Monday, March 31, 2014

Road Trip...

1933 Colonial "New World" Globe Radio

1939 Westinghouse Columnaire Clock/Radio
...to Tom's Antique Radio Repair in Dayton, Ohio.  When I have a radio in distress, Tom's the man who fixes it...and this time I had two...the fabulous Globe Radio I just acquired and a Columnaire I've had for awhile but never had serviced.

It's a five hour drive to Tom's place, but worth it for the great work he does.  This time, however, the weather did not cooperate.  I specifically waited until late March so we wouldn't have to deal with snow storms, but here's a view out our windshield on the way to Ohio:
Snowing and blowing in Ohio

By the grace of God we made it there and back without issue, but it was tense at times.  We thought about getting a room down in Springfield, b/c we visited the Ohio Antiques Mall after we dropped off the radios - Karen found a cameo rose juicer dish and another Hall tea pot for her collection - but with a warmer day forecast for Sunday, we decided to come on home so we wouldn't waste nice weather driving.  Makes for a long day - left at 8 am, got back after 9:30 pm - but it's nice to wake up in our own beds and enjoy a leisurely Sunday.

And the forecast was correct...today actually felt like spring...temps pushing sixty degrees and lots of sunshine...so what did Karen do with our first afternoon of pleasant weather?

Karen chipping the ice away from our driveway
I did suggest that Mr. Sun would be happy to oblige if we would just be patient, but Karen's motor is always running...and to be honest, we're not much happier with Mr. Sun than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were in the movie by that name (a not so oblique reference to the BJ Thomas song, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", only in this case it's snowflakes).

Eventually she was persuaded to sit with me for a few minutes and just relax in the spring like weather...it's been a very looooooong winter, and the vitamin D felt good...cue John Denver - "Sunshine on my shoulders, makes me happy..."  Nah, on 2nd thought, skip the John Denver song...way too 70's for my taste.

Nothing much new on the collecting front...just an inexpensive ebay purchase of a danish modern Ronson varaflame table lighter:


Even though it's not expensive, it's very attractive.  I put a new flint and some fuel in it and voila!  It works.

As I contemplate what interests me about antiques, I suppose it's the melding of form and function, of the pretty and the pragmatic.  It's true, a cheap Bic lighter will suffice to kindle a fire, but the Ronson lighters of the past blended beauty with business.  I once asked a fellow collector what items of today will be collected by future generations, and he replied, "none of them...we live in a disposable society where the almighty dollar rules supreme...no rational person collects junk, and that's primarily what's produced today".

Cynical to be sure, but there is at least a grain of truth in his condemnation.

On a happier note, Bob Adams of Ronson Repair is still working on my messed up Senior Bartender lighter, and he's hit on a new process that looks very promising.  He showed me a couple of pics of an Octette he's refinishing, and the walnut grain looks good:
Sample finish on an Octette
He's encouraged, and if Bob is, I am...can't wait to get my Sr. Bar back.

Back into the salt mines, mcm fans.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Long Search...

1933 Colonial New World Globe Radio in Ivory...design by Raymond Loewy
...is finally over.

After several years of frustration I have at last acquired this most spectacular example of all the art deco radios, courtesy of ebay seller "pilgrimhands".  Her specialty is vintage textiles - see her ebay profile here: pilgrim_hands_ebay_profile - but this radio belonged to her father, and I am the fortunate soul who now takes stewardship.  She's been selling on ebay for 30 years and is a delightful person as well as a highly rated seller.  Do yourself a favor and check out her ebay offerings.

Next step is to drive the radio down to Tom's Antique Radio Repair for electronic restoration.  Tom has restored / repaired many of my vintage tube radios and always does a fabulous job...can't wait to get this one fully functional.  I don't know why I enjoy these vintage, tube, radios so much...I suppose it's the idea that something created 80 plus years ago is a beautiful objet d'art while still serving its original purpose.  There's something reassuring and comforting about that type of longevity and stability.

