of these was the ” Art Union of London ” founded in 1836. In return for an annual subscription each member was entitled Parian bust of the Prince of Wales, issued by the Crystal Palace Art Union, Circa 1864. to participate in an annual draw the top prizes being works of art (chiefly paintings from Royal Academy Exhibitions) valued at some hundreds of pounds. Other prizes of low value designed by the foremost designers were awarded on a large scale. Pictured left: A Collection of Pratt Ware Pot Lids and Other Victorian Pot Lids. Image Copyright Bonhams. The Art Union movement gained in popularity and was legalised by Act of Parliament in 1846 having previously contravened the laws relating to Lotteries. Various smaller Art Unions were formed, notably the Crystal Palace Art Union. Prince Albert gave the Unions every encouragement. “feeling assured that these institutions will exercise a most beneficial influence on the Arts.” This was indeed the case; the Art Union of London was instrumental in popularising the new parian body, the reproductions of famous sculptured figures and groups in this body being especially suited to the requirements of the Art Union as the copies were cheap and easy to reproduce in quantity. Many special works were commissioned by the Art Unions who, at the peak of their popularity, had vast sums of money at their disposal. Their ceramic interests were not limited to parian wares, prizes in ” Majolica” and the normal pottery and porcelain bodies were commissioned and […]
Blue Mountain Pottery I believe in synchronicity. Wandering around antiques centres and fairs, as is my want, my eye had been caught on a number of occasions by some rather good ceramic animals and vases decorated with an interesting vivid green, flowing glaze. Forms were lively, or strongly stylised, and the variety of dripping green tones in the glazes had caught my attention due to my interest in West German ‘Fat Lava’ ceramics of the 1960s-70s. However, I didn’t recognise the marks or the initials ‘BMP’, although they did reveal that the pieces were made in Canada. Not being ‘my thing’, I promptly filed them in my mind for later research. The £20 being asked for a large stylised fish stayed firmly in my wallet. Pictured right: A Blue Mountain Pottery ‘Angel Fish’ vase, shape No.58 designed by Dennis Tupy, with a graduated green dripped glaze, the base moulded ‘BMP CANADA’. 17.5in (44cm) high Price Guide: £60-120 Two months later I found myself in Toronto, Canada, and visiting my good friends Conrad Biernacki of the Royal Ontario Museum, and Holly Gnaedinger of ‘Twice Found’ in the wonderful Mirvish Village. Remembering the fish, I asked them, and their eyes widened and mouths fell. Hadn’t I heard about the hottest new trend in Canadian collecting? No I hadn’t! I needed to know more – synchronicity had struck. By the end of my stay, I was wishing I had bought that fish. The ‘BMP’ marks I had asked about stand for the Blue Mountain Pottery, which was founded by Czech immigrant Josef Weider (1909-71) in Collingwood, Ontario just after WWII. It took its name from the neighbouring Blue Mountains, which are a haven for tourists and skiers. Founded to provide a steady income and work throughout the year for those that lived there, the pottery also turned out a product that could be sold to the seasonal visitors as useful souvenirs. The pottery took on fellow Czechs Dennis (Zdenek) Tupy as mould maker and Mirek Hambalek as glazer, and produced vases, ashtrays and bowls. A range of animals was also produced, and it was these that I had spotted in the UK. The vast majority of pieces were made using a local red clay and a slip-moulding process, where liquid clay was poured into a mould before firing. This allowed for identical forms to be produced swiftly and economically. The most characteristic, popular and prolifically used glaze was the streaky and flowing green glaze I had seen, and is said to have been inspired by the mountains’ spruce and pine trees. Blue and brown were also popular. Due to the two-step, brushed and dipped production process that was achieved by hand, the glaze effect on each piece is unique. The Blue Mountain Pottery glaze formulas themselves were complex and specially developed by the company. Although other companies attempted to copy their success, many being founded by ex-employees (including Tupy himself), none matched the success of Blue Mountain. By 1955, the company had established itself firmly and sales and production levels had expanded considerably. This expansion continued into the 1960s, and Weider sold the successful company in 1968. After a further sale and various financial problems, it was then bought by Robert Blair in 1968. As well as being successful within Canada, over 60% of the company’s production was exported abroad, 40% of that to the US, with much of the remaining 20% going to the UK and Europe – hence why we see it here. Whilst the 1980s and early 90s continued to be strong periods for the company, it was forced to close in 2004 due to falling orders, the factory lease ending and competition from Far Eastern makers. Blue Mountain Pottery – The Gen There are three main considerations towards value; the glaze, the shape and the size. Glaze is one of the more important considerations. In general, the stronger and more tonally varied the colour, the better. Green is the most common and the most characteristic, followed by blue. Other glazes can be rare. Amongst the most desirable today are ‘Harvest Gold’ and ‘Cobalt Blue’, but rarer glazes include the grey ‘Slate’ and ‘Mocha’, with their mottled