Thursday, December 25, 2014

orange & turquoise

A vintage Anholt ashtray I got for Christmas and a  lighter I picked up off the ground on one of my walks (It still works!) These ashtrays were originally ceramic and made by the Coors company of Colorado. This one however is a "safety" ashtray made of melamine and boy, howdy, do I love that boomerang shape. It just shouts "mid century" and that deep orange perfectly complements the color scheme I'm working on in my living room. One of these ashtrays appeared in Betty's interrogation scene in "Mad Men" a few years ago.

I'd never heard of the "Clipper" brand of lighters and noticed the URL had a appended to it, so I looked it up; Clipper is based in Barcelona, Spain. There's an official site for the UK but not for the US. Upon a bit more searching I found these lighters are favored by pot smokers and except for online retailers are usually only found in head shops in the U.S. Judging from the prices listed on Amazon these lighters cost about twice as much as the disposable lighters I usually find laying around. This one's so cute with that Texas boot on it I'll probably keep it with my collection of miscellaneous junk after it stops working.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mid Century Table Lamps

I love looking at old table lamps, and I usually wonder where and when they were made. I found this page from an old book on interior design printed in 1954. I was surprised to see one of my favorite lamps, the "Modern informal" in the upper right corner. I see them on ebay now & then and I've bid on several of them without success. I have a pair of table lamps, probably from the 1960s that I'm pretty happy with, but someday I'd like to replace them with a pair of those "modern informals". I don't think I've ever seen one with its original shade, but it's nice to know what it looked like. Vintage shades seem to be harder to come by than the lamps themselves.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

you'll shoot your eye out, kid

One of the most memorable lines from A Christmas Story , repeated numerous times to Ralphie, the kid who only wants a Daisy Air Rifle BB Gun for Christmas.

Amateur etymologist that I am, this is another one of those phrases I wonder about. Where did it come from? How did it become so commonly used by parents of a certain era? And more to the point, what is its modern parental equivalent in these days of video games where kids are probably shooting out lots of other peoples' eyes online? Or maybe they're in the park pointing a  real-looking toy pistol at passersby. Whaddaya say to them?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Salty & Peppy

I got a surprise in the mail this week. My brother sent me the old wood salt and pepper shakers we used at the family table when we were kids. We called them Salty & Peppy. I thought the names were painted on their "hats" but I don't see any sign of writing now. (Have just learned my mom accidentally washed off the names.) They are quite worn and I think at some time I or someone else tried to fix the worn-out painted details.

variations of Salty & Peppy faces
There seem to have been a couple of standard design requirements, such as Salty's raised right eyebrow, open eyes, and smirking smile; and Peppy's demure closed eyes, striped hair, and white neck scarf; but since they were hand painted, each shaker varies slightly. My shakers are just under 5" tall, about the same size as an aluminum beverage can, but as you can see from the following photo they can be found in different sizes. There are also Salty and Peppy look-alike shakers out there with "cat faces". Some of those had a mechanical device inside that made a "cat" sound when you shook it.

Salty and Peppy were made in Japan, most likely by Woodpecker Wood Ware Products. Woodpecker also manufactured wooden salad or nut bowls, kitchen & bar-b-que tools, bread boards and canister sets. Some products had an embossed gold colored logo on the bottom and some have a stamped black logo. My two shakers only have a stamped black circle with "Made in Japan" inside, so I don't know for sure they were made by Woodpecker, however, they do resemble the shakers in old ads.

I'm not an expert on wood varieties, but according to one article I found, Woodpecker products were made of cherry from California. Some of their old ads include the word "cherry" and some include the words "maple finished". My Salty seems unusually dark, but it may be from constant use by grubby little hands.

I found Salty & Peppy and other Woodpecker Ware advertised in newspapers from 1954 to 1964. The ads also featured many products with a rooster motif, such as this wall hung knife holder I found on ebay.

The most unusual Woodpecker item I found on ebay was this little three-legged bowl. So Atomic!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

put it in your pipe and Smoke It

I remember hearing this expression off and on since childhood, though not so much lately. I found this 1950 ad for Briggs Pipe Mixture and it set me off to the internet seeking answers as to the origin of this most pithy comeback. I looked at the Cambride dictionary, the urban dictionary, pipe-smoker forums, and lots of other sites, who mostly just got it wrong.

