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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Apothecary/Drugstore Show Globes

Throughout history, professionals have searched for recognizable signs and symbols to represent their occupation. These symbols serve not only to call attention to businesses, specifically in times of low literacy, but also to distinguish a career field among the rest. Much like the mortar and pestle as a sign of apothecaries, show globes, glass vessels of varying sizes and shapes, hold a significant and intriguing history as a symbol of early pharmacists.
             The show globe -- an elegant symbol of the
                            profession of pharmacy.
Explanations of how they became pharmacy's "barber pole" are as varied as the colored water they contain. Their mystery is due, in part, to the many legends of their origin.

When in Rome--The oldest and perhaps most colorful story posits that when Julius Caesar and his army were invading Ireland, he needed a marker on the beachhead to guide his troops. A nearby apothecary served the purpose. Caesar allegedly promised not to kill the shopkeeper if he would illuminate the show globes in his store window to serve as a "light house."

 Another legend describes the globes as derived from urns used by pharmacists in the Middle East to store their wares. According to this story, travelers from Western Europe so admired the urns that they imitated them at home. If this were the case, however, show globes would have appeared all over Europe; in fact, they are almost exclusively Anglo-American.


Along similar lines is the theory that show globes are close cousins to maceration vessels, in which organic material is steeped in liquid in sunlight, just as "sun tea" can be made on sunny days. Although show globes could potentially be used for this purpose, it does not explain the use of brightly colored water in globes -- not to mention that England is not famous for its sunny days.

Many experts believe show globes were used by apothecaries during the Great Plague of London in 1665 to direct the sick to their shops, after healthy citizens and doctors had fled the city. The steadfast apothecaries, it is said, used the bright liquid to communicate to the frightened public that medical attention was still available.
There is also disagreement about the colors used in the first show globes. Some believe that early apothecaries used red and blue liquid in the globes to represent arterial and venous blood, while others, such as the Richardsons, postulate that show globes first appeared in apothecary shop windows along coastal regions in England, "where they were filled with red and green liquid, copying the running lights of ships to show sailors where to go when they needed medical attention."

There is also the "stoplight" theory of show globe colors, which says that after the globes had made it to Colonial America in the early 1600s, red and green were standard colors: red indicating that the town had some kind of illness or quarantine (as a warning to travelers), and green representing a healthy welcome.

Enter George Griffenhagen-- During the 1950s, the work of pharmacist George Griffenhagen, one-time acting curator of the Smithsonian Institution's division of medicine and health, laid to rest some of the stories swirling around the origin of the show globe. In fact, the November 5, 1956 issue of American Druggist called his efforts "the most thorough investigation into the evolution of the show globe, based on personal research in Europe."

Borrowed from Alchemists?  The most commonly accepted origin of the show globe as pharmacy's trademark took place during the merger of apothecaries and alchemists some time during the mid-16th to mid-17th centuries. At the time, apothecaries (or druggists) sold medicinal products derived from natural and organic substances, while alchemists (or chymists) dealt with medicinal products made from raw chemicals. Many historians believe the globes originated with alchemists and that their strange aura was representative of the secretive and mysterious group. 

With the growing success of chemical therapies, apothecaries adapted by gradually adding chemical remedies to their stocks -- while adopting the globe as a way to bring in more customers. For a largely illiterate public, the globe was an intriguing and simple symbol to recognize.

All of the theories seem to agree that [the globe] does date back to at least 1665," which would bracket the range between the mid-16th to mid-17th centuries.

The first written account of the show globe as a specific symbol of pharmacy occurred in 1775 by a German visitor to London, who wrote in a letter: "The street looks as though it were illuminated for some festivity; the apothecaries and druggists display glasses filled with gay-colored spirit . . . [which] suffuse many a wide space with a purple, yellow, or azure light." Griffenhagen found another written account from 1788 in a reference to the Argand Lamp, which had been invented in 1782 and was used by English chemists to keep their show globes illuminated at night. According to Griffenhagen, this would indicate that show globes were not common in pharmacies until about the middle of the 18th century.

