Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hagen-Renaker Animal Figurines, Part One

I'm labeling this post "Part One" because I know for sure that I will be talking about Hagen-Renaker animal figurines again in this blog.

Hagen-Renaker miniature Rearing Horse, 3.5 inches tall,
designed by Maureen Love, produced in 1958.   

Today's Los Angeles Times documents the story of a California pottery, Hagen-Renaker:,0,5981103.story#axzz30NkcSR1K

I've been collecting Hagen-Renakers (mostly horses) since I was a teenager, and yes, I still have the first one I ever bought (although most of the other H-Rs I've owned have either been sold, traded to other collectors, or were lost in a major earthquake).  Since the H-R company has been in business for 69 years, it's not uncommon for me to find their little animal figurines at estate sales.  

I've found several Hagen-Renaker animals at estate sales in recent months -- mostly horses, but also some dogs and other little breakable animals.  

Assorted Hagen-Renaker miniature horses, found at one estate sale.
These dates to the 1950s and early 1960s.  All were designed by Maureen Love.
It doesn't matter to me if the horse has been damaged and repaired, or even if it's missing a leg or a tail; if the head is still attached, and the estate sale price didn't come out of an overly-optimistic "price guide," I want it.  (That's partly because I have a friend who is very good at restoring legs, tails and hooves on small ceramic horses.)

Hagen-Renaker "Queenie" Cocker Spaniel and "Dot" puppy, found at an estate sale.  
Mama is 4.75 inches tall and was made in 1954.  Designed by Helen Perrin Farnlund.

Hagen-Renaker miniature mama and baby Cocker Spaniels, found at an estate sale.
Mama is 1 3/8 inches tall.  These also are Helen Perrin Farnlund designs.
Notice how different the design style is on these comical little guys, 
compared to the next photo.

Hagen-Renaker "Pip Emma" Cocker Spaniel, sitting next to some other unidentified ceramic animals, all found at an estate sale. Emma is 2.5 inches tall and was designed by Tom Masterson.  She's much more realistic than the dogs in the previous photos.  But they're all by Hagen-Renaker.

Speaking of "price guides" and estate sales:  I like books about collectibles.  It's helpful to know what a certain company's items looked like, how old they are, and which ones are more common or more scarce.  But price guides are not always reliable sources when it comes to putting a price tag on a collectible at an estate sale.  

It's important to consider that, at some level, any collectible item is only "worth" as much as you, or someone else, is willing to pay for it at the time in a particular venue (estate sale, yard sale, online auction or collector-to-collector).  And what someone is willing to pay, may depend on whether they want it for their personal collection, want to give as a gift, or are just buying it to try to resell it at a profit.  

I just checked and there are close to 5,000 items listed under "Hagen-Renaker" on eBay today.  So if you want to sell one, you may have competition. Here's my suggestion for sellers:  If you know exactly what item you have to sell, and you've checked its condition, don't just go by the price guide value.  Search for SOLD (not ongoing) auctions on eBay for that same item, and refine your search to "lowest price + shipping."  Then scroll down to see what people are actually paying for the item you have.  That will give you an idea of the low end of the price range you might anticipate for reselling it.  And remember, P.T. Barnum was not always right -- not every collector is a sucker.

The prices on Hagen-Renaker animals go up and down over time, depending on their rarity, condition, condition, condition, and which potential buyers a) came across the item for sale and b) just got a tax refund they're dying to spend on their hobby.  In the case of online auctions, I've seen Hagen-Renaker prices go through the roof on a particular piece, probably because at least two people "had" to have that item for their collection.  And I've seen other pieces sell for considerably less than I thought they should have, for whatever reason.  

Hagen-Renaker's designs have been copied (legally and otherwise) over the years, and some of the copies are pretty good.  For example, the nicest Lefton (Japan) copies of Hagen-Renaker horses are collectible in their own right.  Being able to tell a vintage Hagen-Renaker animal from another brand of small ceramic animals is not just a matter of looking in a "price guide" book; it takes a bit of study and experience to know which ones are H-Rs and which ones aren't.  

