Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shopping: the fine art of

acquiring things you don't need with money you don't have. 
             ~Author Unknown

Since 1955, Ralph and Terry Kovel have been pivotal in setting the tone of the antique world.  Much has changed--Ralph Kovel died in 2008, and Terry Kovel, although 88 years old, continues to be involved in the antique world.  Her daughter now helps with the business, and she became the co-author of the standard price guide. (There is a son, but he confesses that he is a minimalist). The price guides have faded since the market does not seem to care for pricing information all that much, but this one manages to stay on the shelves.
 
The madness of this past weekend makes me wonder if anyone really cares about the value of anything these days.  Fortunately, their daughter was involved with collecting unlike the I-pod/pad/phone children of today who really do not seem to have any interest in the past, but, needless to say, she is not a kid anymore so the future of price guides may not be a guarantee!
 
But, the good news is that the searches on their web site make it seem like antiques are not totally forgotten.  Top searches in October included Carnival Glass at #1, followed by Halloween, Mary Gregory (there's an oddity), Jewelry, Occupied Japan, Russel Wright, Royal Copley, Bavaria, Coca-Cola, and Stoves.
  
The Kovels have collected everything from American art pottery to Holt Howard ceramics to printed textiles to furniture and enamels. Most unusual collection--produce stickers like the colorful ones on bananas that say “4011,” the UPC code for standard yellow bananas.  Ralph Kovel was actually a true American business man...research uncovered that in the 1950s he was in the export-import business and imported a variety of things, including the Lambretta motor scooter, the new bikini bathing suits European women were wearing, and specialty food products. He didn’t like the constant travel, so he started his own business as a food broker, representing packaged foods and other products to grocery-store chains, and fast-food restaurants. He represented many of the new frozen food lines, like Stouffers, specialty items like Sweet and Low packets, and even live, bare-root fruit trees.


Ralph sold McDonald’s fresh potatoes in 1956 by the carload when hamburgers were 15 cents and the chain said they would never use frozen French fries. He bought a small salad dressing company in Cleveland named Sar-a-Lee and soon was selling custom-made dressings to major fast-food chains for their newly popular salad bars. In 1987 his company was purchased by Sara Lee Corporation, and he became a senior vice president in the foods division.  When his children chewed the paper straws in their milkshakes, he developed the first plastic straw for McDonald’s by using the outer part of a plastic clothes line.

So, after seeing all those folks grabbing all that Chinese made stuff over the infamous Black Friday, it is good to read about the American ingenuity that used to exist in this country.  I imagine within a year or two, as a friend so aptly commented, stores will be handing you turkey dinners so that you do not even have to sit down and try to talk to those relatives...just grab plate and head up and down the aisles.
"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice." ~Dave Barry

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