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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Annalee Story

In one way, the tale begins with a young woman's meticulous dying of felt fabric and freehand painting of doll faces during the Depression. In another, it starts daily in a design room, a short stroll from Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith, NH. Either way this is a once-upon-a time story of a doll making cottage industry making it big; nationally big. But this story is different because this one is infused with magic; a very special magic which is uniquely Annalee. Annalee

Annalee and husband Chip Thorndike lived on a New Hampshire chicken farm. The chicken farm failed in the early 1950's and it was then that Annalee was forced to really get serious about her childhood hobby, doll making with a dash of Yankee influence. So the old chicken coop became a design room, Chip became a salesman, and Annalee a doll maker. She fashioned her creations directly from the activities of her two sons who were always skiing, swimming or otherwise engaged in what children do best. There is no doubt that this is why Annalee picked more then one mischievous, whimsical face for each of her doll creations.
Today, the dolls that Annalee's design associates create reflect not only easier times, but also Annalee's sense of human nature - and humor. The ideas emerged, she says, from "research and reading." By the 1980's the company started to focus more and more on the holiday seasons, after all, this is when people really share how much they care for each other. Whether a Christmas elf or an Easter frog, one characteristic threads itself through the entire family of dolls. "It's the positive-ness of the face," says their creator. "It's the smile. If you smile, someone else has got to smile back.". Then, she adds, "you have to have the action and the humor - the flexibility and the wit that goes along with it." Flexibility and wit happen to go along with the production of these whimsical felt-and-wire personalities. It is the wire frame that gives these dolls their personality, allowing our artists and you the opportunity to position them in a way that speaks to each one of us. Annalee dolls have a lightness of heart that fits into any setting. Take a look at Annalee's creations and there's something special right in front of you. Sure, her dolls are full of character and whimsy, but the thread that binds them together as an 'Annalee' is that each and every one of them energetically celebrates some aspect of life itself - life at its very best. Therein lies the magic, and such magic works wonders as a home décor display or just as a gift for someone special, even yourself.
There is an ANNALEE ONLINE MUSEUM to check out if interested. 

Now here are some photos of what we currently have available.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Its fall, its Halloween, then bam, everybody is promoting Christmas and acting like Thanksgiving never existed. Yes we have our big meals, watch a parade and some football, but not enough of us are truly sharing what we are thankful for.... So just take a moment to do so before getting wrapped up in your Christmas shopping.

Here is a video to share about the history of Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


1) Save Money-Live Better---- Antiques are often reasonably priced, always better constructed, and found in all price ranges.

2) Buying Local-Economics----Buying Antiques locally is supporting a local owned business which in turn supports your local community.

3) George Washington did not sit in your Lazy Boy Chair----Antiques are tangible pieces of history, whether you know the history of a paticular item or not.

4) There is no such thing as a McBlanket Chest----Antiques can be unique and offer endless variety.

5) Going Green----Antiques are the most enviornmentally responsible choice for your home decorating.

6) There are probably hundreds of 10year old Futons on Craigs List dirt cheap----Antiques sometimes go up in value and if not they still have a dollar value.

7) Probably no tools involved or required----Antiques offer solid quality construction and durability if treated properly.

8) Industrial cable spools and milk crates, which can look cool, do not constitute a Living Room----Antiques are stylish and can accomidate everyones individual tastes or budget.

9) 40 cents per hour was a fair wage in 1940, not 2010----Antiques are socially responsible none were made in sweatshops

10) Want to relate to your heritage ?----Antiques can be a source of ancestral or regional pride.

11) Flexibility----Antiques can be used for purposes other than originally designed for, get creative.

12) Memories Galore----Antiques stir up memories of childhood,long lost loved ones, and experiences of the hunt.

13) Personal Style----Antiques give you the ability to build your own decorating style and stand out.

14) Choices Galore----Antiques give you the option of making your own choics instead of being convinced by a multi million dollar marketing campaign.

I hope you enjoyed the 14 reasons to buy Antiques. I could come up with a hundred more easily, but I would rather you experience and learn for yourself and reap the rewards!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


There are many traditions and expressions used today which date back to ancient myths and customs!


