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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Guess the Gadget- Hint: It's a Griffen, but it's not Peter Griffen

If I have a super power, I would guess that it is the ability to find the ridiculous amidst the amazing. 
This brass whichamacallit was found at an estate sale in South Kent, CT in September. The sale was a unique old farm house with wide board floors and a fireplace in every room. 
This oddity was sitting in a box of medical supplies, but I was told that this has no bearing on it's purpose or origin.
It is approximately four inches high, and fairly substantial. My first guess was a drawer pull. You can see that the beak forms a hole through which a chain or metal ring could be placed. However, the weight of the piece and the size ring it might accept would be an over-match as a drawer pull. 
The bottom is flat and there are no maker's marks or writing. Is it a chess piece? A pill crusher? It looks like the head of a Griffen, I am hoping someone can help me identify it. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Matter How, Where or When...Thank You for Serving.

My father served in WWII, I think he would have gotten a kick out of this...

These Items were all part of a much larger collection found this weekend at a local flea market.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Confessions Live! (Now with Speaking Tips)

Over a year ago I began getting requests to share my "Confessions" live by presenting the stories behind some of my best discoveries. I have been enjoying the attention of community groups and libraries and even educational institutions who provide me with an hour or more to share my weekend obsession.

At the end of October I was the guest of the Greenwich RMA (Retired Men's Association). This invitation was a pleasant surprise that was revealed by a family friend who pointed out that I was scheduled to speak in-between Charles Grodin and a former director of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  I don't think they were ever able to book Charles Grodin, but I was available.

Not only were they a very responsive and friendly crowd, they also asked a lot of good questions and recorded the whole presentation.

Greg van Antwerp, Urban Archeologist from Greenwich Retired Men's Assoc. on Vimeo.

I didn’t intend to become a public speaker when I began blogging about found treasures 5 years ago. It just happened.
Saturday, I finished my 10th public presentation on Urban Archeology by speaking at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library in Monroe. I am by no means a professional speaker, but I thought I could document a few pointers because there could be others starting out like me.
1) Arrive early and practice.
If it’s your first time in a new location make sure you know the technology works, from audio visual equipment to the heating and AC. I have had a few stumbles because I relied on computers that were supposed to work but ultimately didn’t.
2) Settle your audience
Even after you been introduced, talk to them like they’re a guest in your home. Asking if everyone is comfortable and can hear your voice, shows you are in the moment with them. If they are unruly find some way to burst on the scene. I once tried yelling “Look what I found!” which worked for my topic, but now I use a 40 year-old pop-up projector stand which is loud and eye-catching. It gets their attention if I need it.
3) Love your topic
Even if you are just practicing or maybe preparing an assigned topic, at least pretend it’s the greatest thing in the world. Well, don’t over do it, but passion is something people connect with. If you like your subject matter, so will your audience.
4) Be yourself
My voice sounds shaky when I begin a presentation. When I think it can be noticed I will often stop and say, “If my voice sounds like I’m nervous, it is actually shaky because I am very excited to be here today.” Telling your audience upfront that you know how you sound and feel, wipes away your anxiety.
5) Tech problems? Meh!
Organizing visuals with a microphone and speakers is sometimes a recipe for something to go wrong. Audio feedback, computers that go to screen saver, and video projectors that suddenly lose signal are common to every speaking situation. The thing to remember is, the time you are taking to fix it seems infinitely longer than what the audience is actually experiencing. So? Roll with it. If moving doesn’t fix the feedback, then kill the mic and raise your voice. Computer hardware can usually be fixed by quickly escaping the program and re-entering. Your audience is always more sympathetic to your situation than annoyed.
6) Q &A
Leave time for questions. You have given your audience new information, they’ll want clarification in some form and questions help fill in the blanks. Also, it makes you approachable and you gain so much from the quick reviews people give in their questions. You’ll know they got it, or tip you off as to how to adjust for the next talk so they will.

That’s not all there is, but as I continue to be invited to new locations I am sure I will glean more from the experience. If you have any tips for successful public speaking please share them in the comments. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Your Papers Please! Now Go Vote!