To help you do some research, Ed and Sheri Alcorn have a virtual Hagen-Renaker museum online:

And here's the link to the company's website:

We'll talk some more about Hagen-Renakers in the near future.  One of my favorite estate sale experiences involves a Hagen-Renaker horse, and a very gracious woman I met at one particular sale.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Horse Book Illustrators, Part One: Paul Brown

This post is one in a series on vintage books about horses and ponies, focusing on the men and women who illustrated the books.  I encourage you to find some of these old books and add them to your collection -- and share them with someone else too!

One of the great joys of being a grownup is that you can finally get some of the things you always wanted to own as a kid.  

Such was the case when I came across a hardback copy of Enid Bagnold's National Velvet at an estate sale the other day.  It was a dollar; I bought it.  I'd expected to pay more.  National Velvet was first published in 1935; my new/old copy is much newer.

Of course I read National Velvet when I was a kid -- about a hundred times -- but my tattered old copy was a Scholastic Books paperback.  I'd always wanted the hardback version illustrated by Paul Brown.

Many people who've commented on National Velvet say that Enid Bagnold's writing style takes a few pages to get used to.  But Bagnold's story of pre-war England -- the girl, the family, the horse, the dream -- is wonderful, and worth digging into.  Paul Brown's illustrations give the narrative even more life.

How does the artist capture the horse's expression, its body language, 
when it has to decide whether it wants to trust a human?  
Somehow, Paul Brown did.

Velvet with The Pie again, this time after the Grand National.  
It appears to me that he's not skeptical of her now.

For those of you not familiar with the book, but who've seen the 1944 MGM film of the story with Elizabeth Taylor in the title role, ably supported by Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere, Donald Crisp, Angela Lansbury, Reginald Owen, Arthur Treacher and others -- yes, this is the same story.  "The Pie" was a piebald horse in the book, rather than the chestnut "Pirate" of the film.

The Horse and Hound in Art website says:

Paul Desmond Brown (1893-1958) was a prolific illustrator and artist of equestrian sports and country life. Brown was born in Mapleton , Minnesota and as a young child he began drawing horses and equestrian sports.

Although he never owned a horse, he was an avid fan of horse sports and frequented hunt race meetings, polo matches, racetracks and horse shows. He studied everything about horses and became an expert at portraying them.

He is especially known for his gift to accurately depict horses in motion. During his career, he wrote and illustrated 32 books and illustrated another 100 by various authors. In addition to books, his works appeared in numerous periodicals.

As a commercial artist, he is recognized for the hundreds of drawings used by Brooks Brothers of New York in their advertising and promotional materials. He died in 1959 in Garden City, New York .

Paul Brown did illustrations for other companies as well.  I was surprised to open a 1933 Better Homes and Gardens magazine (which I found at an estate sale) a couple of years ago and see this Paul Brown illustration for Listerine.  

Paul Brown excelled as a children's book illustrator.  This one is from a small book for young children (which I also found at an estate sale) called We Live On a Farm:

Many people collect Paul Brown's books. Do you have any favorites?  

I'm hopeful I can find more Paul Brown horse and pony books at estate sales in the future!  

To say, "Paul Brown illustrated horse books!" is the understatement of the day.  The book Paul Brown: Master of Equine Art has a list of all the publications he illustrated:

Here's The Horse and Hound in Art's web page on Paul Brown:

A great resource for information on horse books, including those by Paul Brown, is Jane Badger's website:

The UK website Pony Mad Book Lovers has pictures of several Paul Brown horse book covers:

A mother lode of Paul Brown's equine art is located here:

Lois on Pinterest has some nice photos of Paul Brown's work:

You can read most of the first couple of chapters of National Velvet here:

Monday, April 21, 2014


On Monday, April 21, 2014, this blog registered its 10,000th page view!  

Thanks to everyone who has been reading -- and please keep reading The Estate Sale Chronicles!

Cowboy Puzzles

If you appreciate 20th century Western Americana, children's literature, and/or horses, you might enjoy reading more about the creators of the illustrations for a set of jigsaw puzzles I found the other day at an estate sale.

The puzzles featured images I thought I recognized...but I wasn't sure where I'd seen them before.  
The cover of the box of puzzles showed one of the images:

I was intrigued by the picture on the box cover.  The clarity of the lines, the vibrant colors -- it looked like Western artist Maynard Dixon had been asked to illustrate a Dick and Jane book.  But no -- it was signed "The Hollings."