Show globes became increasingly less common in the early part of this century as old pharmacies went out of business and new pharmacies chose not to display them. But renewed support for globes in the 1930s (particularly by American Druggist) moved the Owens-Illinois Glass Co. to introduce a new style, with an electric bulb inside to illuminate the globe. Through the 1950s, American Druggist continued to urge pharmacists to bring back the show globe, terming it "the greatest trademark ever invented."


Sunday, October 6, 2013

#2 HALLOWEEN COLLECTIBLEs -- Noise Makers, Die Cut Decorations, Plastic Lollipop & Candy Containers

Here is the link to #1 Halloween Collectibles which gives some background information about Halloween and Jack O Lanterns.

Now time to showcase some more of the Halloween collectibles that we have available for sale in our shop. We have much more than photographed in these two posts so stop by and get your spook on!


Collecting retro Halloween items takes patience and money as Halloween antiques and collectibles are more scarce than Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines and Easter collectibles.

Noisemakers and Die Cut Decorations

Tin Litho Halloween noisemakers, clackers, rattles horns and tambourines were mostly made in the USA.
Halloween die cut paper (light cardboard) decorations are also very collectible. The most common themes are pumpkin heads, skeletons, witches, devils, black cats and owls. Some will have crepe paper fold out legs or other embellishments and some have moveable jointed parts.

Other vintage Halloween paper items include all types of party goods, such as paper plates, cups, napkins, tablecloths, nut cups and table decorations. Also,look for the small paper sacks that candy or other treats were placed into before they were given out. Games for Halloween parties are very rare.

Another type of paper collectible is the Halloween postcard which is valued according to age and condition, but many times the price depends on the postcard publisher and the artist who created the graphics.

Late 1950's-60's Costume in original box,
Cat&Witches paper Tablecloth, 1950's German Cat Candy Container.

Candy Containers

Old plastic candy containers such as the 1950s lollipop holders by Rosbro are highly collectible, but even more rare are paper mache candy containers from the 1930s.


Thursday, October 3, 2013


Notice background--paper mache Jack 0 Lanterns
Collecting retro Halloween items takes patience and money as Halloween antiques and collectibles are more scarce than Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines and Easter collectibles. That said, collecting Halloween items and decorating with them for Halloween has become bigger every year.

All photos below are just some of what we have currently available, we have much more available than shown, because we buy and sell all the holidays collectibles year round.

How Halloween began and where its traditions began is open for dispute, but many believe it is rooted in the Christian tradition of All Hallows Eve (All souls, All saints) on October 31st when the departed souls would be honored. Others believe that Halloween began with Celtic roots as a day of harvest and summer's end which began the "dark" half of the year. On October 31st, it was believed that a portal was opened for the departed souls to return to earth and seek revenge. In some societies, it was believed that harmful spirits, ghosts and fairies could roam the earth. To ward off the harmful spirits, masks could be worn by the living to confuse the spirits, and giant bonfires were lighted to repel creatures of the dark. Later, lighted candles would replace bonfires. The early Catholic church recognized All Saints Eve as the time to time to pray for restless souls in Purgatory (a place between Heaven and Hell) to pass into the peace of Heaven. The practice of carving turnips that represented souls began in Ireland and Scotland. In America the Puritan immigrants from England did not allow any celebration of Halloween as it was considered pagan; however, as immigrants from Ireland and Scotland arrived in America the practice of carving pumpkins and placing a candle in them began.

Knowing a little about the history of Halloween, prepares a collector for the types of items to collect, how to date them, and their historical significance. While the practice of disguising oneself on Halloween was centuries old, the practice of wearing a costume and trick-or-treating in America seems to be traced to the 1930s when costumes began to be mass produced and references to trick-or-treating can be found in advertising and literature.

