Spotlight Artifact: Eliza Graves Quilt

eliza-graves-pickett-summer-2014In 1987, Julia Boyer Reinstein, historian and architectural preservationist, donated over 80 quilts and bed coverings to The Buffalo History Museum. Early on in her life, Julia became fascinated with quilts and believed in the importance of documenting their histories. She received a Bachelor’s degree in History from Elmira College for Women in 1928, writing her senior thesis on early American quilts. Beginning her collection with family quilts, she focused her collecting goals on quilts made west of the Genesee River. Remarkably, only twelve of the quilts in her collection were purchased, the rest were given to her as gifts or through inheritance. 

quiltPictured is a red and white Chimney Sweep quilt from Julia Boyer Reinstein’s quilt collection, also known as an Album or Autograph quilt. It was pieced together by Eliza Graves (later Pickett) between 1852 and 1853, and was assembled and completed in 1854, in Perry, NY. Eliza Graves, pictured above, was Julia Boyer Reinstein’s great grandmother. The Chimney Sweep pattern was very popular for Album quilts in the mid-19th century because a name or inscription could be written on the central cross of each block. According to oral histories from the family, the blocks of this quilt were originally autographed, in pencil, by the young men of Castile, NY.  Before Eliza could embroider the names, she became engaged to Daniel Pickett.  Once she assembled the quilt, she chose to wash out all of the names, eliminating the memory of her previous suitors. The quilt is backed with her own handspun and hand-loomed cotton.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

*This article was featured in the Summer 2014 issue of “The Album”

Spotlight Artifact: Life Mask and Hands

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During Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Chicago in March 1860, American sculptor Leonard Volk took a life mask of the future President. It took about an hour to set the plaster on his face with straws in his nostrils, while Lincoln understandably disliked the process, he was pleased with the outcome. In May 1860, the sculptor took castings of Lincoln’s hands in Springfield, IL. Volk decided that he would like the President to hold something when he took the cast of his hands, so Lincoln obliged him by going out to the wood shed, sawing off a broom handle, and smoothing down the edges to hold in his hand.

Volk used the mask and hand castings to sculpt busts and full-length statues of Lincoln. It may be that the Volk mask of Lincoln is the most reliable document of Lincoln’s face. Unlike photographs, it preserved the actual form. In the years since the original mask was made, other sculptors have turned to it for their inspiration. Copies, such as the one in our collection, have been cast and sold commercially several times throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

*This article was featured in the Spring 2015 issue of  “The Album”

On This Day: January 24, 1935

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Can of Banner Extra Dry Premium Beer, brewed, canned and packed by George F. Stein Brewery Inc., Buffalo, NY

On this day (OTD) in 1935, the first can of beer was sold in Richmond, Virginia by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company; 91% of the consumers approved of the canned beer and as they say, the rest is history.  Historically, Buffalo has always been an alcoholic-beverage-loving city – just take a look at the Google maps Buffalo Drinking Map from 1828 to present day that Amy Miller, from our Library, created.   We have numerous beer bottles in our Collection that were used by many of the local brewers throughout Buffalo’s history, but in celebration of the ‘beer can’ theme today, we scanned through our database, Past Perfect, to see what we could find.

Donated in 2011 by Mr. Phillip DiFrancisco, this can of Banner Extra Dry Premium Beer was brewed, canned and packed by George F. Stein Brewery Inc..  The owner of the brewery, Mr. George F. Stein, was born in Germany in 1865, learning how to brew in Bavarian breweries until 1885, when we moved to Buffalo, N.Y. as an employee at the Lang brewery.  He would go on to work for the International brewery and the Clinton Star brewery before starting the Germania Brewing Company (located at Broadway and Bailey avenue) from 1892-1909 with his father-in-law, Conrad Hammer.

bannercan_backFrom 1909 until 1918, Stein operated Stein’s Ale Brewery in Medina but returned to Buffalo as the brewmaster of the Binz brewery at 797-807 Broadway Ave.  In 1920, Prohibition closed all breweries but Stein purchased the Broadway Ave. building in 1928 and began manufacturing liquid malt, concentrated malt and syrups to sell to bakeries as the Broadway Blending Company.  When beer was legalized in 1933, Stein began to brew beer again at the George F. Stein Brewery Inc. until his death in 1938.

