Kenner’s Battle Brawlers: Awesome Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Monsters

As a collector of action figures, I understand that amassing a complete “set” of any one line usually requires amassing at least four or six action figures and at least a vehicle and maybe a playset. By collecting mostly obscure toy lines, I’m very fortunate in that most of the lines I like are rather small, and while they might be hard to find, it gives me less to collect. However, I’m pretty sure that Kenner’s Battle Brawlers has to be the set with the smallest number of things to collect. I’m writing about two figures that literally make up the entirety of the toy line.

(left to right) Crackarm, Hammertail...and that's it! The complete set of Battle Brawlers!

(left to right) Crackarm, Hammertail…and that’s it! The complete set of Battle Brawlers!

Battle Brawlers were released in 1986 at a great time for monster action figures. High fantasy lines like Masters of the Universe and Thundercats were still going strong. That same year, Hasbro introduced Inhumanoids, a toy line based almost entirely around the monsters rather than the heroes. In all of these lines, the monsters kept growing and growing in size, which was great for a generation of kids who didn’t grow up with things like The Great Garloo.

Though they were figures, Battle Brawlers were in a sense more like a modified, monsterfied game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Crackarm has arms that would try and punch his enemies from the sides, while Hammertail swings around his giant scorpion-like appendage to hit people on the top of their noggins. Conveniently, each character had buttons placed in their weak spots that corresponded to the other figure’s actions, so it was a matter of who could knock piece off of the other figure first.

Brawlers2 Brawlers5 Brawlers6

What I love about the line is the fact that you could really use these figures in just about any toy line and they work. They tower above most fantasy figures, so they can serve as foes for He-Man and Lion-O if needed. They are basically just awesome monster designs wearing armor, and they are both very, very evil-looking, like something Les Edwards would have designed for old Games Workshop games.

Brawlers7 Brawlers3

The series only included these two figures, so if you want to collect the line, the only work you have ahead of you is finding them, which is not impossible. I found Hammertail at a toy show and later found Crackarm at a flea market. A word to the wise, though: the name “Battle Brawlers” is used by Bakguan toys, so if you go searching for these online, you might have to wade through a bunch of stuff you don’t want. However, they are absolutely worth seeking out for any fantasy or monster toy collectors out there!

Posted in 1980's, Action Figures, Ben, Monsters, Toys | Leave a comment

Primal Rage Necrosan: A Terrifying 90s Figure that’s Terrifyingly Expensive!

Sometimes, something gets very valuable very quickly. You might assume that by checking completed listings on eBay and seeing a particular collectible sell for the same price consistently that it must be worth that, but if you haven’t been paying attention to the market for a while, you might not realize that it wasn’t nearly as valuable a year ago. What happened to cause such an escalation of price?

I’ve been asking that question – and formulated several reasonable answers – when it comes to the Primal Rage figure Necrosan.

Here's Necrosan in all its glory! This figure has gotten really, really expensive lately.

Here’s Necrosan in all its glory! This figure has gotten really, really expensive lately.

Primal Rage is an arcade game that was released by Midway in 1994. Midway was responsible for the hyper violent yet massively popular Mortal Kombat series of fighting games. To capitalize on both the popularity of fighting games as well as the popularity of dinosaurs thanks to Jurassic Park, Midway created yet another hyper violent fighter starring giant dinosaurs and apes pounding each other senseless with inordinate amounts of gore spouting out across the screen.

Primal Rage ad courtesy of

Primal Rage ad courtesy of

What should have been a recipe for inevitable success in 1994 was not as successful as many had hoped. While Primal Rage could be found at arcades across the country, it was competing against an ever-expanding roster of fighting games that were all competing for hard-earned quarters. A sequel was planned and initially developed, but Midway decided that it wouldn’t be lucrative enough to justify production.

Despite Primal Rage only receiving one arcade entry into the series, there’s actual quite a bit of Primal Rage merchandise available to collect. It was ported onto virtually every system that was available at the time. It also received a board game, a comic book, and, I wish I was kidding, a NOVEL. But of course, it also had a corresponding series of action figures, made by Playmates toys. They were big and chunky and meant to be thrown around the same way you would have thrown around LJN WWF Wrestlers in the 1980s. They all featured actions that helped recreate their special moves in the game.

