For The Love Of Christmas Pixies: Part II

It is nice to know that I am not the only lover of knee huggers and Christmas Pixies on the internet.  I know this because my last article on Christmas Pixies is one of my most popular to date.  With that said, I keep acquiring pixies and some of them are fantastic.  I had to share them.  Therefore I wanted to give you a little taste with For the Love of Christmas Pixies: Part II.

Angry Eyebrows Pixie

This guy is one of my favorites.  It’s the angry pixie.  At least his eyebrows and sinister grin suggest to me that he is angry, or maybe a sociopath.  I first saw one at the National Christmas Center in Paradise, PA (Go if you are in the area!).  They have a pixie tree in their Woolworth’s Display (which is awesome!), and probably have no idea how excited I got when I saw this pixie.  I wanted to track one down.  Thankfully my mom found one in her travels, and I got him as a Christmas present last year.  If Elf on a Shelf isn’t getting your kids to behave at Christmas, this terrifying little guy might do it!  His eyebrows will haunt my nightmares!


I will haunt your nightmares!

Wind-Up Drummer Pixie

This one is truly weird.  It is a pixie head on a wind up drummer toy.  This toy is made in India, which is not something you see everyday.  It has a few condition issues, but I had to buy it since I had never seem one like it.  Pixie heads got used on everything!


Flat Pixies

Yes, the pixie head was even flattened for Christmas stockings and wall decorations.  Take these two decorations with flat pixies.  One is a stocking and the other is just a wall decoration.  Both are kitschy to the extreme!



Giant Headed Pixies

I have some big headed pixies, but none are quite as impressive as these.  While there are a lot of pixie designs that you see many times over, these are a little bit more unique.  I don’t think it makes them much more valuable, but it does make them more interesting to me.



Mrs. Claus Knee Hugger

I see Santa knee huggers occasionally, but rarely do you find a Mrs. Claus.  Here she is in all of her glory!  Again, not terribly valuable, but just fascinating that she exists.


Winking Devil Knee Hugger

Not all Knee Huggers are for Christmas, and this guy eluded me for some time.  More, I didn’t want to pay eBay prices.  He is a more valuable pixie, and fairly coveted by knee hugger collectors.  This one is missing his collar, but he was $1 at the flea market.  I will upgrade him eventually, but I was just happy to find one in the wild.


Ridiculous Looking Hillbillies

For some reason there are a lot of hillbilly dolls that use pixie heads and/ or are knee huggers.  I could do an entire article on hillbilly knee huggers, I am not even kidding you.  These fellas are a bit more unusual since they have unique head sculpts.  They have a bit of a Mortimer Snerd vibe going for them.


Big Eye Knee Hugger

With the big eyed paintings and dolls of the 60’s also came some big eyed knee huggers.  While this one doesn’t have terribly sad huge eyes, the aesthetic is definitely there.  She has some literal flower power going on there.


Witch Candy Container Knee Hugger

This one, I think, is pretty special.  Halloween knee huggers tend to be a bit more desirable, and the Witch with the black body from my last article is pretty well known.  I had never seen one with a clear body until we found this one, though.  She has a zipper on the back, so I assume she is a candy container.




And finally, to bring it back to Christmas in my favorite pixies I have found in a long time I present to you…

The Three Wise Pixies

Yes, someone thought that these were the appropriate heads for the three wise men of the nativity.  Not only are they pixie heads, but they are the “Dopey” style heads often used on hillbilly knee huggers.  In a Kitschmas miracle I found these a few weeks ago, and I was way more excited than I should have been.  Now I have to wonder, though, if there is an entire pixie Nativity.  I can dream, can’t I?  These are in such poor taste!  Ultimate kitsch!


Are there even more ridiculous pixies out there for me to collect?  Absolutely.  Have a Merry Kitschmas from all of us at The Collector Gene!

Posted in 1950's, 1960's, Amy, Christmas, Dolls, Holiday, Humor, Toys, Weird | 1 Comment

Christmas Wishes – A Hand-tinted Vintage Santa & Me Photo


I started amassing vintage Santa & Me photos several years ago and this is one of my favorites.  Not only does the Santa look pretty good (albeit a tad young if you took those whiskers away) and the little girl is adorable. but it’s hand-tinted, which is quite unusual.  Most Santa & Me photos from the late 1940’s through the mid-1950’s, like this one, are black and white.  The one thing they all have in common is their charming innocence.  It was a time when Christmas decorations were simpler and a visit to see Santa was a highlight of the season.  Enjoy!

And may the upcoming holidays be filled with delightful memories of Christmas Past as well as delightful experiences of Christmas Present!

Posted in 1940's, 1950's, Americana, Carol, Christmas, Holiday | Leave a comment

Happy Halloween from Collectorgene!


We recently acquired this fabulous 8 x 10 photo at a local flea market.  A talented amateur photographer back in the 1940’s was able to combine a shot of a pretty girl with a shot of a typical five and dime pulpy paper mache jack o’lantern.  The result is an image designed to make one do a double take.  If only such a jack o’lantern in that size really existed!  (Alas, in reality, he is probably only about eight inches high.)

Posted in 1940's, Americana, Carol, Halloween, Holiday, Humor, Photography, Weird | Leave a comment

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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 | 2 Comments