Collecting

Spotlight Artifact: Huffy Puffy 999

huffypuffytraintoy

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.”

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”

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/

Impact of the Library

TBHM LibraryIf you’ve taken up genealogy, you know the impact of finally finding a picture of your great-grandfather’s tavern. Or seeing a picture of the long-demolished corner deli where you bought Atomic Fireballs as a kid.

And then there’s the impact when a new fact upends your understanding of what happened back when. Gospel truth does gets demoted to urban legend, but first it puts up a fight. One of the just-will-not-die Buffalo urban legends is that in 1901, every house in Buffalo was supposedly photographed for the Pan-American Exposition and we have the pictures. If only it was true!

We do have an estimated 12,000 house pictures dating mostly from 1870-1970, but there was no campaign to photograph the entire city for the Pan-Am. We don’t have pictures of everyone’s house, then or now. There are another estimated 12,000 pictures of schools, factories, churches, hotels, office buildings, grain elevators, and so on. Our pictures are not online, so an in-person visit is needed to see them.

This extensive collection of architectural imagery has another kind of impact: economic.

How so?

Maybe you’ve noticed that Buffalo’s often deteriorated buildings are getting restored, repurposed, and re-occupied at an unprecedented rate. The Lafayette Hotel renovation was just the most celebrated of a long and growing list of rehabs. In Buffalo, existing buildings are attracting more private construction dollars than new-builds. This resurgence has a lot to do with the National Register and New York State’s preservation tax credit program.

In most Buffalo neighborhoods, getting listed on the National Register opens up tax credits for the restoration of old buildings, both residential and commercial. Property owners typically depend on professional architectural historians to write National Register nominations. In turn, professional architectural historians depend on the Library’s collection for historical evidence, visual and otherwise, to make the case for National Register eligibility. We have the region’s largest collection of period photographs, atlases, and architectural drawings.

TBHM LibraryInvestment = jobs, and not just for architectural historians. Bringing back old buildings means hiring architects, engineers, roofers, plumbers, plasterers, electricians, painters, carpenters, decorators, and more. Preservation is good for Buffalo’s economy because when you renovate an existing building, you typically spend about 60% of your budget on labor, which is usually supplied by local talent. In turn, those paychecks are spent mostly in the local economy on rent, groceries, etc. The remaining 40% goes to materials, which are usually manufactured elsewhere. For a new build, that ratio is reversed. Forty percent of your budget goes to labor and 60% leaves the local economy to buy materials made elsewhere.

We like to think that in our own indirect way, the Library is helping save Buffalo, one building at a time.

To learn more about New York State’s preservation tax credit program, go to: http://nysparks.com/shpo/tax-credit-programs/

To learn more about the National Register, go to: http://www.nps.gov/nr/faq.htm

To learn more about the economic impact of historic preservation, go to: http://www.achp.gov/economic-general.html

– Cynthia Van Ness, Director of Library and Archives

*Article featured in the Fall 2013 issue of “The Album”

Howard Beach Collection: Student Notes

Our project to research a portion of the Howard Beach is underway. My group and I have selected a number of glass slides. Some of us chose a theme, like military uniforms or wedding day portraits, or whatever they found interesting. My selections range from a high school hockey team portrait, to a gentleman outfitted in an elaborate tux, to a rather humorous baby. I look forward to researching these individuals and learning more about them and their lives.

Figure 1: 39837 Bishop Colton Negative

Figure 1: 39837 Bishop Colton Negative

Since our slides have been selected, we have photographed them so that they can be preserved digitally. Once these were digitized we were able to invert them, bringing the image to life. I must admit the first time I saw one of my slides inverted I shouted in excitement; the image was so much better than I had imagined. Here I have a sample of a slide of one Bishop Colton and what I assume was his cathedral. I have more research ahead of me to know for sure.

Figure 2: 39837 Bishop Colton Positive

Figure 2: 39837 Bishop Colton Positive

Helping in part of this research is the card catalog that was also found along with the slides. Having an archives in original order like this is incredibly important, this gives us a look into the mind of the archives creator, in this case, Beach himself. It shows us how he thought, how he worked, what a typical business day would be like for him. Once we located the associated catalog card for each of our slides, we digitized these as well, as seen in Figure 3 here. Another aspect I particularly like about the catalog card is that they were all hand written by Beach himself, this is just another of the rich connections to the past that this project has to offer.

Figure 3: 39837 Bishop Colton Catalog Card

Figure 3: 39837 Bishop Colton Catalog Card

From here I have hours of research to look forward to. I hope to uncover everything I can about the people in these images. I can only imagine the histories, mysteries, war stories, scandals, or family legends I may discover.

