Summertime Is Forever Playtime

I stated in our blog four years ago, when my partner Dan and I began our online resale business Dogbotz Boneyard, that “Summertime Is Playtime.” And guess what? It still is.

With the kids now out of school, with plans for summer vacations, and with temperatures soaring — we’re supposed to have 100-degree temperatures here in the Midwest within the next day or two — we’re in the season of playtime!  And, does Dogbotz Boneyard have the playthings for you and your family, neighbors and friends.

Among the toys and games we have available for resale:

  • For the strategist: dominoes, vintage chess boards, and clan-building adventures.
  • For family fun: classic board games and card games.
  • For the scholar of foreign cultures: a German Schafkopf card game as well as the classic 19th-century French board game Le Jey de Nain Jaune.
  • For the doll-maker: a variety of doll heads, and even a 1930s Seminole Indian doll.
  • For the hunter: duck decoys galore!
Cpt Kangaroo Game 0141 A 0513

The Game of Captain Kangaroo (board game, ca. 1956, USA)

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ED-U Animal Bird Fish (card game, ca. 1960, USA)

Tableaux Célèbres

Tableaux Celebres (board game, ca. 1972, France)

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Hen & Drake Decoys (decoys, ca. 1982, USA)

And when we begin to dig a little bit deeper in the boneyard, all sorts of playthings begin to pop out: toy boats, nanoblock sets, Chinese fortune-telling sticks, more rare vintage family board and card games, and much, much more. So, visit us and check out our toys, games and playtime collectibles on a weekly basis as new items for summer fun are added often.

If you’re a collector of vintage games and toys, let us know what you’re seeking as we may already have it in our inventory but haven’t listed it yet on our website.

All the best,
And enjoy the “dog days of summer” (no pun intended).

Patrick Price
Proprietor
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

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Sometimes You Need to Treat Yourself…and Splurge!

Attending estate sale after estate sale, looking for a great bargain on some collectible or vintage item, my partner Dan and I often find something that just takes one of us by complete surprise. We not only have that “wow where did that come from?” experience but also have the “urge to splurge” and just buy that hidden treasure for ourselves. Though our taste in collectibles varies, that unanticipated desire just to purchase “a little something unique” for ourselves does not.

So, let me share with you some “just gotta have it” vintage goods that we have acquired, not for resale, but for ourselves.

One afternoon scoping out metal products tucked away in an old barn at a country estate sale, Dan found this endearing black schnauzer doorstop. Always having had a penchant for cast-iron doorstops — many populate our home — Dan was intrigued by this little seven-inch-high pup, as it had one of its hind legs up, peeing. Delighted by the rarity and incredible detail of the schnauzer doorstop, and long-time lover of dogs, Dan just had to have it for himself. Today, and to no surprise, our black schnauzer doorstop keeps the door to our lower-level bathroom open.

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Peeing Black Schnauzer Cast-Iron Doorstop

A couple of years back, at Milwaukee’s annual Indian Summer powwow, I found myself examining a handmade Cherokee medicine/dance stick. Stunning in its beauty, elegant in its artistry, potent in its energy — and yet these phrases paled to describe the original ceremonial item that I held in my hands, which honored the teachings of Old Man Coyote and its prey Sister Deer and was previously used in traditional dance.

Though this vintage medicine stick showed some signs of wear, primarily and logically on the leather wrapped in the center of the stick where the user would hold it during dance and ritual, this dynamic, handmade piece was superbly constructed. The central part was wood and had a 3.25-inch strap of leather wrapped around it. The leather was held in place with brass-colored tabs nailed into the wood. The lower portion was composed of a deer’s leg with coyote fur wrapped around the connection of the leg to the stick. The top portion was composed of a four-point antler upon which a complete coyote skull and remnants of its fur rested.

Always fascinated by the lessons of our tribal trickster, this ceremonial stick “spoke” to me, and so I purchase it without second thought. When not in use during ceremonial dance, the stick hangs in our family room.

Coyote Medicine Stick 0061 A 0315

Vintage Cherokee Coyote & Deer Medicine/Dance Stick

At another time at the Indian Summer powwow, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of a watercolor entitled The Sacred Circle painted by Oneida artist Dawn Dark Mountain. The artist is well known for her controlled style of using watercolor that mimics and is often mistaken for airbrush. Applying this style to traditional Native American images and subjects of her own Woodland culture has resulted in a peculiar mystical quality that is often referred to by the Art World as “magic realism.” I guess the magic of the piece enthralled me and, on impulse, I just had to bring it home.

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“The Sacred Circle” by Dawn Dark Mountain

As you can see, it’s not only fun to splurge now and then, but it’s also good to relish those unexpected items that we come upon and bring us joy. So, come on, folks — today is National Splurge Day I’ve been told by friends. Take a moment to check out all the great products we offer through Dogbotz Boneyard, and splurge and treat yourself to something fun and unanticipated.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

Collect What You Love

So, there I was chatting with my friend Melanie, who runs a local no-kill animal rescue center, and sipping coffee in her office. Melanie had invited me to swing by the rescue center as she was curious as to whether Dogbotz Boneyard could make a charitable gift of product for the center’s silent auction at its upcoming annual fundraising gala, Furry Friendships. While discussing whether certain 19th-century chromolithographs of dogs and cats might attract the event-goers and whether nature-themed games might appeal to their children or grandchildren, Melanie turned to me and asked, “Patrick, however do you know what antique or vintage items to collect and buy?”

