ZOOM In for the October SBCS “MEET and GREET”

The newly published REPLICA BUILDINGS, A VISUAL HISTORY will be the focus as Jon Merwine is interviewed by Mark Fine, ZOOM Master.



You will have an opportunity to ask your own questions of Jon.

Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 2 PM EDT, 1 PM CDT, 12 Noon MDT, and 11 AM PDT.

This opportunity is open to current members of SBCS. Check your October 7 emails for your invitation and directions on how to respond to confirm your attendance.

Jon has graciously provided printable downloads of the KEY and INDEX pages of REPLICA BUILDINGS, A VISUAL HISTORY. These are available in the MEMBERS ONLY section of this website.

A RESPITE from VIRUS, FIRE, HURRICANES and MEDIA !

SBCS members Mike and Jon Merwine have produced a book for us to savor in our hunkered down, isolated state.  

“Replica Buildings: A Visual History”, contains over 2400 items cataloged with clear, high resolution images along with material, maker, size, location, function and age information per piece. It is over 340 pages with a hard cover – detailing pieces from the Grand Tour all the way to the modern miniatures made by InFocusTech.

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“What started as a hobby in 1998, quickly became the Merwine family business – what many collect today as Cast Metal Buildings by InFocusTech. Over these past 22 years, the company has created over 1000 building replicas from all over the world in various shapes and sizes. This hobby was greatly influenced by the souvenir building collecting obsession – one held by both Mike and Jon. While the collection was around 300 very common pieces in 1998, it rapidly grew over the past two decades and currently sits above 4000 items. Being a family of collectors and creators we felt a great way to express our passion for the hobby was to create a guide using our collection.  And also to inspire others to take up the mantle of collecting as “Monumental Miniatures” by Majua and Weingarten did for us 21 years ago.” Jon Merwine.

Link to Book: https://www.replicabuildings.com/book/index.html

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! SBCS ZOOMERS

Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!  SBCS September ZOOM Meet & Greet is cancelled.

These friendly monthly ZOOM gatherings will resume on Sunday, October 11th.  Mark your calendars. 

An official invitation to this upcoming meeting, with more information, will be sent via email to all current SBCS members in early October.  Remember that you must respond to the email to be included in ZOOM meeting. 

In the meantime, the Souvenir Building Collectors Society Facebook group continues to engage with photos, conversations, and collections,  everything from a Sunsphere throwdown to a staid Lincoln Memorial.  Check it out. 

HIT THE ROAD, BOB! Courtesy of Chris Spry

148…149…150…151…152…Done!

The last box was loaded onto the U-Haul rental.   All items fit snugly in the 10’ Box truck.   The Bob Kneisel Collection was ready to travel 2600 miles across country from Los Angeles to Oldwick, New Jersey.  The trip was planned and executed to complete the planned dispersal of the Collection four years after it was bequeathed to SBCS by Bob Kneisel.

The destination was RSL Auctioneers in Oldwick, where Leon Weiss and his Associates, Julian and Andrea will take over and prepare the items for a “cyber” auction later this year.   

The travel plan included a drive-by stop at Steven and Ethan Chevalier’s home in Ridgewood outside of Jackson MS.   There, eight of the boxes were unloaded to await the 2021 SBCS Convention in Jackson.  

The route was simple but a jumble of interstate routes.  First it was I-10 to I-20 straight into Jackson.  Then, back on I-20 to Birmingham, northeast on I-59. East on I-40, northeast again on I-81 and then due east on I-78 to New Jersey.  The road trip included several picturesque parts of the country, including the Mississippi and Alabama forests, The New Mexico and Arizona Sonoran Desert, and the Shenandoah Valley.

All this done in 5 days.  And yes, we were employing best social-distancing practices in accordance with our current National situation.

51..huff…99….huff….118…..huff…..135……hufff……144……HHUUFF….YEAH!

The STAIRS and the RSL crew plus Joe Kopitz

At the New Jersey location, Joe Kopitz met me, and we unloaded the truck along with Leon Weiss, his son Julian, and Andrea Abernethy.   But, as a surprise to Joe and me, it included unloading and moving those 144 boxes up a flight of stairs.  Yes, RSL Auctions is on the second floor of a commercial building with no elevator.   Even though fitness centers are starting to reopen nationally, no StairMasters were needed that day.  

After the delivery, Joe started his meandering way back to Brooklyn, intending to stop at several New Jersey thrift shops that he had not visited in the past.

Me?  I chose to relax until my flight from Newark to Los Angeles the next day.   Up to that point the trip was extremely satisfying.   However, commercial flying today is challenging… but that it another story.