After 25 years of successful business, the George F. Stein Brewery Inc. was purchased by the Leisy Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH) and closed shortly thereafter.

What is WorldCat and Why Do We Love It?

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“The majority of information lies outside the Internet.”
– Jens Redmer, Director of Google Book Search, quoted at Slippery Brick, January 2007

“What’s on the web is extremely ephemeral. Very little of it was written before 1995.”
– Brewster Kahle, creator of the Internet Wayback   Machine, quoted in Newsweek, March 29, 2004 p. 58.

Anyone with an interest in the past soon realizes that Google does not represent the sum total of all recorded human knowledge.  The Buffalo History Museum has been collecting paper-based history for 150 years now, amassing library collections that include 23,000 books, 2,000 manuscript collections, 200,000 pictures & photographs, 7,000 postcards, 7,000 microfilms, 10,000 maps, plans, drawings, and posters, hundreds of reel-to-reel audio recordings, hundreds of periodicals, and uncounted thousands of pamphlets, brochures, newspaper clippings, and other paper-based ephemera.

So, considering that people have been storing information on paper for about 1000 years and the internet is only about 20 years old, how do you figure out what is out there for research purposes if it isn’t digitized and optimized for search engines?

Enter WorldCat.org, which you can think of as Google for the offline world.  It is one free giant online card CATalog for the WORLD’s libraries.  The Research Library has been computerizing its bibliographic records for almost 30 years and has contributed over 25,000 of them to WorldCat, which now boasts one billion records of items found in the libraries all over the planet. Those same 25,000 bibliographic records are also searchable in our in-house catalog, FRANK (Find Resources And New Knowledge).

If you look up Lauren Belfer in FRANK, you discover that the Research Library owns her popular Buffalo novel, City of Light.  If you look her up as an author in WorldCat, you discover that there are 21 entries for her, including Swedish, Italian, and French translations of City of Light.  Click on any one title to see which libraries own copies.

When a book actually is online in full text, catalogers can build a link into their bibliographic records, enabling you to read it at your computer.  But only a tiny percentage of books, newspapers, etc. have been scanned.  Your WorldCat search results will usually show you records of undigitized books, maps, newspapers, periodicals, recordings, letters, and diaries that reside in library collections and must be viewed in person.  In other words, the past is not online.

In the Library, we use WorldCat to figure out who owns something when we do not.  WorldCat showed us that the internal business records of the Bethlehem Steel Company (over 200 linear feet!), including the Lackawanna plant, are held by the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to look in WorldCat for an early short story by Lauren Belfer.  Once you find it, you will discover that it is set in Buffalo and is readable online in full text.  Happy hunting, everyone!

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

*This article was featured in the Winter 2012-2013 issue of “The Album”

Spotlight Artifact: Huffy Puffy 999

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The Fisher-Price Company was founded in 1930 when Herm Fisher began working with Irving Price and Helen Schelle to create toys that “appeal to the imagination, that do something new and surprising and funny.” With their headquarters in East Aurora, NY, Fisher-Price sent their first shipment of toys to Macy’s in New York City in 1931. Fisher-Price was acquired by the Quaker Oats company in 1969 and ultimately purchased by Mattel in 1993. It is now the largest preschool products company in the world and is known for the high quality and durability of its products.

In 1999, the Museum received a large donation of Fisher-Price toys from Mary Brandwein. She established the collection because she found the architecture of the buildings pleasing and Mary collected the pieces with the intention of forming a village with an airport, school, zoo, main street, service station, post office, and so on. The pull toy featured here, from Mrs. Brandwein’s collection, is a wooden train from 1963, labelled “Huffy Puffy 999”. The train has a red plastic face, red wood wheels, a white antennae attached by a spring, and an engine and caboose. The two parts are connected with a metal and plastic hooking system that can uncouple to add more cars to the train.

Rebecca Justinger
Registrar

*This article was featured in the Spring 2016 issue of “The Album.”

Giving history! — and memorable images.

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Dear Friends,

Many will consider a charitable gift today as our thoughts move towards the goodness of the season.

Experiencing history with you, we find the spirit of generosity wound through the stories of the first World War- a war that has recently vanished from living or communicative memory.

The powerful impact of this image has proven inestimable and intangible in value. Just as many of the photos documents, books, ephemera, and artifacts we conserve and preserve.

