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.
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?
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 […]
Batman Begins is the latest is the Batman series of movie. “Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham. In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful.” Pictured The US Batman Begins poster. “He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.” Pictured Batman Begins 13-inch Deluxe Collector Figure – a striking depiction of Christian Bale as Batman in Batman Begins. This 13-inch figure includes an authentically detailed fabric costume, an alternate set of hands, a grappling gun, Batarangs, and a stand to display the figure. This collector figure also features a full-Color Certificate of Authenticity. Packaged in a deluxe 4-color window box. DC Direct, DC Comics’ toy and collectibles brand, unveiled its line of Batman Begins authentic movie collectibles at the 2005 American International Toy Fair. Pictured right: Batman Begins Batmobile Replica – limited edition Batmobile from Batman Begins is a magnificent recreation of the mythic automobile. This hand-painted cold-cast porcelain replica measures approximately 4.25″ high x 6.5″ wide x 10″ deep, includes a full-color Certificate of Authenticity, and is packaged in an elegant gift box with foil stamping. It is sculpted directly from the actual 3D designs for the Batmobile in Batman Begins. Please note this is a collectible, not a toy. Limited edition of 2600. The line includes several Batman Statues, a Batman Bust, a Batman 13″ deluxe figure, Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow Mini-Statues, a Batmobile Replica, and a Batarang Prop Replica. Pictured left: Christian Bale as BATMAN Statue from Batman Begins – a limited edition collectible statue is a striking replica of Christian Bale as Batman from Batman Begins. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 14″ tall x 8″ wide x 8.5″ deep, includes a full-color Certificate of Authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited edition of 2500 The line is being introduced throughout the Summer. Pictured right: BATMAN on Rooftop Statue from Batman Begins – Batman, Guardian of Gotham City, stands watch and is ready to leap into danger at any given moment. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 7″ tall x 4″ wide x 4″ deep, includes a full-color Certificate of Authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited edition of 3500. The range costs from $30 to $300. Pictured left: this Batarang prop replica from Batman Begins is an authentic life-sized movie replica. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain replica measures approximately 2″ high x 11.5″ wide x 5.75″ deep, includes a full-color Certificate of Authenticity and is packaged in an elegant black gift box with foil stamping. Limited edition of 1,500. Other collectibles in the line include Christian Bale as Batman Bust, Christian Bales as Batman mini-statue, Dr. Crane/Scarecrow Mini-Statue and Ra’s Al Ghul Mini-Statue. Pictured right: BATMAN in Flight Statue from Batman Begins – Suspended in mid-air, the Caped Crusader cascades into the shadowy streets of Gotham city to unleash his vengeance against evildoers. This limited edition, hand-painted cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 11″ high x 8.5″ wide x 5.5″ deep, includes a full-color Certificate of Authenticity and is packaged in a 4-color box. Limited edition of 4000 pieces.
I ought to say ‘bless you’. Not only for belated New Year felicitations, but also as so many of us have been snorting into our hankies lately. I too have been doing much the same, and when I saw a superbly colourful collection of glass handkerchief vases on a photo shoot for a book last week, I got thinking. Pictured: A Venini Latticino glass handkerchief vase. Sold for US$ 366 (£233) Bonhams Los Angeles 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. The handkerchief vase shape screams the 1950s to most of us, especially thinking of the examples illustrated here that are seen at fairs up and down the country. And we’re not far wrong. The form was developed by Italian artist, designer and glassmaker Fulvio Bianconi around 1948- 1949. It wasn’t necessarily a single-handed effort, as he was working with Paolo Venini of the renowned ‘Venini & Cie’ glass factory on the Venetian island of Murano at the time. The vases became known as ‘fazzoletto’ (fats-o-let-o), which quite simply is Italian for ‘handkerchief’. Pictured: 1950s Murano Venini Freeform Pink Handkerchief Vase. Sold for £395 Ebay May 2015. They were made in a huge variety of different colours and sizes, but all looking like up-turned hankies concealing something invisible, then frozen in place. The most commonly seen forms are low, transparent