Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COLLECTION #109: Souvenir Books from California

Some fun items from my ephemera collection, these are all from California.

The oldest is the brochure from San Francisco, published in 1914. It's hard to believe from seeing all of the beautiful buildings, that this was only 8 years after the devistating earthquake of 1906.

I have two booklets from Knotts Berry Farm. The older of the two was published in the 1940s, and the later one is from the late '50s. The funny thing about Knotts, is that I never visited there until I was married. The reason for that was because I was such a Disneyland loyalist, I refused to "waste" my time at Knotts. Actually, Knott's Berry Farm is a lot of fun and I've enjoyed my few visits.

The Los Angeles Farmer's Market is an LA institution. It was establishes as a real farmers market in 1933, and has morphed into a wonderful place to eat, shop, sightsee and just browse. It hasn't lost any of its charm or ambiance.
My souvenir from Farmer's Market was published in the mid-'40s.

 My book from Disneyland was published in the mid-60s. It's fun to read about the 'new' rides near completion- Pirates of the Carribean and the Haunted Mansion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

COLLECTION #108: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

I'm a little late tonight, so to try to make it up to you, I'm going to tell you a bedtime story. Once upon a time, and it was a very long time ago indeed, there was a little princess named Steffie. In honor of her 5th birthday, the Queen ordered a magnificent cake. It was the most special cake in the entire kingdom. For on top of this cake, were three very tiny, very real bears, and a little tiny yellow girl named Goldilocks. The teeny tiny bears had a teeny tiny table,  and three eensy weensy chairs, just the right sizes for the three bears who were Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear.  These itty bitty little bears, chairs and other teensy stuff, were treasured by Princess Steffie for her entire life. We're talking more years than there were sands on the shore! More years than all the tea in China! Lots of years. She kept them safe, somehow, moving from palace to palace, town to town until she was a grown-up Queen herself. It was a miracle that only one teeny weeny chair was lost in all those years.

One day, when Princess Steffie was all grown up, she and her Queen Mum were shopping for verie olde things, and they came across a set of very real, very eensy weensy three bears, three chairs, and the table. And Goldilocks, of course. But included in this set were 3 of the itsiest bitsiest little bowls she had ever seen. There was no way those bowls were in HER original set. These were magical bowls indeed! So Princess Steffie purchased this second set of very real, very tiny bears, girl and all the accoutrements. She then discovered that all these years, she had had TWO Mama Bears instead of a Mama and a Papa Bear. Now, what do you think about that?  And they all lived Happily Ever After.

Monday, November 28, 2011

COLLECTION #107: Unusual Stringed Musical Instruments

What? You've never seen any of these instruments before? What the heck are they?  I play several of them, and a few of them are 'just for fun'... instruments I've collected through the years to hang on the walls or sit on the shelves. But they all can be played, even if not by me!  What makes this collection unique, is that most of these instruments might not be recognizable to you unless you are a traditional music person.

I'll give you the scoop on what they are and how they are played. Let's start with the instrument lying down in the above photo. It's called a biwa, and is a Japanese lute. There are many types of biwa, mine has 4 strings and 7 frets (two are missing).  You can watch someone play it here.
Next is the Ukelin. This is on the far left of the instruments in the upper photo. I've heard it said that there are more ukelins in antique stores across the US than any instrument. This may be a bit tongue in cheek, but the point is that the ukelin was sold in mass numbers by mostly door-to-door salesman in the early part of the 20th century, but they never really caught on. The reason was probably because they were difficult to play!  My friend Nancy gave me the ukelin back when I was in college. I've still never tried to play it! The ukelin is supposed to be a combination of a violin and a ukulele. Ha ha. Trust me, although it is played with a bow,  it's probably more like a combination of a bowed psaltery and a zither. But I guess 'Zithery' just didn't cut it.  I found an instruction book for playing my trusty ukelin in an antique store this weekend, so I thought I'd add it to my collection. You can also hear it played on YouTube here. (After watching quite a few videos of it being played, I think it would be fun to give it a try. I'll let you know if I master it!)
Next to the Ukelin is a mountain dulcimer, which is sometimes called a lap dulcimer, Appalachian dulcimer, or fretted dulcimer. You've probably heard it played, or seen one but not known what it was. I used to have a lovely dulcimer years ago that simply vanished off the face of the earth. I learned to play it fairly well, but never replaced it. Someone gave me this dulcimer a couple of years ago. It's not a very good instrument, and I've never tuned it up to play. This one has only 3 strings.  Here's someone playing a lovely tune on YouTubeHere's another style of playing.  This one is also nice.

Next in line is the bowed psaltery. This instrument was purchased new about 10 years ago by my husband Bruce. He never really did learn to play it, and I've played around with it quite a bit. But today it sits in its nice padded case in our closet. It's a lovely instrument, and I probably should get it out more often to play it. It comes with two bows, and can be played with one or two. It is lovely at Christmas time! You can see and hear it played here.

The funny little one-stringed instrument on the far right is called a Diddley-bow! Mine looks to be home made (actually, I think most of them were hand made, many made out of bottles or old cigar boxes!) It's a blues instrument and can be played with a slide. Now that I have seen this video, perhaps I'll start playing it! Awesome and fun!

The last one isn't shown in the photos above, 'cause it was too big. I shot it separately. It's my hammered dulcimer. This is the one instrument in the bunch that I seriously play. I've been playing for about 20 years, and I especially love playing at Christmas time, because it's perfect for the old English & Celtic carols that we all know and love. I don't have a video of myself playing (I'll have to remedy that!) so I'll link you to someone else playing, who is much better than I!  The hammered dulcimer isn't related to the mountain dulcimer, except for the name. Although they both have strings, the hammered dulcimer is actually closely related to the piano! They are both played with hammers hitting the strings. After playing the guitar, autoharp and banjo for many years, learning the hammered dulcimer was a challenge, because striking the strings with little wooden hammers, and alternating hands was a completely new experience for me.

I hope you enjoyed my little unusual musical instrument collection!  Here are a few more photos just for fun!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Not exactly a 'collector's website',  but in the spirit of sharing cool stuff, I bring to you today, Plan 59. This is an amazing website and blog which features commercial art and photography from mid-century America. I generally don't feature websites and blogs which are primarily for selling, but I'm making an exception here, because Plan 59 is more like a gallery or museum, and each page is so amazing and cool, I thought you would love to see it.

Plan 59 is divided up into a number of categories, including Cars, Old Ads, Decor, Xmas, and More?  In the 'More?' section, they also have a gallery of particularly demonic children and unappetizing food photos which you will love!

 Here are a few from the Christmas category. Lots of wonderful ads in there:

Fun Christmas ads from the 50s.
I LOVE the design of this one! Awesome! And sexist!

Plan 59 also has a blog called Pastelogram, which gives more detailed information about the different works of art, ads and photos.

Of course, the big feature of Plan 59 is their high quality prints available for purchase.  Just as soon as I find one or more that will fit into my decidedly non-mid-century home, I will buy one. Or more!  The prices are reasonable, and the quality looks wonderful!

In honor of 'Cyber Monday', I give you the 1950s version of future internet shopping!

Friday, November 25, 2011

COLLECTION #106: Bob and Judy Readers

 As I have mentioned in earlier posts, many textbook publishing companies competed with the Dick and Jane Readers of the 1940s, and Lyons and Carnahan Publishing Company was no exception. Lyons & Carnahan published many wonderful, high quality and interesting readers, health books, and social studies books throughout the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.  The heroes of their early reader books were Bob and Judy, two adorable siblings. Bob was the big brother, with a shock of dark hair. He was sturdy, athletic, and responsible. Judy was the little sister: curly blonde hair, and was adventurous and sweet. The green books above were all printed in the late '30s.

I have a number of books from Lyons & Carnahan's Guidance in Reading Series and Basic Reading Program. Many of these publishers had more than one reading series of books... some were basic readers, others were advanced, and others for children who needed extra help in reading. Each of these reading series had a different name, and I really haven't been able to find out too much about the different series and what makes them different. I have an almost complete set of these books, all that's missing is the fifth grade reader.

I also have a couple of later editions of two of the books. The insides are identical, only the covers have been changed. The later ones were published in the early '40s.

I love the end papers of each of these books... they are all different. I have a few photos of some of these to show you:

Here are some other illustrations: