Arizona’s Mana Pottery 

I was recently given two pieces of old Mana pottery, made in Arizona. Even though I’ve been scouring Arizona for 27 years for all manner of antiques and collectibles, this was my first introduction to this pottery. I found it to be intriguing so I decided to look into it’s origins. 

The marks can vary

For the last 60 plus years Mana Pottery, which is based in the beautiful Aravaipa valley, has been producing American Southwestern art pottery unlike any other. They are still active. Their hand painted, hand made, earthenware is unusual, unique, and quite glorious. Grouped together it would make a stunning collection.  

The beautiful Aravaipa Valley. Home to Mana Pottery

Hummingbird vase front and back

Rare Mana pottery pendant

Immanuel “Mana” Trujillo was the heart of Mana Pottery. A World War II veteran who suffered a bomb blast that caused traumatic brain injury, Trujillo led a very interesting life, getting to know both Timothy Leary and Salvador Dali, among others. 

Horses are a recurring theme

 At some point Trujillo came to Arizona and in 1948 he started Mana Pottery. Senator Barry Goldwater, for one, was an early collector. It was sold at Goldwater’s Department Stores, Red Feather Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park, and other small gift shops across Arizona and New Mexico. Mana Pottery ceremonial earthenware was also sold at Ortega’s in Scottsdale, Arizona. The “Peyote Way” line of Mana pottery is featured in the Smithsonian’s “Museum of the American Indian Collection.”

A nice little collection

The Peyote Way line

The pottery is relatively rare but with 100 plus unique booths in the Mercantile I’ll bet a piece of Mana pottery could eventually be found. Come on in and take a look!

Carol Fenn 1-2018


Celebrating New Year’s Ephemera

Celebrating New Year’s Ephemera!

As New Year’s Day approaches and old father time gets ready to hand over the reins to baby new year, I thought it would be a fun time to share some antique and vintage New Year’s ephemera.  

From circa 1890 to the 1960s New Year’s ephemera was glorious. Filled with beauty, fun, whimsy, sentiment, cats and dogs, and even Mickey Mouse, it’s fun to collect, easy to display and is usually relatively inexpensive.

Come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Mall. Peruse our 100 plus booths and you just might find a cool old piece of a New Years past.  

Carol Fenn 12-2017

Christmas Mistletoe – Naughty or Nice?

 Is mistletoe naughty or nice? In 1952 the lyrics to a popular Christmas tune were “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night.” It may very well have been daddy in costume, but, if not, that would make mistletoe very naughty indeed.

1952 album cover

Norman Rockwell’s take on mommy (getting kissed) by Santa Claus!

Kissing under mistletoe is a long holiday tradition. But, the plant’s history as a symbolic herb dates back thousands of years. Many ancient cultures prized mistletoe for its healing properties. The Greeks and Romans were known to use it as a cure for many ailments.  

Antique card- mistletoe girl, holly boy

A happy tradition

Mistletoe’s romantic overtones most likely started with the Celtic Druids of the 1st century A.D. Because it could blossom even during the frozen winter, the Druids came to view it as a sacred symbol of vitality. They gave it to humans and animals alike in the hope of restoring fertility. 

Mistletoe’s associations with fertility and vitality continued through the Middle Ages. In the 18th century it had become widely incorporated into Christmas celebrations. Just how it made the jump from sacred herb to holiday decoration remains up for debate, but the kissing tradition appears to have first caught on among servants in England before spreading to the middle classes. As part of the early custom, men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe. Refusing a kiss was viewed as bad luck. Another tradition instructed folks to pluck a single berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, and to stop smooching once they were all gone.

Another Norman Rockwell with a mistletoe theme

“Plenty of berries left on this one, my dear”

As Frank Sinatra sang, “Oh by gosh by jolly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly, tasty pheasants, Christmas presents, countrysides covered with snow.” So, mistletoe. Naughty or nice? Who knows? What I do know is, it’s a fun tradition, full of history and a bit of mystery! Happy Holidays from The Mercantile!

Carol Fenn 12 – 2017

Holiday Candles and Their Many Uses

There are many different reasons why candles are associated with seasonal holidays. Long, long, ago candles were used during ancient winter solstice celebrations as a way of remembering that the light of spring would soon come. One of the earliest records of candles being used at Christmas is from the middle ages, where a large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem. 

Candles are used during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light. During the eight nights of Hanukkah each candle is lit in a special menorah.

Antique Sterling Silver Menorah

Candles are also used in the modern winter festival Kwanzaa, where a special candle holder called a kinara is used.


One of the most beautiful use of candles at Christmas are candlelight services when the entire church is only lit by candles.

Candles were also originally used to decorate Christmas trees until safer electric lights were invented!

In some parts of Ireland it was traditional to have a Yule candle instead of a Yule log.

Candles are also used as part of the St. Lucia’s or St. Lucy’s day celebrations in Sweden. A wreath of candles, worn on the head, is a beautiful tradition.

So no matter where you are, or who you are, it’s time to get out your candles and celebrate the season!  

Carol Fenn 12-2017

It’s Christmas Cookie Time!

It’s time to make Christmas cookies! Time to pull out that fifty year old tried and true Betty Crocker recipe for sugar cookies. Cookies that can be shaped like Santa, Rudolph, a star or a holiday tree.  

And with that old vintage recipe let’s hope you have some tried and true kitchen tools to help you get the job done. There’s nothing like using vintage measuring cups, mixing bowls, a beautiful rolling pin and of course, the vintage cookie cutters.

Vintage Pyrex measuring cups

Vintage birds-eye maple rolling pin

Cookie cutters. Fun to use and lots of fun to collect. They come in so many varieties and can make a wonderful display.

