Category Archives: Collectibles

Breakfast Goes Modernistic

Royal Rochester label on the bottom of the batter bowl. 1928.

1928 Royal-Rochester label.

 

Back in 1999 at an antique store in Frankfort, Kentucky, I came across a very striking electric coffee pot. Painted in an abstract design in bold colors it almost bordered on the avant-garde. I had never seen anything like before, so the $110.00 price was not much of a purchasing deterrent. To me the it exemplified the exuberance of early Art Deco design of the late 1920’s. A crazy, optimistic style that produced Roseville Futura pottery and the Chrysler Building and wouldn’t last long once the Great Depression hit in 1930. Made by Robeson Rochester under their trade name of Royal Rochester, a company well-known for the manufacturing of kitchen appliances.

 

Royal Rochester coffee pot in the Modernistic pattern.

Modernistic Royal Rochester coffee pot. Ceramic body made by the Fraunfelter China Company.

Once I had the coffee pot, now I wanted to add more pieces and have a complete set. This wasn’t going to be easy because other pieces weren’t turning up. A couple of years later the teapot, creamer and sugar were up for auction on Ebay. The three-piece set ending up selling for over $500.00 and way out of my price range. And once that auction ended more pieces with the same design were not coming up. And I had never come across these pieces at any flea markets or antique malls. But I did learn from that Ebay listing that this pattern’s name is “Modernistic”.

The Fraunfelter China Company of Ohio produced the ceramic pieces purchased by Royal Rochester for their various lines. “Modernistic” is only one line that used these shapes. The lusterware tan stripe and lilac stripe pieces turn up a lot more often and even though they have the same shape those designs are nowhere near as striking as “Modernistic”

 

“Modernistic”, like all Royal Rochester lines had a full range of pieces to make any breakfast stylish and up to date. Beside the coffee pot and sugar and creamer, a smaller sugar and creamer came with the teapot. The center piece of the line was the large coffee samovar.  Small ceramic cups in metal holders were good for both coffee or tea. A waffle set included a syrup jug, batter bowl and ladle and of course the waffle iron. Completing the line a casserole and pie plate, both came with chrome stands.

 

Modernistic in the 1928 Royal Rochester brochure

Royal Rochester 1928 brochure featuring Modernistic. Image from Modernism.com

Introduction of Royal Rochester's "Modernistic" pattern.

Advertisement for Bullock’s Department Store in Los Angeles and the introduction of Royal Rochester. November 21, 1928. Image from fultonhistory.com

The “Modernistic” pattern made its debut during the Christmas season of 1928. What we  now call Art Deco made its American debut only less than two years before. Modernistic styles proved to be popular with more well to do people living in major cities. To the average American the new style seemed as foreign as a martian. Traditional styles, like colonial revival, remained the most popular in the United States through the 1940’s. Radios or refrigerators tended to be the only moderne style pieces in the house. Because of this Royal Rochester’s “Modernistic” ended up being a huge flop. The company’s advertisements for the 1929 Christmas season no longer mentioned this bold and colorful pattern. Since it was only available for a year or less, it makes the pattern extremely rare and hard to find today.

 

Democrat & Chronicle advertisement 1928.

Christmas 1928, Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Company in Rochester, NY. Democrat & Chronicle advertisement, 12/14/1928. Image from fultonhistory.com

 

I never knew, until recently, how short a production time “Modernistic” had. This explained why it took eighteen years to find more pieces. Finally this summer in an antique mall in Wisconsin I found the large creamer, casserole in holder and pie plate. The dealer seeing a good customer told me she had more of this pattern in another mall nearby, just over the Illinois state line. There I picked up many more pieces, including the very rare waffle iron and batter bowl. Being very reasonably priced and 20% off, I took the plunge. I still need to get a few pieces, including the samovar, cups and the probably nearly impossible to find ladle. So the hunt continues!

 

Waffle iron, batter bowl, pie plate and casserole.

“Modernistic” waffle iron, batter bowl, pie plate and casserole in chrome holder, by Royal Rochester, 1928. Author’s collection.

Royal Rochester's "Modernistic" coffee pot and sugars and creamers.

The “Modernistic” coffee pot I purchased in 1999 with the sugars and creamers purchased in 2017. Author’s collection.

 

Anthony (A Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guy).

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The Ones that Got Away – Art Deco Antiques we passed on.

For our 100th post, Chris thought it would be “fun” to look back on the Art Deco items we passed on and have regretted since. As he often says, “The time to buy an antique is when you see it; because it can’t be reordered.” We tend to be pretty savvy shoppers on our adventures; none-the-less, we’ve missed a few.

