Jun 7, 2012

I Collect: Stefanie

I love the Internet. I was doing a little googling the other day and came across this fabulous blog by fellow collector Stefanie. Having been inspired by Lisa Congdon's "Collection A Day," Stefanie decided to blog about collecting everyday for one year. Quite and ambitious feat. 

I collect: Many, many things, but my largest collection is vintage elementary school books from the 1930s-1960s.  I also collect vintage toys.

Its been going on for: I got my first school book in 1984, but I've really been collecting them seriously for maybe 10-12 years. I have somewhere around 500 school books. As far as my toys go, I've been a toy collector for nearly 30 years. I am a toy designer by profession, so this sort of goes with the territory.

I look for additions to my collections at: Mostly antique malls/ flea markets. Although I've bought things on eBay from time to time, it sort of feels like cheating to me. I prefer the joy of the hunt!

When I find one I feel: Excited! But I have to keep photos of my various collections on my iPhone, because I can't tell you how many times I've bought duplicate books- it's so hard to keep them straight, and there are so many! Now, it makes it easier to look at my photos to tell what I have.

The star of my collection is: My near-mint set of Scott, Foresman Dick and Jane books from 1951 & 1956. (There is actually one I don't have, but it's a 6th grade reader, which isn't as desirable, so I haven't been in a huge hurry to finish the collection)

The oddest piece in my collection is: If you count all of my collections, I think I'd have to either go with my 1867 wooden patent model of a steam valve, or perhaps my diddley-bow... that's a little one-stringed musical instrument.

A way my collection has gotten me into a tight situation:  I guess the tightest situation my collections have gotten me into is my blog. A year ago, I came across a fellow collector who posted one of her collections every day for a year. Although it was a fun blog, and she had some cool stuff, I thought my collections were more interesting, and I decided I could do a similar blog. I decided to post one of my collections every day, Monday through Friday, and then feature another collector each weekend. I'll tell you, it's been a tough year. I've decided to suspend my blog on June 30, when my blog reaches one year old. It's been really stressful (but fun!) to document my various collections because I tend to do it one day at a time instead of all at once. So, nearly every morning, I'm setting up stuff, taking pictures, editing the photos, and then putting together the blog entry. As the year has progressed,  I have created  'special days', like Toy Tuesday, and School Book Friday, and I also added Orphan Wednesday, where I feature my 'unique items' that don't fall into the 3 or more rule. 
I'm really glad I did it. It's given me a chance to document the extent of my collections, photograph everything, share it with the world, and learn a few things to boot. But doing a daily collector blog is not for the faint of heart. I plan on putting everything into a book when I'm done. I also am thinking seriously of thinning my collections out substantially too. I'll definitely keep my books and musical instruments, but I'm willing to part with many of my other collections.

Some other things that I like to collect are: vintage toys and games, musical instruments (mostly stringed), ephemera, books. You'll just have to look at my blog to see the different kinds of things I collect!

My family and friends think my collection is: My husband wishes I'd dust a bit more, my kids roll their eyes (they are all grown, and none of them are collectors), but my friends think it's awesome.

I've received a couple of honors for my collections: in 2000 I won the Judges Trophy at the Ventura County Fair in California for the best collection (school books). I was also featured in 2004 in Playthings Magazine (a trade publication for the toy industry) as their collector of the month, again, for my school books. 

My gallery on Collector's Weekly: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/user/stefdesign

Thank you so much for sharing Stefanie!

May 26, 2012

Collecting Coral

Mine is a body that should die at sea!
And have for a grave instead of a grave
6 feet deep and the length of me, 
All the water that is under wave! 
(excerpt from "Burial" by Edna St. Vincent Millay)

What a magnificent animal. Coral is in the Anthozoa class of marine organisms, which also includes sea anemones. These builders of reefs are an integral part of the sea's ecosystem. By secreting calcium carbonate, they create hard skeletons which build up over time to form coral colonies known as "reefs". Spanning over 1,600 miles, The Great Barrier Reef is the largest. 

