Category Archives: E-Bay

1960’s Japanese Transistor Radio

From Japan: A transistor radio designed as an owl. c. 1960’s. H: 7 1/4 in. W: 4 1/2 in. D: 5 in. The tuner buttons also function as the owl’s eyes and turn red, when the radio is on. Owls have many more receptors in their eyes than humans, so they can see in the dark. Those receptors require fresh oxygenated blood to function, which is why their eyes show up as red in a camera flash.

The owl’s significance in Japan may have started with the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido Japan, whose religion included animal gods. One was the owl god Chikap Kamuy, who was thought to bring prosperity and ward off famine. The Ainu were conquered by the Japanese in the 9th Century.

In Japanese culture, luck is a powerful spiritual energy that connects people, spirits, objects, and places. You open yourself up to receving and giving luck. The owl is a symbol of luck. Therefore, owl charms are ubiquitous.

Now comes our moment of Felliniesque magnificence.

Into this Japanese historical scene marches the American cult movie classic, “Clash of the Titans” (1981). The movie is set during the Corinthian War (395 – 387 BC) with the Achaemenid Empire.

The King of Argos is on the edge of the sea, casting out his daughter Danaë after she bore Zeus’s child, Perseus. She lands on an island. Perseus grows up and wants to marry Andromeda. A labyrinthine plot surrounds and ensues. Andromeda ends up tied to the sea cliffs threatened by the sea monster Kraken.

Zeus orders Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo, but Athena orders a golden replica of Bubo instead.

And here we have it.

Athena was never represented by the Northern Eagle owl of Central Asia: genus Bubo / species bubo, nor did she have a particular owl that accompanied her. Her symbol was the small owl Athene noctua.

However, a pet mechanical owl named Bubo flies to Kraken holding Medusa’s head so Kraken falls apart. Andromeda is free to marry Perseus and live happily ever after.

Hollywood is genius by mistake. They picked the wrong owl. However, Bubo flew into American popular culture igniting the passions of bloggers, who declared that if someone didn’t respect their favorite mechanical owl, they were dead to them.

The seller of this item on E-bay asked, “This guy was made in JAPAN in the early 1960’s, almost 20 years before The CLASH of the TITANS movie premiered. Wonder where the inspiration for BUBO the OWL came from???”

A scholar must retain the discipline to remain on the brink of the unknown, hoping evidence is discovered that will prove hypotheses. But of one thing I’m confident: we will never know what inspires the imaginations of Hollywood movie directors.

Victorian Hair Pins

Whether the hairstyle was divided into three or more parts, some short, others long; or, the hair was complexly braided at the back, Victorian women adorned their chignons with tortoiseshell combs and pins. On top of the pins were fantastic gold creations of griffins with ruby eyes, silver so delicately woven it looked like lace,…Continue Reading

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

Three stunning way-too-expensive pieces are selling on E-bay. They come from different worlds. Looking at them, I feel like I’m in a historical conference in an imaginary United Nations. The first piece is a back comb from the French Empire’s Eugenie period, c. 1860. A blue enameled center sets off two sides of gilt-bronze scrolls,…Continue Reading

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

I guess Ebay is having a cycle. Sometimes it’s dead for what seems like years, as in, “If I see this comb listed for way too much money one more time I’m going to scream.” Other times, beautiful pieces come on the market. This week, a white-gold hair pin with diamond stems and pink mother-of-pearl…Continue Reading

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

We are beauty hunters. Some lovely things have sold on E-bay at good prices, while other nice pieces are still for sale. This emerald, pearl, and diamond Victorian parure was sent in by one of our community’s subscribers. I was so pleased to hear from her. Thank you! If another subscriber finds something delicious, you…Continue Reading

That Ebay Auction: It was an Amethyst Empire Comb

The stones were amethysts. Shall we compare the comb in this Empire parure on a historical jewelry site to the one that went for $458 in that E-bay auction? The comb correctly identified. The amethyst Empire comb that went for $458 on Ebay. कंघी For more scholarly research, please examine Tiara by Diana Scarisbrick Napoleon’s…Continue Reading