Salvaged Antique Church Fixtures and Furnishings

This past July, a fire broke-out in the historic St. John’s Lutheran Church on the grounds of Bonanzaville in West Fargo, North Dakota. Bonanzaville, a pioneer village with 12 acres, 43 historic buildings, 400,000 artifacts, “and millions of memories” is operated by the Cass County Historical Society. The church was not only a preserved historical building, but it still served as a place for many weddings. After the fire, pieces were salvaged from the church and they, along with hundreds of other items deaccessioned from the collections, were auctioned off to raise funds for the organization — including bringing in a new-but-old church to Bonanzaville.

Hubby and I attended the auction yesterday and stood among all the others in the cold morning air. (It was so cold, objects had frost on them!) We did purchase a number of things (Stay tuned here — and here — for more details!), but we didn’t purchase anything from the church. We did, however, take lots of photos. You can view them below. (Photos of other items from this auction can be seen here, here, here, here, and here.)

40 Gargoyles and Grotesques Around the World

  In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque, usually made of granite, with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing ra…

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Whether you need to know the difference between gargoyles and grotesques, or just want eye-candy, click!

See on twistedsifter.com

Original 1885 Chesapeake Lighthouse Photographs Mounted Albumen Prints

Looking for some assistance in pricing and marketing a set of 9 mounted albumen prints of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses.

Prints are part of a series of photos taken by Major Jared A. Smith for the US Lighthouse Establishment in 1885. Research has shown that the USCG Historian’s Dept has copies of some of these prints but for other locations the reference shows “Photo Unavailable”.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Have any info to share?

See on iantiqueonline.ning.com

Oh, The Places You Will Go!

On shows like American Pickers or Pickers Sisters, every once in a while the pickers go into some unassuming building and find themselves someplace surprising, a place where the outside doesn’t betray what’s inside. It might seem like TV magic, something that doesn’t happen in the real world, but my Wifey and I ran into our own “picker moment” recently.

Just after Christmas, Wifey was hanging out down at the antique mall. While she was chit-chatting with the manager, a guy came in looking to sell some things. His mother had moved into assisted living and he had been put in charge of liquidating the farm, so he was looking for a picker to come out and buy some stuff. Wifey said, sure, we’ll come out and take a look.

We bought a vanload from him the first time out, and he had said that some other time we should come back and see what’s in the barn. Now that’s what we’re talking about: the good stuff is always in The Barn, at least from our perspective. We had been polite and taken time to talk with him about his mom, his family, and how hard it is to clean out a house, and we let him know how much we thought the various items were worth or how old it was, even if we weren’t going to buy it. It turns out he had talked to another dealer first — that dealer had been brusque, bought a couple things and quickly left. Little did that dealer know he missed out on the offer of The Barn by not taking his time as a picker to be polite and get to know the seller first.

Due to weather and other conditions, we couldn’t get into the barn at that time. Finally, this past weekend, Wifey got a text from him, saying we should come out to the farm again. We thought it was about some other stuff we were interested in buying but he hadn’t made a decision, but we didn’t go in the house — he met us in the yard.

Turns out, he wanted to take us out to The Barn.

The snow was a little over a foot deep, but we had brought our boots, so we started to trudge across the farmyard out to the classic gambrel barn at the north end of the property. The first floor was your average barn fare – bicycle parts, old farm tools, a rusty bedspring, so we made a pile by the door. While we were climbing on the piles of abandoned treasures, picking through buckets of doorknobs and pipe fittings, our host had disappeared. When he returned, he said, “all the good stuff is upstairs.”

He led us around to the side of the barn where he had pried open a door. We had to climb over an old rusty drag to get onto a steep set of stairs. As we climbed, D gazed at all of the old rough-cut gambrel rafters and said, “wow, all this wood is very cool.” I was just ahead of her, and when I reached the top of the stairs, I said, “if you’re impressed with that, just wait until you get up here.”

