Search Our Catalog

Ephemera Page



C U R R E N T    O B S E S S I O N S   



We were very sad this week to learn of the passing of Diane Petipas, esteemed MCM dealer and proprietress of the legendary Mood Indigo in NYC. Diane had a huge influence on the Modfather, who always enjoyed chatting with her at shows. Way ahead of her time, she was unexpectedly friendly, helpful and down-to-earth. We'll be pulling down a nice vintage cocktail shaker and raising a toast to this truly Grand Dame later this evening. 



The Dallas Museum of Art, always extremely supportive of MCM, is taking a tip from the Modfather's home-away-from-home (and cocktail capitol of the world) New Orleans, and featuring a barware exhibition starting in November 2016.  Prepare to be aesthetically shaken and stirred



Once again, Dallas' own Heritage Auctions scored a major MCM coup with their May auction of treasures from the personal collection of much-beloved designer Viktor Schreckengost (1906-2008).  Before the auction, Heritage hosted a preview, complete with an informative lecture by Dr. Marianne Berardi, Senior Fine Arts Expert at Heritage.  Around the same time, a Modfather fanboy politely informed us that Viktor's last name was unfortunately misspelled in all of our for-sale listings, yowch.  The Modfather is quite embarrassed by this gaffe, and promises to be more careful.  On the other hand, what's in a name, really?  If we're talking about Viktor, a train wreck of consonants, if you ask the Modfather











7 Park Avenue, New York City, May 1943












  O L D E R    P O S T S

Why does the Modfather hate Replacements Ltd?  For starters, many of the North Carolinian ding-dongs that work there couldn't tell the difference between a soup spoon and a coal shovel to save their lives.  Plus, when you inevitably are forced to call, the customer service folks sound just like my grandmother, whose Rocky Mount accent was so thick, you could plow tobacco fields with it.   (Yes, the Modfather is most familiar with horrible North Carolina.)

We've made a handful of purchases from RL over the years, especially before they became more savvy regarding Russel Wright lines in general.  The Modfather even made a visit to RL about 13 years ago, back when one could roam the warehouse and peruse the stock in-person (especially important given all the mistakes in their database).   We did our homework beforehand; during that visit, we cleaned them out of stem-less Imperial Twist glasses (aka Imperial Flame), long before they realized these glasses had nothing to do with the stemmed line, and were much more valuable.

But RL's stupidity is a double-edged sword if you can't ratify their stated offerings onsite.  People complain about their high prices, but even today, you can find bargains on their website...if the web listings are accurate, that is.  And frequently, they are not.  One could argue that it would be impossible for RL to maintain accurate records for every piece in every line, given the scope of their inventory.  To that, the Modfather says, Oh Please, and Bullshit: Given the explosion of information readily available in collector books and on the web, this abject sloppiness is inexcusable.  But it might be tolerable if their customer service met even a minimum standard; to use their own, hog-slop vernacular, it don't.

Now when you call and ask questions about a particular piece, they say it will take a week (!) to get something pulled and delivered to their desks for further review/inspection.  The Modfather just got an answer yesterday (3/1/14) to a question originally posed on 2/11, and only because we called in and started raising hell; 18 days later, they told me the piece was actually not the piece listed on the website, no surprise.  This kind of delay and subsequent tailspin has happened with us *at least* four or five times.  We know we are not alone.

(We can't comment on the experience of *selling* to RL, other than to give kudos to RL founder Bob Page for successfully rounding up a mighty hoard of wares for less than pennies on the dollar.  Apparently those pennies go a long way for the hillbilly, and presumably toothless, rubes in North Carolina...but the extra money they would have earned selling on ebay instead would've paid for a lot of dental work...)

The Modfather gives up, and it's a shame; Page's story is a compelling one.  We apparently have a few things in common with Mr. Page (wink wink), but somewhere along the way, this Dish Dynasty lost its appetite for customer service.  It's still hungry alright, but only for cash.

....goes to Ricardo Espino for his wonderful white onyx cheese board; you can see the one the Modfather got for Christmas directly below, and/or buy your own here.....BTW, you can see last year's winner here

God bless Andy Williams (R.I.P.).  Here's the Modfather himself, singing alternate lyrics to that Andy Williams classic, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Don't miss these great local DFW MCM bloggers: Antay Bilgutay (Dallas) and Dana Perez (Fort Worth).

The great Eva Zeisel passed away on December 30th, 2011; she was 105 years old. The Modfather sends his sincere condolences to her daughter Jean Richards, and Zeisel enthusiasts everywhere.  Read more here...

