June 11, 2010

"Angel Museum a heavenly attraction in Wisconsin"

Sounds like Dave Hoekstra, staff reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, had much fun writing this story:

"I had driven past the Angel Museum in Beloit several times and never stopped in.


"When I finally dropped by last month, I was greeted by Joyce Berg, a Beloit grandmother who curates the 13,732 angels in the collection.

"She was wearing a satin angel outfit with a matching halo and feathered wings trimmed with sequins.

"It was like walking into the Art Institute of Chicago and meeting Henri Matisse.


"America’s guardian angel, Oprah Winfrey, donated her collection of black angels to the museum.

“As we were getting ready to open in 1998, Oprah had Cher on her show,' explained the museum’s executive director, Ruth Carlson. 'They were talking about angels. Oprah said, ‘I wonder if black angels exist? I’ve never seen any.’

"Oprah’s fans responded by sending her black angels from around the world, but the talk show host had no place to put them.

"A museum trustee knew someone at Harpo Studios. Oprah wound up donating about 700 black angels.


"Here is what I love about small-town museums: Berg showed me a summer exhibit titled 'Angelic Mediums,' which illustrates the many ways one can make an angel. She spoke of her friend Katy Hansen, who made a feather angel and a life-size angel out of tomato cage material [link to angel not made by Katy!] and decorated with gold roping.

“'She’s very talented,' Berg said. The Angel Lady then paused, smiled and said, 'She actually does my hair.'”

Ah, Dave Hoekstra is so right about the charm of small-town museums!

[If you're into angels, you can find the book, Angel Collectibles, on Amazon, where it's listed at $22.76. The other images shown here come from the remarkable Angel Museum website.]

June 9, 2010

"Patriotic Collectibles with Kit Hindrichs"

Gotta love Martha Stewart! Well, no you don't, actually, but Martha always does the holidays proud.

Witness this article on MarthaStewart.com about an extensive collection of U.S. flag & other patriotic collectibles:

"In the late 1800s and early 1900s, patriotism was very much a part of American daily life, taught to schoolchildren at an early age and demonstrated throughout adulthood. Some of the symbols of the patriotism practiced back then are highly collectible now, as evidenced by the 3,000 pieces of memorabilia owned by Kit Hinrichs [see Martha's interview here], a partner at Pentagram Design in San Francisco and the author of Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag."

See wonderful photos of Hinrichs' collection displayed at the Nevada Museum of Art exhibition. This display took my breath away!

See more pieces of this collection from the Smithsonian here. And Google displays several more collectibles from 100 American Flags: A Unique Collection of Old Glory Memorabilia (by Kit Hinrichs, Delphine Hirasuna), here.

Enjoy a patriotic 4th of July, everyone!

[Both images here are book covers. You can buy the 2001 (224 page), hardcover Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag from Amazon for $37.80 (discounted price!). And find Hinrich's 2008 (112 page),100 American Flags: A Unique Collection of Old Glory Memorabilia, at Barnes & Noble for just $17.05.]

June 5, 2010

Have you tried PicClick, eBay's visual search engine?

Meant to post this info received via my Flickr account long ago (sorry Tamar!). But everything she describes about PicClick is still good:

Hey Dana,

Sorry for the unconventional way of contacting you, but I'd like to perhaps submit a story idea for The Collecting Gene if you still write for it.

I'm not involved with the project but I'm trying to help build buzz around a site called PicClick.com, a visual eBay search engine. Using PicClick, one can search and see pictures of auctions instead of having to browse through text and titles. Here's an example for your kind of search: picclick.com/Collectibles/

If you thought PicClick was cool and had any interest in blogging about this, I'd really be appreciative. If nothing else, I do hope you like it.


Agree that PicClick is cool. And I like it a lot.

Test searches of my fave collectibles were for vintage Fiesta, 1940s sewing patterns, & suffrage postcards.
Amazing how well PicClick works to: 1) retrieve good results, 2) enable scanning lots of listings at once, & 3) offer classic eBay viewing toggles.

You quickly get a whole bunch of mini eBay listings that match your query:

"PicClick is the first visual shopping interface for eBay. With PicClick you can see up to a hundred products on one page compared to a handful in the standard eBay view. Also notice the infinite scrolling, image zoom slider on the top right, and the many variations of RSS feeds. It's just a great new way to explore and discover new things on eBay."

I found StartUpNextDoor's interview with PicClick founder, Ryan Sit, quite interesting. 

Note that PicClick is busy expanding its visual search services. According to ReadWriteWeb on 6/2/010:

"When Ryan Sit, also the founder of TopicFire ... started PicClick, a year and a half ago, it had two tabs - eBay and Amazon. Now it has seven, having added Etsy, Match.com, AllRecipes, Google and Yelp (the last still under construction). And it looks smart on an iPad."

