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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tray Bizzarre

This is how it sometimes goes down.  I am on the road headed for I-don't-know-where. I have the classifieds to my right and a Hagstrom street guide for Western CT there as well.  I have scanned the ads for a few targets, but they are mainly designed to get me going in a direction. On my way I look for the tell-tale signs and upon seeing one, I am off-course yet on-track to see what I can see.  Late Summer/early Fall, the distractions are many, and with no time to visit them all, a process of elimination is necessary. The worst and first offender are the sales with "Lot's of Children's Items!" listed. Although AVA hasn't always been with me (she's only 7) these sales spell trouble.  The one sign that's a "lock" every time is the estate sale sign. No matter how foolish or impromptu they appear.(Moo!)

Upon entering an estate sale the first thing to do is greet the people running it. Don't expect a hearty handshake, they have a thousand things on their minds and congeniality left with the first 100 folks that were there before the sale started. However, just "touching base" is a good idea, respect works even better if later you want to haggle on an item.  Finally, you want to get the lay of the land and make sure that there isn't some sub-basement you'll miss because you didn't ask, "Is it throughout the whole house?" The fun part about that question is, once they say "Yes" you often have carte blanche to look every where. Stay away from closed doors and always ask, but otherwise begin the hunt.  Several years ago at a Brookfield sale I looked in a closet and saw some items stacked on the top shelf.
I took them down and after 5 minutes turning them over and reading fine print, I still didn't know what they were. Today as I look at them, I still have only theories and no definite answer. But at the time they were cool and the lot was only $5. Maybe you can help?  They are all aluminum (some spots are corroding), about 5" x 3.25" and likely date from the start of the 20th century. Here is tray, or clue #1:
The Lusitania was a modern sailing vessel and main line of transportation for people traveling between Europe and the U.S. beginning in 1907. She was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. Read the Wiki article here. The question is, would this sort of item have been a souvenir or a common coin or ashtray of the time of her launch, or more an item of rememberance?
I guess you could say these 4-stack ocean liners were the "Space Shuttles " of their time.

Tray #2 is the one in the poorest condition...
...and another tough one to figure out. You would think that a search for "Hartford Cannon Monument" would at least get me an historical society description...but no. Hartford Conn (month, date unreadable) and the year 1902 are printed along with the cannon, other than the fuzzy plaque on the monument (1865)  there are no other clues. This may still exist, but after 108 years who knows?

Here is #3:

SO! You want to tour the U.S. on a bicycle? Hmmm...OK let's print your images up with the bikes and let everyone know that you're doing this. Can we print something on the back too? Sure! Why not?
How about every city we plan to visit?  Between this one and the last one we at least have vague confirmation that the era is correct. If you take the time to read all of this you may wonder the same thing I was...Is this the order they plan to visit these cities? No wonder it's going to take 18 months. Of all the cities, I like the one that lists Ardmore, Oklahoma as I.T. (Indian Territory).  I also liked how their mode of transport was featured on the front of the tray. (Click for a larger image)

OK, last tray. This one leads to my theory of what these are. They may be samples for this kind of "tintype" photography - possibly "Ferro-type" though I can find no sample to compare it to. These trays could have been salesman's samples featuring styles and purposes someone or some business might want.
The Richard E Thibaut company still exists to day, and they still sell wall paper. No idea if this is a one-of or a teaser for the company to hand out to good customers, or possibly as a business card. The cool part is not the advertisement but the image. The "Garden Of The Gods" park in Colorado Springs still exists today and though a black and white image, it hasn't changed much. Compare the 2:
Hope you've enjoyed this brief odyssey. I never know what I'm going to find when I step into the door of the next sale, and that's ok with me.


  1. Greg,
    That's a mortar not a cannon.
    Love the Blog

  2. Thanks Don! Maybe that's my problem, I've been searching for info with a cannon when I should be using a mortar. They always were a more accurate piece of artillery. I'll try the search with mortar and see if that gets me any closer to an answer.

  3. Hey Greg...Don't know if you caught Scott's response to your query over at B&P...I think he hit it:

  4. Thanks for the tip-off DJ!
    Must thank Scott somehow. He saved me a lot of research. I will have to post an update.

  5. Greg,
    Keep in mind I'm almost computer illiterate but I have figured out the blog! An estate sale in CT??? At the moment I'm in Killingworth for a wedding.
    As to the Lusitania, my mother collected souvenir spoons. Years ago before people realized what was what she bought a bag of spoons which contains one from the Lusitania. That tray is probably a memento of a crossing, given to passengers or lifted by same (which is obviously how the spoon finally ended up in the bag).
    Thanks for the information,


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