Village Blog | Nature's Art Village | Montville, CTNature's Art Village

1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Montville, CT 06370

Nature's Art Village & The Dinosaur Place: 860-443-4367
The PAST & The Gateway Museum:860-437-3615

Goebel MiniaturesDecember 28, 2018

This week we peer into the tiny world of Goebel Miniatures.

From 1980 to 1994, Robert W. Olszewski was the “Master Artist” for Goebel Miniatures Studios. Most of these detailed figures are about an inch tall, although some are a bit larger. Olszewski carved the master design for each figurine and used the lost wax process to produce a bronze version. After hand-painting the miniatures, Olszewski gave them to trained artisans to reproduce.

One of his collections is the Kinder Way, a set of Bavarian buildings and tranquil settings to accompany the M.I. Hummel miniatures. Goebel Miniatures produced 26 different scaled down M.I. Hummel figurines before the series was suspended in 1992.

In 1985, Grolier Enterprises commissioned Goebel Miniatures to produce the Walt Disney Snow White and Seven Dwarfs Collection to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the animated film. This collection consisted of eight individual figurine pieces, cast in bronze and hand-painted and glazed to mimic the look and feel of fine porcelain. The collection met with success, and Goebel secured its own license for reproducing Walt Disney characters in miniature sold under the name “Marquee Classics.”

In addition to the M.I. Hummel series and Marquee Classics, Olszewski created his own miniatures, produced by Goebel, including a series inspired by the stories he read to his children called Storybook Lane. After being diagnosed with colon cancer in 1994, Robert Olszewski left Goebel to recuperate and later established his own Olszewski Studios.


The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a wide selection of Goebel decorative figurines. Stop by to see these and a wide variety of other vintage collectibles. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles!

Koken Barber ChairsDecember 21, 2018

When it comes to antique barber chairs, the Koken barber chair is a symbol of innovation.

In 1900, Earnest Koken struck upon what would prove to be his greatest idea: a hydraulically-operated chair fitted with a lever that allowed barbers to quickly and easily control all of the chair’s movements. Koken patented these innovations and combined them to create the Koken Hydraulic Barber Chair. His unique chair design  immediately became very popular with barber shops across the United States and beyond.
Koken Barber’s Supply Company remained a premier name in the United States until the 1950s, when the emergence of a number of lower-priced competitors and a slowly declining barber industry forced the company into bankruptcy.

Vintage barber chairs are available for sale at the PAST Antiques and on display at the Gateway Museum.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace  has a wide selection of unusual vintage collectibles to purchase. Stop by the Gateway Museum and explore all of our historic artifacts. Visit us at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut.

Goebel “Redheads”December 19, 2018

A common misconception is that this collection of red-headed figures are Hummels. However, Goebel’s two most popular lines of porcelain statues were designed by different female artists.

Charlot Byj started out by creating her famous redheaded children as greeting cards. Her artwork captured the attention of Franz Goebel of the Goebel Company in the mid-1940s who turned Byj’s characters into three dimensional figurines. Her first figurine, “Strike”, featuring a bowling tyke, was modeled by the master sculptor Arthur Moeller in 1957.

The red-haired brother and sister known as Shabby O’Hair and Raggy Muffin were designed as lighthearted characters, full of life and mischief. Their dog, Waggy, also makes an appearance on many of the pieces.

More than 100 different figurines were designed, molded, and produced before the series was discontinued in 1988. These charming kids continue to be a favorite among Goebel collectors.

Next week we explore the fascinating works by Goebel Miniatures Studios.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a wide selection of Goebel decorative figurines. Stop by to see these and a wide variety of other vintage collectibles. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles!



December’s Vendor of the Month is Booth 66, located downstairs in the PAST Antiques Marketplace.

If you need some inspiration for holiday decorating and gifting, you have to visit this booth! Just look at all these beautiful items. Everything you need to complete your Christmas décor: Santa, snowmen, nutcrackers, blown glass ornaments, snow globes and more. They even have holiday jewelry to dress up your wardrobe.  Stop in today and add a little sparkle to your holiday!



With more than 90 antique and collectibles dealers between two handicap-accessible floors, The PAST Antiques Marketplace is sure to have something for the collector in all of us.





Long before Steve Allen popularized the phrase “is it bigger than a breadbox?” on  T.V. game shows in the 1950s, breadboxes were a staple in American kitchens.

