October 27, 2009
The cost of a TV lamp, then and now.
The poster really says it all. If you've missed the previous Texans Inc. reunions, this is your opportunity to visit with fellow collectors and historians. Lots of lamps will be on display and for sale. Be there!
June 18, 2009
A treasure trove of "lost" Haeger TV lamps
In the summer of 2007 my good friend Charlene "Char" Korcz met me and the family at Haeger Potteries in Dundee, Illinois, which was just a couple of miles from her home in Carpentersville. That vacation had morphed into a connect-the-dots of midwestern pottery hotspots (we had just visited with Doris and Burdell Hall in Morton, Illinois) and we couldn't pass up Char's offer to show us her "home pottery". Char had made many friends at Haeger during her frequent visits and saw to it that we were given the grand tour. We couldn't have asked for a better hostess. She introduced us to a number of employees, and we were taken on a walk-through of their in-house museum, a truly fabulous display of history. It was an experience I'll always remember fondly. We lost Char to cancer just a couple of months later, and we'll never forget her friendship and the lengths she went to in arranging our reception at Haeger. Something that she had mentioned during our visit was a book, Haeger Potteries Through the Years by David D. Dilley. She stressed that this was the book that even the folk at Haeger referred to, and was a must-have. In her words, "this is our bible". Well, by sheer coincidence I came across a copy in an antique shop on our drive back to Texas, and after having studied the volume I could see that Char's enthusiasm was warranted. I have a great appreciation for any pottery reference book, and this one is excellent, not because of the text (there is none, except for captions), but because of the many catalog pages that are reproduced. Dilley's book makes one thing obvious, that the volume and variety of Haeger's output was staggering. I could not believe how many TV lamps were made by the company, and how many I've yet to see outside of this book. I cannot scan the lamps shown in the book for inclusion here, but I will list some (and the page on which they appear) that are of particular interest:
From page 79
Bell Flower TV lamp
Globe Reflector TV lamp
2 Stag TV Lamp/Planter
Freeform Lantern TV Lamp/Planter
Pagoda TV Lamp/Planter
Brass Hook TV Lamp
Oriental Sampan Planter/TV Lamp
Dachshund TV Lamp
Scottie TV Lamp
Goya TV Lamp (a cylindrical design, available with different fabric/fiberglass shades)
Fish Shadow Box TV Lamp
Greenwich TV Lamp
Wild Horses TV Lamp
Donkey Planter/TV Lamp
Horse TV Lamp (horse head)
An un-named TV lamp, model #6632TV
Oriental Burner TV Lamp
Two Panther TV Lamp (has fiberglass background/shade)
Those eighteen TV lamps are by no means the only ones shown, but are just the lamps that I've never seen. I've been collecting a good while now, so learning that so many TV lamps, from a major manufacturer, have flown under my radar is quite a surprise. I guess it's finds like this that keep me interested! The book, incidentally, is still available, and can be found on amazon.com.
June 17, 2009
The cost of a TV lamp, then and now.
I was on one of my favorite websites yesterday (Shorpy.com), and someone commented about the cost of a particular automobile (the Apperson 8) in 1921. To determine the cost of that car in today's dollars they ran it through an "inflation calculator", and that got me thinking. After a little Googling I had found a number of such calculators, and decided to see how TV lamps stack up when corrected for inflation. The tricky part is getting the old prices: What was the retail cost of a new TV lamp in the '50s? I know a few for certain, the ever-popular lamps of Phil-Mar. A Phil-Mar catalog was offered on eBay a couple of years ago, the list price on a number of their TV lamps is shown to be $4.95. Bargain, right? The year that the catalog was published is unknown, but for arguements sake I'm going to say 1956. Well boys and girls, in 2009 those same lamps would cost you $38.81. The interesting part is how the individual lamps are valued today as compared to their inflation-adjusted value. The "Mare and Colt" was one of Phil-Mar's biggest sellers and common today, so the $38.81 isn't far off. But the Double Panthers does better, and is now worth probably $65 or so. And how about the Racing Hounds? A desirable lamp today, because of the subject-matter and it's frequent mis-attribution to Haeger Potteries, is valued at around $115 or so. What does this tell us? I'm not sure, but I know one thing, if time-travel becomes a reality I'll sure know which lamps to bring back with me!