Coral reefs are being threatened by many things including coral mining. If you are interested in having one of these nautical natural history pieces in your home, it is best to find one that has already been mined vs. going into the sea and gathering it yourself. Organizations like the United States Coral Reef Task Force are working to protect what is left of the worlds coral. This includes the conservation, restoration and protection of. As the reef population dwindles, it is important to do our part to keep what is left in the ocean, in the ocean. That being said, there are many places to find coral like aquarium stores, garage sales and the internet (especially places like ebay and etsy).

If you are interested in collecting corals you may find these titles (available on amazon.com) helpful; "The Super Simple Guide To Corals," "Corals; A Quick Reference Guide,"  and "Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry and Natural History." If you are looking to identify corals in your collection you may want to use the Coral Genus Identification CD. The Coral Science website (found here) is also a great resource of information and links. If you are curious to see a large coral collection in action check out the Waikiki Aquarium's massive coral collection, said to be one of the largest in the world. And please take the time to check out the crotchet coral exhibit at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. It is amazing.

Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your beautiful images. Everything you see here is available for purchase on Etsy.

May 5, 2012

Finders Keepers: The Heart of Collecting

Ooooh this looks so good!

"Meet the collectors of antique telephones and talking machines, confectionery molds, snow globes, handcuffs, brewianna and other interesting artifacts as they tell their unique tales of research, preservation and passionate pursuit. It's a fascinating and revealing look into a special fraternity of modern hunters and gatherers."

May 3, 2012

Collecting Garden Gnomes

April showers bring may flowers and who better to serve and protect those blooming beauties than a delightful garden gnome? 

The Garden Gnome has been gracing us with his (and sometimes her) presence for a few hundred years. Sometime near the end of the 18th century "House Gnomes" had become all the rage. They were mostly porcelain-most likely manufactured in the Thuirngia area of Germany, a thriving ceramics local. World War II had a devastating effect on the production of all ceramics, especially unnecessary pieces; like yard decorations. 

Not only has the Gnome been labeled as kitsch, but has also been the butt of many jokes and the focus of one extremely involved prank. The prank has been called a few things including "The Roaming Gnome," or "The Traveling Gnome." It involves a stolen gnome being photographed next to various "sights" (as if traveling) and then, most times, being returned. One extreme group dedicated to this Gnome trick goes by the name "Garden Gnome Liberationists," and has been in the news since 1998, when it's leader was involved in the theft of 150 gnomes, getting himself in to some serious (french) legal trouble. 

"Gnome Wants To See The World" from Amelie

If you are interested in learning more about Gnomes, I'd suggest this very well written article. Also helpful would be these titles, available on Amazon.com: "Garden Gnomes: A History," "Gnomes," or "Gnomeland: An Introduction To The Little People." Also, do not miss this "Real Life Gnome" displaying the largest collection of Gnome memorabilia!

There is no place like Gnome.

May 1, 2012

I will be back soon, with more collections! 
(I'm awaiting a Dr.'s appointment for some wrist pain that has been keeping me from the keypad)

Mar 19, 2012

Collecting Love Locks

Where have I been? 
Besides all of the obvious answers, why have I not heard of this phenomenon? For quite sometime, all across the world, lovers are affixing "Love Locks" to bridges, light posts, and street signs. The padlocks are meant to represent their everlasting union. 

There is no clear origin for this custom. The legend varies from country to country. In Spain the idea is attributed to the popular book "I Want You," which has recently been made into a film. In Taiwan, the story goes; bridges that lay above railroad tracks contain energy capable of granting loving couples wishes. And on a bridge in Serbia, lovers have been leaving locks since before World War I, "protecting their love from being torn apart" which is said to have happened to a famous local couple. 

These romantic sentiments have caused quite the ruckus! The weight of these locks is damaging the infrastructure they are attached to. They are threatening the safety of bridges, damaging historic structures, and even causing (as some city officials have put it) an eyesore. In many instances, the locks are removed, only to pop up again! Lovers are being urged to express their undying connection via the Internet with sites like "Lucchetti Ponte Milvio," and "The Love Grid," (both digital scenarios for lovers to a fix locks) or to use designated frameworks built to safely hold the padlocks of passion. 

"Love Is The Key To Every Heart" 5x7 Fine Digital Print $15.00

Isn't it Romantic?

The beautiful images you see here are photographs available for sale on etsy! Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your fantastic images!

