The Frog Family line of kitchen coordinates offered by Sears from about 1975 to 1983 rivals the popularity and size of Merry Mushrooms. And no wonder, Neil is pretty darn cute, though it's not clear how he came to be named Neil.
This time the Frog Family appears on the big screen! I'm a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick's classic retelling of Stephen King's The Shining (1980) and, while watching it yet again, I finally noticed that the Neil timer is hanging on the wall over Wendy's right shoulder. This is the scene very early in the film where she and Danny are eating sandwiches in their Boulder apartment while Jack is off interviewing at the Overlook Hotel.
Two years ago in September 2021, I took a survey of rare pieces that had recently sold on eBay. At the time, the collecting world felt the sale prices seemed a tad high. Boy, we hadn't seen anything yet!
Back in July 2020, a Merry Mushrooms Ice Cooler/Stool sold on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $150.00. On August 26, 2023, a second stool sold for an astonishing $1,001.25. Based on the rust/damage along the bottom, this appears to be a different one. So, we know there's at least two in existence. This *may* be the highest price yet paid for a single Merry Mushrooms piece.
The collecting world has been abuzz with concerns of lead in our favorite kitchen mushrooms and other collectible vintage kitchenware. Certainly, we have known since ancient times that there is no safe level of lead to ingest or absorb through our skin, but until the 1970s, lead's usefulness outweighed the dangers.
The short answer is it is best to assume that all Sears Merry Mushrooms contain lead, especially the ceramics. If lead is a concern, the simplest solution is to not use any vintage kitchenware for food or drink. If you decide to use them, consider storing packaged snacks like granola bars and fruit snacks in them. Or, use a zip bag or other container inside the canisters. This will also keep the food items fresher, and keep in/out moisture and any bugs.
Now that the short answer is out of the way, let's take a closer look at what lead is and why it was used in so many products. Knowing this will help explain why Sears Merry Mushrooms and other vintage goods manufactured and imported in the 1970s and 1980s likely contain lead and may help you determine how to avoid it, if you choose to.
Every so often, I check out the recently sold Merry Mushrooms items on eBay and occasionally write about it. It's done not only to find out if any harder to find pieces made an appearance, but also out of curiosity of the latest going rates. Since Merry Mushrooms are sadly well out of my price range, living vicariously through other collectors is a way to make peace.
My jaw did literally drop when these glass canisters sold on June 26, 2023. As high as the price was, it was more amazing to see a set at all and in pristine condition.
Since 2020, stylists and designers have noted a shift from the clean and fettered Mid-Century Modern/Atomic Age style to a curated Maximalism eclectic look that mixes colors and textures, and favors collage walls, collections, and house plants. It's a boho style that has many roots to 1970s trends. Who knew my choice decorating style had a name and is now the latest thing?
And who better to inspire us for fabulous decorating than the ones who knew it best, the 1970s designers at Sears and Roebuck, purveyors of the everyday American look.
Again, thanks to Christmas.MuseTechnical.com for procuring, scanning, uploading, and making searchable these catalogs and more.
Like real outdoor fungi, there are a seemingly endless variety of indoor mushrooms to research, study, and collect. In the 1960s, mushrooms became a popular decor choice. They could be found on everything like bumper stickers, guitars, t-shirts, and, of course, kitchen ware.
The nine companies highlighted here either manufactured and sold, or imported and sold, mushroom kitchen ware and decor from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Though the year isn't quite over yet, I say thank you for another wonderful year on my Merry Mushrooms journey. Happy Holidays and best wishes for the new year!
Nearly two years ago, I explored the maker's marks, import stickers, and other bottom markings on the napkin holder. At the time, the back stamped "MA" or "MR" mark on the bottoms of many of the pieces was a mystery, though I supposed it was the original maker's mark.
Jack Buchanan tells the story that he got the idea for creating a kitchen coordinate line with mushrooms after stumbling on a patch of mushrooms in his backyard in Chicago, Illinois. But what could have been those fateful fungi? What did those real mushrooms look like?
To find the answer, I turned to my fungi books. Besides hunting for Merry Mushrooms in thrift stores and rummage sales, I'm constantly on the lookout for real mushrooms around the neighborhood and in the woods.
Not to clog this blog post with pictures of fungi, but look at all these varieties I've "collected" throughout southeastern and central Wisconsin!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.