Month: October 2014

Spotlight Artifacts

gurley candles

Gurley Novelty Company
Buffalo, NY
Paraffin Wax

Rebecca Justinger

The Gurley Novelty Company of Buffalo, NY started as the W & F Manufacturing Company. Created in 1927 by Franklin Gurley, the W & F Manufacturing Company was a confectionery company that produced all kinds of candies, chocolates, and wax novelties. In 1939, Mr. Gurley was approached by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, now known as ExxonMobil, to create a line of decorative novelty candles to help use up the excess paraffin wax that is created as a by-product from refining oil. The candles were made in Mr. Gurley’s manufacturing plant in Buffalo and sold under the name Tavern Novelty Candles. It was not until 1949 that the company was renamed The Gurley Novelty Company. The new line of wax decorations was quite successful, and by the late 1940s, a vast majority of Gurley’s profits were a result of his novelty candles.

The Buffalo History Museum has several holiday Gurley candles in our collection. They are in excellent condition because they were never lit. These pop culture pieces from the 1950s and 1960s were rarely purchased as practical candles. Instead, consumers saved them and used them to decorate their homes during the holidays. As a result, Gurley Novelty candles are popular collectibles as so many remain intact. The most sought after are the Halloween and Christmas themed pieces, while Thanksgiving turkeys and pink Easter rabbits also remain popular with collectors.

First Memorable Museum Experience

Stayed at the Otesaga Hotel and walked down the iconic main street with its many shops, unique architecture and tree lined streets to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame

I was very excited and could not stop talking as I walked with my brother and father. As we approached it was a large brick building with “National Baseball Hall of Fame” engraved in the stone on the front of the brick building.

After my Dad bought our tickets we walked through a turnstile like you were entering a stadium and we entered a large room that felt and looked like a stadium. It happened to be a replica of Ebbets Field (a very historic baseball stadium).

I was completely enthralled with the displays of memorabilia, objects and stuff. It was incredible to see a jersey of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat, Ty Cobb’s spikes. And then seeing objects of my heroes, Mickey Mantle’s baseball hat, Bob Gibsons’s mitt, Pete Rose’s dirty baseball pants. It was overwhelming and magnificent at the same time. My heart was racing and I remember my father commenting that my palms were sweating.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Going into the room with all the Hall of Fame plaques and seeing the hall of famers was awe-inspiring. The Bronze plaques with the head of each hall of famer and all their career statistics side by side were impressive.

Then going into the World Series Room and experiencing the film highlights of the most important and memorable plays in World Series history and hearing the announcer’s excitement had goose bumps running down my spine and my adrenalin was flowing. Also, seeing the tickets and programs from those games I was really taken by and I remember telling my Dad I want to collect programs and tickets, they were really neat.

I was eight years old when we went. I was a wide eyed kid completely enthralled by seeing and experiencing my baseball heroes. I was really taken by the objects and their historical significance.

We stopped in the store on the way out of the museum and my Dad bought me a statue of Rogers Hornsby (one of the hall of famers) that was a head and shoulders likeness of him sitting on a wooden base that was his Hall of Fame Plaque. That statue sat on my dresser for at least ten years, until I went to college.

Wall of Stuff - Bills CollectionThe Hall of Fame Museum visit had a profound impact on me. I have forever been a sports fan and it energized my interest in collecting. A few months later my Dad took me to my first Buffalo Bills football game, bought me a program and a bobblehead doll and my Bills collection began.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member