Miller's Old Stuff on Ebay
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Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

There’s A Big Variety
Of Halloween Collectibles

Collecting Halloween memorabilia is fun, and there is seemingly no end of things from which to choose.

Halloween costumes became popular in America during the 1880s. The early costumes were homemade, and many of the women’s magazines gave instructions and patterns.

The Dennison company began selling paper costumes around 1910. These are rare today, since they were made to be worn just the one time and then discarded.

In the 1930s, the Sears, Roebuck company first offered its ready-to-wear Halloween costumes, and by the 1940s, several additional companies including Halco, Ben Cooper and Collegeville had them available. The costumes usually had screen-printed designs on thin fabric and were sold complete with appropriate masks. Costumes representing popular cartoon characters became popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

Spacemen began to go trick-or-treating in the 1960s. Years from now, collectors may be looking for Elena costumes. (If you don’t keep up with the younger set, she is Disney’s newest princess, and Elena costumes sold out this fall as fast as they appeared on the shelves.)

If you’re interested in collecting costumes, check carefully on their condition. Avoid those that have split seams or stained spots.

Halloween items of hard plastic are another area to consider. They were produced by several companies in the United States following World War II. Since these supposedly unbreakable pieces didn’t live up to the material’s claim, they’re hard to find today and collectors usually scoop them up quickly when they do appear.

One of these manufacturers was E. Rosen/Rosbro Plastics, which also holds the brand name Tico Toys Inc. These molded jack-o-lanterns, cats and witches often carried candy wrapped in cellophane Some of them are on wheels, and intact wheels add to the value of a piece. The name is often embedded somewhere in the mold but it’s often hard to find.

Rosbro also produced plastic jack-o-lanterns for the Miller Electric Company. These had a place for a battery, which caused the jack-o-lantern to light up. They had wire bails attached for carrying.

Masks are another example of a Halloween collectible. Although earliest masks were usually used in religious ceremonies in many cultures, by the 20th century in America, children were using them for Halloween. The masks have ranged from very simple home-made ones painted on cheesecloth to elaborate papier mache ones.

Paper masks for children were being imported from Germany and Japan by the 1930s. By the 1950s, plastic Halloween masks had largely replaced the earlier paper ones. Rubber masks have alo been used during these periods. The plastic masks have often cracked over time; watch for this if you are collecting them.

Or, if you like a mixture of items, build your collection around a theme, such as cats, witches, ghosts, etc. Then you can have some of everything.

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Poodle Skirts & Formica Tables
Modern In The ’50s

The term “Mid-Century Modern” is one you’ll hear both dealers and collectors using a lot these days. For most people, it refers to the new styles that were showing up in everything from clothing to appliances soon after World War II ended.

This led me to pull out from our Old Stuff library a Schiffer publication from 1999 titled Fabulous 50s (the 2nd edition.) It is sub-titled “Designs for Modern Living”; authors are Sheila Steinberg and Kate Dooner. There was an additional update in 2007, although we don’t have that one in our library.

Starting with “Accessories for the Home,” pictured are dinnerware sets, such as Metlox’s Poppytrail pattern called “California Freeform”; Formica tables, tumblers, ice buckets, trays and more. The examples of art pottery in the second section are primarily examples by Sascha Brastoff. “Household Furnishings” include the most modern of television sets, lamps and clocks and bedding.

A second section deals with Textiles, another with Lucite and Vinyl handbags – they were wonderful – and another with Fashion Access­ories, which includes, among other things, jewelry and handkerchiefs.

There are several pages of clothing, both men’s and women’s. Probably the most well-known were the circle skirts. The men’s swimming trunks were mighty colorful, and seemed to specialize in Hawaiian themes.

Poodles get a section of their own, led by the oh-so-fashionable poodle skirt.

This is a fun book, and a useful one, if you’re a mid-century modern fan. However, do not use it as a price guide, although values are included for the items pictured. They are not accurate for the 2016-17 market place.

Fabulous 50s, 2nd edition, by Steinberg and Dooner, (ISBN: 0-7643-0902-1), hardback w/dust jacket, Schiffer Publishing, 1999, is priced at $59.95. You may also look for the 2007 revision. Both are available online.

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Cranberry Scoop Was Once Necessary

Cranberries are one of the three native American fruits, the other two being Concord grapes and blueberries. The main growing areas in the Pacific Northwest are the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington and the southern Oregon coast.

This traditional part of most Thanksgiving dinners does not have much connected with it in the way of antiques. One interesting exception is the cranberry scoop.

Originally, the berries were picked dry, and harvesters needed to be on their hands and knees to pick them, since the plants grow low to the ground. The design of the wooden cranberry scoop made it possible for the worker to stand upright and comb through the vines to lift the berries.

A cranberry scoop looks something like a comb on a box, attached to a handle. The scoops were usually made from whatever wood was native to the area, and maple, pine and oak are commonly found. Later in the 1800s, they were factory produced and production continued into the 20th century. Dating a cranberry scoop can be done by looking at the details of construction. Such things as screws, and whether it is hand or machine cut wood can offer clues.

The scoops come in a lot of different sizes, to meet the needs and abilities of different workers. Since children often helped with the harvest, some scoops were just 8 inches in length. Strong adult workers could handle a scoop up to 20 inches long.

It was not until the 1960s that automation largely relaced the use of scoops in cranberry harvesting.

Scoops have also been used for harvesting cherries and blueberries. The difference is in the spacing of the teeth. A cranberry scoop will have the teeth of the comb placed about 1/2 inch apart. Those in a blueberry scoop are closer together, while there is about 1 inch between the teeth of a cherry scoop.

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