– Megan Barr
Museum Studies student at Buffalo State

First Memorable Museum Experience

Stayed at the Otesaga Hotel and walked down the iconic main street with its many shops, unique architecture and tree lined streets to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of: The National Baseball Hall of Fame

I was very excited and could not stop talking as I walked with my brother and father. As we approached it was a large brick building with “National Baseball Hall of Fame” engraved in the stone on the front of the brick building.

After my Dad bought our tickets we walked through a turnstile like you were entering a stadium and we entered a large room that felt and looked like a stadium. It happened to be a replica of Ebbets Field (a very historic baseball stadium).

I was completely enthralled with the displays of memorabilia, objects and stuff. It was incredible to see a jersey of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat, Ty Cobb’s spikes. And then seeing objects of my heroes, Mickey Mantle’s baseball hat, Bob Gibsons’s mitt, Pete Rose’s dirty baseball pants. It was overwhelming and magnificent at the same time. My heart was racing and I remember my father commenting that my palms were sweating.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Babe Ruth room. Photograph courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Going into the room with all the Hall of Fame plaques and seeing the hall of famers was awe-inspiring. The Bronze plaques with the head of each hall of famer and all their career statistics side by side were impressive.

Then going into the World Series Room and experiencing the film highlights of the most important and memorable plays in World Series history and hearing the announcer’s excitement had goose bumps running down my spine and my adrenalin was flowing. Also, seeing the tickets and programs from those games I was really taken by and I remember telling my Dad I want to collect programs and tickets, they were really neat.

I was eight years old when we went. I was a wide eyed kid completely enthralled by seeing and experiencing my baseball heroes. I was really taken by the objects and their historical significance.

We stopped in the store on the way out of the museum and my Dad bought me a statue of Rogers Hornsby (one of the hall of famers) that was a head and shoulders likeness of him sitting on a wooden base that was his Hall of Fame Plaque. That statue sat on my dresser for at least ten years, until I went to college.

Wall of Stuff - Bills CollectionThe Hall of Fame Museum visit had a profound impact on me. I have forever been a sports fan and it energized my interest in collecting. A few months later my Dad took me to my first Buffalo Bills football game, bought me a program and a bobblehead doll and my Bills collection began.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member

I Found a Newspaper in My Wall

newspaper_texture2814Every few months, the Library gets a call from a homeowner who is in the middle of a remodeling project. It usually goes like this: “I was tearing out my kitchen/bathroom/den and I found a page/section of Courier-Express/Buffalo Evening News from [date] in the wall/floor/ceiling. Does it have any value? Would you like to have it?”

The newspaper-in-the-wall discovery is surprisingly common. Perhaps it fell in through an opening the attic, a possibility in balloon-framed houses. Perhaps someone working on that wall left it there on purpose. Sometimes I wonder if there was a folk practice among tradesmen to leave a dated artifact behind to show when they had been there. But this is sheer speculation.

From the dates supplied by our callers, it seems that the newspaper-in-the-wall was most prevalent between the World Wars. A simple Google search on found a newspaper in the wall turned up stories from around the country of papers dated from the 1920s to the 1940s found during home remodeling projects.

So, let’s answer the top two questions from homeowners:

Does it have any value?
Probably only sentimental. IRS regulations prohibit museum employees from appraising (determining the market value) of private property. We suggest searching eBay to get a rough idea of values. For example, President Kennedy assassination newspapers in mint condition are listed on eBay from $5 to $100. In the end, an object is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. Which leads to the second question:

newspaper_texture2821Would you like to have it?
Thanks, but no. Newspapers stored in walls are rarely in good condition. They are likely to be incomplete, torn, brittle, discolored, moldy, mildewed, possibly even infested with insects. We cannot risk exposing museum collections or visitors to these hazards. You have our blessing display, sell, or discard your newspaper-in-the-wall as you see fit.

Don’t get me wrong: libraries have been collecting newspapers pretty much since the invention of newspapers. We pro-actively purchase them on microfilm. It is stable, compact, sturdy, tamper-proof, and resistant to mold, mildew, and insects. No one can deface a page or tear a picture out of film.

Here at the Buffalo History Museum, we have over 200 years of Buffalo newspapers on about 6,500 rolls of microfilm. Our microfilm reader-printer machines make copies from the film for $.25/each. Plus, like most libraries, we lend our newspaper films via interlibrary loan to out-of-town researchers. Readers who wish to borrow film need to make arrangements with your local library, who will handle the request on your behalf. There may be nominal fees.

Have you found a newspaper in your wall? If so, please send us pictures and stories to add to this page! And if there are homeowners or tradespeople out there who ever stuffed a newspaper in the wall during a remodeling or construction project, please tell us about it.