The jigsaw puzzles inside reproduced the color images from a popular 1930s children's book, The Book of Cowboys, by Holling C. Holling:

Illustration from The Book of Cowboys, by The Hollings:
"The horse made some wild lunges, turned and twisted in midair
and came down hard on its feet, but Gunshot stuck to the finish."

Jigsaw puzzle version of the same image

"These Mexicans were the first cowboys.  They were called vaqueros."

The pictures are signed "The Hollings" so I knew there had to be more than one of them.  That too was intriguing, so I started doing some online research.

Holling Clancy Holling (1900-1973) and his wife Lucille Holling (1900-1989) collaborated on a number of illustrated children's books in the 1930s and 1940s.  A blog devoted to Holling C. Holling says he  “was best known for his geo-historical-fiction volumes for children, [and] believed that children’s literature should be both entertaining and instructive and therefore filled his adventuresome tales with well-researched historical and scientific data.”

Holling's The Book of Indians (1935) and The Book of Cowboys (1936 -- the source of the images on the jigsaw puzzles) were, according to The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators, were "immensely popular," as were many of his other works.  

One of Holling C. Holling's most famous books was Paddle-to-the-Sea.  The story line and illustrations are also a travel route.  An Indian boy north of Lake Superior carves a wooden canoe with a figure inside, bearing the words, "Please put me back in the water."   The canoe makes its way through the Great Lakes, down the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.  

Paddle-to-the-Sea was one of several books that won a Caldecott Honor in 1942, for excellence in children's book illustration, or as the Caldecott website puts it, a "distinguished American Picture Book for Children" by a citizen or resident of the United States.  (That same year, Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings won the main Caldecott Award.)  Other books by Holling C. Holling, Seabird (1948) and Minn of the Mississippi (1951), were Newbery Honor books.  

I couldn't find a complete online version of The Book of Cowboys, but you can read a preview of it here:

"The children rounded the last hill and sighted the cow camp."

You can read all of Paddle-to-the-Sea online here:

Here are links to some resources on the Hollings:

Here's information about the Caldecott Award:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grandma's Beads

I recognized the man in line in front of me at the estate sale.  He was a scrap metal buyer, a man with a mission to seek out the gold, platinum, silver and anything else metal that the sellers overlooked that he thought could be melted down and turned into cash.  (He's usually disappointed, but that doesn't keep him from inspecting every piece of jewelry at the sale.)

The man plunged his hand into the pile of old necklaces on the table, raised one up to the light, peered at the clasp with his 10x magnifying loupe, then tossed the necklace aside with a dismissive snort.

"Pah," he said, "nothing but Grandma Beads."

I waited till he moved aside, then I picked up the same necklace and looked at it.

Grandma Beads.  Yes.

I don't think too many other people refer to this style of necklace as "Grandma Beads," but it's rather appropriate.  The triple-strand necklace (and its variations of two, four, five or more strands) was very popular in the late 1950s, when your mom, grandmother or great-grandmother would have worn them.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and even though you can't melt them down for money, vintage costume jewelry necklaces like these are nonetheless worth having, to many collectors.  The necklaces are often seen with large, matching clip-on earrings.  

And they're pretty affordable.  I can almost always find these multi-strand necklaces of plastic and/or glass beads for $1 to $4 at estate sales, and many of them don't sell for much more than that online. 

Regarding prices:  I've always believed that, in some respects, a vintage item is only worth as much as someone else is willing to pay for it at the time.  I recently did a search of "sold" items on eBay under the search "vintage Japan bead necklace" and of the 1600+ necklaces that sold in the last 30 days, more than 900 of them went for $10 or less and 1400 of them sold for $20 0r less.  So there are plenty to be had.  Some strands of these vintage glass and plastic beads, of course, will sell for more.  

A lot of these sorts of necklaces have JAPAN printed on the hook clasp; others will say WEST GERMANY, and some will have a designer's name.  They often came with large matching clip-on earrings.

But regardless of origin or price, what a wealth of colors and designs await the collector of Grandma's beads! 

Sometimes the beads show signs of wear.  Other times I find them in clear plastic bags because the string has broken.

(That's when it's good to have a friend who is really good at restringing vintage beads.)   

