The Story Behind the Collectible

Bobbin Souvenir from W. Worsley's Hanging

This is a story about robbery, murder and execution. It’s also a story of William Worsley of Bedfordshire, England in the 1860s. Additionally, it’s the story behind a very unusual collectible–a bobbin that recently sold for over $300. This unique collectible commemorated the public hanging in 1868 of  William Worsley.

The story starts with William Worley, who was born in 1820, married a woman named Susannah, and had a son, Charles. In his youth, Worsley became an apprentice to a hat blocker – a skilled person who made molds for hat construction. Eventually, he had his own hat-blocking business. 

Life in rural England was tough for Worsley. Like most men in his time, Worsley spent time at his local pub. One fateful evening in the pub, Worsley and two of his friends, Levi Welch and James Day didn’t have the money to pay for their drinks. The men decided to rob another man, William Bradbury. Worsley, Welch, and Day attacked Bradbury with an iron bar, killing him and taking his money. 

Welch blamed it all on Worsley, but was sent to prison for six years on robbery charges only. Day claimed he was only there coincidentally because he dropped a sixpence and was looking for it. He was acquitted. Worsley, however, was not as fortunate and was charged with murder.

The Trial

The murder trial of William Worsley was covered by the Bedfordshire Mercury in March of 1868. As reported by the Bedfordshire Mercury, the trial was a popular preoccupation for the people of the town. Unruly crowds of spectators tried to get admission to the trial, but were turned away. Worsley pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. During the court proceedings, the prosecution showed that the murder weapon was discovered in his house the next day. Additionally, witnesses said that they saw Worsley standing over a man lying on the street. Worsley claimed that he just happened to stumble upon a drunken man. 

In the end, Worsley was found guilty by the jury and sentenced to death. He was the last known person to be put to death by public hanging. Shortly after the verdict, Worsley wrote a statement confessing to the murder.

William Worsley’s Hanging

Thousands of men, women and children gathered to watch the hanging of William Worsley on March 31st, 1868. Public hangings in the 1800’s were a community event and people would come to watch, wait, and pass the time by knitting or playing dice. A number of townspeople would go to sell their wares, for example, copies of Worsely’s  “Last Dying Speech and Confession.” Others came to sell souvenirs of the spectacle. One of these souvenirs was a bobbin used in the production of lace. During this time period, lace making was a cottage industry that used animal bone and soft woods to make bobbins. This keepsake bobbin sold at the hanging was inscribed with the words William Worsley Hung 1868.” 

The Collectible Bobbin

Bobbins made of small bone and decorated with glass bead spangles are not too difficult to find. Some are decorated with family names or symbols such as hearts or diamonds, however, there aren’t many that commemorate a public hanging, like those sold on that day in March of 1868. Today, this rare item and others like this have become valuable and sought after by collectors and dealers.

The Story Behind the Collectible

The story behind the lace bobbin collectible is a unique one to say the least. Not all collectibles have such fascinating origins, but some do have their own stories, however simple, to share. One place to find interesting and unique collectibles is at the Old & New Shop. You never know what fascinating items you may find and what histories they have!

Antique Macabre Folk Art – a tale of robbery, murder, Blame & The Death Penalty. Source Vintage. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from
William Worsley (born 1820 in Bedfordshire) living in Luton, Bedfordshire in 1881. Trace your Family Tree Online. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2022, from
Bedfordshire County Council, County Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP, 01234 363 222, (2019, June 21). The opening of the trial of William Worsley. Hosted By Bedford Borough Council: The Opening of the Trial of William Worsley. Retrieved December 29, 2022, from

Vintage Christmas Collectibles


Vintage Snow Angels


It’s that time of the year to go up to the attic and pull out your Christmas tree (if you have an artificial one) and decorations. Some of those older decorations passed down from family members, may be valuable. Over time, vintage Christmas items can become collectibles. So, before you throw out that old plastic Santa or ceramic gingerbread house, check if they have any monetary worth.

Top Valuable Vintage Decorations

You may not have any of these coveted Christmas pieces, but knowing the value of some vintage collectibles may inspire you to go back into Grandma’s attic.

  1. 1900s Vintage St. Nick. The most valuable Christmas decoration collectible currently sells for almost $8,000. This candy container Santa stands two feet tall and has a lavender mohair coat and a beard made of real lamb’s wool. It has unusual facial features that are almost scary.
  2. 57-Inch Santa. This Victorian-style Santa wears a long coat made of wood and acrylic and carries a lit Christmas tree. It’s value is $6,250.
  3. Empire Blow Mold Wreath. This molded wreath measures 21 inches across and created by the Empire company in the 1990s. It’s value is $4,750.
  4. Snow Angels. This set of four vintage ceramic Christmas angels have round, red chubby cheeks typical of the 1950s or 60s Christmas decoration style. Their coats and wings are trimmed with textured snow. This set of angels is has a value of  almost $4,700.
  5. Pink Evergleam Aluminum Christmas Tree. Yes, a pink Christmas tree! Aluminum trees were popular in the 1960s and came in a variety of colors. This particular tree is six feet tall and has glittering branches. It’s value is about $4,550.

