"Family Ties" Wall decor Item

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BolianAdmiral

New Member
Okay, I REALLY need some help here...

I am trying to find out the name of a certain type of wall decor that can be seen in the Keaton's living room on Family Ties.

The item is pictured below, and that is the clearest picture I can find.



I am looking for that column of what looks like copper engraved plates within a wood frame housing. I know this type of home decor was popular in the 70's and 80's, and I have tried every possible combination of Google search tags, and also on ebay, but nothing even close to this has come up as a result, and I would REALLY like to know what this item is called, so I can find one to buy for my own house.

If anyone can help me, and identify what this object is, and is called, I'd be very thankful.
 

T2SF

Well-Known Member
Are you able to identify what the portraits are of? Might have to watch the series and get some good screen grabs ;)
 

BolianAdmiral

New Member
Well, I can recognize the top plate on Elyse's side being the image of a Lion, which makes me think this is an English or Dutch decor item, but someone who said his mother used to have these in their old home told me that the images are reliefs depicting colonial American life and the American Revolution.
 

Xenophon1

Member
I have no idea what these are called, but they're definitely one of the most distinctive and recognizable decor items in the Keaton home. I've always been a big fan of Family Ties and those and the vintage kitchen items always catch my eye when I'm watching the show.

I was lucky enough a few years ago to pick up two of Alex P. Keaton's shirts and a script from Family Ties used by Michael J. Fox, and because I grew up with that show they've been a favorite part of my collection. When I was a youngster the character of Alex was certainly an icon for me, and Justine Bateman was definitely in my adolescent opinion one of the most attractive girls on TV. Well, obviously I loved the show. :)

Good luck figuring out what those decor items are called. I have the feeling that this might be one of those cases where, once you know the proper name for the item, you'll probably be able to find lots of items like it even though it's unlikely you'll find the exact same design. If you figure it out on your own, let us know what those things are called...
 

BolianAdmiral

New Member
^

Thanks... yeah, I LOVE Family Ties... one of my favorite 80's shows. I actually had a huge crush on Elyse, but Mallory was very hot as well.

Someone on Metacafe has suggested those things could be horse brasses, but the problem with that, is that one, the Family Ties versions are simply too physically large to be horse brasses. Two, the plates on the Family Ties version are solid, where the brass hardware on horse brasses are open, and attached like the emblem on a car's key FOB.

However, these things are also featured on Laverne & Shirley, as seen below:



So I don't think they're horse brasses per se, but so far that's the closest lead I have to go on. I just really want to find out what they are, so I can start tracking some down.
 

Xenophon1

Member
^

Thanks... yeah, I LOVE Family Ties... one of my favorite 80's shows. I actually had a huge crush on Elyse, but Mallory was very hot as well.
Not to mention all of Alex's girlfriends over the years. :love I was a hormonal kid when that show was on, so what can I say. Alex P. Keaton was kind of who I wanted to be when I was a little older, and I can't think of an actor who made as big an impression on me in the 80s as Michael J. Fox--he was everywhere! Family Ties, BTTF, Teen Wolf--my favorite "camp" movie as a kid, Poison Ivy--and remember those Pepsi commercials he was in?

Michael J. Fox - Diet Pepsi commercial "new neighbor" (1987) with Gail O'Grady - YouTube

Incidentally, if you haven't noticed this in the new PiH catalog:

Michael J. Fox

That was in my collection until a couple of months ago. I decided to part with it only because I have another Alex shirt, also used in the opening credits sequence--the maroon one with the big number 17--and I have a very broad collection so I usually don't keep more than one item for each actor. I still have the other shirt, one of his Family Ties scripts, and a period-signed photo of MJF as Alex clustered together in my screening room, though. :)

Someone on Metacafe has suggested those things could be horse brasses, but the problem with that, is that one, the Family Ties versions are simply too physically large to be horse brasses. Two, the plates on the Family Ties version are solid, where the brass hardware on horse brasses are open, and attached like the emblem on a car's key FOB.
Definitely not horse brasses as such, but they may have been inspired by them. The funny thing is, I can remember seeing wall art similar to this in the early 80s for sale at places like K-Mart or JC Penney. If I had some old Sears catalogs from the 70s to early 80s at hand, I'd bet they'd have this sort of wall art in the home decor section.

I tried every combination of keywords I could think of on eBay and on Google Image Search to try to find something similar, but no such luck.

However, these things are also featured on Laverne & Shirley, as seen below:



So I don't think they're horse brasses per se, but so far that's the closest lead I have to go on. I just really want to find out what they are, so I can start tracking some down.
Wow, is that the same as the one on the right in the Keaton family photo? Definitely would be a nice find.
 

BolianAdmiral

New Member
^

Yeah, I am thinking they are some kind of Dutch brass plate art, but the underlying thing is that I need to find out what the frak these things are called, lol... without that, I can't even know what to search for.

