Leader Board Ad

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'd Horse Whip Ya... If I had a horse...(old business invoices Pt 2)

This is the 2nd and final installment of my 2 part post (See part 1 here) on a collection of invoices lent to me by a couple of friends who are bringing some life (read: Arts, Culture, Entertainment) back to an old building in New Milford, CT. They know how I much I love to rummage through old papers and for these few brief days with this collection of Accounts Payable from 1923, I am grateful.  It's not so much the old paper that interests me, but more the graphics and design that some of these businesses used to create an icon that might out-live them.  This first one is my favorite. The horse has this sort of "cat that ate the canary" look that sends the message: Whips from the Horse Whip Co., are so good I can't wait to be whipped! That horse appears to be grinning. Here is the full invoice header. (click for larger)
Sometimes it's the name of the business that makes me want to share these pieces. Other times it is just the list of products that were so commonplace then and so long gone now. Note the list to the left above, not to mention the prices.
Someday I may display a collection of just the ones of that have the block print, or pen and ink renderings of buildings. In the absence of the technology to make photographs of the buildings part of these invoices, there must have been a lot of artists reproducing them.
 Finally, the lettering on some of these is just awesome (above) and the use of the raw material as a background (below) is amusing. 
At first I thought this was a pig, then I realized it was a hide, stretched, dried, and ready for cutting.  I will be returning these borrowed invoices, but it will be difficult to keep from looking through the other boxes of invoices...the search continues.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Found: Front Door Key - 1850

I'm fortunate to live in an area that is rich in the artifacts of the past 2 or 3 centuries. Don't get me wrong, I don't trip over things as I walk down the street. Here in Connecticut one can find all sorts of things that could have been tossed long ago, but for what ever reason, never were. It's possible that living in CT made me an Urban Archeologist. Taking a few hours every Saturday to look for these artifacts is fun and rewarding because I can choose to explore and eventually "trip" over things like this.
At a Bridgewater, CT sale, sitting on a workbench, minding its own business, was this salient item. It's just a worn piece of wood. right? No. To me, it has a story to tell. It's asking questions: What am I? What was I used for? Why am I here? Why do I have green and white flecks of paint?  Don't worry, I wasn't hearing voices - though maybe my own saying: Old! Cool! My only hope is that the seller knows the answers. As luck would have it, sometimes these things have the answers written on the back:
Click for a larger image
Or did this acidified, gummed label just start spewing a whole new page of questions? If you can't make out the label, here is the text: 

"Redding Conn   Used (to) fasten front door, just over the latch 1850-"

Used by whom!? to do what? Where?  This is going to take some further research, but for an urban archeologist like me? This is as good as gold.  Price: $1.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mattel Thingmaker.....Freaky Blogmaker Kit

Most definitely click for a larger image!
I plucked another gem out of my memory banks. Thanks to a Bridgewater estate sale this weekend. No, I didn't buy it, instead I snapped a couple of shots before the watchful eye of the estate sale service came back in the room.  Leave it to Mattel Inc. to come up with the kind of toys, and accompanying commercials that made things like the "Thingmaker" a true Gotta get!  And curse them as well for going too far with the coolness factor and making parents too nervous to put this under the tree at Christmas (or insert your favorite gift-getting occasion here). Typically, a street with 15 kids on it and only one would have their wish granted, those were crappy odds, but certainly boosted one person's popularity. 

But wait! There's More! This is the Thingmaker 3!!!!  Man, I couldn't get the smaller sets and they're dangling 3 in 1 over my head. Maybe there should have been molds for making creepy crawly Mattel executives. No, you couldn't make Freaky Blogs with it, that's just me having a little fun. Here is the clean image:
Click for a larger image
Can't say I blame my parents for not getting this. How bad an idea is it to put a hot plate in the hands of 6-12 year old kids? I don't see any warning for parental supervision...do you? This one like all the others I have ever seen were well used...up.
No Plastigoop here!  This really brings back memories and if I seem negative about this toy it's only because I wasn't one of the 15 kids on my street to get it. Here is the Wikipedia page for Creepy Crawlies and Thingmaker sets. If only they would create the "Zombie Apocalypse" edition, I might actually buy it..

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's on Your Stationery?

