Archive for April, 2009



Made by Régé – 1950
Lunettes Régé & Associés is a subsidiary of L’Amy group, leader of the french eyewear industry and one of the world largest manufacturer.
Country of Manufacture: France
Color: tortoise shell plastic cat eye with rhinestone accents.

Country of Manufacture: Argentina
Color: silver
and black plastic cat eye



Made by Jordache
By the 1970’s, Jordache negotiated licensing deals for the name for products ranging from sunglasses to women’s sportswear.
Country of Manufacture: Italy
Color: White with Black with rhinestone accents.


Country of Manufacture: Italy
Color: Tortoise Shell Plastic Frames.


Color: Tortoise Shell Plastic Frames.

Vintage Sunglasses

Some Examples…







Sunglasses History

The history of sunglasses can be traced back to ancient Rome around the year AD 60, where the Emperor Nero is said to have watched gladiator fights whilst holding up polished emerald-green gems to his eyes, thus reducing the effect of the sun’s glare.
Pliny says about the Emerald Smaragdus: “In form these are mostly concave, so as to reunite the rays of light and the powers of vision. When the surface of the smaragdus is flat, it reflects the image of objects in the same manner as a mirror. The emperor Nero used to view the combats of gladiators upon (with, or by means of) a smaragdus”.
The name emerald is a derivative of an ancient Persian word, coming to us through the corruption of the Latin “Smaragdus “.


Sunglasses were invented in China in 1430 using smoke tinting glass technology. Early Chinese eyeglasses were kept in place with weights that hung down behind the ears. Among the first people to wear tinted glasses were Chinese judges who wore smoke-tinted quartz lenses to conceal their eye expressions during court proceedings.

chinese sunglasses 19th
The first pair of sunglasses was introduced by designer James Ayscough in 1752. He developed blue and green corrective lenses, beginning the use of sunglasses for correcting optical impairments.



Yellow/Amber and brown-tinted spectacles were also a commonly-prescribed item for people with syphilis in the 19th and early 20th centuries because of the sensitivity to light that was one of the symptoms of the disease.
In the early 20th Century, some people wear sunglasses to compensate for the brightness of sunlight. The use of sunglasses started to become more widespread, especially among the pioneering stars of silent movies.



In 1929 Sam Foster’s “Foster Grants” became the first mass-produced sunglasses and they began the trend of marketing sunglasses for fashion.


Sunglasses would not become polarized, however, until 1936, when Edwin H. Land began experimenting with making lenses with his patented Polaroid filter.

Edwin H. Land

Edwin H. Land

The 1950’s saw the birth of rock and roll and the first wave of teenage uber-fans, who popularized the poodle skirts, saddle shoes, white bobby socks and cat eye glasses.
The Classic Cat Eye is the most common in women’s sunglasses; lenses which are wider in the middle than on either side; with a greater curve on the bottom than the top, and often encrusted with rhinestones or other jewels in the pointed corners.
Pop singer Lisa Loeb has made cat eye glasses a big part of her signature look, and she is often credited with the modern comeback of these stylish 1950s frames.





By the 1970’s Hollywood stars and fashion designers made a huge impact on the sunglasses market. Clothing designers and stars put their names on glasses.

Today, sunglasses continue to have advances. There are protective treatments available for eyeglass lenses that need it which will give better protection.


Ava Gardner and Dominguin

Sofia Loren

Sofia Loren

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve

Drawing by Kofkof

Drawing by Kofkof

Illustration by Toko Ohmori

Illustration by Toko Ohmori

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This is an original cast iron spittoon shaped like a turtle that opens when its head is pressed. These turtles were used apparently in high-class hotels, saloons and brothels from the 17th – 19th century. This wonderful piece measures 14″ long from tip of the tail to the nose, and at the widest point is 10 3/4″ wide. A special feature of this particular turtle spittoon is that it is marked with embossed letters and it reads, “Royal Products – Chicago”.




Chewing is one of the oldest ways of consuming tobacco leaves. Native Americans in both North and South America chewed the leaves of the plant, frequently mixed with the mineral lime.
Chewing tobacco is made from leaves of an ordinary or inferior quality by pressing, twisting, or cutting. Liquorice, syrups, and various flavoring matters are used, and sometimes leaves of other plants are mixed in.

Chicago - 1900

Chicago - 1900

Colorado - 1902

Colorado - 1902

In the late 19th century, during the peak in popularity of chewing tobacco in the Western United States, a device known as the spittoon was a ubiquitous feature throughout places both private and public. So common is the custom of chewing tobacco in the United States that the spittoon is a piece of furniture scarcely less requisite than the chair or the water bucket. No house is complete without it. The habit of chewing tobacco was so common that cuspidors and spittoons were found even in the nation’s ritziest hotels, like the Plaza in New York or Chicago’s Palmer House. The purpose of the spittoon was to provide a receptacle for excess juices and spittle accumulated from the oral use of tobacco.

Danville, Illinois

Danville, Illinois

In almost every saloon, one could depend on seeing the long paneled bar, usually made of oak or mahogany. Encircling the base of the bar would be a gleaming brass foot rail with a row of spittoons spaced along the floor next to the bar.



These containers came in all sizes and shapes and where made of many different materials. The materials used to make these early containers ranged from brass to cast iron to nickel and porcelain.

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison

Major June C. Smith

Major June C. Smith

After World War I, smoking cigarettes became very popular in America and the habit of chewing tobacco and dipping snuff declined. Today, baseball players still chew tobacco, as well as others, such as hunters and fishermen, who spend a lot of time outside. To this very day spittoons are still present on the floor of the U.S. Senate, though they are no longer used by members.

Turtle Spittoons








Brass Spittoons
by Langston Hughes

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars a day.
Hey, boy!
A nickel,
A dime,
A dollar,
Two dollars
Buy shoes for the baby.
House rent to pay.
Gin on Saturday,
Church on Sunday.
My God!
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
And house rent to pay.
Hey, boy!
A bright bowl of brass is beautiful to the Lord.
Bright polished brass like the cymbals
Of King David’s dancers,
Like the wine cups of Solomon.
Hey, boy!
A clean spittoon on the altar of the Lord.
A clean bright spittoon all newly polished-
At least I can offer that.
Com’mere, boy!

Capitol spittoon cleaning - 1914

Capitol spittoon cleaning - 1914

James Mercer Langston Hughes, (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the new literary art form jazz poetry.
During his life, Hughes devoted his poetic genius to the realization of that dream deferred, the dream of racial equality. It was a dream that pervades most of his writings -his poetry, plays, short stories, novels, autobiographies, children’s books, newspaper columns, black histories, edited anthologies, and other works.
Hughes knew well the language, literature, and customs of Spain and Spanish America. He translated much Hispanic literature, including the poetry of Gabriela Mistral, Federico García Lorca, and Nicolás Guillén, into English. These volumes reflect his pioneering efforts over thirty years to bring Spanish writers to the attention of North American readers.

Langston Hughes by Consuelo Kanaga

Langston Hughes by Consuelo Kanaga

Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss

Langston Hughes by Winold Reiss

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Postcards represent a major category in the world of old paper collectibles.
What to collect can be divided roughly into two categories. There are view-cards representing scenes of various locations, which form the bulk of cards produced. And then there are topicals that represent everything else. Topicals can be distinguished by their physical appearance, the method of printing, and most often the subject matter depicted. The topics that are popular with collectors constantly shift over time.
Opera cards fall into a number of categories: opera houses, opera singers, pictures of real productions or artist’s fantasies.
Within my online album you will find part of my opera’s postcard collection.
In the years before movies became ingrained in popular culture, opera played a more important role. Any educated person would have been familiar with at least the most well known operas, their composers, and major performers. G. Ricordi & Co. published hundreds of opera-themed postcards that the public collected and mailed with especial enthusiasm.
Casa Ricordi is a classical music publishing company founded in 1808 as G. Ricordi & Co. by violinist Giovanni Ricordi (1785-1853) in Milan, Italy. Its classical repertoire represents one of the important sources in the world through its publishing of Rossini, Mascagni, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, and Puccini.
The company decided in 1874 to create an in-house printing operation to promote its music. It began by installing the most advanced German lithographic presses and hiring a brilliant master, Adolf Hohenstein, to train a staff of Italian artists. Under the tutelage of Adolf Hohenstein, a brilliant stable of graphic artists emerged at Ricordi. Artists including Leonetto Cappiello, Luigi Emilio Caldanzano, Ludovico Cavaleri, Marcello Dudovich, Adolfo Hohenstein, Franz Laskoff, Achille Beltrame, Leopoldo Metlicovitz and Giovanni Mataloni brought Art Nouveau, known as Stile Liberty in Italy, to a world class level.
With almost two hundred years of history behind it, Casa Ricordi is the oldest Italian music publishing firm still in business.