So in the spirit of the season I'd like to share some of those traditions and expressions plus wish you all a Happy Halloween! 

Numerous accounts of corpses coming back to life.
Ghosts,Zombies, or what? Goblins,Vampires or what?
Haunted Houses, Hospitals, or what? 
Corpses coming back to life again?
They have come in a variety of ways, (seizures, coma, narcolepsy, trance, electrocution, poisoning, etc.) a living body can give all appearances of being dead. The skin is unresponsive and pale, breathing and heartbeat are imperceptible, and the body is cold and rigid.
Hopefully the misdiagnosis is discovered before the body is interred, but on many occasions, corpses have been exhumed, and scratches have been discovered inside the casket showing that the body was buried alive and had clawed the inside of the casket in a futile attempt to escape.

History shows us that to prevent this a body would lie in state in the person's home for several days while a family member would watch over him hoping that the body would awaken. Even today, the custom of viewing a dead body is still called a "wake".

Victorian Wake photo in a home
Before the 20th Century, people of England had the idea that after a person died, his spirit might re-enter the body for a short time to attend to some unfinished business. If he came back to life and was trapped in a buried coffin, his business would never be completed. To prevent this, the proper cemeteries of England had the custom of tying a string onto the hand of a corpse. The other end was tied to a bell mounted on top of the grave site. If the dead body should come back to life, the bell would ring, and the body would be exhumed.
A watchman patrolled the cemetery all night listening for bells. If, per chance, a live body was discovered and rescued, his family would say that he was saved by the bell.

There is another expression that we use today. If a man bears a close resemblance to his father, we say that the man is a dead ringer of his father, which means that he died and was revived. And, if you work at your job during night hours, we might say that you work the graveyard shift.

It was not uncommon for bodies in a cemetery to be later exhumed. Before perpetual care was included in the price of a cemetery plot, family members had to rent the space. When the family stopped paying the rent, the coffin was removed to a common graveyard, called a "potter's field". This term dates back hundreds of years to England. When an old quarry where potters used to get their clay was abandoned, the empty pit would be filled with bodies who couldn't afford to be buried in the village cemetery. The term is still used today to refer to a common tomb, as opposed to a private one.

Here is another expression that we use today: it was customary for families to give their first son the father's name. While the father was alive, the son would always use the title "junior". Immediately following the burial, the son assumed the father's name, and he was never again called junior.

Victorian photo of family and 2 deceased infants
In the Victorian Era, during a wake in one's home a photo was taken of the dead to be cherished later on. Sometimes the family of the deceased person were included in the photos. Many corpses were propped in a most becoming way and some were propped including a family member in the photo. 

Believe it or not there are serious collectors of these photos today! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blow Mold Craze and some history

1960's Empire
Every year we decorate at least one of our windows for Christmas with Blow Molds, plus we have others available in the shop for sale. We actually have them available year round because of their popularity or as I call it the Blow Mold Craze. Originally we only bought and sold those manufactured before the 1980's, but because of their popularity regardless of age we now buy whatever we can find. There are blow molds for every holiday available but Halloween and Christmas designs are the most popular. Some blow molds were made as indoor decoration and toys such as cartoon characters etc. We never stop being amazed at how many we sell year round, but mostly starting before Halloween thru New Year. We have some that the whole for a light has never been cut out, uncompleted pieces?. As of close on this past saturday we have over 40 available for sale, all holidays related. Some will fly out and more will probably come in soon. You better come in and check them out!

 The first blow mold to start the lawn ornament craze was the Pink Flamingo, created in 1957 by Don Featherstone whom went to work for Union Products right out of art school. Yes others were made prior in smaller shapes and more for indoor decoration. Mr Featherson was interviewed in 1997 about the fame of the pink flamingo's which were forty years old at that time. Many companies made their versions thru the years but his design are the most sought after.

