Sunday, November 13, 2011

Duff Tweed's 1969 Wall Street Hobo mixing it up with the Brokers

Hi.  Glad you could come and stay for a while.  Hope you enjoy your visit.   It's a little early, but Happy Thanksgiving 2011 to you.  Even though times are tough, we still have so much for which to be thankful.  May your hearts be warm,  your tummies full and may you be in the company of loved ones.

We are thankful that we created this blog for more reasons than we ever imagined.  When collecting, one becomes part researcher, part historian and part trader.  One has to be knowledgeable in their chosen field in order to build a collection worth having. We have found the most wonderful part of collecting is in meeting fellow collectors and hearing their stories.  This entire blog has been built primarily on word of mouth and online research.  That is, people sharing their stories and recollecting their direct and indirect experiences with Duff Tweed.  We're proud to say that all the Duff Tweed collectors we have come across each have one thing in common; they are extremely NICE people.  Each collector has been willing to share their time, their experiences, their Duff Tweed carving(s) and their memories to make this place what it is today.  Once again, we have communicated with yet another nice and informative Duff Tweed carving collector.  Leo wrote to us today from Florida and this is his story how he came to own Duff Tweed's 1969 Wall Street Hobo.

Leo, who now lives in Florida is 79 years of age.  He got his Duff Tweed carving back in 1969, when he was 37 and here's how he did so.  It's amazing to think that was over 42 years ago!  His piece still looks great!!!

After helping his stock broker friend John Rutner, of the stock brokerage firm of Rutner, Jackson and Gray here in Los Angeles, John asked Leo what could he do to repay the favor for helping close a business deal.  Leo didn’t really want anything, but while standing in John's office he noted and asked for the Duff Tweed carving hanging in Mr. Rutner's office.  John happily gave it to Leo and that is how Leo came to own the Wall Street Hobo pictured below.  Leo worked for Hentz and Co. , another stock brokerage firm located in Los Angeles.  Hentz and Co. first merged into Shearson Lehman then merged again to become Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney. Bet you never heard of Hentz and Company, but we all know Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney.

Now let's take a look at Leo's Wall Street Hobo from 1969.  Leo's timing of sharing this piece is superb as it directly coincides with the craziest stock market and economic fluctuations we have seen in decades.
Leo took these pictures with a 2 to 3 megapixel camera, so we apologize for the light graininess you see in the photos, but we're so pleased to have them to share with you.

Duff did not often sign the front of these specially prepared backgrounds, which makes it somewhat special.  Additionally, Duff personally dedicated this piece to John Rutner.  Below are the pictures Leo shared of the back of the piece.
The back reads as follows:
Dear John:
I am delighted you are able to give this bum a home!
I hope you never imitate him!
Thank you for your appreciation.
Duff Tweed
(Duff included his address and telephone number at the time . . . did you notice there's no three digit prefix before the telephone number?)

Sending a big SHOUT OUT to Leo in Florida for his willingness to share his prized Duff Tweed 1969 Wall Street Hobo carving and the history behind his piece.  We appreciate you Leo!  Enjoy your carving in the best of health!

Looking forward to bringing you more Duffy delights as time marches on!

All the best!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tennis with Duff Tweed on Halloween? Brenda says YES!

Welcome back and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It's an interesting and a bit unsettling period of history we're experiencing in the world.  The 99%ers are camping out at financial hubs all over the world demonstrating for a more equal distribution of wealth.  After watching the stock market plummet since April, it's showing some of the largest growth ever seen in history.  However, if you're broke, how do you take advantage of the growth?  World economies are sliding negatively and Republicans are abusing the media for their own personal benefits.  It is truly amazing what democratic President Obama has made happen in the midst of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Real change is coming and I hope we can all weather the storm.  OK, enough shaking you up . . . let's move on to a new Duffy collector who has made their presence known.

We received an email today from Brenda who owns Duff Tweed's Tennis Player which is officially titled, "Damn I'm Good!".   Below is the first picture Brenda sent us:

Brenda mentioned she had researched Duff Tweed's carvings ten years ago and was able to find nothing on the topic.  Brenda also confirmed that current sale prices for Duff Tweed carvings are ridiculously inexpensive and attributes it to the lack of common knowledge about this wonderful artist.  Below we have included Brenda's email note along with a second picture of "Damn I'm Good!"