Used to keep bread and other baked goods fresh, breadboxes are typically big enough to fit one or two average size loaves of bread—up to about 16 inches wide by 8 to 9 inches high and deep. They were a more common household item before bread started being commercially made with food preservatives and wrapped in plastic. Many homes still have breadboxes to keep store-bought or homemade bread. Newer boxes are usually made of metal or plastic, while in the past they were often made of wood.
Vintage breadboxes are a fun and useful collectible.


Breadboxes are designed to:

  • Keep their contents at room temperature, prolonging edible storage time.
  • Have a lid loose enough to allow airflow which reduces condensation and helps to prevent the formation of mold.
  • Have a lid tight enough to protect their contents from mice and all other pests, including ants and flies.


There are a variety of vintage household items on display in the Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village. Come visit us at Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to explore all of our historic artifacts.




The World of GoebelDecember 12, 2018

The Goebel Company, based in northern Bavaria, has been creating fine porcelain tableware and decorative items since 1871. While most famous for producing M.I. Hummel decorative pieces, Goebel’s offerings also include gifts, tabletop and home décor. Focusing exclusively on the Hummel line would be unfair to their many other quality, sought-after collectibles including Co-Boys and Redheads. This month we delve into the background of a few of Goebel’s more popular collections.

“Co-Boy” figurines are a popular series of gnome-like figurines made by the Goebel Company. In order to market the Co-Boys, Goebel created a fictional tale about gnomes who reside in Coburg, Germany. These cute gnomes were patterned after the town’s inhabitants, such as a doctor, cook, wine maker, butcher, etc. There are more than 60 different figures in this first series.

Co-Boys figurines are noted for their high quality, beautiful style and excellent handiwork. These vintage Goebel collectibles were produced between 1971 and 1987.

Next week we will enter the world of Goebel’s “Redheads”.

With more than 90 antique and collectibles dealers between two handicap-accessible floors, The PAST Antiques Marketplace is sure to have something for the collector in all of us. Visit us at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville!


Payphones and phone boothsDecember 09, 2018

When the telephone was invented in 1876, it was at first a service available only to the relatively wealthy, at least when it came to private use. In 1889, the first public coin telephone was installed by inventor William Gray at a bank in Hartford, CT. Gray was inspired to create a public phone when he was unable to locate a phone to call a doctor for his ailing wife.

His innovation allowed everyday people who couldn’t afford their own phones to make business and personal calls. The difference between Gray’s model and its successors is that callers could wait to pay until after the completion of the call. In 1898, Western Electric changed this system and implemented the prepay system still used today. By 1902, pay telephones had reached such popularity that there were 81,000 installed in the United States. In 1905, the first outdoor model had a wooden structure and was installed in Cincinnati. Glass booths weren’t implemented until the 1950s.

By 1995 there were as many as 2.6 million in the U.S. However, At the end of 2012, the FCC reported the number of payphones dropped to 243,487. With 95% of Americans currently owning cell phones, the need for pay phones has diminished. According to the FCC, there are only about 100,000 phone booths left in the United States and about a fifth of those are in New York.


If you would like to see a vintage wooden phone booth with a working payphone, stop by our museum! Come visit us at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville.



Frogs are a great way to decorate your home and office. These quirky critters don’t just add a charming touch to your décor, they are believed to bring you luck.

In Japan frogs are very auspicious. The Japanese word for frog is “kaeru” and its homonym means “to return”.  Travelers bring a frog amulet on their journey as this is believed to secure a safe return. Some people keep a small frog amulet in their purse or wallet to ensure money will return.

Whether you are hoping to attract some luck, or just enjoy unusual collectibles, visit the Frog Room at The PAST Antiques and take home some lovable amphibians today.

During the month of December, all frog-related items in our Frog Room are buy two, get one free!
(Free item must be of equal or lesser value. Sale good through December 31st, 2018)

With more than 90 antique and collectibles dealers between two handicap-accessible floors, The PAST Antiques Marketplace is sure to have something for the collector in all of us. Visit us at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville!