“For myself personally, or for the business?” I inquired.

“Either,” responded Melanie.

I was about to say, I just do, when it dawned on me that such a response could seem dismissive to Melanie. “My inherent sense of what piece to acquire today is actually based on 40-plus years of experience,” I told Melanie. “When I first started, I was relatively clueless.” So, I shared with her these basic guidelines that I had learned as a collector and seller of vintage goods.

1.) Collect what you love. For example, my dual heritage exposed me at an early age to the beauty of art glass, ceramics, paintings and sculptures (my French mom’s gift to me) as well as the marvels of tribal artifacts such as Native American baskets, beadwork and quillwork, clothing and jewelry (my Ojibwa dad’s influence). Such family treasures — heirlooms, if you will — were proudly displayed around our home, so I came to appreciate, value and cherish them. And, as a teenager, I began looking for small, affordable pieces that I could collect to add to our family’s treasure trove.

In addition, as part of our creative pastime, my older brother Michael and I loved to create science-fiction games based on then-popular films and television shows. So, in 1966, when I was ten years old, we created our first board game based on Fantastic Voyage, in which we had little submarines floating inside a human body to repair a variety physiological problems. In later years, this creative urge influenced both Michael and I to join the game company TSR, Inc., which manufactured the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. From there, fascinated with game mechanics and the stunning graphics used in games, I began collecting card and board games from different decades and nations.

My love of fine art, tribal artifacts, and games continues to influence my acquisition of antiques and collectibles to this vary day. But what I love is different from what my partner Dan loves to collect, which includes as Shaker baskets, early 20th-century earthenware jugs and crocks, and Depression-era workmen’s tools. Hence, we have quite a variety of vintage items available on Dogbotz Boneyard.

 

2.) Research what you aim to collect. As I was setting up my first apartment with my  college buddy Frank, he noted that I had some “funky” glass items. Yup, I did: a Paden City pony, a Murano snail figurine, a Kanawha amberina elephant, and even a St. Clair perfume bottle. Having been a fine arts major in college, Frank was fascinated as to how I had acquired such unique objets d’art.

Well, the St. Clair perfume bottle had been given to me by my French grandmother prior to her death in 1973. Since I had brought it along to my college dorm room as a memento of home, I told Frank that I decided to see if the perfume bottle had any value other than sentimental. So, one Saturday afternoon, I visited an antique shop about ten miles away from the college and met a distinguished gentleman with white hair and beard named Joseph, the proprietor of the antique store. His establishment contained a vast array of fascinating vintage goods all decoratively displayed throughout the shop. Joseph asked me how he could help me and so I showed him the St. Clair perfume bottle.

I wanted to know whether the bottle was authentic and if it had any value. Joseph carefully examined the bottle, informing me that it was indeed an original St. Clair piece and showing me the characteristics of what constituted a genuine piece of St. Clair glass. As to it value, it was worth about $45, but that was 1975.

Joseph looked at me curiously and asked me if I was a collector of art glass. I said no, though I was fascinated by the color and shape of my grandmother’s perfume bottle and wanted to learn more. Joseph then led me to any area of his store that had what seemed like innumerable art glass pieces. He showed me the technical and stylistic differences between the Murano studio artists and those of Tiffany, between Paden City and Kanawha art glass.

I was bitten then and there by the art glass collector’s bug, and I would visit Joseph and his shop numerous times throughout my college years, learning and researching what I could about art glass. He taught me how to identify the genuine thing from a repro or knock-off. His knowledge of antiques and how to research them for authenticity and value was phenomenal, and his willingness to share that knowledge would prove invaluable to me in the years to come.

To this day, I always tap into the knowledge Joseph shared with me and also research a piece before I acquire it.

 

3.) Check for condition issues. This is a critical point: always review the condition of a vintage or collectible item prior to purchasing it, especially if you ever plan to resell it or, if it has great value, leave it in your estate trust for your heirs. That small hairline crack in a 1930s Hausser-Elastolin composition toy tiger may not affect the overall value of the toy; however, a crack in a Murano glass turtle figurine may decrease its value appreciably. Condition issues — and even the year of production — will impact the value (and the purchase price) of an item. How much so will be dependent on the type of item being valued or sold.

As I am a longtime collector of antique and vintage games — and, on rare, even contemporary ones — I’d like to warn other game collectors to be sure that all game components are present. These elements can include cards, board, dice, player pawns, set of instructions and the box. If any component is missing, ask yourself whether you can either find that original piece or replace it. This issue will matter if you ever plan to resell the game, as a missing component will affect value.

Also, check the box. For many games and toys, the original box in which the game came is missing or has damage such as compression, split edges, or shelf wear. If you plan to collect the game, you may not care; however, if you plan ever resell it, such conditions issues may affect the value at time of the sale. So, just remember to check for all condition issues.