Despite not receiving a second game, Playmates actually produced a second series of action figures. Some of these were repaints of first series figures, but there were two new characters who would have shown up in the second arcade game: Slash Fang (a sabretooth tiger) and Necrosan (a…uh…a skinned…dragon…thing?).  Had the second arcade game been made, Necrosan would have been the final boss, which is something the first arcade game was lacking.


Here's a look at the back of the package showing Necrosan, Slash Fang, and some of the other repainted Series 2 figures.

Here’s a look at the back of the package showing Necrosan, Slash Fang, and some of the other repainted Series 2 figures.

The toy series was scrapped after this second series of figures, and they were quickly discounted at Kay Bee Toys at rock bottom prices.

So why has this figure suddenly been selling at various points of the year for more than $500?

Yes, that is a real number. While most collectors of 1980s action figures scoff at the notion that anything made beyond 1989 is worth anything at all, there’s a figure from the latter part of the decade that collectors really, really want to have. To be fair, more recent sales put it closer to the $100 to $200 range for boxed, mint examples, but still, that’s much more than just about any other action figure from that particular era.

I have a couple of reasonable theories.

1.) It’s definitely a short-run figure, and I’m basing that on personal experience. I remember seeing piles of figures on clearance at Kay Bee, including the aforementioned Slash Fang. However, maybe I saw Necrosan in a store once if at all when it was a new toy. While scalpers of the day added to the rarity of certain infamous figures like the first Princess Leia, the truth is that they’ve all been very easy to obtain and aren’t worth much at all. Necrosan is one of the few domestically action figures of the 1990s that is legitimately rare.

2.) Primal Rage is picking up steam as a collectible. When I started collecting Primal Rage toys about six years ago, it was because I remembered them fondly, but it was also because they were so darned cheap, even on eBay! I could pick up large lots for $20 plus shipping without difficulty. It seems like people have come to appreciate the line (anything with dinosaurs seems to be collectible these days, if the prices on Dino Riders and Jurassic Park toys are to be believed), and so if they want a complete series of figures, then they have to track down Necrosan.

3.) He provides some of the only evidence that a second game was planned. Now, for years, Primal Rage 2 was sort of an urban legend and almost no information on the game could be found. However, my favorite arcade currently in operation, Galloping Ghost, installed a copy of Primal Rage 2, and now, you can see gameplay videos of the unreleased arcade game. Many unproduced games have found second lives through emulators, but while you can finally play Primal Rage 2 today, you couldn’t back in 1996 like what had been planned. The fact that Necrosan got released as a tie-in for a game that never got produced is pretty remarkable, as is the fact that…

4.) He is just plain crazy and horrifying. What parent would encourage their children to play with this thing? It absolutely looks like it came straight from Clive Barker’s nightmares. You have a dragon WITH ITS SKIN RIPPED OFF, revealing its innards, it’s musculature, and it’s skeletal structure. Yes, there’s a ton of merchandise today for Attack on Titan’s Colossal Titan, but all of it is meant for adult collectors, not children. I think it’s appealing to those who like monster figures, and that includes plenty of collectors out there.

A face only a collector could love...

A face only a collector could love…

Now, I think all of these reasons provide a more than plausible explanation as to why Necrosan has gotten to be such an expensive action figure lately. I think some combination of the four reasons is responsible for this, but I couldn’t tell you which ones carry the most weight for the people willing to spend that kind of money for it.

As for me, I bought it for $15 at a toy show last summer. I knew that was a fair price – I think maybe it was selling for $50 to $75 at the time – but I didn’t realize how much of a bargain it would be in the long run. It goes to show that the market is constantly in flux, so if you really want something for your collection and can comfortably afford it, it’s best to do so as soon as possible, because you don’t know when it’s going to become the next impossibly expensive thing that everyone else has to have!

Posted in 1990's, Action Figures, Ben, Halloween, Monsters, Toys, Weird | 3 Comments

2014 Road Trip Blog: Franklin Pierce Ballot & Herbert Hoover Decal

Very early in the trip, Jim struck political gold outside of Galena, Illinois.  The same dealer had a number of good political items, and Jim purchased two of them.  Jim was off and running.  Surely, this was a sign that he was going to find lots of things to add to his presidential campaign memorabilia collection.  Sadly, it was not a sign.  Indeed, aside from a couple of pinbacks, these were the only items he found.  Still, it isn’t every day that one finds something from the campaign of Franklin Pierce.

