Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Bitty Vintage Bird Books and a Surprise Treasure: Vintage Bird Stamps

I think it's pretty clear by now that I love birds.
I have liked them for decorating purposes since high school, but it is a more recent thing that I actually like to study them, know their habits, observe them in nature and identify them.
Yeah, I'm a bird nerd.
Don't hate.
I am also a lover of vintage books.
And when my bird nerding and vintage book loving cross paths, well, it is pretty much one of the best things ever.
Like half in half in coffee instead of non dairy creamer.  Man I miss half and half.
Thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have a complete collection of these sweet little bird books.
Check them out.

I found the yellow and blue one on our Palm Springs get away last year.
For my birthday this year, my mother -in-law tracked down the red and green ones.
She used this website.  I'm going to be on that a lot.

I found the yellow one first and was instantly smitten by the end paper and this darling inscription.
(which is why I always inscribe books given as gifts.  it makes books even more friend-like)

That end paper is truly to die for, right?

The books are actually little field guides with a picture and description of each bird.
I collect vintage field guides too.
I collect a lot of things.

I think the illustrations are lovely and I like the writing too.
When an author can use the phrase , "in good repute" when describing a bird, I'm surely going to be reading that to my kids as we learn about tree swallows.

My mother-in-law noticed I had the yellow and blue book siting next to the couch and decided it would be just the thing to complete my collection.
Yes!  I was so excited when I opened them.

I was even more excited when I opened the red book and found these.

A whole bunch of vintage bird stamps!
It was 2 gifts in one!
There are about 35 of them.
All from the 1950s, beautifully illustrated and in almost perfect condition.
They are from the National Wildlife Federation.
Here are a few of my favorite ones.

(i know--it would be better if I had laid them out straight before photographing them.  it bugs me each time i look at these pictures.  i couldn't re-shoot.  just go with it)
I really love all the stamps, but these 2 are my absolute favorites.

They are the biggest ones and the illustrations are gorgeous.
The illustrator, Jack Murray, did covers for the Saturday Evening Post as well as many other wildlife illustrations for various magazines.
He also designed a stamp for the duck stamp series by the US Postal Service.
(ps--i collected stamps in elementary school.  and worked at the library.  see how things come full circle.)
These stamps he designed for the King Arthur Flour Company.

It looks like it was a give away of sorts--a stamp in each bag of flour.
How stinking cool is this?!?!
Yeah, I am obviously a complete nerd: birds, and stamps.
That's OK, I can take the nerd status and go with it.
I'd love to find this whole series of stamps, but I'm not quite up to the lengthy Internet research session it would probably take.
So until then, I'll just enjoy the 2 that I have.

Which brings me to the question I have for you: what should I do with these stamps?
I want to display them somehow.
I am thinking labeling them with a cool typewriter font and putting them up on paper somehow as a piece of art.
Shower me with your creative ideas.
Can't wait to hear them.

Wishing you a happy weekend!
Love from,

PS. For those of you interested in wildlife art from the 50s, (or is it just me?) you'll find lots of illustrators did work for companies and the government of birds and animals.  
Charlie Harper, an incredibly popular artist right now, did a serious of his famous bird illustrations for the Ford Motor Company.
What I wouldn't give for some companies to bring back this idea.  All they'd have to do is hit up etsy for some fabulous artists and create some art for their product like these stamps or those prints by Charlie Harper.
I'd buy a bag of flour for that, wouldn't you?


mandi said...

That's what I was thinking too. How incredible that these companies produced images and giveaways based on wildlife. How awesome would it be to walk the cereal aisle and instead of disney princesses on every box, see animals? When I was reading the King Arthur giveaway I was so wishing that I could send in for the poster! I, like you, love to watch birds and to be able to identify them on the spot.

Nerds of a feather...

Betsi* said...

Squeal! Love all this! Thankfully, you seem to have accumulated a bird nerd herd for your friends. I started trying to identify birds and learn their calls when I was in elementary school. It's been a life-long fascination. I actually get a little giddy if a bird is trapped in the house because I can catch it and hold it for a minute before releasing it outdoors. ;)
I just got the Todd Oldham Charley Harper book for my birthday! I am loving looking through the beautiful illustrations and plan on making some high quality copies to hang in baby's nursery!
I love the idea of arranging the stamps in rows with type-written lables. Displayed in a few vintage frames, that would be adorable!

Lisa said...

Greta, you could mount them on acid free paper, maybe with those little old-fashioned photo corners and put in a shadow box. Your handy hubby might be able to make a custom size box or Michael's has them and usually on sale. I love them!! What a treasure. P.s. you are not even the only bird nerd out there. We have 4 hummingbird feeders and 3 finch feeders and a bunch of open feeders, birdwatching is such joy. Pnut even spotted a baby blue jay just this morning.

Unknown said...

I didn't know there were so many (okay, 4, you and the previous commentors) bird nerds.

I dislike birds, honestly. I've had scary dreams about them. There's got to be someone out there that is afraid of birds too, right?

Anyway, I wanted to comment that I learned something from your post! I have a two year old, and when he wakes up before 7 AM, we watch Curious George on PBS until I am awake enough to start the day. The Man in the Yellow Hat is always talking about scarlet taningers, and I thought that was just some fictional bird. Turns out they are real! And there are yellow taningers, too. Pretty good info to have.

Also, if you ever come to Missouri, you will find a slew of antique shops. They are so much more affordable over here, too. You would get SO MUCH STUFF and love it all!

Laura said...

You have one amazing mother-in-law! What a sweet, thoughtful gift! Those stamps make my knees weak! They would definitely be great for some sort of artwork display project. I can't wait to see what you do with them!
p.s. I think it's really cute that you were worried about the pictures being crooked - as if you don't have enough on your plate right now! Silly girl - we don't care about that stuff from our favorite bird nerd!

kim said...

Love, love , love your feathered finds! The stamps would be a great addition to some sort of collage. We are bird lovers here, too. And I honestly cannot praise Charlie Harper enough. He has been beloved by many a designer and architect way before Todd Oldham brought him to the forefront. Thanks so much for your blog, Greta. I popped over here from ohdeedoh several weeks ago. I love your honesty and that your writing is so very genuine. Our kids are the same ages (except no baby here) and we also homeschool. We started out with CM and now have a combo of CM, Waldorf, and Montessori. And we lived in Ventura before moving around the country. Now we are in very very very rural Montana. Lots of birds here, btw. :->. Thanks so much for all that you are sharing! You are one amazing mama!