Leader Board Ad

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sorry Kids...No more Dirty Dancing

From "The Youth's Companion"  1893

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to: Set a Cache of Coins Free

What was once a display board full of coins glued (ack!!) to its surface eventually became the discarded project in the basement of a recent sale. For 5 dollars I thought it might be a fun challenge to set them free.

A British penny from 1927 was the oldest coin there, the rest were from a variety of places, Mexico, Germany, Canada. I didn't expect a fortune, but I knew it would be worth the effort. The challenge was how.
They were glued pretty securely, I'll never know why. I didn't want to damage them so I tried to scrape more wood than metal.

The next challenge was how I could remove the wood and glue without scatting the coin
This wasn't the best idea; there is no way to deftly scrape a coin with an x-acto knife and not scrape it repeatedly. Fortunately, Friends were visiting that day and my good friend Jeff Roos said simply, "Acetone."

Now this does go against the whole idea of what makes rare and antique items valuable. Fair warning: Acetone is highly flammable and the fumes are also not safe to breathe. Coins should never be casually washed in acetone as there is the danger that you could wash off some or all of the value; patina is the dirt and grime and aged look that make these coins desirable.

For my purposes, this was just the trick. In fact, I dunked 10 coins at a time and the glue and wood slipped right off.

The result was 47 coins of undetermined value that I will now research for what they are worth. This was a fun discovery and a good lesson in coin handling.




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So, You Want To Be A Nurse?



I can’t think of a more noble, necessary profession. I also can’t think of any reason why I would want to be one. What little I know of nursing seems stressful and thankless. It also seems like the last few years have seen an uptick in the demand and increase for healthcare workers.
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century


Is it any easier now than, say 100 years ago? I recently purchased this manual from a local antique shop. Old rule books and manuals are fun to examine and imagine what it was like to have to go “by the book.”
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century rules

This small book has another mystery behind it, aside from where it was used, I am most interested as to when it was used. This one is fairly vague which made it almost impossible to date. There is a clue within one of the pages if you want to fathom a guess.
Nurse Training School Manual early 20th century - more rules

Shifts were 12 hours each day, all other times nurse trainees are on call for emergencies. Off duty hours were only 4 hours maximum on Sundays and one half day each week, each day there were only two hours off the clock. Tardiness just five minutes and just at lunch warranted an explanation to the dining room supervisor. This was strict. 

Page 5 is where you can surmise the time period. The style of dress for a nurse’ uniform may have been more complicated for the sake of the service she was providing but once you see the corset cover in the laundry list you can bet that this is at least the very early 20th century. 

There is one more clue on the last page in which the term “Etherizing Nurses” is used. My limited research can only pin down a wide period in both the 19th and 20th centuries where ether is used as an anesthetic. 


I’ve made my guess for this to be around the first World War. The need for nurses would have been great and the need for disciplined training even greater. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Victorian Views: A Barren Hill and an Awesome Pram (1904?)

I wish I knew the date of this glass negative I've just processed...
It looks like a recently de-forrested hillside, which could be anywhere. The origin is more interesting. With the recent snowfall, and the threat of still more snow, the 40-minute rides to find the best sales are risky. When this happens, I look locally to the antique and salvage shops in my area hoping for something to lift my spirits.
Saturday, at a place called Attic Salvage on Route 7/202 in Brookfield, CT I found a basement store run by Dominic Sinacore. Having seen Dominic at several sales over the years, this was more of an opportunity to get re-acquainted and see what he has found to stock his store. I found the image above, but before it looked like that...
It looked like this. Looking through the hundreds of items Dominic has in his Basement store, I found a familiar friend - a box of Stanley Dry Photographic Plates (I wrote about them Here)- and I began looking through each until I found one with some detail. Although I didn't buy them (Sorry, Dominic!) I promised to process one and then email it back to him. Maybe a positive would help them sell? I found something else, but that's a post for another day. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Take a Ride on the Wayback Machine 1961

Ahhh..the Wayback. Did you grew up in a time of the larger station wagon and almost no seat belts, or just lap restraints? Then you know the freedom from all rules and restrictions in that part of American heavy metal cars know as the "wayback."  The place in a car beyond the back seat.
1961 Plymouth station wagon
I saw this ad for the 1961 Plymouth, and though it was before my time, the image of the kids in the back struck home. I was one of a million kids that savored this domain - away from big brother and big sister. Though it may have only been eight feet square, to me it was an acre, and that was even if there were boxes or grocery bags there. It was the seat of power through observation. What was the "look?"
That is what I call the way-back-eating grin. He may be even frothing at the mouth. I remember laying back and looking at the sky, clouds and trees as they ran distortedly over the curved window.
1961 Plymouth station wagon full ad


Sunday, January 25, 2015

An 1871 School Book is Discovered and You Won’t Believe What Was Inside!


(Editor's note: the following is my fictional account of how this "find" came into being.)

"The year is 1880. What is is like for a boy growing up? Aside from all the chores inside the house, there are numerous chores outside as well. There are no alarm clocks - everyone rises with the sun or earlier if the home is also part of a farm. A 12 year-old boy would get to school either by walking or by a parent on horse or by wagon. 

While at school he grouped with other students, not by age, but by reading level. He is asked to read from books out loud as a way to practice his elocution or share facts with other students. The books he might carry are small and there is one for each subject - math, history, reading, geography. 

Learning new things interest him but his thoughts drift to the outside world. He has heard things from the other boys and visiting relatives that excite and fascinate him. Catalogs and newspapers offer the promise of big events, sports and other leisure activities. His parents see this and warn him of the distraction. Too much wayward thinking and dreaming will cause him to languish between responsibility and his true calling. Such leisures are for the lazy and the only way to guarantee a future is a strong mind, farm and family. School books are allowed but catalogues are not!

