We’re Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks!

Cuckoo clocks are a long and storied fixture of German culture. It is believed that during the 18th-century farmers in south-western Germany started making cuckoo clocks using logs from the Black Forest. This is widely believed to be the time and the place of the birth of the cuckoo clock. The story goes that during the winters, farmers would put their time to making these musical cuckoo clocks which could be sold to earn a living whilst their farms lay dormant.

The cuckoo clock has been attributed to Franz Anton Ketterer, a reputable clockmaker operating around the 1730’s from the Black Forest village of Schönwald (a village where many cuckoo clockmakers still operate workshops to this day). Others assert that Michael Dilger & Matthäus Hummel may have had a hand in creating the first standard cuckoo clock in 1742.

Whatever the case, the cuckoo clock has been around for nearly two centuries, and they continue to delight young and old alike.

At Wonderland Antiques we have been fortunate to acquire a number of Black Forest cuckoo clocks in all shapes, sizes, and details. We have basic cuckoos that keep time and cuckoo. We have mechanical cuckoos that add the fun of music, and animation. We recently acquired some quartz (battery operated) cuckoos with additional features, including music, motion, and a sensor that quiets them when the sun goes down. If you like the look of a cuckoo but are concerned about the “noise” these quartz clocks are for you. They each feature a switch that allows you to turn off the sound altogether while still being able to keep the current time.

So, if you are in the market for a reasonably priced Cuckoo clock, come and see our current selection – before they are all gone!

Don’t Be Fooled

A frequent comment we hear from guests is that the store is much larger than it appears from the outside. While surprising to us, it is apparent that our nearly 5,000 square feet worth of showrooms does not appear to be massive from the street. And I suppose that makes sense for us.

 Wonderland gives the illusion of going through a tiny little rabbit hole, and entering a massive world of wonderful antiques, curiosities, and collectibles – not to mention early and unique editions of Lewis Carroll’s beloved novel.

So, the next time you are in Helen, drop on down the rabbit hole, and experience our Wonder.

Love Browsing?

One of the comments I hear most often in Wonderland is in the vein of “I just love poking around in shops like this.” We love to hear that. Whether you purchase a treasure today, or remember us and come back another day, we know that we are fulfilling our mission. We are bringing the joy of history to people who appreciate it.

We hope we are also educating visitors about the way people used to live. A butter churn is the story of the work it required to enjoy a little extra flavor at the dinner table. A hand-cranked wringer washing machine is the story of how hard great-grandma worked to keep her family neat and clean without the benefit in indoor plumbing or electricity. Jim Crow era memorabilia shocks us, now, but also reminds us of how hearts and minds can be changed with time, care, and courage. Even a lava lamp is a story of the psychedelia that reigned in 1960s and 1970s America, and the counter culture which began to shift ways of thinking.  

Where else but an antique store can you see, touch, hold, and even buy such pieces of history?

Another comment we hear less often is “I could get that cheaper on Ebay.” We are less excited about hearing this. Your local antique shops are not trying to compete with Ebay on price. Your local antique shops provide a service, an environment, an experience that far outstrip that $4 savings on an ashtray.

Does Ebay provide a pleasant, clean, shopping experience? One in which you can spend leisure time – just poking around? Do they buy and renovate buildings, purchase business licenses, pay taxes to your state, hire local labor, and add value to your local economy?

Does Ebay give you somewhere to go on a rainy day on vacation? When you are stir-crazy and just want to get out of your hotel room and relax, does Ebay give you that? Does Ebay have someone on staff to show you how an unusual item works? Does Ebay let you touch it? Let you operate it? More importantly, does Ebay let you take your treasure with you right away so you can enjoy it – admire it over pizza in the hotel room – talk about what it means to you, while reviewing your day? No, it doesn’t. You can’t get that experience on Ebay, where that item that is $4 cheaper will cost you $19 and 4 days in shipping. It may be convenient, but it doesn’t add to the enjoyment of seeking, finding, and buying an item.

So, the next time you are enjoying your time perusing an antique store or any other brick-and-mortar business, if the thought “I could get it cheaper on Ebay” crosses your mind, consider what your leisure time would be like if all antique antique shops could no longer survive, and you had one less place to “poke around” in on vacation.

Closing for Inventory

Wonderland Antiques and Curiosities will close Monday, November 1st through Friday November 5th for inventory. We will resume regular hours on Saturday, November 6th. We look forward to seeing you, then!

Carnival Glass

Carnival Glass – who doesn’t love it?

We here at Wonderland were fortunate to come across a sizeable collection of carnival glass recently, and it caused me to wax nostalgic. When I was a young girl – I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 – my parents took we “three little ones”, as the youngest siblings were called, to a Watermelon Festival in Southeastern Iowa. I wonder if that magnificent summertime tradition endures. I certainly hope so. As a youngster I was dazzled by the bright lights and seemingly towering Ferris wheel. I was enticed by one after another “Carnie” barking at us to “Step right up! Try your luck!”

Presently, the family came to one “gyp joint” as we called them back then. It was a dime toss where the object was to pitch a dime so that it would land in or on one of the prizes. And OH! What prizes they were. All the targets were beautiful glass bowls, cups, goblets, or plates in shimmering, iridescent Carnival Glass! 

I was besotted with the colors and beauty of the pieces. If I had been looking at a collection by Louis Comfort Tiffany, I could not have been more dazzled.

I begged Dad to please let me try! My family was never much for risking money on games of chance, and carnival games were all stacked in favor of the house, so it took a little cajoling. Relenting, he finally reached down into his deep farmer pockets and produced the only dime he had with him. Since I was not known to have the best hand-eye coordination at that age, he offered to make the toss for me. I agreed and held my breath.

With no real hope of winning anything for me, Dad gave the coin an off-handed toss and kind of turned to look at me. My eyes were glued to the trajectory of the coin. Clink, clink, clink…it bounced and skittered across several other pieces before coming to rest – in the center of a shallow plate! It was a marvelous, pressed-glass dinner-sized plate with a pattern resembling a large leaf on the underside in a deep marigold color. The top of the plate had the shiny iridescence that denotes the latter-day carnival glass. I was over the moon! Looking back at that day in the bright Iowa sunshine, I can fully appreciate how “The Old Man” in “A Christmas Story” felt when he beheld his “Major Award”.

I still have that beautiful plate, and I still look at it fondly, every time I walk past it. It hangs in a place of honor on my plate wall amid my other treasures, all of which spark joy, and a memory. I think that is the best part of collecting antiques. The joy they spark and the memories they hold.

*For a virtual museum of carnival glass pieces from all the major makers, you may want to visit https://www.carnivalglass.com/

Re-Opening in the age of Covid-19

I started this post shortly after our first weekend in January. Back then I was excited to report that business had been good. We spent the first weekend greeting guests, explaining about vendor space and getting terrific feedback on the store, the layout, and what we could do better. We appreciated all comments, and still do! And then…mid-March. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and out of an abundance of caution, the city council and mayor of Helen announced that we could no longer, in good conscience, keep any businesses open that were not essential.

Well, as much as we love antiques and believe that they enrich people’s lives, we had to agree that they are wonderful, but not essential to life and health. We agreed that it would have been irresponsible to remain open while citizens were being told to shelter in place.

Finally, after what seemed a very long time away from our beloved store, the time came on May 8th when we felt that it was okay to reopen, while implementing some stringent health and safety guidelines. We have chose to require masks or other face coverings be used by all staff AND customers. We follow a stringent cleaning regimen, provide free hand sanitizer for guests, and ensured that no more than the allowable number of customers per square foot occupy the store at any one time.

Since we required face coverings, we also made surgical masks available to those who needed them for a nominal fee. Customers receive a credit for the cost of their masks with any purchase of $25 or more. The vast majority of our visitors are accepting, even pleased, with these precautions. Many customers have even thanked us for being more cautious than most, and said they felt safe while in our store.

Of course, opinions vary…and comments from those who object to the face covering policy can be most entertaining. Sentiments ranged from the “I ain’t paying just to look around” set, to the “It’s worse for you to wear one than not” school of thought. And one of my favorites: “No other store is requiring them.” That argument never worked with my parents when I was a kid, and it won’t work with us. Masks or other face coverings will be required in Wonderland until we are satisfied that the pandemic has been contained. I’m very puzzled that some folks aren’t taking this seriously. Our store is located in a tourist town that attracts people from all over, including some of the hottest COVID-19 hot-spots: New York, Florida, London, and yes, even China. The last thing we want is for one of our visitors to take home an unwelcomed souvenir.

Some might argue that we are being “over the top” and taking too many precautions. I suspect those sentiments would vanish if it were one of their own loved ones who contracted this potentially deadly and unpredictable disease.

So, until the statistics tell us that the danger has largely passed, we will continue to: control customer volume; provide hand sanitizer to every customer; provide controlled access to restrooms; provide hot and cold running water for hand washing in our restrooms; sanitize after every restroom use; keep an eye on what is being touched and handled and sanitize after each customer leaves; clean and sanitize the credit card machine and checkout stand between every customer; waive the $15 minimum for credit or debit purchases, and, yes, require face coverings for every customer over the age of 3. Our customers deserve it.

Eco Friendly

Anyone who has had an email or Facebook account for more than 4.5 seconds has run across posts best classified as glurge. Have you seen the one about an elderly woman being chastised by a cashier at a grocery store for not bringing her own bags? The story, certainly apocryphal, asserts that the twenty-something cashier took a high-and-mighty tone saying that the elder shopper’s generation didn’t care about the environment. If you happened to miss it, you can read the original – or a version of it – on Snopes.com’s glurge gallery, here: http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=71495

While the full text of the screed becomes overlong and tedious – as such self-righteous pieces so often do, it does make one good point. Many citizens of the 21st Century can become awfully smug, thinking we have it all figured out. We know how to be “green” and are left to fix the mess earlier generations have left us.

Not so. Just calling ourselves eco-friendly or green doesn’t make it true. In reality, our parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ generations were the original “Green Team”. I was raised by two incredible members of The Greatest Generation. Having survived the Great Depression and the austerity of WWII, my parents’ mantra was “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without!” Now THAT is an Eco Friendly attitude.

Every milk or soda bottle returned to be reused, saved a little more space in a landfill or dump. Every time my mother stripped and repainted metal lawn furniture that had grown unsightly, she was helping save the planet. She didn’t know it, but she was! Cooking scraps like potato and carrot peels didn’t go to waste. They became food for the hogs. Once we no longer raised livestock, the same peelings became compost to raise more food.

This attitude of waste not, want not extended to every area of life, and thank goodness for it! Antique stores are now graced with beautiful, lovingly cared for, pieces of furniture history thanks to that “green” attitude. It is the ultimate in recycling.

Mid-Century Table with Edwardian Balloon Back Chairs

Consider the dinette set – well built and sturdy. After long and hard service, it was not tossed away just because the styled changed. It wasn’t turned into kindling because it had a few battle scars from careless children. Some were restored – others painted – but many were simply handed down, along with the family stories and scars that accompanied them. So think about that the next time you visit an antique store. Because that, dear reader, is the very essence of being “green”.


At Wonderland, we love questions. We get all kinds, and not all of them are “Do you have a restroom?” or “Can you do any better on the price?”. Earlier this month I got a question that took me quite off-guard. The question came from my brilliant, thoughtful, and often insightful niece. I shouldn’t have been surprised. She asked “What is it you love about doing this?” The question gave me pause. For several moments I was at a loss for words. Those of you who know me know – rendering me speechless is no mean feat.

What, indeed

Once I recovered myself, I suspect I gave a rather lame answer such as “I like the history of the things.” or “It’s fun to meet people.” or “I like to make money. Ha ha.” All of those things are true to a greater or lesser extent. All of those things are part of it. But the question stayed with me, and here, weeks later, I find myself blogging about it, and wondering if my reasons will resonate with the reader, the collector, the antiqueophile. (For those of you plagued with the desire for grammatical correctness in all things, I admit, I just coined the word antiqueophile. I rather like the way that sounds, in fact. Perhaps you, gentle reader, can help me make it part of the vernacular? But I digress…)

What IS it that I love about doing this? I have always appreciated antiques, I think. Even back when I was a young girl asking Mother about some cool thing that she had in her attic as we were cleaning it out. Her response was invariably “That old junk? Throw it away.” I didn’t believe it was “old junk” then, and I certainly don’t believe it now. There was a story there, and I wanted to know – or imagine – what that story was.

Sometimes I’d find something that did evoke a memory for her. I remember finding an old photograph of her once. She was with her two oldest children sharing my oldest brother’s 6th birthday cake around the kitchen table. I asked her if it was, in fact, my eldest brother celebrating a birthday with his kid brother next to him, and she confirmed that it was. Then she noticed something else. On a shelf above the table was a radio. An old Philco, if family history serves, and most likely with a Bakelite case. That triggered a story.

