When it comes to collecting photographs, images of men are typically far less popular than those of women. However, there are two primary categories where there is some rather high interest: Images which gay men and images from the military. This photo features a young male soldier holding his rifle with a bayonet. While there’s no date (or other information on the photo), we had a few militaria collectors agree that it’s likely from WWI.
Since we went to that museum auction and got that fabulous antique folk art piece made of tintypes and seashells, I’ve been looking for more…
I found this antique frame of nine photos decorated in seashells…
And this antique folk art or tramp art “Memory Bottle” has seashells mixed in with all the other buttons and bobs.
While searching through the attic of his father’s house, a son came across boxes of old items. The most interesting were piles of love letters sent from a man named Max. From 1913-1978, Max and Pearle wrote each other. All his letters begin with “My Sweet Pearle” and end with “Forever yours, Max”. These letters were supposed to have been burned when Pearle passed away in 1980, but the family didn’t honor those wishes, and one of the greatest love stories began to unfold.
In 1911, a woman named Pearle Schwarz met a man named Maxwell Savelle at the Country Club. They fell madly in love. Unfortunately, Maxwell would not convert to Judaism (his parents were Southern Baptists) and so they could not be together. They went their separate ways – Maxwell went into the Navy and Pearle continued to pine for him until she died. She never let go.
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Isn’t this just so sweet?!
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Involving the younger generations in family history is not magic. Let’s take my answer apart and look at its three features to create our next generation of family history fans!
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Spending time with my collectibles is a huge part of why I collect — and I don’t mean the dusting! In fact, one of the reasons I blog is because I love the time to spend examining and researching each object. I truly believe this is a huge part of the value of collecting as a hobby.
Two recent news stories reminded me of this fact.
The first is a matter of maps and historical mysteries… The British Museum’s recent re-examination of a 16th-century coastal map of the Tidewater coast of North Carolina has revealed hidden markings that may show what happened to the so-called American Lost Colony. While this colony was the second English settlement on the North Carolina coast, it was the first settlement to include civilians, including the legendary Virginia Dare, the granddaughter of the colony’s governor, John White. Virginia was born within weeks of their arrival to the settlement in 1587 — making Virginia Dare the first child of English descent born in the Americas.
Now, I’m not saying that all map collectors have a map of this magnitude; but even that vintage shell oil map may lead to a discovery, a road not taken, a connection you’ve not made before. Who knows what mysteries you might solve — or even find?
Speaking of connections, this next news story discusses how genealogy may help provide evidence that proves humans are continuing to evolve. Your family tree alone may not seem like much, but when combined with others, it provides scientific information:
“Studying evolution requires large sample sizes with individual-based data covering the entire lifespan of each born person,” said Dr Lummaa. “We need unbiased datasets that report the life events for everyone born. Because natural and sexual selection acts differently on different classes of individuals and across the life cycle, we needed to study selection with respect to these characteristics in order to understand how our species evolves.”
Doesn’t that all just inspire you to go antiquing, to organize those family records? It certainly makes me want to raise that bidding paddle!
In my post at Collectors Quest today, I share my disc-overy of WWII voice mail: audio letters sent during the war.
While I encourage you to read that history, I have two other items to share regarding that story.
First, in the January, 1946 issue of Audio Record (published by Audio Devices Inc., a manufacturer of blank discs used by the USO for the voice recordings), there was this cute story:
From a USO club in the South came the story of a man who made a special record for his family. His mother wrote back that when his pet dog heard the boy’s voice he sent up great bays of delight. So the soldier went back to the USO club ad made a whole recording just for his dog, Fido.
Since this is an industry publication, this heartwarming wartime story may be made up, simply propaganda — but it still works!
And that brings me to the very true fact stated by Letters on a Record Home, a documentary directed by John Kurash which focused on these Word War II recordings from the USO, Gem Blades, Pepsi and local radio stations:
At one point, over 25,000 letters on a record were sent home each month. Very few remain but what we have offers us insight into the lives of the soldiers and their families during the second world war. Most soldiers came back home to become part of the Greatest Generation. But not everyone comes home from war, not every soldier was able to keep their promise.
