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Friday, February 27, 2015

Time To Go Skiing...or is it Skeeing?

Winter has been, between the frequent storms and unrelenting cold, a consistent pain in the back. The only ones benefiting have been the ski mountains, resorts and skiers. 

My only solace has been consistently finding old papers which should have disappeared long ago. This article is from an edition of The Youth’s Companion in 1893 and became especially interesting when I saw the article title.

I had never seen the spelling of Ski as “Skee,” so it wasn’t just the 11 inches of snow outside my window, but my interest in the etymology of the word that keep me interested.

Reading the rest of the article it is clear that this relatively new sport to 19th century Americans can be done relatively inexpensively. However, to the rest of the planet Skiis have been around since before 5000BC. 

According to Wikipedia skis were found in Russia that dated back closer to 6500BC. The word itself has a Norse origin meaning stick of wood. How about that?

I wonder if Ikea sells something like a stick of wood…what would they call it?

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.