10.25.2022

Jeremy's Vintage Jack-O-Lantern Collection

I've known Jeremy Lambertson for almost a decade now. He was a frequent reader of this blog and later joined the Martha Moments Facebook group where he became a contributing member. I met Jeremy, in person, for the first time this year at Martha's Great American Tag Sale in late April and it was nice to finally connect. 

Jeremy is a great cook and a wonderful baker, but his real passion is collecting. In fact, he's the most prolific collector I know. While he collects all manner of objects, including china and furniture, his real passion is collecting vintage holiday items, particularly Christmas and Halloween. 

When I saw Jeremy's Instagram stories recently, featuring his extensive vintage Jack-O-Lantern collection, I was inspired to do this blog. He perhaps has one of the largest vintage and antique Halloween collections in North America. What I love most, though, is that every year he brings everything out for display, filling the rooms of his house with his hard-won treasures. 

Most of the Jack-O-Lanterns in his collection were made in the United States between 1930 and 1960. They are quite rare, mainly because they were not mass produced and because they were primarily made of soft materials, such as papier-mache and paper pulp. Many of the examples from that time period were irreparably damaged by water, breakage or fire. As a result, those that did survive the rigors of time and the elements are quite valuable. I had a little chat with Jeremy recently about his collection. I hope you enjoy his collection as much as I do!

1. What do you look for when collecting vintage Jack-O- Lanterns?

I look for what catches my eye. Also I don’t mind collecting multiples of the same jack-o’-lantern because I feel more of them together creates interest and a certain wow factor. There are some that are very hard to find, for example the pumpkin man is rare and I was lucky enough to find one this year. 

2. What is their level of collectability?  

They are very collectible! Halloween was seen as disposable during the 1940s and '50s and not collectible at all when all these were made. People rarely saved their Halloween decorations. Also, these pumpkins were meant to hold candles and they are paper pulp so as you can imagine many 
caught fire, and if they got wet, from the rain for instance, they just disintegrated, so that makes them hard to find. Vintage Halloween is much harder to find than vintage Christmas, and it usually costs more.

3. What can a collector expect to pay for a good specimen?

For a small pumpkin you can expect to pay between $80 and $190 and for the larger common ones around $125 to $380. For the rare examples, or those made in Europe, expect to pay $350 to $1500+.

4. What are some of the best places to shop for these rarities? What states? What shows or stores?  

I shop everywhere: estate sales, online, yard sales, antique shows and flea markets. Recently this past July I attended Brimfield in Massachusetts, a huge week long show. And I found the most Halloween I’ve ever bought. I believe I bought 19 paper pulp pumpkins that week.
5. Your displays are so captivating! How do you make them so appealing? 

I like to say you gotta stack and pack a display; when you think it’s done, add more! I feel it’s never done. I move things all the time. But I do like to have similar colors together and usually a theme. For example, I’ll put all the vintage Halloween candy boxes together and all the costumes together. Also since I collect year-round I always have new stuff to add to the next year's collection and that keeps it fresh.

6. How do you typically store your Halloween collections and what considerations would you suggest people keep in mind when storing their own collections?

I keep everything in clear totes, stored in the basement with a dehumidifier. I also put the silicone bees in each of them, that way they suck up any moisture. Remember, these are paper pulp just like egg cartons so you can imagine how fragile they are and susceptible to moisture damage, given their age, some dating back to the late 1930s . I don’t over crowd the totes and package similar items together so they're easy to find next year.

Jeremy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the caretaker of two elderly sisters, Emma and Gloria. He has several booths at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall where he sells many of his treasures. Be sure to visit if you're in the area. Jeremy is also currently restoring an early nineteenth century Federal farm house on 13 acres about an hour from his home. 

Happy Halloween!


8.28.2022

Martha Stewart Living - The Early Weddings Issues

I've wanted to do this post for a long time but simply didn't have the raw material to do so. Before Martha Stewart Weddings became its own entity, special issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine devoted to the subject of weddings appeared annually, and then seasonally, between 1995 and 1999. While the magazines are branded with the Living moniker, and were introduced to the public as special issues, they are in fact counted as part of the list of volumes that were published as Martha Stewart Weddings in later years. 

In this sense, they are difficult to classify. They occupy that 'grey area' between being a supplemental issue of Martha Stewart Living and emerging as a fledgling publication of its own. This is why I consider them to be in their own category and do not list them as special issues of Martha Stewart Living, nor count them as editions of Martha Stewart Weddings. Although, as mentioned above, they are technically numbered as a part of the Weddings editions. 