 

4.) At time of purchase, learn to become comfortable negotiating the price. Haggling over the price of antique, vintage or collectible item is a time-honored tradition in this field. A vendor may want to sell that Hattie Carnegie rhinestone ladybug brooch for $100, but if you’ve taken the time to research the overall value of Hattie Carnegie costume jewelry (which can be quickly done, if needs be, on your cell phone by seeking a comparable item on Etsy or eBay) and if you have examined the condition of the piece in question, you may determine that the piece warrants a lower value. At which point, know the highest price you’re willing to pay (say, $85) and start your negotiations at a lower yet reasonable point (say, $65). Then, let the haggling begin, but do not exceed your top price.

Be aware, especially at flea markets, that items are sometimes sold by unknowledgeable vendors who are just out to get the highest price they can. If they haven’t adequately researched an item’s value, they can deceive themselves. For example, the $100 Hattie Carnegie brooch mentioned above might actually be worth $175, but the vendor doesn’t know that. In this instance, haggling over the price of the brooch may not be worth your time and effort. Just pay the asked-for price.

 

“Wow! Just those four simple steps!” Melanie exclaimed.

“Well, that’s just the basics. You learn the fine art of collecting as you experience the process,” I stated.

Nevertheless, remember these fundamental guidelines if you plan to become a collector, and then go out and have some fun collecting what you love.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

The Challenge

Over the past 40 years of my life, I have purchased and collected more than 500 pieces of art. This collection includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, fiber art pieces, posters, photographs, tribal animal fetishes, lithographs, chromolithographs, serigraphs and more. It embraces a diversity of styles: Impressionism and Postimpressionism, Expressionism, Realism, Minimalism, Symbolism, Abstract Art, Op, Pop and Psychedelic Art as well as Folk, Tribal and Outsider Art. My taste in art is, quite obviously, varied.

About a month ago, my curator friend Mary, who’s very familiar with my collection, made the following observation. “Patrick, you have such a large collection of artwork. Have you ever thought of displaying part of your collection publicly beyond your online shop Dogbotz Boneyard?”

Wow! I thought to myself. “There’s so much, Mary, I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

“Ok, I can appreciate that,” Mary responded. “So, let’s limit the parameters. If I said to you, select three pieces of art from, say, five different artists, what would you select? And why?”

Yup, that certainly simplifies things, I mumbled to myself. Fifteen pieces out of more than 500! “Let me think about it, Mary. I’m not an art historian or critic, so I’m not sure my selections would have much meaning to folks other than me.”

“You don’t need to be a historian or critic. But, other people — collectors and not — are always intrigued as to what others see in the art they acquire, whether they hold the same opinion or perspective,” Mary said.

So, I agreed to Mary’s challenge and after several weeks, I had made my decisions. Please note that I value and cherish all the artists and their works that I’ve collect throughout the years, but the five artists I’ve chosen hold a very special place in my heart because their works speak to the essence of my own mortal journey. Also, please know that the artists below are listed alphabetically by last name to avoid any artificial ranking system.

Philip Gladstone

Intensely intimate is the first phrase that comes to mind when I contemplate the artwork of Maine artist Philip Gladstone. Whether it’s a man and his dog sitting or leaning on the edge of bathtub (Brady’s Bath), or a naked young man seated on the floor with a teddy bear beside him, both connected by a ball of yarn (Love Me), or a bare-chested young man leaning on a rooftop air-conditioning unit while another gentleman works in an adjacent rooftop office (Dusk), I feel as if I’ve entered, in a voyeuristic way, a very private moment in the lives of each of these individuals. My mind is intrigued by each scene, wanting to know more about each subject, whereas my spirit at a very intuitive level understands wholeheartedly the story being told.

Philip Gladstone’s paintings have been compared to Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera, to name a few stylistic influences. I perceive those qualities in many of his works, but in the end, for me, it’s all about the underlying stories, many of which have erotic tension and undertones. And I find that quite compelling, especially in a world titillated by the pornographic yet oblivious to the sensual.

Bradys Bath 0061 B 0515

Brady’s Bath

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Dusk

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Love Me

Kathleen Kills Thunder

Of all the artists whose works I’ve collected, I have purchased the most pieces from Kathleen Kills Thunder. Coming from a Native American heritage, I immediately relate to the themes, subjects, and symbolism of her paintings. Though I also have many of her beadwork and jewelry pieces, I find Kathleen Kills Thunder’s paintings to be ideal icons for reflection and meditation. I admire her works because of the manner in which she blends a bright color palette, which, in part, reflects her Spanish heritage, and her imaginative use of Native American subjects, from the creatures of Earth Mother (Queenie and Babies) to tribal craftswomen, from war ponies (The Warrior Horses’ Last Battle) to medicine men (Peyote Man). Her compositions are brilliant with color, fluid with geometric shapes and natural forms, and profoundly reflective of the human experience and its inherent truths. Her paintings speak with the ancient language of the spirit world made modern by the abstract techniques of waking dreams.

Of the fifteen art pieces that I have chosen to honor my friend Mary’s request (and for this blog), three paintings are particularly dear to my spirit. The Warrior Horses’ Last Battle is the first of them. Here’s why.

I have worked in various capacities for twenty-plus years now in the nonprofit charitable world. I have been a dental clinic office manager of an AIDS/HIV center in Milwaukee, where I saw folks battling the harsh realities of a life-threatening illness while struggling to move away from being treated as pariahs into a place of acceptance and love. I have been a director of fundraising and marketing for a senior center in northern Illinois, where I have seen our elders struggle to maintain independence, dignity, and self-respect while faced with the illnesses that come with old age and the depression that emerges as they see their circles of spouses and friends dwindle before their very eyes. I have also worked at a hospice in Illinois, where I often witnessed the final journeys of people, from 6-month-old infants to young mothers afflicted with cancer to the elderly, who struggled with and finally embraced the process of letting go.

