A New Year Bonus

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While Steven Heller is vacationing in Herald Square between Christmas and New Year’s Day, he has agreed to reprise a few of his favorite posts—such as this one from Dec. 31, 2013. The Daily Heller will return on Jan. 2.

Is it 2014 already? Close your eyes for a minute and the world revolves, time passes and the holidays are over. Apparently, New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the Winter blahs for those of us in Winter climes (who don’t love Winter sports). So, for the sit-at-home members of The Daily Heller community—and those who don’t hibernate too—I offer a New Year bonus: The [as of 2023, erstwhile] best darn website for quirky, eclectic and remarkable popular art. Italian Ways is a feast for sore, bright or teary eyes.

Here are two of their offerings. The first is Radio Balilla, the ultra deco designed radios issued to youthful Italian fascists while they are preparing to become men of the wolf.

Via the national broadcasting service Eiar, Ente italiano per le audizioni radiofoniche, the Balilla broadcast mainly educational programs for children and adults, five daily newscasts, and Mussolini’s speeches live. But there were also pop and classical music, soccer games’ running commentaries, and entertainment shows (a few Italians still remember “I Quattro Moschettieri”, a radio parody of “The Three Musketeers” with original scripts for narrator’s voice, dialogs and songs, which went on from 1934 to 1937).

The second are Italian tin toy advertisements. Toy cars and trucks were emblazoned with logos and trademarks (and continue to this day, of course) to lull the soon-to-be consumer into a state of acquiescence.

Agostino Marchesini was a real tin master. He started working with this common toy material in 1908, in Bologna, making small cars and other items branded with his company’s name – AMB Bologna, one of the oldest in its field.

In 1929, AMB expanded by opening a spacious new factory in Via Frassinago 21 and starting a new company in partnership with Umberto Rappini.

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