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Saturday Morning Thrift Stores


Last fall our family fell into a bit of a routine, DH and I would meet with the “kids” (aka grown adults to everyone else) for breakfast, DH would go off to work and the rest of us would hit up some thrift stores and garage sales.

It’s been a lot of laid-back fun and the first time I ever realized that our son-in-law was into that type of thing. After all, he’s only been part of the family for 25 years. Daughter not into it so much, but she puts up with our thrift store adventures. Grudgingly.

She has strongly suggested that we curtail the thrift store/garage sale shopping to every few weeks, so we’re slowing that part down. But I’ll take whatever spending-time with them that I can get.

Of course, like the rest of you collectors, I don’t really need anything, but if it wasn’t for this semi-weekly shopping I would have missed out on some great treasures.

Last month we went into an thrift store in an Hispanic part of town, English was barely spoken and most of the signs were in Spanish, but that didn’t stop us. The first thing I saw were three Old World Christmas lights sitting on the counter. The big annual ones that retail for around $80. or so and when they hit the secondary market, values go way up. Three different years, two in boxes, $19.95 each. SOLD.

That was the buy of the year, no kidding. And apparently they had been sitting on the counter for a while, cause they had been already marked down three times. Two of these were missing from my collection, which made it even better.

Last week I was a little slower on the draw at a different thrift store. A Shawnee chocolate bank-head Winnie — in perfect condition. They knew what they had, it was marked $75. I looked at it and looked at it. The manager came over and told me that it really was a good piece, she looked it up on the Internet and read all about it. But the rest of the family was already back in the car, so I decided to think about it a while.

Shawnee Winnie and Smiley

I thought all day Sunday about the jar and Monday morning I was back and Winnie was still there! Manager came over again and said, “oh you’re back. You know that really is a good jar, you should look it up on the Internet”. Hah. I told her that it was probably my Shawnee articles she read! Anyway — Winnie came home with me and now sits next to her brother, Chocolate Bank Smiley.

Over the years other great buys have come home with me, but I usually didn’t do the thrift store route, it was more about garage sales and antique malls. Now I am really hooked on thrift stores, one must realize that it can take quite a few visits before that amazing buy is found. For what it’s worth, I still don’t go a lot, just every couple of weeks. If it’s meant for me to have it, it will be there.

This week’s quote . . .


Collecting is more than just buying objects.
~Eli Broad

What’s a Real McCoy?


McCoy is the best known American company for producing cookie jars and pottery. If you doubt me, go to a mall, antiques shop or show, there most likely there will be quite a few McCoy pieces there. the problem is, they aren’t always the Real McCoy!

Unfortunately many dealers consider themselves experts or at least want their customers to think they are and will very emphatically say, “this is a McCoy piece”. Well, it might be, butMcCoy is also the one company that has been most often reproduced.

Education and few good books are the only recourse buyers have when wanting to buy authentic pieces.

Beware of:

  • Sellers who say “This is marked McCoy”. Sure, it might be marked, but that doesn’t make it real.
  • Cookie Jars that have the mark Brush McCoy on the bottom. There were never, ever any cookie jars made with that mark. Never.
  • McCoy Mammy jars — there are only two different molds made, with a very slight variation on one mold. Learn what those two are
    and how they were finished before buying one of the hundreds of fake Mammy jars on eBay.
  • If a seller mentions the New McCoy Company — keep your money in your pocket.The New McCoy Company started producing jars in 1992 and it’s just another name for a fake cookie jar, that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual McCoy company.

When looking at cookie jars on the Internet and at shows,
the Top Reasons why you should back away from the sale.

  1. It’s claimed that it was found in the estate of a very old lady, most likely in her attic.
  2. The seller does not give refunds.
  3. There is a very heavy distinct and even crazing over the entire cookie jar.
  4. Or the jar looks too new and too good. Old jars should not look like new.
  5. The seller has many auctions of similar jars that are usually hard to find.
  6. Size is off — lightweight or shorter
  7. The jar is unknown, but the seller has sold duplicates of it, check previous auctions.
  8. More bidders than expected or typical. Think shill bidding!
  9. More than a few negative feedbacks on eBay.

My first eBay purchase . . .


Do you remember your first eBay purchase? I remember mine, because I didn’t start off with a little item — no, I started off with a purchase a $160. cookie jar.

It was shortly after I joined eBay in July 1996.

I collected cookie jars and had recently seen the California Originals Count Dracula jar at a Cookie Jar Show for $400 or $500. Way out of my price range. But since the Sesame Street Cookie Monster is the one I consider the start of my collecting addiction, I really wanted it.

Well there it was, listed on eBay, a jar I had seen just a few months earlier and now mine for the bidding.  At the time, and I remember this well, there were only SIX cookie jars listed on eBay. Six*.

Another thing to remember is that very few of the auction items even had pictures included, this one had a very poor picture somehow linked to it, but it was really hard to tell if it was the real deal or not.

So I bid on it. Very hesitantly because I never spent that much money on a jar before, I couldn’t tell what it really was and who the heck ever heard of “eBay” anyway? And I won it with no competing bidders.

Back then, there was also no Paypal and no one took credit cards, so it was pay by cash (yes many sellers requested that), money order or personal check — all by snail mail. So you had to wait for mail to get to the seller, wait for the check to clear and then wait for the return item.  This could take two – three weeks by the time all was said and done.

And I waited. Worried that it would get here in good condition and that it was also the authentic jar. If it wound up being one of the reproduction jars sold by Hawkeye Collectibles , I paid way too much and if it was the California Original jar, I got a great deal.

It finally arrived, in great condition and it was the real deal.

My feedback from the seller: “Her check was good”.  What was your first purchase on eBay??  Have a good story to share?

*(As a point of reference, at this moment in time there are 29,039 jars listed.)

Almost a Million $$


Not too much excites toy collectors more than to find some NOS items and when it comes to auction — the bidders will come out! That’s what happened at the February 15th Morphy Auction that wound up grossing $996,000!

According to Dan Morphy of Morphy Auctions,
the piece was found in a toy store in Japan!

An exceptional boxed example of a Bandai 12-inch “Flying Spaceman” took a wild ride on February 15th at Morphy’s before settling at $55,200 – more than three times its high estimate. Described in the Toy Auction catalog as being “possibly the best known example,” the crisp and colorful Japanese tin-litho motorcycle toy features a vinyl-caped hard-rubber “Superman” rider with a large tin “S” insignia on its chest.

Other toys in the auction were also actively sought after, according Morphy there were at least “300 bidders on the Internet at all any given time”.

The February 15th Toy

Although only 8 inches in height, a beautiful Kanto tin wind-up “Television Robot” was the object of fierce bidding competition and commanded a price that one might expect of a rare and imposing Gang of Five robot. Together with its richly illustrated factory box, the near-mint extraterrestrial had been entered in the sale with a $15,000-$25,000 estimate. Collectors chased the fine example to $32,400.

Other robot highlights included a boxed tin-litho “Inter Planet Space Captain,” $19,800 against an estimate of $2,000-$4,000; and two boxed robots that each made $8,400: a Masudaya “Mighty 8 Robot,” and a Yonezawa tin-litho and painted-tin crank-wind “Astro Scout.” Space guns, which have their own dedicated following amongst sci fi collectors, were led by a boxed Hiller “Atomic Ray Gun,” $3,000 (est. $400-$600) and a boxed Yonezawa battery-operated “Electro Ray-Gun,” $2,280 (est. $100-$300).

A 6-inch Ohio Art sand pail charmed bidders with its early, colorful lithographed image of Minnie Mouse paddling a canoe, along with companions Mickey Mouse and Pluto. Estimated at a modest $200-$400, it outperformed all other Disney toys in reaching a final bid of $4,200.

Cast-iron mechanical banks were in high demand, with a near-mint-plus example of an Artillery Target bank, complete with cannonballs, at the forefront. Although the manufacturer of this particular bank is not known, its designer was Samuel Clark of Brooklyn, New York, and its patent dates to 1877. Against an estimate of $18,000-$25,000, it hit the bull’s-eye at $51,600.

Following closely behind was an 1878 J. & E. Stevens Patronize the Blind Man and His Dog bank. One of the nicest of all known examples, it more than doubled its high estimate to realize $50,400.

Other banks in the day’s top 10 included: an 1891 J. & E. Stevens Cat and Mouse, $26,400; an 1884 Kyser & Rex Mammy & Child (rare color variation), $19,200; and an 1878 Pelican with Rabbit made by Trenton Lock and Hardware Co., $15,600.

“I was very pleased with the results,” said Morphy’s owner, Dan Morphy. “There was an atmosphere of enthusiasm throughout the sale, and many new bidders took part from around the world. Ask any auctioneer and they’ll tell you there’s nothing like new blood to liven up a market. If this sale is any indication of what’s to come, 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for us and for the toy hobby.”

All About Collecting


Why do people collect, I’m really not quite sure what it is a person’s soul that causes one to gather like things around them, search for one more to complete their collection and the quest for their holy grail. Or perhaps this author has it right —

“There are people like Senhor José everywhere, who fill their time, or what they believe to be their spare time, by collecting stamps, coins, medals, vases, postcards, matchboxes, books, clocks, sport shirts, autographs, stones, clay figurines, empty beverage cans, little angels, cacti, opera programmes, lighters, pens, owls, music boxes, bottles, bonsai trees, paintings, mugs, pipes, glass obelisks, ceramic ducks, old toys, carnival masks, and they probably do so out of something that we might call metaphysical angst, perhaps because they cannot bear the idea of chaos being the one ruler of the universe, which is why, using their limited powers and with no divine help, they attempt to impose some order on the world, and for a short while they manage it, but only as long as they are there to defend their collection, because when the day comes when it must be dispersed, and that day always comes, either with their death or when the collector grows weary, everything goes back to its beginnings, everything returns to chaos.”

― José Saramago, All the Names