At a very subliminal level, the two horses of The Warrior Horses’ Last Battle struggling to remain alive reminds me of the sometimes difficult challenges we face throughout our own journeys, and that the ramifications of truth haunt me, in a healthy way, to the very marrow of my bones. That may not have been her intent in creating this piece of artwork, but I am still thankful that Kathleen Kills Thunder had the inclination to paint it anyway.

Peyote Man

Peyote Man

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Queenie and Babies

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The Warrior Horses’ Last Battle

David Silva

Nine months ago, the name David Silva would have meant nothing to me. Had it not been for Jason, another of my art collector friends, the name would still remain a mystery to me to this very day. Knowing that I enjoy Pop art, Jason recommended that I peruse the charcoal and colored pencil works of contemporary Brazilian Pop artist David Silva at a well-known online website, and so I did. I was delighted by what I saw and thus acquired several David Silva drawings.

I greatly appreciate the artwork of David Silva because of the diverse subjects he portrays through his Pop art images and the emotional content emanating therefrom. Sometimes he presents the viewer with a subtle mystery; other times, with playful and erotic vibrations; and yet in other works, with the haunting reality of loss and grief. Be it Batman and Superman in amorous embrace (Unspoken Love Affair between Superman and Batman — I wonder what the folks at D.C. Comics would have to say), a sailor getting ready to depart on his next cruise (In the Navy — very Village People, for sure), or a young child’s hand reaching for the dog tags of a deceased soldier-father (For Whom the Bells Tolls), the artist reveals his joy, his compassion, and his humanity.

For those unfamiliar with Pop art, it is an art style that uses aspects of the larger or mass culture, such as advertising, comic books, TV cartoon characters and other mundane cultural images or objects to emphasize the more banal or “kitschy” qualities of the culture it inherently mocks. Irony is the most popular expression used by Pop artists. Among David Silva’s work, the Pop art element of irony makes sense for such drawings as In the Navy or Unspoken Love Affair between Superman and Batman. But what about his other drawing, For Whom the Bells Tolls?

With great sadness, I must admit that, in this war-beleaguered age in which we live, a scene focusing on the demise of a soldier has become all too familiar, all too casual, and to which we have become all too desensitized. Ironic, perhaps; Pop, disquietingly so. But, I believe that, in For Whom the Bells Tolls, David Silva depicts a shockingly profound sense of grief that we must admit, embrace and then manifest its inherent lesson so we can attain a world peace that transcends political and religious diatribes, the unrelenting need for greed, and the blinding desire for revenge. For Whom the Bells Tolls is the second piece of the fifteen I’ve selected that touches my soul in a most insightful way.

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

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In the Navy

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Unspoken Love Affair between Superman and Batman

Judy Thorley

Several years ago, I decided to turn my collector’s eye north to my neighbors in Canada. I found some truly gifted artists throughout that country creating some spectacular pieces of art. One of my personal favorites is Judy Thorley, a signature member of the Toronto Watercolour Society. Although Judy Thorley originally began painting in transparent watercolor, she presently explores mixed media with acrylics, collage and photo transfer. She enjoys working on distressed surfaces with multiple layers, and she is inspired by many things, both natural and manmade, from decaying old walls covered with peeling posters to the latest fashion magazines.

To me, Judy Thorley’s works have an Art Nouveau quality, wherein she establishes a unique balance of the natural with the manmade or manufactured (Pandora), the architectural with the figurative (Chained), and the established with the innovative (Chivalry). Her use of multiple layers of colorful elements, distressed surfaces, and uneven textures evokes scenes that portray mythical subjects or images that harken back to another era (which is true of the three pieces selected).

Judy Thorley is one of the few artists whose works that I collect for which I do not prefer one of her pieces over another. All have great merit, and I enjoy taking the time to just “inhale,” if you will, the essence of each one.

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Chained

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Chivalry

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Pandora

Roger Wedegis

I just can’t help myself! I am a longtime, avid dog-lover, especially of Labrador Retrievers, who I’ve always humorously called “the drinking buddies” of dogs. So, when I discovered the artwork of Roger Wedegis, himself a self-acclaimed lover of Labs, I was immediately taken with his canine compositions. I am deeply touched by Roger Wedegis’s paintings because of his capacity to capture the playful nature (In the Hibiscus), the loyal companionship (I’m Ready), and even the ineffable spiritual dimension of community (Spirits in the Night) that these four-legged creatures share with us, their human cousins. Whether portrayed in a natural or urban setting, the artist’s subjects gently remind me of why dogs have for millennia been our best friends and most devoted guardians.

Spirits in the Night is the third painting of the fifteen pieces I selected that I find especially endearing. Are the three Labrador Retrievers looking at Grandmother Moon real dogs or are they the spirits intimated in the title of the painting? In the end, does it really matter? For me, no, as the genuine heart-felt message I discover is to take the time to remember and honor those canine companions who show or have shown me the awe of unconditional love and to reflect that vibration back, like the light of the Moon, to all life.

