Tuesday, December 1, 2015

352. Antique Prints: FEMME et HOMME DES ILES MANILLA

Once upon a time, I entertained the idea of collecting antique prints--and the very first ones I got were this pair of Philippine costume prints of a man and woman from Manila. The hand-colored plates were torn from an antique French travel book about the Philippines. It dates from, perhaps, late 1790s to the early 1800s. The "india' in swathed in a dark cape, and she is draped in a sarong,
The male "indio"  version is just as interesting--he wears a loose pair of shorts that fall down to his knees and his head is covered with some scarf to protect him from the harsh sun. He holds a rather large, embroidered handkerchief. How's that, for macho effect?

I am posting the rest of the pages of the book that came with the prints--in the French language,  I chanced upon these nice Filipiniana pieces being sold by a local dealer on ebay some 2 decades ago--and who has since passed away. I just wished I got more information about these prints--which remain in storage to this day. C'est la vie!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


 Those "Japan Surplus" stores burgeoning around many towns and cities are becoming popular haunts for collectibles. This vintage wedding topper,for example, was found in a nearby shop, just a few steps away from my place!  In fact, I just walked right in, did some quick rummaging and came up with this nice topper, not too old, but with lots of vintage appeal.
This must probably be a surplus piece--it came in a box without a cover. The topper is unusued; the husband and wife plastic figurine stands on a latticework base decorated with feathers and fabric flowers. A hundred bucks and it was mine! Now, all I need is a fancy wedding cake!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


First time to see this one-of-a-kid china dinner plate that was a giveaway of Rufina Patis, the first fish sauce brand in the Philippines founded by widow Rufina Salao vda. de Lucas. The home industry that she put up in 1900 became a successful multi-million peso business, peaking in the 50s and 60s.
The business grew by leaps and bounds after the war and 2 modern manufacturing and bottling plants were erected in 1957 and 168 to meet the growing lucrative U.S.-Filipino market. The company also invested in advertising and in sales promotions--and these collectible plate premiums were among those used to entice housewives to buy a bottle of Rufina Patis.
 This small 8 in.diamter plate bears the Rufina Patis Especial logo and bears the Three Starbest China - Made in Japan manufacturer's mark. It was found on ebay Philippines, sold to me by an old gentleman whose father used to have a general merchandise store selling groceries, including condiments and bottled products.
 On the center of the plate is a delicately colored illustration of a woman in patadyong and salakot, with a basketfull of fish in one arm-- a charming Filipiniana touch on a Japan-made plate.
The piece dates from the 50s and still retains its vibrant colors after all these years. It may not have been used and was used for decorative purposes. This is the first and only known premium item associated with the pioneer patis brand in the country.

Monday, November 2, 2015

349. Save the World: GLOBE BANK by J. CHEIN

This small tin collectible in an antique shop caught my eye because it was a small globe and a coin bank in one. Now what a swell idea to teach geography and thriftiness in one multi-function object! It was made by Julius Chein & Company, an American toy manufacturer (1903-1980s) that was popular for making mechanical toys made from stamped and lithographed tin.They also made licensed toys of companies  such as King Features Syndicate and Walt Disney Productions, producing Popeye, Felix the Cat and various Disney character toys.
What is even more fascinating is that, this old piece contains the old names of several countries no loner in use today--like Siam (for Thailand), Persia (now Iran), Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and French West Africa, until 1960, a federation of 8 French African territories.This small bank, no more than 4 inches tall, is complete with its metal stopper at the bottom, to gain access to coins when it is full. "Be thrifty, but not covetous", a saying goes. Unfortunately, when it comes to collecting, I can't be both!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

348. MUNTING CHERUBIMS: Winged Antique Fragments

Picked these pair of wooden cherubims for free--they're just, well, angelic! They're probably parts of an antique santo peana (base for a saint's statue) that were detached, due to age and time, not too old, maybe just 30-40 years old. Even then, they're quite well-made, with many little details like their pudgy cheeks and curly curls. They even retain their original gold paint--although one has been painted over, recently. Right now, they have been repurposed as Christmas tree ornaments, lending an old-world charm to my holiday decorations!

