Holiday Gift Guide – 1960’s Op Art Porcelain Vases

Porcelain Vases by Kaiser, Heinrich and Kaiser (from left to right) – W. Germany – circa 1960’s

These stunning porcelain vases are fabulous alone but look even better is small groupings. Produced by the masters of porcelain in the Bavarian region of West Germany in the 1960’s these bisque porcelain vases are typically hard-to-find in the United States.

The ones shown here are excellent examples of the Op Art and organic styles these vases are normally found in. The one on the left by Kaiser measures 12 inches tall and features a glorious bursting sun Op Art design. The center piece by Heinrich has a cabbage leave pattern and the one on the right, designed by one of the leading mid-century porcelain artists, M. Frey, for Kaiser has a spectacular cratered moon surface. All of these vases are glazed only on the inside to hold water while still retaining the outside bisque finish.

These vases usually run anywhere from $60 – $150 dollars with some designs going as high as $250. They are difficult to find in the United States however you sometimes can run across them at vintage shops and online. Most found online are being sold from Germany so shipping can be high and slow. The three shown here are currently available in our gallery.

These make wonderful gifts and you can pretty much rest assured the recipient won’t get another one like it.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 29 – It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life – Directed by Frank Capra – 1946

As much as I at times try to act the Scrooge this time of year I ultimately succumb to sentimentality – and it usually corresponds to my annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Frank Capra’s  film about George Bailey, Bedford Falls and the story of personal redemption and good overcoming evil is not just a great holiday film – it is one of the best films ever.  Although not a commercial success at the time of it’s release the film has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best movies ever made and was named the most inspiring moving ever by the AFI.

Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be.

                                                        — George Bailey to Mr. Potter  

This film is still as fresh today as it was when it was made in 1946. The performances by James Stewart and Donna Reed are flawless and Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter is the personification of meanness.

Your Holiday should not be complete without seeing this movie and it can be a great gift to yourself to take the 2 hours and 10 minutes, relax, and watch this American classic. Share this time and this film with someone you love and you’ll both have the gift of a Holiday memory to carry for years to come.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 28 – Vintage Telephones

Dawn Burnt Orange Telephone– Northern Telecom – circa 1970’s

Telephones once sat in one place, were wired there so you didn’t misplace it, and actually dialed with a rotary dial. While most telephones were primarily untilitarian in nature, design trends influenced the look. There was the standard Western Electric Model 500 units, which was in many households, great sculptural phones were available in mid-20th Century America to accent the modern decor of the time.

Ivory Ericofon– L.M. Ericsson Company – Sweden – 1959

The quintessential mid-century telephone was the Ericofon made by the L.M. Ericson Company in Sweden. This iconic phone was unique in style and in the way it functioned with the rotary dial and “hanger” on the bottom. I remember first seeing this phone in early James Bond films.

Ericofon Bottom Dialer– L.M. Ericsson Company – Sweden – 1959

Telephones are often the forgotten area of good interior design for the home. For someone striving for a true vintage mid-century modern look a vintage phone is a necessity.

Vintage phones make unique and greatly appreciated Holiday gifts which will be put to use daily. Available at vintage shops, antique malls and through online sources like Ebay you can generally pick up a great phone in working order for between $75 – $150.

Make certain the phone works and has no damage or cracks to the body. Often found with the old 4-prong plugs a simply adapter will easily convert a phone for modular jack use. 


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 27 – Vintage Gifts Under $25

Epic Candle Holder Pair – Viking Glass – circa 1965

With three shopping days left until Christmas you may have a few additional gifts to get and the budget may be getting a little tight. No fear – there are very lovely,  vintage gifts to be had at a very reasonable price at you local vintage shop.

The items shown in this post are just some of the great items with high style for low dollars!

Snap-Glass Coffee Mugs – Corning – circa 1969

Enamel & Silver Plate Candy Dishes – Reed & Barton – circa 1958

Planter – McCoy Pottery – circa 1969

This is just a sampling of what is available. You can’t get unique gifts like this at one of the Big Box stores, you will need to venture into the vintage, antique and thrift stores. But the choices will likely make it very easy to find that perfect gift.

Votive Holder – Pilgrim Glass – circa 1960

You will also likely then be shopping a locally-owned shop – which is a gift to your home town economy as well! Happy hunting!


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 26 – Red Wing Pottery

Magnolia Vase – Red Wing Pottery – circa 1940’s

Red Wing Pottery began in Minnesota in the 1860’s with potters from Germany who had settled the area. For nearly a hundred years the company primarily produced crocks, jugs and bowls aimed at the agrarian society. The company primarily sold in the Midwest, Northwest and in Canada.

After World War II, Red Wing Pottery adapted to the changing American social landscape shifting their product line from one focused on the farm to one aimed at the modern home. Dinnerware, vases and pottery decorative items were what Americans wanted and Red Wing was ready to supply this need.

Vase B1431– Red Wing Pottery – Designed by Belle Kogan – circa 1950’s

Free Form Bowl 1304 – Red Wing Pottery – circa 1950’s

Red Wing employed some wonderful designers including Belle Kogan and produced the Town & Country dinnerware line designed by Eva Zeisel. Town & Country is one of the most sought-after 20th Century dinnerware lines with an avid collector following.

Town & Country Dinnerware Brochure Pages – Red Wing Pottery – circa 1950’s

Red Wing Pottery was yet another company to close as the result of low-cost imports and ceased production in 1967. Descendants of the Gillmer family, who owned Red Wing, re-opened the company in 1996.

