Thursday, January 28, 2010


This set of delicate porcelain ballet figurines makes an encore as collectible kitsch! Made in Japan (stickers on two figures are intact), the 4 prima donnas are missing two more companions (alas! I saw them sold at the Greenhills fair!). Though cheaply made, the delicate figurines are highly detailed, right down to their ruffled tutu's spangled with gold. What struck me too was the campy, emotive poses--certified drama queens on the dance stage! It still is possible to get individual figurines despite their fragile nature--and part of the thrill is completing a set. I just wonder if these ballerinas have their male counterpart in tights, now that should be interesting. Let's pas de deux!

Monday, January 25, 2010


You squeaks!

This little rubber boy doll is 54 years old and he is still squeaking! Made by Rempel Enterprises in 1956, it was found in a New Jersey antique shop for exactly 4 dollars. Rempel is famous for its rubber toys, and the most popular are its line of animal rubber squeaker figures. It was founded by Gustave Dietrich Rempel, a Russian emigre, who set up his first shop at Akron, Ohio (home of B.F. Goodrich--so there's the rubber connection!). He invented a way to cast rubber efficiently using his patented Roto-Cast process--and soon, he was making a killing with his "Croaker" rubber frog creation, which turned out to be a bestseller.

Rempel's heydays were in the mid 50s, as it acquired licenses for Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Lassie and other favorite cartoon persoanlities. The last of the rubber squeeze toys were issued in 1968. Today, you don't see many rubber squeeze items in toy stores--so this boy toy with paint intact, is a real find! Action sqiueaks louder than words, so start looking for a Rempel toy now!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Like I said, I was born to rummage.I grew up in a house that didn’t throw away stuff. Old curtains and sheets, schoolbags, clothes, three-legged chairs, electrical wirings, car parts, broken ceramics, broken lamps, broken clocks, broken everything—these were crated and stored in the rear of our garage.“You may find a need for that stuff again”, my old folks used to say.True enough, if I needed something for, let’s say, a school project, all I had to do is dash to the garage and rummage through the boxes. How right they were then, and even moreso now.

Today, I have collector friends who bug me for old Mad magazines, Star Wars toys, boy scout mementos, tin cars and extinct vinyl records. Officemates who are into “shabby chic” ask me for my sources of 50s and 60s paintings and furniture. Production designers want to rent my Sputnik lamp for a period commercial. And, of late, even antique dealers have come a-calling, willing “to buy anything of value” for their ebay postings.

Alas, the stuff in our garage is gone.
Even my favorite hunting grounds have ceased to exist or have changed their inventories. Dau—Clark’s golden trashbin—once held promise as the source of slightly-used goods straight from America’s House Beautiful. There, I would pick metal lunch boxes and Matchbox cars for a song. Gone too is Rey’s Variety Store in Balibago, my source for U.S. magazines in all their triple X variety. Then there’s the now-defunct Pines Thrift Shop along Abanao St., in Baguio. I assembled my Baguio collegian wardrobe there, thanks to its German manager, Mrs. Woelke who had a knack for gathering and selecting the best quality used (read: vintage) clothing, long before ukay-ukay came into vogue. But as they say, there’s more where that comes from. For every thrift shop gone to heaven, a dozen have come to take their place.

Necessity, the mother of invention, have also re-engineered their names to something classier (“Scrounger’s Corner”, “Browse-a-Lot”), with fancier price tags to match. Still, those bitten by the collecting bug swarm to these flea market stalls in droves, ever hopeful for another fabulous find.

One of my most recent discoveries is this hole-in-the-wall shop in Q.C., housed in the rickety Swap Meet Building along Kamuning Road: COLLECTORS' HANG-OUT. Here Sir George reigns in air-conditioned comfort, surrounded by a hodgepodge of stuff—piles of magazines, books, bottles, house parts, paper items, used CDs, outdated VHS tapes, toys, weird paintings-- trash to some, treasures to others.

There’s something here for everyone, says George, who started dealing in traditional collectibles like stamps and coins back in the 60s. When there was nothing more to find, he turned to paper items, often buying whole contents of houses and school libraries which more, often than not, included valuable ephemera like revolutionary documents, rare books and prints, papel sellados (old business papers) and cartas, photos and autographs.