Fifteen years ago my partner worked for a company that went bankrupt after 30 years, the owner had three of Duff Tweeds carvings and gave them to the three girls who had been there the longest, he had 2 of the golfers, and the tennis player.  We have the tennis player, picture enclosed.  About 10 years ago I went online looking for Duff Tweed or any info with nothing to be found.  Don't know why, but I thought about it again today and lo and behold I found you.  I just knew this couldn't be the only carving around.  So glad someone has taken the interest in this mans work.  Being a woodworker myself, I find it beautiful to look at.  I just wanted to share this picture with you and let you know there are more of us out there.  Just a note, the selling prices in ebay are disgusting, people are apparently not aware of the history they have.

We don't think Brenda could have said it any better.  These Duff Tweed carvings are hidden treasures!  Some are hiding in your grandparents attic and others are hidden away in storage units.  

We thank Brenda for sharing her carving, her knowledge and the history on how they obtained this particular piece.  We really love how most of these carvings are passed down from friends and family to younger generations.

Now for a Lil' Halloween fun.  Our neighbors came up with such an apropos Halloween theme this year, we just had to share it with you.  Earlier we referred to the 99%ers who are camping out at various financial centers all over the world.  The world majority is tired of such an unequal balance of wealth and it's starting to feel like 1776 all over again.  The claim which seems to be fact is that 1% of the people control 99% of the wealth.  Or conversely 99% of the people live and exist on 1% of the wealth and resources available worldwide.  While this is the most serious of issues, our neighbors planned their Halloween theme to honor the 99%ers!  Thank you Spencer and Amy!!!  A truly creative and wonderful gesture!   
Check out the pictures below:

The 1%ers!
We mixed it up a bit for Halloween, but managed to share another wonderful collector and a good sentiment this Halloween for the kids!  It's all about the kids!  They are the future!  Don't trick 'em, treat 'em right!

Thank you sincerely for your visit and can't wait to share our next Duffalicious tale!

All the best! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Duff Tweed's Three Painted Western Musicians

As promised, we're back and truly excited to share the newest additions to the Duff Tweed Carvings collection.

Before you see the latest and greatest Duff Tweed carvings added to the collection, we thought we'd share the little we do know about these carvings.  

They were purchased from John in N.W. Pennsylvania.  John drove a hard deal, but we just had to have these and are so grateful for his willingness to allow us to add them to the collection.  Apparently, John picked up the set of three carvings through an auction house in 1991.  If I understood him correctly, a friend of John's went to the home a family in the midst of divorce in Phoenix, Arizona in 1991.  The original owner of the carvings allowed John's friend to go into the basement of their home and take what he wanted, surely for a small price.  In any event, his friend sold them through a local auction house and when John saw them his only thought was, "These are Disneyesque, they must have some association with Walt Disney."  John's suspicions were confirmed when he learned the artist was none other than Duff Tweed, the hero of our blog! Rah Rah Duff! Hehehe.

So, without further fanfare, here are Duff Tweed's Three Painted Western Musicians.

Don't you just love them?  We are personally into golf and as a result interested in golf carvings, but something about Duff's western carvings display action, motion, humor and just an artistry that is richly and solely Duff!  They're duffaliscious and we believe Duff put more effort into creating the western carvings even though he played and enjoyed golf.  With that said, asking us which is our favorite is like asking a four year old what they're favorite ice cream flavor is at Baskin Robbins. We love them all and each new carving discovered is like finding buried treasure.  Enough said. . . enjoy the remainder of the photos below.

Hope you enjoyed these carvings as much as we have.  Sending out a big SHOUT OUT to John in PA!!! Thank you!
Until we meet again . . .
All the best!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Man who knew Duff Tweed: Ron Urschel

Glad you could come back and visit.  Sit back and enjoy for a few. . .

One of the toughest things we have experienced at Duff Tweed Carvings is getting real, factual information about the kind of person Duff really was.  While we greatly appreciate the art this man has created over the years he was here, we desire to know more about the man himself.
This is one of two sets of the Slaughterhouse Four created in 1959 by Duff Tweed.  Ron Urschel owns this set along with a hand written letter from Duff explaining the group is really from Alberta, Canada.
So, a few weeks ago we came across an old string on a Disney memorabilia site we had read several times before.  We had even responded to the string adding our own comments in relation to the value of a particular set of carvings Duff did back in 1959 titled The Slaughterhouse Four.  This particular set has all four carvings attached to one single frame.  After re-reading the string, we realized that the person posting it had actually spent significant time with Duff Tweed at his home in California.  We contacted the gentleman and he was more than happy to share his memories of Duff.
Ron Urschel today.
Ron Urschel, now 62 years of age used to spend hours of time with Duff Tweed when he came to visit the family at their home in Burbank, California.  There is actually some history here as well.  Ron’s father Earl, who gained his aeronautical experience via the U.S. Airforce was a B-17 bomber pilot.  Mr. Urschel worked for Walt Disney as a pilot for the company.  Earl Urschel (Ron’s father) was actually covered by the famous Greg “Pappy” Boyington on many of his earlier missions.  If you don’t know the name Greg Boyington, then read Black Sheep Squadron and you’ll know what kind of guy Pappy was; fearless and loyal.  I suspect Ron’s father Earl was equally loyal and fearless.  Ron shared that his Dad absolutely loved flying.
Ron at 50, skydiving.  Had to add this shot for his Dad's love of flying.
To give you a feel for the time, Burbank was the place to be.  It was actually the place where movie and television stars moved to get away from it all. Ron and his family not only knew Duff Tweed intimately, but also were friends with Guy Williams (Zorro), Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, George Reeves (original Superman) and Kim Graham (Playboy model) to name just a few.
Ron in Quincy, California in 1961.
When Ron was a youngster (about 5 years of age), Duff would come and visit the family where they then lived in Burbank, California.  His father Earl was now with Fairchild Aviation which was after he stopped working for Disney.  Ron recalls they had palm trees in their backyard and Duff would put Ron on his lap and try to teach him how to draw the trees.  Ron shared that the lessons never stuck, but the time with Duff definitely did.  Ron remembered how Duff used to bring what they called black paper to write on because the colors showed up more vividly. Duff did teach Ron how to draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and several others.  He also continued to work with Ron on how to paint those palm trees. 

We were curious . . . what kind of person was Duff ?  Was he serious, was he easy going?  Ron shared that Duff was a private person.  He walked around with no worries and was quite a happy-go-lucky person around people he liked and those with which he was comfortable.  He confirmed what another neighbor previously shared about Duff and his work; Duff actually had a lower level of self esteem when it came to his carvings.  He never made a big deal out of them.  They were more of a hobby that became a means to support his lifestyle.  Duff always wore blue jeans and a western shirt or t-shirt.  Interestingly, Duff played the guitar and apparently was quite good. This explains his many western musician based carvings.
Betty Urschel, Ron's mother at age 85.  Mrs. Urschel received the first of only two Slaughterhouse Four sets carved by Duff Tweed and placed on one frame in 1959.  Below is the letter Duff wrote where explained the Slaughterhouse Four were from Alberta, Canada.
Ron made it a point to let us know that it was his mother who actually appreciated Duff’s carvings.  She was very complimentary of his work, so in 1959 Duff made only two sets of the Slaughterhouse Four which existed on one frame.  Duff sold the first set to a friend in Alberta, Canada for $500.  The second set was gifted to Ron’s mother Betty and father Earl.  Duff included a letter to Betty and Earl dated December 16, 1959 (see below) where he explains that the Slaughterhouse Four are actually ranchers that worked on his Dad’s ranch in Alberta, Canada and not in Mesa, AZ as later pieces have indicated.  We can now only guess that the Slaughterhouse Four started as ranch hands for Duff Tweed’s father in Canada and them moved to Mesa, AZ. 

Eventually Ron’s folks parted ways and his mother Betty ended up with the Slaughterhouse Four.  Betty in turn gifted the set to Ron who will keep it FOREVER!  I would too.  Ron has had his Slaughterhouse Four set appraised and shared with us that the value is $20,000 or $5,000 per carving.  We discussed this in short, but we both believe that value will be accurate as other communities and collectors become aware of Duff’s work and his strong affiliation with Disney. 

