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Take a Turn for the Verse: Collecting Vintage Mottos

Inviting motto for friends and guests

Back in the 1920s and 30s, it was common to enter a home of a friend or family member and see small prints on the wall. Not only would there be charming little scenes, but most times a poem or a verse would accompany them. One of the top makers of these was the Buzza Motto Company. There were numerous other companies that tried their hand in it, but it seems that “Buzzas”, as they are called, are still quite popular and have held their value.

Artist Edgar A. Guest

I have learned that they were located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opening in 1923 and becoming a well-respected “publishing empire.” They were known for their posters, framed lithographs and greeting cards as well. The building they were housed in was called “Craftacres.” In addition to the printed products, they offered a hostess planning service, to assist with setting up bridge parties and the like.

These made delightful gifts because they were inexpensive, attractive and often had inspirational messages. Given to a parent, or cherished friend, these were treasured mementos of their love. I recall that we had one “For Mother” at home; I guess my aunt gave it to us after mom had my brother. I still have it and have since added one “To Dad” and one in the hallway. It is a message of welcome to our guests who come to visit. I did find one that was to the Graduate, with some great advice for the future. When our first grandchild graduated from high school, I was looking for it, but later remembered I’d sold it at a flea market. Drat!

These are often found at estate sales, thrift shops and other antique venues and are rarely very expensive. They generally cost about $20 to $35. It is somewhat dependent on the graphics and the verse or poem. They do make a nice house-warming gift or perhaps a present for a pair of newlyweds. You might want to be sure that these friends that are “into vintage.” I imagine some people see them as rather sappy”or perhaps too simple by today’s standards. I find them welcoming and love to hang them around the house.


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