matte and dark, almost mirrored, effects. However, a superbly varied flowing green glaze on a good form may fetch as much as a poor example of the much rarer ‘Slate’ glaze. A couple of ranges are also worth keeping your eyes peeled for. Look out for the desirable ‘Apollo’ range, with its pitted and dripped orange, cream and brown glaze. Inspired by the surface of the moon and released shortly after the moon landing, the range also competed with West German ceramics flooding into Canada. A good example can fetch as much as £80 to dedicated collectors. More Canadian in theme is the ‘Native Artist’s Collection’ that was inspired by Inuit, or native Canadian tribal, sculptures and art. Marked out in black on a mottled beige ground, there are nine designs on 11 shapes to collect and prices can easily go over the £100 mark for a visually impressive piece. Although you’re unlikely to see one here, unless it had been brought back as a souvenir, keep an eye out for ‘studio’ pieces made in the pottery’s travelling demonstration area. The ‘holy grail’ for many collectors, many were made by the talented potter and decorator Dominic Stanzione and can fetch up to £200 or more. The form is also important. I was taken by the curving stylish vases and jugs that represent the mid-century modern style so well. Many of these were designed by Dennis Tupy, one of the most important names connected to the pottery – and indeed Canadian pottery of the period. Prices range from £20-50 or so, depending on the quality of the glaze, the shape and the size. Stylised, and stylish, animal sculptures are also popular, with a focus on elegant elongation. Values range from as little as £15 and can rise to over £100. Perhaps the most characteristic and desirable of these is […]
Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Texas to Lawrence Odell Holley and Ella Pauline Drake on Labor Day, in 1936. The Holleys were a musical family and as a young boy Holley learned to play piano, guitar and violin (his brothers oiled the strings so much that no one could hear him play.) Pictured left: Buddy Holly – A Gold Record award, circa late 1950s, for Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue. Presented in a glass enclosed, green velvet frame. 12 x 12 in. (30.4 x 30.4 cm.) sold for $11,875 against an estimate of $3,000 – $4,000 at Christies rock and pop memorabilia auction, 30 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza. He was always known as Buddy to his family. In 1949 Buddy made a recording of Hank Snow’s ‘My Two-Timin’ Woman’ on a wire recorder “borrowed” by a friend who worked in a music shop (not, as is often reported, a home tape recorder), his first known recording. During the fall of that year he met Bob Montgomery in Hutchinson Junior High School. They shared a common interest in music and soon teamed up as the duo “Buddy and Bob.” Initially influenced by bluegrass music, they sang harmony duets at local clubs and high school talent shows. In Lubbock, Holly attended Hutchinson Junior High School, which has a mural honoring him, and Lubbock High School, which has numerous features to honor the late musician. His musical interests grew throughout high school while singing in the Lubbock High School Choir. Autographs of Buddy Holly and The Crickets, in blue biro on a piece of paper additionally inscribed The Crickets, mounted with colour picture, 26.5 x 18cm (10½ x 7in) overall Sold for £478 at Bonhams – Rock and Roll and Film Memorabilia, 16 Nov 2004, Knightsbridge, London. Holly turned to rock music after seeing Elvis Presley sing live in Lubbock in early 1955. A few months later on October 15, he opened on the same bill with Presley, also in Lubbock, catching the eye of a Nashville talent scout. Holly’s transition to rock continued when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets at a local rock show organized by Eddie Crandall, who was also the manager for Marty Robbins. Buddy Holly – An ivory linen-effect two-piece stage suit, the jacket with deep patch pockets, the inside edge of the cuff on the right-hand sleeve showing signs of wear [presumably from playing the guitar]; the loose-fitting trousers with front pleats and narrow turn-ups, the right-hand trouser pocket inscribed inside in blue ballpoint pen, in an unidentified hand, Buddy Holly; accompanied by two corresponding black and white machine-print photographs of Holly on stage during the 1957 U.S. Tour (printed later), 11x16in.(28×40.2cm.) and 11x14in. (28×35.6cm.) sold for £10,575 at Christies pop and collectable guitars, 26 April 2001 London, South Kensington As a result of this performance, Holly was offered a contract with D ecca Records to work alone, which he accepted. According to the Amburn book, his public name changed from “Holley” to “Holly” on 8 February 1956, when the Decca contract he signed misspelled his last name. That spelling was then adopted for his professional career. Among the tracks recorded for Decca was an early version of “That’ll Be The Day”, which took its title from a phrase that John Wayne’s character said repeatedly in the 1956 film, The Searchers. Decca wouldn’t publish his recordings, though, and dropped his contract. But they also insisted he could not record the same songs for anyone else for five years. An autographed Buddy Holly and The Crickets UK Tour programme, 1958, the back cover signed in blue and black ballpoints by all three and the front additionally signed in blue ballpoint by Buddy Holly sold for £1,140 at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia auction, 18 Jun 2008 Back in Lubbock, Holly formed