Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REEEEALLY Old Stuff

Nope, I'm not talking about myself - although some days I do feel reeeeeally old!  :D

I'm a "date person".  Even more specifically, I'm a "time person".  I've always been very aware of the time, or time passing, and dates.  Tell me your birthday and I'll remember it forever (that's not to say, unfortunately, that I'll remember it on the exact date, but if you quiz me about your birth date I'll be able to rattle it off for you).  This sense of time is both a blessing and a curse - and most likely the cause of my obsession with old stuff.

One other benefit from being so acutely aware of time is that I'm pretty good at guessing what year something was produced, made or printed judging by its font or style.  For that reason I'm always tickled when I find a real bargain because someone doesn't realize how old an item truly is (most guess 20-30 years newer than the actual date).  On the flip side, there are folks who think something is way older than it is, and price their items accordingly.  Thankfully, I can also pick these out.  :D

So today, I'm not going to talk about vintage ephemera; I'm going to delve into antique ephemera.  Technically, an item is not truly an "antique" until it's over 100 years old (so "antique" malls aren't really that).  And I do have some antique papers, in amazingly good shape!  I can't believe how cheaply one can obtain truly antique ephemera.  Of course, it depends on the type; I can't pick up Abe Lincoln's signature for cheap!  But check out these old invoices:



Aren't they marvelous?  They're over 100 years old!  I always like to imagine what life was like - did they even own a car yet?  Probably not.  And women were still wearing the long dresses, corsets and billowy hats.  They couldn't vote yet, either.  Grocery stores with brand names were just starting to form in the most primitive sense.  Radio wouldn't be invented for another 10 years or so.  And yet, here is a fairly pristine piece of paper that has somehow survived the last 100 years!  When you stop and really think about that, it's astonishing.

Let's take these prescriptions - now, imagine what a pharmacy was like in 1899!  You could still buy morphine and cocaine!  Nearly everything was in powder or pressed-powder pill form, or syrups.  The pharmacist (or "chemist" or "druggist") would mix your concoctions for you, probably with a mortar and pestle.  I'll bet I'm not alone when I conjure the scene of old Mr. Gower from "It's a Wonderful Life"  - how many folks do you think died because of pharmacist error?  Probably more than we think.  I also noticed that there is no phone number on the scrip so I'll bet that Algoma wasn't wired for phones yet (Algoma was, even 20 years ago, primarily farm land.  Now's it's becoming an artists' enclave!).

Here's a wonderful relic from our agricultural past - this farm table book.  It's from 1908 and it's got the prices for different commodities.  I don't get much of what they're talking about, but I LOVE the little tabs!  This book cost $2.50 back 103 years ago - that's the equivalent of $60.00 today!

And you've probably guessed by now that yes, I have indeed used these items in my work.  Why not?  :D  I have multiples of the old things I use and I'll say it again - you just can't beat the patina and look of the old stuff.  :D

3 comments:

  1. I totally agree, Kristi! :D Old papers are the BEST! :D

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  2. I was just thinking...do you think someday someone might be going through our old stuff exclaiming, "Just look at this old to-do list...this is so cool!! It says, 'Take car to repair shop'. Imagine that! They used to drive cars!!"

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