Never mind the temples, deserts, tombs, pyramids and huge, chiseled libraries (That's you Alexandria!) Sometimes all it takes is the guts, grit and determination…okay and some digging tools and a little know-how, and you can find fascinating things in your own urban backyard. New York is prime for finding pieces of history. This past summer, workers at the World trade center found a 32 foot, 18th century ship's hull as they were digging the site. It was apparently used as filler to extend lower Manhattan to the Hudson River. WILD.
Growing up in a mostly elderly co-op, and being the Superintendent's daughter, we were always privy to the treasures left behind by those who had moved away or died. It was often part of the job description to clean out the apartment, and the relatives who were *supposed* to handle it rarely came back to claim anything. Sadly, this also included beautiful family photos and albums, yearbooks, and other paraphernalia from as far back as the thirties and forties. If it were me, I would be clamoring for pictures and memorabilia of my family. I do now and I have fun restoring them in photoshop when I can.
So, point being, the last 25 or so years have been a cornucopia of books, records, magazines and dusty baubles and trinkets. Two of the coolest things I think we've ever obtained were a Brass compass, (No, not an omni!) Something more akin to the picture below (not as pretty, trust me)-but very old, with a thicker, dark border/holder. The compass had water inside and I doubt it worked, but I loved to hold it, and sometimes having an antique object in your possession can just spark the imagination.
The other find that we still have was a postage stamp coin machine. So cool. No stamps inside, only the samples where the coin slot would be. Very similar to this-
While reading through my favorite blogs, I came across one from the Bowery Boys about a special book just released at the end of November. It's called Past Objects by Scott Jordan. I fell in love with the cover alone and it made me quite nostalgic for the 'old days' when I used to go with my dad and dig through stuff like you see. Though, I admit I am wearing rose-colored glasses too, because a lot of it was truly junk, old gum wrappers, sporks, napkins, papers, mouse traps, medicine prescriptions, used tissues, clothing that should never dare see a revival. But, you never knew what was what or its value. That's what made it fun. One time my sister scored a bag of barbie clothes and dolls, never opened, but they were modern. I used to love to find books. I keep waiting to see when the Antique Road show will be back in New York State. I would love to attend with some of our findings. Just to see the value.
The basic premise of the book, is that New Yorker Jordan developed a passion for scouring through the five boroughs. He's braved mud slides and garbage heaps, cisterns, privies and other dangers to find remnants of the past. Bottles, cannon balls, metal, leather, bric-a-brac centuries old, and according to the Bowery Boys post, those creepy-Victorian dolls with the staring, dead eyes similar to this one. COOL.
For more information, I humbly direct you to my original inspiration for this post on the Bowery Boys Blog- 'Buried Treasure: The beauty of 'Past Objects,' underfoot.'
You can buy the Hardcover version of this book on Amazon. This one is definitely going on my MUST HAVE list. Past Objects on Amazon.