Union Products

In the interview he shared a wealth of info about Union Products, which he eventually became owner of. Following are some excerpts:

I came to work for Union Products right out of art school. The flamingo was one of my first projects. I sculpted it out of clay. But converting a sculpture to plastic forces you to be an engineer to some extent, to come to grips with the strengths and limitations of plastic. My pink flamingo would look a lot different if I'd made it out of bronze.
I went to work for Union Products right out of the school of the Worcester Art Museum in 1957 and I've been there ever since. Last year (1996) I bought the firm from the former owners, who retired at ages 88 and 90.
We manufacture a line of about 600-800 products, and I sculpted every one of them.
Ducks, flamingos, penguins, gnomes, just about every- thing you could think of. We employ between 140 and 220 people, depending on the season. My first project was actually a duck. You know, we probably sell more ducks than we do flamingos. They're made out of the same plastic as the containers that they ship acid and glue in. My original model had wooden dowels for legs, but they were too expensive to make and plastic wasn't strong enough, so we went with the metal rods. We once put out a model called the Flamingo Deluxe. They looked very natural, with nice wooden yellow legs, but they wouldn't sell. It's almost like flamingo people think that the real birds have metal legs in their natural state.
I first realized I was considered an icon of '50s pop art when the flamingo was coming up on its 30th anniversary. At the time, I wasn't even aware that the 30-year point was coming up, and suddenly I was being invited to all kinds of parties in honor of my pink flamingo. I didn't go to many of them, but I realized something special was happening. I started paying attention and hearing more stories.
An example or a story is when an automobile dealer from Oklahoma who bought 700 flamingos from me and paid to have them express-mailed to him. He had been using them to get publicity. He and his employees would sneak out in the night and put them up as a flock in some conspicuous place, and it would make the news. Each morning the flamingos would mysteriously appear in a new location - no explanation, no signs or anything. It got to where they had morning traffic reporters in their helicopters reporting on the latest location of the flock.
The car dealer's plan was that, on the last day of his stunt, the flock would show up at his dealership. What he didn't count on was that people would stop on the highways and steal them. And that's why he suddenly had an urgent need to buy 700 of them from me. By the way, he did win a marketing award from General Motors for his efforts.
Throughout history, people have loved statuary. There's plenty of evidence, in old paintings, in carvings, even in ancient hieroglyphics, that people have always loved to decorate their surroundings. In early America, for the longest time, there was no lawn ornamentation. Around the turn of the century, the Europeans started bringing over lawn ornaments in the form of bronze statuary. They were beautiful, and very popular, but few people could afford such things. Keep in mind that, before plastics, only rich people could afford to have poor taste.
You know, my own neighbors used to hate my flamingos; complained about them all the time. Then they moved to Florida, and the first thing they say when they write us a letter is how much they miss the flamingos and would I please send them some.
I did something that people enjoyed, something that amused people. That's so much more satisfying than, say, designing something destructive like the atom bomb. And I'll tell you something about people who put out flamingos: They're friendlier than most people. Remember, they don't do it for themselves - they're doing it to entertain you.

Union Products 1998


Blow-mold lawn ornaments have been available in the United States from the 1940s to the present, but the popularity of the pink flamingo in the 1950s brought these ornaments to fame. Union Products was the most successful American blow-mold company, staying in business until 2006. Some companies, like Empire Plastic Corporation, made blow-mold ornaments along with popular toys. Many American companies created blow-mold ornaments from the 1950s through the early 1990s. Blow-mold yard decorations are still available, but few blow-mold companies are still operating in the U.S. at this time. Some have been made in the 2000s in China.

Blow-mold lawn ornaments aren’t just for Christmas. Manufacturers made popular cartoon characters and children’s book characters, along with penguins, nativity scenes, candles and angels. Snoopy was a popular blow-mold ornament, and many Disney characters were made by Santa’s Best. Artistic Latex Form Company produced blow-mold angels and carolers, as well as some animal figurines. Blow-mold ornaments prior to 1956 were two-dimensional, but after that time, Union Products and similar companies made three-dimensional blow-mold lawn ornaments with a small light bulb for added visibility and charm.

