Rookwood Pottery Price Guide and Value Guide – Realised prices for sold Rookwood Pottery items from auction houses in US & UK, and ebay.
Rookwood Pottery Related
Rookwood Pottery and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer
Books on Rookwood Pottery
Rookwood Pottery Price Guide and Value Guide – Realised prices for sold Rookwood Pottery items from auction houses in US & UK, and ebay.
Rookwood Pottery Related
Rookwood Pottery and Maria Longworth Nichols Storer
Books on Rookwood Pottery
I got my first diecast fifty years ago. My mother and father must have thought that at six years old I was ‘grown-up’ enough to have a real toy at last, and so Christmas morning 1958 saw me tearing open the brown paper packaging (potato-printed with holly and what could have been reindeer, although they looked rather like our bull-terrier wearing a T.V. aerial. My father’s wages as a long-distance lorry driver didn’t run to shop-bought wrapping) to reveal a magically reduced version of his Foden eight-wheeler. Every detail was there, from the door handle at the rear of the cab to the hole under the radiator for the starting handle. I could imagine myself cranking the engine over, thumb tucked away in case of a kickback just like Dad and watching the cab rattle into life. It was realistic, it was beautifully enamelled and it was solid, three of the qualities that have made die-cast toys such durable attractions for the collector. So much for their magic, but what actually do we mean by ‘die-casts’ as opposed to any other kind of metal toy? Die-casting as an industrial process came into being towards the end of the First World War. Casting itself is as old as metalworking, it simply means pouring molten metal into a mould from which the final object is shaped. In the early years of the twentieth century several American manufacturers began ‘slush casting’ model car bodies in cast iron. A wooden ‘form’ of the model was pressed into moist sand to create a one-shot mould into which molten metal was poured. As the metal in contact with the sand solidified the remainder was tipped out to leave a hollow casting, in terms of thickness and quality rather like a chocolate Easter egg. Next in complexity came ‘hollowcasting’ famous for producing lead soldiers, in which liquid metal is poured into a two part mould and swilled out to leave a hollow shell. Finally in die-casting as we understand it the molten metal is forced under pressure into a die, a two or more part metal negative of the finished model. As soon as the casting has cooled to its solid state the die is opened and the basis of the finished model falls out. This process allows almost ‘hairline’ detail to be incorporated into the surface of the toy, a great improvement on the tin-plate it superseded. Tin-plate toys had been constructed from stamped and cut pieces of sheet metal bent into shape and clipped or soldered together by hand. The impression of detail – door handles, bonnet louvres etc. was given by using lithography to print pictures of the required components on to the tin, but the detail remained two-dimensional, it was left to die-casting to bring its depth to life. So the increasingly mechanised world which followed the Great War had discovered a way to produce toys of an accuracy and robustness far superior to that of tin plate. The only real drawback was the cost of making the die for each new model. Die making was a process requiring great engineering skill, beginning with the hand crafting of a wooden mock-up, perfect to the tiniest detail, of the finished toy. The really fine work, door lines, radiator grilles etc. could be added with wire, the delicacy of this limited only by the ability of the metal used to flow successfully into the smallest crevices of the mould. The preferred metal for die casting toys is ‘mazak’ or ‘zamak’ if you are American. Basically it’s zinc with 3-4% aluminium and 1-2% copper added. Some of the earliest casting used lead, but as toy sucking lead to brain-damage it rapidly fell into disrepute. (These early lead toys were very expensive and so sucked only by the c hildren of the privileged classes, who grew up to run our society. Draw your own conclusions.) The slightest contamination of this mixture causes that bane of early die-cast collectors, fatigue. When first manufactured no one could have foreseen the problems this would cause. A toy’s life was, if fortunate, measured in years not the decades, which the collector’s market has extended it to. Fatigue is the name we give to the process of granularisation which causes the metal of a model to deform and eventually disintegrate. There is as far as I know very little to be done to cure this, the best advice seems to be to avoid handling the model and keep