Treasure Box Wednesday: Valuable Knowledge Through Collector's Price Guides

What do you collect? And how do you know you're paying a decent price for the items you love? Well, while collector's guides don't offer definitive answers to value-- after all, something's only worth what a person will pay for it-- it helps to think about them a bit like the Pirate Code: they're more like "guidelines."

But who can't use a little bit of guidance now and then? And collector' guides do more than assess value. They help you know what was manufactured and when. A good guide will share pattern names. And best of all, it will let you plan, so you can collect intelligently, as well as for your enjoyment.

Today, I thought I would share with you a few of the books that guide me in my thrifting and antiquing plundering (yes, we are still hanging on to that pirate theme-- it is, after all, Treasure Box Wednesday)... And perhaps these books will either assist with your own collections-- or just give you an idea of the sort of specialized guides available to support you in amassing the, er, booty you love.

In terms of Depression Glass, I've found the following three books extremely helpful...

They are:
  • The Collector's Encyclopedia of Depression Glass, Revised Tenth Edition, by Gene Florence, from Collector Books, 1992.
  • Collectible Glassware from the '40s, '50s and '60s, by Gene Florence, from Collector Books, 1992.
  • Kitchen Glassware of the Depression Years, Fourth Edition, by Gene Florence, from Collector Books, 1990.
There are more current versions of these books available through Collector Books, and purchasable through the Collector Books web site. I got mine at Half-Price Books.

To inform my Pyrexia (addiction to Pyrex), I'm finding this book quite helpful...

It is:
  • Pyrex: The Unauthorized Collector's Guide, Revised 4th Edition, by Barbara E. Mauzy. Published by Schiffer Books for Collectors, 2008.
It's nice because it not only shows and names patterns and the colors they came in, but gives dates and also shows some lesser known types of Pyrex pieces-- such as coffee carafes, clear kitchenalia and other items.

Continuing on the vintage glass theme, this is my friend Scoobie's collector's guide to her Avon ruby glassware...

It is:
  • Avon's 1876 Cape Cod Collection Glass Dinnerware, by Debbie and Randy Coe. Published by Schiffer Books for Collectors, 2003.

Moving on to slightly older china, we have a few of the Victorian whiteware books which have been infinitely helpful over the years...

They are:
  • Decorative American Pottery & Whiteware, by Jeanie Klamm Wilby. Published by Collector Books, 2004.
  • Warwick China, by John R. Rader, Sr. Published by Schiffer Books for Collectors, 2000.

Now, in terms of finding Maxfield Parrish-styled prints, this book has been a big help to identify them...

It's called:
  • R. Atkinson Fox & William M. Thompson Identification and Price Guide, Second Edition, by Patricia L. Gibson. Published by Collectors Press, Inc., 2000.

And lastly, when I just want to get a little bit more information on a random, possibly-collectible item from the thrifts, I turn here:

  • The Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual (Fifth and Sixth Editions pictured here), Sharon and Bob Huxford, Editors. Published by Collector Books.
And if you collect something not shown within the books here? Well, likely they have it either through Schiffer Books or Collector Books. Check out their web sites where their whole range of collecting books are listed.

Collecting is great, but collecting while armed with knowledge is even better. Wishing you bounty in your thrifting and junking adventures, as well as the information you need to find those treasures at a price you're comfortable with.
  • If you have a moment and missed Sunday's post on some fun independent artists whose work really complements romantic decor, click here.
  • And while I have a chance, I'd like to thank both Debbie of Cozy Cottage and Carrie of Oak Rise Cottage for the Brilliante Blog Award. Thank you ladies a bunch for thinking to include me. I'll choose someone to pass this great award along to in a future post.
As summer begins to wane, I hope you all are able to wring the last bit of beauty and fun out of it. Thanks for stopping by!

Finding Vintage Romance in Today's Independent Art

Folks well-familiar with this blog know I'm a big fan of art. Whether it's framed prints from the 30s in the Maxfield Parrish style, thrift store paintings where good intentions may outweigh skill, or talented artists and photographers working today to express themselves creatively. In fact, I fear my love of art is rapidly starting to exceed my wall space!

Like decorating, taste in art is incredibly subjective, of course. One man's prized collection can easily be another man's creative nightmare. But I thought you all might like to see just a few of the artists and photographers working today whose creative ideas I respect and enjoy. For a lover of things vintage and Victorian, I feel they echo that sense of romance, adventure, mystery and story-telling.