his own band, although at that time it had no name and would only later be called The Crickets and began recording at Norman Petty’s studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Norman had music industry contacts and believing that “That’ll Be the Day” would be a hit single, he contacted publishers and labels. Brunswick Records, a subsidiary of Decca, signed The Crickets. Soon after, they signed Holly as a solo artist on another Decca subsidiary Coral Records. This put Holly in the unusual position of having two record contracts at the same time. Before “That’ll Be The Day” had its nationwide release, Holly played lead guitar on the single “Starlight”, recorded in April 1957, featuring Jack Huddle. The initial, unsuccessful version of “That’ll Be The Day” played more slowly and about half an octave higher than the hit version. Holly managed to bridge some of the racial divide that marked rock n’ roll music. While Elvis made black music more acceptable to whites, Holly won over an all-black audience when the Crickets were booked at New York’s Apollo Theater (though, unlike the immediate response depicted in the 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story, it actually took several performances for his talents to be appreciated). Buddy Holly’s electric guitar and amplifier, the 1953 Gibson Les Paul ‘gold-top’ model with maple top, mahogany back, neck and headstock, rosewood fingerboard with crown markers, Kluson machineheads with plastic tulip pegs, P90 pickups, trapeze wrapover tailpiece, in original Gibson case; and a Gibson Les Paul model ‘G’ amplifier, original Jensen speaker, Buddy Holley scratched into bacj from Bonham’s Rock n’ Roll & Film Memorabilia including James Bond, 16 Nov 2005, Knightsbridge. After the release of several highly successful songs in 1958, Holly and the Crickets toured Australia in January and later the United Kingdom. That same year, he met Maria Elena Santiago (born 1935 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) while she was working as a receptionist for Peer-Southern Music, a New York music publisher. According to a romanticised version of the truth encouraged by Maria Elena, he proposed to her on their very first date. She initially thought he was kidding, but they were married in Lubbock on […]
In this highly digital age board games are taking more and more prevalence for spending interactive time with family and friends. From this we seem to be digging those family board games we still own from the seventies and eighties out of the cupboards, blowing off the dust and this gets us thinking….. Is this worth selling or playing? What is mine worth? How do I get a valuation? Is mine collectible? One example is the game consisting of the original usual suspects. Colonel Mustard, the Reverend Mr Green, Mrs Peacock, Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum and the (apparently) controversial Mrs White. She was removed from the game in 2016 after it was claimed that having a housekeeper was a ‘dated idea’ and was replaced with Dr Orchid. The artwork was also updated to a more cartoon style. An original 1949 edition of Cluedo, the popular crime deduction game can sell for around £150. But wait, it would have to be unplayed !! Unplayed?? Who, genuinely in 1949 was thinking that this brand new board game would be worth buying, taking home and NOT playing with it in the hope that in seventy years time it will be something of value? Surely these games are there to be played with? A pre loved copy of a board game has more character having stood the test of time. Write in the comments below if you are a board game collector and own the games to play or to simply to have bragging rights that you own a much sought after copy. As a board game collector myself, what interests me more than anything is owning an original copy of a game that has been played with since it was originally produced. The idea that I am now sitting with my family and friends playing a game which was handled and played when it was very first produced? What are your thoughts on this? When looking for an original copy of Cluedo don’t forget that the black and white cover thought to be the first edition is not actually the case. This could affect your expected valuation. Instead you would be looking for a bold, red thumb print under the magnifying glass as in the above picture. This changed to the simple black and white as the additional printing layer of the blood red was far too costly to keep up with the demand for the game. Over the years the art has changed significantly on the box and in the game. From the late 1950s into the 1960s it would look like this. I’m in my mid forties and I remember this art from the late 1960s through the 1970s. More recently Cluedo looks like this. In recent years the game has been franchised into versions from films, specific areas (similar to Monopoly), Disney, comics and more. These include Harry Potter, Nightmare Before Christmas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ricky and Morty, Sherlock and even a Newcastle and Gateshead edition. These editions are more niche and limited and have the potential to increase in the value. And remember that in the United States the game has simply been called Clue. There is even a spin off film starring Tim Curry which I am a huge fan of. Our research shows that certain online auction sites have varying prices. Why?Because there are two sides to the story. What someone wants for it and what someone is willing to pay. Board game related features How much is my Monopoly worth? Cluedo feature by Rob Edmonds.
