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Thanksgiving Collectibles Evolve
Around The Bird

This is a         hand-painted porcelain turkey made by the Herend Porcelain factory of Hungary. It is about 5 inches tall.

It is pictured in Thanksgiving and Turkey Collectibles.

Thanksgiving is one holiday that has generated relatively few collectibles. Turkeys in one form or another head the list - in fact, in many cases, they are the only item on the list. Pilgrim figurines and postcards may also show up in a Thanksgiving collection, as well as some items such as Indian corn which relate to autumn in general.

For many years, candy container favors were popular on Thanksgiving dinner tables. These were, not surprisingly, usually in the shape of turkeys.

The early ones, produced in Germany in the first few decades of this century, are great additions to a collection. They were made of papi-er-mache, plaster-of-paris or a composition material. These table favors were often sold as sets, with a centerpiece bird as much as a foot high, and enough smaller ones, both hens and gobblers, to place at each table setting. Most of them separated in the middle to insert the candy; a few had heads that came off instead.

The very elaborate ones had glass eyes, and feet of heavy wire or lead. Other variations were also made, and these help to make a collection interesting.

The Japanese also made turkey candy containers for export to this country during the 1930s. Their work was generally painted more brightly than those from Germany, but showed less care with detail.

There were also a number of candy containers produced by American manufacturers during the 1940s and ‘50s. These were made of a rough cardboard material and were painted an overall rust/brown color. Not much attention was given to detail.

The candy containers were not limited strictly to turkeys. You might also find a duck, goose or chicken, and perhaps a Pilgrim man or woman.

Table accessories made of paper may also be included in a collection. The colorful lithography makes them very appealing. Paper napkins, plates, cups and tablecloths were all available from the late 1800s. As the candy containers, most featured the turkey as the central motif.

By their nature, of course, they aren’t easy to find. A paper napkin that was used for a Thanksgiving dinner was rarely kept. The whole point of using them was to be able to throw all the paper away afterwards.

Thanksgiving greeting cards were quite popular during the 1920s and ‘30s. The Germans made most of the early ones, as well as many of the postcards with Thanksgiving themes.

Table centerpieces of cardboard - again, almost always of turkeys - were also popular in the 1930s , and on into the ‘40s. They were usually over a foot in height. If there wasn’t room on the table, they could be hung in a window or taped to a door as a greeting.

Another table accessory produced in Japan in the 1930s featured the turkey as a celluloid place card holder.

There are a few other areas where a collector might find additions to a Thanksgiving collection. A few old toys and games feature this holiday, and turkeys might show up in a variety of other materials.

Thanksgiving and Turkey Collectibles, by John W. Thomas and Sandra L. Thomas (Schiffer Publishing, 2004) offers lots of additional ideas if you decide to collect Thanksgiving turkeys.

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Jewelers Create Washington State Seal

The official seal of the State of Washington, a bust of the first President, was copied from an advertisement of Dr. Janes’ Cure for Coughs and Colds.

George N. Talcott, one of three brothers who were jewelers in Olympia in 1889 and who designed the state seal, made the confession in his later years.

He wrote, “A committee, a short time previous to statehood, appeared before my brother, Charles, at our jewelry store with a design for the proposed state seal, to be completed when the first legislature met in November, 1889.

“The design submitted by the committee was a very complicated sketch, depicting the port of Tacoma, vast wheat fields and sheep grazing in the valley at the foot of Mt. Rainier.

“My brother told the committee that such a seal would be outmoded with the growth of the State. He picked up an ink bottle from his desk and drew a circle around its base. Next, he placed a silver dollar in the circle and drew an inner circle. Now he printed, between the two circles the words, ‘The Seal of the State of Washington, 1889.’ He then picked a postage stamp and pasted it in the center, saying, ‘That represents the bust of George Washington.’ His design was immediately accepted.”

The cutting of a picture of Washington, necessary to produce the die for embossing, turned out to be a complex, difficult job. The best model the brothers Talcott could find turned out to be on an advertisement of Dr. Janes’ Cure for Coughs and Colds, so this was what they copied.

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Variety Of Telephones Made Over The Years
Easily Whet The Appetite Of Collectors

Alexander Graham Bell would be a mightily surprised man to see what has happened to his telephone. Even with the imaginative powers that enabled him to invent the phone in the first place, he surely couldn’t have foreseen it taking the form of an apple, Snoopy or Kermit the Frog.

Collectors of telephones keep up with the various changes that have happened along the way, from the early wooden boxes made by dozens of companies, to the more “modern” candlestick desk sets of the early 1900s and on to the present.

Along the way, some interesting innovations have taken place, each, of course, being considered tops in its own time. For instance, among the ways of making the upright black desk phone look different was to vary the mouthpiece. The standard mouthpiece was black and made of rubber or later, bakelite. A simple variation was a mouthpiece painted red. Other companies made their mouthpieces out of white porcelain or clear glass, however, to give a different look. One glass model has red crosses lining the inside, presumably to indicate that this was a sanitary mouthpiece. Some truly enterprising early salesmen sold the space around and in the mouthpiece as an advertising medium, and one might find “McKee Taxi Cab Service, Main 2899” as a reminder of whom to call whenever the phone was picked up.

The candlestick phones themselves actually came in a variety of shapes. In fact, it is surprising the number of variations that were made on a basically upright column form. There was the “potbelly,” which had a bulge in the middle; the “semi-potbelly,” which didn’t bulge as much; The “oil can,” with a base that resembled one; the fluted shaft; The Eiffel Tower; the pencil shaft, which was straight and narrow; the “golf ball,” which had a bulbous part at the tip; and many others. (The names have been given to these styles by collectors. They were not advertised or sold with those names attached originally.)

Colored telephones are not a recent innovation, either. The “cradle” telephones were being made in red, green, ivory, gray, and even silver and gold as early as the 1920s.

It remains to be seen what collectors of the future will do with today’s cell phones, although the very early ones are already drawing interest from collectors.

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