Switching gears, some encouraging news:  my son who suffered a stroke is now at home...not fully recovered, of course, but making progress.  My sincere thanks to any and all who offered up prayers to God in heaven on his behalf.

Today was Saturday but a work day...spent most of the day trying to catch up and write some programs that have been hanging over my head.
Wood etching of the Sword of Damocles
Ok, so it's not quite that bad, but still felt good to catch up a little...but I do mean a little...plenty more to do.

Tonight Karen and I watched an old Marilyn movie, The Prince and The Showgirl.  Previously we watched "My Week With Marilyn", a disputed account by Colin Clark of the making of that movie.  He claimed to have worked on the original 1957 film and to have grown close to Marilyn after her husband, famed playwright Arthur Miller, left England and returned to New York.

Fact or fantasy, is was an interesting movie and provided some context for watching the original.  As always, Marilyn was captivating on the silver screen, even if the film itself was little more than a costume epic.


Not really sure what the above advertising slick has to do with the actual movie; Laurence Olivier never appears on screen dressed like that...he is always in formal attire that I suppose was appropriate to the time frame depicted (1911) and to European royalty...and Marilyn spends almost the entire movie in a white evening gown.

An mcm objet d'art that graces my loft fireplace mantel:
Kitsch Kats
Not really a cat person, but I like the tall, elegant lines of these 1950's porcelain cats.  These types of "kitschy" art sculptures were common in the 50's and 60's as people started bringing "art for the masses" into their homes.

Another restoration project for Bob Adams of Ronson Repair:
Not Ronson, but an obvious mimic of the Ronson Bartender lighter style.
Scheduled to arrive at his place tomorrow, he's going to work some magic on this piece from the 1950's.  Eventually it will grace an art deco bar in the basement of our future mcm ranch:

If we build, these are the starter plans
Duty screams as always, so until next time...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bogey And Bergman...


...in Casablanca...great movie, and we watched it this weekend...a lovely Saturday night in our theater room with Karen.  I do like old, black and white movies for some reason, and Humphrey Bogart made a lot of good ones.  Casablanca is a classic, of course.

Friday we watched "The King's Speech", an excellent movie about King George VI who had to overcome a stammer to be able to address the nation of England during wartime (WWII).  Colin Firth won an Oscar for this, and Geoffrey Rush should have won one for Best Supporting Actor.

My oldest son continues to recover from a stroke...he's due to be out of rehab later this week  I'm very thankful to God in heaven for his recovery...he still has plenty of ground to make up, but it could have been a lot worse.  Thanks to any and all who prayed for him.

On the collecting front it was Christmas this week, and Bob Adams of Ronson Repair was Santa Claus.  I bought two Ronson Rosewood Candles from him...these are spectacular mid century modern butane candles in rosewood...classic Danish Modern design:


On our dining room table...
Also bought a Vee lighter:

































...and an Octette:





































...and in the mid century modern department, Bob threw in some very cool Ronson, Eames era table lighters:

































And of course I had to put them to use this weekend...lighting up Arturo Fuente Cubanitos and Short Stories...and I used the Vee to light up a couple of Camel filterless...very enjoyable, in spite of the winter that refuses to end.

Busy week ahead, so signing off for now.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bogey and Baccall...

...in Dark Passage...another great film noir entry from the 1940's.  Watched it this weekend while I was working out on my bike and Total Gym.  One notable moment if you're a Ronson lighter fan...near the end when Bogey is confronting his wife's murderess - Agnes Moorehead, best known to the next generation as Endora, Sabrina's mom on the tv show "Bewitched" - he lights a cigarette with a Ronson touch tip lighter...another instance of "Ronson in the movies"...some collector trivia there.

So my son who suffered a stroke is doing better with each passing day, praise God in heaven.  It has become clear his stoke was caused by a chiropractic neck adjustment, so there will be insurance issues to contend with, and possibly lawyers, depending.  He's in a rehab facility for at least the next week, maybe more based on his progress.  My sincere thanks to those who expressed concern for him and are praying for his recovery.

