Every wonder how Santa Claus became associated with Christmas? Confused by the references to St. Nicholas, Belsnickel and Woodland Santa? Here's a short history of the many identities associated with the jolly old elf.
It all began with St. Nick
Father Christmas for Grown Ups
Father Christmas, a variation on Saint Nicholas, was associated with adult revelry. The Victorian era brought a return to the idea of St. Nick as a gift giver whose purpose was to delight small children.
Along came Belsnickel
Santa Claus, the jovial elf
Modern-day Santa Claus evolved from the re-imagining of Saint Nicholas by Washington Irving at the turn of the nineteenth century. There was a tug-of-war in the religious community, as the Puritans disapproved of pagan holidays. Literary work re-imagined Santa Claus as a gift-giving jovial elf (think Night Before Christmas, famously illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship). That imagining has persisted in our culture to this day, where Santa is in charge of toy-making elves and flying reindeer.
Woodland Santa is magical, too
Woodland Santa, portrayed as a friend to animals, is another variation of Saint Nicholas. He may be dressed in brown or white robes, sometimes fur lined, but often less elegant than the ermine and red velvet garb of his counterpart. He’s frequently shown with birds perched on his arms or head and forest friends at his feet.
Which Santa do you believe in?
No matter which Santa figure you feel the most affinity for, you'll find a figure or ornament for your collection in the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay. And have a very Merry Christmas, for one and for all!
Here's another run at the topic of what kinds of treasures catch my eye at estate sales. Personally, I find it very rewarding to discover objects that have special worth to collectors or simply still have purpose. I admire the craftsmanship of earlier generations and believe there's great value in preserving and re-homing pieces of history that might otherwise be discarded.
Cotton, linen, silk or taffeta—these fabrics never go out of style. I love to rescue pretty tablecloths, towels and bedding. Intricate laces and needlepoint artistry are always coveted and frequently go overlooked at crowded sales. Recently I happened upon a generous stock of unused Royal Society stamped linen, a true treasure. I look for items in pristine condition, but also rescue linens that will rebound with a good soak.
Christmas collectibles and decorations top my list, followed by Halloween and Easter. There are many classic figures and ornaments that are consistently in demand, but I'm not opposed to kitsch either. Quirky items have an appeal of their own. At Christmas time, flocked bottle brush and ceramic trees, Fontanini cherubs and nativity figures, Mercury glass bulbs and pieced felt and wool needlepoint stockings are always desirable. Halloween paper goods, animated objects and the occasional costume are quality finds. And for Easter, old-time paper mache or painted eggs and cute rabbits in all shapes and sizes are fun to rescue.
It's impressive to see how earlier generations valued design and created amazingly attractive paper goods. Embossed and gilt decorated cards were the norm in the early 1900s, when folks relied on the post to stay in touch with friends and relatives near and far. As I wrote about in an earlier post on vintage Valentines, intricate die cuts and tissue paper honeycombs were common but added appealing dimension and delight. Pieces that have survived the intervening decades relatively intact can fetch a good price from collectors.
What are you looking for from a vintage vendor? Let us know what sets your heart a-flutter and we'll do our best to help you locate the items on your wishlist.
Cool Vintage Finds attracts shoppers from all over the world. We love hearing from people who are thrilled with their purchases and eager to tell us why. It’s especially fun to get the backstory—why something caught their eye, how they plan to use it or why an item is particularly meaningful. A recent transaction with an Australian eBayer (I’ll call him Mr. Halloween) was so special and inspiring, it deserved its own blog post.
It started with a Gemmy animated bookshelf ...
Next to Christmas, Halloween is the most popular holiday with our customers. We snatch up Halloween collectibles whenever we can. So when we saw an animated bookshelf by Gemmy at a local sale, we knew it would be perfect for our store.
Sure enough, Mr. Halloween came across our bookshelf and got in touch. He sent an email to be sure the item would work for his purposes before buying. When I assured him the books were motion-activated (creepily moving in and out as an eerie soundtrack plays), he knew it was something he and his daughter would love to add to their (not so little) Halloween display … down under. Yes, that’s right. Mr. Halloween hails from a small town in New South Wales, a state on the East coast of Australia.