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Now here's a great advertising sign that's truly Pinoy--a wooden signboard for Royal Tru-Orange that dates from the 60s. Royal Tru-Orange was originally formulated and sold commercially in 1922 by San Miguel Brewery before it was eventually bought by Coca-Cola. The brand name is silkscreened in bold colors on a lawanit (pressed wood pulp) board that was a cheaper alternative than conventional tin. This must have been for indoor use--say, a canteen or a large grocery store--as lawanit is not water-proofed.
Some of the memorable campaigns of Royal Tru-Orange emerged from the 1960s and 70s--harping on the natural ingredients of the popular orange soda drink: "Kitang-kita ang ebidensya---'yung may pulp bits syempre!" (You can see the evidence--the one with real orange pulp bits). The 70s gave us "Come Taste and Love It" and in the 80s, the "Royal--Natural, Ganito Talaga ang Buhay!" campaign starring RJ Ledesma, all done by McCann Erickson.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

346. A Collectible Flying High: CAST METAL GRAF ZEPPELIN TOY

The Graf Zeppelin was a German-made airship that was hydrogen-filled to make it fly. It was able to carry passengers and commercial flights were made from 1928 to 1937. Named after German pioneer Graf (Count) Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the Graf Zeppelin made histoiry when it made a round-the-world flight in 1929.
The novel airship was celebrated throigh various memorabilia and souvenirs that included commemorative coins, postcards, badges and even toys such as this 1930s cast metal painted 3-wheeled blimp, a scarce artifact from the airship days. It is about 8.5 inches long and weighs a hefty 2 pounds.
This Graf Zeppelin pull toy must have been cared for by its previous owners as most of its paint is intact, with just a few scruffs to show, after all these years. It must have been de-commissioned from flying! Zeppelins never reached the Philippines--except this toy version which I won from ebay. Any vintage cast metal toy is prized...even more so when it is made in the likeness of an airship with an unlikely shape, propelled by gas fuel. A great revolution in the sky! Truly a hot, hot, (air) collectible!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

345. I'm A Little Teapot: 50sTOY TEA SET

I don't remember where I got this complete set of "Made in Japan" toy tea set, with its  box intact. Probably from Makati Cinema Square. Since I have so much pet cats, I thought the "kitty tea set" would be a nice addition to my feline collection.
Children's toys such as these were widely available in bazaars everywhere in the Philippines as they were cheaply made. Unfortunately, they were also well-loved and much-played with, that often resulted in broken and missing pieces. That is why, I am lucky to have found this miniature play pieces in unused condition. Maybe one of these days, I'll treat my friends to tea and sconces, using my 50 year old plus tea ware, and hold the nicest tea party in the house.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


In 1984, a film about three weird New York parapsychologists opening a ghost-catching business too the theaters by storm. "Ghostbusters", starring  Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis set out to clear an uptown high-rise apartment building of ghosts linked to the ancient god Gozer. Armed with an assortment of ghostbusting weapons, the trio' starts their quest to stop the spirits and their ghoulish attempt to overwhelm the entire world.
The hit movie generated licensed merchandise such as these--replicates of the Ghostbusters wacky weaponry. They were all made by Kenner and dates to the 80s. The Water Zapper sprays up to 20 feet to clear up the neighborhood of ghosts. All one had to do was fill up the zapper with water then you're ready to "soak" every ghost in sight!
The Nutrn Blaster, which dates from 1989, zaps ghosts by generating Nutrona Rays, a state-of-the-art styro foam "proton stream" gun. One had to turn the handle to spin the beam and zap the ghost--just like how the Ghostbusters did it. These two toys complete with their boxes were found in pristine condition at a local general merchandise store that still carried these old stocks that are almost 30 years old! Amazing isn't it? So if there's something strange in your neighborhood--go check it out! It may be an obscure store selling old stocks of toys such as these Ghostbuster blasters!!

