June Newsletter
Monday, 26 May 2014 21:05

Showcase on Bakelite

Most people are familiar with the word Bakelite. There are collectors of Bakelite radios, toys, kitchen items, and jewelry. Its inventor called it "the matter with 1000 uses" and it is said to be the substance that revolutionized the world. Bakelite is also know as polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride. Quite simply it is an early plastic developed in New York in 1907 by a Belgian-born chemist named Leo Baekeland. Said to be the first synthetic plastic, it was used for industrial purposes due to its strength and resistance to heat and electricity, especially in making auto and electrical parts. It was patented in 1909 and is still used today for such purposes. 

It was even considered in 1943 for the making of the US penny coin. The use and production increased in the making of a variety of products including telephones, buttons, poker chips, billiard balls, and jewelry. It was especially popular in the making of jewelry beginning in the 1920s as an affordable option in the Depression. Even Coco Chanel used it in jewelry and accessories. During World War II metals went largely to the war effort so it became popular for jewelry. It largely fell out of fashion later in the 40s as other plastics, like Lucite, were developed.

Bakelite jewelry remains popular today for its retro appeal. Today the vintage pieces are much sought after by collectors. But be careful of fakes, called Fakelite. They can look like authentic Bakelite but are not. How can you tell the difference? Good question. Real Bakelite is molded, not poured. There are no seams. All hardware is attached with screws or rivets. They are not glued on. The easiest test is to rub your thumb over the surface, creating some friction and heat. Then smell your thumb. It will have a chemical smell, like formaldehyde. If so, it is real. There is also the “409” test or the Simichrome Metal Polish test. Dip a cotton swab in either chemical and rub a very small area in the back of the piece. If a yellow smear is produced on the cloth you have authentic Bakelite. Then immediately wash off the chemical. Keep in mind that none of these tests are 100% accurate. It is better to trust a reputable dealer until you gain through experience a recognition of the real thing.

At Showcase Antiques Gallery in Wiscasset, there is a nice selection of Bakelite jewelry for sale. Two dealers in the Gallery who focus on Bakelite are “Sparky” Lindsey and Susan Sorrentino. 

Photos by Showcase Antiques Gallery

Sparky, on the left, an Army veteran originally from Vinemont, Alabama, has been a collector for 30 years and a dealer for 15. She is the manager of Avalon Antiques, where she also deals in Fiesta, vintage clothing, and jewelry. Susan Sorrentino, on the right, with her husband, Charlie, trade as S.B. Adams Antiques and have been dealers for 20 years. They are from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and Westport Island, Maine, and specialize in Bakelite as well as copper, brass, and antique guns and militaria, in an eclectic mix, and do shows in MA, NH, ME, and RI.

Next month the subject will be Militaria. Stay tuned…


Showcase on Game Pieces

An item that may be of interest to the young or the young-at-heart collector is game pieces. These are the moveable parts called “movers” or “tokens,” made of many different substances, including wood, plastic, or metal. They identify or represent the players of the game, usually involving a rivalry or competition.

The most popular board game is said to be Monopoly. Board games have been in existence in most cultures throughout history. More traditional games in our society are checkers and chess. More modern games include Monopoly and Candyland. The games may involve skill and thought or may be decided by luck with the roll of the dice or a spin of a wheel. Some game pieces do not represent individual players or participants. Those in the game Clue represent the weapons involved in a murder.

You can find interesting examples from games in the past, like airplanes, battleships, race horses, boats, etc. Some of the most commonly collected game pieces are those from Monopoly, such as the pewter Scottie dog, the shoe, thimble, race car, and top hat. Retired pieces include the rocking horse, iron, lantern, and cannon. There are now hundreds of different Monopoly editions, many with their own unique game pieces. Popular examples include the 1999 Coca-Cola Edition, the US Space Progress Edition, the Pirates of the Caribbean Collectors Edition,  and the 2013 Wizard of Oz Edition, for which the pieces include total, the Witch’s Hat, the Lion’s Medal, the Tin Man’s Heart, the Scarecrow Diploma, and, of course, Dorothy’s Slippers. There is a deluxe edition with gold-toned game pieces. The company Hasbro has had promotional campaigns which allow the public to vote on new pieces to replace discontinued ones, the cat being the most recent example.














Besides Monopoly, other more recent games include game pieces too, like The Dungeons and Dragons Quest Game and the very popular Disney and Harry Potter “Scene It” games.  So have fun searching for the old examples and the new ones, creating your own collection.


Showcase on Antiques
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:44

Many of us think that Mid-Coast Maine is as close to Heaven on Earth as you can get. Maybe not in a Winter like this one was, but otherwise.  One of the great charms of the Mid-Coast is the little town of Wiscasset, halfway between Portland and Camden. An 18th century shipbuilding village with many original sea captains’ homes from the late 1700s and early 1800s still extant, some open to the public. It has now also become home to lots of interesting shops, especially antiques shops.

