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Tiki Central Forums Collecting Tiki Tiki Tag Topper
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Tiki Tag Topper
tikicar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 19, 2005
Posts: 106
From: York, Pa.
Posted: 2008-09-28 3:41 pm   Permalink

I did a search and could not find anything. I picked this up at an antique mall this week. Old car tag topper for Tiki Gardens. It is perfect and never used. I was just curious if others were out there. Once you get past the late 1940s cars these will not easily work on most cars because of the tags location on a bumper. So I doubt they sold a lot of these. Might be the reason it was never used. Scott


 
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HOUSE OF KU
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Joined: Apr 15, 2005
Posts: 538
From: TIKILAND, USA
Posted: 2008-09-28 4:45 pm   Permalink

I like the images my mind conjures up for "pagan customs".
Nice find! Freddie

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[ This Message was edited by: HOUSE OF KU 2008-09-28 16:46 ]


 
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Humuhumu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3606
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-09-28 5:55 pm   Permalink

Are you sure this is vintage? It looks very modern to me, those are typefaces commonly found in modern pieces generated on a computer:

- Notice that all of the "n"s in "Enchanting Land of Pagan Customs" are identical -- on a vintage item, those "n"s would have been hand-drawn, with variations.
- The word "GARDENS" looks to me like it is the
Chicago font, the standard font on Macintosh computers.

Not saying it's impossible, and I sure hate to be the bearer of possibly bad news, but it just doesn't look like a vintage item to my eyes.


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Big Kahuna
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Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2303
From: SoMass
Posted: 2008-09-28 7:37 pm   Permalink

SWEEEEEET! That would look great on my Hot Rod! Display it proudly!

 
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tikicar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 19, 2005
Posts: 106
From: York, Pa.
Posted: 2008-09-28 7:56 pm   Permalink

I am sure it is vintage. Unless someone shows me a pile of these and proves me wrong. The photo does not show details you can see with your eyes. First the paint is yellowed from years of age. On the back you can see where there was a price decal at one time. It is discolored in this area surrounding the once decal. The type of paint used and the way it lays on the metal and the amount of dust and dirt in it is all typical for old mass produced tin tag toppers. I have a bunch of ones for all different things and have collected them for years. These things were screen printed not hand painted. Just like anything else of that era they had type setters and lots of fonts to use. No difference than any matchbook or menu or book, magazine etc. I have seen plenty of old ads etc using that type. You could make something simular to this today. But unless you had a press and punch to produce the same feel of metal. Most would use a water jet today and it would not be the same. Paints are different today etc. This does not have that fake look of those repro gas signs etc. that you see at every swap meet. Plus if someone was repoping these things I doubt I would be the first one to find one. They would have been on ebay or listed here somewhere. If you search ebay for tag topper there are always a few vintage tin ones on there. You will see what I mean.

[ This Message was edited by: tikicar 2008-09-28 20:00 ]


 
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Big Kahuna
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Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2303
From: SoMass
Posted: 2008-09-28 9:09 pm   Permalink

Absolutely vintage!

 
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TikiTres
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Joined: May 28, 2008
Posts: 263
From: Forney, TX
Posted: 2008-09-29 08:38 am   Permalink

Here's a little blurb about Tiki Gardens, apparently it was around from 1962 until 1990:

http://www.lostparks.com/tiki.html

More photos and backstory here:

http://home.earthlink.net/~tikigardens/page1.html





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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3606
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-09-29 3:28 pm   Permalink

As long as you love it, that's really all that matters... I'm just interested in knowing more about the actual provenance of this item. I'm well aware that lettersetting has been available for quite some time, but the lettering used on this sign is modern:

- The words "Visit" and "Enchanting Land of Pagan Customs" are in a typeface called Freestyle Script. Freestyle Script was created by lettering designer Martin Ware in 1981.

- As mentioned before, the word "GARDENS" is in a typeface called Chicago. Chicago was created by Susan Kare in 1984 to be the system font for Apple.

Just as we can use cars in old photos to date them, typefaces can help us date an item. Since the typefaces used on this item did not exist before 1984, that's the earliest it could have been created.

While these typefaces existed at that date, they are today two of the most commonly installed fonts on computer systems. That leads me to consider that this is an item that was designed originally on a computer, and in that case I would surmise that it was produced much later than the mid-'80s. The yellowing you're seeing on it doesn't automatically say to me that it's old; it's no more a reliable indication of age than crazing on a tiki mug.

My .02, take it or leave it... again, I'm just seeking to understand the history of this item.


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Tiki Royale
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Joined: Dec 06, 2002
Posts: 891
From: The Aloha Room in Beautiful Belmont, CA!
Posted: 2008-09-29 10:16 pm   Permalink

Typographic Archeology... Fascinating.
Good eye Humuhumu, this is a tough one. I do think that Chicago is an odd choice for someone doing a retro knock-off piece though. But your call of Freestyle looks pretty on.
Still, many current faces are based on vintage hand-tooled or hand-lettered forms. Is it possible that this piece uses some original faces which resemble the modern Freestyle and Chicago?
Does someone have some other Tiki Gardens ephemera that might have type examples to compare to?
Aloha,

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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3606
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-09-29 10:30 pm   Permalink

I agree, Chicago is an unusual choice, that's what stood out initially and made it look odd to my eyes. The Freestyle Script font on computers today is based on the original Letraset design by Martin Ware, that original design was created in 1981. Chicago was created from scratch to be legible on computer screens, as far as I'm aware.

I'm quite puzzled over all this, myself. Maybe the new owners who took over the Tiki Gardens in 1988 made these as an attempt to re-promote the park, before giving up for good in 1990? The design overall looks more like a mid-'90s thing to me, rather than late-'80s, but who knows.


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Tom Slick
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Joined: Aug 26, 2005
Posts: 1092
From: The Beaches of South Bay, SoCal
Posted: 2008-09-29 11:57 pm   Permalink

And I was under the impression that letter setting pre-dated computer fonts, and that many font designers "borrowed" letter styles from times past? There goes my theory....I know most 50's and 60's "kustom" license plate toppers were made of cast metal, and not stamped sheet metal. I'd say this could be anywhere from the 70's to the late 80s since it close in 1990. There would be no reason to say "visit Tiki Gardens" post-1990, and I would find it silly for someone to print this after that date of the Gardens closing, as this is/was a fairly pricey process.

It is still a cool find, and wish I had one!

[ This Message was edited by: Tom Slick 2008-09-30 00:10 ]


 
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3606
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-09-30 4:50 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-09-29 23:57, Tom Slick wrote:
And I was under the impression that letter setting pre-dated computer fonts, and that many font designers "borrowed" letter styles from times past?



That's true, but every typeface has a different story. Some were created with a specific purpose in mind (e.g., legibility in a telephone directory, or on highway signs, or in the case of Chicago, on computer screens), some were inspired by hand lettering, and some were original designs.

I had the name of Freestyle Script's designer wrong, it's not Martin Ware it's Martin Wait. I sent him an email to ask him to clarify exactly when his typeface was created, and what it was based on, here's what he responded:

Quote:

Hello Michelle

Freestyle Script was created in 1981.
The style is my design and it had no other type influences.
I don't use old typefaces for any of the fonts I design

I hope this helps you.

Kind Regards

Martin Wait



Fun Fact: Martin Wait designed the logo for Tetley's Tea!

Quote:

On 2008-09-29 23:57, Tom Slick wrote:
There would be no reason to say "visit Tiki Gardens" post-1990, and I would find it silly for someone to print this after that date of the Gardens closing, as this is/was a fairly pricey process.



I agree in principle, but people reproduce all sorts of odd things. You can get a Tiki Bob's t-shirt today, and Tiki Farm does a brisk trade in reproduction mugs. After all, Tiki Gardens has been closed for nearly two decades now, and there's clearly demand for this license topper now! My guess still stands that it was either made between '88 and '90 in the last-gasp days of Tiki Gardens, or it was made in the past few years to target the tiki and hot rod collectibles markets.