website-Franklin-Pierce-balFranklin Pierce was the Democratic candidate in 1852 running against Winfield Scott, the last Whig candidate.  Successfully elected, he has gone down in the history books as one of our worst presidents, usually joined at the bottom of the list with his successor James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding.  This paper ballot out of Virginia was typical of those used in the mid-nineteenth century.  Notice that the voter is choosing electors, not directly voting for the president. Technically, we still do that; we just don’t see the list of electors anymore. This marks only the second Franklin Pierce item in Jim’s collection, so he was quite pleased to find it.

website-Hoover-decalThis window decal from 1932 has great graphics and an ironic message.  Clearly, the elephant is oblivious to the angry donkey coming at him.  By 1932, the country was mired in the Great Depression with no relief in sight, and Herbert Hoover was receiving most of the blame.  Referencing the old adage, “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream,” this decal did little to stop the juggernaut that was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Americans wanted change, and they swept FDR into the White House by a landslide.

Posted in 1800's, 1930's, Americana, Carol, Jim, Political | Leave a comment

2014 Road Trip Blog: Vintage Photos

I scour flea markets and shops for many things, but I’m always drawn to vintage photos.  I look for unique images of all eras, but I particularly like photos that tell a story of some sort, photos of children with their toys, holiday photos, and amusement park/tourist attraction photos.  The main prerequisite is that they be cheap.  I rarely pay over $5 for a photo; I’m thrilled when I find snapshots for a quarter and fifty cents.

This trip did not yield as many photos as I wish it had, but I’m sure Jim would say that I found enough.  Here are some of my favorites.

website-cc-trip-photos-1These two snapshots were found in the same bowl and were priced at a quarter each.  I suspect they came from the same family and possibly the same trip.  I love the guy standing next to the giant ox/long horn steer.  We found several giant tourist attraction statues on this trip, particularly in North Dakota, so I could relate to this snapshot.  The second photo shows some sort of cheesy tourist trap.  I wonder what the shrunken body inside the building looked like?  Was it a real deal or some fake thing?  I also love the old Coca-Cola sign.

website-cc-trip-photos-2I like family snapshots if they tell a story.  Both of these fit the bill.  The top photo of the dad and his two sons is dated 1960 and appears to have been taken on Easter.  Everyone is very nattily dressed, especially Dad.  You have to wonder if he was ever seen in public again wearing that coat.  The second photo is a genre that I have several examples of – people holding birthday cakes.  I’m wondering why there are two cakes here.  It must have been a big party.  I like the look of pride on both the boy and the grandmother.

website-cc-trip-photos-3This little boy looks happy enough to be dressed in his sailor suit and Mary Jane shoes, but he sure wouldn’t survive a minute in today’s world.

website-cc-trip-photos-4This is a real photo postcard with no identification whatsoever.  It’s a beautiful family portrait from the early 1900’s.  You can’t help but wonder how life turned out for this family.  The little girl is so sweet and serious about posing nicely for the photographer.

website-cc-trip-photos-5This is a large sepia photo that measures 7 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches.  It was found in a shop in Helena, MT priced at $3.  It was taken by a photographer from North Columbia, California.  North Columbia was a gold rush town in the Sierra Nevadas.  This photo probably dates to the 1880’s.  The house looks sturdy and somewhat prosperous.  I suspect the three people in the center are a married couple and their young son.  I wonder if the young man on the left is their other son.  The other three gentlemen could be relations or workers who board with them.  Clearly, everyone is dressed in his/her finest clothes and there are several pocket watches and/or fobs on display.  If only photos could talk, what stories could they tell?

website-cc-trip-photos-6This wedding photo from Sumner, Iowa was found in a shop in Montana.  Having been to Iowa and knowing that Iowa was settled by immigrants from European countries like Norway and Czechoslovakia, I was intrigued by the bride’s elaborate wedding veil, clearly an indication of her ethnic origin.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what that is.  To me, the photo is a visual reminder of the many people who came to the United States looking for a better life, with marriage being the real starting point for a family.

website-cc-trip-photos-barbLast, but not least, here is the photo that I can most relate to.  I call it “The Barbie Girls.”  These young ladies are probably about two years younger than me because they are posing with their new bubble-cut Barbie dolls.  I never got to that point with my Barbie “collection.”  I had one and only one doll, and she was a ponytail version.  The bubble-cuts came out in 1961, so I believe this photo dates to about that time or possibly 1962.  Note that a couple of the girls even have shirts that match Barbie’s black and white striped bathing suit.  Also note that one poor girl who doesn’t even show in the photo is holding a fake Barbie!  My heart goes out to her.  This little snapshot was one of my favorite finds at the gigantic Gold Rush Days Flea Market in Oronoco, MN.

