Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Peace Was the Way

QUESTION: One of the craziest things I’ve ever done was go to the rock concert at Woodstock back in the summer of 1969. I’ll never forget that experience. Unlike many of the people that just showed up, I actually bought a three-day ticket. Back then, I really didn’t think about keeping anything from the event, but as as I got older, I looked back with fond memories and wish I had. That said, I’d like to collect some memorabilia from Woodstock but have no idea where to start or what to look for. Can you help me?

ANSWER: Younger people don’t often think far enough ahead to consider the future. And the majority of folks who attended that wild event at the dairy farm in upstate New York certainly didn’t. Before I discuss how to begin a Woodstock collection, it’s important to take a look at how it all started. After all, it’s been 49 years since it took place.

This rock concert began as an idea hatched late one night in an apartment in New York City in 1963. Artie Cornfield, then 24, president of Capital Records, sat around his apartment with his wife and their friend Michael Lang, a rock band manager and concert promoter, talking about how much fun it would be to have a big party where they could hear all their favorite bands. Later, after pairing with two backers, they decided to raise funds for a recording studio in Woodstock, New York, by holding a concert. And thus, Woodstock was born.

The promoters had a difficult time convincing the locals and the town denied permission for the concert. Dairy farmer Max Yasgur offered his 600-acre farm even though it was 12 miles from Woodstock. Up against a wall and determined to go forward, the promoters jumped at it.

As one of the most acclaimed events of the turbulent 1960s, Woodstock became a symbol of an era, and today represents more than just an event where the biggest rock bands came together to perform over three days for half a million people. In fact, it represented the first time that a generation came together to show that when a large group of people do get together, they can do so peacefully.

What started out to be a concert for 50,000 turned into a festival bombarded by half a million people in August 1969, and what happened there during the three-day weekend became legendary. For the baby boomer generation it represents their youth.

One person who attended the concert was smart enough to put away at huge batch of unused tickets in a safe sold them through an ad in Rolling Stone Magazine in 1992. Those tickets were not used because once the fence came down and the numbers of concert-goers overwhelmed the gates, tickets were no longer heeded. The couple that purchased them, Terry and Michael McBride, literally started the ball rolling on Woodstock memorabilia. They created a Web site in 1995 from which they began to sell memorabilia from the event, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The items from the concert have lasted and people like the McBride’s, who both attended it, have preserved its memory for hundreds of collectors. As baby boomers grew older and had more disposable income, they became the establishment of their generation.

As expected those unused tickets are the most common item for sale. The advanced sale three-day tickets are rare. These tickets, in mint condition, sell for $175 unframed by Maness. On-site three-day tickets sold at the gate now go for $125 unframed. Fewer of these tickets were printed, according to Maness. than the single-day tickets, which sell for $25. Maness and her husband had these tickets authenticated prior to their purchase by the Woodstock ticket manager for the Globe Ticket Company, who printed those tickets in 1969.

However, there are some pieces of ephemera that are more valuable because of their rarity. A brochure for the concert came with an order form for the tickets. Today these brochures sell for up to $200 at online auctions.

Magazines and newspaper articles from 1969 are also a hot item for collectors. Life magazine put out a Special Edition in September 1969. A copy of this magazine on the Woodstock festival, which contains the immediate history of the event less than a month after its occurrence. It also contains the best collection of color photographs of any book chronicling Woodstock.

Today more copies of this item have surfaced as people clean out their attics and closets. Online auction sites have copies in fair condition for around $50.

Another popular item among collectors is the actual program from the concert. Some folks took them home by the box load, and now they sell for $500 to $600, depending on their condition. Reprints have been made of this program with an insert indicating that it’s a reprint. It’s easy to tear out the "reprint" advisory so determining authenticity becomes nearly impossible since they’re printed on the exact same type of paper as the original.

Posters are also popular as well as costly. Original posters in mint condition go for $1.200, who offers a word of warning. There are a lot of knock-offs. Collectors need a high profile magnifier to tell the difference.

As with any collectibles, especially from such a momentous event, memorabilia can pop up just about anywhere—at garage and yard sales, flea markets, swap meets, even in antique stores. Though there are a lot of pieces appearing now that people who may have attended it are getting older and downsizing, an awful lot just got tossed in the mounds of trash left at the end of that weekend.

Collectors believe the value of items from the Woodstock concert will only increase over time. It allowed a generation to speak out and show the establishment back then that they could have a good time without violence. It gave hope to a lot of people.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "Early Americana," online now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Sweets for the Sweet

QUESTION: My aunt collected small glass candy containers. Because I always admired them, she gave them to me when she moved to a retirement community. I really don’t know anything about them. What can you tell me about these containers? Are they still being made?

