Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Thrift Store Find: A Vintage Brooklyn Dodger "Bum" Figurine

Could you say no to this face?  I certainly couldn't.

I've recently discovered the joy of the hunt... And I don't mean the kind of hunting that requires a firearm.  Instead, I've become a thrift store shopper.  Just like that stupid song from Macklemore, I've been "lookin' to pop some tags and I've got only $20 in my pocket." 

Featured here is a painted, circa 1950's, porcelain figurine of the Brooklyn Dodger "Bum" that I took home for under $10.  It stands approximately 10" tall and is purported to have been produced in Japan for Shields 5th Avenue -- a men's jewelry outfit located in Manhattan in the 40's and 50's. 

It has been described to me as a desk caddy, but I think it is clearly a smoking accessory.  At its foot is a sunken well that acts as an ashtray.  On his belly is a little holder that I assume is were you would place some matches.  Behind him is a basket that is big enough to hold a typical pack of cigarettes.

In the past I've seen these exact figurines sell in the hundreds (especially at the more established auction houses), but have noticed a sizable dip in prices of late.  You can check on eBay or Etsy and find similar statues for sale from $30 to $70 each.  So, a part of me wonders if they got reproduced recently, and I got one of those reproductions.  Or maybe these figurine are not as scarce as collectors originally thought.  The age of the internet and online sales has made information regarding scarcity far more public than they used to be.

The figurine I found does not appear to have a makers mark (I am not aware of one existing for this product), and I didn't see a "made in Japan" marking on its bottom (it's usually just a sticker, so that's not very surprising).  If you happen to know anything about this piece please pass that information along.

This is the first seemingly vintage Baseball item I've found while strolling the aisles of a thrift store, and hopefully it won't be the last. 

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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