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Sunday, January 31, 2010

IQ Part II

Here is your second chance to see how you might do on an IQ test.  This time, if you would like to play along, I will provide the questions or problem to be solved and then  post the answers tomorrow.  Ready to play?

Before we start I will sweeten the pot by saying that the first comment posted with the correct answers (and the most intelligent ones) will win a prize.

What is missing from the following Images below?


Very good!  I feel beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are locked on to the answers. Now, try this next one, called, Similarities.

In what way are the following similar?
  1. Orange-banana
  2. Dog-lion
  3. Coat-suit

Wow, you really are impressing me.  Unless you were trying to find similarities between dogs and banana's (Dr Freud will see you now)  Now, here is another picture order card set.  The following five images when placed in the correct sequence, tell a story.  Rearrange the cards and write down the correct sequence. Once you have your answer I challenge you to submit it in the comments.(Click to enlarge)
Just to show you that I am not trying to keep you in suspense (completely), I will show you the answers to the "Similarities" after the Jump.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Dig Report: 1/23/10

A garage this old and dis-organized should have been a memorable dig. Unfortunately, some digs are just a little too new in a very old house.  This was a Danbury estate sale on South Street, an old established road that long ago might have seen horse-drawn carriages and people promenading up and down the street.  Times have changed and my partner and I almost got creamed by a horseless carriage sporting a glass-pack muffler, cherry custom powder coated rims and thick black tinted windows. This was probably an omen that we should have heeded, but in the dead of winter, it was this or nothing. Employed as my photographer, my partner, to whom I will refer only as AVA (to protect her identity and my neck from her mother) had camera in hand and snapped a few before it got too cold to do anything without a heater nearby. She did a nice job on the shelf above, and it, too, was an indicator of a garage full of potential, but no character.  Notice the labels missing on the jars, along with the years of crud that normally collects around old hardware in a busy garage? Nope, those jars looked as though the just came out of the dishwasher, when at least one of them should have looked like this:
This is either 40's or 50's and came in a 2-shelf hanging cabinet I picked up a few of years ago that was filled with old hardware.  There were a couple of other jars, but as a unit it was a slice of an era that seemed untouched, and as though I had plucked it out of a time portal. Now it sits on my work bench to collect the odd leftovers from project after project.
AVA snapped one more image as another example of how not to display items at an estate sale:

You can't organize items like these and expect them to sell. This shelf screams, "I'm toxic! Buy me!" They have also cleaned all the mess from these shelves, so if there was any evidence at all of Danbury history, it is probably sitting in the dumpster in the driveway (no, I didn't ask to peek...wanted to, though). Another good photo...kid's got talent. To reward her for bearing the cold and and snaping shots I found something to make learning math fun:

Well, she thought it was cool. Another issue I have with the people running this sale - don't mark up the goods!  This adding machine is going for $13 on Ebay right now (not this one), but try and sell it when you have the price in blue marker embedded for eternity:

Ugh! You may notice that this blemish is missing from the box in the former shot - another tip of the hat to Photoshop.  I can't complain too much; half the box was torn away years ago, so it probably didn't enter the person's mind that another mark would affect the value any.   For 50 cents my photographer got a good deal and immediately wanted to use it. I love the call-out on the box. "It Adds! and Subtracts!" Included are some clear instructions for best use:

We managed to make it back across the road in one piece.  We'll have to hope that future sales add up to a better dig.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?.......Wanna be?

After just reading about the 10 weirdest pieces of unclaimed luggage  on a site I recommend called Mental Floss, I realized that tag sales are not unlike the unclaimed baggage section at an airport. The items I see are often an eclectic mix of the bizarre and uncommon, and are now, no longer claimed by their owners.  In an estate sale situation, this is sometimes the baggage the owner wasn't able to take with them (which is why Egyptians now make so much more sense to me - those pyramids weren't monuments, those were just folks rich enough to be buried in their garages with all their cool stuff.) Because I like old paper, I often come across  this  unclaimed baggage, part of the human drama of life. Here is a piece of luggage, minus the drama.

It is difficult to pass up briefcases, they are always worth taking a peek inside. Often the receptacle for important papers and records, they also can contain complete kits for sales or business presentations. They aren't always full, but this one was:

This is a complete Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test kit, better known as the WAIS-R for determining the IQ of an adult.  I had only an inkling of what it was when I opened it in the basement of a Ridgefield CT sale.  It looked complete and worth exploring at home . Here is a diagram of the contents:

The one who has gotten the most enjoyment from this has been my daughter. Since she was 4 she has been playing with the puzzles and can now do them rather quickly.  I can't wait for the day when she is given a test like this and leaves the examiners with their jaws hanging. Now, even though she's had the advantage of cheati, I mean practicing.  Are you ready to play....