and contain stripes of fine spiralling threads, known as ‘zanfirico’ rods. Others are opaque, or cased in different colours. Not all these vases were made by Venini however because, as with most Murano glass, the design was widely copied by the many other factories on the island and sold less expensively to tourists. Pictured: 1960s Chance small psychedelic black and white printed pattern glass handkerchief vase. This version sold for £17.99 on ebay February 2015. Look on the bottom for a small three lined acid-etched mark reading ‘venini murano italia’ or a metallic cream on gold Murano sticky label to be sure you’re buying an authentic Venini piece. This isn’t to say that other factories’ examples aren’t worth having, but they are generally less desirable and thus less valuable. An authentic marked Venini piece may fetch around £200-800 or more, depending on size and the type of glass used. A copy can be found more easily and for under £150, quite often under £80-100. Genuine Venini, or those in large sizes or very unusual patterns have the best chance of rising in value to me. Desirable as the Italian originals are, how about a version that is more varied, more colourful and also more affordable? Chance Glass, based near Birmingham, produced handkerchief vases in their thousands from the 1950s until the late 1970s, before the factory closed in 1981. Found in many fashionable and young homes at the time, these are also the most common examples you’ll see today. They’re immediately recognisable, as for a start they often look more like real handkerchiefs with their printed patterns, and secondly they have a sharper, more angular look. They were produced by resting a thin square pane of glass on a tall cylinder, and then heating it in a kiln, causing the plate to melt a little and sag down around the cylinder when encouraged by a tool rather like a metallic spider. Although roughly the same each time, the folds are not regular, which explains why they don’t stack, or even begin to stack if you carefully try. I say carefully try as the screen-printed pattern is on the outside and tends to scratch very easily. This is one of the most important things to look for when planning a purchase as scratches, particularly on and around the base, make a piece worth considerably less. Similarly, examine the sharp edges and corners to ensure that they are not chipped as the same rings true. Talking of ringing, try tapping one. Weird as it sounds, it doesn’t create the expected high-pitched ring, but one more like the ring of a cowbell – try it when you get one home and you’ll see what I mean! To blow out a common misconception, they were produced in four, not three, different sizes. The ‘oversize’ is the rarest and is really rather large, making quite a visual impact. The next rarest is the ‘medium’ size and the two most common sizes are the ‘small’ size at around 4 inches high and the ‘large’ size at around 7 inches high. Chequered prints in all their variety are more common, and indeed ‘Gingham’ was one of the last patterns to be introduced in 1977. Polka dotted (my favourite) and broad banded examples are also often seen. More sought after are the ones with ‘funkadelic’ 60s-tastic swirls. Pinstriped examples also seem to get the winning vote, especially in acidic colours typical of the 1960s. Not all examples have printed surface patterns, instead using textured glass produced by Chance’s owner, Pilkington, the industrial glass giant. In fact, next time you open your glass panelled back door or the door to a pub loo, look at the textured glass. Remember it, as much of that was produced by Pilkington, who also used it in resonant colours on Chance’s ranges. A varied linear pattern, a bark-type effect or a gently ‘hammered’ effect are three typical examples. Regular readers will know how fond I am of collectables we can all afford to collect, and these currently fall into that category. Most fetch under £40-60, with common sizes often being under £25. Unprinted examples are currently generally less desirable unless large, usually fetching under £20 for small sizes. The exceptions to look out for are the very rare intaglio cut examples, such as the broad-banded ruby example on this page, which can sometimes go for over £100. Just as well they’re comparatively inexpensive, as the variety of patterns and sizes is truly vast and would make a superb and addictive challenge to collect. As they appeal as much to people looking for a 1950s touch for a room as to diehard collectors, prices should rise further, especially for the large examples or […]
The glass of Emile Galle is attracting increasing attention among collectors, not only for its inherent beauty and refinement, but also because every piece, so far as we know, has that favourite feature of the collector, a signature.