That radio, she told me, she had earned picking up potatoes on the farm near where she attended boarding school. She was in her late teens, and worked very long, hot, stooped over hours picking up potatoes to earn some spending money. With her “spud money” she called it, she purchased this radio, and a table lamp. She further explained that both of these items were purchased at a time when her family’s home did not yet have electrical service. Talk about planning ahead! Once electricity arrived, she was ready! She and her sister would spend countless hours doing chores and listening to that radio to help pass the time.

The radio itself wasn’t the center of the stories that spun off that thread. Even so, it was the radio – that object sending memory signals from the distant past – that triggered the stories which held my rapt attention while I helped her sort through “old junk”.

So when we run across a “new” antique and select it to take a place in our store, it is because it has spoken to us in some way. For example, I can imagine the day in the 1940s that a family welcomed a new “wireless” into their home. The family’s father might have had help from the clerk at the furniture store to wheel it in to the place of pride in the living room. He’d have been very proud of this new electronic marvel, and excited to see the thrill and awe in the faces of his loved ones at the addition to their home.

From it’s prominent place, the new console would share with the family all of the world events that were to shape the future. It would entertain the children with radio shows about cowboys and pirates. It would fill the home with music from that wonderful big-band era. It would become a part of the family.

All antiques carry such a history. An antique need not have been owned by a historical figure to be important. Each old piece that survives today carries the bumps and bruises of its storied history, and with it the charm that is the root of what I love about doing this.

Antiques vs. Fauxtiques

Admitting to my bias for all things old and wonderful I am truly puzzled by a phenomenon I’m noticing in furniture. Browse through furniture stores featuring makers such as Serta, Homecraft, and Meridian, and you will find new furniture desperately striving to look old. These “fauxtiques” are not bargain basement pieces, either. I’m talking about sofas starting at $2,500 beds for $5,700, and side chairs for $1,275 a pair.  I even found a 19th century reproduction “banquette” for which the customer must provide the upholstery material listed for over $5,000.

Older and Wiser

In the meantime, antique stores offer beautiful, well built pieces from the Victorian and other eras for much less. Sure, there are some spectacularly rare finds in high end antique stores. These rarities can command amazing prices compared to a similar repop, but that is not the norm. Most antique stores are carrying gorgeous, well-built pieces, at fair prices – well within a furniture shopper’s budget.

Antique dressers can do more than store socks and t-shirts

I have several amazing Victorian and Edwardian pieces I love.  One is a marble top dresser I use in a hallway to provide storage and a touch of elegance. I gave about $350 for it, after finding a similar fauxtique version online for $1,950 plus freight. Even better, my much less expensive version has that amazing patina, giving rich depth to the wood that no amount of “distressing” or “antiquing” can possibly replicate.

Not Fragile, But Handle With Care

Think that all antiques are rare and delicate and must be handled with extreme care, making them hard to live with? Hogwash! I have plenty of pieces that I live with, enjoy, and don’t fret over one bit. Any fine furnishing deserves a modicum of care. Of course, I would not let my cat dig her claws into a 19th century wash-stand. By the same token, I would not allow it with a new wood bureau from Haverty’s, either.   So if you love the look of true antiques but think you can’t afford them, or can’t live with them, think again!  Then head out to your friendly, local antique store with a new perspective on antique furniture.

8251 S. Main Street, Helen, GA 30545




Lladro has been producing highly collectible porcelain art and figurines since 1953. The company, founded in the village of Almassera is now headquartered in Tavernes Blanqes, Spain. It continues to produce some of the best loved and highly collectible porcelain available. Their work is made of hard-paste porcelain of a tightly guarded “recipe”.  Anyone who collects fine porcelain is bound to find a Lladro that particularly suits their taste, and collection.

According to “The Prudent Collector”, through 1970, Lladro maker’s marks were pressed into the porcelain. From 1960 until 1963 the mark bore the name LLADRO with ESPANA in capital letters underneath, and the words “MADE IN SPAIN” below that. From approximately 1965 to 1970, they removed the ESPANA, keeping the stylized LLADRO and MADE IN SPAIN pressed into the porcelain.

It was in 1971 that they first started imprinting items with the blue back stamp (or bottom stamp) featuring the bell flower that collectors have come to associate with the company.

At Wonderland, we have been fortunate enough to secure this incredible piece, known as “The Harpooner”. This is a retired piece in perfect condition. It stands about 20″ tall and comes with a wood and velvet display base.  Check him out on your next visit, and as always, contact us with any questions you may have!

8251 S. Main Street, Helen, GA 30545