1989 Empire

In today's collectibles field the most sought after blow molds were made by Empire Plastic Corporation and Union Products. However some love any and all they can find. Many additional companies made blow molds and here is a list I have been able to gather: the dates are known time frame for each companies production of blow molds only and will change as more are discovered.

medium height 1973 Carolina Enterprises, small 1968 Empire

Artistic Latex Form 1940's-1960's                   Harrill Co 
A. J. Renzi Plastics  1960's-early 80's              Heller Industries
Art Line   Late 1960's-1990's                           Holiday Innovations 1980's-1990's
Beco Products  1950's-1960's                           Irwin Plastics  1960's
Bel Air  1960's                                                  Judith Novelty Sales  1960'-1970's
Blinky Products  1960's-1980's                         L A Goodman Mfg Co 
Borse Plastics Products  1960's                         Lidco  1960's
Carolina Enterprises  1970's                              Marx  1960's
Dapol Industries  1970's                                    Miller Electric Co  1950's
Drainage Industries  2000's(current)                 Mold Craft  late 1950's-1960
Empire Plastic Corp  1960's-1990's                  Niagra Plastics Co 
Falcon Plastics                                                  Noma Lites International  1950's
Fantazia Marketing Corp 1990's                       Nu Dell Manufacturing 
Farley Technologies                                          Pillsbury Dough Co
Faster Forms  2000's                                          Poloron Products  1960's-1970's
General Foam Plastics  1980's-2000's               Santa's Best  1990's-2000's                              
General Plastics                                                 Sun Hill Industries  1980's-1990's
Grand Venture  1990's                                       TPI Plastics  1980's-1990's 
Gregg Products                                                   Union Products  1940's-2006                                      
Hamilton Skotch Co

Poloron Products 1960's

An example of 1950's indoor only blow mold for decoration. These are a much harder plastic than your typical lawn decoration.

Below are photos of toy blow molds and childrens rooms decorations 

Walking Stick


Now some examples of animal blow molds that are not holiday specific


Ahh those cartoon favorites below

And who doesn't love Minnie & Mickey


Thursday, October 25, 2012


This early composition papier mache pumpkin head witch holding a broom is stamped Germany and very detailed. It is a scarce example in excellent condition that measures 6 1/2 inches high and sold for $350 at Bertoia Auctions Sept. 23, 2012. Photo courtesy Bertoia Auctions.
Bewitching Collectibles:
Magical beauties embody the spirit of Halloween
By Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell
The Halloween Queen®
This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine
Have you ever wondered which witch was which? There are so many kinds to consider: Small ones, large one, old ones, young ones, beautiful ones and ugly old hags, as well as green-skinned ones and even some in rags. There are Easter witches and Salem witches (which were not witches at all), there are witches on broomsticks and ones that have never learned the art of flying.
Collectors can have a field day incorporating these images into the magic of a witchy Halloween display.
So many marvelous witches have added to the folklore of the species and have integrated themselves into the rest of the year. Movie witches are good and bad, even as they fly out of books such as “Harry Potter” or “The Wizard of Oz.”
The witch is an intriguing creature and you’ll want to include her in your everyday life even if she is just a kitchen witch from Sweden making sure your dinner is oh so tasty.

Witches appear in art and literature and can be represented as beautiful beyond all conception, and then she could be homely and downtrodden. Mother Goose, the old woman in the shoe, the witch who cleans the cobwebs from the sky are all witches who have been “cleaned up” and shown in their hard-working hag form.
The detail and art Nouveau influence make John Winsch postcards magical and bewitching. Collectors pay more than $100 for just one of these cards in excellent condition. Shown here: The Halloween Cauldron by Samuel Schmucker.
Since the marvelous Margaret Hamilton in “The Wizard of Oz,” one can be overwhelmed with boring green-skinned imitations of the movie figure. Perhaps it is time for graphic artists, and those who dictate the mass-produced commercial items, to take a look at the vibrant and innovative witch images depicted by the folk and folksy artists who have created a wealth of wonderful witches that are coveted by collectors.
Green-skinned witches have had their day and it is the sexy witches and the interesting hag figures that catch the eye of most collectors. The exciting thing is that there are so many great folk art artists at work today who make character faces that are beguiling and interesting that they don’t have to cover up mediocre design with green paint.
The Witch Behind the Moon sheet music is a brutal image of a vampirish witch. It is an anti-woman and anti-black image which is indicative of its time. Such images rarely show up in Halloween imagery.
The exciting thing about Halloween images of witches is they can be more inclusive in style and are more plentiful. From paintings to face jugs, candy containers and sheet music, they depict the witch from her goddess persona to her hag image as well as that of all the little costumed figures who disguise themselves as her.