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I’m Ready

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In the Hibiscus

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Spirits in the Night

So, there you have it: my response to my friend Mary’s art challenge! But, again remember that I genuinely admire all the artwork I’ve collected over the years, which I hope to share in future blogs.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

Native American Fetishes: Honoring Nature and Spirit

As I was re-arranging various objects in my glass curio cabinet the other day, my electrician friend Chuck from our local Chamber of Commerce stopped by for a cup of coffee and to chat about some upcoming decisions the Chamber wanted to make about membership. As we conversed, Chuck joined me at my curio cabinet, curious about all the items I was dusting off and putting back into it.

“What are all those little stone animals?” Chuck asked.

“Why they’re Native American nature fetishes,” I replied casually. “Some I keep for myself, while others I offer through Dogbotz Boneyard.”

“Oh, really?” he said. “I’m not sure what you mean by a fetish. Are they like Southwestern Indian Kachina dolls? Do they serve the same purpose? Or, are these just fun pieces to buy while visiting a reservation, or from your online store?” He chuckled.

Hmm . . . good questions, I thought. So here’s the essence of what I shared with him, and now with you.

A fetish in many Native American traditions (particularly that of the Zuni Nation of the American Southwest whose artisans are among the most skilled carvers) is an animal, bird, reptile, or other cultural icon hand-carved from stone, shell, wood, antler or other natural materials. These carvings have traditionally served a ceremonial purpose for those who created them. Each creature or figure is believed to have inherent powers or qualities that may aid the owner. The Navajo, for example, treasured and bartered for figures of horses, sheep, cattle or goats to protect their herd from disease and to ensure fertility. A Plains Indian fetish of a buffalo, as another example, is known to help the warrior who seeks buffalo to feed and clothe his family and community have a successful hunt. The fetish, which contains the spirit of the animal it denotes, is placed in a buckskin bag and carried by the hunter over his heart. Here are two examples: the first carved from picture jasper, the second from dragon septarian.

Picture Jasper Buffalo 0053 A 0315Dragon Septarian Buffalo Fetish 0091 A 1115

In the Zuni tradition, the carvers of nature fetishes believe that the creature represented in the carving requires periodic feeding. Thus, gifts of cornmeal and ground turquoise are offered to the fetish, which may be kept in a clay pot until used. Very delicate fetishes, though, are often carried in a pocket or medicine bag or pouch (see example below).

Zuni Horse Fetish 0083 C 1115

Also, in fact, many Zuni fetishes are inlaid with turquoise to represent the eyes or mouth of an animal, the heart-line of the sacred breath of life that enters through the mouth and into the belly the animal, or as “belt bundle.” The bobcat, wolf and bear fetishes below show the different uses of turquoise in a Zuni fetish.

Zuni Bobcat Fetish 0090 A 1115Zuni Howling Wolf 0087 B 1115Zuni Standing Bear 0089 C 1115

Today, as a form of contemporary Native American art, small stone fetishes are sold with secular intentions to collectors worldwide (see opalite coyote and tiger-eye snake fetishes below). These fetishes are often displayed so other people may observe the beauty of the fetish. Also, many collectors purchase the fetishes of creatures who spiritual power they wish to express in their own journeys. And so the spiritual essence of the fetish remains alive and dynamic even though the traditional practice of storing or feeding a fetish may no longer be practiced by non-Native Americans.

Opalite Coyote 0051 C 0315Tiger Eye Snale 0055 B 0315

For those who seeks to honor the inherent divine spirit of nature, fetishes are ideal, especially during the practice of meditation, when one seeks healing and guidance, as well as during personal or group ceremonies and celebrations.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

The Wonder and Beauty of Art Glass

“Gentlemen,” began the e-mail from Mary Ellen of Salt Lake City, Utah, “I’ve noticed that you have many excellent examples of art glass for sale in the Home Goods section of your website, Dogbotz Boneyard. I love what I’m seeing! Can you guys tell me how you got started collecting these pieces, and why?”

Well, Mary Ellen, first of all, “you guys” is really me. My partner Dan is the collector of Shaker baskets, East Coast and Midwest folk art painted on unique pieces of old wood or metal, and antique colonial earthenware jugs and crocks. As for the art glass, that’s my domain.

My interest in art glass is really quite recent, as opposed to, say, my fascination with vintage board and card games, which began as a teenager, which would be more than 50 years ago. In about 2004, I was asked by two of my friends who served on the Women’s Auxiliary of the then-Evanston Northwestern Hospital in Illinois to be the Computer Chair for the American Crafts Exhibition, for which they served as Chairs of the entire weekend event. As Computer Chair, I helped with assembling the slides of various crafts for jurying — fiber wearables and art, high-end custom-made jewelry, contemporary furniture, wood and ceramic vases and bowls, and, yes, art glass pieces. There’s where it all began! My first year as Computer Chair, I walked away having purchased two contemporary art glass vases, a jar and a sculpture. The beauty of their shapes, the stunning colors within the glass, and a pamphlet of the process of glassmaking did me in, as the saying goes. Since then, I have been collecting not only fine contemporary art glass items but also gorgeous vintage ones.

I won’t go into a history of art glass here, as one can readily research its humble beginnings in ancient Egypt and Syria on the Internet, but I will share with you examples of the art glass I’ve collected throughout the past decade.

