Thursday, August 1, 2019

Nancy Ann and Muffie and Rowena

We all know Nancy Ann Storybook dolls and we all know Muffie the doll but who knows Rowena?

Rowena was "The Doll Lady".  Rowena was Nancy Ann Abbott.  Rowena was the Mother of Muffie and Muffie's siblings.  Rowena Haskin was born in 1901.  Rowena changed her name to Nancy Ann Abbott after moving to Hollywood to be a dancer and actor in silent movies.  In 1936 she began dressing bisque baby dolls from Japan in elaborate costumes to give as gifts.  She soon started selling and took a partner, Allan Leslie Rowland. In 1937 they incorporated as Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls Corporation.  By 1938 they were so successful that they opened a pottery plant in California to make their bisque dolls.  During the years of WWII, the potteries manufactured dolls as well as bisque dishes for Navy hospitals.  Demand for dolls was sky high since the government felt the dolls were necessary for morale.  Many were sent by convoy to Hawaii where soldiers were able to buy the dolls to ship home to their loved ones.  In late 1945 the company’s name changed to Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls INC.  Nancy Ann marketed her dolls with the catch phrase “tiny dolls for tiny collectors”.  This was a unique business idea that paid off because this was the first company to market dolls to encourage collecting and not just for play.  By the late forties 12,000 dolls a day were produced and sold worldwide.  In 1947 the switch to plastic dolls began.  First they were made with hand painted faces like the bisque dolls and after a year they got sleep eyes.   In 1952 and 1953 the dolls were hard plastic non walkers.  In 1954 they learned to walk and were made of hard plastic.  By 1955 and 1956 they had vinyl heads and were walkers.  Nancy Ann Abbot’s health began to fade in the Fifties and production suffered. 
“The Doll Lady”passed away in 1964.  Les Rowland’s health also was declining and the company went up for sale.  In 1965 bankruptcy papers were filed.  The company sold to Albert Bourla and stockholders in 1967.  Several attempts were mace by Bourla to revive the dolls by using Hong Kong plastic bodies but in the 1970’s an auction became necessary to eliminate the remaining doll inventory and parts.  He attempted to reintroduce a bisque line of Storybook dolls again in 1998 but was unsuccessful.  Bourla sold the business name in 2003 on EBAY to sisters Darlene Budd and Claudett Buehler who were were collectors of vintage Storybook dolls. The sisters hired a new doll artist and costume designer and went in production with fully jointed dolls in porcelain all in limited editions.  And that was the end of Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls as we knew them.  

Monday, June 17, 2019

Milton Bradley Saved by War and Games

Just listed this old MB puzzle on etsy and then I researched it.  Oh boy.  The history.

