Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pocket Watches Galore! My pawn shop find of 2012

Gold-Filled 1913 Elgin pocket watch, movement

     Greetings, everyone! I recently had the luck of obtaining several pocket watches from a local pawn store. Someone I know works there, and I had asked him to tell me if they ever took in any pocket watches; one day, he let me know they had. Down to the store I went the next day that he was working (so he would get the credit for the sale, of course), 2011 holiday gift cash in hand and ready to buy, if the price was right. (What can I say, I do not often find things I really want to buy!)

     Yes, I went there thinking that there might be some tattered box of scruffy-looking watches missing vital parts with which I could do something artsy. Little did I suspect that there were this many watches, all in decent condition. Three of them could be wound and then actually ran! I bartered a little bit for the whole batch, albeit halfheartedly due to my delight at the possibility of getting so many pieces of history in one fell swoop.
      The deal seemed to be going well, but I had just fallen for one particular watch which was not allowed to be included in the batch price; I had my heart set on the running, 1913 gold-filled Elgin watch with beautifully etched hunting case, and felt as though I could not leave it for someone else to buy. It had simple engraved ornate flowers, scrolls, and leaves on the outside of the case, and it wound and ran. (I later discovered that it runs very slow, even with the speed adjusted, so that is something for me to learn how to remedy. It may need a cleaning, a new spring, both, or something else entirely.)But I was in full SQUEE! mode and would not be deterred by the downer that reason can be.
     I asked if that was the best they could do, which is the standard pawn-store lingo for "you gotta come down on the price before I will buy this item." The owner of the pawn shop reduced the price to about 1/3 of the price on the tag and I agreed, probably too quickly and a little too loudly, to buy the watch. (I remember shouting "sold!" across the small store); emotion had obviously taken over the deal, at least on my end. It seemed a reasonable price for a running, 1913, gold-filled Elgin pocket watch. It may or may not be the most valuable of the watches I purchased, but it is my favorite. It had been four YEARS since I had found any (reasonably priced) pocket watches at any pawn shop in the area, and I was determined that this would be the day that they would be mine.

pocket watches, (1913 Elgin in upper right corner)

     What did I get for my enthusiastic efforts? The gold 1913 Elgin and one other, a couple of Walthams, a George Draeb,  two Hamiltons, and a Republic. I have determined the approximate production date on a few of them as closely as is possible to determine from serial numbers, and have had fun learning about the history of the companies, and of markings and materials used back in the day. Two of the watches have engraved messages on the inside of the case which give a bit of insight into the proprieties of society back then.

same pocket watches, movements displayed (1913 Elgin in upper right corner)
     In my collection of watches, we find Silverdine, Silverode (nickel alloys), and gold-filled cases. Of course, just the movements themselves have me entranced. Warning: educational content --The often intricate and elaborate etching patterns that one sees on the watch movements is called "damaskeening."
     I took the photographs you see here at the instant that I arrived home, setting the watches on the bag from the pawn shop. At some point, I shall likely attempt to photograph them with an actual camera rather than a cellular phone camera.  How much did I pay for the entire lot of seven watches? The six totalled $150, then the 1913 Elgin was $75 plus tax. Did I get ripped off? Possibly. Occasionally, the thought of "but what will I DO with them?" pops into my mind. Then I remember that these pocket watches are one of those things that will never be made again: not in those places, at those times, by those people. Honestly, I have always wanted to learn more hands-on aspects of horology - the art or science of measuring time.

     By the way, most of these watches will  not be intentionally dismantled for parts. They may eventually be partially and cautiously dismantled for cleaning and repair; I hope to learn how to do some of it myself, as I do have some experience in taking them apart, and hope that reassembly will happen as well. I will be starting on the non-functioning watches, thank you very much! I hope to make up for my previous involvement in Watchmageddon by preserving these beautiful pieces of history, or at least trying to. They may serve no useful function in today's society with our digital timekeeping devices, and the value of any one of them has yet to be determined, but I like them all the same. Squee!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

