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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Albert Einstein's Business Card...relatively speaking

So, what are the odds that I would find A.E.'s business card? If you've viewed some of my 236 previous posts, you might say, "Odds are, you did."  Though, with any find you have to question the authenticity. Where did it come from? Who had it before you? and, If AE didn't hand it to you himself, doesn't that reduce the overall value?  All good questions, but the most important one is missing...Do I care about any of those questions?...No. My own curiosity wants the answers, but from the standpoint of its value, it is worth every penny I paid for it, or I would have let it go. 
The last thing I am doing when I walk into a sale is to look for the "Holy Grail" of a "find."  For me, it is the whole experience - who I'm with - getting there - going in - searching - who I meet - what I find - what I buy. Have I passed a "Holy Grail" or 2? Probably, but sometimes, just the chance to look for one is satisfying enough. When I come across a real treasure, like the one above; I am more likely mesmerised that someone would go to the trouble to fool the holder, and in the case of the sale this past weekend, fool the holder numerous times.
  These are just a few samples of a cleverly mounted and framed collection meant more to entertain and amaze, than cause an appraiser to faint. Lindbergh, Twain, Ford, Edison, Lincoln, Rockefeller, they're all here and at the bottom of the matte is a place to put your own card. A well done novelty item based on the axiom, "You're Judged by the company you keep."  

This was an expanded post which mirrors my latest article in Patch (link coming) I have added more detail and information. If you came from there, or if you stopped by another way - Thank you! - you too, are in good company. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Now, THIS is a game for the Wii (pronounced WE as in We the people)

Feeling bad because you can't join your brothers and sisters during the "Occupy" movement? This Xmas, right in front of your TV or computer screen you can...Occupy Marvin Gardens! Or Ventnor Ave., but don't try and take your money out of the bank -or- you'll Go to Jail Go Directly to Jail!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A little late for this invitation...but "Surprise!"

...Like 153 years late. This was found in an envelope of old papers, which I am now trying to determine how the papers are connected to each other. If anyone would like to volunteer with the research of  the names below...please feel free. I mean, how many people could have lived in #14 South 3rd Street? No state is mentioned but the other papers indicate a Boston to Vermont connection of some kind.
Actual Size: about 2" x 3" but click for a larger image
  What committee? Williamsburgh where? I hope the guest of honor was surprised. I know I was.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The dream "find" #1

Since I can't always afford some of the things I see at sales, I have decided to launch a new series called "Dream Finds."  Until I can afford an airplane hanger, I won't be buying these things, but I will be making a list - and checking it twice... or more. Christmas is coming, so should anyone ask me what I want - I'll be ready.
The first item in the "Dream Find" list is this office chair like no other (hold on):
Photo Credit: Charlotte Wright 

Photo Credit: Charlotte Wright 
Photo Credit: Charlotte Wright 
Yes, it is the ejector seat from a fighter jet, mounted on a frame with a firm base and armrests. It's all there: 5-point harness (for those grueling conference calls), heavily padded seats and back cushion (for those 3-G corporate "changes" that catch you off-guard), and finally the ejector booster rockets for the 5 o'clock whistle (minus the actual propellant and fuses).  Yes, it is for sale - from a unique company in the UK that only seems to sell a limited amount of cool stuff and is aptly named "When it's gone it's gone."  Take a look for more images of this one-of-a-kind item.

Oh yeah, this is on the dream list.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ad Quiz #13 SOLUTION - "Just ask Acetylene Jones"

This was a pretty obscure contest. I do like the slow reveal sometimes.  These image of the cat stealing the baby's breath is wonderfully macabre. To use it as a way to make mom read an advertisement - priceless. If you have time to read it, well, you are more patient and curious that I am. If you don't have time, just skip to my comments below.
I'm sure it was no joy to live in a house full of Kerosene lanterns, but.....Acetylene!? Really? It might have seemed a bright idea, or cutting edge technology...at the time. Though cheaper and safer, I am only familiar with the acetylene that is used as a torch to cut steel.  Like any article/ad it tries its best to appeal to our fact-loving nature, but fails in the end when it pitches the reader to send for more info to.......Acetylene Jones!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ad Quiz #13 Whatsamatta? Cat got your Breath?

Thanks to programs like Photoshop, print and electronic ads are more fun these days. How else could you show the Amish - some oddly gigantic, some small - hard at work, shoulder to shoulder  - some working on large mantles, some working on small mantles (right next to each other!) - without it?

