SHOP WITH US ONLINE
Miller's Old Stuff on Ebay
Donna's Antiques on Etsy

Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

Earliest Straight Pins
Sold On New Year’s Day

That simple, basic sewing item known as the straight pin was at one time quite a valued item. The phrase “pin money” originated in 15th century England. Pins were scarce and expensive, and furthermore, according to the law at the time, could only be sold on New Year’s Day. Women would save their pennies all year to make this purchase.

The earliest pins were made in two pieces and then the head was joined to the shaft. It was not until the 1820s that a machine was invented for making one-piece pins.

At first, pins were sold individually, either loose or wrapped in paper. By the 1740s, though, they came packed in boxes and by the 1780s, they were sold on sheets of paper.

There were a variety of types and sizes made. Many of the names are unfamiliar to us now, such as corkins, middlings, lillikins and minikins.

Eventually, some changed from their original purpose of just holding a garment closed to become items of fashion. Special black pins were used with mourning garments during Victorian times. Other pins had decorated knobs of metal, ivory, bone or jewels and were used as hatpins, shawl pins and lace pins.

Return to Index

First Colorful Peanut Butter Pail Drew
Attention Of The Youngsters

In the early 1900s, peanut butter was stocked in bulk at the general store. An order was filled by scooping it out of a large tub and into a cardboard carton. It was hard to keep the consistency right, and despite its nutritional value, it did not sell well.

For a period, until about 1920, it was also sold in glass jars. This still did not make peanut butter popular.

Then, about 1920, someone devised the idea of packaging peanut butter in tin pails, with colorful designs. these were an instantaneous success. Mothers easily succumbed to their children’s requests to buy what was in the pails.

The pails weren’t foolproof, however. Some poorly made ones leaked. Drippy peanut oil did not suit customers and sales suffered.

The problem was resolved in two ways A better container was made by some manufacturers, such as the New Leaktite Peanut Butter pail, in 1925.

The second technique was treating the peanut butter itself. A hydrogenation process stopped oil separation by producing a solid fat. The inventor, J.L. Rosefield, called his product Skippy. Another brand that claimed an improvement by hydrogenation was Peter Pan.

Among the colorful tins made in this 1920s to 1930s period were those of the Peter Rabbit series. Artist Harrison Cady illustrated the Thornton Burgess books of this mischievous rabbit on several pails. A Cady-decorated pail is a strong favorite with collectors.

The tin pail manufacturers frequently sold their cans to several different food companies. They were then personalized with the purchaser’s brand. It is not unusual to find the same pictorial design on pail of two different brands of peanut butter.

A few pails were not “pail shaped.” A trapezoid shape was used by several companies and one company, Advo, packed peanut butter in a measuring cup, with the handle tucked inside until the peanut butter was used.

Return to Index

Need A Glove Stretcher?

Celluloid collectors might look for a glove stretcher to add to their collection. This out-of-date item looks somewhat like a very small curling iron.

When leather gloves were imported from France in the late 1800s-early 1900s, they arrived with very long narrow fingers. These had to be first dusted with talcum powder inside. Then the glove stretcher was inserted into each finger. Pressure on the handle forced the two sides apart and stretched the fingers of the glove until it would fit.

Return to Index