Karen and I watched a pretty good movie this weekend:
Ok, I admit this is light fare, but after the emotional intensity of the last couple of weeks, this was just fine.  Chris Evans does a good job of pulling off the "little guy turns superhero" role, and Haley Atwell made a good love interest for him.  Karen and I were sad they didn't get together in the end, and speaking of the end...it was clever - even hopeful - when he wakes up in what seems to be a New York hospital listening to a baseball game from 1941 - but ultimately a bit offputting the way they so obviously set up the sequel.

Even so, it's a feel good flick if you're of a certain age where you were raised on American exceptionalism and the basic goodness of this country.  It may not be popular today, but the truth is a large part of the world would be goose stepping and speaking German if it wasn't for the US of A saving their butts back in 1945.

On the mid century modern front, I'm buying a couple of Ronson Rosewood Candles, from Bob Adams of Ronson Repair   These are fabulous, butane, candles that really capture the Danish Modern aesthetic of the late 1950's / early 1960's:

These are pics on Bob's workbench...more pics to follow once I receive them.

I am so sick of winter I can hardly stand it...it's March 9th, and usually by this time we've had at least a hint of spring, but not this year.  A sure sign I am aging, because I am ready to move several states south of here and do pretty much anything else but endure another Michigan winter.  Cannot WAIT for some sunshine and warm weather...shut the gate, open the pool, and dive into another season of martinis and bikinis...

Come on, summer...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow...

James J Jeffries vs Jack Johnson, July 4, 1910
...for you do not know what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)

Life's a battle, yes?  If you've reached the age of 40, you will undoubtedly agree...if you haven't, and are blessed enough to live in what was once the good ol' US of A, you might not have experienced that truth yet.

But it is...and last week one of my sons got an up close and personal view of that truth when he suffered a stroke.  He is currently in the hospital in the very early stages of recovery...don't know exactly what that means yet, or how steep his personal mountain to climb will be, but I'll update this blog as I learn more.

In the meantime, if anyone who happens onto this site is on praying ground, I / we appreciate your prayers to God Almighty in heaven on behalf of my stricken son.

Since there is no segue from the dismal to the delightful, I won't attempt one.

Any idea what this is?

If you guessed a hotel key, please award yourself 10 points to be used however you wish...but then answer this question...when was the last time you used an actual key at a hotel?  Everything is a swipe card nowadays...but we stayed at the Campus Inn in Ann Arbor recently, and they're still using genuine metal keys, God bless their backward hearts.

And it's a lovely, old hotel, too:

Campus Inn lobby, as seen from the 2nd floor
I was there for a company strategy meeting, at which much was accomplished, at least as far as strategy planning goes...now we'll see if execute what we planned or not.

A fun event to start the meeting was attending the U of M vs MSU basketball game in Crisler arena.  It got loud in there, especially toward the end when U of M rallied and then took over the lead on their way to a close victory:


I don't really have a dog in this hunt, so it didn't matter to me who won or lost...ever since my sons stopped competing, I haven't had to care about sports...but the folks at Crisler on the U of M campus had a definite point of view, and the home crowd went home happy.

On the collecting front, all is quiet at the moment...Bob Adams of RonsonRepair is currently trying to salvage a Ronson Senior Bartender lighter I purchased off ebay, but that remains a work in progress for now.  I'm hopeful we'll still be on speaking terms when he's finished, but he's made it pretty clear what I bought was, shall we say, less than excellent...

On the mid century modern front, here's a pic of an original, 1959, #1 Barbie doll I bought for my wife at Christmas:

If you're a barbie collector - I'm not, but my beautiful wife is - you know this is the holy grail.  She's standing in front of a 1962 Barbie's Dream House and behind a 1962 Austin Healey convertible.  This is Barbie heaven for the serious collector.  Doesn't get more mcm than that.

Hasta la vista, mcm fans.