Thursday, December 8, 2011


One of the first tin toys that I found at the old Makati Cinema Square is this wood and tin Intercollegiate Football. This is a pre-War toy put out by Hustler in the 1920s, and I understand the piece is still being reproduced today. I remember the price of this original plaything--200 pesos. I bought it but I have never figured out how it works as I have no patience reading the instructions at the back of the metal plate. There are spinning mechanisms and score dials that I can't simply comprehend. I have seen similar pieces on ebay, and the most expensive one is available at a Buy-it-Now price of $249! I bought it for the nice, strong graphics, and of course, for the nostalgia it brings. I may not understand the game of football, but I know a good antique buy when I see one.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

203. Boxed: ANNIE

Little Orphan Annie was a popular U.S. comic strip created by Harold Gray (1894–1968) and syndicated by Tribune Media Services. The strip took its name from the 1885 poem "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley, and made its debut on August 5, 1924 in the New York Daily News. By 1937, it was rated #1 comic strip. As expected, it inspired a radio show in 1930, film adaptations by RKO in 1932 and Paramount in 1938 and a Broadway musical Annie in 1977. The original production ran from April 21, 1977 to January 2, 1983 and was staged internationally. "Annie" has also been adapted to film twice, in 1982 and in 1999 the better known being perhaps the former, directed by John Huston and starring Aileen Quinn as Annie, Albert Finney as Warbucks, Ann Reinking as his secretary Grace Farrell, and Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan. (Lea Salonga also was our very own Pinoy 'Annie" and this role would forever be associated with her). Songs from the musical include "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life".

Capitalizing on the broad appeal of this carrot-haired girl who sang "The sun will come out tomorrow", like there was no tomorrow, Aldaddin issued this metal lunchbox in 1981, complete with a plastic thermos. This vintage example, with a current market price from $35-$50-- has never been used and is in impeccable condition, so bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, it is certain to increase in value!


Original cobalt blue cereal bowl and pitcher set with the stamped likeness of 1930s star, Shirley Temple. These were premium items given away by General Mills Cereal that came free with every purchase of Wheaties. A pitcher, cup, and bowl were released. The pitcher is most common and is worth around $35-45, the cup and bowl are more rare and are usually worth around $50 or more. In the 1970s/1980s reproduction Shirley Temple glassware was released to the market but their quality leaves much to be desired. I got these toy tableware from the Greenhills Antique fair, along with the fan photo of an older Shirley Temple.

Monday, September 26, 2011


A retro mid-century moderne Pepsi Cola wall shelf given as a premium to stores in Thailand, found at the famous Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok. Classic free-form amoeba shape back panel dates this to the 50s. The tin shelf ledge itself is very narrow, so maybe this was used to hold match boxes, or collect discarded Pepsi crowns. Pepsi collectibles have always played second fiddle to Coke items, but this is a rare piece as localized advertising premiums of international brands like Pepsi are hard to come by in Thailand. When I found it, I sure had a Pepsi Day!

200. I, ROBOT

Tin metal robots from Japan are very desirable in the current collectible market today, boosted by the immense popularity of the 1970s robot wonder, Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Mekanda Robot. But as early as the 50s, tin robots were being made for the world market in large quantities--often with mechanical wound-up parts that made robots walk, glow, shoot weapons and emit sounds. There were Martian Robots, Gear Robots, Big Chiefman Robots, Meteor Tin Man and Robby the Robot with Blaster, made by assorted makers including Yoshio Toys, Osaka Tin Toys and Metal House Toys.

The one I recently got dates from the late 70s, with more plastic parts than tin. I have no idea who this robot is or who manufactured it. But it is typical of those made in Japan with Automatic Action, Stop 'n Go, Swing Open Door and Shooting Gun Action. Battery operated, this robot still works! Rght now, it doubles as a guard robot, ready to shoot imaginary gamma rays to those who dare enter my inner sanctum of a room.


Here's a parade of international chalkware beauties meant to appeal to domesticated moms who loved sewing. These figural pincushions--representing such nationalities as Indian, Chinese, Scot, etc--date from the early 60s; each bust is topped with a flannel-covered cushion where one can stick pins and needles. Cheaply made in Japan, they are nonetheless, brimming with colorful cuteness, especially when lined up on the shelf, don't you think? I just wish they made a Philippine version--a girl with a pot on her head that doubles as a pincushion would have been appropriate!


