The very first, and only, bonafide antique top hat I’ve ever worn belonged to a long-departed Nebraska Territorial Governor. My best friend’s father, Ed, purchased three items of Samuel Black’s wardrobe at an auction many years ago. One day, while sorting through his attic Ed asked me to try on the hat to find out if it fit. The hat size
was slightly too small for my head, but I did wear the thing for several minutes. Everyone had a good laugh as I paraded around the house, pretending to be the old Governor of Nebraska.
I later learned that the former Territorial Governor was an ex-Pennsylvanian from Pittsburg. He was a war hero in the Mexican-American War before his short term in territorial office. He returned to Pittsburg in the summer of 1861 to command the Union Army’s 62nd Regiment as a Colonel, the first to leave that city to fight in the Civil War. Black was killed in the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia in June, 1862. As you can imagine, that moth-bitten old hat ramped up my love of history and enjoyment of old stuff.
Today is National Cherish an Antique Day. This is the time to find an old artifact to enjoy and contemplate. Maybe it’s one you own, or something from a museum or antiques dealer. Antiques give us a sense of history and what our ancestors used.
I was first taught that authentic antiques are items that are a minimum of 100-years-old. Anything that is “younger” than a century should be considered to be vintage or just old. Recently, some collectors have decided to describe items as young as 50-years-old as antique. Personally, I don’t agree with their assessment. That would mean that some items made during my lifetime are antiques. The time-frame doesn’t feel right to me. I still use the 100-year definition.
To commemorate today’s holiday, I decided to share some images of a few old things around my house.
An old steel model airplane qualifies as a vintage collectable and is charming in its own right. The “Metalcraft” toy is not aerodynamically suitable to fly. It was sold in kit form in the late 1920s during the excitement following Charles Lindbergh’s famous trans-Atlantic flight. As far as models are concerned, the toy is rather primitive. An airplane like this could be assembled in less than an hour. I wonder who purchased and assembled it.
Westclox “Big Ben” alarm clocks have long been collectors’ items. I own a few of the old tickers. This particular example qualifies as an actual antique. The date of manufacture was 1912. It’s in fairly good condition, but needs a good cleaning and lubrication. It will only run a few hours before I need to shake it to restart the mechanism. Many of the old “Big Ben” clocks were customized with the name of the retailer on the dial. My clock was originally sold by W.L. Schultz of Atkinson, Nebraska.
My favorite artifact, by a long shot, is a “Gone With The Wind” style kerosene lamp. It was made in 1888 by the Consolidated Glass & Lamp Company. I cleaned and restored this lamp last year.
Whether you own some vintage and antique items, or simply view them in a museum, I hope you’ll take some time to cherish an antique, today.