Every time I find something old, whether it's paper, a fossil, or some piece of some old gadget or product, I feel good. Why is that? Old paper can sit in a box somewhere; acidified, crumbling, and few notice or spend more that a minute or two appreciating it. Me? I have to scan it; put it under a microscope, read the handwritten notes and draw some conclusion has to what happened. RIP Betty Ford and thank you for conquering your addictions and helping others, but what about me?  A few months ago, some very good friends let me into a small warehouse where old business papers were kept . They let me look around, but I don't know if they knew what they had done. My eyes became fixed and dilated, i began feeling my clothes for a magnifier and wishing I had some poly-page protector sleeves.  (Does this make them enablers?). This week they let me borrow a small collection of these papers. Am I happy? Let's just say, I got my "fix."
Despite millions and millions of YouTube views this ad is proof that an image of a cat inside a container is hardly new. This 90 year-old ad must have sold fairly well given the effect cats have on humans. Please watch "Exhibit A"

A brief shout out to my friends. Thank you!  And don't worry, we'll find a cure for "Papyrus interruptus" someday!

And as a public service announcement to all of you, Remember: "Friends don't let friends drive... by estate sales."

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Know from Shinola

Digging up the past is one of my favorite things to do.  I mean that literally and figuratively. Actually, I mean that I enjoy researching volumes of written information online, and hunting through old structures for items from yesterdays uncounted. I was able to do both this past weekend. No Sh**! 
This is one of the olde tyme products that is so long forgotten that it doesn't matter to most when it existed or why it doesn't now. However, Most people can't forget this product from a phrase made popular somewhere around WWII, "You don't know shit from Shinola!"  Easy to understand the vulgar comparison and energy of the statement directed at someone who is accused of lesser intelligence. I still have the imagery of the scene from "The Jerk" Steve Martin's comedy of a dumb-ass' journey from his simple beginnings to millionaire inventor and then back again. As he put it, "I was born a poor black child." Martin, plays a very white Navin Johnson and has a life lesson taught to him by his father. I had probably heard the phrase before, but this is the scene I think of when ever I hear the name "Shinola." 

This weekend, I had the opportunity to help my mother-in-law and aunt clear out the house of another relative. It's an old duplex built in the 20's and was marginally updated in 90 years, mostly with paint. Given the freedom to look around I marveled at the fixtures and other still visible elements of what a home might have looked like in the 20's and 30's.  The first thing that caught my attention was the hideaway ironing board. Still available today, many were a regular fixture in homes where space saving was helpful. I was more impressed that the latch still worked.  The surprise I got was the second cabinet door below the one concealing the board.

A hinge was missing an the latch long frozen over by layer upon layer of paint. There is nothing better that a cabinet that looks as if it hasn't been opened in a very long time.  A few taps on the latch with a hammer and several flecks of paint later...
Holy Shinola!  Not the gold and riches I was hoping for, but a treasure none-the-less.  Inside were a small collection of products that would have been placed there for their caustic or staining nature. This was clearly the "polish" cabinet as inside were several kinds and types of polish. Just to display a few:
 The stove polish helped to date the find. One was from 1923 and was used for the cast iron stoves that were black. Someone will have to explain to me what the exact desired effect would be for polishing a stove. Did these rust? The other products were mere shoe polish, less interesting than Shinola, but just as interesting to discover.  Here's an ad for Shinola, another company that doesn't have a good written history other than a few scraps from Wikipedia and a by-line as being bought and sold in 1929. 

The name hung on through the 30's and 40's but was possibly dropped when bought out by a larger manufacturer; I am just guessing. If you know more than I do, please leave something in the comments. I hope to go back to this house a look for more items hidden in the past.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ad Quiz #11 Die! Hippie! Die! SOLUTION

Sports Illustrated 1969....ah, times were different.  Actually, no they weren't. Parents are still trying to mold and shape their progeny in to what they feel is best for them, and progeny are in constant search of how to avoid such mold. And on and on it goes.
The imagery here is fantastic. Who is reading this Sports Illustrated magazine? Must be dad. He's the bread winner with he clean close shave. Is this really a likely point of appeal for the man who needs a new shaver? I guess "No." My theory is that this represents the feeling of the middle-aged male toward every counter-culture hippie yippee subversive in 1969. Their antics are being covered in the press, they're the ones getting all the attention and the reason this country is headed for Hades in a Longaberger.  So, what better attention grabbing image could a Mad Ave exec put in front of dear old dad other than this guilty pleasure to exemplify what he may be really feeling deep down inside.  I don't know if this sold a lot of Sunbeams that year, but I'm sure it got a lot of good chortles.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ad Quiz #11 Die! Hippie! Die!