The best explanation I found was at WordWizard, a site new to me. It listed three early uses of the phrase, to wit:

1824: "PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT" - in the play "Americans Abroad, Or, Notes and Notions: A Farcical Comedy, in Two Acts" by Richard Brinsley Peake.

1840: “For this you've my word, and I never yet broke it, So PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE, my lord Otto, AND SMOKE IT! from the poem "The Lady of St. Odile", part of the Ingoldsby Legends by R. H. Barham.

1947 “That's what you think. I'm engaged to her, so PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT.” from one of the short stories in the collection "Creatures of Circumstance" by W. Somerset Maugham, published about July 1947.

I verified that the above works did indeed contain the quotes cited by Word Wizard. I want to note they are all British sources, and this expression I heard was always used by American peoples. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the origin for the American use of this phrase is probably good old Life magazine.

1950: "If your pipe talks back ... PUT THIS IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT!.." - Briggs Pipe Mixture ad in Life Magazine - Jan 23, 1950

Monday, December 1, 2014

Turner Wall Accessories

Please note: I am no expert on the current value of Turner items!
I recommend you do a search for your item on ebay, etsy, google, or other search engine. On ebay you can save a search and be notified by email if a particular item is posted for sale or auction.

A while back I fell in love with a curio shelf someone posted on the  Retro Renovation site, and since then I've made a point to notice other things made by its maker, Turner Manufacturing Company. Turner Mfg. was based in Chicago and turned out hundreds of thousands of wall accessories, mainly from about 1949 to about 1977. The products were carried in furniture and department stores, even five-and-dime stores.  Chances are good if you were middle class in that era you had a Turner product on your walls. They were everywhere. I couldn't seem to find as much info as I wanted about the company, so I collected some bits and pieces from out there on the web and looked through old newspaper files. (latest update Dec 5. I am still adding material to this post.)

The earliest mention of Turner I found was from an April 1949 ad for White's Auto Stores in Austin, Texas. Turner was listed in a "miscellaneous" category which included Illinois Moulding, Simmons Baby Furniture, and Federal Wood Carving, among others. (White's was also selling Deena Lamps for $4.95 and a Kroehler set of sofa-bed & chair for $119.) I also found a September 1949 ad mentioning "Turner Pictures" for Westrich's in Delphos, Ohio; and a December ad for Blackwelder's in Statesville, NC. The Blackwelder's ad included the first illustration I could find for a Turner product.
1949 illustration for Turner ad

In March 1950 "Turner Pictures" was mentioned in an ad for Woodry Furniture Co. in Salem, Oregon. In December 1950 "Turner Picture Frames" was mentioned in an ad for the Earl G. Rhodes store in Tipton, Indiana, and in November 1951 Turner got its own separate box in Rhodes' ad which gave this information: Turner Pictures and Shadow Boxes, Currier and Ives, Godey Prints, Floral and Birds and Fashions, Mahogany What-Nots.
1951 Turner ad illustration
It looks like some of the earlier Turner pictures may have been backed with an allover design of the Turner logo printed on brown paper. Most Turner products have a plain back with the familiar blue on white sticker. Some items had "made in USA" and/or item
numbers stamped on the back. A few items like sconces may have a number embossed on the back.

About 1955 Turner began advertising more frequently in newspapers across the U.S. Many of its products were made of "Turnerwood", a composite of molded cellulose acetate and wood fibers. The content of Turnerwood wasn't mentioned in any ads until the 1970s.  Turner began mostly with framed reproductions of classic paintings and artists who seemed to work exclusively for Turner, such as Cydney Grossman, Robert Woods and Arthur Miller. Clocks, plaques and curio cabinets followed.

Turner's heyday seems to have peaked about 1960-62, at least judging by the amount of newspaper advertising. By 1965 there were no more Mother's Day ads, and few ads at Christmas, their main advertising season. By the late 1960s their main product seems to have been mirrors, and mirror sets that included two sconces and/or a console table. There were some modern art pieces, and some of these were "back painted" on glass. Turner also flirted with the manufacture of furniture a few times, like their Capri line of Mediterranean coffee and end tables in the early 1970s.