This short film is part of the GI Film Festival, and will be screened on Sunday, May 20, 2012.
In the latest issue of Jet Magazine (February 6, 2012), Iman Jefferson gets six tips from Ronda Racha Penrice, author of African American History For Dummies, on ways to educate and entertain children with history. These tips are specific to Black History Month — that doesn’t mean you have to be an African-American to learn more about Black history. Nor should this be limited to Black History Month, or even Black history; there’s a lot of history to learn!
The first tip was to record family members about their experiences during a pivotal time in history. We’ve been making general (not historical event oriented) audio recordings of our own family members — and both my husband and I have been flabbergasted to find out how much we really didn’t know about even our own parents’ lives! (If you need help starting, check out StoryCorps.)
The second was to “play the original song versions used in samples of your kids’ favorite hits” and discuss what melodies have been borrowed from yesteryear. Our kids tease us about the music we listen to (admittedly we are eclectic listeners!) and we tease them right back with information about how that music isn’t “new.” These discussions, however intended, have given our children a wider knowledge of music, culture and history than most of their peers.
Tip number three:
Identify longstanding Black-owned restaurants, retail shops or other companies, then call them up and arrange a visit. Many will have older equipment, as well as photos, so it will encourage interactive learning.
I’m so ready for a field trip!
The next tip was to challenge kids to find items in the home or community which were invented or created by African-American icons featured on postage stamps. This is a great idea, like a historical philately-based scavenger hunt!
Tip number five was to have your child research a person prior to watching a biopic and then have them compare what they read to what they saw. I can tell you that I’ve personally done this dozens of times, including performing online searches during the commercial breaks when watching biographies and biopics on TV. (In fact, I just did this last week watching a biopic about Jessica Savitch!)
The last tip was actually quite a mind-blower…
Often we drive by local honorary street signs in predominantly African American neighborhoods but may not know the history of each honoree. Visit the local library and have your children research the real person behind the road marker.
Honest to gawd, hubby and I had just had a similar, though not person-related, discussion when he “discovered” the location of a “missing city.” He’s a prolific reader of old newspapers and read about one no longer on maps: Golden Gate City, in South Dakata. There’s a Golden Gate Street in Central City, South Daktoa, but sans town we bet there are people living there who don’t even know why the street has it’s name. How many streets do we all drive on of which we are ignorant to the street’s name’s origins?
We don’t discuss a lot of new things here at Inherited Values, but today we make an exception…
One of my friends is helping a friend with her wedding plans and the subject of wedding gifts came up. Specifically those wedding gifts the bride and groom give to those in the bridal party, the groomsmen, the parents, etc. As lovers of vintage and antiques, we naturally gravitated to the idea of an excuse to scour antique malls and online stores for just the right gifts. But not everyone loves old things.
Since weddings are special occasions, when families grow and joint memories begin, you want to give pieces which will be saved — you want to give things which will become heirlooms.
Heirlooms are those items saved and passed along within a family for generations. They all have to begin somewhere. But in order to become an heirloom, they must be special enough to be saved by the first person they are given to. This means they should be special from the start, carrying not just the weight of the special occasion itself, but the warmth and significance of the relationship itself as well as offering some sort of practicality or use that make the items more than jut dust collectors. (If that “practicality” notion bothers you, please see the history and origins of the word!)
When selecting gifts to mark the occasion of a wedding, consider who the item is for, their role in the special day, and what sentiments are likely to be attached to that day. Drinking glasses and flasks are popular for men because items associated with drinking are reminders of the wedding toasts made. Jewelry and jewelry boxes are popular for female attendants because they are reminders of special days in the past as well as more to come. Personalized teddy bears are great options for children because they are playmates for that day, and toys that sit proudly on display to remind kids of the special day they took part in.
Of course, the more weddings a person has participated in, the more glassware and jewelry they are likely to have, but it just requires a bit more thinking…
There really aren’t any wrong gifts to give, but thinking about the future use of items helps ensure that they will be saved — and on their way to becoming heirlooms!
