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!