In 1972 Turner Mfg. was acquired by International Multifoods Corp. of Minneapolis, Minn. At that time Turner employed about 700 people and was expecting to reach $14 million in sales. Turner may have been in trouble by 1975; a legal notice (which I was unable to decipher) was listed in a Chicago business journal in May of that year. I could find no newspaper ads for Turner products after December 1977 until October 1980, when an Indiana discount store was selling off what was left from the Turner factory.

I thought it would be fun to try and date some of Turner's products, so that's what the rest of this post is about. I'll post illustrations & descriptions of products. If I find color photos to match I'll add those too.  And at the end is a list of stores I found that carried Turner products over the years.

SAFETY ISSUE: Many Turner products had a brass ring at the top. You'd think it was made to hang up the picture, but that's not the case. You may need to find a different way to hang your plaques if they don't come with something already made up.

PS This is turning out to be a bigger project than I imagined. I will post this just to get the info up and add to the products as I find them.

Fancy Sunburst Clocks

Left: 24" diameter  $22.98
Imported 8-day wind movement. Carved effect Sunburst frame of Turnerwood. Brilliant gold metal leaf finish.

Right: 26" diameter  $36.98 Imported 8-day wind movement, Sunburst carved effect in Turnerwood. Gold metal leaf finish. 

Exquisite Sunburst Mirrors

Left  24" diameter   $11.98 
Carved frame of Turnerwood, brillant gold metal leaf finish, 8" convex mirror

Right  26" diameter  $19.98
Carved effect of Turnerwood. Brilliant gold metal leaf finish with white finish, 8" convex mirror  

I found several of these clocks selling on eBay for about $300. Sellers indicate movment is made in France by Duverdrey & Bloquel, and winds with a key. 

Sunburst Mirror with 2 Sconces

Seven inch convex mirror surrounded by 24" x24" sunburst design. The sunburst and the two sconces are made of durable Turner-wood and have a sculptured effect which is finished with brilliant gold leaf.
3 pc. ensemble  $14.98

Dramatic Suburst Clock   $17.95

Symmetrical design is moulded in durable Turnerwood and finished in Brilliant Gold with grey tone. Fitted with a reliable Sessions electric clock movement.

24" x34" Large Maurice Utrillo reproduction
Contemporary shell frame in neutral Decorator's finsish   $9.95

(Other distinguishedAmerican and French painters are also represented in this group)

Decorator styled Curio Cabinets

Left cabinet 33" x27"
Two right cabinets 32" x26"

7 styles, all have mirrored backs

 Curio Cabinet

23x29 inches    $15.98
Mirror backed, Chippendale design with scalloped and pierced frame. Mahogany finish.

Large Framed Pictures    $9.95

Reproductions of original oils by top-ranking artists. Choose from gorgeous scenes, colorful florals & charming interior subjects. Variety of frames to harmonize with modern or traditional interiors.

American Beauty Portraits by Cydney

Oilette finish in soft pastels or warm, vibrant colorings. Choose from deep shadow box frame in white with gold speckle or Turnerwood sweep frame with corner and center ornaments.
4x5"  -  $2.98;  6x7",  6x8"  -  $3.98
11x13", 11x14"  -  $6.98

Another ad offered one-piece frames:
Raised ornamentation at corners and center, gold metal leaf with white overlay; Shadowbox frame in raised Greek key design with gold leaf and white; or Reverse shadowbox frame in raised fretwork in gold leaf, background in beige or charcoal.
6 1/2 x 7 1/2" size only $1.98,   8 1/2 x 10 1/2 size  $2.98,   13" x 17" size $5.95

This is a good example of how Turner repurposed a single image by using different shapes and sizes and combining with many different frames.

This one particular set of images, for instance, can be found in rectangular shapes, as squares, and even ovals.

Item # 1213 F21 Silhouettes

 6x6 inch silhouettes in Turnerwood octagon frame. Gold metal leaf antique finish.   $2.59 ea.