First developed in the early nineteen hundreds, it’s a range of patterned, pressed glass suffused with an iridescent lust re, which reflects the light, making the surface gleam with metallic highlights. It resembles the rainbow effect that you see when oil is spilt in a puddle. This effect was gained by spraying the hot surface of the glass with metallic salt solutions and then re-firing to set the iridescence. Pressed glass products using this method first appeared in the US in 1905. They resembled the high lustre finish achieved by high-class glass manufacturers such as Tiffany on their exquisite hand-blown pieces. It is said that when pressed glass companies began producing iridescent glass, Tiffany sales slumped because customers didn’t like to think that poor folk could now afford to have similar products in their homes!During the 1880s, hand-operated press moulds were developed by the American glasshouses, which enabled them to produce domestic glassware in large quantities much more cheaply than the traditional methods allowed. Unlike hand-blown glass which was time-consuming to make, pressed glass was formed using these moulds. Two moulds were needed. The molten glass was poured into the outer mould, and then the inner mould (or ‘plunger’) was forced in, using great pressure. Sometimes the moulds were in two or more parts, and so a trickle of the molten glass would seep through the gaps. Later, these seam lines would be polished out if they weren’t hidden in the intricate design. At first the products were made from clear glass, but gradually colours were introduced. Even though Carnival glass was initially pressed into moulds it still needed plenty of hand- finishing, because the makers wanted to create an air of individuality. The glassmakers completed their creations in a variety of ways. Sometimes they would very gently draw up the edges of a plate into a fluted shape, thu s creating a bowl. They might even add some rounded feet. Using special tools, they could pinch or crimp edges, or could make ruffles, pleats, frills and scallops. Gorgeous rose bowls and posy bowls could be formed by carefully pinching in the top edges of small basins, while tall vases were elongated by using centrifugal force which had the effect of stretching the malleable glass. Then the top edges could be decorated by crimping. The most commonly-found shade of Carnival glass is marigold, then comes amethyst, blue, green and red (probably the rarest of all.) Other shades do exist, including black, pastel shades, and many varieties of the main colours such as amber, electric blue or sapphire. In addition, some of the colours were coated with white, altering the hues – for example, marigold and white is called peach opalescent. The colour refers to the actua l base colour of the glass, not to the iridescence, and the best way to discover it is to hold the piece to the light. Then the true colour will show.An amazing variety of items were created from Carnival glass, many of which were intended for everyday use, rather than for decoration, so it surprising just how many items have survived over the years in good condition. Rose bowls, plates, ashtrays, hatpins, salad bowls, cream jugs, punch bowls, plates, stemmed dishes, vases and hair tidies were just a few of the items that poured from the factories during the relatively short period that the glass was in production.America was the major producer of Carnival glass, and the first country to produce the glass in commercial quantities. The so-called ‘big five’ companies were Northwood, Fenton, Imperial, Dugan and Millersburg, and they each had their own specialities. In addition there were a few smaller concerns. Other countries which produced the glass included England, Australia, Czechoslovakia, Argentina, Estonia, Finland and Sweden.The glass was originally made to bridge a gap in the market by providing ornamental glass for those who couldn’t afford to buy the fashionable, expensive, iridised handmade glassware. However, by the 1930s, fashions changed as as people began to follow Art Deco trends and the pretty glass became less popular.It wasn’t till much later that it acquired the name, ‘Carnival glass’, as it was thought that when it fell from favour, it was sold off cheaply to fairgrounds and offered as prizes. Whether or not this was true is a moot point. Other names for the glass were Poor man’s Tiffany, Rainbow glass, Aurora glass or Taffeta glass. The enormous range of patterns means that collectors will always be searching for more pieces. It’s calcul ated that well over a thousand different patterns were produced by the American companies, and when you realise that they came in many different colours, shapes and sizes, you can see why a Carnival glass collection can never be complete.Patterns were given names which usually echoed the design, such as leaf and beads, starfish, pineapple and bow, beaded cable, peacock tails, Persian medallion, open rose and fluffy peacock. Flowers, fruits, leaves were especially popular designs – pansies, roses, water-lilies, blackberries, grapes, cherries, oak and vine leaves. Sometimes horses’ heads, dragons, birds, or kittens were featured. Geometric shapes or abstract patterns are found too, and are shown to perfection by the iridescence which catches the light as the piece is turned, emphasising the various facets.Because of the way that the glass is manufactured, no two items are quite the same – if you place two dishes or vases of the same pattern, shape, colour and size from the same manufacturer, side by side, you will notice subtle differences. One may seem more blue than purple, or have a section which gleams gold, or maybe have a pink or green tinge. A single item of carnival glass on display is beautiful – a collection, especially if illuminated by spotlights, or perhaps placed in a north-facing window (away from the danger of the sun’s rays which could trigger a fire), makes a stunning spectacle.The price of carnival glass varies considerably, depending on the manuf acturer, colour, design – and where you buy. Although […]