Smart, fast, & easy to use, I highly recommend PicClick visual search!

[The 3 images here are from PicClick's site, my own screenshot of the vintage Fiesta PicClick search, & a screenshot from one of the articles that discussed the company's search results. Thanks, ReadWriteWeb.]

June 1, 2010

"So many chainsaws, so little space"

Here we have a  lifelong collector of antique chainsaws.

Yes, chainsaws!

Read all about Mike & his collection (video included with article), at BCLocalNews.com:

"Burnaby’s Mike Acres admits he’s got a bit of a space problem.

"He says he’s just got the 'collecting' gene in him.

"Thank goodness he doesn’t collect cars or other large objects.

"After all, over the past 50 years he’s managed to amass a collection of 700 chainsaws, all of which he’s got stored at home and in every nook and cranny of the Burnaby warehouse where he runs a power tool distribution business....


"Like many people, Acres just fell into his collection and the obsession grew from there.


"His dream is to one day have a chainsaw museum. He’s offered his collection to a couple of museums but hasn’t had any interest so far—funding and space being something of a premium for such institutions.

"In the meantime, he does his best to preserve his lifetime of chainsaw knowledge on his website [Chain Saw Collectors Corner], by contributing to the 2006 book Chainsaws: A History, and through working on a book of his own."

Note that Acres' site "...is intended as a resource for all collectors of antique chain saws and those who work towards the preservation of the history of the Chain Saw Industry. It is also intended as a resource for Chain Saw Dealers who wish to identify a saw model or 'date' a saw."

You can, of course, find more vintage chainsaws on eBay here....

[That's the great cover for Chainsaws: A History at the top. You can buy it from Amazon for $29.67. The ended eBay auction (by seller hilrage), for "Antique Porter Cable Chain Saw complete" (photo above), sold for $103.51 after 12 bids. Finally, there's the Chain Saw Age magazine (9-1966), I found on SmokStak®.]

May 31, 2010

"Collectible Movie Posters: Illustrated Guide With Auction Prices"

GR8 info about fabulous movie posters from the savvy folks at Heritage Auction Galleries!

"'What makes a movie poster valuable?'

"1978: a woman buys her husband a gift — an old horror-movie poster, one of many in a stack. The price: $10. The poster hangs on their wall for 30 years... 'I knew it was something special,' she says. In 2009, they sell it for $107,550. [Wow!]

"Since the 1990s, rare movie posters have skyrocketed in value. High demand and low supply have created one of today's hottest collectibles markets. Hollywood celebrities buy up these classic pieces of movie memorabilia—but so do everyday collectors: people who love the color, history, drama, and beauty of American film posters.

"In Collectible Movie Posters: Illustrated Guide With Auction Prices, Jim Halperin and Hector Cantu—two experts from Heritage Auction Galleries, which handles 70 percent of the world's movie poster auction sales—share with you the wonderful world of the rarest, the most valuable, and the most exciting movie posters known to exist.

"Who knows—maybe a poster that you find in an antique store's bargain bin will someday make this list."

You can buy this book for $19.95 (with free shipping inside the U.S.), here. Collectors should also note a huge upcoming Heritage poster auction (Dallas, TX; auction #7025), July 15-17:

"Highlights will include the best in early silent and sound films up through the Golden Age of Hollywood. Classic examples of the greatest posters from such genres as Westerns, Horror, Science Fiction, Musicals and Film Noir are all here. Over 1,000 lots of fabulous posters in perhaps the ultimate vintage movie poster auction of the year!:

Bulldog Drummond (Ronald Colman) - Insert, Title Card and Half Sheet
Hula (Clara Bow) - One Sheet
Private Detective 62 (William Powell) - One Sheet
Anna Christie (Greta Garbo) - Insert, Title Card and (2) Lobby Cards
Adventures of Robin Hood (Claude Rains & Basil Rathbone) - Half Sheet style B, One Sheet and Press Book
Dracula  (Bela Lugosi) - Jumbo Lobby Card
Follow the Fleet (Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers) - Three Sheet
Melody Cruise (Phil Harris & Charles Ruggles) - One Sheet
Sea Hawk  (Errol Flynn) - Insert
Tiger Shark (Howard Hawks directs Edward G. Robinson) - One Sheet

[All images in this post come from Heritage's delightful Vintage Movie Posters section: 1) The Laurel & Hardy Way Out West (1947) poster sold for $215.10 on 5/30/2010. 2) The second image is the cover for the book described above. 3) The poster for Colt Comrades, starring William Boyd, sold for $155.35 at the same Sunday Internet Movie Poster Auction on 5/30/2010. Enjoy!]

