A Patriotic Ribbon From 1863 Tells the Story of an Important Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July 1863!

Actually it’s one month, two days, and one hundred and fifty-two years ago as I write this. We apologize for posting our Fourth of July article so late, but a big storm in June zapped our printer (which is also our scanner) and we’ve been on another road trip to New England that we just returned from. Consequently, we are acknowledging the Fourth of July in August.

website-1863-ribbon

I picked up this little ribbon at a flea market about a week or two before the Fourth of July this year. I paid about twenty dollars for it, and the picture of it pretty much explains what it is. It is just under seven inches in length.

What gives an antique value is often what it represents. There was a lot going on in and around Philadelphia leading up to the Fourth of July, 1863. Most importantly, Philadelphia and the rest of the United States were right in the middle of the Civil War.

The spring of 1863 had not been a good time for the Union forces. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia had won stunning victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Virginia. In June, his forces had entered Pennsylvania with the hopes of bringing the North to the peace table to end the war with a negotiated peace. This would have brought about an independent Confederate States of America.

There was a very real possibility that Harrisburg and Philadelphia would end up under Southern occupation. Philadelphia was shoring up its defenses and there were calls for more militia units to defend Pennsylvania.
Fortunately, as things were looking their darkest, Union forces finally checked Lee’s forces at the Battle of Gettysburg – about 100 miles west of Philadelphia. The three day battle, which took place on July 1,2,3, was not only the bloodiest battle of the war- it was the turning point. Lee’s forces never came that far north again.

As if that weren’t enough, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi fell to the Union forces under the command of Ulysses S. Grant on the Fourth of July, 1863. This opened up the Mississippi River to Union forces and split the confederacy in two. Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth of July again until World War II.

I doubt that the citizens of Philadelphia had been able to absorb all that had happened in just those few days, but there must have been a great sense of relief. When the “Friends of the Union” celebrated the Fourth of July, 1863 in Philadelphia, they were also celebrating the turning point of the war and one of the most important events in American history.

That’s a lot of history in one little ribbon found at a flea market.

Posted in 1800's, Americana, Ephemera, Historical, Holiday, Jim, Political | Leave a comment

Happy Is the Bride…Perhaps – Vintage Photos of Unhappy Brides

Most modern brides smile happily in their wedding portraits.  Many brides of yesteryear do, too.  However, while trolling through boxes of old photos at flea markets, I’ve discovered that a fair number of brides from the past look very serious, if not downright miserable, when posing next to their grooms.  Here are some examples from my collection.

Website-Bride1The corners of the groom’s mouth are slightly upturned.  Not so the bride’s.

Website-Bride2She looks like she might still be a teenager.  He looks nearly old enough to be her father.  The facial expression and body language speak volumes.

Website-Bride3No one looks particularly happy here.  The flowers are quite beautiful, though.

Website-Bride4Someone must have made a pass at a girl who wore glasses but she doesn’t seem happy about it.

Website-Bride5Both bride and groom look desperately like they want the photo session to end.

Website-Bride6Hopefully the photographer did not tell the bride to think of her husband-to-be as he snapped the photo.

website-Bride7This petite bride seems to be pondering how she’s going to tell her lanky groom to find another hair stylist.

website-Bride9Stiff and formal but certainly not ecstatically happy.

website-Bride8Standing next to his beautiful bride, the groom appears to stoically accept his fate.

Of course, it’s natural for brides and grooms to be nervous and apprehensive on their wedding day.  Most likely, they are dressed in the most expensive clothes they will ever wear with dozens upon dozens of family members and friends looking on.  It’s an occasion that calls for a certain amount of solemnity and gravity.  No one knows, at this point, what the future holds.

But what about the couples who are celebrating their golden anniversary?  Surely fifty years of working together as a team leads to happiness and gratitude…doesn’t it?

website-Bride9AThis couple looks slightly happy – or at least bemused – about the fuss generated by their golden anniversary.

website-Bride9BIn this case, the wife has seemingly enjoyed those five decades of marriage, but the husband is clearly worn out.

website-Bride9CIt doesn’t get much happier than this.  Could they be any further apart?