it room temperature. Not all parts of a model suffer fatigue at the same rate; cast wheels seem to be particularly prone. The theory seems to be that as wheels are relatively crude castings the same attention to detail in mixing the metal was not always given compared to that lavished on metal that had to flow into very finely detailed moulds. To keep the mould simple the toys are often made from two castings, in the case of my Foden one for the cab and chassis unit and one for the body. Before joining together each casting was tumbled in a rubber-lined drum part filled with loose stones and soapy water to remove any ‘flash’, the unwanted residue of the casting process. Next came a chemical preparation to help the enamel bond to the metal, and then the paint itself would be applied by spray gun as the models rotated along a conveyor belt to the ovens. Baked on at 200 degrees Centigrade the finish is extremely durable, another advantage for a roughly treated toy. Detail work, lights and radiator grilles etc., was hand sprayed through masks before the final assembly was completed with either screws or rivets. Among the first people to exploit this new technology for the toy market were the Dowst brothers of Chicago. They brought out their first “Tootsietoys” in the early 1920. Unlike tin-plate these new toys could faithfully reproduce the complex curves of full size automobiles, and were soon being used by motor dealers to promote their wares. […]
Arctophiles who like Disney animations can have great fun building a collection based entirely around Disney bears, as Kathy Martin reveals When you think of the number of animals Disney have immortalised in their animations over the years, it’s surprising how rarely bears have been featured. Pictured right: Steiff Winnie the Pooh, 20 inches, made in 2004 exclusively for the UK and USA in a limited edition of 3,500 After all, the bear – in its teddy form – is the world’s favourite soft toy animal so you’d expect a canny merchandiser like Disney to have a whole galaxy of bear characters to tempt us with. Perhaps their reticence stems from the fact that since 1961 they have owned the film and licencing rights to Winne the Pooh, the ultimate A-list bear, and it’s hard for any other bruin to compete with him in the popularity stakes. Disney certainly show no reticence when it comes to making the most of Pooh – in their own stores he is sold in numerous different guises while the world’s leading toy manufacturers compete for the right to produce their versions under licence. The result is that fans of Pooh can build a hugely varied and interesting collection, especially if they are prepared to seek out vintage examples. Pictured right: Baloo, Steiff, 2003 In 1966 Merrythought’s catalogue included a fully jointed 10-inch mohair Pooh as well as a 24-inch ‘Showpiece’ version and a Pooh nightdress case. The following year he was back as a 9-inch ‘Chime’ toy which had arms but not legs, and also as a ‘Pooh in Bed’ pyjama or nightdress sachet. More modern interpretations of Pooh have come from Gabrielle Designs, Gund, Golden Bear, Steiff, Canterbury Bears, Dean’s and Hermann Teddy Original amongst others, and there’s every reason to suppose that further names will be added to the list as Disney strive to satisfy the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for all things Pooh. However, anyone wanting to add one of Steiff’s gorgeous versions of Pooh to their collection should hurry because no more will be made after 31st March 2007. There is no denying that Winnie the Pooh is ‘Top Bear’ in the Disney empire but there are other bears to be found if one is prepared to search for them. For example, from the 2003 movie Brother Bear, there are two really delightful bear characters called Koda and Kenai. Following the release of the film, beautiful soft toy versions of these two could be found in Dis ney Stores and they made a reappearance in 2006 when the follow up, Brother Bear 2, was released on DVD. Although Koda and Kenai are supposed to look more like real bears than teddies, they have the cute faces and super-soft plush necessary to make them very appealing to children. Pictured right: Canterbury Bears Pooh and friends, made under licence for Japan in 2006 Another ‘real’ bear from the Disney stable is Baloo, the laid back, fun loving bear who shows young Mowgli how to survive in the jungle in Disney’s 1967 hit movie, The Jungle Book. Soft toy versions of Baloo have been produced since the 1960s, and two of the most successful came from Steiff. The first Steiff Baloo was produced shortly after the release of The Jungle Book as part of a set that included the other main characters from film. Complete sets occasionally turn up at auction and are subject to