Art Deco Advertising from 1930’s

One weekend I happened two drop my Grandson off so he could participate in working a computer project which focused on the future; I stopped at a flea market and picked and found some Art Deco magazines from the 1930’s which focused on the future at that time.

dsc04861The Advertising is bold, strong lines, and even in the Depression; bright, expensive silver ink is seen most are for cars or items for in home as the Prohibition against Liquor.  Prohibition was bad for the economy though you could drink what you had stashed away, theaters and restaurants lost money, many lost lives drinking “bathtub gin”. Some States didn’t  bother to enforce it.  By 1932 it was it repealed. These magazines are from 1931 so they  all have root beer ads and car advertising.  Cars were expensive then, you have do the numbers and figure what someone made.  A Cadillac was out of most person’s reach.


The most surprising was the Cadillac , unemployment was at it lowest in 1931. Cadillac went overseas to France and hired the well know illustrated Leon Benigni (1892-1948) , who had already done 1930’s advertising for Cadillac, as well as  Lucien Lelong, Edward Molyneux and Jean Patou to create incredible matching fashions along with these stunning automobiles. The gold and silver inks used in the advertising make these works of art. They were featured in 17 magazines. They had a V8,V12,v16 Cadillac and LaSalle featured. In the case of the Cadillac and LaSalle there were many variation of the same illustration in color, so you may find several varieties of the same car.


They were not the only ones to use the expensive silver futuristic ink in advertising. Alcoa did as  well. The bright Art Deco designed aluminum showed how products would look in the future and the curved lines had already had begun to be popular. The curved lines of my Father’s generation’s  have become popular once again; look at your phones, computers, the popular home decorating magazines and you see the Art Deco lines. The technological promise and excitement of an older generation is seen in a younger one trying to save the world from climate change, war, disease, making the world use renewable energy, and so much more. dsc04840


The Treasure Box….. a lesson in life…

Everyone has something they gravitate towards when they collect, or go to a swap meet or flea market.  For my wife it is boxes, more specifically boxes with things in them. Little mysteries or puzzles waiting to be unraveled.  Most people avoid these boxes. She looks for boxes which haven’t been touched in generations.  The complete frustrating life of human being long passed, tangled up in bits of letters, photographs, bits of jewelry long forgotten.  For her this is a TREASURE BOX.  The past comes alive. Recently she found one. I make it clear they are not my joy, they are hers. The hunt is on…


Inside is a bunch of old photographs of various ages. Yes they have probably long since passed on.  A few teacher’s certificates and writing.  On starts the hunt.  She has figured out that the owner of the Box was Edna Elinor Pittam.  Edna was born 14 March 1876 in Johnson Co Nebraska. She became a teacher and earned on certificate in 1890 when she was 14 years old.  That may sound extremely young, but it was normal.  My wife’s Grandmother taught school in Oklahoma and earned hers very young as well.  There were few options for women in the 1890’s.  There were not many options much latter on either. Edna earned another certificate in 1896 , this one says Second Grade Certificate. To be honest I am not sure what the that means in this day and age.


Slowly she puts the pieces of the past together to learn that Edna Elinor Pitam married on 16 February 1898 (she was 21) to Clarence Alonzo Underwood (he was born 25 Dec 1873) in Vesta, Nebraska.  She may have continued to teach.  There is a picture of school children and an American flag with 48 stars (this flew from July 4th 1912 to July 3rd 1949). Edna and Clarence had five children.  The first was born in 1901, Harold Pittam Underwood. The next was Gerald Millard Underwood born 30 Jan 1904 – died 31 Jan 1904.  I have never lost a child.  I have known others that have,  it is a bone deep pain that only they can truly know. That is all I will say on that matter.  I can not imagine this woman’s grief or her husband’s.  I know childhood death rates were extremely high in the early 1900’s.  We don’t know what he died of, only that he lived for one day.  Edna was not yet 28.  Everett Cedric Underwood was born 4 Oct. 1905, then came Edwin Bruce Underwood November 1907, and Dale Smith Underwood on the 12 Sept. 1913.  Edna passed away in Gage County, Nebraska 13 Jan 1921. She was hardy old, even by those standards.  She was only about 45 years old.  The youngest child would have been turning 8 that year.  Clarence Alonzo Underwood did remarry and had one more child in 1928.  That child had his name.  He out lived both his wives, and at least three of his children passing away 20 Jan 1965 in Pawnee City, Nebraska.


