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Allen Jacobs, 34th Iowa Infantry, Company A
Proudly standing before a full-length mirror, he tugged on the ends of his jacket, adjusted his sweat stained collar, and repositioned his blue kepi. Taking a seat as instructed, he straightened his back and stared intently into the photographer’s peculiar contraption, careful not to move. In the still and silent moments that followed, he solemnly reflected on his life. Read more
Gettysburg: Shoes & Prisoners of War
Interwoven with the terrible carnage and historical significance of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), is the enduring legend that the Civil War’s most prolific battle was fought over shoes. On September 13, 1863, a little more than 10 weeks after the battle, Confederate General Henry Heth, whose Virginians were the first to engage the Union Army on July 1, filed his official report in which he explained why he ordered a detachment of his division into Gettysburg. Read more
WW2 Ration Tokens
When milling about an antique store one lazy afternoon, I came across an assortment of red and blue discs, haphazardly displayed inside a locked curio case. About the size and thickness of a penny, made from fibrous material, and designed to look like currency, I soon learned these tokens—and millions more like them—once served a vitally important role in America’s wartime economy during World War II. Read more
Cherokee Trail Trees
Long before an expansive network of interstates and highways cut across America, a network of trails were formed and traversed by the Cherokee. Like today’s interstate system, the Cherokee trails ran north to south, east to west. The trails were used for trade, hunting, gathering, and to make war against opposing tribes and settlers that wanted their land.
Marking those trails were trail trees—hardwood trees whose trunks were intentionally bent to grow low and parallel to the ground before rising upward again. Like today’s highway signs, researchers believe the Cherokee shaped trees to point to things that their people needed on long and arduous journeys.
Sometimes called “bent trees”, “marker trees”, or “signal trees”, surviving examples are now two hundred years old or more. Many are dying due to disease, weather, urbanization, and age, giving urgency to a project organized to catalog them before they’re lost forever. Read more
First Thanksgiving: Truths, Assumptions, & Falsehoods
As Plymouth, Massachusetts, celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in 1620, ongoing archaeological work at the original Pilgrim settlement has unearthed a sweeping array of Native American and early European artifacts. These discoveries, together with primary source accounts written by Pilgrims William Bradford and Edward Winslow, have reshaped our understanding of the “First Thanksgiving”; a three-day feast celebrating the Pilgrims’ first harvest in the New World in 1621. Read more
Stingy Jack | Jack-O’-Lantern
Portly pumpkins with twisted faces are a sure sign that the Halloween season is upon us. Often referred to as jack-o’-lanterns, these ghoulish-faced pumpkins have quite the backstory.
Get The Funk Out Of Here!
If you are a collector of old things, chances are you are also an accumulator of weird smells. As an antique collector, that peculiar funk just comes with the territory. While you might revel in the smell of “vintage”, those around you might not. In fact, it might be time for an odor intervention, especially if someone has told you “I cannot put my finger on it, but there is something about you that just plain stinks.” As painful as those words can be, do not let your hearts be troubled. We some natural remedies to get that funk out of your life! Read more
Masks, Zorro, and Joaquín Murrieta
As we navigate the present circumstances brought about by the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk about masks, who wears them, who refuses to, why, and why not. Having been on my mind lately, my thoughts about masks drifted in a different direction, towards Don Diego Vega, better known by his alter-ego, Zorro. Read more
DIY Museum Labels
If you are looking for creative ways to convert your living space into a museum quality display exhibit, this article might just do the trick. We will show you how (and with what) to accentuate your collection with museum labels, also referred to as captions or tombstones.
The California Raisins
With a $7.5 million dollar ad campaign teetering dangerously close to being lost, Seth Werner, a 31-year-old copywriter at the ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding, knew it was show time. Moments after walking into the pitch meeting, Werner pressed play on his cassette player. After a brief period of awkward idleness, Werner began to shimmy his way across the meeting room floor as the Motown hit “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” bellowed from Werner’s boom box.Read more