Hot on the heels of "The 6 Million Dollar Man" came a spin-off TV series--"The Bionic Woman", starring Lindsay Wagners as tennis pro Jamie Sommers who survived a skydiving accident but only after being outfiited with "bionic" implants similar to Steve Austin. As the result of Jaime's bionics, she has amplified hearing in her right ear, a greatly strengthened right arm, and stronger and enhanced legs which enable her to run at up to 60 miles per hour.

The series premiered on ABC in January 1976 and became the fifth most-watched television show of the 1975-1976 season. It ended in 1978, only to be resurrected in 2007--but the revival was short-lived. Aladdin issued this metal lunchbox in 1978 to ride on the show's popularity. It is similar to the one previously made a year earlier except for one panel, which shows Jaime outrunning a dog. This version shows her stopping a runaway car.

This Bionic Woman lunchbox is in pristine condition, never used, and with its own thermos. In this condition, a price guide book pegs its value at $250! That sure costs a bionic arm and leg!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Back in the psychedelic-age-of-Aquarius 70s, the yellow "Smiley Face" made its appearance in pop art -- mirroring the exuberant, carefree and hallucinogenic happy mood of the decade. "Smiley" made its appearance on every inconceivable material--curtains, wastebasket, stationery, decals and even mugs---such as this one made by McCoy Pottery. It is marked with the McCoy USA name and log on the bottom. McCoy Pottery was established way back in 1910 by Nelson McCoy, manufacturing utilitarian pieces which proved to be popular in the 1930s. The business declined in the 70s and closed permanently in 1990. "Smiley Face" has continued to evolve however, and scores of variants have been generated, known in the cyberworld today as 'emoticons'.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A generic paper doll from the 1950s that I found buried under tons of magazines in the scroungers' paradise that is Kamuning--"Pretty as a Picture" featured "lovely dolls, glamorous gowns". Printed on thin paper, this paper doll book was typical of the hundred and thousands of cheap playthings for little girls made in the 50s.

Dig these vintage fashions that reflected the styles and tastes of the time. I can't believe this paper doll book survived uncut considering how thin the paper is and how kitschy some of the colors are. But for 15 cents, I guess you can't complain--you still get transported somehow to a make-believe world of glitz and high-fashion glamor--on paper, that is.

195. His Own Paint Book: MICKEY ROONEY

The child wonder of the silver screen of the 30s and 40s was born born Joseph Yule, Jr. in Brooklyn, New York, to a vaudeville family. At 14 months old, he crawled on stage wearing overalls and a little harmonica around his neck. His father, Joe Sr., picked him up and introduced him to the audience as Sonny Yule. He began performing officially at the age of 17 months as part of his parents' routine, wearing a specially tailored tuxedo. At 3, he was cast by Hal Roach to participate in the Our Gang series in Hollywood at $5 a day.

Soon, Joe Jr. was getting bit parts in films, working with established stars such as Joel McCrea, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jean Harlow. While selling newspapers, he also enrolled at the Hollywood Professional School, where future stars like Nanette Fabray, Judy Garland, Lana Turner went. In 1938, he graduated from Hollywood High School. He got his name "Mickey" from the "Mickey McGuire" short film series in which he was featured in 1925.

He popularized the character "Andy Hardy" with Judy Garland in 1937 and which made him a superstar. He an Honorary Academy Award, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. He has had one of the longest careers of any actor, to date spanning almost 90 years actively making films in ten decades 1920's to 2010's. He is the last surviving male star from 1930s Hollywood.

This paint book dates from his juvenile years when Mickey was at the peak of his career. It's a large (10 1/4" x 16") vintage coloring book printed by Merrill Publishing Company, Chicago in 1940, # 3496", with over 30 coloring pages.


A pair of teensy-weensy china head dolls, no more than 3/4 inch high. They date from 1910-20 and are made in Japan, though the best and finest examples are from Germany. Painted china head dolls also came with separate arms and legs which could be assembled by an adept sewer on a cloth body, then dolled up in the latest fashion. These heads are so small, the dolls would probably measure about 5-6 inches when completed. I found them at Makati Cinema Square (whic sadly, is about to go!) and at the moment, I have no plans though of making cloth bodies for them--they're better off kept and seen in my shadow box, where they wll repose most likely for the rest of their doll lives.

