Thursday, July 2, 2015

338. He Is The Greatest Collectible: MUHAMMAD ALI BOXING PUPPET

A very amusing puppet I found on ebay--it's a plastic-headed boxing doll made in the likeness of Muhammad Ali or "Cassius Clay" in his younger days. Good thing the dealer was from the Philippines, so I coaxed him into pulling this out from the auction and selling it to me outright. Never mind if it's missing a glove. Made in Hong Kong in the late 60s, this mechanized puppet has a lever that you push hidden under his robe--that triggers him into a jabbing frenzy!
Boxing puppets like these are still being made today (I saw one recently, with the likeness of Saddam Hussein), but this vintage example has a charm that made me float like a butterfly and which stung me like a bee! :-). Muhammad Ali--you, indeed, are the greatest!

Saturday, June 27, 2015


In the 50s, free-form shapes became very popular--pieces of furniture and other decor items assumed the shapes of kidneys, boomerangs and amoeba. This funky-looking, fully-functioning clock followed that trend with its irregularly-shaped, vinyl colored body. I got this in a flea market in China, where wind-up clocks of this shape and form are still being produced. This clock is still tick-tick ticking after over 50 years, to remind us of the atomic age that changed the way we live, and the way we watched time passed by!

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Look at these "Tumbling Clown" plastic acrobat mechanical toys that I found with original box intact. Dating from the 60s, they were made by a plastic toy firm in Malabon--proudly Philippine made!
The pieces are surprising intact after all these years, save for a missing plastic tab or two. The assembly is very simple--one had to snap together the plastic framework pieces to form a sort of a tower. 
Then, all you had to do was set the clowns--which were connected together with a see-saw-like crosspiece--on the topmost ramp of the tower. A little nudge will cause the clowns to "tumble" down in a teeter-totter motion, complete with a jingle-jangle sound--no batteries, no electricity needed! Just plain, simple fun! Just the way childhood should be!
Now, let me do that again....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

335. Among My Souvenirs: VINTAGE FILIPINA DOLL

In the 1930s--our peacetime era--tourism in the Philippines boomed. many bazaars and curio shops mushroomed in the Malate area, selling Philippine-made souvenirs to domestic and international tourist. Capiz shells, abaca products, woodcarvings, buri hats, banig (mats) and woven jusi and pina fiber were top sellers. For kids,there were a few options--yoyos and pull toys (calesas) for the boys, and for the girls--  Philippine-made dolls of composition with cloth bodies attired in baro't saya, like this example, in very good condition.
These were most likely outsourced from contractors who made these at home, products of Philippine cottage industry. They are very fragile, as the composition tend to crack over time, but this charming doll has retained its color, its dress and even its label. She is dressed in a stiffened abaca skirt and top, with a panuelo to complete her 'dalagang bukid' look.
These vintage Philippine dolls occasionally are seen on ebay--like this small 11 inch creation. Thank heavens, they are not that expensive and demand is not too high, so they are very much affordable. Much rarer are bigger dolls of over  a foot in length, made in the same fashion, but with heads of painted clay and more elaborate costumes. Dolls using raw Philippine materials are not just nostalgic souvenirs of childhood but wonderful examples of Philippine folk art.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Buck Rogers first appeared in a short novel published by Philip Francis Nowlan in an August 1928 issue of the pulp magazine "Amazing Stories". Entitled  "Armageddon", it featured a hero,Anthony Rogers, later renamed Buck Rogers when it was bought by the  National Newspaper Syndicate. comic made its first newspaper appearance in 1929 . The adventures of Buck Rogers in comic strips, movies, radio and television became an important part of American popular culture. It's been credited with bringing into popular media the concept of space exploration. Buck Rogers' last incarnation was as a film in 1979 and as a TV series in 1981, starring Gil Gerard. Many merchandise such as toys and playthings were spawned by the TV serial--and this 1930s gameboard is just one of the hundreds of thousands that children played with. It's one of those basic "race" games--the movement is controlled by a throw of a dice or a spinner, with obstacles provided by "alien enemies" along the way.There were 3 game versions:"Cosmic Rocket Wars", "Search for the Secrets of Atlantis" and "The Siege of Gigantica".

Monday, May 25, 2015

333. Rising in Value: PHOENIX PLATE

One of my first oriental antiques is this so-called 6.5" diameter Phoenix Plate which I bought in the 80s at the famous Aldevinco Shopping Center in Davao--known for its excavated and salvaged antiques. It shows the legendary bird, hand-drawn in the middle of the plate, flying off in resurrection. Alongside dragons and roosters, the phoenix is a popular theme in Oriental art.
In mytholology, it is a long-lived bird that cyclically reborn--thus the phoenix is associated with the Resurrection of Christ. In Art, it is depicted as a very colorful bird, the size of an eagle with a nimbus to symbolize its association with the Sun.
This particular Phoenix Plate is made of glazed clay; I have no idea as to its age, but it does look and feel very old. I've had this sitting on a shelf for s long, surviving typhoons and earthquakes from the last three decades. I am not worried it might break because for sure--like the mythical phoenix--it will become whole and rise again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

332. Advertiques: PHILLIPS PETROLEUM 66

Loyalty has its privileges, indeed. I bought a few items from an antique dealer recently and he gave me this freebie--a  rather large wooden sign of Phillips Petroleum 66. The energy company was founded  by Lee Eldas "L.E." Phillips and Frank Phillips of Oklahoma in 1917.
A shield logo was created in 1930 for its link to the famous highway of the same number, with a black and orange color scheme that would last nearly 30 years. In 1959, Phillips introduced a revised version of the shield in red, white and black, a color scheme still used by Phillips 66 Co. for the brand. Vintage Phillips signs are highly collectible and many reproductions exist. This wooden sign is definitely a local fantasy version, with cut-out letters and carved background (there's a missing piece below). It must have hanged in a private bar or used to decorate a den or a man-cave. I haven't gotten around to restoring it--it is just stashed away in my garage-- to remind me that once upon a time, petrol was so cheap, that everyone on Route 66 was screaming--"Step on the gas!".