A Word About Avon

If you’ve lived in the last century, you’ve probably used or collected something from Avon. I remember years ago when my mom sold it in the 1970s. She doesn’t sell it anymore, but it helped her get out as a young mother and meet other women while making some money. In my shop, I have this Avon pheasant below.

Avon Pheasant originally for Leather Aftershave (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

I seem to remember one just like this sitting on my dad’s dresser when I was growing up. Avon’s history is an interesting one. The Avon digital history archive is housed at the Hagley Library in Greenville, Delaware USA. According to the website, Avon is one of the earliest direct selling companies in America.

Avon Sachet Jars from the 1960s (photo courtesy of Square Granny Vintage)

What their archives say is that it began in 1886. I don’t know about you, but I always thought it was started by a woman. I think I got that from the makeup and skincare all being geared toward women. But it was started by a man named David H. McConnell.

Avon Face Powder Tin from the 1930s (photo courtesy of Ginger’s Little Gems)

AvonCompany website says that McConnell was a partner in a book company, the Union Publishing Company, and he would sell perfumes with the books he sold. He realized after awhile that the women he sold to were way more interested in his perfume samples than his books. The samples were his own concoction that he started giving away to get his foot in the door.

Cord 37 Aftershave Car (photo courtesy of ShopRCS)

The other thing he realized was that women were struggling to survive in an economy that did not allow them to work at anything more than domestic or manufacturing work. But he took a bet that many of them could sell.

Avon Snoopy Soap Dish 1960s (photo courtesy of Old Like Us)

In the beginning, the company was called the California Perfume Company. His first recruit was a woman from my home state of New Hampshire! Mrs. P.F.E. Albee had sold books for him while he was with Union Publishing so he knew she could sell. She helped him realize that the women didn’t have to travel to sell, either. They could sell to their own communities. The AvonCompany website goes on to say that McConnell also worked hard to give the company a family feel which in turn caused the ranks of representatives to grow to 5,000 in just 13 years.

Avon Ruby Goblets (photo courtesy of Suzi’s Lost and Found)

Apparently, he was a good employer, too! He motivated his troops by providing a way for women to achieve financial independence in the way he structured the company. He had employee incentives and gave back to the communities Avon served. Their products were high quality and had a guarantee of satisfaction. They began their 3-week “campaigns” in 1932.

Avon Collectible Bottle Collection (photo courtesy of the Retro Professor)

The Avon name came from Shakespeare’s home at Stratford-On-Avon. McConnell had visited and he noted how alike it was to his own home in New York. He created an Avon line within the California Perfume Company which consisted of a “toothbrush, cleanser, and vanity set” (Encyclopedia.com). When David McConnell, Jr. graduated from Princeton, he took over as Vice President of the company. His father died in 1937 and 2 years later, David, Jr. officially changed the name of the company to Avon. They are now a billion dollar company.

Avon Kid’s Sachets (photo courtesy of Raiders of the Lost Loot)

It’s had it’s ups and downs, but it is still around and in nearly 143 countries having broken into the European market in 1957 in the United Kingdom. Through the Depression of the 1930s, Recession in the 70’s, and other changes, Avon has continued to offer women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.

Avon Mouse Pin (I had one of these!) (photo courtesy of Vintagestarrbeads)

I hope you learned a bit about an old American company that seems to have touched so many lives. I know I did. Do you have any memories of Avon? Let me know, I love hearing from all of you! I’ll be partying at the link parties on the right this week. Have a great week!


Blame It On Bakelite!

One of those things that I find from time to time when looking for vintage pieces to put in my shop is Bakelite. It’s pretty and comes is more forms than you would believe. It is one of the original plastics, but also a force unto itself. It is collected and loved by lots of people. I did happen to come across some in the form of a cheese spreader. This is called Butterscotch Bakelite (for the color).

