Monday, May 30, 2011

What a Piece: The Esco Statue

I typically prefer to talk about functional vintage items, but being that I stumbled across these beautiful statues last week, I figured I’d talk about them – collectible or home d├ęcor, The Esco Statue.

When I was a kid – 10 or 11 years old – I asked for a Babe Ruth Esco statue for Christmas. I had no idea what they were, but I knew that I liked Babe Ruth, and the statue was pretty neat when I saw it at Marshall Fields or Montgomery Ward or wherever I spotted it. A few years later, it got knocked off a shelf and a few major pieces broke off (half of the nose and the bill of the hat). A few years after that, another incident, and a few more chunks of Babe came off. Eventually, during a mass purging due to a move, I had to lay Babe to rest – I threw him away.

(Babe statue in an Esco collection)

I’ve since seen statues that were obviously broken in pieces and put back together again. Made in New Jersey starting in the 1970s by the Esco Company, these 17” chalkware statues are true pieces of art. The craftsmanship is evident, and the likenesses are quite accurate. Seemingly to avoid paying royalties to the pop culture figures whose images they were using, they only did runs of 100 statues at a time for each design. Comedians, actors, sports figures, presidents, and so forth. There are over 100 different figures out there, and that doesn’t include the knock-offs and statues influenced by Esco.

Like anything, some statues are more common than others, and of course, some icons are more collectable than others. The trick is quality. Without care, they can chip or cracks easily. You typically see, at the very least, nicks in the paint, revealing the white chalkware underneath. If you can find a statue in excellent condition or better, pick it up.

There’s not a lot of information around on Esco statues – even less on the company – but there is a forum where Esco collectors share information and pictures of collections. Some of the collections are simply amazing by any standard. You can typically find statues on Ebay, but they’re going for big bucks nowadays – especially for monster statues, like the Wolfman Esco, which recently sold for $800. Crazy.

I found a couple late last year for my uncle – Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Last week, I bought 7 Esco statues at one sale. Two for my uncle (John Wayne and Jimmy Durante) and two for me (Groucho Marx and Humphrey Bogart) – three to sell (Bud Abbott, W.C. Fields, and Elvis). I may even keep W.C. Fields as well.

Elvis will be in the Junk and Howe store this week. Bud Abbott coming soon.

Elvis Esco Chalkware Statue for sale (SOLD)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cassandra Stadnicki - Chicago, IL

(a home was here)

I can’t recall when exactly I met Cassie, but while some meetings are thunderclaps, others seamlessly blend in, as if the connection in the web had been there all along. Cassie is a bold person, and given my own directness, our conversations are often worth charging admission.

As an artist, she faces the audience squarely and challenges them. However, the engagement is completely dependent upon the audience – there is never anything forcing or begging attention – it’s simply a statement. Painter, designer, stylist, photographer, gardener, master canner – there’s not much she can’t do.

She recently snatched up a bright orange Fire King roaster from Junk and Howe, along with an amazing Federal Glass Co. Golden Glory dish set, and knowing her as a great cook, I figured they’d get some use in the kitchen. On her Peabrain blog, she shares her experiences with food and drink. From marmalade to chutney to curds to canning and so forth. Along with the recipes, the photographs are fantastic – she even used the Fire King roaster dish in her post about making salsa verde.

Last week, Julie and I made a pork loin roast and tried the apple chutney Cassie dropped off for us a few weeks ago. Simply amazing. Next, we’re going to buy some cheddar to have with it, just as Cassie suggests on her blog.

That’s one of the best things about most of the people I know well. I can trust them – their tastes, recommendations, and suggestions. I have faith that most of the time I will second their emotion about whatever particular subject. If I don’t, it’s still a pleasure having a discussion or debate about it – especially with someone like Cassie, who can bring such enthusiasm and insight to a conversation.

Her passions run deep, and she wears them proudly in every facet of life. That’s what makes her a great person, as well as a noteworthy artist.

Be sure to check out her blog and website for more art, food and information!



(from Stadnicki's crawlspace collection)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What a Piece: Canvas Duffel Bag

Esquire Magazine is consistently pushing their style/fashion book, Esquire's Big Black Book. On their site, they have a related slideshow on what they say is a new American style revolution. It's one of the few mainstream publications that are trying to set the tone - now that the so-called American trend looks like it's going to stick around.

It's been a trend for well over a year now - since the recession really started to grab hold on the day-to-day lives of Americans. What I hope people realize is that this is not really a trend, but rather it is now the norm. This is the way things will be from now on, for some time. Back to basics, personalization, individuality, vintage, classic - keywords that you will hear time and time again.

