Anybody need a snack? Well, that's probably what was going through my mind when I came across this fantastic find at a recent New England Antique Shows event. This vintage collectible is more than simply a repository for cookies - it doubles as a diet aid! Really! Read on to learn more about the recipe behind its tasty history!
And there's one more surprise that comes along with this guilty pleasure. If her pointed finger and judgment-filled expression doesn't make you think twice about indulging... when you lift the top off the cookie jar her automated voice box "reminds" you about the consequences of your snacking! If Helen were around today, perhaps she'd be a perfect candidate for the next Jenny Craig celebrity diet spokesperson!
There is an old Norwegian proverb that states: "Cookies are made of butter and love." So what are the "ingredients" behind this delightful cookie jar? This jar was designed and painted by Helen Lydia Hutula, who was born in 1899 in Finland. Helen came to the US as a young girl and spent most of her life on the west coast. In the early 1930's, she moved to Los Angeles and really began focusing her career on design, drafting, and commercial art. She found her calling in ceramics and soon opened her own pottery plant. She designed a number of playful items, including candy jars, figurines, and vases, but her most popular item by far was this talking cookie jar, called "Helen's Original Tat-L-Tale Cookie Jar". She had a large staff helping out with this product line, but Helen carefully oversaw the quality control behind each item that left her plant.
The design of each Tat-L-Tale cookie jar had a very specific recipe behind it. Here on the left you can see a few examples on how the basic pattern varied - to a point. According to an older published article on Helen's work...
"As a creation the Tat-L-Tale has a distinct individuality. Whether in her role of blond, brunette or redhead, she is a character. Five different patterns are developed in her costuming. Thirteen different color schemes are carried out. The dress, sometimes of a polka dot pattern, sometimes plain, and, again, giving the effect of striped or plaid gingham in soft or vivid color tones, has a voluminous skirt and tight fitted bodice with puffed sleeves to reveal fat, dimpled elbows.
The flower-bordered apron, the kerchief tied so snugly under the chin, the beribboned braids are all in character. Tat-L-Tale, with lips parted, and forefinger coquettishly upraised, might be ready at the very moment to impart to a kindred spirit some choice tidbit of neighborhood gossip. By means of a mechanical contrivance, set in motion when the cover is raised, the Tat-L-Tale becomes vocal—a crowning delightful surprise.”
collector's forums and organizations that support the hobby. It is interesting to note that one of the most famous collectors of vintage cookie jars was also known as a popular contemporary artist as well as cultural icon. And just who was that? Andy Warhol, of all people. His personal collection of 175 vintage cookie jars - most which he picked up at flea markets and boot sales - sold for a quarter of a million dollars when the contents of his apartment were put up for sale in 1987. Click here to see a video of these amazing treasures firsthand!
I would like to thank Linda Roberts for this sweet introduction to Helen Hutula's tasty handiwork. Linda is a frequent exhibitor and appraiser at New England Antique Shows events and the proprietor of White Orchid Antiques in Media, PA. She is also the current president of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of ISA, and a member of both the Media Business Association Pennsylvania Antiques Dealers Association. For more information on this cookie jar, please contact Linda directly at 610-304-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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