Children in the early 1930s, wore a simple homemade costume and it was common to go to a few neighbor's homes for a treat of homemade fudge, a popcorn ball or an apple. Sometimes children carried a real carved pumpkin with a lighted candle which resulted in a number of children being burned, so carrying pumpkins made of light weight paper mache with a wire handle to put candy into became popular. Constructed out of egg crate molded pulp and finished with bright, festive Halloween colors, they came with a wire handle with painted features and some had a removable paper insert for the eyes and mouth.


Paper mache pumpkins or Jack-o-Lanterns or Halloween Lanterns are very collectible, circa late 1930's until the early 1950's, their value is determined by size, condition, if the paper eyes and mouth are in tact and if they have retained their wire handle. Most have orange and green paint. Also some were made as cats, skulls, devils, or witches, which these are the hardest to find and the most expensive. Most were just tossed afterwards making them scarce, plus the inside paper liner got tore up by little hands reaching in to get the goodies and some were used with candles inside and ended up burning.

This one is two faced, same on both sides, plus this one has opening at the bottom and top so it could be placed over a light or candle. Was not intended as a candy container. See the photo above to see actual face, it is the largest in the photo.

These are two smaller versions, the one on top has a paper liner,
 while the one on the bottom has painted features. 

This Devil is early 1950's and made of cardboard and has a paper insert.

1950's Metal Jack O Lantern

During the early 1940′s, sugar rationing was a big issue in the U.S. due to World War II and delayed the overall spread and popularity of trick-or-treating amongst children. Historians believe the mass popularity of trick-or-treating accumulated in the early 1950′s with cartoons such as Disney’s ‘Trick or Treat’ (1952) and Peanuts by Charles Schultz (1951).

I will make additional posts later covering other Halloween
collectibles following this post. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Change of Season

Strange title huh. Just something I have noticed through the years. I will try to not ramble on but I make no promises. September every year is one of our slowest months for business. Starting in mid to late August traffic starts to slow down and by September really really slow. The only reasons behind this that I can find are, parents getting ready for back to school, spending alot of hard earned cash for back to school and then adjusting during September to their new busy schedules. For those that are not affected by back to school I believe they are in the first stages of hibernation. Let me explain, we start having cooler mornings and nights, great for bonfires and some outdoor activities but also a good time to relax with a good book, movie, and maybe marshmallows on the fire. Not a very scientific observation, but an observation none the less
       This photo of a vintage iron settee is what started this train of thought for me. 
      Stange? Maybe.
      So let me explain.

Since I purchased this item I have been placing it outdoors in front of the shop upon opening each and every morning. It has been for sale and many an individual have been spotted sitting on it and enjoying a moment or two. You usually find vintage iron chairs but not these settees as often. So of course I thought I wouldn't have it very long. Well it lasted longer than I thought and probably because I got it late in the season for those whom are looking for outdoor furniture. Then again there are those who also use this type of furniture indoors. Sorry I seem to be rambling on, back on point
If I have a slow spell in the shop, which can be relaxing if not too often, and the weather is good you just might see me sitting outdoors watching the world go by or reflecting on life in general. Some very interesting things are to be seen and heard sometimes here in downtown New Albany so it can also be entertaining.

Yesterday was a beautiful day outside and things were very slow business wise soooooo I spent alot of time sitting on this settee. Then a loyal and regular customer stopped by and we chatted for a while. Then she decided she had to have this settee and asked if she could leave it here and pick up in a few days. Of course I said sure, but I advised I would still put out each morning until she came to get it. I mean after all, where or what will I sit on now while the weather is good and business is slow.  Am I Right?

I will miss it when it is gone but at least I know it is going to a good home where it will be appreciated. I should have asked how she was planning to use it, indoors or outdoors. People love to share how an item fits into their home if you think to ask. I guess my daydreaming, relaxing outfront of the shop, my slow progress into hibernation for the coming winter, and concern about not being able to sit on it much longer threw me off balance.