The Artisans of Murano

After acquiring a few pieces of contemporary art glass, I found an old Murano art glass jumping fish sculpture that belonged to a relative. Fascinated by its inherent shape and coloring, I decided to investigate the Murano studios and seek out more pieces to add to my collection.

Murano glass is made on the Venetian island of Murano, which has specialized in fancy glassware for centuries. Murano’s glassmakers led Europe for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (known as smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass figurines to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers, as well as tourist souvenirs.

Murano is home to a vast number of factories and a few individual artists’ studios making all manner of glass objects from mass-marketed stemware to original sculpture. The Museo del Vetro (or, Glass Museum) in the Palazzo Giustinian houses displays about the history of glassmaking as well as glass samples ranging from the Ancient Egyptian era through the present day.

I’m not much into the functionality of glass stemware, but the play of colors in Murano sculptures and paperweights continues to intrigue me. The millefiori design of a special Menorah paperweight that a Jewish colleague gave me five years ago is just stunning. Because of the exquisite craftsmanship of the artisans of Murano, I’ve become a devotee.

Murano Jumping Fish 0121 B 1115 Menorah Psaperweight 0010 A 1115

Paden City Glass Manufacturing Company

Then, there’s Depression glass, another one of my favorite art glass categories. Named for the Great Depression of the late 1920s through the 1930s, Depression glass has been connoted with functional plates, bowls, cups, butter dishes, creamers, etc., for any table setting imaginable. From crystal clear to soft rose, from grass green to dark blue, Depression glass comes in a multitude of colors. But again, it’s not the traditional kitchen and dining room dishes that I collect, as I’m more intrigue by home décor pieces that can be placed in any room. And so, that brings me to Paden City.

Paden City Glass Manufacturing Company was established in 1916 at Paden City, West Virginia. The company made over twenty different colors of glass and was known throughout the Great Depression for its glass figurines. The firm sadly closed in 1951. Paden City’s most popular colors are Cheri-Glo (pink) and Ruby, and its most popular patterns include Black Forest, Peacock, and Wild Rose.

I acquired a Paden City pony sculpture, and what a delight it is! Standing almost a foot high, the pony makes quite a statement on a West Virginia gate-leg table in our foyer. What I admire about this Depression glass sculpture is the nice “sun purple” cast to the crystalline body of the pony, an occurrence commonly found in Depression glassware from the first half of the 19th century. I found an example of this very pony on page 169 of the book Glass Animals of the Depression Era by Garmon & Spencer.

I continue to hunt for other rare Paden City sculptures.

Glass Horse 0094 B 1114

St. Clair Glass

Prior to her death in 1973, my French grandmother gave me a heavy glass perfume bottle as a memento. Both perfume bottle and stopper were hand-blown from clear glass with turquoise flowers blown into the center of both pieces. The bottle has a few air bubbles from the glass-making process, which only adds to the dynamic glamor of the perfume bottle. I didn’t know anything about St. Clair glass at the time. After all, what teenage boy would? But I do now and enjoy collecting the company’s charming pieces.

In 1888, John and Rosalie St. Clair came to the United States from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. From Crystal-City, Missouri, they moved to Elwood, Indiana with their children John and Rosa. A gentleman named MacBeth Evans opened a large glass facility around the turn of the 20th century. John St. Clair and his sons went to work for Mr. Evans, developing their skills as master gaffers. In most glass manufacturing houses of that era, employees were encouraged to practice, invent, improve and create after regular working hours. John returned night after night to perfect the art that was a part of his native country’s culture. The St. Clair sons went with their father to watch and learn the techniques that have become the time-honored, intricate flower designs.

Today, the descendants of John St. Clair operate the House of Glass, still producing stunning yet affordable art glass items using the Old-World glass techniques handed down to the generations of the St. Clair family.

And like my grandmother before me, I enjoying going to estate sales to seek for the eye-catching art glass of the St. Clair Company.

St Clair Perfume 0005 A 1115

Kanawha Glass Company

I can’t help it, but I just love glass figurines. Who’d have thought! And for me, one of the art glass studios that produces some of the most fascinating, beautifully colored, marvelously textured and, at times, humorous figurines is the Kanawha Glass Company.

Kanawha Glass Company was an American art glass company that began in 1953 when a few of the artisans from the failed Dunbar Glass Company came together to start a new business. The company grew in popularity in the 1960s and it acquired Hamon Glass Company in 1969. Kanawha continued producing its line of glass products until 1987, when it was acquired by Dereume Glass.

Kanawha Glass offered close to 350 different products at its peak of production. Glass horses, cats, dogs, owls and swans are among the different types of animal figurines Kanawha created. Glass bowls, with the head and neck of a swan, and owl-shaped drinking glasses are some of the more creative designs the glass artists made. Shades of blue, orange, red, amber, green, brown and white are the predominant colors used to make Kanawha glass objects. Most of the colors, except white, are transparent and sometimes combined to add interest to the designs.

One of Kanawha Glass Company’s specialties was the production of crackle glass objects. To make crackle glass, molten glass is blown into a mold, then dipped into water or sawdust before refiring it to seal the cracks. The breakage rate for making crackle glass is high, sometimes as much as 50 percent. Bubble glass is another design style prevalent in Kanawha glass objects. Bubbles are deliberately formed in molten glass by adding certain chemicals or by inserting spikes.