Since I only have one neck, and not that much space (I'd need a 55-gallon drum to hold all the vintage costume jewelry I've found at estate sales), I tend to wear a necklace like this to church a time or two and then find it a new home.  I can always find another one.  

But one of these days I'm going to find one of these necklaces that I can't bear to sell or give away.


Here are some reference sites on vintage 1950s costume jewelry:

Easter, 1944

One of the most important things I do at estate sales is "rescue" war letters, cards and diaries from soldiers to their loved ones.  

This large vintage Easter card was sent by a soldier stationed in the South Pacific to his wife in Southern California, for Easter 1944.  She pasted it into a scrapbook, along with the other cards, letters and newspaper clippings they sent each other during World War II.

I sent the scrapbook to the military museum in New York State that keeps the records of Eddie's Army unit.

Passing Along the Important Messages

Since today is Easter Sunday, I'd like to talk about the importance of passing along the things that are important to your family members.  One of the best ways to do that, is to leave them little notes among your belongings, that they can rediscover long after you're gone.

In selecting the vintage Easter card images for this blog, I came across one that reminded me of some of my mother's notes to her children and grandson:

This vintage Easter card, with the title of an 18th century hymn on the front, reminded me of my mom's old hymn book.

(No, I don't think Mom "borrowed" this book from a church and then forgot to return it.  She probably bought it at a used bookstore, because there's a bookmark from a used bookstore still inside it.) 

At some point in her life, Mom began going through the old hymnal (which is now practically falling apart from use) and making notes of the songs she remembered:

It's not hard to imagine her sitting by herself with the book propped open, pencil in hand, humming the tunes she knew.

I got the old hymnal out this morning and looked up "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."  Yes, Mom knew that one!  She put a star next to the title.

If you've ever been to a traditional Protestant Easter worship service, you may have heard this hymn.  The words were written by Charles Wesley in 1739; the "al-le-lu-ias" were added later by another writer.    The tune is called "Easter Hymn;" the author of the music is unknown.    

Charles Wesley wrote more than 6000 hymns and is credited, with his brother John, as being a founder of the Methodist Church in England.  

Charles Wesley

His biographers note that Charles Wesley first trusted in Jesus Christ many years after he studied at Oxford University and became a missionary:

...To counteract the spiritual tepidity of the school, Charles formed the Holy Club, and with two or three others celebrated Communion weekly and observed a strict regimen of spiritual study. Because of the group's religious regimen, which later included early rising, Bible study, and prison ministry, members were called "methodists."

In 1735 Charles joined his brother John (they were now both ordained), to become a missionary in the colony of Georgia—John as chaplain of the rough outpost and Charles as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe.

Despite having been a member of the Holy Club, despite having served as a Christian missionary in the fledgling United States,  Charles Wesley was still uneasy with his faith. The Christianity Today website says Charles went back to England and met someone who challenged him to look at the state of his soul more deeply:  

During May 1738, Charles began reading Martin Luther's volume on [the New Testament book of] Galatians while ill. He wrote in his diary, "I labored, waited, and prayed to feel 'who loved me, and gave himself for me.'" He shortly found himself convinced, and journaled, "I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoice in hope of loving Christ." Two days later he began writing a hymn celebrating his conversion.

The quote that convinced Charles Wesley was from Galatians 2:20.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians  at Galatia (modern-day Turkey), who thought they needed to add religious rituals to their faith to ensure that they were "good enough" to go to heaven:

...The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Martin Luther wrote:

If I, a condemned sinner, could have been purchased and redeemed by any other price, why should the Son of God have given Himself for me? Just because there was no other price in heaven and on earth big and good enough, was it necessary for the Son of God to be delivered for me? This He did out of His great love for me, for the Apostle says, “Who loved me.”
Did the Law [of Moses] ever love me? Did the Law ever sacrifice itself for me? Did the Law ever die for me? On the contrary, it accuses me, it frightens me, it drives me crazy. Somebody else saved me from the Law, from sin and death unto eternal life. That Somebody is the Son of God, to whom be praise and glory forever.
Hence, Christ is...the Giver of grace, the Savior, full of mercy. In short, He is no less than infinite mercy and ineffable goodness, bountifully giving Himself for us.