If you don’t already have all of these necessary tools, you need to come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway. You can browse through about 100 booths on your search for cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc. Everything you’ll need to make these delicious cookies!

***Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies***
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2 Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

3 Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet.

4 Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.   Decorate with icing, etc.

Carol Fenn 12-2017

The VINTAGE Thanksgiving Table

Ah Thanksgiving. A time to remember those sometimes wacky, sometimes touching, sometimes just right holiday meals. Now it’s time to make new memories. It can be a lot of fun to dress up your Thanksgiving table with vintage items. From a vintage turkey platter, to a turkey centerpiece, to a lovely old cake stand. Make it beautiful. Make it fun. Make it your own!  

“Leave it to Beaver” 1950s – Too austere?

1970s – A bit too wacky – but probably fun

1940s – Just right? And check out the kid’s table!

A centerpiece can be a fruit and nut filled cornucopia, a vintage turkey figurine, a primitive dough bowl or maybe antique candle holders. And don’t forget to put it all on top of a beautiful tablecloth!

Primitive American dough bowl centerpiece

WMF Art Nouveau Candlesticks

For your dishes you might want a lovely old set of porcelain dishes. Limoges maybe? Amber glass? Or it can be fun to collect varied souvenir plates all year long then give each guest there own individualized place setting. Just make sure those souvenir plates are food-friendly, as some are not.

c1890 Spode turkey platter

Limoges chocolate set. Perfect for dessert

Amber glass

Desert? As good as your pumpkin pie is, an antique sterling silver pie server will make it even better!  

Antique Gorham Sterling Silver “Morning Glory” pie server

You’ve got one more week. Come on into Midtown Mercantile Merchants. We’re open every day until Thanksgiving and you can find a lot of things to dress up your holiday table.  

Carol Fenn 11-2017


Why Build A She-Shed?

Why build a she-shed? “I come out here and … make a big mess, and then close the doors and go inside and make dinner, and it’s all just in here. It’s nice to be able to have a space that’s just mine.”  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, on most days, 16 percent of women aged 18 to 44 reported feeling “very tired” or “exhausted.” Additionally, 37 percent of women said they feel tense or stressed out at work. A she-shed can give a woman a space to be creative and/or just to get away from it all.  

“Honey, you finish this shirt. I’m going out to my she-shed.”

Author Erika Kotite, who will be at the Midtown Mercantile Mall this Thursday, Friday and Saturday greeting fans and signing her book (Nov. 9, 10, 11) wrote a book on the movement: “She Sheds: A Room of Your Own.”  

The book talks about different styles of sheds and then looking at different sheds created for different purposes by various women. There are sheds for gardeners, artists, back yard sanctuaries, etc. They are truly wonderful and fun to see.

The she-shed at The Mercantile

Here at The Mercantile we love Ms. Kotite’s book and we have created our own she-shed. Come on in, meet the author, see our she-shed and then you can look around the mall at our thousands of vintage items. Perhaps you’ll find the bits you like so you can personalize your own space. Your very own she-shed!

Carol Fenn 11-2017

Who doesn’t love a cowgirl? A cowgirl collectible that is! Fun to collect, but not that easy to find. It can be a challenge filling out a collection, especially if you’re looking for truly vintage. Reproductions abound, but vintage is better!

The popularity of the American cowgirl most likely began with Annie Oakley (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926). Annie was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Her amazing talent first came to light when she was a mere 15 year old girl, winning a shooting match against a traveling-show marksman. Oakley joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She became a renowned international star, performing before royalty and heads of state.

One thing I’ll say about cowgirl related collecting is that there is a lot of variety. For example, the vintage and antique cowgirl art and advertising. Some of it surprisingly sexy!  Some of it just plain awesome.

There are cowgirl figurines. Salt and pepper shakers, etc.  Also look for paper dolls and playing cards.  You never know where you might find one of these gals!

And of course Coca Cola got into the act with some great cowgirl depictions!

Some cowgirl stuff is collectible AND wearable. Like this wonderful cowgirl dress that is in the Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall right now. She’s in booth #1118 for only $30!

So put on your cowgirl boots and come on in to the mall and roundup some cowgirl collectibles!

Carol Fenn 11-2017

7 Halloween FUN Facts! 

Halloween Fun Fact: The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings on Halloween night.

Halloween Fun Fact: Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

Halloween Fun Fact: The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.

Halloween Fun Fact: According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern.

Halloween Fun Fact: The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown in 1993. It weighed 836 pounds!

Halloween Fun Fact: Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.

Halloween Fun Fact: Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday.

We’re celebrating Halloween at the Midtown Mercantile Mall at 4443 E Speedway in Tucson AZ.  We’ll let you in and you won’t even need a costume like these little outlaws!

Carol Fenn 10-2017

Halloween History and Costumes – Creepy or Cute?

Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints Day, incorporating some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. 

Trick or treat!

Creepy or cute?

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a community-centered holiday, with parades and big Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. 


Mostly cute!

Over time, Halloween incorporated activities like trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins. As the October nights get colder, people usher in the season with parties, costumes and don’t forget the candy!

Even horses can dress up!

This poor kid …

Pretty creepy

 From the 1950s on it has been the golden era of Halloween. There are so many TV and movie character costumes to choose from. Sometimes scary, but usually cute, these costumes bring joy to the kids wearing them and to the adults who open the door, after hearing the words, “Trick or Treat!”

Why are you crying, Batman?

Come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall at 4443 E Speedway in Tucson AZ. You just might find a vintage costume or two!

Carol Fenn 10-2017