The incredible collectible pink flamingo is one of those type things that are either totally loved or completely ignored. Depends on human taste and objectivity. As many consider it art as others consider it junk.
The evolution of this as a decorative object dates back to the 1940’s a company called Union Products in a small Ma. Town called Leminster. They produced bit plastic animals for the front yard, but had not yet thought of the pink flamingo. Even those animals were, indeed, so tacky, they were huge sellers. A good analogy was like having the ugliest dog, so ugly it’s cute. People had to have them. They were all two dimensional like a cut-out board reindeer Christmas decoration is.
About a decade later, a serious art student who worked at Union named Don Featherstone was Although Don was a serious sculptor and classical art student, his first project was to redesign their popular duck and this time make it 3-dimensional The company figured it would be a bigger seller. The company was wrong and the 3d duck ended up in the local park. He had used a live duck as a model but still no real success.
He then figured people wanted color and something exotic. They came to mind but he could not find a live one for a model so he turned to National Geographic. Smart move. They had plenty of photos. Using clay, he built his prototype. then used to make a plaster cast. The plaster cast, in turn, was used to form the molds for the plastic. The original design called for detailed wooden legs, but they proved to be too costly and were replaced by the metal ones still seen today. While the exact date was never recorded, the first pink flamingo was created several years before 1960.
The late 1950’s just happened to be perfect timing for the flamingo. The American population was moving out of the city and behind white picket fence lawns, a perfect resting place for the big pink bird.
The late 1950’s fashion trends were bright, bold colors. Grays and blacks had been here forever and people were ready for a change. The plastic industry was thriving and now allowed for hot colors like bright green, vivid ruby, and, of course, hot flamingo pink. Pink refrigerators, washing machines, and of course who didn’t want a pink Caddie?
The love of the pink flamingo was short-lived due to timing. The 1960’s was a time of rebellion, especially against anything man-made, and the plastic flamingo was certainly not heaven-sent (though many serious collectors still consider it so). All the major department stores, (Sears being the biggest back then as this was way pre-Walmart) removed the items from lack of sales. Collectors went underground to flea markets and niche gift shops as they still do.
Many collectors are still very serious about them and go so far as to travel with them.
We all know that what is art to one person is garbage to the next. Bans have been placed on pink flamingos all over the country. As a result, Union Plastics was forced to introduce a blue flamingo to work inside the laws of city ordinances. But for every action to a reaction there is another action, eh? These towns then changed the laws to ban all plastic flamingos. Many refused to obey the ordinances and the laws have rarely been enforced in most of the communities.
Until this day, pink flamingo items are still some of the most sought after in the country, and the Internet is where the majority of the shopping is done, saving collectors large amounts of money from having to travel to find their beloved bird. Now they are available on everything from coffee mugs to boxer shorts to beer steins to clocks, all valuable and desirable collectibles (for those who love them that is).