Sunday, April 6, 2014

295. Toby or Not To Be: JESTER CHARACTER CUP

I couldn't help but stare back at  this character mug when I chanced upon it at a Makati thrift shop. Fairly small, with some crazing, it looked definitely old, reminiscent of the toby mugs of yore depicting a character in history. Technically, a toby jug depicts a whole person, while a character jug shows just the face, but these ceramic creations share one thing in common--they are all highly collectible!
This example is unmarked--Royal Doulton currently makes the most desirable toby cups and jugs--but the finish of this face jug is superb, the colors vivid and appealing. So off  it went to my collection of kitschy ceramics, that includes dozens of lady head vases. I'll probably use this cup, so every time I drink my coffee, I can face-off with this cool, jester dude from the 50s!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I couldn't help but be charmed by the sight of this pair of mod porcelain couple. They definitely exude a genuine 1960s vibe--from the pixie (or Twiggy) haircut of the girl to the fashionable Carnaby outfit of the cross-legged dandy. I assume that these are cake toppers, although they have separate bases. Too bad I have no use for this winsome vintage pair, when everything was mad about mod!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Of the many kinds of dolls available to a collector, none elicits more interest than ventriloquist dolls that found fame in Hollywood, starting with Charlie McCarthy of Edgar Bergen. Quick to follow was "Danny O'Day", a creation of Jimmy Nelson (b. December 15, 1928). At age 10, he was given a toy ventriloquist's dummy named "Dummy Dan" won by an aunt in a Bingo game. Jimmy learned ventriloquism, and a year later, began taking "Dan" to school. From school performances, he joined amateur talent contests which he consistently won, prompting him to start a professional career.

In 1945, Nelson asked Frank Marshall, a famed maker of ventriloquist dolls (he had made Charlie McCarthy and Jerry Mahoney)  to make him a professional-quality dummy. Marshall sold Nelson a custom-made dummy, which Nelson named Danny O'Day. "Danny O'Day" became a hit when Nelson took his act in nationwide tours.

This vintage 24" 1967 Danny O'Day Ventriloquist Dummy Doll was made by Juro Novelty Co. The ventriloquist is in good used condition. There are signs of use/age but overall doesn't look bad.  The string opens the mouth as it should but the mouth does not close on its own. Despite its flaws, Danny O'Day makes a great display piece, an icon from the past when the world was entertained by talking dolls!

Monday, March 3, 2014


A Philippine-made ironing set--inclusive of a "pakabayo"(ironing board made of painted plywood) and a small flat iron (plantsa) made of thin brass. This child's toy is realistically constructed, and the ironing board even folds for storing--just like the real thing. The tiny plantsa can be opened, just like a real coal-fed pressing iron. Children's play sets such as these were locally made and peddled by ambulant vendors around town--in areas like the church, during fiestas and market days. This rare toy was found on the biggest buy-and-sell online shop,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


A selection of old paper labels of perfumes and cosmetics found in the Philippines, circa 1930s-50s. Some labels were embossed and made used of gold foil, featuring local names of flowers like "Ylang-Ylang", "Philippine Orchids" and "Azucena".
Products represented here include perfumes, lotions, pomade and talcum powder. Charming examples of early graphic design in Philippine product packaging.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


 Before the advent of photoshop, salon studios created special effects using amazing scenography, fashioned from cardboard and wooden props to situate the subject in a fantasy place. But even more incredible are these manipulated real photo postcards, several elements cut and pasted on a new background, which was then painted and tinted over.
Painted photos are not unknown in the Philippines as the "foto oleo" technique was known as aearly as the the first decade of the 20th century. Ordinarily, the subject's dress is washed lightly with color, and the details of a baro were defined by paint. But these two photo postcards bearing the names of "Anita" and "Concepcion" were much more elaborate as they combined time-consuming cutting, rephotographing. lettering, painting and tinting. True, the advent of modern photography and computer technology have all but rendered this tedious process obsolete, but nothing can duplicate the artistry of these fantasy--conceived by imaginative minds and crafted by deft, hard-working hands!

Monday, January 27, 2014


Now here's a cake topper couple in a non-traditional pose. Instead of the stiff, formal figure of a bride and groom standing in rigid attention, these newlyweds are in a dancing mode, the bride in a winsome flapper dress that harkens back to the '30s.  Made of celluloid, this 3.5 inch bridal topper may have been produced in Japan. Cake toppers have been known since the turn of the 20th century. The first toppers were actual mini-dolls dressed to look like the bride and groom. Since then, they have been made of porcelain, bisque, plaster, plastic and fabric. The 50s were the heyday of cake toppers, and there is a growing horde of topper hoarders who collect these as wedding collectibles, mementos of a happy milestone in peoples' lives. To them, we say Best Wishes!!