Saturday, July 30, 2011


As you can see, my weekend collector feature this week is empty. Although there are many collector websites and blogs on the internet, I'm having problems finding just the right ones for my weekend feature.  So, in the interest of involving my readers and casual visitors a chance to participate and help me out, I'd like to put in my plea for help. I need more collector's blogs.  Of course there are some criteria I am looking for, so check these out, and if you know of just the perfect blogs I can add to my weekend roundup, please email me at: Or leave me a comment on this thread.  Here's what I'm looking for:  (and a few things I'm not looking for).

1. I'm looking for a blog that's specifically designed to showcase the owner's collection(s).
  (Websites are ok, check out Mel Birnkrant's stuff here)

2. The blog must be current, updated at least in the past few months. I can't believe how many wonderful collections I discovered, only to find the blog hadn't been updated since 2008!)

3. Interesting collections. Please no gun collections, Playboy Magazine collections, drug paraphernalia, or other 'adult' or inappropriate content.

4. No collectives (group collections), commercial sites, value sites (where people submit their items for value), or blogs without photos. This has to be interesting and visually appealing. 

If I use your blog, your friend's blog, or one you find, I will credit you for the find, and link to your blog (even if it's not collecting related). So, free publicity and glory!


Friday, July 29, 2011

COLLECTION #21: Beatrix Potter

I've always loved Beatrix Potter.... some of my earliest memories were of hearing The Tales of Peter Rabbit... just hearing the names Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail take me back to a more innocent time.

I have a few Beatrix Potter books and items... I have two small rectangular tins that I've had for years, but when I went to photography my collection, I couldn't find them anywhere. I guess that's part of the joy of collecting: keeping track of your collections!

I bought the lovely book about Beatrix Potter's life and art back in the late '70s. It's a very important part of my library.

I bought the French edition of Jeremy Fisher in 1965 when I was studying French in junior high. My mom brought the German version of Samuel Whiskers when she was in Europe in the  early '80s, probably the same trip she bought me the Dutch clock.

 The best part of Beatrix Potter's work is her enchanting illustrations. She meticulously studied nature her entire life, sketching from real life the flora and fauna of her English farm and home.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

COLLECTION #20: Delft Pottery

A few humble pieces of Delft blue pottery- like many of my collections, these just sort of dropped into my lap from various sources. Although I love blue & white pottery, I haven't really tried to collect the lovely pottery from the Netherlands. I bought some of the smaller pieces years ago in Solvang, California, the cute Danish village north of Santa Barbara. The large clock was given to my by my Mom, she bought it back for me from Europe in the early '80s.

I just had to include Muffy Vanderbear- dressed in her Dutch finery. I keep her in my china cabinet with all the rest of my blue and white dishes, and she looks so cute, I thought she belonged in this collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

COLLECTION #19: Saturday Evening Post

I have a couple of stacks of vintage magazines in my collections- they range from the early 1900s to the 1970s. I'm not really a magazine collector per se, but I do love having them in my files... they are such a fabulous glimpse of popular culture of the day, advertisements (my favorite sections!), amazing graphic design, fonts, and illustration- not to mention articles, stories, and photographs. Just a treasure trove of the past!

The Saturday Evening Post was such a treasured US weekly publication... I won't go into the history here, you can read about it on their official website, here. However, fair warning, the current Saturday Evening Post is not the same publication it was 'back in the day'. It has a different owner, and different priorities, but the history of the magazine is rich and fun.

Most of you know that the illustrator Norman Rockwell really personified the style of art that graced the covers of the Post for many, many years. His eye for storytelling, his amazing painting skill, and the sheer personality of his work, inspired many other illustrators of the day. Their covers often show the same quirky sense of humor and sensitivity as Mr. Rockwell. Where Norman Rockwell's art often portrayed old-fashioned values and stories, other illustrators showed a more modern view of life. Together they wove a view of the United States mid-century as a combination of tradition and progression.

My Saturday Evening Posts are all from the late 50s, early 60s. An innocent time, peak baby-boomer years, between WWII and the assassination of President Kennedy. I'd love to go back in time to that era!

And just look at the great cover art below! That modern house with the amazing finned car, and the absolute perfect touch: a whimsical, modern jack-o-lantern banner hanging over the carport. The kids and dogs, of course, add the perfect touch. (Click on any of the images for a closer view)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COLLECTION #18: Building Toys

Welcome to Toy Tuesday! Today my collection is building toys, specifically toys sold in lovely cardboard tubes. Tinker Toys, which were invented in 1914, began selling their wonderful building sets in cardboard tubes from the very beginning, and imitators followed suit. Inexpensive, compact and sturdy, these tubes could be easily stored and carried around, unlike awkward boxes. Even today, Hasbro's Tinker Toys are sold in the same colorful cylindrical containers.

Although their contents are meager, I have a few of these building toys in their 'cans'. I love the graphics, and the way they look on my toy shelf, towering over their neighbor toys.

Notice, the Pixie Build-A-Toy at the left was made by the Steven Mfg. Co, the came company that made most of my kaleidoscopes! They were a fun company, and I love the whimsical artwork they used on all of their products.

