Aug 12, 2012

V&M (Vintage & Modern) is a daily destination

If you have never browsed V&M, you are in for a treat. Here you will find the best of the best, the unusual, the elegant, the best in vintage (and modern) finds. Curated collections by some of the most noteworthy dealers and designers are waiting for you. Be sure to sign up for their daily newsletter so you don't miss one new thing! This is one daily email that I look forward to reading (and being awed by) every single day. If you are a Pinterest fan who loves pinning cool vintage treasures, you will have a field day at V&M.

Their About column reads: "V&M (Vintage and Modern), is passionate about design, whether it's vintage furniture, antiques, art, jewelry or fashion. We provide members the ultimate destination for discovering unique pieces as well as inspire and educate with innovative editorial content."
“A must place to shop.” – Vogue
“The best vintage shopping on the web.” – The Los Angeles Times

They also have a cool blog that you'll enjoy and an inspiration board contest here:
where you can send them your inspired boards of unique design and vintage finds to compete for cash prizes - every week! Cool, right?

Are you an addict of the new History channel show Picked Off yet? V&M is the exclusive marketplace of the Merrill brothers who are the host experts of this great new show. You will find many of the items from the show offered for sale at V&M, like this awesome Enterprise coffee grinder!

Have I convinced you yet that V&M is way cool and worth a visit? I sure hope so, because you'll spend hours exploring, reading and learning there. Create an inspiration board of your own and upload it to Facebook for a chance to earn prizes, too. V&M is a wonderful and interactive place for all of us vintage lovers!

Check it out and please come back here and post your comments -- let me know what you think and show us what you found there that you would love to live with! I simply don't have enough room in my house for all the fabulous things that I see there every day and would love to own!

Be sure to sign up for their emailed newsletter, too. It's a great reminder to check out new inventory and articles.

Why are you still here? Go - look - be inspired!!

Apr 12, 2012

Remember Those Great Big Catalogs?

Here's another fabulous post from the I Remember JFK website -- all about the good old days when we Baby Boomers were young. . .

"These mailmen today have it made. Why, back in my day, they used to haul a hundred pounds of catalogs five or six times a year!

One of the most pervasive memories we Boomers have locked away is a big catalog or two sitting on the coffee table right next to the ashtray. They would come in the mail annually from companies like Montgomery-Ward, Sears, J.C. Penney, and Spiegel. All it would take to receive them was to buy something at the store. If they got your name and address, the monstrous consumers of wood pulp would begin showing up automatically, generally laid on your welcome mat by those poor abused postmen of the 1960's.

And there was something for everyone in those massive tomes. It seemed that women's clothing took up the most real estate, for good reason. I'm sure it was female shoppers who comprised the bulk of the mail-order catalog business of the era. The customer is always right, load those books up with pretty pictures of dresses.
But kids got their share of cool stuff to look at too, particularly with the Christmas wish books. More on that in just a bit.

Back in the days before the internet, when discount stores carried stuff that was, well, discount (aka junk), consumers knew that they needed to deal with department stores for the good, high-quality stuff that would last years. Thus, the previously mentioned retail establishments would invest money in the big catalogs that would end up in our living rooms. It was good business.
The big catalogs provided a return on the investment of the retailers pretty much year-round, but as Christmas approached, things got really crazy. Crazy enough that the big boys would send you a second catalog in the fall, a bit smaller than the regular version, but this one aimed at the biggest customers of the period: KIDS!

Thus, we would grab that wish book, as they were known, and nearly wear it out looking at the monstrously wonderful toys to be found therein. After all, Sears didn't mess with 99 cent toys in the wish book, they displayed absolutely gorgeous full-color images of race car sets, erector sets, model trains, Easy-Bake ovens, chemistry sets, and other expensive doors to paradise. It worked, too, our parents were relentlessly hounded right up until the big day.

It was a pleasant time for all but local retailers. They were losing sales to the catalog merchants. In fact, when the Montgomery-Ward catalog first began showing up in consumers' mailboxes in the 19th century, it wasn't unusual for local business owners to stage bonfires where piles of catalogs went up in smoke as a form of protest. More retailers joined up with their own catalogs, most notably Sears-Roebuck, who would become known as the most ubiquitous of the mail-order retailers, and local businesses had to learn to just deal with it.