A very kind person on the Martha Moments Facebook Group recently acquired all of them in a search to complete her Martha Stewart Living collection and agreed to scan them for the blog! Thank you Eileen! We both thought it would be helpful for collectors of the magazine to have a visual record of the covers of these often-elusive issues. They are enticing and informative in every way and full of the most beautiful weddings content you could imagine. Martha is listed as the editor in chief for several of the issues. What is interesting to note in the masthead is how quickly Darcy Miller ascended the ranks, beginning as one of several style editors and making her way to the editor by the eighth volume - just four years later. She eventually went on to become the editor-in-chief of Martha Stewart Weddings and then Executive Editorial Director of all Weddings content for the Martha Stewart brand. 

These magazines often appear on eBay, if you're searching for them, for prices that are quite reasonable, given their collectability. Thank you again, Eileen for the scans!

Issue Number One: Spring, 1995
Issue Number Two: Spring, 1996
Issue Number Three: Spring, 1997
Issue Number Four: Fall, 1997
Issue Number Five: Winter-Spring, 1998
Issue Number Six: Summer-Fall, 1998
Issue Number Seven: Winter, 1999
Issue Number Eight: Spring, 1999

5.29.2022

My Tag Sale Finds

I wasn't able to purchase as much as I would have liked at Martha's Great American Tag Sale, the proceeds of which benefit the Martha Stewart Center for Living, a geriatric facility at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York. I was limited by what I could safely bring home with me across the border into Canada in my small car, and by that bothersome exchange rate! What I did find, however, were items that 'sparked joy' the moment I saw them. Below is my 'show and tell' gallery.

I have wanted one of these L.E. Smith lidded caramel glass dishes for a very long time. They were originally produced for the Martha by Mail catalog in the early 2000s. There weren't very many on hand and they went very quickly. Thankfully my friend Tim knew that I wanted one and was generous enough to reserve one for me. 
I've always loved the warm tone of the caramel glass and the very interesting acorn and squirrel motif. These dishes were shown in the catalog as soup bowls, perfect for a Thanksgiving table setting. I am hoping to find one more of these to keep this one company. I will simply display them in my china cabinet. 
Another fortuitous find was this Martha by Mail tote bag, which also sold in the early 2000s for $88. I found it hiding under a pile of wrapping paper in one of the sale barns on Martha's property. It did not have a price tag but it was sold to me for a mere $10! It's in pristine condition and I love the sturdiness of the canvas. It has three pockets on the outside and one pocket on the inside. Its dimensions are very large and you can get quite a bit in there. 
The authentic Martha by Mail tag!
In the same barn, I found this slightly sun-faded jade green scrapbook, which was also sold through the catalog. It is linen covered and the paper inside is acid-free with each page separated by a transparent sheet of velum for further protection. At the risk of sounding like a grandpa, they really don't make them like this anymore. This was only $30.
When I got home I discovered some of the pages were already decorated with old photographs. I wrote to Martha with a photograph of this page asking if any of the photos were of importance to her and offered to send them back. She did not want them back so there they shall remain! I wonder who these people are?
My favourite find is this Victorian wicker plant stand that Martha had at her home on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton, New York. Martha says she painted it herself using one of her Martha Stewart Signature colours from Fine Paints of Europe. I simply couldn't resist it and Martha was very glad I got it. I love its pentagonal shape. I have a Boston fern in a vintage Anthropologie flower pot sitting on top. I think it works nicely. 

There were numerous rolling pins on sale - various types and lengths, made of various materials, all from her personal collection from one of her various houses. I chose this one, which 'spoke to me' when I saw it in a large ceramic canister filled with its brethren. Vincent Manzo, the antiques expert on hand to help shoppers, ensured that Martha signed this for me: a very nice gesture! She happily obliged. (Lucky me!)
I purchased this antique American vase for my mother. The mark on the base was not legible but I did see a "U.S.A." stamp, very faded, along the perimeter of the base. I love its proportions and the two 'handles' on the side. Very unique.

Not shown are the other gifts I purchased for family: a beautiful modern cake server made in Italy, also for my mother. Her two best friends received Victorian silver cake servers. I love knowing that each of those cake servers likely made an appearance at one of Martha's dinner parties in one of her lovely homes. Each one of these items will be treasured!

Click here to learn more about the Martha Stewart Center for Living. 