Amberina Glass Elephant 0106 A 0315

Main Glass Studio

So what, in 2004, were the art glass pieces I purchase at the American Crafts Exhibition? Well, I acquired two vases and a lidded jar came from the Main Glass Studio operated by artist Steven Main. Their designs, colors, shapes, and themes simply captivated me!

His profound interest in the patterns found in nature are the inspiration for Steven Main’s works. According to his website, Steven starts each art glass piece by laying out one small glass cane or rod in a mosaic-like pattern. Placed onto a sheet of heated steel, the cane design is brought closer to the temperature of the glass on the blowpipe. Steven then rolls the blowpipe across the hot steel, picking up the design onto a core of colored glass. After several layers of clear glass are gathered from the furnace, he blows out and forms the piece into its final shape.

And boy, what stunning shapes and colors emerge! Of all the innumerable art glass studios that exist today, Steven Main’s studio remains one of my favorites.

Main Canyon Series Jar A 0515

 

So, there you have it, Mary Ellen! My what and my why of the alluring art glass I collect.

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

My Favorite All-Time Game Companies

As my partner Dan and I here at Dogbotz Boneyard have been preparing for the 2014 holiday season, which for us extends from Halloween to New Year’s Day and sometimes even to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, we have been posting new antique, vintage and even some contemporary products for resale. All of which led to my longtime friend Steve to ask me recently via e-mail, “Patrick, I am always amazed at the vintage board, card and even dice games you have available through Dogbotz Boneyard. Of all the games you personally collect or sell, which game companies and their products are your favorite to collect?”

Please be aware that Steve and I were colleagues back in the day (that would be the 1980s) when we both worked as fantasy role-playing game editors for TSR, Inc., the then-producer of Dungeons & Dragons and its various offspring. Even though I worked for TSR, Inc., and even though I believe the company was quite innovative when it came to role-playing games, it isn’t, alas, one of my all-time favorite game companies from which to collect product. As I had to play too many diverse roles (some good, others absolutely bizarre) in my real life, I didn’t (and still don’t) need more roles to play during my leisure moments.

That said, here are my four favorite games companies and some of the games they have created, manufactured, and distributed throughout the years.

Parker Brothers: A Philosophy of Entertainment

Since 1883, Parker Brothers has published more than 1,800 games. Among its best-known products are Monopoly, Sorry!, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Ouija, and Probe. Of these, I would say that the finance-based, land baron game of Monopoly, which originated and gained in popularity during the Great Depression, has been the most enduring game ever produced during the Industrial Era and continues to sell well in this new millennium. It is the perennial favorite of board games and it is the most mimicked and reproduced game of the last century. If you doubt this, just go to the Internet and check out CafePress or CustomopolyGames. The royalties on this game’s patent most be enormous and blissfully ironic considering the board game’s financial focus.

For a bit of history, Parker Brothers was founded in Salem, Massachusetts by George S. Parker, whose philosophy deviated from the prevalent theme of board game design. George Parker believed that games should be played for enjoyment and did not need to emphasize morals and values. Hence, it is no surprise that he created his first game, Banking (in 1883 at the age of 16), which allowed players to borrow money from the bank and try to generate wealth by guessing how well they could do. There you go — there’s a little bit of the gambler or the hedge man in each of us, even when we play games!

In 1906, Parker Brothers published the game Rook, its most successful card game to this day, and it quickly became the best-selling game in the country. From the 1930s on, the company continued its phenomenal growth, producing such long-lasting popular board games as the murder mystery challenge of Clue, the military conquest inherent in Risk, and the family entertainment factor of Sorry!

In 1991. Hasbro acquired the rights of all Parker Brothers games and has, since 2013, phased out all references to Parker Brothers on its games. Too bad, in my opinion, Hasbro just doesn’t possess the same notable name recognition value or inventiveness of George Parker and his brothers.

Samples of Parker Brothers games sold through Dogbotz Boneyard:

Rook 0210 A 0314 Deluxe Monopoly 0289 C 0914Wings 0150 A 0713

 

 

 

 

The Milton Bradley Company: Friend to Mid-Century Television Shows

Just in case you didn’t know, the Milton Bradley Company was established as a game company in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1860 by Milton Bradley. In 1920, the company absorbed the game production of McLoughlin Brothers, formerly the largest game manufacturer in the United States; and, in 1987, it purchased Selchow and Righter, the makers of Parcheesi and Scrabble. Just like its arch-rival of many years, Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley was taken over by Hasbro, Inc., in 1984.

Regardless of its ultimate fate, The Milton Bradley Company was excellent at pursuing television production companies to acquire the titles of many television shows of the 1950s and 1960s that had name recognition for and were endearing to those of us who grew up as part of the “Baby Boom Generation.” But, in truth, Milton Bradley was a board game designer who made his money by making games that people enjoyed playing. Thus, when television became the technological marvel of the mid-20th century, Bradley’s design philosophy extended to the products of that medium. The list of television-based board or card games produced by The Milton Bradley Company is exhaustive, and just looking at what we have on sale at Dogbotz Boneyard, the list includes Annie Oakley, Captain Kangaroo, Charlie Brown, Johnny Quest, Lost in Space, Sergeant Preston, Video Village, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Yogi Bear.