More important than the containers, were the toys themselves, which provided hours and hours of creative building fun. I wonder how many architects and industrial designers got their start making structures with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs? It makes me want to build something!

Monday, July 25, 2011

COLLECTION #17: Autoharps

Technically, they are 'chorded zithers'. Autoharp is the registered name owned by the Oscar Schmidt Co. My collection stems from my love of autoharps, and my own playing. Half my collection is playable, and half is decorative. (Including my original autoharp, purchased for $5 in 1969, which started me on my musical autoharp journey- although it still looks cute with the little hippie artwork I added, it's no longer playable).

All of my 'harps are Oscar Schmidt, including that large one in the back which is actually a cross between an autoharp and a mandolin. (And is coincidentally called a "Mandolin Harp") But since it has push buttons, I consider it an autoharp. The oldest one is from the 1890s (the little black one on the top left), and the newest one is the Wildwood Flower diatonic- middle left, which was built in the early 1990s. The autoharp of my heart is the center left, next to the Wildwood Flower. It's a 12-chord diatonic (adapted) built in 1983. Bruce gave it to me for Christmas that year, and it's been my 'baby' all this time. The 21-chord chromatic 'harp in the center is a nice instrument, and very pretty. But like most 21 chord instruments, it doesn't have the rich tone of the more melodic diatonic instruments.

Perhaps you learned to play the autoharp in elementary school like I did... or perhaps you have never heard one played. As soon as I figure out how to add a sound file here, I'll link a clip of me & my band playing a nice folky tune, featuring the autoharp. (help, anyone?)

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Finding new collector's blogs is like finding a needle in a needlestack... it's not that they are particularly hard to find like a needle in a haystack, it's that there are so many different types of collectors, blogs, and collections, it's hard to 'pinpoint' just the right one! (I'm 'sew' clever, aren't I?) But I digress.

I discovered this enchanting blog of Christina Friedrichsen of Ontario, Canada, who collects sea glass on Lake Erie. She's also a poet and photographer, and she turns her lovely finds into exquisite jewelry which she sells in her Etsy shop. The words below are hers, about why she collects sea glass:

Do you collect sea glass? Then you’ve witnessed that strange look in someone’s eyes that combines both bewilderment and boredom. Bewilderment because they can’t quite figure out why you are obsessed over bits of broken glass; and boredom because bits of broken glass are about as compelling to them as an electric garage door manual.

I do believe there are people in my extended family who have given me this look. (I won’t name any names.) For these folks, I limit my sea glass discussions to mere sentence fragments.

But maybe I am taking the wrong approach. Can they be enlightened? After all, sea glass has all the elements of a compelling collectible.

  • Sea glass is mysterious. Was it from a shipwreck? Or maybe a poison bottle?
  • Sea glass is beautiful. People rappel off of cliffs and kayak in dangerous waters in search of rare colors.
  • Sea glass is historical. Some pieces are hundreds of years old!
  • Sea glass is free – unlike many collectibles which can cost oodles of money.
  • Sea glass is full of surprises. You never know what will end up in your bucket!

Thankfully, the people I spend most of my time with (my husband and two girls) are in just as deep as I am, so there’s no need for a lecture. There’s no need to explain to them why housework, homework and other obligations must take a back seat to hitting the beach. There’s no need to explain to them why the kitchen table is covered in a rainbow of wet glass instead of dinner.

There’s no need to help them understand why I can hear the Divine Spirit, or Source a lot more clearly in the sound of the waves, then inside four walls.

As architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said: “I put a capital “N” on nature and call it my church.”

I love a church where I can wear rubber boots and smell the wind.

Friday, July 22, 2011

COLLECTION #16: Rhode Island Postcards

Our family lived in Rhode Island for 4 years in the late 80s when I was working for Hasbro. Somehow I managed to accumulate a small group of Rhode Island postcards, most from Southern Rhode Island, near where we lived. (Click on any of these images for a closer view).

Rhode Island has beautiful scenery and fabulous architecture- especially the wonderful mansions, hotels and other old landmarks of Newport and Narragansett. Our home was just a few miles from Narragansett, so we often rode our bikes, or drove around, just taking in the historical atmosphere. It was like we were stepping into the past.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

COLLECTION #15: Japanese Bowls

There's something very soothing about my small collection of Japanese bowls... I'm not sure if they are rice bowls or noodle bowls (maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can tell me) but I love the clean design and lovely blue and white patterns. I used to leave them in the china cabinet, just looking pretty, but lately I've taken to using them occasionally. We have some of those cute white Japanese porcelain spoons, and they looks so nice on the table.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

COLLECTION #14: Cooking Booklets

I love these fun cooking brochures... they were given away by everyone from stove manufacturers to baking powder companies. Filled with 'test kitchen' recipes and cooking hints, they were everything an American homemaker could want to sharpen her culinary skills and inform her of the latest nutritional information. I love the great mid-century graphics on this red one. Isn't the illustration cute?
And this booklet had recipes of all of your favorite movie stars of the 1950s, aprons and all!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

COLLECTION #13: Toy Kaleidoscopes

One of the first toys I remember was my Steven Kaleidoscope. I even remember going to Woolworth's in Glendale with my Mom, where we bought it. I must have been about four. I still have that kaleidoscope.
There it is, the red one on the left.