Big Ben Puzzle Surf Riders #4962 1970's
Big Ben Puzzle Surf Riders #4962 1970's
In 1860, Milton Bradley, only 24 years old, formed the Milton Bradley Company to produce lithographs for Springfield, Massachusetts businesses.  Since he owned the only lithograph machine in the state outside of Boston, he was very busy but his profit was small.  He decided to produce an American board game after playing an English game at a friends house.  "The Checkered Game Of Life" game was born complete with a moral message of achieving a "Happy Old Age" or "Ruin.  Thank goodness it was a huge success because his other idea of a clean shaven Abe Lincoln lithograph went belly up after old Abe grew out his beard.  The Civil War sidetracked the game business momentarily until Bradley began production of a small kit of games including chess, checkers, dominoes, backgammon, and of course, "The Checkered Game of Life" for troops enjoyment during downtimes.  At one dollar each kit, he first sold to individual soldiers until charitable organizations bought kits in large quantities for distribution.  By the end of the war, the Milton Bradley Company was profitable and ready to expand.
The 1870's saw production of dozens of different board games and also an American croquet lawn game which became the US standard with printed rules.  Then Bradley became involved in the German kindergarten movement which encouraged the creation of classes offering guided play for pre-school age children.  He manufactured colored papers, paints and other educational materials and gave them free of charge to the only two kindergartens in Springfield.  When a recession hit in the late 1870's, Bradleys business partners protested because Bradley's pre-school obsession cost more than it brought in.  A friend, George Tapley, bought out the partners when Bradley chose to dedicate himself to the kindergarten movement. Tapley ran the business and Bradley designed games and educational materials. By the first decade of the 20th century, the education department bloomed as kindergartens sprung up across the US and teachers bought Bradley's supplies from story books to furniture.  Milton Bradley continued to be the driving force behind his company until his death in 1911.  Tapley's son and Bradley's son-in-law assumed control and net earnings of $350,000 were reported in 1920.
Without the genius of Bradley the company had a rough time during the depression.  The factories were aging and had difficulties keeping up with its huge supply of products and clever new games were few and far between.  By the 1940's the company sank and had huge loans being called due. Trying to avoid bankruptcy the board of directors hired James J. Shea to clean up the mess.  Shea found lower interest loans to pay off the banks and began to renovate the manufacturing plant.  He burned old accumulated inventory from the turn of the century and the fire went on for days.  World War II roared to life and produced a boom for Shea and the Milton Bradley Company. Shea designed a universal joint for fighter planes landing gear and obtained a contract from the Army for $300,000.  He put his idle woodworking shop to work making gunstocks and obtained a $270,000 contract.  And the Milton Bradley Game Kit for Soldiers sold over 2 million kits through the war.
After the war and with solid profits, the company revived teaching aids from the turn of the century.  Old board games were modernized and reintroduced.  Smart new games including Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders were introduced.   In 1959 with television gaining popularity analysts predicted the end of board games.  Not so. Shea decided to embrace TV instead of competing with it and issued a  memory game called "Concentration" based on the TV show with the same name.  It sold one million units within eight months making it the largest sale of a game in its first year up to that time. In 1960 "The Checkered Game of Life" was re-issued as "The game of Life".  Now the goal was to become a millionaire instead of reaching a "Happy Old Age".
The early 1960's also saw expansion into foreign markets making licensing agreements with European toy makers and opening its own manufacturing facilities in Europe. At home in the US, Milton Bradley Company broke ground on a new multi-million dollar plant and office.  The game of Twister was launched and played on the Tonight Show by Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor.  Three million Twisters sold in the first year and the game became an icon of the sixties.  
In 1968 with annual income of 4 million, Shea was succeeded by his son as president of the company.  Through the 1970's, acquisitions of many companies followed including Playskool Mfg. Co. and E. S. Lowe, the maker of Yahtzee.
The rise of electronic games in the early 1970's was countered with "Simon Says" which was another huge success in 1977.  The Milton Bradley Company initially avoided entering the video game market, but by 1982, and recognizing that the video game market was here to stay, they tried and failed.  A 30 million dollar disaster. It was the first net loss since the 1940's restructuring.  Back in profit by 1984, due to being the largest seller of classic games in the US and its international facilities, Milton Bradley Company was purchased by Hasbro for 360 million dollars. And the rest is history.  This made Hasbro the largest toy company in the world.  Milton Bradley continued to sell its classic games and design and manufacture new games through the 1990's and is still doing so today through its parent company Hasbro.

Hawaii north shore.  Wish I was here.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

"Love, Wanda Ruth"

Red, white and blue.  She looks like a Wanda Ruth.  With a totally mid century vive. One of a kind original art on Etsy.

    1. Blow up a vintage photo.  This one is 16.50" square.
    2. Add background with vintage cards
    3. Oil paint over photo   
    And that's all there is to it.

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    Stuff To Do

    Stuff to do.

    1.  Be happy
    2.  Be true to me
    3.  Be kind
    4.  Catch up with web site
    5.  Catch up with etsy
    6.  Catch up with blog

    Number one, two and three are ongoing.  Number four and five are too far gone to attempt tonight.  Number 6 seems possible.  Here goes.