Red Wing Pottery pieces offer variety in color and design and are sure to please the mid-century collector this Holiday Season. Prices vary dramatically with many vases and pottery items running $75 and under. The Town & Country dinnerware line is hard-to-find, usually priced at a premium, but worth every penny whenever you can put your hands on it.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 25 – Riihimaaein Lasi Oy Glass by Tamara Aladin

Pair of Geometric Vases– Riihimaaein Lasi Oy – Finland Designed by Tamara Aladin – circa 1969

Riihimaaein Lasi Oy (a.k.a. Riihimaki Glass Works) began producing art glass in the 1930’s and, after hiring a team of wonderful young designers after World War II, produced some of the most beautiful glass to come out of the Scandinavia.

Among those designers was Tamara Aladin who worked for Riihimaki beginning in 1959 and remained there until the company ceased production of art and tableware in 1976. Her designs for Riihimaki are dramatic and tend to utilize unlikely geometric combinations.

Scandinavian Glass has seen a vigorous revival thanks to collectors and aficionados of mid-20th Century style. These pieces can be a bit of a challenge to find but are well worth the search and are often available at vintage shops or online.

Vases, like the ones shown here, make stylish gifts for your stylish friends and will be treasured for years to come. They are in the $50 – $75 price range. Look for glass that is free from chips or other damage.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 24 – Russel Wright Imperial Pinch Glassware

Pinch Water Glass Set – Imperial Glass – Designed by Russel Wright – 1949

To pick up a Russel Wright Pinch Glass is a pleasure. The form of this glassware is designed to fit right in your hand – it cradles there perfectly and feels define. It is the definition of functional art.

Designed by Russel Wright in 1949 and produced by Imperial Glass throughout the 1950’s this glassware is elegant and beautiful. Made to compliment Russel Wright Casual dinnerware line for Iroquois China, these glasses are as at home on the table as they are in the living room with before-dinner cocktails. The glassware is very durable with thick walls and a polished bottom.

A set of these will make you the ultimate Santa to the person lucky enough to receive them as a gift. They are premium glassware though and a set of six is likely to run you about $175 – $200.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 23 – A Trip to the Edward Hopper Exhibit

Edward Hopper Exhibit – National Gallery of Art – Washington DC – Through January 21, 2008

For the hard-to-shop-for person on your list I have a gift idea today which they will remember for the rest of their life.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC is currently showing the work of American artist Edward Hopper and it is a show not to be missed. With art on loan for this exhibition from galleries from around the globe, it is unlikely you will have the opportunity to view this amazing body of work again all in one place.

Edward Hopper transforms everyday images into dramatic, emotionally charged moments in time. As stated in the program for this show, “Hopper’s art speak volumes without uttering a word.”

Automat – Edward Hopper – 1927

The modern lady and I had the opportunity to view this exhibit early last month and we walked through it almost in a daze. From painting to painting the emotions swelled as we examined the work in an almost voyeuristic manner. Hopper’s work inserts the viewer so deeply into a painting that a voyeur is exactly how one feels. It is as though you are viewing a very private and personal moment – and you are.

Room in New York – Edward Hopper – 1932

Summer – Edward Hopper – 1943

In Room in New York the distance between to the two figures in their tiny room seems vast and the tension between them is palpable. It is, in my opinion, one of the finest works.

Of course, the exhibit all leads up to the iconic Nighthawks and the opportunity to view this fabulous work of art would alone be worth the trip to Washington.

Nighthawks – Edward Hopper – 1942

A trip to see this exhibition would be the gift of a lifetime and one you should consider for that very special person in your life.  The exhibition closes on January 21st.  Admission to the National Gallery of Art is free.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 22 – Haeger Pottery Orange Peel Vases

Orange Peel Glaze Vase Trio – Haeger Pottery – circa 1958

The roots Haeger Pottery go back to a brickyard outside Chicago in 1871. Known at that time as Dundee Brickyard, the company manufactured millions of the bricks used to rebuild the City of Chicago after the great fire which destroyed over 17,500 buildings the same year the company began.

By 1900, the year of company-founder David H. Haeger’s passing, the firm was making simple red clay pots for the florist trade. Edmund Haeger, David’s son, oversaw the transformation from Haeger Bricks to Haeger Potteries. The company is still in operation today.

The bright “orange peel” glazed vases shown here date from the 1950’s and were one of numerous modern designs put out by Haeger during this period. These vases look great individually and in sets and can usually be easily found at your favorite vintage shop. They are valued between $25 – 45 each depending upon size.


Holiday Gift Guide – Day 21 – Mid-Century Casserole Dishes

Casserole Dish on Brass / Walnut Warming Stand– Stangl Pottery – 1959

Everyone has got to eat and serving food with style is the cornerstone of any great dinner party.

The 1950’s and 60’s produced some stunning pieces for entertaining and the fabulous casserole dishes from the period are great for use as decorative pieces in a mid-century modern inspired kitchen and are functional as well.

Moon Deco Covered Casserole – Pyrex – 1971

Covered Casserole in Chinese Red – Hall China – circa 1950’s

Starburst Covered Casserole – Bavarian – circa 1950’s

Made by numerous manufacturers food serving items such as the ones shown here make a very nice gift for friends and family. Most are very affordable with prices in the $25 to $75 range with some more collectible makers or designers, such as Russel Wright, going for a premium.