Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Originally the word Valentine meant the person whose name was picked from a box to be chosen as your sweetheart up until the 1500's. Then around 1533, it meant the folded piece of paper with the sweetheart's name on it. By 1610 it then became the gift given to this special someone and by 1824 it then became a poem, letter or verse to a sweetheart.
Another early variation of Lupercalia sounds like a pilot for a reality TV show with the Kardashians. Two Roman youths (who were blessed by their priest) would run through the streets swinging a goatskin thong called a Februa, the Latin word is Februatio (the act of lashing with sacred thongs), and was believed to be for purification. From this word comes our word "February". And the belief is that if a woman was touched by this thong, she would be able to bear children better. According to the legend, they did this to honor their God Faunus, the god of crops.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Now that you are stuffed just reading those numbers, consider a dessert dish from the early 20th century when we did not eat huge portions of food, even snacking - which has replaced regular meals for many even - was not a common activity. These small custard dishes which hold 1/2 cup illustrate the change in portion size. Anyone going to be satisfied with one of these for dessert? Snack size, right? These are Glasbake custards.
In 1917 the McKee Glass Company introduced "Glasbake Ovenware" to compete with Pyrex ovenware which was made by Corning Glass Works.
Glasbak was the original spelling for McKee's ovenware, but was changed to Glasbake in 1951-1961. McKee was sold to Jeannette Glass, and they produced the line from 1961-1983.
I also have some Hazel Atlas custards that are similar in style. When I looked at the photos, I thought they resembled candle votive holders! Have to think about how an early 20th century dessert cup as morphed into a candle holder!
Sunday, January 25, 2015
I never know what is going to set my curiosity on fire, and this week as I was rearranging things for spring in the shop, I came across this coffee pot. I don't even give coffee brewing a second thought...filter, grounds, water...push the button, but looking at that pot, it sent me on a coffee pot search.
He invented a percolating coffee pot between 1810 and 1814 following his pioneering work with the Bavarian Army, where he improved the soldiers' diets as well as their clothing. It was his abhorrence of alcohol and his dislike for tea that led him to promote the use of coffee for its stimulating benefits. For his efforts, in 1791, he was named a Count of the Holy Roman Empire and granted the formal title of Reichsgraf von Rumford. His pot did not use the rising of boiling water through a tube to form a continuous cycle.
The first modern percolator incorporating these features and capable of being heated on a kitchen stove was invented a few years later, in 1819, by the Parisian tinsmith Laurens. Its principle was then often copied and modified. There were also attempts to produce closed systems, in other words "pressure cookers".
The first US patent for a coffee percolator, which however still used a downflow method without rising steam and water, was issued to James Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1865.
Finally, an Illinois farmer named Hanson Goodrich patented the modern U.S. stove-top percolator as it is known today, and he was granted patent 408707 on August 16, 1889. It has the key elements, the broad base for boiling, the upflow central tube and a perforated basket hanging on it. He still describes the downflow as being the "percolating." Goodrich's design could transform any standard coffee pot of the day into a stove-top percolator.
In France, a device called a biggin made the first drip coffee. Another French inventor invented the pumping percolator at the same time, which was to become highly popular with cowboys, pioneers and 1950s moms.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
By 1890, many department stores had counters for the sale of sheet music, and its popularity forced the price down. By 1910, Woolworth sold sheet music for 10 cents a copy.
The musicians of Tin Pan Alley in New York City were made famous early in the 1900s by the swift availability of their tunes in sheet music form; George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" (1924) is an excellent example. Composers Aaron Copeland, Charles Ives, and Virgil Thompson established their own publishing house and gave the American public its own contemporary, classical music. When Charles Lindberg made his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, 100 songs commemorating the event were printed in sheet music form within a year.
Sheet music can be recycled even if you have no musical talent. Cover art greatly interests collectors who seek out the Art Deco designs of the 1920s and African-American songs published as early as 1835, for example. Even the titles of the obscure songs could provide a chuckle if framed or mounted and hung. From a large stack, I quickly assembled some that could be framed...how about a grouping for a bedroom...theme...dreams...
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Before decorative wall pockets were created, flat backed wooden boxes hung on walls to hold papers, candles, matches, or eating utensils, as well as cloth pockets designed to hold sewing tools such as scissors, thimbles, or thread.
Unmarked American wall pockets and imports from Germany, Czechoslovakia, China, and Japan weren't nearly as popular as the big names, but I bought ones that intrigued me when I went shopping. Collecting, like my opening quote about writing, should be personal. It always makes me a little crazy (crazier?) to see people collect because they think it will gain value.
For collectors just being drawn to these space-saving trinkets, bargain wall pockets can still be found in the $20-$30 range. Different glaze variations on the same piece or different styles in a series can result in variations in price. A number of the plentiful wall pockets made by McCoy fall into this category.
I liked pockets with sayings...this is a favorite...
Collectors are happy people.