Monday, April 23, 2012

Mermaid Mania

I'm the first to admit that I'm an insatiable collector.  I just plain like STUFF, and lots of it.  If one of something is nice, two is better, and then hey, why not 10?  They all basically start the same way: I stumble across some kitschy object (a spaghetti poodle, an anthropomorphic teabag holder, whatever), fall in love, and promptly want another.  And another.  And so on, until anyone visiting my house for the first time looks around and says, "Um, you have lots of ... things, don't you?"

Although most of my collections are of vintage 1950s/60s mass-produced items, and therefore reasonably priced for the most part, an exception is my collection of mermaid wall plaques.  These were decorative ceramics intended for display in one's midcentury bathroom (plenty of folks remember a pair of them gracing the wall in grandma's john).  Of course, one can only hope that said bathroom had all its original pink fixtures, but that's a post for another day.

Unlike my other collections, these mermaids can get pricey.  Like, way too overpriced, in my not-so-humble opinion, for mass-produced items that really aren't exceedingly rare.  So I've been gathering my mermaids bit by little bit, seeking out bargains and refusing to pay the (outrageous) prices typically seen on eBay, over the last 10 years.

My bathroom is far too small to display the quantity of them I've accumulated, so they hang on the wall in the dining area.  I painted the wall a vivid aqua to give them an appropriately water-ish background.  Every once in a while, sitting at the kitchen table, I think about the fact that they were probably displayed in someone's bathroom and are most likely covered in midcentury cooties.  But I give all my vintage ceramics a decent wash when I get them.  And not much puts me off my food, I can assure you.

Many of the mermaids originally came with their own ceramic bubbles, starfish, sea horses, etc., to better create a complete underwater tableau.  The bubbles and accessories are often missing from the sets today, but there are a couple of dedicated mermaid-lovers out there who make repros available from vintage molds.

These two are, hands (fins?) down, my favorites in the whole collection.  There's just something so wonderfully retro about them, and I especially love the way their hair "floats" around them (a detail some of the other designers seem to have overlooked).  The bubbles are repros from mermaid guru Sandy Shores,
whose website seems to have disasppeared at the moment (hopefully not for good).

I got these two little Lefton beauties at an absolute steal from someone who was liquidating a bunch of NOS (new old stock) items from his late parents' store.  They even came in the original wooden crate with straw.

This trio is by Norcrest, and I've had them for almost 10 years.  There's absolutely no way I could afford to buy them today, given that the price of this particular set has, like, quintupled since the days when I was first collecting.  I've even seen them sell singly for more than what I paid for the whole group.  So they're pretty much the crown jewels of my collection, and naturally I gloat when I see them outrageously priced on eBay.  Because if you're not smug about your bargains, then you're just not doing it right.

This little gal is also a favorite of mine.  Most of the mermaids just seem to be posing, but this one's actively a-swimmin'.

Here's the whole collection.  In future posts: the adorable niecelets, spaghetti poodles, anthropomorphic fruit and veggies, ramblings about planting a gnome garden, and ever so much more.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. And! That last shot when enlarged is absolutely amazing. And I like that you put them in the dining room. And don't worry..I'm pretty sure that the worst of the bathroom cooties never make it that high up on the wall anyway. I wouldn't trust a macrame poodle toilet paper cover not to contain some serious bacteria but wall mermaids and fish? I think you're fine.