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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gadget or Doohickey? Updated!

Thanks to one of the many astute readers of a favorite site of mine "Bits and Pieces" I have a link to an auction site that gives more background on this object. 

Mathman54 wrote:
I think either gadget or doohickey is apt, though I am slightly in favor of doohickey. I found this for you at http://www.mjdtools.com/auction/graphics/s09/a218950.htm “An example of HALL’S PATENT COMBINATION TOOL as produced by the Boye Needle Company, Chicago, Illinois. This tool was patented on February 10, 1926.”
If I was interpreting the auction site correctly, they were suggesting it was worth $80-$160.

Another tag sale find that I couldn't leave without. Paid $1. The sellers didn't know what it is. I have some idea, but the challenge I ask of you is not what it is, but how it is supposed to be used. Here are a few more images to help you guess:
The only text imprinted is "Boye Brand." It is possibly a level/miter of some kind and at 3" x 2.5" could have been meant for detail work, or work in a small scale.  There is also this swing out arm that lines up with one edge...
It looks like a handy tool, but it leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions. Please leave your guesses, or the explanation in the comments.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Perfect Gifts: 3 days and 74 years too late

Well, now that Christmas is over, this is a fine time to be coming out with a list of the "Must have" toys. However, this list is a little more than 3 days late.  As a continuation of the last post, which focused primarily on a scantily clad young lady and the faux-controversy of the a magazine's staff to put her there. I now bring you the article that contains many of the toys I would grab if I could just get that time-machine going.
Clicking on the article may expand it to a  readable size - The magazine is falling apart as I scan it, so no promises. After just finishing up trying to assemble and understand all the toys AVA was inundated with, this article provides some real perspective.  Times haven't changed;  some of these relics seem as equally complicated for the time and likely mystified the parents as to why their child would be interested in such a thing. Microscopes, erector sets, and my favorite the Lionel Plane, tethered, that takes off and lands. Reminds me of the Verti-bird toy helicopter that a friend had and I lusted after...
Click on the box to read the Wikipedia article
    Both seem to provide an adequate simulation of the excitement of flying...for a kid anyway.  Today's it's all done with computers, not the same. If you ever happen to see a verti-bird, don't let it go. They are selling for a good price on Ebay, and I am sure the same is true for the Lionel plane, though I doubt any can be found in working condition.

So I don't come across as sexist, there were plenty of choices for toys for the girls in 1936. This next image is a scan of the opposite page of the article.  Not a 50-50 split for both genders, but who says trains are for boys only?

Well, there you have it - my wish list for 2011. I hope to have maybe a piece of one of these items after shopping at some of the finest estate establishments which only seem to open on the weekends. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cover Up! It's cold out there

Wow! If you ever decide to start blogging...don't ever stop! It is not unlike joining the gym - good for the body and mind, hard on the wallet and schedule. The experience I have had so far is that blogging is good for your Soul-cial life (pron. soul-shall), but it's not hard on the wallet, unless you're sitting on it.  It's not much of a work out either, unless a repetitive-motion like typing, or point-and-clicking is performed often enough to raise the heart-rate before it causes carpel-tunnel syndrome. My lament is that I was hoping to finish the year with 150 posts, but that would mean I needed to write 8 more entries this month!  Not likely. Looking through my collection, I found that I had only a few December-themed items, and then I remembered her:
I found this is in a box of magazines I picked up a while back, and as magazine covers go, it caught my eye. Maybe I'm naive, but I expected  the image to be from an adult magazine, but then by the title (and a little research) I discovered that this is a woman's fashion magazine. Pretty racy for 1936?  This might seem perfectly fine for today's check-out aisle tabloid, but I don't see the same woman of 1936 targeted by this magazine being anything but shocked...which may be the key. But then, what do I know about impulse marketing? ...other than the title of 99% of my posts!
This magazine, who's history I can not uncover, features fashion and lifestyle for the mid to upper class lady. Its condition is poor, but the shock value is gold. The edit staff even made their own cover the subject of an article.
(Click for an almost readable version of the article) I love the trumped up interplay between the editor and his staff. Neither argument seems to involve that both of these covers may be showing more skin than is normal for 1936. A riot in a teapot is more like it.  I am sure they were hoping for a riot at the magazine rack. I don't think it ever happened, but I am surprised that I can't find more than just a few other covers around the web.

