Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling–invented in the mid-1800s in Massachusetts–is New England's version of bowling (primarily Maine, Mass, and New Hampshire). The balls are similar to bocce balls, and the pins are, you guessed it, shaped like candlesticks. There are few things I love more than regular, non-candlepin bowling, but I have to say, there's no substitute for the sound that little wooden ball makes when it knocks over those little wooden pins. Also, unlike standard bowling, you get to roll three balls on your turn, and the pins you knock over each turn are not cleared away, so part of the strategy is to hit fallen pins in hopes of sending them spinning into those left standing. While visiting my mom and super awesome sister in Maine this weekend, we bowled a few strings at the Bowling Bowl in Brunswick. Seeing that I had a camera, the owner asked if I'd like to go behind the lanes and see the pin-setting mechanism, which dates from 1941. Would I?!

The Old Country Store and Museum

Last weekend, Dylan and I took the bus up to Maine to spend a few days with my family, and then rented a Uhaul, drove to Dylan's cousin Ann's home in New Hampshire, and loaded that Uhaul up with some amazing auction finds. This was our first time at an auction, but it definitely won't be our last. We got an antique desk for $25, and old (working!) phonograph for $25, and the handsomest antique dresser for $35. While there we made a stop in Moultonborough, NH, for some of the incredible aged Vermont chedder cheese sold at the Old Country Store. This perfect cheese comes to the store in 38 pound wheels, and is kept in an antique display case right above two old barrels of pickles. The Old Country store also has a fantastic penny candy selection, and if you've got a dime on you, an old musical automaton machine (complete with little dancing ballerinas) is pretty delightful.

But perhaps the best reason to make a visit to the Old Country Store is the dusty old museum on the second floor. The official website calls the store, "Perhaps the oldest in the United States, a store since 1781," and over the years this little shop has collected a roomful of local memorabilia.

Again from the website, "It has been the scene of town meetings in the early 1800's, and again in the 1900's; the library; post office for over 100 years; and a stage stop. The Masons Morningstar Lodge held their first meeting here November 20, 1804. In reading the posting of the town warrant in 1824, it was called the most public place in town."

Unassuming museum sign

Remnant from when the post office was in the building (and before the spelling of the town changed, apparently)

Office furniture, store display cases, farm equipment; as long as it's antique and local, there's nothing that doesn't belong in this charming little museum

Quoddy Moccasins - still in business, still hand-sewn in Maine!

A view of the Old Country Store history board

Object Lessons, No. 1 : Wax Jaw

I love old objects. I love the way they look - rusted, chipped, cracked. I love the way they feel - heavy, solid, or ready to crumble. They offer me endless inspiration and comfort. These are some of my favorite objects.

This is my antique wax anatomical model of a child's jaw. Dylan and I got a large lot of old dental implements and bits and bobs from a man on Craigslist in 2008. He was selling the treasures for a friend whose father had been a dentist in New York in the 1920s. That is the extent of the information we have on our little jaw's personal history. As to its birth, according to the lovely peeling old labels on the back, it was made in Germany and then imported to New York by a man named Gustav Scharmann. I think the German label translates to something along the lines of "Wax Preparation. Keep out of the sun." Makes sense, and we've complied, keeping in it our dark hallway where nary a ray of sunlight hits.

The label under the jaw reads "Dentes decidui" which I believe translates to deciduous teeth, meaning baby teeth, and apparently, according to the internets, also known as milk teeth.

Little known and sort of boring fact about me, I only ever lost 2 of my baby teeth. The rest refused to fall out, and my permanent teeth started growing in all around them. For awhile I had nearly two complete rows of teeth, earning me the nickname Dragon Teeth, or D.T. for short (actually, that was a pretty good one, Mom). Eventually I had to have the rest pulled, 4 at a time (they could only numb part of my mouth at a time for fear that I might swallow my tongue) which was pretty much the most horrible thing ever. I became very familiar with laughing gas at that time. I remember the first time they gave it to me, the dentist told me to think of something nice like puppies, which I thought was hilarious, and, deciding to teach him a thing or two about little girls, thought of alligators instead. (It didn't really occur to me that he didn't know what I was thinking.) He had the last laugh when I left with a drooling bleeding face full of cotton balls. I still love alligators though.