OK, so you waited around, hoping just the right thing was going to pop up at eBay or some other site, and now, as the shipping delivery window narrows, you’re starting to worry that all you can do is go with the obvious eBay gift card or get something lame. Gift certificates, from eBay, your local antique mall or online dealer, aren’t bad ideas. But here are a few other options you might wish to consider…
Gift Idea #1 Newspaper Archives is the largest online newspaper archive, with over 100 million pages, covering more than 400 years, from more than 10 countries — and growing! I know that as a collector and researcher, having an online database of old newspapers to search through is one of the most awesome things ever. Let me repeat that: One of the most awesome things ever.
This isn’t just a great gift idea for collectors, history nuts, or those obsessed with research; it’s a great tool for genealogists too. While genealogy sites offer lots of information, old newspapers help fill in more of the stories… Not just information on people and events, but it’s a great way to find photographs of buildings, family businesses, and other places long gone.
Gift Idea #2 Magazines, such as Antique Trader, The Magazine Antiques, and other collectible publications as well as genealogy magazines can still be subscribed to online at Amazon — and even though it may take 6 to 10 weeks for the first issue to arrive, you can have a gift notice sent to the recipient!
1.) Add the magazine to your cart,
2.) On the next page mark the “this will be a gift” box
3.) Enter your gift recipient’s address during the checkout process.
4.) After placing your order, look for the “Send Magazine Gift Notification” link on the order confirmation page, or go directly to the Magazine Subscription Manager to manage your gift subscriptions.
Gift Idea #3 Maybe you’ve already settled on a gift card, but aren’t sure how to present it? How about a nifty greeting card that’s also a bookmark? In My Book® is a line of 15 cards which are perforated, so tearing along the perforations changes the greeting card into a bookmark!
These novel gifts and cards in one are printed in Pennsylvania, shipped from Brooklyn, New York, and cost just $3.95 (plus shipping) each. (I’ve interviewed the creator, Robin Blum, here, having met her at the first annual Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention.)
Sometimes dealers and other sellers of antiques and collectibles get a bad rap — OK, a lot of times they do, and I’m not going to go into all of that, but…
As a collector there are times when your auction lots runneth over and you end up with more than you want (or can even house). So it seems only natural to trade or sell a few things here and there… That’s pretty much what a dealer is, you know; someone who deals or trades in antiques and vintage stuff, with the most agreed upon fair trade equity being money, honey. So it’s all good, right? Right.
Anyway, there’s another time a collector becomes a seller. Such as when they find themselves in the possession of something they feel someone else would value so much they feel guilty holding onto it. That’s how I feel about this particular item.
I do collect vintage pinups and I’ve been paring down my collection (making more room in my house and wallet), but this particular vintage matchbook struck a chord…
On the front of the vintage matchbook it reads:
Greetings From Joe Gorenc
Every Wed. & Third Sun.
Ice Cool Eights
2413 Calumet Drive
Despite the condition issues, this is cool enough for the pinup and the reference to the old Skat tournament games too — but, you see, I know that there was a Joe Gorenc who was a POW in WWII. He did live in Sheboygan after the war, until his death in the 1950s, and I just feel like someone else should have this. So it’s up for sale, in my listings at eBay.
And I don’t think it’s unfair to charge for it. After all, I did pay for it — and I’ve kept it safe another decade or so before realizing what I had and then carefully describing it, making it available for the person or persons searching for it.
In most cases, this is what dealers do. It’s what collectors do, sooner or later.
And it’s not dirty. It’s a good thing.
We do it for love. And money. Not necessarily for the love of money. But there’s no reason we can’t lovingly spend the time to make sure things are preserved and available in the marketplace. After all, as collectors, we are there putting our time and money back into that marketplace. Usually at a hugely disproportionate rate. *wink*
At an estate sale I recently was lucky enough to get this little, unassuming, antique book… Plain brown boards, penciled notes and a math problem… A slim 6 and one-half inches 3 and one-half by inches.
