Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I first found out about string holders in a book from the local library about kitchen collectibles. Back when people wrapped all their packages with twine and string instead of tape. So nice! And what could be nicer than pulling your twine out of the mouth of a chalkware character's mouth?

String holders were first made around the 1860s and became common by the early 1900s. In the 1920s, with chalkware gaining popularity (see my chalkware post), most holders from the 20s - 50s (especially the 40s) were made in this material. These figural holders are the most commonly found today. Most hang on the wall with a little hook. There was a vast array of figural string holders from this period, but some of the most common that I've seen are cats, dogs, the dutch girl (above), chefs, indians, boy smoking a pipe (see top photo), & black americana/mammies.
 Some of the most interesting and more unusual string holders are the handmade ones. I even made one for my friend a few years ago when I found a ceramic bust at the thrift store with a hollow inside and a small hole in the pupil of one eye...perfect for string! The following two are vintage and can be found on ebay. I'm not sure when they are from, maybe 50s?
My boyfriend bought me an amazing handmade one for Christmas a few years ago, it's a black cat with a tin cylinder body (this holds the string) and the string comes out of its rear end! It hangs on the wall and my kitty always tries to jump up and play with the string.

Of the chalkware ones I've been particularly enjoying the advertising ones lately:
'little miss hershey chocolate'
'little miss sunbeam'
bordens co. elsie the cow
Here's a classic, fairly common one that I've always loved! (I should just buy it one of these days. Theres one on etsy right now):

There are a bunch of fruit and vegetable ones that are weird, creepy, and pretty funny. Strawberries, pears, peaches, carrots.... here's a tomato:

Many of them had little cutter pieces attached for added convenience, and better yet, many had little holes to hold scissors! Isn't that the best? There is a common kangaroo of this type, a cat, and some others, but my favorite is this fox one, because the scissor handles make eyeglasses! So clever!


  1. These are so disturbing and yet fascinating at the same time! I don't think I'd want one with the string coming out of their mouths, though. I see the obvious utility, but it weirds me out a bit! However, the fox is cute.

    Great post!

  2. I love these! I am one of those ancient people who still uses string so I think one of these might have to be part of my vintage room make-over next month! brilliant!

  3. woahhh! crazy.



  4. do you ever watch american pickers? you would love it