June 3, 2009
Open for Business
I've gotten my booth at the antique mall pretty well set-up, and have already made my first sale! At the moment there's almost forty TV lamps for sale, along with other mid-century pottery, vintage radios, telephones and toys. (including some swell vintage cap pistols) Come on out and look at all the stuff!
Montgomery Street Antique Mall
2601 Montgomery St.
Fort Worth, TX
May 15, 2009
Texans Catalog Pages
I'm in the process of fixing a problem on my other site, texansinc.com. It's been brought to my attention (rightly so) that the scanned pages from the Texans Incorporated catalogs are entirely too small, with some of the print being impossible to read. I've always favored large, hi-res images, and I honestly don't know what I was thinking of when I made them so little. At any rate I won't be making that mistake again, as the redone images are huge. Unfortunately those with dial-up connections will have significant download times. Sorry 'bout that! I have, as I'm writing this, redone the first two (of seven) pages of scans, and should complete the rest over the weekend.
May 12, 2009
Montgomery Street Antique Mall
Boy, I've gone and done it this time... I'm setting up shop at Fort Worth's Montgomery Street Antique Mall! I've got until the 1st to sort through a few hundred TV lamps, as well as ashtrays, wall pockets, radios, and telephones, to decide what to sell. How much will I be able to display at one time? This is a first for me, and will certainly be a learning experience. As this photo shows, there's already some folk peddling TV lamps there, so I'm sure to feel right at home. Montgomery Street is, to my thinking, the best mall in the DFW metroplex, and well worth a visit if you're in the area. Be sure to take a peek at my booth while you're there. It'll be the one with... oh, you'll know which one it is!
May 10, 2009
A twit on twitter!
If following my daily exploits sounds amusing, then by all means keep tabs on my latest shenanigans on twitter. Of course I already gab in the Collector's Club forum and post here in the Newsletter, but I'll be saving the particularly inane comments for twitter. Betcha can't wait!
May 8, 2009
The town of Bangs, Texas, where the Texans Inc. lamp factory resided for over 30 years, hasn't forgotten its past. Many life-long residents recall their time working at the plant, or remember a family member who was employed there. Many of the lamps still reside in Bangs as well, due in part to the retail outlet, Lamp Land, that was in operation for many years. But a woman recently told David Cole about her cow lamp, whose origin makes it rather special.
Bangs has an annual Mayfest where, among other activities, many of the residents city-wide hold garage sales. David had many Texans lamps for sale, and a woman told him about her cow lamp, a free gift for attending the Texans Incoporated Open House when she was four years old. She's had that lamp nearly 60 years now, roughly 25 years after the company closed its doors. It appears that all visitors to the Open House, roughly 3000, received a free lamp, minus electrics, as Texans wasn't equipped to make completed lamps at that time. These juvenile lamps were among the company's first products, and no child left the open house without one. What lamps were given to the adults? Hopefully we'll find out when another Bangs resident shares their recollections.
May 6, 2009
If you thought that there might have been themes that hadn't been used in a lamp design, this could convince you otherwise. Yes, it's a combination lamp, ashtray and cigarette/match holder... that looks like a barbecue grill! As if it wasn't already an over-achiever in the versatility department, our lamp could also serve as a holder for pens/pencils and could even be used as a planter!
Let's consider the design for a moment. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but is it wise to store the matches right next to the ashtray? It's easy to imagine that some of these became real barbecues. I would love to find an example with its original shade. Just think of the lovely brown patina that must have developed over time. Oddly enough, I believe I've seen these in antique malls before, without the lamp components in place, and always wondered what in the world they were! Unfortunately neither this advertising punch card (the significance of which eludes me) nor the lamp itself gives a clue as to the maker, so we may never know who to credit (or blame) for this creation.