Collecting for me is about amassing items that give you pleasure. Now that may well be a collection of stamps, ceramic ornaments or even toy cars but whatever you choose they are items that either bring back nostalgic memories or you simply purchase them because you love them. For me collecting is also about our social history, all of the items that we buy did at some stage have a reason for their existence. This is why I am fascinated with collecting items from various decades. Many collectors source anything and everything from the 1930s, whilst others crave items from the 1940s and there are those fascinated by the 1950s. In fact, there are collectors for every decade who either cherry pick items or even live their lives as if it was still that particular era from the 20th Century. I prefer to cherry pick as I am still very much a modern 21st Century girl at heart. There are certain aspects from each decade that attract me with the 1960s rating very high on the list. I can usually find items that epitomise this era extremely cheaply like the vivid 1960s tray I bought for 20p at a bootsale. Top Tip: Charity Shops, Bootsales and Garage Sales are perfect places to pick up vintage items for a few pounds. Look for ceramics, glass, fashion and pictures that scream the 1960s. If they are not already sought after they will be very soon. I am also fascinated by 1960s fashion. A mixture of boutique couture such as Biba and Mary Quant, the invention of the mini skirt and an all round fashion revolution – there is much on offer for the keen eyed collector. Designer labels usually come at a cost but there other wonderful fashion items from this particular decade which can be picked up at a reasonable price. I purchased a lovely bright red mini dress on one of the internet auctions for £25 which was a real bargain for a piece of vintage clothing. In fact, vintage is all the rage at the moment and I had the pleasure of meeting Hannah Turner Vokes, managing director of the London based vintage clothes store Paper Dress when I was featured in leading fashion magazine Grazia, last year. Hannah is the ultimate vintage fashion junkie and she wore an amazing disposable paper 1960s mini dress and also brought along a 1960s paper bikini to the photoshoot. Hannah often rummages around bootsales to find her bargains and this seems to have paid off as the dress cost just £9 and the bikini which she bought off of an internet site was a steal at £7, both of which are worth considerably more especially if sold in a specialist vintage store. Top Tip: Look for unusual items like paper clothing as these are becoming harder to find and collectors crave them. Jewellery is also a favourite for me and I was lucky enough to find a Mary Quant Daisy ring from a collectors fair a few years ago for £50. I have never seen this particular design before as it has beautiful blue enamel and the daisy actually opens to reveal a perfume container underneath. So this particular item fits into collecting 1960s, costume jewellery and vanity items like ladies compacts. Handbags and shoes from the 1960s are also keenly acquired by collectors and over the years I have bought many vintage examples with one pair costing just £2. Kaleidoscopes of colours they certainly make me stand out in a crowd when I wear them. These can be picked up quite cheaply like the wonderful yellow floral shoes and matching clutch bag that I bought from a bootsale for £25. When originally made these shoes and handbag formed part of the new 1960s fashion bug of ladies matching their shoes to their bags, otherwise known as The Total Look. It is not just the fashions and accessories of the swinging sixties that get collector’s hearts racing as there was much more on offer from this vibrant decade. In 1963 the Cornish pottery Troika was established by Benny Sirota, Lesley Illsley and Jan Thomson. They made attractive, yet usable art pottery which today has stormed the collectors market with people pay thousands for one of the rare plaques or sculptural Aztec heads. There are still more affordable pieces available with coffin vases and marmalade pots selling from £80-£100 upwards. So if you are looking for something dating from the 1960s that fits well into today’s environment Troika pottery is definitely an option. Toys are also a popular area of collecting and the 1960s didn’t fail to produce. The Sindy doll was launched in 1963 and many of her outfits were created by leading fashion designers such as Sally Tuffin and Marion Foale. One of my favourite pastimes is hunting out Sindy doll outfits as each replicates the fashions of the time and as I adore fashion this is just an extended way of me indulging my passion. Fact: The boys weren’t forgotten as Action Man was launched in Britain in 1966. The 1960s had so much to offer and I have literally just touched the tip of the iceberg where collecting this decade is concerned. Revolutionary in so many ways we mustn’t forget the music – especially The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. An area really worth indulging in if you can afford to collect some of the original memorabilia. Then of course 1966 supplied us with a host of World Cup memorabilia, not forgetting of course the charismatic British spy James Bond (played by Sean Connery) who first graced the silver screen in 1962 when Dr. No was released. So rather than just concentrating on one specific topic area of collecting like books, film or sporting memorabilia – take a look at what is on offer from the various 20th Century decades. Unless of course you lived through the 1960s and are now cursing the fact that you threw away […]
