Posts Tagged ‘collecting’

Zino Davidoff was born on March 11, 1906 in Kiev, Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. He was the eldest of four children born to tobacco merchant, Henri Davidoff. Even in his own autobiographical writings, the facts on Zino’s youth are a bit hazy, as he was quite young during this time and could only piece together some stories of his youth. His parents were either cigar merchants or cigarette manufacturers in Kiev. Fleeing the political turmoil and anti-Semitism prevalent in Russia, his parents left some of their family behind and emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 for a better life and opened their own Tobacconist shop in 1912. Finishing school in 1924, he went to Latin America to learn about the tobacco trade, spending time in such places as Argentina, Brazil, and finally Cuba where he spent two years working on a plantation and first encountered Cuban cigars.

Returning to Switzerland around 1930, he took over his parents’ shop. What had originally been a modest tobacco shop grew into a rich business during and after WW II. Neutral Switzerland was spared much of the havoc wreaked elsewhere in Europe and became a haven for wealthy tobacco customers. Zino was particularly successful in marketing the Hoyo de Monterrey Châteaux Series of Cuban cigars created for Zurich cigar distributor A Durr Co., in the 1940s and named after great Bordeaux wines.  Around this time, Zino is also credited by many as having invented the first desktop cigar humidor, in order to preserve cigars at the same conditions of humidity and temperature under which they were rolled in Havana. Davidoff also had success writing several books on cigar smoking and Cuban cigar brands.

In 1970, Zino sold his small but highly successful tobacco shop in Geneva to the Max Oettinger Group. Zino stayed on as Davidoff’s ambassador until his death in 1994 at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife and daughter, who remained in Switzerland and by his siblings that had since moved to other parts of the world, mainly North America. Till his last moments, Zino an avid family man, sought out to find his lost family history back in the Soviet Union and then the emerging independent states of Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, many historical documents had been lost and so had his search. Not much information exists on their whereabouts, but through saved notes by Zino, it has been speculated that many had defected to North America in the early to mid 70’s, some under new identities and family names.

A tobacconist is an expert dealer in tobacco in various forms and the related accoutrements. Such accoutrements include pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, pipe tampers, ashtrays, humidors and more. Books and magazines, especially ones having to do with tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, and candy are sometimes sold. A tobacconist shop is traditionally represented by a wooden Indian positioned nearby.

Although I am not really a tobacconist, I have collected many tobacciana collectibles that are offered for sale at my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  You won’t see a wooden Indian but here are a few vintage and antique humidors:


Noritake and Nippon Porcelain Humidors ca. early 19oo’s.


Marzi & Remy Porcelain Humidor – Germany ca. 1940’s


Metal Humidors – Adam Verde and a Boston Rumidor ca. 1940’s to 1950’s


Glass Humidors – Heisey glass, polychrome mesh (1920’s Art Deco), EAPG  and  Victorian Humidors.

Hand thrown, stone crock humidor with pipe rest lid.

Depression glass, Moongleam, cigarette humidor.

And my favorite:


A stunning humidor with beautiful glass.  Double click on the photos to see better details.

You can see these and many more from my collection.  Place your cursor on my assistant “the Duck” and click to go to my eBay store Kelekchens. Open tobacciana and your there.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come!”


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Nippon Egyptian Scenes 2 – Kneeling Pharaohs

Like most people I have an interest in things decorated in the Egyptian style.  At a young age I was very taken with the mystery of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. But I don’t just collect Egyptian items. Actually, I collect Nippon. And this is yet another blog (I have written a few, see below) on Nippon collecting and the many varied styles of Nippon.

This brightly colored decoration features hieroglyphics, scarab, and of course kneeling pharaohs.  At first look a person does a double take as the figures look a little risqué to say the least.  However, this Nippon is officially known as The Kneeling Pharaohs.  This is a diverse assortment of items in Egyptian style showing four seated Gods (sons of Osiris) around the bottom (mug) along with various hieroglyph type symbols, and depicts a scarab or sacred beetle in the center of the design. Ancient Egyptians considered the scarab to be connected with protecting the heart of the dead, thus insuring a source of life and movement in the afterlife.  This design is found on vases as well but not on humidors. I wonder what the Japanese artisans thought of these scenes when they painted them for the U.S. market back in the early 1900s. 