Fall is my favorite time of year so while I am not busy you just may see me out front sitting on something. Wave as you drive by or stop and chat awhile. Start the coming hibernation slow and easy, enjoying all the good things in life, and maybe some reflection.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Golden Glow

Before electricity and after, a home could be seen with a warm glow from their windows.      The Golden Glow of Oil Lamps. 

This is an Aladdin "Washington Drape" Oil Lamp and has been converted for electricity.

You may find this information as a surprise, even until the 1940's many rural or remote areas still used oil lamps for their lighting needs, and of course today Amish communities still use oil lamps.

These antiques, oil lamps, are still very useful today, just experience a blackout for a period of time and you will agree.

Even when not actually needed they provide a wonderful soft glowing light, especially on a cold winters night. Cozy up, turn off the lights and light up an oil lamp or two, maybe even put a log in the fireplace, you will be amazed how warm, cozy, and soothing it can be.

Since so many continued using oil lamps past the availability of electricity in their home many have survived and thankfully so. Some people loved their old oil lamps so much they converted them into electric lamps, plus many found this as practical and did not desire to throw useful items away. You see recycling or repurposing as they call it today, has always been around.

Oil lamps were made using just about any material you can think of, glass, metals, cast iron, animal bone, yes even wood, and many improvements were made in the types of oil used. Originally whale oil was used and even a dangerous and potentially explosive mixture of turpentine and alcohol.


In England in 1850 and the United States in 1852 a Scotsman, James Young, obtained a patent for a fuel which he called Paraffin Oil. It was essentially the same product patented again in 1854 but called Kerosene. Kerosene became the means to a bright, portable and less expensive light which could be available to every home, and which would bring about a dramatic change in the habits and lives to all.

Just take a moment and reflect upon those changes in the pattern of family life as they acquired lights, thus enabling them to continue their tasks, or enjoy reading or writing and playing games after dark.

At first the availability was limited until the development of the first dug well in Ontario in 1858, and the first drilled well in Pennsylvania in 1859 which produced the quanities needed for widespread use. Among the first advertisements for coal oil was the Parson Bros.,Coal Oil and Lamp Agency in 1858    

The Cheapest and most Brillant Light ever intoduced
       ***GAS NOT EXCEPTED***

Thankfully today the oil available for these have improved to the point of being available as smokeless and some are even scented for our pleasure. Many oil lamps were designed to be a work of beauty and remain that way today, even miniatures were made and could be used. 

All of the photos included in this post are of original and converted oil lamps that we have available.  Let us help illuminate your home and share the history.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I am quite often asked the question, what kind of things should one buy? Should I choose things by trends, values, or personal taste?  My answer is always, "Buy What Talks To You".

                                                             Whatever do I mean?

Have you ever been shopping and an item seems to demand your attention? Maybe you know the reason why you are attracted, then again maybe your not sure. You leave without making the purchase but you keep having thoughts of the item, it like nags at you. You try to reason to yourself why you shouldn't make the purchase, but you finally go back to make the purchase, now it is gone, no longer available.

                How do you feel, relieved, saddened, dismayed, or perhaps angry?

I also advise that if something is talking to you and you can afford the item take it home, you will be so happy with that purchase for a very long time. If your reason for a purchase is because someone or something convinced you its all the rage (trend), it will not satisfy you in the long run. Additionally if your purpose in purchasing is because of its current value or perceived future value be aware -- that can change overnight. Now if you made that purchase choice because of your personal taste, yes you will be happy for awhile but what happens when that taste changes?

                 Again if you "Buy What Talks To You" the satisfaction is longer.

I arrived at this wisdom from my own experiences after doing all the things mentioned above, and admit it, we know you have done the same. Many have told me, after following this advice, how true it is for them also.

                                                        Why do things talk to us?

