Thursday, 10 October 2013

It always starts in a shack...

Part I

First, let's talk about the two first enterprises created by Elliot and Ruth Handler before Mattel in 1945 : Elliot Handler Plastics (1939-1942) and Elzac (1941-1947)...

The young Handlers arrived in California at the end of the 1930s from Denver where they grew up. From their shared garage and tiny flat, the couple started Elliot Handler Plastics in 1941: Elliot was still studying Industrial Design and worked part-time for a Los Angeles luminary company (where he first met Harold Matson). At home, in their own stove in the kitchen, Elliot experimented with new material such as Plexiglas, Lucite and Perspex (once heated they can be shaped at will) making objects for the home that Ruth sold successfully during her lunchtime breaks as a secretary for Paramount... As the neighbours were not too happy with their plastic experimentation in the shared garage, they moved to a slightly bigger place (an old Chinese laundrette) and with the help of Matson built an oven there to carry on working full-time on plastics and making objects. Despite the large amount of orders for their innovative, unusual and unique production in wood and lucite, they were still deep in debt.

One day, a little brooch created by Elliot ( a woman's hand holding a vial in which, once filled with water, one could add a flower) ...

If you want it see here
attracted the attention of Zachary Zemby and this is how the second company Elzac (Elliot-Zachary) was born in 1941... Elliot was in charge of creation, Matson of fabrication, Zemby of investment and Ruth of sales... They specialized in jewellery and novelties, and by 1943 their products were featured in Sears catalogue...

Source :
Model A : Madame X

Model C : Bunky

Model G : Choni

After Carmen Miranda ?

Model R : Bonnie

Model U : Cozette

Three last photos source :
Just google ELZAC and you'll see the array of brooches that existed and are still in circulation...
These brooches aren't marked but bore removable paper labels - here is what they might have looked like :

In 1943, Zemby invited three new investors in but their vision of Elzac clashed with Elliot's and Matson's and the couple left Elzac with him for a new future (Elzac would carry on without them until 1947 only)...

To be continued... (Read Part II now)

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