The real reason I brought this issue up has to do with a breif review of the hot toys of the season (present cover excluded)...which will have to wait until the next post.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Joy to the World!.....I'm in print!

They are other greater joys, but few I can think of right now that compare to this email I got in November:

Dear Greg, My name is Aimee Pokwatka, and I'm the Managing Editor of The Newtowner. We're just finishing up this issue, and I'd like to send you a contract for your cartoon...

I had heard about a new art and literature magazine that was springing from a creative writers group one town over from me. The Newtowner, as described in their website here proclaims in their mission to:
Celebrate, showcase and promote new and established
local writers and artists.
  Well, I am all for that. I quickly discovered that they were accepting submissions for their inaugural edition. Nearing 150 posts for this blog, I felt there must be something I could send for the non-fiction section, and decided to include one of my drawings as well.  Not really knowing who these nice folks were, who wanted my cartoon, I waiting with as much anticipation as a confused tic feeding off a red water-balloon.  When I finally got to hold a fresh copy, which I had  unpacked from a stack waiting to be sold, I was blown away. Not by my own self appreciation, but by the overall quality of the publication:
This is no floppy, pulpy, newsprint ink-bleeding periodical.  The image on the cover, a beautiful re-rendering of the Newtown Meeting House across from the famous flagpole leaps out from the page in way that defies the reader's ability to determine if it is an oil painting, or a photograph, or possibly both?  Though I know very little of how a magazine is physically published, I can tell that a high grade of heavy-wight card stock must have been used for the cover, and a similar weighted stock for the pages. This magazine, as a whole, deserves not to be recycled to the local doctor's office dog-eared out-of-date Time, People and Newsweek collection. NO. This is a fine masterwork that deserves its own corner of the coffee table, as would a book of fine living, or "Above Yosemite." Placed strategically by the smarter Real Estate agent who will know that when their back is turned during the open house walk-through that the astute home buyer would see it and say, "This town has its own literary magazine? When can we close?"

I had intended to place a scan of the page where my cartoon now resides in the pages of The Newtowner, but as I am under contract, I will send you to where I originally posted the image back in April. The Publishers at The Newtowner have lovingly separated the caption from the image and typeset it to the right and generously given me a poetry credit as well.  I recommend that if you plan on reading any literary magazine in the near future and you want to support  local artists and businesses, you would be doing a good thing to check out this quarterly publication and consider subscribing. You'll be glad you did.  

Finally, if you ever had even just the smallest idea to write, compose, or create, you should consider sharing it with the editors through the submission links on their website. You too, will find that this is another kind of joy that makes the season bright.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dig Report: 12/11/10 - I don't know...What the heck is it?

If you remember the program called Wonderama, then you probably grew up in the New York metropolitan area, or within range of the transmitter on the Empire State building.  This was a kids variety show that  aired in the late 60's early 70's on Sunday mornings and featured all kinds of fun stuff. One of the segments presented an item where the kids were supposed to guess what it was.  The opening bump to that segment featured the host, Bob McAlister in a funny voice saying,"I dunno.Vat da heck is et!?"   Funny how some things never leave you.

