Sunday, February 26, 2012

Collecting part 4

So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth

This is the catch phrase for an organisation in Nepal called L Pida which provides a structure for women rescued from sex trafficking to develop garment making skills and build viable futures for themselves. This weeks collector, Hosanna has a passion for vintage clothes and donates a portion of her proceeds from her etsy shop Carolina Roses to this cause. 

But it is her passion for vintage hats in particular that is the focus of this week's blog. 
Although women from an early stage were always expected to have their heads covered by veils, kerchiefs, hoods, caps and wimples, it was not until the end of the 16th century that women's structured hats, based on those of male courtiers began to be seen.The word 'milliner', which is a maker of women's hats, was first recorded in 1529 when the term referred to the products for which Milan and the northern Italian regions were well known, i.e. ribbons, gloves and straws. The haberdashers who imported these highly popular straws were called 'Millaners' from which the word was eventually derived.

Can you tell me a little about your background? (where do you live, how old you are, background education/interests, work, family etc)

My name is Hosanna. I live on a farm in Virginia, USA, with my husband, dog, five rescued cats, a pet goat, chickens, and 11 horses. I am 31 years old. I work as a home health attendant, sitting with and elderly lady and her challenged granddaughter. In my spare time I have an Etsy shop where I sell vintage clothing and accessories.

What do you collect?

I collect vintage hats. My personal collection is at just over 80 hats right now, from the 30s - 60s, mostly.

How did you get started?

My mother purchased my first vintage hat (from the 40s) as a gift when I was about 17 years old. I fell in love with it, and with hats in general, and started buying them when I found them in thrift shops, etc. I still have that hat my mother bought me. It has a place of honor in my collection.

What attracted you to collecting them, in other words, why?

I collect hats because I find them so beautiful. Velvet, satin, feathers, beads, bows, ribbon, felt, straw, millinery flowers, fur, tulle, veiling, rhinestones.... they're made up of so many beautiful materials. I rarely see two hats alike. Most people don't wear hats anymore, and it is sad to see them cast off and forgotten in thrift shops, rummage sales and the like. To me, they're beautiful bits of fashion history, and I can't resist taking them home with me when I find them.

What is the holy grail of your collection? That is, what is it you are keen to get your hands on that you don't have?

The Holy Grail for me would be some turn of the century hats. Right now my oldest hat is a 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli hat. I'd love to find something from the 1910s era. I am sure I could find many beautiful examples ready to buy on the internet, but part of the "charge" I get out of collecting hats is the "thrill of the hunt", and finding them unexpectedly. So I am going to keep my eyes "peeled" for that Holy Grail.

What are the best aspects about being a collector? 

For me, the best part of collecting is the fun of finding the hats. I love to get up on a Saturday morning, and go to a flea market or and estate sale and search through all the other "stuff" and discover a gem amongst the clutter.

What are the worst?

The worst part about being a collector is storage! I collect other vintage items as well and sometimes I start to feel like a "hoarder" when the collections start piling up. That's part of the reason I started my Etsy shop.  

Do you collect something? Why not share it with us? I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Collecting Part 3

Fellow Australians Adam and Sarah are avid collectors and have a thriving vintage esty store called Hobart Collectibles and I think that choosing which collection to talk about was a challenge for them. I am very pleased they chose something that has a particular resonance with my own childhood. They collect Little Golden Books which were first published in October 1942 and over a billion and a half have been sold worldwide since then.. 

Can you tell me a little about your background? (where do you live, how old you are, background education/interests, work, family etc)

We're Sarah and Adam (speaking) and we live in a three bedroom house in Hobart, Tasmania, with our two and a half year old daughter Israel and her friend Circus, a small black kitten. Between the four of us, we run Hobart Collectables - an antique and vintage collectibles store on Etsy, with some of us putting more input into it than others (Israel and Circus for example don't help at all!).

We essentially both have degrees in Fine Art; Sarah in Drawing and Graphic Design and myself in painting, although in the years up to meeting Sarah in an op-shop I was working in an animal conservation centre in Cambodia, whilst Sarah was busy at Hobart City Mission, both manning their second hand bookshop and doing their graphics.

After buying a whole stack of second hand books and making small talk with Sarah at the front desk, I finally managed to get myself a date with her and thus Israel came into being.

What do you collect?

My first collection, obviously then, would be second hand books (mainly Solzhenitsyn, so I appeared more intelligent), but once we settled down and I could reveal my true tackiness, I dusted off my collection of Biggles books and Sarah began collecting Holly Hobbie.

What we'd like to focus on here though is a totally seperate collection that we started for Israel, which is Little Golden Books (LGBs).

How did you get started?

When both Sarah and I were young, we had the few basic staples such as The Poky Little Puppy, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Sailor Dog, The Little Red Hen etc., but for our daughter we wanted to go beyond The Classics and introduce her to the entire world of Golden Books.

So shortly after we first realised Sarah was pregnant, we took a trip to various op-shops and started to seriously buy LGBs, thus spawning a bookcase filled with over 500 volumes and a fair number of read-along LGBs + Records to boot.

Initially we went to the op-shops armed with a basic knowledge of what we already had, but as time went on and the collection grew, we had to organise nights to sit down and photograph each book and load the pictures into my mp3 player so we could check if we already had it (possibly subconsciously spawning the plain background that Hobart Collectables is so easily identified by!). 

What attracted you to collecting them, in other words, why?

The beautiful thing about collecting LGBs is that there is no 'Holy Grail' as collectors so often face. Each title is unique in its own right and worthy of inclusion, although we obviously get a kick out of coming across an item specifically mentioned in any of the LGB forums or in vintage price guides. Plus, I really love the LGBs copy cats such as Numbat Picture Books, an Australian version with the Golden Spine, but without the black graphics.

What is the holy grail of your collection? That is, what is it you are keen to get your hands on that you don't have?

Our favourite thing about collecting LGBs is that we get to gift our daughter an entire world of stories and imagination, with the odd moral thrown in just for good measure. Hopefully as she grows up LGBs will play a huge part in her life and then perhaps we'll get the find our 'Holy Grail' - that one LGB we missed when she was younger.

What are the best aspects about being a collector? What are the worst?

For now though the happiness of seeing her face light up whilst we read her a new story is all the reward we need!

Do you collect something? Why not share it with us? I would love to hear from you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Collecting Part 2

Frozen Charlotte collector, Teresa has a passion for the working with and collecting vintage. Her etsy shop is a treasure trove of goodies called GloryBDesign  

Frozen Charlotte is a name used to describe a type of china doll (cast in one piece) made between 1850 and 1920. It is usually made in the form of a standing, naked figure says Wikipaedia. The name comes from the rather unsettling folk story of a little girl called Charlotte. Here is her story:

Tell us about your background, why you collect and how it got started

I'm Teresa and I live on three acres of woods with my sweet husband, Matt and our three kitties (KiKi, Bunny & Moustache). Other than these kitties that have adopted us, we are "empty nesters". Although, since Matt and I are both completely sentimental, our nest is well feathered with all the things we love to collect! Matt is classic car lover and collects '57 Chevy's, and most recently our 1941 Flxible Clipper bus. He's still working to convince me it will our "traveling retirement condo", but I have to admit, it is pretty awesome! And after another 15 years or so of conversion work, it should be fantastic!

I tend to collect much smaller things - vintage mixing bowls and pitchers, stamps, and my favorite - Frozen Charlottes! Frozen Charlottes (or Charlies, as they are known if they're boys) are small bisque dolls from the 1920's and 30's. They range in height from 1" to 6" or so. They're known as Frozen Charlottes because they do not have any moving parts - they're like miniature figurines. Their arms and legs are molded, without joints. The name comes from a legend that a Victorian girl named Charlotte was invited to go to a party with her handsome beau. The weather was frightfully cold, but Charlotte didn't want to wear a coat because it would hide her beautiful party dress. Alas, poor Charlotte froze to death during the sleigh ride to the party!

I've always had a thing for miniatures. I first discovered the little charmers when I came across one at an estate sale. I was drawn to it because it bore a striking resemblance to a photo I had seen of my mother when she was a little girl. I showed her to my friend, who's an avid doll collector, and she told me what she was. The idea that these are the types of dolls my mom likely played with when she was small, made Charlottes even more attractive to me - did I mention that I'm completely sentimental? All the Charlottes and Charlies have the sweetest little faces, and I have a hard time resisting buying any one that I happen upon!

What is the holy grail of your collection? That is, what is it you are keen to get your hands on that you don't have?

I currently have 76 in my collection. I've been lucky enough to find a couple of sets in their original packaging. One set was sold as "All Nations Dolls" and they feature a girl and boy in their native clothing - A Spanish matador and a senorita, a Native American boy and girl, a Dutch boy and girl, and an Asian boy and girl. I also have two sets of the larger dolls that were originally wedding cake toppers - there's a groom in his tuxedo and his bride. Almost every doll is holding something - a puppy, a hat, a school book, a toy boat.


The most unusual Charlotte I have, has a child's body and a cat's head. I've never seen another like it. I'm always on the lookout for ones that I don't have. I missed an opportunity to purchase a Charlie holding an envelope with a red heart on the seal. I really wanted that one because my dad is a retired mailman, and if I ever find it again, you can bet, I'll be willing to pay up to get it (it's that sentimental thing, again!)

I've given a few away as gifts to dear friends. The rest I have all together on a vintage wall shelf. They always draw comments when folks see them. Most aren't familiar with Charlottes and are amazed at the detail and the absolute cute
ness of the little darlings. The idea of giving small children items made of bisque to play with seems pretty amazing! But it was common practice in the Victorian era and into the early part of the 20th Century.

What are the best and worst aspects?

To me, the only bad part about being a collector is finding space to display your collection without your home starting to look a mess! I don't like to collect things that have to be packed away! To me, the whole point is to be able to admire my collection and share it with others. At least with the Charlottes, they don't take up a lot of space! I think I can squeeze another 30 or so on my vintage shelf!

Do you collect something? Why not share it with us? I would love to hear from you.