10
Jan
stored in: Weird Antiques and tagged:
Psycho Cuteness

I couldn’t resist shooting an image of this item. Any antique that makes me recoil in horror is good fodder for a blog entry. This item is a working table lamp that is made of chalk.

The Kewpie doll was most popular in the 1930s post-Depression United States. The same image was made into items for everyday use, as we see in this lamp. Kewpie dolls and figurines are based on comical strip-like illustrations by Rose O’Neill that appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s.

“Psycho-cuteness” is a term used by cartoonist Bill Griffith to describe a product, such as a doll or toy, that is supposed to be “cute”; but in fact is horrifying.

Quack Medicine Bottles

I have now included a section devoted to information about and images of all varieties of antique bottles & glass; especially so called “Quack Medicines” that were so readily available throughout the 19th century and beyond. A prescription in the 1800s was no more than a recipe that was provided to an apothecary for mixing of ingredients. The very title of “doctor” in the 1800s was vague at best, as there were no legal standards and practices established to regulate the title.

Very few compounds actually benefited the patient or consumer in any way. Among the effective ones were quinine for malaria, opiates for pain, digitalis for the heart and tar or creosote for open wounds. Creosote was applied to flesh wounds or cleaned gangrenous wounds, especially in the Civil War, to prevent further infection or decay. For a short time, creosote, or coal tar, was used in cough suppressants. The fact that it was poisonous took a little longer to figure out.

Quack medicines were known as patent medicines during the 18th and 19th centuries. Often times, entrepreneurs and self-proclaimed doctors would travel the countryside hawking their cures for cancer, gout, boils, rheumatism or even illness incurred through moral indiscretion. There would usually be a good deal of showmanship involved.

The designs of the bottles and labeling of these preparations was part of the show. Many of the most valuable are the ones with the most unusual style or color, accompanied with the pontil-mark on the base, which was evidence of having been a hand-blown. Antique bottles that note narcotic ingredients are very collectible today.

Very few medicines in the 1800s actually worked, in the sense that they would all to often be of unknown or “secret” concoction with little or no curative properties. Various analyses have been performed over the years to demystify the origin of most of the elixirs, cures, panaceas, tinctures, potions, remedies, painkillers, anodynes, liniments, cordials, compounds, homeopathic remedies, salves, salts and other quack medicines. The results were astounding.

The contents of patent medicines would range from useless sugar water to narcotic tinctures that could easily kill infants or children because of the high level of morphine, chloroform , heroin, cocaine or opium. It appears that many English and American citizens became habituated to a great degree to these medicines. These compounds were accidentally effective if for no other reason than they helped the patient forget their pain or illness for a short time. Dysentery and cholera were rampant in the 19th century, so the fact that strong opiates were available without prescription at the corner drugstore could have been a blessing in disguise. Opiates are extremely effective in halting diarrhea and severe coughing, subsequently saving lives.

The bottle shown here was named “Teasdale’s Chlorodyne”. Victorian trash heaps are brimming with these bottles. The contents were reportedly morphine, chloroform, cannabis indica (marijuana resin) and sometimes cyanide and capsicum. Laudanum was the equivalent in the United States, composed mainly of morphine or raw opium dissolved in alcohol.

In late Victorian England, Teasdale’s Chlorodyne and other medicines were legally challenged as being a danger to public welfare. The manufacturer’s were given the choice of removing the narcotic ingredients or labeling the medicine as “poison” to deter overdoses. They chose to re-label. You will see most of the bottles like the one pictured above with the embossing “POISON” or the ever-familiar “NOT TO BE TAKEN”.

08
Dec
stored in: Weird Antiques and tagged:
Liberty & Justice

Antiques come in all shapes and sizes: From the sublime to the horrific, they’re all part of one big happy family. My favorite antiques are usually the strangest ones of the lot.

The teapot shown here is in a category that I avoid. Of course, pieces like this had their predecessors, as can be seen in the “grotesque” pottery of the southern United States, especially North Carolina. The grotesque pottery consisted mainly of handcrafted jugs and crocks. Grotesque wares of all types can be traced back one more step to the grotesque utilitarian ware of the 18th century. If one wanders WAY back in time, prehistoric items contained grotesque elements as well. Since the dawn of mankind, it’s pretty obvious that we all need something hideous in our day to cheer us up. Humor is the best medicine, and in this case, the Cure.

08
Dec
stored in: Antiques and tagged:
Cranberry Glass

ANTIQUES. I used to think that antiques were unusual things that people collect; however, I’ve noticed that antiques are actually something that collects groups of unusual people.

The definition of, and the word “antique” has been processed and re-defined so many times, that it has lost its meaning. Some people say that 25 years old makes something antique. Some will claim that an antique must be 100 years old. Some people, especially interior designers and members of the the nouveau-riche, will even overlook the fact that much of what is on the market now is essentially NEW! So; break out your blow-torches and chains: It’s time to make some antiques!

Be that as it may, the collectors and dealers of antique items are as wide in girth as the definition of that which is antique. The antiques business itself is replete with outsiders, eccentrics and sociopaths. Those who make income or spend a good deal of income on antiques are obsessive by nature. I guess this is why I have always been attracted to this field of interest. This may sound self-deprecating, but it remains a mystical and fascinating topic to me and millions of others.

An attempt is being made here to categorize the different varieties of antiques as they fit in with my view of the whole messy business. Click on sub-categories to see more.

05
Dec
stored in: Weather and tagged:
Weather Images

Weather images are among my favorites. I especially like trying to catch images of lightning. The capture of a great lightning stroke is very satisfying, especially because it takes some preparation and experimentation. Not to be confused with sunsets, which I have categorized separately, weather images could include anything from tornadoes to macro images of snowflakes. As this blog and the parent website develop, one can expect the content to build dramatically over time. At this particular point, I am simply attempting to master WordPress. As I become more proficient with this medium, things will become easier to navigate. As with the rest of the pages here, stay tuned for more.

24
Nov
stored in: Weird Antiques and tagged:
Beautiful on the Inside

As a born collector, I began collecting everything I could find in my early youth. In addition to amassing a gigantic cache of unusual artifacts from all walks of life, I collected the cardboard tubes from the inside of toilet paper rolls. By the time I was seven, my closet was full of shopping bags that overflowed with such rolls. Eventually; my parents asked me to get rid of this clutter, so I went into the backyard with a can of gasoline, doused the hundreds of cardboard rolls and immolated them. My God! What glorious flames were produced on that day. This was an epic moment in my life for reasons beyond the field of collecting. It was fire and pyromania that soon swept like a conflagration through my psyche. But; I digress. This is a story for another post.

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, the pursuit of antiques slowly became an obsession for me. At first, antique bottles were my choice. I began collecting antique bottles and telephone-pole insulators by the mid-1970s. This new direction in collecting became infectious right from the start. To this day, I am an avid collector of antique bottles, glass, pottery, ephemera and small antiques. As time progresses, I will have separate pages devoted to this hobby. The directive in this particular post is my fascination with the unusual. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call the topic “Weird Antiques”.

By the mid to late 1970s, I had picked up the hobby of photography. At this time I was already immersed in the collection of unusual antiques and antique bottles. My finds and purchases of said items centered on frantically collecting as much rare, bizarre, curious and downright weird things as I could lay my hands on. If I could not afford something, I would take a picture of it. In some cases I would draw renditions of what I had seen. In other cases I would invent bizarre items and draw images of them.

This section of my blog is devoted to Weird Antiques. I will post some examples and outsiders may submit some of their own.