Although I have no hard fast rules for what I pick when I am at a thrift store, a general rule is: old and unique. That is exactly what I found with a pair of Flash Card sets I purchased over the weekend.
Both sets were produced by Renwal Products Inc. out of New York in 1968 and each set contains 48 color cards. One set is of birds, the other is of fish. The fish set had a few damaged and torn cards, but save for a few wrinkles the bird set was perfect.
What impressed me the most about the cards was the craftsmanship. Each card — about 2 x 5 inches — could pass for a piece of pastel art. The images are that strong. On the back of each card is quite a bit of detail specific to the species. For a student interested in learning about the bird or fish — there was plenty to memorize.
Finding information about the company that produced the cards was a little more difficult, but it appears the company was founded by Irving Lawner and the company derived its name by spelling Lawner backwards. The company produced quite a few educational kits — like plastic models of the human head — as well as plastic toy vehicles and plastic furniture for doll houses. The company was acquired by J. Chein & Company in the 1960s.
How Much Are They Worth
Like all vintage items, condition is everything. The set of birds cards are in nice condition and should sell for $10-$20. The set of fish cards has several damaged cards so they are probably worth around $5. Click here for latest eBay prices.
You can read about Ben Kriner, who collects Renwal plastic vehicles, in this article from Toy Collector magazine.
The backbone of Kriner’s collection is Renwal, the company probably best known for dollhouse furniture and later model kits. From 1946 to 1957, however, the Renwal Manufacturing Co. of Mineola and New York, N.Y., also produced some of the most beautiful plastic vehicles of the 20th century, and Kriner has spent the past eight years hunting most of them down.