Crafts-Hobbies Vivian | 27 Feb 2011 05:00 am

Collecting Tiki Memorabilia

There are many relics available from the tiki craze of the 1940′s, 1950′s, and 1960′s. Collectors enjoy the kitschy, often over-the-top nature of such items. They can also be used to decorate your home or bedroom.

By far the most popular collectible is the tiki mug. In fact, several books have even been written specifically about them. They are the most instantly recognizable feature of retro tiki culture, and were used in themed bars and restaurants across this country. Because of this, they are still readily available in antique shops, thrift stores, and similar locations. Since they are so popular, tiki mugs can also be purchased new, especially in souvenir shops or those offering tiki d閏or. Usually ceramic, with tropical colors, the serious collector may see a staggering variation among available designs. These mugs are great to display, but even better to keep at your bar to serve tropical drinks, as they were meant to be used.

Bar menus, drink stirrers, coasters, and other relics of popular tiki bars, including Trader Vic’s, Don the Beachcomber’s, and numerous local restaurants once located in nearly every city across the U.S., are also popular with collectors. As the restaurants from the heyday of the craze began closing, items from these establishments, including signs, ashtrays, and anything else with the name of the bar or restaurant, quickly became hot commodities among those lamenting the demise of these fun and unique places. Today, items from famous tiki restaurants are some of the rarest and most sought-after tropical collectibles.

If you look hard enough, many different tiki-themed items can be found, especially in advertising, due to the popularity of tiki memorabilia at that time. Matchbooks, calendars, and other ephemera remain popular among collectors. Those who collect tropical memorabilia often collect postcards sent from Hawaii and similar locations during the time period of the tiki craze because they often depict retro scenes with huts, masks, or totems. Surprisingly, vintage Hawaiian shirts can also be quite collectible, as can vintage tiki-themed souvenirs from Hawaii and other island destinations. Other themed souvenirs come from the Enchanted Tiki Room or the Polynesian Resort, two Disneyland attractions.

Tiki music from this era is preserved on records bearing exotic-sounding names by artists like Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, and Les Baxter. These records, known for their island beats, usually have tiki or island-themed covers, too.

Other popular tiki items include carved masks and statues. These are sought after by collectors who want their own home to have tropical style. They don’t need to be vintage or rare to be enjoyed by many who simply want to bring a little island style to the mainland.

Today, the area of tiki collectibles is growing rapidly, in part due to the revival of the culture. As new tiki-themed bars and restaurants begin to open, more and more people will be drawn to the charm of vintage collectibles, and more items will be available for new collectors to add to the d閏or in their homes. People collect tiki memorabilia mainly because they love the imagery involved with the commercialization of tiki culture.

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