Friday, August 21, 2015


This must be the happiest pickin' place on earth!! Northwest Estate and Collectibles--a collectible heaven that has managed to transport the ebay experience to the Philippines. That's because most of the collectibles that you will find here are all culled from garage sales and flea markets from the U.S., shipped here regularly by the enterprising proprietor, U.S. based Jose Canimo...chosen specially for rabid collectors like me!!
I first discovered Northwest Estate and Collectibles on facebook, of all places. Service is impeccable--all done online. Pictures are posted, and you inquire about the size and condition--and if interested, you just either have the item reserved or you can check it out at their Manila address.
Just take a look at the breadth and depth of the stuff--from very desirable vintage toys (like these 1960s Ken by Mattel), collectible tin and diecast toys like Tonkas, Hotwheels, Matchbox, U-Haul trucks to old bottles, shelves and shelves of vinyl records, action figures, sports and political memorabilia, period jewelry, comic books (they even have silver age editions!), even old carpentry tools, glassware, and an old parking meter!
An amazing assortment of disposable Americana! I went there recently for a second visit to get my reserved stuff--4 vintage Barbies with clothes and plastic cases, in great condition. It can't get any better than that! The pricing is flexible--you can haggle. Better yet, wait for their sale periods--where they give discounts ranging from 25 to a whopping 50% percent!
The items are one-of-a-kind, so prepare to shell out money when you go there--the place is a residential area, no banks in sight! Even then, Northwest Estate promises to give you an experience which you last felt when you were a 10 year old kid! So why ebay, when you can go Northwest--where there's something for everyone!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Now here's a lunch box that's flying high on the collectible list. A rare vinyl box of Sister Bertrille of "The Flying Nun" fame. This American TV hit was produced by Screen Gems for ABC based on the 1965 book The Fifteenth Pelican, by Tere Rios. It starred Sally Field--the future Oscar winner. The series originally ran on ABC from 7 Sep. 1967, to 3 Apr. 1970,
The most common lunchbox was made of tin, but this one is made of vinyl. An even more valuable version is an oval vinyl box with a strap and a matching thermos. A great memento from a TV show that defined the simple comic entertainment of the 70s, revolving around the misadventures of a nun in convent San Tanco!

Sunday, August 2, 2015


A very nice vinyl doll from 1965, made by the famed doll manfacturer, Effanbee. The 8 inch, all-vinyl doll represents a Brownie Scout. It is fully jointed and has sleep eyes, and comes with accessories like a brown belt, orange kerchief and shoes. This is an official doll made for the Girl Scouts of America, and they were first made together with a Junior Girl Sout version. The Brownie Girl Scout doll was a brunette, and the Junior Girl Scout was a blonde. Both were individually boxed with a clear acetate cover  imprinted with the Girl Scout trademark, catalog number, and price.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

340. Smallville Treasures: VINTAGE BISQUE DOLLS

An assortment of tiny bisque dolls picked from a local thrift shop, sold as a lot. The most precious is the 2nd Made-in-Japan doll with strung bent limbs and head, dressed in an original crochet dress (missing one sock)-- just a mere 3.5 inches tall! Even smaller is the first doll with a polka-dotted dress with sewn-on clothes, maybe part of a dollhouse family. A newer doll with an antique look is this 2 in. souvenir baby dressed in a baptismal outfit, with the name of the recipient attached to the dress. It came with a tiny stroller of woven bamboo. When it comes to dollies, artistry knows no size!

Friday, July 10, 2015


You can't miss those flyaway bangs and that wind-tousled hairdo. It's Farrah  Fawcett! The beautiful star who gained worldwide stardom in the hit TV crime series, "Charlie's Angels" first aired in 1976. Farrah was cast as one of 3 crime-busting beauties (Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson were the other 2) working for big boss, Charlie. As Jill Munroe, Farrah captivated the audience with her beautiful sunshiny looks--and locks--that had every girl  styling their hair in a Farrah Flip.
Soon, many toy companies began taking note of Farrah's strong following and in no time at all, acquired licenses to make 'Charlie's Angel" action figures and a separate Farrah Fawcett fashion doll, all capturing her distinct square-jawed face and thick, flyaway mane. . 
But this Farrah Glamour Center beats them all. Made in HongKong in 1978, it features a vinyl bust of Farrah, with rooted synthetic hair that one can style to duplicate her famous flip--using rollers, combs, curlers and brushes. The likeness to the star is very good, but the soft vinyl used has a tendency to droop after some years, causing her chin to droop as well. Farrah--voted as one of the Top 50 TV Stars of All Time-- passed away in 2009 after a 3-year bout with cancer. Thankfully, glamorous bust will allow me to remember her and her famous Farrah Flip with every stroke of the brush.

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!