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This Little Dog Became First Cartoon Sex Pot!

Betty Boop was first introduced to the public in 1930 as a little dog! The cartoon character had curly hair, jowls, and the ears of a dog, although the body tended to be curvaceous and the legs were definitely female.

During ensuing films, changes were made by her producer, Max Fleischer, and in 1932 the character appeared as we know her today. The jowls of the face were smoothed out and the ears turned into earrings, the mouth became a bowknot, the curly hair turned into 16 spit curls and the body curves were put in the right places.
Her voice was reportedly modeled after that of the “Boop-Boop-A-Doop” girl, Helen Kane, and Mae West was said to have inspired the sexy body.

Betty Boop had a great appeal to people mired in the Depression, as she acted and sang in her baby voice through a variety of screen antics. She was given additional, although brief, exposure through a comic strip and a radio show.

Betty Boop was the first character to be depicted as a sex pot in cartoons. Some of the original scenes were spicy enough that parts were left out when Warner Brothers reissued some of them in the 1950s.

Two other characters were featured with Betty Boop in her films. One was Koko the clown; he actually preceded her, having been introduced in 1917 as an “Out of the Inkwell” cartoon by Fleischer.

The second, Betty’s dog, Bimbo, also preceded her on the screen. He arrived in the early 1920s, and went through several kinds of mischief on the screen before joining his new mistress in the ’30s. Both Bimbo and Koko quickly took a back seat to Betty when her final characterization was established.

Betty Boop novelties of almost every imaginable kind have been produced. Ashtrays and dolls, perfume bottles and postcards, match safes and marbles - an endless variety of items are available for a collector of Betty Boop.

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Celebrating Earth Day Offers Great
Opportunities For Collecting

NASA’s Earth Observatory photo.

by Debbie & Randy Coe

Do you reminder what happened over 40 years ago that could have an influence on your collecting today? A gallon of gas cost 36 cents and a postage stamp was 6 cents. In music, the Beatles announced that they were disbanding, Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin died, Mariah Carey was born and one of the top selling songs was “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” For news reports it was the launch of Apollo 13, the Kent state shootings, voting age lowered from 21 to 18 and a Boeing 747 non-stop flight to London. In technology, fiber optics was developed. A nuclear meltdown in South Carolina was another cause of pollution on our environment. How many of these things influence your life today?

A prominent event that occurred in 1970 was the founding of Earth Day. It was decided to honor the Earth by picking a special day, April 22, to focus on the need of being eco-friendly. This idea came from Gaylord Nelson, a US senator from Wisconsin. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to Nelson for his work on creating this day. This award is the highest honor given to a US civilian. Also as a result of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was created, along with the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Clean Water Act.

Today most of us are more conscious of our environment. As collectors, our biggest impact comes from recycling and reusing treasures from our past. By purchasing antique items, we eliminate the need for additional resources to be used and they don’t cause any new pollution. There is no excessive plastic packaging that needs to be discarded. We have time-tested items that have withstood the many years of use and are still here for us to use too. Earth friendly consumers need to see the antique industry from a whole new point of view. We offer the best alternatives to all kinds of shopping needs, from furniture to what we use to cook our food.

Collectors have more fun in their searches for prized treasures for their homes. As we venture out to antique shows, shops or malls we are sort of on a scavenger hunt. All sorts of antique items can fit in with our modern life. So many different types of furniture can be used in our homes, varying from chairs and tables to china cabinets and bedroom pieces. For our kitchen there are variety of items that can be used to make cooking and serving our meals safe from the toxic plastics of today. Corning and Pyrex offer a wide range of patterns and sizes in glassware. Wagner and Griswold cast iron pieces are another alternative for cooking food. As a side benefit, they contribute a trace amount of iron into our food.

Wonderful examples of linens for your table and quilts for your beds can easily be found. Books of all kinds can offer a variety of reading material. Many different lighting companies produced a wide variety of lamps for us to use. A large number of glass companies such as Cambridge, Fenton, Heisey and others manufactured a large quantity of glass items to use and decorate our homes. All of these are just ideas to get you thinking on what types of antique items fit your style. On Earth Day, one of the best ways a collector can contribute is buying and using items from our past. Vintage treasures can be part of every home. The impact on the environment is tremendous, plus another advantage is that by buying second hand often saves a lot of money. Saving our planet from added pollution should be a goal for all of us. Encourage collecting as one of the big ways to be a “Green” advocate. Antiques are already a recycled product that should give us an industry label of being “Green”.

What will you do for Earth Day? How about venturing out to a shop or show to find a recycled heirloom to use in your home? There are many Spring shows coming up that will offer a wide variety of items that may interest you. Local shops and malls can also be a destination for finding that vintage treasure. As you are reading this issue of Old Stuff, refer to the front listing to find a show(s) or shop(s) that you may be interested in visiting. .