Mar 17, 2012

Collecting MixTapes

The Urban Dictionary definition of a mixtape is as follows: 

Mixtape A homemade music compilation (usually on a cassette tape or a CD-R) containing all your favorite tracks. Often you give such a compiation to the guy or gal of your fancy in hopes that it will win their heart.

Over the years I have had the fine pleasure of being the recipient and the giver of many a mixtape. Some of the best gifts I have ever received have been mixtapes (which as I aged, were actually on CDs). There really may be no better gift to give. When presenting a mixtape to someone, you are sharing an intimate part of you. In making a melodic flow of poetry for your recipients ears to feast on, you are creating a piece of art. A mixtape is very personal. 

A mixtape also, is as much selfish as it is selfless. Maybe your mixtape recipient can't stand Mungo Jerry (which you didn't know) but you couldn't think of a better song to start your "Summertime Mix." Maybe they told you over and over that they hate Talking Heads but you decided that if they only heard the (Naive Melody) version of "This Must Be The Place" that they would retract every bad thing they've ever said. Or maybe when you passively put Fruit Bats on your B-side, it was your way of saying "Stupid, I've loved you all these years don't you fucking get it yet?" Mixtapes are completely narcissistic. 

I've come to love (one might even say obsessed over) a number of songs that were introduced to me thru gifted mixtapes. The most memorable being "Bride And Groom Hot Air Balloon," by Hop Along, Queen Anselis (a wonderful and heartbreaking song which to me, speaks of a dying relationship), "If She Could Cry" by Miracle Legion one of the great Mark Mulcahy's many projects, and the ever so groovy "Mama Roux" by Dr. John-which if anyone has any idea what this song is about, I'm dying to know (I have a few ideas). 

There are a couple of songs I can't help but include when I am making a mix for someone. I'm pretty sure "Hey" has been a frequent guest on mixtapes I've created as well as "Check The Rhyme," "Bragging Party," and "Books about UFO's."  I think I just dated myself here. I also love and have included many times over Steve Martin and Bernadette Peter's sweet duet from the film "The Jerk." Every time I hear it, I can see the scene play in my head and I smile at the part where she pulls out the trumpet at the end. 

If you are interested in learning more about mixtapes pick up the wonderful Thurson Moore edited "Mix Tape: The Art Of Cassette Culture." If you are curious about the hip hop compilation side of things-which I did not touch on, check out this MTV produced site. And of course read Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity," where the ins and outs of mixtape creation are discussed at length. If you don't read books (which makes me sad to think) watch the film adaptation starring the likeable John Cusack.

keep mixing

All of the wonderful mixtape related items you see here are available for purchase on etsy. Thank you esty sellers for the use of your lovely photographs. 

Feb 4, 2012

Collecting Vintage Valentines

I have a killer sweet tooth. I mean that. Its really, really bad-always has been. I spent a lot of time at the dentist growing up. My dentist was about 275 years old. He had been my mom's dentist her whole life. He was tall and lanky, wore glasses, and was sweet as apple pie. I remember his office vividly (probably because I spent so much time there). He had 70's looking avocado green dental equipment and the walls were covered in wood paneling. There were windows you could look out but the chair usually faced a large cartoon style map of Minneapolis. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see that drawing. It was very detailed and interesting to look at, but by the 7th cavity fill of that quarter it got pretty boring. Luckily every February the whole office would transform. My dentist had a passion for collecting vintage Valentines and would cover the walls and doors with his collection. I loved that time of year. Sometimes he would even take Valentines down and let me hold them while he told me where he found them. A true collector, he was thrilled with the hunt. I always think of him whenever I see an old Valentine. 

Valentines Day falls on February 14th each year. It is a holiday in which lovers express said love for each other, traditionally with flowers, candle lit dinners, heart shaped things, chocolate and greeting cards. The first Valentines cards were hand written but over time have made way for more mass produced greetings. These cards, for the most part, depict images of hearts, cupids and love struck victims.

Early Valentines were much more elaborate. At the start of the 1800's, mechanical Valentines were in vogue. With a opening and closing or the pulling of a tab, the Valentines would come to life. These tended to be on the bigger side and would sometimes increase the cost of mailing. But boy were they interesting! 

By the 19th century sending valentines was such a popular thing to do, Valentines were being mass produced in factories. The postal rate had gone down which also spiked an interest in Valentine exchanging. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that 190 million Valentines are sent each year. 

