Our Story

We are Mardi and Stan Timm. We have been collecting novelties and novelty catalogues for more than twenty-five years.  We’ve always had a fascination with things/objects that are unique and unusual, so it only seemed logical for us to start collecting.  Things like jokes, magic tricks, and strange mechanical devices quickly became our prey.  We scoured antique markets, flea markets, rummage sales, the Antique Trader, and finally the Internet auction sites for our stuff.

As a result we’ve managed to accumulate about 140 novelty catalogs, some dating as far back as 1874, plus we’ve also gathered an extensive collection of the novelty items that were sold in these catalogs.  The majority of our catalogs are from the famous Johnson Smith & Company.  In fact, we believe we have the largest collection of their catalogs and novelties in the world.  The novelties range from ant farms to whoopee cushions and beyond.

We do a lot of research on these items.  For example, when we acquired a 1930’s (original) Whoopee Cushion a couple of years back we did some investigating to find out where the classic joke came from and how the idea came about.  So far we know the “where” but we are still working on the “how”.  We’ll keep you posted in the coming months.

So, what will we be doing with this website?  Well, we’ll be sharing our novelty collection, through a sort of virtual museum, and our knowledge about some truly unique items.  We hope you will have as much fun as we’ve had putting this together.

So, for now, remember we’re under construction but be sure to stay tuned … and check back with us often.

6 thoughts on “Our Story

  1. […] son, Howard Fishlove, told the Timms about coming home as a schoolkid to find his kitchen counter covered in various types of fake […]

  2. Doyle Martin says:

    Mardi & Stan:

    I saw an item on the internet about fake vomit.

    In the mid-1970s I knew a man named Ray “Harry” Suggett who lived in West Fork, Arkansas. He claimed to be the inventor of “Whoops” fake vomit. He sometimes referred to himself as “The man who made America puke.” In fact I worked for him briefly, making barf and swollen thumbs, rubber hamburgers and half-melted ice cream bars in a trailer behind his house. It was all made of latex.

    He told me he had invented those things while living in a YMCA in Chicago following WWII, and that the swollen thumb was his first novelty gag. Ray died in Springdale, Arkansas in 1998, in his mid-80s. He was a wonderful man, handsome as a movie star, and deserves to be remebered.

    • Wow, that is very interesting. We could be wrong — maybe the Suggett story is the real one. It sounds like he was quite an inventor. Do you, by any chance, have a picture of him? Could we quote you in the book? Thanks for the great information!

      Mardi

      • Doyle Martin says:

        I don’t have a photo of him, tho I think I may have a xerox of a newspaper interview that includes a headshot. I know several people who knew him; one of them might have a photo.

        Ray and his wife, Helen, aka “Bunny, lived in a house that had been built by Norman Walker, inventor of the Norwalk juicer. I think they may have bought it from Walker in the 1960s.

        I have little doubt that Suggett was the inventor of “Whoops.” It was his livelihood from the 1950s till the end of his life. Unfortunately I wasn’t involved in shipping the gags, but he told me he sent them to the same distributor he had always associated with, someone I assumed to be older than Ray himself. Ray said he made a good living at it during the late ’50s-early ’60s, but that business had gradually dwindled over the years.

        I’ll see whether I can find the newspaper article that has the picture of him. If so I’ll let you know and send you a copy.

        RSVP to confirm we’re talking.

      • Hi Doyle,
        Thanks for all the great information. It would be great if you could find a picture. We would also love any quotes or miscellaneous information you have about him. He sounds like a very interesting person. Please send us an email through the Contact Us page so we can talk.

        Mardi

  3. […] son, Howard Fishlove, told the Timms about coming home as a schoolkid to find his kitchen counter covered in various types of fake […]

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