A Collectible Christmas
By Karen Parr-Moody
Quite possibly the most fuss-free loved ones to shop for at Christmas are those who collect specific genres or items. Such gifts are easily chosen from the vast array at GasLamp, because the store has a number of booths where the dealers focus on a specific collectibles. So get ready to cross certain names off that list in a matter of minutes at GasLamp.
For example, Janet Weinstein's Showcase S-601 is a menagerie of animals from the German toy maker Steiff (and she also has vintage salt-and-pepper shakers for the collector who loves a kitschy kitchen). Tony Phipps features many incarnations of America's favorite mouse, Mickey, at Booth B-211. Bob Hill's GasLamp Books at Booth B-128 features Junior League and church cookbooks from all over the country. Carol Williams' "Aunt Enid's Attic" at Booth B-110 is a treasure trove of 1950s and 1960s cocktail accoutrements. Juaune Horton has a charming collection of half dolls and figural perfume bottles in showcase S-553. And, of course, this list goes on and on.
Then there are other booths which, naturally, offer the occasional random collectible here and there. Take Booth B-2010, for example. Among the affordable home furnishings there is this unusual Hubley Art Deco doorstop in the photo, right, reasonably priced at $60. Called "Bathing Beauties," this iron doorstop is one of a series of six such items designed by Anne Fish, an English cartoonist of the 1920s, and produced by Hubley in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1925 to 1935. There's a funny story about this series of doorstops, which is extremely popular with collectors (there are also "Bathing Beauties" door knockers out there). Back in August, a mint-condition "Bathing Beauties" doorstop fetched $10,350 at Bertoia's Auctions in New Jersey, which the auction company believes is a world record. The doorstop was expected to garner a mere $3,000 to $4,000. Cast iron door stops were beloved by Victorians, but enjoyed their height of popularity from 1910 to 1940. What a great gift these lovely flappers would make for someone who collects doorstops or Art Deco items.
Another interesting collectible is this set of cast iron andirons, left, made to resemble the first U.S. president, George Washington (1732 – 1799) and signed Virginia Metalcrafters, a firm that was founded in 1890 and went out of business in 2005 ($225; Booth B-300). Andirons were first produced in the U.S. in the late 17th century and this pair was made in in the 1940s, although there are many George Washington figural andirons that date earlier. This pair depicts Washington wearing his General's waistcoat. This would make a great gift, here at Christmastime, for the fireplace of a history buff or someone who loves Colonial style. They would also make a great gift for someone who collects vintage fireplace accoutrements, because andirons are the oldest of fireplace furnishings, used widely from the late Iron Age to support wood in an open fireplace.
Some pottery collectors like to specialize in the acquiring of Face Vessels, which were first made in the early 1800s, most notably in the region of Edgefield, S.C., which was a center of Southern pottery at the time. Such pottery firms were often populated by artisan slaves. In their free time, these slaves made pottery of their own choice; many choice to create jugs and pots that are now known as Face Vessels. These were often stoneware jugs made in simple, earthy tones. The ones in the photo, right, are more recent versions made by a Tennessee artist (open face version at left, $98; jug version at right, $92; Booth B-1005)
Back during the 19th century, itinerant carvers made such items as picture frames, like the inlaid walnut one seen in the photo at left ($75; Booth B-300). There were no rules for this type of construction and the materials were whatever the carver had at hand. This is one reason the results are so varied, which decorations being completely up tot he artisan and whatever he could produce within the limits of his imagination and ability. Sometimes such carvers would find wooden cigar box and decorate them with carvings.
Much overlapping and layering is seen in the making of such folk art frames, as with the overlapping corners of this frame. Perfectly in tandem with the season, this folk art frame encases a print of Jesus, Mary and Jesus. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift simply for the image alone. But it would also thrill a collector of Victorian or Folk Art.
Christmas is a wonderful time to gift people with ornaments for the tree. As with many items relating to this beloved holiday, Germany contributed to the inventing of blown glass balls. They were first designed in 1847 by Hans Greiner, who produced them in the shapes of fruits and nuts. Later on the simple, round ball was invented and its popularity spread around the globe. Both boxes of shiny ornaments in the photo, right, were made in America. And what a gift they would make for someone who loves a vintage tree.
Finding gifts at GasLamp for collectors is one of the easiest tasks a shopper will complete this holiday season. In fact, it's so easy, it will mean a gift for the collector -- and a gift for the giver!