Mr. Halloween was pleased and let us know it!
We received a nice message from the ultimate champ of Halloween haunting after his bookshelf arrived safely.
Thanking you so very much for getting the Haunted Books here to us in Australia … on our door step nice and safe.
I have given you a very good feedback and also all 5-stars rating.
The books are going to look good with some other Animated books on Halloween night in our Front Foyer [Car port] as it is fun and noisy and slightly scary for anyone and everyone will think that everything should be put into a museum.”
When I say this guy goes all out for Halloween, I mean ALL OUT!
Mr. Halloween was kind enough to share photos of his elaborate ensemble, which takes up much of their house, carport and yard! I thanked him for his business and the great photos and asked if I could share them in our blog. He was happy to oblige.
The creepy fun starts with a ghastly graveyard ...
... and a marketplace of monstrosities.
Needless to say, the displays are totally bewitching.
"Bloody good job, bloke!" -- Said some Englishman somewhere.
Make no bones about it, this smorgasbord of specimens is out of this world!
But wait, there's more inside!
Right this way, past the gallery of ghouls ...
... super creepy Dracula finds these ladies dead gorgeous.
Watch out for the wicked wall of weaponry and the possessed bear rug.
Looks like someone's lost their head over Halloween!
Even the dungeon ... I mean basement ... is chock full of horrors!
The mummies are amazeballs, just like in Tales from the Crypt ...
Hats off to the creators of this massively spooky spectacle!
Many thanks to our Australian friends who work so hard to put together this entertaining Halloween Hall-of-Fame-worthy haunted house. We're proud to know that Cool Vintage Finds played a small role in making this October 31 even more spectacular.
Surely it's taken years for Mr. Halloween and his daughter to amass their amazing collection of Halloween props. So better get started, you've got some catching up to do! If you’re in the market for Halloween collectibles, see what we have in store in the Halloween Scene corner of our store.
Whatever you do, be sure to have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN this October 31!
Halloween is a popular holiday that generates all kinds of items that appeal to collectors. Here are some reliable brands for sought-after spooky, quirky and fun Halloween decorations.
Martin Luther Beistle started his paper goods company in 1900. His alliance with the Paper Novelty Company in the 1920s produced the wonderful honeycomb and cardboard cut-out Halloween decorations that are desirable to this day. Authentic vintage Beistle paper goods (those originating decades ago) are in high demand with Halloween collectors year round. Reproductions abound, bringing the company’s classic designs to a wider audience (and making it more difficult to discern the old from the new).
The same company that excels at producing Christmas collectibles has offered a generous array of collectible ceramic and resin Halloween decor. Snow Village Halloween is the company’s haunted equivalent to their Christmas village line. Still actively producing products, Dept. 56 is known for quality and quantity. Popular retired designs can command a high price.
The Empire Company is well known for its plastic blow mold holiday decorations. For Halloween, Empire makes everything from hand-held plastic buckets to hold children’s candies to outdoor lighted decorations to guide costumed characters to your door.
Fitz and Floyd (aka FF or Omnibus)
Since 1960, Fitz and Floyd Fine China has been creating elegant hand painted ceramics for everyday and special occasions. Though their Halloween line is less extensive than their Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter offerings, you can find heirloom quality Halloween pieces for your home.
Gemmy Industries was founded in 1984 and specializes in all kinds of novelties and animation. The company makes a huge variety of Halloween decorations, from outdoor lights and inflatables to costumes and tabletop décor. Animated Halloween decorations by Gemmy Industries are popular on eBay. Look for shuddering skeletons, talking jack-o-lanterns, howling ghosts, cackling witches and more.
Gurley Novelty Co.
Halloween-themed Gurley candles are popular collectibles today. The company was started by Franklin Gurley, a candlemaker based in Buffalo, New York, in 1923. Very early candles by Gurley were sold under the Tavern brand and are rare finds. In addition to candles shaped like Halloween ghosts, witches and other ghouls, Gurley sold Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter themed candles that are also popular with collectors.