Remember, collectors always have more fun in how they shop. Get out and share your passion with others!

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Hawaiian ‘Aloha’ Shirts Become Highly
Collectible Wearables

The vertical leaf and floral design is printed on a black background. The label says “Kamehameha made and styled in Hawaii.”
from Hawaiian Shirts, by Nancy Schiffer.

A trip to Hawaii for many people is not complete unless they can don a colorful Hawaiian print shirt or muumuu. The currently made mass-produced garments may be found in any tourist shop or clothing store on the islands. What has become very difficult to find, now, however, are the vintage Hawaiian shirts made of silk or rayon that introduced this fashion-art form to the world beginning in the 1930s. These often one-of-a-kind pieces are commanding some startling prices from vintage fashion collectors.

The earliest “aloha shirts”- a term coined by a shirtmaker named Ellery J. Chun - featured traditional Polynesian designs, especially those motifs used in tapa cloth. The early patterns were more geometric and less floral than the majority of those made today.

Silk and cotton were predominant materials used in the early 1920s and ‘30s, although it was difficult to register the dye patterns on silk accurately. The DuPont Company solved that problem in 1924 when it introduced its wonder fabric, rayon. This original rayon formula, which felt silkier than silk, was more durable and very inexpensive to manufacture.

The production of Hawaiian shirts became a viable business in the late 1920s when the cruise ships began making the islands a regular port of call. The aloha shirt became a popular souvenir of any visit to Hawaii. By the mid-1930s, the ever increasing tourist business, augmented by the personnel of the United States Army and Navy, caused two of the small companies that had been making tailor-made shirts to switch to factory-made production. The Kamehameha Garment Company, Ltd. and Branfleet (later renamed Kahala) were the first to make this move. Their products showed exceptional skill in blending island themes, exciting color combinations and quality craftsmanship. These shirts are among the most sought after by collectors today.

During this time, the fabric was generally designed in Hawaii, shipped to California to be printed, and then sent back to Hawaii for the manufacturing process.

One of the most popular designs was the “aloha tapa” of Kahala. It looked like a simple tapa print, but a closer look shows that the word aloha has been designed in the pattern.

Another popular Kahala design was the pineapple tweed. It looked much like hand-woven linen, but was really made from fabric remnants scooped up from the milliner’s floor. The only graphics on the these shirt was the Royal Hawaiian Crest with its motto. In general, Kamehameha patterns were flashier and brighter.

From 1936 to 1939, many small garment businesses opened up. With each of them producing more than a dozen new designs each year, the buyer had thousands of choices from which to select. Those with blue or black backgrounds were most popular during this period.

The silk-screen process was used for the fabric printing. The technique was an excellent one, in that each color was printed alone, and successive colors registered to the previous ones. This gave the designer a great deal of choice in color selection.

Following World War II, the garment industry boomed. The words “Made in Hawaii” were added to most shirts at this time, to stimulate sales. The patterns and colors grew wilder. There was also a strong Far Eastern influence in many of the designs. Since labor costs were much lower in Japan, many Hawaiian-based companies had their shirts designed, printed and/or manufactured there. Traditional designs gave way to tigers, dragons and pagodas. Nevertheless, the overall design and coloring still made these shirts fit the description of “aloha” shirt.

In the 1950s, many “Hawaiian” shirts were manufactured in the mainland United States, also. While some companies used excellent designs and handprinting techniques, there were many others that began making standardized low-priced mass produced shirts available at inexpensive prices. The imagery tended to be standardized and the patterns were smaller, repetitive ones. Some of the designs were so popular - such as hibiscus, ukuleles and leis - that innovative techniques were used to supply a variety of shirts. Using the basic print, the background tints were changed to give the customer a choice of color combinations. A popular hibiscus pattern was produced in twelve different color variations.

There are several things the collector should watch for in a vintage shirt. Both the fabric itself and the construction should show handcrafted quality. Connoisseurs will look for rare designs and unusual color combinations; original labels intact; matched pockets that do not interrupt the pattern; buttons made of kopra seeds, coconut shells, or metal with the Royal Hawaiian crest; and the fabric used. (If it’s made of polyester, it’s not very old.) Shirts with two-flapped pockets were worn for more formal occasions and long-sleeved versions were designed for evening wear. As with any collectible, the condition is also important.

The shirt labels used deserve attention of their own. Sportswear manufactures chose their logos and names to clearly indicate Hawaii. Most used some variation of a palm tree, although surfers, tropical fish and hula girls were all popular. “Made in Hawaii” (or “Made in Honolulu”) was almost always included. Then, as now, labels helped sell clothes, and a designer label helped sales.

Hawaiian Shirts, by Nancy M. Schiffer, (Schiffer Publishing,) shows excellent examples of Aloha shirts from different time periods.

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