It may not seem appealing to you — and that, likely, is how I managed to procure it. But hubby and I always look for old books; no matter how bland and boring their outsides are, the insides can be fabulous. And this is one of those fabulous ones. Inside, on the fragile old pages, are little Victorian hair braids — Victorian mourning pieces!
There are only a few of them, each carefully glued in place, the fading script documenting the details. But holding the book in your hands is a magical sort of a moment. I find it as close to sacred as any experience I’ve had.
Some people find this creepy. Or just plain wrong. But Victorians didn’t pretend death wasn’t a part of life, yet they also took their mourning seriously. They had more than the short and simple funeral services we have today; they had many more rules of etiquette. And they had more rituals, most of which I think would be more comforting and that I find beautiful. Including mourning hair art.
Because hair is symbolic and it lasts forever, Victorians would save hair from the deceased loved one and make mementos they could keep forever. According to Godey’s Lady’s Book (circa 1950):
Hair is at once the most delicate and last of our materials and survives us like love. It is so light, so gentle, so escaping from the idea of death, that, with a lock of hair belonging to a child or friend we may almost look up to heaven and compare notes with angelic nature, may almost say, I have a piece of thee here, not unworthy of thy being now.
Sometimes it was jewelry they could wear. Other times it was incredible sculptures, like the one seen on Oddities. And sometimes the hair was simply and eloquently braided and placed in a memorial book like this.
Notice how the neat old script includes the name, age, and either the death or birth date of the lost person below their braid of hair.
In the above photo you’ll see the wispy curl of hair that has not been braided so much as decorated around… It is the only piece of hair not braided and glued in place, but rather it’s affixed to a small swatch of fabric and golden “stickers” surround it. The roughly inch long piece of hair was not long enough to braid… It belonged to a three month old baby.
[Everyone say, “Awwww…”]
I’ve not yet decided how long I’ll keep this beautiful memorial book…
Part of me wants to keep it forever. But I also know I risk becoming obsessed with finding more, of building another collection… And this is a pricey category of collecting.
Lisa Kudrow was on ABC’s The View Wednesday, promoting her new show, Who Do You Think You Are?, an adaptation of the award-winning hit BBC television documentary series of the same name. Kudrow is executive producer of the show which leads celebrities on genealogical journeys to discover the genetic answer to “who they are” — at least as best genealogy can.
Rumors about the debut of this show have been swirling for well over a year, and those of us who enjoy the personal side of history (if not the celebrity-side of the production), have been stymied as to why we’ve had to (impatiently) wait. But it’s finally here!
The show debuts this Friday, 3/10/10, with Sarah Jessica Parker. Other celebrities include Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Spike Lee, Brooke Shields, and Matthew Broderick.
Kudrow puts herself in front of the cameras for this series too, sharing a particularly poignant story discovered in her family tree. Her family’s personal tragedy not only chronicles WWII history, but pierces the intellectual shield most of us have in processing and recalling such horrors… Something that only increases as witnesses to those dark moments in history leave us.
If you’re tempted to dismiss this as more celebrity adoration, or pure dramatic sentimentality, Kudrow and I want to assure you that genealogy may be personal, but it’s also much larger than that — it’s about the historical context.
Personal stories always illuminate the dry facts and dates of history into reality, celebrity or not. Heck, even the reasons why you hit a wall or can’t fill in the blank in your family’s story is illuminating. For example, in this clip, in which Kudrow shares what she found out about the family history of the ladies on The View, the matter of why it’s so much harder to find out family tree information for African-Americans is discussed.
As for the series, well, I haven’t seen it yet; but April MacIntyre has, and she’s interviewed Kudrow too:
One of the things that I did like about your particular series was the interspersed history lessons. Will that continue throughout into the next season?
Lisa Kudrow: Oh boy. It will continue and hopefully there can be more of it because the BBC version has a lot of that. The thing is that it’s not just dry history, it’s back story that’s essential once you’re invested in these characters like Sarah Jessica, (John Hodge) or (Esther Elwell) and you need to know the back story which is history.
Dan Bucatinsky: It’s context.