Part of the Roseville 1928-1929 Futura line, catalogue #393-12, better known as “Four Ball” vase, it is indeed a rare find. Regularly selling in the $1200.00 range, we found one at Antique World in Clarence, NY for $65.00 dollars. This was early on in our joint collecting. Since these pieces are unmarked Anthony wasn’t sure if it was a Futura vase. We didn’t have smart phones back then and Anthony felt we didn’t know enough about Roseville to justify spending the money. When we got home, he did some research and back we went the next day. Not to our surprise, but to our disappointment, it had been sold. We still kick ourselves over this one.

Another one we kick ourselves for was a set of six Chase chrome 1930’s canapé trays. Designed so that you could hold the plate and drink with one hand, this is a relatively hard to find item. Found at the Asbury Methodist Church Flea Market in Rochester, NY, they were in excellent condition and priced at about $40.00.  We just purchased a cobalt mirror picture frame and didn’t want to spend more money that day. Dumb mistake!

Although not entirely sure, Chris believes he passed on 4 circa 1930 Crown Ducal cocktail plates at the local Goodwill. Currently selling at about $75.00 per plate, the Goodwill price was $2.99 per plate.

On a trip to Bay City Antique Center, Bay City, Michigan, we passed on an art deco copper and chrome hostess stand priced at only $125.00. Buried, dusty and obviously overlooked for some time, we debated on this for quite a while. It boiled down to what do we do with it. Reason ruled but we still think about this one.

 

We failed to pick up a Westinghouse Columaire grandfather clock / radio at the Old Mill Antique Mall, West Columbia, South Carolina. Designed in 1930 by Raymond Loewy, it was part of the Westinghouse Company’s 1931 catalog. In decent, working condition, they can go for $900.00 or more. This one, working, was priced at around $600.00

If you follow us regularly you know that Anthony has an extensive collection of vintage Fiesta. In 1948, Homer Laughlin’s Pottery Company produced a juice pitcher in celadon green as part of a promotional set to introduce their new Jubilee line. Extremely rare, we have seen this only twice. The first time was at Heart of Ohio Antique Mall in near mint condition and Anthony passed because of the asking price. The second – can’t remember where – but Chris remembers that we passed on it because of a condition issue (hairline crack).

Lest you feel bad for us, we have passed on some things and not regretted it.

On a whirlwind trip in 2008, we visited every family member in the east and 11 states in a 10-day period.  At Smiley’s Antique Mall, Micanopy, FL, Anthony passed on a Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A for $165.00. Later the same day, we saw another one at a different store for $125.00.  Anthony passed again joking he wanted to find one for $25.00.

 

Still the same trip, a sign for Schoolhouse Antiques (a popular name for schools repurposed into malls) found us driving for deco. We were exploring the different rooms when Anthony let out a gasp.  In his hands, a Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A for $22.00!

Beau Brownie No. 2A

The Kodak Beau Brownie No. 2A (1930 – 1933). Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague.

 

Anthony found a set of glasses at the Vietnam Vets Thrift Store (now, sadly closed) in Rochester, NY. Six in all, he wasn’t sure what they were but had a gut feeling they were good. Chris was not impressed and thought they were strange looking glasses from the 1970’s.  As 2 were chipped (very small rim chips), Anthony bought the 4 in mint condition for $1.99 each. Ironically, Chris thought he remembered seeing something like them before and thought the pattern was called Rumba.

A little research that night found they were part of Consolidated Glass’ Ruba Rombic line. (Rumba, Ruba – Chris was close!)  This glassware is so rare that minor damage does not affect the value.  As Vietnam Vets was closed the next day, Sunday, Anthony had to wait until Monday at lunchtime to get the other two. Luckily, they were still there. They are currently valued at approximately $250 per glass.

We have since added to the collection but paying premium prices.

Ruba Rombic glassware

Consolidated Glass Company’s Ruba Rombic (1928 – 1932). Designed by Reuben Haley.

We have learned from our past mistakes. Now with more years of collecting experience under our belts, and smart phones, we often do not let great Art Deco antiques get away from us.

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

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Driving for Deco, “Freakin’ ‘Tiquen” Summer 2017

Hi-ho, its Driving for Deco we go! Or rather went. Our 2017 freakin’ ‘tiquen adventures took us points west.  To our surprise, we found quite a bit of deco items – more than we accounted for as proved by our packed car.  We managed to fit in a bit of sightseeing, as well.

We headed off to our first stop, and an old friend. The Craft and Antique Co-Op in Painesville, Ohio.

There is a good mix of items from old to new and deep sale prices up to 50% in some booths.  Chris picked up a large 1930’s Czech Toucan Pitcher (not on sale) and an amber Farber Cambridge decanter set.

From there, another old friend, The Medina Antique Mall. We love this place and are never disappointed. We got quite a haul here. Anthony purchased a vintage overcoat, a 1936 Canadian Parker Vacumatic fountain pen, a walnut and Bakelite box and a set of Susie Cooper Wedding Band soup bowls, vegetable bowls and plates.