Pharaohs in ancient Egypt were considered to be all-powerful rulers with divine connections.  The Egyptian type designs featured on these wares look as though they could have been found on the walls of the old king’s tombs.  Even the colors used on the Nippon Bowl pictured are a close approximation of the colors used on the original jeweled pectoral found in the tomb of Rameses II. This decor is known to exist on candlesticks, vases, bowls, desk items and jugs and carries the green backstamp #47.


A Nippon “Kneeling Pharaohs” mug purchased from a collector in Alabama. Mug is 5 1/2″ tall and has the green backstamp #47.



Bowl, 10″ wide including handles, green mark #47 as shown.  Mint condition, as gold gilding is not worn. Purchased at Cherry Berry Vintage a delightful shop on Etsy.com.


The above bowl is actually a documented piece in Joan VanPatten’s book  ABC’s of Nippon Collecting, 2005 on page 204. Retail value $350.00 – 425.00.  The bowl above is actually in better condition than the one shown in the book because the gold isn’t badly worn on the handles.

These items are even rarer to find in the “Molded Egyptian”, a molded-in-relief decoration found on various desk set pieces, humidors, cigarette boxes, and candle-sticks. On the molded-in-relief inkwells and humidors there is a scarab on top of the finial and the candlesticks are molded in the shape of columns.  Hieroglyphics are featured on the pieces but they are not actual Egyptian ones. These pieces are also marked with the green #47 backstamp. Since I have not been able to find and add a molded-in-relief  Nippon Egyptian piece to my collection, I don’t yet have a photo to show you.

Here is another Nippon Egyptian item of interest.  Isis or Ashmose?

The Egyptian goddess Isis on a hand painted Nippon ashtray. Part of my “Nippon” collection.

Egyptian-type Nippon offers a wide source of interest and sheds light on the taste of the era they were made. Had the tomb of Tutankhamen been discovered a few years earlier there probably would have been even more fabulous Egyptian pieces painted.

Be sure to visit my store “Kelekchens” on eBay and Bonanzle. To go to my eBay store now just put your cursor on my assistant (The Duck) and press enter. Enjoy.

I am waiting on a shipment from outside the U.S. It has some interesting pieces I will use in my next post so be sure to check in occasionally.  Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”.

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Go to any public library and stroll down the aisle where the psychology books are at.  You will see book after book about the psychology of collecting.  Google “Psychology of Collecting”  and again, you will find post after post and informative articles of many educated and learned men and women discussing the psychology of collectors.  Over kill probably is appropriate for all the drivel about why a collector collects.  Psycho-babble!  Sigmund Freud was an avid collector of Egyptian artifacts.

It seems to me that everyone is a collector of something.  Young people today, such as my grown children might say “I don’t collect anything”.  Really.  What about your FaceBook account.  What are you doing on FaceBook?  Collecting!  Your collecting friends and the goal it seems is, the more friends you have on FaceBook the better and bigger your collection.  The bigger the collection, the more time and effort it takes to clean it up, dust it off and figure out just where are you going with your collection.

So it is with all of us as we accumulate more and more to add to our collections.  Collecting in my own opinion has more to do with our own idea of what collecting means to each of us and the why  just isn’t really that important.  That being said, if you are a pathological collector and do evil things to get more for your collection.  You, have a problem!

I believe for myself it is best to explain my own path to collecting and how I have arrived at this point in my life with such a large accumulation of….things.  One of my favorite stories about collecting is of the family, husband, wife and three young children who lived in Ohio.  The couple were actually born and raised in Michigan but moved to Ohio for his job.  On long weekends they liked to pack up the kids in the minivan and head out across country. You know, kind of do the gypsy thing.  Mom liked to browse antique stores but Dad wasn’t really interested…until Mom bought him a nice little sterling silver collector’s spoon from Michigan.  Dad decided he would collect these ornate and interesting little spoons so they didn’t pass antique stores any more.  Now, they stopped at every antique store they saw.  Soon, even the kids got involved collecting commemorative spoons from Michigan and over the years the collection grew and grew.  To me the moral of this story is that Mom and Dad was able to pass on to their children the roots of where they were from and the history of their own lives from a young age.  Also, I find this story pleasing because Mom and Dad were involved and with their children teaching them the virtues of collecting and saving. The children will always have stories about that “great find” to pass on to their own children and so it goes.

