35 Years of Collecting Art Deco

May, 2017 marks the 35th year since I actively started collecting Art Deco items. Normally, I wouldn’t write a biographical post, but this is a something of a milestone. Looking back it seems I have always been collecting something and always drawn to things of the past. As a little boy I had Matchbox cars (what boy in the 1960’s didn’t).

Some Matchbox cars that I had in the 1960’s


But because I liked old cars better my parents started to get my the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear. Below are some of my favorites.



But the one I like the best was this one –

Packard, 1930

1930 Packard Victoria


At the time it was the only Model of Yesteryear of a car from the 1930’s. So, as you can tell by reading this, by six years old my interest in the time period between the World Wars had started.




As the 1970’s started, so did my coin collecting. I never had a spectacular collection, but it did help earn me my sole Boy Scout merit badge. One of the requirements for the merit badge is to compile a set of coins from the year of your birth. This is normally a pretty easy task. In 1963 the mint still produced silver coins, by 1975 they were long out of circulation. Finding these coins proved a bit of a challenge for an 11 year-old.



I stopped collecting coins soon after I earned my merit badge. But before I started on my next big obsession, a book came into my life that would consciously and unconsciously influence my collecting interests to this day. I had already started collecting 1939 New York World’s Fair memorabilia by the mid-1970’s. My interest in the fair came from all the stories my family told about attending it. And with my general interest in the 1930’s I received as a gift the book Collecting Nostalgia by John Mebane (1972, Popular Library).


Collecting Nostalgia, 1972.

The paperback edition of Collecting Nostalgia by John Mebane, 1972. Image from Amazon.com


This book had chapters on furniture, lamps, Mickey Mouse, World’s Fair & Buck Rogers collectibles. In 1975 this was the book that every 11 year-old boy dreamed about . . . not! But I liked it and it had a chapter on Coca-Cola. And it sparked my six year collecting quest of Coke memorabilia. I started off small, I picked up a 1944 Coca-Cola bottle at the Englishtown Auction (a very large flea market in Englishtown, NJ) for 25 cents.


My first Coca-Cola collectible.

The bottle that started it all. This variation of the famous 6 ounce Coca-Cola bottle was in production from 1938 – 1951. 1944 is the molding date stamped on this bottle.


It wasn’t long after buying that first bottle that the collection started to build. Soon I was buying anything I could afford that had Coca-Cola on it. Cans and bottles from different countries, paper goods, pencils, pocket knives, cardboard cut outs, well you get the idea. And my family often bought items for me that were out of my 11 – 16 year old price range, such as early straight sided bottles, trays and a really nice 1930’s ice cooler, the type that would be in front of a store or gas station.


Westinghouse Junior Ice Chest

Westinghouse, Junior Coca-Cola ice chest. Circa late 1930’s. This is like the model I had but in much nicer condition. I sold mine over 30 years ago. I still miss it. Image from Pinterest.

By 1979 my bedroom looked like a shrine for Coca-Cola. Beside the cooler taking up a corner of the room there were shelves with bottles, cans and glasses. Covering the walls were serving trays, signs and a large, illuminated clock, that made sleeping difficult, until the florescent light burned out.

Things go better with Coke clock.

1964 “Things go better with Coke” illuminated clock. Image from Pinterest.



While I have sold most of my Coca-Cola memorabilia, I have held onto the serving trays, they always go up in value. And if I come across any trays or early straight sided bottles at a good price, I can’t resist and I buy them. Old collecting habits die hard.

As the 1970’s turned into the 1980’s and my Coca-Cola collecting started to slow, my mother grew tired of seeing my Coke “museum”. Plus my bedroom needed a decoration update. It was 1973 when my parents decided on a decor for my bedroom. With the United States Bi-centennial only three years away everything went red, white and blue and colonial drums and eagles and my bedroom was no exception.

1982 from Coca-Cola to Art Deco

Not too far from where I lived I would go to Trash or Treasure, an antique store loaded with stuff and not neatly displayed. One needed to hunt around to find the treasure, but it was there, hiding. And one day in May of 1982, my mom noticed a pair of half circle, blue mirror end tables. Many years later I noticed December 21, 1939 stamped on the bottom. Blue glass tables would be popular for all of the 1940’s. They are considered Deco, even though that era came to an end by 1941. This would be the start of my Art Deco collection. $75.00 ($190.00 in 2017 money) was the price for the tables. They were in pretty good shape, but not perfect. But my mom saw this as a way out of the Coca-Cola museum and the now very dated Bi-centennial decor. She suggested I could turn the room into a little living room where I could entertain friends and watch old movies. The idea appealed to me, so we purchased the tables and in came the Deco and out went the Coke.

The half round end table that started the collection in 1982.

One of the two half round end tables that started the collection. In August of 1982 is when I bought the reproduction airplane lamp. Photo from 2017 in my present TV room.


The airplane lamp is a late 1970’s reproduction that used the original mold. I became familiar with that lamp, thanks to the Collecting Nostalgia book. Another early Deco purchase was a late 1930’s lucite table lamp with original shade. The shade had condition issues so I had the frame recovered with a similar fabric in the late 1980’s.


My late 1930's lucite lamp.

This is another early Art Deco purchase that has always been in use since I bought it in 1982 at the long gone Route 1 Flea Market in New Brunswick, NJ. I had the frame of the original shade recovered in the late 1980’s because of the tears. Photo taken in 2017.

The original 1982 room


The above photos taken with Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic do not justice to the actual color of the room. The walls were a dove gray, with a wall paper border of light gray and white in a a pseudo 1980’s Deco pattern and the window blinds in a very pale gray. I had yet to learn how colorful the Art Deco period was.


As a celebration of my 35th anniversary of collecting Art Deco, my friends and I went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum in Manhattan for their exhibition – The Jazz Age American Style in the 1920’s.

The Jazz Age at the Cooper Hewitt.

The Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition The Jazz Age. It runs through August 20, 2017.


This exhibition is wonderful and has on exhibition items I’ve only seen in books or on line. If you happen to be in New York City and love Art Deco don’t miss this show.


Me at the Cooper Hewitt.

2017, me at 53 enjoying The Jazz Age exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I had to have my picture taken next to my favorite Art Deco glassware, Ruba Rombic.


Anthony (One half of the Freakin’, Tiquen Guys).

Springing into the 2017 “Freakin’, Tiquen'” season.

With the warmer weather, Chris and I hit the road again making this our second road trip in 2017. It might be that we have jump started our 2017 “freakin’, tiquen'” season. Saturday, April 22nd our first stop was at the Golden Nugget Antique Market outside of Lambertville, New Jersey.

Golden Nugget Antique Market. NJ.

Golden Nugget Antique Market, Lambertville, NJ. Photo from Twitter.

The Golden Nugget is only 20 minutes away from where Chris lives. He goes there often and usually when Chris goes alone he ends up finding great things. Two weeks before he picked up a couple of Fortune magazines from the late 1930’s and two vases. One of the vases has a mark that is unfamiliar to us and is Arts and Crafts in style. The other vase is an Australian Regal Mashman fantastic Art Deco three handle vase with a wonderful colorful glaze.


On this trip, I joined Chris and true to routine, it was disappointing. Now the weather threatened rain so many dealers stayed away. It didn’t take long to do the entire flea market and we did not purchase anything. Since our main destination was a Salvage Goods in Easton, Pennsylvania, I was ok not finding anything. But I have to say that when full with dealers, Chris and I find many items at really good prices.


The trip to Easton from Lambertville, is a pleasant drive up along the Delaware River. Driving north on Route 29 takes one through the towns of Stockton and Frenchtown. At Frenchtown, we crossed the river into Pennsylvania. At the intersection of Routes 32 and 611 we spotted an arrow shaped sign that said antiques. Even though in the opposite direction we decided to take a chance. I’m glad we did. Less than five minutes south on Route 611 (Easton Road) we came across Gristie’s Bucks County Antiques and Oddities.


Gristie's Bucks County

Gristie’s Bucks County Antiques and Oddities, along Route 611 in Kintnersville, PA. Showing the Bunker in the lower left of the photo.

The old grist and saw mill.

Circa 1910, when it was still an operating mill.

Located in an 1888 grist and saw mill at 9730 Easton Road in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, Gristie’s has three floors to explore and one out building called the bunker. This antique mall has 23 dealers and they sell a wide variety of items, from books, to pottery, furniture, garden accessories, dishes and other collectibles. I came away from my first visit there with a bank from the Corning Glass Center at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Made out of a glass block, it is not in perfect shape, but the price of only $10.00 was too good to pass by.



Leaving Gristie’s it was off to Salvage Goods in Easton. Except that no more than five minutes away from Gristie’s along Route 611 we passed Antique Haven and again we made another unscheduled stop.


