Antiques and Collectables

Collecting is a hobby that lasts a lifetime and gives much joy and pleasure. Those memorable finds, the great people you meet, the new places you explore when searching for your treasures. It is a truly engrossing pastime. Find an area of collecting that interests you and get out there and enjoy the experiences.

Every household seems to have a collection of old and interesting items that have just accumulated over the years. Whether in the back of the cupboard or in the storage lock-up we all seem to have a supply. From mouth organs, grandma’s porcelain, notes and coins, stamps, cast iron wares, dolls, varieties of glass ware, furniture to art objects. They just seem to accumulate. 

In these times of greater financial care, support your local small businesses. They are the beating heart of our community. From the greengrocer to the butcher, the chemist to the newsagents, the clothing shops to the cafes, the bakers to all those small shops in our local streets (even the Antique shops). Support them all! Try not to do all your shopping in the supermarkets, the big franchise shops and online. If our small businesses close down the big boys just get bigger and more controlling of our dollar!

Kokeshi dolls are simple wooden Japanese dolls with no arms or legs that have been crafted for more than 150 years as a toy for children. Originally from the Tohoku region in northern Honshu, kokeshi are handmade from wood, having a simple trunk and head with a few thin, painted lines to define the face. The body often has floral and/or ring designs painted in red, black, and sometimes green, purple, blue, or yellow inks, and covered with a layer of wax. One characteristic of kokeshi dolls is their lack of arms or legs. Since the 1950s, kokeshi makers have signed their work, usually on the bottom and sometimes on the back. Kokeshi dolls are surprisingly popular in Japan as a tourist attraction and abroad as a souvenir.                                                        

For decades, there has always been a kokeshi in every Japanese house. Since people buy them as souvenirs on trips or give them to others, the number of kokeshi dolls has gradually increased.

Kokeshi dolls were first made as souvenirs for hot spring resorts in the Tohoku region around the end of the Edo period (1603-1868).

At that time, 90% of the population were farmers, and hot-spring cures were an important event for people in the cold Tohoku region. The custom of “cold-weather visits” in midwinter and “mud-removal hot-spring cures” after rice planting had been completed instigated the making of kokeshi dolls for souvenirs.

In the beginning, kokeshi dolls were small enough to be held by children, in other words, they were toys. They were used as dolls for girls’ games. The kokeshi as a toy reached its peak at the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912).                                                                                                  

In the Taisho era (1912-1926), new materials such as celluloid and tin appeared in addition to the traditional wooden toys.

The focus of toys shifted from kokeshi dolls to these new materials. Meanwhile, more and more adults began to collect kokeshi dolls for appreciation. Eventually, kokeshi dolls were transformed from children’s toys into objects of appreciation for adult collectors.

Traditional kokeshi dolls’ shapes and patterns are particular to a certain area and are classified under a variety types. The most dominant type is known as Naruko variety. The main street of the Naruko Onsen Village is known as Kokeshi Street and has shops which are operated directly by the kokeshi carvers.

Creative kokeshi allow the artist complete freedom in terms of shape, design and colour and were developed after World War II (1945). They are not particular to a specific region of Japan and generally creative kokeshi artists are found in cities.

The woods used for kokeshi vary, with cherry used for its darkness and dogwood for its softer qualities. A Japanese maple, is also used in the creation of both traditional and creative dolls. The wood is left outdoors to season for one to five years before it can be used.

Now kokeshi masters often sign their work with names, signatures and seals.

The variety is endless, the costs vary widely depending on collectability, but the enjoyment these little guys give is endless.

I hope that collecting brings you the enjoyment that I have experienced over forty odd years!

I have opened a shop (Antiques & Old Wares) at 12 Isabella St, Wingham – third year now. A retirement venture and continuation of my hobby. Lots of new stock. I have recently emptied my storage shed that I have rented for nearly 30 years. The owners wanted to redevelop. Some items have gone into new storage and some are still being sorted and priced in the shop. 

Call in and say hello. 

If you have items that you are not sure of, I may be able to help with information, appraisals &/or sales. I love the history and stories of old and interesting treasures. Phone Rex – 0427 880 546.

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