May 2, 2009
Pete Eads, long-time plant manager for the lamp company, Texans Incorporated, died Thursday, April 30th in Bangs, Texas. Born in Bangs on March 29, 1926, he is survived by his wife, Evangeline. Pete served in the Navy during World War II and was a grocer in Bangs prior to joining Texans Inc. A devoted husband and loyal friend, Pete will be fondly remembered by all who knew him. Pete was 83.
April 30, 2009
Spiffy Lamps on eBay!
It's been a while since I've seen so many interesting TV lamps on eBay, and I'll bet there's at least one here that you'll want to throw a bid at:
Beachcomber Potteries "doe and fawn", auction #120413762536
Miramar of California dragon/vase (maroon), #290313857974
Orchid (maker unknown, possibly Beachcomer or Maddux), #270382612163
"Oof" lamp (combination lamp and UHF antenna, looks like a motion lamp), #310139024938
Rock o'Stone terrier, #390047865404
"TV" TV lamp (looks like a television), maker unknown, #270382171175
Maddux of Calif. two-swan, #290313607911
Marcia of Calif. swan and baby (shown), #290313607811
Phil-Mar swan (green), #290313607465
Egyptian Princess/Queen (maroon, maker unknown), #290313606856
Beachcomber Potteries horse head, #110383304608
April 28, 2009
Speaking of broken lamps...
April 26, 2009
Updated "Advertisements" Page
Part of an on-going renovation of the older pages, I've given the Vintage Advertisements page a much-needed overhaul. The content area now makes better use of a 1024px width, and the thumbnail images have been enlarged. I've also tried to clean-up the images a bit, but they'll ultimately need to be re-scanned to make them right. (Actually, I didn't even have a scanner when I made those pics, and did them with a digital camera!) As tvlamps.net ages, it's inevitable that pages, graphics and other content will have to be modernized. My current mods are focused primarily on accomodating higher resolutions and larger, widescreen monitors. I'm on it!
April 21, 2009
Action on eBay
$391.66 - "Egyptian Princess" (Maker unknown, reminiscent of a similarly themed Haeger lamp)
$316.00 - Lane & Co. rose bouquet
$240.50 - Lane & Co. Poodles (pink, with base)
$211.38 - Modern Art Products mermaid (green)
$202.00 - Maddux of California Rooster & Hen
$201.50 - Maddux of California "Double Cockatoo"
$152.50 - Lane & Co. Sailfish
$133.53 - Haeger Potteries greyhound (black)
$129.50 - (2) Peacock Lamps (maker unknown, but appear to be Holland Mold)
$117.50 - Lane & Co. "three cats"
$111.50 - Lane & Co. Afghan Hound (golden yellow)
$98.55 - Kron/Texans Inc. Cat & Kitten (very high price for one of those)
$89.17 - Lane & Co. Poodles (white, without base)
$87.50 - Kron/Texans Cat & Kitten (another high price for this one)
April 13, 2009
Texans Reunion Poster
The 2009 Texans Incorporated Reunion is almost six months away, but I'm already feverishly working on a poster for the event. I thought I'd share some of my "prototypes", this one having been inspired by a vintage flier promoting a Little Richard concert. In fact, old rock & roll posters are influencing much of my design-work lately, the mid-century artwork being well-suited to the TV lamp theme.
The process of making these graphics is going a little slower than usual, as I'm using a different Photoshop than I'm accustomed to. I'm now using Adobe Photoshop CS4 on a Mac, and I'm finding a significant number of differences between this setup and my past experience with CS3 on a Windows-based machine. But I'm sure I'll get the hang of it, and even find that the change prompts me to see things differently, to follow a new creative path.
Since I have plenty of time, I'll be whipping up a number of ideas to show David Cole, the organizer of the Texans reunions, and hopefully he'll find one that's suitable. I'll be honing my Photoshop skills by experimenting with these posters, and any that I find interesting will be posted here in the Newsletter. If you happen to notice the lack of particulars on the posters (such as the times), keep in mind that they are just layout experiments with little consideration given to the text at this point. (although I'm not above forgetting to include critical information on the final version!) As always, you are welcome to provide feedback via e-mail.