Butterscotch Bakelite Cheese Spreader (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

In order to list it in the shop as Bakelite, I had to figure out how to test it without ruining it. One way, the way I used, is to warm it up under hot (not boiling) water. It gives off a particular smell. Some say it’s “acrid” or smells like “camphor” or “formeldehyde” I’m not sure if I would describe it as acrid, but it does have a particular smell when warmed.

Bakelite Case Brownie Camera (photo courtesy of Rolling Hills Vintage)

Another way I’ve heard about to identify Bakelite (without destroying it) is to spray 409 cleaner – it has to be 409 (not another cleaner)- on a cotton swab. When you swipe it across real Bakelite, the cotton swab turns yellow. Just make sure the item is clean and the yellow isn’t dirt! Also be sure to wash the item off after this test so the cleaner doesn’t stay on the plastic.

1920s Bakelite Headphones (photo courtesy of Felters Cottage)

Bakelite is a polymer. According to ASC.org, plastic comes from the Greek word plastikos meaning moldable. Plastics are in a chemical class called “polymers.” You can check out ASC.org for more of the real technical chemical makeup.

Bakelite Boxes Marbled Brown (photo courtesy of Tallinn Vintage)

Bakelite itself was created by Leo Baekeland while looking into the properties of mixed chemicals for a moldable resin. He discovered what was to become Bakelite in 1907. It was used mostly as electric insulators because one of its properties is that it was moldable until it cured and then it kept its shape even when warmed. ASC.org actually has excerpts from his scientific notebook from the day he discovered it! How cool is that?!

Leo Baekeland (1863-1944)

By 1930, they had a 128-acre facility in New Jersey. Bakelite has the ability to be molded quickly. And as I said, holds its shape when heated, making it a thermosetting resin. Because of this property, it was really useful in the automobile business. They made bases and sockets for light bulbs, distributor caps, insulators and more (ASC.org).

Bakelite Knives (photo courtesy of Treasure Cove Ally)

This is about the time they started making jewelry and other things with it. Telephones, handles for things, radios and more. The stuff had thousands of uses! Their slogan was literally “The Material of a Thousand Uses” with the infinity sign ∞.

Cool Translucent Bakelite Knife Set (photo courtesy of Nordic Art Curiosity)

Collectors Weekly  says that costume jewelry manufacturers liked it because it was “hard enough to be cut and polished” which lent itself to making all kinds of things. The colors had names like Butterscotch (like my piece), Egg Yolk, Mississippi Mud. There are translucent pieces which are harder to find. These are Lime Jell-O, Root Beer and Cherry Juice.

Bakelite Gumdrop Polka Dot Jewelry (photo courtesy of Decotini)

They were also able to laminate colors to each other. One Art Deco treatment was to take Ebony Bakelite and combine it with rhinestones or inlaid silver. This was to imitate jet pieces from the Victorian Era (Collectors Weekly). Bracelets were really the popular item for Bakelite. The most collectible being the Philadelphia bracelets (from an auction in 1985).

Jet and Rhinestone Bakelite Pin circa 1940 (photo courtesy of BonVieuxTemps)

So why did they stop producing Bakelite? There is a downside of Bakelite and that is it’s brittle until infused with other fillers which makes it super tough. Many times they infused it with cellulose in the form of sawdust. The problem with this is that when they tried to color it the colors were often dull and opaque.

Bakelite Philadelphia Bracelet (photo courtesy of Second Symphony)

The actual resin is amber in color but not everyone wants amber. That is why it was eventually replaced by newer plastics that had the same moldable properties but would take color better. Ah, fashion spelled the end of Bakelite. But I have to say, it was Bakelite that really paved the way for the new age of plastics as we know it now.

Bakelite Sunglasses circa 1920 (photo courtesy of Tamta’s Vintage)

Are you one of those people that love Bakelite? Have a small (or large) stash? Tell me about it! I love to hear from you. And, as always, find me partying at the link parties listed on the right. Have a great week!