To See the World Through A Tiny Lens -- Stanhope Microphotograph Objects

     The Stanhope, or "optical bijou", was the name given to the items created with microphotographic images inside them.  Ranging from letter openers, to knives, to sewing tools such as tape measures, to jewelry, the Stanhope revolutionized the perception of photography and the souvenir industry beginning in 1860's France. About that time, Rene Dagron (1819-1900), a portrait maker in Paris created the first Stanhopes by affixing a micro-image to a lens.  From Stanhopes.info: "The Stanhope lens was invented by Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753-1816). It was a rod-shaped hand viewer with two surfaces of unequal curvature, but later the design was adapted to incorporate a curved magnifying surface at one end, and a plane surface at the other. Lord Stanhope died many years before his invention was used in the manufacture of novelty souvenirs."

     To use a Stanhope peep-hole viewer, one would put the tiny hole in the object up to one's eye while holding the object up to the light, and the image could be seen. Popular subjects included monuments, royalty (especially Queen Victoria!), world's fairs, cities, towns, shrines, and landscapes. Stanhopemicroworks.com has an extensive gallery of Stanhope objects.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Smells like Mad Science - and Jagers! Girl Genius Scents at ZOMG Smells

"Doctor's Bag" of vials at ZOMG Smells

     While I have known about the existence of ZOMGSmells for years, through their advertisements on the Girl Genius web site, it is so much fun that I needed to share what I found.

     The biggest attraction, for me, was their line of Girl Genius scents. Among the GG scent collection are: The Baron, Madboy, Pirate Queen, Jager #1, Jager #2, and Jager #3.  Gee, I wonder to whom they are referring, ha ha, but I sure hope Jagers smell better than they sometimes look! (BTW, I absolutely adore Jagermonsters, und hy know eet iz hard to schmell nize after heeting tings vit odder tings.  The scents sound delicious.  I mean, ferocious!

     Quack medicine cologne, anyone?  In addition to the GG scents, the ladies of ZOMG have created a collection of scents based on vintage patent medicine recipes, Dr. ZOMG's Cure-Alls.  Learn the history behind some of the potions, salves, tonics, and liniments that were hawked as cure-alls both on street corners and sold in pharmacies, some of which are still available today in slightly altered forms.  For example, Dr. Zomg's Superlative Polytonic Mirabalm is based on the recipe for Coca-Cola syrup, minus the cocaine, but with an additive to make the mixture tingle on the skin!

"Doctor Zomg's Cure-Alls do not actually cure all. They don't cure ANYTHING, other than not smelling nifty. But they *are* based on recipes for actual patent medicines, which likewise didn't cure anything. So we figure we're in good company there!"

Hmmm.... Who says shopping cannot be informative?

     I mentioned the Tesla scent in a previous post, and while thinking along those lines, why not try the Higgs-Boson scent? "We promised we'd make Higgs Boson available permanently when the particle itself was satisfactorily demonstrated to actually exist, and as of July 4, 2012, it looks like that's exactly what's happened. Here's to Dr. Peter Higgs, CERN, and the scientific method! Our toast: a blend simultaneously heavy and sprightly, with mace (for atom-smashing) and strong engineer tea over a rock-solid theoretical base, by which we mean patchouli, vetiver, and ATLAS cedar."

     If you are undecided or just want to try all of the scents in a particular collection, you can order a "squee set," which contains 1ml vials of the collection, or order a set of 5ml bottles. They sell dozens of more individual scents, all themed, as well as soaps with the aforementioned scents incorporated.

     The descriptions of the scents always make me salivate a little, which means they are describing it well! When I go to the site, it is about all I can do to not order one of everything. I would like to hear from you if you have ordered and/or experienced some of their scent formulations.  Eenjoy de schoppink!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!

     Since the steampunk community so often refers to the gentleman, I wanted to find out more about the esteemed Nikola Tesla besides information about the always-dramatic (and fun!) Tesla Coil.