April 3, 2009
Climbing the Learning Curve
Having fiddled with computers since the Tandy 1000 days, I consider myself to be reasonably computer savvy, but the switch from pc to Mac has been a somewhat humbling experience. The two systems don't really differ that much, but with less than three days under my belt with the Mac Pro I must say that I've learned a lot, and discovered how much of my work on pc's was done without thinking. I knew what to do. I'm learning to appreciate being able to complete tasks on auto-pilot! I should get my feet under me soon enough and will be riding tall in the saddle again.
I've installed some browsers (Firefox, Opera, Camino...gotta keep tabs on that cross-browser compatibility!), got my e-mail client setup, and have also installed Photoshop CS4 and some Mac-specific applications like Aperature 2 and iWorks. At this point my challenge is finding a suitable editor for html files and an FTP program to upload them with. I'm particularly leery of most of the html editors that are available for the Mac, as they tend to follow the "what you see is what you get" mode of operation. I much prefer to write the html myself, as I've seen first-hand the sort of tangled code that programs like Dreamweaver create. I don't want a program to write my code, clean up my code, nor do I want one to "synchronize" anything. Is that too much to ask? I'm currently using a program called skEdit, and so far so good. (although it does default to closing tags for me...aghh!) For now I'm going to upload this using "FileZilla" (you've gotta love that name!), and if all this goes well I may test these two programs for an extended period. I'm looking forward to having all this transition stuff behind me so that I can get back to the business of TV lamps!
March 27, 2009
Mac Pro Quad-Core
I'm making the leap from Microsoft/Windows computers to Apple, and have special-ordered a Mac Pro, loaded with all the good stuff to run hardware-intensive apps like Photoshop and otherwise maintain and enhance tvlamps.net. The new system should be faster than blazes, but will undoubtedly require an adjustment period as I learn to think "Mac". It should be an adventure!
What's this thing packing? The heart of it is a new Intel chip (yes, Macs use Intel chips these days), a 2.93 GHz processor that carries the imposing name, Quad-Core Xeon Nehalem. It has 8GB of memory, an ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card, two optical drives and two 1TB hard disks. I have a little trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of TBs... terabytes. (that's a thousand gigabytes) I remember when programs didn't have hard drives and were run from 1.44meg floppy disks! My favorite story from the "old days" of computing is about the hard drive I added to a 286 pc in the early '90s. Before the internet took off, I was operating a "bulletin board" (anyone remember Cat Byte BBS?), and added a Maxtor 530 megabyte drive. What do you suppose that drive set me back? $1,100. I don't think you can get a drive that small today!
I've got my data backed up and am ready to make the transition, something that will no doubt occupy most of my time next week. Hopefully all will go well and I'll be giving a glowing report on the change-over.
March 22, 2009
Texans Factory Page Gets Upgrade
Yep, I've reworked yet another page, and this time I targeted the page that chronicles my 2005 visit to the Texans Incorporated factory. The clickable thumbnail images are now larger, and I've also made the big versions of the scans significantly bigger. And along the way I have even found ten more photos!
The recent changes/improvements to tvlamps.net are the result of my learning better ways to layout the information and code the pages. I started the site five years ago, and have been "learning as I go" ever since. Changes have been made all along, even though many may not be noticed by visitors. For example, the Home page was heavily re-coded a couple of months ago, but only those with widescreen monitors would see the difference. It's all about refinement, and I've tried to allow for the increase in high-speed connections while maintaining usability for dial-up visitors. The only users who aren't well-accommodated are those using a screen resolution less than 1024x768. A lot of sites, particularly commercial ones, still allow for visitors using 800x600, but the extensive graphics makes supporting that obsolete resolution impractical. Once this transition is complete, just about all of the pages make maximum use of a 1024 screen width.
March 19, 2009
The latest goings-on at tvlamps.net
March 12, 2009
Now this has me excited. As you may know, I'm always on the lookout for the history of the various TV lamp manufacturers, particularly some of the elusive "biggies" like Lane & Company. Well, I've gotten a lead that should give me the scoop on Cleveland, Ohio's Phil-Mar Corporation, an enormous pottery that was responsible for many of the TV lamps that we know and love. I could have this information to share as early as this afternoon... stay tuned!
