How Collectors Decorate their Homes and Men Caves

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As a collector myself, I know what it means to feel comfortable in a home (note I did not say a house). My home is decorated with things I love and feel comfortable with. I live with history and things that remind me of a simpler time and memories. The great thing about collectors is that they are a community of people who have the same passion. A passion to collect and live with their collections.

It does not matter what you collector or how you display it or even if it is in a box, your collection is personal and cannot be found in a big box store. I have been very honored to have been invited into many collectors homes to share their passion. These collectors enjoy showing their collection and letting me take photos. I hope you enjoy these collection’s pictures as well as give you some ideas on how to display and enjoy collecting. No matter if you like country, a theme or have a formal home…home is where the heart is!

Toy Trains Through the Years

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Many books have been written about toy trains, but I will confine my article to the most popular 0 Gauge which measure 1 1/4″ between the inside of the rails. Other gauges include the smaller HO and S (American Flyer), and the larger Number 1 and 2, Standard and G (Garden or Grubbe).

Toy trains were developed in the U.S. back before the Civil War by George Brown. They were windup clockwork as electricity was many decades ahead. In Germany, Marklin became the first company to make toy trains with actual tracks. Their early 20th century trains and accessories are some of the best quality ever made and often sell well into the five figures.

Lionel Trains, the most popular of all makers, started in 1901 by Joshua Lionel Cowen.


In 1915, he introduced the 0 Gauge and set the standard for electric train sets as more and more homes had electricity. The decade from 1910 – 1919 was a booming growth time for Lionel. In 1926, he bought Ives Trains, an excellent toy train manufacturer that came with the reversing unit that allowed trains to change direction. The company suffered during the depression in the 1930s but came back strong after WWII. The pre WWII locomotives are still highly desirable and hard to find in very good condition.

Lionel 225E with 2235T pre War 2-6-2 steam locomotive and tender

In 1946, Lionel introduced smoke for the steam engines. By the early 1950s, Lionel was at its peak, but Television started to grab everyone’s interests.

The 1960s were a period of social changes in America and interest in toy trains was dying. Cowen died in 1965 and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1967. By 1973, the company became part of the General Mills Fun Group.


Lionel Gulf Tank Car and Louisville & Nashville Searchlight Car

The 1960s were a period of social changes in America and interest in toy trains was dying. Cowen died in 1965 and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1967. By 1973, the company became part of the General Mills Fun Group.

In 1985, General Mills sold Lionel off to Kenner Toys and a year later, Richard Kughn of Detroit bought Lionel Trains. In 1992, Neil Young bought into the company and helped rejuvenate the line with the Trainmaster Control system. Kughn sold out in 1995. In 2006, Lionel bought K-Line and started manufacturing their trains. The company moved its headquarters to Concord, NC.

Some Terminology:
Box Car – an enclosed railroad car that carried commodities
Couplers – hardware that joins the cars of a train
Flat Car – a freight car that is not enclosed
Gauge – the distance between the rails
Rolling Stock – freight, passenger, or maintenance cars
Reefer – a refrigerator car

Identifying Lionel trains, e.g. 2-6-4 means that the locomotive has one axle and 2 wheels up front, 6 wheels on 3 axles that drive the engine, and 4 wheels on 2 axles that support the firebox.

Of course, there are other fine trains that can be bought in today’s auctions and online, including Marx, American Flyer, MTH, and K-Line. Personally, I really enjoy the post WWII models as they as rugged and well built, and if taken care of, will last a long time. Some of the modern locomotives by Lionel and MTH can be found for over $1000 and they are very well made and realistic.   

Model trains have maintained their prices well over the past 10 – 15 years in comparison to some of the pressed steel and windup toys that have gone down in value. When I go to auctions, I always check the condition of the trains, especially the locomotives. Look for any wear and tear on the sides, broken parts such as wheels and lights, and make sure that all the parts are there. I always check out the engines on my own track and transformers when I get home. In the past 5 years, I only bought 2 or 3 engines that did not run well. Some of the rolling stock can be quite expensive and Lionel made some outstanding accessories such as the coal loader, automatic gateman, icing station, and light up stations.

Lionel Commemorative Rolling Stock #9431

The thing I like best about buying and selling toy trains is that does remind me of the many hours that I spent back in the 1950s and 1960s playing with my Lionel and American Flyer trains. The joy of making new layouts for my trains or going with my mother (usually) to the local department store and buying a new accessory is Lionel 225E with 2235T pre War 2-6-2 steam locomotive and tender long winters so much of my time was spent indoors. Of course we did not have computers and TV started in the late afternoon. You really had to use your imagination back then.

For more information, check out the Train Collectors Association. Steve Soltan, our guest blogger and his trains that he has for sale can be found at www.icollect247.com/sandsantiques

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Illuminating The World

Imagine your only light source in the black of night being a candle or oil-burning lamp? For centuries that was the source available to most people. Brilliantly, in 1896 Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb (created in 1879) and George Leclanche’s battery (created in 1866) were put to use in a portable, hand held devise known as the FLASHLIGHT.

