Archive for July, 2010

I’ve decided to add one more “Christmas in July” post for the month!

Shirley Temple had the most recognizable face in the world in the 1930’s. She was the top Hollywood box-office draw for four years in a row (1935-1938). Companies that had the rights to produce products with her likeness gained much revenue from this Depression-era youngster’s popularity.

The Saalfield Company out of Akron, Ohio had exclusive rights to publish Shirley Temple books in the 1930’s and their “Shirley Temple Christmas Book” from 1937 is one of my favorites!

This book includes a paper doll set, Christmas carols, a play to act out, holiday cards, a template for a letter to Santa, and other fun activities! I’m sure that this books provided hours of fun for a child living during years when money to buy fine toys was scarce.

Do you have any memories of inexpensive, yet fun, Christmas toys?

Rose O’Neill’s Kewpies have captured the hearts and imaginations of children for over a century.  The little cherub with the impish grin is just so appealing!

Continuing with my “Christmas in July” theme for the week, I am showcasing a Kewpie Christmas Display sign from 1913. This sign was probably displayed on a store counter and advertises a line by Royal Society (H. E. Verran) of Rose O’Neill-liscensed Kewpie fabric designs to embroider. These fabric pieces are very rare and collectible. I have posted an example from this line (possibly a dresser scarf) in the gallery at the bottom of the post.

The text reads on the advertisement reads:

I am the Kewpie Santa Claus

I bring my friends a Christmas suggestion that is new, original and of wonderful interest to both those who give and those who receive, in


What is so fraught with tender well wishing as a gift made by friendly hands — a gift of wonderful beauty for all the years — a gift of such irresistible appeal as Kewpie’s embroidery designs. They are to be had either in tinted stamped goods or in the Royal Society Package Outfit which embrace pillows, dresser scarfs, bibs, fancy bags and all sorts of novelties.

Stop back next week as I’ll be posting more information about Rose O’Neill and her famous Kewpies!

It’s been so hot here in Massachusetts that I thought it might be pleasant to do a few “Christmas in July” posts! The Christmas-themed items I’ll be posting over the next few days remind us that cooler days are just around the corner!

I feel in love with this German Christmas bakery room box because of the maker’s attention to detail and creativity. The fir Christmas tree, the lithographs of Santa Claus and children on the counter and walls, the baked goods, and the tiny porcelain dishes just add to the intricacy and whimsical charm of the piece!

This room box dates from from about 1900 – around the time when making these miniature works of art was at its most popular. Victorians often spent hours finding the perfect objects to complete the scene that they imagined. We find the boxes so interesting because they give us a glimpse into what life was like a century ago!

If you’re interested in purchasing this amazing room box, visit When Dreams Come True on

I came across this unusual German dexterity game on an online collectibles site a couple months ago.  I loved the detailed lithography of the young woman’s face and the tiny dice.  It seems like the object of this particular game is to roll the same number on both dice simultaneously.

Barbara Levine, a curator with an interest in idiosyncratic collections, presented a display of antique dexterity games at the San Francisco Public Library in 2002.  The history of these games, according to her website:

Dexterity puzzles – also known as palm puzzles, games of skill and hand-held games – have been a source of fascination for adults and children since the Nineteenth Century.

The simple hand-eye challenge of rolling a ball into a hole, or sliding, nudging and tilting a capsule through a maze, has proved to be among the most delightful, maddening, and enduring diversions of the modern age, despite, or perhaps because of its sheer simplicity.  Soon after the games became popular with the public beginning in the late 1800s, they were produced in large numbers in the United States, England, France, Japan and Germany. The games could be found in doctors’ offices, train stations, and in rainy-day game rooms of seaside resorts - in essence, anywhere that required waiting.  They were even nicknamed “patience games.”

But whether straightforward or tricky, dexterity puzzles are objects of popular culture, as reflections of history, as advertisements, illustrations and graphic design they are a rich and revealing world…  

Each manufacturing country tended to use different materials and graphics.  French games were typically glass and cardboard boxed sets with ornate patterned paper and lids.  German puzzles were round glass-topped with chromolithographed tin and often included a mirror on the reverse.  Games made in the United States were usually square and made of inexpensive tin and cardboard.  The firm of R. Journet and Company of London designed more than one hundred innovative glass-top dexterity games beginning in 1891 and contuing through the 1960’s. Japanese puzzles are usually round and double sided including two games in one.  Dexterity games are affectionately known as your grandfather’s gameboy and  included in this exhibition are also a few of the earliest electronic hand held games.

I spent Thursday and Friday at the extraordinary Brimfield Antique show in Central Massachusetts.   The show, which is held in May, June, and September, turns the tiny town of Brimfield, MA into a city of  about 5000 antique dealers and countless buyers.  Interesting items, great conversations, and fantastic carnival-type food all make for a fun day!

This year, I spotted an amazing piece of folk art: a hand-carved carousel from the mid-1800s.  The dealer told me that it was once part of a traveling medicine show and circus and was situated between the popcorn machine and the real carousel.  The toy carousel and figures were powered by steam, which caused the carousel to go around in circles and some of the figures to move, including a figure of a man who drops a milk bottle in front of a very stern-looking woman!  The material used for the toy’s tent was from an original Big Top.

The elderly man who the dealer bought this piece from said the circus show was owned by members of his family and went out of business in the 1930’s.  He has a picture of himself as a boy standing in front of the working carousel!

If you’re interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind piece, contact!