It was one of those toys that fascinated for hours. Lying on my bed, holding it up to the window light, and turn turn turning the tube, while patterns dropped and changed and morphed into other patterns. The beautiful colors and patterns imbedded themselves into my memory, and I suppose that's why today I still love color, pattern, and symmetry.

Most of the kaleidoscopes I have in my collection are from the Steven Company. They made countless inexpensive versions through the years, with the graphics changing to go along with the current trends. Some are fancy. Some are simple. Most can't even be viewed anymore as the frosted plastic grew more opaque with age. But aren't they cool?

Monday, July 18, 2011

COLLECTION #12: Television Game Show Games

Decades before 'Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?', and even 'Wheel of Fortune', radio and television began hosting game shows. Starting in the late '30s, 'quiz shows' were extremely popular with listeners of all ages. The transition to television in the late '40s and early '50s was a natural. In our family in the 50s, favorite quiz shows were 'What's My Line', 'Password', and 'Concentration'.

I have a small collection of television game show games from the '50s. It's fun to see the clean and colorful mid-century graphics, and look at the fun game pieces... these weren't board games, but often had some sort of game-show gizmo that replicated the real television game board.

I'm particularly fond of Tic Tac Dough... nearly 30 years after the television show premiered, I was a contestant on this show myself! Very happy memories.

I'd love to hear about your favorite tv game or quiz shows!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Dr. Steven Lomazow has a fascinating blog called Magazine History: A Collector's Blog. I'm a big fan of magazines, and have several very modest collections of a variety of magazines. But nothing like his! Check out his blog, and you'll learn all kinds of fascinating background on hundreds of periodicals of byegone years... everything from history to technology, to pulp romance! Dr. Lomazow's approach is academic, but never boring.

I love that his cover photos are wonderfully detailed and nicely shot. If you click on any cover, you'll get a great large view, so you can check out all the details. It makes me want to collect MORE magazines! (Sorry, Bruce!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

COLLECTION #11: Books About James Garfield

I'll bet you didn't expect to see books about James Garfield in my collections! Well, here they are. Only three. How random is this? But really, there's a reason. If you attended public schools in the US in the past 20 years, you might not even know who James Garfield was... he was the 20th President of the United States, serving just 200 days before he succumbed from being shot by an assassin 2 months prior, in 1881. From everything I've read about him, he was an excellent leader and President, and a good and honorable man too.

A few years ago, while researching my family history online, I came across a distant cousin that I met through our mutual research. She was the granddaughter of my grandfather's older sister. She told me a story, that I had never heard before. Our mutual great-grandfather, Walter W. Ward, had moved to Washington DC in 1880 with his young family, (including my grandfather, who at the time was 5 years old). The purpose of this move was to work in the White House as Chief Steward (head of the White House staff) for President Garfield when he took office. Well, that certainly took me by surprise. The family was at that time living in Nebraska. I mean, how do you go from farming in Nebraska, to packing up your family and moving to Washington DC and working for the President?

So, in my quest to verify this information (I did find the family in DC in the 1880 census, Walter's occupation listed as 'laborer'- but that was before Garfield took office. Probably even before the election. I also received a scan of a cabinet photo of Grandpa's sister Anna, taken in Washington DC) So, it was looking like they were in Washington. But was Walter indeed the head Steward? So I began to search for proof. I contacted the White House Curator, who told me that their records didn't go back that far. (Drat!) So I went to eBay, where I proceeded to buy books about James Garfield, written shortly after his death. Although I can't say I read every word of these books, I skimmed them pretty completely, and never came across Walter's name. I did read about other stewards, and a few other servants, who were mentioned by name. There is a another bit of history that does indicate that the story might be true- James Garfield was from the same general area in Ohio where Walter Ward lived most of his life, before moving to Nebraska. It certainly is possible that their families knew each other, or that Walter was referred to James Garfield by a mutual friend. So the mystery is unsolved, but I have these books!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

COLLECTION #10: Kitchen Cartons

Everything in this small collection is made of cardboard: an old milk carton, butter carton, ice cream carton. Egg cartons, some gelatin, and of course, a cute ice cream sundae cut-out from a diner or ice cream parlor. I just love the graphics, my favorite is the egg carton on the left. (I'm not sure that the ice bag fits into the kitchen category, but perhaps after a day of work in the kitchen, the housewife of the 30s or 40s needed an icebag for her aching head!)

The Chase's ice cream carton came from the original Chase's ice cream factory in Provo Utah. I have no idea when they ceased operation, but in the mid-70s my friend Marvin Payne rented space for a music studio in the old Chase building on South University. They found dozens of unused ice cream cartons, and of course, I had to have one. I've seen many of them since, in antique malls and flea markets. I like the fact that mine came from the original source.