The Ridgway Homemaker Pattern is a classic retro design that is now becoming very collectable. The range was mass produced in the 1950s and 60s and was sold exclusively through Woolworth’s stores. The pattern was created by Enid Seeney and was manufactured by Ridgway Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. The pattern was to be used on the Metro shape designed by Ridgway designer Tom Arnold. It was Tom Arnold, himself, that asked Seeney to create a pattern that could be produced in large quantities using the new the Murray-Curvex litho process. The pattern was applied in reverse to the bottom of a gelatine pad (or ‘bomb’). The wet paint was then transferred to the piece in a way that would allow it to mould to the shape. This process made all-over patterns such as Homemaker possible. The pattern was later released on Cadenza shape. The Homemaker pattern was initially given the name ‘ Furniture ‘. It was first shown at exhibition in Blackpool in 1956 but only took off when spotted by a Woolworth’s buyer in 1957. It was trialed in a few London shops and proved a success appealing to the contemporary market of the late 1950s and 1960s. The pattern itself was a distinctive black on white featuring illustrations of the latest home furnishings and utensils against a background of irregular black lines. Items illustrated included a boomerang or kidney shaped table, a Robin Day armchair, a Gordon Russell type sideboard, plant holders on legs, tripod lights and lamp shades, and a two seat Sigvard Bernadotte style sofa. The Ridgway Homemaker Pattern Price Guide / Value Guide Homemaker was produced in large quantities from 1956 to 1970 so few pieces are rare. The range is becoming increasingly collectable and prices at auction are rising. Rarer pieces include the Bon Bon Dish, the Cadenza Teapot and other teapots and coffee pots. The plates are the most common items to find. 7″ plates estimate £5-£8 each. 9″ plates estimate £8-£12 each. Did you know? The Ridgway Homemaker pattern was also produced in a Red colour. This red and white colourway was produced in very limited numbers as a trial in 1960 and as such are very rare. There are very few examples coming to traditional auction houses or ebay and very few in shops. A single plate such as the one below sold on AntiquesAtlas for £350/$483. Further information Ridgway Homemaker at RetroWow
Imagine how useful it would be if we had little knobs, strings or keys in our backs, enabling us to instantly lengthen our hair from a short, everyday bob to long, flowing locks which would make even Rapunzel jealous. Lots of dolls have this useful feature; they don’t need sessions at the hairdressers for fiddly hair-extensions!Probably the most famous ‘grow hair’ doll was Palitoy’s Tressy, produced under licence from the American Character Doll company. When she burst into the advertising spotlight in 1964, the slogan, ‘But HOW does Tressy’s hair grow?’ was chanted in school playgrounds. In fact, it turned out to be a clever promotional campaign because little girls who weren’t in on the secret became upset, pestering their parents until they too had a Tressy. So, how did Tressy’s hair grow? Simply by pushing a button in her tummy to release the ‘magic strand’ which could then be gently pulled until her hair lengthened. Afterwards, the strand was wound back into the head by means of a small metal key inserted into the hole in her back. Later versions had a plastic key as a permanent fixture. Tressy stood 12″ tall and was a slim, teen-type doll, with painted sideways-glancing eyes, but was afterwards updated and given forward-looking eyes, jointed wrists and gripping hands. Her younger sister, Toots, also favoured growing hair. Palitoy seemed quite taken with the grow hair mechanism, and in 1974 produced 18″ Sheena, more sophisticated than Tressy, with glamorous clothes such as a sparkly lilac outfit with flared trousers and a matching long-line tunic. Sheena’s hands were beautiful with long expressive fingers, and her slogan was ‘Just like magic her hair grows’. Instead of a key she had a dial in her back to wind the hair, though she still had the button in her tummy to release the strand when it was pulled. Yet another Palitoy doll was Goldilocks, a younger girl, rather than a teen, dating from 1968. Goldilocks wore a variety of outfits, and her hair was worked by a dial in her back, similar to Sheena’s. She was advertised as having 101 hair styles! Bradgate, a subsidiary company of Palitoy. issued Silky, a 10″ tall girl with a permanently fixed key, similar to Toots, Tressy’s sister. The American Ideal Toy Corporation produced a range of grow hair dolls, some of which were sold in Britain. Most popular was Crissy, a similar height to Sheena, who had striking large dark eyes. Crissy’s hair grew by gently easing out the main centre strand, and could be retracted by means of a pull-cord in her back. She was first made in 1968, and others in the series included Velvet, Mia, Kerry, Brandi and Cinnamon, all just as attractive. Haute Coiffure Sindy, dating from 1985, was a grow hair doll too. Made by Pedigree, she wore a beautiful pearlised strapless full-skirted dress over a lilac net petticoat, and a white fluffy jacket with three-quarter length sleeves. Sindy’s hairpiece was lengthened by carefully pulling it from a hole in the top of her head, and the idea was to style – or cut – the hair, which explains why so many of these dolls are found sheared! Replacement hair came in little plastic bags marked with the Sindy logo, and a panel in her back could be prised off, allowing the new hair to be inserted by means of a plastic ring tied to a thin string. Once the hair was fully extended it was virtually impossible to retract it, though sometimes, if you were lucky, the string attached to the plastic ring could be eased back slightly. One of the prettiest of these