That I can not answer for you directly, you will have to figure that out if desired. Then again if it works why even question, just reap the rewards and be happy. When it comes to Antiques & Collectibles people make the purchases they do for many varied reasons. Here are some examples of personality types, or the reasons behind the collecting. Some will fit you to a tee, others won't, then again all of them could. Some reasons are positive, others may seem negative, but they all work.

          Romantic, Sentimental, Historian, Treasure Seeker, Thrifty,
          Unique, Artisitic, Individual Style, Green Lifestyle,
          Perceived Investment, Eccentric, Hoarder, Preservation,
          Eclectic, Shopping Aholics, Memories, Needs

This applies for all purchases, not just Antiques & Collectibles. Yes purchases in life are only to fulfill needs that arise in life, be it physical or emotional, so "Buy What Talks To You".


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Women -- California Potteries 1930's thru 1960's

At the turn of the twentieth century, many artists journeyed to California to live and work. The warm climate brought people from around the world as well as across the country to find their golden dream in the entertainment industry and the arts. When it came to the ceramic art/pottery movement Southern California was a major influence. Because of the state's close ties to Mexico, Central America, and the Asian countries a strong influence was exerted on the function and design of many products. Through the years, hundreds of ceramic studios and factories were established, this blog post is just going to cover a few of the ones which seem to be very collectible today. In our region they are not always recognized or desired, but to many worldwide they are much desired.
As with most businesses of the era, these pottery factories or studios, were run by men with male chemists, designers, and production formen. Women were normally assigned the tasks of painting dinnerware or decroating figures and little else.

This post is in honor of the women potters of the time that really stood out then, and still do today in the collectible market.

These figures are from California Potters but unmarked. You have to do alot of research to identify the unmarked pieces but all the styles of the time are similar in style as far as facial features, the colors of glazes used, and subject matter. So it is easy to indentify a piece as being California Pottery but discovering which potter created the piece is sometimes difficult. 

                                   Florence Ceramics   1939 till 1964

Florence Ceramics  Oriental Couple
Florence Ceramics was created in 1939 when a dynamic woman named Florence Ward set up a kiln and decided to take up modeling clay figures partly as therapy for the death of her youngest son. She displayed her early works in her garage and her amazed friends urged her to start her own business. As the news of her fantastic work spread she soon had orders for 84 pieces. Florence set up her business and in 1948 moved The Florence Ceramics Company to a large facility in Pasadena, California where it remained until 1964, when the plant was sold to Scripto. From 1939 to 1964 Florence Ward was the sole designer for the many figurines that were produced by the Florence Ceramics Company. Her innovative designs were sold through fine jewelry and department stores and even established a following overseas. In the 1960s the Lefton Company copied many of Florence Ward's designs and used overseas labor to reproduce them. Florence Ceramics won several copyright infringement battles against Lefton but the Lefton Company simply modified their figures and continued to market them. These cheaper imitations were the downfall of the Florence Ceramic Company.
Kay Finch  1938 until 1963
Godey Fashion Couple, there are different sizes, styles, and color combinations for these particular figures.
 The inspiration for these were the famous Godey Fashion magazine ads of the Victorian Age.

Unmarked adorable squirrel attributed to Kay Finch
She is considered a pioneer in several ways for she was not only a member of a select group of female ceramic artists but was also successful in almost every venture she ever undertook. Exhitbiting artistic flair at a very young age, she was encouraged to develop her talent by her parents and school teachers. Considered to create from the heart, and understood and loved by the public whom took her to its heart. Enter a gift shop anywhere and you will find humorous, elegant, thought provoking collectibles with charm and detail. Kay Finch pioneered in this field with animals and angels these figures topped the best seller chart for two decades and further proved the woman was ahead of her time. Her creations had a whimsical side in their design but careful inspection will testify that they are true works of art. That is why collectors seek her work still today.
Hedi Schoop  1933 til 1958 
Oriental Female Water Carrier
One of the most talented (and imitated) artists working in California in the 1940s and 1950s was Hedwig “Hedi” Schoop (1906-1996). She designed and modeled almost every piece in her line. Though her ceramic creations include vases, plates, bowls, ashtrays and other forms, Schoop’s figurines of men and women are the most popular with collectors. 