March 10, 2009
Cameron Clay Products' Missing Link?
Ah, there's nothing like a good mystery! Discovering the maker of a long-unidentified TV lamp, at least in my nerdy corner of the world, is one of life's great joys. If you have an interest in the study of history, any aspect of history, then you'll understand. It's funny, but until just a few years ago I would have told you that history was my least favorite subject... hands-down. Perhaps as one becomes increasingly "historic" themselves they begin to appreciate the history around them. This chatty prelude brings us now to the topic at hand: Who made these crazy rooster TV lamps?
I haven't come across enough of these lamps to have a feel for what colors were offered, but black is often found, as is white. I've always wondered if Royal Fleet could have made them, partly from a stylistic similarity and also because Royal Fleet routinely offered gold-decorated black and white finishes on their products. I was content in the knowledge that, unless one appeared with a clear marking or a label, I would probably never ID the maker of these roosters. But then the rooster figurine (it is not a lamp) with the solid gold decoration showed up on eBay.
It was interesting in that it seemed to be nearly identical to the lamp, and even more so because the seller said it was by Cameron Clay Products. I was unfamiliar with Cameron Clay Products until a couple of years ago, when I found a ram TV lamp that could be positively attributed to the company. Further study dug up some of the company's history, but little about the products themselves. Did CCP make the rooster TV lamp? Did they even make the gold figurine? I should mention that the lamp and figurine are more similar than the pictures might indicate, as each was photographed at a slightly different angle.
I wrote the seller to ask how they knew their rooster was made by Cameron Clay Products, but their answer was far from revealing. In fact they didn't seem to address my question at all, which could have simply been a misunderstanding, but hardly helpful in any case. But it's tiny steps like this that sometimes result in significant long-term finds. I won't forget that CCP might have made the rooster, and who knows, that knowledge could one day lead to a positive attribution.
March 5, 2009
Cool lamps you should buy! (and give to me)
You know, for a while there I was starting to wonder if all the good TV lamps had already been broken. But much to my surprise there's been a number of noteworthy examples on eBay, and here's a few that you can still get your hands on:
Maddux of California "Spanish Galleon", auction #220372946229.
Royal Fleet peacocks (pink), #110359835728.
Lane & Co. mallard w/planter (the big one), #120387348652.
Haeger prancing horse (green), #230329247132.
Beachcombers horse head, #190291124335.
Lane & Co. poodles (pink, without base), #370168170264.
Gilner horse (turquoise), #310126672571.
Gilner fish (pink), #310126670535.
Hollywood Ceramics elephant (green), #350173643698.
Texans Inc. (Kron) circus horse (airbrushed), #120386383354.
Royal China & Novelty panther (chartreuse), #120386266023.
Bradley/Gonder "old mill" (green), #180333355470.
March 2, 2009
What's been selling on eBay
$202.50 - McCoy mermaid & shell
$125.00 - Sierra-Columbia planter with barn dance figurines
$96.00 - racing greyhounds (Phil-Mar?)
$84.53 - LeBow of California giraffe
$61.00 - Jacquelin panther (black)
$61.00 - Claes siamese cats
$57.98 - Phil-Mar two panthers
$57.49 - Enchanto dolphins (pink)
$51.00 - Texans Inc./Kron panther (black)
February 28, 2009
The Rise and Fall of TV Lamps
One of the questions that I'm often asked, and which probably runs a close second behind appraisal requests, has to do with the vintage of a given lamp... when was it made? While I'm curious about the vintage of individual lamps, I'm particularly interested in determining the birth and demise of "the TV lamp era", the time-span in which they were popular. The easy answer is to say "the 1950s", but that's just too simplistic for my tastes. To get a better handle on just what time period saw TV lamps roam the earth, we can start by taking a broad look at when various lamps were made.
TV lamps are not so easy to date, even though their period of popularity was brief. I know of only two ways to discover when a given TV lamp was marketed, and that's with a copyright date on the lamp itself, or through some sort of "ephemera", catalogs, advertisements or photographs that can be connected to a certain year. Some TV lamps, but not many, have a year indicated, but it must be understood that it's a copyright date, not the date of manufacture. A lamp dated 1956 might have been made as early as '56, but it could easily have been made in the next few years that followed. So a year marked on a lamp tells us when the design was conceived, and it would likely have first hit the shelves that year or the year after. Just out of curiosity, I compiled some of the years found on various TV lamps:
1951 - Colonial Art Creations "Head of a Lady"
1952 - Cali-Co of California "mermaid and shell"
1953 - Modern Art Products horse (date appears on foil label)
1954 - Claes siamese cats
1956 - Lane & Co. poodles
1959 - Claes poodles
1960 - Clevel Statuary pagoda
1966 - Maddux of Calif. "Boy on a Dolphin"
1970 - Maddux of Calif. owl
It should be remembered that only a small percentage of TV lamps were marked with a year, and that some companies stopped adding the year at some point while others adopted the practice at a later date. Maddux of California, for example, certainly made TV lamps throughout the '50s, but didn't typically mark years on their lamps until the 1960s. The list is just a quick overview, and I'll save the compilation of a comprehensive list of dated lamps for another time. It's interesting to note that 1954 was a busy year for Leland Claes, as many of his designs come from that year, including the siamese cats, the "Mustang Head", single boxer dog, the owl and others.
The first lamp on the list is from 1951... what about all those from I.A.S., CSM, R.N.S. Co. (what's with the three letters?) and others that date from the 1930s? Predating television by 15+ years, they were clearly not marketed as "TV" lamps, and have but a superficial (inspirational?) connection to what we consider TV lamps. So unless some other compelling evidence comes along, let's assume for now that the TV lamp "boom" began in 1951. Since the Maddux owl dates from 1970, can we say that it marks the end of the era? Nope! TV lamps burst onto the scene, but didn't leave with the same finality. They sort of faded away. What started as lamps that supposedly alleviated television-induced eye strain, TV lamps gradually lost their ties to the family television. Fewer and fewer were produced, but some stayed on as decorative lighting, and still others evolved into "night lights", soft lighting to be used in a child's room. This is why they survived through the 60s. TV lamp designs were adapted or modified to new uses.
Some other examples of TV lamps that had tremendous longevity can be found amongst the products of Texans Incorporated. I would never have believed this had I not found photographic proof, but Texans made their enormous mallard duck lamp, as well as the little-known "dancers" lamp, through the mid-1970s. This came to light (pardon the pun) with the discovery of a photograph (above) taken inside the Texans Inc. factory, showing designers Howard Kron and Richard Gunter with their limited-edition bicentennial lamp. The photo was definitely taken in 1975 or 1976, and in the background can be seen carts of mallards and dancers waiting for their trip through the kiln. (see close-up at right) I honestly don't know what this was all about, and when I pointed it out to Richard Gunter, he too was surprised. Texans had a long successful run of TV lamp production, and they may simply have not known how to stop.
So the actual end of the TV lamp era is less clear than the beginning, but if I had to state a year I'd say 1960. That's right around the time that the introduction of new designs slowed way down, and also marks an increase in lamps with juvenile themes. So ten years and millions of lamps later, the party was over. In a way this foreshadowed the fate of the American ceramics industry itself, as it would soon all but disappear.
February 27, 2009
Scene-in-Action Patent, 1931
Now here's something that you motion lamp fans can really sink your teeth into. Shown here are the two pages of illustrations that accompanied a patent applied for by Alfred H. Zeledon on the behalf of Scene-in-Action, the pioneering motion lamp manufacturer. This is good stuff, as it clearly shows the extent to which S-I-A pushed the envelope. Filed on June 10, 1931, the first part of the description doesn't hint at anything ground breaking:
"My invention relates to an improvement in display devices and has for one purpose the provision of a display device which shall consist of or include a picture having fixed parts and moving parts, the moving parts giving the appearance of actual motion during the actuation of the device."
