Posts Tagged ‘collectibles’

Ten vintage collectibles that can take on Hurricane Earl

vintage camping lantern

With Hurricane Earl coming those of us on the East Coast are currently giving some thought to emergency preparedness. The good news is that your vintage collectibles can lend more than a helping hand if Hurricane Earl becomes nasty or during any other potential disaster. Here are ten vintage collectibles that can really save your bacon. (more…)

Vintage Modern Decor Needs A JVC Videosphere

JVC videosphere vintage tv set

A JVC Videosphere is one of those must have items for the fans of vintage modern decor. Its round sleekness is oh so retro.

JVC Videosphere Background

The JVC Videosphere has a design that originated in the space crazy, late 1960s. Some JVC executives evidently thought we might also buy space helmet-shaped TVs to go with our vintage modern decor. Turns out they were right.

You could find a JVC Videosphere beginning in 1970 along with that other astronaut-crazy consumer product, space food sticks. The JVC Videosphere became a fixture in the design genre now known as vintage modern decor. And space food sticks didn’t do too badly either.

Besides high vintage modern decor style, JVC also gave consumers some variety. I’ve seen a JVC Videosphere in red, orange, white and black. My personal experience is that a black JVC Videosphere is generally the rarest.

A JVC Videosphere comes with a removable, square base that color matches the body of the television. Some models also have an old style flip alarm clock in the base. All come with a thick, silver metal chain so that you can hang them.

Using A JVC Videosphere In A Vintage Modern Decor Setting

So what goes with a JVC Videosphere?

While you could have a JVC Videosphere just as an accent, it is one of those unique pieces that polishes a complete vintage modern decor look. Clean lines, chrome, other shiny reflective surfaces, and a more intense color palette are all key elements.

An Arc-style lamp or Lightolier  lighting from the 60s or 70s would  be a match.

Streamlined furniture, be it vintage or modern, would work in this type of vintage modern decor setting as would some vintage abstract paintings.

Shag carpet could add some texture to all the shiny, streamlined smoothness. And with its chain, a JVC Videosphere can be suspended from the ceiling as well as placed on a stand.

While a JVC Videosphere is very appropriate for vintage modern decor, a set would also work well in an eclectic type of decor.

As I write this, my own black JVC Videosphere sits murmuring in the background. It rests on a vintage Kartel storage unit next to a pair of funky Frighetto chairs. Most pictures don’t show JVC Videospheres in a vintage modern decor setting, so I hauled everything into the photography space for a quick shot.

videosphere in vintage modern decor

The thing is, a JVC Videosphere is not only representative of an era, it is a beautiful, iconic design that is fun to display. Several museums hold them in their collections including the trend-loving Powerhouse Museum in Sydney Australia.

And you can still use it for active tv watching. I hook mine up to cable but use the old style wire connector on the back. I have heard of some who are using their set for vintage video gaming.

I remember I saw my first JVC Videosphere at a museum exhibition. There were in fact many, suspended from the ceiling at different heights with anime cartoons floating across their screens. Everyone else was staring at the cartoons. I was transfixed by the round TV sets. I kept saying I had to have one until my friends were ready to disown me.

I looked for years without finding any in good condition. And then, I started finding some good ones. So if you are a lover of vintage modern decor and lucky enough to find a JVC Videosphere, what should you do next?

Assessing The Condition Of A JVC Videosphere

1. Look at the condition of the smoked glass viewing panel? Some are in perfect condition, others have a lot of scratches or worse. They will be priced accordingly.

2. Confirm if the set turns on.

3. Confirm if the set has sound.

4. Confirm if the knobs/dials still work – it’s not that easy to find replacement parts.

5. Connect the JVC Videosphere to a cable connection. Run through the channels and try to tune into specific channels. Remember that JVC Videospheres don’t have automatic tuners. These are old school.

6. If you are buying online, ask the seller to send you a video (or post it on Youtube) of the set being turned on and run through its paces.

7. As with all vintage electronics get a professional electrician to take a look at the vintage TV set before you put it into regular use.

Hope that helps! A JVC Videosphere is a gorgeous addition to your vintage modern decor and fun to use.

Six Reasons Why Vintage Mannequins Rock

vintage mannequin wolf vine

A vintage mannequin is a unique collectible. And if you need a mannequin, vintage is better than a budget quality new one. After starting Penn Polly Vintage I had many a vintage dress that needed to be modeled on something. I began a longer than expected mannequin journey and along the way learned why vintage mannequins rock.