Mid-Century Modern Marvelous-ness

This week’s post is about something that is near and dear to my heart. One of my absolute favorite movements in design has always been Mid-Century Modern. We hear it and see it when we go looking for our vintage treasures and we know it when we see it. But what is Mid-Century Modern? Where did it start? Who gave it that name? It obviously wasn’t called that as people were creating the iconic pieces that defined the movement (can I get an “Eames!”) But just like Art Deco, it was coined Mid-Century Modern somewhere along the way. Just look at all this MCM goodness I’ve added to the store recently!

Mid-Century Modern (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

I am totally drawn to MCM, myself. I love the lines, the sculptured form balanced with the usefulness of the design. It makes me think of the 1960s, a house of windows high in the Hollywood hills. Wood, metal, and popping color. Sunken living rooms. Original “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” kind of stuff. That particular show makes me think of guys in turtle necks, hanging out in their Danish Modern apartments.

Mid Century Modern Arm Chair (photo courtesy of Casara Modern Shop)

So who did coin the “Mid-Century Modern” name? According to Curbed.com, a woman by the name of Cara Greenberg used the term first as the title of her book “Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s” published in 1984. She made it up and it stuck. The term was adopted quickly and came to embody an aesthetic that ranged from the “mid-1940s to the mid-1960s” (CollectorsWeekly).

Adorable Teak and Metal Snail Hors-D’oeuvres Forks (photo courtesy of Brass Teak)

Collectors Weekly says that MCM is frequently associated with Eichler tract homes that popped up during the 1950s in California. Eichler says he was inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright house that he lived in briefly. Glass walls, open floor plans, varied heights to give dimension (think half-walls and sunken living rooms). Who knew I could mention sunken living rooms twice in one post! Let’s face it, I just think they’re cool.

Sunken Living Room 1960s

The MCM aesthetic came out of the U.S., Britain, Japan and of course Scandinavia. From the U.S. we had Eames whose chairs, created in the 1940s and 1950s are highly collectible. They were made from wood, fiberglass, and metal. His designs were really new and unique in design and technology. His molded chairs were very different from what had been designed before.

Eames Rocking Chair (photo courtesy of Vintage Blohms)

Herman Miller was another name in furniture. With architect George Nelson designing for the Herman Miller Company from 1945 until the 1980s, Herman Miller produced some of the most iconic MCM furniture that is synonymous with what we think of when we think mid-century modern (CollectorsWeekly).

Herman Miller Eames Chair (photo courtesy of Atomic Junkies Gallery)

In other countries the aesthetic was alive and well. In England, Robin Day was creating convertible beds, tables and chairs. In Scandinavia Børge Mogensen was designing his Sleigh Chair and Arne Jacobsen was designing his Swan Chair.

Jacobsen Swan Chair (photo courtesy of MCMUnique)

Furniture was not the only thing being created during this time. CollectorsWeekly says that clocks were a big thing during this time. Sunbursts, asterisks and more were being designed. Lighting was also taking on a completely different look.

Sunburst Clock (photo courtesy of Records and Vintage)

Lights that were made from steel and plastic, designed to be hung from the ceiling became popular as did pole-tension lamps that added light to corners of the room. As CollectorsWeekly says, this was really the last time in history that “design drove the look and feel of popular culture” instead of the other way around.

Holm Sorensen Copper Pendant Lights (photo courtesy of Danish Vintage Designs)

The key elements of  mid-century modern architecture are flat planes, large windows, changes in elevation, and integration with nature. Those large windows inviting you to bring the outdoors in from multiple vantage points (hgtv.com).

Mid Century Modern Home Plan (from a book courtesy of PopuLuxe)

Mid-century modern is even more collectible today than ever. These designs are either loved or hated by people with very little middle ground. Collectors look for really unique pieces, which can definitely be found as this was such a breakout time period. Love it or hate it, it’s definitely found its part in history.

Alvar Aalto Danish Modern Chairs (photo courtesy of Deerstedt)

That was fun! I really enjoy finding out about the things I love. What do you think about mid-century modern? Love it? Loathe it? Have a house designed around it? Leave a comment! I love hearing from all of you!

As always, I will be partying with all my friends at the link parties noted on the right. Have a great week!