I've Got A Secret Valentine $6.00

If you are interested in collecting vintage Valentines the best starting place for resources would be The Ephemera Society of America. Through them you can been connected to a network of other Valentines collectors. You can sign up to receive their newsletter and you can learn about upcoming ephemera conventions. (Which BTW the Antiquarian Book And Paper Show is happening this weekend at the Concourse Center in SF-check it out if you are in the Bay Area). 
These titles are available on Amazon.com; "One Hundred Years of Valentines,"  or "Greetings With Love: The Book of Valentines." If it is prices or values you are interested in check out "Valentines With Values," or "Romantic Valentines: A Price Guide."

Want more? Check out the Vintage Valentine Museum, a blog with pages and pages of Valentines. The British Postal Museum has a collection online also! And did you know there is an app? Vintage Valentines for your IPhone for only $1.99.

All of the amazing Valentines you see here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you so much Etsy sellers for the use of your great images!

Feb 1, 2012

Collecting Fruit Jars (Mason Jars, Ball Jars, Atlas Jars)

The problem with being a collector of many collections is I end up with all kinds of little doodads and whatsits. Its no wonder that within my collection of collections lives a stockpile of storage. I have lots of jars. I've always had lots of jars. Weather I am collecting my brown vitamin bottles to keep beads or buttons or ribbons, or I'm paying top garage sale dollar for a strong shoulder Atlas jar for my collection, I seem to hoard jars. One year for Christmas my mom mailed me a box of Ball masons and a book on collecting them. I even took a trip on the coast of Maine and came back with the required sticks and shells, but the only souvenir I managed to pick up for myself was a pair of aqua, glass lid Ball jars (which I of course filled with moss before loading them in my suit case).

Because a good strong canning jar is built to last and last and last, they are always up for grabs at your local thrift store, second hand store, estate and garage sales. I always keep my eyes peeled for a new jar to add to my collection. Weather or not I am displaying them, I always need more jars. They make great vases! And they are the perfect addition to a home made treat from the kitchen-I was gifted some gorgeous handmade marbled marsh mellows this past winter holiday and they came-for all eyes to view-in a mason jar wrapped with a red ribbon. 

The need for canning jars was a long time coming. Napoleon even issued a reward to the person who could come up with a surefire way to keep fresh food available for his soldiers. In 1858 John Mason applied for a patent for the "Mason Jar." The invention changed food preservation immensely. Canning jars took on many forms after that, each manufacture attempting to improve the seal or lid. The Ball Brothers created the "Ball Jar," which due to popularity is synonymous with the Mason Jar. 
Early Mason Jars Wooden Model/Glass Model

Some collectors strive to collect every single bottle they can. Others look for specific colors. Some are looking for logos with specific fonts or scripts. And some collectors are simply looking for the most rare pieces they can find. This article on Food.com can help you identify your mason jar, as well as this article on ApartmentThearpy. Or if you are trying to date your Ball jar you might find help here.

If you are interested in learning more about collecting Mason Jars, a great resource available is the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors. They host wonderful glass bottle themed events, put out a quarterly and run a large network for other collectors to connect. There are dozens of books out there on the subject. Ask your local librarian to recommend some titles that your library may carry. Amazon.com has a few available for purchase. These may be helpful to your inquiry: "1000 Fruit Jars." (with 2010 pricing),  "Red Book 9, The Collectors Guide To Old Fruit Jars,"  and "A Collectors Guide To Ball Jars."

All of the sweet jars you see here are available for purchase on Etsy. Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your stunning photos!

Jan 31, 2012

Attn: Minneapolis; Exhibit Closing

Man oh man it's been a busy busy month. My daughter turned one and on top of putting together a very special, low maintenance cupcake and balloon party, I've had some other heavy lifestyle issues to deal with. I wont get too personal here, but instead I'll share something that I've had the chance to enjoy. On the 1st floor of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts is a small exhibit of Mechanical and Still Banks. The exhibit is titled "Mechanical Menagerie: Selections from the Kathrine Kierland Herberger Collection of Banks." It is a pretty impressive collection and it runs through the end of March. 

Considering the MIA is a free facility, you really have no excuse for missing this show. And while you are there you can check out the period rooms, the amazing modern collection and the adorable Frank Lloyd Wright diorama.

Jan 19, 2012

Collecting Vintage Luggage

I love storage. And I love thrifting, digging and picking. Over the years I have accumulated a number of vintage suitcases and luggage. They are so easy to find and look wonderful tucked in a corner or piled up high. They are the perfect addition to hide other collections I'm not displaying at the moment. 

1940's wooden suitcase $65.00

Vintage luggage carries (pun intended) a wide range of price points. Some of the less expensive pieces could be mere pennies at your local thrift store, or something like a Louis Vuitton, coveted by high end collecters, could be in the thousands. This site had some helpful information on choosing the right European luxury piece.

Linen Lined French Suitcase $125

One issue that luggage collectors face is cleanliness. Often a suitcase, especially if it has been well loved, or stored in the depths of ones estate for years on end, can come with it's own special smell. The case may also be scuffed, blemished or have sticky residue from peeled off luggae labels. Thanks to the "High Planes Thrifter!" Here is expert advice on cleaning and maintaining your vintage luggage pieces. 

American Tourister Traincase in Red $29.00

If you love the printed word as much as I do and are looking to sink your eyes into some vintage luggage literature I recommend; "Vintage Luggage: A Case History," and "Antique Trunks: Identification and Price Guide."

Handpainted Circular Overnighter $60.00

Can't get enough? Check out this luggage eye candy over at DesignSponge.
Tired of keeping your luggage stacked in a pile in the corner? Or Stuffed way back in your closet? Try making it into a beautiful coffee table!
Surprise your little one with the unexpected-a doll house inside of a suitcase (thanks to the creative minds over at birch & bird!)

Jan 12, 2012

I Collect: Kaylah

I've been reading Kaylah's blog for awhile now. I love her style, her wit and her love of cats! The other morning, while enjoying a cup of joe and a sleeping baby, I was checking in on Kaylah to see what she's been up to when it hit me-I collect interview! I'm super pumped to share with you Kaylah's strange and awesome tooth collection. 

My Name is: Kaylah Doolan. I'm a small business owner and full time blogger over at The Dainty Squid. I love cats, mycology, and of course, collecting way more things that I need.

I collect: teeth! I collect both human and animal teeth, tooth shaped things (brooches, planters, etc) and dental items (like slides, ceramic molds, etc)

Its been going on for: a few years. My collection has really bulked up over the last few months though!

I look for additions to my collections at: everywhere I go! A walk in the woods might find me an animal skull with teeth for my collection but I would have to say estate sales and ebay are my main source of additions.

When I find one I feel: Excited! It's a natural high to find pieces for any of my collections.
The star of my collection is: my teeth! I got 8 teeth pulled when I got braces - four wisdom teeth and four others to make room for my teeth to straighten out. It was a pain finding a dentist who would let me keep them because they're apparently "biohazards" but it was totally worth it!

The oddest piece in my collection is:  a strangers dentures! I found them in the garage at an estate sale of someone who recently died. They were in a box with a few other things and I was certain they'd cost more than I'd want to pay, especially since I just wanted them because they were so weird. But they ended up costing me fifty cents and since then I've bought four more pairs for my collection.

A way my collection has gotten me into a tight situation: I don't think my collection has ever really gotten me in a tight situation. Sometimes I do feel a bit awkward about admitting I collect teeth because everyone thinks it's really gross, weird, or inhumane. All of the real teeth in my collection come from consenting humans or deceased animals so it's not inhumane! As for gross, all of my collection has been cleaned thoroughly, and bleached when necessary. But I guess I can see how it could be weird! ;)

Some other things I like to collect are: vintage paint by numbers, cameras, nesting dolls, mushrooms, cuckoo clocks, vintage dresses, belts, keys, both faux and real taxidermy and maybe a few other things that I can't think of off the top of my head.

My family and friends think my collection is: strange, but they're very supportive. My dad got a bunch of teeth pulled sometime before Christmas and my mom gave them to me all packaged up nice in a fancy jewelry box, so I'd certainly say they understand me! ;) I come from a long line of collectors. My grandma was a collector, my dad is, I most definitely am, and my 8 year old nephew is too!

Thanks for sharing Kaylah!

See previous I Collect Interviews Here