While these collectables are rare finds, some are much more attainable and can be found more commonly at flea markets and garage sales. Many decorations from Department 56 have become vintage. Department 56 has been making decorations and collectables for years. Some of them are licensed, such as Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch figurines, and others are retired, making them valuable. 

On the lower end of the Christmas vintage decoration spectrum, but not any less popular, are the ceramic lighted trees, plastic lawn nativity sets, and village houses. A vintage simple wooden hand painted Nutcracker, for example, can sell for several hundred dollars.

Real Vintage Christmas Collectibles?

If you are looking for real vintage collectibles – beware! Many pieces are sold or made to look vintage, but are just reproductions. Many of these vintage Christmas items are sold on the internet, but there a few things you could look for and actions you can take to check an item’s authenticity:

  • Make sure unopened items are in their original boxes.
  • Do research. Certain materials were not available in some decades. For example, metal ornament caps were replaced with paper during world war II, specifically between 1942 and 1944.
  • Shop at a reputable dealer. Antique dealers, such as The Old & New Shop, will verify an item’s authenticity and give you the best offer for your vintage Christmas ornament or decorations. 
  • If the vintage item sounds like a really great deal, it probably is too good to be true.
  • Ask for a certificate of authenticity for larger valued collectables.

We wish happy holidays and successful vintage shopping to all from The Old & New Shop!



Vintage Vacuums

SurpriVintage Vacuumssing as it may be, vintage vacuums have grown in appeal for antique collectors. This retro appliance is not only a display item but popular because of its history.

The History

An American inventor named James Spangler created an electric appliance that was a broomstick with a cloth, a long handle, and a bag. He was an asthmatic janitor, so his invention was probably developed out of necessity. In 1908, he sold his design to a Brit named William Hoover. His early vacuum idea was one of the best practical inventions of its time. Hoover’s company’s leather factory in England began mass-producing modern-looking vacuums by 1930. Although his vacuum was a practical way of cleaning, not many people owned one because of the high cost to produce and sell it. Many years later the electric vacuum would be used in most households.

Vintage Vacuum Collectibles

Since its origin, the vacuum has undergone many transformations, from dustpans to rovers, spanning over 150 years. Here are the top vintage vacuum collectibles:


This Swedish company has been producing vacuums for decades, and the 1950’s model is a top collectible. In the 1960s, the company’s marketing campaign slogan was, Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.” Many marketing experts thought it would be a disaster, however, the campaign did grab the attention of consumers.

My Little Queen series by Bissell

Another popular collectible is the Little Queen series, which was invented by Melville Bissell to help his wife with her crockery pot store. It was more of a carpet sweeper, but still a favorite vintage vacuum.

Hoover 800

As mentioned above, James Spangler is credited for the invention of the electric vacuum and he eventually became partners with Hoover. This Hoover model is a popular vintage vacuum collectible today as well as the 1952 Hoover Model 82 Constellation.

Singer Deluxe

Singers sold only sewing machines in the early years. But, in the 60s they expanded their product line to include vacuum cleaners with the Singer Deluxe model becoming popular.

The Royal Lexon Standard

Royal Lexon Standard was developed in 1910, and over one million of these models were sold. This is especially outstanding at a time when only a few million homes had electricity. Because of its history, the Royal Lexon Standard model is a very sought-after vintage vacuum.


The Kirby Company only produced one model and sold their vacuums through door-to-door sales. The company didn’t exactly have a good reputation based on the behavior of its salesmen. Many people complained that the salespeople were pushy and annoying. Despite its reputation, the Kirby is a top vintage collectible.

A Fascination

It may seem unusual to some, but many collectors have a fascination with vintage vacuums. For those who do, there are clubs to join whose members have the same interests. The Vacuum Cleaners Collectors Club’s members appreciate the mechanics and design aspects of collectible vacuum cleaners. This non-profit organization values the part of industrial history in which vacuum cleaners were part of the electrical pioneer movement in the United States. Members collect, restore, and preserve this fascinating aspect of industrial heritage. The club provides a space for collecting and cataloging historical materials, and information, and sharing the interest in vacuum cleaners between collectors.

As with many collectors of antiques and vintage items, searching and shopping is a large part of the journey to acquiring items. Flea markets, antique malls, and shops like the Old & New ShopOld & New Shop, are the best places to start.