fierce bidding – it’s not unusual to have to pay £700 or £800 for them. Then in 2003 Steff returned to Baloo as part of their Disney Showcase Collection, creating a very attractive limited edition version which was made from mohair and measured 33cm high. These are quite easy to get hold of today – specialist retailers occasionally still have them in stock and they frequently turn up on internet auction sites. Expect to pay around £140. For those on a tight budgets, charming plush versions of Baloo can be found inexpensively on the secondary market. For example, a 12-inch Baloo made in Sri Lanka for The Disney Store was purchased for less than a pound in a charity shop. In good, clean condition it makes a worthwhile addition to any Disney bear collection, as do the small beanie-type toys which are also easy to find. Phil Harris, the voice actor who played the part of Baloo in The Jungle Book, took the part of another bear in the Disney version of Robin Hood. Released in 1973, the film portrayed all the main characters as animals and it was decided that the outsized Little John should be a bear. Although it had its good points, the film was not a massive success and as a result merchandise is less widely available than that associated with big hits like The Jungle Book. Nevertheless, if you search (particularly on internet stores and auction sites) it is possible to buy Little John plush toys, plastic figurines, pin badges and so on. Prices range from £2 to £15. Pictured left: Plush version of Kenai from Brother Bear There have been successful Disney bears on the small screen, too. Notable amongst these are the Gummi Bears which starred in their own television series from the middle of the 1980s through to the early 1990s. There were seven main characters – Zuffi, Grammi, Gruffi, Tummi, Sunni, Cubbi and Gusto – all of which were produced in soft toy form. They rarely cost more than two or three pounds on the secondary market. Although the show came to an end in 1991, it may be familiar to youngsters of today thanks to re-runs on satellite and cable TV. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Gummi Bears is that the idea for the show came from the Gummi Bear sweets; we’re all familiar with characters such as the Milky Bar Kid, the Milcha cow or the Lindt bunny that have been created specifically to promote confectionery but there can’t be too many instances of […]
Mary Blair was a celebrated artist and designer who played a pivotal role in shaping the look of Disney animation in the 1950s. She was responsible for designing some of the most iconic scenes in films like “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland.” for over two decades. However, her most iconic work is undoubtedly the design of It’s A Small World at Disneyland. In 1963, she was asked to create a design for a new attraction at Disneyland called “It’s A Small World.” The attraction would feature animatronic dolls from around the world, singing a song with the same name. The ride, which debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, was an instant hit with its charming depiction of children from around the world singing and celebrating their diversity. The ride was eventually moved to Disneyland in Anaheim and finally opened on May 28, 1966. Blair’s bold use of color and geometric patterns helped to create a playful and inviting atmosphere that has become synonymous with the ride. Inspired by folk art from around the world, Blair created a cheerful and colorful space that has delighted millions of guests over the years. She used a lot of primary colours and geometric shapes in her designs and she was greatly influenced by folk art from Mexico and Central America. With its playful representation of different cultures, It’s A Small World is a fitting tribute to Mary Blair’s imaginative style. “Blair’s synthesis of world architecture in a single setting creates a sparkling subtlety promoting unity and harmony among different cultures”. (John Canemaker, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair). The It’s A Small World ride was was later replicated at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort as well as Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. There is no t’s A Small World ride at Shanghai Disneyland. Mary Blair’s It’s A Small World Murals at Disney’s Contemporary Resort The striking It’s A Small World murals at Disney Contemporary Resort in the Grand Canyon Concourse dominate the whole area. The murals reflect the name Grand Canyon concourse and show a stylized version of the Grand Canyon with scenery, flowers, animal and people. They have been at Disney’s Contemporary Resort since it opened on 1971. The mural is one of the most iconic pieces of art in all of