Sedentary? Perhaps all you need is a little Jolt to get you going…

March 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

When we think of life in the 19th century (and prior), many adjectives come to mind but “sedentary” isn’t one of them. However, couch potatoes (minus the couch since few could afford them) must have been somewhat prevalent as to inspire an entrepreneur to come up with a solution: The JOLT! Whereas advertisements for such “inventions” were quite common in Scientific American, we recently discovered this one on the back page of a May 9, 1885 Harper’s Weekly. Although the contraption may not have been much of a financial (or health-generating) success, the mantra, “if at first you don’t succeed…”, merged with humanity’s proclivity for rest and relaxation, has served manufacturers and designers of exercise equipment for quite some time.

It’s interesting to note this ad occurred in May – long past the expiration date of most New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps making and then breaking annual promises to one-self is more of a recent pastime.

From Waco to Brooklyn…

February 8, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever been thinking one thing and a moment later your mind has completely carried you down several rabbit holes and back up into a field far away? As you try to retrace your steps, you are utterly amazed at how you ever ended up where you did. I find history to be much the same. I may begin my historical trek in a tiny town in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, but before long I find I’ve meandered to the center of New York City. Such is the journey I took this snowy afternoon.

Every day I drive past an old industrial complex in my mountain town Of Williamsport, PA.. The signage says, “Williamsport Wire Rope Company” and the factory yard is filled with enormous spools stacked about … a photographer’s fantasy for possible black and white images. This picturesque scene is what originally caught my attention on those many drives home. This particular day a rabbit trail led me to an exploration of what the wire cable produced in this factory would have been used for which quickly lead me to an engineer named John Augustus Roebling (1806 – 1869). John had owned the very first wire cable company, similar to the one in my town. Not satisfied to just produce these cables, his mind dreamt of the many, yet be discovered, uses those wires might  have … Voila ! … Suspension Bridges. As a suspension bridge designer and builder extraordinaire, he  was instrumental in creating the beautiful city of Pittsburgh which became known as “The City of Bridges”. From Pittsburgh to the Niagara River … from Waco to Brooklyn NY, this man took spools of wire cable and transformed each area he touched into a practical work of art. My rabbit trail reminds me that my local history can be the start of the very best future road trips. Whether your interests lie with new scientific discoveries, historical biographies or works of art, much of history can satisfy almost any inquisitive mind. I see a historical bridge excursion coming this spring… perhaps even from Waco to Brooklyn.

Snapshot 1886… Mark Twain – yet another hidden gem…

January 7, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

This forum has often been used to highlight one of the unique benefits of the hobby of collecting Rare & Early newspapers – that is, collecting a newspaper for one purpose, only to later find a more precious item hidden within its pages. Such is the case with the Harper’s Weekly for September 29, 1866. For 40+ years we offered this issue with a spotlight on a variety of the interesting illustrations found within its 16 pages. However, we recently discovered yet another hidden gem: an article accompanying the popular print: “Burning of the California Clipper ‘Hornet'”. What’s so special about this uncredited article? It was written by Mark Twain – making it the first time an article written by him received national attention. What a find!

If you happen to be one of the lucky one’s to have purchased this issue without knowledge of the Mark Twain contribution, you now possess an issue of significantly greater notoriety (and therefore value) than what you previously had thought. Good for you.

Snapshot 1929… Just prior to the “crash” – Thomas Edison’s electric lamp…

September 14, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

When one thinks of late October, 1929, it’s hard not to focus on The Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. However, even just a few days prior to the world-altering event, people were going about their lives enjoying news of a huge new airport in Chicago which at the time featured the largest hanger in the world and celebrating the 50th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb. In regards to the pre-crash celebration of Edison, the October 21, 1929 issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune printed a set of related cartoons on the front page, one of which is related to this joyous event. I also (accidentally?) included the 3rd due to its timeliness. Enjoy.

Snapshot 1879… Thomas Edison – in defense of his electric light bulb…

September 7, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

The benefits of the light bulb are so interwoven throughout our lives, few would argue we take them for granted – until we notice their infamous ultra-luminescence just moments prior to our world becoming dark. However, back in 1879, Edison had received enough grief concerning his invention he would often feel compelled to provide a defense – some of which appeared in newspapers throughout the country. Such was the case with the December 27, 1879 issue of The Sun (New York). I appreciate the irony of a discussion regarding artificial light appearing in an issue of The Sun. Enjoy.

Snapshot 1927… A team effort through time…

November 25, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

When one considers the evolution of the computer, certain names come to mind: Charles Babbage and his son Henry, Alan Turing, John Atanasoff, John von Neumann, Henry Edward Roberts, Bob Bemmer, and James Gosling to name a few. However, like any grand endeavor, the number of unsung contributors is endless. Case in point: Have you ever heard of Vannevar Bush & Harold Locke Hazen? If you answered no, you are not alone. In fact, their names are absent on most lists of “pioneers in computing”. However, like thousands of others, their efforts were not insignificant. An article on the front page of a NEW YORK TIMES for October 21, 1927 places them front-and-center – albeit if only for a snapshot in time.

Snapshot 1692… Now you see it…

October 28, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Now you see it… Now you really see it. As one who cannot identify people’s faces if they are more than a few feet away, I really appreciate a good pair of glasses. It is hard to imagine a time when eye-glasses were a luxury, and even what was available was rather rudimentary. Thankfully, in the late 1600’s, an inventor developed a passion for optics, and made significant progress towards helping those with poor eyesight see well. The King and Queen of England took notice and he soon became their personal optician. Although quite rare, we came across an early advertisement for his services within an issue of The Athenian Mercury:

Snapshot 1858… A French flying machine…

August 13, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from The National Intelligencer, dated August 7, 1858. It’s a shame those in the article below this snapshot didn’t have access to such an invention.

Snapshot 1885… Early flight (?)

June 28, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from The Scientific American, New York, dated May 9, 1885. Thankfully, the wise saw, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” eventually proved to be true.

 

An internet idea, far ahead of its time?

February 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A fascinating article in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat” of September 15, 1878 seems to include a man’s idea which is far ahead of his time. Only problem is he didn’t have access to the technological developments the next 125 years would provide.

The column heads announce: “The Newsograph” “A Most Remarkable Application of Edison’s Last Patent” “The Device of a Park Philosopher for Bringing the Word’s News To Every Man’s Home”. The article details an idea of bringing “verbal” news into every person’s home by using Edison’s phonograph patent, thereby eliminating the need for a physical newspaper (see below). A curious concept in light of today’s internet technology. Go to the link above for the full article.

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