The Tiffany family might not have made it to the New World aboard the ‘Mayflower’ but they might still qualify as early arrivals when, sometime around 1660, a certain Squire Humphrey Tiffany arrived and settled in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Some 150 years later his descendants were in business running a general store in Connecticut. The son of this concern, Charles Louis Tiffany, together with his college friend John Young, decided to try their luck setting up shop in New York at 259 Broadway, aided by a $1,000 loan from Charles’s father – the year was 1837 and Charles was 25 years of age. Initially trading as Tiffany and Young the firm is known to have offered stationery and fancy goods. Pictured: Tiffany Glass Lustre Vase – part of the Haworth Art Gallery Tiffany Glass collection. Image copyright Haworth Art Gallery. The enterprise eventually became Tiffany and Co and gained a reputation for carefully selected European objects that benefited from being tastefully displayed attracting both a discerning and growing clientele. By 1850 the company was importing jewellery and that same year acquired a collection of jewels that had once been owned by Marie Antoinette. The firm had prospered to such an extent that by 1887 they were in a position to purchase a significant proportion of the former French crown jewels for the sum of two million French francs. By now Tiffany and Co were jewellers and silversmiths to an elite clientele of multi millionaires with such legendary names as Havemeyer, Gould, Astor and Vanderbilt. This was a stratum of US society keen to offload vast sums of cash on the best that their money could buy and Charles Tiffany was a master at keeping his customers satisfied. His son Louis Comfort Tiffany was born into this rarefied retail outlet in 1848 and had benefited at birth from growing up in a home surrounded by tasteful furnishings of the finest quality. Despite the expectancy that the son would naturally join the family firm it became obvious that he had other ideas and by his teenage years had shown intent to develop his painting skills by studying under George Innes the celebrated American landscape artist working in the Barbizon style. In 1867 he travelled to London and Paris where he developed a fascination with the ‘Orientalist’ approach to painting that sought subject matter of both middle and far eastern themes. The young Tiffany had the additional benefit of being mentored by Edward C Moore who worked for his father and was recognised by all as a significant expert in all matters of historical design and fine art. Over the years LCT made several painting trips to Europe and North Africa where he had become particularly inspired by the simple and pleasing colours of the buildings, instilling an ambition of bringing colour into the buildings and homes of his native country. On one trip he was joined by his friend and much respected fellow artist Samuel Colman with whom in later years along with Candace Wheeler, the much respected needlework and textile designer, they collectively traded as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated Artists. Their relatively short lived joint venture was aimed at providing a total interior design and decoration service with Candace Wheeler in particular admitting LCT to be difficult to work alongside due to his obsession with his experimentation with all things glass. Their success appeared to be well and truly consolidated after being commissioned by President Chester Alan Arthur to redecorate several rooms in the White House. Other significant clients included Mark Twain and Lily Langtry – referred to at the time as the ‘Jersey Lily’. Tiffany’s fascination with glass had been nurtured during his early visits to Europe where he studied medieval stained glass in the many cathedrals as well as the early glass displayed in important museums. This interest was also stimulated by the ancient Roman and Islamic glass that he came across whilst travelling around the Middle East. His preoccupation with the commercial possibilities offered by producing aesthetically pleasing art glass began to override his expected involvement with his interior design company. As early as 1878 he had set up his own glassworks employing Venetian glass maker Andrea Boldini as his partner. Unfortunately their enterprise appears to have failed after the works had burnt down on two occasions leading the Italian to resign. Tiffany was however determined to pursue his dream and in 1880 began to file various patents including one that made use of metallic lustres and was to become manifest as his now legendary ‘Favrile’ glass. The term being a derivative of the word ‘Fabrile’ an old English term for being hand made. His efforts and further trialling appear to have taken place across the East River in the Louis Heidt glassworks located in then fashionable Brooklyn. In 1882, three years after parting company with Candace Wheeler and Samuel Colman, his continuing fascination resulted in the founding of the Tiffany Glass Company. The company was initially involved in the making decorative windows that had witnessed a growing demand that was also providing commissions for his one time friend John La Farge. Tiffany’s experimentation included iridescent glass that emulated that uncovered from archaeological sites and eventually retailed as ‘Cypriot’ glass. Other techniques included coloured lustre, wheel carving, paperweight, agate, reactive, lava, cameo and aquamarine. The latter might be considered to be a novelty type of glass albeit extremely difficult to perfect, which therefore accounts for such pieces being relatively rare. The intention was to emulate aquatic weeds, marine life and fish within a solid mass of clear glass encased within an integral vase or bowl or as simple doorstops and paperweights. In 1892 he made the decision to rename his business the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, thereby making it known that his interior design service was still operating and attracting no shortage of commissions. More importantly Louis Comfort Tiffany had by now secured the position and reputation of being able to claim the accolade as the […]
