Collecting Paint by Number

Paint By Number Kit

Paint By Number Kit

Paint By Number Kits were first produced in the early 1950s by premier manufacturer Craftmaster. The first artist was Dan Robbins. Paint By Number became a craze and thousands of painting kits were manufactured and sold. By 1960, the craze had burned out. In the following decades, paint-by-number paintings fell out of favor and were thrown away or were stored in attics, barns and basements.

In the mid-1980s, a few collectors began to emerge. Galleries exhibited collections of PBN paintings, usually tongue-in-cheek. In 2001, the Smithsonian Museum held an exhibition of PBN paintings, and a catalog was published. William L. Bird, Jr. was the show’s curator, himself a paint-by- number collector. Since the close of the Smithsonian exhibition, prices are beginning to escalate for certain works.

Knowing which images to collect is important. Clearly, the first generation of CraftMaster pictures have surfaced as the most collectible. The 36 original designs of Dan Robbins are the most sought after. Additionally, there are the works of Adam Grant, another CraftMaster artist and a specialist in figure painting. “Love Ballet”(18″ x 24”) and “Ballet Intermission” (12″ x 16) are two of his most popular first generation CraftMasters. Grant’s works today can bring anywhere from a few hundred dollars to maybe as much as $800 or more for his super CraftMaster masterpiece, “The Red Shoes”(27″ x 36”).

Picture Craft, a competing company, made some very appealing pictures, also printed on canvas. The very popular image, “Oriental Cat”, is one of those odd ’50s juxtapositions of content, miniature dancing Siamese figures, incense burning and a big white cat. Another very popular title was “Mediterranean Scene”, a beautiful picture in very controlled colors. Both date to the early ’50s.

Collecting today is often subject specific. There are collectors of birds, tropicals, dogs, cats, children, horses, flowers, etc. Some ’60s vintage pictures can be bought for two or three dollars. Some can run into the hundreds for nudes and French scenes. The “Blue Heron” is from the ’60s and is superbly colored. It will usually sell for $40-$60.

Paint by Number-Deer by Stream

Paint by Number-Deer by Stream

As is the case with so many collectibles, the most valuable are the very first generation of works produced. But some really great later pictures are very worthy of collecting. For reference I recommend the Paint By Number Museum online and the book Paint by Number: The How-To Craze that Swept the Nationby William L. Bird Jr.

Collecting Vintage Scarves

Designer Silk Scarf

Designer Silk Scarf

Vintage scarves bring back a fashion statement from the past.  The most desirable fabric is silk. Collectors look for well-known names like Hermes, Vitaliano Pancaldi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Vera Newman, Chanel, Pucci, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. However, a vintage silk scarf does not have to come with a designer label to be a beautiful work of art. Vintage silk scarves in excellent condition are highly desirable to many collectors. 

Designer scarves were originally made for a more affluent crowd and are still fairly expensive. Vintage Vera scarves were more affordable then, and are a bargain today (and easy to find). Snag a Vera for $15 to $75; a vintage Hermes can be as much as $350.

Vintage Vera Scarf

Vintage Vera Scarf

When you shop for a vintage scarf,  look for crisp color lines, hand rolled and hand stitched edges and a signature.  Then look for the relationship to the vintage fashion of the period.  For example, mod designs from the 60s are collectible, even if they’re not silk.   Many designs from that era were printed on cotton or poly, weren’t signed, and are still collected for their irrepressible exhuberance.

Hand Colouring

Hand Colored Print

Hand Colored Print

I recently posted a hand colored print on eBay and began to wonder how these were made. So, you know me, I got online and started searching for information. Here’s some info that I found on WikiPedia about hand coloring.

Hand-colouring refers to any of a number of methods of manually adding colour to a black-and-white photograph or other image to heighten its realism. Typically, water-colours, oils and other paints or dyes are applied to the image surface using brushes, fingers, cotton swabs or airbrushes. Some photographic genres, particularly landscapes and portraits, have been more often hand-coloured than others, and hand-coloured photographs have been popular enough that some firms specialised in producing them.

