A Cat-Losing, 1888

Ever hear the song, “The Cat Came Back?”  Poor mister Johnson has a troublesome cat that he simply can’t get rid of:

The song came out in 1893 and was popular throughout its history.   However, it may have been inspired by an 1888 event when some fellows in Cairo, Illinois decided to host a “cat-losing” contest.

JIM MANGUM’S CAT DISAPPOINTED HIS OWNER.

Feline with Wonderful Record Failed to Make Good Just When It Was Most Desirable–Cost Him Much Money.

“Ever hear about the cat-losing we had out our way in ’88?” asked the Cairo Liar.  “Never heard of a cat-losing?  Why, they’ve often had ’em out in my section since the first one was pulled off at Cairo.  The way it happened was this:  There was an old citizen in Cairo named Mangum, who bragged all during the summer of ’88 that he had a cat that couldn’t be lost.  The cat was onnery and a night marauder of the despised male gender, and Jim had tried all sorts of ways to lose that cat, he said.  He had tied four bricks to the cat’s neck on several occasions and then chucked the feline into the Mississippi, which runs pretty swift at Cairo, but every time Jim went home after doing this he had found the cat sitting on the front porch, licking himself.  Jim was determined to get rid of the cat, though, and he finally tied it up in a jute bag and handed it to a friend of his, a mail clerk on the railroad, and asked the mail clerk to ditch the cat, bag and all, at any old point not nearer than 100 miles from Cairo.  The mail clerk did this to oblige old Jim, heaving the cat out in the dark somewhere on the edge of a swamp about 125 miles from Cairo.

“Jim announced down at the post office three days later that the cat was back, looking a bit hungry and with less of its left ear than it had had before, but still in the ring and pretty nifty, considering.  Jim by this time regarded his cat as a wonder, and he made a good deal of nuisance of himself telling everybody in Cairo that, in his opinion, which he was willing to back with money, marbles, or chalk, that there wasn’t a cat in the state of Illinois, or, for the matter of that, in the whole blamed country, that had such a dead bead on home as his cat had.

Jim's Cat Didn't Come Back.

“Somebody finally suggested that the thing be tried.  This was just was Jim wanted, and so a committee of arrangements went ahead to organize the cat-losing. It was finally determined that all of the cats entered should be driven out in the woods, in a farm wagon, and then, at a point about five miles from town, chucked out of the wagon, free-footed, and left to hustle for themselves.  There were 30 entries, each man who entered his cat paying $5 for the privilege.  The cat that reached its home first was to pull down the $150 for its owner.

“A good many of the Cairo citizens who had cats entered in the event rehearsed their felines several times before the regular cat-losing was to come off, and all of the cats showed extraordinary aptitude in hustling back to their own doorsteps from distant points.  Jim didn’t rehearse his cat at all. ‘Any cat,’ said he, ‘that can scramble out of a jute bag heaved into a swamp more’n 100 miles from its own fireside, don’t need no rehearsing.  That cat’s got it in him, and he’ll be the first cat back, for money’  The betting was lively on the event for fully a week before it came off.

“Well, on the day the cats were driven out into the woods, competent and honest judges were placed at each of the 30 homes of the 30 cats, with instructions to time the exact moment of the appearance of the respective felines they were looking for.  The cats were turned loose from the farm wagon at exactly two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, and by that time most of us who had bets down on the outcome were sitting on the courthouse steps, waiting for the first judge to turn up with the announcement that the cat he had been appointed to time upon its arrival was back.

“At exactly 2:30 a young fellow named Charley Glass came running up to the courthouse on a lope, with his cat under his arm.  The cat had its numbered tag around its neck and we all fully identified it as one of the starters.  So the $150 was Glass’, and I had won $150 from Jim Mangum.   Following that, for the space of a half an hour the judges all turned up with their respective cats–all except the judge who had been placed at Mangum’s home.  Jim’s cat didn’t come back that night nor the next night, nor ever again.  That happened nearly 20 years ago, and Jim’s cat isn’t back yet.   Jim almost went broke paying up his debts, and after that whenever he’d see a cat two blocks down the street he’d shy rocks and cuss it as far as he could see it.”

The story was reprinted, in verbatim by dozens of newspapers throughout the U.S. in May and June of 1907, all crediting the story to the “Cairo Liar”, which isn’t the name of any reputable paper at the time.  The Cairo Bulletin, however, was a real paper, but doesn’t have any proof of the original event, nor any happening since the first cat-losing.  So, it is more likely to be a case of the song inspiring a tall tale of amazing cat navigation, and the failing of hubris, many years later.

