The Folklore and Fashion of Japanese Netsuke

For diminutive objects, Japanese netsuke are an enormous subject, as this interview with Christine Drosse so amply shows. Drosse is a Curatorial Administrator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, whose Pavilion for Japanese Art is home of the museum’s collection of netsuke, 150 of which are on permanent view. A netsuke collector herself, Drosse also writes a column called “Netsuke Basics from A to Z,” which is published in the quarterly “International Netsuke Society … (continue reading)

Devils, Doves, and World War I: The Rock-n-Roll Posters of Gary Houston

Since the early 1990s, Portland artist and graphic designer Gary Houston has been hand-pulling screen-printed concert posters for everyone from David Byrne and Patti Smith to Willie Nelson and Wilco. In this interview, Houston explains the sources of his images, the techniques he uses to create them, and how the content of his posters often relates to the attitudes and approaches of the musicians and bands he depicts. For more information about Houston’s posters, visit voodoocatbox.com.

My … (continue reading)

American Picker Dream, Part II: Mike Wolfe On Enduros and Land Rockets

As co-host of History Channel’s “American Pickers” and the operator of Antique Archaeology, Mike Wolfe is known to millions of TV viewers as the guy who digs treasures out of barns, sheds, and basements. Although he began his pickin’ career buying, fixing-up, and selling vintage bicycles, he quickly graduated to machine-powered two-wheelers. In the second of several interviews (read our first one here), we spoke with Mike about his love of motorcycles, especially … (continue reading)

Vintage 1970s Lunch Boxes Revisited: When Pop Culture Ruled the Playground

For kids in the ’70s, the cartoon characters and pop stars on their metal lunch boxes were more important than the sliced apples and PB&Js inside. In fact, the coolness of your lunch box could determine your social status for the whole year. In this interview, painter and graphic designer Dee Adams explains how lunch boxes affected playground politics when she was kid, and how she puts her collection of vintage metal ones to use … (continue reading)

American Picker Dream, Part I: Mike Wolfe On His Love Affair With Bikes

As co-host of History Channel’s “American Pickers” and the operator of Antique Archaeology, Mike Wolfe is known to millions of TV viewers as the guy who digs crazy treasures out of barns, sheds, and basements. But he’s always been a vintage bicycle guy at heart—that’s what got him started ‘picking’ at age six. In this first of several interviews (read our second installment here), we spoke with Mike about his bike racing days, his … (continue reading)

Rhinestone Dynasty: Karl Eisenberg Talks About His Family’s Costume Jewelry

You know Eisenberg costume jewelry—just close your eyes, and picture a “vintage brooch.” In the 1930s and ’40s, Eisenberg established the iconic look of this classic piece: Large diamond-like Swarovski crystals set in regal, Baroque and Rococo settings. It was eye-catching jewelry that was at once ostentatious and refined.

Eisenberg & Sons started out as a high-end clothing line in 1914, and it wasn’t long before founder Jonas Eisenberg came up with the brilliant idea of incorporating … (continue reading)

Attack of the Vintage Toy Robots! Justin Pinchot on Japan’s Coolest Postwar Export

Danger! Warning! Intruder Approaching! For recalling the fears and aspirations of the space-race 1950s, Japanese toy robots can’t be beat. But how much do we really know about these tin creations, in hindsight one of Japan’s greatest postwar exports? In this interview, robot collector Justin Pinchot gives the backstory on Japanese tin toy robots and how they reflected the postwar psyche and values of both Japan and the U.S. Pinchot can be reached via toyraygun.com, which is … (continue reading)

Red Wing Beyond the Crock: Larry Roschen on the Stoneware Legend’s Dinnerware

Some Red Wing Pottery collectors focus only on the early stoneware, others are into the company’s artware. Larry Roschen is a dinnerware guy. In this interview, Roschen explains why Red Wing transitioned from stoneware to dinnerware, and one-upped Fiesta in the process, launching the first line of bright, solid-colored dinner sets. He also discusses other important aspects of Red Wing dinnerware collecting, from hand-painted patterns such as Bob White and Round Up to the rare … (continue reading)

The Pinnacle of Pens: Author Barry Gabay on Writing in Style and the Montblanc 149

As a writer and editor at “Pen World” magazine for more than 10 years, Barry Gabay has tested and reviewed countless collectible writing instruments. In this interview, he offers an in-depth look at Montblanc, which is the cornerstone of his personal collection of more than 1,000 mostly prewar American pens and postwar Montblanc fountain pens. Gabay details the history of the company, explains its numbering system, and describes the technology inside these pens. Gabay can … (continue reading)

Purse Perfection: Judith Leiber on Faberge, Rhinestones, and Her Favorite First Ladies

In this exclusive interview, Judith Leiber—handbag designer to red carpet celebs, opera stars, and First Ladies—looks back on her rich and storied career. Leiber’s vintage evening bags can easily fetch thousands of dollars, and one of the most avid collectors of those iconic originals is Leiber herself, who continues to acquire pieces for the East Hampton, New York, museum she and her husband, Gerson, founded in 2005. To date, Leiber has collected roughly 900 of … (continue reading)

Katsina or Kachina? Barry Walsh on the Spiritual Roots of Native American Dolls

Dolls are a rite of passage for little girls, many of whom project their personalities and aspirations onto their first Malibu Barbies or American Girls. In the Hopi culture, dolls are also given to girls as they grow up, but instead of serving an emotional purpose, the katsina dolls the girls receive are thought to represent spirits that will teach and guide the child into adulthood. In this interview, author Barry Walsh explains the history … (continue reading)

Homespun Beauty: Jim Linderman on Folk Art’s Authentic Appeal

For collector, blogger, and author Jim Linderman, beauty is all about the imperfections, which is why he’s so attracted to folk art. In this wide-ranging interview, Linderman talks about his favorite folk-art pieces he’s collected over the years, explains why he just can’t stand the phrase “outsider art,” and reveals what drew him to vintage photographs of circus freaks and glamour girls. Linderman can be reached via Dull Tool Dim Bulb…. (continue reading)

How To Build a Killer Baseball Collection: Scouting the Minors With Dave Bloomer

There are many ways to amass an amazing baseball-memorabilia collection. One is to max out your credit card. Another is to attend countless Minor League games, where you can get up-and-coming players to autograph everything from photographs to game-used jerseys. That’s what Dave Bloomer did—counting the time he spent collecting baseball cards as a kid, he’s been at it for 40 years. In this interview, Bloomer, who is the Chief of Police in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, discusses how … (continue reading)

Secrets of the Blue Note Vault: Rediscovering Monk, Blakey, and Hancock

What if you were given the keys to Blue Note Records’ legendary tape vault? In 1975, that’s exactly what happened to three-time Grammy Award winner Michael Cuscuna. There, the record producer and co-founder of Mosaic Records discovered hundreds of hours of unreleased—and undocumented—sessions, which he diligently pieced together before releasing. This sleuth work made him an expert on Blue Note, from label founder Alfred Lion’s obsession with jazz in the 1920s to Blue Note’s heyday in the 1950s … (continue reading)

Your Turntable Is Not Dead: Inside Jack White’s Vinyl Record Empire

Vinyl isn’t just for collectors; it’s a way for digital music lovers to reconnect with their analog roots. In this interview, Ben Blackwell, the head of vinyl production at Jack White’s Third Man Records, explains how a record is made—from vinyl pellets to the final product—and explores the medium’s perennial allure. He also talks about the history of Third Man, its store in Nashville, and fun oddities like multicolored vinyl. You can find out more about Third Man … (continue reading)