The Amish Mantle attached to a "miracle" heater is just one of the many article-like advertisements that have been around for eons, and I mean eons. Wow! all those heaters running while they polish those mantles. That must be some kind of Amish sweatshop!

Of course the "articles" are required to include the word "advertisement" above in order to separate the chaff from the husk, but the eyes are more immediately drawn to the banner text and most people start reading. Buyer beware! 
So, when I saw this charming little shocker in The Women's Magazine for 1904, I thought it would be a good opportunity to point out an early form of this same trick to shock and distract the reader:
I won't ask you to guess the product or service (too difficult, trust me) but how about if you try and guess the subject of the faux-article? Can you?  I will provide a hint: It is not a public service announcement about the dangers of your kittah sleeping with your child. Place your guess in the comments below and I will announce a winner. For those of you who love cats, please enjoy my interpretation of early 20th century LULZ-Cats:
 Thanks for guessing! Solution will be coming soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thin is in, but fat's where it's at!

It should be no mystery that body image is the number one motivator of Americans, at least based on the history of advertising. We have been brain-washed for over a hundred years, first with print and then in electronic media as well.  It wasn't until my latest and greatest find that I realized how fickle the ads can be. I am not so gullible as to complain that all ads should be in concert and choose one solution, or one regiment for curing problems. But "media creates reality," meaning that if you ascribe to "perception is reality" then you've covered pretty much what advertising does all day (and night), re-enforces the perception of the products as the only solution. And who better to establish and re-enforce new perceptions to?
In my previous post I described how I got these, but I didn't know what they were until I got them home. Would I normally buy a stack of women's magazines? No, not unless they were a hundred or more years old, then, Yes! There were 13 in the pile ranging from 1904 -1907. Most of the cover art looks similar to the one above. A Victorian lady of the day lovingly illustrated by George Blake. I have not been successful in finding a biography of either the magazine or the artist.  But, putting that mystery aside let's turn to self improvement.
These magazines have a lot of articles that I should probably be reading so I can get a real sense of the period, but the ads are much more fun. I really enjoyed exploring each page page and seeing the self-image vicious cycle.
Maybe the advertisers think this covers it? Or, maybe they'll never reach the multitudes in denial that feel they don't belong to either group. I would expect to see something marketed to the "perfect crowd," the problem is they don't need anything. The real confusion begins when these ads are placed right next to each other.

But wait there's more! These magazines were full of inappropriate, misguided, tasteless and damn funny ads. Weight loss was only one category. Look for more posts featuring adds from the these amazingly well-preserved pages.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An uncolored look back at the Great Danbury State Fair

 There are a lot of things I look for at sales. The one thing I enjoy finding about all other things is not displayed on any table or hidden in any attic...sometimes its just there.  This weekend I was fortunate enough to have one of those rare experiences when someone asks you what you're looking for and when you tell them, they respond with: "Wait right there!" After leaving to search inside their home or garage, they return with something good. On this late September Saturday day it was...a coincidence.

What she handed me was a large pack of old newspapers. While it may seem I was only aiding and abetting her desire to recycle, actually she had some pretty interesting papers in those bundles. We struck what each of us felt was a fair deal and later that night while going paper by paper...inside was this 1969 coloring book from the State fair.  The  coincidence comes from the day it was purchased - right in the same period when the Fair would going on!...If it were still in existence. I call that a coincidence. 
The Great Danbury State Fair began in 1821 as an Agricultural Fair. Local farmers brought forth their biggest pigs, their beefiest cattle, and sheerly beautiful sheep, as well as all the other animals down on the farm all to judge in competition with other area and regional farmers. This also included crops and baking, canning and preserving, and demonstrations of strength and control in oxen pulls. There were activities for the kids which grew into rides and shows, circuses and midway hawkers. It truly was a big deal for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, in 1974 the fair's owner passed away and the downhill slide began. Eventually, the land the fair was located on became more and more valuable for retail development. In 1981 the fair was closed and 5 years later re-opened as a large shopping mall named and designed in the theme of the State Fair. Difficult to replace more than 100 years of history, but one year after it was closed thousands of items were auctioned off and spread to the four corners of the collecting world. But, it is true that - "what goes around, comes around," and that's apparently how I ended up with this little commemorative gem.    