#6 of their "60 products, places, people and ideas that transforming the way we dress in 2011" is the canvas duffel bag. The bad thing is that new canvas duffel bags are expensive. There are a few that you can get for under $100, but most are far beyond that, and even fewer are small enough to actually be called duffels.

I found a vintage canvas duffel bag recently, and though it has been used well (as it was built/meant to be used), it's still a fantastic bag - full of character and life. The black stripes give it that extra style, and the brass knobs on the bottom supply a solid foundation to rest upon, allowing the duffel to stand without slouching. Size: 15" L x 8" H x 7" W

The other vintage canvas duffel bag I came across was fairly small, but like the other one, still in decent condition and still a great little bag. The canvas on this littler one is not as stiff as the other, but it has the cool red piping that gives it its standout quality. Size: 12" L x 6" H x 5" W

Here's more of what Esquire has to say about the canvas duffel bag:
"Because, when you're itching to escape, nothing beats one of these tough, sturdy SOBs for sheer utility. Toss it into a taxi's trunk or onto the luggage rack of a tour bus, and the canvas shell (which is actually tightly woven cotton) can take whatever fresh hell your travels entail. Do yourself a favor, though, and leave that free PBS canvas duffel at home. Better to invest in something with a distinctive look than to chance a baggage mix-up when you (finally) arrive at your final destination."

Utility is the key word here, as these types of bags used to be primarily for tradesmen (i.e. masons, engineers, etc.).

Here are a number of new bags available, ranging in price, size, and style - many of them are made in the USA, which we would obviously recommend:

J. Crew Rugged Twill Travel Bag - $168
Brook Farm General Store Canvas and Leather Tool Bag - $79
Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $75
Jack Spade Mitchell Military Canvas Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $395
Jack Spade Boat Canvas Duffel Bag (at Nordstrom) - $245
Alternative Canvas Duffle Bag - $138
Wm. J. Mills & Co. Classic Duck Duffel Bag - $130-$150
Port Canvas Cruiser Duffel Bag - $55 + options
J.W. Hulme Co. Classic Field Duffle Bag - $365
Frost River Small Explorer Duffel Bag - $110
Ernest Alexander British Tan Wax Overnight Bag - $395
Beckel Canvas Products Olive Drab War Bag - $68.95
Beckel Canvas Products Possibilities Bag - $63.95

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Junk and Howe Finds - 5/15

Flea market season is upon us! Unfortunately, it rained our first flea market weekend, but we still managed to pick up a number of fantastic items.

Here's just a few things we found last weekend...

Pyrex Butterprint Mixing Bowls - 2.5 and 1.5 quart
Vintage Spring Green Blossom Glass Pitcher
Turquoise and White Deep Dish Vintage Ashtrays
Vintage Dealer's Choice Ashtrays
Westinghouse Clear Large Vintage Refrigerator Dish with Lid
1932 Glass Syrup Dispenser - Etched Flowers and Yellow Bakelite Handle
Pyrex Yellow 2.5-quart Hostess Casserole Dish with Lid
Mckee Ebony Glass Salt, Pepper and Sugar Range Shakers
Universal Food Chopper #1
1971 Red and Black Thermos - NEW in plastic
Vintage Maid of Honor 4-quart Yellow Mixing Bowl
Vintage Milk Glass Salt and Pepper Range Shakers
Pyrex Butterprint Cinderella Casserole Dish - 2.5 quart
Vintage Luce Brown Leather Train Case with Mirror
Pyrex 1.5-quart Rounded Casserole Dish with Unknown Pattern and metal holder/carrier
Vintage Texas Ware Confetti Mixing Bowl #118
Thermo-Serv Brown and Beige Vintage Carafe/Coffee Pitcher
Foley Sift-Chine Triple Screen Vintage Flour Sifter
Vintage Monarch Tool Box
Hazel-Atlas Glass Sugar/Candy Dispenser with Plastic Orange Lid
Jadeite Glass Vintage Pepper Shaker
Vintage Anson Music Note Tie Clip
Art Deco Speidel Tie Clip and Cuff Links Set
Pyrex Avocado Colonial Band 1.5-quart Mixing Bowl
Sonomor Safety Pins
Griffith's Spice Jar Set
Vintage Film Reel Canisters
Vintage Canvas Sport/Gym Bag

Harmon Killebrew - Payette, ID

Rest in peace, Harmon Killebrew.

USA Today obit piece.

Just bought a Hillerich & Bradsby Safe Hit Harmon Killebrew baseball bat a couple weeks ago: