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Nun, Kitsch Items Offer a Bit of Nostalgia to Collectors

Having been taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph in both parochial and high school, I was charmed when I found a vintage music box statuette in Sib’s consignment shop, located in the Fulton neighborhood of Wheeling. I just had to have it.

The black robed nun figurine is attired as I remember the sisters that taught me and stands with three properly dressed altar boys. All four of the figures hold a songbook and are singing.

The music box statue plays a song I remember from my youth, “Dominique” by the pop act called “The Singing Nun.”

It was 1963-64 that this song climbed the charts and was an international hit. At that time, nuns were often seen and not just in the classroom. Nuns in habit were a big part of the sixties pop culture with movies like the Hayley Mills movie “Trouble with Angels” and TV shows like “The Flying Nun” with Sally Field.

It was after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that nuns began to reconsider habits and transition from wearing them. This made me wonder if nun memorabilia is collectible.

As far as I can tell from my quick research, it is! But mostly in a kitschy way. Kitsch is a cool way to decorate for many fans of vintage, since it relies on popular trends and not classic art and antiques. Sentimentality is big with this type of collector.

Nuns would fall into the same category as my little monk statue salt and peppers that you may have seen, created by Goebel, and Hummels in general. But I still like Hummel statues, by the way, and was even a member of the Hummel Club in the 1980s.

So many other popular collectibles aren’t real antiques or high-priced treasures, but they give personality to a room and offer an approachability that high art and expensive antiques can’t. The key is to never overdo kitsch and to add just a bit here and there, otherwise it veers toward tacky.

There are tons of examples of kitsch in summer antiques including lawn flamingos, novelty flower pots, kitchen and bar accessories. Americana antiques too, include these common everyday items that are now sought by collectors, like advertising art, aprons and mid-century modern trinkets.

Fashion also dabbles in kitsch. Just look at all the cartoon art seen on dresses and accessories now. And what about shoes, some of the high-priced models are like sculptures! I’ve heard it said that fashion trends are so bad they’re good right now in regards to tackiness..

Of course, some would say that Andy Warhol started it all back in the early ’60s when he created his pop art and Campbell Soup cans. He also was a huge collector of kitsch items like cookie jars.

I guess the epitome of kitsch is a velvet painting of Elvis. But there are many other items like advertising art and souvenir items that make sense to enjoy. Most recently, when searching the web, I discovered references to Trump kitsch of all things!

Trump kitsch can refer to political souvenirs made during the election that show Donald Trump’s image on a variety of cheap items, but it’s also a term used in reference to his style that relies on boisterous theatrics and over-the-top rallies. I had no idea.

Anyhow, kitsch as a collectible is lovely if it’s an item that you enjoy. Most of these collectibles are inexpensive too, so that’s an added plus.

By the way, did I mention I have a nun doll! It also plays music, this time it’s the “Sound of Music” theme song, another great nun movie from the 1960s that is considered a classic. It’s a lovely conversation piece that illustrates the past in a hands-on way.

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