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Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Tin Too Full: Inside- the history of a popular toy.

For me, some of the interesting places where cool items can be found are in the “catch-all” locations we all have. For example: Junk drawers in kitchens, workbench drawers in garages and basements, and especially in basements – random tins with bits and pieces of leftover junk from projects gone by.

Tin of Junk, found, hardware
I took a chance a few weeks ago, when nothing good could be found and saw a large cookie tin on a basement shelf.
Tin of Junk, found, hardware

“This is a dig.” I thought to myself, and purchased it sight unseen. 

Tin of Junk, found, hardware close up
My expectations were none to high, as I have a couple of my own “catch-all” tins in my garage. As I have said in the past, it’s not the kill… 

Tin of Junk, found, hardware close up
You will see that there was nothing but the usual random screws and nails in here and as I dug deeper I felt my few dollars would be wasted and I would have a story without an end. However, fate and fortune though dim, shined upon me one more time and out of the tin came a small car. 

Tootsie Toy,car
It only took a brief image search before I found a good bit of history behind this toy car.

Tootsie Toy,car

Tootsie Toy,car
In 1877, Charles O.Dowst was a bookkeeper. By 1879 he was listed under Dowst & Co., publishers, and two years later as editor and proprietor of the National Laundry Journal, when his brother, Samuel, joined him. 

A decade later, the listing was changed to "Laundry Supplies". The World's Colombian Exposition took place in Chicago during the summer of 1893, at which a new type-casting machine, the Line-O-Type, was introduced. It was natural that this should interest the publishing Dowsts, as early typeset printing machines would wear down the lead letter sets. 

The Line-O-Type could cast letter sets quickly and cheaply and one was soon installed at their plant. Before long, they recognized that this equipment could be adapted to cast more than a "Line-O-Type". Soon, laundry accessories, such as collar buttons and small promotional irons, were being turned out. This line was quickly expanded to include tiny animals, whistles, rings, ships, etc., used for prizes in boxes of candied pop-corn (Cracker-Jacks) and by confectioners in wedding and birthday cakes, etc. 

These toys had no trade name until 1922. The name Tootsietoy was registered as a trademark on 11 March 1924, having been applied for on 7 February 1923. The application stated that the name had been used continuously since 20 April 1921, but did not mention use of the name on any of their products except doll furniture. Tootsie was the name of Theodore (Ted) Dowst's daughter. 

For more on the interesting history behind this and other toy cars click here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bad Christmas Ads (with Video)

Not everything about Christmas is good. Especially when it comes to advertising. I found some great ads that you'll never see again in mainstream advertising. The most obvious one is Santa putting a nail in the coffin:
Old Ads, smoking, Christmas, Santa,funny
In the "Night before Christmas" he is described as a smoker, but I don't think Lucky Strike is in there at all.
This next one is just a bold strike (and not a "Lucky" one) at the disparity between the sexes in the mid 20th century.
Old Ads, Christmas,funny
"Ha Ha! You're falling down stairs!" The next scene I'm sure has him putting on the shirts without all the pins removed.
My favorite is this one for Diamond Chemicals, who is proud to remind you:
"Chemicals you live by" and for the unfortunate "Live near." Makes wrapping those Christmas presents a true joy doesn't it?
Old Ads, Christmas,funny,

Here is a montage of many Santas to the tune of Art Carney rapping "The Night Before Christmas" It is rather odd, so be prepared. "Norton!"
Happy Christmas and wishes for a successful New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to put out a fire in 1940?

I really wanted to title this post; "How NOT to name a fire extinguisher."  this is a video documentary short (very short) of an estate sale I went digging through this December in Easton, CT. There were lots of interesting things here, but the best were several small reels of 16mm film.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Endangered Christmas Seals?

Milk bottle, Sample collar, 1941, Borden's
Around 1907, A small Delaware sanatorium was in danger of closing from lack of funds until the cousin of one of the doctors offered to try a form of fundraising that was being conducted in Denmark. Emily Bissell designed and sold the first Christmas seal stamps at a local post office for a penny each. 
Advertising collars, 1940's, milk bottle distributing

I discovered these paper “collars” which were sent from the National Tuberculosis Foundation to a likely milk delivery company in 1951. By showing samples of the previous 6 years of these ads the hope was that they would place them on all their bottles for delivery. 

Milk Man, Old image, BW photography
A visit to the American Lung Association reveals that Christmas Seals are all sold out for this year. Though it is late in the season, it seems like adding this Seal to the endangered list is a good thing. 
Christmas Seals, 2013
Next year's seals are already available, I hope they become endangered too.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Found Films: Animators Resume Reel uncovered

Among the many mysteries that unfold while digging in the past are the biography's of the people who lived in the home where I am digging. This question arises when I have come across something extraordinary.

This short animated promo for the album "Red Octopus" by Starship  (Jefferson Airplane >Jefferson Starship> Starship) was brought to life by the owner of the estate I was digging through. Being fortunate to find 3 reels of some of his work, I tried to get to know who this person was.

This second piece was done for the Grumman Corporation to help explain to clients how their antiquated methods of testing were clunky and inefficient. Using animation they can hold attention and explain with intended exaggeration how their system is superior.

 Asking around, I found out that the home had belonged to Robert Tinfo, who made his living as an animator working for various firms. In his later years, he moved from his office in the city to this home. He didn't stop animating, instead converting his home into a makeshift studio containing, at one point, an animation stand that spanned the 1st and 2nd floors.

His style was distinctive, colorful and whimsical (One son told me he was behind the animated the NBC peacock). Sadly, there is no biography on Robert Tinfo. My internet searches reveal a vague reference to a company he worked for in the late 50's and early 60's. Some of these sample clips may have come from that era, but there is no title information and most of it leaves me guessing. 

The samples I have are amazing, and prove that there are people around us doing things that merit recognition, or at least more than just a nod hello at the mailbox.

If you remember or know more about Robert Tinfo, please email me and share it in the comments.