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tikicar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 19, 2005
Posts: 106
From: York, Pa.
Posted: 2008-09-30 4:53 pm   Permalink

I posted this on here to find out more information and to see if there are any other tiki tag toppers out there. Not to get on a debate about new or old or computer type. I love it either way. I bought it right and it will look sweet on my roadster when it is ever done. I found one reference to it here on tiki central. There was one sold on ebay last year. Might have been this one? It is under Tiki Gardens, Indian Rocks Beach/Indian Shores, FL (restaurant) I restore cars for a living so I know a thing or two about paint. It is old paint. The discoloration takes years and a lot of them. The discoloration on the back where a decal once was again takes years as it has discolored the paint like a stain on cloth. It was either a price decal or maybe an original makers foil decal. This is not the same as crazing a mug to look old. Todays paints are not the same as years ago. They are not the same as even a year ago in most cases. Go buy a can of Krylon spray paint and it is now different than a few months ago. Just like how a new carving looks to a old carving. Some things just take time to create the look and no fake way can make it look the same. If you look in the book of tiki there is a matchbook on page 51 for Mecca Bar. The type is the same as gardens on the topper just stretched out. My brother happens to be visiting me right now. He is a commercial artist and has been since before computers were used for art or type setting etc. You know when there actually were real artists. Here is his explanation on how it was done without computers.
Hello; My take on the tag topper is that it looks original. I have been doing commercial art for over 35 years and it doesnt have to be done on a computer to have uniform shaped letters. A good sign painter can make his hand painted letters shaped the same time after time to the point you can overlay them with little or no difference. When I started most fonts were all either hand lettered or set in lead type for printing. As a rule I draw my original art at least twice as big as the final print size so that any flaws are almost invisible in the final print form. Even if that tag topper was hand cut art the original mechanical art would have probably been close to 18" to 24" long. At that scale it would be easy to make the type near perfect. And there is no reason that it had to be hand cut art since any decent size 1950's art house would have had movable typeseting machines and large format graphics cameras to shoot film positives for screen production. While I agree with the other poster that the fonts used are similar to fonts he says were created in the 1980s... most modern fonts are some derivitive of older commercial or hand lettered fonts. It took only a few minutes searching to find a font nearly identical to that used on this tag topper, the only difference was that it was a condensed version. So many font designers create similar or nearly identical fonts simply to avoide royalties. On a daily basis I use a commercial computer typesetter that has at least 3 phonebook size type books all containing similar versions of the same type but with different names. If you go on line there are endless choices of free or for sale fonts also. When you spec a type for a job the art programs automatically brings up a defult window asking you if it is ok to substitute a similar font if you have not actually loaded that font with your job file. Since I do not know the actual production date of this tag topper I can not say that the other poster is wrong with his assesment of the type fonts or age. But as someone that works in this industry I know that it is hard to know the date of creation for something like a font style because there is too much inspiration from or copying of previous work. Just last night on the tv show "Chuck" I noticed that the credits were set in a font to mimic the old "Dymo" lable maker machines. Now I have 30+ year old dymo lables on my file cabinets and I know I handlettered a piece of art in the 1980s to simulate this font. By the logic of the previous poster, my file cabinet can't be real because that "chuck" font was only designed in the last 10 years. I am not looking for a debate, just as the previous poster said... putting in my $.02


 
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3606
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2008-09-30 4:58 pm   Permalink

No worries, we're both learning a lot here, and that's what it's all about!

I agree that many typefaces based on earlier designs; it's just that these two particular typefaces have unambiguous histories with clear origin, and their histories begin in 1981 and 1984.


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tikicar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 19, 2005
Posts: 106
From: York, Pa.
Posted: 2008-09-30 5:10 pm   Permalink

Tom Slick: I did want to reply to you as well. Yes the custom tag toppers and dragger tags like Custom & Hot Rod clubs use are usually cast. Obrien truckers still makes these today. They also repro the cast tag toppers from Miami Beach, Hollywood etc. Tin tag toppers were the cheap alternative. They were used by every new car dealer back in the day before metal emblems and decals were used on the back of your car. Also by resorts, resturants etc. Anyone who wanted to advertise would get them made. They really gave way to the bumper sticker. Bumper stickers were so cheap to buy and sell or give away and they fit any car as where tag toppers were fitting less and less new cars. I go to a lot of Antique and hot rod shows as well as swap meets. I have yet to see anyone reproducing a tin tag topper. There are still plenty of cool unused originals around at a cheap price.

 
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