1. A vintage mannequin is a beautiful thing

I now have a good appreciation for the artistic qualities of vintage mannequins. The faces on many older mannequins are really lovely or just downright arresting. This is particularly true if you purchase a high end vintage mannequin like a Wolf Vine, Greneker, Rootstein, Decter, or Hindsgaul.

For example, while there are many pretty Rootstein mannequins, there are also some that are striking, rather than conventionally beautiful. Adele Rootstein had a somewhat eclectic taste when choosing famous personages on which to base her mannequins. Today, Rootsteins are collectible not just for their poses, but also for their facial features.

In the case of Wolf Vine, later known only as Greneker, their mannequins came with realistic glass eyes. In manufacturing their mannequins, Wolf Vine would mold the head with an open top then place the customer’s requested colored glass eyes inside it. A foam cap was then inserted in the head to finish it off.

Just like anything else, a vintage mannequin choice is based on personal taste. I learned that I am partial towards the Wolf Vines and now have two. They have usable poses for styling a vintage dress and I like their realistic eyes. One mannequin has more of a 1980’s style and the other is the cool, pretty chick.

2. A vintage mannequin is a true and unusual collectible

There are definitely a lot of folks out there who collect mannequins. Some may have been retailers or vintage dress afficionadios who initially began collecting based on need. Other used vintage mannequins as props or some just like mannequins.

The point is that a vintage mannequin is a collectible. It is sought after with a definite worth to collectors, particularly if it is kept in good shape. Plus how many people do you know that collect vintage mannequins? If you want to collect something a little bit different, then vintage mannequins may be for you.

And don’t forget the humor value. I keep my mannequins in my photo studio. It took several friends months before they stopped being startled by the extra “people” in the studio. Yup, more manly men letting out little yells than one could ever expect in a lifetime.

3. Vintage mannequins facilitate 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s or 1980’s style

Ok, so you get my drift. Vintage mannequins have very different looks that are representative of the era in which they were made. This is definitely part of their attraction.

A mannequin from the flapper era can be found with thin eyebrows and tiny pursed lips. A 1950’s mannequin looks like she is just waiting for a triple strand of pearls and a cocktail. Starting with Adele Rootstein in the 1960’s, mannequins began to loosen up, taking both more natural and high fashion poses. You can find groovy mannequins, rad 1980’s style mannequins and more.

So if you want to display a vintage dress or set up a vignette from a particular era then a vintage mannequin is a great choice.

1980s vintage mini dress on vintage mannequin

4. A vintage mannequin has solid workmanship

I went on a reconnaissance trip to retail fixtures stores to see several moderate priced mannequins when I first began looking for one. I was truly surprised. The new mannequins had oddly molded feet, places where it looked like someone had smeared extra clumps of fiberglass with their finger, poor paint, etc.

Many of the new mannequins also had inexpensive plastic fittings that didn’t look like they would last too long when changing out one vintage dress after another.

A vintage mannequin on the other hand is solidly made with metal fittings and fiberglass body parts.

5. Vintage mannequins are more unique

Some vintage mannequins that are heavily collected are recognizable as part of a line. Other mannequins, often from the 1950’s or earlier, are almost one offs, their counterparts long lost to the sands of time.

On the contrary, there are only so many new lower cost mannequins available. Modern, low cost manufacturers operate on volume and if you hunt around on mannequin sellers’ websites for a bit you will soon recognize specific models and lines. This may not be a big deal for some, but for others it would be a huge issue.

6. A vintage mannequin is budget friendly

Just like any other collectible, finding a great vintage mannequin is all about luck, tenacity and the right seller. But in general, vintage mannequins, or even a good quality used mannequin, will cost less than the $800 and up it costs to buy a new, good quality mannequin.

Are there downsides to a vintage mannequin?

Well there are a few, particularly if you plan to actively use a vintage mannequin. Probably one of the biggest that I never thought of originally was the heel height. I can’t get anything over a 3″ heel on my vintage mannequins. If you want to pair a vintage dress with a modern, high shoe, you are out of luck. Sure you can put a higher heel on a mannequin but it is going to list forward like a ship going down. Not a good look.