ANSWER: That was nice of your aunt to think of you. Because of your interest, she probably felt that you might not only care for her collection, but add to it.

Several manufacturers, mostly located around Jeannette, Pennsylvania, produced glass toy candy containers in America for 90 years. Although many of them originally sold for about a dime, they now range in price from $5 to $5,000. There are nearly 600 different containers known to exist. About 14 companies distributed them in America.

The use of glass candy containers began in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 where confectioner Wilbur Croft and Company produced candies in Machinery Hall. Croft sold his candy in clear glass containers shaped like the Liberty Bell. With a pewter screw-on closure and a paper label on the bottom, collectors consider this bell to be the first American glass toy candy container, currently valued around $200.

One of the primary makers of glass candy containers was Westmoreland Specialty Company,  operated by brothers George and Charles West in Grapeville, Pennsylvania. They built their factory in 1889 and produced nearly 100 different candy containers through 1932, each made by hand in single molds, with some being hand-painted. The factory also made tin closures and other parts needed to produce complete containers.

Though candy containers started as souvenirs with simple designs, they evolved into great glass toys filled with candy. One of Westmoreland's early souvenirs, dated 1896, featured a painted milk glass Uncle Sam hat that doubled as a bank. It had paper portraits of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt glued onto a slotted metal closure, and now brings about $125.

In 1913, as designs became more intricate, Westmoreland produced several glass candy container lamps that held a candle and a lithographed paper and cardboard shade. There were Christmas, Easter and Valentine lamps as well as three novelty lamps featuring a tree trunk base with an embossed rabbit, hatchet or cherries.

By producing candy containers such as Charlie Chaplin, the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, Jackie Coogan, the Carpet Sweeper and the Phonograph, Westmoreland took advantage of popular people or new inventions to increase sales of the glass toys.

Manufacturers produced most candy containers of clear glass so the colorful candy could be seen, but Westmoreland used some colored glass in 1927 to attract buyers. It made the Spirit of St. Louis in clear, amber, pink, green and blue, and its Pointed Nose Racer, which now sells for about $2,500, in several colors, also.

One of the most valuable Westmoreland containers is a functional tin kaleidoscope featuring a turning glass tube filled with candy, estimated to be worth $5,000 or more. Another unusual container is a 31-inch-long whip made of cloth-covered wire with a candy-filled glass handle.

Westmoreland also made some glass containers and tin parts for Turney H. Stough of Jeannette, another major player in the candy container industry.

Stough produced more than 100 different glass containers, which is more than any other company. Candy containers comprised more than 95 percent of  Stough's business. He hired outside firms to produce everything he needed while his company did the assembly, packaging and distribution.

Like Stough, George Borgfeldt & Co., a New York City toy wholesaler, hired Westmoreland and other companies to produce)le its candy containers. Some of Borgfeldt's most sought-after containers are pieces of Flossie Fisher's furniture, dating from around 1916. Based on a cartoon in Ladies' Home Journal, the yellow tin bed, table, chairs and other items featured black silhouettes of animals and children. The bed alone sells for over $2,500. From 1913 to 1916,  L.E. Smith of Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, produced only about 20 to 30 different candy containers, including a bureau, a mantel clock, a flat iron and a figural container of Charlie Chaplin, all hard to find today.

A former Westmoreland employee founded the Victory Glass Company, also of Jeannette, which produced nearly 100 different containers from 1919 to 1955. Not having an in-house tin shop like Westmoreland, Victory relied on intricate glass designs, like the Swan Boat and the Amos and Andy Taxi, to make its candy containers attractive and appealing.Two of Victory's hard to find containers are the Refrigerator with short legs, which sells for about $4,000, and Dolly's Bathtub, which sells for about $3,000.

In 1940 J.H. Millstein, a worker at Victory Glass, developed fully automatic machines to speed up production and lower costs. Millstein opened his factory in 1943 with machines that could handle 12 molds at a time. Though he only made 13 different containers from 1943 to 1956, he produced and sold millions of them.

Unfortunately, World War II brought rising production costs to the industry. Candy containers became basic again as companies cut costs with simpler designs, less hand-painting and fewer intricate metal parts switching from tin closures to paper or card-board. By 1956 only two companies were still making candy containers. Though Millstein and Stough produced some plastic containers around 1967, high production costs and declining sales closed the remaining factories making glass candy containers.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "EArly Americana," online now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Like a Bowlful of Jelly

QUESTION: Recently, I’ve begun to collect jelly molds. The ones I’m finding are mostly newer, but I’d like to perhaps add some older ones to my collection. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about these molds, except that many were not made to mold jelly as many people know it today. What can you tell me about the old jelly molds? Why did they come to be?

