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 Antiques & Genius Museum:860-437-3615

Art Pottery Wall PocketsMarch 13, 2019

Ornamental wall pockets or wall vases first became household staples in the late 18th century. Many European ceramics manufacturers including Staffordshire, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton made decorative china wall pockets. These flat-backed, wall-mounted containers were originally designed to hold matches, kitchen utensils and sewing items.

Wall pockets saw a surge in popularity during the 1940s and ‘50s when American companies like Holt-Howard and Hull began manufacturing novelty ceramics. Cute pockets featuring animals and people’s faces often had matching kitchenware such as cookie jars or salt and pepper shakers. These novelty wall pockets were quite different form their ornate predecessors and homemakers loved them. Today’s wall pockets are still prominent in businesses and used for organizing paperwork. While not as decorative, these plastic versions are a useful addition to the home or workplace.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace has a lovely selection of vintage wall pockets for sale. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full line of antiques and vintage collectibles.


MarblesMarch 06, 2019

The origins of the humble marble are not clear. Archaeologists have excavated marbles from sites in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Native American tribes also played with them. They were typically made of clay, stone or glass. In Roman literature there is mention of playing the game with nuts. During the mid-19th century the invention of scissors for cutting molten glass increased the production of marbles.

Martin Frederick Christensen patented a machine for creating glass-made marbles in 1903 and created millions of marbles before his company closed in 1917. There are currently only two marble manufacturers in America: Jabo Vitro in Ohio, and Marble King, in West Virginia.

Marbles are appreciated by enthusiasts for their attractiveness and entertainment. There are many different patterns and colors to entice collectors. Common styles are onionskins, corkscrews, lutz, micas, clearies, Indians, Joseph’s Coat, oxbloods, and sulphides. You can purchase handmade or machine-made marbles in glass, clay or stone. With hundreds of game variations, you’ll never get bored with your marble collection. However, we do suggest you keep rare marbles for display purposes only!

March Booth of the MonthMarch 01, 2019

March’s Vendor of the Month is Booth 110, located downstairs in the PAST Antiques Marketplace.

Comic books, vintage shakers, Matchbox cars, vintage postcards, bottles and decorative items! This booth has a little bit of everything. These photos are just a small sample of what this vendor has to offer. We’re sure you’ll find something that catches your fancy.

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.







MatchbooksFebruary 25, 2019

In 1892 Joshua Pusey patented his idea of paper matches. Match tips were dipped in a solution of sulfur and phosphorus, then stapled to a piece of cardboard. Thus, the matchbook was born. The Diamond Match Company purchased Pusey’s patent and in 1894, Pabst beer ordered 10 million matchbooks bearing ads on their covers.

Soon, matchbooks advertising a variety of goods were offered to customers of tobacco products, or left in ashtrays at coffee shops and motels.

Match cover collectors, known as phillumenists, have been around since the conception of matchbooks. In most matchbook collections, only the covers are collected. Collectors carefully remove the matches and the covers are displayed or stored flat. However, the book is left intact if images are printed on the matches themselves.

Early matchbooks produced for Wrigley’s gum, like the ones shown here, are some of the most desired by collectors.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace has a diverse selection of vintage matchbooks for sale. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full line of antiques and vintage collectibles.











ThimblesFebruary 18, 2019

The conventional thimble, used to protect fingers while hand-sewing, has a long history. Originally made of leather, bone and cloth, the first thimbles date back to about 30,000 years ago. The oldest existing thimble is made of bronze and was found in the ruins of Pompeii. After the 18th century, machines were invented to produce thimbles. Machine-made thimbles are thinner and have a flatter top than their handmade predecessors. The phrase “just a thimbleful” originates from a time when thimbles were used to measure alcohol and gunpowder.

Commemorative thimbles, depicting royalty, became popular in Victorian times. Thimbles featuring British monarchy remain popular and now include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
In the 1950s plastic thimbles bore advertising from national companies such as Pepsi Cola and Sunbeam bread. You can purchase thimbles as trip souvenirs or in the shape of people and animals. Decorative thimbles can be fashioned from crystal, glass, gemstones and wood. Collecting thimbles is a great hobby due to their affordability and availability. Plus, they don’t take up much space!

Stop by The PAST Antiques Marketplace and add to your thimble collection today!




Pie BirdsFebruary 11, 2019

A pie bird, pie vent, or pie whistle is a hollow ceramic device used to prevent pie filling from boiling up and leaking through the crust.  These clever gadgets are designed to allow steam to escape from inside the pie. They also support the pastry crust in the center of the pie, so that it does not sag in the middle.

Originally pie vents were simple inverted funnels, with arches on the bottom for steam to enter. In the 1930’s vents were redesigned into a bird shape with steam releasing through the bird’s mouth. Soon pie birds were created in a multitude of designs from storybook characters and animals to advertising mascots.