Being "holy" is not enough, because we can never attain perfection, and anything short of that is not enough.

Organized religion is not an individual.  Organized religion doesn't sacrifice itself in love, to pay the penalty for another person, so that person, too, can live forever in the light of God.   The only Person Who could do that, was God Himself.

Mom was a woman of faith.  She knew she wasn't good enough to get to heaven on her own; she trusted Jesus Christ.  She made sure her family knew that through her life and also through the things she left behind for us to rediscover.  And now you know what Mom (and Charles Wesley) knew about Easter.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!


Here's a link to a website with lyrics and a quaint audio file of the tune:

Here's a short biography of Charles Wesley:

And here's Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reminder: You Can "Like" The Estate Sale Chronicles on Facebook! And Tell a Friend.

If you use Facebook, you can follow The Estate Sale Chronicles there.  Just click on the link and "like" us!

Coming soon:  a short series on horse books and their illustrators.  
This illustration is by one of the best, Paul Brown.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Two More Easter Images

I found two more vintage Easter items from the "paper ephemera" collection:  

Bunny gift wrapping paper, and a large light cardboard die-cut Easter bunny that may have been part of a set used by a grade school teacher.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Mayflower in Hollywood

I'd heard about the landlocked ship: a huge sailing vessel in the improbable dry dock of what is now East Hollywood, California.  I'd seen closeup photographs of it in movie magazines from the 1920s.  

But I'd never seen a picture of the ship in situ.  Until recently.

A few weeks ago, I found a reference book at an estate sale that contained this picture:  A house, hills, trees, and a mammoth ship, sails unfurled, with a large number of extra ropes or cables stretched around it.  You may well ask, What in the world was going on?  

Hint:  Remember, the picture below was taken in Hollywood.

The Mayflower replica dwarfs its Southern California neighborhood, late 1920s

The book I found at the estate sale is A Pictorial History of the Movies  by Deems Taylor, Marcelene Peterson and Bryant Hale.  The photograph is of the life-size replica of the Mayflower, one of the silent film era's most memorable sets from one of its most memorable flops: Charles Ray's "The Courtship of Myles Standish."

Saturday Evening Post ad for "The Courtship of Myles Standish"

Charles Ray as John Alden

You've never heard of Charles Ray?  You're not alone.  And it's too bad, because for about ten years he was one of the silent film era's highest-earning, most durable, most bankable stars.   Most people don't remember him today, in part because a string of bad luck, bad financial decisions and (apparently) bad attitude cost him his legacy and his place in the public eye.

Charles Ray made many silent films, and one reviewer commented "the public ate him up with a ladle." Ray achieved superstardom that lasted from 1915 to 1925.  At one point in his career, Ray was earning $11,000 a week, which equates to about $150,000 a week in 2014. 

Charles Ray (1891-1943)
His house in Beverly Hills drew admiring fans on tours, and postcards were issued of it:

Charles Ray's home.
The Internet Movie Database notes that a young man named Ralph Bunche,
who became a diplomat and the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize laureate,
once worked as a "houseboy" for Charles Ray.

Early in his career, Charles Ray was usually typecast as a country bumpkin who overcomes the odds to achieve his goal and win the hand of a lovely young woman.  

Tired of playing the same sort of innocent hayseed character in film after film, Ray decided to venture out on his own and formed Charles Ray Productions.  In July 1920 his new indoor studio was completed at what is now 4401 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

4401 Sunset Blvd., in more modern times

The correspondent from Moving Picture News reported: "The last word in studio construction…completed just three months from the day on which Mr. Ray…turned the first shovelful of earth. Perhaps the most striking feature of the studios is the glass enclosed stage, topped by a glass roof. The sides may be removed to permit openings when the shooting of street scenes is required…. The installation of electrical equipment will insure a wealth of sunshine for daylight pictures as well as for night scenes…."   

By October 1922 Ray had added a new "administration building of ornate Spanish type," which still stands today and is Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #198.

It's not hard to imagine Charles Ray standing in his second-story office, looking out the windows.  In the distance he could see the the larger motion picture studios run by the titans of the film industry such as Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and more.  Charles Ray starred in a number of well-received, popular films under his own name, but he wanted to make a Great American Film. 