John Winsh was the publisher of this incredible embossed 1911 postcard by artist Samuel Schmucker. They are the most desirable of all the 3,000-plus pre-1920 postcards that were produced. A card like this sold online recently for $240.

For those who love postcards, the Halloween cards offer a wonderful array of images by some of the extraordinary artists who worked from 1900-1920s – the golden age of postcards. Most cards were not signed but some artists had sufficient clout to make sure the publisher accredited them; Clappsaddle, Brundage and Wall were some of the few artists who were regularly credited.

Publishers such a Whitney and Tuck produced some outstanding images, but most collectors will agree that Winsch Publishing was the premier publisher whose prize artist, Samuel Schmucker, reigns supreme. These bewitchingly beautiful women arrayed in costumed finery a la haute couture were elegant and fanciful and had magic to allure after all these years.

Published by John Winsch, this card by Samuel Schmucker is dated 1912 and features a woman with skull and crossbones shroud over her Halloween party dress, a score of grinning Jack O’lanterns and starry sky. It’s another excellent example for which collectors will pay $100 or more.   

Early games have wonderful graphics on them. The boxes and game boards can be framed, as they are vibrant and colorful. Depending on the age and graphics, the prices will vary drastically. Often, witches and gypsy fortunetellers become integrated and anyone seeing the future in any manner becomes a witch. 
Wall decorations by companies like Dennison and Biestle are always in demand, usually selling for $10 to $40 in online sales. Outstanding examples earn considerably more; recently, a Dennison example of a black cat and witch sitting together, singing in front of the moon (measuring 15 3/4 inches by 12 1/4 inches) brought more than $200 in an online auction. “Vintage style” reproductions of popular Dennison decorations are selling online as well so be aware.
Ephemera such as napkins, paper plates and crepe paper shouldn’t be overlooked; Dennison crepe paper witch napkins, sold in sets of four, are bringing $10 to $20.

Pâpier-maché candy containers and figures, especially early German ones, demand hefty prices. Rarity, composition heads, fine details and excellent condition all contribute to high prices.

October issues of magazines have shown the witch depicted by great illustrators such as Varga, Fern Bissell Peat, Johnny Gruel, Grace Drayton and Charles Addams. For the ultimate collector, original illustration art depicting witches’ antics are highly prized.

This unsigned “Pinup on a Broom” (20th century) oil on canvas measuring 36 inches by 24 inches (sight) earned $813 at Heritage Auction Galleries June 28, 2012. The piece is framed to an overall size of 41 1/2 inches by 29 1/2 inches. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries  
Comic books featuring not only Wendy Witch of Casper fame, but Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck (and, of course, his rambunctious nephews), and Harvey Comics’ “Witches Tales” series are perennial favorites. 

This CGC-graded (NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages) Dell Giant Comics: Bugs Bunny Trick ‘N’ Treat Halloween Fun #3 (1955) file copy sold for $215 at Heritage Auction Galleries Aug. 19, 2012. Photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries   
Our modern-day witch is everywhere and often quite small and carrying a goodie bag which they hope you will fill full of sweets or they may carry a Unicef box for you to donate in for the under privileged children of the world. If one collected every different witch costume that has been produced over the years, the closet could not exist that could hold them all. Boxed costumes and early crepe paper and printed cloth costumes bring the most money, but they need to be in really good condition. 
Witches come in every shape, form, and media and the prices vary accordingly. You just need to know which witch is which, and which witch beguiles you the most. Treasure her as she will bring magic into your life. Have a happy bewitching Halloween! 
If you enjoyed this article you can check out the author's website: 
Or if you desire check out our photo album of just some of the vintage Halloween we have available.