May 27, 2010

"'Busty Barbie' in Mattel's new Back to Basics Barbie"

Now, that's an  eye-catching headline for sure. Naturally, it's from the New York Daily News.

But Paul Hooson, writer for Wizbang Pop!, actually has the better story:

"New Barbie Collection Controversial":

"Mattel has a new collection of Barbie dolls called BACK TO BASICS To which is a little hard to understand. It's not really clear what's BACK TO BASICS about the collection of dolls, which in some cases look much more like porn stars, gold diggers, and other interesting career types than anything. But, Mattel does deserve some credit for creating a unique new line of Barbie dolls with new faces and some more adult fashion designs. In fact, each new face in the series seems to tell an interesting story.


"Mattel attempted something daring here, and that will likely be talked about for years by collectors. These are a real oddity in the long running brand series."

So, is this latest incarnation of Barbie -- "some of the best faces the series has ever offered" -- intended solely for adult collectors? Given the low-cut dresses &, shall we say, the doll's enhanced attributes, some parents certainly think so....

But some reader comments about "Busty Barbie" on the Daily Cents site sound less concerned. Like this one by Ann:

"I see people at the mall dressed in less clothing. This doll collection is clearly intended for adults. Parents will need to decide if they want to purchase for their kids."

What do you think?

Is the Back to Basics collection a welcome addition for adult Barbie collectors? Or are the dolls just too much for girls who love Barbie?

[The first image above is "BARBIE BASICS MODEL #10," which recently sold for $19.99 on eBay. Next is a set: "4 Barbie BASICS Doll #s 11-3-6-13," which went for $124.99. And the "BARBIE BASICS DOLL MODEL NO 1," sold for a Buy-It-Now price of $29.99.]

May 22, 2010

RIP Comic Book Collector Jerry Howell (1941-2009)

Nice, if belated, tribute from Heritage Auctions to "...our valued client Jerry F. Howell Jr.":

"Few if any Disney comics ever published eluded Jerry, and the same is true for anything to do with Walt Kelly's Pogo, another of his favorites. But his tastes were eclectic and wide-ranging. He was also generous with his knowledge about vintage comics — you'll find Jerry's name acknowledged in some of the early Overstreet guides as a contributor of data."

"An avid collector of Golden Age comics for many years, Jerry decided to sell that collection and focus his attention on character and personality timepieces. This was done in rogue scholar fashion, as he not only amassed an incredible collection, but also the knowledge to rival any authority on the subject. This was done to take his mind off a serious illness, one that ultimately took him from the collecting community. However, his tireless efforts will live on through the collection we have to offer over the next year."

[That's the cover for a new book, Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1. "A masterpiece of satirical comics finally gets its due." This "first of twelve" premiere volume includes "an extensive biographical introduction by Walt Kelly biographer Steve Thompson" & "360 pages of black-and-white comic strips." And the other charming image is a “DICK TRACY” ANIMATED WATCH from Jerry Howell's Timepiece Collection.]

Interview with Historical Clothing Collector, Susan Greene

Updated 5/23/2010 with new images & additional links.
I really wanted to know more about how Susan Greene started collecting historic clothing, how she kept information organized, & how she managed to develop such an important collection.

Oh, I also had questions about her soon-to-be published (2011) book [PDF link].

Here are Susan's answers to my emailed questions:

Q. Did your now-huge (!) collection start as a personal passion or a professional interest?

A. The collection began innocently with the purchase of an 1860s silk dress [Flickr photo, not Susan's] with a hanger about to go through its shoulders. The ball started rolling down the hill after that, getting bigger and faster. My husband [Bruce Greene] and I did this together, by the way.

Q. I noticed the 2 screen shots of your collection database. Was it difficult to determine how this data should be captured? How much daily/weekly time was devoted to keeping data current?

A. We started keeping records on 3x5 cards with contact prints. I learned to use the Filemaker Pro data base while working in the costume collection at Cornell University. As Filemaker grew, so did [my computer skills] and later, so did digital photography. Once that came into my hands I never looked back at the Pentax. So easy, it now is.

I could not begin to estimate the time spent in conservation, collection management, formal study, general research, genealogical research, photographing, Photoshopping, examining, drawing, patterning, consulting, writing and speaking that has gone along with this.
The article to which you refer did not share one very important aspect of the purchase of our collection: it was plug-n-play. That means it included the data base and all the intellectual property [link to large, must-see sample database PDF] that would take years to add, if a 'pile of clothes' was all that was included.

Q. I realize your new book will be published by a university press, but to what extent will it also be accessible to everyday collectors as well as academics? (I like your description that it will be "Profusely Illustrated"!)

A. The book, tentatively entitled Wearable Prints: Printed Dress Fabrics, 1760-1860, is to be published by Kent State University Press, hopefully in 2011. It is intended to please everyone from curator to curious with information as accurate as possible, in a user/reader-friendly style. If I am successful in keeping most of the images in the book, there will be plenty of eye candy.

