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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Guess the Gadget: Rust is the New Chrome

See if you can guess what this before you get to the 4th image -Hint: Found in a Garage, but Belongs in a House.
About a month ago I was in a garage/barn sale and enjoying the fact that I was the first one there. I wrote about it here. One of the many prized items I found was somewhat of a mystery.
It was a small box with an odd hinge or axle, three rivets and no markings. While most pickers are looking for what they collect, or what they can sell, I'm one of the few looking for an unknown item.
After some pushing and coaxing I finally got it to budge a little.
 Whatever it was, it had not been opened or used in a very long time. An even coating of rust didn't make it any less desirable to me. The contents looked like long caliber bullet casings.
Make that 2 telescoping bullet casings. I began to think that this was a set of portable rabbit ears for a TV.
 It should start to become apparent what this gadget is meat to be. If you think it might have been devised for some kind of torture, well you wouldn't be the first to make that guess.

Unfortunately the title of the video gives it away immediately, but I'm guessing you had this figured out several images ago.

This folding clothes hanger actually does have a name and patent date stamped on it "Midget January 7th 1913." I usually don't go by patent dates to indicate the manufacture date, but at least I can say it's no older that that.

If you want to see one of these in a more pristine state, there's a pair for sale here on etsy.

I suppose it could be dangerous only picking up things when I don't know what they are. There must be a fable by Aesop that speaks to that danger...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Don't Clean That Old Penny (It's Art!)

This is the oldest wheat penny I have ever come across in my "digs"
1918 US wheat penny heads
I wish (while it's heads up) that it was worth something, but no. It would probably bring about .04 cents. Then I took another look at it, and saw that it was priceless. It is so worn and layered with patina, yet still maintains its identity.
1918 US wheat penny tails
To me this is art.

Friday, August 1, 2014

These Nutrients are Essential, but they Scare me to Death

Being a cartoonist, actually a serial doodler, any time I see wildly colorful drawings such as these I need to do something about it. This early graphic cartoon book seems to be aimed at the kiddies, but lesson is ultimately direct (boldly) to the housewife. Look at the cover:
The adventures of the Vita-Men

The adventures of the Vita-Men
The dairy business grew by leaps and bounds in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, partly due to refrigeration, transportation and mechanization, and partly due to the health benefits of milk. Or, maybe it was due to marketing geniuses that could produce something like this in 1935.
 This wonderful piece of propaganda featuring 5 of the creepiest pitchmen you've ever seen was distributed by a Connecticut dairy. I doubt that they were the producer of this piece. As you can see on the cover, any dairy could have printed their name on this booklet. Was the government lending a hand to the dairy industry this early on?
There is no Vitaman "G," or at least that's what I repeat over an over again with my eyes shut hoping it will work, but no. I open my eyes and there he is in the body and form of pure terror. He was renamed as B2 mid century and no longer exists (whew!)

Click on any one of these for a read-able image. You will see that the real purpose of this is to ease your fears of "Irradiated" milk. This process which is done with ultra-violet radiation or electricity actually does destroy some of the bacteria and enhance the D vitamin. It is no longer done to milk in this way as the market desire for irradiated milk diminished over time. Likely due to the cold war.
The nutrition gained from milk was a partial solution to some of the diseases from 100 or more years a go, but then so was a balanced diet. I have no opinion either way on milk, but if I am having a bowl of cereal milk is the way to go.

Here is the question I need answered: Who was A.L. Warner and why can't I find out anything about him? Can you?


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Celebrating the Past in New England (1900)

Here is another glass negative I processed for the New Milford Historical Society. It depicts the Fireman's Parade from 1900, First the negative:
One of the staff of the society's museum held up a sample negative for me to transfer.
This image was taken before the great fire ravaged much of downtown.  Stay tuned for more Negatives and Positives from the New Milford Historical Society as the plan their Tercentennial Celebration in 2015.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Catching the Early Bird (video)

I have been looking for the odd, and strange, the unique and forgotten items from the past for many years. This weekend was no different.  I produced this video and documented what it was like to be the early bird at this very interesting sale. The first item I picked up was a German labor day badge from 1934. What it was doing in a Connecticut garage is the real mystery.

 Right next to it was an equally interesting commemorative medal (also German) known as the Centenary Medal.  This was established in 1897 by Kaiser Wilhelm the 2nd in honor of his father Wilhelm the 1st. It is made of captured cannon metal and awarded to veteran's of Germany's previous wars. Take a look at the Wiki article, Here.

There was more to this sale, so please watch this short documentary of my journey through it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A New Word For the Future...Or Not (1940's)

I love this partial ad from Bell and Howell. It's a cool graphic depicting their new technology. However, if you have to explain the derivation of the name, then you may have out-smarted your audience. 

Or under-whelmed them. It's a Mashup. (Big deal  Mash + Up.) Sadly, the word looks more like Option+ ics, which doesn't sound very technical.

Sorry "Optionics," you didn't make it to the future, unless you consider my shout-out to it today. I don't think Bell and Howell really made it to the future either, someone is using their name, but not as they might have predicted. It's cheap electronic gadgets being sold under the name these days. I recall they made an awesome 16mm projector back in the day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

From Within the Tin...A Treasure!

Who doesn't love a mystery? A top genre in movies and books it seems we can get enough mystery in our lives. I know I can't. So much so, in fact, that I need to go out each weekend to discover something I don't know.
A tin full of treasure

An estate sale is just the trick to scratch that itch. The way I like to do this is to find something at a sale that is like a microcosm of the sale itself. Usually I prefer a box of old papers, but when none can be found I will look for the odd drawer or tin full of ???
Treasure revealed
When I got this home, I'll admit that it didn't look like much. The tin is interesting and has about 80-90 years of mileage on it. Then I remembered, I'm supposed to be this archeologist of the urban flavor. So, I began peeling away the items.
You have to dig for treasure
 It didn't take long before I found something to be hopeful about...
A gold chain, I hope
But under that was something even better...

 The Springfield Street railway ran from 1901 - 1927 in Massachusetts. The fare cost a nickel, but despite the great price, these trolleys and street cars were eventually replaced by the bus.  You can read a very long-winded report from 1917 all about it here

Moral: Leave no tin lid un-turned.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Because Daddy's Car is Full of Strippers and Booze...

I miss the prominence of train travel. Once upon a time it was the only way to go, for many.

50's train ad
 I like taking a closer look at the illustrations in these ads. What were they thinking?

If you can come up with a better caption...and I'm sure you can. Leave it in the comments.