February 28, 2011

Vintage Carnival Chalkware

Last month I went to an antique show and ran across a lady who was selling quite a few pieces of vintage chalkware that were borderline tacky, but I was oddly drawn to them. She had dogs, cats, horses, you name it. And sizable too. Each about 10 inches tall.

After walking around the entire show (huge, huge show) and not being able to get those chalkware statues out of my mind, I had decided that I had to have one of them. So I stopped back at her booth.

And she was gone! Everything packed up! Lady nowhere to be found!

I was kicking myself all the way home.

Flash forward to last weekend when some family members and I were rifling through some of my sister's antique items she had stored in a spare bedroom. And what did I find, but this borderline tacky chalkware figurine. In the exact same style as the ones at the antique show.

My niece and I thought it was very cool. Others in my family didn't share our delight. The word crazy may have been tossed around. I think I heard ugly also (gasp)!

The colors are so very vibrant on it.

And it has glitter on the wings, flowers and nest.

My niece told me it was a piece of carnival chalkware, so when I came home I Googled the heck out of that term.

And hello, she was right!

They were given away as prizes at carnival games in the early to mid 1900's.

They were fazed out when cheap stuffed animals become easily mass produced.

From this eBay article it would appear that the glitter on it and the fact that it is painted on only the front (probably by airbrush) would date it to the 1930's or 1940's.

It's currently nesting in my basket on the kitchen dining table until I can find a better place for it.

And don't ask my husband where "a better place" would be. He doesn't covet all things old and chippy like I do!

If you are interested in seeing more carnival chalkware pieces check out ussiwojima's photostream on flickr HERE. He has some great pieces.

BTW, this is my 200th post. Never knew I had so much to say!

Linking to Debra at Common Ground's Vintage Inspiration Friday.


  1. Congrats on your 200th post. Loved the colors on the chalkware. So bright and cheery.

  2. Never heard of pieces like that Pam...fantastic score. Love the pretty colors. Congrats on your 200th post..you go girl! XO

  3. I never met a bird I didn't like! And this one is beautiful!

  4. Happy 200th postings..I love this chalkware..didnt even know what it was. This is what I love about blogging, every one teaches us something new every day!

  5. Pam, I like the vibrant colors and it surely beats a stuffed animal. The paint being on the front side reminds me of how I fix my hair...the front is styled somewhat and the back is flat. hugs♥O

  6. I think it is great. I have seen alot but not sure if I have seen a bird? Thank goodness you did not buy any.....someone was watching out for you!

  7. They used to give away glassware, too. We had chalkware in the mall, and my favorite one was a white sailor boy, standing, lightly outlined in black. I never bought it and wish I had. For no reason. Just liked it.
    Hugs- Tete

  8. Well, I like it too and I think it looks pretty darn good in the basket just the way you have it! (Yeah, that glitter is an extra bonus, isn't it?)

  9. I love this piece Pam!!! What a neat history it has.
    Funny how that woman disappeared and then you found the same one at your sisters...serendipity!!!
    You know we have the same husband? He doesn't get any of my stuff especially the china!

  10. I forgot to say I love your new banner!

  11. How can you NOT like a cute bird? I mean really?

    good for you

    Carol-the gardener

  12. Congrats on 200 Pam! Lovin' that really special bird, I think it's great and found the perfect home! Makes me smile-enjoy:@)

  13. I hope you decide to go back and get that compote dish. I have been told that it is rare.
    One the run.. but I will be back!
    Thanks for your visit.
    Ladybug Creek

  14. I have just fallen in love with chalk-ware, I think its beautiful and I am fairly certain my grandmother had a couple of pieces of it. Congratulations on your 200th!

  15. Happy 200th post!!
    Your sister took care of you on this piece! I think it is beautiful! It was meant to be yours.
    I bought a chalk ware cat once, and sat it on a table on my porch. It looked so nice there sitting with my plants. Came home one day and the squirrels had eaten his head off...who knew squirrels snacked on chalk?
    Love your sweet bird story! Enjoy the week. Vicki

  16. Pam-How funny to see this post today. On Saturday my daughter and I were in a little off the wall place and she had 6 or 7 pieces of Carnival chalkware. I knew exactly what it was because my grandmother had many pieces (I am guesstimating 20) all lined up on a shelf along the top of a wall in her little back sewing area. Every one of them was won by my two Uncles when they were young at local fairs. Uncle Charles got sick in 1952 and he was a full grown adult then...so I know it was well before that time that they won them. She had birds and horses and there was one real dramatic piece and I think it was a floral. It was much bigger than the others. I think hers were painted all the way around although I could be wrong. Wonderful post!!! xxoo Diana

  17. Love the colors! So sweet it's ended up with someone who loves it--a bright memory of your sister!

  18. Your new bird looks great on your table. Don't know anything about these.
    Mr. Chippy looks great too---much better and refreshed.
    Thanks for the great comment that you left for me
    it is greatly appreciated!


  19. I don't think that it's ugly at all...In fact, I think it's great!!

  20. I'm glad that piece of chalkware came home with you. It's displayed beautifully on your table.

  21. Chalkware is getting hard to find...so glad you found this piece!!! Great post!!!

  22. Happy 200th post, Pam! I believe this little treasure was meant to be yours.

  23. I don't think it's tacky at all - in fact it is so delightful! Thanks for sharing, I think I'll be on the lookout for some chalkware now when I'm out at my usual haunts!

  24. Who knew!! I love it!
    And it was meant to be that you found one!

  25. You now have me hooked on chalkware! I am going to look for it!

  26. Hi Pam, I so totally love these. I have a couple of kitties that are so much fun. I've sold several which I wish I had back. Great Post!!!
    Thanks for linking up with VIF!
    big hugs,

  27. Congrats Pam. I got hooked about 30 years ago and have amassed a collection of over 400 pieces of carnival chalkware. I also branched out to carnival posters, game pieces such as like bamboo hoops,wooden rings (for the ring toss), fuzzy knock down cats from the ball toss,china top walking canes, and lots of other prizes,game pieces and carnival stuff. I'm downsizing and need to find a good home(homes) for my entire collection.
    This may not be the place, but feel free to contact me if anyone out there shares my passion for these fun items and would be interested in taking these off my hands.Thanks!!and happy hunting!! franklinba@longwood.edu


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