Some of the fittings on older mannequins are also more difficult to operate. Not so much of a big deal if you dress the mannequin and leave it for a period of time. But if you need to frequently change out clothing the screw in hand fittings like on my vintage Wolf Vine mannequin will test your patience. I had hoped for better when looking at a vintage Rootstein mannequin that used a rod to connect the hand, but that particular mannequin proved recalcitrant. The years had made getting the hand in and out of the fitting more akin to an extended isometric exercise. 8phv24*

Beyond the hand fittings, shoulder fittings can also be a challenging. Sometimes I find myself struggling to hook everything up, seemingly lost in a sea of 1980’s fabric.

80's party dress on vintage mannequin

Older vintage mannequins are also frequently secured to their stand via a derriere mount, which means you can’t put pants on them.

My solution. I did break down and purchase one new mannequin from a quality mannequin manufacturer, Greneker. It is one of the new “green” soy-based mannequins. It has a calf mount so I can put shorts on it and, perhaps the best thing of all, it has magnetic arms. What a joy! On and off in a flash although the first time I didn’t realize how strong the magnets were and got a surprise. So now I have three high quality Grenneker girls, one new and two vintage. All have different looks and different sizes which suits my particular needs.

And I do want to give a thumbs up to the nice folks at Greneker. Absolutely no vested interest in this other than to say we have a big focus on customer service at Penn Polly Vintage and obviously so does Greneker. They treated a one mannequin purchase like it was as important as a department store fleet order. Both David, their creative director, and Candice, in customer service, were terrific.

Mannequin refinishing

While this is an option, make no mistake, it take some skill to even just repair vintage mannequin parts. We have just finished repairing and refinshing mannequin arms. We patched, sanded, primed, and sprayed. It took a friend who is professionally skilled with a paint sprayer more time than he would care to admit to get just the right surface texture on each mannequin arm. Sure you can use a brush but it’s going to look like you did.

You can also find folks who specialize in mannequin refinishing and vintage mannequin makeup. Like anything else that depends on individual workmanship and artistic merit your results may vary. It is justifiably not an inexpensive exercise.

So would I recommend a vintage mannequin. Absolutely! They are unusual, cool, life size collectibles. And at Penn Polly Vintage, they earn their way.

Lefton Angel Devil Figurine Collectibles

Lefton angel devil figurine collectibles

Lefton figurines have been around since 1941 when George Zoltan Lefton, a Hungarian immigrant, opened his company. The company still exists today, but I am personally fondest of its 1950s pieces.

Lefton’s retro mod pixieware would be the toast of a 50s kitchen. His striped Christmas elves adorn my mantle every year. And then there are the very collectible Lefton angels and devils.

In the series the devil is up to all kinds of mischevious deeds. In one figurine he is trying to sneak a kiss with the angel. In another piece that I have on Ebay, the little angel has knocked the devil on his rear and is glaring at him with her fist extended.

While they are from the 1950s, the Lefton angel and devil remind me of 1930s Campbell Soup kids. They are rounded all over and have rosy cheeks, red lips, and huge, round eyes with eyelashes.

The Lefton angel figurine wears a white dress with puffy sleeves and little wings. She has gold metallic trim on the lace bottom of her dress, her halo, and the creases of her dress. The devil wears a red romper suite with blonde locks poking out underneath and little golden horns.

My piece has the Lefton crown insignia on the bottom, which is a common Lefton mark.

Lefton china mark

You will also see the Lefton devil figurine doing a solo act –  tennis, bowling and playing several musical instruments. Less commonly seen are devils that don’t have the golden locks peecking out.

While the Lefton collectibles angel and devil figurines are hardly scarce, they aren’t completely common either. At any one time you will find a few of each figurine on Ebay.

If these little 50s childlike figurines appeal, be sure to watch out for cracks and crazing. They also seem to be susceptible to paint wear.

Prevention is the best medicine when cleaning them so as to avoid damaging the finish. Putting figurines in an enclosed cabinet and dusting them regularly works for me. I try to avoid touching them without gloves. The oils on your hands get on a figurine and help dust stick.

I use a squeeze bulb to blow off dust, the kind that is used for cleaning a digital camera sensor. That way I am not grinding dirt into the surface of the paint while cleaning.

I have heard many people say they use a gentle soap but I don’t do that. The most I have ever used was a lightly water-dampened soft cloth on a piece that was so incredibly dirty that it was a loss in its current condition.

It cleaned up with gentle persistance but there is no guarantee that what was safe on that figurine will be fine on another. Stick with the dusting and happy collecting!