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May 19, 2011

Vintage 1950s Tole Craft

By Sara In AZ


I was thrifting in Goodwill awhile back when I came across this little metal can for $1. Since I have a small obsession with ballerina things from the 1950s I could not pass it up! The paint on it looked too perfect to be free-hand, so I thought it could be paint by number. The only problem was I had never seen paint by number on metal before!

Here is a picture from the top looking down.

Here is a picture of the bottom. It looks like N.J. Bill painted this up in 1954! Good job N.J. Bill!

Here is a picture next to a drinking glass. You can see this is not very big. It measures approximately 5″ tall by 7″ wide.

I was really stumped by this little metal piece, so I decided to ask my friend Eartha Kitsch from Ranch Dressing with Eartha Kitsch for help. Eartha is a big Paint By Number aficionado and a total Nancy Drew of all things MCM, so I knew she could help me out!

She came across this picture on flickeflu and I was amazed to see another little can just like mine! Huh, these really did exist!

She found one other design on flickeflu!

Then Eartha came across this little can on Tias. This sweet little Letter Basket is for sale HERE.

Then Eartha hit pay-dirt and found this website where they had a scan of an old brochure! Yay!!! I finally know I have a “Desk Basket” and it is called Tole Craft!!! Wow, I never knew that Paint By Number was available in metal. How cool to learn something new in the retro world!

Here you can see all the different Tole Craft pieces they offered. A Chippendale Hanging Tray, a Chippendale Canape Tray, a Magazine Rack, a Hanging Picture Tray, a Waste Basket, and a Desk Basket. You can also see it lists 8 different designs to paint.

Ahhhhhh, thanks Eartha – now I know I have a  Tole Craft Desk Basket!

I love it! 🙂

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5 Responses to Vintage 1950s Tole Craft

  1. Gladys Reply

    May 19, 2011 at 6:45 am

    What a cool finding. I loved how you were able to obtain the brochure explaining your piece of history.

  2. P. Reply

    May 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Hey, thanks for this! I have been wondering about the paint-by-number metal wastebasket that I saw in the ladies room at a thrift store. I even thought about asking if I could buy it (but ew…when you think about what it was being used for), since I collect PBN. I took a pic on my phone though!

  3. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    May 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for the props, lady! It was super fun to investigate! 🙂 And my gosh..I really, really want one of those magazine racks. I’ve got to say N.J. Bill did a really great job on his painting. It looks like it could be factory painted!

  4. Sara in AZ Reply

    May 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Gladys – Thanks! Yes, that brochure really helped solve the mystery too!

    P.- You are so welcome! I am really glad I finally came across this PBN metal art, it is so cool! Do you remember what the design was on the wastebasket at your thrift store?

    Eartha – If it wasn’t for you I’d still be wondering what in the heck this was! 🙂 Thanks for all of your super sleuthing skills girl! I would love to find a magazine rack with the ballerina on it – maybe one of everything with the ballerina on it. 😉

  5. P. Reply

    May 20, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Sara, it was a pheasant in flight, with its wings spread. Only partially painted, but it was still quite awesome.

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