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.