Antique Haven. Antique store in Durham, PA.

Antique Haven in Durham, Pennsylvania.

Antique Haven is another multi dealer store with items from Jewelry to housewares to furniture. Well laid out that makes shopping easy, the store has a relaxing atmosphere. It is such a classy looking store Chris and I were surprised at the reasonable prices. I almost picked up a cobalt blue Fiestaware mixing bowl. Then I found a very Art Deco door knob set, that just had to come home with me. Now I need to find a door to attach it to.


Art Deco door knob set.

Brushed aluminum Art Deco door knob set, from Antique Haven in Durham, Pennsylvania.


By now it was past 1:00 and  Chris and I were hungry. Luckily almost directly across the street from Antique Haven we spotted the Someday Cafe & Roastery. We both had very large sandwiches and the staff was very friendly. I know we will go back to eat there again. Someday Cafe & Roastery is located in a wooded spot next to the old Delaware & Lehigh Canal and in the summer it must look beautiful.



After lunch it was back in the car for the half hour ride up to Easton, Pennsylvania and Salvage Goods. As its name implies they sell architectural antiques but there is so much more, items both large and small. It is a roomy store that makes browsing easy, whether looking at furniture, smalls on shelves or a box of old photos. They also sell a nice variety of lampshades at very reasonable prices. Since Chris is in need of a couple of shades I know we will be making another visit there before the autumn.



Immediately next door to Salvage Goods is the Easton Antiques Emporium. With 30 dealers, this mall will surprise you by its size, it is much larger than it appears from the street. The staff is attentive and friendly and they sell everything you would expect from an antique mall of this size. Although we did not find any Deco item to come home with that day, it is another store that we will go back to.



After leaving the Easton Antiques Emporium we got back into the car to return to New Jersey and two antique malls just on the other side of the Delaware River. As we drove through the center of Easton we passed the Easton Antique Co-op. So we had to stop. On our to the Co-op we came across an empty Art Deco building with the name Mayer on it. Apparently this used to be the Jacob Mayer mens clothing store, established in 1894. It appears the store expanded and received a modernized facelift around 1930. After the clothing store closed it became a bank. It would be nice to see this building repurposed again, without an alteration to its facade. I wonder if the clock seen in the postcard still exists under the ugly green entrance awning?



Postcard of the Mayer Clothing Store.

1930’s or 1940’s postcard of the Mayer Clothing Store. Image from Ebay.


The Easton Antique Co-op is also on the town center square and down the street from the old Mayer Store. The Co-op sells items both old and new and has a great selection of antique rugs. Some of the new items is furniture that is reminiscent of George Nakashima’s work. Although we didn’t pick up anything there it is a worthwhile store to check out.



A nice medium size antique mall Harvest Star Antiques, in Stewartsville, NJ is less than a half hour drive from Easton. I always try to get there a few times a year and more often than not come away with something. A circa 1940 two-tier Royal Chrome table designed by Wolfgang Hoffmann for $21.00 was my best purchase from the store.


Wolfgang Hoffmann Royal Chrome Table.

Two-tier 1940 Wolfgang Hoffmann table for Royal Chrome.

It seemed strange to us as we pulled up that there were no cars in the parking lot. Then we realized that Harvest Star Antiques had gone out of business. It is another antique store that Chris and I will miss.


The former Harvest Star Antiques Mall.

The late Harvest Star Antiques mall in Stewartsville, NJ. Photo from Facebook.


After the disappointment of the closed Harvest Star Antiques, we headed for the biggest antique mall in the area, The Black Rose Antique Mall in Phillipsburg, NJ. Up until last year the Black Rose was in Allentown, PA. We loved this mall and we always found something to bring home. After many delays, the relocated Black Rose opened in this new location just after New Year. Unfortunately when we made our first visit in January it was still half empty. And worse the layout of the store is very confusing. It is in an old J. C. Penney department store and they have utilized the existing floor layout. This layout is circular rows with the walls of the booths going up close to the ceiling, this makes it difficult to tell where you are and where you have been.



I am happy to say that on our last visit there were more dealers and hopefully it will be full to capacity with dealers soon. The layout is still confusing, but they do have maps by the entrance, which you will need. I only bought one item, a circa 1915 78 rpm Victor phonograph record of Nights of Gladness played by the Victor Military Band. I like the song and it was only $2.00. By the time we finished at The Black Rose it was getting close to dinner time, so we ended our full day of antiquing.


