Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Building Buyers Beware

Caveat emptor – Let buyer beware, even in regards to souvenir buildings. I want to put out a warning due to some recent online auctions I’ve noticed. In the recent photo example above: A September auction sold a Vanadium building clock & inkwell for $480 after 8 bids. About two months later, another Valadium was listed as a buy-it-now for only $28.30 (another was listed later buy-it-now for $17.54) To me, these listings seemed suspect. The photos were the same (and only one image with the buy-it-now listings). The titles and descriptions of the listing all were the same or very similar. I checked into the sellers and both were from China and had 0 feedback. So, be careful when something seems too good to be true. Have you seen other suspicious listing of souvenir buildings? Have you gotten scammed while building a buildings? Please share your stories so others can learn from them. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Souvenir Buildings You Can Buy from Nova Scotia

Reader of this blog, Ian, alerted me to an online source for pewter products including a few souvenir buildings you can order.  Miniatures of The Halifax Town Clock and Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, both in Nova Scotia, Canada, can be purchased from Aitkens Pewter. They also have a ‘larger' Snug Cove Village with multiple buildings in this fishing village. The real Halifax Town Clock, also sometimes called the Old Town Clock or Citadel Clock Tower, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the historic urban core of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The idea of a clock for the British Army and Royal Navy garrison at Halifax is credited to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who arranged for a turret clock to be manufactured before his return to England in 1800. It is said that Prince Edward, then commander-in-chief of all military forces in British North America, wished to resolve the tardiness of the local garrison. The clock tower is a three-tiered (three story , irregular octagon tower built atop a one story white clapboard building of classic Palladian proportions. It was erected on the east slope of Citadel Hill facing Barrack (now Brunswick) Street. The clock face is 4-sided displaying Roman numerals. As with most clocks the "4" is shown as IIII for aesthetic symmetry and not as IV. The Town Clock began keeping time for the garrison on October 20, 1803. The tower housing the Town Clock has been used in the past as a guardroom and as a residence for the clock caretaker.  The caretaker position ceased in 1965 with its maintenance now being performed by Citadel Hill employees who wind the clock mechanism twice weekly. A major restoration project in 1960 saw the exterior fa├žade of the Town Clock building returned to its original Georgian appearance. The real Peggy'sPoint Lighthouse, built in 1915, is one of Nova Scotia’s most well-known lighthouses and located in the quaint fishing village of Peggy’s Cove along the South Shore an hour from Halifax. Peggy’s Cove is famed for its picturesque and typically East-Coast profile, with houses perched along a narrow inlet and on wave-washed boulders facing the Atlantic. Although this unique environment has been designated a preservation area, it is still an active fishing community. I wrote about other pewter replicas here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mies Van de Rohe’s Farnsworth House Model

Mies van der Rohe, famous for his quote, “Less is more," designed Farnsworth House in 1945. Constructed in 1951 in Plano, Illinois, the sleek and simple structure has become one of America’s architectural icons. You can own a wooden replica of the glass residence thanks to Marcus Bree of Little Building Co.  According to Bree, “My plan is to create a range of products that do justice to these great buildings and their architect's works. My architectural models have a truth to the materials they are made from and the look and feel that they could have come from the architect's own studio.” You can get to know each component of the building as it’s a kit that you construct. “I've been making architectural model kits for a few years now and it is something I'm passionate about,” Bree said. “It combines my interest in the built environment and architecture with my love for designing and developing new products.” He has completed a Kickstarter campaign for the new miniature and will begin producing them soon. I wrote previously about other models produced by Little Building Co.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright Souvenir Building Replicas & Models

Today marks 150 years since Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth on June 8, 1867.  Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator who designed more than 1,000 structures - 532 of which were completed. The starchitect believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and the environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. The FLW Trust is celebrating is 150th with various events this year around the country. A few years ago, the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, Missouri exhibited souvenir buildings. Replicas of the famous American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings have been created by a variety of companies over the years. Some models are antique and rare, while others are still being produced.

Perhaps the most prevalent FLW building replica is the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Howard Models also makes a version of the museum.

The most unusual Wright building replica might be the set of bookends in the shape of the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, a Frank Lloyd Wright building at the Florida Southern College Architectural District in Orlando.  

FLW’s Larkin Administration Building, which was in Buffalo, N.Y. Before being torn down, has been made in miniature in both as a wooden box and a resin replica.

The Johnson Wax Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin was reproduced as a cigarette lighter around 1950 and also as a wax candle.  

The company, Microcosms, produced two large replicas of Los Angeles’ Ennis House and the Storer House.  

Chisel & Mouse produces plaster replicas of some FLW houses.

The LEGO architecture Series includes some FLW buildings.

