Gil Elvgren’s COWGIRL Pin-Ups

Gil Elvgren (March 15, 1914 – February 29, 1980) was an American painter of pin-up girls. He was best known for his pin-up paintings for Brown & Bigelow who produced commercial advertising, calendars, etc. 

An original Elvgren calendar

During World War II much of the nose art on military aircraft was inspired by Elvgren’s work.  

Nose art

Elvgren was associated with Brown & Bigelow from 1945 to 1972. He produced an average of twenty pin-ups a year. The women are in various costumes and in various humorous, or slightly risqué, poses. I think the cowgirls are some of his best!

But, you might ask, what exactly is a pin-up? A pin-up model is a model whose mass-produced pictures see wide appeal in popular culture. Pin-ups are intended for informal display, i.e. meant to be “pinned-up” on a wall. Pin-up models may be fashion models, or actors, or literally the girl next door. These pictures are also sometimes known as “cheesecake.” … And guess where this usage of the word cheesecake came from? It is reported that in 1912 James Kane, a photographer, was working for “The New York Journal.” One day Kane was taking photos of an attractive young woman when a breeze blew her skirt up. When more leg than usual came on display, Mr. Kane (who reputedly loved cheesecake) exclaimed, “Wow! This is better than cheesecake!”

Since we’re in Tucson, where cowgirls are “home on the range,” I thought it would be fun to feature some of Elvgren’s “cheesecake” cowgirls.   Saddle up!

Carol Fenn 4-2017

Collecting Old TUCSON Postcards

Collecting postcards is the third largest hobby after collecting stamps and money (collectible coins and bills – not just “money” lol … although some members of our society seem to be doing just that!) This can be a very rewarding pastime that can be undertaken absolutely anywhere in the world. Even Queen Victoria is thought to have had her own postcard collection, so it’s certainly a hobby that has an excellent pedigree behind it.

The old train station in downtown Tucson

Downtown Tucson in the old days

Older days

Much older days

And downtown Tucson in the really really old days

Today I’m going to focus on collecting “Tucson” postcards. It’s so interesting to collect local ephemera like this. You can learn history. You might be amused. And you will learn about interesting local sites that may or may not exist anymore. I know, when I come across an interesting old card it sends me to Google to find out more!  

Some cards can be funny and or risqué

Don’t forget about the Tucson rodeo postcards!

And the crazy cactus postcards

The Spanish Trail Motel

When you come in the Midtown Mercantile Merchants mall (4443 E. Speedway) there are almost 100 dealers. Makes for a fun afternoon, looking through each space, hunting for that elusive Tucson postcard. When you find one, it feels great! (And here’s an insider tip: booth #115 might just have quite a few postcards to look through.)

Booth #115 on the showroom floor. These would be a lot of fun to search through

Who knew that Tucson had a famous root beer place?

Who knew that Steinfeld’s was this big!

I always wanted to see the famous diving girl’s pool. Here it is!

Once you have your postcards, don’t just keep them in a drawer. Display them as art. This way you and your friends can enjoy them every day.

A great way to display your postcards

Enjoy your search!

Carol Fenn 4-2017

Collecting EASTER Toys

All year long it’s fun to come into the Midtown Mercantile Merchants Mall at 4443 E. Speedway and search for fun, funny, cute, sweet, vintage Easter toys, candy containers, etc. They make a very happy permanent collection in your home. Then when Easter week rolls around you’ve got all these adorable things to make a joyful Easter display!  

Easter display

Candy containers and nodders

Pop-up bunny!

Don’t forget about the stuffies!

Of all the areas of collecting I think Easter toys and related items might be the most fun. I mean really? How can you not smile at these things?

Lollipop holders. So cute!

Don’t forget the lambies

Candy containers

Many of them are made of delicate materials, like cardboard or early celluloid plastic.  These should be handled with care to preserve them for future generations.

Vintage celluloid

Fisher-Price also made a nice variety of Easter baskets and toys.

One of the Fisher Price toys

Happy Easter and happy hunting!
Carol Fenn 4-2017

Those CRAZY Weird Victorian EASTER Cards!

 If you’ve been an antique or vintage dealer, or a collector of old things, you’ve probably had at least a couple old Victorian Easter cards or postcards pass through your hands. I know I have. And some of them have been puzzlingly weird!  

Yep, she’s got a human hand. Half chicken / half human?

These are so much fun to collect though, because there is so much variety and, well, they can be pretty, charming, crazy, funny, sometimes mean, and very odd. 

They can be sweet

Seems like one of the storylines is Mr. Father Easter Bunny and Mrs. Mother Hen. Now we finally know where Easter eggs come from!

Mr and Mrs Easter Bunny?

Bunnies, chickens, kissin’, smokin’ … lamenting.

Then we have the military themed cards. Puzzling.  

Then this, that, and the other …

Babies and hammers. Never a good idea.

Uh oh

So, come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Mall at 4443 E. Speedway. We just might have some Easter cards on hand so you can add to your collection or start one!

Carol Fenn 4-2017

Tips For Baking A VINTAGE Easter Lamb Cake

Oh boy, it’s time to make Easter cakes! Come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Merchants Mall at 4443 E. Speedway and you just might find a nice old lambie cake mold. But before you bake your Easter lamb cake there are a few things you need to know. These tips are really helpful and will keep you from having a cute little lamb who’s head falls off (oh no!) …

You could also make a bunny!

First, coat the interior with shortening. Be sure you get in EVERY little nook and cranny. If you don’t you could have a disastrous crumbling lambie on your hands. Then dust with flour. Same thing. Every nook. Every cranny.

Use your favorite cake batter recipe. Place the side of the cake pan with the lamb’s face – face side down on a cookie sheet. This is the part you will pour the batter into. Pour the batter a little bit short of the rim. Be sure to spread batter gently into the ear cavities to ensure that your lamb actually ends up with ears. Lambs without ears just don’t look right now do they?

Now comes the part to keep the lambs head from rolling off, which is never a pretty site. Place one toothpick in each ear and a thick bamboo skewer in the neck. The skewer should be placed about 1 inch in from the top of the head and extend into the body. Poke these down slightly into the cake batter and make sure they are covered with batter.

Now place the other half of the mold in place and then tie it shut securely with bakers twine. This allows the cake to rise securely into the second half. 

 Cook your cake the maximum amount of time that the recipe calls for. Let it cool appropriately and then get on with the frosting and decorating …

… and if you’re a little nervous about the task of frosting your delicate little lamb you could use a simple glaze or dust with powdered sugar. Happy Springtime!

Carol Fenn 4-2017