ANSWER: If you say jelly, most people think of fruit jellies in jars. While some people still make their own, the majority of people buy theirs at their local supermarket. Brands like Smuckers and Welch’s have become synonymous with jelly. But early jelly molds contained mostly other types of foods.

White earthenware jelly molds, particularly those produced in England around the turn of the 20tº century, are some of the most widely collected of all food molds. Although jelly molds have been produced in a variety of materials, including copper, tin, redware, yellowware, graniteware, cast iron, aluminum and plastic, over the last several hundred years, it’s the white earthenware ones that collectors favor. Cooks used these molds to form aspics, sweet jellies, mousses, and steamed puddings.

Historians believe the use of jellies began in medieval England, when people prepared the earliest of puddings, called blancmange, literally "white food,” from boiled milk and ground almonds, sometimes flavored with fish or poultry. Flummery, an oatmeal believed to have been the first food actually set in wooden molds, appeared during the late 17`º or early 18'"century.

Cooks prepared the earliest jellies---technically, aspics, being savory rather than sweet --with gelatin they obtained from cows' feet and sheep's heads, which they flavored with meat extracts. They used shavings from deer antlers to make hartshorn jelly. They employed Isinglass — a natural substance obtained from the air bladders of certain fish, and containing about 90 percent gelatin—to help improve the setting qualities of jellied foods. When cooks created the first aspics in the 18th century, the scope and use of molds broadened considerably.

By the 18th century, sugar had become widely available, and sweet jellies became popular. Cooks used wines, fruit juices and nuts used as flavorings, and colored their jellies with boiled down plants and other natural sources, including insects. The most common colors were lemon yellow, orange, ,and violet. People used individual bowls  or glasses until about the mid-1700s, when molds became larger.

One of the main suppliers of earthenware jelly molds was Wedgwood. Although best known for decorative pieces, Wedgwood produced many jelly molds. The company’s two-part "core molds" from the 18th century were well suited to translucent jellies. These molds remained in place once a cook unmolded the jelly. The hand-painted enameled designs on the inner core were visible through, and magnified by, the jelly, making for a handsome display. Wedgwood intended these jellied creations only as table decorations, not for consumption. Other Wedgwood molds featured classical and Egyptian themes, animal and birds, Prince of Wales' feathers, and the emblems of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The firm designed molds with eagle and corn-on-the-cob motifs for the American market.

In the 19th century, middle-class housewives began to use jelly molds. Molds came in a wide variety of shapes, including geometric forms, with their designs of swirls, tiers, and/or spirals, and . "architectural" styles. Architectural molds incorporated 18th and 19th century neo-classical building elements such as grooved columns, acanthus leaves, pieces of egg-and-dart molding, and rounded ornamental knobs. Various fruit, flowers, wheat, corn and animal patterns were also abundant. Cooks used many molds from this period for all kinds of food, from rice to ice cream to pudding. They used some pudding molds to steam or bake in while they used others for chilling and setting pudding that they had cooked in a saucepan. Generally, pudding molds intended for baking or steaming had a tube or spout in the center, much like an angel food cake pan, to allow for more even cooking.

Minton produced pyramid jelly molds as early as 1824. Historians believe these molds to have been two-part core molds similar to those produced by Wedgwood. Minton's 1884 catalog illustrates 63 different molds, featuring recumbent lions, crowns, wheat sheaves, shells, grapes, pineapples, other fruits, fishes, and florals. They also made  architectural molds. Minton molds often have a foot rim, a bluish tinge and no mark.

Another notable manufacturer was W.T. Copeland, a company that produced a prolific number of molds well in the 20th century, including architecturally inspired designs,  various fruits, chickens, bears, dolphins, and conch shells.

By the late 1880s, when advances in printing made colored cookbook illustrations possible, aspiring hostesses could prepare luscious-looking molded dishes. Using exotic molds such as those in Copeland's catalog, cooks used differently colored gelatins, as well as bits of food placed in the mold to create an attractively patterned surface when they turned out the jelly.

The Victorian era was the heyday of the jelly mold. When World War I began, may firms went out of business. Instant gelatin desserts, such as "JELL-O", took much of the work out of making molded desserts and the status as well.