Chalet School Books and Chalet School Collectables. Over the decades, thousands of schoolgirls became hooked on a series of stories written by Elinor Brent- Dyer, headmistress of a school in Hereford. The books featured a school set in the mountains, and followed the progress of Joey Bettany and her friends. In all, there were 59 hardback books in the series, and today early editions are becoming extremely sought after. Elinor Brent-Dyer was born in 1894 and combined writing with her scholarly career, often using events and happenings from her school in her books. The lively stories soon gained a large following of fans and today are still being discovered by younger readers, as well as being collected by those who read them the first time round. Her first book, The School at the Chalet, was published by W R Chambers in 1925, and the last book, Prefects of the Chalet School, was published posthumously by the same company in 1970. The locations of the stories varied with the first books being set in the Austrian Tyrol, but later venues included Wales, the Channel Islands and the Bernese Oberland. Apparently Elinor visited the Austrian Tyrol in 1924, and decided to use it as a location for her imaginary school. Years later, readers managed to identify the village, lake, mountains and small railway which featured in the books, even though Elinor always tried to keep the exact place secret. Perhaps the most dramatic of the books was a wartime publication, The Chalet School in Exile, describing the homicidal persecution of the Jews, and which dealt with the members of the school fleeing from Nazi rule. Elinor’s books spanned several decades, from the thirties to the sixties, and consequently are of interest socially. In the stories, the Chalet School was founded by Madge Bettany, who married a doctor. The school was linked to a sanatorium (this was an era when TB was still rife) which consequently provided plenty of additional storylines when the girls held fundraising events or became patients. The main character was Madge’s sister Joey, who appeared in the first book as a new pupil, subsequently working her way through the books to become prefect and head girl, before leaving, marrying and having eleven children including triplets! Elinor followed the progress of some of those children through the school too. Along the way, she introduced a host of unforgettable characters, such as Miss Annersley, the capable headmistress who took over from Madge, and Matey, a firm but kind matron. Elinor cleverly managed to keep most of her main schoolgirl characters throughout the series by bringing them back to work at the school once they had left. The second title, Jo of the Chalet School, was published in 1926, the third, The Princess of the Chalet School, in 1927, and the stories continued to appear at approximately yearly intervals. In between, Elinor was writing other books; her output was phenomenal, and over a hundred were published during her lifetime. Naturally, it is the original, hard-backed copies of the books which most collectors seek out, although, to her keenest fans, condition is less important than content. Many of the paperback editions were heavily edited; sometimes whole chapters were removed, and fans seek the original books so that they can read the missing bits. Prices vary tremendously. Some of the rarer titles, mint with dust wrappers, can now cost upwards of £50, and even tatty copies still cost around £20. If the wrapper is missing, then the book normally isn’t so collectable, and these are the ones which can often be found in charity shops and at car boot sales. Sometimes the books contain black and white line drawings, very characteristic of the era, which show the girls neatly dressed in immaculate uniforms complete with hats, a far cry from today’s more casual clothing, while the wrappers are charmingly illustrated, many of them in delicate colours depicting the scenery of the Austrian Tyrol and the girls of the school. The books are moral, with manners, religion and music playing a great part, yet the principles set by Elinor of different nationalities freely mixing, religious tolerance and the emphasis on the importance of learning different languages are surprisingly modern. Those early readers in the 1930s must have been given much food for thought. The stories were later issued by Armada in paperback form, and these are now becoming collectable in their own right, especially the later publications as these were uncut versions and only available for a limited period. Over the years, the titles have appeared in several different styles of paperback, the earliest being easily recognisable by a ‘chalet roof’ drawing at the top of the cover. Some of the books have been published as extra-thick ‘doubles’ format, containing two of the novels, while the paperback version of The Chalet School and Rosalie (originally published in 1951 by Chambers as a limited edition) was first published by Armada in 1987, and later republished in a single volume together with The Mystery at the Chalet School. Presumably the first version was so thin that it didn’t sell. The Mystery at the Chalet School was a story which originally appeared in the First Chalet Book for Girls, 1947. The Chalet School Reunion, 1963, was the 50th book in the series, and was celebrated in real life by a presentation to Elinor at a large gathering of fans. In 1994, Armada reprinted a facsimile edition of the first book, The School at the Chalet, from a copy first produced in 1930. The illustration on the front of the book was taken from the original dust wrapper. This attractive paperback is certainly well worth seeking out, and is sure to become a future collectable. Other Brent-Dyer publications include those in the ‘La Rochelle’ series, which seem harder to obtain than the Chalet School Books, the ‘Chudleigh Hold’ series, many individual titles, three Chalet School annuals and a Chalet School cookbook. Various tales also appeared in girls’ annuals […]