Object Assembly Puzzle:
 - Arrange the pieces to form a complete object

Answer after the Jump (actually, there is no jump, Blogger only allows one jump per post, just try not to peek at the answers, OK?)

O.K So you're feeling pretty good about yourself....Now quickly, tell me -  What is missing in the next picture?

Answer after the jump (OK, still no jump here either, but one is coming, I promise):

If you guessed : The other 51 cards, you may be a genius, but not on this planet.  It was, of course, the tax stamp required by the IRS on all playing cards (If you guessed the 9th diamond, give yourself a point.)

O.K. here's the one that separates the Ivy league-ers from the State collegians: Ready?
These pictures tell a story when assembled in the right order. Re assemble and write down the new number sequence (Hint: the answer is NOT 1,2,3,4,).

Jump (for real!) to see the answer! (after you have guessed)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Salt 'n Battery

I was originally going to title this post after the ad line above, "I was bound and gagged and left to die!" truly sensational. When I realized that sodium is used in the creation of early batteries as well as some of the larger new ones being developed, well, my quest for the lowest pun is one closer to that mark and the title of this post was born.   Anyway,  click on the ad above to read the harrowing tale of a man left to die after being robbed of everything, but his flashlight.  One thing I enjoy in my explorations is to find an ad for something unique or familiar and dated, and then try to find the actual object (or the other way around).  While digging around at an estate sale this Fall, during a battle I posted about with a drawer that wouldn't open.  I managed to pull out some interesting items, one of which was this ad above from this magazine below:

This "Field and Stream" is from '41 and as you might imagine, the battery ad is just one of the great ads from within. Getting back to my search for the physical match to the paper items I find along the way - In August, a friend gave me a couple of old batteries that I posted about here, and once I saw the ad I knew I had to dig these up again.

I don't think a battery will ever save my life, I think I would be happy if it was able to do what it could just to extend it's own. 

Anyway, I've always wanted to do a cover for Field and Stream, but my skill as a cartoonist isn't quite developed yet, so this might be a more fitting end.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Box of Old Junk...

There was no better way to write the subject of this post. No puns, no metaphors, no similes, no double-entendres. Tag sale'ing is not unlike an improv comedian who has just been given a prop or subject and directed to make something out of it.  There is no scripted expectation to my urban archeology, unless I choose to search for something specific.  For me, no expectation means little chance for disappointment. Everything has the potential to be "gold", it may just take a little time and research.  When you buy a packaged item that has been marketed and tested, there is no surprise (and there shouldn't be), whereas the thing at a "dig" need only have existed, and catch my eye to have met my expectation.  And, if it turns out to be less than that, I can always toss it. This "find" was another situation where - upon viewing the box and its label - the last thing I wanted to do was open it.  Something possessed me to remove the price tag (I don't know why) but were it still there, it would read $2.  I figured at the time, "You can't go wrong for 2 dollars."  Again, doing my best to not look inside, I at least tried to get as many clues from the outside of the box.  Handkerchiefs? gloves? Socks? I'll never know (well, maybe someday).  I have to confess, that, not every box claiming to contain junk, is going to make me race for my wallet. However, the word "Junk" has never been of the four-letter-kind.  I have been looking through junk piles as far back as elementary school, and once something of perceived value was discovered, well, as they say, "It was all over after that."  This box, with its intrigueng label and muted color had me as soon as I laid eyes on it:

As you can see, it's not Al Capone's vault (or maybe it is), it looks as though someone may have used the box as a sewing kit. (TIP: sewing kits and button jars, boxes, etc. are great catch-alls for other things.) I did clean this out some, I don't ever plan to start a button collection, but I will as soon as someone can teach me what to look for.  Is there such a thing as a priceless button (other than the ones from 18th & 19th century military uniforms)? What I left were the items I thought deserved more attention.  This standout item was the subject of the previous post, a folding compass from 1888 (or later). The pencil lead holder seemed to have character. So too, did the glass tube of green beads. Everything in the box had the feel of the 30's or 40's, but I don't know.   The other items seemed fairly innocuous: a small tape measure, a cloth tape measure, a marking block, a wooden dowel, a small container of cuff links, a little cardboard box (possibly a Rx, but there no writing), a knife, a seam ripper (I think).  And then there was another paper container that I still can't place because there is no text anywhere on it, but inside it was obvious:

Do you recognize these?  I used them when I was a kid, but they never came in this kind of container. Mine were on rolls and I spent time igniting them a hundred ways other than using a cap gun.

