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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Architect Eero Saarinen Video on PBS

Eero Saarinen is featured in a new documentary about his work on PBS.  Architect of famous modernist structures including The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Dulles Airport Terminal in Virginia, The TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport in New York, and the General Motors Technical Center in Detroit. Paul Goldberger, who was a member of the SBCS, was interviewed with some of his souvenir building collection behind him (see photo below). Watch the PBS episode of American Masters — "Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future.”

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Disney Theme Park Souvenir Buildings

It might be hard to believe, but over the years, Disney theme parks have produced a number of souvenirs for visitors to take home. And some of those were souvenir buildings. One of the best, in my opinion, is the large metal 3D replica of the Cinderella Castle, which were produced and awarded to Disney Cast Members (employees) for a certain length of service.

I’ve seen at least 3 different versions of the Cinderella Castle awards with flat backs.  Bases are sometimes different and one castle seems to be from Disneyland in California and the other from Disney World in Florida.
There is also a metal set of salt and pepper shakers of the Cinderella Castle.
A nicely made pewter replica of Spaceship Earth Geosphere at Disney’s Epcot Center sports a Mickey Mouse figure atop and a metal replica of the MGM studios water tower which features mouse ears.
Another larger Spaceship with the Monorail is a child’s play set.
Two ceramic coin banks – one is a replica of the Hotel Disneyland and the other is the Emporium on Main Street USA.
Resin replica of Space Mountain, an indoor outer space-themed roller coaster in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. 
A resin replica of the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio building
Two different replicas, one resin and one pewter, of a temple ride from the Indiana Jones movie at Disneyland. 
This last one is a building at a Disney theme park, but is related: The Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by architect Frank Gehry in downtown Los Angeles, Califorina.

Can you think of other Walt Disney related souvenir buildings?  I collect 3D metal souvenir building replica of architecture from around the world. 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.

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