July 5, 2007

My Dream Pet: A Hypoallergenic Kitty

Wanna see some vintage stuffies? Sure ya do! I found this cute little guy (dog, cat, giraffe, freak of nature?) at an estate sale several years ago and bought him for the future darling nursery of the future darling child who my loins would someday bear.

Well, lil' sis beat me to the child bearin' and while in Texas for the birthin' of my niece, Mom and I happened upon these reproduction vintage stuffies on clearance at, where else, The Cracker Barrel. At only $1.99 a pop, we bought several for the newest member of the family, including a giraffe, a lady bug, and a mouse with his wedge of cheese, but I just couldn't resist these two for myself. Lucy Lamb is deliciously sweet, and will you get a load of Mimi the Octopus' earrings? I'm fairly dyin' from the cuteness, Dollfaces. These are 2004 reissues of Dakin Dream Pets which were originally manufactured from 1957 through the 1980s, and there is an interesting story behind how they came to be.

In 1957 R. Dakin & Co. were importing toy trains from Japan. Instead of packing the fragile trains with newspaper or straw, those industrious and oh so creative Japanese folks actually handcrafted whimsical little animals from scraps of velveteen and stuffed them with sawdust from the factory floor. For free. For no other purpose than to cradle the trains on their overseas journey. The workers called these creations "Dream Pets" because they could dream up any kind of pet that struck their fancy. After all, they were just going to be tossed out once the trains made it stateside. Now maybe it's just me, Dollfaces, but this seems downright ridiculous. Shouldn't these folks have been manufacturing more profit-producing trains instead of sewing and embellishing stuffed animals to give away for free, precious though they were? I don't have an MBA, but that's just crazy. Crazy like a fox, it turns out, cause ol' Mr. Dakin saw a business opportunity here. (Ya think?) As you can imagine, the public went nuts over the adorable little creatures, and Dakin found himself in the plush toy business, eventually producing over 2000 different Dream Pets. It was a strange way to end up for a company that started out importing guns.

A few weeks ago I went to an estate sale inside a house where once eight cats had lived, each with its own litter box bearing its name, all of them lined up against one bedroom wall, I was told. Now, I am violently, terribly allergic to cats, but that's never stopped me from bargain hunting before. The lady of the house was a fellow collector--stuffed animals, old toys, beautiful costume jewelry and more vintage Christmas stuff than I have ever seen in one place. She was also a superb seamstress and had created lots of beautiful baby clothes, aprons, and embroidered linens. On top of it all, the whole house was full of gorgeous Heywood Wakefield blond wood furniture I would have given my left arm to take home. In short, it was my kind of sale, if only the stuff hadn't been so over-priced. Oh, and did I mention I was allergic to cats? I did manage to come away with some treasures, including the two stuffed dogs above. The little yellow one is a genuine 1960's era Dream Pet, and the red poodle still has a tag that reads, "MOP-PETS by Sarco". I left with some aprons, a bunch of old photos and cards, a vintage 60s jumper for Sugar Pea, some cute vintage Santa pillowcases, a few Christmas decorations, a couple of bottles to add to my beauty product collection, and the scariest asthma attack I've had since I was about twelve. Oh, the price I pay for my thrifty ways.

While I'm on the subject of thriftiness, my grandma and I found these old hand-painted canisters in my dad's barn, rusting away from exposure to the elements.

As you can see, the insides are in pretty rough shape, but I just couldn't leave them alone, especially after my mom told me they had once belonged to her, back when she and my dad were still married. I told you she was vintage when vintage wasn't cool! Well, I had to have them (yes, I have a problem), but what could I do with rusted old kitchen canisters?

How about covering the ruined insides with some stick on fabric I had bought on clearance a couple of years ago! They're nowhere near perfect, but they're fine for holding rick rack, zippers, trims and other bits and bobbins in my sewing corner. Speaking of sewing, the Tie One On "The Pocket" Gallery is up!

In other news, Sugar Pea suddenly pulled herself up on the bars of her crib and stood just like a pro a few days ago. She's growing so fast! Too fast.


Wendy said...

AHHHH! I am so jealous, except for the asthma attack. Yikes. I hope you are feeling better. I love this post. I have a similarly-shaped black fur poodle--lime green fur nose, red felt tongue, frayed yellow bow; much scruffier than your red beauty. Mine has a tag that says "Dollcraft Nov. Co., Inc.--Stuffed Toys for Tots and Teens." My family, of course, made fun of me when I brought her home from the thrift store--but what do they know?

fancy said...

Those canisters are awesome, great flair on the inside too. BTW, your mom rocks. Also, have I told you I am now afraid of using too many exclamation
marks? (thanks.)

jungle dream pagoda said...

I have a vintage Dream Pet donkey,have I ever mentioned my thing for donkeys? Vintage X-mas is my absolute weakness(love to see those pillowcases)! The cannisters? Wow!Sounds like it would have been my kind of sale too!

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