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

Dusk 0063 B 0515

Dusk

Love Me 0064 B 0515

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

Queenie and Babies 0336 A 0315

Queenie and Babies

Warrior Horses 0206 B 114

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.

For Whom the Bell Tolls 0384 B 0915

For Whom the Bell Tolls

In the Navy 0386 B 0915

In the Navy

Siperman and Batman 0385 B 0915

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.

Chained 0045 B 0315

Chained

Chivalry 0050 B 0315

Chivalry

Pandora 0047 B 0315

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.

Im Ready 0350 B 0915

I’m Ready

In the Hibiscus 0144 B 1115

In the Hibiscus

Spirits in the Night 0146 B 1115

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

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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

Some Times It’s Not about the Selling of Products, But about the Welfare of Community

Those of us who operate our own businesses do so because we believe that we have a set of products or services desired by consumers or clients, and if we judiciously meet these demands, we will be financially rewarded for our efforts. From the smallest entrepreneurial enterprises to the largest conglomerates, this is a (if not, the) primary component of our respective business missions. After all, few folks open a business with the ultimate aspiration of becoming bankrupt.

This holds true for Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC.  So, when I contemplate our subsequent six-fold mission statement, quite logically the first five points address our online business culture: high-quality resale products, the desire for environmental sustainability, education about vintage and collectible goods, excellent customer service, and an enjoyable online shopping experience.

Dogbotz Boneyard Mission Statement

  • To select carefully high-quality items for each product category: Artwork, Furniture, Home Goods, Metalwork, Playthings, Wearables, and Etc.
  • To serve as a retail venue for vintage, recycled, repurposed, sustainable, fair trade and collectible products for the continued well-being of Earth Mother and all her inhabitants.
  • To educate and inform customers truthfully about the origin, maker and condition of each item, if known.
  • To solicit customer feedback to improve presentation of goods, to modify product categories, and to provide excellent customer service.
  • To offer a playful and enjoyable environment to customers as they shop online.
  • To provide charitable support to the communities that we serve.

Yet, the sixth bullet point has nothing to do with selling products or generating a profit. In fact, the final aspect of our business mission focuses on the converse; in this case, donating money for charitable purposes. In a world dominated by advocates for corporate greed, by practitioners of a scarcity mentality, and by conservative politicians renouncing altruism as the proverbial financial opiate of the masses, some of us, whether small business owners or senior leaders of large corporations, still strive to be good corporate citizens for the communities in which we do business.

Cynics would say that we do this under the false pretense of portraying ourselves as beneficent so that those in our communities will be fooled into becoming loyal customers. “It’s all a marketing ploy,” nay-sayers decry. Well, I cannot, in truth, fully know the sacred or profane intent of other business owners or leaders when it comes to supporting charitable causes and organizations, but I can speak for my business and life partner, Dan Hartmann, and myself. We both came to embrace early in our lives the poignant yet undeniable reality that ours is a mortal journey and that at journey’s end neither of us wishes for a legacy that focuses merely on how many products we sold or how much profit we made, but rather on how we in a small way — or two or twelve — helped to enhance the well-being of Earth Mother and the welfare of the communities in which we thrived.

And so, we decided to support community-based nonprofit organizations that promote the care of Earth Mother and her creatures with 10% of our profits (as our business grows, we aim to increase this percentage, too). Environmental causes, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and animal shelters — these are the heirs of the joy and profit we receive in reselling artwork, vintage collectibles, and recycled or repurposed goods to others. After all, it has been our canine companions — Soot, Suds, Lucky, Drake, Blackjack and Mica, to name a few — who have in their unique ways taught us the unassailable qualities of companionship, playfulness, loyalty, alertness, devotion, protectiveness, unconditional love and how to find the humane in our own humanity. Their fundamental joy of being serves as the playful platform of our resale business Dogbotz Boneyard.

During our initial months of business, Dogbotz Boneyard supported Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, committed to ethical, compassionate and professional wildlife rehabilitation. In part from our donation, the staff and interns of Fellow Mortals were able during the drought of spring and summer to rehabilitate literally hundreds of orphaned animals (songbirds, squirrels, goslings, ducklings, cottontails, opossum, and others) and return them to the wild, healthy and ready to make a home prior to winter’s first frosty breath.  All this, and they even had time to conduct their second annual Wildlife Education Day!

In the last fiscal quarter of 2012, Dogbotz Boneyard has selected to assist the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit no-kill shelter whose mission is to place homeless animals into loving, permanent homes as well as to provide community outreach programs in order to secure a better future for all companion animals. I was fortunate to recently visit the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center and meet its executive director Amy Rowell and some of its feline residents. I was quite impressed that this organization, operating on only an annual $120,000 budget, has found creative responses to the threat of euthanasia and the challenge of overcrowding within humane societies, animal control agencies, and rescue groups throughout the entire state of Wisconsin by accepting animal transfers for care and placement, thereby saving the lives of hundreds of cats and dogs annually. In 2013, the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center hopes to renovate a large shed/shortage space so that it can house dogs (which are currently kept with foster families until adopted) and serve as a meeting place.

I have included some pictures I took while visiting the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center.

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Striving to be a good corporate citizen and in honor of all our communities, human and not,

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