On Collecting – 4 and 20 Pie Birds

Pie birds are small ceramic kitchen tools used to vent steam when baking pies. After a dish is lined with pastry, the funnel is placed into the center, the filling is added, and the top crust is molded around the figurine. While baking, the hollow center of the pie bird allows steam to escape the filling and prevents juices from overflowing.

The earliest pie birds were often plain white earthenware objects used to advertise kitchen product manufacturers, with company names, etc.

Taking inspiration from the popular “Sing a Song of Sixpence” nursery rhyme, which mentions “4 and 20 blackbirds, baked in a pie,” ceramic designers eventually moved away from utilitarian and came up with charming new forms.

While most pie birds are “birds,” they can also be almost anything else, but are still called “pie birds.” Elephants, dogs, people, cats, etc. They’ve all taken their turn as a beloved pie bird.


Pie birds are not only useful, but they also make a great collection. And, as any collector will tell you, the fun is in the variety! Pie birds have been made all over the world for many years so there are a lot of them out there. Come on into The Mercantile. The search will be fun and you just might find a pie bird … or two!

Carol Fenn 3-2018

It’s Vintage Pi Day 3-14!

That’s right!  It’s pi day out there in the world.  March 14th. 3-14. 3.14… Here in the mall we call it “Vintage” Pi Day!  I’ll be making a lemon meringue pie with fresh Meyer lemons off my tree. What pie are you going to make? Do you need pie making supplies? Well, we’ve got them here at the Midtown Mercantile Merchants Antique Mall at 4443 E. Speedway. And, of course, these vintage items are much more charming and longer lasting than just about anything you might buy new at a big box store.  

First you’ll need a cookbook … we’ve got ’em

Old measuring cups

Charming measuring spoons


Beautiful vintage rolling pins

A vintage pie plate – with recipe!

So come on in. Get your pie making gear. And get busy on that delicious pie!


Carol Fenn 3-2017

The Garden Sanctuary

Due to the nature of my business, I get invited into a lot of Tucson yards. Often, in those yards, I’ll come across a small garden sanctuary. It can be very small, with just a single statue, or it can be more elaborate with a Madonna, other statuary, running water, plants, flowers, etc.  

No matter their size these sanctuaries always warm my heart. The shrine might be honoring a lost pet, a fellow human, religious devotion or Mother Nature.   

If you want to construct a sanctuary the Midtown Mercantile Mall is a good place to start. We have thousands of items to choose from and some of those items just might fit perfectly into your very own garden sanctuary.   

Come on in to The Mercantile. We’d love to help you get your sanctuary started.

Carol Fenn 5-2018

Make A Fairy Garden For Your Garden Fairy!

Every fairy needs a garden
Of that there is no doubt
But fairies, they’re always busy

Granting wishes and flitting about
Perhaps you’d like to help them

Build a garden where they can stay
Cozy, cute and magical

I hope you’ll find a way
Come in to The Mercantile

And we can help you out
We’ve got the pots

We’ve got the plants

We’ll even show you how.
You’ll walk out of our door

Fairy garden in hand
And when you get home

Just give a little call
Your happy fairy will hear you 

And will know exactly. where. to. land.
– Come to our March Mash-Up!

“Peter Cottontail Hoppin’ Through The Secret Garden”

March 1-4 Thursday – Sunday

We have everything you need to make your very own fairy garden.

Your fairy will thank you!

Carol Fenn 2-2018

Cluck Cluck – Collecting HEN ON NEST Dishes

Due to their variety, collecting hen on nest dishes can be a lot of fun. They are not the absolute easiest collectible to find, but not the hardest either.   

So pretty. Much desired by collectors

For more information …

Carnival glass

Over the last 150 or so years, a wide variety of glass companies have produced about 250 different forms of glass hen covered dishes. These dishes are referred to as an animal dish, hen in a basket, hen on a nest or the rather frugal, hen on nest. Most collectors use this term, “hen on nest.”

Glass hen on nest covered dishes have been made in sizes ranging from less than 2 inches to 8 inches in length. In addition to the variation in size, the type and color of the glass ranges from milk glass, carnival glass, depression glass, pressed glass, Victorian glass, lead crystal, etc.

Ruby flash

Prices vary. Some are less than $20. Most are less than $100. But some of the rare Hen on Nest dishes can sell for a lot of money. In 2009, a Fenton hen on nest with combined yellow, blue and green sold at auction for $2500. It had an estimate of $100-200. 

Sold for $2500

A great collection

In the Midtown Mercantile Mall as of 9-17-2017

We have quite a few hen on nest dishes in the Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall right now. Come on in to 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ and check them out. You can start your own collection!

Carol Fenn 9-2017

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

The Colorful History of PYREX

In 1915, chemists at Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York, developed a special glass that they branded as “Pyrex.” It could take extreme temperature changes. This made it ideal for scientific experiments, railroad lamps, and, of course, cooking.

Early advertising

It is clean!