Gold Vein Mirror Paneled

Black and gold is the color scheme of this magnificent clock. The face is Gold metal leaf against black backgroud. The reverse shadow box frame is Gold vein mirror-paneled. Use alone or group with other wall accessories for a dramatic effect. Fitted with a reliable electric movement. Overal size: 17 inches square.

$39.95 value: $19.95

Elegant French Baroque

A high fashion in wall accessories. There's richness and elegance in this French design clock. The carved effect Turnerwood case is finished in antique Gold metal leaf. Fitted with a reliable 8-day hand wind movement. Overall size: 17 inches square.

$39.95 value: $19.95


"West Wind" appeared in the ad. Here shown with a variation of its mate,  "East Wind"

Plaques with tile-look background

Fruits and Florals.
Mahogany, Gold tip, Glassed.
Overall size: 8 x 17 inches.

Modern Panels.
Walnut & White finish, Oilette.
Overall size: 10 x 23 inches 


Black and Gold, Glassed.
Overall size: 9 x 16 inches

May have come as a set of four.


set of four 
Plaque in ad is "Spring" 

Detail of the "Summer" plaque

Left - probably a Montmarte scene by Utrillo
Right - possibly 2 young ballerinas by Cydney


Famous Art on Your Walls   -  your choice  $12.97
Works by Robert Wood, W. Sloan, Walker, Utrillo, Van Gogh, Soyer, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Constable, Monet and others. Sizes vary from 21 x 25 inches to 30 x 42 inches.

"Girl with Broom" by Rembrandt.  22 x 27 in., white tone frame, linen center, gold metal leaf lip.

"Still Life with Strawberries" by Hank Bos. 20 x 42 inch, early American finish frame with gold inner line.

"Master Lambton" by Lawrence. 21 x 25 in., modern walnut rame, scoop style with linen center.

"Salton Sea", James Swinnerton.
24 x 44 in. modern walnut shadow box frame with burlap liner, broad gold metal leaf upper line.

"Magnolias" by Walker.
25 x 31 in. modern walnut scoop style frame with linen-effect center.

"Apples and Oranges", Cezanne. 25 x 31 in. modern walnut wide frame with beige toned linen center.

 "The Grand Tetons" by Robert Wood.
23 x 41 in. Ornamented Barbizon style rame in decorator's gold finish.

"Small Hostelry" by Maurice Utrillo.
29 x 35 inch modern walnut scoop style frame with linen-effect center.

RETAILERS 1949-1977
Dorris-Heyman - Phoenix AZ (1961, 68)
Korrick's - Phoenix AZ (1963)
Penney's - Phoenix AZ (1960)
Telco Furniture - Phoenix AZ (1959)
Holiday House - Tucson AZ (1959)
Penney's - Tucson AZ (1962)
Cooper's - Fresno CA (1964, 65)
Gottschalk's - Fresno CA (1964, 65)
Dooley's Hardware Mart - Long Beach CA (1965, 1973)
Walker's - Long Beach CA (1967)
Sears, Roebuck and Co. - Pasadena CA (1957)
McMahan's Furniture Stores - Redlands CA (1967)
Harris' (The Harris Co.) - San Bernadino CA (1956, 1962, 63, 64)
Western Sales - San Bernadino CA (1957, 1959)
Newberry's (J. J. Newberry Co.) - San Mateo CA (1960, 61)
Breuner's - San Mateo CA (1972)
Janko Upholstery - San Rafael CA (1973)
Fuller Home Decorating Center - Van Nuys CA (1965)
Grant's (W. T. Grant Co.) - Bridgeport CN (1962)
Younkers - Des Moines IA (1972)
Jacoby's (C. J. Jacoby & Co.) - Alton IL (1955-56, 59, 60, 61)
Schwarz Furniture & Appliance Co. - Alton IL (1960)
Northwest Metalcraft Studio - Arlington Heights IL (1960)
Heights Glass & Mirror - Chicago IL (1966)
Meadows Glass Corp. - Chicago IL (1977)
Otake Art Shop - Chicago IL (1955)
Kelley's - Anderson IN (1961, 63)
Leath Furniture - Anderson IN (1968)
Rogers - Anderson IN (1961)
Broyle's - Elwood IN (1971)
Taff Furniture Stores - Rushville IN (1959)
Earl G. Rhodes Jewelry & Gifts - Tipton IN (1950)
The Palace - Monroe LA (1958)
Rosenbaum's - Cumberland MD (1956)
Town & Country Department Store - Cumberland MD (1962)
Eyerly's - Hagerstown MD (1959)
Goldblatt's - Benton Harbor MI (1967)
Newland - Benton Harbor MI (1955)
De Pree's - Holland MI (1963)
Milliken's - Traverse City MI (1964)
Emery Bird Thayer - Kansas City MO (1955)
Kline's - Kansas City MO (1961)
Macy's - Kansas City MO (1961)
The Jones Store Co. - Kansas City MO (1961, 1964)
Traditional House - Kansas City MO (1973)
Belk's - Burlington NC (1960, 65)
Matthews-Belk - Gastonia NC (1959)
Belk's - High Point NC (1960)
Blackwelder's, - Statesville NC (1949)
Gold's of Nebraska - Lincoln NE (1956)
Miller and Paine - Lincoln NE (1965, 66)
Penney's - Lincoln NE (1961)
Arrow Furniture - Albuquerque NM (1962)
Las Cruces Furniture Co. - Las Cruces NM (1961)
Home Furniture - Reno NV (1957)
Breuners - Reno NV (1973)
Westrich's Store - Delphos OH (1949)
Moore's - East Liverpool OH (1955)
Elberfeld's - Logan OH (1958)
Batson's - Mansfield OH (1961)
Maxwell's - Mansfield OH (1958)
W. E. Jones - Mansfield OH (1961)
Crusey's - Sandusky OH (1956, 57)
Herman's Furniture & Colonial Shoppe - Sandusky OH (1963)
Woodry Furniture Co. - Salem, OR (1950)
Wolf Furniture Co. - Altoona PA (1956)
Grants - Bristol PA (1961)
Brody's - Canonsburg PA (1971)
M. J. Freed  -  Chester PA (1960)
Sam Levin Furniture Co. - Connellsville PA(1958)
Landau's - Hazleton PA (1958, 1960)
The Discount House - Hazleton PA (1962)
Millers - Huntingdon PA (1961)
Rice's Discounts - Monongahela PA (1963)
W. T. Grant Co. - Uniontown PA (1971)
Bartsch Furniture Co. - Warren PA (1967)
Levinson Brothers Wallpaper & Paint - Warren PA (1961, 62)
Gallant-Belk - Greenwood SC (1962, 64)
Parks-Belk - Kingsport TN (1960)
Thornton's - Abilene TX (1959,1960)
White's Auto Stores - Austin TX (1949)
K-mart - Baytown TX  (1963)
Morrison's - Baytown TX (1961, 62)
Green's Jewelers - Corpus Christi TX (1957)
Lichtenstein's - Corpus Christi TX (1963)
American Furniture Co. - El Paso TX (1959, 1962, 1972, 73)
Imperial Furniture Co. - El Paso TX (1961)
Sears - El Paso TX (1963)
Plantowsky's - Galveston TX (1973)
Schreiber & Miller - Galveston TX (1975)
Furr's Family Center - Lubbock TX (1960)
Gibson's - Lubbock TX (1969)
Murphy's (G. C. Murphy Co.) - Lubbock TX (1962)
Casstevens Furniture - Odessa TX (1961)
Household Furniture Co. - San Antonio TX (1962)
Jorrie's - San Antonio TX (1960)
Karotkin's - San Antonio TX (1964)
Goldstein-Migel - Waco TX (1960)
Stratton's Home Furniture - Waco TX (1973)
Auerbach's - Ogden UT (1973)
R. C. Willey & Son - Ogden UT (1973)
Auerbach's - Salt Lake City UT (1959-61, 1967)
ZCMI - Provo UT (1973)
Thalhimer's - Danville VA (1960)
Kennewick Furniture Co. - Kennewick WA
Gloudemans - Appleton WI (1960, 1969)
Rothmore - Appleton WI (1960)
Manchester's - Madison WI (1962)
Gimbels, Milwaukee WI
Copps - Oshkosh WI (1971)
Ogilvy's - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA (1968)