Giant Rings

by Judy Tomaini Rock

 

The Giant rings, were made from metal molds, which were designed by the metal shops, that melted down the softer metals like The lead and tin. The old molds were stainless or something that could take the heat from, 2000-3000 degrees. They were starting to sell the rings, the end of 1800 and Johann was still selling them when he went back home to Iceland. Along with the rings, the other performers, would have little "pitch cards, and postcards" for extra money, and the giants started selling the rings. I don't think I have ever heard of who started it. My oldest one is George Auger. Al Tomaini my Dad, had his mold made in the late 40's I remember him pouring his, himself, and had the help at the time, clean up the rings. I have some little lead bars, that he would buy and melt to pour into the mold. He had one mold and all that were made, were by his own hand.

I remember as a little kid, playing in the garage on my Trapeze there was a galvanized pail, sitting by the door, full to the top with the rings. But I can never remember him selling them on the road. I know he did, I just never saw it happen. He finally didn't bother to make them, as the new wore off the project, he lost interest in pouring them. That may be why his go for so much when they show up on on-line auctions. I have seen them go for as much as $100. for 1. And I know, there were not many of them made. There have been forgeries of some of the other giant rings, so be careful when buying them. The newer ones are still shiny, and that is the one way to tell, if they are reproductions. The old ones have taken on the color of pewter. The rings are quite collectable, and are always good for trading material with a collector, that may be missing one from the collection.
  
Some of the rings were plastic, and some were just different because of the flower designs on them. So when searching them out, pay close attention to details, little flowers are different, or maybe the name is a little different. I have in my collection rings from 12 different giants,. Johann had the most different ones. Every 2 years he would change something, as he also went to the flea market, and pitched the rings too. He had thousands made and I think every collector there is has at least a couple of his. He had gold color plating on some of the led rings with JP on them, same ring with silver plate and the plastic ones. They cam in about every color you can imagine, some with imprinted name, and others with paper  info glued to top of ring. After all these years, He has to have sold millions of them.
  
 I think I have at least two more styles of the led rings. The other giants would change the design on some, as when the mold got worn out, the ring didn't look good. And sometimes, they kept using the old mold. My Dad only had 1 mold, for 1 ring design, so the Tomaini rings are quite rare.
  
Most of the rings, found their way to a ladies jewelry box, and when she died, the "junk" stuff was either donated to a thrift store, or sold for pennies on the dollar. Estate sales are another place to look. Pawn shops, and junk stores sometimes have them in a box with scrap metal, to be sold by the pound, to scrap yards. If only I had been looking a few years ahead, and took that pail out of the garage when it was full. I did find the old cast pot used to melt the led, and the ladle for pouring it into the mold.


2007 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

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