Sunday, June 3, 2018

Carnival Kitsch

So my Friend and I were stocking my Booth at the Antique Mall and a new Vendor had this Amazing huge Old Commercial Sign, aged to perfection and with great texture and patina to the Old Wood.  I made an offer on it and they accepted... so now it's mine and goes well with my Vintage Carnival Decor.  I don't know why anything I associate in my Brain with Vintage Carnivals just makes me Happy, but it does.

I've been Collecting Carnival Kitsch for a long time, I'm always Scouting out unique pieces that I might find at a Bargain.  It's getting more challenging nowadays, as popularity of the Old Carnival Prizes and Props seems to have become more appreciated by Collectors and Stylists.   I think any Carnival Prize, no matter how tacky, just reminds me of Good Times and of Simple rewards we all wanted to Win.  Why we'd spend a small fortune trying to Win something we might never be interested in buying outside of a Carnival, who knows?   That's part of the Appeal and our Inner Child Nostalgia I suppose!?! *LOL*

Because anyone can just buy something, right?  But Winning it, there's something particularly personally gratifying and a Rush about Winning it!  Not everyone can Win it and so when you do, there's a certain Glory and Pride in it!   And if someone Wins it for you, even better, the Devotion that comes with that is just Special!   I still have and Cherish a very fancy, large, plush Puppet Monkey that my Welsh Uncle Won for me in Las Vegas at Circus Circus for marksmanship, one of the top Prizes awarded.  Of coarse he was a marksman in the Welsh Guards so for him it was no Big Deal, but for me it sure was, I was so Proud!

Now I wasn't even a Kid when that happened, I was a grown Woman with half grown Children of my own at the time, but I felt like a little Girl, giddy with excitement that he was Winning it for me!   I can only imagine the Memories attached to these Vintage Chalkware Carnival Kitsch Figurine Prizes that I Collect from the 1920-1940 Era Carnivals.   This would have been the Era when my Uncle and Parents would have been growing up and going to the Carnivals.  In fact, the smaller and more Simple the Carnival, the more intimate it always seemed to me when I was growing up.

I looked forward to those small Town Gypsy Carnivals that came thru Town a couple times annually, usually in the Spring and Fall.   My own Children and Grandchildren did as well, we sought them out eagerly.   The State Fair is always Fun and a pretty Big Deal, but the Small Town Carnivals were the best!  You could almost always Win something at the Simple Carnivals so you came away Feeling like a Winner, Prizes Proudly in hand!   Anything from a Goldfish to a Poster, Plush Toy to an orphan piece of China... how cheesy the Prize was barely mattered!

I personally Wish they still offered the Kitschy Chalkware Figurine Prizes of Yesteryear, badly and gaudily painted, sometimes poorly Glitterized, occasionally hollow and more fragile or turned into a Bank you'd have to break to actually get your money out.  *Smiles*   The subject matter of these Kitschy Chalkware were the best, I happen to have my personal favorites, but honestly, I've never seen one I haven't fallen in Love with or wanted to own.  They come in all shapes, all sizes, all Tacky as Hell but ya just gotta Love 'em despite that part!  *LOL*

I don't think they were ever made or meant to last and endure but they have, because most who Won them did Cherish them despite them being badly done and of no real Value except Sentimental!   Many of mine have dates they were Won scribbled on the bottoms.  Several have time worn Patina of being greatly Loved and are showing their Age.  Or perhaps had some Happy Accidents during their Lifetime, usually Lovingly but amateurly repaired, but not discarded if damaged.   That little hollow Dog in the center of this Image I had to Lovingly repair when one of the G-Kid Force had a Happy Accident involving it in fact!

They always make us Smile and often the Grands used to Secretly 'decorate' them with Props and I just left them like that, a Fun Memory.  Like the Spectacle Dog, who one of the G-Kid Force put some Doll Glasses on one day, many years ago, and he's been like that ever since!   I myself have never outgrown the Carnival, I still enjoy going to this day, as much as I ever did. Even tho' nowadays there's not much on the Midway I'd want to try to Win anymore.   But if they still had the Chalkware Prizes, I'd probably spend a small fortune trying to Win them... even tho' they can be bought!  *LMAO*

I did Win one relatively recently tho', when Sweet Salvage had their Event with the Secret Customer Appreciation Freebies hidden amongst the Inventory being Sold.   I had picked up that Dog in the Image, to actually buy him, and lo and behold, he was one of the Freebie Prizes!   Well, it was like Winning him at the Carnival, wasn't it?!?   It made him all the more Special among the Collection, because he was Won... and he was of the Vintage Carnival Kitsch variety of Prizes I happen to have a fondness for and Collect!!!   Booyah!!!  I think I bought some incredible stuff that day but he was the most Cherished and the fondest Memory of the day!

And I think it is the Cherishing of Memories of a Fun Day that makes the Carnival Prize just that much Sweeter.  No matter what may be going on in your Life at the time, when you're at the Carnival everything melts away in the way of problems, stress or negativity.   I like to People Watch where ever I go, at a Carnival if you look at the Countenance of the Attendees, no matter what Age, there is Joy evident.   I can't recall seeing anyone's Countenance at a Carnival or a Fair that looked depressed, stressed or sad... they are having Fun!

There are those Magical and Enchanting Moments in Time that are particularly Memorable and I think the Carnival rates way up there with those Moments.  My Memory is fading and failing as I Age and yet I can vividly recall so many Carnival Moments over the years, from my own Childhood, thru the Childhoods of my Adult Children and Grandchildren.   I still remember my Mom regaling me with the European Carnival Stories of her Youth.   She and her older Brother, the one who Won me the Monkey, would try to Win odd orphaned pieces of China for my Nanna at the Gypsy Carnivals in Wales.  

I think perhaps many Mothers during that Era had the Carnival China their Kids Won them.  In fact, in Europe the now highly Collectible Carnival Glass was sometimes given as Prizes at Carnivals, tho' most was probably bought the Name still stuck!   I do have some European Carnival Glass I have Collected... and sometimes Sold, I always liked the iridescent properties of the Glass.  It always Sells well, so popularity hasn't waned to the point that much China has fallen in favor during Modern times.  Mom always thought it a lark that cheap Carnival Glass was so highly sought after by the Americans stationed in Europe, she never valued it, recalling when it was a Carny Prize Won by Children.

Of coarse she felt that way about Jadeite too given it used to be given away in Detergent boxes or when you filled up with Gas at the Gas Station... and I Love the stuff!  *Smiles*   I guess I never have developed a real refined taste and so Kitsch to me is preferable to the Fancy stuff.   I prefer the Whimsy of it, the unpretentious nature of it, it nourishes my Inner Child like nothing upscale ever would.  It wasn't meant to impress but just to be Joyful, utilitarian and readily available to anyone and everyone.

There are those pieces that Got Away... mostly those whose Price Point I just couldn't justify a purchase of... or couldn't Win.   I'm sure you have the Memories of those Carnival Prizes that couldn't be bought nor Won... and the lamentations that you couldn't 'Score' them and add them to your Collection of Cherished items?   What are the ones that Got Away from you my Friends?   I elude to just a couple in this Post... that aren't in my possession because... well... they Got Away... dammit!  *Winks*


Blessings, Love and Light from the Arizona Desert... may you be Feeling like a Winner Today my Friends... Dawn... The Bohemian


  1. This made me smile, as my friend collects some plaster wares...and we are always on the look out for something unusual. Clearly you have more carnivals in Arizona then we had here, lol.

  2. Mebbe they all came here to retire... like the Circus retires in Florida? LOL


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