I just thought it might be fun to give them some props today!

Like British artist, Michael Thomas here...

He's a book jacket illustrator out of England and his work becomes cover art, notecards and prints. I have three of his original paintings, and have been absolutely wowed by his skill, as well as how effectively he has embraced the Pre-Raphaelite style for his subject matter and composition. His works are largely acryllic on board. The piece here is Rapunzel, and as I understand it, she is intended to be used in cards and as an illustration within a fairy tale edition.

This one below is called Pices...

I'm not actually a Pices, but I loved the delicate figure and her almost Rosetti-styled face.

The last of his works which I own is what he refers to as his Art Nouveau angel...

This, the artist indicated, was one of the more decorative pieces he'd done. The elaborate background detailing does remind me of some Burne-Jones pieces, while the figure complements the Pices painting well. I have these on either side of my Victorian pocket doors.

You can check out more of Michael Thomas' work-- I believe he currently has prints available of Pices and the art nouveau angel-- in his Ebay store Fresco Art by clicking here.

Another artist currently doing work which reflects his love of Pre-Raphaelite art is American artist Patrick Lynch out of Kentucky.

I met Patrick online a few years ago due to a mutual appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelites. Patrick balances his art career along with a full-time job-- no easy task-- but has been passionate about his painting for decades. His work uses paint as well as colored pencils to create the vivid shades you see above-- a feat made more remarkable as the artist works to find the right balance in spite of being color-blind.

His paintings typically incorporate Victorian or medieval-Gothic styled ladies with wistful expressions. Imagery tends to emphasize his love of the gramophone, river scenes, and statuary. The painting below is one of my personal favorites in Patrick's online gallery. It's called First Night of Autumn. The hats are based on the work of one of his friends, a Kentucky hat designer.

You can check out more of Patrick's work at his site The Lost and Beautiful Past.

My most recent art purchase was from a shop at Etsy, called Audrey Eclectic. Artist Heather Van Winkle uses the "whimsy folk art" style to create pretty, quirky portraits with a gentle storybook feel. Using mixed media collage, large eyed lasses stare demurely at the viewer, infused with layered details that sneak up a bit of the viewer the more he or she looks. What I appreciated in particular was her work involves more than pretty images of old-fashioned girls, but little tales to support each one.

This is "Elerey," a "Hallowed Hall girl"-- one of three sister portraits, each with a fun little history to accompany her. You can read about them on Heather's blog. Elerey was a toy maker-- and her creations tended to demonstrate some very mysterious and unusual behavior! I liked her Wednesday Addams style.

Another interesting feature is, Heather's work is done on scrap wood, cleaned up and repurposed. Talk about your trash to treasure!

In terms of less Gothic, more Shabby Chic art, I also became taken with an artist named Carole DeWald. She sells on Ebay, in her shop Carole's Cottage, and does still life floral work which puts a particular emphasis on roses, hydrangeas and lilacs. This particular painting is in my dining room.

Another Ebay artist of the genre is Mary Ann Mayer. Her lilac painting-- with its impressionist feel-- made an impression on me. I love that it looks like it has some real age to it.

While we were discussing artists, I'd also wanted to draw your attention to two photographers that capture the natural world in remarkable ways. It's patience and perseverance that make their work so awe-inspiring-- waiting for that perfect glow of a sunset, capturing the right angle of a Western mesa, or sitting in a boat on a Norwegian lake for the just-right shot of the Aurora Borealis.

If you're a fan of nature photography, I think you'll really enjoy the work here.

Rodney Lough is an American photographer whose work my friend Scoobie is addicted to. His love of nature shines through with every photograph, and honestly, once you've seen Rodney's treatment of a particular area, it never seems the same again. He makes our world truly magical. Check out his site, TheLoughRoad, and I believe you'll see what I mean.

Photographer Thomas Laupstad is a fellow I met online through blogging, and like Rodney Lough, he captures his own country-- Norway-- with a keen eye, a love of color and a lot of waiting around for the perfect moment. You can see Thomas' work on his blog here.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this little dip into the world of independent art today. I know there are a lot of talented people out there, but I thought it would be nice to discuss just a few whose work has become a part of my life.

  • If you missed Treasure Box Wednesday, where the mantle gets a new look, I get a few thrifted goodies and you all get some vintage tunes, click here.
  • If you missed last Sunday's post on Giggles over Wiggling, Jiggling Jell-O recipes, click here.