    It's a snuff bottle from the sixties and here are a few details.
    A vintage snuff bottle by Levi Garrett & Sons.  As good as it gets condition.  No cracks. No nips.  No problems. Just one glass bottle.  No label or cork.  Those are long gone.  As to the dots on the bottom of the bottles.  I know for a fact that that is the strength of the snuff.  I know because my Grandma dipped the nasty stuff.  And she preferred the three dot bottom Levi Garrett brand from a bottles just like this.  Good for decorators.  For Macramé inserts.  For plant rooters. For vases. For remembering Grandma.

    Here is a little history.
    In 1782 John Garrett, a Revolutionary War soldier, built several mills in Delaware.  Levi Garrett inherited the snuff mill from his father and after having two sons Levi renamed the mill Levi Garrett and Sons.  This is where the name of dipping snuff derives.  One son, George H Garrett, dropped out of the snuff business, while the other son, William E. Garrett, stuck it out.  The William E Garrett Company is the origin of the name of the scotch and sweet snuff.  Later the business became William E. Garrett and Sons.  In 1870 Scotch Snuff is trademarked and became one of the first ten tradmarks in US history.  And now it is the oldest trademark still in use in the US.  After the death of Willam E. Garrett and William Garrett Jr., the remaining brother Walter sold the snuff mill to three of his employees for one dollar and ended the Garrett name in ownership. In the late 1800’s James “Buck” Dude bought up every tobacco producer in the US, including Garrett Snuff, and eventually became the American Tobacco Company.  In 1907 Teddy Rosevelt broke up that monopoly,  and the American Snuff Company was born.  Moving to Memphis in 1912 and buying up a few more small producers the company changed its name to Conwood Company, L.P. in 1966.  In 1975 Levi Garrett chewing tobacco was introduced as a tribute. Garrett snuff is one of the oldest products still produced in the US.

    Friday, January 25, 2019

    In Search of the Real Bingo King

    Longone Antiques

    Today a bunch of old bingo cards went up on etsy.  They are the heavy woodgrain look cardboard with the sliding clear red plastic windows that you pushed to cover your numbers.  No markers needed.  Everyone used those apparently to doodle on the cards.  There's art.  There's names.  There's initials.  There's addresses.  There's lists.  And hearts with who loves who.  And more than a few phone numbers.  Can you imagine.  "Hi, got your number off of a bingo card from a Moose Lodge in Texas.  Oh the cards date from the sixties.  I know it is 2019 but are you busy tonight?"  

    Here is a little info about the famous Bingo King.

    The game of BINGO was born in the 1920’s with the help of a toy salesman named Edwin Lowe who incorporated a carnival game called BEANO into a version for home play.  When a happy tongue-tied winner yelled out BINGO instead of BEANO, Edwin knew he had a perfect name for his game.  Even though almost all states prohibited gambling during the 1930’s and 1940’s, churches wholeheartedly adopted the game to raise money.  By 1949, legislation was passed in most states to attempt to regulate or outlaw the game resulting in only four states where bingo was legal.  This is when Bingo King was formed in Colorado as a small business distributing bingo cards for fund raising.  Bingo became huge in spite of being regulated to death.  Since each state had different rules, Bingo King utilized mail-order and sold cards, markers and number blowers as well as dispensed advice on how to organize and set up games.  By building these close relationships with large charities, Bingo King became one of the top five distributers in the 1960’s.  By then law enforcement agencies were finding it difficult to get convictions on bingo charges against institutions like the Elks Club or the Catholic Church.  By the 1970’s BINGO became legal in some form in all but 12 states.  Standex International Corp. took over Bingo King in 1971 and renamed them the Norbro Corporation.  Strandex attempted to run the bingo business alongside their mail-order grapefruit distributor and a mail-order colonial furniture manufacturer.  Strandex’s largest distributer was a religious publishing company and this gave Stramdex pause concerning the gambling aspect of bingo.  In 1981 Bingo King was reborn as independent and spun off from Strandex.  About the same time Native Americans became a large and growing customer for the game after court decisions allowed tribes to bypass state gambling laws.  Super jackpots brought profits and expansion.  Bingo King expanded through acquisitions and a revamp of its distribution system.  Too much too soon.  In1988, in debt and unable to keep pace with the growth of the industry, Canada's leading bingo equipment supplier, Bazaar & Novelty, assumed control of Bingo King.  Utilizing disposable bingo cards and a revamp of operations, Bingo King, now named Stuart Entertainment prospered and today continues operations internationally.  And the future is bright.

