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Monday, August 30, 2010

UFO Sighting!! (Utterly Fantastic Object d'art)

I found these sculptures while perusing one of my favorite sites Boing Boing. You can read what I read and then go visit the designer's site. I have known several folks who were true believers when it came to aliens. I am hopeful that we will make contact someday, however, I think aliens have been here long ago, some stayed and some left. We were (and still are) as alien to them as they were to us and may still be nearby trying to figure out how to say, "Hi."  Much in the  same way you might approach a Bee's nest...um..maybe later.
For now enjoy the sense of humor and detail in these designs and take a look at Close Encounter Studios  located in Mahopac, NY.  The owner is a guy who found himself in need of work and took the advice of his father to begin creating these as a possible line of gifts for the conspiracy theorist in all of us.
Roger Phillips is building a business from the ground up (or from the cosmos in, as it were) and I was so moved by the site and the creations that I quickly sketched an idea for a possible future sculpture. Roger liked it and may soon placed it on his site as an example of suggestions and interest he hopes to generate. Click the link above or the one on my "Sites worth visiting" to the right. Fill out the form on the contact page and he'll send you a free postcard depicting one of the 3 designs above.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mr Lister...What did you start?

This is the continuing saga to get to the bottom of the box of Medical equipment I picked up at a sale over a month ago. This is a 3" high sample of tooth powder. I am guessing 20's or 30's.

I could spend your entire allotment of computer time you have afforded yourself with a deep introspective look into the life of Lister, but I defer to Wikipedia here.  This post isn't about the antiseptic mouthwash named for him. Actually, after naming the product for him in 1879 it was mainly sold to the medical profession.  The story of Listerine and the tooth powder (above) is more interesting for its roots in Connecticut history.   The Cheney name is very big in Manchester, CT because it was where the Cheney  brothers decided to open up a silk manufacturing plant in 1838.  The company grew at such a rate that a very large part of the town worked for Cheney as well as lived in Cheney housing and sent their kids Cheney-built schools. There were numerous mansions belonging to the Cheney brothers and and uncles and the whole business boomed for almost 100 years ending mainly due to the invention of man-made thread and the Depression.  Somewhere in there the Cheney Chemical company was formed and among the items they produced was Tooth Powder.  I found an interesting controversy over a simple form spelling regarding Lister's legacy:

 Well, if it's "listerated" then it has to be antiseptic, right?  In trying to find some background for this product I came across a more interesting battle over the use of the word: Listerated."  Guess who had a problem with it?

It seems that Cheney Chemical fought with the Listerated Tooth Powder company for using that word as a trademark and during an injunction applied for the rights and won the "listerated" tag.  The other guy went and found someone who had been using the name before Cheney and bought the name from them, giving him proper claim over the name. He then sells to Lambert, owner of Listerine and that's how it ended.  Lambert sued to get Cheney to stop using that word on their packaging saying it was harming their business by confusing the public. However, at this point Listerine was not being sold to the public, nor had the company even started to put out a toothpaste or powder.  The judge threw the case out because it had no merit. Cheney kept using it anyway. This second lawsuit was fought in a Canadian copyright case, but you get the idea. 

Read about The legal Battle here.

Or squint as best you can and read what really happened below.

None of it really matters, Listerine wanting the term "Listerated" all to themselves is like the Butter churners Union suing to secure the term "Buttery". Kind of unnecessary....like Listerine. But one had to be the better tooth powder....
Or, maybe it was...
Again, I am chronologically challenged in that I can't date either of these exactly. Cheney's empire in Manchester was all but gone by the mid 30's and I can find no good history or images of their product lines.  Their silk was considered the finest in the nation and I can only guess that tooth powder was an obvious choice because many silk manufacturers were also selling floss :
Well, you can blame Lister or you can blame the silk worm, Just don't blame me that this post really went nowhere and ended up here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Over-tired? Under Pressure?