There was a picture of  a family grouping , several boys and smaller girls along with a tall man next to an older lady on crutches. Looks like an old model T in the background and a cemetery plot for the UNDERWOOD family. Taken in early 1920 or so.  Another older one from the 1910’s take of the PITTAM family plot.  One photograph post card looks to be from the 1920’s or so. There are several what are called Real Photograph Post Cards or RPPC’s. These replaced the the traditional Cabinet Cards. It wan’t until 1902 that Eastman Kodak made the paper with the pre-printed back, the following year they sold the special camera.  One is marked CHRISTENSEN  PHOTOGRAPHER NELSON NEBRASKA on the back as well. The picture is an early one, as it has the white boarder, and the child did not sit still. The picture is badly blurred.  Fragments of two families that became one.


Then there are several stories copied down in pencil.  A mystery at first. But simply , just that pieces of a story which had been copied more than likely for classwork or school. A lastly a silk ivory handkerchief.  I had no idea what that was about.  My wife told me it was a traditional item carried in Victorian times at your wedding. The finer silk the better.  You can see through this one.  It was often a gift given by a sister, of maid of honor, or your mother.  Something special you held on to and never used. A bride’s gift to pass on to your daughter one day.  This one is worn from sitting in the box among all these bits and pieces of Edna’s past. It still survives today.  Her story survives in part today.  Part due to the box she kept all those special items in , items which she felt were special.  The box may have been her jewelry box.


So a daughter, turned teacher, turned wife and mother.. and now we know her name and something of her life.  Those things may teach us a few things about life, love, family and priorities.

Antiques and Vintage is Dying? Or is it just a life cycle?


I am of the Baby Boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964.  Our parents, most born after WWI and before the Great Depression, lived through WWII, were products of their own experiences. So from their perspective  security was the founding block of that generation. They had grown up during chaos. Many saw and experienced  first hand the insecurities and loss, and would never escape the nightmares of it. They wanted nothing more than security for their family; the white picket fence, the house, the children. You get the picture, or you lived it the life experience .


Antiques was a huge business back then.  My wife remembers her parents going “antiquing” in Connecticut up in the Litchfield  area when she was on the way to summer camp.  They were looking at furniture. The stuff of primitive’s dreams. Simple farmhouse tables, dry sinks, corner hitches and cabinets. Some of that is still selling well. Not for the values it held then. American Coin Silver was king for a time back then.  When that generation downsized their collections, the Baby Boomers were there to collect.  So the Antique cycle stayed active.

At some point you have to downsize.  You find the larger home is no longer needed, the children are grown, who needs the expense, find something with a smaller footprint for ecology, and economy. Simplify. The Victorian antiques now need a new home, and are not going with you. You like your children, want furniture which is simpler and easy to deal with.  Some things stay, the Arts & Crafts table and chairs which work great with simple living room open dinning room kitchen.  Simpler lines.  The Art Nouveau Vase by  Emile Galle stays, some things just will not get downsized.  The point is, your children just don’t want or need, 90% of the stuff you have.  It goes to auction. My advise. Don’t go. Don’t even look at what it went for, you do not want to know. Look at it this way, you bought it because you loved it, you lived with it, now it goes to someone else.  Will it be valuable again. Yes. in about another 20 years or so.  There are cycles. and right now the cycle is downsizing.