The floor of the hayloft looks like it hadn’t ever seen a single piece of straw. At the far end of the loft was a stage. The stairs we came up were the back stairs; on the other side was the main stairs, straight and not as steep, but blocked from the outside. Long benches flanked each side of the wide-open space. Signs warned against leaning on the hayloft door and advised care walking on the stairs. This wasn’t a farmer’s barn: this was a barn dance barn.

It didn’t take long for us to put two and two together. In the first batch of stuff we bought from this farm, we found a matchbook advertising Ida Carlson’s Barn dance-hall. I knew there were a bunch of barn dance-halls in the area back in the day, so I figured Ida’s barn had to be pretty close to Fargo. Standing here, at the end of a polished hardwood floor in the upstairs of a barn, I was actually in Ida Carlson’s Barn.

Our host was Ida Carlson’s grandson, and after Ida retired from the dance hall business his parents kept it going until the 1980s. The heyday of Ida Carlson’s Barn was the 1930s to the 1940s. The barn was built in 1934, specifically to host dances; it — and the outhouse, of course — were the first buildings on the property. Ida got her permit to run barn dances in May 1934 and ads for events at the Barn started appearing in the Moorhead Daily News almost immediately. She applied for a beer license, too, but the county declined, saying having beer and barn dances in the same place “would be against the public interest.” Ida Carlson’s Barn became a popular youth hangout for all the usual reasons that young people needed a place out of town, away from their responsibilities, to hang out with other youths. It’s where people met their life-long spouses, and the NDSU Spectrum even joked that the closest that their female students “have ever been to a cow, probably, is at Ida Carlson’s barn dance.”

The barn hadn’t seen a dance in about thirty years; our host’s brother has a band, and it’s his equipment on the stage today. Before we even started to look at treasures to buy, we got more stories about Ida’s barn and a brief tour, including the wooden railing where fifty years of bands wrote their names on the boards. When we finished our picking, as we drove away from the farmstead, our conversation was more about Ida Carlson’s Barn than any of the things we bought.

What Is Mid-Century Modern?

If you’ve spent any time talking with other collectors, antiquers, dealers, or folks who just enjoy watching the plethora of collecting shows, you’ve been hearing an increase in the term “mid-century modern.” Loosely applied, the term can mean anything made in the middle of the last, or 20th, century, usually 1940-1960. But more aptly, the term applies to a design aesthetic which embraces the marriage between function and form — with a simplicity of style born of the artistic and cultural movement of Modernism. And because of the “modern” in “mid-century modern”, the style dates back much further than the name implies.

Modernism is more than just an artistic style; it’s a cultural movement. The movement’s origins go far back as the 1880s, to Germany before the first World War. Despite, or perhaps because of, the prevailing conservatism, there was an increased interest in what the Germans considered the very American notion of usefulness — or, as Dennis Crockett phrased it in his book, German Post-Expressionism: The Art of the Great Disorder 1918-1924, the “predilection for functional work.”

This philosophy, called Neues Bauen or New Objectivity, was first or most notably employed in addressing the German housing crisis of the time. The physical design application of New Objectivity resulted in design innovations in architecture, in which the commercial need for cost-effective housing was met with a radically simplified yet dynamic functionalism, offering simplicity, health, and beauty for the occupants. This solidified the notion that mass-production was indeed reconcilable with individual artistic spirit — it meant affordability — and it was something the famous Bauhaus would build upon when it was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919.

Widely acknowledged as the the first academy for design in the world, the Bauhaus manifesto includes the declaration “to create a new unity of crafts, art and technology.” It was here students and artists would focus on the craftsmanship and the manufacture of works in a collaborative setting, “to produce a work that is not limited to its purely aesthetic meaning, but supports and even influences the transformation of social reality and thus shapes a new society.” And at this time, the transformation desired was a modern one of simplicity and functionality. (For more on the Bauhaus movement and the artists themselves, I highly recommend a book I’ve been reading The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism, by Nicholas Fox Weber. It’s fascinating!) Here is where mid-century modern truly begins.

Because the Bauhaus produced more than a mere decorative style, because it pushed the values and needs of a modern world, the school, the artists, and the works created would inspire many others throughout the (mainly Western) world. Spurred on by urban living and the rapid development of plastics and other materials, mid-century modernism became quite popular.

Some of the most known — and collected names — in what we now call mid-century modern, were influenced by the Bauhaus and the movement. They include Americans Ray and Charles Eames (who made fabulous toys too!); Brits Robin Day and his wife Lucienne, and Ernest Race; the Japanese designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi; and Scandinavians Børge Mogensen, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl (PDF), and Hans Wegner. (Because of the latter design giants, mid-century modern overlaps with, and is often confused for, Scandinavian or Danish design. Here the date of creation and manufacture help make the final decision.)

Here’s a photo of mid-century modern designers George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saainen (who died not long after this photo was taken), Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, and Jens Risom for an article in Playboy, July 1961.

Furniture wasn’t the only thing affected by mid-century modernist design. Other functional household objects, such as clocks, radios, and lamps (this was the start of lava lamps!) were made — and are heavily collected today.

Housewares, kitchenalia, and decorative items also got the mid-century modern treatment. You’ll see lots of geometric yet sleek pottery and glassware with embossed patterns and lines of the mid-century mod design. While there still were the more traditional shapes and forms, some with more elaborate and fancy painted designs, made during this time too (Hey, not everyone hops on the trends!), the mid-century modern look is most readily identified by its design simplicity. The decorations seem to better fit the form and function of the piece. Look for pieces in solid colors with embossed designs which seem to flow along the lines of the piece rather than appear applied to it. And remember, one of the primary influences of the movement was purposefulness; meaning the design is wed to an item of purpose and function. When it comes to pieces of decorative turquoise California pottery, for example, there’s less usefulness and practicality than there is with a chair, lamp, or piece of refrigerator glass… However, the style is often represented in these pieces more decorative than functional items and collectors do like them.

Mid-century modern as a category of collecting dates from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Because of the dates involved, mid-century modern overlaps, influences, and to some degree encapsulates designs from the Atomic Era, Space Age and Googie design, California Modernism, etc. These innovative and popular designs of the 20th century not only pioneered modern furniture and industrial design, but are now the iconic pieces we think of when we think of these decades.

Truly defining or identifying mid-century modern pieces may be difficult; but like Justice Potter said of pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.

Image Credits: (In order images appear.) Photo of Keck & Keck home, via; photos of the Bauhaus Haus am Horn kitchen, 1923, and containers designed by Theodor Bogler for the kitchen and the Josef Albers set of four stacking tables (1927), via; designers photo from Playboy, via; and photo of vintage mid-century modern Westinghouse beige pottery refrigerator-ware pitcher, via.

Inviting Yourself Inside

Pickers aren’t the only ones bold enough to invite themselves onto your property, into your homes; Jessica Saia was so charmed by the Painted Ladies (the Victorian houses around Alamo Square park you see in many shots of San Francisco, including TV’s Full House), that she sent letters to the folks living in them so she could get a look inside. One of them said, “Yes!” Here’s the story, complete with photos.

This Week’s Antiques & Vintage Collectibles Link Round-Up

Collecting Stuff

Derek sheds light on a ghost ad for the Harold Lloyd film Grandma’s Boy which was unearthed in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Our very own Pickin’ of Antiquips, aka Val Ubell, weighs in on the scale and shape of collectibles.

I cover the record number of record collections and obsessively research the history of the Jay Herbert fashion labels.

Cliff reviews The Story of Cigarette Cards (1987) by Martin Murray.

Image via Shorpy.

History Teaching Moments For Families

Teaching Moments, Jet Magazine

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?

Of Pinups & POWs & Dealers Of All Sorts

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
Skat Trounament
Every Wed. & Third Sun.
Ice Cool Eights
Any Time
2413 Calumet Drive
Sheboygan, Wis

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*

Antique Japan Travel Guide For Westerners

There are many charming and antiquated things of note in this antique travel book titled The Club Hotel, Limited: Guide Book of Yokohama, Tokyo and Principal Places in Japan and I thought I’d share a few of them before this book and map sells.