Much later in the description is the part that I find interesting, the idea of using a special bulb to enhance the illusion of movement:
"In the place of the generally smooth bulb of Figure 5 I may employ the bulb of Figure 10 which carries substantially the same design on it, either in color or in relief as is carried on the outer screen of Figure 8. This bulb may have the water undulations or relief G, a portion G1 corresponding to the portion E2 of the screen, the cloud covered sky G3 and the rocks or mountains G4. Preferably the design is helped out in relief, the undulating character of the water being clearly illustrated in Figure 10. However, the same effect may be obtained at least partially by merely varying the translucence and color of the various parts of the design."
It can only be assumed that this high spirited bit of thinking lost momentum when faced with the challenge of putting it into practical use. I'm certain that the expense of using specialized bulbs made the idea quite impossible. The "plan B" he mentions, the "varying the translucence and color" became the standard method of creating an illusion of motion, a technique employed even today.
February 25, 2009
Mid-Century Snapshots gets a Spring Cleaning
I've been doing a mild reworking of the Mid-Century Snapshots page. The biggest change has involved the over-all layout, as the content area is now wider to display the photos better. I've toyed around with the idea of making the page look like an old photo album, but I'm not sure if I can pull it off. You know, the old albums with black pages and the little corner mounts? Everyone has seen those, right? I'm sure I can make the page look similar, but how's it going to look alongside my panther background pattern? I'm thinking awful.
If you haven't seen this collection of photographs before, or it's been a while, pop in and take a look. I've always been fascinated by orphaned photos like these, and can't help but wonder why they aren't amongst a family's treasured mementos. Where are these children? Where are their children? Maybe I'm just overly curious, but I prefer to think it's my "inner historian" at work.
February 21, 2009
The tvlamps.net Collector's Club
Isn't this par for the course? Two days ago I was saying that I might consider starting a new forum one day. Well, that day is here! My goal is to get more active, registered users than the old forum, and to encourage registration I've made most of the message areas available (visible) only to those who have become full members. The old forum had a ton of readers, but I hope to get more people to register and participate this go-round. I'm not using vBulletin forum software this time, but instead have opted for Simple Machines Forum, a program that's, in my opinion, vastly superior to vBulletin. I will be making custom "Charter Member" avatars (little images that accompany a users posts) for the first twenty-five registered members of the forum. So come on...sign up today!
February 20, 2009
Found: The Bug-A-Roo Charter
That's right, kids, I was snooping around the office of the Texas Secretary of State yesterday (online, not in person), and found the incorporation papers for Bug-A-Roo, Inc. This may not reveal the personal aspects of the company, but it does provide a framework for its origins. The document, signed on September 29th, 1951, reveals the five directors to be Len Acton, V.J. Griffin, George Flinn, J.P. Clark, and Frank Cain, all Dallas residents. Bug-A-Roo was started with $1,000 in capital stock, representing 20,000 five-cent shares that were divided equally amongst the five directors. The stated purpose of the company, as is often the case with such documents, is of a very general nature, and only declares the intent to "transact any manufacturing business, purchase and sell goods, wares and merchandise".
Unfortunately, unless something unexpected surfaces, this is probably as far as I'll get with Bug-A-Roo's history. My logical next-step would be to track down the directors of the company, or their descendants, and that doesn't look promising thus far. But who knows, lightning could strike.
February 19, 2009
On the trail of "Bug-A-Roo"
My attentions over the past couple of days have focused on, of all things, Bug-A-Roo lamps. Remember? They're the folk who made The Miracle Lamp, and also produced models called MiraKill and Lite-N-Bug. I kid you not. Bug-A-Roo was a Dallas-based company that sold lamps that could rid your home of bugs, be used as a TV lamp, give your home a fresh scent, and even serve as a sick-room vaporizer. Hopefully I didn't leave anything out. I've added a couple of lamps to the Bug-A-Roo page, designs that are identified as Models V-02 and V-03. Finding information about Bug-A-Roo has been difficult, because while I've found three addresses for the company (two physical and one P.O. box), I haven't found much else. The second physical address was found just yesterday on the PAN (Pesticide Action Network) website, where Bug-A-Roo is listed as having been a Dealer for the herbicides Prometryne and Azinphosmethyl. (gosh-dang, no wonder my legs have been twitching!) They list their address as, 4015 Main St., Dallas, TX 75226. (the address found on most of the lamps is 3405 Main St.) There's got to be more information out there than this. The search continues.