The name FLASHLIGHT originates from the early weak carbon filament and weak batteries these devises held. Early lights would only “flash” light briefly and only had a ring or tab switch which had to be pressed against the metal to make the electrical connection. Later, flashlights would see improvements in the batteries and bulbs and could illuminate for up to two straight hours.

Assortment of Early Winchester Flashlights

Assortment of Early Winchester Flashlights

The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company was one of the first and most successful companies to make these early flashlights. A large part of their success came from the realization that they could not just make the flashlight as a stand-alone product, therefore, they invested heavily in making their own batteries. Flashlight batteries would have to constantly be replaced which generated impressive sales for the company. These high sales rocketed the company, now known as EVEREADY, to the most successful flashlight company in the world.

Everready Display

My passion for collecting these illuminating beauties may have sprouted during my youth growing up in the north woods of Michigan…no street lights, no yard lights. Of course, my father had several flashlights for us to use when we would venture out into the darkness. They were not the best flashlights, however, as a kid I would have fun using them to cut a bright hole into the darkness and find my way. My father and I would often go hunting, fishing and camping. For all of these journeys our trusty flashlights were right by our side.

Since those early childhood days, I have become an addicted antique collector. My focus has been antique soda advertising, early bottles, vintage perfume bottles, antique oak furniture and Winchester items.

Approximately two years ago, I purchased my first Winchester flashlight and as any addiction goes, I have been trying to amass a first class flashlight collection since. Those fun childhood memories of cutting through the darkness with a trusty flashlight came flooding back. The older and more unique the flashlight…the better for me. I have been fortunate to acquire some of the earliest flashlights ever made. I have also been lucky enough to find early electric candlesticks. These were the perfect devise to help people transition from carrying candles to utilizing this new, much safer technology.

A wagon full of Winchester Flashlights and other Winchester Collectibles.

After acquiring a large and varied collection of flashlights, I’ve now decided to focus on early Winchester and Eveready items. Pictured is a portion of my flashlight collection. One of the most fascinating things about collecting flashlights is the incredible variety of different designs that have been created such as bicycle lights, vest lights, table top lights, penlights, projector lights, mini lanterns, toy gun lights, purse lights, and the list goes on and on. There is a light for every need in every size.

Assortment of Different Early Flashlights
Case full of solid Copper, brass and bronze Winchester Flashlights

Equally enticing is the incredible amount of flashlight advertising, which is extremely collectable and beautiful. Even the old batteries are now collectable and can be worth quite a bit of money.

It has been a fun and illuminating experience searching out these useful and often beautiful pieces of history. There is nothing like holding a solid copper flashlight in the palm of your hand, flipping the switch and having it brighten the room. They just don’t make them like they used to. Antique flashlights are truly little works of functional art.

Thanks to guest blogger – Kevin Kissel kkissel@triad.rr.com

Prison Purses and Wallets

Prison Art Woven Cigarette Pack is Folk Art is a collectible from the 1920’s thru the 1950’s.  If you think it is a funny term or never heard of it, you will find this article interesting.

Back in the 1920’s and 1950’s weaving items was a way for idle inmates to pass time, hence the prison art term was born. Leftover cellophane wrappers became the material that was used when the cigarettes had been smoked.  These were woven from any brand that the inmates had available.  They were arranged in colorful panels and woven in an array of patterns.

Wallets and purses were made to give to their family and friends.  Wallets were quick and easy and the inmate did not have to have a lot of the packs. These had slots for cash and 2 pockets for I.D.. and photographs. Large purses and pocketbooks were also made.  Cigarette packs that were used included Pall Malls, Camels, Kools and Lucky Strikes.

Above are pictures of recently sold pieces on icollect247.com.  A hand-printed note inside of the wallets stated that they had been made in the 1920s by an inmate at the old Virginia State Penitentiary on Spring St. in Richmond.  Mint pieces, like the above, are hard to find.  Kind of reminds me of “Tramp Art”.

 

 

Living with a collection!

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No matter if you have just a few pieces in your home or your whole house showcases your collection, it is unique and no other home will look like yours.  Just as your house has a personality, so does your collection. Collectors enjoy sharing their pictures of how they have decorate and used their purchases in their home.

As both sellers and collectors we enjoy seeing those pictures. Here are two Coca-Cola some recent vintage pieces we have sold on icollect247.

These photos show how a recent buyer has displayed vintage Coca-Cola cardboards and vintageCoca-Cola trolley signs recently purchase from icollect247 along side their newer pieces.

We featured a Drugstore collection of wonderful pieces that were breathtaking in our Antique Back Roads magazine.  Terry McMurray has a collection of early Drugstore pieces which are to die for.