5.22.2022

Martha's Great American Tag Sale

When I received an email from one of Martha's television producers in early April of this year telling me that Martha would like me to attend her first ever tag sale at her farm in Bedford, New York, I was floored. She asked if I was interested in attending and being one of the featured guests on a television program about the event. I wasted no time in replying a resounding "YES!" What followed were two weeks of preparation for the trip - my first trip out of the country (I live in Canada) since the pandemic hit in early 2020. I had to get everything in order, including all my vaccination papers, all of the documents required to be on the television show and make all the travel plans. It was a short window of time to plan it, but I was determined to make it happen. And happen it did!

Martha held a pre-sale cocktail party at the stables on her property, which I was invited to but was not able to attend because of scheduling. I regret not trying just a little bit harder to get that extra day off work - but it's all hindsight now. You will see photos of this cocktail party in an upcoming post by Bernie Wong and Dennis Landon, two of Martha's biggest fans (who met on the Martha Moments group!) and collectors of her merchandise. They were also asked by Martha to attend the tag sale.

Not only did I get to see Martha again and chat with her on a few different occasions, I got to meet so many of the people I had corresponded with for years on the Martha Moments Facebook group, including Bernie and Dennis, who have become great friends. I was so proud that Martha Moments had a really strong representation at the tag sale and that it was regarded by Martha, and much of her staff, as THE resource for fans online and on social media. Everyone I met from the group was so warm, caring, friendly and generous. But, honestly, I would expect nothing less from such a great group of people. 

Below are some of my photos from the event. Please be sure to watch the program about the tag sale, which airs on ABC on Wednesday, May 25th, at 8 pm. You will see me, Bernie, Dennis, and several other Martha Moments 'regulars' on the show! It's going to be great fun! Enjoy!

The morning of the tag sale, everyone was asked to park at the John Jay Homestead, which is just a short drive from Martha's home in Bedford, New York. I was so enchanted by the old 1787 homestead, which is where statesman John Jay, one of three authors of The Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the United States, retired. Everyone attending the tag sale was asked to park on the large lawn. From there, attendees would be transported to the sale in shuttle vans, scheduled to arrive and depart at timed intervals, based on the ticket timeslots. 
These are the vans that transported the guests from the John Jay Homestead to Martha's farm. They are shown here in Martha's driveway the morning of the event.
Before heading up to the vans, Bernie Wong and I stopped for a quick photo. We were both so excited to be there! Bernie and Dennis both dressed in really fun mint-green overalls and green patterned shirts. Bernie's favourite colour is green (it's also one of Martha's favourites) and they both looked so great. 

Bernie, Dennis and myself were referred to by the producers as "the superfans" - the ones asked by Martha to attend the sale. We were given the royal treatment - we even had our own private shuttle van that would pick us up from the tag sale whenever we were ready to leave! We felt very special, indeed!
Everyone who attended the sale was given a paper wristband with a number on it. They were, of course, Bedford Gray, and emblazoned with Martha's iconic sycamore logo, which is the symbol of her farm, Cantitoe Corners. The number on the wristbands helped the salespeople keep track of our purchases as they were taken from the tables and placed aside until you were ready to pay.
When we arrived, Martha was waiting for all of us - with the cameras rolling for the ABC special about the sale. Martha instructed the large crowd to please be careful when they were shopping: "No pushin', no shovin'...walk, don't run!" Everyone was definitely very excited and it wasn't a stretch to believe that some people would 'crash the gates' as it were. But everyone was very respectful. These are MARTHA fans, after all! We know etiquette. Martha rang a large bell to announce the official opening of the tag sale and we were off! (As I went past Martha I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek! She approved.)
There was SO MUCH to look at and take in! It was overwhelming at first: chairs, tables, hutches, desks, benches, dishes, glasses, serveware, cookware, bakeware, books, magazines, all kinds of furniture and decorative accessories, from lamps to candlesticks to rugs to mirrors... And they were all part of Martha's personal collection. Many of the objects had been used in her houses over the years, in her kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. There was even clothing Martha had worn!
Each item was tagged and priced. Many of the prices were very reasonable and all of the objects were in excellent condition, of course. Martha takes care of her things, as well all know.
There were so many unique and beautiful things. I, of course, wondered where everything had been, originally. Many of the items were from her home in East Hampton, Lily Pond Lane, which she sold last summer.

