Thursday, November 1, 2012

Coats & Clark's Pot Holders (1955)

Good morning!

One of the things I consistently see at estate sales, and nowhere else in the living, breathing world of retail, is potholders. I've seen potholders shaped like fish, butterflies, hobo-clowns; ones made by Vera and Lily Pulitzer and ones made by obviously someone's Aunt Ethel Lynne. At one point, I had a hanging display over my baker's rack of a particular kind (you'd know it if I knew how to call it and could look it up) of potholders that were bright greens and yellows and oranges and shaped like dogs, cats, and in one special case, a giraffe. What is it about our twenty-first century culture that has discouraged both the commercial and private production of potholders? I see them in sorority house gift baskets, and I see them, in maybe Van Gogh swirls at a museum gift store, but never in anyone's actual house!

Guys, it's time to reclaim novelty culinary protective wear. And have I got just the book for you:

Is it just me or does the one in the middle bear striking resemblance to Eddie Cantor?
The book provides, as you can see, examples of both novelty holders and your plain, straightforward, strictly business potholders....butwhere'sthefuninthat?

I was at an estate sale in the St. Henry's area with Sus two weekends ago when I found a whole stack of do-it-yourself fifties' craft pamphlets that some ambitious and knitting-needle-agile young housemaker in that decade had diligently bought at the local Woolworth's. The house was ok but there wasn't a lot of stuff, and I think all I ended up with was this sheaf of craft books and like fifteen late seventies' records (apparently, the woman's son or daughter had grown up to be a particularly awesome teenager... lots of Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac and other radio-favorites from my unabashedly favorite era of FM gold). This is one of actually two manuals specific to the production of potholders...and yea bo, what a bonanza for anyone who feels like livening up the next office gift exchange or church bazaar with truly adorable knitted gifts and wares.

How about this lion and top hat? An alphabet blocks holder for a baby shower?

The accompanying text for the next two images: "No dreary confined-to-the-kitchen pot holders here-- all are the essence of festivity and are meant to be brought proudly to the table and displayed freely to your guests. You'll find they are real conversation makers as well as being gay, decorative, and very unusual!" I kept thinking as I was reading this that my two mainstay potholders in the kitchen are a festive black and white polkadot, over the hand type pair of oven mitts I was given for Christmas from my mom (provenance probably TJ Maxx), but I'm only willing to wear them during all cooking situations (lasagna, casseroles, cookies, etc) SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE I burned a good sized hole in the top of one when trying to take something out of the broiler, and they are worse for wear in the stain department. All my "festive and decorative" mitts are busy being displayed, rather than being the victim of a particularly indelicate batch of Sloppy Joes!

How I'd love to have mitt like the one cent guy below, or the banana bunch!

It took me a minute to figure out what the one at the bottom is, but upon consultation with the instructions on p 15, it looks like they're actually "a bowl of peaches". I like the flower and the fish best on this page:

OH MY GOODNESS, strike anything I ever said about wanting any potholder that wasn't shaped like this trio of adorable lambs! We love it too much! Additionally, what happened to the one in the center? He may or may not have some form of leprosy.

Christmas is coming, so if you're handy with the knitting needles or good at small crafts, I've scanned all the instruction sheets as well-- you can click on any of these teeny tiny pages to view them in full-size and  see if the wagon wheel potholder or the king's crown is something you can knock out before the holiday season is upon us.

Are you good at any particular homemade crafts? Had any success with an Amy Sedaris style stocking stuffer in recent years? Tell me how you do it! I need your knowledge!

Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday!


  1. those are so cute!! i think i have bought some pot holders of those designs at estate sales before. :)

    1. I can't get over the lambs. I'm on a lamb-manhunt for potholders now!

  2. oh man i love those! i need to learn to knit! i have a weakness for silly potholders and have quite a stash. i never use them of course. i don't want them to get messed up! i have one knit one that is shaped like a frying pan with two over easy eggs! my favorite of the above is probably the lion, or the penny!

    1. I know! I keep all mine safely stored or hanging on the walls. I love the idea of a frying pan one like you mentioned, that's adorable. If I ever get up the gumption to learn, what fun we could have churning out potholders!

  3. Oh my goodness! How nice of you to scan the instructions!

    1. For the more craft-savvy among us. :)



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