Posted in 1800's, 1900's, Americana, Carol, Ephemera, Photography | Leave a comment

The Coolest Comic Grandfather – Foxy Grandpa & His Fabulous Easter Toys

website-FoxyG-1

I’m not old enough to personally remember Foxy Grandpa, the comic character. In fact, even my parents were born too late to remember his debut on January 7, 1900 in the New York Herald, and his popularity was already waning when my mother was a toddler. Still, even without any knowledge of his comic strips or books or stage production, the minute I first encountered him, I was smitten by the cute little old guy with white hair and a bald head, round glasses, and a spiffy suit and vest.

Foxy Grandpa was the creation of Carl E. Schultze, who was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1866. Schultze’s childhood nickname was “Bunny,” and he usually signed his cartoons as “Bunny.” He also created a cute white bunny character that often shows up alongside Foxy Grandpa. This pinback button shows the bunny and the two grandsons along with Foxy Grandpa himself.

website-FoxyG-6

Foxy Grandpa is right up there with the earliest of the American comic characters like the Katzenjammer Kids and the Yellow Kid. His stories revolve around those two mischievous grandsons, Chub and Bunt. While they try to trick their grandfather and play jokes on him, he turns the tables on them and foils their plots, often making them look mighty foolish in the process.

Within two years of his debut, Foxy Grandpa was so popular that a Broadway show was created with him as the central character. He was played by actor Joseph Hart. Clearly, the show had a successful run because here is a pinback button that was issued during the show’s second year, which would date it to 1903-04.

website-FoxyG-7

This button measures one-and-a-half inches in diameter and was made by the Whitehead & Hoag Company of Newark, NJ. It is in pristine condition and has a wonderful paper label on the back with the following information: Grandpa You’re a Wonder!/ 2nd Year/The Musical Snapshot/”Foxy Grandpa”/Book by R. M. Baker/Music by Jos. Hart.

Joseph Hart went on to play Foxy Grandpa in several Biograph short silent films. A portion of one of those films still exists and here is a link to it:

Between 1900 and 1917, Foxy Grandpa was a staple on the comic pages of several New York newspapers. More than thirty books about him were published by four different publishers during that time. And, like other popular comic characters of the day, toys and games featuring Foxy Grandpa made their way into the market. Fortunately, some survived and made their way into the hands of collectors like us. Here are two of our favorite Foxy Grandpa toys. Both are German candy containers, both have an Easter theme, and both have been in our possession for over 35 years.

website-FoxyG-2 website-FoxyG-3

The following photo shows a few more Foxy Grandpa collectibles. There’s a small jointed composition figure, a composition bobble-head figure, and a plaster container that might have been used on a desk to hold pencils.

website-FoxyG-4

Finally, it’s clear from this object that Foxy Grandpa was a hit with the adults as well as the kids. It’s a well-made porcelain toby mug, and while I suppose a child could have sipped his milk from it, more likely it was meant to be displayed on a knickknack shelf.

website-FoxyG-5

During Foxy Grandpa’s heyday, Carl Schultze lived the good life on Park Avenue. While Foxy Grandpa stories continued to be distributed by the Newspaper Feature Syndicate throughout the 1920’s, Schultze faced personal problems and mounting debts. By the 1930’s, he was down on his luck and illustrating school books through the WPA (Works Progress Administration). Sadly, when he died in 1939, the headlines said that he died a pauper.

But for a couple of decades in the early 20th Century, Bunny Schultze made us smile over the antics of an energetic little old man who could outsmart his grandsons. And he helped set the stage for other artists to create memorable, amusing comic characters. Young Walt Disney, growing up in the first decade of the 20th Century, most likely was quite familiar with Foxy Grandpa. Schultze may have had very little left to his name when he died, but hanging on the wall of his one-room apartment was a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse with the inscription, “For Carl E. Schultze, in admiration. Walt Disney.”

Posted in 1900's, 1910's, Americana, Carol, Comic Characters, Ephemera, Holiday, Humor, Toys | Leave a comment

Vintage Disney “No Trespass” Sign – Finding a Nice Way to Say “Get Lost”

What I love about collecting is that you never know what you will be coming home with. After four decades of hunting and gathering I still see things out there that I didn’t even know I wanted, but after I see them I can’t live without. Such is the case with my most recent find – a Walt Disney Productions “No Trespass” sign.

