When I was young (3-6 yrs. old) and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, there was an abandoned house next door to ours. Actually, I think it was a garage with an apartment upstairs. But because I was little, it seemed huge. And scary. In part because Mrs. O’Brien, an ogre of a woman who lived in the main house, was meaner than mean. I believe she once hit my father with a rolled up newspaper, or an umbrella, because she was angry about our barking dog. She may have had a point. Anyway, my parents, heeding the laws and perhaps some hidden dangers, forbid us to go inside. But try squelching the curiosity of two small children eager to defy the rules. When we did finally sneak our way in, we found boxes and letters and lots of broken glass (the danger part!) scattered among three-legged chairs and the mustiest air imaginable. Sorry, I digress. I just found a few photos from a little jaunt my husband and I made over to Governors Island a year or so ago. The city decided to open up some of the buildings — the fancy officers houses and the red brick dormitories — to the public. It was truly amazing. Peeling paint, everything fallen into decrepitude, and many many closed doors. It brought back that crazy childhood impulse to trespass in a big way. The photographs don’t even begin to do it justice. So, this summer, if you have a chance, hop on one of the ferries, take the seven minute ride, and go! Read about the history of the island here.
I recognize that these boxes, or “tins” as the are more commonly referred to, are mighty familiar, and maybe a little ubiquitous. That doesn’t mean that I like them any less. Besides, who doesn’t love a little potted tongue? Transferware was a product of mid 18th century England (although popular in other parts of Europe as well), and really came into its own during the mid 1800s. All photos and tins from Ruby Lane.
This isn’t my typical post, but I saw this photograph by Max Rossi in the NYT this morning and could not get it out of my head. Something about the scale of the ship (the Costa Concordia that ran aground off the coast of Italy on January 13th, 2012 ) in relation to the sunbathers just flips me out. In part because of their actual proximity to the vessel itself. If you must see more, go here.
This is the kind of thing that makes me feel nostalgic and weak at the knees. I saw this tracing paper sample book at a wooden cutting board factory up in Vermont. They had a startling array of ephemera just lying around, and my camera died after this shot. Of course. As a matter of information, Kueffel and Esser, more commonly known as K & E, started out in the late 19th century as a company known for making drawing materials, drafting supplies and surveying equipment.
Barry Rosenthal is a precise photographer and a scavenger. Of the very best kind. This series of images portrays found objects, for the most part culled from the mass of detritus in and around the waterways and beaches of New York and New Jersey. I hate to think that garbage is beautiful, but here it is, in all its glory. It’s a sad commentary that there is this much waste that it can be organized by kind and hue. It should come as no surprise that I first stumbled across Mr. Rosenthal’s work on Things Organized Neatly.
Have you ever really looked at this thing? It is UGLY. Really really ugly. At least to my eye. But in a good way…I think. We moved from Philadelphia to Maine when I was 11, and I have distinct memories of going to the original L.L. Bean store in Freeport, in the dead of night — they have always been open 24 hours, 365 days a year — to go shoe shopping. Specifically boot shopping. The Classic Bean Hunting Shoe is almost a wardrobe requirement in that state. Coming from Pennsylvania though, I had never before seen such a hideous piece of footwear. And while I never ever came around to appreciating its aesthetic merits, there was something in its utility that made me a convert. (It’s important to note that Mainers, as they refer to themselves, take great pride in their common sense and practicality.) Yes, your feet froze in winter. And they didn’t do much to save you on the ice. But they were great in the mud (of which there is an abundance) and in the rain, which is near constant at times. If your soles wore out, or the stitching gave way, all you had to do was send in your boots and they would fix them for free. The shoes pictured above are from the catalog itself. And they look a little different from the ones I grew up with. These are a reissue/redesign in honor of the boots’ 100 year anniversary. Oh, and one other thing, these are still made in Maine, one pair at a time.