Recently, a friend said, ‘I’d like to collect dolls. But there are lots of different kinds. How do I start and what are the best to buy?’ This really had me thinking; it’s a difficult query to reply to as there’s no easy answer. The first thing to establish is why my friend wants to collect – if it’s for investment purposes, my reply will be, “Don’t!” That isn’t to say there is no money to be made in the doll collecting world – a lady I know must be rubbing her hands with glee at the moment having just sold a mint in box Pedigree doll (which originally cost £5) for over £650! While anyone who still owns their childhood Blythe doll could, with a bit of luck, be sitting on a nice little earner of £500 upwards. I’m sure that if you ask Kathy Martin which bears to collect, Mark Hill which glass to collect or Tracy Martin which handbags to collect, they will all tell you the same – “Buy those which you really love (as long as you can afford them!).” There is no point in buying items which you dislike purely because they might possibly rise in value in ten years time – after all, you have to live with them until then. If you invest in an ultra rare, mint, perfect doll, but it happens to be one of those types which scares you even before you placed your bid, well, yes, you might possibly make a profit in a few years – but in the meantime, you’ll have turned into a nervous wreck, with the doll haunting your dreams and scaring all your friends away! Stick with what appeals to you, and you’ll be fine. What if you decide you want to collect the kind of dolls you like, but the trouble is, you like them all? Well, firstly, welcome to the club, most doll collectors face this exact dilemma! Sometimes you can narrow it down a bit. Maybe, fashion is your thing and the new fashion dolls, especially those by the American designers such as Tonner, will fit the bill. There are many ranges of exquisite dolls to choose from, whether you decide to go for the 1940s look as worn by Mel Odom’s Gene, 1950s chic encapsulated in such dolls as Tonner’s Kitty Collier, 1960s zany styles as demonstrated by the new Doug James range of Gabby and Violet teens, or ballet and theatrical glamour found in the stunning range by Clea Bella. All of these dolls are worth checking out by fashion fans. If, however, your fashion tastes are more simple, then you might prefer to begin your collection by seeking out old Sindy, Barbie, Daisy, Tressy and Tammy dolls. All of these have their fans, and it is still relatively easy to pick up good examples without laying out too much money – a Sindy, for example, in her original Weekenders outfit, or a Quant Daisy wearing her trendy Bees Knees get-up, can be bought for the price of a meal out. Barbie and Sindy are still being made, so you could add some you really like to your collection just by popping along to your local toy shop. Maybe, though, it’s the older dolls which really appeal to you – it must be said that some of the bisque dolls from the 1920s and before are stunningly beautiful, with large glass eyes, creamy smooth porcelain cheeks and rosebud mouths. To me, it is a really special feeling to hold one of these old dolls, to imagine the children who played with her and the history they witnessed, a nd, especially, to marvel at the way a china doll which has been loved and played with by generations of children, can still be so fresh and perfect. Antique dolls are often expensive – yet, some modern dolls can cost just as much, if not more. If you are hoping to collect antique dolls, now is a very good time to buy. At present, many of the more commonly-found old dolls have dropped in price, possibly due to an influx on the market as elderly owners decide to part with their possessions; look out for makers such as Armand Marseille, Ernst Heubach, Simon & Halbig and Schoenau & Hoffmeister, all of whom made delightful and popular dolls. At present it is possible to buy a reasonable antique doll in good condition for around £150 from a dealer or fair. I would never recommend that you buy any antique doll without inspecting it first, unless the seller is someone known to you who you trust implicitly. When you find an antique doll which you really love, ask the seller if there are any cracks, including hairlines, chips or other damage (normally this should have already been noted on the tag attached to the doll). Check to see whether the wig is original (a replacement isn’t necessarily a problem, as long as it isn’t a modern nylon wig), and ask if you can remove some of the clothing to check the condition of the body. Sometimes you will find there are scuffed toes or missing fingers; most collectors are not overly concerned with minor play damage such as this, and some will accept a hairline crack if it doesn’t detract from the doll’s beauty. Antique dolls aren’t always made from china, there are some very beautiful wax dolls about. Many people dislike wax dolls as they find the wax likeness to human skin rather creepy for comfort, while often the faces tend to craze which can give them a sinister air. Anther reason they are out of favour is because they can dry out in modern centrally-heated homes. Nevertheless, wax dolls can be very pretty, and often not particularly expensive. With a little care, they can make an excellent and interesting collection, as can celluloid dolls, which, though prone to dents, and which, being inflammable, mustn’t be put near a naked […]