There were three mediums used to create hand coloring:

  1. Dyes   When hand-colouring with dyes, a weak solution of dyes was preferred, and colours were built up with repeated washes rather than being applied all at once. The approach was to stain or dye the print rather than to paint it.
  2. Water-colours   Water-colours had the virtue of being more permanent than dyes, but they were less transparent and so more likely to obscure details. Hand-colouring with water-colours required the use of a medium to prevent the colours from drying with a dull and lifeless finish. Before the paint could be applied, the surface of the print had to be primed so that the colours would not be repelled. Since different pigments have varying degrees of transparency, the choice of colours had to be considered carefully. The more transparent pigments were preferred, since they ensured greater visibility of the photographic image.
  3. Oils     The use of oils was particularly a professional practice, as the conventions and techniques involved demanded knowledge of drawing and painting. When hand-colouring with oils, the approach was more often to use the photographic image simply as a base for a painted image. As with water-colours, the choice of oil colours was governed by the relative transparency of the pigments. It was necessary to size the print first to prevent absorption of the colours into the paper.

Hand-coloured photographs often combined these media, with dyes, water-colours and oils in turn being used to different effect in different parts of the image. Whichever medium was used, the main tools to apply colour were the brush and fingertip. Often the dabbing finger was covered to ensure that no fingerprints were left on the image.

Today there has been a resurgence of interest in hand coloring using photoshop and scans of old black and white photographs.  There are a number of tutorials on how to do this.

More on collecting calendars…

How does one determine the collectibility of a particular calendar?

4 Important Factors:

  • How old is it?  Age is only one factor in estimating collectibility. You can still pick up some good quality calendars from the 19th century for reasonable prices.
  • Does it related to a highly collectible area?  Those relating to highly sought after collectible products such as Coca-Cola, are commanding very high prices.
  • Is it by a well known artist?  The calendar art by noted artists, is escalating in value.
  • Does it advertise something?  Calendars with local advertising, naturally, bring the most money in that particular local area.

Condition  “Complete” calendars, meaning those which have their entire Jan-Dec pads attached (if a pad-type calendar) bring a premium over the same calendar that has the pad missing. Those that have some of the months remaining are valued somewhere inbetween. Like any other paper collectible, calendars which are stained or soiled, torn, faded or damaged in any way should be reduced proportionately in value, however even calendars “with problems” seem to be bringing escalated prices compared to their auction prices only couple of years ago.

information from The Calendar Collectors Society

Collecting Calendars

Calendars have been made in many forms over time and people collect in many categories. Here are some of the collectible categories according to The Calendar Collectors Society.

  • wall calendars
  • perpetual calendars
  • desk calendars
  • pocket calendars
  • postcard calendars
  • novelty calendars (calendars made from non-traditional materials, usually die-cuts or 3-dimensional)
  • calendar plates
  • calendar towels
  • almanacs
  • diaries
  • schedules

Lots of collectors are attracted to the art, for their beauty and because they were produced by famous artists or designers like Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Varga, Hy Hintermeister, Rolf Armstrong, R. Atkinson Fox and others. These folks are likely to frame the calendar and hang it on the wall.

Advertising calendars are often collected by collectors of advertising as a “companion collectible”. If the collector is building a collection around a brand name (Coca-Cola, Santa Fe Railroad, etc.) they often include calendars distributed free by that corporation as a part of their collection. Sports collectors, celebrity collectors, political collectors, royalty collectors, Worlds fair collectors or others often include calendars in their collection.

In many countries, pocket calendars (sometimes referred to as wallet calendars) are a large calendar collecting area.

Clever Use of Old Envelopes

photo used by permission of

photo used by permission of

Another great way to recycle those junk mail envelopes from

You just snip off the corner of the envelope, decorate as you like and slip over the corner of your page.  Sure beats folding down a corner to mark your place!

Recreating with Vinyl Records

OK, so you’ve got a record that is hopelessly scratched and won’t play at all. It is definitely not able to be reclaimed as a record. So now what? The trash??

Creating with Vinyl Records is the Hottest Craft Trend right now!
I know…who would believe it?

Making Formed Objects by Melting…like this record bowl or cuff bracelet

Record Bowl

Record Bowl

Cuff Bracelet

Cuff Bracelet

 …are all over the web.  Basically, the process is to heat the vinyl record in an oven at 150 0r 200 degrees and form it over a glass or oven proof bowl , bottle or other object to give the desired shape.  There are some safety concerns-hot vinyl burns skin (so wear protective oven mitts) and heated vinyl gives off toxic fumes (so pay attention to ventilation, wear a breathing mask and keep pets and children away).    Just google “recycled vinyl record” to find sites that give you complete instructions. 

There are other ways to recycle vinyl records that don’t involve heating it. 

Here are some more examples:

  1. Clocks
  2. Books
  3. Purse/Tote Bags
  4. Silhouettes
  5. Art