Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hippity Hoppity


The School House Candy Company, also known as the E. Rosen Company, or, ROSBRO Plastics, based on the Pawtucket and Providence line of Rhode Island (about a ten minute walk from my house here on the East Side of Providence) was founded in 1912.  For years it produced candy and packaging for candy on delightfully printed cards and, in famously collected plastic containers.  Holiday candies and packaging were their specialty.   It went into receivership in the summer of 1998 and was bought out by Sherwood Brands for 4 Million dollars later that same year.

Photo courtesy RI Art in Ruins

Plans to renovate the building which is part of a larger historically-significant manufacturing complex in Pawtucket have been ongoing for the past several years.  While it started off strong, the economic downturn which sadly kicked-in within a year after the momentum had started, has slowed progress and development significantly.


For now, the legacy of the company is found in personal stories and, the non-degradable containers (and sometimes non-degradable candy!) they produced.  Some of the most popular collectibles are the mid-century hard plastic Christmas candy containers.  Party because they are the most frequently found and thus most easily collected, and, partly because most were made with a loop for hanging so that once the candy is gone they make delightful tree ornaments.  Mostly, however, the Christmas items are just so vast and adorable, people get sucked in by the ability to amass a sizable and impressive collection of reasonably hardy yet colorful vintage decorations.

Private Collection

Holiday Kitsch Klatsch on Etsy

Of course, anything that is more difficult to find becomes even that much sought after by collectors.  This puts the Halloween containers into the "most fervently collected" category!

Moon Hollow Vintage

smick55 on eBay

One of the things I find so charming about the ROSBRO approach was that they would use the same molds, change a few colors and turn one holiday container into one befitting a new holiday in a jiffy!  Above is a great example of what clearly began as a Christmas-theme snowman, instead switched to an orange plastic body with black painted accents to make him an instant "Halloween" figure!

 Photo courtesy of Halloween in America, by Stuart Schneider

The rolling wheeled bases easily turned any container into a "pull toy" thus increasing the marketability as gifts to children from parents, grandparents and the kids themselves.  The wheeled platforms are fairly generic across the holidays; you can see that those shown on the holiday figures above exactly match that shown on my first Easter Figure in this post.  As these things go, I have learned recently that the collectible nature of these more "complex" containers has of course spawned hybrid "reproductions" of sorts.  Some sellers are evidently gluing vintage hard plastic containers to newly created bases.  The details, with photos, are documented here.  Take a look and be mindful of this, especially if collecting off the web or, if something seems too good to be true!
Find Me a Memory at Etsy

For now, there are many great options out there.  The hard plastic collectibles are more plentiful than other holiday collectibles as they were produced later, by machine and in non-destructible materials as opposed to the wonderful early paper products so sought after by holiday collectors.  These items, however, are no longer being made, many people are unaware of their value so they are discarded, and, while hardier than glass or paper, they are breakable.  All this combines to make them harder to find as time passes.  With Easter right around the corner, Etsy is bursting with some adorable Easter finds (and often at better prices than that nail-biting auction site!) Find some gems now to bring bright, colorful holiday joy to you and your family for many years to come!

AppelJar on Etsy

funkijunk on Etsy

always more stuff at Carmen and Ginger on Etsy!

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