the Disney Parks. Mary Blair’s Legacy to Disney Imagineers In addition to her work on “It’s A Small World”, Mary Blair also contributed to the design of other well-known theme park attractions, including “The Enchanted Tiki Room” and ” Pirates of the Caribbean”. her playful and colorful style can be seen in each of these iconic rides, and she is considered one of the most influential designers in the history of theme park design. The final product was a colorful and whimsical display that has become one of the most beloved attractions at Disney parks around the world. Mary Blair’s contributions to Disney are still evident today, and her legacy continues to inspire artists and engineers who work on new attractions. Related Disneyana.co.uk
Masons Ironstone China The 19th Century saw a massive growth in the British pottery industry with the production of functional, durable and decorative ceramic tableware. The durable nature of the pottery being produced and the ability to use transfer-printing, meant that customers still wanting Oriental patterns could now have the patterns on a much more dense, and stronger “china”. Pictured: A Mason’s Ironstone Part Dinner Service Late 19th Century, Impressed And Black Printed Ironstone China Marks Each piece with a figural chinoiserie vignette within a paper scroll and oyster ground punctuated with floral sprays and cartouches of precious objects. The set comprised over 100 plates, platters, dishes etc. Sold for $50,400 at Christies, New York, 2006. Image Copyright Christies. The manufacturing process could also be scaled up and the production moved to large factories, the cost of items was reduced and a new market of aspiring middle classes could now afford household china for everday use. This move supplanted the more delicate Chinese style porcelain that was common at the time. One such material was ironstone – a hard, dense and durable, slightly transparent white earthenware. The first form of ironstone was thought to have been manufactured by William Turner around 1800 at the Lane End potteries at Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. A number of potters were experimenting and it was also known as semi-porcelain, opaque porcelain, English porcelain, stone china and new stone. Pictured: A William Mason blue and white dessert-plate and three Mason’s Ironstone dishes Circa 1820, the dishes with printed and impressed MASON’S PATENT IRONSTONE CHINA marks The dessert-plate printed with the ‘Furness Abbey’ pattern, within moulded arcading and broad borders of scrolling cartouches of landscapes divided by passion-flowers and convolvulus, the dishes of leaf-shaped form with double-scroll handle, printed with the ‘Blue Pheasant’ pattern (all with riveted repairs and slight chipping, and staining to first) The first 7½ in. (19 cm.) diam., the second 9 5/8 in. (24.4 cm.) wide (4). Sold for £688 at Christies, London, 2009. Image Copyright Christies. Ironstone was first patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason, the son of Miles Mason. The Mason’s were a family of potters and had been developing a number of potting techniques at their works at Lane Delph, Fenton. The patent was No. 3724 was for a process for the “Improvement of the Manufacture of English Porcelain’, IRONSTONE PATENT CHINA”. The initial patent was for 14 years and was not renewed. Other companies such as Davenport and Hicks, Meigh & Johnson started producing similar wares. Pictured: Eight Mason’s Ironstone Jugs Circa 1825-35, Black Printed Marks Of octagonal form and graduated in size, painted with Oriental figures within shaped cartouches on an iron-red tiled ground The tallest 7½ in. (19 cm.) high (8). Sold for £688 at Christies, London, 2009. Image Copyright Christies. At the time the patent was taken out the ownership of the company was transferred to Miles Mason’s two sons and became known as G. & C. Mason or G. & C. Mason & Co. Family members include Miles Mason, his sons William Mason and Charles James Mason, and George Miles Mason.The company enjoyed enormous early success and continued to introduce new wares and designs. However, a change in fortunes saw Charles James Mason declared bankrupt and the firm close in 1848. Charles James Mason started a new factory at the Dasiy Bank Pottery but he died in 1856. At that time all the Mason patterns and moulds passed to Francis Morley. Morley and the Ashworth family formed a partnership during the period 1858-60, at the Broad Street works in Hanley. In 1862 Morley retired and passed everything to Ashworth including the Mason patterns, copper plates, moulds and trade marks. The company was acquired in 1884 by John Shaw Goddard and remained in the Goddard family until 1973 when the firm joined the Wedgwood Group. Masons