Do you know of other Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings not pictured nor mentioned here? If so, let me know. I collect 3D souvenir building replica of architecture from around the world made of metal. If you have any to sell or trade, contact me via my email address in the “complete profile” link at the top right of this blog.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Birdcage & Aquarium Building on Antiques Roadshow

During an Antiques Roadshow  in Salt Lake City, an appraiser discussed a  ‘scratch-built' Birdcage & Aquarium constructed to resemble a building. 'Scratch built,' meaning one of a kind, it features a clocktower flanked by two birdcages and an aquarium underneath. The New York iron worker who made it named the building after himself, William Himsel. There was no indication it is modeled after a real building, but may just be styled after 1886 architecture in NYC.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Adler Planetarium Chicago Souvenir Building Variations

The Adler Planetarium, a public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics, was founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler. It is located on the northeast tip of Northerly Island at the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The Adler is America's first planetarium with a mission to inspire exploration and understanding of the Universe. The Adler Planetarium opened to the public on May 12,1930 in time for the for the Century of Progress International Exposition - a World's Fair held from to 1934 to celebrate Chicago's Centennial. Architect Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr. was awarded the gold medal of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1931. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Many souvenir buildings of this Art Moderne masterpiece were created over the years. The most common were made as souvenirs for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition and came in copper and silver. Rare set of bookends were also produced at that time. I’ve also seen a metal trinket box in which to dome is removable. Finally, A pewter replica was produced by Rawcliffe pewter company perhaps in the 1999 when the addition, a C-shaped semicircle of steel and glass called Sky Pavilion, opened.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cleopatra's Needle Obelisk Made by Tiffany & Co.

Replicas of Cleopatra's Needle in New York’s Central Park  were made by none other than Tiffany & Co.

Two materials, bronze and lead, exist and they each stand 15 inches tall. According to Piraneseum,  “In 1879, under the sponsorship of business mogul William Vanderbilt, naval engineer Henry Gorringe set sail for  Alexandria, Egypt, to retrieve the ancient Obelisk of Thutmose III (soon to be called Cleopatra’s Needle) and bring the 200 ton monument to New York. On January 22, 1881, the Needle was erected in Central Park, where it stands today. To commemorate the undertaking, Gorringe commissioned from Tiffany a small number of bronze models of the Obelisk, which were distributed to colleagues as well as those who had supported the undertaking. This very highly-realized model was presented to Samuel L. M. Barlow, lawyer/tycoon/political intriguer and almost certainly an acquaintance of Vanderbilt.” I saw another replica very similar, but made of lead and inscribed on base, “Antique Lead No. 16  W.H. Hunt.” William Henry Hunt (June 12, 1823 – February 27, 1884) was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President James Garfield. The New York Historical Society has one in it’s collections made of lead and theirs is inscribed to Walter B. Lawrence.David Weingarten added, "The bronze examples far outnumber those in lead. Among the more puzzling of the bronze examples is one presented to "Chester A. Arthur. President." When the obelisk was put in place in Central Park, January 22, 1881, the President was Rutherford B. Hayes. After Hayes, it was James A Garfield, who served from March 4, 1881 until his assassination September 19, 1881, at which point Arthur became President. Does this suggest that these models were not produced for the January 22 dedication? 

Exhibit of Souvenir Buildings at SFO

A new exhibit has opened entitled, All Roads Lead to Rome: 17th - 19th Century Architectural Souvenirs from the Collection of  Piraneseum at the International Terminal of the San Francisco Airport in California. The display includes antique architectural souvenirs of the Grand Tour, paintings, models, and other decorative arts from the collection of Piraneseum  - a gallery near San Francisco. Piraneseum partners are Architects Lucia Howard and David Weingarten who curate and sell vintage architectural items.
The exhibit is now open and will run through August 13, 2017. Can’t make it? Here’s a online slideshow of from La Repubblica, Italy's leading daily newspaper. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Gold Tone Vintage Figural Pencil Sharpeners

Made in Japan, these die-cast vintage figural pencil sharpeners are commonly known as “Gold Tones” because of their color.  Some, however, are finished in silver or a light copper colored as you can see below. In addition to their color, another characteristic is the 2 (or 4 if you count front and back) notches in the base. Here are many photos of the gold-tone buildings, monuments and statues (Thanks to Steve S., Darron C., and Mark M. for contributing some photos) Do you know of others not pictured here? 

 Alamo fort & Iwo Jima Memorial  

Davy David Crockett, Alamo statue & Vulcan Statue, Birmingham (Arm is bent)

Christ of the Ozarks, Eureka Springs &  Unisphere, ‘65 N.Y. World’s Fair    

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Ca. & Peace Memorial, Gettysburg

John Hancock Tower Building, Boston & Boys Town statue, Nebraska

Madison Square Garden, NYC & Iwo Jima, Arlington, Va.

Missouri State Capitol & Prudential Building, Boston 

Monticello, Charlottesville, Va. &  U.S. Captiol, Washington

Nebraska State Capitol & Japan Pagoda

New York City skyline & Toronto skyline 

Niagara Falls Observation Tower & Lighthouse, Biloxi, Mississippi

Oil derricks in Oklahoma & Texas

Port Arthur Castle, Australia & Pennsylvania Capitol, Harrisburg

Sears (now Willis) Tower, Chicago & Oil derrick

Seattle Space Needle & Reunion Tower, Dallas.

Historic Homestead Sheperd of the Hills, Mo. & Missouri State Capitol

Sydney Tower & Tokyo Tower & Washington Monument

The Hermitage, Nashville &  War Memorial, Canberra, Australia

USS Arizona Memorial & Sydney Opera House Australia

Golden Gate Bridge, California & Sydney Harbour bridge

World Trade Center, NYC & Toronto skyline 
Asian pagodas

Drive-thru California redwoods & The White House in Washington, D.C.

Pedro the South of the Border sign & the San Jacinto Monument, Texas

Tower of the Americans & Hot Springs mountain tower

Washington Monument & US Capital

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