Mail order catalogs had their heyday when we Boomers were kids, during the 50's and 60's. As stores began expanding into more and more areas, the shopping mall concept helping to spur this trend, the significance of the catalogs providing an easy way for customers to purchase things through the mail began to wane. The automatic mailings changed into a request-only service, you would receive a card in the mail and were required to mail it back in (free of charge) indicating that you wanted the latest offering. You also had the option of picking one up at the store down at the mall.

The big mail-order catalogs survived many economic ups and downs, but it was the internet that made them virtually disappear. The Sears catalog went away in 1993. Montgomery-Ward had problems maintaining their profitability, their catalog disappeared in 1985. You could recently request a J.C. Penney catalog through their website, but this has apparently been discontinued. Getting a Spiegel catalog in the mail won't magically change the year to 1966, but you cn still request one today."

We still get catalogs, usually unwanted and unsolicited, skinny and either filled with junk or outrageously expensive stuff. I guess the days of drooling over toys and fancy dresses of great quality and affordability are all but gone . . . but remembering those big ole books doesn't cost a thing!

Mar 31, 2012

Vintage is More than Just Stuff

It's been so long since I have blogged here, i am not sure anyone is still around to read this. I found an amazing site today and i will be sharing articles that i am reading there. They will be very nostalgic for you Baby Boomers and i hope they will also interest my younger readers who love vintage enough to want to know more about "the way it was" when the stuff was made and enjoyed by us old folks.

The site is called I Remember JKF and is geared to the Baby Boomer generation. It sure took me back and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip down memory lane. My thanks to webmaster and fellow Boomer, Ron Enderland, for all the great research and writing over there. It's all too great not to share, so I hope he will allow me to pass along his articles and images here for you all to enjoy. I am presenting the articles here with very few changes and all the credit going to Ron. Be sure to visit for lots and lots more!

Romney's Not the Only One Who Likes Etch-a-Sketch!
Etch-a-Sketch, one of our favorite toys of the 1960s, is still still proudly produced by Ohio Art! Sadly, they haven't been made in Ohio since 2003. However, we do celebrate the fact that they are still around, exactly like they were during the Decade of Change, when many of us were enjoying wonderful childhoods as Baby Boomers.

It all started in France in the late 1950's. A gentleman named André Cassagnes (another source credits Arthur Granjean) crafted a drawing device in his basement. He filled a plastic container with aluminum dust. The container had a clear screen, also a stylus mounted to two bars which was moved by small cables attached to knobs. Thus, an adroit artist could make subtle movements to create a single line which could create infinite shapes. In reality, he created a very cool toy which 98% of us could use to make basic shapes, and cause us to envy true artistes with the talent to create masterpieces.
He took his invention to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany, where a US-based company called Ohio Art showed little interest. However, upon seeing "The Magic Screen" a second time, they decided to roll the dice and take a chance on it. Ohio Art tooled up their factory in Dayton in time to have a boatload of Etch-a-Sketches on store shelves by Christmas, 1960. The result was a smash hit, and a memory for many of us.
The Etch-a-Sketch was a familiar product in dime stores when we were kids, pricey enough to only rate being purchased for a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. But untold millions were sold during the 60's and 70's. And we all learned a few lessons about them as we created our artistic attempts.
  1. Not all of us were artists. In fact, most of us were pretty bad, but we still spent hour after hour twisting knobs, then turning the board over and clearing our efforts, and trying again.
  2. A mistake meant either starting over, or turning the lemon into lemonade, i.e. integrating the mistake into your creation.
  3. The Etch-a-Sketch would eventually crack on the black back side, leaving silvery aluminum dust all over the place.
  4. Once that happened, your choice was to (a) talk mom or dad into another one, or (b) move on to something else. In my case, it was the Spirograph.
But it generally took years of being tossed helter-skelter into a toybox to crack the durable plastic. In the meantime, the investment our parents made in the toy had paid off with hundreds or thousands of hours of entertainment, and perhaps inspiration to make a career out of art.
The Etch-a-Sketch continues to be a successful toy, so you can go out and purchase one for your own grandchild. But rest assured, that when little Eddie or Nancy grows up, they'll have pleasant memories of a plastic device which allowed them to magically create all sorts of black shapes on a silver background.

Did you have one? Tell us about your favvorite toy of the 60s or 70s! There were so many great ones - and yes, many are now collectible and considered vintage stuff. Oh my! I guess that makes me vintage as well. 
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