193. CASPER The Friendly Ghost Game

When boardgames became hot collectibles, of course, I just had to have one. The first gameboard I got was bought from a local "variety store", which sold used items salvaged from the homes of American servicemen's families. This 1959 Casper The Friendly Ghost Board Game by Milton Bradley was marked #4018, ages 5 to 12. The objective is to be the first player to move his four ghosts around the spooky path and into the haunted house. It looked like it was hardly played--the spinner is intact plus the original instruction printed on box interior. Casper gameboards are available on ebay from 99 cents to 19.99$, depending on their condition. Not as desirable as other TV-based games. I haven't touched this game, but maybe one day I'll use the spinner to contact ghosts and other friendly supernatural beings.

192. RIN TIN TIN Magic Erasable Pictures

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, aired from October 1954 to May 1959 on ABC Television. The star was German Shepherd dog descended from the original Rin Tin Tin raised by American serviceman Lee Duncan who became popular in earlier 1920s films. The canine's adventures were adapted for TV and "Rinty" shared billing with child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, and who was being raised by the soldiers at Fort Apache, a US Cavalry. Rusty and Rin Tin Tin helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West. Texas-born actor James Brown (1920–92) appeared in every episode as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters.

Transogram came out with a boxed kit of Rin Tin Tin Magic Erasable Pictures at the height of the show's popularity. There were actually several boxed activity kits issued in the 50s--including a Paint by Number set and a gameboard. But this picture playset that dates from 1957 is the rarest. The activity kit featured 12 panels that could be colored with crayons and then erased with a tissue and then colored again.

The panels carried illustrations of the major scenes and characters from the TV show. A box of crayons and a sharpener came along with the boxed kit. The best thing about this Rinty's collectible is that it's unused! A similar kit in unsued condition (saved for a split corner in the box) was priced at $175 on ebay. In the field of TV collectibles, Rin Tin Tin is sure one hot dog!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

191. SPOTTING SHIRLEY: A Darling of a Doll at the Greenhills Antique Fair

I didn’t even know that the famous Greenhills Antique Fair was already under way since last week; I had earlier texted a dealer for an appointment, and he texted back—asking me to meet him instead at his stall at Greenhills. Apparently, it’s that time of the year again for this longest-running antiques and collectibles show which I have been attending since the mid 90s. I think its history goes even further than that.

For 4 weeks, Manila’s antique dealers, segunda mano shops, numismatists, deltiologists, philatelists, collectors, “junkies” and kibitzers congregate near the fountain area of the Greenhills Shopping Center for a full day of wheeling, dealing, trading and swapping. Anything of value is sold here---the term ‘antique fair’ is not quite accurate as there are more repros being sold than the real thing.

Thus, Greenhills is not for buying quality century old santos; instead, it is for rummaging and scrounging around for collectibles of all sorts—not too old, mostly vintage, but still capable of invoking nostalgia, that hard-to-explain longing for a connection to the past, which many collectors like me experience in the presence of anything old, passé and defunct.

Toys, softdrink bottles, old product packaging, medals, stamps, 1950s magazines, schoolbooks, clocks, pens, pinback buttons, vinyl records, prints—name it, the Greenhills Fair has it—well, almost.

Supply seems to decline over the year judging from the number of participating dealers this year. This did not deter me from rushing over at Greenhills on one Sunday afternoon, ready to jostle with the thick weekend crowd in the hope of unearthing a ‘find’.

But the old reliables are still there—my tocayo, Alex Villaflor, is still at it, peddling ephemera, artworks and kitsch with his partner Sonny Benitez. Alex founded the first pop culture collectible shop in the country—Circa—back in the 80s at Creekside. He used to have a fne array of Bakelite radio and Coca Cola memorabilia, but those are long gone. Instead, he had these nice Flora de Filipinas botanical prints (called ‘Blanco prints” by collectors), ready for framing.

George Bonsai also has one or two stalls here, but unfortunately, he was still setting up.

Jun Macaro had a fine display of medals and coins, but I was after his old photos, which he failed to bring, to my disappointment. I’ve have had lots of luck with June—I found my small ivory Sto. Entierro complete with his wooden calandra in his Aurora Blvd. junkyard and I also bought most of his old photos from the estate of Jorge Pineda.

I just hopped from stall to stall—the antique shops from Tiendesitas are in full force—but they carried mostly reproduction santos dressed in gaudy clothes—they looked more like overdecorated dolls.

Talking about dolls--it was at Mike’s stand that I saw, lying on the bottom-most shelf of his glass display—an old cardboard box that had a large doll inside.

The box was wrapped in plastic, but it took only one look for me to recognize the moppet with curly golden locks tucked inside, which even had a cardboard leg separator and head support.

This is a large composition Shirley Temple Doll from Ideal Novelty Inc, perhaps the most popular doll in the world based on the likeness of the top child star of the 30s, at the time of its release in 1937.

Today, early Shirley Temple dolls are highly prized by doll collectors and Shirleyana enthusiasts; only large pre-War emporiums had Shirley dolls in stock as the prices were prohibitive. This is just the second Shirley Temple doll I have seen so far here in the Philippines.

The first ever Shirley Temple I have seen here was an 8 inch compo that was sold to me by person whose name I have forgotten while looking for old toys at Makati Cinema Square. She had overheard me while talking to a shop owner and made small talk with me after, telling me of a Shirley doll which had once belonged to his lola. To make the long story short, she sold me the doll.

But Mike’s Shirley Temple doll was a big one—all of 22 inches tall. It came in its original cardboard box with a paper label that clearly identified it as an authorized doll made by Ideal Novelty Corp.

The name “Shirley Temple” was scrawled in the familiar signature of the child star, just 10 years old in 1938. He told me the doll was sold to him by an 80++ year old grandmother, who had barely played with it in her childhood, hence, the almost pristine state of the doll.

Almost perfect—one finger was nicked which I quickly repaired using clay epoxy. The face had some crazing, a typical problem of old painted composition dolls which were made of pulp, sawdust, paper and binder. The paint and the composition contracted at different rates with every change in temperature, hence the crazing, but the condition has since stabilized. When I have the time, I intend to further clean the doll with Wipe-Out and give it a single coating of clear paste wax to condition the composition material.

When I got the doll, I thought the open-shut eye mechanism had been damaged or had rusted, but when I carefully pried the eyelashes which had adhered to the lower lid, the eyes popped open. I just had to swab clean the glass eyes with a glass –cleaning solution using a cotton bud.

The trademark golden curly locks of mohair are as curly as the day the doll came out of the factory, even after 73 years! The red ribbon on her hair however, is full of pin-prick holes.

The original party dress, undergarments, socks and shoes are intact, although moth-eaten and tattered in some places.

What’s more, the metal pinback button is still with the doll—“World’s Darling, Shirley Temple” the button proclaims, made to be proudly worn by the owner. In auctions, these Shirley Temple pinbacks are sold separately, some commanding as much as 40-50$! Interestingly, 3 heart shaped buttons are also included as part of the doll’s extras.

Of course, I just had to have this rare Shirley doll! I needled Mike into giving it to me for the best price—and for less than the price of a 15 in. antique santo the world’s darling was mine!

A quick survey of antique and collectible price guides as well as online auctions put the price of this doll in the $385 to $800 range. Given the good, unplayed with condition and the presence of its original packaging and accessories, this Shirley should be worth about $900, at least!.

I haven’t figured out what to do with Shirley, whether to put it in my cabinet of old toys or display it at home—but one thing for sure, she will be treasured and handled with lots of TLC, befitting the stature of a child star who once animated the silver screen with her precocious talent, captivating the imagination of movie audiences and earning a place in heir hearts as the world’s darling!


Was lucky enough to find this pretty pair of folk art fruit ensembles in shadow boxes that date back to the pre-War 30s. They used to hang in the home of a dealer-collector, until he probably got tired of them and consigned them at an antique shop. They're not exactly cheap but these fruity displays are very typical Filipiniana pieces that were handcrafted and sold at curio shops in Manila. The fruits are so life-like--they are actually made of wood, pulp and fabric coated with escayola/ gesso then painted realistically and assembled in their narra frames. The first boxed frame features a basket of indigenous fruits like kamatsile, lanzones, balimbing, atis, mabolo, duhat, banana. chico and kasuy, artfully arranged in an embroidered red satin pouch.

The second shadow box combines fruits and vegetable--ampalaya, green and yellow mangos, turnips, squash, guava, sampalok, avocado and a section of a sugar cane. The fruits are wired and stitched on to a fabric backing, which in turn, was nailed onto the wooden stretcher. The molded fruits have some minor scruffs but overall, the unusual displays are in fairly good condition despite their 70 odd years. Who would think that artistic inspirations can also come from our own orchard?