You ask why?  Simple, housing is expensive. The millennials are the generation most want to sell to.  They  are basically defined as being born from 1982 to 2002.  Many are still in their teens. Those who are adults now, many have not yet hit thirty. Thirty is a reality check. Most who are now adults;

13% live in or near downtown cities, 63% live in other city neighborhoods or suburbs.

55% are renters, they pay a median of $925 a month, 21% live at home (they plan to move out in five years), 14% of millennials live in a household with three generations.

18% of all Millennials , that is 27% of those actually rent, share housing with roommates; 58% would love to have their own place.

Here is the important part, 60% work full time, 15% work part time, 27% feel they are underemployed.

Almost all expect to own a home eventually, though they are not sure that owning a house is a great investment. 9 out of 10 expect to live as well if not better than their parents have economically.

What does all that mean?  They are renters mostly. Or they live at home. They share their housing.  Housing is expensive. Not all are working, or working full time.  You need to have a place to put antiques  if you want to collect them.  Hard to do  without the money or place to put them.  This is the generation as a dealer you want to sell to , they are the next buyer generation. Unfortunately, they are not ready to buy like my father’s generation was or mine.  Maybe not as interested , but down the road another generation will be.

Keep that in mind as a dealer.  Be flexible. Keep in mind, you love the stuff, but no, the sales are not what they were even 15 years ago.  It won’t be like that for 20 years.  Pass on your knowledge to another generation who does care, then they will be ready to be great dealers. In the mean time, look to the trends and do what you can.

You have a whole set of china. Great. The stuff is wonderful.  But be prepared to break it up.  Your buyer may only want the desert plates, or the tea cups, or the dinner plates, to use with their plain white china (which they love) from Crate & Barrel. Keep that in mind. Same with everything.  Be prepared to think outside your perspective, your experiences. Ask them how they plan to use it, get ideas.  Even if you sell on line, communicate.  Ask to see a picture of the items being used. It will give you new ideas.


My wife loves simple lines.  She loves Ikea, she loves Mid Century, Primitives, Farmhouse. I love Victorian. So we have a mix in our house… to keep the peace.   Somehow it works.  She loves this farm table. It has stood up through many grandchildren’s projects,  many clock repairs, and some minor disasters.  It has simple lines, the perfect work surface, two drawers, and two cutting boards.  It works in today’s world, even in our small,  Mid Century home, with open floor plan.

That is a great buy even by Crate & Barrel standards.  Even better, it was much cheaper than anything I have ever seen in there.  Everyone we know wants that table, even the grandchildren! I have a grandson who calls “dibbs” on it!

No, it won’t be up for sale for another 20 years!  Maybe not even then.


Communication mishaps and fixes


Small and large business, we all have one thing in common; problems with communication with a customer is never going be easy to overlook or deal with, you have to make it right.

A good point in this case is April 1st 2016, and the turn over of Verizon Fios to Frontier.

It happened in California, Texas and Florida.

I happened to be one of those customers.  In our daily life we get emails, lots of them, Verizon was noted for sending them , upgrade this or that, add that, this movie is available tonight, you get the idea. Sandwiched in all these emails was the important information about this change over. I paid close attention to the email about switching over to AOL from Yahoo as emails are something in today’s world we need to communicate.  I did it.  It worked. My phone was linked, everything was fine until April 1st. No emails, at least on my cell phone.  I still had internet , phone and fios TV.  I left my wife the task of dealing with setting up the Frontier account.  I set off for Verizon to find out why my phone wouldn’t get emails.  Verizon’s response (and I am a long time cell phone customer ), “THAT IS NOT OUR PROBLEM, WE DON”T DEAL WITH THAT ANYMORE”. Really bad response. Really angry customer.    Keep in mind, I am the only customer in the store, and it wouldn’t have been a big deal to check out the phone and see what might be the problem.