NOTE: The title of this blog comes from the poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, published in 1823. Most people probably never would connect a “bowlful” of jelly with jelly molds, but prior to the poem’s creation, many people used bowls to molded their jellies.
To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "EArly Americana," online now.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Good Night, Sleep Tight

QUESTION: My mother was an avid tea drinker, so she began to collect teapots. While she had some nice ones in her collection, she didn’t focus on value as much as she did on what she liked. She passed away last year, and I inherited her teapot collection. I, too, love to drink tea. I think I’d like to enhance her collection, now mine, by focusing on unique or unusual teapots, culling out the ordinary and focusing on the extraordinary. Recently, I bought an unusual teapot at a flea market. The dealer said that it was a “nightlight” teapot. I had never heard of such a thing, but she said she really didn’t know much about it. What exactly is a nightlight teapot and how does it differ from an ordinary one?

ANSWER: First, let me congratulate you on planning to enhance your mother’s teapot collection and take it as your own. Too many people who inherit someone else’s collection either sell it off or stash it away. They become the caretaker of the collection, not the curator.

I, too, never heard of a nightlight teapot until recently. Basically, it’s a bedside porcelain teapot that sits on a warming stand. The light from an oiled wick or tiny candle not only kept the tea warm but also served as a nightlight since the light from the flame flickered through the vents and through the porcelain, itself.

During the 18th century, like now, people often enjoyed sipping warm cups of tea just before retiring for the night. So bedside porcelain teapots became wedding gifts. In the days before electrical lighting, they served a dual purpose. They not only allowed people to take some sips of warm tea at bedtime but also emitted a soft diffused glow. People referred to these teapots as veilleuse-theieres.

The earliest veilleuses, used as food warmers for porridge, soup, or an invalid's drink in sick rooms or hospitals, had a bowl instead of a teapot on a stand. Later, the teapot replaced the bowl and veilleuse-theirres came into use. The French used them as a way of brewing and serving tisane, an floral or herb tea, to restless babies during the night. Not only did they offer a warm liquid for a restless infant or sick person, but also  afforded a night light in the sick room long before electricity. Most were translucent, making them useful as well as ornamental.

People filled a small boat-shaped or rounded vessel known as a "godet" with nut or vegetable oil, then floated a wick on top. Not only was the porcelain translucent, it also had been tempered to withstand heat for a long period.

By 1830, veilleuses made for the wealthy began to be more ornate and decorative, with some in the form of figurines or personages and others with insignia or crests.

Between nine and twelve inches tall, some of them looked exactly like what they were—teapots seated on warriors, fine ladies poised with fans, and monks clutching wine bottles. Others had smooth facades decorated with historical and literary scenes.

Although made for 100 years, between 1750 and 1860, information about veilleuses is hard to find. Most references simply document where someone purchased them, not their place of manufacture. Most of the factories that produced them didn’t place identifying marks on the bottom, making them extremely hard to identify.

Veilleuse-théières reveal ingenuity, attention to detail, and their creators’ sense of humor. Noses of the grotesques serve as spouts, as do the upraised hands of some figurine-styled pieces. One teapot made to look like a cottage had a cat perched on the roof that served as its handle.

Because of their fragile nature and their continual use, few veilleuse-theieres have survived.

Veilleuse-theieres sometimes mimic their origins. A delicate, skylark green, fluted teapot and pedestal veilleuse, translucent as an oriental lantern, hails from Hong Kong. A brown slated “roof” teapot tops a veilleuse-theieres that, down to its French advertisements, resembles a Parisian kiosk. A white and gold laced Gothic style veilleuse-theiere recalls windows of the great French cathedrals. Other architectural veilleuse-theieres include a towering turret, a quadrangular Normandy house, and a Spanish windmill.

Veilleuses also came in the shapes of all sorts of animals. A gold encrusted Spanish pig grotesque, its snout poised to pour, displays a scroll depicting scenes of Hades. A Siamese elephant, dashing in candy striped pants and blue waistcoat, pours from his nose. A tasseled Tunisian camel rests en route, while his mistress peeks out from her curtained howdah.

Many veilleuse-theieres are figural, bearing no outward resemblance to teapots at all. Some are pure whimsey. A rosy cheeked cupid, draped in blue splendor and cradling a golden pitcher, for example, sat astride a long-haired goat. A maiden straddled a fearsome, multi-colored dolphin.