RSL intends to issue the Kneisel Collection as an exclusive two-day cyber-sale, meaning that is will be on-line only for two days and only include items from Bob’s Collection.  Look for announcements regarding the sale on the SBCS and RSL websites and by email blasts from SBCS.  

Update from Chris Spry.  The Kneisel Collection Committee Mediator, Moderator, Maintainer of Decorum, Boxes, Documents, and Long-Haul Deliverer!  Thank you!

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ANNOUNCING ……. A New SBCS “Experience”…….

Coffee Pot Monument, Winston-Salem, NC

 Bring a full cup and join with SBCS members on ZOOM in a virtual “MEET & GREET” at 2PM Eastern on Sunday, June 14th. 

Not wishing the Society’s camaraderie to languish during the 2020 Pandemic, cancellation of Convention 2020 and the long wait for Convention 2021, the Executive Team is working to establish a series of virtual programs to bring members together.  

The platform is ZOOM.  The moderator is Mark Fine.  The length of time is 45 to 60 minutes.  The loose plan for the initial meeting includes:

 

  1. EMAIL INVITATION: An invitation to all paid-up members will be sent via EMAIL on Wednesday, June 10th.  Members wishing to participate will need to REPLY to this EMAIL  and indicate their interest in attending the virtual “MEET & GREET.”   This email will explain how to sign up for free ZOOM (if not already a user), and the steps you will need to take when you sign into the meeting. 
  1. EMAIL REGISTRATION: A 2nd EMAIL will be generated by ZOOM and sent to only those members who responded to the 1st email.  This 2nd email will contain the PASSWORD for the meeting.  On the day of the meeting sign in at 2PM or a few minutes earlier.  Refer to the instructions in your first email.
  1. MEETING: The MEET of this initial meeting includes self-introduction (Name, locale, collection specialty) – in other words – short and sweet!
  1. SHARE:  Several short pre-selected building presentations by members.
  1. GREET:  A few minutes for discussion.  

THIS “EXPERIENCE” IS LIMITED TO CURRENT MEMBERS OF the SOUVENIR BUILDING COLLECTORS SOCIETY.   If you are not current with your membership or are interested in joining, click here to be taken to the Membership Application page. 

THERE ARE PLANS FOR FUTHER MEETINGS.  We have some ideas, but let us know your recommendations for topics.  The suggested recurring date and  time is the 2nd Sunday of the Month at 2PM Eastern.  Be sure to stay tuned.  

CHALLENGING TIMES – Solace in Souvenir Buildings

Souvenir Building Collectors under “STAY SAFE” guidelines are finding a myriad of ways to stay busy.  Are you one of those surfing the netways to find the next acquistion?  Are you actually dusting your collection?  Or maybe you are organizing it into themes, or countries, or materials, or by size.  Some are even going to the effort of cataloging.  

The participants in the Souvenir Building Facebook Group are finding ways to share their collections with other members via various challenges: the A-B-C challenge, a castle challenge, a multiples challenge.  Come join the fun.

 

 

FLASH SALE # 5: CRESTED PORCELAIN

Crested Porcelain items from Bob Kneisel Collection

If you are unclear as to what “Crested Porcelain” is, here is a definition and a link to an excellent summary article with pictures posted on the “unofficial website for Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK.”

“Crested China, as the name suggests, are small, porcelain objects in a variety of shapes and forms that bear a heraldic crest to represent the area in which they were sold as souvenirs. It is also known as Crested Ware, Crest Ware or Heraldic China.”

http://www.hatfield-herts.co.uk/hobcol/crestedchina.html

The up-coming Kneisel Collection Flash Sale is Monday, February 24th.  This Flash Sale will consist of CRESTED PORCELAIN and be limited to 8 boxes with 4 items. Each box will include at least 1 item that can be identified as a building, or monument.   The cost will be $25 by check or $30 by PayPal ($25 plus $5 processing fee) per box.

As a reminder, each SBCS Member in good standing (membership paid through 2020) can order only ONE box.  If you are part of a Family Membership and wish to purchase TWO boxes (one box for each Member), please include BOTH names and pay double the per box price.

Keep an eye out for the official Flash Sale Notice email on that date and remember to follow the instructions.

FLASH SALE # 3: Souvenir Buildings in Lucite

In 2002, the following article on “Souvenir Buildings in Lucite” by Scott Daniels was published in SOUVENIR BUILDING COLLECTOR, Volume 9, Number 1.  It is apropos for the upcoming Kneisel Collection Flash Sale 3: Lucite Embedded Buildings.

Building Blocks or Plastic Prisons?

We have seen them at yard sales and gift shops around the country: a building or monument trapped in a Lucite cube, rectangle, hexagon or pyramid.  Buildings in Lucite are a recent addition to the history of souvenir buildings.

The manufacturing of Lucite embedments (which is what buildings in Lucite are considered) began shortly after World War II.  It has remained on the best-kept manufacturing secrets, passed down to trusted associates.  Because of the highly technical knowledge required, and the amount of discarded material, the total number of manufacturers is very small.

 Lucite is a high quality form of acrylic that is a mixture of acrylic resin powder and monomer, a crystal clear liquid.  The versatility of Lucite allows it to be custom designed into a variety of shapes and sizes, incorporating many different types of embedded elements.  However, due to the chemical reactions during the process, not everything can be embedded.  All pieces are hand-made and involve a long tedious productiion process involving:

PRINTING, CASTING, CURING, SANDING, BUFFING, INSPECTION

The first step – if necessary – is to print the building name and/or the event on the base.

The next step is to mix the resin powder and monomer in specific proportions.  The result is a thick opaque liquid.  The mixture is hand poured into molds and allowed to partially harden.  At this point the building is hand placed into the Lucite layer. 

Most embedments are either plastic or metal.  Other collectors have told me that you can tell whether a piece is plastic or metal by the way the light reflects from it. If it appears dull it is most likely metal.  If it gives a bright reflection, it tends to be plastic. 

Another layer is poured over the embedded object and the Lucite is again allowed to harden.  During this stage of production the liquid Lucite is an opaque, milky white.  It is very difficult to center objects on multiple levels because you cannot see the objects below clearly.  Because the buildings are placed in the moulds by hand, no two Lucite pieces are ever 100% alike.

At this point the molds are cured.  The hardening Lucite molds are placed into an oven.  There, heat cures and pressure squeezes out the air bubbles, to completely harden the embedment. The curing process takes up to seven hours. 

After cooling, the Lucite embedments are removed from the molds, and the sizing process begins.  All Lucite parts are cast oversized to allow for shrinkage.  There are three steps taken to size the embedments.  The objects are ground down to size by hand on large industrial sanders.  A coarse grit-sanding belt is used first, followed by a medium grit belt and a final sanding with fine grit belt.  This makes it easier to polish, which is the next step.

Polishing, just as sizing, is all done by hand.  Polishing brings out the luster and high gloss of the Lucite not seen during the entire production process and also gets rid of the sanding lines.  Once there is a bright crystal-like finish the production of the Lucite embedments is complete. 

The final phase of the Lucite process is the inspection.  Each piece is hand wiped and visually inspected.  If there are flaws the part is returned for additional finishing or rejected outright and recycled.  Once the piece passes, it is boxed and shipped out. 

Some of the first buildings in Lucite date from the 1950’s.  The miniature of the Seagram’s building in New York City encased in Lucite was made around 1957 as a Lucite display lighter.  I guess there is no better way to showcase a modern building than to use a modern form of displaying the miniature version and making it useful at the same time. 

During the 1960’s many more buildings, including the The Metropolitan Life building in New York City, were produced. 

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One known to many collectors is the Travelers Insurance Building in Hartford, CT.  About 1000 pieces were made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company (1864-1964).  They were given away to Travelers employees and representatives over the U.S.  It is a very impressive piece, with all the Travelers buildings that occupy a full block in the city. (This is an update to the bronze inkwell given out in the 1930’s).

Recent photo of the 100th Anniversary Travelers Insurance Lucite Commemorative (not in original publication)

Another group of buildings embedded in Lucite are the Knights of Columbus convention pieces.  They consist of Saint Joseph’s Oratory (Montreal, Canada), St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City), and the Immaculate Conception (Washington, DC).  The Saint Joseph’s Oratory was given out at the 1967 85th Supreme Council convention.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral piece was given out at the 1979 Supreme Council convention, and the Immaculate Conception was given away at the Supreme Council meeting in 1989.  I’ve noticed that all the buildings encased are made of pewter with fine attention to details.  They are well worth having in your collection. 

In the 1970’s Lucite had reached its zenith with buildings of tourist sites being embedded in Lucite.  Sites such as Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, TN; Seattle’s Space Needle (in various sizes); buildings in Washington, DC and across the nation were very popular at tourist shops.

Just as the production of souvenir buildings declined in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when they were replaced by T-shirts and coffee mugs, so did their Lucite counterparts.  It just wasn’t cool to bring home a cube.

Most of the current Lucite buildings that you can buy at gift shops are from this time period.  They were just never big sellers in shops.  Some exceptions to this are the current John Hancock Tower in Chicago and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Many Lucite buildings can still be found everywhere and in every size.  So the next time you come across a few have fun with them.  Build a building block building with buildings inside!

KNEISEL COMMENTARY on CHARMS as Souvenir Buildings in 2003

I had a hard time getting these images up and readable.  Please click on the second and third photos to see their full image.  Here is a link to a pdf of the material.