Posted in 1800's, 1900's, 1920's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, Carol, Photography | 2 Comments

Plundering Antique Shops From Ohio to Montana – and Back!


It’s been a while since we have posted anything on Collectorgene.  Please forgive this lapse.  Jim and I were on a four-week road trip that took us 6700 miles through nine different states.  Except for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Idaho, we antiqued in all of them.  In fact, we combed through shops in Ohio and Illinois both coming and going.  To be fair, most of our trip was spent taking in the sights of five different national parks, learning about history at several national monuments, visiting numerous museums, and even visiting relatives.  Still and all, out of 32 days on the road, we probably stopped in at least one antique shop or mall 20 days or more.  Many people marvel that we enjoy road tripping as much as we do.  We believe that being antique hunters adds an extra dimension to the trip that makes it even more fun.  And while we do come home with t-shirts and postcards and refrigerator magnets documenting where we’ve been, most of our souvenirs are of the vintage kind.  This trip was no exception.  The back of the minivan was loaded with bags.

Now that we’re back home and somewhat settled in, we hope to post several blogs that show at least a portion of the “stuff” that we found out west.

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Shoe Shine Boxes – Part II – More Shine Is Just Fine

Just over two years ago, I wrote my first article about shoe shine boxes, those humble survivors of life in urban America.

Since that time I have added a few more examples to my collection which I would like to share with our readers.  I am still somewhat picky about what enters my collection, and I also remain somewhat cheap as well.  These three examples ranged in price from $25.00 to $40.00 and I think are among the best ones I have found.

I particularly like the one with the shoe painted on the side complete with “shine” lines on the toe included to exemplify the quality of their work.  Who wouldn’t want shoes with shine lines emanating from them?

I also like the one that wants to almost shame you into getting a shine.  I think the phrase, “Your Shoes are Showing” is a take-off on, “Your Slip is Showing,” something husbands would have to tell their wives before leaving the house in the morning in the 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s.  “Hav Ya Shind Em,” however, is the icing on the cake with this one. The bad spelling only adds to its charm.   I purchased this in Florida from a dealer who told me that this box had recently come out of the ghetto of Flint, Michigan.  I have no reason to doubt him.

The last one is painted silver to give it a classy look to go with the classy shine you would have gotten.  This is the box of an upscale establishment.  Either that or they were just using up a can of radiator paint.

I still feel that shoe shine boxes are great Americana and remain underpriced.  They are great folk art for the budget minded.

After each purchase, I still get the same question:  “Are you starting a new business?”

For more examples of shoe shine boxes, please see my first article right here on The Collector Gene.

Posted in 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, Advertising, Americana, Hand Made, Historical, Jim, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fighting the War in Europe on the Homefront With Humor – Poking Fun at Hitler

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a somber yet triumphant anniversary to be sure. Thousands of American troops became casualties as they stormed the beaches of Normandy in a successful effort to wrest control of Europe from Hitler and the Nazis. Thankfully, less than a year later, the war in Europe was over and democracy prevailed.

However, for nearly five years prior to that moment, all Americans were caught up in World War II. Sacrifices were made not only by the men and women in uniform but by ordinary citizens back home. When confronted with stressful circumstances, many human beings rely on humor to get through. Here, then, are some of the more humorous/fun ways that Americans dealt with the war in general, the European conflict more specifically and Adolf Hitler especially.

The term, “Kilroy Was Here” and the accompanying cartoon/caricature of a bald-headed man with a big nose peering over a wall or fence is well known even today. It became very popular with WWII GI’s. Research turned up no definitive explanation of Kilroy’s origin, so I’ll leave it be. But how can anyone not like this wooden Kilroy gag on its original card?

We found this in an antique shop in California two years ago. Notice that it says, “Kilroy IS Here.” That seems appropriate for the GI’s landing on the continent of Europe on June 6, 1944. Also note where the woman on the left has positioned her Kilroy.

“Put the Yanks in Berlin” is a simple marble game produced by Modern Novelties of Cleveland, Ohio. Though not dated, it is clearly from war time because the inside lid of the box mentions the strategy being pursued to defeat Hitler and the Axis in Europe. Clearly, the colorful graphics both inside and outside the box are what make this game desirable.

