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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Squished pennies, Safety Pins and Scenes from the 1939 World's Fair

We seemed to be obsessed with trinkets and mementos of the the places we've been or the things we own...Why is that? You may not be one of the "we" I am referring to, but I am. Not to the point of obsession, I don't have the keyring with a thousand things, other than keys on it.  The memento that never left my side was found on a set of keys someone had hidden in the backstage area of my high school auditorium. On it was a very unique safety pin. It amazed me because of its simple design: one piece of wire sharpened on one end and then wrapped and bent and twisted several times back on itself to complete this utilitarian product of early mechanized mass production...or so I believe. That pin stayed with me until just a few years ago (read: a looong time), and over the years saved my keys from the Atlantic clipped to my swim trunks through many a vacation. It finally succumbed to the salt water.  I've always wanted to see the machine that made it, or the human equivalent. That pin served me as well as a Swiss Army knife.

So, as I make my way around an estate sale, or any other kind of sale, I look for these kinds of things. Simple, unique, and still retain some of the "neat-o" factor.  A couple of months ago I found such a sale, in Danbury CT, on the western side of Candlewood Lake. Should have been a good dig, but I couldn't make a connection between the leftover junk and why I wanted any of it. Until I took a final look at the "Jewelry table."  This is often where the expensive items are left close to the Estate sale service employees to thwart those with light fingers.  Usually not my kind of stuff, but this time I saw a ring of keys.

The keys were unremarkable, but the flattened penny was gold - anything referring back to an early World's Fair is worth a second look. Blank on one side (not even the ghost imprint of the penny that was used!) On the reverse, the goddess Roma is perched above the colonnaded steps which featured a cascading waterfall. Inside were the products of Italy and, of course the opportunity to squish a penny as a memento. I wonder if it was like it is now - Did it cost a dollar to crank your own penny into a souvenir back then as well? There is more writing where the hole punch is, but it is too worn and missing for me to be sure. Probably the year, but there's something more.. Click here to see a similar penny on Ebay with a close-up on this area....I still can't make it out. Maybe you can?

In my research I did find someone's home movie IN COLOR of the 1939 world's fair. If you go to the 1:54 mark you will see the Italian Pavilion in all its glory...

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