My own story is much the same.  My Mother was a collector from a very young age and collected antiques.  First, antique dolls but later many other antique things.  Eventually after following my mother to farm sales, garage sales and the like my Father also became a collector. He collected old wood working tools.  (woodworking being his hobby).  When my parents retired they built a beautiful and large log cabin home in the country and all of their collections found a home. One whole room was dedicated to my Mother’s doll collection and in the basement my father built a beautiful bar with all of his German antique beer stein collection displayed not to mention my father had a four car garage separate from the cabin to house his tool collection and a very modern woodworking shop. He actually built the garage first and then he built the log cabin home.  It took them three years to build the home of their dreams but it was clear from the beginning they wanted to display their collections.

Because my parents were collectors and often took my brother and I to different sales with them (an all day affair normally) I also became interested in collecting.  I started with collecting antique items for my bedroom.  As a teenager my bedroom furniture was all Victorian antiques including an oriental rug for the wood floor after all my parents were avid antique collectors.  My brother collected music albums.  Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones etc.  He still has those albums today as well as an extensive Indian Artifacts Collection.  We were raised on a farm in the Midwest and when plowing or planting we would often turn up arrowheads and the like which fascinated my brother and he just started accumulating. So I am from a family of collectors.

In an article written by Jack Lowenstein he writes that people collect for three reasons.  1) nostalgia 2) the compulsion to accumulate 3) the desire to amass negotiable wealth. I agree with all of that.  I enjoy the history, beauty and workmanship of those things created by our ancestors.  I like the game and excitement of finding, buying, trading and selling to accumulate an enviable collection and I always keep in mind the resale value of pieces I collect and how much I have invested in my collections.  More than a hobby I have turned my joy of collecting into a business interest. I am also continuing the traditions of my own family and upbringing.  My own children seem truly amazed of antiques I purchased over 35 years ago that I still have and that some things I collected were not antiques when I bought them but now they truly are 100 years old. Collecting and saving.  Synonymous. This is the true joy of collecting.

What collections do I have?  Asian Antiques, glass paper weights, antique beer steins, sterling silver commemorative spoons, Victorian furniture, Frankoma political coffee mugs and yes all of the above listed items are true collections. Not just odds and ends.  I have odds and ends as well such as Heisy glass, old games, old books, and civil war relics to name a few but I never built a collection of those items. Am I a packrat?  I don’t think so. I have organized collections, well cared for and I continue to buy, build, trade and sell within my collections.  The nature of my blog and newly formed business interest on eBay.  Be sure to click on my Assistant Editor to visit my eBay store “Kelekchens”. My goal now that I have started blogging is to build my own website and to continue to improve my ecommerce skills and of course improve my collections.

I have a little story to tell you about those unusual finds collectors run across in their daily lives.  One thing we all handle is currency.  Good “ol” dollars and cents. U.S. of course.  I have a few old bills like a Black Eagle Federal Reserve note and a “Wood Chopper” note.  So…I have dabbled a little bit in currency collecting.  About 10 years ago I stopped at a convenience store to purchase gasoline.  I paid in cash and upon receiving my change I noticed a strange $5.00 bill I was handed.  After I got home I pulled the bill out of my wallet and examined it carefully.  I still have it and it is for sale in my eBay store.  This is what it looks like:


This is a 1993, $5.00,  Federal Reserve Note printed at Atlanta, circulated.

Notice anything different about this note?  Missing the 5 on the back, upper right hand corner.  This is known as an “error note”.


If anything collectors are observant and “pay attention to detail” a character trait honed in me by my 23 years of military service.  After alot of reasearch I found that this was an error in printing on the third run and most likely one of a kind.  That makes it collectible to those that collect such notes.  That $5.00 turned into a little windfall.  Best purchase of gasoline I ever got! Ha -Ha.  The moral of this story…pay attention to the money you get, look it over. Notice anything different about it?  What is the date on the money? Is it an antique?  This penny is:

This is an 1880 Indian Head Cent. Another lucky find.  So watch your money. It may be worth more than its intrinsic value.

That is all for today fellow collectors so until next post Happy Collecting and remember the best is yet to come.


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