Before we say goodbye, we’re sending out a HUGE shout out and sincere thanks to Ron and wife Sue Urschel for sharing Ron's time, pictures and precious childhood memories of the time he spent with Duff Tweed.  As an aside, Ron smokes some of the best jerky and salmon around.  If you’re a smoked jerky or salmon fan, we’d be happy to put you in touch with him.  Ron included a picture of wife Sue Urschel, which we would also like to share with you in this post.
Sue Urschel, Ron's wife.

It truly has been our pleasure to share these Duffy tidbits with you.

Catch ya soon partner.
All the best!

Duff Tweed’s Two Laughing Golfers and Sailor with Life Preserver

Hello.  Hope you had a wonderful relaxing summer.  It’s September 2011 and we’re back to the grind!

In our previous post we shared Ross Carr’s Duff Tweed collection of which we had acquired several pieces.  Well, after our original Duffy acquisitions we decided to add another three carvings to the Duff Tweed Carvings collection.  We had very specific reasons for adding each of the three carvings to the collection.

Duff Tweed’s Laughing Golfers

The moment we saw these two happy duffers, we knew they had to be added to the collection.  We have never seen these two particular carvings anywhere and they have increased the count to fifteen individually unique golfer carvings done by Duff Tweed.  Some time in the near future we will do a post and share all 15 different golfers so you can see them together.   However, for now we will continue to share our “never before seen” Duff Tweed carvings, which continue to pop up out of the “woodwork”.

We really appreciate how Duff painted these guys and the expression on their faces is just perfect.  
We love the striped pants in the picture above. Just classic!

Now we have one more surprise for you.  The Duff Tweed carving below of the Sailor with Life Preserver is one we already have in the collection, but we added this one for several reasons.

First, you’ll immediately notice that Duff signed the front of the piece in RED ink.  We have seen over one hundred of Duff’s carvings and not a single one was signed in red ink.  What really got us interested in the piece, was what had been added on the reverse side.

When Duff dedicated his work to his buyers, he typically drew one (or zero) Disney character illustration on the back of his carvings. Take a look below and check out all three close-up illustrations completed in red ink of some of the most recognizable Disney characters of that era.  As it is a rare experience to come across any of Duff’s Disney illustrations, we truly feel honored to have added this wonderful piece to the collection.
Please come back soon and visit as we have two more posts coming soon.  The first is an interview with Ron Urschel of Nevada who used to have Duff Tweed come visit him when he was a young child.  You won't want to miss it.  The next post will be of three never before seen Duff Tweed carvings which you also won't want to miss.  Until then, wishing you all a wonderful Fall 2011!

All the best!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ross Carr's Duff Tweed Collection

Weeeeee're baaaaack, and obviously you are too if you're reading this.  Welcome back!

One of the advantages of having a blog on a particular subject is that persons with similar interests have a way of finding and contacting you.  We were recently contacted by a collector who shared he had 13 different Duff Tweed carvings and was looking to sell all but one of them.  

The collector is Ross Carr and this is his Duff Tweed collection.  We at Duff Tweed Carvings have purchased six carvings from Ross so far and are in discussion to purchase another two or three.  Upon completing our first purchase, Ross shared two identical golfer carvings we had never seen. Once we have purchased the other carvings, we will edit this blog to include the newest editions from Mr. Carr's collection.

Now let's start sharing.  Below is a set of three golfers never displayed in this blog.  All the carvings from Ross's collection are in excellent shape with very clean backgrounds.  Ross was obviously collecting years before we got started.  Ross and I are both Aquarians and born 6 days apart from one another, so maybe we're destined to collect Duff's work.
Attempted to enlarge picture, but it get's cut off and you can only see two golfers, sorry!

We would normally comment on each piece, but as there are so many, we thought we'd simply share them and let you see the Carr Collection.  Ross, like myself has a love affair with golf.  Luckily, he collected Duff Tweed's golfer carvings so we get to benefit by adding new and unseen carvings to the Duff Tweed Carvings collection.  

