Monday, November 23, 2015

As the holiday gift-buying season ramps up, consider opulent owls

This undated (1960s?), unused postcard has the following caption on the back:
OPULENT OWL — This sapphire-eyed jeweled dazzler is actually a boutique bank. Molded of aquamarine expanded polystyrene, it features embossed flowers, feathers and leaves that you quickly and colorfully transform with brush and paint included. Tiny sim. jewels are supplied for the blossom centers, plus big sapphire-like jewels for eyes. Conversation piece of the century, this beautiful bank stands about 6" tall. "Topaz"-eyed brown owl and all-season spray kit (owl perch) also available. Another original craft creation from the Studio of National Handcraft, Handcraft Building, Des Moines, Iowa.

It was the conversation piece of the century, folks! I'm sure the Studio of National Handcraft would not have been hyperbolic on this matter.

Other thoughts:
  • So, the owl came to buyers unpainted, in a kit. Meaning you had to do some work just to get it to the level of precision tacky show on the postcard.
  • Polystyrene is really, really bad. It takes centuries to biodegrade, is one of the major ocean pollutants and is nearly impossible to effectively or efficiently recycle.
  • If the owl banks of yesteryear are your thing, you're in luck. There are more then 300 listings under "vintage owl bank" on both eBay and Etsy. Have fun browsing! Maybe you'll even come across one of the original opulent owls.


  1. I want one very badly. But I have Some Concerns about who is painting it and the end results.

  2. That owl came in a kit that was sent out monthly to kids to complete their own art project. I cannot believe I found this picture. It was made of Styrofoam and it was one of my favorite projects. Thank you for posting this picture. It is a great memory.