And I hope to see you again soon! Thanks for your visit.

Treasure Box Wednesday: The Gift of Music and Memories

I have something for you today. It's a surprise! So pick a hand...

Okay, no, sorry-- that sort of thing only works in person, doesn't it? So instead, I guess I'll just have to tell you.

In addition to a few thrifted finds, and a little bit of decorating I'd wanted to show you, I also pulled together a fun little feature for the blog.

If you happen to scroll down this web page and look in the right-hand sidebar in purple, you'll see The Thrift Shop Romantic's Swing Fling Playlist. And if you click Play, why, you'll get an earful of all sorts of swing music, new and old! There's Ella, Duke Ellington, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Brian Setzer, and at least two different groups with the word "Daddies" in their monikers. (So you know they're embracing a tradition.) Plus a whole batch of others, and even a track off the Verve Remix. Anyway, I thought it would be a nice way to share with you some of the music I listen to, and sing loudly along with in the car. (Disturbing the locals.)

If you don't want to use the Player at the side, you can also click here to listen:

I hope you'll check it out, see how you feel, and maybe even discover something you like.

Now-- on to the thrifting. I found two goodies this week. For my fellow Pyrexics, I have...

...This bright green Pyrex bowl. I loved the color and it was still in really good shape.

I'd never planned to have a Pyrex collection, but then I guess that's how it nabs you. It sidles up all sneaky-like, until suddenly you realize your kitchen shelves are fit to burst. I found this at the Salvation Army off Carson Street.

At the Goodwill, however, I found this...

...A 50s aluminum pitcher in a berry color. Do you folks remember how I'd found those aluminum tumblers at the Regent Square Yard Sale this year? Well, now I have a matching pitcher. And between the $5 for the six tumblers, and the $5 for the pitcher-- why, at $10 for a whole set, I think that sounds pretty good.

Now in terms of decorating, you might have noticed from the picture above, I'd been noodling around with my mantle again...

I've moved the McCoy style vases to be displayed in the spare room, and am now bringing out the old family photos. The bathing beauty in the center is my father's mother, Elsie, along with some friends...

And the woman here in the oval frame is my father's father's mother, who came to the U.S. from Sweden...

The marcasite-looking frames were from K-Mart- TJ Maxx and one was a gift. The candlesticks and bottle were thrifted. The decorating plan going forward will be to use my clear crystal Depression glass and work on a table arrangement.

Anyway, I thought you all might enjoy seeing the project in the works. (I would have been done with it, only on Sunday I had storms and a power outage for most of the day, and it was too dark to see to finish it!)

Well, in case you missed last Sunday's post, pre-power outage, Giggling over Wiggling, Jiggling Jell-O, click here and maybe get a few chuckles.

I'm off to hear me some tunes!

Giggles over Wiggling, Jiggling Jell-O

"The Joys of Jell-O Gelatin are never ending."

That's what a thrifted recipe book-- " The New Joys of Jell-O" assures us. And certainly when you can make anything with it-- from the tantalizing jellied prune whip, to an antipasto salad that uses vinegar, salami and lemon gelatin-- well, you've pretty much got variety up the wazoo.

But the recipes weren't the actual reason I bought this book. I mean, sure, I could pluck the very most molded and gooey creations and scare everybody here silly with them, including myself. But it's time I grow up and demonstrate that I'm more mature than that...

So I'm going to make fun of the book's lifestyle shots.

"The New Joys of Jell-O" was set in the early 70s. A time where women were just beginning to re-enter the workforce. Where people of color were being featured more regularly on TV and in film. And where every housewife knew that when bringing a dessert, it was absolutely critical to match that dessert to one's outfit...

Like our neighbors here...

Nancy Neighbor is always showing off. Every get-together, it's all fancy Jell-O dessert and color-coordinated kaftan. She doesn't even really want to be here. Look at that forced smile. Notice how she won't quite look us in the eye?

She was fighting with her husband, Norris Neighbor, all the way over here. She feels we aren't refined enough to truly appreciate her Jell-O creations. Norris, by the way, is a detective in Barney Miller's precinct. And he knows Nancy's been cheating on him-- cheating with the guy who stocks the Jell-O down at the supermarket. They'll announce their divorce next week.

And it looks like Norris already has his eye on you.

Speaking of outfit-to-Jell-O coordination...