During World War I, the impact of the poster as a means of communication was greater than at any other time during history. Now in our State Court, three World War I poster exhibits (all from our collection), Paper Bullets: The Posters That Sold The War, carry the Museum through the end of the WWI centennial (2018) and into the main exhibit, coming this spring: For Home and Country. Each featured poster required conservation. More than 30 posters, in all, will have been conserved and displayed through the generous support of the Vukelic Family.

To give online http://www.buffalohistory.org/Support/Donate.aspx
or, by phone, please contact Alexis Greinert at (716) 873-9644 ext. 318.

On behalf of our dedicated board, staff, loyal members, and new and regular guests, I ask that you ‘help see us through’ this important exhibit, and many other offerings we bring — with you in mind. We cannot thank you, our supporters, enough for understanding the exponential worth of keeping this history. I know our work inspires, informs, and instills pride to all who visit.

My best to you this holiday season and in the New Year,

Melissa N. Brown
Executive Director

P.S. Don’t forget to be our guests throughout the year. See what you may like at www.buffalohistory.org.

The Apostolic Clock and its many Mysteries

What has an Apostles train that parades every 30 minutes, shows the moon phases, the location of the sun in the sky, and tells you the day and month all at once? Our Apostolic Clock!
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(If you aren’t familiar with the clock, you can read more about it here and here)

If you are familiar with any of our social media platforms (Instagram, twitter, Facebook), you would have seen that the Apostolic Clock has taken up residence in the entryway of the museum and has resumed enchanting guests with its parade of Apostles.  However, you might not have known about some of its mysteries!

Did you know that…

  • The clock has three different parts that have to be wound at different times? The Apostles parade every 30 minutes so they wind down the fastest; they have to be re-wound every 2 days – if they aren’t, they become stuck 1/3 of the way on parade!
  • Originally, the Apostles paraded on the hour, but it was altered to parade every 30 minutes at the request of museum staff. Marv DeBoy who worked on the clock with Mr. Albert Bull from 1974 onwards, made the modifications.
  • Today, the Apostles come out of a set of doors that opens inward. The doors used to be glued together and opened outward as a single door.
  • All of the Apostles are hand carved and painted wooden figures. While very similar, they differ slightly in the position of their hands, the clothing arrangement and colour and hairstyle.
  • At the top of the clock, there are mysterious metal fixtures that seem to have no purpose. Fred Robjent and Chris Tahk, our wonderful volunteers who have helped maintain the clock for years, have not yet found a purpose for them! Do you know what they are for?
  • There is a hole on the left side that may or may not have been for a light switch. What the light may have illuminated is a still a mystery.
    detailed-clock-face

    • The face of the clock has two larger dials that have painted tin plates of scenery (one even has a castle!) that move independently of each other to mimic moon phases and the movement of the sun.

     

    • The moon dial completes a single revolution ever 91 days and is propelled by a lead weight (which is unusual in design and construction[1])

     

    • The dial with the sun completes a revolution every 24 hours (for 24 hours in a day). What is very interesting though is that the tin plate is mounted on vertical guides – these move the horizon up and down to reflect the winter solstice (at the highest point) and the summer solstice (at the lowest point)!

     

    • The 8-inch terrestrial globe at the bottom of the clock rotates once every 24 hours and is very fragile! It has been conserved at the State University College at Buffalo Art Conservation Department twice: once in 2002 and then in 2008In 2008, wooden dowels were attached inside to help give the globe more structure.  Below are some great ‘After Treatment’ images from its last visit to the Art Conservation Department.

    globe-views

    Now that you know a little more about our clock, you should come for a visit and see how many of these you can spot!  Have you seen any other mysteries about the clock? We’d love to hear any answers or theories – even more mysteries!

Britt Call,
THE GREG D. TRANTER COLLECTION MANAGER

 


[1] P41. HAGANS, Orville R. “The Myles Hughes Apostolic Clock.” Watch & Clock Review 50.8 (August 1983): 40-43.

ABOUT THE COLONEL GARDNER LEGACY FUND

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Gardner Coins

Colonel Gardner was a life-long resident and an enthusiastic booster of Buffalo. A collector, he avidly pursued interests in coins, stamps and local history.

The old Historical Society “day books” document his frequent visits to donate items from his collections. With the support of Colonel Gardner’s descendants, TBHM deaccessioned the numismatic and philatelic collections.

