August 2, 2012
PETA would never approve: This grisly 1840 doll-sized butcher shop with miniature animal carcasses and a floor covered in sawdust and blood would be shockingly graphic to our modern sensibilities. After all, here in the 21st century, we like to remain cheerfully oblivious about where our meat products come from.
But in Victorian times, such detailed model butcher shops were not uncommon, says Sarah Louise Wood, a curator at the … (continue reading)
August 1, 2012
The great cities of the West weren’t even complete before urban dwellers fantasized escaping them. Compelled by sublime landscapes and the conservationist bug, 19th-century city slickers saw camping as a way to ditch the daily grind, plunging into the wilderness their forebears had just conquered. And after a century of high-tech camping innovations, from Gore-Tex hiking boots to smartphone apps, our desire to “rough it” is virtually unchanged.
Recreational … (continue reading)
July 24, 2012
Last week, President Obama’s Thin Mint declaration had Girl Scout cookie fans in an uproar. But whether you love Tagalongs or Do-Si-Dos, in the thick of summer our beloved treats are nowhere to be found. Problem is, Girl Scout troops haven’t been selling their signature cookies since February, so for many of us, surviving the next six months without them will be our top concern. Here, then, is a … (continue reading)
July 20, 2012
We tend to think of the union of vanity and technology as a particularly modern affliction. It’s only recently that science brought the world botox and collagen injections, skin peels, liposuction, and breast implants. And thanks to the Internet world of photo-sharing and online gossip, the obsession with looks only gets amplified in the social-media echo chamber. Tales of plastic surgery spread like contagions online: Everything from a celebrity’s … (continue reading)
July 5, 2012
Before the youth of America fooled around at drive-ins and necked on Lover’s Lane, they coupled in canoes. Boatloads of them. In the early 1900s, canoes offered randy young guys and gals a means of escape to a semi-private setting, away from the prying eyes of their pious Victorian chaperones.
“To go canoeing on the weekend was pretty much what you did with your best girl,” says canoe enthusiast and … (continue reading)
June 6, 2012
Some kids like to dig in the dirt. They’ll dig up railroad spikes, old soda or beer bottles, or mysterious pieces of metal. These grimy, worn pieces of the past, discarded and buried, are treasures to an adventuring child. Someone else’s junk can light up an imagination or launch a lifelong process of discovery.
“Anytime my family goes on a road trip, we’ll all be focused on looking … (continue reading)
March 15, 2012
Compared to their Colonial neighbors, Vermont silversmiths got a late start. That’s because the first permanent non-Native American settlement in Vermont (Bennington) was not established until 1761, about 140 years after Europeans settled the surrounding areas. Prior to the founding of Bennington, Vermont was the home and hunting ground of the Abenaki, as well as a buffer zone between the French in Canada … (continue reading)
January 25, 2012
When Bay Area artist Lea Redmond, known for running the “World’s Smallest Post Service,” stumbled across Parlor Coo Coo on eBay, she knew she’d found something special. Sure enough, handheld punch-board parlor games, like Coo Coo and its companion The Fortune-Teller in Rhymes, were the icebreakers du jour at cocktail parties of the 1920s and ’30s…. (continue reading)
December 15, 2011
When coins were withdrawn from circulation in the northern states during the Civil War, opportunists began minting private pennies that became de facto legal tender throughout the Union. The coinage of a few cents may seem like small change, but in 1863 alone, almost 9,000 different token designs, depicting everything from patriotic flags to beer barrels, were struck. Some so closely resembled … (continue reading)
November 11, 2011
Today, America honors its military veterans, who have served our country in times of war and peace. If you want to delve in the human side of our U.S. military history, look no further than Show & Tell, where militaria collectors like scottvez and AR8Jason share their collections and knowledge about hats, medals, and badges, as well as photos, letters, … (continue reading)
October 24, 2011
There’s something to be said for being easily amused. In the 1940s, toy inventor Eddie Goldfarb saw an ad for a false-teeth holder called a “Tooth Garage” and he started cracking up. In his head, he saw a pair of dentures, chomping and sputtering down the road like a car, and parking on their own.
Thus, in 1949, Yakity-Yak Talking Teeth—the wildly … (continue reading)
October 11, 2011
In case you missed it, there’s a tremendous public debate roiling in the U.S. about whether bankers and Wall Street financiers profited from the current economic downturn after being bailed out by taxpayers. Certain politicians and talking heads have admonished the Occupy Wall Street protestors for engaging in “class warfare,” but populist rage against “fat cats” is not new.
“George S. Parker was bored by moralistic games.”
Cast-iron … (continue reading)
August 30, 2011
Why would anyone pay $500 for a rusty piece of barbed wire? Well, if the 18-inch long specimen, or cut, is the only known example of the Thomas J. Barnes patent of 1907 (shown above), some folks might pay even more than that. In fact, for collectors of barbed wire, or barbwire as it’s … (continue reading)
August 26, 2011
Today the “New York Times” reports that as many as 30 museums in Europe have experienced thefts of rhinoceros horns in 2011. A recent example occurred on July 28, when the horn of a stuffed rhino that had been on display since 1907 at the Ipswich Museum was unceremoniously snapped off. Two other rhino horns, including one still attached to its skull, were also grabbed. Ignored was … (continue reading)
July 20, 2011
Here we are, in 2011, a.k.a. “The Future.” We’ve made leaps and bounds in science that we couldn’t even imagine 50 years ago. You’d think the science toys of our age would be mind-bending in their ability to awe and inspire young chemists and biologists. Instead, kids today are being protected within an inch of their lives, while adults apparently live in dread of unsupervised children running amuck with the … (continue reading)