A-Z of Animal Napkin Rings

//A-Z of Animal Napkin Rings
A-Z of Animal Napkin Rings 2015-07-17T10:16:38+00:00


by Carolyn Clark 

Ever popular, and frequently featured areas in the collectors books, the animal napkin ring is a plastic design classic. 

A for Animals including rabbits, fish, elephants, scottie dogs, camels, chickens, bears.  The chicks with beaks in same or different colours have a particular appeal.  See U for unusual shapes.

B for Bakelite because that’s what they are made of (but see F for fake and P for phenolic!)

C for Colours of the rainbow.  Yellow, tango, amber, orange, caramel, green bright and green dull, red, claret, brown, black, blue.  Marbled and plain.

D for Decorated.  Usually plain, but sometimes painted with faces, fins, collars on the dog etc.  My favourite – the sitting bunny from behind with the round bobble tail painted.

E for Eyes.  Some have, some don’t.  Eyes can be painted on, metal pins, small rod of phenolic inserted or the best:  quarter inch rod with rounded ends and often clear phenolic and different colour (green, purple etc) to the ring.

F is Finance.  Prices rising at steady pace.  Can be bought for anything from 5p (you’ll be lucky!) to £30 at fairs and markets.  On the internet go for between £20-30 if perfect and unless real rarity.

G is the Good idea of whoever invented them.  Anyone know who made the first?

H is Hand-carved: they were sliced straight off the rod, including in the home.  Sometimes, though, and rarely handcarved with features, notably contours for the ears and tail.

J is Joy when you spot one with the colours calling out to you “buy me! Or at home “dust me!” (the collectors’ peril)

K is kaleidoscope of colour in the Kitchen when the animal rings are used in all their colours on that redundant spice rack or windowsill.

L is Looking after.  Clean with fairy liquid and polish with chrome polish or Duraglit.  Scratches and chips have to be lived with.  Keep away from heat and direct sunlight.

M is moulding which was moulded in long rods and cut to size – sometimes at source, sometimes sold as the rod and cut by the buyer which explains some very poor finishes and lopsided shapes.

N is Napkins, which seem to be a minor consideration but were, after all, the main function.  Or are they serviettes?

O is Other uses.  The rings turn up from time to time with other functions.  May be teething rings, linked to a rattle, or several screwed onto rectangular of Lucite as a toast rack or the decoration on a bookend or ashtray.

P is Phenolic which is type of plastic the real ones are made of.  Catalin in the States.  For me….

Q is phenolic as the Queen of the plastics.

R is Reproduction and there are many.  Some clearly marked, other made to deceive.  Always test for phenolic (rub to generate heat through friction and smell the phenol).

S is Sets and you can come across sets of 6 – both off the same rod or, for example, the chicks with a full range of colours and beaks.

T is Thickness.  The width ranges from about a quarter of an inch to an inch and sometimes more.  The thin ones are worth less.

U is Unusual – the much rarer mickey mouse, rocking horse and other shapes – most spectacularly the 1939 New York World Fair trylon and perisphere is orange or blue (the fair’s logo colours)

V is Void – the hole in the middle they all share.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of the mouldings solid through.

W is Wheels on the prized versions.  To my knowledge, there are three types, all joined through with a metal pin:  thin discs almost like counters about an inch across in white or lime green or butterscotch, or much smaller and thicker in phenolic, or small rubber tyres.

X-rated are the animal rings made in other materials such as wood.

Y is Years made – 30’s through to the 50’s with few changes except for the wheels (rubber tyres were later!)

Z is the Zoo you will have if you collect one of each, or join others in specialising in one type (mine are the chicks).