A little while ago, I wrote about Fifty Dollars (伍拾錢懷舊老舖, wǔshí qián huáijiù lǎopù, the link opens a PDF), a store in Yingge (鶯歌), Taipei County, that sells wind-up tin robots — and a host of other nostalgic goodies from 1950s to 1970s Taiwan.
Fifty Dollars is run by a young man named Hsieh Chen-chi (謝鎮吉) who first stumbled upon photos of vintage tin robots when he was doing some Internet research in art school. He grew up in Yingge near its scenic Old Street (鶯歌老街), where he opened Fifty Dollars last year.
The storefront used to sell dried tofu snacks; now it is filled with bins of candy that Taiwanese schoolkids have enjoyed for generations and decorated with old album covers, signs from corner stores and vintage toys.
A cabinet behind the counter hosts a row of Tatung Babies (大同寶寶) coin banks, which were made as promotional items by Tatung. The company’s home appliances and other products are ubiquitous in Taiwan.
You can’t see him in this photo, but Ron and I bought a red tin robot while we were out in Yingge. We call him Chester. The Blythes hate him.
A friend and I recently talked about how there doesn’t seem to be an English word that describes retro Taiwan memorabilia, the way Americana describes the equivalent from the US. I call it “cool stuff from when my parents were little and a bit before,” but that is a tad wordy. Taiwana, Taiwaniana and Formosiana all seem awkward, too. The Mandarin for “nostalgia” is 懷舊 (huáijiù). There is definitely a trend for 懷舊 items in Taiwan now. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that vintage items hold a very strong emotional and aesthetic appeal for me, so of course this makes me very, very happy. I will be posting about more 懷舊 things as I embark on a mission to give my mom, dad and various uncles and aunties flashbacks to the 1960s and 1970s every time they check my blog. I even started a new tag.
For more information and Fifty Dollars’ address, please check out my article and Fifty Dollars’ blog and Ruten auction site. (I should mention this more often, but a lot of the stores and places I write about are small businesses with just a couple of employees, so make sure to call ahead and confirm they are going to be open before you visit). For more information about Yingge, head over to this post I wrote last year.