Proceeds from the sale established the Colonel H. Gardner Fund in 2005, providing resources to preserve, share and build our collection.

Since the Fund was established, it has provided The Buffalo History Museum the ability to:
· Conserve 132 artifacts, contributing over $180,000 in expert artifact treatment.
· Purchase nine acquisitions, from Charles Penny’s Larkin collection to a collection of artwork by Hubert Crawford.
·  Invest over $884,509 in state-of-the-art collections care and storage.

Prior to the Gardner Fund, the Museum had to seek funds for artifact conservation 3-5 years before an exhibit could be produced. It took years to raise funds to conserve the artifacts displayed in our 2001 exhibit, Spirit of the City: Reimagining the Pan American Exposition.

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Conservation treatment of Commodore Perry’s mess table from the U.S.S. Lawrence during the War of 1812.

The Gardner Fund has liberated us in many ways! An example is our series of War of 1812 exhibitions. We started artifact conservation using our own resources provided by the Gardner Fund as soon as we began planning the exhibits.

Kim Luangpakdy
Director of Development

 

 

Education & Educators at The Buffalo History Museum

Hello!  My name is Doreen Dell and I am the education assistant at The Buffalo History Museum. As teacher for 50 years, my position at the Museum perfectly aligns with my passion and expertise as an educator and history lover. Additionally, I get to work with teachers and students all over Western New York, a privilege I have always enjoyed. I’m excited about this coming October and looking forward to meeting educators who are not only seeking to share Western New York history with their students, but to share ideas with Museum staff and colleagues. Through our new after-school event, Teachers’ Night Out, we hope to help teachers unwind from a day of teaching and socialize over the Museum’s offerings.

Mark your calendar: Teachers’ Night Out will be held on Wednesday, October 12 from 4 – 6 pm at The Buffalo History Museum.

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Buffalo Bliss photo studio located in the Street of Shops

Teachers will have multiple opportunities to learn about the resources available while exchanging ideas with other teachers. Featured are tours on varied topics that will suit a number of lesson plans: We have World War I posters, Paper Bullets: The Posters That Sold the Warin our State Court. You can see Inside Tim Russert’s Office: If it’s Sunday, it’s “Meet the Press” exhibit. The John R. Oishei Native American Gallery exhibit features the history of the Haudenosaunee. In The John R. Oishei Pioneer Gallery, you can learn about Buffalo Creek from 1806 to the burning of Buffalo. The Neighbors exhibit highlights those who came to Buffalo and made the city what it is today. In the Victorian Street of Shops, early businesses are featured on a cobble stone lane. The Bliss photo studio is popular with youngsters and funsters who like to dress up and take selfies for social media sharing. thumb_img_2507_1024My personal favorites are the newly developed history kits, proven to be an effective teaching tool that students will love; the Native American Kit and the Pioneer Kit have artifacts, reproductions, mini posters and an activity book and are available to rent for your classroom. These kits have been met with rave reviews. You will also have the opportunity to try your luck at identifying an artifact from the early 1800s as you examine our Artifact Detective Program that can be presented at your school.

In addition to the program tours and learning tools to explore, our research library will be open so that you can learn how to obtain primary source materials.

Other participating cultural organizations include: The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, Steel Plant Museum of Western New York, Old Fort Niagara, and the Niagara Frontier Council for the Social Studies.

Did I mention there will be prizes and a happy hour? One of my favorite parts of my job is working with teachers to integrate our resources into their programs. Drop in for a minute or stay as long as we’re open; I look forward to meeting you and your classroom needs.

ICONS: Grant “Home Run” Johnson

Grant_(Home_Run)_JohnsonAfrican-American Grant Johnson began his career as a fleet, power-hitting shortstop with the integrated semi-pro home town Findlay Sluggers, one of the fastest nines in the Hancock County, Ohio area. Able to hold their own against visiting Major League clubs, in October 1893 Johnson led his club to a 5 to 4 victory over the visiting National League Cincinnati team, hitting two home runs against the Majors’ top hurler, 35 game winner Tony Mullane.  In the following year, Johnson is reputed to have struck 60 home runs for his squad, thus earning his nickname of “Home Run.” The Sluggers of 1894 also boasted the venerable baseball skills of John “Bud” Fowler–perhaps the black baseball pioneer–at second base. In 1895, with the tragic onset of segregated baseball, Fowler and Johnson relocated to Adrian, Michigan, where they formed the formidable traveling Page Fence Giants.