clever dolls was Katie, first issued in 1992 by Tonka, and made for a further couple of years by Kenner. Katie was the big sister of Tiny Tears and her blonde hair not only grew but could be changed from straight to wavy, depending on which hairpiece you chose to insert. This young girl doll was 17″ high, and her mechanism was activated by a plastic locket around her neck, attached to a pull cord. She is quite difficult to find today in perfect condition, and good examples sell for around £40. There were French versions of Katie, too, called ‘Kattie’, including a brunette version who seems to be fairly rare. Still easy to find, however, is Playskool’s cheerful Dolly Surprise, a 10″ high smiling girl dating from 1988. She was obtainable with many variations of both facial features and hair styles. Eye colours, dimples and freckles varied, and some dolls even featured TWO growing tresses. The mechanism was worked by raising the doll’s right arm, causing the hair to lengthen with a whirring sound. Twisting her left arm let the thick wavy strand retract back into the head, clicking loudly as it went. This doll came dressed in many different styles including a pretty pink and silver ballet tutu, and extra outfits were available. There was also a larger, 15″ version, a chubby faced baby, with a similar mechanism. Bride Surprise, from the Hasbro/Kenner/Tonka group, was a creative hair grow doll from the 1990s, a 14″ beauty whose hair cascaded down to her toes when her arm was raised. Amazingly, as it erupted, it turned from blonde to vivid pink! She had plenty of other unusual features, including a dress which turned from short to long by means of attached ribbons, a bag which changed into a bouquet and a secret gift hidden inside a rose fixed to her hair. Other grow-hair dolls which surface from time to time include a winsome-faced soft-bodied girl from Gotz, mini-sized ‘Kim’ dolls from Uneeda (with the mechanism worked by a cord in the foot), various Barbies, a range of ‘Haircut Magic’ Cabbage Patch dolls, Pedigree ‘Cut and Grow’ girl dolls with yarn hair and ‘Pert and Pretty’ by Horsman. There are many others. However, the prize for the most unusual of these dolls must surely go to Kenner’s 9″ tall Hair-Do Dolly. […]
When a Disney Movie comes out that becomes extremely popular, like Frozen has, there are bound to be massive amounts of toys, collectables and memorabilia that get launched, and this is certainly the case with this feature movie, Frozen. Pictured: Elsa Figurine, Enesco Grand Jester Studios Collection Frozen is an animated Movie, by Disney that follows the tale of a princess (Anna) and her friends who go on a quest to rescue her sister in a kingdom that has been cursed in perpetual winter. Anna’s voice is played by Kirsten Bell. It instantly became hugely popular and is seen as one of the best movies of 2013, and one of the best animated movies of all time. Pictured: Anna Figurine, Enesco Grand Jester Studios Collection As Frozen is aimed at children, there are many official frozen toys on the market, some of these include: There are a wide variety of Dolls and figurines from the Frozen movie. All your favorite characters such as Anna, Elsa and Olaf are available in different outfits and with different props. You can get complete story sets which include all of the main characters to allow you to create your own Frozen adventure. There are also many props available such as castle playsets, talking dolls, dresses, sleighs and much more for using with your dolls. Pictured: Disney Frozen Elsa the Snow Queen with Swarovski Crystals: Let It Go Figurine by The Hamilton Collection Different types of costumes and dress up props from the movie such as Elsa’s snow wand, tea sets, hair stylers, nail polish, jewelry like Elsa’s and Anna’s jewelry, purses, vanity play sets, lip balm, Tiara’s like worn by Anna, sparkle make up, back packs, bracelets and different kinds of Dresses in the styles that main characters donned in the movie. Pictured: Jim Shore Disney Traditions Frozen Elsa and Anna Arts and craft supplies such as play-doh, activity books, coloring sets, and sticker kits, paint brushes, activity tubes, easels, window markers, rolling art desks, table easels, art cases, drawing mats, and Frozen doodle etch a sketches. Pictured: Frozen The Warmth of Love Giclée on Canvas by Jim Salvati – Sisters Elsa and Anna share a tender embrace as Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf look on in this limited edition artwork. Inspired by Frozen, ”The Warmth of Love” was created by Jim Salvati and is part of the Treasures on Canvas Collection. Outdoor toys such as play tents, toy cars such as mustangs and jeeps, walkie talkies, children’s bicycles, tricycles, bed tents, roller skates, bike helmets, snow shovels, ergonomic cruisers, scooters, umbrellas, igloo makers, small electric scooters, and snow speedsters which you sit on to slide down snow. Pictured: Disney Animators’ Collection Anna Doll – Frozen production artists Becky Brese, Bill Schwab, and Jin Kim have reimagined Anna in her early years. Exquisitely costumed in a satin dress with floral detailing, this Anna doll is accompanied by the little snowman Olaf. Different Kinds of Books, DVDs and music such as Karaoke DVDs, movie soundtracks, read-along story books, Blu-ray movie DVD’s, “sound books” , coloring books, look and find books and sing-along DVD’s. Various furniture and utensils such as Toddler beds, play tents, sleeping bags, marshmallow arm chairs, marshmallow sofas, table and chair sets, step stools, bedding sets, tea pots, plates, cups, bowels, and cutlery. Not everything could even be covered in this list, so I think it is safe to say that if you want something, you could always get the Frozen version of it!