Printed at the “Box Of Curios,” No. 58, Main Street, Yokohama, Japan, there’s no copyright or publication date; but it’s circa 1880s to 1910s. This antique book with blue cloth boards and gilt lettering contains all you’d expect in a guidebook, including hotels, excursions, tea rooms, shopping, bars, geisha, libraries, museums, churches, temples, etc. — including black and white photos, ads for businesses, AND, neatly tucked in the built-in pocket in the back cover, a fragile but pristine color map! (Map opens to roughly 12 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches, so it would not fit completely on the scanner.)

I’ve never longed to travel to the Orient, but if I could travel back in time, perhaps I would change my mind for the book says, “One can go all over Tokyo at any hour unarmed and unannoyed, which one certainly could not surely do in London, Paris, Vienna, or other Western Capitals.”

Apparently, The Club Hotel, Limited was an actual place as there are photos of the building, the entrance, the dining room, and the bar.

According to the text, The Club Hotel, Limited was located “near the landing place (English Hatoba).” More details are found on this page:

Despite The Club Hotel, Limited being a real hotel, this book has ads for many other places rather than really promoting the The Club Hotel, Ltd. (The ads must have paid for the printing, me thinks.) In fact, the first ad in this book, right inside the front cover, is for The Hotel Metropole, “the only hotel in Tokio under European Management.”

Here are some interesting (if racist due to the times) things of note from the text’s Preliminary Remarks:

The Japanese will be found pleasant mannered people. Treated politely, they are invariably polite, and as a rule very kindly disposed towards foreigners. Many of them are incorrigible procrastinators. It is always “to morrow” with them. Hotel servants, however, are often very quick, as well as good and attentive, and seeing so much of foreigners they understand foreign requirements.

The people who stamp about the streets playing a double whistle are blind Shampooers, i.e. “Massage” operators by trade.

Japanese baths are generally heated with charcoal, and it is well to be careful of asphyxia from the fumes. The bath-houses with men and women bathing in full sight of each other, are a curiosity to Europeans.

Geisha or Singing girls, which could be ordered through the tea-house, and are listed on the same page as Japanese Wrestling, Public Libraries, Museums, Places Of Worship, etc. (The scan below also includes the small map of the Temples of Shiba.)

But, of course, the collector in me is most intrigued by all the discussion of “curio shops,” which are heavily advertised in the back of the book.  (Note how the chapter begins promoting the European Curio Shops of Yokohama.)

Most notably, Kuhn & Komor, No. 37, Water Street, Yokohama, which asks you to kindly note the company’s trademark “Stork and Sun” used as a sign board on all their branches.

A few other interesting old ads I’ve scanned will be posted soon!

What’s In Store? Real Photo Postcards, 1907

One of the most fascinating areas of collecting antique and vintage photographs are those images showing the interior of shops and retails stores — like these real photo postcards, circa 1907.

Notice the well-dressed help and the tin tiles on the walls; the fine array of items, such as china in the display cases, the baby buggies and strollers… Oh, the things you could see with the actual antique postcard in your hand and a magnifying glass!

In this next image, there are plenty of guns, tools, keys, and hardware — along with spinning wheels, a few stray things, such as coffee pots and lanterns. On the walls there are other intriguing photographs… Lots of lovely ladies — including one with two horses! Perhaps a circus act? Among all the beauties, what appears to be the bottom half a wrestler or other male athlete.

Images via Lynnstudios.

Vintage Film Stars Fit Swimmingly Poolside (Silent Film News)

Because I’m rather well connected to Kellerman on the Internet, I was contacted by Nick Bannikoff, a graphic designer in Sydney, Australia, who had recently worked on the refurbished Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Marrickville. The centre is now finished, and Bannikoff was was hoping I could help him find quality images to be used in the creation of a graphic interpreting / explaining Annette Kellerman’s life to be installed at the pool. Naturally, I connected to silent film collector Mary Ann Cade. But I also asked Bannikoff to tell me more about the project. The complete details of the beautiful ceramic tile mosaics featuring Annette Kellerman and Cecil Healy is here.