I came home and my wife stopped what she was doing and dealt with my issue.  It was a “simple” solution; re download the Google Play (which had disappeared), download the AOL app, and make sure my old Verizon email was set up.  I then had emails on my phone. My wife is much better about this technology than I am, like many, I was lost. So a simple solution was available. Why didn’t the Verizon employee help? Who knows, more likely the Verizon Company negative response to customer satisfaction. They are a large company, and the idea of acting human with in the company seems to have been lost amidst the  lines of wireless technology. Customer satisfaction has long been something they threw under the ground and buried.  We may not like, we may hate in fact, but in some cases you know you are stuck with it.

Back to Frontier. My wife like many ran into many problems.  The smooth and seamless transition is not with out a few bumps in the road.  We do have a linked account, we just can’t access it right now.  The email system isn’t working yet, and we haven’t been able to log in properly. All that sounds pretty bad. This is about frustration.  Imagine trying to spend 5 hours trying to link and get your account up and running, and the tech tells you that she can’t connect with you using logmeinrescue because you must have no internet, my wife was working on the internet, and checked Frontier to see if the site was down. It was.  It was almost comical. I said almost. I have been married too long to laugh when my wife has been struggling that long to fix a problem.  She and I both discussed Frontier -Verizon and the problems. This is what we came away with.  She was impressed with Frontier. For one very important reason in business.  They communicated in a human manner which helped to reduce the stress levels. They admitted there were lessons to be learned, problems didn’t fixed right away, but you always got a human response. They made it clear they are trying to work on the problems and get the solutions, and yes, our voice does count.  This was a huge transition. Frontier is not a large company, a growing one, but not large.  Verizon is large.  A lot of changes.  We went from the almost rude, impersonal communication from Verizon to a real human response from Frontier in one day.

Are the problems fixed? Not completely. We are getting there. I can be a whole lot more patient when I have someone to contact who will get back to me, then when I have to figure it out on my own.   Frontier is aware of them now.  Communication is key here. I am still burnt about the Verizon guy, and yes I won’t forget it for a long time.  Verizon could learn a lot about customer’s and communication from Frontier.  I am feeling a whole lot happier about this deal now.

I also learned a great deal this week about communication from this deal.  I like Frontier  a great deal better than Verizon.  They answer to phone.


Victorian Period Real Jet Watch Fob

Victorian Period Real Jet Watch Fob

Jet has been used used in jewelry in Europe since 10,000 to 17,000 B.C. , though it is more often associated with  Queen Victoria’s mourning dress after the death of Prince Albert.  While many think of Whitby jet, it is found in a variety of places and has even been used by the Anasazi Tribe in America.  There are many substitutions for real jet, the most common being glass, though hard rubber , ebonite or vulcanite, bakelite coal, epoxy resins have all been used in the past.

front view Real Jet Spinner Watch Fob

front view Real Jet Spinner Watch Fob

The Romans used jet in jewelry during much of their 367 year of occupation (43 AD to 410 AD) of  Britain. Roman workshops dotted the landscape where it was found. believing it deflected the evil eye with it’s mystical properties.  As a result it became popular for use in hair pins, bracelets, brooches, rings, pendants, dagger handles and other jewelry.  Most was exported from Eboracum (York) all other Roman Britain and Europe.  After the Romans left Britain the use of jet in jewelry declined.  It is interesting to note that when an excavation of a Eboracum (York) railway station foundations occurred, an entire Roman workshop was discovered for Jet!

1920's glass flapper necklace ..beads are glass not real jet

1920’s glass flapper necklace ..beads are glass not real jet

Jet shows up in the Medieval Ages mainly for the use in rosaries. It next became fashionable in the Victorian Period after the death of Prince Phillip.  Whitby Jet for carved in many forms and pieces of jewelry then, but they 1920 the craft had declined once again.  Glass was also molded to form a suitable substitute, as well as other materials by then, as it was in such demand.

variety imitation "jet" buttons from different eras

variety imitation “jet” buttons from different eras

Jet is know by many names.  In French “jais” or “jaiet”; in Spain “azabache” which come from a moorish word “cebeche” meaning “Black stone”.  The moors wore a jet “higa” or phallic hand to protect them from the evil eye, it continues in places to this day.