“Iris” by Adolf Hohenstein and

Giovanni Maria Mataloni – 1898


This is the complete collection of postcards from Iris. These beautiful cards were designed by Adolf Hohenstein and Giovanni Maria Mataloni, for the world premiere of Iris. Art nouveau accents and neglected style combine to make this a truly special set. They were allegedly published twice, once with a blank back and once with a printed back.

Iris is an opera in three acts by Pietro Mascagni to an original Italian libretto by Luigi Illica. Its first performance was at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 22 November 1898.

Adolf Hohenstein (1854-1928)
Russian by birth, he studied art in Vienna, where he produced his first paintings. After numerous journeys (during which he stayed in India, where he decorated the homes of the local nobility), he arrived in Italy in 1879. He settled in Milan, the economic and industrial capital of the newly formed Italian state, and began working as a set designer and costumier at La Scala, with excellent results. This brought him into contact with important composers. Soon, however, he began working in the field of graphics, becoming coordinator of editorial promotion for Ricordi. Giulio Ricordi appointed him as art director, with a project that included the creation of covers for libretti and musical scores, posters, playbills and postcards. This was the context in which Hohenstein produced his designs, including those for Iris, La Bohème, Falstaff, Tosca and Madam Butterfly. Hohenstein was also responsible for the macabre deathbed sketches of Verdi drawn at various hours. He worked for Ricordi for about fifteen years. His cultured and refined style was never strongly influenced by the trends of the period: art nouveau, for example, makes an appearance only in a few decorative elements.




Giovanni Maria Mataloni (Roma, 1869-1944)
The imagery and chiaroscuro shadings typify not only Mataloni’s work but that of Metlicovitz and Dudovich from about 1898 to 1910. But far from being an imitator, he in fact preceded those colleagues at Ricordi printing, where he arrived in 1890. He brought Art Nouveau to Italy.



Metlicovitz’s art nouveau “Tosca” set – 1900



Here’s a set of the opera Tosca done by renowned illustrator Leon Metlicovitz, and published by Ricordi. It consists of twelve postcards. The images were originally created in watercolor form.


Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Victorien Sardou’s drama, La Tosca. The work premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14, 1900.



The earliest postcards from this set are numbered:

060 – Tosca laying over Cavaradossi’s body.
061 – Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, takes refuge in a side chapel.
062 – Tosca hovering over the tortured Cavaradossi.
063 – Tosca with knife after stabbing Scarpia.
064 – Inside the church.
065 – Tosca and the dead Cavaradossi alone on top of the Castel      Sant’Angelo.
066 – Scarpia offering his hand to Tosca.
067 – One of Scarpia’s henchmen delivering news.
068 – Cavaradossi painting while the sacristan looks on.
069 – Scarpia offering holy water to Tosca.
070 – Cavaradossi kissing Tosca.
071 – Cavaradossi in front of the firing squad.


Leopoldo Metlicovitz (Trieste, 1868 – 1944)
Like Hohenstein, he was a commercial artist, lithographer, painter, and graphic artist. He did many opera designs and many of his creations found their way to posters, postcards, and other paper media to advertise new operatic works or Italian products. His postcards can be identified by an “LM”.



“La Colonia Libera” by Achille Beltrame – 1899



Seven full-color souvenir postcards depicting the various scenes from the opera “La colonia Libera”, signed by Achille Beltrame.



Pietro Floridia (1860-1932)
Studied with Beniamino Cesi, Paolo Serrao and Lauro Rossi. As a young student he wrote and published several compositions for piano and at the age of 22 he produced his first opera “Carlotta Clepier”. After the Great success of “Maruzza” he composed “La Colonia Libera”, an opera based on Bret Harte’s “M’Liss” with libretto by Luigi Illica. This opera had its debut in Rome at the Costanzi theater (now called Teatro Dell’opera) on May 7Th 1899.


Achille Beltrame (Arzignano, Vicenza 1871 – Milan 1945)

A pupil of Giuseppe Bertini, in Milan, Achille Beltrame was the most famous and celebrated illustrator in Italy in the first half of the 20th Century. Beltrame edited most of the cover pages of the magazine “La Domenica del Corriere”, published by the Milanese newspaper “Il Corriere della Sera”, from its foundation in 1899 until 1945.


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