Vintage Camera Shops

I was so thrilled when I spotted these vintage photos because it reminded me of this recent tweet by TheLarmy:

All I have in the fridge is baking soda, camera film and boysenberry yogurt. Anyone got any recipes?

I then knew it was the writing staff behind Cougar Town who wrote the tweet — because Laurie Keller certainly isn’t old enough to have kept film in her refrigerator (it’s been years since this was something recommended to consumers).

For those of us who remember film photography, you’ll enjoy seeing these vintage photos of shops long out of the picture.

First, this photograph of this drive-up film developing stand called the Shutter Shak. (Or perhaps it’s the Shutter Shack? It’s hard to tell from the angle.) This stand-alone building has the shape of a camera, complete with dials and flashbulb on top, and rivals the details of any kitschy roadside attraction! I have no idea where this shop was located; please post a comment if you know more about it.

This next photo is of a camera and supply shop called The Darkroom, with it’s storefront window looking like a camera lens. According to Fine Arts LA:

The Darkroom (5364 Wilshire Blvd.) was once the photographic supply store of choice with a 9-foot tall camera storefront. Built in the early ’30s, it is now the home of El Toro Cantina.

Digital cameras have nearly Photoshopped these places from our main streets — but they live on on photographs.

PS I found these photos via Old Chum when I found these classic roadside attraction food stand photos. Old Chum says they are from California Crazy: Roadside Vervancular Architecture, compiled by Jim Heimann and Rip Georges; more pics here at his other blog.

When Roadside Food Stands Went To The Dogs

So you and your family are driving down the road, on your way to some vacation destination spot, and suddenly a giant dog appears — I mean a huge building designed to look like a dog. A classic roadside attraction offering ice cream, coffee, sandwiches, and, of course, hot dogs. It didn’t matter if you were hungry or not, you’d just have to stop!

Photos via Old Chum (presumably Walter Manning of the Old Faithful Shop). If anyone knows more about these kitschy classic roadside wonders of yesteryear, please leave a comment and let us know!

Some of Them are Real Knobs

Typically, you grab the knob, turn it to open the door and step inside. How many doorknobs have you had in your hand and not really noticed them at all?  I like the unique, decadent doorknobs made of crystal, glass and metals. I’ve seen especially nice brass doorknobs in Creemore, Ontario.

If you look for antique or vintage doorknobs online you will find yourself pulling up a lot of salvage sites. As an explorer of old and abandoned homes I’m not quite happy about salvage companies/ people who basically find old houses so they can rob them and then sell their stolen good for a lot of money. While I may cross the line and fall into trespassing on property to get photos, I don’t harvest, remove or take away anything from inside the house. I usually don’t even go inside of them at all. “Take only photos; leave only footsteps” is the basic rule for urban and rural explorers.

There are a lot of places that sell salvaged hardware from old houses. I don’t think you can ever know if they come by the hardware legitimately or not. It’s a shame because the old doorknobs are so glamorous and decadent, very hard to resist. Some modern hardware is designed to replicate the old. This seems a better option to me. Or, there are artists who work with glass, brass and other materials. I’m sure you could commission a truly unique, glamorous and decadent doorknob. It may not be old but it could be even better, designed to your own style.

Flickr: Glass Doorknobs

Flickr: Doorknobs and Doorhandles

Flickr: Knobs and Handles

The First House I Ever Explored

oldhouse1

oldhousetop

oldhousefront

oldhouse

This is the first house I ever explored. I had my first digital camera from my Mother for my birthday/ Christmas, an early present before she went down to Florida for the winter. It was great. But, I did not know I would need to buy a memory card. I assumed the memory with the camera would give me all the space I needed to photograph the house.

I never did get all the way around to the back of it. Not long after the house was demolished so now I never will get back there for more exploring. But, I did learn to do my best while at the site and not leave anything for another trip. Another trip might not happen.