One catalog makes its way to his hands and fascinates him more that any other. “Peck and Snyders Catalogue of Out and Indoor Games and Novelties, etc.” This book so excites him that he will do whatever necessary to keep it nearby. But how? 

Somewhere he gets the idea to hide it in such a way that no adult can find it. Digging through a chest of older school books he finds a copy of “First Lessons in Geography for Young Children” (1871). Who would miss it? Planning carefully, he borrows a few tools from his father’s workshop and finds a quiet place behind the wood shed. He begins cutting, carefully separating the boards from the pages. Hand colored maps and pages of text fall gently to the ground.

Looking around to make sure there are no brothers or sisters nosing about, he takes the sports catalogue and slides it in place of the geography pages. From a pocket he produces yet another small indiscretion: a thick needle and a length of woolen yarn from mother’s sewing basket. Using an awl and a hand drill, he pokes holes along the binding and follows with the needle and yarn, moving in and out with the only stitch he knows. Tying off the loose ends, he checks to see that his work is holding tight. 

Next, the coping saw is used to cut the boards to fit the smaller pages of the catalogue. Though the title is nearly cut, he feels confident that the book looks so realistic no adult will notice.

It works! He finds he can carry it anywhere, even to school and the teacher has no idea. He shows it to his buddies outside the one-room schoolhouse and revels in the envy on their faces. Can he do one for them? Not likely, the risk he took to create this one, which included the sacrilegious disposal of the original pages down the outhouse hole, has made him wiser in many ways." 

I hope you enjoyed my speculation as to how this book came to be. The book was likely stowed in a box with others like it - possibly having been returned to the storage chest when it was discovered missing - and then transferred to a cardboard box. Now, fast forward to 2015 in the basement of the family home in Putnam County, New York. As the estate sale is being set up I am on site with permission to poke around the basement. Stumbling across several boxes, in one I find there is a cache of old school books. Carefully inspecting each book hoping to find something tucked between the pages, I discover the innocent subterfuge created so long ago.  

Flipping through the pages of The Peck and Snyder catalogue, I can see why this young man went to great lengths to keep it. It is over a hundred pages of baseball accessories, sporting goods of all kinds, games, science kits, magic tricks, guns and much more. 

The company was started after the Civil War in 1866 by two partners who knew the country needed distraction from the aftermath of such a massive division. Baseball, which had been around since 1840 was becoming popular again and their catalogues recognized this by leading with a detailed inventory of balls, bats, uniforms and accessories.

Peck and Snyder’s had begun using advertising cards to help their business expand. It only made sense to use a photograph of the Cincinnati Red Stockings with team information on one side and their store’s information on the back. Unwittingly, they had created one of the first baseball cards and one of the most valuable collectables today. 
No, I didn't find this.

They had built a good business with a wide inventory and customer base, and in 1888, traveled the world with another well-known sporting goods businessman to promote the game of Baseball. Albert Spaulding started his business while still a pitcher and manager for the Chicago White Stockings in 1876. They eventually sold out to Spaulding to seek out their interest in manufacturing.



It is early in 2015 and I have already found one of my all-time favorite finds. I think the most revealing part of this discovery is how it shows that 135 years later, boys have not changed at all.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mood Master: I'm in the Mood for some 70's Lighting

I wish I had some catalogs of this fixture, actually switch, in action. I don't, but something about the style of the packaging had e pulling out my camera at this Westport, CT estate sale to capture the Mood Master.

"Saves Energy" However, the mood seems to be subservience more than liberation. 
Or, was the manufacturer marketing this to the lady of the house? That's a switch!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nothing Tastes Better Than a Tongue - Gross Ads 1944

I thought I'd seen it all, but every time I go looking for old ads, I find something more shocking. This is an ad from Woman's Day magazine, 1944. I realize there was a war on between shortages and the need to create meals that could also be consumed on the front lines - these specialty meats became more prevalent.  Limited options and high prices are what likely put these on the table. Take it from Hattie the Hackie.
Woman's Day ad from 1944 Derby meat products
Maybe it was tasty, and thanks to 40 summers of hot dogs, I have already consumed my share of tongue and other sections that shall be nameless.

Tongue is just one of those marketing words for "end bits that have no name," right? It isn't really tongue, as in tongue tongue?  Wow. War really is hell.
Tamales in a jar?

Friday, January 16, 2015

6 Degrees of Ring Ding Separation

I was expecting a box full of old papers and imagine my surprise when I found this -
Sorry for the click bait opening sentence, but we actors must do what we must...

I kept this because I thought, "What better way is there to measure the incongruity of a prize like this inside a box of Ring Dings than with a Drake's Protractor?"  It's kind of a self-fulfilling vicious circle (which measures 360 degrees!)

I grew up with Drakes cakes (and Hostess), they were everywhere. They passed them out to us like, like - you get the idea. When the company went bankrupt and the shelves emptied, a little piece of me - the creme filled part - died inside.

After they returned to the shelves, the thrill had gone. I was off the stuff and no Funny Bone, Devil Dog or Ring Ding has touched my lips. 

I, too, once told my daughter, "I had it tough. I had to walk to elementary school, uphill. In the winter - both ways."  Daughter rolled her eyes - unimpressed. Then she said, "Didn't they used to serve Ring Dings in your school cafeteria?"
"yup." I replied. 
"Sounds real tough, dad, real tough."
Maybe placing a protractor inside a box of Ring Dings would somehow justify the distribution of these zero-nutrition-empty-calorie snacks to schools?  School nutritionist: Just keep telling yourself, "it's educational. It's educational."