Midwest Importers (aka Midwest, or also Midwest of Cannon Falls)
Based out of Cannon Falls, Minnesota, this prolific producer of decorative collectibles has created many desirable Halloween-themed pieces. The company often features works of artists such as Eddie Walker (now retired) whose holiday-themed figures are still popular with collectors. Walker’s chunky figures are easily recognizable by design. Look for whimsical figures in faux wood carved resin. His work is typically marked with his full name or initials on the back or bottom of the figure.
Look for these brands and more as you decorate for Halloween. Check out Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay to add to your collection today.
Styles that take me back ...
... to the sixties. I was just a squirt back then, but the current obsession with the Mid Century aesthetic has reawakened my fondness for preserving the fashion, decor, toys and trinkets that dominated the decade.
From foo dogs to ginger jars, silk kimonos to gofun dolls—I'm partial to the rich symbolism and artistry exported from Asia.
Quirky and random stuff
Some of the things that turn my head defy description. I know it when I see it, and then it's up for grabs to the next quirky collector who happens on our store.
What do you like?
Act now to line up a gift for your favorite dad this Father's Day. The special day set aside for the top pop in your life always falls on the third Sunday in June, which means in 2017 we celebrate on SUNDAY, JUNE 18. There's still time to get a thoughtful and one-of-a-kind gift for your dad. Here are some ideas to help you nail it this year.
Find his favorite fragrance.
Do you have fond memories of dad's cologne wafting in your nose when he crushed you in a bear hug as a young cub? Recreate the moment with a gift of the stuff from back in the day.
Present him with a boss shirt.
Everybody's wardrobe needs a fresh infusion now and then. Find something for dad to wear that captures his personality. (Your thoughtfulness will be extra appreciated if he's the kind of guy who hates to shop.)
Add to his collection.
Is your dad a collector of some kind? Zone in on what he's passionate about and find a piece that will complement his collection. If you don't have time or are worried you won't make the right choice, consider purchasing an eBay gift card. The gift is doubly good for collectors who believe the hunt is half the fun!
Score a conversation piece.
You dad will love having something you picked out especially for him in the spaces where he spends his time.
Do Dad's Day in a big way this year and let him know he's special.
Ask not what your dad can do for you . Ask what you can do for your dear old dad! Finding something meaningful and useful that's also gently used is a great way to honor dad and the planet.
If there's one thing you can say about our eBay business, it's that no two days are ever the same. Our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay offers an eclectic variety of merchandise. The store attracts serious collectors, window shoppers, costumers, staging professionals, crafters and even resellers looking for that special something. We're getting better at rescuing gold when we're out and about. Here's a short list of items that customers have been eager to buy.
Someone wanted this hat.
My partner in crime recognized the value of the well-constructed straw hat shown above, and sure enough, it sold to a buyer in Korea within hours of being listed on our eBay site. What makes this hat special? Quality (the straw was super sturdy); origin (made in Italy); age (over 50 years old); condition (flawless) and style (self-evident).
Chinese pottery is very popular.
I'm drawn to stunning works of art with Asian origins. Fortunately, many of our customers also appreciate our finds in this area. The buyer of this Chinese Satsuma vase asked us to be on the lookout for other pieces featuring this beautiful "1000 flowers" or millefleurs pattern.
Mid Century has a big fan base.
Retro towels, table cloths, bed linens and interior decor are hot right now. Mod floral and atomic patterns are often scooped up as fast as we can list them. Judging by sales, buyers also appreciate no-iron percale sheets (popular in the 60s and 70s) more than ever. Made in the USA and union made—two labels that are harder to come by in newer merchandise—tend to increase desirability.
Classic patterns continue to please.
Toile patterns are consistently good performers, so we like to score it for our store. Pillows, throw blankets, comforters and table linens often feature this pattern in blue on white or off white. More rarely we've found it in yellow on white and also red on white. Variations on this theme complement French Country (sometimes dubbed "romantic" or "shabby cottage") as well as American Colonial decor.
What are you looking for?
Send us your suggestions for our future shopping excursions. We may just find exactly what you've been looking for.
I have a soft spot for old photographs. On our treasure hunting forays, I always stop to inspect the faded photo album or the cardboard box stuffed with negatives. I don't claim to be an expert on photography over the ages, but I do consider myself a fan of the medium. Whether tintypes, cabinet cards or kodachrome prints—formal portraits, casual snapshots or carefully crafted compositions—photographs offer a window into history that narratives simply can't.
