Saturday, November 9, 2013

Collections, Pt. I

Why do we collect things? What is it that quietly (or not so quietly) urges us to amass things of the same ilk? Whatever the reason, it is definitely a common venture among many of us. I started out in junior high by collecting anything Garfield - posters, notebooks, pictures, stuffed animals, even an insanely large alarm clock. Later my mother started buying me Precious Moments figurines to mark all the major milestones of my life. I still have all the figurines and probably some of the Garfield but I no longer display them. That is one of the loveliest things about a collection. They can be rotated and set aside for a time when they will feel fresh again. Of course, this also has a flip side. One has to store all these "collections" and space can start to be a problem.

Over the years I have been drawn to a number of things when I am out and about at yard sales and flea markets. Some of these items I may have only one or two, some collections have grown substantially, and still others I have yet to find any of their kind and only dream about finding my first piece.

Glass Giveaways

I LOVE these! I currently have six Smurf glasses but I did have ten before I got the bright idea to actually use the glasses. I have kids. You can guess the rest.


Kraft was among the first companies to begin decorating their jars/glasses with patterns and pictures. They dubbed them "Swanky Swigs" and the jars became very popular during the Depression era. At about the same time Disney coupled with dairies across the nation and started putting pictures of their characters on milk bottles and such. By the 50s when supermarkets started springing up in the new suburban communities, the shelves were full of glass jars and glasses featuring everything under the sun. Companies would release series, hoping that consumers would keep buying in order to complete their series. Finally, fast food restaurants jumped on the band wagon and started offering series of glasses for sale. I personally remember Hardees selling Alvin and the Chipmunks and the aforementioned Smurfs (which were also sold at McDonalds). You can still find these types of items at yard sales and thrift stores but the serious collector will want to try some online resources, like Ebay.

Whitework Quilts

Some of the most exquisite needlework ever produced can be found in a whitework quilt. This is also why they are so expensive and why I do not own one. Yet.

American Ironstone


Built to last. I think that is why I like this simple and heavy pottery. Popular in the 1840s through the 1880s, ironstone or "whiteware" was used liberally throughout America by the rich and middle class. Influenced by the superior Staffordshire, England pottery, American Ironstone took some time to develop properly but once it found a foothold, it quickly became popular. By the 1890s, ironstone acquired the stigma of "farmer's" ware and was replaced by dainty porcelain and bone china. Ironstone found a new home in hospitals, schools, diners, and the military.

Hotel Silver

I am drawn to the dings and dents evident in most of my pieces. Hotel Silver was meant to be used and it is only proper that a piece should show its wear. I also like that the pieces are very practical and can be used in the everyday as well as for special occasions. Most Hotel Silver is marked on the bottom with the name of the hotel, manufacturer, and sometimes the date. A word of warning - like so many other things, reproductions of Hotel Silver run rampant so if the piece is super shiny and nick-free, be wary.

So what do you collect? What would you like to collect but cannot afford or haven't yet found?