Know Your Knowles

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I started this blog! I started it in October of 2015. Posting once a week, I have posted 44 articles talking about different companies and types of vintage collectibles. Each week I think “What am I going to write about this week?” and then something interesting pops up! There are so many neat collectibles to discover that there always seems to be something to investigate. This week it is the Edwin M. Knowles company (read a little further and find out why I got really excited this week).

EM Knowles Cake Plate (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

See this item above? It totally attracted me during one of my jaunts. I love the orange and white poppies with the yellow edging. The raised flourishes are really pretty, too. It is a cake plate, you can tell by the 2 tab-handles on the side. Well, as I was on Replacements.com which is a huge database of patterns, looking for the name of the pattern on the cake plate, sifting through page after page of Knowles patterns, lo and behold I found a pattern I had given up ever finding the name to! The one below.

E.M. Knowles Coral Pine! (photo courtesy of Vintage Eve’s)

I had purchased these plates awhile back for the Vintage Eve’s shop and because they are not marked, could not find the pattern. And, trust me, I looked! I asked around … no one knew. Turns out it is an Edwin M. Knowles and it’s called Coral Pine. Finally! A name! I don’t know if you share my pain here, but it drives me crazy when I can’t identify a pattern!

EM Knowles 22K Plates from 1940s (photo courtesy of RetroDoodads)

So where did the Knowles Company originate? Who were they? Let’s find out! I went to my trusty pottery book to find out some good information. I’ve referenced this book before and probably will again, “Lehner’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay” by Lois Lehner. The link will take you to Amazon if you want to purchase your own from any number of sellers which is where I got mine.

EM Knowles Relish Dish 1920s (photo courtesy of Vintage Attitudes)

So she says that Edwin M. Knowles Company was in business from 1900 to 1963. A pretty good run compared to others like Ohme who was only in business for about 30 years. The business was started in 1900 and a major plant opened in 1913. It was located in Chester, Virginia. This plant became one of the “most modern and best equipped plants in the industry” (Lehner, 1988, p. 237).

EM Knowles Sugar Bowl, Creamer & S&P Set in Puritan Pattern (photo courtesy of LuRu Uniques)

They also had a factory from 1913 to 1963 in Newell, W. Virginia. This factory became the one factory when they sold the Chester plant to Harker Pottery in 1931. There was another company that began earlier than Edwin’s company; Knowles, Taylor, Knowles out of Ohio but don’t confuse them because they are 2 separate companies. There was also another company called Knowles, Homer, Pottery Company. This company was connected to Knowles, Taylor, Knowles but NOT the Edwin M. Knowles Company.

EM Knowles in Ebonette Pattern (photo courtesy of Our Leftovers)

Another blog that talks about this company, RobbinsNest.com has more information than I had in the book. She says that Edwin was the son of the original founder of Knowles, Taylor, Knowles. He must have branched out on his own. He definitely found his own way as he was in business throughout the Depression when his father’s company did not make it.

EM Knowles Serving Platter (photo courtesy of Fugitive Kat Kreations)

Edwin’s company in fact grew. The Edwin M. Knowles Company became known for making the finest semi-vitreous ware in the industry. According to RobbinsNest.com, two of their more popular designs were Yorktown (very art deco) and Potomac (simple shape in 7 colors).

EM Knowles Yorktown Gravy Boat (photo courtesy of Wizard of Vintage)


EM Knowles Potomac Line (photo courtesy of Laurel Hollow Park)

The company continued after Edwin’s death in 1943, passing to Frederick Blackmore Lawrence and then William A. Harris, Jr. into the 1960s. The company finally closed it’s doors in 1962 due in large part to cheap imports. This happened to a large number of U.S. potteries during that time like Spaulding, Purinton, and others. Another company bought the rights to the Knowles name and produced some plates during the 1980s and 1990s but it was not the original Edwin M. Knowles Company.