    Till next time.  Stable Art Studio

    Friday, January 11, 2019

    In The Valley Of The Jolly Green Giant

    Longone Antiques

    Finally got all three of my 1970's vintage Jolly Green Giant lithographed advertising dolls listed on Etsy.  I know all about these since I grew up with them.  The oldest and biggest was bought by my Grandma with can labels and was my first of the three.  I was young enough to enjoy playing with him and play I did.  He was a willing  patient to my doctor self and he received many many shots to protect him from everything.  Unfortunately it didn't protect him from a small shot hole in his right arm.  He also got no immunity from old age.  Faded, stained, and shifting stuffing I still love that doll cause he reminds me of Grandma.  The smallest Sprout, also courtesy of Grandma and her can labels, was the next toy.  I played with him some but was getting older.  He also aged and faded.  But he is still stiff with stuffing.  By the time Grandma came up with the medium Sprout I was over little kid stuff.  Sad.  But this last Sprout is in the best condition.  Time for me to grow up and move on.  They are all for sale.  To a good home only.

    Some History

    The Minnesota Valley Canning Company was founded in 1903 in Le Sueur, Minnesota.  A new variety of big green peas was introduced in 1925 and was named Green Giant.  Needing a mascot for the giant pea rollout, the Green Giant was conceived by Carly Stanek (Bingum), who modeled him after a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.  He looked like a hunched over scowling orange caveman with bearskin clothes. In 1935 he was re-imagined by Leo Burnett with leaves, a smile and the addition of the "Jolly" to his name.  The new Jolly Green Giant made his first TV appearance in 1958 and promptly scared kids who saw him as a monster instead of a mascot.  His next appearance on TV was in 1961 where he was given animated helpers and filmed from afar with no closeups.  Laughing "Ho. Ho. Ho." was introduced and success followed. 

    In 1973 the Jolly Green Giant was given a pint sized apprentice, Sprout. Sprout, also designed by Leo Burnett, was destined to introduce yummy vegetables to kids. Eager to grow up and learn all he could from the Green Giant, little Sprout absorbs all lessons on growing, canning and freezing vegetables.  Later in the 1980's and 1990's when General Mills owned both Plllsbury and Green Giant Brands Sprout and Poppin' Fresh hung out together in print ads. In 2015 B & G Foods acquired the brand and Sprout got his own Instagram account (@sprout)

    "In the valley of the Jolly, Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant."

    Saturday, November 10, 2018

    The Other Side

    We walk every day.  It is a Cuji thing.  She expects to lease up and move out right at five o'clock every day no matter the rain, wind, sun, heat, or cold.  The only thing that stops her is a big old thunderstorm.  We do not walk in thunder.  The only place dogs are safe from the clap and boom of thunder is under the covers in the bed.  Cuji knows.  But back to the walk.  We start out fast.  She pulls me along till some smell stops her and then her world stalls.  Tail curled up and nose down.  The nastier the smell the harder it is to pull her off it.  And if it is something really stinky she will get it into her mouth instantly to inhale it down her throat.  If we meet another strolling dog she prickles up the hair on the ridge of her back and issues a challenge.  The bigger they are the louder and more hostile she threatens.  God I miss that little dog.  Bad heart.  Of all things to happen,  Everyone knew she was all heart.  Big heart.  Yeah enlarged heart.   So I lost her last summer and lost my way too.  Miss her so.  Still on the web site.  Still on Etsy.  Still hard to let her go.

    Nancy Ann and Muffie and Rowena

    We all know Nancy Ann Storybook dolls and we all know Muffie the doll but who knows Rowena? Rowena was "The Doll Lady".  R...