When I went to Collectors' Hang-Out on a weekend, the inventory was mind-boggling: Bottles of bewildering variety (saw patis bottles and farmacia jars), old product packaging and 'advertiques' (often rented out for period movies or TV commercials!) lined the small room, floor to ceiling. There were kitschy ceramics, old calendars, boardgames, matchbox covers, trinkets, pieces of jewelry, GE electric fan, kitsch decor, Coke signs, vintage porn, a hand pump, 78 rpm records, turntable, ad infinitum. You'll never know what to cart home, until you find it--for sure, only at Sir George's Collectors' Hang-Out!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Few remember this short-lived Hanna Barbera cartoon series that ran in the late 1970s on Philippine TV. The star, Hong Kong Phooey, is the altar ego of Penrod Pooch, or Penry, a "mild-mannered" police station janitor who can transform into an anti-crime, kung-fu fighting canine. The animated series ran from 1974 to 1981. This lunch box, made by King Seeley in 1975, celebrates the karate-chopping antics of Hong Kong Phooey. It's a little rusty and beat-up, the lunchbox, that is, but still a cheap and charming find.

94. This Guy's A Doll: NORA AUNOR DOLL

The one and only superstar of the 70s gets special vinyl treatment with this licensed Nora Aunor doll, issued in the 1970s. The small doll stands no more than 5 inches and comes with a rooted hair. I have seen other versions of the doll, one in a reposing position. Save for the trademark mole, this doll's likeness to Ate Guy is questionable. Nora Aunor dolls are hard to find, but Vilma Santos dolls are even rarer! Of course, the most desirable doll of all is Guy and Pip's Maria leonora Theresa. Now where is that darn doll?

Monday, January 11, 2010


A noddin' porcine find that nods..bobs..and makes goo-goo eyes! Nodders were popular novelty decors in the 50s and 60s, and this is just one of those millions of kitschy figurines made from those flashy, funky decades. Most nodders were made especially for car dashboards, so that when the vehicle is in motion, the nodder sways. Nodders were made to represent every inconceivable figure known to man--from Hawaiian hula girls, baseball and rock star idols to animals such as hush dogs and--piggies! This example is notable for its flickr eyes, which also move as the head--attached separately to the body using a spring-- bobs at the slightest touch. Give this collectible a hog! Oink, oink!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The Philippine Trust Company was founded in 1916, one of the oldest private commercial banks in the country (3rd after Philippine National Bank and Banco Espanol-Filipino). For its 5oth anniversary, it issued this metal coin bank as a giveaway to its clientele. This bank has a n opening at the bottom and is made of durable cast metal, which accounts for the survival of many examples. I see these quite coin banks (and other similar ones) offered by Philippin sellers dealing on ebay, but I got mine straight from a dealer. Today, the bank is stioll around, and is now known as Philtrust with offices at UN Avenue, Manila.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Lighters do make ideal advertising freebies! They're functional....they are handled every day ...and the metal body can accommodate any advertising message as well as product logos. Long favorites of advertisers of "vice" products (read: cigarettes and liquor), lighters today are being avidly sought for their strong graphics and design. Here we have a nice set, made of chrome and given away by cigarette companies "Hit Parade"and "Lucky Strike" from the 50s. The local "Manila Rum" lighter is made of chrome and polished brass, and dates from the 60s. I don't remember how much I paid for these lighters, which means they must have been bargain basement cheap. So come on, collectors, light your fire!


Pepsi Cola was first introduced to the world in 1898 by Caleb Bradham, who made it at his pharmacy where the drink was sold. It was later named Pepsi Cola, after its main ingredients--pepsin and kola nuts. Pepsi would soon become Coca-Cola's chief competitor, rivalling it in marketing and promotions by coming up with unique merchandising materials such as this in-store enamel sign of the Pepsi crown. These giant crowns bearing the Pepsi Cola logo with its familiar flourish were common sights on storefronts in the 50s and early 60s, where a pair often flanked the store name. In the 70s, these 2-dimensional crowns were replaced by flat tin sheet, which in turn gave way to cheap, easy-to-print tarpaulin sheets. This example was found in a Makati basement thrift shop--one of my first 'advertiques'. Come alive!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


A pair of Santa Claus Christmas figural lightbulbs, from the 1930s-40s, made of glass with hand-painted features. These were part of a string of figural holiday lights that also included a snowman and assorted fruits, made in Japan. Now, non-working, I let them hang on my Xmas tree anyway. Nobody makes Christmas lights like these anyway. A belated Merry Christmas!