Here are some reasons why I rescue and resell photographs in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
A glimpse of people in the past
Perpetually curious about people and places over time, I'm drawn to images that show a slice of life from an earlier era. Armchair anthropologists like myself actually enjoy looking at vintage photographs. Hair and clothing styles are telltale signs of the decade. It's the subject matter that counts. How people are posed—where and with whom—can also speak volumes. Collectors are especially avid about old photographs of famous people, military personnel, people in trades (and quirky fields such as the circus or burlesque), ethnic groups and amusing family gatherings.
Let me know in the comments section if you too are passionate about old photographs and what you look for as a buyer and/or collector.
Like many online businesses, eBay encourages buyers and sellers to provide feedback. A glowing review is not only insightful for potential customers, it's also meaningful to us as sellers.
Many discoveries are just the ticket.
Our primary mission is to connect buyers to longed-for and often hard-to-find merchandise. We love it when buyers are so thrilled with their find that they share what their purchase means to them.
It's our hope that all of our stores' visitors find something they want, need, crave or desire.
Collectors love a successful find.
One less gem relegated to the landfill. One more treasure finds a loving home.
Some stories are heartwarming.
One customer revealed how happy she was to encounter a particularly care-worn stuffed teddy bear that we rescued from the tail end of an estate sale. She explained in a message that her beloved teddy of the same make and style had been tossed by a zealous family member while she was confined to a hospital bed. Now that she was home, she longed for the childhood treasure that continued to provide comfort to her in her old age. Her words of thanks and many blessing made our day!
Happy to rise to a challenge.
This buyer needed something from our store on a tight turn, for an upcoming fashion photography shoot. We were honored to learn our cool vintage find exceeded their expectations.
It's fun to get (and give) an out-of-the-ordinary thumbs up.
Gotta love the thought and effort that goes into a glowing review like the one below.
.Then there's the cool factor.
Naturally we get an extra kick out of living up to our name.
It's all about sharing the love.
It never gets dull to hear from a "stoked" buyer.
Kind and honest words are a powerful motivator for us. Keep 'em coming!
View our complete feedback history at our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Valentine's Day is a special day set aside to shower a beloved with gifts and proclamations of love. Greeting cards are the most common way for a secret or open admirer to express affection on February 14, the date assigned to Valentine's Day. Mass production of intricate greeting cards started in earnest in the 1840s when an artistic woman named Esther A. Howland crafted cards from scraps of ribbon, lace and images (History.com). Valentine’s Day cards from earlier times are popular collectibles. Like other ephemera, Valentines reflect the social sensibilities and design aesthetic of their respective age. Take a closer look at what makes Valentines from yesteryear especially desirable.
Die cuts and paper lace
Simple and complex die cuts add interest to Valentine cards. Common figural cards showcase die-cut cupids, hearts and cherubic faced children. To imitate the earliest handmade Valentines that used real lace, inventive printers created intricate die-cuts. Printed images of lace offered a less expensive alternative.
Raised lettering and design elements add dimension and desirability to Valentine's cards. Embossed elements may also be enhanced with touches of gold.
Mechanical and honeycomb
Mechanical cards feature pull-out and/or pull-down mechanisms that allow the card to expand. They also may include levers that enable motion to enhance the message. Stiff re-positionable strips of cardboard help the card stand independently for display. Tissue-paper honeycombs add dimension in a very desirable albeit delicate way.
Old Valentine’s Day cards include all manner of expressions of love, admiration and desire—from sweet to fierce, exuberant to melancholic, innocent to perverse. If you have a slightly twisted sense of humor, you might enjoy BuzzFeed’s collection of Weird And Creepy Vintage Valentine’s Day Cards.
Why not give your loved one a vintage Valentine this year? In 2017, the holiday falls on Tuesday, February 14.
Find vintage Valentine’s Day cards in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Learn about our recent discoveries and what captures our imagination in this blog, then peruse the treasures in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Brought to you by...
... Susan Buie, writer by day, vintage curator and co-proprietor of the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay in all the moments in between.