Can you guess what's really happening in this image?
I miss the old ads (yes, this one is fairly old), advertising agencies gave us a lot to think about during this particular period. The actual message for this product is clear (if you are willing to guess), but the sub-text speaks volumes about the intended audience, the key demographic, and all the other marketing lingo I love to throw around. If you can guess the product, I will send you the magazine it came from. Yes, you heard right, something from my personal collection. You have until Thursday evening (7/8/11) to name the product and manufacturer. Good luck.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Putting the "Me" in Media

I have to do a couple of "shout-outs" to 2 venerable publications; one established and well known, and the other just about a year old but certainly headed for greatness. They both deserve my thanks and your patronage (both are listed in Sites worth visiting on the left.)

I will start with the latter:
About a year ago a friend of mine told me about a new Arts and Literature magazine that was born from a writers group in a nearby town. I felt as though some of my blog posts might have reached the level where I could present them to an editor to see if one would hold up in print.  I also wanted to see if the drawings I have been doing had reached that same level.  On a whim, I met the publication's deadline and though I was rejected for the written word I was welcomed for my drawings. It was an honor to be in such a nicely designed and high quality product. I was again honored in March for their Spring edition with this drawing. I can now officially announce that I am 3 for 3! The Summer edition of "The Newtowner" has printed a 3rd drawing of mine.

 I am under a contractual obligation to not publish the work anywhere else until a few months after this latest edition has been out. The people who put the magazine together are the nicest group of people you could ever meet, and I say this because I have gotten to know them, not because they graciously publish my cartoons. The magazine is full of thoughtful pieces contributed by regular folks as well as the regular staff. There is a young person section and excellent poetry, photography and art as well. If you are looking for a potential outlet for your own creations, or just want to explore the creativity of some Connecticut folks, I recommend picking up a copy. If for no other reason, "The Newtowner" looks damn fine on any coffee table.

Even bigger news came from the chance meeting of a reporter from the Litchfield County Times during this year's Hills Film Festival in New Milford, CT. I was there to support my friends Frank and Patrice Galterio, who built the festival from the ground up, and support my team as we attempted cover it for the local community channel. I saw a photographer there and struck up a conversation. When he told me he had a blog with his paper, I came back and said "Hey, I'm a blogger, too!" Within 6 weeks he had taken a sample of my blog and passed it along to his editor, who at the time, was looking for "community bloggers." My proximity to their coverage area and the topics I cover make me a good fit for their readers and I am now officially a community blogger for the Litchfield County Times! You can see my diminutive space on the "blogs" page of the county times by going here. You'll have to scroll to the bottom, but if you want a graphic depiction (since you are already here), here is a composite of the page itself (I craftily cut and pasted myself to the top- for demonstration only).
Stop by and take a look. My last 4 posts are updated, so my space there will never go stale.  Thanks again to the "The Newtowner" and the "Litchfield County Times" for giving me some additional outlets to find readers.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ad Quiz # 10 Solution - with Nervine: You'll love to see the children torture the dog!

(Note: I have added a "Stumble Upon" tag at the bottom of my posts. Please press it so I can figure out why I need it there. Thanks!)

I am having a little difficulty writing what should be a simple post of the solution to ad quiz #10. The solution comes from an ad in a medical almanac (read: promotional advertisement in booklet form). Before I go into a short history of almanacs here's cover of the Almanac, which is also the solution to the quiz:

Almanacs have been around since cave paintings, and maybe more accurately - Stonehenge. Medical almanacs have been published in the U.S. since the 18th century. Click here for a price list and more covers. I could have included any one of a number of ads from this almanac from Miles Laboratories. They are all great. Miles is best know for Alka Seltzer which began selling in 1931 and exists now as a subsidiary of Bayer (sales of 1.1billion-wow!)
 The ad I chose I thought was funny because of the depiction of the families.

Mad Mom - Music hating, Joy bashing, end-of-her-rope.
Calm Mom with tortured pup.
I think they may have confused their own intent of the ad. While it isn't a true "Before and After" comparison, more a "Mom on Pharmaceuticals"  "Mom not on Pharmaceuticals." 
It looks like the same family, instrument banging, happy kids, but the ages of the kids has switched and mom looks younger too, of course. The dog is exactly the same - unless this was the standard-issue dog of the mid 1930's (maybe other domestic breeds didn't come along until Miles laboratories began mixing effervescence with canine gene-splicing - Naw!)  Regardless, the poor dog is clearly the loser in this scenario. Look at him. Sensitive doggie eardrums now pierced by the blast of the boy's horn as he looks up to calm mom with an innocent plea to add some Dr Miles Nervine to his dog chow. 
Poor Rex, he's gonna need a sedative. Maybe they should re-name him "Rx."
Did you know? Worldwide sales of veterinary health products are expected to hit $43.6 billion in 2014, up from $28.5 billion in 2006, according to market-research firm Kalorama Information Inc.