I couldn't find the segment I wanted but couldn't help reminiscing.   Speaking of things never leaving:

At a local Estate sale this weekend, actually, the only estate sale (in range) this weekend, I was fortunate enough to find a "dig".  Nothing against the nice people running it, but it wasn't really anyone's estate, but a collection of over 100 years of what any family would accumulate and want to pare down. Mom is an artist and grandpa owned an apothecary in the city that had been abandoned for decades until the family had to clean it out because the roof had caved in. You know, just like in any family, stuff happens and the things that were rescued and kept eventually couldn't be kept anymore. AVA and I had fun digging, she attempted to type the great American novel on a 50 year old Remington, while I poured over books and odd apothecary bottles.  There are 2 categories of items I like to find at these sales: Things that I know what they are; and things that I have no idea what they are, though hold some kind of aesthetic interest. Here another look at the mystery of the week:

At 6" x 3" and 3" high, cast iron about 1.5 lbs and only a vague label on the front:

"The lever" was either the business or the manufacturer's "model" name for what ever this was. Or, maybe people just like to nickname their office supplies...There's a hint.

Buying items when you don't know what they are is risky and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, especially if the "hoarder" gene runs in your family tree (that would be the branch that still has all the leaves). However, for the terminally curious like me...no problem. Half the fun is the deal.  After asking the family members running the sale, "What is this?" and getting the results of their internet search...not a clue..."Well, we think it is some kind of paper-fastener. " Then, I asked the important question:  "How much?"  The price started at $10. but  I won't pay $10 for something that has no origin. "How about $5?" I returned.  "How about $7?"  I backed off, by saying that I knew it wasn't a paper-fastener (I had tried it out) and I was only interested in playing detective.  He finally acquiesced and came down to my price.  But the exchange ended on a funny note with the seller saying, "Aw, what the heck.  That's one less item I'll have to bring to the dump."  Why do people need to win the psychological battle after losing  at the haggling game? If it was only going to be tossed (which I didn't believe) why haggle at all?  Getting  $5 dollars for the item put the "house" ahead because it was likely bought and paid for years ago. Their real fear is that the item is worth millions and they lost out because they couldn't search long enough to confirm it. I always advise sellers when approached with an un-priced item, let the buyer start the bidding, and with your own hi-lo price in mind, you might be surprised where they start. 

If I have piqued your curiosity as to what this is, stop here and do your own search and see how long it takes you find the answer.  If you are ready to guess or just want to know the answer - click the link to jump to the explanation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Triscuit...a Taskit!

Found this a few weeks ago in a book, in an attic, in a farmhouse, in New Milford.  I wasn't looking for it, but I found it and bought it with a small lot of items (to be blogged later).  I like old advertising schemes and gimmicks. The Triscuit is another of those products that seems like it has been around forever, actually since 1902. I couldn't find the origin of the brand name, though I suppose it is a mash-up of "something + biscuit" possibly 3-layers of shredded wheat (never counted - same problem as the tootsie roll). This insert follows a pattern for many products from this era (early 20th century) a contest placed in a box appealing to kids or moms was a good way to engage customer's in a "soft sell" and see who's buying and from where.  
For school lunch with butter...hmmm and we complain about sending kids to school with processed meats. Of course, I like butter (it's the other white frosting!) almost as much as I like Triscuits. I have to read the contest over and over again...it looks like the idea was to keep eating boxes of Triscuits, until you have collected the whole alphabet, paint them, and then send it in to maybe win a prize. I guess in the days before radio there wasn't much for kids to do, so this would have been another activity to keep 'em occupied. A $100, or even $10 dollar prize would have seemed like a small fortune.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Articles of Conflagration

This is the Estate sale find that keeps paying off.  Tucked in all the Post Cards were 3 articles from a 1933 newspaper (or earlier). My apologies in advance to visitors from out of town, who may find these boring. I, however, think they are - how do the kids say it these days? -kewl.  I will try to appeal to a more general audience with future posts. For now, read and enjoy the benediction of refuse.  This first one is inflammatory based on the remarks made by townsfolk over Edna Ferber's portrayal of Brookfield-ites as mostly "poles."  You may need to click to read.
 This one should put the fires out, though I found this funny because parts of town are dealing with water quality issues (which isn't funny at all), but this spring would seem to be the answer to all their problems.

 I enjoyed this one because outside visitors are appalled at the condition of Brookfield Public Schools and the Minister walks out on graduation because of it.  Does that mean they don't graduate?

Thanks for reading (if you were able to)!