Disney-trespass-sign-1

A couple of weeks ago, we went to an antique show in Maryland that is a favorite of ours, and for me the coolest thing there was the metal Disney sign. It was for sale from one of my favorite dealers at the show. He told me that he purchased the sign at a California flea market in about 1970, when he was living there. I suspect that it probably didn’t cost him much at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person he had purchased it from picked it out of the trash. That is how it made it to the East Coast. I did a little research and found that Walt Disney Productions moved to their Burbank studios in 1940, so the sign cannot be older than that – or newer than 1970, the date it was purchased by the dealer. The clue to the actual age of the sign is with the cute little character decals all over it. The decals could have been added later but I doubt it. I think it was Disney’s way of adding a little magic to everything they did, including this mundane sign. There are characters that you don’t see much anymore such as the tortoise from The Tortoise and the Hare (1934) or Hiawatha (1937). The newest characters that I see are Uncle Scrooge and Bongo, the bear who appeared in Fun and Fancy Free. Both date to 1947.

Disney-trespass-sign-2 Disney-trespass-sign-3

Based on all of this, I think the sign dates to about 1950 – give or take a couple of years. If that is the case, Walt Disney Productions would have been working on such projects as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. This sign may have stood guard when Davy Crockett was being filmed and when Disneyland was in the planning stages. It is also when the great man himself – Walt Disney- was still in charge of his kingdom. There is no shortage of vintage Disney items out there, but I suspect it will be a long time before I see another one of these. Leave it to Disney to find a way to say “Go Away” and make you feel happy about it.

Posted in 1940's, 1950's, Americana, Animation, Disney, Jim, Movies, Signs | Leave a comment

Vintage PF Flyers – Superpowers for Kids

website-PF-flyers-1

I make no secret that I am on an endless quest to recapture my childhood. Was childhood really better in the 1950’s and 1960’s than it was (or is) for later generations? Most of us who were alive at that time would say yes. Most of you who were unfortunate enough to be born later would probably disagree. Of course, you would be wrong, but there’s not a lot you can do about it.

Besides playing with all our “Made in USA” toys, we had a lot of time to go outside and “run around”. Parents weren’t quite so worried that every waking minute of childhood be taken up with some organized activity designed to make you outstanding enough to get into an Ivy League school. Since we also didn’t have video games to keep us quiet, we were encouraged to go outside and entertain ourselves.

website-PF-flyers-4This well-worn pair of PF Flyers has been preserved for over half a century.

Anyway, running around is actually the point of this article. Running around in PF Flyers that is! Brand loyalty meant something in those days, and when it came to “sneakers,” you were most likely a “Keds” or “PF Flyers” kid. I was definitely in the latter category.

PF Flyers were manufactured by the tire company B. F. Goodrich and first introduced in 1937. PF stood for “Posture Foundation” which meant there was a wedge inside the shoe that more evenly distributed your weight. The promise was that you could “run faster and jump higher” with a pair of “PF’s” strapped to your feet. I totally believed this to be true! Putting on a new pair of PFs felt like you were walking on a cloud, and running as fast as you could to test out your new superpowers was part of the routine. Unfortunately, one of the more negative realities of growing up in the 1950’s and ‘60’s is that dog poop seemed to be everywhere. Once, while racing down the street, I managed to find a fresh pile with my brand new sneakers. What a mess!

website-PF-flyers-2

website-PF-flyers-3

I found this vintage and well-worn pair of boy’s sneakers at a flea market last year. Why they got saved is anyone’s guess. They are marked Hood PF Flyers. I found out that BF Goodrich purchased Hood Rubber Company in 1929 and the Hood named was used until the late 1950’s on some PF Flyers. I also found a reference indicating that the Hood name was used in 1962. I think it’s safe to say these sneakers date from the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s.

Of all the things I have collected, I think these old sneakers represent the essence of boyhood in the middle of the twentieth century as well as anything. After all, no matter how humble your upbringing, just about everyone had a pair of worn out sneakers at some point in their youth.

website-Mickey-Mouse-Club-PPF Flyers sponsored The Mickey Mouse Club, and here’s a cool cardboard counter-top display piece from the 1950’s.

website-Disney-PF-flyersHere’s another PF Flyers cardboard advertising display for another, lesser-known Disney show called Adventure Time.

website-Keds-girl-signBased on the girl’s hair style as well as the style of shoe, this cardboard Keds advertising display piece probably dates to the 1920’s or 30’s.

website-Keds-Beaver-buttonThis large pin-back button shows “Leave It to Beaver” star Jerry Mathers promoting Keds, the main competition for PF Flyers.

PF Flyers are once again available thanks to the company New Balance. At least there’s less dog poop to worry about these days.

 

 

Posted in 1950's, 1960's, Advertising, Americana, Disney, Ephemera, Jim, Signs, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Hodgepodge of Video Game Tie-In Merchandise

The holiday hustle and bustle is over, and while I usually write about things that I personally found, I’m actually dedicating this entry to gifts that I received from my family and my sister’s boyfriend this past holiday. While this isn’t everything that I received, there’s certainly a recurring theme, and that’s video game tie-in merchandise.

I’ve written about video game tie-in merchandise before, but it’s definitely a part of my collection that has grown steadily in recent years. I definitely like the fact that it gives a more tangible quality to the characters that have been trapped in our televisions and cartridges and – let’s face it – our hearts for many years. Let’s see what Mario Claus brought for Ben, shall we?Zaxxon1

Berserk1

I grew up in the age of Nintendo, so arcade classics like Berserk and Zaxxon are a little bit before my time. However, you can’t deny that the graphics on these old Milton Bradley board games are amazing. There was really a passion that went into translating arcade games into two-dimensional boards while attempting to recreate the arcade action in the first place. My sister picked these up from a friend in North Carolina. They are both SEALED, which is incredible. It also makes me very glad I passed on an opened, incomplete, and played with version of the Berserk board game I saw at a flea market this summer for $40.

Luigi1

There was a time before Super Mario Bros. 2 when Luigi was just a green and white version of his brother Mario. Therefore, you can date something like this pretty easily to the time in between Mario’s release in 1985 and when Luigi developed his current look. This plush doll is humongous. My mom picked it up for me at a local community yard sale for ten bucks. I don’t have the Mario equivalent (yet), but I kind of like the fact that for the moment, Luigi will get the spotlight in my collection.

MarioPhone1

Who you gonna call? MARIO BROTHERS! I have actually had several opportunities to purchase this awesome vintage phone, but that’s only if I wanted to spend at least $80 on it. My sister pulled this at a flea market for ten bucks in the fall and it’s definitely one of the most awesome finds she made. And yes, I know it would be more appropriate if the Warp Pipe was in green instead of red. The color is irrelevant. You will look awesome talking on this phone no matter the color.

SFPinball

Street Fighter merchandise isn’t hard to come by…if you’re in the market for action figures. However, there are plenty of other merchandising tie-ins that are much more difficult to find. I’m not saying this pinball game is impossible to find – one just sold on eBay not that long ago – but it’s certainly not something I can say I see pop up that often. It makes sound effects from the video game, too! The artwork is key art, but it’s key art from when the art at Capcom really took a step up in terms of dynamic appearance. My sister found this at a yard sale for three bucks, and I KNOW it’s worth more than that.

SonicDisplay

Finally, we have something really weird. This is some sort of Sega counter display. I don’t know exactly how it was used. It comes with a pen that had a stretchy cord attached to it. I don’t know if this was for filling out a contest or mail information cards or something, but it’s clearly from the early 1990s and it’s clearly not something that was ever meant to be sold, which is the kind of awesome, interesting, and different piece I love to have to round out a collection and make it unique. If you know anything about exactly what this MIGHT be, be sure to contact me! This, of course, came from a flea market, because how could it not?

Posted in 1980's, 1990's, Ben, Toys | Leave a comment

Season’s Greetings from Santa’s Workshop – Our Bliss Adirondack Cottage

website-Bliss-cabin-1

New to our Christmas display this year but not new to our collection is this Bliss Adirondack Cottage circa 1905.  When we bought it from a small local antique shop almost three years ago, we weren’t sure how to display it, but we said even then that it would make a great Santa Claus workshop.  That vision was finally realized this year.

Here you see the front of the cottage with German bisque elves playing on the upper and lower porches while a nice old composition German Santa sits on his wooden sled.

website-Bliss-cabin-3

Here you see the back of the cottage just filled with toys and decorated Christmas trees and another playful elf.

This doll house came with a paper from an auction when it was purchased by someone else in 2005.  It was described thus:  Bliss Adirondack Cottage – an unusual doll house with lithographed paper exterior, stained wood roof and base, 4-room interior with period wallpaper, 17.5 inches tall.”

We have loved Bliss doll houses from the moment we first saw them early in our collecting years, and we have been fortunate enough to acquire about four of them at affordable prices.  Bliss doll houses are characterized by their wood construction and beautiful chromolithographed paper coverings.  The peak of production was at the turn of the century, and the most elaborate houses are beautiful miniature renderings of highly Victorian-style houses in all their gingerbread glory.  This “cottage” is unusual and, we believe, rare because it is quite simple in style and decoration.  The very realistic-looking logs are, indeed, just printed paper.

Rufus Bliss went into business as a carpenter in Pawtucket, Rhode Island back in 1823.  He was highly skilled and inventive in his carpentry techniques, becoming best known for his lathe-turned wooden screws and clamps.  He took on a partner, A.N. Bullock, in 1845 and the name of the company became R. Bliss and Company.  In 1867, several years before the company first advertised the making of toys, Mr. Bliss withdrew from the business.  In 1873, Mr. Bullock died.  However, the company continued on with Mrs. Bullock retaining an interest, and a stock company involving Bullock family members among others was formed in 1874.  The company continued to make practical things like wooden screws, clamps, and tool handles, but they expanded further into croquet sets, tennis racquets, and paper-lithographed toys.  Today, their doll houses, wooden boats, and pull-toys are among the most prized and expensive of American antique toys.  A Massachusetts company bought out the toy-making end of the business in 1914 and kept the name, but it ceased production in 1935.

Posted in 1800's, 1900's, 1910's, Americana, Carol, Christmas, Dolls, Holiday, Miniatures, Toys | Leave a comment

We Gather Together…A Vintage Thanksgiving Feast Photo

Thanksgiving Vintage Photo

I don’t know who these people are.  Random family photos like this turn up in my possession all the time.  Clearly this is an important meal, and judging by the gigantic turkey on the table, I’m going to assume it’s Thanksgiving sometime in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s.  I wonder why Norman Rockwell didn’t paint this family scene; it’s Americana at its finest.  Please note as well the stacks of plain white bread prominently displayed on the table.  Where are the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls?  You may laugh, but a buttered piece of white bread was usually an accompaniment to my holiday feasts as a child in the 1950’s, too.  We can only imagine the scintillating conversation going on here based on on the lone man at the table who is about to doze off.  That’s the great fun of collecting old photos.  You try to imagine who these people were and the kind of lives they led.  One thing I can’t figure out, though.  Why was this photo blown up to a gigantic 11 by 14 size?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM ALL OF US AT COLLECTORGENE!

Collecting enriches our lives, and we are very thankful for that.

Posted in 1930's, 1940's, Americana, Carol, Food, Holiday, Photography, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Amazing Variety of Gumball Machine Monster Jigglers

It’s that time of year where I like to write about monster toys. Well, for me that is any time of year, but it is most important to make this a tradition in October so here it goes! Today I wanted to spend some time with Monster Jigglers. I chose the topic for several reasons. Firstly, I collect Monster Jigglers. Secondly, I remember my mom giving some Monster Jigglers out as party favors at a little Halloween party we had when I was a kid. It just seemed like a very appropriate thing to write about. Hopefully by the time I am done, you will be as fascinated by these silly little pieces of rubber as I am.

Gumball Machine Monster Jigglers

Gumball Machine Monster Jigglers

So if you haven’t been clued in to the world of jigglers yet, let me bring you up to speed. Jigglers are toys made out of a springy and flexible rubber that literally jiggles when you move it. If you were a kid between the 60’s- the 80’s, you probably had at least one. Though they came into popularity in the 1960’s, you can still find toys made like this today. In fact, you can still find some of the same jiggler designs of 40+ years ago in stores if you look hard enough, but I will address that later. Russ Berrie is famous for making larger gift ware jigglers that were sold in novelty shops and gift shops in the 60’s and 70’s. Most of their jigglers are animal characters with plastic inset eyes. They are made out of an oily rubber that will stain anything it touches if you leave it long enough, but they still have a following today regardless. Ben Cooper also made some cool jigglers including Marvel and DC super heroes and Universal Monsters. Yes, this is the Ben Cooper that made cheap Halloween costumes, but they also did dime store toys in the form of rubber jigglers. The rubber used by Ben cooper is more like the rubber on the toys I am talking about today (less oily). With the success of jigglers in the 1960’s, cheap-toy companies decided to jump on the band wagon and create small jigglers that could fit into a capsule in a gumball machine. You could fold the flexible rubber into a capsule and it would spring back good as new when the toy was removed.  Many of them are in the form of bizarre monsters, and those are the jigglers I am discussing today.