Jet is not actually a “stone”, or true mineral, but a mineraloid.  It comes in two forms “hard” and “soft” jet.  Hard jet is the result of carbon compression and salt water.  Soft jet is the result of Carbon compression and “fresh” water.  It  is due to the anaerobic fossil  of the tree Araucaria cells which have been flatten by huge pressure (compression) over time and subjected to chemical changes. This process started during the Jurassic Period 150 to 180 Million years ago.

Jet has a;

  • refractive index of 1.64 – 1.68
  • specific gravity 1.3 -1.4
  • Mohs scale 2.5 – 4 .0
  • Carbon 75.2 %
  • Hydrogen 7.0%
  • Nitrogen 0.7%
  • Sulphur 4.6 %
  • Oxygen 12.5 %

Whitbey Jet also contains other proportions of aluminium, though Spanish jet has a higher percentage of sulpher.

detail of 1950's "jet" glass beads

detail of 1950’s “jet” glass beads

To tell if Jet is REAL;

  • jet is warm to touch, glass is cold
  • jet is light
  • jet leaves a brownish color streak on unglazed porcelain
  • jet will smell like coal when burnt with a red hot very careful as jet does burn
  • jet can exhibit a static electricity charge if polished.
  • jet may contain imperfection such as tiny cracks or inclusions.
  • Jet is black.
  • Jet will look hand carved, NOT CAST or MOLDED!
  • mark on unglazed porcelain.. note some other materials will also do this, but the hot pin test emits a "coal" smell, but must be done carefully as jet will burn.

    mark on unglazed porcelain.. note some other materials will also do this, but the hot pin test emits a “coal” smell, but must be done carefully as jet will burn.

Old Recipe Books full of Family Stories….

Every home has them, those ugly recipe books, crammed with hand written notes and cards, clipping from newspapers and  magazines, family favorites handed down through time and generations.  Some are more used than others.  The coffee table books sit with the beautiful pictures, while time and time again hands grab for these old, worn faded and stained books.

Sometimes when you are hunting for something else ..well you come across one of these lovely old beauties!!

1920's old recipe book , cover is worn but well loved inside!

1920’s old recipe book , cover is worn but well loved inside!

Cooks love shared recipes. The ones that have been tested by picky toddlers and husbands.  So into these old books are written the stories of friendships shared over time. You open one, and you can be a detective. Instantly you learn what they enjoyed cooking, if they liked baking, or making soups. If they loved trying new recipes and saved the good ones, and how they socialized.  If they home canned or even made home made wine!

Witch Cake???

Witch Cake???

A recipe for Witch Cake is pasted on spare space, along with Quick Cinnamon Buns..They are below the Steam Icing wonder if she used that instead of seven minute frosting or it was just the perfect place to tuck these in??

waffles..not one but several versions!

waffles..not one but several versions!

Waffles, my wife says NO ONE, made waffles like her Great Aunt Donna!  I can attest the woman could make these like none I have had since!  Floating Island is a family recipe my wife got from her Grandmother and rarely makes it these days, but it is a family favorite.

cakes and pudding recipes with pasted in clippings from newspapers and magazines

cakes and pudding recipes with pasted in clippings from newspapers and magazines

There are a great deal of cake, muffin and cookie recipes in this book along with some mane dish items, so the cook enjoyed a well rounded time in the kitchen.  It is interesting to note that the “Lazy Daisy Cake” must have been a favorite as it is written in further back in the book in her hand and looks as if she made a few changes to it for her version.

Ever wonder about what Tongue tastes like???

Ever wonder about what Tongue tastes like???

