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.
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    • 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

 

 

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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  

*          *          *          *          *

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.

 

How to connect with Buffalo history from the comfort of your home

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When you can’t use our books in person, you can sometimes connect online.  Every Buffalo researcher should get to know these online book sites. 

Google Books: https://books.google.com
We LIVE at Google Books. For historical researchers, Google Books is the most important part of the Google empire. For several years, Google has partnered with several major libraries, including Harvard, Cornell, and the New York Public Library, to digitize millions of books and periodicals.  The results are full-text searchable for names of individuals, places, specific phrases, businesses, organizations, events, anything you’d look for the regular Google home page.  Fortunately for us, many of the participating libraries happened to collect books on Buffalo. 

Your search results will have 4 levels of access:
1. Full text: the entire book is online
2. Preview: you can read multi-page excerpts but not the entire book
3. Snippet: you see only the paragraph or sentence containing your search term(s)
4. No preview: the book is not online, usually because the sole surviving copies are owned by one of the many libraries (like us) who are not part of the Google Books project.

Other useful features: you can bookmark your finds in a feature called My Library and share your lists.  You can download entire free books in PDF and read them offline.  Because Google is a business, you can also purchase newly released e-books for your e-reader.

Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/texts
Archive.org is the not-for-profit alternative to Google Books.  It presently has 8.8 million volumes online and all are free and full text.  Their library partners include the Library of Congress, the University of Toronto, and Columbia University.

To search it, click on the magnifying glass icon in the black navigation band across the top of your screen. Archive.org lags behind Google Books in its full text searchability for a specific name, phrase, or term.  However, anyone can upload a text to Archive.org.  Download options include formats designed for screen-readers used by people with vision loss.

HathiTrust: https://www.hathitrust.org
HathiTrust is a consortium of a hundred academic and research libraries around the world who are digitizing books.  It presently has 13.8 million volumes online. About 40% are available for free in full text.  To download a book that is still protected by copyright, you have to be affiliated with a member institution.  At present, the closest participating institution is the University of Rochester.

Like Google Books, HathiTtrust offers you the option of searching the full-text of everything for a name or phrase.  You can create collections (bookmark your finds) and share them.  You can also limit your search to books that are online in full text.

Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org
The Gutenberg Project is the grand-daddy of all online book sites, founded in 1971 before any of us had ever heard the words Internet, Browser, or Digitize.  It presently offers over 50,000 books, all of which are online for free in full text with several downloading options.  Gutenberg is full-text searchable, as well as browsable by author, title, and subject.  Unfortunately, the Buffalo content here is minimal.

FRANK, our online catalog: http://tinyurl.com/frank-catalog
Naturally, we cannot omit our largest in-house digital project, our online catalog.  It lists over 27,000 distinct books, manuscripts  & microfilms in the Research Library collection.  We are continually cataloging new and old stuff.  When we learn about free online versions of works that we own in hard copy, we build links into the bibliographic record.  Try searching for a person, place, thing, business, church, organization, event, and maybe one of your results will lead you to a full-text, online version.

Cynthia Van Ness, MLS
Director of Library & Archives

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

Participate In Our Next Exhibit

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Would you like to participate in an upcoming Buffalo sports exhibit? Here’s how: The Buffalo History Museum is planning a feature exhibit, Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports. Opening in 2017, the exhibit will explore Western New York’s rich sports history and investigate the unique connection between fans and our beloved local teams.

We’re collecting memories from the community to help shape our story. The survey will take 15-20 minutes of your time, and asks you to recall who you remember to be the top ten moments, figures and teams. Your submissions will help shape the exhibit by determining the stories we highlight.

Follow the link for the survey: Icons: The Makers and Moments of Buffalo Sports Survey

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The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager, the Buffalo Bills Collection and what to expect in the Future

BRC at desk. JUNE blog
Here I am surrounded by my current project – working my way through the collection of die-cast model cars, busses, trucks and airplanes.

A little more than a month ago, I accepted my current role as the Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager at The Buffalo History Museum.  You may say that I am in training to become the ‘resident Buffalo Bills expert.’  I am responsible for the cataloguing – what we call ‘accessioning’ – of the Buffalo Bills collection donated by Greg D. Tranter that was announced to the public at the end of April 2016.

 

GDT at desk. JUNE Blog

Greg is pictured at the desk where he does most of his preliminary work before sending the objects to us at the museum.

It isn’t just any “Buffalo Bills collection” though – in its entirety, it includes 100,000 artifacts and archival objects and it has been reported on heavily here in Buffalo and even as far as Boston.  The Sports Collectors Daily described the collection as “jaw-dropping” – I would agree, wholeheartedly.  For a Bills fan, it is jaw-dropping for the singular reason that it is an enormous collection celebrating our football team.  It celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly, depending on how you wish to interpret certain events: wide-right, anyone?  For me, it is jaw-dropping because of the complete and exhaustive collecting undertaken by Greg: for example, the collection includes every single program ever produced since the very first game in 1960; he isn’t missing a single one!  If a series of Christmas Ornaments was produced, Greg collected every one of them so that there would be a complete grouping.