Other figurals, however, appeared more realistic. A Turkish turbaned warrior twisted his mustache while fingering twin daggers in his cummerbund. An inscrutable, mustachioed Chinese Mandarin proffered a china tea cup on high. A courtesan, enticing in gilded and ruffled petticoats, fluttered her fan. All of these, at first glance, are simply exquisite porcelain creations. Yet somewhere underneath their cunning and fanciful features, lay utilitarian teapots combined with night lights.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "EArly Americana," online now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Happy 10th Anniversary

QUESTION: I’ve been working on my family’s genealogy and was going through some boxes of documents and such that have been passed down for several generations. In one of them I discovered some invitations and some small tinware items, plus an article from the social page of our local newspaper, dated June 30, 1908, which says, “ Ten years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Cameron celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary on June 24 with general jollification, and the musical tintinnabulation of a tin wedding. The couple sent out invitations, and at 3 P.M.on the 24th, about 70 well-pleased guests gathered at their home. The couple, decorated in artistically designed tin ornaments that caught and reflected the rays of the setting sun, greeted their guests, shared with them a bountiful meal, then unwrapped a myriad of tin gifts." I’ve never heard of a tin wedding anniversary. Was this something that people celebrated back then? And what about the tinware gifts? Are they collectible today?

ANSWER: During the 19th century, tenth wedding anniversary parties were all the rage among wealthy and middle class couples. The gift for this anniversary was tin which enabled guests to give some imaginative gifts.

Tinware is any item made of prefabricated tinplate. Usually, it refered to kitchenware made of tinplate, often crafted by tinsmiths. It’s strong, easily shaped, and corrosive resistant. Though tinplate originated in Bohemia during the Middle Ages, it didn’t becomean industry until the rolling mill was invented in 1728.  By 1890, England dominated the market for tinware.

Tinware production in the United States began when a Scottish immigrant named Edward Pattison settled in Berlin, Hartford Country, Connecticut. His tinware goods became extremely popular due to their ease of use and cleaning. To help fulfill tinware orders, he took on apprentices, which later helped to make Berlin, Connecticut, the center of tinware manufacturing in the American Colonies.

Traveling salesmen called Yankee Peddlers usually sold tinware. These Yankee Peddlers were both employees of tinware shops or independent. Often, they traded tinware for “Truck”, or bartered items, which tin shopkeepers then sold in their stores.

Coffeepots and spice boxes were once the traditional gifts at a tenth wedding anniversary celebration. Utilitarian tin vessels, custom-made by the village tinsmith, blended in with tinware crafted for everyday kitchen use. Couples also received tin miniatures and whimsies.

Sometimes, couples sent out tin-edged invitations. Guests who couldn’t attend the festivities sent tin cards of regret. Those who planned to attend the party visited their local tinsmith to commission a gift reflecting the couple’s individual personalities and their interests.

A miniature tin hoe, rake and spade with turned wood handles would have delighted a housewife/gardener. Friends saw to it that she was also well supplied with tin adornments for her person, including tin curls, tin cuffs, a tin crown, and a very feminine brooch-and-earrings set. The husband, on the other hand, may have received a tin photograph album and stereopticon, as well as a tin pipe and an oversized pocket watch.

Tin, being a particularly malleable metal, lent itself to a seemingly limitless variety of forms. Flowing shapes, like ribbons, or delicately curved flower petals were easily achieved, as were wire-mesh, linked-chain, intricate filigree and stamped, textured surfaces. Tinsmiths polished most pieces to a bright shine, but also painted others or coated them with black asphaltum.

Tinsmiths who worked daily making and repairing skimmers and cake tins welcomed the chance to try their hand at any number of amusing objects. At times they even signed and dated their works of art. While they often crafted top hats and bonnets in the same size as their real-life counterparts, they produced other tin pieces either larger than life or smaller. A person who used a lot of salt on their food may have received a two-foot-tall salt shaker or one whos didn’t cook very much may have received a tiny tin step stove with a miniature kettle and pot.

A banker may have received a folded tin wallet marked "legal tinder,” filled with oversized tin "dollars.”. And someone who loved to play bridge may have received a full deck of boxed tin playing cards featuring photographs of the luminaries of the day.

Tradition for tenth wedding anniversary parties dictated that the original wedding party, family and intimate friends be invited, although friends sometimes converged on the couple with a surprise shower of tinware. American newspapers from the mid-1800s to 1910 .documented tin "showers" as a popular social event.

Women's magazines of the day had many suggestions for planning such parties, including the arrangement of flowers for the table in a tin bucket flanked by tin candlesticks. Food might be served from tin plates lined with paper doilies, and dessert passed in individual tin patty pans. Tin cups were used for punch or coffee. And the bride herself might carry a wedding bouquet fittingly arranged in a petite tin funnel.

Though mention of tin wedding anniversary celebrations can be found as late as 1923, they had all but died out by 1910.

In the years following tin anniversary parties of the 19th century, the gifts often would end up scattered among the celebrants' families, lost, or recycled in war scrap-metal drives. Most families didn’t have the luxury of space to save their tenth anniversary tinware gifts.

Prices for tenth anniversary tinware today range from $25 for a punched napkin holder to $200 for a tin coffeepot and more than $1,000 for a tin bonnet. But finding any tinware wedding gift items can be a challenge.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "EArly Americana," online now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hurray for Liberty Bonds

QUESTION: I grew up with Liberty Bonds. Back then, we called them just savings bonds. I received one for each of my younger birthdays and paid for some of my college education with them. They were a favorite gift to kids at birthdays and other major events. Recently, I saw a collection of items related to Liberty Bonds at a local antiques show. I never realized that there were so many things associated with savings bonds. Do these things have any value? And what sort of items can I collect?

ANSWER: Your experience with savings bonds is a common one. Although people rarely discuss them, there are probably thousands sitting in safe deposit boxes right now. In fact, these bonds have been around for over 100 years. A Liberty bond was a war bond that the U.S. Government sold to support the allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time.

These bonds were a direct and unconditional promise of the U.S. Government to pay upon a certain date a specified sum of money in gold, together with interest at a specific rate, payable at specific dates until the bond matured Only by holding a bond to maturity could people collect the amount they paid plus interest.

“The Great War,” as World War I was known at the time, was an emotional issue. Not everyone was for it. The federal government knew that to wage a massive offensive against the Germans would cost a great deal of money. One third of the cost came from the revival of the personal income tax and an excess profits tax for businesses. The balance was to be raised by the sale of treasury bonds. The government would be asking people to dig deep into their pockets and purchase billions of dollars worth of Liberty Savings Bonds, as they came to be called.

But to get all Americans to buy these bonds took a Herculian advertising and promotional campaign which began in May of 1917. The various Federal Reserve Banks formed committees, on a state-by-state basis, which in turn organized vast numbers of volunteers. Entertainers, politicians, clergymen and persons from all walks of life took part in selling Liberty Bonds.

People couldn’t avoid the bond salesmen. They stood on street corners. The Boy and Girl Scouts went Volunteers sold bonds in every movie house, theater and concert hall, and during lunch breaks at thousands of factories. They came to be called "four-minute men" because of the length of time they spoke, appealed, pleaded and lectured on the necessity of buying bonds. From the war front came wounded heroes, especially fliers, to tour the nation and to attend mass public rallies. Banks even offered to lend money for bond purchases. Celebrities conducted frequent public rallies, usually in theaters. Movie stars came out solidly to lead many of them.

It all began on April 25, 1917 when Congress approved the Liberty Loan Act which gave authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to issue $2 billion of 31/2-percent convertible bonds for sale by public subscription. Interest rates were raised to 4 1/4 and 4½  percent in later offerings. In all there were five subscription drives, the first four being numbered consecutively.

The First Liberty Bond Drive commenced May 14, 1917, the day the United States declared war on Germany. Others followed in October of that year, and in April and October 1918. A Victory Liberty Loan subscription bond drive, the funds of which went to aid our exhausted Allies, took place in April 1919 and it, too, was a success. People could purchase bonds in denominations from $50 to $100,000. The five drives of from 1917to 1919 resulted in 22 million bonds sold.

The sale of all these bonds also produced a lot of memorabilia, mostly ephemera. Collectors became interested in the late 1970s.

Posters were the first items to become popular, followed by pinback buttons and postcards. Soon all ephemera, including handbills, magazine covers and advertisements, postal slogan cancels and promotional literature was being collected.

A federal agency headed by Charles Dana Gibson organized the nation's illustrators and painters to churn out patriotic posters, including many for the Liberty Bonds program. James Montgomery Flagg,  J.C. Leyendecker and Haskell Coffin were just a few of the hundreds lending their talents and donating their time.

War Savings Stamps booklets, used to hold 10, 25, or 50-cent stamps, that when filled were turned in for a bond, delight many collectors as do the various booklets the government furnished to its army of volunteer salesmen and speakers.

The U.S Postal Service issued postcards to dramatize the appeal. Various artists contributed their skills toward creating many fascinating poster art cards. A special effort was a seven-card sepia set that was used to bombard the mailboxes of most every American. Each card began "Liberty Bonds Guarantee.. "with a different listing of objectives, such as "Liberty Bonds Guarantee Unlimited Aeroplanes. ..our Flyers must control the air." This card showed a dozen military biplanes in flight.