It was easy to direct a lot of anger at Adolf Hitler, but that also led to a lot of novelty items that poked fun at him being produced.

We’ve owned the “Let’s Pull Together” button for about 40 years now. It’s a great mechanical pinback that shows Uncle Sam with his sleeves rolled up hanging Hitler from a tree. When you move the little lever on the left side of the button, Hitler goes up and down on his rope.

Last but not least is the “Hotzi Notzi.” This novelty pincushion shows Hitler bending over with a large padded posterior ready to take some pokes.

World War II was no laughing matter, but Americans found ways to inject humor into the serious business of war, and that has made collecting WWII homefront items a lot of fun.

Posted in 1940's, Americana, Carol, Historical, Humor, WWII | Leave a comment

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY – Enjoy These Vintage Photos

Just wanted to share a couple of motherly – or in these cases grandmotherly – images from my vintage photo collection in honor of Mother’s Day.

I spent my Mother’s Day doing what I enjoy most – antiquing with my family – and I turned up this circa 1880-90 photo at a Pennsylvania flea market earlier today.  This looks like an immigrant grandmother cuddling her young grandchildren.  Note the antique doll – and grandma’s warts!


This hand-tinted photo from the 1930’s shows a proud grandmother with her decidedly uncomfortable grandson.  The facial expressions and body language say it all.  Based on grandma’s spring coat and corsage, this most likely was taken on Easter, but it could have been taken on Mother’s Day as well.  Look carefully and you’ll see grandpop with coffee cup in hand, too.


Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.  Maybe next year I’ll show lovely young mothers with their beautiful babies, but ferreting out photos like these is much more fun.

Posted in 1800's, 1930's, Americana, Carol, Photography | Leave a comment

Telecoma Canned Food Fighters by Takara (Yet More Mealtime Combat)

I don’t know if Happy Meals are as big a deal as they were in the 1980s, when parents were blissfully unaware that all that fast food was putting their children at risk for obesity and type II diabetes. Honestly, though, I was never in it for the food. For me, Happy Meals were all about the toys, and I think I’ve established in my nearly two years writing for this site that I was (and still am) very obsessed with my toys.

It seems as though every Happy Meal toy is a promotional tool used to get children to beg their parents to see the latest computer animated theatrical release or buy them the latest Mattel ™ toys. However, it wasn’t always like this. McDonald’s use to come up with their own ideas all the time so that kids would be sold on their love for Ronald McDonald and his friends at an early age.

The best promotion by far had nothing to do with Ronald and the gang. Instead, it had to do with transforming things, which was an inevitable recipe for success for toys in the 1980s. McDonald’s released Changeables, a series of robots disguised as your favorite McDonald’s meals. Sure, like all Happy Meal toys, they weren’t QUITE as good as their expensive, branded counterparts, but for FREE toys, they were amazing. We hadn’t seen anything quite like them. A hot cakes box and a French fry container transforming into robots?

Courtesy of

Who would have thought that you could have food containers transforming into awesome robots?

The Japanese. That’s who.

Yes, if you grew up in Japan in the mid-1980s, you had us Americans beat by a couple of years when it came to the transforming food objects market. That’s because if you grew up in Japan, you might have owned Telecoma toys!

This amazing artwork let's you know about the eternal food war going on in Japanese supermarkets.

These toys, affectionately known by American collectors as “Canned Food Fighters,” take containers of popular branded foods and meals in Japan and turn them into an army of food fightin’ warriors! Unlike Food Fighters, which definitely took their inspiration from the American military, Telecoma figures were more akin to Kinnikuman or M.U.S.C.L.E., where a wide variety of characters settled their differences in a stadium for mealtime dominance!

What I love about the toys is that they actually use real food products on their labels. When McDonald’s made Changeables, they didn’t have to worry about licensing their own food. With Telecoma, this was more like Computer Warriors using a Pepsi can in their toy line or Monster in my Pocket featuring Tony the Tiger, except on a much grander scale. The Pepsi can is certainly the most recognizable design for us Americans.

While most of what I write about it something that I know quite a bit about and feel the need to get the info out on the Internet, I can’t say that I know a whole lot about Telecoma other than they exist. My collection is rather small, and all of it has come courtesy of a series of Japanese online auctions. I learned about the line through the Little Rubber Guys message board and decided I would see what was out there.