Corning’s first line of clear Pyrex ovenware came out in 1915, featuring casseroles, custard cups, a bread pan, pie plates, etc. On this early Pyrex the word “Pyrex” can usually be found on the base. Pyrex was very popular with homemakers who’d previously cooked in metal pans and earthenware. Now they could bake, serve, and store their food in the same attractive dish! Also, as you can see from the old ads, there was a strong emphasis on the fact that, after use, it would get so “clean.”

Collectors today love the colorful Pyrex products that were produced from 1947 until the late 1960s. These new Pyrex products were made out of opal or white glass, sprayed with a bright color, and sometimes printed with an attractive pattern.

A collection

Pyrex just for Tucson?

The original nesting bowls are among the most beloved of the vintage Pyrex. The very first, and most popular set, is the solid “#400 Multicolored Mixing Bowls.” It includes a 4-quart yellow bowl, a 2.5-quart green bowl, a 1.25-quart red bowl, and a half-quart blue bowl.


In 1957, the #300 nesting bowl sets were introduced. These only had the three smaller bowls. In 1967 Pyrex introduced the very popular “New Dot” pattern. These are white glass with three rows of dots in a single color. It is a 3 bowl nesting set, and each bowl had its own dot color: orange, red, and blue. A fourth 4-quart bowl with green dots was introduced in 1969. It is the most valuable of the set.

Cinderella bowls

Cinderella bowls with pouring handles came out in 1958. Casseroles were made in similar colors. Many were offered as promotional items or Christmas specials. Others were a part of huge kitchenware sets, so that homemakers could fill their kitchens with matching Pyrex patterns.

The Jetson’s would love this!

In 1956, 2 quart Jetson-like casseroles on stands (with candle warmers) came out. My mother had something similar to this to go with our Jetson-like kitchen. I wish I had it today. The dish and the kitchen LOL

Some collect by color

There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to vintage Pyrex. Refrigerator sets, measuring cups, later Pyrex, and all the different patterns, etc. Perhaps we’ll discuss these things later. Stay tuned! … and come on in to the mall. Our merchants usually have some vintage Pyrex!

Carol Fenn 6-2017

Antique Cake Stands – Let’s Eat Cake!

This evening, August 17th, we are having an event from 4-7 to benefit the Tucson, Arizona organization, Youth On Their Own. Cakes are being baked and you can win one of them! When you take your cake home, or next time you bake one, wouldn’t it be nice to serve it off of a lovely antique or vintage stand.

A fun use of cake stands

If you don’t already have one of these items from days gone by, look around the mall. We usually have a few for sale.  

Rare vaseline glass stand

You can also use them to display flowers or small collectibles. Or you can start a collection of cake stands and display them together.  

Pretty in pink

Gorgeous details

Brides love cake stands. They use them at their receptions to display the wedding cake, cupcakes, flowers, etc. And, when the wedding is over she might even gift them to members of the bridal party.   

So come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall at 4443 E. Speedway. You might find a beautiful old cake stand. And if you come in today, August 17, 2017 from 4-7 you just might win a cake!

Carol Fenn 8-2017

Yum! Deviled Egg Plates!

Right now, in the Midtown Mercantile Merchants Mall at 4443 E. Speedway there is one of the cutest egg plates I’ve ever seen! This got me to thinking about these specifically useful items.    For example, did you know that there are two things that Southern women traditionally got for wedding presents: a hand-crank ice cream maker and a deviled egg plate?

In the Midtown Mall – cute, huh?

Today, with men and women both cooking and entertaining, I believe that all women and all men, northerners and southerners, should probably be given a deviled egg plate at birth. LOL … After all, deviled eggs are the first thing to go at a party, so you better have an attractive empty plate.

There are plenty of egg plates (or platters) to choose from. You can find them in glass, fine china, Italian pottery, Fiestaware, etc. Some are figural with Easter bunnies, chickens, hearts, geese, pigs, you name it. 

The egg plate’s popularity peaked in the 1950s, but there has been a significant resurgence in their use. The recipes for the eggs range from simple to fancy schmancy gourmet. Here’s a simple old time recipe from our mid century maven, Betty Crocker, to get you started:

 6 hard cooked eggs

3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper 

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash with fork.

Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Fill whites with egg yolk mixture, heaping it lightly. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Sprinkle with a little paprika for that “deviled” look.  
Enjoy! And don’t forget to share!

Carol Fenn 4-2017

Let’s Go Bohemian ~ The Art of Boho Bliss

Right now, we’re going Boho! Hippie chic! Bohemian! Yes, it’s boho bliss!

Gypsy wagon

Think Rudolph Valentino.  Gypsy wagons.  Flowing rich fabrics of purple and orange.  Middle eastern hanging lamps, animal prints, candles. Comfy cushy chairs and sofas filled with comfy cushy pillows. And throw some of those pillows over there in the corner!

“I hope I make it to The Mercantile on time.” – Rudolph Valentino

Rules? There aren’t any. Bohemian is for those of us who disdain rules. Do whatever fills your heart with fun.

Slightly minimalist bohemian

Come on in to The Mercantile. Our current mashup, BEACH BLANKET BOHEMIAN BOARDS THE ORIENT EXPRESS, is filled with wonderful boho items that will assist you on your journey to bohemian bliss!

Carol Fenn 6-2018