On my travels around collector’s fairs I have recently been drawn to a range of unusual looking costume jewellery. So distinctive in design it keeps leaping out at me and I cannot walk past without studying its intricate patterns and styles. So intrigued was I that after some investigation and research I found myself being sucked into the vibrant colourful world of renowned French costume jewellery designer – Lea Stein. Lea was born in Paris, France in 1931 and although very little is known of her early years it is believed that a lot of her childhood was spent in a concentration camp during WW2. Lea married Fernand Steinberger in the 1950s but it was not until the 1960s that she embarked in her own business of making creative innovative designs in costume jewellery. Fernand had discovered the process of laminating celluloid; using many paper-thin celluloid acetate sheets he created a multi-layered effect, finishing the process off with a top layer of material such as lace or even straw. Once the layered sheets had been blended they were then baked to harden and various shapes could be hand carved. The master piece could take up to as long as 6 months to perfect and then when totally satisfied it was used as a template to produce the jewellery (or component to use its official term), these components then transformed into the fantastic sculpture designs that today is so recognisable as Lea Stein. From the 60s right through to the 80s Lea produced pins, earrings, necklaces, bangles and even other objects of desire such as picture frames and mirrors. Amongst some of her earlier work are unusual buttons that again vary in design and were bought by French Couture fashion houses, but even rarer are the serigraphy pins, which were typically art deco in style, and were commonly images of ladies or girls framed like miniature paintings. Lea’s patterns and designs vary from the amusing caricature to the classic geometric deco style. Lea’s great passion for Art Deco shines through in her work with pins such as “Flapper” and one of my favourites the “Deco Cat” which I have seen sell recently for as much as £90.00. The stretch bracelets, bangles and necklaces also have a distinct deco influence with the geometric squares and colours such as green, which were typically used in jewellery during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the more common designs and the one that Lea is most famous for, is the “Fox” pin; these come in all types of colours and patterns and are easily recognisable with their looped tail and outstretched paws. This particular design can be found in layered pattern, pearlized, snakeskin and even glitter. Costing as little as £30 to £35 upwards you could easily just concentrate on collecting the foxes, as there are so many pattern variations. In the 1970’s Lea Stein bought the licence to a French Children’s Television show called “L’ile aux Enfants” – this translated into English means “Isle of Children”. She reproduced the characters onto pins, which were only made during 1975. All the characters were from the programme and include “Casimir”, “Tiffins” and the really loveable “Calimero” who is a little black bird with an eggshell sitting on his head. These are extremely hard to come by and do not come up for sale very often, but if you do find one expect to pay £70 to £100. In the early eighties the company fell into financial trouble and had to cease trading. However, this was not the end of Lea Stein, after a break of 9 years she began making earrings out of the fox head pins and cat faces left over from the factory. She hasn’t stopped there either, now from her home in France Lea is still producing and coming up with new ideas, thus keeping up with the demand from collectors. Prices for Lea Stein vary from as little as £25 upwards, depending on whom and where you buy, but it is actually the more modern pieces that fetch higher prices as less quantities are being made compared to when Lea had a factory and was able to produce on a much higher scale. The more recent designs very rarely appear on the secondary market as collectors snap them up instantly. It is not just the distinctive patterns that make Lea Stein so recognisable, the “V” shaped clasp is the trademark and is signed “Lea Stein Paris” on the back although some earlier 1960s pieces do not have the signature. This clasp creates some confusion about distinguishing the vintage pieces from the more modern but I am reliably informed the only way to tell the age is by the designs themselves. There is discussion that the clasp gives away the age of a piece by whether it has been secured by being melted into the back of the pin or whether it has been riveted. This allegedly is not true, the type of design determines how the clasp is fastened and does not identify the age of the item. Another way to distinguish between earlier and later pieces are the back of the pins themselves, some of the lying down and upright cats have nasty white backing which generally means that they are later pieces. Early vintage designs to look out for are the “Tennis Lady” or “Diver” as she is also known, this particular pin was made between 1968 and 1980 and can cost around £65 – £70. “Rolls Royce”, “French Sailor”, “Saxophone” and even rock legend “Elvis” are also highly desirable to collectors, again made in the same time bracket and costing around the same price on the secondary market. One of the more modern pieces to look out for is the front facing panther. There are only a few on the open market as Fernand and Lea recalled it due to the fact that they were not entirely happy with the finished product. Other modern designs are the bears […]