Q. Will you also be putting together a book about the most interesting individual items of clothing you've had in your collection? And how you found them?

A. We think it is a nice idea but have no plans to publish a catalog of any kind. The prerogative is no longer entirely ours.

How do we find things? Go looking. Everywhere. Some have come to us, but most have been found in antique shops high and low, antique shows and at the occasional auction. It helps to know what you are looking for, and at. For every bargain there is the bloodletting price on something else.

One has to decide what one's collecting parameters will be; where to draw the line. We decided to stay away from high-end clothing which is found in every major collection anyway. Thus we wound up with a comparatively distinctive collection that represents middle-class, everyday wear for the most part.

Note that mothballs do not enter into the picture with archival storage of historic clothing, and wearing the contents under any circumstances is considered inappropriate for archived collections.

Q. So, what are you going to collect now?  8-)

A. More clothing: very selectively, just the most desirable items to complement the existing collection.

[The gorgeous garment on the top right is a "Trained day dress of heavy watered silk, c1865." Part of the Greene collection, it was purchased at a Whitaker/Augusta Auction in 2006. The second piece is a "Common day dress of inexpensive cylinder printed cotton, 1815-1820." I've also included the cover for Textiles for Early Victorian Textiles by Susan Greene (available thru Amazon). This 2002 book features swatches of modern fabrics resembling period ones. And the 2 database screenshots are courtesy of Susan Greene's American Costume Studies. Thanks!]

May 21, 2010

"Historic clothing collection comes to Genesee Country Village"

Updated 5/21/2010 with a new image & additional links.
Ah, this is a story of a lifelong collector of historic clothing, Susan Greene.

And an organization, the Genesee Country Village & Museum, that recognized the value of her remarkable collection.

The news story comes from Stuart Low, staff writer for the Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester NY):

"Genesee Country Village & Museum ... just acquired one of America’s premiere collections of historic clothes — 2,214 items, from dainty petticoats to elegant waistcoats and tea dresses....


"The museum bought the bulging wardrobe for an undisclosed sum from Susan Greene, who owns American Costume Studies in Alfred Station, Allegany County. She gradually built the collection over 25 years.

"I am sad to part with it,' she said in a statement this week.

“Nonetheless, I am delighted to see it move on … to serving a large audience at the Genesee Country Village & Museum."


“'It stands alone as one of the finest collections of its kind in North America,' says Karen Augusta, appraiser for Antiques Roadshow.

“'The Greene collection is particularly important for information it offers on the working classes of people of the rural Northeast,' adds Lynne Z. Bassett, former curator of textiles for Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass. 'Generally the elegant clothes of the upper … classes are most strongly represented in museum collections.'"

Fascinating! But I also had more questions, including details about Ms. Greene's forthcoming book. It will be published by Kent State University Press (..."hopefully in 2011"). She kindly agreed to an email interview. I'll publish our discussion later today...

[Images here come from the Costume Society of America's bookstore & from the Greene collection:

1) Clothing through American History: The Federal Era through Antebellum, 1786-1860 by Ann Buermann Wass & Michelle Webb Fandrich ("..a discussion of levels of society, daily life, and dress");

2) The Wass book also features 7 items from the Greene collection, including the "Breeches of heavy cotton velvet, considered a hard-wearing, utilitarian fabric,1780-1810" shown above;

3) Fitting & Proper, by Sharon Ann Burnston & Sharon Ann Burnston ("...studies the 18th century costume collection from the Chester County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society").]

May 19, 2010

"Lost" Props Go Up for Auction

Heresy to some folks, I know, but I just couldn't get into "Lost"!

Clearly, I am an outlier in that opinion.

But there's good news (from the UK's Daily Mail), for "grieving fans" of the show:

"With the last episode of Lost in sight, fans of the hit U.S. TV show might be feeling sentimental.

"That's certainly what one auction house is hoping.

"California-based auction house Profiles in History will have more than 1000 props from the show for sale in a huge sale this summer. [See the "Lost" auction preview here.]


"The auction house has admitted they could have timed the sale better, with Lost coming to its conclusion this Sunday [5/23/2010].

"However they admit they wouldn't be able to collect and catalogue all the items in time for a quick sale.

"An official date hasn't been set - other then 'later this summer' and the venue is at yet undecided."

 [The images here all come from Profiles in History's "Lost" auction preview: 1) prop passport of character Dean Moriarty, 2) prop wooden crate (with no lid) & dynamite sticks, 3) prop LED brainwashing goggles worn by Karl, & 4) prop Walt "MISSING" Milk Carton. Happy bidding, "Lost" fans!]