Wiscasset is finally feeling like Spring and almost like Summer. Flowers are blooming, trees are in leaf, grass is being mowed, the sun is shining, God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.  The shops in town are open and welcoming. Whatever you’re looking for, if you can’t find it here, you probably don’t really need it. But, to make it easier for you to find anything we have in this shop, we are extending our hours. We now open at 9:30 am and close at 5:30 pm, every day of the week. (Note: Parking is easier early!) These hours will stay until September when we revert to our usual off-season of 10 – 5.  Additionally we will be open on the following Thursdays until 8:00 pm: June 26, July 31, August 28, September 25, for the Wiscasset Art Walk evenings and you are strongly encouraged to check them out.


Showcase on Majolica
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:23

Majolica, for those who know it, is one of the more sought-after collectible types of pottery today. It began as Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance, frequently decorated in bright colors on a white background. Today it encompasses a broad range of styles and makers. One of the most popularly collected types today is Victorian Majolica. This pottery was produced with colored clear lead glazes, done mostly in the 19th century throughout Europe and also in the United States. Early manufacturers included Minton, Wedgwood, and many others. Types of items included plates, pitchers, teapots, compotes, wall pockets, cheese stands, garden seats, and flowerpots.

One distinctive factor in the design is bright colors with raised images of flowers, birds, dolphins, corn, ferns, shells, fruits, seaweed, and coral. A popular pattern produced both in England and in the US was the cauliflower pattern with a distinctive yellow and green design.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tedtalbert:Desktop:Majolica4.jpg

Others had a basket weave background or handles made of branches, birds, or stems.



As Majolica items became more popular numerous potteries began production using their own distinctive monogram or trademark.  Etruscan Majolica, a favorite among collectors, was produced between 18880 and 1890, with an impressed monogram “GSH”, for Griffin, Smith, Hill, from Phoenixville, PA. Their monogram is sometimes circled with the words “Etruscan Majolica” or is accompanied by that text. Majolica’s popularity and production decreased as the 19th century ended and the Art Nouveau period gained popularity.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tedtalbert:Desktop:Majolica3.jpg

Today Victorian Majolica is a favored category among collectors, perhaps because of the bright colors and the nature themes. Some patterns are still being produced. Careful inspection should help to distinguish the old from the new.  You can also count on experienced dealers who specialize in these great wares.

At Showcase Antiques Gallery we are pleased to have a very nice selection of Victorian Majolica for sale, presented by experienced dealers. See especially the showcases of David Higgins and Jo Ashby, among others.

David has been a dealer since 1971. He is from Bath, Maine, and specializes not only in Majolica, but also Carnival Glass, Limoges, Nippon, Royal Bayreuth, RS Prussia, Portland Glass, and Satin Glass. Jo Ashby was unavailable for a photo at the time of publication, but she is from Pinehurst, NC, and has been a passionate antiquer for about 40 years. She has had shops in Pinehurst NC, Columbus OH, Bucks County PA, and now Wiscasset ME. Jo has a varied assortment of antiques, including Majolica.




For more information on Majolica be sure to check the website of the Majolica International Society at, especially their pages on “The History”, “Collecting”, and the photos of “Majolica Heaven”.

Next month look for our showcase on Bakelite.

Showcase on Antiques for the Young
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:21

In an effort to encourage the young to the enjoyment of the hobby of collecting and, as a way of protecting the future of our industry,  we will be discussing numerous topics of antique, vintage, and collectible items that may be of interest to the youth. We encourage young collectors to email us with information on whatever they collect and possibly we can feature those items or answer those questions in a future edition.

Showcase on Pressed Pennies
Monday, 28 April 2014 06:03

One thing that some of our younger collectors have been fascinated by is elongated coins, made by rolling them in a press.  They are exonumia, meaning that they fall outside of the usual numismatic interest, normally limited to coins and paper money. They are also called pressed pennies, flattened pennies, stamped pennies, squished pennies, and other names.

In 1966 a club, The Elongated Collector, began, with now several hundred members in many different countries. Check out their website The first of these coins in the US were produced for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Also, Disneyland produced a whole collection of souvenir pressed pennies, now widely sought-after. 

Today the interest in collecting them is worldwide. Museums, amusement parks, zoos, and such continue to produce them. They are also made to commemorate special events or holidays. See photo.

Showcase on Our Good Neighbor of the Month
Monday, 28 April 2014 02:22
Red’s Eats, famously the producers of the Best Lobster Roll in Maine (some of us think best in the world!), opened for the season on April 21st. Come early in the season while the line is not too long. It is, however, worth the wait. Also make sure you get an order of the Zucchini Fries. To die for! We are happy to feature them  in our first issue, as they featured us on our opening day three years ago with a dozen red roses and best wishes for our success.
Thanks and back at you soon.

Page 2 of 2