Flat JigglersFlat Monster Jigglers just like the ones I had as a kid!

Now I should make it clear that these jigglers weren’t only sold in gumball machines. Some were also sold bagged and carded, and you could probably buy them individually in your local dime store. I remember the ones that my mom gave out at Halloween came in a big bag filled with a couple dozen of them. They were cheap to produce and kids loved them. The ones above are like the ones I had as a kid. They are what I would call flat jigglers, and they were still producing them up through at least the 1980’s when I had them.

Finger Puppet JigglersFinger Puppet Jigglers.  That sad red fella on the far right is totally a new Jiggler.

One of the most incredible aspects of these small jigglers is that some of these designs, or bootlegs of these designs, are still being produced today. They are often sold as party favors for kids birthday parties. That means that some of these toys have had a consistent run of production for at least 40 years. In many ways that puts them in a league with Barbie, Hotwheels, and G.I. Joe when it comes to longevity, but because they are small and innocuous we never see them that way. The finger puppet jigglers are still made today. Though the designs have changed a bit over time, the concept remains the same.

It can sometimes be very difficult to tell an older jiggler from a new one, but there are a few tricks to help you decipher age. One of the easiest ways to tell age is to look at the markings. This trick I am about to mention will help you date a lot of toys besides jigglers. If the jiggler is marked “Hong Kong” it was made 1985 or prior. If it is marked “China” it is made after 1985. Another way to tell is the rubber. This is hard for me to describe in a blog post, but there is a different feel to the older rubber. When you have a China jiggler and a Hong Kong jiggler to compare you will see what I mean. They feel different. Finally, not every design has been produced over and over for years. In general, the octopus jigglers or spider jigglers aren’t being produced today and probably haven’t been for decades. The frog looking ones are the same. The main two still being produced are the finger puppets and the flat jigglers.

Octopus/ Spider JigglersOctopus/ Spider Monster Jigglers.  These are some of my favorites.  Look at those crazy designs!

 

Frog Monster JigglersFrog Monster Jigglers.  Two eyes would just be too normal.  It’s either one or five with these guys.  The frogs are also some of my favorites.  I mean, just look at them.

One of my favorite aspects of jigglers is you can see their progression through time as different companies rip each others designs and make slight alterations. They shrink and grow, and they gain limbs and they lose limbs.   They come in different rubbers and plastics, and they change color as they go. As I find jigglers digging through bins at flea markets I watch them evolve over time, and I feel like a biologist finding a new species when I find a slight variation on a design. Flea markets are the Galapagos Islands of jigglers! It makes them particularly fun to collect. I never find the exact same jiggler twice.

Jiggler VariationsThe same jiggler can take on many forms.  Clearly these are the same design, but the one on the right has a horn.  Based on the rubber, the one on the right is also probably the older one.

 

Jiggler Variations 2These two have very similar faces, but different legs.  Another one of my favorite aspects of these toys is their evolution over the decades they were created.

 

Jiggler Variations 3These two may be the closest yet, but if you look carefully you will see that they are two totally different sculpts.  One is most likely a shameless rip off of the other.  They weren’t even trying to make it something different!

 

Jiggler Variations 4That tiny guy on the left was probably created in the 80’s and is clearly based on the guy on the right.  That being said, they made a lot of changes in the leg department.  What a crazy evolution!

I also want to take time to point out how weird and awesome some of these designs are. They are brilliant! As an artist, I love every one of them as these incredible and interesting sci-fi monsters. This is because many of these designs are based on work by well known artists such as Wally Wood and Basil Wolverton that were done for a line of Topps trading cards (the jigglers are clearly bootlegs). Others are based on other toy line such as The Outer Space Men by Colorforms, and some designs were done in house at the cheap toy companies based on these designs. Of course, as bootlegs of work by popular artists, these toys have garnered quite a following.

Topps CardDoes Barry look familiar to you? His doppelganger is in the top left corner of the photo of the spider/ octopus jigglers.

topps card 2My fried Ed is in the top row second from the right.  You can probably thank Wally Wood for these nightmares.

topps card 3Remember those multi-eyed frog jigglers?  You can call them Steve!

topps card 4Finally Iris shares a striking resemblance to the rat bug jiggler in the next photo down.  This is the least obvious of the bootlegs, but the idea is still present.

Figural Monster JigglersThese Jigglers are more figural.  Two monkeys, a bootleg of a larger jiggler line called De Horribles, and a rat bug.  I like the rat bug (but really, I just like them all).

Thanks to having a bag of flat jigglers as a kid from a Halloween party, I became hooked on monster jigglers. Their wacky and wonderfully disturbing designs intrigue me and keep me searching the depths of dirty boxes at flea markets to rescue them from obscurity. It is a worthwhile pursuit as far as I am concerned.

Tiny Jiggler MonstersSome teeny tiny jigglers.  I put a big one in the back for comparison.  These guys are less than half the size of their counterparts, and therefore are even harder to find!  They are less than an inch long!

jigglersFinally, some really cool jigglers that probably weren’t in gumball machines.  These are probably from a dime store based on their size.  Still, these are really great and were well worth sharing!

Posted in 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, Amy, Art, Halloween, Humor, Monsters, Toys, Weird | 1 Comment

2014 Road Trip Blog: Scrappy the GI Mascot and Other WWII Collectibles

World War II home front collectibles have become a growing interest for Jim and me, so we were very happy to add a few new items to our collection during the course of our road trip. Pictured is a grouping of some of the items we found.

WWII Group Shot

Ration books are rather commonplace even after seventy years, but we liked this ration book envelope showing Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves. It was a giveaway from Royal Crown Cola. Likewise, old bottles of ink aren’t hard to find, but it was fun to find Parker Quink ink for V-mail in its original box. The little flannel pennant with the nice patriotic graphics and the patriotic cardboard fan showing a WWII nurse were also little “finds.”

Among our better finds was the “Hi Buddy” ceramic soldier head. He turns up with some frequency on the antique circuit, but this example has nice, bright paint and only a few minor condition issues. He is marked “Hi Buddy” on the back of his shirt collar and is an early type of “Chia Pet.” The striations on his head are meant to grow a grassy form of hair! He was made by the Morton Pottery Company in Morton, Illinois.

We were immediately drawn to the cloth saluting soldier doll with a paper Shackman label on his back. He is eight inches tall and in excellent condition. He has wire arms and legs which make him very posable. He also has a Christmas tree hook through his cap, so he could be hung up. While he looks like a WWII G.I., he couldn’t possibly have been made during the war because the label says that he was made in Japan. This doll either predates the war by a few years or was made in the 1950’s after occupation ended. The Shackman Company started its toy and novelty business in 1898 and continues to this day so either date works. I’d like to think that this little guy was available for young wives and little sisters of soldiers to buy at the local Woolworth’s in 1942, but I don’t know for sure.

Scrappy 1

Last, but certainly not least, in our WWII acquisitions is Scrappy (Yard Bird), the Lucky Mascot. Thankfully, he has his original tag explaining that he was a “Service man’s pal” who could handle the annoying details like sassing the sergeant back. Without his tag, one would be left pondering the meaning of this painted pinecone with a weird attached head and boots! There is a patent serial number on the tag, but no company name, so who made Scrappy is a mystery. It was likely a very small company with a handful of employees or even a cottage industry that produced him. In the South, a yardbird is a chicken, and Scrappy could be a chicken. During WWII, “yardbird” was a slang term for a basic trainee because much of his time was spent out in the yards. My guess is that some creative entrepreneur who lived near an army post filled with new recruits came up with the idea of Scrappy. Whatever his origins are, I doubt too many Scrappys still exist. We’ve never seen one before, and that’s why he left his temporary home in a case in an antique mall in Missouri and came back with us.

Scrappy 2

Posted in 1940's, Americana, Carol, Comic Characters, Historical, Humor, Road Trip, Weird, WWII | Leave a comment