Vintage Treasure: Flower Frogs

There are many obsolete technologies since mobile phones began taking over the world. I miss the elegance of watches in particular. However, some vintage technology is just misplaced and not obsolete. Frogs are one of those.

Not frogs of the living kind, but these frogs which were used in floral arrangements. The frogs usually came with a vase (or flower holder of some kind) which they fit inside. So the frogs were made to fit the vase.

Sadly the frogs were easily lost or misplaced. So not every vase still has the frog it came with originally.

We recently lost the frog to one of our own vintage vases. It was a silver frog, one of those which had to be polished. I hope we find it again, before it gets heavily tarnished. I can clean it but I can’t do much if the silver gets pits in it from being tarnished. I’m sure this is why silver has lost it’s popularity. As lovely as it still looks, stainless steel is much easier to look after.

Have you seen any frogs lately?

Vintage flower frogs…what are they? How many ‘frogs’ do you have?  How many did your Mom or Grandma have?   Frogs were used in the bottom of vases to hold the flower stems just right. They are usually metal basket weave grid, or fine textured metal spikes or made of clear or colored glass disk with holes.…

Source: Flea Market flower frogs

The Joy and Tribulation of The Antique Dealer

No Egrets Antiques
No Egrets Antiques

No Egrets Antiques has just completed our third antique show of this new year. Our first was held in West Bend, WI in January. Cold, but the snow kept away and turn-out was very high! As always, the N. L. Promotions’ events are well attended and offer top-quality vendors.

The second was in Wausau, WI on a very cold winter weekend. At this time of year Wausau is snow ski country and the sport is for the hardy outdoor types.  But we were set up inside the D.C. Everett High School and the droves of customers provided our booth with constant action for two full days. They came to buy! This show and our St. Norbert’s Show were put on by AR Promotions and Audre’ and Ray really do things right.

This last endeavor was a flip of what we had expected. Weather was kind to us, but buyers were not. The venue was at St. Norbert Collage in DePere, WI, and the gym was filled with many of the same dealers that were in Wausau.  We were very pleased to see the crowds pour thru on both Saturday and Sunday. But!!  After talking with many of our friendly competing dealers, the consensus was that the visitors left their purses and wallets at home. Still a good show, but not up to our expectations.

And so goes the life of an antique dealer. Wait until our next show. We’ll bring better antiques or maybe lower end items.  Better glass, or depression glass? Probably not, it is not selling up to its potential.  Victorian period? No, we need to bring more Mid Century Modern. Sports items? Always hot. Jewelry always sells so do post cards. Yippee! Post cards and jewelry. And probably some delightful prints and paintings for home decorating This is also a great show for outdoor items for your yard decor and also heavy-metal for your man-cave. That’s what we will bring to our next event.

Our next show will be in Elkhorn, WI, (another N.L. event) and it’s always a super show for both collectors and decorators and sellers, with Inherited Values and No Egrets in booths next to each other – Row two # 216.

See you soon.

 

Like Flies To Honey… An Antique Primitive Fly Trap

We’ve sold a number of these primitive antique fly traps — but none quite this large. (I forgot to measure it, but it’s at least a foot tall.)

large primitive antique fly trap ayr north dakota

Nor did any have their original maker tag with instructions for use.

The Wonder Fly Trap
Made By
W.P. Rose, Ayr, N.D.

Bait with cake or bread with sugar and vinegar over, or anything that attracts the flies

Patent Pending

These taps work for hornets and bees too. No reason it wouldn’t still work today. But some continual baiting and cleaning of the trap would be required. 😉

Rose was quite the inventor and a member on the board of directors for the Ayr Farmers Elevator.

This one was purchased at that Bonanzaville museum auction this past Fall. It is now available for purchase; available in our space at Exit 55 Antiques located on I-94 in Fergus Falls, MN. (The shop’s Facebook Page is here; our personal sales page at Facebook is here.) Also, more photos and information regarding what we have for sale right now can be seen at We Have Your Collectibles.

antique wonder fly trap primitives

Antique Primitive Seed Planter

It’s rather rare to find these antique seed planters in such good condition — on this one, you scan still make out the original stenciled information. This one is marked “The Triumph” and it was manufactured by Kent Manufacturing Company of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

antique primitive seed planter

antique triumph seed planter

antique seed planter

antique kent mfctg seed planter

These simple seed planters were quite revolutionary in their time. And they still work today! They are simple to use. Simply stab the end into the ground and when you open the handles, the end “shovels” open a section of earth as a single seed drops into the freshly made hole.