I loved this piece so much, but it was well beyond my budget - and my capacity to bring it home across the border to Canada in the trunk of my car! But it was stunning.
The tag sale was held in the hay field of Martha's farm. None of the main houses or stables were visible from this section of the farm.
Outside the tents was all of the outdoor furniture! There was SO MUCH!
I loved these beautiful wooden chairs. I remember seeing them on Martha's terrace in many photographs. 
Not far from here was the "contemporary house" on Martha's property - the only residential structure Martha has not yet refurbished, inside or out. There were all manner of bedframes, hutches, framed prints and posters for sale in this structure. Adjacent to it was another tent filled with wicker furniture, garden urns, flower pots and more!
At the end of a very long driveway through the woods was an enormous storage barn, where I'm assuming many of the items had initially been stored. Even still, it was packed to the rafters with items from Martha's old television studios and offices, including this original "American Made" sign that had once hung in the clerestory of the Starett-Lehigh building, where the Omnimedia offices had once been located. In this barn were Martha Stewart products for sale: merchandise from Macy's, Martha by Mail, Home Depot, Home Decorators, Wayfair and more. There were bins of Christmas ornaments, scrapbooks, tote bags - all manner of items that bore the Martha Stewart imprint. 

THE PEOPLE

Truth be told, it was the people I met at the tag sale who really made the whole thing special for me. Aside from seeing Martha again, which was so wonderful, it was meeting people like Bernie and Dennis, and many others from the Martha Moments Facebook group who made their way to the tag sale from various parts of the United States: Anthony, Tim, Matt, Jennifer, Jeremy, Kristina... All such friendly people I had admired from afar now standing with me in Martha's yard! Everyone I met made the experience brighter, more engaging and certainly more memorable. 
This was "our group" - the people I spent the most time with at the tag sale. Front and center is the amazing designer and ceramicist Christopher Spitzmiller who is as much a Martha fan as the rest of us! Jennifer Zimmerman, far left, was like a big sister to Bernie, Dennis and myself and encouraged us at every turn. That's Bernie and Dennis looking dashing in their matching outfits! To Chris's right is Tim Obert, a Martha enthusiast who only recently discovered Martha Moments. Next to him is Anthony Picozzi, the co-administrator of our Martha Moments Facebook group and someone I've admired for many years. And far right is Matt Obey, Tim's partner and administrator of the @purelysalem Instagram page, which is worth checking out!
One of the highlights was finally meeting Kevin Sharkey, someone whose work I had admired in the magazine for decades. He is currently the executive vice president and executive director of design for the Martha Stewart brand. He was friendly and charming and we both enjoyed the light being cast upon our faces from the plethora of silver cake servers below us - three of which I purchased!
I had met Hannah Milman 11 years ago at an event at the Omnimedia offices but I got to speak with her more in depth at the tag sale. Hannah was the editorial director of crafts for Martha Stewart Living for many years and is responsible for so much of the inspirational projects we got to see over the years. I was so pleased to hear that she will be in charge of the new American Made initiative that Martha Stewart Living will be resurrecting! Stay tuned for more news on that! 
This is Jeremy Lambertson, a longtime member of the Martha Moments group and a reader of this blog for many, many years. It was great to finally meet him! He is a professional collector and he got some excellent things at the sale!
This is Jocelyn, the official writer and photographer for TheMarthaBlog.com. It was great to finally meet her! She said she always likes seeing my comments on the blog posts. 
Jocelyn snapped this photo of me with the plant stand I had just purchased - one that Martha painted herself at Lily Pond Lane. This photo later appeared on Martha's blog!
Bernie and Dennis posed with Wendy Norling and Ryan McCallister. Wendy is the caretaker of Martha's estate in Maine, Skylands, and Ryan is Martha's head gardener at Bedford. They were both so incredibly friendly and warm. 
Vincent Manzo, an antiques expert and appraiser, was on hand to help shoppers with any questions they may have had about any of the objects for sale. He helped Martha select and group the items, along with the main organizers of the event, Kaminski Auctions. Vincent was such a joy to be around and was so exceptionally sweet! He loved all of us Martha groupies!
This is Samantha Frisoli who was responsible for organizing much of the inventory and ensuring everything had the appropriate tag. When I met Sam, she told me she used this blog for so much of her research into many of Martha's own products! I was so honoured to hear that!
It was a great pleasure meeting Carey from The Idea Emporium. She told me she was a huge fan of the Martha Moments Instagram page. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, as was her own wedding! She was so much fun!

You'll be hearing more about the sale here on the blog in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back. Bernie and Dennis will be sharing their memories here too! (They attended the cocktail party and got a special treat on the last day of the sale!) In the meantime, be sure to watch the one-hour special on ABC on Wednesday, May 25th, at 8pm: The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart! You'll see me, and many of the people mentioned above!