February 17, 2009
As seen on the right, I've "spruced up" the eBay search page. It was really bland in its previous incarnation, and I just couldn't take it any longer. Also, I've created a page for the lamps of Middleton Ceramics, a very obscure California pottery. I've only seen one TV lamp (and no other products of any type) that can be attributed to the company, and so far I haven't found any information about the maker. That's all for now!
February 15, 2009
Here's an overview of recent auctions:
$364.99 - Texans Inc. Comedy/Tragedy, turquoise
$327.33 - Texans Inc. "Bull & Brands"
$187.15 - Texans Inc. Circus Horse (airbrushed)
$177.50 - Royal Fleet seagull (rare!)
$174.51 - Lane & Co. Flamingos with planter
$135.50 - Calypso figure w/drums
$127.50 - Lampcrafts "woman with panther"
$103.61 - Snider clock/lamp with two panthers
$102.50 - Boxer dog with fiberglass backdrop
(similar to Haeger, but probably a copy)
$90.00 - L.M. Fielack nude with swan
$87.22 - Texans Inc. K136 "Modern Flare"
February 13, 2009
Texans Inc. lamps defy a sluggish economy
It's been a buyer's market for the past few months, and this includes TV lamp auctions. But recently there's been an upswing of activity, both in the volume of bids and the heights they've reached. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the Howard Kron designs from Texans Incorporated. Leading the way was a "bull & brands" that hammered down for $327.33, not an unreasonable amount for the rare lamp, but certainly more than they've brought lately. An airbrushed circus horse sold for $187.15, and I can't recall when one of those has exceeded $150. Also of interest was a K136 Modern Flare, a little-known TV lamp that hasn't sold in sufficient numbers to have any sort of track-record for pricing. This time a turquoise example brought $87.22. But my favorite was the battle over a turquoise comedy/tragedy. It bid to a level that I've not seen before: $364.99. But the really amazing part? It didn't make the reserve!
Update: You know that Kron comedy/tragedy TV lamp that didn't make the reserve? It wound up selling after-all, when a second chance offer was accepted by one of the bidders. I just love a happy ending.
February 12, 2009
Tell me again why I stopped doing this?
Let me start by saying that 2007 was a really crappy year for me, on many levels. As far as tvlamps.net was concerned, I tried some things that, well... just didn't work. I got the idea that the News Log could be replaced with a Forum, an avenue for public communication between TV lamp fans. My thinking was to take things to the next level, and I felt that there were enough TV lamp collectors around to support a forum. But for some reason it just never took off. The number of readers (non-posting visitors) was huge, but postings were few and far between. It seemed that myself and a small handful of enthusiastic members (particularly the late Charlene Korcz) would do most of the posting, and at best it was a forum of three or four active participants.
While that floundered I started a WordPress blog that, although similar in nature to the original News Log, just didn't feel right. It didn't have "the look", and I find wrestling with the pseudo-html used by WordPress to be a wholly unsatisfying experience. It was soon obvious that neither the forum nor the blog were suitable replacements for the popular News Log. Not only was the old News Log popular but, and this is important, I liked it. I hashed over all this with my buddy David Cole, and he agreed that I should rewind things a bit.
This time the News Log has a different name, the TvLamps.net Newsletter. Catchy, eh? In most other respects the Newsletter will have a familiar feel for those who remember the News Log, with similar content to its predecessor. Besides sharing whatever pops into my head, I'll be announcing website additions, reporting on recent auction activity, and sharing my research into TV lamps and their manufacturers. The blog and Forum will be retained for archival purposes, but will no longer be supported. (I will establish a "graveyard" to house the old stuff) I'll also keep the old News Log pages on-line, and have included links to them at the bottom of this Newsletter. As always, I welcome any thoughts regarding these changes. You know the drill... e-mail, baby!