Ironstone Related Masons Ironstone at Auction The Mason Family of Potter MILES MASON Miles was born in December 1752 in the village of Dent, Yorkshire. By 1769 he had moved to Chigwell where he was a neighbour of the Farrar family. On 13th August 1782 he married Ruth Farrar at St. Gabriel’s, Fenchurch Street. He was aged 30 but she was only 16 years old. After the marriage Miles became tenant-in-chief of a fine house and other properties at Chigwell Row, Essex which had previously been let to his late father-in-law by the Lord of the Manor of Barringtons. Apparently he never lived there. On 8th September 1783 Miles became a Freeman of the Glass-sellers’ Company and took the Livery on 23 September 1784. He was the founder of the Mason company and was producing porcelain of a high quality from the early 1800’s. He started by taking over the business of selling imported china which had been started by Richard Farrar, his father-in-law, in London in about 1783. Much of the porcelain sold was of the shape and design of the very popular Chinese export market porcelain. At this time a producer of such wares was called a ‘chinaman’ – a producer of china. By September 1784 he had taken over the china business of Richard Garrett. In 1793 he moved with his family from Fenchurch Street to 41 Finsbury Square and it was at this time that he was master of a City Livery Company. In 1796 Miles had moved to 25 Queenhithe near Blackfriars and it was a this time that he became a partner in three different partnerships and was involved in the manufacturing and retail sides of the pottery trade. One partnership was with Thomas Wolfe of the Islington China Manufactory, Folly Lane, Liverpool, a manufacturer of earthenware, a second with James Green of Upper Thames Street, London, a wholesale pottery-dealing company and thirdly a partnership was formed with George Wolfe so that he could make eartherware at Lane Delph. In June 1800 he dissolved the partnership with Thomas Wolfe, due to the heavy duties that were imposed by the Government in 1799 on […]
Robert (Mouseman) Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture maker whose designs were both functional and very collectable. His designs with their clean, simple lines, careful workmanship, classic construction and mouse carvings have attracted and continue to attract considerable interest from collectors not only in the UK but worldwide. Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Refectory Table c1935. Sold for £2,250 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2013. Robert Thompson lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, where he set up a business manufacturing oak furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece. Pictured: A Mouseman Oak Cheesboard and Mouseman Breadboard, c1935. Estimate £300-£500. It is claimed that the mouse motif came about accidentally in 1919 following a conversation about “being as poor as a church mouse”, which took place between Thompson and one of his colleagues during the carving of a cornice for a screen. This chance remark led to him carving a mouse and this remained part of his work from this point onwards. The mouse carvings can often be used to date pieces. Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Pair of Monk’s Chairs, c1940. Sold for £7,500 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2012. Image Copyright Bonhams, He was part of the 1920s revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement led by William Morris, John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. More specific to furniture making in this genre and era include Stanley Webb Davies of Windermere. Pictured: Robert Mouseman Thompson oak ashtrays – of similar form but with slight differences, each dished rectangular and with two canted corners, carved in relief to the opposite end with the mouse trademark ashtrays. Sold for £168 at Bonhams, Knowle, June 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams, The workshop, now being run by his descendants, includes a showroom and visitors’ centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains “Mouseman” pews, fittings and other furniture. The company is now known as “Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd – The Mouseman of Kilburn.” Mouseman Related The Mouseman Visitor Centre Mouseman Furniture at auction Robert Thompson Mouseman Price Guide Early Mouseman pieces are highly desirable and unlike a great deal of Victorian and early 20th century furniture, pieces are bucking market trends and are increasing rather than decreasing. The factory still produces furniture so new pieces are available. Below are realised prices from auction rooms and online auctions. Click for Mouseman Price Guide for Smaller Items.
What will top your tree this year? Will you opt for an English traditional fairy, a continental angel, or play safe and affix a star? Nowadays, it seems almost impossible to buy a tree-topper fairy doll – Christmas stores are full of angels. Where have the wand-waving fairies disappeared too? Fifty years ago, it was a different story. Christmas trees, their pine fragrance filling the living rooms, would invariably have a fairy doll sitting proudly on top of the tree. Sometimes, the fairy would be wrapped away on Twelfth Night, to be brought out again for the next Christmas, but often she would be given to a little girl, who would treasure the doll till her wings fell off and her paper skirt crumbled. The majority of fairy dolls were made from hard plastic, dressed simply in white net or crepe paper, with wings made from silver card. Normally the outfits were enhanced with glitter and tinsel, and they carried a star-tipped wand. Stores such as Woolworths would have piles of fairies on the counter; in those days, it was as essential to have a fairy on your tree as it was to make vast quantities of mince-pies. Fairy dolls are fun to collect, and because so many were made it is still possible to hunt out examples in good condition. Manufacturers such as Roddy, Pedigree, Sarold, Rosebud, Palitoy, Airfix and Tudor Rose all produced small fairy dolls, and often they can be found for just a few pounds. Not much to pay for a piece of British tradition! Frequently, small dolls were purchased unclothed, to be dressed at home. In the 1950s, women enjoyed sewing, and it didn`t take long to create a pretty fairy outfit from a few scraps of ribbon, tinsel and lace. No-one knows when fairy dolls first became part of the British tradition – although greenery was used for centuries to decorate houses at Christmas, the continental idea of an indoor tree didn`t take off in Britain till Prince Albert popularised the idea when he married Queen Victoria. Victorians seem to have promoted the idea of Christmas, fuelled by novels such as Charles Dickens` `Pickwick Papers`, which contained festive scenes of merriment, carollers and plum puddings! Sometimes Christmas puddings even contained dolls – not fairies, but tiny little porcelain people moulded all-in-one, less than an inch high. These `pudding dolls` were popular up to the 1920s, and often turn up (if they weren`t swallowed!) in antique shops and collector`s markets. Early fairy dolls were made from paper, wax, composition, papier-mâché, porcelain or celluloid. Celluloid dolls must have been hazardous, especially when topping a 1920`s tree lit with candles, while the paper variety were probably not much better. No doubt many families played safe by dressing a small composition doll, or perhaps one of the little Japanese coarse-bisque dolls, as fairies – but parents everywhere must have breathed a sigh of relief when electric `fairy lights` became the norm for Christmas tree decorations. In 1957, the Colgate-Palmolive company issued a promotional fairy doll, which was sent in return for soap wrappers and a small sum of money. The doll was hard plastic, and made by Roddy. She wore a white satin dress edged with silver braid, and carried a sparkly wand. Sometimes these dolls turn up, still with the original letter, which reads, `I am sorry that I have been compelled to send you a circular letter, but so great has been the demand for our little Palmolive Fairy Doll that it has been impossible to write to everyone individually.` Imagine getting a polite letter like that from a send-away promotion today! You normally don`t even receive a compliments slip. A doll like this, still mint and with the original letter and box, would probably cost in the region of £30. Some of the prettiest fairies were made by Rosebud. The `Miss Rosebud` dressed jointed dolls are quite expensive to buy today – you would be lucky to find one wearing her original outfit for under £50 – but the straight-legged type of Rosebuds are cheaper, and just as cute. Look out for Rosebud`s cheery pixies, too – nice, colourful dolls to add to a Christmas collection. Airfix, the makers of plastic kits, also made small dolls. Often found are tiny, four-inch high types dressed as fairies in crepe paper skirts. Usually, of course, the skirts are torn and split, so if you can find one in perfect condition, it`s a bonus, and sometimes the paper skirts are topped with net or gauze. The fairies carry wands topped with a glitter-sprinkled cardboard star – later models have plastic stars – and they wear tinsel crowns on top of their moulded hair. These dolls were sold very cheaply in stores such as Woolworths during the 1950s, and one in reasonable condition can be found today for around £10, though a perfect specimen will be more. Mattel brought out a range of Cabbage Patch fairies a few years ago. Too big to go on the tree, they still made a fun collectable, and amongst them were several Christmas specials, including Poinsetta, Holly Berry, Christmas Wish and Snow Magic. In America, a Wal-Mart 2000 exclusive was `Holiday Scented`, wearing an iridescent white dress trimmed with holly leaves and white fur. Her box bore a rhyme, `Holidays come once a year – here`s a friend that`s sweet and dear.` Expect to pay £20 plus for the Christmas special Cabbage Patch fairies. A famous British illustrator of fairies was Cecily Mary Barker, who wrote a series of books in the 1920s. Sixty years later, Hornby toys produced a range of little dolls based on the paintings, and, of course, amongst them was a Christmas Tree Fairy. Prettily dressed in finely-pleated white nylon with a green cross-over ribbon decorating the bodice, this doll can also occasionally be found in a variation of the outfit, made from white lace. Hornby also produced a Holly Pixie. One of the most beautiful present-day fairy […]