EM Knowles Serving Dish (photo courtesy of Nona’s Finds)

So that is the story of the Edwin M. Knowles Company. I find this stuff fascinating, how they are all interconnected. For a look at the different backstamps this company used and to research year of production, check out My Granny’s Attic Antiques (another great resource).

EM Knowles Casserole Server (photo courtesy of Polka Dot Rose)

I hope you have a great week! Join me this week at the link parties listed on the right. And be sure to follow me by email or on BlogLovin’ where you can keep all your blogs together in one spot.




Is There an Ekco in Here?

Is there an Ekco in your kitchen? I know there is in mine! This classic company has made so many different kitchen and household gadgets, I’m sure I haven’t seen them all. They are actually a cool company. Here’s one Ekco gadget that I use all the time!

Ekco Miracle Tomato Slicer


The one above is one that is for sale in my shop but I have one of my own that is my go-to-gadget for slicing tomatoes. Such a simple thing, but it works much better than me trying to slice the tomatoes evenly by hand and it works in seconds. Perfect tomatoes for sandwiches and burgers.

Ekco Vintage Muffin Tin (photo courtesy of Band Box Vintage Wares)

So what’s the story on Ekco? Well, the name has the initials for the founder, Edward Katzinger and it’s his Company. According to an awesome book I’ve referenced before “Spiffy Kitchen Collectibles” by Brian Alexander, Edward Katzinger was a tinsmith by trade. He immigrated here in the 1880s and settled in Chicago.

Ekco Hand Mixer and 3-Prong Fork (photo courtesy of Swankie Stuff)

He decided to set up a shop making tin pans for the baking industry. That is what he focused on and he did it well. His company flourished.

Ekco Hot Plate 1960s (photo courtesy of RetrOriginalUK)

In 1916, Alexander says that Edward’s son, Arthur joined the company. They began to expand in the 1920s, which I would think would have been tricky because of the impending crash that they didn’t realize was coming. But they persevered. They acquired another company during the 20s and became a leader in the tin pan business.

Advertisement for Ekco State Fair Cookware (photo courtesy of From Janet)

In the 1930s they acquired the A&J Company and began producing utensils and gadgets. Arthur took over in 1939 after the death of his father and changed his name from Katzinger to Keating.

Ekco 1950s Rolling Pin (photo courtesy of Liz Finest Collection)

An article at “FundingUniverse.com” goes into the different acquisitions that Ekco made over the next 35 years and chronicles their growth. FundingUniverse states that the company went public in the early 1940s and began acquiring even more companies.

Ekco Soap Dish (photo courtesy of Vintage Jewels and More)

Arthur continued to run the company through the 50s and 60s. During that time they really expanded the different types of items they made. There were items for the kitchen, the mudroom (shoetrees), bathroom, and more.

Ekco Shoe Stretcher (photo courtesy of Nena Faye’s Attic)

American Home Products acquired Ekco in 1965 with Arthur Keating passing in 1967. From here it gets kind of difficult to follow. FundingUniverse.com goes into all the hands that exchanged this company through the 1990s, and there were quite a few.

Ekco Radio with Bakelite (photo courtesy of Darcy and Eliza Vintage Store)

Ekco was eventually part of Ekco Group, Inc. which was based in my home state of New Hampshire. Eventually Ekco Group, Inc. was acquired by WKI Holding Company out of Rosemont, Illinois. Ekco still puts out items including their Baker’s Secret line of bakeware.

Ekco Enameled Skillets Country Garden Made in Italy (photo courtesy of Treasured Past Vintage)

Even though they are still making products, their vintage stuff is very collectible. They used to make items in red, yellow, turquoise, pink and black. No surprise here, red is the color collectors look for the most (me included!). Black is collected the least.

Ekco Eternal Flatware Canoe Muffin (photo courtesy of Fulton Lane)

Do you have a memory of an Ekco kitchen gadget from your childhood? Tell me about it! I love hearing from all of you! I hope this has given you some good information about a company that was started by a young entrepreneur who came to America to find his dream and grew that dream into a house-hold name.

I wish you all a great week! Remember to party with me this week at the awesome link parties listed on the right.