Terry Kovel, our own “Grand Dame of Antiques,” is turning 94. Happy Birthday from all your faithful fans and staff!
Here is Terry with the mustache cup that started it all, purchased when she was only 9 years old!
What did Terry like each decade? See her picks below.
Terry was only 2 so she didn’t buy anything in this decade but she would have loved riding in this pedal car.
Highlights of the 1920s
After World War I came a period of great economic growth. This was the dawn of the Roaring Twenties and the Jazz Age—both eras of great social change. Prohibition begins as the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote is ratified. Charles Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Pittsburgh’s KDKA becomes the first radio station to broadcast regularly. Classic collectible toys from the 1920s include Tom Tinker Toys, all steel pedal cars, clockwork train sets, 3-wheel velocipedes (early bicycles), Erector Sets, Flossy Flirt dolls, cast iron toy cars, gyroscope spinning tops, and Magic Lanterns.
Bakelite was popular in the 1930s and Terry had a favorite necklace that was a chain of many colors, just like this bracelet!
Highlights of the 1930s
The Empire State Building is completed. Amelia Earhart disappears over the Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigation flight attempt. Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast. Babe Ruth retires. The very first Superman story appears in Action Comics. The beloved film The Wizard of Oz premieres. Depression Era toys: balsa wood kits, vintage steel toy trucks, planes and airships, Lionel electric train sets, Studebaker farm wagons, Teddy Bears, windup train sets, stereoscopes, stick horses, BB rifles.
Terry loved her Polaroid instant camera. She took it everywhere.
Highlights of the 1940s
The War. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first programmable electronic computer, is unveiled at the University of Pennsylvania. Department stores begin to sell Tupperware food containers. The Polaroid instant camera is demonstrated. 45 RPM records are introduced. Toys of the 1940s include model airplane kits, Rose O’Neill Kewpie dolls, crystal radio sets, steel Radio Flyer wagons, Tiddlywinks, farmyard sets.
Terry didn’t buy Holt Howard Pixieware when they were new. But in later decades, it became a favorite. She even built a ledge in the kitchen to hold them all!
Highlights of the 1950s
After the end of World War II and the beginning of the Baby Boom, the 1950s saw a dramatic increase in the amount and variety of now collectible toys. Girls’ options were limited to kitchen sets, baby dolls or fashion dolls. Boys’ items ranged from building sets to cowboys to space travel. Other Baby Boomer-era toys include Alice in Wonderland wristwatches, 1950s Pepsi Cola toy trucks, Howdy Doody’s TV games, Mr. Potato Head, giant Pan-Am Clipper planes, Smokey Bear, Betsy McCall dolls, Dick Tracy Siren Squad Cars, Mickey Mouse phonographs, board games, Revlon fashion dolls, plastic molding machines with Play-Doh.
Terry couldn’t resist the trolls. She bought them large and small and frequently gave them out as gifts.
Highlights of the 1960s
In the 1960’s, as popular culture became ever more important, toys start to reflect the television, movies and musical influences that children experienced during the decade. While the focus remained on the types available for children in the 1950s, more featured labels associated with popular characters or celebrities like the Flintstones or the Beatles. Other toys include Swinging Popcorn Maker, Flintstones pedal cars, G.I. Joe figures, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, board games, Barbie and Friends, transistorized phonographs, Matchbox Carry Case Car City, Lionel train sets, Hot Wheels car racing sets.
Terry is still using her transistor radio. In fact you can find it on her desk!
Highlights of the 1970s
In the 1970s, major advances in computer technology started to influence children’s toys during the decade as evident in the simply computerized game of Simon and the development of the Atari computer and gaming system. Popular culture also continued to influence the types that were available, with many youngsters being able to recreate their favorite movies or television shows with matching actions figures and dolls. Barbie dolls & accessories, Atari 400 Home Computer Systems, Easy Bake Ovens, Hot Wheels Track and Cars, Silly Putty, Talky Crissy Dolls, eight-track portable music players, Hoppity Hops, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Simon Says, Charlie’s Angels dolls, Star Ship Enterprise, Pogo Sticks, Foosball.
Glass dealer friends traveled the world looking for great contemporary glass. Terry acquired a few colorful vases from them. You can find one of Terry’s flower arrangements in her front hall using one of those vases. Of course, the flowers are fresh from her garden!
Contemporary Glass Vase, Pink Flowers, Green Aventurine Ground, Signed, C. Lotton, 1985, 9 in., sold for $950 (2009). Photo: Cincinnati Art Galleries
Highlights of the 1980s
As technology boomed in the 1980s, computerized toys became more advanced and simple robots became highly popular. Video games also became more popular as the decade progressed, and more manufacturers threw their hats into the ring like Nintendo and Sega. Many popular toys were also expensive as the economy thrived during the decade and excess became the name of the game. Collectible items include My Little Pony, Transformers, Star Wars figure sets, Pound Puppies, Legos, Barbies, Weebles, Dukes of Hazzard, Talking Alf, Huggable Glo-Worm, Matchbox cars, Ghostbusters Table-top Pinball, Omnibot 2000, the first Sony CD player, Pac-Man and Frogger tabletop arcade games, Atari 5200, Sega Genesis.
I don’t know how it started but Terry began a Happy Meal Toy collection. Check out her basement and you can see we ate way too many happy meals!
Inspector Gadget, 1999 Disney McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy, Matthew Broderick, complete, sold for $15 (2022). Photo: eBay, jjsmm70
Highlights of the 1990s
As the economy grew, toys in the 1990s became bigger, more expensive and interactive. Video games and gaming systems continued to advance and handheld devices gained in popularity with the Nintendo Game Boy. The decade saw toy fads in which parents rushed to the stores to pick up the latest item, often getting news coverage for scuffles breaking out in stores and midnight rushers competing for the last toy (Tickle-Me Elmo, Furby, Beanie Babies and others). As parents became more aware of changing gender roles and women’s rights further advanced, gender-neutral toys started to appear in the market. Manufacturers began creating more ethnically diverse toys, especially dolls that featured a variety of skin tones, during the decade. Collectible 1990s toys include Nintendo Game Boys, Tamagotchi virtual reality pets, Tickle Me Elmo, Super Nintendo, Barbie’s Dream House, Polly Pocket Clock, Talking Barney, Teletubbies, Talk ‘N Play Zoe, Sony PlayStations, Furby, Jurassic Park Command Compounds, Teacher Barbie, Sega Saturn CD Game Systems, Nintendo 64 Game Systems, Pokemon Game Boy game.
Terry’s predictions on what may become top collectibles:
Best wishes and Happy Birthday, Terry!
There are lots of nicknames costume jewelry collectors have given their favorite...Read More