These Giants claimed the honor of being the best club in black baseball in 1896. By 1899 they had migrated to Chicago, claiming a second championship in 1901 as the Columbia Giants. Johnson next moved to the New York City-based Cuban X-Giants, helping to lead them to a championship over the Philadelphia Giants in 1903. In 1905 Johnson, now the shortstop with the Philadelphia Giants, helped lead that club to an Eastern championship.  He also picked up a reputation as a fine spot starter as a pitcher, winning six games in 1905.

Off the field, Johnson was one of the men who helped to form the National Association of Colored Professional Clubs of the United States and Cuba, predating the formation of the great Negro National Leagues of the 1920s and 1930s. Returning to New York City, Johnson managed/captained his Brooklyn Royal Giants to consecutive championships in 1908 and 1909. In 1909, Johnson also took time out to get married in Florida while on route to Cuba winter ball.

Equally a star in Cuban baseball, Johnson’s teams won championships in the 1908/09 and in 1911/12 seasons, with Johnson captaining the latter squad.  In a 1910 series in Cuba against the Detroit Tigers, he hit big league pitching for a .412 average, outslugging Ty Cobb.  And in other exhibition games against other Major Leaguers throughout his career, he was noted for his prowess by none other than Walter Johnson, victor of 417 Major League games for the American League Washington Senators.

The early years of the 1910s found Johnson penciled in at second base first for the Leland Giants and then for the New York Lincoln Giants, making way for the younger John Henry Lloyd (Hall of Fame) at shortstop. The Lincolns claimed the Eastern Independent Clubs championship trophy in 1913, Johnson leading the team in hitting with a .452 average–at age 41.

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Deleware diamond, 1927.

After 20 years in the top tiers of black baseball competition, 1915 found Johnson, now 43, in Buffalo, New York, managing and shortstopping the semi-pro Pittsburgh Colored Stars of Buffalo. He would continue his affiliation with Buffalo until his death in 1963, leading the Colored Stars for many years as both shortstop and, later, second baseman, playing with friend and Hall of Fame outfielder Pete Hill on Hill’s Colored Elks, and continuing to face off—and hold his own—against Major Leaguers, including Babe Ruth in 1920.   Developing young new black baseball talent was Johnson’s gift to his players, and for this phase of his career he garnered the nickname “Dad.” He was a man of fine reputation, a non-drinker, non-smoker and an excellent role model for his young charges, still taking the diamond at age 61 in semi-pro appearances.

 

Re-integration of Organized Baseball in Buffalo did not come until 1946 with the appearance of Jackie Robinson in a Montreal Royals (International League) uniform on May 19, 1946 at Offermann Stadium, but in truth the first men with the courage to integrate Buffalo baseball were Home Run Johnson and his teammate John Emory, playing in the Buffalo Municipal Baseball League for the white semi-pro Phoebe Snows of Lackawanna against the white Buffalo Oakdales on Diamond No. 2 in Delaware Park on June 24, 1917.

Of significant note for Buffalo’s cultural history are Johnson’s off-field accomplishments as a gifted singer.  Blessed with a beautiful baritone voice that first found outlet in his AME church in Findlay, Johnson and other ballplayers exercised their vocal skills on barnstorming trips, later finding his voice with the Buffalo Clef singing group and as a founding member of the Buffalo Choral Society. The latter group recognized him for his contributions at a gathering in 1958, by which time he had become a resident of the Erie County Home for the Blind.

Grant Johnson died on September 4, 1963 in Buffalo, New York.  He is buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Hamburg, New York, Section 3, Row 22, Grave 27. A headstone and plaque was placed on June 24, 2014, made possible by:  Lakeside Cemetery, Benefactors of the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation, the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project and Friends of Buffalo Baseball History.

Howard W. Henry, Jr.
Founder of Friends of Buffalo Baseball History
hwhjr98@gmail.com  

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Seamheads.com research as of 2014 credits Johnson with a 15-year Negro League batting average of .336.

Thanks to Gary Ashwill for review and additions/corrections to this article, and to Jeremy Krock for guidance in the grave marker project.