Unlike us, bears have discovered the enviable secret of eternal youth. An eighty-eight-year-old Rupert? Ridiculous! A seventy-eight-year-old Mary Plain? Unthinkable! An eighty-eight-year-old Pooh? Preposterous. And as for a fifty-year-old Paddington – you must be joking! How can a bear who creates mischief and mayhem wherever he goes – admittedly a bear whose sole aim in life is to be helpful and polite, but who is unfortunately accident prone, impulsive and always in deep trouble – be well on the way to collecting his bus pass? Bears always find an age with which they are comfortable and stick to it. So, believe it or not, Paddington really does celebrate his fiftieth birthday this year. Pictured left: Paddington Bear by Gabrielle No doubt he will be hosting a party with an iced cake cooked by Mrs Bird, buns and cocoa donated by Mr Gruber, and a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ wobbly jelly from the Blue Peter team. (For many years, Paddington was a regular in the Blue Peter studio.) Of course, there will be a huge pile of sandwiches too, but the vital question is, will they be filled with marmalade – or Marmite? Up until recently, the choice of filling would have been a forgone conclusion, but suddenly our loveable bear has developed a taste for the sticky brown stuff. Of course, he still loves marmalade very much. In fact, when Paddington was first approached by the advertising company he exclaimed, “But I always have marmalade in my sandwiches!” The agency explained, “That’s exactly why we think you would be perfect for the campaign. We want people who normally have something different in their sandwiches to try Marmite.” Pictured right: Paddington Bear with Marmalade Hidden Treasures from Arora Design – each figurine has a secret compartment containing a hidden treasure. So, rather tentatively, Paddington took a sniff, and then a nibble, and finally a big bite. He discovered that he enjoyed Marmite very much indeed, and though it could never really replace his beloved marmalade, it certainly made a jolly acceptable change. The pigeons and the ducks are not too sure, though, as can be seen in the adverts. Michael Bond is not too sure, either, and in a letter to The Times wrote, “Paddington likes his food and tries anything, but he would certainly never be weaned off marmalade”, saying that Paddington’s characteristics are “set in stone and you shouldn’t change them.” In the past he has always tried to avoid any hint of commercialising Paddington Bear, so he added darkly, “Now there’s no going back.” What actually is Marmite? Well, it’s a spread made from yeast extract, vegetable extract, salt and various spices and, as the adverts proclaim, ‘You either love it or hate it’. You certainly can’t be indifferent to that tangy, tongue numbing taste. Although Paddington has been weaned off the marmalade for a while to promote the new, squeezy Marmite, I’m sure it won’t be long before he reverts to his favourite marmalade chunks. A marmalade-free Paddington is about as unthinkable as a Paddington who has lost his duffel coat and floppy hat. When Michael Bond found a small toy teddy bear on a shelf in a London Store on Christmas Eve 1956, he decided to buy it as a present for his wife. He called the bear Paddington. Just for fun, he wrote some stories revolving around the bear, and after a few days realised he had a book on his hands. However, he admits that while he was writing he didn’t consciously set out to write a children’s book – which is good, because, as all Paddington enthusiasts know, the books are far too special to be the sole prerogative of youngsters. Eventually, the book was placed with William Collins and Sons (now HarperCollins), and illustrator Peggy Fortnum was commissioned to produce the delightful sketches which complemented the stories so well. ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ was published in 1958, and as we all know, the rest is history. Amazingly, the Paddington series of books have sold over thirty million copies world wide and have been translated into thirty languages. Pictured left: Paddington Bear by Steiff As the birthday bear’s big day approaches, as well as planning his party shopping list and putting both Marmite and marmalade at the top of it, how else will Paddington be celebrating? For starters, he will be starring in a new book, the first Michael Bond Paddington Bear book to be published for thirty years. Rumour has it that a mysterious stranger will cause Paddington to reflect where home really is – surely he won’t forsake 32 Windsor Gardens and return to darkest Peru? ‘Paddington Here and Now’ will be published in June, while in October, to commemorate the publication of that very first book, HarperCollins will issue a special anniversary edition of ‘A Bear Called Paddington’. And there’s more – in March, as part of World Book Day, a £1 read, ‘Paddington Rules the Waves’, will be amongst the titles on offer. There will be plenty of new Paddington Bear collectables and merchandise this year, too, including a new Steiff creation. As we all know, Paddington was first discovered by Mr and Mrs Brown on Paddington Station, hence his name. The optimistic little refugee was sitting hopefully on a suitcase containing his worldly goods, and Steiff have depicted him, carrying his case, in a limited edition of 1,500 pieces. This 11 inch tall Paddington wears a pale blue coat and is complete with a gold-plated button-in-ear. He is based on the FilmFair Paddington Bear from the television series, a super bonus for fans of the animated episodes. Other items include puzzles courtesy of Hausemann en Hotte/Falcon, while Robert Harrop has produced a gorgeous commemorative figurine of Paddington munching a marmalade sandwich (not a blob of Marmite in sight!). More planned Paddington releases include a commemorative coin, a pewter figurine, clothing, greetings cards, a cookery book and gift wrap, as well as a range of soft […]