I'm the kind of person that will go to Dunkin D'oh!-Nuts and in response to "What would you like, or Can I help you?" I will say, "You decide." Which I am sure is the last thing a carbo-jockey wants to hear.  Sure, I could make up my mind, but usually, I can't decide and just succumb to the pressure of the line forming behind me.  I want to open up a restaurant someday where instead of a menu, the waiter decides for you. I figure after one customer has a positive experience, I'd have them for life. The same doesn't apply to urban archeology, but I have the same problem...I don't know what I am looking for, but I'll know it when I see it. Case in point:
This wasn't in its case when I saw it lying on a work bench in the basement of an estate sale in New Milford. My photography skills are better than my eyesight because at 3" I definately could not read the snap cover.
I found the gauge first and still didn't know what it was, likely the reason why I hung on to it. Like a silver bullet with a very blunt tip I had half a clue but thought I also only had half of what ever it was. Until I found the pouch and then I knew it was complete.

The Schrader Balloon Tire Gauge from around the late 20's early 30's was created when the tires changed over from solid rubber to "Balloon" style. 

If it is that old I am impressed with the condition, especially the pouch. I paid a dollar, but I've seen the value of similar ones range from $8 to $35. I even tested it out and found it to still provide an honest reading.
80+ years old and still working? No pressure there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

MAD, about the Magazine

I am at a loss for words while trying to write this post about MAD magazine. My usual style of wryness, irony and coincidence is lost while trying to top this 50+ year old magazine which is full of my kind of mayhem.  It's like a Sherpa trying to write about Mount Everest. I don't hold it in such high esteem, I just can't parody that which is a perfect parody of itself.  I got a subscription as a birthday gift when I was twelve or thirteen and I thought it was great. I look at it now, not as the pinnacle of printed comedy, but more in exhaustion of how much work must have gone into each issue. When I saw this old issue in a box-lot of paper items, I set it aside.
This 1967 issue was well before I was introduced to satire, or could spell it. Like all the other other odd and old paper items I have set aside, the dated references, jabs at pop culture icons, politicians, and everyday life just add to the fun and make this hard to sell or toss. I knew this would be a post when I came across another piece of MAD memorabilia:
This campaign button may be rare, I have yet to determine its age though 60-70's seems right.  I paid 50 cents. I found that this iconic figure from MM was not created by the editors but lifted. Take a look at some of the earlier shots of that who would be named by MM editors here. There were many recurring cartoon strips, parody articles and sections, one of my favorites was:
If you aren't familiar with this important piece of satirical media, take a look at Wikipedia's comprehensive section by clicking MAD below.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's Liquid Dynamite!

This is a find I have to credit to my daughter. AVA and I were hunting this weekend and although we were low on karma we were high on persistence. Well, I was high on persistence, she was high on ice cream. Heading to the last sale of the day, we found a sign to another sale on the way.  (This always happens - the "dig" is always deeper on the other side of the phone pole.)

This was one of those sales that rate high on a scale I can only describe as the seedy index. It is no strike against the homeowners, but  life eventually catches up with you, and it is impossible to stay ahead of all your belongings. Some folks have trouble throwing stuff out. At the top of the scale is of course the hoarder (we won't go there - figuratively and literally). They never have sales, and even if they did, you wouldn't go near them. This house was a repository for an electronics supply business the owner had 35 years ago and never got rid of his unsold inventory.  This is another place I wished I'd taken a picture. The basement was filled with case after case of soda, no soda, no lids, just the cans. 
Picture 500 of these semi filled with screws, bolts, solder points, connectors, etc. etc. Yukon Club sounded vaguely familiar, but then it sounded like many of the 100 or so off brands or regional distributors around New York and New England. To me it sounded suspiciously close to Utica Club, a fairly well known beer and soda bottler in the Eastern U.S. The homeowner is on his way to being a hoarder, but the tag sale was a sign of hope. Though by the looks of the basement , he has a long way to go.  It wasn't long before I found something that I contemplated buying.
I never would buy this because I don't collect cans (anymore), but I can't help it when I see such an oddball product that must have been widely distributed.  The label design was wild. This would have gone well on the table of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." Right next to the "Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs!"

You may be wondering how I ended up with these cans, or how am I going to pin the excuse on my daughter. Well, as we were searching the basement, AVA turned several cans (3) upside down and began to tap on them with a swizzle stick like a drum set. The owner gave her the "drum" set and I let it happen because I saw the cans that were going in the bag,  I loved the inappropriate tag line so much, that I was glad she got it. She will tire of these and not miss them and I will recycle them.  After much searching online, I can not come up with any history of either beverage line.  Have you ever seen these before? Post your story in the comments.