In November 1922, Movie Weekly magazine proclaimed, "Charles Ray is through with making common, everyday movies!  From now on, nothing less than a superfeature is good enough for Charlie."

So Charles Ray tackled the story of "The Courtship of Myles Standish."  The film required eight months to complete at a reported cost of over $3 million -- a massive budget at the time. Ray invested $63,000 alone in the construction of the 180-ton life-size replica of the "Mayflower," parked in a giant vat of water and complete with a gear mechanism to make it rock back and forth as scenes were shot on its decks.  Ray also had three full-size log cabins built in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead, California, for exterior shots.  Movie Weekly continued, "Everyone concerned is working hard to make this film a masterpiece."

The cast of "The Courtship of Myles Standish."

What went wrong?  Why don't we hear about The Courtship of Myles Standish in film history, except as a footnote? It was a flop at the 1923 box office and it ruined Charles Ray financially.  He never really recovered. 

Charles Ray had originally hoped to get financing from another source -- Movie Weekly suggested it was United Artists (Pickford, Fairbanks, Chaplin and Griffith) -- but the funder pulled out.  So Charles Ray had invested his own fortune into "The Courtship of Myles Standish."  It received some favorable reviews, but the public simply didn't want to see it. 

One article I read speculated that American moviegoers really didn't want to spend time and money watching a film based on the very (very) long Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem they had been forced to study in school.  1923 was, after all, the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, and the Pilgrims were not the most exciting group of people to follow around with a movie camera.

After it failed at the box office, Ray was forced into bankruptcy and the studio into receivership.  The property changed hands many times after that, but was probably best-known as Monogram Pictures during the 1940s.  Later, for many years, the lot that had been Charles Ray Studios was the home of public TV station KCET.

Charles Ray was never really able to resume his stellar career. He tried to reshape his character from the handsome young country lad into a suave, still-handsome older man, but audiences didn't accept him like they had when he was younger.   It's said that Charles Ray was considered difficult to work with, and this also contributed to his downfall. Ray worked in smaller and smaller film roles; his last few screen roles were uncredited.  He died of a mouth and throat infection in 1943.

But Charles Ray does have his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It's on the north side of the 6300 block of Hollywood Boulevard, about two and a half miles from his old studios.  


Postscript:  A few years ago, family members found the picture below among Grandma's belongings.  As a young man, her husband had visited Southern California and had his picture made, standing on the back of what appears to be a large wooden sailing ship.   Milt autographed the picture -- a striking image -- to his "little five-foot-two," the young lady who would one day become his wife.

(Note the plus-fours and the argyle socks on handsome young Milt.)

The other family members didn't know where the photograph was taken, but I thought I knew, based on my research on Charles Ray.  After "The Courtship of Myles Standish" was completed, there was a large unseaworthy craft parked in Hollywood, miles from the nearest port.  There was nothing else to do with it except allow tourists (like Grandpa Milt) to have their picture taken on it.  

I emailed a copy of the picture to Marc Wanamaker at Bison Archives, who wrote back saying that it's possible that Milt was a tourist who visited the Mayflower replica while on a trip to Southern California.

Eventually the mock "Mayflower" was burned to the ground. It is said that some critics later commented that the public reception of "The Courtship of Myles Standish" was so bad, Ray would have been better off keeping the boat and burning the movie.

The critics effectively got their wish: today, no copies of the film are known to exist.  (If you know of one, please post a comment at the bottom of this blog post!)

The website Lost Film Files gives more information on The Courtship of Myles Standish:

The website Golden Silents has a biography of Charles Ray:

Here's a link to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem on which the film was based.  Yes, it's long:

Here's a link to a Charles Ray film that has survived, The Old Swimmin' Hole

And another Charles Ray film -- perhaps one of his best-known pictures, this time about baseball -- The Busher:

Bison Archives' website is here:

Regarding the book where I found the photograph of the mock Mayflower:  If you don't think you know who Deems Taylor (the author of the book on Hollywood I mentioned) was, think back to the original Disney movie Fantasia.  He's the Master of Ceremonies at the beginning of the film.  But Taylor was much more than that.  He is primarily remembered as a broadcaster, composer, and promoter of classical music. He also wrote books about the entertainment industry.,1486717