The U.S. Army printed another sepia set, taken from photographs in the field, which they gave to doughboys to mail back home. Inscribed "U.S. Army Post Card" on the address side, the pictorials pictured the various implements of war that Liberty Bonds were buying, such as howitzers, tanks and food. Captions emphasized the need to buy bonds: "Liberty Bonds will keep these howitzers thundering at the Huns," etc.

Volunteers handed out small pictorial stickers to bond subscribers who proudly displayed them on their front door or living-room windows. Buying a bond also earned purchasers a special pinback button to wear. Several different varieties issued; some for specific drives, others for general use. Different companies manufactured theirs for the government, including Animated Toy Company of  New York, American Art Works  of Coshocton, Ohio, Ehrman Manufacturing Company of Boston, and Manee Company of Malden, Massachusetts.

Volunteers also distributed small poster stamps so people could paste or glue them on to stationery, envelopes and postcards. These usually had patriotic motifs, especially flags, shields and the American eagle. There were also 10-cent savings stamps that could be purchased and glued into booklets.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my Web site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about Colonial America in the Spring 2018 Edition, "EArly Americana," online now.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What's the Scoop?

QUESTION: I’ve loved ice cream ever since I was a kid. And today, I even make my own. I’ve been around for a while, so I’ve seen a variety of items related to ice cream changeover the years. I’d like to begin a collection of ice cream collectibles but have no idea what all there is out there besides ice cream makers and ice cream scoops. What sort of items related to ice cream would be good to collect?

ANSWER: Surprisingly, there are lots of items that would make a good ice cream memorabilia collection. But first, let’s take look at ice cream in the past.

Believe it or not, George Washington loved ice cream, too. He purchased a pewter “cream machine for ice in1784. Newspapers at the time occasionally advertised commercially made ice cream, but most people prepared it at home.

The first hand-cranked ice cream machine received a patent in May, 1848. Butby the end of the Civil War, ice cream makers could be found in most homes. These became popular with the extensive development and manufacture of ice boxes. This made it easier for Victorians to obtain and store ice to freeze the milk, eggs, fresh cream and eggs needed to make ice cream. Back then, it took lots of cranking, but the results were worth it.

By the 1880s and 1890s the ice cream freezer was a significant item in leading department stores and in catalogs. In 1884 one catalog featured selections from the American Machine Company which produced both single action and double action crank freezers, but also offered models which claimed to take less effort.

By the late 19th century, those making homemade ice cream also bought ice cream dipping spoons. They could purchase a variety of dipping spoons, including round ended spoons, pointed ended spoons, and square ended spoons—all 12 to 18 inches long.

Still another popular feature of the making delightful ice cream at home were the amazing array of molds. The ice cream could be pushed and shaped into all matter of images from cupid and Mother Goose to a rocking horse or George Washington himself. By the late 19th century even a battleship mold was available to for preparing ice cream in a big way, it held two quarts. Most of these molds were made of pewter.

Ice cream got a promotional boost at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904.

To help sell their products, commercial ice cream producers published and gave away booklets with ice cream recipes and instructions. The Snow Ice Cream Makers Guide in 1911 and the Ice Cream Maker's Formulary and Price List were just two of them. And commercial producers also sold their products at retail shops, serving it on store advertising trays.

The number of brands of commercially produced ice cream skyrocketed in the 1920s. While commercial producers like the Carnation Milk Company offered prepared ice cream, most of it came from local dairy farms. Most of the companies gave away premiums, such as calendars and buttons bearing the their names.

In 1927, the Sears Roebuck catalog began featuring not only ice cream makers, but scoops, and even pressed glass footed sherbet glasses for ice cream, sherbet, and sundaes.

Commercial manufacturers inaugurated National Ice Cream Week in the l930s. Hendler's Ice Cream handed out brass rests for ice cream scoops, Puritan Dairy Ice cream issued toy whistles. As the 1930s drew to close the Howard Johnson's restaurant began offering what would ultimately become 28 different flavors of ice cream Back then, Americans consumed nearly three gallons of ice cream per person per year.

In 1949, hoping to encourage in commercial ice cream, Sealtest published and distributed a vivid booklet of recipes entitled, New Ways With Ice Cream.

To promote their products even further, many commercial producers took out colorful advertisements in magazines.

Related to ice cream distribution was the ice cream parlor, with its myriad of equipment. One such device was the ceramic dispensers for Coca Cola, Hires Root Beer, and Dr. Pepper. These were usually large one or two-piece china urns. There were also straw holders. milk shakers, and assorted glassware. And don’t forget all the signs and advertising.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about the Victorians in the Winter 2018 Edition, "All Things Victorian," online now.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heraldic Mementos

QUESTION: On a recent trip to England, I came across some small ceramic objects with heraldic crests on them. At first I thought that they were family crests, but upon closer examination, I realized each piece, along with its crest, came from a different English town. I bought several of these “souvenirs” to take home as mementos of my trip. I’d really like to collect them but know nothing about them. Can you tell me how old these pieces might be and if it would be possible to collect them since I live in the U.S.?

ANSWER:  Heraldic souvenirs have become very popular with collectors in recent years, and not just those on the other side of the pond. While you may have to look a bit harder for them over here, you will find them, especially because you can purchase them directly from British sellers online.

These heraldic souvenirs became popular as a result of a tremendous expansion in travel during the second half of the 19th century. This occurred partly because of the rise in incomes which allowed more people to afford to travel and the greatly improved technology in rail and steamer transportation. The latter became so affordable that just about anyone could travel around the country. As more people traveled, the demand for attractive mementos skyrocketed.

William Henry Goss was the first manufacturer to produce heraldic souvenirs. In fact, many manufacturers made them over 70 years, much to the joy of traveling Victorians.

Goss met W.F. Copeland, one of the owners of the Copeland Spode China Factory. Copeland hired him as a clerk in his London warehouse in 1852, and the following year Goss moved to the factory headquarters at Stoke in Staffordshire. By 1857 he had become the chief modeler for the company.

It was the modelers who designed the originals or models of all of the various pottery and porcelain objects that Goss manufactured, ranging from simple utilitarian ware like plates to elaborate ornamental ware such as portrait busts. In 1858, Goss left Copeland and soon had established his own company which produced common ceramic objects for the next 20 years, including terra cotta ware and Parian portrait busts.

The innovation that was to make the firm famous came in the early 1880s. Goss produced small replicas of objects associated with particular places and placed on them the local coat of arms. Wealthy families had been ordering hand-decorated sets of china with the family arms on them for quite some time, so armorial ware wasn’t something new. What was so novel about Goss’ pieces was that he made them inexpensively for ordinary people.

Goss was always particular about the design standards of his wares, and he thoroughly researched both the original historical artifact of each model and the coat of arms it was to bear.  He used armorial reference books to insure that the crests were authenti. Goss also used his Parian porcelain formula for his crested ware, permitting very elaborate sculptural qualities and also making it possible to keep pieces eggshell thin.

To keep standards high, Goss wanted to have only one object sold as a souvenir for any particular place, and also to sell that object solely in the place whose crest it carried. To insure that there was no "cheating" by retailers, the firm had only one agent in each town and required that the agent sell Goss ware and nothing else. Soon Goss made a variety of objects available to local agents, although for a time the crest still had to be that of the place where they were to be sold. If a person wanted an object with the arms of, say, Chester, he or she had to travel there to purchase it.

The production process was rather straight forward. First, a modeler sculpted the model for each object in clay. Then another worker made a plaster-of-paris mold of it. This process often damaged the original model beyond repair. Yet another worker cast a duplicate of the original mold, and used this piece, called the block, to make the master mold which, in turn, he used to produce working models from which the working molds could be made.

Goss used plaster of paris for molds because it absorbed water fast. A worker would pour clay that had been mixed with water to the consistency of cream, called slip, into a mold. Soon, the slip in contact with the mold would dry, and then he would pour the remainder off, creating a very thin clay piece. Each mold lasted for several hundred castings, although toward the end of its life the detail wouldn’t have been as sharp.

Kiln workers fired the "green" ware at about 1200 degrees Celsius. Then, the piece moved to the glazers who would paint the piece and fire it again at a slightly lower temperature. After this second firing, another employee would apply the printed transfer of a particular coat of arms or other decoration and send the piece to be fired again.

Finally, decorators added the color by hand, and again the piece would be fired for the last time. If the piece were to be gilted, it would undergo one more round of hand-decoration and firing. Despite the complexity of the process, the cost to the purchaser was still modest—about several dollars in today's money).

The heraldic souvenir craze peaked World War I. By the 1920s, these common trinkets were beginning to seem old-fashioned. 

Goss’ firm made these souvenirs in a wide variety of shapes, eventually producing hundreds with a myriad of different coats of arms, making the number of possible variations run into the thousands. You could collect these souvenirs for years and still continue to find new and interesting pieces.

To read more articles on antiques, please visit the Antiques Article section of my site.  And to stay up to the minute on antiques and collectibles, please join the other 18,000 readers by following my free online magazine, #TheAntiquesAlmanac. Learn more about the Victorians in the Winter 2018 Edition, "All Things Victorian," online now.