Crackers

Earlier this summer I went with some friends of mine to Cold Springs, New York. It's a little over an hour outside of the city, and exudes a small town charm which attracts many a New Yorker seeking a break from the city life. I had a hard time telling if any one of the many people strolling about actually lived there...or if anyone at all actually lived there. DSC_0148

But some folks must - those antique stores, door after door after door of them, don't run themselves. We hit just about every one, and right as I was ready to give up - every store was a bit overpriced and well picked through - I saw him. I discovered him in a shop with no price tags, so I carried him up to the counter with a price in mind. I was informed that he was very special, and that his name was Crackers. For what I think was a bargain of $35, Crackers is now continuing to be very special in our kitchen.

Crackers in the Kitchen

I love him so, he is the perfect amount of scruffy and old. I'm so glad I'm getting the chance to give him a second life. He is actually going to be featured in a gallery show of my work, opening Friday the 13th in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. More details as they are available!

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Antique Loot from Maine, No. 3

Aka: Where are we going to put all of this stuff? This last trip to Maine was especially bountiful in the realm of antique acquisition. We had a long talk on our way home via a very crowded greyhound bus about how we are going to cull our collection...there simply isn't room in our little apartment for another thing. And yet we continue to push it ever closer to bursting. We're considering opening an etsy store - but I'm not sure I could actually give anything up.

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Two brass and wood rulers, I think these are the prettiest rulers I've ever seen. Why aren't utilitarian objects made like this anymore?

My mom actually found this little fox plate (ashtray?) for me - she sure can pick em! I love the delicate design and the creepy fox face.

A huge lot from a doctor's kit; most of the objects date to around the 1930s - I tried to buy this lot two Christmas'es ago for Dylan, but the price tag was too high for me. This time I went in and suggested that since it has been sitting in the shop for nearly 2 years, perhaps we could consider halving the price. Next thing I knew, I was wondering where on earth I was going to put all this stuff!

I really love the vials of PH testing papers and the little vial of unused labels!

There's still pills in most of these!!

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Dylan lugged this huge bottle tothe bus station, on the bus, through Port Authority, and on 2 subways home. It's amazing that the rusted handle didn't give out. Now we just have to decide what to do with it!

This is my absolute favorite - I think this metal clipboard once held postcards, and was part of a display one would flip through, like poster displays.

I just love anything that is numbered. It suggests a story - where is 1-146? They must be out there somewhere.

The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls

Allow me to present 1963's "The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls, Volume 7: Nature and Science." I am so smitten with these simple black line illustrations and their bright color accents. So bold! My favorite is the snake biting its tail in preparation, according to the text, to roll away when danger approaches and the caption, "This is something that snakes never really do" - too bad, because that would be awesome. Imagine a snake barreling towards you like a hoola hoop! And of course, the narwhal...if there's one thing you need to know about me, it's that I really REALLY love narwhals.

Actually, I also love the scientist "preparing questions for the brain machine." I love how he looks kind of harried and tired, like he's been up all night trying to stump the brain machine without success. Damn you, brain machine! Damn Yooooouuuu!

The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls

"Preparing questions for the brain machine"

Resevoir Diagram

How We Can Fly

Narwhal

Flowers

Wasp

"This is something snakes never really do"

Airplane Aerodynamics

How a Home Works

Letterheady

A long-time fan of Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, I've always loved pouring through ephemeral relics of the aesthetic projection of an individual. When choosing an image and design to define who they are on paper, it seems many folks in the past sided with a whimsy I sometimes feel we lack today - there's nothing wrong with coming off as a bit silly if you do it with style. I've just opened up a whole new can of personal design after stumbling on the great site, Letterheady. What a good name. You can probably guess where this is going - letterheads! Letterheads upon letterheads! I've collected a "few" of my favorites from the site.