Cynthia Van Ness
DIRECTOR OF LIBRARY & ARCHIVES

My Collecting Passion

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

My first pack of Football Cards

My passion for collecting began as a young boy when I bought my first pack of football cards in 1965. When I opened the pack to see a Buffalo Bills player on the 2 ½” by 4 ½” card with a pink background and smelled the fresh Topps chewing gum, I immediately fell in love with the idea of collecting cards and the thrill of discovering which players would be inside each pack. This thrill was addictive to me as a young boy, and coincided with my intense interest in football I picked up from my grandfather Cy Sanders, who played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. Those interests combined with me watching the AFL Champion Buffalo Bills on television and my passion was born. This collector’s passion continued to grow each week as I received my $.25 allowance and rushed to the corner store, on the same city block as my elementary school, to buy another pack of Topps cards.

My first football game

My first football game was an overwhelming experience. To think that I was going to see all my favorite Bills players, Jack Kemp, Elbert Dubenion, Tom Sestak and Mike Stratton that I watched on television, live, in person was almost beyond my imagination.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The anticipation and excitement running through me was almost uncontrollable as I rode with my Dad in his 1964 Ford Station Wagon to my first live football game. As we neared the stadium, the concrete facade of the stadium rose up from the horizon. It seemed so big, and the sight of it made my heart race with excitement.

Walking among all the parked cars, seeing all the people grilling food, eating, throwing footballs, was an amazing sight to behold. As we got closer to the entrance gate, I noticed vendors with carts, selling souvenirs. Immediately, I ran to one of them to get a close up of what they were selling. After reviewing all of the items for sale, I begged my Dad to buy me a bobble head doll and a pennant. Luckily he relented, and my collecting passion grew. I thought this experience was just as good as, if not better than, getting packs of football cards.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

Upon entering the stadium, I saw another vendor standing next to a few boxes, yelling “Get your program, get your game program, only $.50.” Again, I begged my Dad to buy me a program, which he did. I must have leafed through that program at least a thousand times, until the pages became dog eared. Incidentally, I now own every program from every Bills game.

Following the game, a Bills victory that solidified my attachment to the team forever, I returned home and placed the bobble head doll on my bedroom dresser in the most prominent spot. I hung the pennant on the wall behind my bed, so I could see it each night before going to sleep.

I still have the original three collectibles from that first game I attended with my Dad, and since 1965, have amassed the largest Buffalo Bills football memorabilia collection.

Passion for History

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

As I went through school, I really enjoyed my history classes and was especially interested in American History. When I graduated from college my interest in American History aligned well with my Buffalo Bills collecting passion. The Bills are much more than a football team to Western New York. They are a critical part of the fabric of the community and the region’s history. As I began earning my own money, I started to add to my Collection with a focus on capturing the Buffalo Bills history from their founding in 1960. I thought back to all of the football cards I had collected throughout my youth that I had left at my parents’ house when I left for college. Upon returning home and much to my disappointment, I learned that my mother had thrown out most of my football cards when cleaning house while I had been away. As I would tell her years later, she and other mothers like her (with the desire to clean) helped create an entire industry. The value of baseball and football cards has increased due to their scarcity. As baby boomers try to recapture their childhood, these cards continue to rise in value.

That setback of losing my precious football cards further fueled my passion to collect the story of the Bills history through football cards, programs, publications, and collectibles of all sorts.

Part of TBHM Bill's Collection

The Hunt

One of the thrills of collecting is “the hunt,” the passion and focus to find another collectible to add to your growing collection. The thrill of finding the item you don’t yet have makes the hunt worthwhile. I believe it is the combined passion of the hunt and the thrill of finding an item you don’t yet have in your collection which fuel the collector’s desire.

My hunting and searching have taken me to countless garage sales, flea markets, sports card shows, memorabilia shops, antique markets, used book stores, toy stores, malls, stadium shops and other collectors homes. Always on the search and looking for that elusive Buffalo Bills collectible. 

The best feeling for me as a collector is that evoked on a crisp fall morning before dawn breaks at the Clarence flea market, flashlight in-hand, hunting for Bills collectibles. Moving among the vast array of artifacts and collectibles from dealer to dealer, rooting through box after box, I then feel the thrill in finding a new Bills item for my Collection.

Before eBay came along, I scoured through classified advertisements in the Buffalo News, Sports Collectors Digest, Beckett, among others to find another collectible. In addition, I sent hundreds of letters to fellow collectors, dealers, and teams and made dozens of telephone calls networking with other collectors and dealers asking about Bills collectibles.

To obtain autographs of players, I purchased address lists and sent letters to the players’ homes. I went to the Bills annual training camp and hung out after games outside the team locker room, trying to obtain autographs. In addition, I attended many events where players were signing – commemorative dinners, card shows, book signings, and store promotions.

I have had many wonderful, memorable experiences while searching for my collectibles.

Greg Tranter
TBHM Board Member