Without even trying we have started collecting Lane's Acclaim furniture series. Trust me, this was an easy mistake. With its clean lines, creative blend of walnut/oak and durability, we continue to be attracted to this dovetail design over and over again. Launched in 1963, the Acclaim series was the American answer to Danish Modern but at an affordable price. It is hard to believe that the coffee table sitting in my living room right now originally sold for $29.95. But thankfully the affordability of this series increased its popularity and in essence, its availability today.
I am sure the designers never dreamed that their two tiered end table would make a handy place to house a turntable.
Some light reading on the subject.
Yes, it may seem strange but I have always had a thing for vintage Pyrex. Not that clear glass casserole dish sitting in your kitchen cabinet right now, but the colorful nesting bowls that come in an array of stylish patterns. Introduced in 1915 by Corning Glass Works, Pyrex has been helping chefs across the country create culinary masterpieces for nearly a century. I would argue, however, that it wasn't until the launching of Pyrex Colors in 1947 that Corning successfully transformed the ordinary mixing bowl and/or casserole dish into a fashionable accessory fit for display on any dining room table.
My father of all people introduced me to Pyrex. His all-time favorite cereal bowl to this day happens to be the orange 1.5 pint bowl from the New Dot set. A huge fan of polka dots myself it didn't take me long to acquire the entire set for my own personal use. Not to mention the Primary Colors, Gooseberry, Rainbow Stripes and Butterprint Turquoise mixing bowls sets. Then there are the casserole dishes, refrigerator sets, and butter dish. Intervention, anyone?!?
I think my fondness for Pyrex has a lot to do with its attainability. Frankly speaking, it is cheap. Making it an easy choice for this collector. Despite the fact that most nesting bowl sets go for $60+ on eBay, it isn't too difficult to piece together a set for the fraction of the cost with a little patience. A perfect example was yesterday at the Candlestick Flea Market. With my well developed Pyrex radar, I spotted a filthy but surprisingly unflawed 2.5 QT green New Dot bowl under a stack of dishes. Cost $5. A steal especially at a Bay Area flea market.
Looks like I am not the only one in LOVE with Pyrex (actually a really great website).
Less than 24 hours ago if Alex Trebek asked me what a Blaupunkt was I would have stared blankly at the camera.
It all started with a traffic jam due to the Folsom Street festival in San Francisco. To avoid the messy backup in SOMA we aborted our trip to our favorite non mid-century furniture store, McCarney's, and headed to The Other Shop on Divisadero. The moment we walked in, we independently gravitated towards this gem from the past - a Blaupunkt Arkansas model 4635. I have seen other radio consoles before but this one seemed to be the cream of the crop. Immediately we confessed that this was the perfect antique that represented a blend of our styles. For David it had a vintage AM/FM radio while for me another location to store my ever expanding barware collection. At one time there was a small turntable inside that appears to have been kidnapped within the last 50+ years. But otherwise, the piece is in mint condition. If it fit in our SUV then it was going to be ours.
You guessed correct. It fit.
Since my German skills are non-existent, my online research is limited to a handful of chat rooms, images and old eBay ads. What I have been able to gather is that our model was made in 1959 in Germany by the Blaupunkt company better known for their car radios. How it landed in a vintage store in the Lower Haight is a mystery but it is a great reminder how hip stereo equipment had been in the late 50s/early 60s. And with most things German, it was built to last. The really fun part is that all the radio keys are in German so it took David a few attempts to figure out not only how to work it but to test whether he could hook up his iPod to it (a success). But the radio comes in loud and clear.
For those interested in practicing their German.
During one of our recent Alameda Flea Market hunts we noticed a couple holding this extremely cool chrome mirror while in the midst of an intense discussion. The mirror was so striking that both David & I simultaneously commented that we wished we had seen it first. As I continued to make my progression down the aisle David suddenly made a u-turn making a bee line back to the previous stall. He was almost sprinting. The next thing I recall is David walking towards me with a huge grin on his face holding the mirror in one hand. Assuming that the root of the intense discussion between couple was financial I nervously asked David how much he spent. $20 was his answer. Baffled that a $20 purchase at a flea market could create so much debate I am delighted at the thought that there are people stingier than I.
Sadly, I have not been able to uncover any interesting tid-bits about our find online. At that cheap price I even question whether it is truly vintage even though the mirror itself appears to be old. But in any case, it looks fabulous on our living room wall. And frankly for $20 I just don't care.
It didn't take me long to accept that one could not have a household filled with mid-century finds without owning a T.V. lamp. So during our memorable excursion to Midway Antique Mall in Sacramento, we adopted a Lane & Co. Siamese cat T.V. lamp. After doing a little research online this Los Angeles expat was pleased to discover that these little kitties were born in Van Nuys, CA in the early to mid 1950s. With the sudden popularity of T.V. sets these lamps were produced to create the necessary ambient light to reduce eye strain for the viewer. Apparently, they hadn't realized yet that sitting with your nose pressed to the glass wasn't the healthiest viewing position. I find that this sweet little purchase of ours adds the right blend of kitsch to our home.