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 […]
Confessions of a Disney Fast F ood Toy Collector I thought I’d fill you in on why I collect Disney Happy Toy meals, and such. How I Started Collecting Disney Fast Food Toys ? I started my collection of Disney toys from McDonalds and Burger King gradually. Several years ago I purchased a Happy Meal and decided that the ‘free’ Thumper rabbit toy was well made and absolutely ‘darling’. I began to buy snacks until I had all of that set except Bambi. That really bugged me. I hung the Bambi toys on my Christmas tree. Years later I ran across the Aladdin toys at Burger King, and with a meal, I got, the wind up Genie. I was thrilled with the thing, and kept it on my desk at work. Next thing you know, I would just…happen…to buy one meal a week and got all of the set except Jafar. Then they had the Snow White Happy Meals at McDs. That did it. I then began to ‘collect’ with a passion. I have purchased every Disney toy, even those only loosely connected to Disney, such as Muppet sets, since then. Then I discovered that you can routinely find the toys at flea markets. I found my precious missing “Bambi” and “Jafar Toys”. I started prowling the markets picking up toys usually for .25 to 1.00 (at more knowlegable sellers). I ran into one ‘pirate’ lady who managed to sell to me several toys at $ 3 to $ 5 each! Those were for toys that predated myself purchased collection. Now here’s the kicker. As I broke down and admitted to people where I work – a State job – other collectors of Happy Meal Toys “Came out of the Closet”. Most are casual collectors, dabblers. Some are as hard core about it as I am. Why do I collect Disney Fast Food Toys ? Because they make me feel good. My childhood predates Happy Meals, I am 44. But they are cute, they are Disney, and how many people can indulge a harmless hobby for which they can even go ‘antique’ hunting when nearly broke?! I have gotten terrific days of toy hunting for which I spent less than one dollar! Lets see an ordinary, mundane antique hunter, do that. In conclusion, I once was disappointed to arrive at a Burger King to be told that they’d sold out of the wind-up Meeko toys (Pocahontas) days earlier. Another adult on line behind me, had an absolute hissy fit. Later on, outside of the restaurant, the man, looked to be in his 30’s, told me that he collected two toys from each fast food store, for EVERY promotion! I thought I was a ‘fanatic’ because I collect 2 toys from every Disney Promotion, just at BK and McD’s. I therefore believe that there are more adults out there, – closet collectors – than anyone suspects. Ask BK about their BK Lion King promotion here in Sacramento Believe me, wasn’t just kids buying THAT many toys! from Richard Eyman
Imagine sitting down to enjoy a nice drink and whilst taking a sip you look down you are faced with a small frog in your mug. A nice surprise or maybe not! This was the idea behind the Frog Mug which were first produced around 1750 but became very popular during the first quarter of the 19th Century. One theory of how the frog mug came to be made was that a potter who had nearly completed some mugs, had left them to cool overnight. On his return he found a frog sitting at the bottom of one of them. He was so surprised and amused he decided to make a mug with a frog inside based on the idea. They proved so popular the frog mug was created. Most frog mugs feature a frog on the side or on the bottom, and occasionally on the rim. Some frogs have open mouth so when the drink was poured it would also go through the frog’s mouth. There are some examples of larger vessels having multiple frogs and even lizards as well. The earliest frog mugs date to around 1750 and are largely associated with the Sunderland potteries including Brunton & Company (afterwards Moore & C0) who were noted with early examples. One of the most noted potteries for the production of the frog mug was Dixon and Co. Although Sunderland and the north-east were the leading area for the frog mugs, they were also made in the Stafford potteries and the Leeds potteries. The frog mugs created in Sunderland pimarily feature the famous Sunderland lustreware with its pink lustre decorated with black transfer prints often with mottos, phrases and sayings. More popular designs include portrayals of the Wearmouth bridge, Ironbridge and the Crimea. As many of these mugs were used by sailors many had a strong nautical theme and featured sailing ships, the Sailor’s Farewell and the Sailor’s Return. The majority of antique frog mugs made in Sunderland can be bought from around £60 to £200. The main factors affecting price are rarer transfers & motifs and condition. The price of other examples is variable, with great variations in price – from £40 to £1,000. Example pieces and prices have been given in this feature. The frog mug is a quirky, attractive item with great historic interest, and collections can still be created for a modest investment.
John Wyndham (full name John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris) was a British science fiction author who wrote several classic novels, including The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos. His works are highly collectible, especially in first edition form. Here we take a look at the value of John Wyndham first edition books published under his own name during his lifetime. John Wyndham was a British author who wrote science fiction novels and short stories. He is best known for his novel The Day of the Triffids, which was adapted into a film in 1962. Wyndham was born in 1903 in England. He began writing science fiction in the 1920s, but did not achieve commercial success until the publication of The Day of the Triffids in 1951. The Day of the Triffids, in particular, is considered a science fiction classic. It tells the story of a massive attack by alien plants that leaves humanity struggling to survive. The Day of the Triffids was first published in 1951, and a first edition can sell for upwards of £5,000 / $7,000. As with all first edition books the dust jacket condition is everything and prices vary greatly. John B. Harris and John Beynon However, Wyndham had actually been writing stories and short stories since 1925 under several aliases and pseudonyns. In 1927 he published a detective novel, The Curse of the Burdens, as by John B. Harris, and by 1931 he was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines. His debut short story, “Worlds to Barter”, appeared under the pen name John B. Harris in 1931. Subsequent stories were credited to ‘John Beynon Harris until mid-1935, when he began to use the pen name John Beynon. Three novels as by Beynon were published in 1935/36, two of them works of science fiction, the other a detective story. He also used the pen name Wyndham Parkes for one short story in the British Fantasy Magazine in 1939, as John Beynon had already been credited for another story in the same issue. The Kraken Wakes John Wyndham’s second novel was The Kraken Wakes which was first published in 1953, originally published by Michael Joseph in the United Kingdom in 1953, and first published in the United States in the same year by Ballantine Books under the title Out of the Deeps as a mass market paperback. . The novel is about an alien invasion of Earth by creatures known as the “Kraken”. The Kraken are giant sea creatures that are able to telepathically control humans. They use their powers to create a world-wide flood, which forces humanity to evacuate to the moon. The novel was well-received by critics and is considered to be one of the classic science fiction novels of the 20th century. It has been reprinted several times and has been translated into multiple languages. The Kraken Wakes is considered to be one of Wyndham’s most accomplished works. The Midwich Cuckoos John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos is a classic of British science fiction. First published in 1957, it tells the story of a group of children who are born with strange powers after a mysterious event in the village of Midwich. The book has inspired many writers and has been adapted for movies and TV series many times. A first edition in near fine condition with near fine dust jacket estimate £2000 / $3,000. Did you know? Wyndham began work on a sequel novel, Midwich Main, which he abandoned after only a few chapters. The Chrysalids, Trouble with Lichen and Chocky Price Variations In writing this feature as with many that include price guides it is always apparent that their is massive variation in prices even for similar books and objects. The prices given here are for near fine copies, so copies in excellent order. First editions of The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos will always be popular and sort after. Bibliography of books published in his lifetime under the name John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids (1951) The Kraken Wakes (1953) The Chrysalids (1955) The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) Trouble with Lichen (1960) Chocky (1968) Related BBC interview and feature with John Wyndham