Thursday, February 28, 2013


Who wouldn't be charmed by this folksy money box? Not only does it have a lot of character in its simple floral carving, but it also comes complete with its own antique key.
In the good old days, before the age of safes and banks, our grandparents kept anything of value in wooden boxes such as this--money, loose change, pieces of jewelry, watches, small, but important documents--maybe even dentures! I have seen wooden cigar cases converted into money boxes, but this box, which probably dates to the 50s, is all hand-made.
The box has shallow compartments for sorting out things, and now it serves as a hiding place for my old medals and antique coins. It's a great example of functional folk art at its best!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

254. For Your Protection and Collection: SHEIK RUBBER TIN

 SHEIK SENSE. Boys, protect thyselves! A vintage Sheik rubber prophylactc rubber packaging tin, ca. 50s-60s.

Before condoms came in handy, individually wrapped sachets, they came in discreet tin packaging, like this Sheik brand of rubber prophylactics. The brand name itself was obviously inspired by the Rudolph Valentino movies that perpetuated the image of the perfect lover--passionate, insatiable and eternally amorous after each conquest.

As the package copy goes, Sheik rubber prophylactics "are made from thin, strong rubber and have been carefully tested and inspected for your protection. Be sure to ask for them by name--at your druggist." Introduced in the 1930s, the original orange tin featured an illustration of a sheik astride a white steed. In the 50s and 60s, the design was streamlined, and the Sheik illustration became just a white silhouette of the Arab lover on a red background.

Sheik rubber prophylactics were sold at drugstores-- 3 for 50 cents. A dozen will cost you $1.50, a savings of 50 cents! I bought this rusty tin at a local collectible fair for Php 100--which I thought was a bit too much, given its state and condition. Well,sex always comes with a price!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


When Hawaii became America's newest state in 1959, its native culture fascinated American mainlanders--including its sinuous dance--the "hula". Inspired by dancing "Leilanis" , many merchandisers cashed in onthis iconic image of a hip-swaying Hawaiian maiden in a (missing) grass skirt and came up with nodders and bobbers meant for car dashboards and curio cabinets. This Made-in-Japan example, straight from the 50s,  falls into that category, but is much more functional. For one, the figurine is a bobber and ash tray in one, and is made of more expensive ceramic than the usual plaster cast models. The upper body is attached to its lower part with a spring. When shaken, the figure wobbles, mimicking the swaying moves of graceful hula dancers. So collectible!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


 A dealer in Bulacan threw this object for free, after I made several purchase at his shop. It's a wooden, cylindrical item with what seems to be a handle gouged out, at the top. It is dated 1926, as one can see, and the words "Andrea G. Del Pilar, Pilpiltan, Bul.(acan)" are incised along the rim of the circular top.
I was told by the dealer that this came from a bakery, and this was in fact, a masher, used in kneading dough. I was not convinced because rolling pins were known in the Philippines  even in the 20s. Besides, holding this wooden implement was kind of difficult as I could hardly grasp the hollowed-out handle on top.
In another shop, some months later, I found a similar object, with the same hollowed-out oval top to be used in holding the object. This one, though, had no carving. The shop owner, this time, told me that it was a mold for the top part of a buri hat--or maybe that of the famous Baliwag hat, made in these parts of Bulacan in the 30s. I think that was a more plausible explanation, even if I felt that the circumference of the all-wood object  was too small for an adult head (around 7 inches in diameter). Maybe this was for a kiddie size hat, no? If you have any idea what this item is, I would appreciate it you could just post your answers (and guesses) here.