Pictures below of Terry McMurray’s Historic Drugstore

         Read and enjoy pictures of Terry’s collection in our magazine –                       www.AntiqueBackRoads.com – Back Issue Volume 9.

Collections are as individual as a DNA, no two are a like.  Here is how this collector displays his passion in his man cave.

Please share and subscribe to our Collector’s Corner through icollect247.com as we show more pictures of other collections we have been privileged to enjoy.

 

 

Early Coca-Cola Advertising

If you were to go back in time and look through the window of a 1900’s Drug Store, you could have seen a pharmacy full of bottles and medicines.   In fact, this was the setting of Dr. John Stith Pemberton, as he experimented with a wide range of proprietary medicines to sell to the public. Some of his products included Gingerine, Indian Queen Hair Dye, and Triplex Pills. On May 8, 1886, Pemberton created and served Coca-Cola in his pharmacy, Jacobs’ Pharmacy. He served an average of nine drinks a day during the remainder of 1886.bottle
In the 1890’s an “advertising push” for this new drink took place in New England. Businesses were offered premiums such as clocks, fountain urns and more, as a way to entice them to buy more gallons of Coca-Cola syrup. Coca-Cola salesman had a lot to do. Besides taking care of their current customers, they would call on new businesses, show
how to properly mix this new Coca-Cola drink and put up store displays (known as the point of purchase advertising).
The salesman also had to contact the local billposters in each town and contract with them to put up the Coca-Cola billboards. It was a lot of hard work but this new approach to marketing worked and sales skyrocketed. A rare piece of advertising from those early years is a mosaic Coca-Cola hanging light half globe. As I understand it, only two of these are known to exist.
One sold at the Schmidt Museum Auction and thecc-4
other is in a private collection. The only record of them existing is a photo of an old soda fountain with two mosaic half globes on the mirror of a back bar. Perhaps these two mosaics were the ones in the photo, no one knows. Both of these globes have been compared and are exactly alike. These are not shown in any Coca-Cola price guide.

Most collectors are familiar with the Coca-Cola Vienna Art Plates which were produced and distributed by the Western Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Early bottlers often did not contact Coca-Cola for approval on advertising items. They just produced it and gave it away. While these were not “Authorized by Coca-Cola”, they are still part of the Coca-Cola collecting and history. Up until 1924, independent bottlers had no guideline for any advertising. In that year the Coca-Cola Company formed a Standardization Committee.
The committee’s booklet titled Coca-Cola Bottler’s Standards gave bottlers new rules and actual standards to follow in marketing Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Chewing Gum items, while not soda related, are extremely rare and are part of Coca-Cola history and highly sought.

Coca-Cola Gum Counter Displays
1914 – 1916 Dutch Boy & Girl Counter Displays.

Two rare pieces of Coca-Cola history are a girl drinking from a straw and an old fashioned Santa.CC girl2

Santa2Neither of these pieces are shown in any price guides. The girl drinking Coca-Cola from a straw is shown in the Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Current Price List September 1927. It sold to bottlers for .06 each and was called the “Girl with Straw Hanger”.  The old-fashioned Santa Claus was a cardboard bottle display. The piece is die cut and made of very thin cardboard. With the scary look of Santa and the thin cardboard, I doubt that many retailers kept them around long. These are rarity seen. Perhaps they were not ordered by retailers and thrown away or was a short production run.

As early as 1907 window displays and festoons were used to advertise Coca-Cola. In small towns across the USA, downtown stores had large glass windows in which to advertise. Coca-Cola took advantage of this open space and created elaborate Coca-Cola displays. Inside the stores were soda fountains with back bars, a perfect place for festoons. These elaborate window displays and festoons were made of cardboard and often had many pieces to the display. Super rare festoons and window displays are from 1907 to 1918.

leaf festoon
1927 Leaf Festoon

Other rare ones from the 1920’s such as the 1926 “Chinese Lanterns” and 1927 “Leaves” festoon. Due to direct sunlight, heat and humidity, not many of these survived. They were just thrown away after taken down. Little did they know that this would be a valuable piece of history and highly prized by collectors.

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the largest number of festoons made, as they followed trends such as Square Dancing, Auto Racing, Beach Girls and Birthstones. Many collectors shy away from these due to size and if framed they do take a rather large wall. I have seen
collectors use them as they were originally intended, in separate pieces on the wall.
As well as the continual use of festoons during the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s large advertising cardboard signs, like mini billboards begin to appear in businesses. These cardboard signs were inserted into wooden frames often referred to as “Kay Displays”. These wooden frames had metal rods on each side, a Coca-Cola bottle emblem at the bottom and were manufactured by the “Kay Display, Inc.”.

Festoon
Masonite and Metal Festoon

Coca-Cola collecting is popular and there are many local clubs as well as a National club. Join any of these and you will be part of the Coca-Cola collecting family.