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Guest Author Bob Deakin wants you to meet: "Tony the Tagger"

Tag sales are a tedious event for the homeowner but without the shoppers, it doesn't work. Most tag salers make a stop a couple times a year but some are professionals known as “taggers” for their years of dedication to the craft.

One glowing example is Tony “Tony the Tagger” Corso of Canton, CT. He earned his nickname by virtue of decades as a familiar face at tag sales and for being featured on both Good Morning America and Hoarders.

Corso comes off as a know-it-all talking about all things, and as cocky as a football player in a night club he explains his strategy for every sale he approaches.

“First thing I do at every sale is back my truck up the driveway. Right away they start showing me around and the prices drop like dollar bills at the strip club.”

Even those that don't know him quickly notice the tall man in denim strolling arrogantly through the throngs of shoppers with his trademark fedora tilted slightly to the left.

He's been attending sales throughout the Connecticut-Massachusetts-New York area since Nixon was president and is known for his penchant for late 19th Century furniture and golden-age Hollywood memorabilia. He not only longs for artifacts but genuinely believes he is entitled to them. Whether it's an oak cabinet Thomas Edison might have owned or a poster of Betty Grable, Tony the Tagger is determined to call it his own.

He says one of the most memorable tag sales was held by a legend of stage, screen and television. Employing a dramatic pause and taunting this reporter with his good fortune, he elaborated with the tale of rubbing elbows with a star before divulging her name.

“Valerie Harper,” he said, slowly and deliberately, leaning forward in his chair with a wry grin, as if announcing the name of the first lady. He went on to detail the day spent at the star's home examining items for sale and the cozy conversation he struck up with her. He claims he spent several hours at the swanky estate and ended up rubbing a little more than elbows with the married actress.

It all began, he says, with a few innocent questions about her Victorian-era armoire, which led to a personal tour of her movie memorabilia collection from the 40s and before he knew it, they'd locked eyes, both leaning over a vintage cocktail table from the 50s when their hands touched for the first time.

“You can't put a price tag on what I walked away with that day,” Corso says, smiling, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands behind his head.

Asked if he was alleging to have slept with Ms. Harper – made famous by her role as next-door neighbor 'Rhoda' on the Mary Tyler Moore Show – Corso asked with a wink, “Who said anything about sleeping?”
Hello? Who said anything about even meeting this jerk?

While Corso is well-known amongst tag sale hosts it doesn't always equate to admiration.

“He's a jerk,” says Helen Fink, owner of a palatial estate in Greenwich, CT, worthy of Bruce Wayne and his ward. “He walks in like he owns the place and makes low-ball offers on authentic hand-made pieces from the 1800s like they're cheap TVs. He's married and spends more time hitting on me and the shoppers like he's at a strip club.”

Complimented for the coincidental strip club analogy she doesn't bite on an offer for further comment.

“My next door neighbor, Jean, hosts estate sales for homeowners every summer and this guy's been showing up for years,” says Carol Showalter of Norwalk, CT. “He's so full of himself he even gave himself a nick-name; 'T-Tag.' Jean refers to him as 'D-Bag.'”

Told of what the estate sale hosts said of him Corso doesn't even blink, choosing instead to explain the difference between an authentic Universal Studios poster and a fake. Asked what motivates him to continue his week-to-week performance attending sales year after year, Tony holds up a first-generation "Mr Coffee"  and conceitedly quotes baseball great, Joe DiMaggio.

“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time and I owe him my best.”

Confronted with the fact that very few children go to tag sales and even fewer show up to see him, he downplays his role as a local celebrity.

“Ah, I'm just a simple man with simple tastes,” he states, again with a wink and a grin. “Who can resist a 19th Century gem or an authentic framed Casablanca promo? I also can't help it if the ladies can't resist a tall, confident, handsome man in a fedora.”

Perhaps they can't, but when it comes time to get rid of an old relic, a warm body with a wallet often seems irresistible.

Mrs. Showalter was later asked if any of Jean's clients, by coincidence, were TV stars in the 1970s and said no, then looked up, curiously.

“You know,” she remembered, “everybody always tells Jean she looks just like the next-door neighbor on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Thanks for another interesting tale from the tag sale trail, Bob! You can read more of Bob Deakin's work by visiting his site here.  I'll be keeping my eye out for the notorious T-Tag.