Below is another golfer individually framed and signed.
F O R E!

The next and last golfer carving below is one you have seen before in this blog, but he is holding a perfect golf iron as opposed to the not so perfect one previously pictured months ago. His paint is cleaner and unmarked.  

He is affectionately named The Happy Golfer.

The last of the carvings we received is the famous SUE THE BASTARDS carving pictured below.

Now, the carvings in the picture below are from Ross's collection, but have not yet been shipped.  
Pictured from top row right to left: Golf Caddy - Happy Golfer - Grim Golfer (All in Plexi-Glass), Double Jigger Jack Grant
Pictured from bottom row right to left: Damn I'm Good (tennis), Laughing Golfer in Red, Laughing Golfer in Green and the Sailor/Yachtsman.


Did you notice we mentioned Ross sold us all but one Duff Tweed carving?  We knew you noticed!  You're good that way! 

Of course, it was our favorite, but honestly, we're glad Ross is keeping it.  It was the first Duff Tweed carving Ross purchased and has a great deal of sentimental value to him.

So, without further adieu, here's Duff Tweed's Drinking Fisherman.  It's sooooo cooooool!
"Calling John the Fisherman"...sorry for my Primus quip, but it's a fav.

Hope you enjoyed this post and all the wonderful carvings shared with us by Ross Carr.

Looking forward to sharing more Duffy tales in the future.

All the best!

Duff Tweed's Wall Street Journal Hobo via Joel Rothschild

Hello.  Welcome new collectors and frequent visitors!

July 2011 was a crazy month for Duff Tweed carving collectors on the West Coast.  We here at Duff Tweed Carvings were inundated with offers we received to purchase carvings.  We worked with our good friend at the Rust Trap Ranch to take a few off our hands.  Gary is building quite a collection over there in Simi Valley, CA.  Combined we estimate we have built up one of the largest collections of Duff's carvings anywhere.  We would welcome the opportunity to hear otherwise. *smile*

About a week ago, I met a wonderful person with a carving, Joel Rothschild.  He is also an award winning author.  His god-mother was an avid collector of art and was very busy collecting local artist's work during the period of 1955 to 1970.  Fortunately for us, she learned that Duff Tweed lived locally in Pasadena, California and purchased the Wall Street Hobo below. 

The carving is from 1969 which is in print on the Wall Street Journal pages in the background.  Below is a close-up photo where you can see part of the "6" and all of the "9" just to the lower right of his left ear.  The "1969" is clearly visible in the picture above.

 This particular carving has Duff's signature and "Pasadena" written on the front and is in excellent condition.  All the Wall Street Hobo's with Wall Street print in the background that we have prior to this one do not have a signature or "Pasadena" on the front.  Additionally, if you go back and look at the other carvings we have of this same figure, you'll see they have orange painted shirts while this one is painted in red.
A neat thing about collecting Duff Tweed carvings are the people you meet.  Joel is a very nice, interesting and involved person.  He gives the proceeds of his sales to his charity of choice and has done so for many years.  Obtaining art from such people just makes the entire experience more enjoyable and unforgettable.   So, here's a big shout out to Joel for allowing us to purchase this carving.  Thanks Joel, we appreciate you and your willingness to share this Duff Tweed carving with the world.
The Godfather - Mark Handler - UPDATE 9/10/11: Mark now owns this Wall St. Hobo and  Double Jigger Jack Grant
In the spirit of popularizing Duff Tweed, we sometimes share our finds with friends and family.  As life (with it's coincidences) would have it, my god-father was interested in this particular piece, so much so that I had picked it up knowing he would end up with it.  As I write this, god-father Mark Handler is waiting to receive his first Duff Tweed carving.  Yes, we created another collector!  Mark is an extremely artistic person, so having him as a collector is a great compliment to Duff's work.  Looking back, we have started several people collecting Duff's work.  As obscure of a collection as it is, these new collectors have discovered the broad appeal of Duff's work.  They know his carvings exist!  

So, from god-mother to god-father, this piece passes.

Stay tuned . . . we have another post to follow shortly. You won't want to miss it as a lot of never before seen carvings will be included.

All the best!