Subj Card. JUNE blogSo, what’s happening with it?
The accessioning process for the tens of thousands of artifacts is going to take years and the steps we take to register an object can be time consuming, especially if it a multi-piece object (like a Tailgating themed pick-up truck with tailgating accessories – a grill, a couple of coolers, etc).  Every single object goes through our cataloguing process which includes a number of steps.  Once the white cotton gloves have been put on, an object is carefully handled and described: we take note of any labeling on the object or packaging, the condition it is in (we look for any scratches but also remark if it’s in excellent condition), and then we measure (for storage and display) and take photographs.  Every object is assigned a unique identifying number, what we call an Object ID; once the number has been assigned, we input all of the data into our cataloguing system, Past Perfect.  The end result is a Subject Card that gets added to our vertical files that are housed in filing cabinets (like the one in the photo to the right).  This allows us to have two points of reference; the new system of Past Perfect and the old catalogue-card system.

The final step in the process is to find a “home” for the object in our storage. We store everything in acid free boxes that are organized by classification.  This is done for the long-term preservation of an object but also to ensure easier discovery for future Collections staff.

Stein. JUNE blogOkay, so there is still a lot of work to be done. Can we still see the Collection even though it isn’t on display?
Absolutely!  We have lots of projects on the go to ensure that we are sharing the collection with you.  Over the next year, we’ll be putting together a virtual exhibit that will be accessible on our website (www.buffalohistory.org); it will include a variety of objects and related information, in addition to some oral histories shared by the donor, Greg.  Like the accessioning process, that will take time.  In the meantime, I plan to do a few more blog posts since I could talk forever about the parts of the collection that fascinate me (like the Art Baker jersey or the O.J. Simpson “See-Action” football board game and the “Bermuda Triangle” poster with Fred Smerlas, Jim Haslett and Shane Nelson)!  More immediate though, is our sharing on social media; if you don’t follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and you would like to see more of the Greg D. Tranter Buffalo Bills Collection, you should! We would love to hear your thoughts, memories and stories about an object we share – maybe you even have the same thing at home.

So, to end, I offer three things about myself:

  • I was convinced that the entire collection could fill the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium… but I have been assured that it probably can’t
  • The red standing buffalo logo is my favorite of all of the logos (it’s also Greg Tranter’s favorite logo!)
  • Of the few hundred objects I have accessioned thus far, this stein is my favorite object. It has a raised scene of a football game, complete with a quarterback and referees and an oversized logo at the front.

Go Bills!

Britt Call,
The Greg D. Tranter Collection Manager

Related Links:

Sports Collectors Daily – https://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/jaw-dropping-buffalo-bills-collection-donated-museum/

Link to: My Collecting Passion: https://buffalohistorymuseum.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/my-collecting-passion/

Greetings from the Program & Engagement Coordinator

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Megan MacNeill, Program & Engagement Coordinator with actor Josh Gad, who came to visit the museum while in Buffalo filming.

Hello! My name is Megan, you may have seen me here at The Buffalo History Museum, running programs, crafts, and activities! As Program and Engagement Coordinator, I am tasked with creating and running lectures, our ever-popular Train Day, and many other events throughout the year. While I am not a native Buffalonian, I have come to love my new city, and all the history and experiences that it has offered me.

I have been in my position here for a year and a half, and it has flown by! Previously, I lived, studied, and worked in Philadelphia, PA. I went to graduate school and received my MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design. Before I came to Buffalo, I had worked in nine different museums and many different disciplines; from horse racing and dance, to outsider art and the history of chemistry. Regardless of the museum, the amazing stories are what keeps me passionate about my work (and an ever-hopeful Jeopardy! candidate). For instance, the first synthetic dye was developed on accident by a man named William Henry Perkin. When he created that bright mauve color, he was hoping for a synthetic quinine to help treat malaria. My favorite stories here are the not-so-apparent ones. The hidden fossils in the floor of the State Court, the tiny “make-due” piece of a blue star in a quilt, and the symbolism in our WWI propaganda posters.

My love for museums, like many of my peers and colleagues, came from an early age. When I was little my family would take yearly trips to Washington, D.C. My sister and I would drag my parents to the same exhibit, the gemstone room at the National Museum of Natural History. We were fascinated by the colors and sizes, and of course, the Hope Diamond.hopediamond(courtesy of SI) I am incredibly fortunate; every vacation we took as a family featured at least one day-trip to a museum or historic site. Though my parent’s ploy to make us learn may have worked too well, my dad almost kicked my sister and I out of the van on a trip home from Cape Cod because we so desperately and relentlessly were asking to visit the Sandwich Glass Museum again. Luckily we stopped for a visit. What sticks with me just as much as the stories and facts that I’ve learned, is the time spent with loved ones. I feel that museums have a dynamic way of opening us up to learning and also to being in the moment and connecting with each other. This is why I love what I do. Providing our guests with the opportunity to engage not only with our objects and exhibits, but with each other.
So please come viCyanotypeinProgresssit us! Every Third Friday I run hands-on activities in our State Court. They are free and accessible to all ages. In June, we made solar prints. Harkening back to my days as a photography major, we placed found objects on light-sensitive paper, and created our own cyanotypes.

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This summer I will be representing the museum down at Canalside as well! Come see some great old views of the historic canal district (sourced from our library of course) and learn about the history of the Erie Canal! Mondays 12-4, Wednesdays 11-3.