When serving Jell-O parfaits, it's absolutely critical to dress like one. It sets the tone, the atmosphere. Given the time period, having a party where people of different races intermingle was rather daring and forward-thinking of Jell-O. It tells us that whether you're black, white, purple or green, Jell-O is happiness and racial harmony... It brings us all together! And just to further emphasize the happy relations of people of all colors and creeds, the parfaits that match the hostess' dress are, yes, black and white. Subtle, eh?

The man pictured on the right doesn't look too happy, though, does he?

I think he's listened to laughing boy's jokes on the left just a few too many times and is trying to tune out.
"Please, let this party end soon... Please let this party end soon... So help me, I hate this guy."

Here, the Brady Bunch kids make Jell-O to sell and raise money for their parents' anniversary present...

But because Marcia and Bobby ate everything they made, the young Bradys ended up having to go on a variety show and sing instead. This is one of the outtakes.

Moving on-- Ahhh, nothing like Jell-O logs melting before an open fire!...

But what's happening here?...

As Sue and Steve flirt in their matching turtleneck sweaters, Kim is comforted only by the warmth of her sheepdog skin vest and yet another glass of Chianti.

Hey, Kim, it looks like you spilled some on the rug! Oh, no-- nevermind. That's just the pattern.

Ah, the wedding day! Doesn't the bride look beautiful? And what better to complement a happy occasion than a Nerf football readily handy on the buffet table, offering easy access for a post-ceremony pick-up game?

Wait-- my mistake-- that's actually Creamy Bleu Cheese Salad which uses Dream Whip Whipped Topping, Bleu Cheese, Cream Cheese and, of course, Lemon Jell-O. Mmm-mmm. This will be a feast that couple is destined never to forget!

Well, okay, I know SAID I wasn't going to share any recipes with you today, but I thought I might include just two...

Mrs. Lovett was very economical. What she didn't use in her meat pies went into her desserts. Black cherry Jell-O? Maybe... maybe not. Only she and Sweeney Todd know for sure.

And in the "Things You Never Thought Of" chapter, I must say, I have to agree with the Jell-O people...

I never would have thought of glazed hors d'oeuvres using dill, vinegar, cayenne, bayleaf and Lemon Jell-O over finger sandwiches...

And I hope to never think of it again, too.

Jell-O is groovy!

And so are you, for stopping by today!

Hope you're having a terrific summer!

The Not-So-Hidden Treasures of Kennywood Park

Built in the 1880s, Kennywood Park has offered families in the Pittsburgh region joy and amusement for well over a century. And while the park does a great job of creating new attractions that keep us spellbound, it also hasn't forgotten its roots. Meandering around the winding paths of this historic summer haven, it's not hard to imagine Gibson girls and their beaus doing the same. And much of that has to do with the carefully preserved details that don't just give a nod to the past-- they walk right up and introduce themselves.

So as I visited Kennywood this weekend-- in addition to getting my obligatory batch of savory Potato Patch fries and spinning myself dizzy on the Exterminator-- I realized there's no better treasure this week, to pour from the Treasure Box, than the beauty of this local landmark.

The carousel was a logical place to start. And for lovers of Victorian art nouveau, it doesn't get much more detailed than this...

Cherubs peer from between ornate mirrors, while jokers laugh at the crowd around them...

Select a prancing pony...

Or maybe something a little more exotic...

And for the older crowd, how about this intricate art nouveau bench?

Step away from the carousel, and we see history in the park's wooden roller coasters. The facade of the Racer is the same design this dual coaster had sported in the 1920s. After a period of modernization, it was returned to this original appearance with loving restoration...

The vision of new and old can be seen here, as well, where wooden spires stand side-by-side the roaring metal thunder of the Phantom's Revenge-- one HECK of a rip-roaring roller coaster ride.

Step a bit further, and we're through the threshold of Lost Kennywood, an area following the original footprint of the park, and from the time when Pittsburgh was minus an ending "H"!...

Here the Bavarian Swing has much to say about a time when decoration really mattered...

With landscapes...

And ladies fair...

Even the fountains of the park speak of attention to detail, and that littlest bit of magic...

You might find yourself back to the future in go-go boots...

Or carried away by some Pittsburgh pirates!..

So let's play a few rounds of ski-ball...

Have a fresh-squeezed lemonade...

And then, I'm afraid, I have to say...


And maybe I'll see you this Sunday? If not, enjoy that beautiful summer weather, my friends!