Needing to rest and have a quick bite, we found this interesting building. Newer, it embodied some features reminiscent of the Art Deco style.

The next day brought us across the state to Maumee, Ohio. We found a “great find” at Great Finds In Maumee. Good prices and a good mix of items in a clean, organized and well-lit store.

Stop two for the day was the Maumee Antique Mall. This is a large store with vendors of varying prices and quality. Put your walking shoes on because you’ll be here for a while. A small café is available if you need a pick-me-up and we can recommend their delicious muffins.

Markle Exit 286 Antique Mall in Markle, Indiana is a little gem we found on our 2011 Freakin’ ‘tiquen trip. A nice selection, they had fewer items of interest for us this time around. Still, we walked away with a lovely frosted glass ball vase embossed with swallows, a vintage neck tie, and a pewter ashtray we attribute to Queens Art.

The next day was the Fourth of July and our visit to Indiana Dunes National Park and the Century of Progress Homes. Being a holiday, we used this as a travel day, heading off to Racine, Wisconsin.

The antiquing in Racine was a rollercoaster of variety and prices. We did well at the local Thrift store picking up set of Chrys, made in England, desert set and a Davenport Ironstone plate (Cypress, circa 1855).

Our next adventure was a tour of the SC Johnson Administration Building.  The tour brings visitors to various buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The buildings designed in the 1930’s and 1940’s are Wright’s take on the International Style. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside the buildings. Click Here for tour information.

FLW's Johnson's Wax Building, Racine, Wisconsin.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1939 S.C. Johnson Administration Building and 1950 research tower. Cherokee Red brick and clear plastic tubing.

After our tour, more antiquing. We didn’t do as well at the appropriately named School Days Mall Antiques & Speciality Shops. Located in an old school building, it held some promise with a variety of item but at premium prices. The few items of interest were marked “firm”. We walked away empty-handed.

As it was still early, we headed out to Always Remember That Antique Mall but got distracted and stopped at Benson Antique Mall. One half of two malls separated by a parking lot, Benson proved to be real gem. Anthony found three pieces (casserole, large creamer and pie plate) of Royal Rochester in the hard-to-find Modernistic pattern. Already priced to sell, they were an additional 20% off. Chris picked up an Oven-Serve casserole in the Clematis pattern. We passed on a well-priced pair of Nu-Art elephant bookends and a fair priced but well-worn cane wrapped handled Manning-Bowman cocktail shaker. Upon checkout, the vendor who sold the Royal Rochester informed us she had more of the pattern at another near-by location.

The sister store? A huge disappointment of used contemporary items and collectibles of a dubious nature.

Yet another detour brought us to Great Lake Antiques and Boutique in Antioch Illinois. As promised, the vendor had a nice selection of the Royal Rochester Modernistic. Key word is “had” as the waffle iron, large sugar, small creamer / sugar, batter bowl and another casserole came home with us. Although a significant investment, the total price for all pieces equaled to less than the current asking price for the batter bowl on popular auction site. We also picked up 6 Chase cordial cups in excellent condition for a song.

We finally made it to our original destination for the day, Always Remember That Antique Mall. Chris picked up a serving platter, mixing bowl and casserole in the Clematis pattern.

Our next stop was the Carousel Consignments in Janesville, Wisconsin. With a vast variety of items on closely packed shelves there is something for everybody in this two-story shop. Looking for china, glassware, clocks, vintage / contemporary picture frames and more? This is the stop to make. We purchased an etched glass deco serving tray, vintage photoplay book, and several neckties. Two more stores, one next door and the other across the street were interesting.

Further west and we came across Dakota Plains Antiques & Collectibles, in Sioux Falls. Lots to see here and extremely fair prices. Our best find was a near mint Toast-O-Lator, model J for $10. These are not particularly difficult to find but are usually $145 and up. Toast-O-Lator’s move an up-right slice of bread along a conveyor system to drop gently onto an awaiting plate at the on the other end. More often than not, the bread  gets stuck inside and soon after, flames are shooting out the ends. Ours is for show!

Two other Antique malls are nearby. One had a thrift store vibe and we picked up a very nice silhouette. The other held promise and was interesting but nothing grabbed us and prices ranged from the high-end of fair to high.

Driving through South Dakota was a challenge as we drove along the edge of a bad storm system. Looking outside the driver’s window was a solid sheet of grey. Looking through the passenger window was spectacular.

Follow us on part 2 of our 2017 Freakin’ ‘tiquen and a whirlwind of  sightseeing starting with Mount Rushmore and more antiquing adventures!

Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’ Tiquen’ Guys)

 

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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.

 

Coins

 

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

Coca-Cola

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).

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