Thrift Item of the Moment

July 12, 2010

Drumheller dinosaurs

Some thrift store items are a mystery, others tell you their entire life story.

This cute little guy was made with lots of love and green paint by Eugenia Lippolt, a lady wrestler from Drumheller (“Dinosaur Capital of the World”), who supplemented her income by making ceramic novelties to sell to tourists. One summer, she sold an entire lot to the Waldorf Hotel who put them under their guests’ pillows instead of chocolate mints until the guests started to complain of broken teeth.

Uncle Ray, in town for the wedding of a second cousin, took his dinosaur home and gave it to his sister’s kid for her sixth birthday. Little Julie, hopped up on chiffon cake and pink lemonade, was furious that Uncle Ray would give her a present he so obviously got for free. She threw it against a cinder block wall causing the head and a few smaller pieces to break off.

Ashamed by her outburst, Julie glued the pieces back on with Elmer’s Glue-All. Little Julie grew up to be a world famous paleontologist. Coincidence? Probably.

Long story short: A bunch of years passed, I bought the dinosaur at the Salvation Army collectibles store for 99¢ and took it home to meet its new shelfmates:

Not marked, but it doesn’t take a handwriting expert to recognize Eugenia’s printing.

Not by Eugenia. You can tell by the raised lettering on the beautifully mottled base…

and by the label on the back. Elizabeth was Eugenia’s main competitor in the cutthroat multihundred dollar ceramic souvenir industry in Drumheller. They loathed each other and often lobbed overripe crab apples into each others’ yards (they were neighbours). Eventually, cheaper and more durable plastic dinosaurs from Japan put them both out of business.

Some parts of this story may not be true. I couldn’t find any info at all about Eugenia Lippolt on the internet. Odd, considering how unique that name is and how many of these figures must be out there (I’ve been coming across them long before I started my collection).

Eugenia Lippolt. Eugenia Lippolt. EUGENIA LIPPOLT. Now anyone googling Eugenia will find this page first. Maybe that’s how you got here. What do you know about Eugenia?

Elizabeth Simpson is also an enigma. A pity. These pieces have so much more character and charm than their modern equivalents. These two ladies should be documented and celebrated.

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5 Responses to “Thrift Item of the Moment”

  1. Liz Says:

    How interesting. And also how grateful I am that I don’t live up north..I KNOW I would be collecting these too!

  2. Dave Says:

    Loved the dry humor in this. Best post I’ve read all week.

    Dave

  3. Brad Says:

    About 43 years ago our family went to Drumheller for a visit . I was about 7 years old . I bought a Lippolt clay figurine to give to my grandmother. She put it up on a display shelve and there it sat for 43 years until her death ( 95 years ) last year. When the family was cleaning out the house, I ask my brother to grad it for me . I cant believe it sat there for all those years. It was always to high to touch but when I got it back the base had been broken and glued back together . It was news to me…….. one of my sibling must have got up there and broke it .

    I’m now 50 years old and starting to turn into that figurine.

    I cannot remember where I bought that figurine from ……… all I remember is that we stayed at the camp ground in drumheller and went to all the museums.

    The information that you have was very interesting and I hope that other people can shed more light !

    Cheer’s Brad.

    • swankola Says:

      Thanks for your story Brad. Keep in mind that not all the information in this post is, strictly speaking, true (like the lady wrestler part, for instance).


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