Helpful website on the philosophy behind T.V. lamps.
Who knew I needed a turquoise bar?
David spotted one on Craiglist that he felt strongly we needed in order to complete the mid-century motif we have been striving for our living room. After much discussion as to the pros and cons of his desire (ranging from "we don't drink" to "but you like projects"), I found myself the following day sitting next to him as we drove down to San Jose, CA to pick it up. The moment I saw it I knew instantly that sometimes David is right (of course, I will never confess this fact to him in person). It was something that we were missing despite the fact that neither of us have bartending skills. And I must admit that I REALLY do love projects.
But it needed some work especially on its base. With the magic of Google, I discovered that one could remove rust from chrome with either coke or vinegar and steel wool. I did a side by side comparison to realize that plain old elbow grease took care of the job better than just the solution. It is not perfect but I am happy to announce that most of the rust came off in time. I also was able to use spray paint for the first time, which was a load of fun (all those years of watching HGTV seems to be paying off). Our next tasks is refurbishing two of the three stool cushions that have cracked vinyl. After obtaining a quote from a local upholsterer that made me almost fall out of my seat we are now researching how best to approach this project solo. But all in all, the bar looks great. And again, I really do love projects!
I remember vividly the first time I saw a Starburst pattern dish from Franciscan Ware. I was browsing through an antique store in the City of Orange, CA with my mother when she suddenly made a beeline to a set of very atomic looking dishware. The story that unfolded involved my mom reminiscing that when her family moved to CA from NY when she was in elementary school her mother decided to "modernize" by buying this very pattern of dishes. The really cool thing was that my mom lived so close to the Franciscan plant in Glendale that she remembers going with her mother to buy them directly at Gladding-Mcbean & Co. As with most family heirlooms, we have no idea where my grandmother's set dispersed too over the years. Missing the family "treasure that never was" I was always drawn to these dishes but felt discouraged from collecting them based on their price.
Well, until earlier this week.
I almost fainted when I saw a listing on Craigslist for a 61 piece lot of Franciscan Starburst pattern for the fraction of the cost of eBay or Replacement.com. Although buying the entire lot was no small chunk of change, I knew that this one purchase would save me years of searching for that “bargain” dish the conventional way (although once I did score a mint condition creamer for $5). Surprised that someone else did not beat me to the chase, I crossed the Golden Gate to take a peak at Jim's collection. The moment I glanced inside the box I knew that Jim was my new best friend. Hearing his journey as to how he obtained each piece, I felt a little guilty that I was able to cut in line, so to speak, as I drove home with two boxes full of atomic bliss in my backseat. Once I had laid out my new possessions onto my living room floor, the guilt subsided. My dilemma now is where to store them to avoid my bad habit of accidentally breaking things. A challenge I think I can handle.
An extra curricular reading assignment on Franciscan Starburst.
Woke up Sunday to my partner, David, tapping my forehead as an effort to get me up so that we could head over to the Alemany Flea Market before breakfast. If it wasn’t so darn close I wouldn’t have bothered but this is the flea market where I once scored a Franciscan Starburst creamer (mint condition) for $5. The dealers today were sparse.
David did better than I. He found a Seeberg 1000 Background Music System for $60 that apparently was used to stream music in department stores during the 1950s. Who knew? Sadly, it has no key so we have to hold off on discovering the condition of the records inside. So it may be a while before I can pretend to be Betty Draper shopping in NYC while cleaning my apartment. For now, I will just have to make do with my iPod.
Here is some light reading on Seeburg 1000s.
I went to Disneyland today. Well, Disneyland for those obsessed with mid-century living. Since we couldn't have our much anticipated garage sale due to rain, David & I decided to check out a store a that his friend, Dick, warned us about. The rumor was that one hadn't really seen mid-century furniture until they had visited Midway Antique Mall in Sacramento, CA. So off we went.
The moment the front doors opened I felt as if I had just entered a time capsule and was now standing in someones living room in 1957. And best of all was that the Walt Disney of mid- century furnishing (owner: Mark Saunders) gave us a personal tour of his front show rooms. He may do this for everyone who enters the doors but it made me feel like a celebrity. His stories about how Midway came to be were the highlight of the tour for me.
We did take home a peacock art piece that apparently was a type of "sequence beads by numbers" art project from the 50s. Despite the popularity among craft lovers back in the day there isn't much about them online. David recently bid on an unused one on eBay so if we are lucky we will see firsthand how our lovely peacock art panel came to be.