Of course, beyond the realm of television shows or Saturday morning cartoons, The Milton Bradley Company is also well known for some of its perennial family games such as Candy Land, Game of the States and Rack-o, not to mention its revered American Heritage set of four military history games: Broadside, Civil War, Dogfight and Hit the Beach.

Despite its acquisition by Hasbro, Inc., the Milton Bradley name has become synonymous with a game manufacturer that continues to turn out games that capitalized on current trends.

Here’s just a sampling of The Milton Bradley Company games we have on sale at Dogbotz Boneyard:

Video Village 0149 A 0913

Lost in Space 0184 A 1113

 

 

 

 

Ed-U-Cards Manufacturing Corporation: A Boomer’s Delight

As I approach my sixth decade of life, I remember that, as a kid growing up from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, we had no such entertainment venues as video or online games. Yup, if my brother and I weren’t out riding our bicycles, playing sports, or having our G.I. Joes attack the prim-and-proper Ken dolls (our arch-rivals for Barbie’s affections) of our neighbor Holly Householder or other such prepubescent playtime activities, we were indoors, playing games. And, our favorites were produced by one of the nation’s most well-regarded educational game companies, Ed-U-Cards Manufacturing Corporation.

The Ed-U-Cards Manufacturing Corporation was originally located in Long Island City, New York and began operations in 1946 as a manufacturer of educational flash cards and card games. The late 1940s was an ideal time to start a new publishing company, as the paper rationing of World War II had recently ended. Many new magazines, local newspapers, catalogs, and other paper products started then, as the paper mills suddenly had lots of paper available, and that meant low prices.

Though Ed-U-Cards did produce cards for sheer entertainment value, such as its popular series of card games based on children’s televised cartoon shows like Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, it most distinguished products were its educational games. Some of these were flash-card type games (for example, Tree Spotter Cards and Bible Story Cards), some focused on the fundamentals of language arts or mathematics (ABC Educational Cards and Animal, Bird, Fish Card Game come readily to mind), and others taught the basic of science or sports (Ed-U-Cards’ 1957 Baseball Card Game and, from the same year, Space Race Card Game are notable examples). Whatever games the company produced, these products were highly regarded and valued by us Boomer children as well as our parents and teachers.

Sadly, I could find no references to Ed-U-Cards Manufacturing Corporation beyond 1984. Nonetheless, the impact of the high-quality educational and entertainment games this firm produced lives on, for, in fact, today the industry term ed-u games refers to the production of the most visionary and enjoyable educational game products possible.

Here are some personal favorites we’ve made available through Dogbotz Boneyard:

Huckleberry Hound 0117 A 0313Ed-U Baseball Cards 0164 AA 0913Animal Bird Fish 0259 A 1114

Tree Spotter 0122 A 0313

 

 

 

 

 Outset Media Corporation: Fast Forward to the Future

As a collector and seller of antique and vintage games, I also like to contemplate what contemporary board and card games might become long-lasting and noteworthy collectibles in the future. Though TSR, Inc., and its products might have been part of my favorites list, if there’s anything that I perceive as truly collectible about these games and their by-products, it’s their stunning color artwork. So, that’s why, for example, I have a Larry Elmore painting hanging in my home as part of my larger art collection (but science fiction and fantasy artwork is a topic for a future blog). Afterward, I considered the collectible card games produced by Wizards of the Coast, particularly Magic: The Gathering and its ilk. Yet, though they present intriguing content and game mechanics, these games struck me as a passing fad, albeit a huge revenue-generating one for its parent company.

No, I sought something more enduring, perhaps even of solid educational value such as the diverse games produced by Ed-U-Cards during my youth. And so, as I reviewed contemporary game companies and their products, the one that came immediately to mind was Outset Media Corporation, makers of the now-popular Professor Noggin’s series of educational card games, the first of which was produced in 2002.

Founded in 1996 by 23-year-old university student David Manga, Outset Media Corporation is a Canadian company that develops and distributes family entertainment products, specializing in board games, party games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles. The company was originally incorporated for the sole purpose of publishing and distributing a single board game called All Canadian Trivia, which was released in May 1997 and became a Canadian bestseller with more than 100,000 copies sold in Canada alone.

Then in 2002, a children’s educational card game phenomenon that featured the fictional instructor Professor Noggin was produced. Today, 39 different titles form part of the Professor Noggin’s series of card games, and over 800,000 copies have been sold worldwide. In addition, the series has garnered 14 international toy and game awards to date, and this acclaim is due to the fact that each card game in the series encourages children to learn interesting facts about their favorite subjects. Each game of 30 cards combines trivia, true-false, and multiple-choice questions. Each card set includes a special 3-numbered die to create interaction and promote communication between players. Easy and hard levels of testing knowledge keep children interested and challenged while having fun.

Try out one of the Professor Noggin’s card games with your children or even adult family members and friends, and you’ll see why I’ve add Outset Media Corporation to my list of all-time favorite game companies.

Dogbotz Boneyard offers many titles of in the Professor Noggin’s card game series; here are but a few:

Dinosaurs 0266 A 1114 National Parks 0268 A 1114 Outer Space 0273 A 1114

 

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn! Tell me what game companies are your favorites, and why!

All the best,

Patrick Price,
Proprietor,
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com