Why are we so damn queer for 60s-era "Polynesian Pop" artifacts and locales? It's definitely not the syrupy rum drinks, blech (forget the Mai-Tai, just give the Modfather a cold beer thank you). We can't riff on the nation's mid-century fixation with all things South Pacific any better than Sven Kirsten, who masterfully encapsulated the campy movement in his landmark 2001 Book of Tiki.  From there, we'd recommend a visit to Critiki and Tiki Central, where you can get the low down on Tiki palaces still standing, and those long gone. There weren't too many here in Dallas, unfortunately.  We did have a Trader Vic's (which made a short-lived comeback in recent years), and Stephen Crane's Ports O' Call, nestled on top of a skyscraper downtown. Then over in Ft. Worth you had Ren Clark's Polynesian Village, notable for their infamous (and highly desirable) "severed head" tiki mug. Most of the actual vintage tiki mugs you find these days are relatively worthless Japanese imports. But the tiki-themed wares made in America are hot, and we are always on the lookout for them, especially as we continue to beef up our restaurant ware offerings in general. Here's a cool matchbook cover pic from the old Trade Winds in nearby Tulsa. The neat thing about this place was their use of Frankoma pottery, including what is perhaps the most valuable vintage Tiki mug of them all.

The Modfather is alternatively saddened and satisfied that the notoriously censored AOL Russel Wright e-mail discussion group is finally dead. Founded by Manitoga booster Dennis Mykytyn back in the mid-90s, the core members of this rag-tag bunch routinely came up with extraordinary findings, including many corrections to erroneous info found in the collector books.  Unfortunately, there were some pathetically sensitive souls unable to withstand any perceived slight or negativity, which led to draconian post rejections (mostly bon mots from the Modfather). As you might expect, the lively discussion soon dried up and died.

Just about a year ago, Bauer of California launched a reissue of some American Modern shapes; collectors were enthusiastic, but leery after the Oneida fiasco a few years ago. Like Oneida, Bauer felt compelled to include a bastard coffee mug, which is no doubt the harbinger of reissue line failure. The most obvious problem? Original vintage AM pieces are actually cheaper than their new Bauer counterparts, ouch. But the new pieces are much more durable, right?  According to Bauer's own FAQ, this new pottery achieves its bright color by being low-fired, "which means that it has a greater tendency to chip," double ouch. Last month, Bauer announced the production of the pitcher and tumblers in "traditional Bauer colors" (including traffic cone orange, apparently) 

RW devotee Gary Maurer and his lovely wife Laura have finally published their long-promised text on Wright's tablecloth work. The Modfather *did* finally get that promotional copy, and it's beautiful; you can get yours here

Here's a nifty belated Xmas card created by you-know-who. Given the message, it must date back to 1955, the year of the I.C.A. overseas assignment: COVER / INSIDE / BACK

It pains him, but the Modfather highly recommends this article by one-time Modfather nemesis (and queeny old airbag) Sandy McLendon, writer/editor for the online mag In it, McLendon provides a somewhat sober reminder of what MCM meant to most people during the 1950s and 60s. No wonder we can never find what we're looking for at estate sales

One thing's for sure: If Russel's life ever gets the Hollywood treatment, the Oscar-bait role will go to the lucky actress playing Mary Wright, savvy co-conspirator, aristocratic but edgy muse, presumably long-suffering wife, and young cancer victim.  When I started collecting RW, I didn't understand the fervor of the NYC cognoscenti for Mary.  Then in 2002, the most intriguing component of the RW retrospective at the Cooper-Hewitt was a bizarro yet mesmerizing home movie clip of Mary, who was, as I wrote in 2002, "vogueing and sashaying around their NY apartment."  The exhibit's accompanying book (see my Why RW? page for details) featured a chapter entitled "Marketing Easier Living," by Robert Schonfeld; for anyone who endeavors to understand Wright's life and work, it is a must read.  The tale Schonfeld spins delineates the impact of Mary's talent, intelligence, support, charm and self-sacrifice on Wright's career, and it is nothing short of astonishing.  I am holding a Bauer Country Gardens creamer I found today as I write this; it is simple, elegant and quite "natural," as she intended.  So Hail Mary; without her, we might not have anything to talk about on this website today

Normally I wouldn't post forwarded video clips, but this one really got to me. I often daydream that someday I'll be the star attraction on Antiques Roadshow, but lord, please don't let it all go down like this (click to download)

Hit Counter