Westmoreland GlassNovember 28, 2018

The Westmoreland Glass Company grew out of the Specialty Glass Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, which, in 1889, relocated to Grapeville, Pennsylvania, to take advantage of the area’s abundant supply of natural gas. By 1890, production of pitchers, goblets, tumblers, and glass novelty items was underway, overseen by two brothers named George and Charles West. With the financial backing of Ira Brainard, the brothers soon bought out the Ohio founders and changed the firm’s name to the Westmoreland Specialty Company. Operation of the factory ran smoothly for nearly 30 years. During this period, Westmoreland produced virtually every type of glassware, from inexpensive pressed glass to pricier cut glass. Disagreements between the two brothers eventually resulted in George leaving the company, which Charles continued to run on his own. Around the same time, the name was changed to Westmoreland Glass Company to eliminate the confusion among consumers about what a “specialty” company might actually produce— “glass” made the company’s mission crystal clear.

Throughout World War I, the Westmoreland Glass Company manufactured and distributed intricately molded, candy-filled glass jars in the shapes of automobiles, trains, and revolvers to newsstands and dime stores across the U.S. The jars were made of high-quality milk glass, or opal, a signature material that distinguished Westmoreland glass from its competitors.

In the 1920s, Charles added a large decorating department to the factory’s output, which allowed for the distribution of impressive crystal and decorated ware. However, it was milk glass that proved to be most lucrative. An estimated 90 percent of all Westmoreland glass produced between the 1920s and ’50s was made of milk glass. Due to their high level of craftsmanship, Westmoreland milk glass pieces were considered some of the finest examples of the material in the country. This reputation for quality is one reason the factory was not forced to close during the Great Depression.

One of Westmoreland’s most enduring products was a covered dish called Hen on a Nest, which was manufactured in numerous sizes. The earliest Hens were pressed from a more fragile (and more collectible) type of milk glass than the versions that followed. Early Hens can be distinguished from later ones because they were a pure milk-white; it was only later that the hen’s comb was colored bright red. They also created other popular animal dishes including swans, cats, and even bunnies.

By the 1950s, milk glass seemed the best financial bet for the company. Many of the patterns produced during that decade were designed to capitalize on the material’s earlier popularity. Among the most successful patterns were Paneled Grape, Old Quilt, Quilted, English Hobnail, Beaded Fruit, and American Hobnail. As the 1950s drew to a close, though, the popularity of milk glass waned. Westmoreland struggled through the 1970s, and in 1981 David Grossman purchased the company. Despite an effort to revive the business, there was no longer a substantial interest in milk glass. On January 8, 1984, nearly 100 years after its founding, the factory shut down production.

Westmoreland glass of all types continues to be desired by collectors who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of these beautiful creations. We currently have a selection of Westmoreland glass on sale: but two get one free! (free item must be of equal or lesser value)

Antique CannonsMay 04, 2018

One of the most dynamic and rewarding collections within our antique shop is the impressive display of antique cannons.

Originating in China during the 12th century, cannons are a more sophisticated version of a “fire lance,” or an early weapon used with gun powder. The fire lance had a pyrotechnic mechanism (slow-burning gunpowder contained within a bamboo tube) attached to a spear. The heat created from igniting gases within the gunpowder causes the gases to rapidly expand, which generates explosive energy. The confined space of the tube made it even more explosive. As improvements were made to gunpowder formulas, changes in the weapon also took place. The tubes were made wider while the spear was eventually done away with, and Chinese warriors began adding pellets and debris before the powder was ignited to cause more damage with the explosion.


After cannons made it to Europe, a general rule of thumb by the 16th century was that a longer barrel would be able to hit a longer range. That being said, some manufacturers of the time crafted barrels that were more than 10 feet long! They also could weigh up to 20,000 lbs. Most countries developed a sizing system to keep track of how cannons were being built so that it would be easier to identify how much gunpowder was needed, or what kinds of cannon balls could be launched. (The bigger the barrel, the more gunpowder and larger cannon ball it required!) France decided on six cannon classifications, while England “narrowed” it down to sixteen!

Although most cannons used today are “autocannons” (which automatically load their own ammunition and fire faster than artillery), gunpowder cannons are still an important part of World History. They were used in all corners of the globe, from the Islamic world to Medieval Europe.

From signaling for help to operating as functional toys, the uses of the cannons on display vary greatly. Regardless of the model, the craftsmanship, ingenuity and longevity of these fascinating firearms are astounding. And some will actually fire!

With more than 90 antique and collectibles dealers between two handicap-accessible floors, The PAST Antiques Marketplace is sure to have something for the collector in all of us. Visit us at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville!


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