These characters all resemble cans...

...and these are more bowl-based characters.

Two of the sets that I have fall into the “keshi” or little rubber guy category. I’m guessing one boxed set is one faction and the other contains the guys they fight with or something. They are packaged very similarly to most kinkeshi lines of the era. I don’t know if these two boxed sets represent a complete set of figures or not, but it must put me pretty darned close.

The third boxed set I own is a deluxe set of sorts. In addition to containing a handful of the kinkeshi figures, it also contains two of the transforming figures that are very similar to the way McDonald’s constructed its Changeables line.

These figures came in the above boxed set.

There is a whole line of these figures numbering almost as many as the keshi line, and I have seen a transforming shopping cart vehicle, which as you can imagine is amazing. This deluxe set comes with a wrestling ring, which is not quite as amazing as a transforming shopping cart.

Now, some of you might say, “Wait a second, Ben, I’m pretty sure I had these figures as a kid, and I never lived in Japan!” And you know what? You’re absolutely right.

Though I own one of these, this image comes from!

This is a card that would have been placed in a grocery store vending machine. As you can plainly see, the designs of these characters come right from Telecoma. Several collectors have documented finding these figures in a wide variety of colors, and a few of them have found examples with the stickers still attached, which feature more recognizable American food brands on them. Sadly, I have not stumbled upon any examples of Telecoma knock-offs at any flea markets in the couple of years that I’ve been on the lookout for them, but they are definitely out there.

While Telecoma has a much richer universe than the McDonald’s Changeables, it’s funny to see how East and West developed what is essentially the same idea. Throw in Food Fighters to the mix, and there’s no question that kids will never get tired of playing with their food.


Posted in 1980's, Action Figures, Advertising, Ben, Food, Humor, Kitchen, Toys | 1 Comment

Miniature Slant Front Desk – Salesman Sample or Something Else?


“Antique” is a word that is frequently abused, especially in the past twenty or thirty years. It is often paired with the word “collectibles” and its true meaning frequently overlooked. For something to be truly “antique”, it is supposed to be at least one hundred years old. I would venture to guess that in many antique shops today less than five percent of the merchandise comes anywhere close to that – and that’s being generous.

Finding a true antique, especially something that is rare, unique and – best of all – affordable is, therefore, always a thrill. A case in point is the subject of this article – our miniature slant top desk. Measuring just twelve inches wide by twelve inches tall and about six and one half inches deep, this little guy was entirely hand made by someone with a copious amount of patience and skill. The hours spent making it would have been considerable.

Carol and I found our little treasure in a Pennsylvania antique shop about two and a half years ago. The shop was housed in an old mill filled with very little else but genuine good quality antique furniture. I found the little desk upstairs lying on top of a table. It was in overall good condition but was missing a couple of feet and one of the brass drawer knobs. The dealer, who obviously knew a thing or two about furniture, estimated the little desk to be circa 1860 to 1880. No argument there; I thought about 1870. Carol quickly informed me that this was going to be my birthday present in a couple of months, so it soon disappeared from sight. A great present to be sure but not exactly a surprise.

Amy was able to make two new feet for it using wood from an old picture frame, and it was finished by the time my birthday rolled around. After searching for about a year and a half, I eventually found a replacement brass knob at a flea market. Now our little desk is complete once again.

So why exactly was it made? There is no way of knowing for sure. Most miniature pieces of nineteenth century furniture are assumed to be either salesman’s samples or apprentice pieces made by someone learning the furniture trade. It is certainly possible that it is one or both of those. If it is indeed from that 1860 to 1880 period, I suspect it was displayed in a cabinet maker’s shop in a large city such as New York or Philadelphia and used to show all the latest features available to the prospective customer. All the drawers and doors work and there is some indication of the maker on the bottom of the lower drawers – unfortunately not enough to determine exactly who it is.

Our little desk created quite a sensation when we showed it to some fellow antique collectors recently. It’s not the sort of thing you see very often or ever have the chance to purchase. We’re just glad we were in the right place at the right time.

Shortly after this piece was made, factory-produced furniture at affordable prices would become available to the average American, and local furniture makers would die out. I think this little piece represents the end of their era.

Whatever its origins, it embodies the skill and craftsmanship of a bygone time, and it’s awfully cute, too!

Posted in 1800's, Americana, Hand Made, Jim, Miniatures | Leave a comment