The next day, Sunday the 23rd, turned out to be sunny and warmer than the day before. Tempting fate, we tried our luck at The Golden Nugget again. On this morning there were many more dealers there. And we did see a few interesting items, but a patinated bronze vase by Carl Sorensen was the only purchase. This makes the fifth piece in the collection. Sorensen worked in Philadelphia in the 1910’s and 1920’s and his pieces have a hybrid Arts and Crafts / Art Deco look. Identifying a genuine Sorensen is pretty easy, look on the bottom for the engraving of his name in longhand and an “S” in a “C” with the word bronze above. Plus the verdigris finish usually with gold trim is another identifying characteristic of his work.


The hallmark on a Carl Sorensen piece.

Engraved Carl Sorensen mark.


Verdigris Sorensen vase from the Golden Nugget.

Carl Sorensen vase picked up at the Golden Nugget on April 23rd.


With our 2017 “freakin’, tiquen'” season kicking off, I can’t wait to see what else will come into our collection later this spring and summer.


Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen Guys).

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy these earlier posts:

The Start of the 2016 “Freakin’, Tiquen'” Season and a trip to two flea markets.

Freakin’ Tiquen Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – The Haul!

Reference Library Update: Sherwin-Williams Semi-Lustre Paints

For the latest reference library update we offer a circa 1930 Sherwin-Williams brochure. So if you want to decorate in a vintage style and are looking for colors that were popular at the beginning of the 1930’s click on the cover of the brochure below to look at the samples.


Paint brochure for Sherwin-Williams Semi-Lustre paints.

Sherwin-Williams Semi-Lustre Paint Brochure. Circa, 1930.


Happy painting!

Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen Guys)


Fiestaware 101: Part Five 1940 Promotional Campaign Sugar Cream and Kitchen Sets


Sugar, Cream & Tray Set

The sugar, creamer and tray promotional set.

1940 promotional campaign sugar & cream set. Typical colors of yellow sugar and creamer on a cobalt blue figure 8 tray. Image from vintageamericanpottery.com

The 1940 promotional campaign continues with a couple of sets to brighten up the table. This set is very sought after by collectors of Fiestaware. The last new pieces designed for the Fiesta line, until the individual salad bowl of 1959, were in stores by spring of 1940. Fredrick Rhead, creator of Fiestaware died from cancer on November 5, 1942. These items proved to be his last design. Consisting of three pieces, in standard colors of yellow for the sugar and creamer and cobalt blue for the tray. The values for these pieces are: Yellow Sugar $125.00, Yellow Creamer $75.00 and the Cobalt Figure Eight Tray $95.00.

As with anything Fiestaware, there are variations. Although rare, creamers in red and figure eight trays in turquoise turn up. These colors were probably used for special orders. The values of these pieces reflect their rarity. The red creamer has a book value of $315.00 and the figure eight tray in turquoise of $375.00.


Promotional creamer in red.

1940 – 1943 promotional creamer in Fiesta red. Image from vintageamericanpottery.com

Turquoise figure eight promotional tray.

Promotional figure eight tray in turquoise. Image from vintageamericanpottery.com.


Sugar & cream set.

From the collection of the author the sugar & cream set with the red creamer.


The Kitchen Set


Promotional Kitchen set.

Promotional Kitchen Set. In the standard color combination. Image from vintageamericanpottery.com


With some diligence and a bit of patience one can cobble together the promotional kitchen set as it is rarely found complete. It is a combination of pieces created for other lines. The Royal Metal Manufacturing casserole, first created in 1936, came in a variety of Fiestaware and Harlequin colors. For the promotional campaign the green casserole base came with a red lid and a yellow pie plate from the Kitchen Kraft line. This matched the yellow, green and red color combination of the promotional salad set. Today expect to pay around $200.00 for the complete set or $150.00 for the casserole and another $35.00 – $50.00 for the pie plate.


1940 promotional Kitchen Set.

Promotional Kitchen Set, 1940 – 1943. Image from vintageamericanpottery.com

These two sets add a colorful Deco touch in any vintage kitchen. The next installment on Fiestaware will look at the final two items available in the 1940 promotional campaign.


Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, Tiquen Guys)


Fiestaware 101: Part Four The Salad Set & French Casserole.

Fiestaware 101: Part Three 1939 The Juice Set.