Lisa Kudrow: And that’s what I mean by because there’s an intimacy to it now that it’s not just dry history that happened to strangers. It has more impact and that’s – we’re supposed to study history. We’re supposed to know what we’ve done before, how did we do things? How did it work? How didn’t it work to learn from it and hopefully this makes it worth knowing.
Who Do You Think You Are? airs Friday night on NBC at 7 PM, Central time (check local listings). I know what I’ll be watching!
I’m a Brand Ambassador for The View. As a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime, I will receive a tote bag or other The View branded item to facilitate my reviews; as you can tell from my long-winded posts about The View, the tote or whatever I may get is not my priority, but I mention it to be ethical.
People often are shocked to discover personal things like old photos, diaries, scrapbooks, and letters up for sale at auctions and estate sales, like this collection (shown at left, sold by kathct). Many people, like myself, like to adopt such ephemera, and as we carry it home in our hands we wonder just how these things were available for sale… And weren’t we lucky to be the one to rescue and adopt them!
Once I was given a pair of vintage scrapbooks, and I thrill flipping through every page, reading every scrap between the covers. One of my favorites from the books is a handwritten vintage letter from Cousin Henrietta. Since the 1948 note consists of just two complete sentences, a closing and a post-script, the bulk of the news centers upon Henrietta’s intent to see her cousins soon — despite an injury:
we hope to see you soon I am keeping my fingers crossed for I pulled a piece of my toe nail off and I sure have a sore toe, think there is a little infection there but am doctoring it and hoping it will be O.K.
For some reason, such a short note all about a toe is amusing to me. It’s not just a “I hurt my toe,” but a rather detailed account of injury in such a short bit of correspondence yet. And years later I feel I must be in the same boat as Henrietta’s cousins — left wondering just how she managed to pull off a piece of toenail!
We collectors like vintage letters which make us feel like we know the sender — or make us want to!
But the most popular letters are sets of letters over a period of time. As correspondence, there are typically two sets of letters; each a side of the conversation, collected by the recipient. It’s quite rare to have both sets of letters, like this collection of 115 letters between a father and daughter between 1911 and 1934 (photo below; sold by bdbrowncollect), but just one set or side of the conversation can tell you quite a story.
That story may be regarding a situation, such as life during WWII or a courtship; or the story may be more intimately revealing of an individual person’s character, like a diary. In either case, such old letters are fascinating — and not just for the vicarious among us. Writers love to get their hands on such letters (and old diaries) as they inspire characters in novels, plots for films, etc.
I recall just a few years ago when there was a special set of letters listed on eBay that went for nearly $300 dollars. (While we don’t like to dwell on the monetary values of things here at Inherited Values, I am compelled to mention it, in context; to illustrate the desire to own creating demand, affecting price.) Three hundred dollars is a pretty pricey sum for approximately two dozen letters; but these were no ordinary letters.
This set of letters, written in the 1930s was saved by a woman who had an affair while she was married — and there were letters from both her traveling salesmen suitor and her eventually heartbroken and disgruntled husband. Though the seller had read all the letters, every ultimatum, every plea, the letters contained no final outcome of this vintage lover’s triangle.
Can you just imagine the delight in filling in the blanks of each person’s plight? An author or screenwriter’s dream! (Not to mention my own!) Hence the high bidding. (Too high for me to even get involved in the bidding, so I just watched the auction’s progress, sighing and wishing I had more disposable income.)
But not everyone gets rid of their family’s old letters.
I found this gem of a blog, Matrilineal, by a woman who is not only keeping her family’s old letters, but transcribing 15 years worth of them. This is how she describes the previously unread family letters:
I now know that my grandmother at 60 taught 6th grade, bought commercial real estate, took in boarders, thought flying saucers were a mode of transportation, worried about getting sued because of an ill-tempered Pekinese, and commented on every murder and suicide when she wrote to my mother who was a 20 year old student at UC Berkeley. I’ve been obsessing over these odd letters, and I think I know where in the familial gene pool that tendency might have come from.
In this case, I find myself almost wishing Linda would sell her family’s old letters! But if she did, I might just have to wait for the film. *wink*