1907 KENT TRIUMPH CORN PLANTER & POTATO PLANTER AD FORT ATKINSON WI WISCONSIN

We know this seed planter was made prior to 1912, as that’s when the company changed its name to the James Manufacturing Company, using the “James Way” slogan.

Image of the antique ad from ADS AG N MORE.

Vintage Refrigerator Drawers

I love using old refrigerator drawers and crispers for things. The old metal drawers make great planters. If you’re thinking you’ll be missing fresh herbs from the garden, get yourself one of these old metal fridge drawers and voila! Indoor herb garden!

vintage vegetable drawer planter

I have a pair of blue enamel fridge drawers — with the white plastic “tops” they would slid into inside the appliance — that I use as stack-able organizers on my desk. So much nicer looking that those open in-and-out boxes!

fridge drawers as desk organizers

Beasts Of Burden: Recycling Plastic Toys Into Planters

I found this idea for novelty planters at The Daily Telecraft: Brainstorm: What to do with plastic animals! [Large & small]. Just Dremel out a section on the beast’s back, spray paint them, fill them with dirt and add a small plant or cactus.

It’s a great way to recycle those plastic animal toys the kids have left behind as well as to fill-out a windowsill or other spot with groupings of vintage animal planters.

If you have a green thumb but are all butter-fingers with a Dremel, here are some planters ready to purchase!

Collectors March To The Beat Of Different Drummers

But, sometimes, those drummers are a matching pair. *wink* A fabulous vintage kitschy pair of planters, a drummer boy and a Majorette girl, illustrate my point!

Image credits: Pigtunia’s Plunder.

Laundry Fun — Go Figure!

Absolutely adorable family of vintage Rogers Clean-Grip clothes pins — with little heads and faces of each family member, including the family dog and cat.

The vintage plastic clothes pins were called “Clean-Grip” because the plastic did not stain, discolor, or soil the wet laundry like wooden and/or metal clothespins can. Plastic clothespins don’t splinter either. But of course the best things about these vintage clothespins are their figural heads of humans and pets.

Image Credits:

Vintage green clothespin photos (2) via shelbysfeet27.

Vintage blue plastic kitty head clothespin photo via AfterGlow-Antiques-and-Collectables.

Discovering & Cleaning Vintage Plastic Watering Cans

I like to collect vintage items that can still be used. One of the most charming little vintage pieces I have that I use every week (kept near my kitchen sink, next to my vintage squirrel pottery planter turned sink caddy), is this lively red watering can.

This particular plastic watering can is marked “EMSA, W. Germany, ges. gesch.” (ges. gesch. is short for gesetzlich geschützt and means Registered patent/design/trademark in German), on the bottom. From the ESMA logo, I can guesstimate that this watering pot was made after 1971.

I think it’s a melamine resin, also called melamine formaldehyde or just melamine; Melmac is a brand name. (Hubby doesn’t agree, but he’s a baby, and not as familiar with all the types and weights of plastics in my lifetime. lol)

In any case, there’s just something so charming about this old plastic watering can… Maybe it’s just the vibrant red?

But since it’s old and had a life before me, it had some signs of wear. Most troubling were the salt and mineral build-up inside the top and at the spout.

And, if you looked closely at the outside, you’d see white calcifications strewn here and there in the lattice work.

Most of this was (relatively) easily removed with some CLR, assisted, again, by my fingernails on the opening edge, and the good old toothbrush on the lattice work. (As always, do a small test with a Q-Tip on an inconspicuous spot first. And be certain to really rinse it well, so that the water is clean and safe for your houseplants.)

Now that it’s so clean, it makes me look for other vintage watering cans — plastic ones though, not the old metal watering cans that everyone, including Martha, seems to go ga-ga for.

I like the size of the smaller plastic watering cans, made for watering houseplants. I like the idea of rescuing the less valuable, deemed disposable, plastic models. And did I mention I love that cheery red?

But I’ve not found any such watering cans. I missed this beauty:

There’s very little vintage EMSA (sometimes mistakenly read as EMJA). I love a lot of what I find — I don’t even like eggs that much, but I would have loved this mint in box EMSA breakfast set:

But no watering cans. Yet.

I’ve also tried searching for vintage plastic watering cans, with little success. This one (from NettySue) is cute…

But it has such a build up of lime etc., that I fear the plastic will be too etched to really salvage it.

Like all collectors, I continue to search.

And I’d love to hear from anyone else who collects vintage plastic watering cans. It’s nice not to be alone sometimes *wink*