I am thinking that I will draw a picture of the frakkin' things, and take that drawing to a local antique shop, and see if the owner can provide any insight or help, because this is now a mystery, and I don't let mysteries go unsolved, lol.

The fact that people say these things were sold at K-Mart or J.C. Penny makes me want to find them all the more, because that tells me that they had to have been mass-produced. My cousin has said she saw some at Big Lots, so I'll have to physically scout that store out, since nothing like this item is on their website.
 

BolianAdmiral

New Member
Well,

In my desperation, I had the thought to track down the actual set decorator who worked on Family Ties, and show him the screencap, and ask if he knows what the item(s) are called. According to IMDB, there were three set decorators who worked on the show, and I need IMDB Pro to get their contact information, which I'd have to pay for. I'm gonna see if I can find one of them on FB first, and see if I can contact them that way.
 

Droidboy

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's funny you mention tracking down the set decorator.

I had a question about a set piece from "Two and A Half Men", and contacted the set decorator, and she answered me right away. I didn't get the answer I was hoping for, but it was an answer...and the truth...so it was all good.

I hope you find what you are looking for.
 

Xenophon1

Member
It's funny you mention tracking down the set decorator.

I had a question about a set piece from "Two and A Half Men", and contacted the set decorator, and she answered me right away. I didn't get the answer I was hoping for, but it was an answer...and the truth...so it was all good.

I hope you find what you are looking for.
I always enjoy it when I see someone directly involved in the production commenting on boards or offering a piece for sale. And I love reading interviews with production folks, particularly costume designers and set decorators and such. But I've never had the gumption to just look up someone and contact them with questions. Although, I'm sure set decorators are far less likely to get random inquiries than special effects folks...

BTW, in case anyone else comes up with the same idea: I already checked the online inventory of wall art from Modern Props, and they don't have anything similar to this Family Ties piece. :unsure

EDIT: Just ran across this awesome resource for scanned vintage catalogs:

http://www.wishbookweb.com/

I haven't had time to look through any of the home decor pages yet to see if something like this is in them, but what I've flipped through is definitely a stroll down memory lane. Sadly, my parents used to dress me in those awful plaid blazers from the Sears catalog...
 
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BolianAdmiral

New Member
^

Oh, man... why did you show me that site? LOL... so much AWESOME late 70's and early 80's clothing and appliances! I want it all! Damn... what I wouldn't give for one of those awesome beige and tan corduroy suits.... oh, man. Heaven, lol.

I haven't found the Family Ties item yet, but this is definitely the best resource so far, and I have LOTS to go through yet, so THANK YOU for sharing this!!! If anything else, it's showing me all the other cool 70's stuff I want, lol.

 

steveo3002

Well-Known Member
1973 eatons book has some brass plates..still not what you wanted but maybe someone else did the holder/display
 

marooncartoon

New Member
Cool topic. I have always wanted those Orange Glasses and jug not to mention a load of other things from FT. Still haven't gotten anything yet. I came across MJF's (apparently genuine COA) Ohio shirt on ebay... I did bid, but it was removed :-(
 

Weezer

Well-Known Member
^
I am thinking that I will draw a picture of the frakkin' things, and take that drawing to a local antique shop, and see if the owner can provide any insight or help, because this is now a mystery, and I don't let mysteries go unsolved, lol.

Why not search for antique dealers online and email the production photo you originally posted? I wonder if since the show was based on a family from Ohio if that would matter? Try some Ohio contacts... just an idea.

Good luck.
 

marooncartoon

New Member
Cool topic. I have always wanted those Orange Glasses and jug not to mention a load of other things from FT. Still haven't gotten anything yet. I came across MJF's (apparently genuine COA) Ohio shirt on ebay... I did bid, but it was removed :-(
I have been looking for those glasses everywhere. They were available at Target or maybe it was Walmart in the 80s... and were reissues, in a kind of retro line, a few years back... but I came to that news too late and missed out :-(
 

Gphalen

Well-Known Member
lol if you look at the family photo in seasons 1-3 I think it is these are present but like most north americans in the 1980s they realized how god awful Home décor in the 1970s was and got rid of them for the photo in all seasons there after... sad part I remember more episodes from 1-3 then 4-finale.
 

Mr Pink

New Member
you know my parents had something like that on the wall a long time ago.
before you get your hopes up It is gone.
The good news is that I see things like that now and then at yard sales, good will, and estate sales.

Take a picture along and ask the sales lady if she has one.
I have actually gotten called by people telling me they found that odd ball item I was looking for.
 

Moviefreak

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have been looking for those glasses everywhere. They were available at Target or maybe it was Walmart in the 80s... and were reissues, in a kind of retro line, a few years back... but I came to that news too late and missed out :-(
Those pop up at thrift stores all the time. We bought a set of glasses and the juice jug a few years back for $2.00 but never used it. Sold in our last garage sale for $5.00 :)
 
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