Tropical Advertising Service

Nash Motors

Harry Houdini

The Seattle Brewing and Malting Company

Chicago Engraving Company

Ethyl Color and Chemical Company

Amtrak First Class

Barnum's American Museum

Floyd & Company

Gene Autry (aka The Singing Cowboy)

This one has the best story (and with Barnum's American Museum in the mix it had some stiff competition!): "At his home in 1950, train enthusiast Walt Disney built the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, an 1/8th scale backyard railroad complete with working ‘live steam’ locomotive. Such was his dedication to the project that the miniature railroad company even had letterhead, seen here. The railroad also inspired the design of Disneyland which opened five years later." (from Letterheady)

Carolwood Pacific Railroad Company

Antique Loot from Maine, No. 2

In the last post I alluded to a giant box of Lancaster ephemera. My grandfather and his family many generations back lived in Lancaster, PA, by way of Germany if I'm not mistaken. My great great Grandfather, Warren Virginius Smith, and his son, Warren Virginius Smith Jr. saved everything, and in turn, my grandfather, Robert Melvin Smith (I wonder why on earth they stopped there with the W.V. Smiths; what a fantastic name...my grandfather could have been Warren Virginius Jr. II) saved everything they saved. And now it falls to me to save these stacks of Victorian calling cards, valentines, exquisitely penned letters, war ration stamps, tintypes, penmanship books, and old family cabinet cards. Victorian Calling Cards (white ink on black cards!)

War Ration Book No. 3

War Ration Stamps

Cabinet cards of my handsome relatives

I am now the proud owner of about 40 thick portraits of bygone family members from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. I love going through them and imagining what they were like. My favorite is the old lady near the middle of this picture...I think she is my great great (possibly another great) grandmother. You can see she wouldn't tolerate any nonsense. The backs are pretty charming as well.

The backs of some of these cabinet cards are prettier than the pictures themselves

Tintype from Atlantic City - my great great grandfather is the handsome fellow on the right...but I want to know more about that mustachioed stud he's with.

Probably the most wonderful item of the bunch is my great grandfather's old fountain pen. Isn't she a beaut? I have already tried my hand with it, and wrote my mother a letter - my cursive actually ain't too bad, but over the course of the letter my sentences start to sloping dangerously. I may need to look into acquiring some lined paper - or stop being so lazy and line it myself.

My great grandfather's fountain pen, with which I have great things planned

I'm using his old books (there are three of them, each one completely filled out - inspiring patience!) to relearn cursive.

Penmanship!

Cursive Yachts!

Antique Loot from Maine, No. 1

I just got back from a much needed trip to Maine to visit my mom and sisters. The week was full of snail shell collecting in Reid State Park, working on the garden, watching Pawn Stars and Little House on the Prairie (tv can be magical when you don't have it), coffee on the porch, and as always, copious junk/thrift/flea shopping. Usually I take the bus from Brooklyn (an agonizing 8 hour ride each way) so I can return home with as much loot as I can carry. This time, I opted for the more luxurious flight (which takes ONE HOUR) so I could only bring back the contents of a small suitcase. And most of that space was taken up by Dylan's new sleeping bag from the LLBean outlet store in preparation for "2010: The Year of Camping." DSC_9977small

However, I did manage to drag back an antique cigarette box holder, which I found at the Fort Andross Flea Market in Brunswick. It was used in an old general store in Holden, Maine, for those slim, flat tin cigarette cases, out of which the shopkeep would sell customers one or two cigarettes at a time (when I first moved to New York you could still buy a cigarette at a time, they were called Loosies, which for the longest time I understood as Lucys; I found this name extremely quaint, but alas, turns out they were not named for a spunky flapper lady of my imagining.)

My new box came with some wonderfully rusty old cigarette cases. You should have seen how black the rag turned when I attempted to clean them. (I made sure not to clean so thoroughly as to remove the charming old-things-patina...Pawn Stars and Antiques Road Show have trained me well.)

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I love my little piece of Maine general store history, but far more wonderful is the Lancaster, PA ephemera I brought back. My beloved grandfather recently passed away, and his wife dropped off a huge box filled with old photographs and papers at my mom's house. As the resident antiquey things connoisseur, I was invited by my mom to "take whatever you want." Dangerous words. I'll save my wonderful ancestral loot for another post.