I don't know how they ended up in mom's sewing stash, other that a pure act of confiscation due to the disruption these were guaranteed to create. I can't toss them because they represent an era in toys that is so far gone, I can't imaging that anyone has them in this condition today.  If they do I sure hope they let me know, because I am sure they will have more information about them that I do (or can find).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Does your compass point North? 'Cause mine just goes around in a circle.

A few weeks ago I was writing about "Tales from the sticky drawer". There's something about desk drawers that I find interesting. Maybe it is because they are a microcosm of a tag sale.  They are the perfect mini catch-all. The older the desk, the better. Another example is the junk drawer in the kitchen, com'on, you gotta have one!  It's that drawer you turn to for the tape, scissors, odd nail or screw, lonely AAA battery, and that  assortment of misfit tools that always seems to be missing the one you need.  You don't often get to rummage through someone's junk drawer, but the desk drawer is different.  I guess if you had to compare the desk drawer contents with the junk drawer contents it would be a kind of "White Collar" vs. "Blue Collar" battle. Desk drawers tend to have classier items and they are often in better condition.  Also, desk drawers can hold more (because there is more of them).
The above item was in such a desk drawer,  I actually found it inside another box with an assortment of items, most of which seemed to be for sewing. Pencils are a friend to me mainly because I am somewhat of a doodler: Here a sorta-self portrait of the me the Blogger:

My first thought was that this was some sort of folding pencil, maybe for a writing kit. Thanks to the label, I quickly discovered that this was no ordinary pencil.

This was a compass. It took a little more fiddling before I could make it look like a compass.  The eraser unlocks from the shaft and the other end has a good point.

This may seem like a lot of fuss over a compass, but I really am looking for the origin of things.  Who used this, and for what purpose? Was it dress making as the contents of the box indicates? As a compass it seems to lack the proper tension to complete a circle without coming apart.  Although, maybe I'm being a little hard on this simple gadget.  Turns out it was older than I thought:

This is something else I now need to research. As a result of the patent process we have all come across items that say, "PAT Pend" (Patent Pending), or something similar to the line in the image above.  O.K., so it was patented 122 years ago - Is that how old it is, or am I looking at an invention from the 20's or 30's trying to protect the inventor's ability to profit off his idea? I could go around in circles trying to figure this out, so I'll just be happy believing it's at least 120 years old.

Coming Soon: A box of junk!

Friday, January 1, 2010

One Lump or Two?

I enjoy discovering outdated medicine, no, not from a medicine chest, I mean the potions, papers, and promotions from the past that presented the promise of a cure.  The lack of knowledge for human physiology in the 19th century led to some bizarre claims.  My top 10 would have to include Vin Mariani, the cocaine-laced wine from an earlier post (you'll need to scroll down near the bottom if you want to see the true "Blotto" Blotter.)  Keep reading for a few more from my top 10.

I don't know exactly what the resolution was for the patient to the left. I guess it is the sleep of relief from a terrible headache due to cold or allergy. Maybe, it is more trans-formative, the stressed-out parent, after caring for baby all day, is now a docile pup.  Thank you Dr. Mettaur, I feel better, Woof!  For a better look at this wrapper and also the full text of the reverse side, take a look at this blog dedicated solely to old paper, aptly named This Old Paper (click on the link)

Without a standard and certified method for training all medical practitioners, heck, it seemed as though just about anyone in the late 19th century could be a doctor, or at least a "Practical Therapeutist". I'm not saying the entire field of medicine was a sham, Surgery was probably  tough  to fake, but there were plenty of other medical fields whose practices were questionable.

How about Phrenology?  All you needed to do was to give someone a good long look, jot down some notes, and start studying the bumps on their head. This book is full of atrocities in medical voodoo if-your-chin-is-too-droopy-you-are-destined-to-be-the-dregs-of-society type info. I will dedicate another post to this comedy of errors another time. In the meantime: How would you know which bumps meant an early marriage, leprosy, or maybe just a good crop of corn come fall?  Just review the map of the brain:

Now take a look at what it took to get a Medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1863:

This came out a book of useful recipes and mixtures and concoctions for just about anything and everything.  The book itself is in terrible shape but some of the "cures" are priceless, first, the title page:

You may need to click on the image, but do it just so you can see how many different categories of people may find these 800 recipes useful.  I have read through many of these pages only to come away frustrated because the ingredients are now so difficult to come by, or no longer exist (neat's root, Tory-weed, Prickly Ash Berries, and Spikenard root). I won't ever be able to try most of them.  Here is one of my favorites:

Whoa "You could not kill them quicker any other way"? How about showing them the recipe? Fear alone is enough to off a small animal.  I don't think PETA would approve of this one, but I also would like to believe that we wiped out the Caked Breast epidemic at least 100 years ago. I will feature more of these gems , as well, in a future post.  For now, I will just wish you a pain-free and happy 2010.