     Tesla was born on the 10th of July, 1856 in Croatia. After working in Europe on telegraphs and loudspeaker technology until 1884, he moved to the United States to work with Thomas Edison on direct current generators. Tesla reworked Edison's design to make it more efficient, for which Edison refused to pay him the agreed-upon amount, and Tesla resigned from the company.
     In 1886, he started his own company in New York City, and invented many technologies that are familiar today, such as A/C current electricity, spark plugs (patented as "electric igniter"), and radio remote controlled vehicles.
      Tesla had an eidetic memory. "While a person with photographic memory will precisely recall visual information, a person with eidetic memory is not limited to merely visual recall – theoretically they can recall other aspects of the event including sensory information that is visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory, as well as other dimensions."(from Wikipedia)  He often would not draw his inventions much or at all before beginning construction; instead, he would visualize every aspect of them as needed throughout the process. The descriptions of his visions also seem to match how synesthetes describe their way of looking at the world.
    Other facts about Nikola Tesla: along with his native tongue he also spoke Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin; he liked animals, especially pigeons, which he fed every day; he developed extreme OCD early in life, a disease which at that time was seen as partial insanity; later in life, he became vegetarian for both ethical and medical reasons, eating only honey, bread and vegetables.
     In the 1890's, became friends with Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). On an unrelated note, Tesla believed that his celibacy aided his scientific progress.  Despite his sacrifice, Tesla never won the Nobel Prize (he was nominated in 1915 along with Edison, and neither won, supposedly because of their bitter dispute over the superiority of alternating vs. direct current). Tesla held more than 278 patents when he died on 7 January 1943 at age 86 alone at the New Yorker Hotel, $20,000 in debt.

Some modern tributes to Tesla/things named for him:

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Nikola Tesla Award (an award given for an outstanding contribution to the generation or utilization of electric power.)
the rock band Tesla
Tesla Motors, which makes electric cars
a crater on the moon
an asteroid
a street corner in Manhattan
a USPS stamp in 1983
the Nikola Tesla Museum
ZOMG Scents Tesla cologne

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this fascinating historical figure!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tempting Teas! $5 Off Adagio Tea Orders

Greetings, all!

    Let me just get this confession out of the way: I adore tea. Any kind, any origin.

     When I was diagnosed with a medical condition that prohibited me from drinking tea, I was devastated. Give up my morning cup? That will not do!  But I had to, or keep having some quite painful issues, so I wiped away the tears and threw away my beloved tea. That was several years ago.

     Recently, my frustration and longing for a nice cup of tea led me to Adagio Teas, and I browsed their site for hours.  I chose a few varieties that I thought might lend themselves to some experimentation, to see if there is just one kind of concoction that resembles tea that I can drink without repercussions.  I placed an order for several samples, and they sent me a discount code to give to others.

     So, if it is of interest, please use this code and get $5 off of an order from Adagio.  They have a good variety of teas, herbal and otherwise, and the sample portions go for between $2-9, so you can try out ones that interest you without breaking the budget!

     Yummy treat! Here is a $5 gift certificate to Adagio Teas: 7665144551. Expires in 24 hours.

Do enjoy!

P.S. from 6/14/12 - I have to say that I am impressed with the company. I placed my order two days ago, and am now drinking what I ordered! The tea samples arrived in sturdy, well-marked, resealable bags; each one is color coded, as well, for white tea, black tea, herbal, etc. On each package is the ideal brewing temperature and time.  Oh, and so far, the tea is delicious!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Sale: Gears and Singed Feathers Preserved in Two Miniature Resin-Filled Glass Bottles

Singed Feathers in Clear Glass Bottle

Feathers and Brass Watch Gear in Bottle

     Greetings, everyone!
      Due to one thing and another, I have not yet made these bottles into jewelry, so instead of tearing them apart and possibly ruining the pieces, I have decided to offer them for sale as curiosities. (I discovered how to make a relatively easy and functional hanging loop after I permanently affixed the corks into these bottles, and said technique must be done before adding the corks and before the resin hardens.)
      These bottles represent simple, first-time experiments with the materials, and should in no way be taken as the end-all of my feather/resin/bottle efforts.  As usual, I have come up with more a few more ideas, and must simply try them!

     (Want to know more about the materials I used? Read about other pieces which also utilized the Red Lory feathers (and tell more about the bird from whom they came) in this previous post.


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