Pie birds remain popular as gifts and collectors’ items rather than for their usefulness. Whether you bake pies or just love vintage kitchenware, pie vents are a whimsical addition to your kitchen.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace  has an interesting array of pie birds and other vintage kitchenware. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles!





February Booth of the MonthFebruary 01, 2019

February’s Vendor of the Month is Booth 106, located on the lower level at the PAST Antiques Marketplace. Lanterns are a fascinating, functional item to collect and this vendor provides both oil and electrified versions.

As far back as 1860, lanterns were used by railroad workers to send messages to each other.

In 1859 Robert Edwin Dietz and his brother, Michael patented the first practical flat wick burner especially designed for kerosene. Over time the R.E. Dietz Company manufactured hundreds of lantern models, and pioneered the automotive lighting industry. Dietz’s lantern division moved to China in 1956, and production of lanterns ceased in America in 1970.



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.






















Historians disagree about the origins of the lawn jockey because there is no documentation on who designed the first one. After the Civil Rights Movement, lawn jockeys were considered racist and declined in popularity. However, there are some defenders who feel the jockey statues are a tribute to the determination and resilience of African-Americans.

There are two popular tales surrounding this controversial figure.
The first widespread story is of the brave 12-year-old named Jocko Graves. On December 24th, 1776, Tom Graves, a free African American man, joined a local militia to aid George Washington. His son Jocko accompanied him, eager to become a soldier. Washington was impressed by the child’s courage and assigned him to tend to the officers’ horses while troops crossed the Delaware River. Jocko was to keep a lantern burning to guide soldiers back to camp once the battle had ended.
The following day, after Washington’s victory over the British, the general returned to find Jocko frozen to death, still clutching his lantern. Washington was moved by Graves’ resolve and erected a statue of the young groomsman when he returned to Mount Vernon.

Another unconfirmed belief is the depiction of a ‘footman’ with a lantern was significant to the Underground Railroad. Pieces of cloth were wrapped on the iron jockeys signaling slaves escaping from Southern plantations. Green would signify it was safe and slaves would be provided temporary shelter, red meant there was danger.

Still others believe the lawn jockey is nothing more than a decorative ornament. Over time, the statue’s original design changed, and its origin stories were forgotten. Groups like the Friends of Jocko Society hope to keep this young man’s legend alive.

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

Gambling PunchboardsJanuary 28, 2019

Punchboards originated in the 18th century. Tavern owners drilled holes into wooden game boards and placed numbered, paper tickets into the slots. These holes were then covered with paper. A patron would buy one of the holes and puncture the paper to reveal a possible prize.

In the late 1800s, cardboard punchboards were introduced. These new punchboards, sold with a metal punch stylus, became popular at drugstores. It is estimated that 30 million punchboards were sold between 1910 to 1915 and 50 million punchboards were sold in 1939 during the peak of their popularity.

After World War II punchboards declined in popularity and many states outlawed this form of gambling. Many manufacturers attempted to disguise the gambling nature of the boards by stating that prizes were “for trade only” and not redeemable for cash. Cigarette, cigar, and beer companies used punchboards as an advertising medium, featuring their products as prizes instead of cash.

Over time crooked vendors “fixed” punchboards and sold the answer keys to mobsters or patrons who would split the prizes. Infamous night club owner, Jack Ruby, was known for selling punchboards.

Eventually gambling punchboards evolved into the scratch-off lottery tickets in use today.

Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace  on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles!

Salt and Pepper ShakersJanuary 23, 2019

Previously we discussed how salt cellars were used prior to the introduction of free-flowing salt. Salt and pepper shakers are now a staple in most homes and make a fun, useful collectible. Shaker collecting is so popular that there are clubs and museums dedicated to shaker enthusiasts.

In 1858, John Mason, inventor of the Mason jar, created the first saltshaker by punching holes in a tin cap to distribute salt across his food. In 1871 C. P. Crossman patented an agitator which broke up clumps and kept salt free-flowing. Later salt was more finely milled and ceramic containers with perforations in their tops were invented. Prior to these inventions, salt mills similar to pepper grinders, ground the salt into small bits.

Salt shakers became increasingly common after anti-caking agents were introduced by the Morton Salt company in the 1920s. The Great Depression of the 1930s boosted the popularity of shakers as Japanese ceramics producers concentrated on exporting inexpensive items. By the 1940s and ’50s, novelty shakers shaped like produce, animals and other characters, were in demand. As Americans traveled more by car, shakers became popular road-trip souvenirs.

Whether a vintage find or a souvenir of travel, shakers can add a little charm to your home.

The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a variety of salt and pepper shakers and other vintage kitchenware. Visit us on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles!