My friend Dave has many heirlooms in his family. I, on the other hand, have almost none. I’ve also known Dave for well over 25 years, so whenever he pulls out a box and casually says that I should see what he’s dragged out of storage, I know enough to pay attention. So, this day I am visiting and he comes over to his dining table with a box that should properly hold a board game. He thinks I should take a look at what’s inside. And boy is he right. The box is filled with these incredible hand-carved utensils. We marvel at the detail and the odd way in which the carver has copied tools that are more typically made out of metal. Specifically the hinged meat fork and the wooden tongs. I delight in the spoon that has white string wrapped around its neck. We speculate that it’s in place to secure a break. He’s got a vague idea that a relative, maybe an uncle, was responsible for the handiwork. But he’s not sure. So, he asks his father. This was his response. Which I find charming, and proper and old-fashioned in its manner of speech.
Re the carved utensils:
Uncle Tom Bendell was married to a cousin of Grammy Ida’s. He was an architect by occupation, but a consummate artist by ability. Mom always referred to Tom’s daughter as El Bendell, a teacher by education, but outstanding guidance counselor by happenstance. You may remember a baby’s cream colored “dresser” that came through every Williams move and now sits in our storage area. Uncle Tom made that for El, I think, El never found another love to replace her man who had gone down in flames so she deeded it to Mom. Tom was as sweet a man as you’ll find, according to Mom.. He was taken early by cancer at something like 55-60. Some of Tom’s art work are on walls here, but it would take some Holmesian deduction to know which they are. Love Dad.
What email used to look like. I have recently been cleaning out my inbox and organizing all other email. What a monstrous task. I thought I had it all under control, but a few lax weeks, and it all goes to hell.
More cigarette cards from the astonishingly large digital collection at the NYPL. In honor of the Olympic Games. Right.
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 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.
These erasers are all hard as rocks, so of no use to me or anyone. But I love them all the same. Especially the round Mallat wheel erasers. And, if you are of a certain age, you’ll remember with fondness the ones with the little brushes at the ends.
I thought I had lost these somewhere along the way. Perhaps in our last move. With a sigh of relief, I recently unearthed them along with some beautiful French boxes of insect specimens. I was less concerned about the loss of the bugs because, while quite unusual and striking, they posed no safety threat. Not so for the hydrometers. Those big silvery bulbs at the ends contain mercury. And lots of it. I just happened to have finished reading a disturbing article about South America and how, as a result of the gold boom, mercury contamination has spread at astonishingly high levels in both air and water. So the question of what to do with these things is front of mind. Suggestions are welcome. I don’t mean to be glib, but poison aside, these are pretty amazing.