Tongue is not something I really want to eat. My wife says she tried it ONCE. I think that says it. ONCE. Enough. It was and still is a cut that is used in places, as nothing used to go to waste. everything had it’s place on the table or in the garden.

old fashioned home made relish

old fashioned home made relish

Speaking of gardens, this is one of those books that has notes and recipes for relish, jams, canning for all sorts of item.  There was a time when it was done in just about every home. I can tell you, if you haven’t had homemade relish, you should, there is a big difference between that and store bought!  A farmer’s Market or “pick your own” will gain you much produce to make more cans than you will think you will need. Sweet sour relish is in this book in several places as it has always been a favorite of most people.

evaporated milk ad with recipes

evaporated milk ad with recipes

Even the advertisers managed to put recipes into their ads!  This one is for Danish Pride Milk.

THE oven in it's DAY!!

THE oven in it’s DAY!!

And of course every good cook needs the right equipment! Check out the advertisement for the stove!  A classic beauty in it’s day they are making them look like this once again! incredible..what goes around comes all the around and back again!





Ringling not just about Circus…

Just about everyone has gone to the circus, and when you talk circus the first name that comes to mind is John Nicholas Ringling.  He was the most well known of the seven Ringling brothers. Born to German immigrants, Marie Salome’ Juliar and August Ringling in May 31 1866, he was fifth son in a family of seven sons, a one daughter. His father was a farmer and harness maker.  The Ringling Circus started in 1870 as the “the Ringling Brothers United Monster Shows, Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals”.  They understood even in the early days the importance of well done introduction to catch the imagination! They also understood value! They only charged a penny for admission. By 1882 it was called the “The Ringling Brothers Classic and Comic Concert Company”, and traveled by railroad cars, admission rose to 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children.

from the Ringling Museum in Sarasota ..a miniature example the size of a football field to show the set up of the big top circus!

from the Ringling Museum in Sarasota ..a miniature example the size of a football field to show the set up of the big top circus!

The railroad cars began a way to move the circus around the country from on city to another.  They would unload and have everything they needed to live while on the road. They had a large tent for “resting” between performances and for eating food.  It took a large, well organized team to set up the tents, and work behind the scenes.  Huge generators for power and  to provide cooking for all those thousands of people, and animals.CA

inside the big top

inside the big top

Many people had never seen some of the animals. So you often paid a fee to walk through and see the animals before the performance while they were in their cages.  It was an added attraction!

Here is where it all starts..the side show, then the animals..on to the Big Top!

Here is where it all starts..the side show, then the animals..on to the Big Top!

John Ringling married Mable Burton in 1905. In 1907 the Ringling Brothers bought the Barnum & Bailey Circus for $400,000 and ran them as two separate entities for a while, but with the sudden death of two older brothers (Otto in 1911 and Al in 1916) they realized the need to combine them. On March 29, 1919 in Madison Square Garden in New York City, The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey World’s Greatest on Earth became one!  His brother Alfred passed away in 1919, and Charles who managed the shows died in 1926, on top of all this Mable died in 1929 and the Great Depression brought more problems.  He was voted out of control by the board of directors in 1932.  John Ringling died not a wealthy man, but a poor one, with less than $400 in his bank account. He did have this museum, his house, Cad’Zan (or House of John) in Sarasota Florida and his art collection, which he had willed to the State of Florida. The museum and house now restored , includes a theater for the arts and is one of the jewels of the State of Florida.

view of an evening dress and portrait of Mable Burton Ringling  in the formal Reception Room..

view of an evening dress and portrait of Mable Burton Ringling in the formal Reception Room..

You can see the styles of time and many of the items owned by John and Mable Ringling. Though he was married briefly after her death it did not last and ended in divorce. The  House was built in the Venetian Gothic style, designed by New York architect Dwight James Baum, built by Owen Burns, was completed in 1926.  At one time he was one of the richest men in the world and traveled all over Europe.  Unfortunately the word changed rapidly and the winds of fortune changed also, though you can see the stories in the art he collected and the Circus he loved. The Circus still attracts people today, and is still evolving in different forms such as  cirque du soleil and others.

backside of the mansion process of setting up for an event

backside of the mansion process of setting up for an event