Frances Willard: a chance encounter

Frances Willard, Rest Cottage, 1889

Jim had this old photogravure. Someone was a photograph collector like him. But look closer: a woman sits amid the clutter. Who? I followed up on the only clue: its caption The Den - Rest Cottage. Long story short, the woman is FRANCES WILLARD (1839-1898), feminist, suffragist, and president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union… Continue reading Frances Willard: a chance encounter

Nevada gold mining 1905

Cross-dressing on the old frontier As I was organizing shelves, this set of photos turned up in a box marked "miscellaneous." Some guy took his Kodak Brownie on a gold mining adventure near Goldfield, Nevada -- northwest of Las Vegas, about halfway to Reno. In December 1902 gold was discovered in the hills south of… Continue reading Nevada gold mining 1905

Advice from Katharine Hepburn…

Katherine Hepburn

or is it from Lee Israel? Thursday night, Jim and I watched "Can You Ever Forgive Me?," starring Melissa McCarthy. It told the true story of author-turned-con-artist Lee Israel. For a short period in the early nineties, she paid the rent by using her witty writing skills to forge typed and signed letters from famous… Continue reading Advice from Katharine Hepburn…

Afghanistan: coins on a shoestring

287 Afghanistan coin necklace

The impulse to beautify ourselves is innate to humans. As soon as we figured out how to drill holes in shells and twist plant fiber into string, we began wearing necklaces. And clever as we are, we also began repurposing everyday items into adornment. Here's an example. This 20" necklace from Afghanistan was constructed on… Continue reading Afghanistan: coins on a shoestring

Enigma 243: bone and shell bib necklace

Twenty years or so ago, Jim brought this necklace home, from one of the Rochester shops on his rounds, probably from a dealer who got her merchandise from regional estate sales. It is an elaborate, multi-strand bib-style construction, with a long counterbalancing back piece. 243 We sort of assumed it was African, but didn't fit… Continue reading Enigma 243: bone and shell bib necklace

Enigma 137: circle-dot bones

I have these bone beads. When I hold them, the bones make a sensuous clacking sound. Against a strong light, they are translucent. Each is inscribed with lines and circle-dot motifs, front and back. They remind me of some kind of ancient dominoes, but are more likely shamanic -- meant for divination or for healing.… Continue reading Enigma 137: circle-dot bones

Dogs: not just for Instagram

tintype of dog with girl in striped dress and hat

The New York Times this week published "Dogs Before Instagram: Vintage photos from the New York Times archive show the enduring power of the pooch." I'm not really a dog person, but vintage I got! This photo of a darling young girl and her pup is from our late 19th-century tintype collection. I posted it… Continue reading Dogs: not just for Instagram