In 1933, Hedi Schoop fled Nazi Germany with her husband, composer Freidrich Hollander, and immigrated to Hollywood, Calif. Schoop amused herself by creating figural plaster dolls dressed in fashions of the day. Upon successfully showing them at the Barker Brothers department store in Los Angeles, Schoop switched to the more permanent slip-cast ceramic medium and opened a small Hollywood studio where she produced and sold her creations. Hedi Schoop’s creations are often figures caught in motion – with arms extended, skirts aflutter, heads bowed – and serve a purpose in addition to decoration. She designed shapely women with skirts that flared out to create bowls and women with arms over their heads holding planters. She also produced charming, bulky-looking women with thick arms and legs.When TV lamps became popular, Schoop used her talents to create them in the form of roosters, Art Deco Tragedy and Comedy masks, and elegant women in various poses.
A fire destroyed the Schoop pottery in 1958, at which time she sold many of her molds and did some freelance work for other California companies.Schoop retired from working full-time as a ceramic designer in the early 1960s, but her talents would not let her retire from art completely; she focused on her painting throughout her semi-retirement, which lasted until she died in 1995.
The photos included in this post are some of the items we have available in our shop. For more information and photos of these artists works there are very good reference books out there. These few pictures and styles provided do not touch the surface of the scope and style of the products they produced.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cast Iron -- A Love Affair

The Early Iron Age, following that of the Bronze, is regarded as 1500 B.C. to A.D. 100, the period in our civilization when iron weapons and tools were introduced. Bronze was available only to the ruling classes; when iron came along it was available to everyone.

Cast iron is iron or a ferrous alloy which has been heated until it liquefies, and is then poured into a mould to solidify. SO  because it liquefies, it can be poured into molds and be mass produced, everything imagineable has been made of cast iron, weapons, tools, cookware, furniture, clocks, toys, nick-nacks, etc. It is still being manufactured today because of its flexibility and strength.

Victorian Mantle Clock
Industrial Pulley

Toy Truck

Outdoor Bench

This blog post is about cast iron collectibles from the Victorian Era and forward, of which there are many different catagories. Iron was used for everything imagineable because it was less expensive than other metals and extremley durable.

Wrought iron was fashioned by hand - heated, hammered, and beaten into forms. The transition from wrought to cast iron evolved gradually from increasing labor costs and a shortage of professional craftsmen who could rapidly turn out quality items in volume.

The 1830's through the mid 1850's has been called the "Great Era of Cast Iron". Victorians couldn't seem to get enough fanciful castings in truly intricate and beautiful patterns, using them indoors and out.  Thus a "Love Affair" began.

Foundries were hard pressed to supply innumerable neccessities while also trying to concentrate on the fancy appendages and furniture. Walls of kitchens were literally lined with cast iron cooking vessels. In the photo above an entire cast iron stove and fireplace built as one, with fancy iron trim surrounding.

Catalog page for furniture pieces
By 1845 cast iron building frames and bridges were produced. The cast iron furniture was made for both indoors and out and included lawn ornaments such as animals. Many castings represented classical Greek and Roman motifs, actual and mythological, flowing drapery, flora, and fona. Because of durability many of these items still exist today.

Cast Iron Pillars

The following photos are just to show you the variety of items made, some are practical items, some are decorative, and some were needed.

Match Safe

Grate covers

Window Grill


Tractor Seat

Lamb Food Mold

Water Pump

Shoe Stretcher

Mortat & Pestle
Bulldog Doorstop





Childs Toy Stove

Garden Urn

Fence Fenial

We always have plenty of cast iron items available for sale so come by and check us out sometime.