I'm not going to guilt anyone into voting, though instead of all the attack ads I wonder if a campaign manager ever thought, "Instead of inciting people to vote, how about we make them feel bad if they don't?"

Let me try.  Imagine you are living in a country with poor conditions, oppression, and zero democracy, though sometimes you may think I am talking about the U.S., take yourself back 125 years (imagine).

After scraping up enough money, you decide to travel to a place that will accept anyone: America. Poked and prodded and probably oppressed yet again to some degree, you are given the greatest gift in your life - permission to start over in a new place and a government document that says you can do that. Wow!

Without over-dramatisizing the moment I would like to believe I can guess what the recipient was thinking when he was finally handed this piece of paper.
(Thanks to my friend, Justin Krul of "Just In Antiques and More" for loaning me this document)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weird Tales in Washington, CT (Awesome dig with Videos)

This is one of the best digs I have seen all year. My friend Justin Krul, of Just In Antiques in New Milford invited me to take an early peek at this 1920s home, that was as close to "period" as any I have seen. The sale is 10/31 -11/2 from 9-4pm at 177 Bee Brook Rd, Washington Depot, CT. Watch the short video:

There were also 2 separate videos I am producing (to keep the one above shorter than 5 minutes and they will feature 2 tips on how to uncover buried treasure at any sale.)

Watch the first one below (more later today)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boldly Go Find Some Good Pickings this Weekend!

It always a question that pickers and Urban Archeologists don't want the answer to - "Is the season over?" When the cold weather hits, people cover up and start to slow down, but for the diggers, we don't stop until the big snow falls.

If your going to be in western Connecticut this weekend there are at least 2 sales worth stopping by to see.  Take a quick first peek at this Brookfield sale:


There was one box in this basement that really surprised me:

That is the biggest pile I have ever seen on or off the highway. Inside were numerous boxed Matchbox cars and trucks

The condition of each of those boxes was about the same for each one I uncovered. Are they still as valuable as they once were, or might have been? There was also a Fender guitar:
There was a lot of variety at this sale, not much of it old, but most of it unique. Happy Digging.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gold is Where You Drink It - Campaign Memorabilia

While I never expected to be a Rhode Scholar, I certainly think I have a good chance of becoming a Road Scholar.  Thanks to my "hitting' the road" every weekend, I have learned more about religion, politics, philosophy, the human condition and society in general than I would in a classroom.   

Let's take politics for example:
Goldwater Soda 1964
I knew of the conservative candidate Barry Goldwater, but I didn't know his election team came up with a a soda to help promote his relationship with the public.  He was a candidate who probably wouldn't have approved this kind of tactic, but few candidates have full control of the flurry of activity around their campaign, in my opinion. 
This was the campaign that may be best known for the advanced use of effect commercials having an impact on voters. Goldwater's opponent LBJ and his campaign gave us the iconic "daisy" political ad and another that were meant to counter Goldwater's position of atomic weapons in Vietnam. LBJ's biggest attack was to produce his own soda. 
Johnson Juice soda

While Goldwater was teased for his soda by being called "Dr Strangejuice" and in the end LBJ opened up a can of "Whoop-ass" on him for the win. I voted in my diaper that year. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cartoon: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.

I love my art, but it just couldn't last...maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Death Begins at 40

I have a small collection of books I have purchased just for their titles alone. This one is no exception.
Safety booklet
Who needs a gag gift section at the local novelty store when all you really need for anyone turning 40 is this booklet.  You can guess what the real subject is by the awesome graphic.
This was found, not by me, but by a dealer at a local flea market going through a box of books. While they were tossing some and saving others I mentioned my desire for old paper and when they pulled out this, it was handed to me as a gift!
The publication is filled with page after page of sarcastic warnings and columns of statistics to back up every reason for driving safely. If you have ever studied or appreciated graphic arts this is a small staple hinged museum.
Grant Wood is one of my favorites. He is best known for "American Gothic," which I often like to think I found the photo that inspired that painting...
But don't get me started on glass negatives...

I couldn't scan every page but it was difficult deciding which ones to leave out.

Saving the best for last is the final center-fold that shows the ghost of wrecked cars and the idiots who    died at 40, or more.
1937 as it is now, stay safe on those roads, they're deadly.